M is for Masturbation

**updated below**

Today on True Mom Confessions Radio: "The M Word"

Join us today at 2pm Pacific Standard time on Nowlive.com for an oh-so touching conversation about all things masturbatory, including how-to tips for talking to your kids about the blush-inducing topic. Romi and I will be chatting with special guest, Neal Pollack, creator and founder of Offsprung.com and author of Alternadad and hopefully you!

Call in with your "touching tales", questions, words of advice, horror stories or just to lend a hand to the conversation @ 310.984.7600.

You can also tune in via radio chat, here, subscribe to our weekly podcast via Itunes, or click the below box for live stream:

Listen to True Mom Confessions Radio

In the meantime, if you haven't already, check out True Mom Confessions and stay tuned for True Dad Confessions arriving just in time for Father's Day.


Apparently there was a technical glitch today with the streaming, so our podcast is only 15 minutes long... If you're still interested in listening to the "tail end" of our chat, click here. Sorry about that, people.

My Eight-Year Affair With a Dead Man

Archer in a Henry Valentine Miller tee via Reckon Wordwide.

I fell in love with Henry Miller after the first paragraph of the first book of his I read. I was eighteen and preparing for my first trip abroad with my Nana, who, after my Grandpa Lou's passing decided she would take each of her grandchildren on a fantastic voyage anywhere they/we wanted in the world.

I chose Europe, a place I had never been and pined for. We would start in Barcelona, journey then to Rome and take the Orient Express from Florence to Venice and then to Paris. I bought several books to prep for my trip, one of them being Tropic of Cancer, recommended to me by a friend who would years later become my boyfriend, then my fiancee, and finally, my friend again.

I opened the book and read the first few paragraphs: I read this:

"This then? This is not a book. This is libel, slander, defamation of character. This is not a book in the ordinary sense of the word. No, this is a prolonged insult, a gob of spit in the face of Art, a kick in the pants to God, Man, Destiny, Time, Love, Beauty... what you will. I am going to sing for you, a little off key perhaps but I will sing. I will sing while you croak, I will dance over your dirty corpse...

To sing you must first open your mouth. You must have a pair of lungs, and a little knowledge of music. It is not necessary to have an accordion, or a guitar. The essential thing is to want to sing. This then is a song. I am singing..."

Those words changed my life. Maybe they don't sound like much but to me they meant everything. They meant freedom. They carved a hole in a future I felt ill-suited for. I decided, soon after to put off my collegiate aspirations, which I had forced upon myself. I wanted to sing.

"As long as I keep singing, I will find my song", I told myself

I went to Europe with Tropic of Cancer ringing in my ears and Tropic of Capricorn under my arm. I couldn't get enough of Miller's prose, his twisted vision possessed me with such a wealth of inspiration I filled three journals in a single month. I came home from Europe with songs in my head-- potential melodies and within a week, started writing my first book.

At the same time, I began collecting what rare editions I could afford. A first edition box set of the Rosy Crucifixion. Crazy Cock. Nothing But the Marvelous. I purchased an original Wynn Bullock photograph of Miller, smoking a cigarette and smiling out the corner of his mouth. It had been hand developed by the artist, a rare treasure. I purchased it from the Library in Big Sur after spending hours in the back room with Miller's old manuscripts and a gentleman named Magnus, keeper of the treasures.

I took the photograph home with me in a cardboard portfolio and framed it above my bed in an old gold frame.

Divine inspiration...

I would(will) never be the writer Miller was, of course. I would never have the guts to spill onto the page in such a way. I could only be myself and every night I pushed, sometimes until sunrise, until it was time to go to work. It became an obsession. Keep singing...

And through dry spells, when I was overwhelmed, unable to write, tapping my pencil erratically, I'd take a Saturday and drive up to Big Sur and fill up. I'd park my car outside Miller's old house in the Palisades, picket-fenced and trimmed with rose bushes, not even a mile away from the office I was working at at the time. I'd sit there in my car and I would write.

