Twas the Night Before Halloween: Halloweeve

Archer wears last year's costume-pants. A little on the short side but still adorable.

Twas the night before Halloween and all through the house
Not a person wasn't helping me throw last-minute costumes together, not even my spouse.
Fabrics were pressed with iron-on-letters with care.
In hopes they would look good and no one would stare (in a bad way)

My child was screaming from the bars of his bed
Wanting to hang out with his parents instead
Although mama was flattered, "Archer, don't get me wrong...
"...But this costume is going to take me all the night long!"
When out the front door, there arose such a flutter.
A teenager in a mask! (I internally muttered)
Away from the peephole I arose with a knife!
(I was cutting a jack-o-lantern with my Dad and his wife*. )

The full moon that I saw through the peephole was scary!
"Smell my feet," said the teen and "my ass is real hairy!"
Then what to my wandering eyes should appear?
But a dozen more teens with trick-or-treat gear!
And all of them clad head to toe, all in black
Carrying with them, stained pillow case sacks!
"It's too early I said! You must come back tomorrow"
But the teens, they all frowned, their brows furrowed in sorrow...
So I opened the door. With my pumpkin carving knife.
With my half-awake toddler, my dad and his wife
And we looked at each other and we had to agree
It isn't a sin to want some candy!
"Just one!" I demanded, shaking my head.
"And if you smash all our pumpkins you're totally dead...
...I'll kill you, myself!" I seriously said.

The kids all said thank you, adjusting their masks.
And as the door closed, my father's wife asked:
"Why did you give them our candy, anyway?
They're too old and it's not even Halloween day!"
I thought for a moment and then looked at my son.
And then back at the costume I had just now begun.
And I opened my eyes and stretched my hands to the sky
And I said something, shocking, even to I...

"One day my son will be older and change
And it will be a little bit hard and a little bit strange
And costumes will become what little kids wear
And it will be suddenly cool to flash strangers ass-hair.
And being too old for candy and costumes and fright
And unable to participate on Halloween night.
Is a terrible feeling. A feeling not right....
And I remember the feeling," I continued to say.
"For there is nothing quite like a dark Milky Way.
And the sound that it makes when it falls in the sack.
I would do anything to get those glory days back..."

As I muttered the words, a thought came to me
My son just turned two and was going on three
An age that was expected to ring doorbells and run!
It was almost as if a new childhood had come!

A wink of my eye and a twist of my head
And it was time to get Archer back into his bed
Then finish cutting jack-o-lantern's triangle eyes
And the iron-on letters for tomorrow's disguise.
And I heard my son babble as he passed out in his seat.
"I can't wait for tomorrow... my first trick-or-treat."
(And I nodded and said, "yes, me, too, little sweet.")

...cross-posted @ Straight From the Bottle...


My "dad's wife" is actually my mom... She wanted to make sure everyone knew that. Happily married for thirty years. Okay, then.

Devil's Rejects

As many of you know, I'm obsessed with Halloween. Obsessed. Last year Archer and I went as sideshow freaks. Archer as the Illustrated Man and I: the Bearded Lady. Hal even joined our freakdom as Siamese Twins. Here's how it went down:

Archer: Illustrated Man

Tattoos: From local party store. It took two days to apply them. Slowly. Casually. Kind of like clipping finger nails or giving a toddler a haircut.
White t-shirt, sleeveless-- Gerber from Target
Iron-on letters (because I'm a sewing failure)-- Michaels
Tattoo Print Pants by Amy @ Babyfairies.
Mustache- Mom's mascara.
Black boots by: See Kai Run
Cape: from devil costume recycled from the year before.

Me: Bearded Lady

Striped Dress: From my closet.
Marching Band Jacket: priceless thrift store find from years ago.
Beard: I just gave myself a quick bang trim (gotta keep the bangs relevant, yo!) and with a little double-sided tape? Stuck those suckaz on my face.

Dad: Siamese Twins
I just taped a balloon to Hal's shoulder and drew a face. Voila!

This year I had several ideas for Archer's costume, all of which were eventually rejected sans for one which I will share for you after Halloween. Aha! Suspense! (And yes, the pirate costume featured on flickr as well as this and this blog entry was indeed a decoy... Last year we had a decoy as well. Tricky!)

