Saturday, December 24, 2016

Big hugs and love to you

Holidays are sparkly and beautiful and fun. Ooh, lights! Presents! Parties!

And for those among us who have lost loved ones, particularly recently, they are hard. 

You have this time where you're supposed to be happy and people are wishing you happiness and maybe you're really, really sad. That's OK. Or maybe you're alternately happy and sad, which feels weird. But that's OK, too.

Really, I think, we just need to stop and acknowledge that however we feel is how we feel, and our feelings are valid.

Nobody can tell you how you should feel. They're not you.

Absence can be louder and more intense than presence, and it's important to honor the hollow and give it the space it deserves.

And let me now mention that our loved ones, the ones who are here with us, may be driving us crazy. Those feelings are OK too. We just need to be as kind as we can to each other.

You know we celebrate Christmas, although very honestly, not religiously. I was raised by parents who'd were treated badly by their respective churches--Catholic and Lutheran--when they fell in love and got engaged.

Their churches were so negative, that in response, our parents raised us with nothing. No church, no explicit religion. (Until I got to high school, at which point they panicked that we might grow up to join the Moonies, and started hauling us to Mass on Sundays.)

I have always loved Christmas. I love the tree and the lights and the stockings. We use the same ornaments every year, so there is such history nestled in our tree. I love making Christmas cookies.

Growing up, I knew about Mary and Joseph and no room at the inn and Baby Jesus. We had creches, and I was part of the nativity play (so bitterly, because pajamas and Afghan), but still, since we didn't approach holidays religiously, I didn't really connect them with our celebration. 

We are not raising our kids with a religion, but we are raising them to be good people. To be kind and loving, and to treat everyone equally. It doesn't matter what color someone's skin is, whether they are a man or a woman, or what their job is. You treat people kindly and respectfully. People should be able to love and marry whoever they want to. People should worship (or not) whatever they choose.

Earlier this year, India asked me if I know who Jeez is. And I realized that maybe we should give them some sort of basic religious education.

Love, peace, kindness, and fairy dust sprinkles on everyone, and my best hope for the world.

Big hugs and so much love to you.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

When you write a Dear Santa letter in a fit of pique

Last weekend Jordan asked how he might send a letter to Santa.

He and India had already sat on Santa's lap and given him their Christmas lists. But I figured he had something he wanted to add.

The kids often give us things they come across as presents. And just prior to his letter, he'd apparently given Nick a pin. Nick had thanked him and then set it aside and gone about with whatever it was he was in the middle of doing.

So Jordan wrote his letter and put it in an envelope, and we helped him address it to the North Pole. We explained how he had to put our return address so Santa would know where exactly this was coming from.

That night, Jordan said, "Daddy, you know my Santa letter?"


"Can you please throw it away? I don't want to send it."

There you have it.

We really don't want to get on his bad side.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Not the kind of Thanksgiving post that most people write

Smashing the patriarchy one bath at a time
Dear Friends,

I know many of us are hurting, and we are angry and afraid. We are outraged at what is going on in our country, in the world.

I am working on not being fearful and enraged all the time.

You know, I bought some pepper spray the other day. It's in a leopard print holster. It's cute. The reason for carrying it is the opposite of cute.

And I'm in a demographic with the fewest threats against it right now, except for the fact that I'm a woman.

When there is a problem, I make calls to elected officials. I throw money at the issues. I live, as some people call it, in my DC bubble. We read and are horrified by the news, but we aren't in rural areas living it.

I know that Thanksgiving is a holiday many object to, because it celebrates domination. The white settlers arrived, invaded, and stole. And over generations, kept marginalizing and taking.

We want most of your land, but can have this land. So move. Oh, until we want it. Then we'll take it.

Police sprayed peaceful protesters at Standing Rock with water cannons in freezing weather. Literally freezing, like the water turned to ice.

Who among us thinks that is defensible?

We look at images from Syria, where adults and children are terrified for their lives. Tiny little babies, just born, are losing their lives in war.

And there are those among us who would turn away refugees.

It is hard for me to be hopeful right now.

Thanksgiving has never been my holiday anyway, although it's much, much better on antidepressants. It used to feel like a celebration of the dark, where things would start to get really bad, what with the waning of the light and the beginning of the season where I would put every carb that crossed my path into my face.

Thanksgiving, with all its delicious pecan pie, was the official start to my annual descent into my own personal version of crying, weight-gaining hell.

And yes, it was All About Me. When you are depressed, it is impossible to see outside your own pain. It's easy to be outraged, to blame anger or sadness on outside events or others. But that's not actually the root of it.

Pharmaceutical help is like magic. I only have the residual feeling that this is not my day. It is not accompanied by the first few steps into the depression spiral.

But the holidays are hard in their own right. If you've lost anyone you love, or are estranged from them, you still have an imaginary seat for them at your table. You feel their absence as much as you would feel any presence.


I'm writing all this to say, for me it is a forced pause, and a reminder to love the family and friends I have so hard. To be so grateful for the people in my life.

Recently my friend Leigh was telling my friend Meg how I have a million friends, and I started to deny it. Because I'm an introvert. I'm not all extroverted and friendly.

She cut me off. She said, "Are you kidding me? You have so many people you love. I could list tons of people you adore."

And you know what? She is right. There are tons of people I adore. Because our world, flawed and hateful as it can be, is also filled with amazing, loving, kind, smart, funny people.

I feel lucky to have so many of them in my life. For you, I am immensely grateful.

Let's keep fighting the good fight and love each other with all our hearts. (And also, maybe, with pecan pie.)

Big love and hugs.


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

With the realization that this might be too woo woo for some of you

Last week I told Nick that a friend of mine was going to do some energy work on me.

I have friends who would respond, "Oh, Reiki?"

My husband is not an "Oh, Reiki?" person. He looked at me nervously, like maybe by energy work I meant I was going to hook myself up to the power grid and see if I could power Christmas lights.

"En...ergy? Work?"

I explained that the practitioner channels energy and puts their hands over or on your body, and, you know, just makes you feel better. I didn't actually have any further explanation.

He was all, "Oh, well, sure."

Not his thing but not dangerous or objectionable.

OK. So the next morning I saw my friend. The thing that astounds me about energy work is how warm the person's hands get. You can think what you like, but if it is not energy being directed, then what?

It was relaxing and soothing, and immediately, I felt like my anxiety had lessened. I've been sick, and at some point my ear started throbbing, then felt like it opened up.

I felt calmer, better than I had in ages.

When the session was over, she told me that a man had appeared while she was doing the treatment. She saw him out of the corner of her eye. He was relaxed and happy, laughing. I asked if she recognized him, but she didn't.

She said a person or a presence typically appears when doing this kind of work.

I found it interesting, but didn't think much more about it.

I had a writing deadline for a tribute to my dad for International Survivors of Suicide Day. If you'd like to read it, the link above takes you to the post on This Is My Brave.

The writing was on my mind when I woke up, and I left my friend's place thinking about it. I walked out with more clarity, and feeling positive in general.

Yesterday, I saw my friend. She said she had to tell me something.

She'd read my post about my dad. She'd seen, for the first time, a picture of him in his later years. Usually the pictures I post are from when he was much younger.

She said, "As soon as I saw your picture, I recognized him. He's the one who was in the room."

I got goosebumps. I teared up.

Energy doesn't go away just because you die. We are all connected.

He was there, and he was laughing.

This gives me immeasurable peace.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

And they don't know the half of it

I feel like the time change kind of got lost in all the election news.

Typically, people spend way more time talking about it. Spring is much, much worse, in my opinion. But the whole fall back is no underwear dance party.

We had explained to them that we were going to change the clocks. And then we did.


"The government makes us. Everyone in America has to change the time. So we are all on this new time."


"Everyone except Arizona and I think half of Indiana. Everyone we know is on the new time."

My kids are now old enough to be cognizant of the time. So they know when they have to go to bed. And they also recognize when they are tired. Which doesn't mean they want to go to bed. 

So last week they were getting up an hour or so earlier than normal. And then by 7:00 pm, they were absolute train wrecks. Fighting, crying, disoriented.