Find your voice... It's okay if it's off key, sometimes.

I kept singing.

Every writer needs a mentor. Mine just happened to have died before I was born.

If it wasn't for him, I might have gone to college. I might have graduated and gone to work at a studio. Or left the country. There were many books that would later change my life, books like Lawrence Durrell's Justine and Anais Nin's House of Incest and Marguerite Duras' The Malady of Death.

But it was Henry Miller who made me want to be a writer whatever the cost. Who pushed me and pulled me and overwhelmed me with the power of his words.

Power I hoped to someday possess, if only for a second. If only for a page or a couple of words.

And as I gut myself for the pages I write in the book that this time will see the light of day, I hold on to that hope, and surrounded by the worn old pages of my greatest hero, I keep writing, pushing through the fear toward the possibility that by opening my mouth as wide as I can, I can find my voice. I can sing my song.

I am singing.


Married Life

In the spirit of all things birthday, I present...

...Married Life Story #314:

When your husband brings you penis-balloons, make penis-balloon-ade!

for SFTB

"putting the balls in balloons since 2007."

Archer's 2nd Birthday: A Photo Essay

We celebrated Archer's birthday Saturday night. Here we are looking celebratory:

Hal was in charge of decorations so it wasn't surprising when I came home to a pile of "caterpillar" balloons:

Which became "caterpillar decorations"...

I made due and with the help of my mother, decorated my parent's house with large phallic objects:

Fortunately (or unfortunately) no one noticed. Probably because they were far too busy breastfeeding:

Or posing for portraits by the pool:

Archer wore his finest imported chaussures for the occasion from Pareeee...

The youngest guests arrived with yellow-shirted escorts:

And oh how we danced...

...if i had the chance I'd ask the world to dance but I'm a dancing with my el-elf... oh whoawhawhoa!

And made cake (out of the box):

And made a wish!

Actually, I made a wish because Archer's still too young BUT I did make a wish on his behalf and it had to do with dragons. Anyway...

He ate a lot of cake:

And even had left-overs:

Received gifts...

...And headlocks:

Sadly Archer got very little attention:

And none from me, either:

JK! I ate him all up.




Dear Archer,

I have tried to write you a letter all day. I don't know why I am having such a hard time. Words usually come easy to me. I have written you letters before, both on blog and on paper, folding little origami notes in your baby book, sealing them with spit and tears and blessings.

I searched for photos of you as a newborn baby, realizing that the bulk of them are lost with my old laptop and I felt guilty and then a little sad for forgetting so much of the beginning, the way you felt in my arms and the little pimples on your face that I don't remember even noticing at the time. You were so perfect, so lacking any sort of idiosyncrasy:

And you still are:

We went to the park today. You wanted to bring your blankie and it was your birthday so I said, okay. I usually psyche you out.

"Look over there!" I say, "a squirrel," and I grab your blankie and throw it in the house all stealth like, as you search wildly for the squirrel, shrieking.

But today you dragged your blankie behind you, all seven blocks to the park, picking up rocks and dirt and sand and Jacaranda petals all the way.

We used the blankie as our own personal fort, tucking it into the chain link fence as you kneeled down beside me and pulled my sunglasses off my eyes and put them on yourself. Real cool, man. When the fort got old (about five seconds later) you knocked it down and pulled me toward the swing set where you insisted on climbing up in my lap and humming twinkle twinkle little star as we rocked back and forth, barefoot. Twinkle Twinkle little star is your favorite song to sing but you prefer when I sing "the ants go marching one by one Hoorah!" and ever time I say "boom, boom, boom" at the end of the verse, you laugh:

"...and they all go marching down. To the ground. To get out. Of the rain. Boom! Boom! Boom!"

You still refuse to speak, but you have mastered the art of your own communication. Your little voice echoing through every room in the house, following the dogs, holding their tails in your dirty hands. And sometimes when you don't feel like singing you brush my hair, with a hairbrush or your hands or the TV remote.