Reject #1: Rocky Raccoon
Ed note: Archer's favorite song for five minutes was The Beatles' Rocky Raccoon so I was trying to work with that. So, yeah...
How it would go down: Obviously, I'd have to purchase a raccoon costume OR beg my mom to make one for me. (I'm pathetic.) Then I'd somehow have to rig Gideon's Bible to it which I never figured out... although a friend of mine did have a genius idea about Bible Belts. Turns out, they already exist. Buzzkill. Anyway! I was going to dress up as McGil, call myself Lil and wear a name tag that said "Nancy"...
Why it was rejected: Whatever. No one cares. The bible rigging thing was too much to handle and I was too bummed out about the Bible Belts.

Reject #2: Shooting Star
How it would go down: I could easily make a star costume out of cardboard and a staple gun. No problem. Then! I could give Archer a holster and a squirt gun and Voila! A shooting star!
Why it was rejected: Because the only other person who would appreciate it would be my Dad. Also, I hate weapons. Even when they squirt water.

Reject #3: Pirate of the Snails
How it would go down: Pirate costume with stuffed snails sewed all over it.
Why it was rejected: Trying to explain to strangers that "pirate of the snails" was/is Archer's original nickname would have been too much work. Also, I couldn't find suitable snails. Sigh...

Reject #4 Dreamcatcher
How it would go down: A hula hoop with beaded twine tied to either side glued to a large hat... or something.
Why it was rejected: Because "or something" is not costume engineering at its finest. Also I found that Hula hoops are too big for a toddler to wear as a costume. It would have dragged on the floor. Archer would have hated it. It wouldn't have worked out.

Reject #5: Life Coach
Ed note: this was the costume we were going with until last week's last minute change of a dress.
How it would go down: T-shirt with positive affirmations in iron-on lettering on front and back side. The spinner from The Game of Life Superglued to the front of the shirt and a hat that says "Coach"... a whistle and of course, a bag of affirmations for Archer to hand out to people. I was planning to go as Archer's "client" complete with mascara all over my face and a box of Kleenex.
Why it was rejected: I was afraid to explain it. Also, it wasn't cute enough...

...In the meantime I must haul ass to finish our costumes. The non-rejected ones. Happy Halloween to all!


Hop on Pop (Culture): Article of the Week

Shirt Worthy by: David Giffels -- On punk-rock and parenthood. A charming little piece featured in today's New York Times Magazine:

...Then I had children, which involves reconsidering everything you once believed to be true. (The relative grossness of vomit, for instance. Before parenthood, vomit is not considered Something to Catch in Midair, Barehanded.) So when my son asked for a Ramones T-shirt for his 10th birthday because he “wanted one,” the request was so culturally complex that I chose not to probe it. Instead I just headed to the mall...

And because I'm newly obsessed with the return of 90's pop-culture, may I add that the author of the aforementioned piece wrote for Beavis and Butthead? Rad!!!!


And Just Like That, Archer Blew Out The Fire...

... In his way.


Still Standing

My parents are back in their home. The pool is black but the house that I grew up in is still standing. The neighborhood I grew up in is unscathed. Blackened but unscathed. My Nana is home. In the house my mother grew up in. Her garden is covered in ash but her home is fine. Beautiful as it's always been-- a family heirloom, built by my great-grandmother Frances' husband, John whose homes are scattered all over San Diego. Where he lived with my great-grandmother until they passed... Where my Nana met my Grandfather and they settled. And raised my mother and aunt. Where my mother met my father at University. Where we all lived. Grew up. Explored and watched change throughout the years.

San Diego is home. On fire, still. Always home. My aunt got to go home to her house in Rancho Santa Fe. So many homes were lost there. Beautiful homes with acres and orchards and horses. Hers is still standing. It survived. And yet, on the same street... so many were not so lucky.

I still don't know who has lost homes and who hasn't. Old friends. Their parents. New friends. I don't know. But my family is safe. Our stuff is safe. The wind changed. A good thing for us-- but not for so many others. I'm so sorry.

Yes, the wind changed. And so has San Diego. But sometimes that's what happens. And it isn't fair. And it hurts. And none of us can breathe... for now. But we will.

Going home will be different for a long time. But soon enough... And one day...

Like a phoenix from the ashes... Reborn as we help one another stand and face a new life. Press refresh and move forward.



Things We'll Never Lose in the Fire

Eleven years ago to the day, I was fifteen years old. I was a Sophomore in High School, on my way to an appointment downtown with my mother.

The fire was burning several miles away when we left. It wasn't supposed to come close to our house, but suddenly, the wind shifted and evacuations were under way. My brother and sister left with a neighbor and my mother and I left our appointment early to go home. But coming over the hill, all we could see was smoke and flames. Our entire neighborhood had disappeared, drenched in thick black smoke. I had a panic attack. I was fifteen-years old and my entire life was in that house. All of my journals and notebooks and photos and diaries and notes and poems and memories. I feared the worst. That I had lost everything. That I would be identiy-less without my clothes and shoes and journals and photos. I was defined by my possessions and nostalgic and forgetful.