And the new time didn't really matter until evening. When they could barely hold it together through dinner.

"So," I explained, "we're getting in bed at 7:00, because even if the clock says 7:00, your bodies know it's actually 8:00. That's why you're crying and exhausted."

"We're crying and exhausted! We're crying and exhausted!"

Had Trump done this to us? (No.) Surely not Obama? (No.) Who started this fresh hell? (I think it has something to do with the farmers in WWII...but I don't really know.)

Every night for about five nights we had to talk about how this was terrible and why we couldn't just change our clocks back.

And couldn't we fix it?


"I know! Let's go back to the normal time and then we can stop waking up so early and not be so crying and exhausted and at night!"

Every night it was some version of this.

And every night I answered, "But if we change our clocks we will be on a different time than everyone else around us. I know you're tired, sweethearts. Your bodies will get used to it. We just have to wait."

Over and over they sobbed, "Why? Why does the government do this to us?"


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Which turns out to be the least anniversary-y anniversary post I have ever written

Wear pearls and smash the patriarchy. Is my new motto.
Nick and I met nine years ago Sunday night.

We've since had two children and I feel like we've both aged like 37 years since then. Actually, not really. I've aged 37 and he's aged like 19.

Maybe we are aging in dog years now. Although the math on that isn't quite right, is it? 

I've written about my last first date a variety of times over the years. (I particularly like this one.) We like to go to the Tabard Inn to commemorate the event, although we were unable to this year (see aforementioned children, plus an ear infection--mine, oddly enough).

Sunday night we said, "Happy anniversary!" to each other and celebrated by watching The Good Wife after we'd coaxed the kids into bed.

Normally I am excited to write this anniversary post. I enjoy reflecting back on the past year.

But I've been anxious and upset since the election. I just got over bronchitis, and I'm sick again. I've been feeling pretty despondent.

Nick thinks I over-react to everything. Sometimes I do, or maybe always. I don't know.

Even before the results came out, he thought I was too anxious about the election. Now he thinks that I get too freaked out over the news I read.

He questions my sources. And I'm all, New York Times, or CNN, or whatever. What does he think? That I'm clicking on weird random made up news from Russia?

I finally said to him something along these lines: Look. You're a straight white man. You have never not been in a position of privilege. You are never in a vulnerable position. So cut it the fuck out with telling me not to be anxious.

I have all this anger, and all this fear. I need to do something with it. I am not sure what that something is. And you can call me a drama queen, but I really do feel like I need to start preparing for Thunderdome.

I mean, I have friends whose kids are at a middle school in Bethesda. And last Friday, someone drew swastikas in the bathroom.

Bethesda. If the hate is happening in liberal Bethesda, it is happening everywhere.

Cities are going to burn in the next four years. I believe this.

It's like Tourette's. I can't stop talking about it.

I went to a birthday Friday night. It was all anyone talked about.

Saturday night we went to a truly lovely, love-filled wedding. We took this picture there.

(And while I didn't discuss politics with the bride or groom, I talked about it with a lot of other people.)

But let me tell you about the wedding.

The vows were personal, charming, and funny. The bride was stunningly beautiful, the groom handsome. People ate and drank and danced and had fun.

Our kids were invited. India danced like a whirling dervish. She was dressed up all fancy, which she loves. She had a hell of a time. We all had a blast.

Weddings of wonderful people give hope to the world. They remind you that there is joy and goodness and people come together to celebrate it and rejoice in it.

There is joy. There is goodness. There is hope.

And when you've been married long enough and your relationship is solid enough, you actually can hear criticism from your husband and consider the merit, and, if necessary, tell your husband to cut it the fuck out.

And you will still love each other.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

No one can find the rewind button, girl. So cradle your head in your hands. And breathe.

So we hug our babies tight and spread the love we can.
Tuesday night I drank a lot of gin and stayed up too late.

It was clear where the election was going, but I refused to believe it. Nick, usually the voice of moderation in the house, was gone. I rely on him to stop me from binge-watching a show until 4 am and being a zombie the next day.

So I kept pouring more gin and more tonic and slicing more lime. And serving my friend Andrea more beer.

This wasn't really happening, was it?

And then at 1:30 am, we threw in the towel. It was actually happening.

I woke up with that sick feeling in my stomach. I looked at my phone. It really happened.

The kids were all excited when they asked who won. And I had to say, "Trump."

Their first question? "Where are we moving?"

And I had to explain that that had been idle talk. Because Daddy's job is here. It was easy for us to say, because we never, never thought Trump would win.

Yesterday DC seemed like a post-apocalyptic town. It was strangely quiet. People were out, but very subdued. 

At school drop off, everyone looked traumatized. India clung to me in her classroom.

I started talking to another mom who said they were going to move to Colombia. Her parents are Colombian, and her husband is black. They don't believe they are safe under the new regime.

I started to cry.

I stopped to talk to a couple moms out front. They'd been crying. One friend, who is Turkish by birth, joined us. She feels particularly vulnerable as a Muslim woman.

We got a letter yesterday from the principal saying that they had assured the kids that they are safe, and that the adults in their lives will protect them. That all students regardless of religion and documentation status have the right to an education and protection within a school.

What. The. Actual. Fuck?

When have we ever needed language like that after an election?

I certainly joked about fleeing to Canada if McCain or Romney won. But I had not been made to feel unsafe during the election just for being a woman.

I am a blond haired, blue eyed white woman. I am not a person of color. Nobody's eye stops on me for racial profiling. I don't wear a hijab and fear that someone will threaten me for it.

I'm married to a WASPy white man. We have white kids. We don't fear that someone will bully them, or worse, for the color of their skin or their religion.

Nobody is telling us to go home. Although for me, born in India, I am tempted.

(Actually, though I was not, all four of my grandparents were born in the U.S. So I'm a legitimate voter in that evil Anne Coulter's fantasy world.)

Friends are saying we need to dig in and work hard in our communities and promote kindness. We need to volunteer for the social services we think are so important.

We need to stand up to bigotry. We need to point out racism, even if it makes us uncomfortable. We need to be on the lookout for bullying and stand strong against it.

I agree.

But I also think, hell, let's just walk away. I get that it's an elitist viewpoint to consider this option, because most people can't just walk away even when there's a hurricane approaching.

And the truth is, Nick's work is here. It is not portable. He supports our entire family.

But in my fantasy world, we all walk away. We take our talents and our brains to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Portugal, wherever else.

We leave the country to those who voted for Trump. They can have what they deserve.

In fact, he doesn't give a shit about the bulk of them. They will get what they deserve in voting for him.

But we'll be stuck with it as well.

For now, I hug my kids every chance I get. I remind them that everyone is equal. I tell them they are safe and loved.

I tell my daughter she can do anything, anything. We're not talking about a woman presidency right now, because when we talk about the presidency I feel sick to my stomach.

I feel like I should be looking for the good in the world, but right now I feel hopeless.

And I can't seem to help myself: I'm having arguments with creeps on Nick's FB wall. They've crawling out of his past, out of the basket of deplorables. They are white, male, and angry.

They refuse to acknowledge that white privilege exists. They work hard! They're not privileged!

And they are so rude. Hateful and rude. And this from people who are ostensibly old friends.

They're defensive. They call us the "liberal elites" who think we're smarter than them. One felt the need to point out that he got an MBA from Wharton. So don't tell him he's not smart.

(So I didn't. I just pointed out that he was white, privileged, angry, and rude.)

There's no grace from the winners.

And it says to me that, at least for the next four years, we are all losers.

And I am really fucking angry. And don't know quite what to do about it.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

She doesn't know statistics, or really even math, but she is 100% certain that Hillary will win

My daughter is four years old.

(And she unfortunately has a mother who can't figure out why the video is so narrow.)

She has only ever known one president: Barack Obama.

I took her with me to vote four years ago.
Ready to head out and vote for Obama!
She doesn't understand what a big deal it was that we elected a black man as president eight years ago.

For her, it's normal. He's always been president, and we wish that he could have another four years, but the laws are such that he cannot.

And now we're going to have a woman as president.