Maybe I have been struggling with this letter because two seems so much older than one and this time last year you were still a baby and now I don't know what you are: a toddler? Or are you a little boy?

You're Archer, to me and I wonder if I will ever be able to see beyond the moment with you, or if the past will erase like disappearing ink. I wonder if this time next year I will have forgotten all this, you with your red blankie in your arms falling asleep on my chest in the swing, feeding me crackers and then laughing when I make the "yum!" face.

And maybe that's the point. Of being a parent and always, no matter what, being in love. The butterfly feeling that never goes away and how I become absent-minded when you play peek-a-boo with me or smell the flowers because it takes up all my brain power to figure out how you came to be in this world and how I ended up on the receiving end of your smiles. Your wide-eyed pensive glances. Your youness.

Today you are two years old. "This many," I say, holding up two fingers like a peace sign and you look back at me like I'm crazy, so I speak in gibberish and I tell you how much I love you in your personal langauge:


You seem to understand and you nod and laugh and pull the petals off your blankie, which I should be washing right now but screw it. I'll wash the thing tomorrow.

Meanwhile, you'll keep growing. Graduating from 2T to 3T to 4T to 5 as I fold and shelve our yesterdays to make room for our tomorrows.

From infantile...

...to warrior!!!!

And you truly are a warrior, my friend. A stomping, throwing, dancing, jumping, screaming, laughing warrior, dragging your red blankie behind you. Forward ho! -- toward the horizon of a new year paved with puzzle pieces to throw, pianos to play, pet dragons to cuddle, flowers to smell and all the rest of your favorite things.

You are my favorite thing (or in a language you might be more familiar with):

Gooyolackalackaheehee maliolalafoolapooha laheehee.

Happy Birthday, Archer Sagebrush; Pirate of the Snails.



(cross-posted with slightly different photos at Straight From the Bottle.)

Dear Harper's Bazaar,

Um... WTF is this?

How do you expect me to renew my subscription?

You've broken my heart, Glenda Bailey. You've shattered it to smithereens.



A Very Long Month

The month of May has been endless and it isn't even over yet. Archer turns two in two days and I don't even have a gift ready. Or a card written or a post prepared. We're supposed to be having a party on Saturday and I haven't even invited anyone. I don't even know what time we'll have people over or what flavor I want for the cake.

I have been back and forth between my parent's house and Los Angeles. The 405 is my best friend and back and forth I go, slowly cruising through traffic in a car packed with bags and thought-bubbles squashed against the ceiling.

My old friend's funeral was last Saturday in the same church her mother's funeral was, six years before. Her brothers, orphaned and without a sister prepared a speech... "At least she's with our mother, now" they said and my mother and I held hands.

The last few times I attended a funeral, babies were born days after and this time, the same. Little Sage was born two days after my uncle passed away. And Nolan was born the same week Courtney died-- a reminder that humans come and go, usually passing one another on the way out through the revolving door. There is but a thin wall that separates the dying from the newly born. In the hospital and in life.

My Uncle Pete's funeral was last Thursday. My cousins spoke proudly, poised and eloquent on the podium. I sat between my brother and my husband in a room of hundreds of friends and family, standing room only, and when we all stood up to sing Edelweiss, my Uncle Pete's favorite song, I saw my father cry for the first time. And we cried with him, my siblings and mother and me all the while keeping along with the words of the song. ... Bloom and grow forever...

I'm home for now, working on a book due weeks from now and a new business with an amazing woman who I can't believe my luck, found me. I have been sleeping very little, trying to organize my head and my heart and days that are far too short for weeks so long. Shh... Just breathe. One day at a time...

Thursday we go back to my parent's house for the third time this month, and then from there, I fly out to Tennessee to spend some time with my lovely friend, picking strawberries and seeing Graceland and fluttering around the south like butterflies. Cowboy boots packed and ready for dancing.

And phew! I'm out of breath.