I thought that without my yearbook, I would someday forget my closest friends. That without my diaries I would forget my past. My whole life since kindergarten had been recorded. I had documented everything. And now? It was all about to become dust. My anxiety mounted and soon I was flailing, hysterical in my mom's mini-van. I didn't want to go home because I was afraid I didn't have one, anymore. I always thought of home as a safe standing structure full of belongings. Pretty soon, I thought, we would be homeless. Have nothing. Be stranded on the outskirts of our past lives.

I still remember what I was wearing. CK jeans and brown mules that I regretted buying but wore anyway because they were the only shoes that matched my Guess? blouse, which was also brown. Brown with beige paisley flowers.

"This is all that's left!" I screamed, to my poor mother who was driving home, strong, patting my arm, telling me everything would be okay. "And I hate these shoes..."

We weren't allowed to go back to our neighborhood so instead we sat at the park down the street with all the neighbors. Some of us were laughing, trying to keep upbeat. Some were crying. I was a total wreck. So much so, my mother at one point yelled at me to calm down.

"You need to get a hold of yourself!" she said. "It's just stuff!"

She was right, although at the time I didn't think so.

"Stuff? STUFF? My journals are not STUFF!"

We waited for my Dad to come home from work. And Rachel and David to come meet us with our dog, Dexter. We waited until we were all together and then we piled in the van and went to my Aunt, Uncle and cousin's house. Where it was safe.

Our house was fine. Dozens of others in the area weren't so lucky and several friends of mine lost their homes and many houses in my neighborhood were damaged. Our clothes smelled like smoke for several months but it could have been a lot worse.

There have been plenty of wild-fires since. Southern California is full of them, but none have been as bad and have hit so close to (my) home as the ones that sparked last night. On the same date they did eleven years ago, October 22nd, 1996.

This morning I got a call from my parents who received a call from the authorities at 6am telling them they needed to pack up their belongings and be ready to evacuate. A new fire had erupted near San Marcos and was blowing toward them. My parents got up and quickly sorted through their belongings.

"Do you want me to grab anything of yours?" My mom asked.

I thought for a moment, half-asleep in bed. I couldn't think of anything. My entire childhood and teendom in boxes in the garage and in my old bedroom and nothing occurred to me as being important enough for my parent's to take with them. It didn't matter: A strange feeling for someone who for so long thought it did. Thought that everything mattered. Thought that stuff was important. That the artifacts of one's past were all one had left to remember her former life. But it wasn't true. It isn't true.

"No." I said. "Whatever you think is important, grab. But I'm fine. I don't need anything."

I hung up the phone with my mother and wandered around the house for an hour or so, thinking about what I had just said. It was unlike me. It was out of character. It was weird.

"The past has passed," I thought. "I don't need things to remind me of who I am. Where I have come from. What I need are friends. And family. And whatever can escape a firestorm in its own two (or four) legs.. Everything else is just ash. Always has been. Even if I didn't think so at the time."

I went to turn on the news, except there was nothing about San Diego. Too many fires in LA County. Too many fires. People being coaxed off their roofs, desperate, trying to fight what they cannot control. Little hoses versus the inferno. It seems so silly. Then, again, I'm in Hollywood, where it's safe. And I remember how scary... the thought... thinking... everything might be gone by morning.

Thinking... everything.

My mother just called me again. Just now while I'm writing this post. But my hands aren't shaking. They always shake-- my hands. They shake when I feel out of control. And anxious. And scared.

"We're evacuating, now," she said. "So is Aunt Fran. And Nana. The local lifeguard went to Nana's house and told her it's time to leave. We're all going to Grandma and Grandpa's."

"But Aunt Fran is in Rancho Santa Fe. And Nana's in Del Mar..."

"It's everywhere, now," my mother said. "250,000 people have been evacuated this morning. No one knows what's going to happen. We're all at the mercy of the wind."

She sounded like she did eleven years ago. Calm. Collected. Matter-of-fact. Wise beyond her ability to recognize her wisdom.

"Let's just pray the wind goes the other way," she said.

"Okay," I said. "I'll pray."

We hung up and I looked at my hands. Still not shaking. Not even a little bit scared but maybe that's what happens when you're in shock. Because last night everyone was in their homes and today.... Things are different. Because the wind picked up. Because it's so dry. Because there is nothing anybody can do. Because most of the time, there is nothing anybody can do.