Of this she is absolutely certain. And it is also not a bid deal. Because in her world, this has always been a possibility.

Women are strong and smart and bold and can do absolutely anything. My daughter is strong and smart and bold, and if she wants to be president, she can be.

Of course it is like this.

For that unwavering belief, and for us to finally have gotten to this point in U.S. history, I am very, very happy.

Monday, November 07, 2016

Please and thank you. Many heart emojis.

Hi friends!

I have a favor to ask you. It is not about the election.

In fact, it is entirely about me. Surprise!

I know you are all readers, and that you're smart and interesting and have great senses of humor and an appreciation for the peculiar. I know this because I have great taste in friends, and because you would not have stuck around if this were not the case.

True facts.

OK. So. Here's what I'm wondering.

If you were to put my writing in a category with other writers, where would you put me? Like, if I were to aspire to cozy up to other books you've read and liked, what would they be? Or other authors, if you don't have specific books in mind.

I'm asking this for two reasons.

One, I'm in search of memoirs that help inform my writing, and that I think would likely be in the same category, except that my category, as I currently see it, would be a combo of mental illness/suicide and internet dating/comedy.

Suicide attempts are never funny, obviously, but sometimes you're in a private room near the ER waiting for them to tell you if your dad is still alive and you're so upset that you accidentally dial phone sex.

I'm not quite sure how that goes down. But it is true and real and part of the journey.

My list currently includes: The Suicide Index; An Unquiet Mind; Prozac Nation; as well as a re-read of Girl, Interrupted. Also flipping through my copy of Furiously Happy for fun and research purposes.

I'm focusing on mental illness, but I don't want to overlook memoirs that might be similar-ish or helpful, even if not specifically focused on mental illness. I'm thinking along the lines of Wild, my Cheryl Strayed. I saw the movie but haven't read the book, but the healing journey resonates with me.

That kind of thing. I know I'm being a little bit broad.

The second and realer reason is that I'm working on a proposal and I have to figure out who I might aspire to compete with and/or snuggle in with. Obviously, my voice is my own and I am not trying to change it, and I couldn't make it like someone else's if I tried.

But, for example, I'm looking for author X, as in, "If you like X, then you'd probably like Lisa's writing."

Like, I would love to put myself in with The Glass Castle. Jeannette Walls is an extraordinary writer, and she describes traumatic events without a drop of self-pity. Mary Kerr does this as well. Those are aspirational cozy-up buddies.

Turns out I've always been drawn to traumatic childhood memoirs. It just took me well into adulthood and many years of therapy to know that I had and figure out why.

Why so oblivious for so long, Lisa?


It occurred to me that asking you, people who both like my writing and are not living in my head, or dealing with my fears and insecurities, made a lot of sense.

I would super duper appreciate your thoughts and suggestions.

Hugs! Love! Thanks!

Thursday, November 03, 2016

OK, so now you know

Last weekend I took Betty and the kids out to Leigh's farm. She has a big Halloween party every year, and this is the first time we've been.

It was amazing. Her silo bar is the photo backdrop. The barn was filled with skeletons and corpses and cobwebs and other creepy things.

I let Jordan and India eat as many treats, including cupcakes with disgusting gummy eyeballs on top, as they wanted. They were absolutely delighted with the whole affair.

And also cracked out of their minds on sugar all weekend.

I arrived without a costume. Luckily, Leigh has a stash. She lent me the Batwoman costume in the picture above.

It felt fantastic. I absolutely loved it.

Hand to God, I'd wear it all the time if I could.

Seriously. I would wear it to Target. To pick the kids up at school. I'd walk the dog in it if I had one.

So, I just saw this article that said that electric eels sandwich their prey to double the shock. And I was thinking, you know, that's a superpower I'd really like to have.

Which, I guess, is more villainous than hero-y.

Unless I was shocking bad people.

Would that be a cool thing to be able to do? I mean, if I could be invisible, or read minds, or fly, I might choose those over shocking people. But I certainly wouldn't turn this ability down, if offered.

Which superpower would you choose if you could?

I've said before that it would be terribly useful to be able to puke at will. So when someone is being hugely malignant, you could "accidentally" vomit on them.

It would be so satisfying.

You'd apologize profusely, of course. I mean, unless they were a mugger or rapist. Then you'd scream and run away.

And you wouldn't actually hurt them. Not physically.

Also, I want to start taking Krav Maga. I've only been mugged once, but you never know.

I'm not sure what it says about me that I'd like to have the ability to really hurt someone. Because as much as I joke about stabbing my husband, the truth is, I'd never do it.

I'm opposed to violence.

But I'm also small, and a woman. I'm very careful if I'm walking alone at night. But I still think it might be good to acquire some skills.

On a related note...this election, man.

Nick has discovered the joys of Facebook, and he's posted a couple times about politics.

From these posts I have learned that he has a couple smug, Trump-voting childhood friends. Who have no good pro-candidate arguments. They mostly respond with insults and references to "Killary" and stupid memes.

I've told Nick that he'd better never introduce me to these men.

Because I will dickpunch them for sure.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016


You all, I m not sure what's going on with me but I am starting to suspect that I have become normal.

For years, I mean yeeeeaaaars, I tried to be normal. To be like how I thought everyone else was, or anyway, how most people were. To blend in.

I was sure I was weird. My family was weird.

Nowhere did I try harder than at college. And no matter what I wore or how closely I could get my accent to sound like that of my peers,  I never, ever felt like I fit anywhere.

But I could always kind of stand on the fringe or just stay quiet and not really be noticed.

What I didn't realize was that the people of most interest to me were not the norm. That's what made them appealing.

And after way more years than I like to admit, I realized how not interested I am in normalcy. How ordinary, to me, is an insult. I do not strive to blend.

I think I got to the point where I looked pretty normal, and I often dress kind of conservatively (don't I? I think I kind of do.) But at some point I knew for a fact that I thought differently than most people. And I enjoyed it.

It wasn't an effort to be different. It was just finally accepting who I was and reveling in it.

And now! Now I'm all, shit! I think that maybe I've actually started to...blend.

So then I think, maybe now I'm normal. And I need to stop seeing that as a negative. It just is.

I'm a wife, a mother of two. I unload the dishwasher and reload it and do laundry and get enough exercise and take vitamins and either cook nutritious things for dinner or don't and feel guilty about it. I do so many ordinary things, things that have to be done, and some of which I don't even mind, but don't find particularly interesting.

I'm sitting in the corner muttering "Shit! Shit! Shit!" Seriously, this thought is troubling.

It's not that I need to be some special snowflake. Or one of those carnival people who bites the heads off chickens. But I'm terrified that I've lost the funny. And the weird. I like the weird. I'm afraid that interesting things don't occur to me anymore.

I used to walk around seeing stories everywhere. But now, now I don't. I don't feel sparked.

And not in the terrible flat grey depression kind of way. Because angst is its own driver. This is more like, well, ok. Here's what it's kind of like.

I'm a city person. I joke that I like nature best through a window, and that's not entirely true but it really is some large percentage of the time and depending on the place.

So I like hiking if it's a serious physical challenge or really exotic. But just hiking in nature for hours is not my thing. Because at some point I am all, yes, the nature. It's pretty. It's pleasant. And these trees look like the trees an hour ago. And this tramping around is kind of repetetive.

And when can we bathe and put on cute clothes and find a corner cafe and get a cup of coffee?

That is how I feel. Like inside my head lately is perfectly nice and pleasant--which, don't get me wrong--is a positive in so many ways. But it is not of great interest to me.

Maybe now I've hit normal? Whatever that might be?

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

That time I was going to lie to my shrink and then I didn't

"OK, so, I was totally going to lie to you, because I was afraid you'd get mad, but I'm not. I'm going to tell you the truth."

Months ago, that was what I said when I walked into my shrink's office.

You might think that of all people to be honest with, you'd be straight up with your mental health professional. The one giving you psychiatric medication.


But you know, my previous shrink, the one I chose because he took my insurance, he made me feel bad. I'd go in and talk to him and I'd immediately feel like I wasn't doing the right thing. I was doing something wrong, or I wouldn't be depressed.

