In with the old

Ten years ago, I was celebrating The Millennium with my boyfriend-at-the-time, high on drugs at a warehouse rave in St. Louis, via his hometown of Springfield Missouri. I was eighteen years-old, freshly on my own, totally in love and out of my mind. The following four New Year Eve's went somewhat similarly... tripping down boulevards in broken paper crowns, blowing cheap paper horns and boyfriends soon to be ex. It was New Years eve and nothing mattered - not the past or the future - (especially not the immediate future) as evidenced by New Years days spent sick in bed, still drunk, buzzing from the substances inhaled in the night before.

New Years' days were painful reminders of what "coming down" felt like, of waking up alone, surrounded by people. The hope for a happy New Year replaced with hunger. For breakfast. For love. Direction. Something else.

It's been six years since I've been out on New Years Eve. Hal, too. Our first New Year's Eve together, I was four-months pregnant with Archer so we stayed in. The years that followed we had newborn babies or lack of funds so we did our own thing. Hosted game nights with a handful of friends. Watched home-movies. Hung out with my parents.

This year we decided to go out. Ring in a new decade, holding hands, lost in the city we love - our home. Our first time out on New Years as a couple...

More, here.


Best of 2009: then they laughed themselves to sleep and I wrote this post

The following is a re-post first published October 7th. This is the last repost. Promise.


This whole house-hunting, wanting-to-move thing is consuming me. It’s consuming all of us as, as evidenced by the amount of times I’ve blogged about it these last few weeks and I apologize.

But here’s the thing I’ve realized in my short time here on earth: focusing on the things you can control are great distractions from the things you can’t.

The last year I've spent in professional retrograde - busting my ass behind the scenes of these blogs pursuing things that I have yet to really write about here. Because what is there to say? A lot of maybes. Maybe nots. Question marks. Close calls. High hopes. Low mopes. Et al.

But most of all, a lot of writing. A lot of writing about women who are a lot more interesting than I am, children who belong to me in different ways - stories I want desperately to come true.

I’m sharing this with you because over and over I’ve been asked where I’ve been and why I’m not writing as much as I used to, and I feel like I owe you an explanation.

The last several months have included a string of panic attacks. Posts written that I have decided not to post at the last minute out of fear:
1. Because I’ve opened myself up to strangers and as of late have had to deal with the repercussions.
2. Because some days? I want to just live my life without feeling obligated to write about every. fucking. thing. FUCK.
3. Because too often I have asked myself, “is this worth it?” and then answered, “no.”
... ... ...
We’ve been in our house for as long as I started this blog. (I was blogging elsewhere for three years before starting GGC.) Four years is a long time to be in a small space with a growing family but it wasn't until recently that I started feeling antsy.

It started when Fable was born and escalated dramatically when Fable moved out of our room and into her brother’s and we all lost sleep.

When Fable wasn’t waking Archer up in the middle of the night? Archer was waking up Fable until we were all awake, exhausted, frustrated, unhappy, tripping over sharp objects in dark halls during wee hours.

“We need to find a bigger house,” I said to Hal. “We’ve outgrown this one.”

So we started looking. To buy. To rent. To whatever.

We saw our first place, yesterday.

Looking for a new house has held larger meaning for me these last few months as I pursue new stories not my own - making meetings, deleting drafts, trying to define high-concept in three acts and five acts and eight acts and ninety-five versions of the same story later...
"Thanks so much for your time. I look forward to hearing back from you at your earliest convenience."
So I refresh craigslist instead of waiting by the phone. Because I can control a cursor and a mouse. Because that was always the beauty of writing online. Of being online.

Still is.

... ... ...

Last night I put the kids to bed, kissed them both goodnight and left the room. Fable whimpered as she often does when I leave her and then...

“You need to learn how to sleep, Fabes. Here. I’ll teach you. First? Put your head on the pillow like this and then you close your eyes and then you sleep, like this, see?”


“See Fablela?”


“Are you sleeping?”

And then... laughter. First hers and then his until both Archer and Fable were laughing hysterically in the darkness. I couldn’t see, outside the door was I, but hearing them make each other laugh was like a remote control falling ninety-five stories onto my head.


I paused, waited for their laughter to subside into silence. Then I turned around.

"If they didn't share a room they wouldn't be able to make each other laugh in the dark," I said to Hal. "Fuck a good night's sleep when there are moments like that."

Hal agreed.

"I need to chill out."

Hal agreed.

I stopped refreshing craigslist. Swept the floor. Made the bed... watched the children sleep.

Content. Safe. Sweet dreams.
... ... ...

Today, after dropping Archer off at school, I came to the coffee shop to write as I do three mornings a week. I took a swig of my latte, opened up my computer to resume work on a script and wrote this post instead.

It was the first time in a long time that I wanted to blog. That I really, truly wanted to share in a non-obligatory way.