We're all at the mercy of the wind. Whether its a fire storm or a brain tumor that looks like a heart. Growing. Shifting. Moving the right and then wrong way. At the wind's mercy. All of us. The sick and the dying and the healthy and the newly born. Our future and the world we haven't taken care of. A land whose rebellion is stronger than any force. Any prayer. Any hope.

Today dozens of fires are blazing out of control around Southern California. Many of which are 0% contained. And around the world they also burn. And even in the safe neighborhoods smoke looms overhead. Ash is in the air. Some fires are inescapable. Sometimes there is nothing we can do.

We're at the mercy of the wind-- More than we care to admit.

I have no idea what's going to happen. No one does. And for some reason, where that once seemed extremely scary it is now somewhat of a a relief. A relief because sometimes it takes an evacuation to know where home really is.

And sometimes it's better to stand back and hold the hands of those who truly matter than to stand on a roof amidst the flames trying to protect things that never really did.

Because no matter what may burn in the fire, there are some things impenetrable. Indestructible. And those are the things that matter most of all-- and the only things really worth protecting.

To all readers in evacuation zones (I know many of you, personally) my thoughts are with you and your families. Praying that the wind blows the other way...


(This video was taken in Joshua Tree several weekends ago of friends Ryan and Cheryl (Fort King) rocking out in the very wee hours of the morning. I thought it was apropos to the above post, considering the lyrics and all...)


The past several weeks have left me meandering down memory lane. I'm in the throes of an exciting new project which I will not talk about here (yet) but it involves some very nostalgic references, research, rehashing...

I grew up in the 90's. I came of age in cut-0ff shorts with the pockets showing and men's flannel shirts down to my knees. My-So-Called life was my show. My life. Angela's character was a year older than I was. Going through the same shit. Blah blah. Teen angst. Blah blah.

I own the box set and still watch it waaaaay more than I probably should. And now that the new box set is about to be released, you can bet I'll be all up in that bitch as well.

Tonight, while working on said-questionably secret project, I ran into the clip that "changed my life" or so it seemed at the time. Buffalo Tom quickly shot to the top of my favorite-bands-ever list and I'd sit in front of my parent's TV with my cassette taped (favorite) episode (Angela and Jordan in the Broiler Room. Remember this scene? Sigh...) and rewind so I could watch over and over as Jordan Catalano finally publicly acknowledged his relationship with Angela Chase and I hoped-- No-- PRAYED that my Jordan (his name was B.Jay and he enjoyed making out with me in his garage and ignoring me in the halls. Harsh) would come around and hold my hand, too.

Anyway, here is the clip that launched a thousand rewinds:

Speaking of nostalgia-- for all you children of the 80's, my friend Matthew Robinson published a brand new book about 80's toys/nostalgia called Just Can't Get Enough a la Depeche Mode. You can order on Amazon, here.

And if you have some awesome nostalgic clips to share, from 80's, 90's or beyond, feel free to link me up in the comments or wherever. I'm in the mood to take a trip down memory lane. That's kind of been my thing lately.


Friday (Morning) Fashion

Jeans by: OshKosh
SLAUGHTER shirt, handmade by: Claude, vintage one-of-a kind. (Check availability, here.)
Undershirt (pajama top): by: Gap Kids
Hat by: Sand Cassel Kids


The Good, The Bad and The Disgusting

Something stinks in suburbia. Or wherever the hell we live. First the sewage issue, which for those who asked had to do with a tree root attacking the pipe and somehow reversing the flow of... ahem... which filled the bathtub with... ahem... and overflowed from the toilet creating quite an... um... splash. OF HELL. Let's just say, I will never take a bath again. Anywhere. Or at least not for a while. I'm also scared to even step foot in my bathroom. Poop is literally haunting my dreams in very new ways.

But whatever. That was Sunday. It's Tuesday, now, and I've moved on, except today brought a new kind of stink. A new kind of... ahem.

Basically, it went like this: Archer chugged a liter of water on our daily stroll to the local boulevard. We had lunch with friends. Browsed Soleil's new organic baby store, which had its grand opening last week. Had Pinkberry for dessert. La-di-da... I noticed a drip, drip... drip. On the pavement... coming from... my dress, which was soaked.... With urine. Apparently Archer's water chug-a-thon was more than his Huggie could handle. He soaked through his diaper. Then his pants. Then my dress. And my leggings. Awesome.