He didn't make me feel like we could figure it out together. No. He made me feel like a loser.

I needed help feeling like less of a loser. Or a not-loser. I didn't want to pay someone to feel like more of one.

And here's the thing. I am a first born rule follower. I am a people pleaser.

I don't want to upset. I don't want to disappoint. I am terrified of getting in trouble.

Now, I don't know about you, but I was raised to respect and even fear authority. Certainly not to question it. I didn't know that was an option.

As an adult, I was once visiting my parents, and my dad called from another room, "Lisa, could you come in here please?"

I flinched. "Am I in trouble?"

He said, "What? No. Lisa. You're 25."

Sometimes Nick has a tone. I think, "I'm in trouble." My body goes into fight or flight mode.

I'm not kidding. I don't think it ever completely goes away.

When I was a kid, I was so truthful. If I did something wrong and was asked about it, I owned it, even if it meant getting spanked. Often I confessed before being asked. I was grounded a lot.

I don't remember my transgressions. I do remember the fear.

As I got older, things got more nuanced. I knew my dad wasn't always right. His rules didn't necessarily make sense. But he expected me to do as he said. He expected me to agree.

I never challenged my teachers or the school administrators. If you were in a position of authority, your word was law.

Then one day in eleventh grade my dear friend Kristin said, "I just agree with people and then do whatever I want."

What? Whoa!

You know what? This worked.

Disagreeing never worked. Fighting didn't work. Sometimes very carefully and thoughtfully articulated opposing arguments worked. I did this, in letter form, I think twice.

But this! This subversive strategy was so much more expedient! And less stressful!

Sometimes me actually doing whatever my dad was expecting didn't even seem to matter. The agreement, the "yes, Dad," was what mattered.

You could agree with something you thought was stupid, and then quietly go about your business.

If you didn't do what you were supposed to do, despite your best could just kind of...not exactly tell the truth to the person in charge. And then you wouldn't have a disagreement and you wouldn't get in trouble.

Unless you were caught. But that didn't happen much.

So. My shrink's office.

I'd gone off my meds--you know about this--and taken that express bus to Crazytown.

And then I had this long-standing shrink appointment. To check in and talk about my medication. The medication I'd quit so cavalierly, without so much as an email to him.

My plan, of course, was to walk in and pretend that everything was fine. That I hadn't deviated from the course he set out for me. Because that would be not following the rules. And he might get angry. Or be disappointed.

I might get in trouble.

The day before my appointment, I saw a good friend, who asked about my upcoming appointment. I told her I was just going to say everything was fine.

And she basically said, "Look. This is someone you pay to help you. This is his profession, so he knows what he's talking about. And his only role in your life is to help you feel better. He's not going to get mad, and he's not going to judge."

"You're right. I know you are."

"So let him help you."

I knew she was right. I did. But still, I was so nervous. I hadn't followed instructions. I'd broken the rules. I had to keep telling myself, "He's not your dad. He's not going to get mad. You're paying him to help you."

And I walked in, took a deep breath, and confessed.

It came out in a rush.

"OK, so, I was totally going to lie to you, because I was afraid you'd get mad, but I'm not. I'm going to tell you the truth..."

I went on for a while. I told him everything.

That I was afraid he'd get mad. That I'd be in trouble. That I'd gone off my meds and gone to Crazytown and now I was pretty much back but I hated Wellbutrin and I just wasn't willing to take it anymore.

That I had to be reminded that he wasn't my dad and wouldn't get mad at me. That I recognized that I hired him specifically to help me with the very types of medication I'd been planning to lie about.

You know what he did? He chuckled at my confession. He said he understood how I'd quit and not checked in with him. He didn't chastise me.

He commended me for being truthful. For recognizing that his role is to find solutions, not to judge.

And then we talked it all through. And made a new plan.

He did exactly what I pay him for.

He helped me. And he made me feel better.

I'd love to pretend that with that, I learned my lesson. That I have gotten rid of this automatic response. That I do not react when Nick has a tone. That I do not keep my doctors on a need to know basis, with me deciding what they need to know.

But that would be a lie.

The truth is, I'm working on it.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Cozy and cold, put the horse before the cart

Me, 10 years ago
Today I have been blogging for ten years.


This is longer than my longest romantic relationship, which at this point is approaching nine years. It's way longer than I've lived in most places.

Really, this relationship, with all of you imaginary friends--many of whom I've been lucky enough to get to know in person--is one of the longest and most constant I've had.

I was thinking about where I was when I started. And it was here: heartbroken, fearful, insecure, depressed...really, kind of broken.

Some of you have been with me since the beginning, when my dear friend Kaysha said, "Do it! Start your blog!"

A few of my friends approved wholeheartedly. Some disapproved. Some just thought I was odd, but that's true; I am odd.

My dad read it from the start. He'd send me notes about typos or grammar. Sometimes he would lament my profane mouth; I'm well educated enough to use myriad other words.

I know now that he was proud of me, although he didn't say it to me. I'd hear the criticism. He'd sent my blog posts to friends, though. He'd talk about my writing.

Recently I was in a writing workshop and someone asked me why I started blogging.

I think the most honest answer is that I wanted to write and I desperately needed support, although I had no idea that was what I was looking for.

Truly, I could never have expected to encounter such fine people. I've met such smart, funny, interesting people, just by showing up here and writing.

Then they also asked how I named my blog, and of course I had to say it was my porn name. And also my profile name, which is up there with the poorest choices I've mad.

When I started I wrote every day. Every day. I had so much to say. And I wanted to say it to you!

I wrote blog posts in my head on my walk to work. I spun them around. And I typed them up at lunch. It was so easy. My head is so busy! And I finally had somewhere to put the words!

I now have less time, and honestly, my life is a lot less varied. I don't think I can ever top the Internet dates for blogging fodder. I was looking for love and I found all kinds of fabulous stories.

Sadly, I do think it's true that I got a lot less funny after I fell in love.

Such is life.

Blogging has given me a number of gifts. First would be friends. I have met heart people here, people I value tremendously and genuinely love.

It has made me a more honest person. I've laid myself bare, and people have responded with thanks, with their own stories.

I don't, in retrospect, know that I've always done the right thing being so open and honest. My dad was so angry that I wrote about him. He felt it was very unfair.

And for my part, all I could see was that he was shattering my life all over again. That he wanted us to live in silence because it was more comfortable for him. But it was killing us.

For me, it was such a relief to start talking about mental illness and suicide that I couldn't stop. I haven't stopped. He is gone, and there's no question of fair or unfair. But I don't know that I was 100 percent in the right back then.

Through this blog, I have come to believe that most of us have lived through something terrible, something brutal. We aren't all comfortable talking about it in public, but we need to be able to share, and to know that we aren't alone in our vulnerability, in our pain. To lay it out without being judged.

Darkness and fear are heavy. They are cumbersome. Everything starts to feel better when you call them out by name. When you expose them to sunshine and air they start to dissipate.

I feel so grateful and honored that people feel comfortable sharing with me.

Blogging has made me a better writer. I look back at early posts and I am tempted to re-write them, because I know I could do a better job now. But that's who I was then, and this is who I am now.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for your support, and for holding my hand through some very rough times. Thank you for not bailing on me even when I did things like rub butter on a complete stranger's nose.

Thank you for being part of my life. I am so lucky.

Love and hugs,


Monday, October 03, 2016

Dear Dad, on your 80th birthday

Dad had a man purse and he did not care.
Dear Dad,

You would be 80 today.

You know math is not my strength, so imagine my surprise when I counted backwards from 2016 and came up with 80. It seems impossible.

I mean, of course everything is possible when you're talking would'ves and could'ves.

But still.

It's a beautiful, sunny fall day. The kind of day you want to bottle, so you can sprinkle it around you in the grim of winter. You'd be out for a walk or sitting in the yard if you were still here.

Jordan is seven and huge, and so much BOY. You would love him. He likes his name, and the fact that he is named after you, and we have a cousin Mike Jordan, and there's a famous basketball player with the same name!