The fire has stopped burning, and overhead there are clouds. The sun is disappearing and the sky is gray and dark and we're under blankets on the couch. I was afraid our park burned down but it was saved. The playground still stands. There is so much to be grateful for.

For some, the early June gloom is depressing, but not to me. I always loved this weather, the darkness and the chill and the gray.

Sunshine can be overrated and birthday cakes are just as good out of the box as made from scratch and June will be here soon enough. Just around the corner in fact.

Now isn't that reason enough to tip our glasses? I think, yes, it surely must be.

bottoms up.


HostSecret Week Infinity


Straight From the Bottle Recaps:

Just Call Him... Whatever: A sad tale of passive-agressive parenting.
Planned Parenthood?: A planned pregnancy may just be more difficult than an unplanned one. Maybe.



Photo of the Week

Reaching for the colors in the sky


The Young Boy and the Sea

I grew up with sand between my toes. I chased the ocean foam with my brother and cousins, caught sand-crabs when the tide pulled out across the sandbar. I caught a sea bass with my bare hands when I was six. The ocean was my summer home. My bare feet had the reefs memorized. I knew when to kick my legs to the surface and swim under the waves so that my feet didn't tangle in the rock. I caught flecks of gold in my t-shirt, pretended I was mining gold with the 49ers. Twice I was stung by stingrays and four times, jellyfish. I made necklaces out of shells and collected sand dollars in a jar on my bed stand. Sometimes, I would swim far beyond the surf and float on my back in the sun.

The ocean inspired me. It was hard not to be humbled by the crashing waves and eternal glimmer of silver waters stretching as far as the sky and then... beyond. It was hard to know whether or not the ocean ever ended and when the seagulls lifted off and flew west over the Pacific after a long day of slurping sand crabs, I couldn't help but think they were just like me, going home to somewhere pleasant after a day of splashing the ocean with sandy feet.

I have written at length about the spoiling of a small beach town, the sprawling suburban landscape and it's run-off of conservatism and look-a-likes, but no matter what changes, coming home means returning to the beach, where roots grow deep beneath the sand and the ocean and the treasure that old men spend hours hunting with their metal detectors.


I have taken Archer to the beach several times since he was born. We have taken long walks with my parents down the coast, Archer's face shaded by a damp t-shirt as he bounced upon my chest. I have let him down to dig in the dirt and kick sand in my eyes. But today, as I drop him to the sand, his bare feet folding, it feels different. He looks up at me and explains in his own language something I cannot understand. His own Archer language, unique and all his own:

He points to the military helicopters that flap back and forth between the San Diego bay and Camp Pendleton. He throws sand around him like confetti and takes my hand and walks me toward the ocean, slowly at first. And soon... picking up speed. Archer suddenly lets go of my hand as he goes sprinting toward the ocean water. Splashing and squealing he soon turns and comes back to me. I am his base. You are safe now.

I pull him up and we stay like that for a second before he peels my arms from around his waist and drops down to the ground again, running full speed away from me, toward the lifeguard tower south of D Street.

He looks around. He takes notes with his knowing eyes. He burrows his toes in the sand and watches the girls pull their shirts over their heads and chase each other down to the water.

"Eeeek! It's cold!" They scream.

Archer smiles, and looks back at me. He knows it's cold, too.

His happiness here is reason enough for me to take back every evil thing I have ever said about a hometown where the ocean is a refuge for children and teenagers and families and old couples who walk the shorelines, like my Grandparents did when my Grandfather was alive-- taking 15th street from their house in the Del Mar hills, walking barefoot, hand in hand until the end. Like my parents do, now. Like Archer and my mother and me, who joyfully chase Archer across a landscape unspoiled and speckled with (perhaps?) the same gold I mined when I was a little girl.

Archer howls like a pup and darts back and forth, making wide circles in the sand as he goes, dizzying himself until he falls down in a heap of kelp. He gets up and does it again. Over and over until he becomes distracted by a surfer with his board balanced on his head. He follows the teenage boy to the edge of the sand, before the water comes up and he runs squealing toward me again. Safety.