Because last night I had an epiphany that gave me permission to slow down. Because, contrary to all the ways I've been pushing myself this past year, the spinning of wheels with vibrating wings, I stopped still and was happy. And now, as I write this post I am reminded of why I started this blog in the first place: so I could work my shit out.

... ... ...

It's clear to me now that we don’t need to move tomorrow. Or even next month.

Because the children are happy sharing a room. And most of the time I'm happy writing about my life, talking about my experiences.

Of course it isn't all awesome all the time. (Nothing is.)

Of course there will be nights when the kids wake each other up and none of us get any sleep. Just like there will be days when I’m tired and scared of sharing – sick of the sight of “I” and “me” on my Blogger and Movable type templates. Stagnated in my own hypothetical puke and predictability.

1. I'm lucky.
2. We're lucky.
3. All of the above.
The truth is, changing homes and jobs isn't going to answer all of life's questions. I've realized dreams before only to wake up the next morning and feel just as defeated. It never goes away - the drive - the need to move forward- to change - to want to make your family, friends (even strangers) proud.

At least, it never has for me.

But I have to remind myself that fulfillment comes in all forms. Perhaps, then, it will be my finest life achievement to learn to be happy with what I have. To be ambitious, sure, but also to be content, here. In this moment - buzzed on caffeine and realizations.

I'm happy where I am. I recognize that today. I recognized that the moment I sat down to work on a script and wrote a blog entry instead. I recognized that last night when we went to see the perfect house and I didn’t feel at home.

One day our family will move and I will move on. Pull my life and my kids from the infinity of the Internet, label large cardboard boxes with a sharpie and move into our dream house, but for now? I must recognize the importance of sharing. For my children on the nights they laugh each other to sleep. For myself on days like today when with all my heart I want to share my life with you.



26. Lived in Bars: Cat Power


Best of 2009: Costumes

The following is a re-post first published October 23rd. We recently did a Momversation episode asking viewers as well as ourselves, "what would you be doing right now if you didn't have children?" a question I often ask myself, seldom answer and will never know.

It's only natural for us to daydream about different lives, homes, career paths... but the thing about fantasy? It doesn't fall asleep in your arms as you sing it to sleep, or tell you "your hair looks like an erupting volcano." It doesn't make you piss your pants laughing. It never tells as interesting a story.

Still. To be passionate is to fantasize about throwing it all away... For a moment. Or two. Sometimes even three.


Yesterday, in the costume shop, shopping for the accessories to complete the kids’ Halloween costumes, I had a moment.

A discombobulated, where the fuck am I? Who am I? moment. I used to have them frequently when Archer was a baby. When I was dealing with the authorities, trying to bust the perpetrator with my identity theft.

“Ma’am, I’m afraid the thief is you.”


But I've been past that point for a while. I don't fantasize about running away like I did back then, rebelling against responsibility - masking truth with make believe. Kicking and screaming because No! I don’t want to grow up. Motherhood, don’t make me or else! Or else I won’t invite you to my birthday party!

I used to think it mandatory to reinvent myself often. With dramatic haircuts and color: from platinum to blue black to platinum again. I'd wander into a tattoo parlor or get something pierced. Just to look different - to send a message to the universe and myself that I was willing to change. Because sometimes the only way to feel different is to look the part. Put on a hat and do a new dance.

I have since found new and less external ways to reinvent myself but that doesn’t change the fact that sometimes, I find myself struck hard by the other side of the mirrored glass – the fork in the road like a giant whY in the middle of the room. And yesterday, in the costume shop, surrounded by disguises…

Fable was asleep in her stroller as I perused the walls of masks, costumes and liquid latex, pulling items off the wall, comparing wigs in nets, waving magic wands.

Then I turned a corner and into a new world.

Three young women reached for the various costumes stacked up the wall, stood-on-tiptoes, jumped and knocked them off the shelves, held the various disguises up to their American Apparel clad bodies. They were laughing. They were excited.

“You’ll look so hot in that,” one of them said.

“That with a pair of fishnets would be UH-Mazing.”

“Don’t you wish we could dress like this everyday?”

“Yes, I do!” I said.

The girls turned toward me.

Apparently, I was blogging out loud again. But it was more than that. For a moment I forgot who I was. I’d fallen down the rabbit hole into a parallel universe where I, too, was shopping for my “sexy witch” costume to wear to my friend’s Halloween party. Where I got to hang out with my girlfriends, spend the afternoon costume shopping, nary a wedding ring on my finger or a stroller in my hands. I wanted to look so totally hot in fishnets, too. I wanted to be the sexy witch again.

The moment lasted ten seconds at most and yet for those brief moments, my world fell apart. I was lost and confused, spun out and turned the wrong direction.

“I mean… what? I’m just… excuse me.”

“It’s okay. Cute baby.”

Cute life... I mean… “Thank you.”