He loves building and music and science and math (inconceivable to me, but glad he does). He's  obsessed with Star Wars. I remember you taking us to a movie theatre in London to see the first Star Wars (which is now the fourth, and this out-of-orderness annoys me). You always took us to the new movies, the new shows. We recently watched E.T; I remember standing in line for it with you in DC.

The kids and Mom and I listen to Hamilton on repeat. In fact, Nick is the only one in the house who doesn't love it. I try not to think of this as a character flaw.

But I know for a fact that you'd have headed up to NYC and seen it the minute it came out.

India is four, and so sophisticated. You'd be charmed by her. She would hug you and kiss you and snuggle into your lap and ask you to read to her. She'd make you tickle her.

She's got a strong personality, and she comes by it honestly. She's so bold; she'll try anything. She falls down and gets up and brushes herself off and says she's fine. She impresses me endlessly.

I know that you'd be down on the floor with these kids, building Lego and Duplo. You'd  take turns telling jokes and making each other laugh.

It makes me so sad that they don't have you. That you didn't get to have them.

Mom is doing well. She has a plot in the community garden. She got about a million radishes and four little stunted carrots. Jordan dumped the pepper seeds all in one hole, so I think about two of those made it to pepper-hood.

Maybe you know this. Maybe you know all these things. She said that sometimes at night she feels a weight on the bed, like someone just sat down. She knows it is you.

I believe this.

We have a great little family. Nick still gets home late, so family dinner means Mom, the kids, and me. Jordan does his nightly reading with Nana, and still crawls into bed with her regularly.

Neither of my kids can imagine our family without her. We are lucky to have her. I wish we still had you as well.

I love you and miss you. Happy birthday.



Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Eight songs for a mad king

Eight years ago tonight, we said, "I do" and "I do" and then burst out laughing.

This is one of my favorite photos from our wedding.

We kissed first. Or maybe we kissed too early? And then started laughing? I can't quite remember. All I know is, we laughed and laughed. We were married and we were delighted.

It is the laughter that sustains us and that saves us, every time.

It's not like with the kids, where we've somehow, once again, gotten into a standoff about shoes. Or  breakfast. Or tooth brushing. Even though I try so hard to remember to voice their feelings. "You're so frustrated. You want to play. You don't want to put on your shoes."

Too often in the moment, I forget.

I try to remind myself, but then it is morning and everything is hard and I end up being all, "Just put on your shoes! We put shoes on every day! We have to go! Put them on!"

But if we do get into that spiral and I can break the tension "Look, a squirrel!" or make them laugh, we can reset and move forward.

But with grownups, with us, "Look, a squirrel!" doesn't work.

Our tension is not so easily broken.

Eight years ago on this day, we'd known each other for approximately 10 months. Most of those months our free time was spent watching The Office, doing the crossword, swilling beer in bars, and going for runs along the Potomac.

Those months were easy. We had one big fight, about our honeymoon. Seriously. That was the biggest thing we had to fight about. Which exotic location and for how long.

We both wanted kids. We were raised with a strong work ethic, and to pay bills and only incur debt very carefully and with much deliberation. Our politics and worldviews aligned. We both liked Bells Two Hearted.

We could not talk or talk forever and still find things to not talk about.

And we each found the other funny. Sometimes only mildly amusing. And sometimes hilarious. This was what really got me.

Nick was smart and kind, and he made me laugh. And he loved my humor. Obviously, if he hadn't found me funny, I'd have considered him humorless.

Now we have kids. We spend most of our free time with them. Sometimes this is tremendously fun, and sometimes it's incredibly taxing, and often it's both, all swirled together. But regardless, we both consider it important to parent as well as we can.

But this means we have very little time or energy for the two of us. Our relationship suffers for it.

We have a house that demands a lot, both maintenance-wise and financially. Our politics and worldviews are unchanged and compatible. We almost never drink beer. (Separate personal choices for differing reasons.)

We fight, boy howdy, do we fight. Sometimes the mad lasts for only 15 minutes, or for an hour or two. In the worst case it lasted about a year.

I can simultaneously love Nick with all my heart and be angry enough to loathe him with every fiber of my being. They aren't contradictory, at least not to me. And he is strong enough to handle it.

I don't exactly believe women who never admit to wanting to stab their husbands.

Recently a dear friend asked me if I think she is hard to live with. I said yes. She is hard to live with and I am hard to live with, and so is my husband. It is hard to live with people.

People are annoying when you have to live with their moods and uncapped toothpaste and inside out socks.

So we pick the ones we love the most. The ones whose minds intrigue us. The ones with whom we are our best version of ourselves, because we feel truly good with them. And with whom we can be our worst, most vulnerable versions of ourselves, because we trust and feel safe with them.

The ones who make us laugh, really laugh.

I did, and I do, and I would all over again.

Oh, look! A squirrel!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

How to start a fight with your spouse in five easy steps

The Heirloom of Injustice
You may already be good at this. But if you need a few tips, I'm happy to share some tried and true fight starters.

1. Remember, timing is critical. 

A great time to start one is late at night, perhaps while you're brushing your teeth before bed. At this point you're both tired, a little vulnerable, and not at your most rational.


2. Pick something that's been eating at you daily, but you haven't said anything about.

For example, me, I'm constantly annoyed by my husband's grandfather clock. It is beautiful, generations old, and imbued with family history and import. It was owned by his namesake. He has known his whole life that he would inherit it.

It chimes like his other ding clocks--and there's bitter history there--but louder. It sits near the bottom of the stairs, and the sound shoots right up to our room hourly and on the half hour.


I've been bothered by it for a long time. And to Nick's credit, since receiving it, he has tried various methods of stifling it. He's wrapped the dinger in a towel, in bubble wrap, etc. His goal was to adjust it so it is loud enough to hear but soft enough to be acceptable for me.

He was under the impression that he'd fixed the problem, since I'd stopped complaining. But I stopped complaining because the whole thing made me tired. And he was trying.

The DING is no longer so loud that it actually wakes me up at night. But if I am awake, I count the dings...

3. Wait until your frustration has built and built, so while it seems logical to you (you have daily conversations in your head) it will come out of the blue for your partner. This way you can really wallop her or him with your rage and righteous indignation.

The unsuspecting clock has come to symbolize every instance in our marriage where I felt that his opinion carried more weight than mine. Where his wants and needs came first. Where he pushed harder and I capitulated, because it was just easier to give in.

Now it irritates me every time I hear it. Which is a million times a day.

It is no longer just a clock.


It is the Heirloom of Injustice.

4. React to a trigger. Do not stop to think about the rationality of it.

In my case, the 11:00 chimes were the final straw. 

5.  Go for the nuclear option. Accuse. Use a tone, perhaps some profanity. With built up rage and righteous indignation, this is really the only approach. It works immediately, eliciting anger and setting you up for completely irrational conversation.

For example: "You know, if I ever leave you, it will be because your fucking ding clock is more important to you than my feelings."

You love your clock more than you love me. How much do you even really love me?

Pretty good, huh?

There. You'll of course have your own personal peeves, your own heirlooms of injustice, but follow this formula, and I've set you on the course for a big old fight.

You can take it from here.

Monday, September 19, 2016

A good day to remind you that you are wonderful

Today is a grey, grey, rainy day. This kind of weather makes me tired and logy.

Previously, without antidepressants, I would spend this kind of day in utter despair. The rain will never end. Will we ever see the sun again? Winter is coming...

It matters not that yesterday we were on the edge of drought, and we've had so many hot, sunny days that we desperately needed this rain. Facts, in cases like this, are irrelevant.

Anyway, now it's just one of those days that make me tired. That invite me to drink too much tea and wish I could spend the day asleep.

It occurs to me that it's the perfect kind of day to remember that sometimes, people need to be told that they are valued. People need hugs. (Although there are people in this world who don't like hugs, or who might not want you to hug them, so you have to ask first.)

We walk around with our own splinters and shards, our insecurities, our fragile sense of self, our whatever.

None of us are perfect, although Facebook makes it look like a lot of us are.

We all have our something. I don't trust people who pretend they don't.

