Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Blog From the Edge

I just got a phone call from my mother asking why I haven't posted yet today. She says my readers are waiting for me, that they are getting impatient with the ol' Refresh button. Which means that she is getting antsy, that she is sitting at her desk drinking a lukewarm Orange Fanta straight from the can, bored.
I love my mom, you all know I do. And I hear you when you say that she needs her own blog because I think she does, too. She is a storyteller, a cross between the Southern Gothic of Faulkner and the insanity of Ab Fab. The thing is this blog has been a slight source of mother-daughter ire. I have had to censor some of her comments and ask that she maybe not comment on every. single. post. Which makes her ask me which posts she can comment on. When is it okay? Now? This one? Can I comment here? What about now?
One time when I was maybe 12 or 13 my mom came into my room where I was making stationery with my perfect friend Lisa. We were drawing turquoise triangles on graph paper and highlighting them with a peach marker. I'm pretty sure we were inspired by something we had seen on "The Facts of Life," you know, the later episodes where the girls owned an 80's novelty store called Over Our Heads and George Clooney was the foppish carpenter, not yet cute. So my mom comes in and apropos of nothing says she is going to show us how to take off our underwear without removing our shorts. Okay, maybe it had to do with summer camp, she was showing us how to disrobe at summer camp without getting completely naked. But I never quite understood why I would need to remove my underpants while leaving on a perfectly good pair of Dolphin shorts at camp or anywhere else. But she stood there anyway and pulled the band of her underwear down over one knee and then the other side and voila! Commando Mama. The nib on my turquoise marker nearly dried out as I froze in horror. I suppose I am lucky she was wearing any underwear at all.
I once told my mom that she is one of the great eccentrics, like Truman Capote except maybe without the bestselling novels and movies made about her. But it's not too late. Phillip Seymour Hoffman could still play her if he slimmed down a bit. Because my mother does need her own blog. She needs to teach the world how to take off its underwear while still wearing shorts. She needs to live out loud.
And me. Well, I just had nothing really to say today. My panties are on, not even in a bunch and I am quite fine with that.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

It's Business Time

Seeing as how it's Monday morning-ish (a bit late on the morning but you're talking to somebody who ate Oreos for breakfast, I'm just a rebel that way), I have 3 very important items of business to attend to:
Important Item of Business Numero Uno: You might notice a new feature on this here blog: you can now Email Me! Because, you know, maybe you want to send me chain letters from the Dalai Lama himself telling me that because I chose a goat when I think of flowers that must mean I'm an ass, that if I don't forward the email to 43 of my closest friends in 12 seconds that my cat will choke on a hairball and die a hideous, twitchy death. Yeah, that. Or maybe I posted my email address because I am now OPEN FOR BUSINESS for writing jobs, all creatures great and small. That, too. So email me. susannah DOT ink AT gmail DOT com
Important Item of Business Dos: You know that one friend, the straight shooter? Maybe she tells you that yes, your ass really does look wide in those jeans, that Oreos for breakfast is a bad idea? Maybe she brings the octopus sprinkler toy to your daughter's birthday party because she knows it's going to be 90 freaking degrees outside and your backyard is a micro-climate of global warming, thus saving your ass (albeit wide in your jeans) and the party itself? Well, meet my friend Ana. She is that friend. I met her at my old job, you know, The Place That Sucked My Soul Like A Cheap Slurpee Through A Straw And Even Used That Spoon Thingie At The End Of The Straw To Scoop Away At The Very Marrow Of My Being (TPTSMSLACSTASAEUTSTATEOTSTSAATVMOMB for short). She was the product designer to my product manager. After horrible meetings in which everyone else would blame the other department, she used to share her lunch with me, casting a doubtful eye on my mealy apple and bag of Reese's Pieces while she whipped up some sort of penne pasta with fresh veggies in an office kitchen stocked only with crystallized honey and Sweet 'N Low, where nobody ever washed their dishes and the coffee maker sat in a dangerous puddle of water. She'd make me my own little plate and we'd eat together, talking about how to get out of that job, that place, that rut. She's a fiery one, at times a cheerleader, other times a drill sergeant. But she has proven that she is not all bark. My friend Ana's got a bite because she did it; she got out of that place and did her own thing. And I could not be more proud. Presenting Cucuyo, a company that Ana started with her friend Laura to create clever products for modern parents. Their first product is already up and running, ready to sell, sold (out) in fact but you're lucky in that they just got a new shipment. The Ori Changing Station is one good looking compact diaper changing station with a pillow for your child's head and an invisible pocket for extra diapers and wipes. Innovative, I tell you. Check it out before they're gone! And come back because Ana? Yeah, she's already designing more product. God knows what she'll think of next. As for me, I'm just hoping she'll still fix me a plate of whatever it is.
Important Item of Business #Trois: So yeah, it's Monday almost-afternoon by the time I've finished posting this. So I thought everyone could use a dose of Flight of the Conchords. Bryan and I just rented them on Netflix and I tried to like it. For some reason I desperately wanted to be a fan. But I've always hated musicals and I just couldn't get past them bursting into song while walking down the street. So instead I think I'll stick to the Flight of the Conchord songs I find on You Tube. They make me laugh out loud even on the 4th Monday of a week without work. Because Ah Yeah, even without a job... It's Business Time.