I tried not to sound bitter. Resentful of their ability to be whomever they wanted whenever they wanted. Truthfully, I was jealous. I wanted to be there with my friends picking out my amazing costume, too. But where would I wear it? Certainly not trick or treating with my children. Or to Archer's preschool Halloween carnival.

I often wonder where I’d be right now if life went according to the plans I had at eighteen when I moved out of my parent’s house and into my own life. My plans to travel through my twenties, be free of commitment, live alone, host theme parties, excel at independence, shop with my girlfriends for Halloween costumes on early evening Wednesdays.

I’ve never regretted a decision, let alone the decision to devote my twenties to raising children and coloring within the same lines I used to twist and tear, shopping for costumes not my own for Halloween.

My family is my one true love, the thing that matters to me most of all and yet? I still have moments, same as before-- when I find myself with face pressed to the window, envious of the costumes that people wear on Halloween and year round.

Times I want to sit in the smoking section even though I say, “non.”

I took a turn out of the costume aisle and back to the accessories wall. Where I quickly found what I was looking for and fled to the checkout line. Past the girls with their arms full of wigs and the ghosts with flashing lights for eyes.

“You only live once,” people always say but its bullshit. You live a hundred thousand times – in a hundred thousand places with a hundred thousand people passing through, getting caught in the various webs we build out of cotton in our front yards. An infinity of flashing lights for an infinity of choices. Left or right? Up or down? Here? How about there, instead?

“Did you find everything you were looking for today?” the man at the register said as we approached.

“Yes, er... kind of."

Not really.

And then this afternoon, as I was putting away my laundry, I found two pairs of fishnets still in their packaging, leftover from years ago, never worn.

Apparently, I was never the Sexy Witch for Halloween kind of girl. Not even then. Before the husband and the kids.

How could I have forgotten? Did I ever really change?

Time is a magician waiting to saw us all in half so that we might put ourselves back together again.

“Ma’am, I’m afraid the magician is you."

"Maybe so."

Best of 2009: After the Ferris Wheel

"No, Mommy, I want to go on the Ferris Wheel by myself," he says.
"But you can't. You're too small."
I point to the sign:
Archer blinks at the letters on the wooden clown's polka-dotted sleeve.
"Fine," he says, taking my hand reluctantly. "You can come, too."

I climb the creaky steel ladder, hold onto the railing as he pulls me fearlessly, over cords and cracks in the platform, past the Ferris Wheel operator's chubby hands caked with dirt, reaching to block Archer so he doesn't cross the line of twisted duct tape faded red.

"Wait, son. Not yet. You have to stand behind the line."

"Listen to the Ferris Wheel boss," I say.

Archer kicks the line with his new shoe. Elbows the sides of the railing, pulls at me with sweaty hands.

"I don't like waiting," he whispers.

"Most people don't," I whisper back.

The Ferris Wheel turns above us, a clock with numbered baskets one through twelve. It ticks and tocks and creaks and shakes and children laugh and couples snuggle and a man in a faded baseball cap sits alone.

This is what life looks like, I think, watching behind sunglasses as faces twist and smile and frown and squint against the sun. This is what living feels like, I think as I watch children extend their hands, comb freedom with their fingers, high-five the sky. There are those who cling to safety bars, turn their faces from the view on high.

I used to relate most to the children but recently things have changed.

It can be scary to look down when you understand what it means to fall.

But Archer doesn't. He just wants to ride.

His eyes widen as the Ferris Wheel slows and then stops.

Two children step out of their car and run down the ramp into their parent's arms. They're big enough to ride alone. And more than likely, this time next year Archer will be too.

I squeeze his hand.

"Don't!" he says.

"What? I can't hold your hand?"

I reach for it again.

"Stop it!"

"Okay, sorry. Fine."


We climb into our car and the attendant pulls the safety bar over our laps. Archer tries to pull it off, grimaces.

"No way. You can only ride if you wear a seat belt to keep you safe. So you don't fall out. See?"

I point to the big block letters on the side of the car:
"This right here is the most important rule of all."

Archer can't read but he trusts that I am telling the truth. He traces his fingers over the letters until our box lurches forward, drifts backwards and raises slowly up, up, up and into the sky.

"Here we go!"

"Look at all the buildings, Mommy! Look at all the cars."

We put our hands in the sky and go around and around and around, like time.

My stomach churns in a way that reminds me I am adult. Even with my hands in the air. Even though I still say "whee!" as we go over the falls and down. Meanwhile Archer squints and shouts and throws his arms up, kicks his feet so that our car sways and tips and I hold on to him not because I'm afraid he's going to fall but because I need reinforcement.

Because he makes me feel safe.

The Ferris Wheel slows and then stops. Our turn to disembark so we do. And before I realize what has happened, he is gone. One hundred feet in front of me at least. He's running away.

"Wait! Stop!"

But he doesn't hear me. I panic. How could he possibly know how to find his way back all by himself? There's no way.