It's not that I think they're bad people. It's more that for a long time I was oblivious to my somethings. And then when I wasn't, I worked to seems like I was all great, just like everyone else.

Then I finally realized that everyone else isn't all great all the time. And we all have our baggage, may it be a wee little Kate Spade clutch or a giant storage shed.

So today, on this rainy grey day, I am offering you hugs. I'm reminding you that you are terrific. That people love you. That you are different from everyone else in the most perfect, wonderful, fascinating way.

These things are true. Maybe you know them, and you don't need to hear it. But I'm saying so anyway.

If you need help feeling these things, ask for it. There is no shame in it. There's only wasted time in not doing so.

You're the only you there is, and you are amazing.

Much love and hugs,


Friday, September 16, 2016

Kyrie eleison down the road that I must travel

We have this delightful new shower in our master bathroom.

Or rather, we now have a bathroom with a shower, and it is new.

I cannot figure out how to take a non-glarey picture of it. Because with the lights off, it is dark and grainy. Anyway. For now you get the idea.

For seven years the tub in our bathroom didn't work, and as we approached home renovations on a most-to-least-crisisy basis--starting with lack of kitchen on the ground floor, lead pipes, cloth covered wiring, and rotting walls and floors and things of that nature.

We had other places to bathe in the house. So we viewed ours, decrepit as it was, as last priority.

And when we did the bathroom, we did it up big. I bought a spectacular mural from my friend Christine at William Morris Tile.

I have many things to say about it, and it deserves a separate post, so I won't get into it here. But it is beautiful and really interesting.

As for the house, I'd like to say that after seven years we are actually done. We are mostly done.

The fourth floor (or floh floh, as India calls it) is where we basically lived our first year here. It has had no renovations. One day we will have to. But not now. The leaks are stanched, for the time being.

Until a month ago, Nick spent seven years bathing and dressing up there daily. Without exaggeration, he caulked the upstairs tub weekly.

There is dangerous old caulk. But is there ever such a thing as too much caulk?

I dunno. But I think we can agree that seven years of caulk is a lot of caulk.


We now have this super duper awesomely beautiful shower with multiple shower heads. One side is for Nick, and the shower head is like 8 feet in the air. And the other side is for me. And they each have a hand held component.

Now the kids and I shower together a lot, which saves time and is actually something they get enthused about. They like the separate showers, the room to play, and the fact that they get to squeegee the glass walls.

It is perfect. Everyone has enough water, and I can have mine scalding hot and don't have to tepidize it for anyone.

There is plenty of room, but it's still a shower. We're in reasonably close quarters.

Last week, India reached up, put her little hands on my boobs, and tried to push them up.

I said, "Whatcha doing, India?"

And she said, "I'm trying to help them. Why don't your boobs stay up, Mama?"

I bit my tongue, thought I was tempted to launch into a whole thing about babies and nursing and how really, mine stayed up just fine before. And actually, it was all their fault.

Before I could say anything she said, "You know. Nana's boobs don't stay up either."

And there you have it.

Friday, September 09, 2016

I wish it were vodka

Nick found this video on an old hard drive. It is almost seven years old.

This video is small and oddly stretched, but it's not very long, and if you have ever had a newborn or suffered from depression or both at the same time, you may relate.

I watched it the first time and wanted to give myself a hug. And some antidepressants. And some sleep. I feel like these 45 seconds kind of sum up my life at that time.

Nick filmed this when Jordan was maybe two months old.

At that point, Nick worked until 9:00 or 10:00 every night. So this was taken shortly after he got home.

I was still recovering from my C-section, and our entire ground floor was under construction. Our kitchen was on the 4th floor.

Oh, and! And my dad had recently died by suicide. And my mom was doing things like smoking and watering one spot of their lawn until 4:00 AM. You couldn't blame her...but one cannot say it was helpful.

Nursing was hard, so I was nursing, pumping, and supplementing with formula. I felt like a huge failure. Also, people were all, "Sleep when the baby sleeps!"

And I was all, "But I have to wash the fucking bottles! And pump! And wash the goddamn pump! And eat! And drink water! And then he wakes up again and wants to eat!"

I had not yet been diagnosed with postpartum depression.

So I didn't know that I was deeply depressed. All I knew was that I hated my life. And I hated my husband. I fell asleep every night dreading the inevitable wake-up cries and dividing up our furniture.

Truly, I feel lucky that I was diagnosed not long after this. Nick came up to the kitchen one day to find me sobbing into the sink, washing out my breast pump.

I said, "I hate my life." And I did. I hated everything about it, so much. I was in utter despair. I saw no hope.

But not now. Thank God. Thank professionals and medication.

Friday, September 02, 2016

Happy birthday, Betty!

Dear Mama,

Today is your birthday.

Last night, when Jordan was drawing a cake on your card, he asked, "Do I have to draw ALL the candles?"

I said there was no need to draw all.

He loves math, and after one of the children at his school died, he became preoccupied with death. Now he regularly counts all of us back from 100. The assumption is we will all live to 100. He regularly asks our ages, so he can subtract them.

And then he half-cheerfully half-despondently tells you how much time you have left. As oldest, he lists you first. He frets about it; you can tell.

We grow up defining who we are in relation to others. I was a daughter before I was anything else. Now I'm a daughter, mother, wife.

I don't know how my kids define themselves, but I know how they define you. You are THEIRS. Their Nana. You are theirs to crawl in bed with. Jordan did this long before India, and he clearly still feels proprietary.

You're theirs to garden with. Theirs to walk with to CVS (and you always share your Mentos).

You were the one to take them each out for celebratory dinners on their respective first days of school. You are the banana bread maker, and the one India asks to take her to the background (which is what she still calls the back room) to do laundry. Oh, the thrill of putting things in the dryer!

They relate the news that they see on your TV, since we never have the news on. The outrage of Trump. A baby that died. Flooding. Obama. The fact that they have seen it and I have not makes them authorities; they love this.
Last weekend Nick, the kids, and I were heading out on bikes. The kids were riding on the back of mine, and Nick on his own. I said, "We're taking a family bike ride!"

And Jordan said, "That's not exactly correct." I assumed he would point out that we weren't each on our own bikes.

But he said this. "It's just part of the family, not the whole family. Because Nana is staying home."

The longer I live, the more certain I am that nothing in this world matters more than love. The people you love, and those who love you. Family, whether by blood or by choice.

I cannot think of one single thing that matters to me more.

I wish you a great birthday and a year of joyful surprises and all things delightful.



Thursday, September 01, 2016

Once I was seven years old...

Dear Jordan,

Two weeks ago, you turned seven. The night before you said, "I just realized...I'm never going to be six again."

No, my sweet, you'll never be six again. My mama always told me not to be in a hurry to grow up. Like you, I always wanted to be older. To be a big kid. To be a teenager. To be a grownup.

And you, at seven you are suddenly so grown up.

For your birthday you didn't want a big party; you wanted only family. You wanted chocolate cake with Lego candy on top. Truthfully, you're rather indifferent to cake. You are mostly about the Lego candy.

You are an interesting human being. You're articulate, thoughtful, and kind.

You love to play Lego, and you have spectacular building sense and imagination. I love seeing your creations. Most things become weapons, or have some deadly component to them. But they're still very compelling.

This summer, you started reading of your own volition. You discovered Calvin & Hobbes, and you fell in love. The other day you were home sick, and you curled up in bed and read it to Nana for ages.
I have always preferred reading to almost anything else, and I am so excited that you like to read. You don't choose it over Lego, but you like books more and more. I'm dying for you to read some of my childhood favorites. It feels like I'm going to get to introduce you to old friends.

I put my old Tin Tin comics in your room, and you're kind of interested, but they're still a little dense for you. Plus they're falling apart. Partly it's age, and partly it's the fact that my fish tank in Bangladesh leaked on many of them.

I don't push you on reading material, though, because that's annoying. Truly, I want you to love books, whatever you choose.

Sometimes you read to your sister, and it melts my heart. She's often large and in charge, but she'll ask you to read to her, and it is the picture of sweetness.