Unfortunately, even though I had seemingly packed the entire contents of my house in my new humongous stroller, I didn't bring a change of clothes for Archer. A diaper, yes. But no change of clothes. And obviously no change of clothes for me. But, whatever. Being peed on is no where near as bad as being stranded ten blocks from home with a stroller the size of Texas and a soaked child with no change-of-clothes. I had no choice but to strip him down on the sidewalk and wrestle a new diaper on him in the grass of someone's yard. Of course, I had nothing to dress him in, so once I got the diaper on him, he took off running down the boulevard in nothing but a diaper and socks.

"Archer! Come back!"

But he wasn't listening.

Soaked in urine, I chased after him, finally wrestling him to the ground. "Your shoes! At least, we should put on your shoes!"

He was embarrassed was the thing. He was mortified. He looked up at me with this sort of understanding sadness. He had peed his pants in public and he understood. I carried him the six blocks home. In a diaper and Vans. Soaked in urine. Pushing my huge yellow stroller. And I cried. Because it was a long day. A long weekend. Because shit happens and you flush the toilet. But sometimes it isn't so easy. Sometimes a little boy drinks too much water and soaks through his clothes. Sometimes a tree root breaks a sewage pipe and suddenly there is shit all over the bathroom. And sometimes it's too much to handle. Even for me, who has everything. Who is healthy and happy most of the time. I mean... Who am I to even flinch at pee on my dress and poop on my shoes when there are so many people who live in pain and discomfort? Every fucking day. Who have to get on an airplane and fly home to nobody. To a hospital. Full of doctors. Nice doctors, sure. But still...

Bathroom rugs can be thrown away. Dresses can be dry-cleaned. There is always tomorrow, after a bad day. There is always waking up fresh and new. For me. But not for everyone. And that's fucked. Totally fucking fucked.

I dropped Scarlett off at the airport today. I hate saying goodbye. It was hard enough leaving her the last time, getting on a plane and going home. But this time was even more difficult. Because I was sending her back, alone and NO ONE should have to deal with Cancer alone. Especially someone who kicks everyone else's ass when it comes to being amazing. Someone who deserves to have a home. And an infinite supply of kisses on the cheeks. And no more pain.


Subtitle Change Followed by a Brief Rant

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Refugees in the Night

*Updated Below*
Raw sewage river
In our apartment, so we

became refugees.

I WISH I was lying. I WISH the above poo-poo haiku was me just yanking your chain but no. No. NO. Several hours ago, we were greeted by a large plumbing emergency which forced me to become hysterical, grab Archer, Scarlett and a few personal belongings and flee. Because, poop dreams and all, I do not do well with raw sewage. All. Over. The. Place.

I'm not normally squeamish. Two days ago I inserted a very large needle into Scar's chest to access her port and it only took me two tries. That's like... REALLY good. Like, her nurses sometimes take five or six or twenty tries before they can get up in there. Anyway...

Raw sewage is not something I can stomach. I've pretty much been in and out of hysteria since I opened the bathroom door and saw...

Okay. Maybe this post was a bad idea. Tragedy + Time = Comedy and I'm sure as soon as the mess is fixed and cleaned and crap is no longer floating down our hall, I will laugh about this and make a thousand jokes, but I'm not quite there yet, especially since I just got off the phone with Hal who just informed me of another ten horrifying details. Thankfully my husband is great at dealing with all kinds of shit (heh!) so while Scar, Archer and I are squatting at Lauren's house watching Grease and making sandwiches out of crackers and jam, Hal is dealing like a champ.

Thank you, baby.

In the meantime, let's talk about Grease. How annoying is Sandra D? I just want to sock her one in the nose. And what happened to John Travolta? He used to be so cool and comfortable with his gay-ness. And then there's Rizzo? Has anyone else noticed that Rizzo is perpetually with camel-toe? Sorry. Just trying to make lemonade, people. Just trying to make lemonade.

Updated to Add: We're back in business. Back in the high life again. Etc. If you're a soon-to-be house guest here at casa de GGC, not to worry. It smells like lemon zest up in here, bitches. The shit is no longer in the fan. I repeat, the shit is no longer in the fan.... or anywhere else. Amen and goodnight...


Gone Wilde!

The Picture of Dorian Sagebrush
brought to you by photobooth and the letter's G, G, and C.

From left: Archer: stunned by his reflection in the warped eye of photobooth with his hand to his forehead in utter dismay. Also pictured, me, and Scarlett who has fled Memphis to party with us for a long weekend and give me a run for my money re: my open-mouth-in-photos situation.