Recently I asked Archer if I could read him Runaway Bunny.

"NO! I don't like that book," he said. "The mommy is so mean."

"What! No! The mommy isn't mean. She wants her baby to feel safe - to know that she is there for him. She wants to protect him, make him the happiest little bunny in the garden!"

But Archer shook his head, pointed to the baby bunny with sails for ears, the mother bunny blowing wind.

"See? She's chasing him. She's trying to trap him," he said.

I think of this conversation suddenly as I'm darting after Archer, calling his name.

"Slow down! Wait for me! You need to hold my hand in crowds! STOP, ARCHER! STOP! You have to wait..."

But he knows where he's going. He darts through the the crowd like a cat, his green shirt flashing behind booths sponsored by Yogurt and stands selling Nescafe Frappes, past the Greek dancers, up the concrete steps and into the arms of his father.

"... for me."

I'm out of breath when I arrive, my head cloudy with a chance of epiphanies.

"See, mommy?" Archer says. "I can do it by myself now."



Best of 2009: When we Fight

The following is a re-post first published August 27th, (re-enacted a dozen or so times since then.)

He hammers the mirror into the door. It's been weeks since I first asked him to do so, but right now is when he decides it should be done. He has found his perfect opportunity to avoid the silence that permeates our second act, in between "fight" and "forgiveness:"

Act One: We fight
Act Two: We avoid
Act Three: We forgive

When we fight, he insists on handy work that involves screwdrivers and hammers, nailing in shelves and oiling doors so that they don't squeak. Bang, bang, bang until the nails are flush with the wall and the mirror hangs perfectly straight.

When we fight he doesn't answer his phone so it rings and rings and mine does too, vibrating until it moves clear across the desk and falls with a crack on the floor.

When we fight I walk with hard steps: Click, click, click even though I'm wearing flat shoes. I hold Fable in my arms like a shield as Hal asks Archer if he'd like to play Connect Four again for the twenty-seventh time.

When we fight we try to out-parent each other. Diapers are changed the second they feel wet. Meals are topped with garnishes, anything to make our children smile, laugh, climb our limbs like trees and "again, Mommy! Again!"

I'm the favorite.
No, I am!
When we fight, love songs make me cringe so I change the music - something with no words, por favor. A piano sonata?

When we fight I take the dogs for a walk. Ask Hal if he wants to come with me and when he says, "Sure. Let me put my shoes on," roll my eyes because I'd rather walk alone.

When we fight I walk behind him so that I can stick my tongue out at the back of his head and he can look upon a view unobstructed. When we fight he tries not to lose his temper over little things and I try not to lose my temper over him losing his tempter and he clutches the handle of the stroller a little tighter as I peek through the windows of immaculate homes and wonder what I would be doing if I lived there.
What if for the remainder of the afternoon, I could switch places with a woman not in a fight with her husband? Someone who could afford to hire a dozen men to nail in her mirrors.

And then I host a brief conversation with myself in my head that goes like this:

"Don't be an asshole."
"But my husband doesn't GET me!"
"Ah. but the problem is that he gets you too much!"
"Don't be an asshole!"
When we fight I look at our cars, parallel parked on the street, one behind the other and feel suddenly gobsmacked by the fact that they aren't speaking. Their engines click but other than that, no sound.

When we're in a fight we yawn and cough in unison, say the same things at the same time (jinks!) and pretend not to notice. Because no boxer wants to get in the ring with her opponent clad in identical satin shorts.

GGC Presents: Woolf vs. Isaacson (in matching boxers) Live at the WTF Grand!

When we fight I reorganize Fable's drawers at lightning speed and when that's finished I get on my hands and knees to scrub the spots out of the wood floors and then I plan tomorrow's outfit, hang it on the inside of my closet above the shoes.

When we fight I always cook because if I cook that means he will eat what I have made him and that makes me feel like I've mastered him in some way. Over dinner we speak to our children but not to each other. We take turns making Fable laugh, filling Archer's glass with water, passing things just to pass them until our laps are weighted down with napkins.

When we fight I insist on doing the dishes even though he stands over my shoulder and says, "Stop. Let me do them!" and I say, "No! It's fine. I'm doing them already can't you see!"

"But you don't have to."

"I know."

"So leave them."


When we fight he waits for me to finish the dishes and then re-washes them one by one and I become furious because I did a fine job washing those dishes thank you very much and if it wasn't such a waste of water I would likely wash them again...

... and it would go on and on like this until our fingers were pruned and the dishes were all in pieces...

When we fight we always wait for the children to fall asleep before we make-up.

I ask him is he's mad at me and then he launches into his insanely brilliant monologue and I roll my eyes and he raises his voice and I cry and we talk for an hour or two or sometimes all night until I am laughing and he has lost his voice.

Because when we fight? He becomes some kind of demented motivational speaker and suddenly I can't remember what either of us were ever angry about. Instead I just want to cheer and clap and go out and do something amazing like change the world or someone's mind...