You read Knock Knock jokes in the car. Boy howdy do you love a Knock Knock joke. The other day I was driving somewhere I didn't know and I said I had to pay attention to the GPS and India offered to take over the "Who's there?" part and I don't know if I've ever been so grateful in my life.

(On a side bar: I have taught ESL and I still struggle with who's and whose. I will never not have to think about it, I fear. Also, and related, I now know I quite loathe Knock Knock jokes.)

Every time we go to the pool you and India insist on standing on the scale. We talk about your weight. We talk about hers. We talk about your weights combined. You weigh 65 pounds, and you are so proud of this. Together you weigh over 100 pounds!

I can still lift you and carry you, but not as far as I used to, and only because I am strong. I tell you and your sister that I'm strong. That you're strong and that she's strong. I make sure to do this, and I say strength is important.

I don't say skinny is important, because that's not a message from my childhood that I want to give you. Strong is beautiful, and strong is important.

You love to demonstrate your strength. You pick your sister up regularly. The other day at the pool you figured out a way to lift her in the water. She hopped on your arm and then you slung her over your head.

You bellowed, "Hey, Mama! Mama, watch how I pick India up by her vagina and flip her over my head!"

I could see by the faces of strangers that they had, in fact, heard your pronouncement.

You flipped her into water. She came up laughing.

I said, very calmly, because I couldn't think of what else to do, "Well, we don't really pick anyone up by their vagina, do we?"

To which India yelled something like, "Jordan! Throw me in the water by my vagina again!"

This story is going to make you want to die when you're a teenager. It just is. And yet, it is too good not to record.

We still hold hands when we walk, and I love it.

I take your hand, and now when we hold hands, yours are almost as big as mine. You love this. You don't quite fit my flip flops, but enough to wear them. You think it's funny. I think, oh, so soon he'll be taller than me. Soon his hands will be bigger. Soon he'll outgrow my shoes.

Do we ever outgrow our mamas? I certainly hope not.

I love you love you love you.


Thursday, August 18, 2016

The big fret of a simple haircut

Last week, at my friend Allison's suggestion, I watched Sliding Doors.

All these years, I'd never seen it.

And I loved Gwyneth Paltrow's hair. Loved. I was like, this is the haircut I need! Yes! This is the cut, and this is the time!

I was going to get my hair cut short last winter and I chickened out, ostensibly because it was too cold. But mostly because I was scared.
But you know how sometimes something strikes you and you are like, this is exactly it? It felt like that.

I liked the movie, but my main takeaway was this: You change your hair, you change your life! She leaves a bad situation and gets the cute, dynamic, fun guy with the great accent!

Also, which I already knew, nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.


I have a hair appointment Saturday. I have all these Gwyneth Paltrow haircut pictures on my phone. If I get hit by a bus and someone finds my phone they're going to think I'm a stalker.

When honestly, I'm indifferent to GP. I just like her hair in this one. And there's the scene with the adorable flowers! Could I do that?

I decided I really needed this haircut. (Not, I might note, to change my life and find a new man with a different accent. Just...I like her hair.)

So, I have this appointment. It was going to be for a trim, and then I decided I really am going to chop it. And yet the closer it gets, the less sure I am.

See, for a long time, the length of my hair was an indication of my state of mental health.

The shorter my hair, the more tenuous my grip on OKness. The closer I was to the bottom of that smoothy, grey, ugly pit of depression, and the closer my hair was to my scalp.

I would slide into depression, eat a lot of sweets, cry a lot, and gain weight and feel totally out of control. And I'd get my hair cut shorter and shorter.

I've read that cutting yourself is temporary relief from emotional pain. This was my hair instead of my arms. I would get it cut, and then cut again. Shorter and shorter.

I never, ever wanted to be alone, because desirability to men was equal to proof worth in the world. The hair cutting was like a subconscious way to ward men off, because the men I've always been attracted to have never been attracted to a woman with a crew cut.

Although in retrospect, the crew cut might've been OK if it weren't coupled with such apparent abject misery. Who knows?

My friend Wendy is all, hair grows and change is good.

I like this approach. I believe these things to be true.

But I also find that that I am scared to let go of my hair. Cutting it off is nervous-making, instead of a relief.

Fashion magazines are full of women with long, lush hair. Hair is feminine. Hair is attractive. Long hair is safer than short hair.

What if all my wrinkles show more? What if I look frumpy and mom-y? What if I feel unattractive?

This annoys me about myself. It really does. I'm a feminist. I shouldn't buy into the mainstream media depictions of women and femininity.

All these frets sound dumb, I know. It's only hair.

Except that for me, it's not. (Which also annoys me.)

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

And I am right now on the lookout for more critical decisions to make

I don't know if you remember all my emergency room shenanigans in June?

In any case, the surgeon I saw referred me to a gastroenterologist, who I finally saw last week, who suggested we do an endoscopy just to rule out an ulcer or polyps or some such.

And you guys, I have an ulcer!

Nick asked if it's because I fret so much and I said the doctor said it's most likely due to marital stress, but they're culturing it to see if they find H pylori, which is apparently this wretched little ulcer-causing bacteria.

She didn't actually say anything about marital stress. She said these ulcers are typically from NSAIDS, but I don't take a lot of those. So, yah.

The doctor, who I really like, said they would sedate me with Propofol, which was the same stuff that Michael Jackson used, but not to worry, that it was totally safe.

And I was all, if it's the same drug they knocked me out with when I did IVF, I'm all for it. That was awesome.

I am indifferent to drugs, but I tell you in all candor that I can totally understand the appeal of having a canister or whatever of that stuff at home. It is delightful.

One minute you're counting, taking deep breaths while oxygen is shooting up your nostril and you maybe get to three. And then suddenly they're waking you up and you are so comfortable you wish you never had to get out of that hospital cot with the curtain partitions all around you. I wanted to ask if I couldn't just sleep a little longer.

Post-C-section Vicodin? No, thank you. Propofal? Magical!

Oh, and this reminds me--we've started watching Breaking Bad and it makes me extra glad Nick is a lawyer and not a meth dealer. I don't think I can keep watching, though, because it's not like it's actually going to become less stressful, right, with all the cancer and meth?

Anyway, the way the doctor put it, endoscopies are totally routine, and not to worry. So I didn't think I was worrying.

I kid you not when I say that the night before I was trying to decide what to wear. Jeans? Long sleeves? Bring a sweater? What does one wear to an endoscopy?

I even realized it was ridiculous. But I was still a little fixated.

Friends suggested helpful things such as socks, Chanel, red lipstick, and conservative underwear.  This last suggestion was from my friend English, who said she always bears that in mind with the dermatologist and skin checks. Which makes sense to me, although thinking about it, I'm not sure why I care if my doctor thinks my underwear are too racy.

Fortunately I've gotten rid of all my really terrible underwear, because you know, I used to have a pair that was held together with a safety pin and whenever anyone saw it, it was really embarrassing. I had no explanation, and yet I kept it. I had them for years.


In any case, I was told I'd be in a gown and it didn't really matter what I wore, although definitely socks because my feet would get cold.

And then that night I had all these mega anxiety dreams. Like, sharks and rabies and Nick running off with some woman he met at a party. I was a little more stressed out than I thought.

I woke up late and barely managed to get dressed (with conservative underwear) and brush my teeth and get to my appointment on time.

They let you keep your bottoms on, as it turns out, so in the end the underwear didn't matter one bit. They just make you wear a gown on top to monitor your heart. They even let me keep my shoes on.  So my feet were toasty.

I mean, in case you are ever in this situation and wonder what you should wear.

When it was all done, they gave me paperwork with color pictures of my insides, including the wee ulcer. And a set of strict instructions.

The nurse said that for the remainder of the day I couldn't: drink alcohol; smoke alone; exercise; drive a vehicle or operate heavy machinery; or sign legal documents or make critical decisions.

Naturally, I've resumed all of those activities today.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Today I am 47

Today I am 47.

I am 47 and not 37 or 27 or 17, but I so fortunately keep seeing all these friends from when I was in high school, and somehow those 30 extra years seem impossible.