But only for a second! He slithers down my chest and scurries off, again to race down the beach, his laughter overlapping with the cah-cah! of the seagulls. And I follow his footprints with my own. I place my large bare feet over his tiny ones and dart after him until they're all squished together and you can hardly tell whose feet are which, even though his are so incredibly small.

We run until we're out of breath. Until the sun falls down to rest on the horizon. Until the tide pushes up along the shore, washing our prints away: disappearing ink upon an endless canvas of particles and a trillion teensy rocks.

We quickly dress and make our way up the rocks toward the parking lot, where my car overlooks the rising tide. I strap Archer in his car seat and retrieve my keys from the floor of my mother's mesh beach bag.

We brush off and drive home.

And yet...

...Still between our toes, the sand remains.


HostSecret Week XVI


Straight From the Bottle Recaps:

Believe it or Not, We'll Still be Mothers Tomorrow: Mother's Day needs to check itself before it rigiddy-riggidy wrecks itself.
And the Heat Goes On: Quick question-- What do you do with your kids when it's a thousand degrees outside and your house doesn't have AC?



Mother's Day, GGC Style

Ah, Glen Danzig. The perfect Mother's Day gift.... Enjoy:



*In lieu of Mother's Day, I'll be stopping by to chat with the SuicideGirls on Indie 103.1's SuicideGirl's radio sometime between 12:00-2am for chit-chat about TMC, GGC and perhaps, tattoos in x-rated places? If you're in Los Angeles and up late, um, partying it up-- tune in!

**Congrats to Liz @ Mom-101 on the birth of her daughter, Sage Alexandra... Life is goooood!

Photo of the Week

Einstein's theory of little relatives:

Happy Mother's Day to you and all of your relatives...



Offsprung Has Sprung!: Check out the amazing Neal Pollack's amazing new parenting site, Offsprung.com. Your life didn't end when you became a parent. Quirky, witty, smart and terribly attractive, Offsprung is the rockingest new site on the web. Boo-ya!

Rainbows, Good Parents and Frogs Who Play Banjo

One of the greatest Muppet moments of all time:

Thank you for all of your words and kindness and support this last week. I'll be back to my ship-shape self soon, I promise.

In the meantime, check out all of the Good Mother posts. I am still updating excerpts, here. Thank you all for your beautiful and thought-provoking words. It's been a pleasure reading them and hearing from you.

And keeping up with the Good Mother theme, tomorrow's TRUE MOM CONFESSIONS radio show will be all about exposing your "mommawesomeness"...

Listen to True Mom Confessions Radio

...You can also download last week's show if you're interested: Is Infidelity the New Black ? with special guests, Esther Perel and Queen of Spain! (I didn't publicize it here because it was our first show and I was scared but (ahem) now that I'm an old pro... check us out!)

Tune in tomorrow and every Thursday @ 2:00 PST if you're interested... Each week our show will feature one TMC confession and include two special guests: an expert in the field and an "everyday" mom. Callers are also welcome to get in on the action so if you're in the mood to call in tomorrow and chat with Romi and I about being a Good Mother? Awesome! We'll be standing by, live from the NowLive studio deep in the 818, with special guests Catherine from Her Bad Mother and Developmental Specialist, Dona Holloran MSW, on the line.

Thank you all again. You rock.




The world is on fire. The sky is full of smoke. It smells like ash and dust and I'm sitting here in boxer shorts and a wife beater, melting from the heat, waiting for a phone call from my mother to call me back home. Because he's still hanging on and it's weird to be home when this doesn't feel like it right now.

So I wait...

I wait for the smoke to clear. And the ash to settle. I wait to hear that our favorite park hasn't all been lost in the fire-- our favorite playground. I wait for the days to cool and the air-conditioner to work again so Archer will nap instead of pulling all the buds off the orchid like he did today and how I cried because I feel like everything is out of my control and the flames are coming to take me away. I can see them creep down the hill as the smoke billows down upon us and the petals are all over the floor.