... never mind all that. Let's just cuddle.

Meanwhile, the dishes are done (several times over) and the house is clean and every drawer has been reorganized. The door no longer squeaks and the mirror has been successfully mounted on the wall and the night is still young enough to make up for an afternoon without eye-contact.

So after we fight, we do just that.



A Christmas Story

Annnnnd scene.
..."Is there anything you want to ask Santa?" my mother asked.

Archer thought for a moment and then proclaimed excitedly, "Yes! I'd like to know how old he is!"

"Is there anything else you want to ask him? Like... what you want for Christmas, maybe?"

"Oh yeah! I forgot about that," he smiled. "But I also want to know how old he is."
More, here.

Best of 2009: Motherhood of Boys

The following is a re-post from August 12th. I kept comments closed on the original post (which I've edited slightly below) so I'm going to keep them open this time, for those with similar stories to share.


I spot them right away behind the far tennis court, huddled together with their elbows in each other’s sides. They pass joints oblivious to the consequences of so openly smoking in such a public place. They talk loudly and drink cheap bourbon, yelling at each other to "fuck off, motherfucker."

"There's one, Daddy!"

Archer, scurries toward an empty court, dragging a bag of tennis balls behind him. Hal follows and I after him, pushing our baby with bottle propped against her tiny folded hands. It's late. 8:30, maybe 9:00, but we promised Archer tennis so here we are, the four of us playing hooky from bedtime under the bleed of white lights.

Archer picks up his racket, poised for play.

"I'm ready, Daddy," he says, his shrill voice overcome by an argument about vert vs. street skate taking place behind me - the words of boys I've never met but know so well.

In high school I lead a double life. By day I was blonde and popular, the host and producer of our high school television show, organizer of Battle of the Bands, ASB commissioner, Homecoming Queen. I lived the southern California cliché: my first car a convertible Cabriolet with cow-print seat covers, my first job, serving sub sandwiches clad in a bikini top and cut-offs to bleached-haired surfers. I was an honor student with a side job writing angst-ridden poetry for a best-selling book series, the poster child for lucky, normal, have-it-all teenager. I was THAT girl...

...Except, not really.

At night I became someone else. Instead of hanging out with my fellow ASB members or honor students, I gravitated toward a completely different crowd: an all ages collective of lost boys, their wounds gaping without bandages, battle-scarred from years of being abused, abandoned, told they were mistakes, or worse. They found a gang in one another and spent all their time together, suburban vagabonds with duct taped sneakers who lived in guesthouses and one-room studios in the basement of chiropractic offices. In a way, I was romanced by their underworld, their carefree lifestyle, the way they bled and broke without crying. I came to them bearing bandages.

"Let me in and I will dress your wounds, tuck you in, love you past morning..."

Some were dropouts and drug addicts, many of them motherless. Fatherless. Futureless. To me they were beautiful, hiding depth and introspection under baggy pants and shoelace belts. Many aspired to be artists, painters, filmmakers. I found great pleasure in cheering them on.

“You can do it! I believe in you!”

It started as a sort of rebellion. I wasn't supposed to get high behind liquor stores with dudes who "showered" in the ocean. I wasn't supposed to fall in love with the kinds of guys who streaked through strip malls, got arrested, passed out in gutters with one shoe on. But it turned into something else. I became dependent on their phone calls—on being some kind of savior, an adolescent superhero who snuck out through her bedroom window to attend to the fallen. I was their beck and call girl, queen of the lost boys, addicted to the kind of attention they gave me in return for my care and sweet nothing whispers.

"I know you're hurting. That's why I'm here. I will take care of you. You need a mother? I’ll be your mom. So what if I'm only sixteen, seventeen, eighteennineteentwentytwentyone... I am here for you. Lean on me."

After graduation, I started a new life rooted in old ways. The boys were men now, but hardly. And I worshipped them, cooked for them, cleaned after them, shuttled them around, let them crash on my couch, in my bed. I lent them money I knew I'd never get back, told them over and over that I loved them. Felt it. Believed it. Would have done anything for them and did for many years.

“I'm saving them," I thought. "I'm saving them all."

But even in my early twenties I was too young and naive to understand that all I was doing was parading around the boulevards with badges of martyrdom sewn like girl-scout patches on my favorite denim jacket.

"This weed is bad."

"Do you want me to smoke you out or not?"


"Then shut the fuck up!"

A lighter flicks and several of the boys crowd around it. They inhale and exhale all at once and recline against the fence, their backs against mine. Swirls of smoke quickly reach me and I pull the shade over my sleeping daughter to block the fumes.

"What time is it, dude?"

"Who the fuck cares?"

One night my friend, "Charlie", pulled up his sleeve to reveal my name carved with a razor into his arm. It was the first of the many wake-up calls I needed to climb out of my woman-hole and pursue a new kind of life.