"How sad it is! I shall grow old, and horrid, and dreadful. But this picture will remain always young. It will never be older than this particular day of June. . . . If it was only the other way! If it was I who were to be always young, and the picture that were to grow old! For this--for this--I would give everything! Yes, there is nothing in the whole world I would not give!"

-Oscar Wilde: Picture of Dorian Gray


With the Appearance of Freckles

Before Archer was born I figured people were born with freckles, or maybe it was something I never thought entirely about. Not until Archer was born pale and unspeckled.

I've always been fond of freckles. I think they're adorable on children and sexy on adults. Growing up I memorized the freckled patters on my arms and legs: the pattern that forms a little dipper on my right arm. I remember, in Kindergarten excitedly finding Cassiopeia on my left shoulder and how I was with the boy I had a crush on as we counted our freckles together under the slide.

I kept my favorite freckles a secret and when I couldn't find constellations on my skin I drew them myself. A giraffe down my stomach. A robot on my calf. Sometimes I would find a new freckle and give it a name. And every year more of them would appear, multiplying under the sun, having freckle babies in the night when my eyes were closed.

I have been waiting rather excitedly to see whether or not Archer would become freckled, covered with constellations, speckled with little moles he might one day call "his favorite". They recently started to appear, the freckles, popping up like little mushrooms, dark scattered specks upon his toes and fingers and scrawny knees.

The first freckle I noticed was on his toe. He was wearing sandals and then POW! It existed. Out of nowhere. Several weeks ago, it happened again, except this time on his face-- two tiny dots appeared. Skin no longer a pure porcelain. When you're a new parent, every little thing becomes a major milestone, just like every silly scribble-drawing becomes a masterpiece. I am more in love with Archer's quirks-- the things that make him unique. The marks and spots that appear and form, the scars.

Never trust a man who doesn't have a visible scar
, I was once told by a very wise man I met on an airplane on my way home from London. I have no recollection of how or why the subject of "scars" or even men came up, but airplanes do funny things to strangers where sage advice is concerned.

The innocence and purity of youth are as ephemeral as the wind. Babies quickly become children who swear and hit and get angry. Who cry and spit and fall in love. Who break hearts and toys and scar and wake up with new freckles, after flailing, sleepless nights.

I know that children grow fast, that every parent mourns the quickness of time, change, and the terrifying things that happen when innocence is replaced by intelligence. Doubt. Cynicism. It can be difficult to watch our babies become little people, every day more ringed like the trunks of trees, marked by life in all it's unpredictability. Little clouds changing so quickly it is almost possible to watch them grow, shift.

The man on the airplane was definitely right. One should never trust a man (or woman) who doesn't have any scars. And life moves fast and change is constant and children grow up, look different, start to recognize themselves in the mirror and in secret choose favorite freckles under the slide.

There is something very exciting about gazing across the vastness of a new and stretching skin, watching as stars appear and constellations form. Overnight. On Archer's face. Between his toes. Across his skin, like canvas.

A little sad, maybe. But mostly exciting.


**cross-posted at Straight From the Bottle**

Six Word Memoirs: A Preview

The following is a preview of Smith Mag's forthcoming collection of Six-Word-Memoirs: Not Quite What I Was Planning. Coming February 2008 from SMITH and Harper Perennial. Enjoy!

Six-Word Memoir book preview from SMITHmag on Vimeo.


Sleep? Uh...

Why is that that grandparents, when babysitting their grandchildren for the weekend, never have to endure the sleep wars parents do?

Four hour naps? Twelve hour sleeps-through-the-night? Is this some kind of joke? Can it be over now? Because, um, we're tired. And still hungover from a weekend of desert birthday-partying. (Apparently, my tolerance is not what it used to be. At all.)

I do think it's great that Archer's a dreamboat of a house guest for my parents. A giant relief, actually. All I'm saying is... Archer? Your parents need their sleep, too.


P.S. I just want to thank all of you for coming out of the floorboards and dropping down from the ceiling like a bunch of ninja superheroes to help me plan my tour. Your emails and offers of couch-crashing? Your kind words and connections and invitations and book-store recs? You're willingness to travel? Above and beyond, people. I had no friggin clue how I was going to pull this thing off but now I'm really confident that I can. Because of you're amazing awesomeness. Thank you. I'll be keeping you all posted with dates, details and locations as they come... I can't wait to tackle you all with hugs!