And I'm waiting for this stupid sore throat to be gone and this damn migraine and the pile of to-do's that I wish would just blow away and burn up with rest of the world. And I hate waiting. I hate waiting and losing people I love and being hot and how the world is on fire.

But I keep waiting. Because sometimes that's all we can do. Wait. For clearer skies. For a whole new forecast. For the fire to burn its way out and the wind to cool. So things can go somewhat back to normal.


Fly Fisherman, Fly

(Cross-posted at Straight From the Bottle)

I do well with death. I have been to many funerals. I have buried two friends already this year and will be attending a third funeral next weekend. Girl that I grew up with. Another car accident. I occasionally lose the children I work with. I can handle it. I barely ever cry.

But this has been different. This is family. And driving down to San Diego, I could barely see the road through my tears.

My uncle has suffered from bladder cancer for several years, in and out of remission, mainly, but cancer has a way of coming back. I got the call Thursday that he wasn't going to make it much longer.

"You need to come now," my mother said. "Come say goodbye."

My family is very close. My cousins are like sisters. My uncle is as close as I have ever had to another father. I grew up riding his horses and holding his waist on the back of his Indian motorcycle, rolling my eyes when he tried to trick me into eating bacon made from boar he shot himself.

"Never in a million years."

"Psh", he would say, "Vegetarian."

I thought I would be able to hold it together because that is what I'm usually good at-- being helpful in a crisis. Being strong. But when I walked into my uncle's hospital room, Archer resting on my shoulder, I broke down. When I held my uncle's warm, strong hand, I couldn't not turn away and sob in Archer's hair.

That was before he went fishing.

High on morphine, he decided he wanted to fly fish, so he arched his eyebrows and drew back his imaginary rod and cwooooooshhhh... I could almost hear the lure breaking the glassy water. He let go of the line (my hand) and checked (my fingers) his tackle box for bait.

The hospital room was quiet, as my uncle looked on, even Archer sat kindly in my lap for several moments before the nurses came in and with them, more family and friends to hold his hand. I let go and walked out in the hall, toward the elevator and past the maternity ward, where my best friend from childhood gave birth one week ago.

One of my cousins was married this morning, in her father's hospital room so he could be there to give her away. I got to play wedding planner-- buy her a white linen dress and shoes and her fiancee a shirt to match. My aunt made their flower arrangements out of flowers from her garden and my Nana brought Moet and made bellinis. A friend ministered the service outside the window of my uncle's room so he could watch. Because the wedding is in August and he won't be able to make it, even though my cousin said to him, "You'll be there Daddy. You'll be there looking over all of us."

To which he nodded and sighed. "Yeah, Erica. I'll be there."


The whole family is here, now. We're holding hands and we're laughing and Erica is in her white linen dress from this morning's wedding and the flowers from the bouquets are in water. And we stand around my uncle, holding hands-- my cousin Yvette and her new baby, Anushka, in the sling across her chest and my aunt, combing my uncle's hair with her fingers. Archer's chasing my father outside, their red shirts darting back and forth through the hospice window and one by one, we tell my uncle that we love him and we're here.

And he smiles and opens his eyes and looks at all of us and when we kiss him he kisses back and now and then he goes back to fly fishing, casting his rod toward the end of the bed, where his daughters sit and my Nana.

"Did you get a good one?" we ask.

He shakes his head and tries again as the family closes in around him and suddenly this doesn't feel like death at all. This feels like life. The room tightens with the flexed muscle of the human spirit and all its empowerment and love. Hands clasp together like a chain. Sisters embrace.

And we stay by my uncle's bed through the afternoon and the night, watching a master fly fisherman cast his imaginary rod toward the vases of Stargazer lillies, our fading voices rooting him on always, even after he catches his fish and goes to fly.

My uncle passed away the morning of May 9th, 2007. He was 54-years-old.