Mirror in the Bathroom

Let's see, where do I go with this? One man's trash is another man's wife's trash? Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the most fucked up interior decorator of them all? Because really. I mean just really.

Just a thousand reflections of my own sweet self, self, self...
Over dinner the other night Bryan said he had something to tell me. But that I couldn't get mad. Please, please, just don't get mad. And he buried his head in his hands, one salty lock of hair perilously close to the Kraft Bunny Shaped Mac 'N Cheese I had slaved over only moments before. What? I said. What? I can't promise. Just tell me. But he wouldn't even look up at me and the bunnies had begun to congeal. It has to do with Mike's bar, he said. What? I said. Come on, what? Soon the noodles would be one big bowl of gluey lapin in the shape of a brain, unintentional macaroni art a l'orange. But he would not tell me. WHAT GODDAMN IT? WHAT? YOU'RE FREAKING ME OUT! TELL ME! Because I'm a girl, a wife, and I was imagining body shots on the napes of lithe barely legals, lines of coke done around a belly button ring even though that is not us, not him, not even that bar. WHAT??? Orange rabbits getting hard and cold. And then he lifted his head, big green starfish eyes scared and round. Mike's getting rid of the mirror in the men's bathroom at his bar. It's cool, covered in graffiti all scratched and inked with tags. I told him you said it was okay if I took it, if we hung it in our bathroom.

Cures you whisper make no sense/Drift gently into mental illness...
No, I said. Just no. No way. But you haven't even seen it! he said. And he's right. I had not ventured into the men's room at our friend Mike's bar on Haight Street, still have not even now. But still I knew. My answer was No. Did that matter? My answer? I could have been talking to a wall, a mirror covered with ink reflectionless and deaf because Mike was bringing it to Zoey's birthday party for us anyway, Bryan had already told him I was okay with it. My no echoed off glass, no no no no, until the word was nonsensical, an infinity of no getting smaller and smaller. no. Mm. Thank you, Mike. Our very own piece of gangland pissing contest for our pissoir. Happy Birthday dear Zoey, love Uncle Mike and Daddy Dearest.
And so here it is. In my bathroom. Well, not technically my bathroom per se. It is more our half bath, half because it only has a toilet and half mine because I have always referred to it as Bryan's bathroom. The poo bathroom. The one I don't use because it stinks and the 1960's linoleum depresses me (more than the 1970's linoleum of the other bathroom). I have been waiting for Oprah to do a show on America's Ugliest Bathrooms because I am sure that I would win, that Nate Berkus would come to my house and make over my bathroom into a powder room, a guest bawwth with soft pink lighting and matching towels, maybe some tiles the color of money.
Bryan says that the mirror might be worth something, that some of the graffiti is done by well-known street artists. I see junk, drunk boys who do not wash their hands before defacing public property, penis germs still on their fingers. I see anger and U.G.L.Y. you 'aint got no alibi, you Ugly! I see that Bryan will never even hang the mirror, that it will sit for a year leaning up against the wall like that. Bryan sees a Basquiat in our bathroom, cool, a question: what is art if not life left to sit in the room that sees us at our basest?
What do you see? Do you see me winning Oprah's America's Ugliest Bathrooms with this Mirror in Mine? Or do you see Stephen Sprouse? Fab 5 Freddy? Kilroy was Here, he pooped in my toilette? How do you see yourself in the marked up turf that is that mirror?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Party On

All business in the front, but the party is in the back!
I am the friend who always brings the drinks to the party. And you? What are you bringing? Oh, you know, just a little garlic mango chicken salad with sundried tomatoes and figs, goat cheese and the menses of a supermodel. Nothing special.
I suck at cooking. The thing is, I don't really care. I can just as easily eat a box of Ritz crackers as I can a loaf of warm pugliese drizzled with olive oil and asiago cheese. So when my friends have parties and I ask what I can bring they always say drinks. Oh? So you want me to whip up a pomegranate-appletini sort of thing? No, they demur, a few bottles of Orangina will be fine. And I breathe a sigh of relief. I like my role as the Bearer of Store Bought Beverages.
Tomorrow is Zoey's big birthday bash. I have just returned from the grocery store, Toys 'R Us and Party America where I pretty much spent the sum of my severance on hot dogs and juice boxes, balloons, balls and bubbles. I am lucky in that I have the taste buds of a ten year old. I understand hot dogs and orange slices. Yellow mustard speaks to me. But what I don't get are the party favors. There was a good twenty minutes that I stood in that aisle at Party America laboring over the decision of plastic clappers or shovels? Water guns? Stickers? Play-doh? My friends have been busy these last couple of years and there are a lot of little kidlets to treat. I was feeling cheap and went with some temporary tattoos at .99 cents each. The girls get fairies and the boys get Harley Davidson; anyone in between gets a tiger. I hope none of the parents frown on tats for tots. If they do I can just tell them that the derelict teenager who rang me up approved of my choice in party favors. He told me so as he twiddled with his lip ring and I felt validated.
So tomorrow, if you're coming to Zoey's birthday party, please pardon the lack of aioli sauce. Please accept my proffered hot dogs, the potato salad I bought in a vat at Safeway. Please know that while I don't really care about the food, I care about you.
And that's what parties are for: friends.
Now if you'll please excuse me I have to go clean the house from top to bottom. Because if you saw the state of my toilet bowl right now? Ooooph. Now THAT I care about.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