"You can't just carve people's names into your arm!"

"Why not?”

I looked around the mildew stained basement apartment littered with razors and dirty spoons and empty bottles of pills stashed like buried treasure under heaps of unwashed clothes. What the hell was I doing there?

Ten years I had spent combing the streets for bloodstains to follow home, offering bandages and therapy, a warm bed, a warm body and for what? People don’t change unless they want to. Just because I offered life vests didn’t mean I was going to save anyone from drowning. Instead, it was me being sucked into the underworld, surrounded by things that shot up in the night.

"I have to go now," I said.

I cried the whole way home.

Months later I would meet my husband, and months after that I would become pregnant and have a baby. And then an unexpected visit from Charlie involving a withdrawal seizure in front of my hysterical one-year-old would lead me to lock doors, screen calls and build a wall around my family, instating a zero tolerance policy for emotional offenders and drug addicts and Neverland escapees. No more taking care of those who refused to take care of themselves. No more trying to save the world, one "I love you" at a time. I cut off all contact, abandoning them like their parents had done.

Except unlike their parents? I wasn’t their parent. I wasn’t their mother. I was the mother to a real live little boy who I would do anything in my power to protect. A boy I wanted nowhere near the boys I spent the last decade of my life trying to take care of.

Still, it hurt. I missed them and still do, those that have passed away and those that remain estranged. I have dreams where we're all together again, passing cigarettes behind the old AMC theatre, watching movies on mute while blasting Clash City Rocker.

But I changed, thank God, and in the end, the person I saved was myself.


These days I can spot them from a mile away. I know their voices before they speak. Their musty smell before they're close enough for me to take a whiff, the way their hair would feel if I touched it. Ten years ago I might have bummed a light and sat with them in the gutter in my tiara and red dress. Ten years ago I felt confident around them, beautiful and intelligent and special. Ten years ago I was all of those things if only I could have known. I watch the girls that hang on the outskirts of their circle and see myself.

I tell Archer I love him a thousand times a day so that he knows. Because so many don't know, go through life not knowing.

"I love you. Did you know that? I love you so much it's insane."

"Stop saying that. You’re hurting my ears.”

“Did you see that, Mommy? I just hit the ball very far.”

I watch Archer play tennis against the chain-linked fence that separates us from them. I am tempted to turn around. To acknowledge their backs against mine, to take swigs from their bottles and mourn friends gone and years lost and love unrequited. Part of me will always want to hug them and help them and apologize for failing them, abandoning them without explanation.

I wish I could have saved you. I'm sorry I could not.

But an even larger part of me wants to tell them to get lost, boys. I’m afraid of them and what they might offer my children.

For the first time since we arrived at the tennis courts, I turn around. I glare at them and sneer and judge and think terrible things. I want them away from my children. I want them to disappear with their safety-pinned backpacks and dirty hoodies and paper-bagged alcohol canisters and wounded limbs. I want them to Go. Away. Now.

They glare back at me, roll their eyes, and mumble something about me being a "dumb lady" while casually exhaling smoke in my face.

I say nothing, turn my back to them and face my son clutching his tennis racket, my husband rooting him on.

I'm not one of them anymore.

And then I pray. I pray to whatever god will listen to keep my children as far away as possible from these boys. Because I've been there. And I came very close to never coming back.


Best of 2009: Dawn, Dusk

The following is a re-post first published July 16th.

Several weeks ago, an old man stopped me on the side of the street. He was walking slowly and with a cane, his back curled like a wave, his eyes concentrated on the pavement under his feet. He saw the wheels of the stroller, first, and then looked up, quickly, as if woken from sleep, his back suddenly straight, eyes kind and blinking.

"A baby," he said."May I?"

I pulled the shade back, revealing Fable's smile. She squealed gleefully, reaching for the man's face.

He gave her his hand.

"I remember when I had one of these," he said. "Isn't it amazing?"

"Yes," I said.

Meanwhile, the light waned, the world sped by. People scurried past, on route to dinner, or the dry-cleaners or a toilet paper run into Rite Aid behind the Newsstand with the empty dog bowl beside the LA Weeklys.

Meanwhile, the old man and Fable were still as hummingbirds, the universe chasing its tail around them. Always in a rush this human race.

Fable began to laugh. A small laugh that turned into a gurgle and then hysterics like she so often does when she's tired, punch-drunk on wakefulness.

The old man laughed back, quietly at first, slowly gaining momentum until, finally he burst into child-like hysterics, his eyes watery, body shaking.

Their laughter echoed down to the end of the sidewalk until the rush slowed and the world stopped and strangers smiled at one another.

I've thought about that moment a thousand times since its happened. About the significance of an old man and a baby hand in hand, laughing hysterically - like eavesdropping on the meaning of life.

... ... ... ... ... ...