How am I suddenly 30 years older than 17? Math has never been my strong point, but I do grasp the basic march of time. It is how things seem to work, but still.

One day you wake up and you have this new number and you don't quite know how you got there.

Does this happen to other people?

It's not that I'm upset about my age. Not at all. I'm such a better, happier, kinder, more confident human at this age. I like myself most of the time. I like this life.

I spent my 37th birthday drinking wine and crying all day long. I was certain that nobody would ever marry me, because I didn't have the right resume for DC. I kid you not with this. And that I was destined to die alone.

On my 27th birthday I was in graduate school in DC, not knowing what I was doing with my life. It was a good summer, mostly, but I still cried a lot because I always used to cry regularly, and plus by August I was only a couple months from sliding into my annual winter depression, what with the shortening of the days and such.

When I was 17 I talked about how fat I was all the time. I thought about how fat I was all the time. I starved and exercised and still, how was I so fat? I said that as soon as I grew up and had enough money, I'd have the fat sucked out of my thighs. Seriously. I went on and on about it.

I was just talking about this with Kristin, who I saw in Denver. How obsessed and unhealthy we were.

I now like those previously hated thighs.

 I'd like to tell the 37-year-old that the whole DC resume thing is such bullshit, and she was never going to marry someone who bought into it, and that in just over a year she'd meet someone, and in two years she'd be immensely pregnant and wondering why her baby didn't magically appear on his due date.

I'd like to tell the 27-year-old that she should ask her doctor for some antidepressants, because it would make grad school, dating, and really general life a hell of a lot easier and more pleasant. It would make her more pleasant.

And I'd like to tell that 17-year-old that she was beautiful and smart and interesting. And that life is so much bigger than being skinny enough, whatever that means. And that whether or not someone wants to go out with you is not a measure of your self worth or attractiveness.

I'd also like to borrow her blue Mary Quant mascara. Because that stuff was awesome.

In any case, I'm not sure how much liposuction costs, but if I had that chunk of money to burn, I'd now hop a plan for a weekend in Paris. I'd happily take these thighs, the ones with which my ancestors walked across the prairie, along for the ride. They are strong, and fine with me.

Now, I must say that I miss my old boobs and stomach, but I wouldn't trade my children for them. I'd like many fewer wrinkles, and in fact, thanks to Botox, I do in fact have a few fewer wrinkles, and this delights me.

A friend said she wears her wrinkles proudly, as she's earned them. But for me those deep furrows between my brows were earned through too much stress, and I'm happy not to wear them.

My friend Kristin, who is one scant week older than I, keeps referring to herself as a middle-aged woman. When I saw her in Denver I was all, I don't understand why you keep captioning your photos things like, "Middle-aged woman setting up a tent!" and "Middle-aged woman making s'mores!"

She said, "WE ARE middle-aged." She pointed to her face. "This is the face of middle age."

And yes, yes, we are middle-aged, and I don't actually mind my age, but I hate the moniker. She and Maude said it's because traditionally it means old and frumpy. And we are not. So we should work to redefine what it means.

In theory, I like this idea.

I mean, first and foremost, I present myself as a family person with small children. A very tired, loving, occasionally locked in the bathroom with a glass of gin, family person.

I'm not trying to pawn myself off as some young hot thing. And yet I am not ready to embrace the concept of middle age.

Now, on the upside I realize that I'm truly lucky not to be an Olympian or an actress, because by this age I would be considered so over the hill.

Whereas as a plain old regular person, nobody is saying such things. So I feel pretty lucky, you know, to not be an Olympic athlete or Hollywood star.

Although on a side bar, don't you think if you won an Olympic medal you'd get naked as soon as you were home and dance around the house wearing nothing but the medal?

You know I treat my birthday like my own personal New Year's Eve, and I think about what I learned and accomplished in the past year.

In terms of accomplishments, I got an article published on The Mighty site. I took a storytelling class and got up in front of a big crowd and told my story. I mostly did a lot of procrastinating and not writing on my book...

I learned a lot, however. There have been some big learning years in this past decade.

Last fall I reconnected with a bunch of Peace Corps friends I hadn't seen in 20 years. And I learned, once again, that deep friendships endure through time and space and distance. And that I am lucky to have those people in my life.

I learned that damage and trauma from my past can resurface at the most unexpected moments. And until you see it and name it, you cannot understand it, but it sits inside you corrosively until you do.

In this past year, learned that while I believe myself to be so strong, I'm much more vulnerable than I think, and that I am lucky to have not only a very loving family, but a whole loving village.

Today I learned that while Thomas Wolfe may be correct, you can't go home can, for your birthday, get the same Stan Smith sneakers that you wore in high school. The ones that were just like your dear friend Nicole's.
And this will make you incredibly happy.

Big hugs and love,


Thursday, August 11, 2016

There's always something happening and it's usually quite loud

My friend Rachel recently asked if I'd been working on my book this summer.

Honestly, I don't even know anymore if I have it in me to write a book. But that's a whole nother topic.

In any case, I said that not only had I not been writing anything at all, but being at home with the kids, I don't blog, and I barely answer email. I can barely think.

She nodded. "Summer is like a dumpster fire."

Yes. She nailed it.

With kids, summer is like a dumpster fire.

I don't know about yours, but my kids have this uncanny ability to know when I have focused my attention on something of particular interest to me.

And they appear.

I can be cleaning, putting away dishes, whatever, and they will evince no interest, or sometimes even recognition that I'm there--even if they're playing right beside me.

But say they're in another room playing Lego or doing a puzzle or watching a show, and I decide to sit down and read a book. Or answer an email.

I swear. It's like the Child Catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. They're all, "Mama is reading something. She's totally engaged. I can smell it."

Their little noses twitch, they detect my interest, and they come running.

"Mama mama mama! What are you doing, Mama? Mama play with me Mama!"

India will wiggle into my lap, inserting herself between the book and me. Between me and the screen. "Baby pictures! I want to see baby pictures!"

This is always her demand. Me. Make it about me.

And then eventually I go back to doing something utterly banal and am all, "Hey! Wanna help me clean out my closet?"

Ha. Not so much.

Sometimes I keep that up for like five minutes and then sneakily pull out my book or laptop and see how far I get.

But it's joyless when it's so brief and furtive, so I've mostly stopped bothering.

I'm an introvert. And the lack of time and space to be alone in my head is hard for me.

Sometimes I just want to be all, stop touching me! Stop talking to me! Stop breathing at me! Stop it stop it stop it!
And then your kid winds up with your socks in her drawer.
But on the other side, I must say that I feel so grateful that I can be home with them for these long summer days. I do.

Jordan has started choosing to read on his own. He picked up Nick's old Calvin and Hobbes book the other day, and he is now hooked. It's delightful. He loves to sit on or curl up in my bed and read.
This wouldn't happen if we didn't have all this unscheduled time.

Most days we have no agenda. We go to the pool almost daily, and that is perfect. It has been a hot hot hot summer. We love to swim and jump and do somersaults. It's really fun. Plus, all of that makes my progeny tired and more tractable come bedtime.

We wear a lot of sunscreen. They get annoyed by all the sunscreening, and I am all, listen. Mama has many spots and wrinkles and regrets her foolishly unsunscreened, if lovely, youth in South Asia.

Here. Wear some zinc SPF 5 million.
And look both ways before you cross the street. Stop, drop, and roll if you're on fire. Don't drink and drive.

In July my dear friend Wendy invited us to join her wonderful family in the Outer Banks. I got to hang out with Wendy and her parents, and our kids adored each other.

It was magical in so many ways.
(Also: Duck Donuts really are all that. I was previously indifferent to donuts.)

And now, I must admit that in desperation I've let my children watch a few too many mindless videos.

The other day India came in my room when I was taking off one dress to try on another and she said, "Oh! Are you changing your look?"

Where'd she hear this? Barbie. This is Barbie-speak.

Occasionally they discuss Barbie and her friends as if they know them. And then one day when I came in to turn off the TV, Jordan said I was killing their vibe.

So, yah. There you have it. That's my current shame.

It's a dumpster fire.