Archer <3 Alice

Every Tuesday we go to the local library, listen to the librarian read stories, make an art project, or not. Usually not. Usually wear pipe-cleaners as bracelets instead of decorating a paper bag to look like a cat. Not quite at the craft stage yet.

Craft-time usually leads to check-out-book time where Archer picks out a book or ten to take home. But last week's "book-o-the-week" choosing took a surprising turn when Archer came to me with a pink-covered novel from the young-adult section.

"What's this?" I asked.

Archer smiled and held out his book proudly. A kind-eyed red-haired girl was grinning from the cover. Alice. Lovingly Alice.

"You don't want to check this book out. It doesn't have any pictures!"

But Archer clung to the book for dear life.

"Okay, okay. Let's check the book out then. But how about we go look for another. With pictures?"

But Archer didn't want to look for another book. He wanted Lovingly Alice and ONLY Lovingly Alice.

I figured by the time we got home he would have been over Alice. That she would become forgotten and we would go back to reading Hop on Pop or The Quiet Cricket over and over but I was wrong. There was something about Alice. Lovingly Alice. And not even two-hundred pages of text could deter Archer from his favorite new book.

He's had the book a week now and he's still going strong.

What? It's a really good book, Mom.

A REALLY good book.



Let's Grab a Drink and Talk About Stuff That Matters

**Updated, with dates, and new cities, below**

Oh... I'm a traveling maaaan...

So.... I'm trying to strategize a book tour, which is a lot of work, confusing, expensive, awesome, expensive, and overwhelming. Especially when it comes to choosing locations, because, uh.... Um. Yeah.

I've got the following cities on lockdown, sort of:

San Diego
Los Angeles
San Francisco
New York
Washington DC

Other possible stops include Minneapolis, Dallas, St. Louis, Kansas City, Memphis, Philly, Miami, Toronto, Tampa, South Jersey...

Do you live in any of the aforementioned cities and/or where is the closest city to your home? And if you live in California, where about-ish? The west-coast portion of the tour will be the most extensive leg of the trip, obviously, but I'm wiiiiide open to locations. Would love to meet you/ have some drinks/ sing songs/ do each other's makeup/ raid local piano bars, etc.

**Also, it looks like west-coast leg will be third week in April-ish. East Coast, Mid-west and Southern stops: first two weeks of May.***

Thank you all in advance for delurking/providing your city coordinates/ being awesome. Go team!


**My goodolfriend just opened a spankin' new online boutique. Check it out! Everyone needs a Morrissey watch. And a lipstick tee. And the cutest jeans of all time folded in her dresser. **

That Mom

I am now officially a member of the "My Kid's Scribble-drawing Is Actually a Sort of Prodigious Masterpiece I Must Stick on the Fridge and Worship" club.

Seascape XIV: Ink and Crayon, 2007, Archer Sagebrush, American

Would you look at that use of color? A purple sun? So deep. A vertical sky? So profound.


Where Worlds Collide

As a gigantic Red House Painters/Mark Kozelek/Sun Kil Moon fan I fell out of my chair when today's* Yo Gabba Gabba took pause from the usual awesomeriffic comput-a-tronic dance numbers to play the following clip featuring the unmistakable Kozelekian vocals. Enjoy:


Yo Gabba Gabba was my favorite kid's program before, but now? I'm Tivo'ing every episode for myself. Brilliant. Just... yeah. I could not recommend it more. To parents. Children. Old people. Young people. Dogs. Monsters under the bed. Cyclopses. Et al.

Here's a double-encore presentation (The Salteens: Episode #1) if you're still not convinced:

Bravisimo, dudes. Thanks for the memories.


*It was a rerun from back in August that I apparently missed.

The Magic of 1-2-3

Um. Hi. I think I just uncorked the secret of the universe, or shall I say, the toddlerverse and I can't believe no one told me/ it took so long for me to figure this one out for myself. It's the only area of discipline I've tried that works EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. And no, it's not threatening time outs. (Archer LOVES time outs because it means he gets to stand in his crib, with his face pressed to the window overlooking our neighbor's garden, where he waves and says "Hi! Hiiiiii! Hiiiii! Muuuuah! Hiiiiii! Hi! Hi! Bye! Hi! Bye!" for ten minutes.)

Chores as discipline don't work either because Archer's obsessed with helping around the house. Dusting is his second favorite hobby after brushing his teeth and my teeth and the dog's teeth and his toy's teeth and his shoe's teeth. (I don't ask questions.) He also enjoys sweeping and wiping off the table with a wet paper-towel. (Cannot WAIT until he's old enough for dishes. I HATE dishes.)