Two weeks ago, when we were in San Diego, Fable got to spend quite a bit of time with her great-grandparents. Watching them together I was reminded of the incident with the man - the laughing and the touching - the smooth, uncalloused hands grabbing hold of the veiny arms of her family tree - of the women whose blood runs strong in her veins.

There is great poetry in the measurement of time, in an eighty-year age difference, in a body that has wandered the world cradling one still unable to wander, eyes that have seen most everything locked with those still learning to focus.

I've been blessed with incredible grandparents, three of whom are more alive than most people my age - active in their communities, beautiful and able-bodied, with stories as long as scrolls dare unfold. But there is something different about them when they're with my children, different than they ever were with me. Something illuminates in them - and in Fable. Archer, too.

A whispering of souls, a secret handshake of sorts - a collision of dawn and dusk...

Two ideal lights overlapping, from street corners to living rooms to gardens freshly planted, rehabilitating humanity in tiny increments, orange and yellow hues enlightening the sky.



White Christmas is one of my all-time favorite films of always, perhaps because every year since forever I've quietly wished for snow on Christmas morning. Which, yeah... No. Quite on the contrary, actually. Christmas day is usually the hottest day of the month.

Someday, Bing. Someday.

Wouldn't it be lovely to live inside a Bing Crosby movie? Where everyone sings and dances and wears darling hats to wave goodbye to unrequited lovers at train stations? I think so.

25. Snow (from White Christmas) performed by: Bing Crosby


Gone Style: Mix Prints + Incog(neat)o + Shop Homemade

Drooling Closet:
Prints Charming

Dress: Kaboosia
(a gift from my cousin via her BFF's clothing company in San Sebastian)
Cardigan: Splendid (snagged at consignment shop)
Tights: Happy Green Bee
Shoes: Robeez

pigtails! kinda?


Gone Style:
Baby, it's 62 degrees (and I'm standing in my mother's vegetable garden trying to pose while my entire family makes fun of me) outside.

Plaid Blouse: Mike & Chris (Sample Sale)
Vest: Anna Sui for Target
Jeans: J Brand
Boots: Thrifted
*no bangs c/o a bobby pin.

*The awesome thing about bangs? If you're in the mood to switch up your look, you totally can with a simple pin, clip, tie. Whenever I wear my bangs back, not even my friends recognize me at first. I feel like a double-agent spy.
Neato. Incog-neato.

Shop Homemade!

After all that talk about shopping in person, I ended up doing the majority of my holiday shopping on Etsy, including homemade owl hats for my favorite babes:

it's owl good in the hoot!



Planned on making a bang-trimming tutorial, yesterday. Spent the day watching my perfect son pick out his first Christmas Tree, instead.

Joy to the world.


Best of 2009: Changing Rooms

The following is a re-post first published, June 25th. Six months later, Hal and I have fallen in love with our tiny room. We often talk about how much we'll miss sleeping in such tiny quarters when we eventually move, especially in the wee hours of the morning when the kids crawl into bed with us. It almost feels like we're on an adventure, Wynkyn, Blynkn and Nod style.

P.S. While re-posting this I realized I never did a follow-up post with pictures of the kids' shared room and their story... Snapped some photos this morning, will post them soon.

"Beautiful things come in small packages," they say and so do I, writing this post from the tiny box that recently became our bedroom. A room we needed our architectural thinking caps to make work.

I'm always hunting for treasure. Coveting the home down the block with three-bedrooms and its office space in the back (with a skylight! How modern!) Daydreaming over bigger and better cars and homes, new clothing, shoes, furniture et al.

Because shiny new things sparkle and glow. No scratches from being repeatedly dropped on their faces. No stains.

We live in a world blessed with riches and a society that bribes us with new boxes. It's box cars and box homes and box television sets. And sometimes it's impossible to turn our heads because new cars always smell better. So do new homes, built on the wood of freshly cut trees, with their new bedrooms and clean slate of design ideas.

Same goes for people so we fantasize about shiny, new, carefully constructed bodies. Men seemingly cut from stone and women, pure, unused, even untouched.

We are told from ages young to dream of new life and new homes, to fantasize about the virgin in all her unattainable forms. Because wouldn't it be nice to be the first? The first family to live in the house. To own the car. To leave footprints in the sand. To steer the boat on her maiden voyage before her paint chips and her body belongs to the sea.

To feel what has never been touched.

... ... ... ... ... ...

Last night Hal and I stayed up until 2am talking. I had made a comment in passing that upset us both. I had embarrassed myself on accident, bragging about past exploits, grasping at the peacock feathers of my past - before there was a family or even an us. Desperate to clarify to all with ears open that wild things never forget the open field.

Sometimes I catch myself saying things I don't want to be remembered by.

Or maybe I do?

But why?

Because people take great offense to the truth. Because the things most exciting to talk about are most often the things left unsaid.

Sometimes I find myself publicly dipping my toes into the pools of my past. Hard not to when for many years, I defined myself solely as one who stood in the center of my own puddles, completely submerged from the neck down.

I'm a married mother of two, now. I write about food and how to get my child to eat it, post photographs where my nursing bra shows and people praise the biology of it all - the beauty and bonding of mother and child. But sometimes I want to be more than that. I want to be looked at and talked to and treated like a piece of meat. Like someone not afraid to open her mind and her mouth and yes, even her legs. Someone empowered by her inner "slut," frustrated by the virgin and how she is placed on a pedestal for crossing her legs and closing her mouth and talking only of safe things.

Last night I felt the need to apologize to Hal for being a used car with mileage, a woman in a stained dress who burps and farts and squeezes her friend's boobs in photographs. For revealing too much with the lights on. For speaking publicly about private parts without blushing. Because I'm supposed to blush. And cross my legs. And keep my voice down as not to wake the neighbors, spook, embarrass, shame.

"I'm sorry I'm not the kind of woman who dabs the sides of her mouth with linen napkins."

"You think we'd be together if you were?"


... ... ... ... ... ... ...

Before we moved into the small bedroom this past weekend, I thought, maybe we should just find a new place and live there instead.

"If we're going to move we might as well just move homes. This place is stale. We've outgrown it. I'm ready for a change."

But just like a marriage, a body, a home, old can become new. And better than fantasy reality can be. Truth like sugar in the raw.

The first night we spent in our new bedroom, I told Hal, "this is my dream room."

"But it's so small," he said.


There's a direct correlation between changing identities and switching bedrooms overnight -- rearranging the same old items in a new and different space. I carry my past with me in my back pocket and every now and then, walk into the wrong room, expecting to find my bed when, Wait! Where did everything go? Oh, wait! That's right. That's not my room anymore.

This is my room:

Full of old things new and new things old, everything differently placed and rearranged and mirrors fresh out of their plastic wrap.

They say that airplanes aren't safe to fly unless they've flown a thousand miles. And ships are more likely to sink their first day at sea. They say that people can change if they want to. But changing will never change the past and thank God because what a ride that was. So many memories made in old bedrooms, sprawled across dirty sheets.

They say that beautiful things come in small, unassuming packages. Like the old room that came new when we finally rearranged the furniture. Like peacock feathers* folding inward toward the body.

*Nevertheless, always there.


Best of 2009: Swing like a Pendulum

The following post was first published May 27th. (And no, this post isn't in reference to my postpartum boobs.)

We approach the swings with her on my hip. She's never been in a swing before. Not the park swings, anyway, so I am hesitant. I wiggle her legs through the holes, slowly as not to startle her or make her afraid. When Archer was a baby he hated the swings. He'd make this sound like he was holding his breath and then he'd flap his skinny little arms until I reached for him, rescued him, put him back on his bottom in the sand.

Archer was more cautious when he was Fable's age. He took his time growing up. Fable seems to be in a rush, pulling herself up and face-planting every time she tries to crawl - waving and blowing bubbles, saying "hi" in response to my voice.

Archer was always fashionably late. Fable on the other hand seems to be camped out in front of the dance, the very first in line.

So it wasn't at all surprising to me that when I let go of her, today, she smiled.

And when I pushed her in the swing she laughed. She laughed so hard I thought she'd cry.

And after that - after the initial high-pitched joy waned and wore, she cooed and hummed like she'd been swinging all her life, like the motion was nothing new, old news, my professional glider.

And for the next twenty minutes, back and forth she went, Archer running around the park, every now and then wandering toward the swings to check on his sister, until he decided that he too wanted to swing. Climbed (with my help) onto the swing beside her and asked me to push him higher, Mommy. No, higher! HIGHER!

Left hand pushing Archer, right hand pushing Fable I stood for a moment, awestruck that: Fucking A, man. This is my life. These are my children and I'm pushing them and they're laughing and smiling and happy and I am responsible for that. And holy shit, I'm making these two amazing, beautiful little people laugh, like this is the greatest day of their lives and maybe it is... which... mind-blowing to think...

I must never cease pushing them in the swings, I thought. High enough so that they giggle but not too high so that they're safe.

I think, now, about the post I wrote months ago. The one about Archer under the swing set, about life before it gets complicated and I realize that swing sets in sandy parks are to my life as a mother what long drives with a rolled-down window and a pack of cigarettes were to my pre-baby self. Strip away the smokes and the sand and the only difference is wind and whose hair it's tousling.

The wind isn't in my hair anymore. Not in the same way it used to be with the sunroof open and all the windows.

And yet? By watching my children swing back and forth today, their laughter breaking like waves in overlap, I was able to see myself far more clearly than I ever did or could have in the rear-view mirror of my old silver car.

Back and forth,
forward and backward,
again and again,
rock-a-bye babies.

They swing like a pendulum.
And my hair blows fiercer than it ever did before.