But. But. BUT! There is a glorious (just glorious!) trick I have found and it works. EVERY. FRIGGIN. TIME. If Archer's MIA, and I need him to come here this instant? All I have to do is count to three and magically he appears. Or gets up. Or obeys me. It's like magic.




And suddenly, out pops Archer from behind a shelf at the local bookstore, running at me full speed.




And out climbs Archer out of the stroller he insists on living, sleeping and eating all three meals in, since it came c/o Brio in the mail last week.




And into the bathroom zooms Archer, yanking his shirt off on his way to the bath.

Why didn't anyone tell me about this oh-holiest-of-secrets? And why does it work in such a miraculous way?

Actually, don't answer that. I don't want to know. I just want it to NEVER END.



In other news, Archer finally started speech-therapy and guess what? It's not so bad.

In other (other) news, Vagina is For Lovers tees are now officially on sale c/o my life partner in crime. Buy one, here and then call me, so we can be twins at school tomorrow.

My Little Red Wagon of Psychosis

Last night I dreamt I had to go to the bathroom. In my dream I was dragging a little red wagon with a giant ceramic toilet in its bed. I was wearing a one-piece jumpsuit that I had to remove completely in order to crouch over the toilet, which I would do every time I thought I found some privacy....

Except that by the time I removed the jumpsuit, someone would pop out of nowhere, laughing and pointing. There was nowhere to go. Nowhere to poop in peace. The scenes changed. Inside. Outside. In the basement of a party. Wherever I went, strange faces popped out of the shadows.

"Are you pooping? Ew!" the voices would say. Meanwhile, totally naked, I strained to cover myself and move along, tangled in my silly little jumpsuit.

I have had recurring toilet dreams for the past year or so. When I was working on the book, I even had a dream that Hal was on the toilet. That he kept asking me to close the door so he could have his privacy. "I just want to go to the bathroom in peace," he said. The "me" in my dream, last night, would agree.

It was obvious what the dream meant. I was writing about us. I was writing about him, cracking open the bathroom door. Exposing him and our marriage.

Last night's dream turned into an epic. A dream about a woman in a one-piece jumpsuit who couldn't find a place to poop. Who had to go so badly, her stomach ached. My stomach ached but first, I needed some privacy.

I'm a very modest person. I never went naked in locker rooms. Ive never showered at the gym. I'm self-conscious because I know people are looking. Because I have impossible standards of beauty. Because I stupidly think someone is going to care that I'm imperfect.

I have always been self conscious everywhere but my writing. I am confident staring into the light of the screen, typing almost completely with one hand. I always did better writing letters to strangers than conversing with friends, always unable to confess my love out loud.

To this day, the only work I've ever sold was personal. Essays and short stories with a jumpsuit around my ankles, pooping. Much like many of you, who open your bathroom doors and stand naked in front of an audience of strangers.

Rockabye isn't the first time I have been published spilling my guts. I spent my teen years acting as the lead contributor for a teen book series, my late teens, touring and speaking to audiences of strangers about how I was rumored to be the worst kisser in Junior High. Basically, I've been dragging this little red wagon and toilet behind me for the last decade.

The thing is, this. We all poop. We all make fashion mistakes (a jumpsuit at a bar is a bad idea, something I have proved to myself in my waking life, as well as my sleeping one). And for writers, bloggers, people who can't not be honest and open and naked, there is always the risk of indecent exposure resulting in criticism and mockery. Because the majority of readers don't know us, personally. Or love us. Or even care about what happens to us.

And maybe that's what the dream meant. Maybe it was me just being afraid. Knowing that even though, everybody poops, it is more respectable to do so in private. Behind locked doors. God forbid a gassy woman would drag a toilet through the street. There is such thing is TMI and privacy and for whatever reason, I have always felt the need to expose myself.

At the end of the dream, I finally gave up. I was too tired and bloated to hold it all in any longer. I hiked to the end of a pier and crouched over the toilet, surrounded by people in snorkels and scuba masks, who were laughing and pointing and watching me from the water.

It was my moment of realization that I had to face the music. It was my own fault that I couldn't poop in peace, because I chose to leave the door open. By making the choice to go public with my private life, I couldn't be insecure. Or self-conscious.

I'd rather go naked than wear fear was my slogan. (Ah, yes... My proverbial bumper sticker on the road of life.) Or as the dream revealed, I'd rather poop in public than live a life of constipation, even if it meant being criticized or ostracized or disliked.

Voicing our opinions will always come with a price. Making a professional life out of a personal one is a choice. And one we must take full responsibility for.