Dear Zoey,
Two years ago today you were born. On April 24th at 10:52am my life became distinctly divided into a Before and After and everything I ever thought I knew about the world was replaced with you. Love and family, myself, grocery shopping, things that I once thought were as solid as The Pythagorean Theory slipped out of my hands and into yours. After you were born the world was forever changed, new. a² + b² = 10:53am. April 24, 2006. You became my hypotenuse, the longest side of the triangle that is you, Daddy and me. This from your mother who got a C- in geometry from a teacher who was too kind or too lazy to give me the D that I deserved.
One year ago today I was flying off on a work trip. Around the world in 8 days: China, Thailand, India, Germany. Around the world from you who had become the center of my universe and on your first birthday no less. To say I was Zoey-lagged is an understatement. Without the longest side of my triangle I walked on stilts, halting, awkward, the only safety in motion. I would call you and Daddy at midnight from Hong Kong, calling from the future really, the same day but 16 hours ahead. You would just be waking up and Daddy would put the phone to your ear and I would be lucky if I could hear your heavy one-year-old breath. Feeling ridiculous with my high pitched mommy voice telling you that I loved you, that I missed you, singing you Twinkle Twinkle Little Star from a vast hotel room on the other side of the globe, with the bright neon lights of Hong Kong playing off the harbor view outside my window. The world was indifferent to my everything.
And now we are here and you are two and nothing could have prepared me for today. I am at home and you are at daycare; soon I will come bring you cupcakes. At two you like to get close to my face and laugh into my mouth. You push your small fingers into my eyes and sing songs about words I had no idea you knew. The other night after Daddy and I put you to bed we could hear you in there making the sounds of an exaggerated snore followed by long whistles of deep sleep exhales. We stood in your doorway laughing and when you finally saw us you sat up and said "I'm sleeping!" Indignant and funny. Perfectly two.
The past month has been really hard for me, battling panic attacks and getting laid off. I am no longer in a strange room in Hong Kong but at times the world still seems indifferent. I am scared. I feel used and tossed aside, worthless, confused, free and happy and scared. Did I say scared? Because yeah, I'm scared. A few weeks ago in the midst of one of the worst bouts of panic I have ever had I called my mom. It was 11pm. You and Daddy were asleep and I took the phone into the living room, crying and shaking, my limbs hot and prickly with fear. Mommy? I said. Mommy? I had not called my mom Mommy since I don't know when but it was the only thing I could get out of my mouth. I could not breathe but I managed to call my Mommy.
I don't know where we will be one year from now on your third birthday. But I do know that I will love you. Because even though the world at times seems detached I am not, never will be. I am your mommy, forever attached, forever standing just outside your doorway to listen as you sleep whether you're faking it or not. One year from now, eighteen years from today, when you, too, are thirty-five, please know that everyone gets scared, that sometimes the angles don't seem to add up, and when they don't I will always be here for you, to prop you back up, to hold this triangle right. I am your mommy. Call me.
Happy Birthday Petunia Face.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

You Can't Make Me (But Oh, How I Wish You Could)

I've been cheating on you. I've been cheating on you and Bryan and Zoey and the world. Because ever since I was laid off I've been taking long naps during the day. When I am supposed to be looking for a job or working on my book or writing on this here blog.
This morning I dropped off Zoey, came home and as I closed the curtains in my bedroom and shucked off my shoes to climb back in bed I felt dirty. And so I am coming clean. Because I feel guilty and have nothing else to write about today.
When I was first laid off someone told me not to watch any daytime television. And I haven't, not one very special episode of Maury, not even a segment of The View. The internet has eclipsed the tv as my favorite form of entertainment and damn all of you and your delicious blogs. I write for a half hour, maybe check Craigslist for new job postings, then it's off to the www to see what you are all up to. Between that and my naps it'll be a miracle if I'm not living down at the Y come Christmas.
This is kind of like standing in the shower wearing a trash bag because even though I've confessed all this I'm not going to stop. Those naps? I feel as if I am standing at my kitchen counter eating spoonfuls of sweetened condensed milk straight out of the can. Thick and syrupy like a dream. Not meant to be consumed in this manner, but I'm doing it anyway.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Jerry Garcia has been following me lately. And even though he's dead and I'm not (a deadhead), this is not difficult here in Marin County where those dancing teddy bear stickers are pasted on every other car bumper, where the guy behind you in line at the grocery store used to do sound check for The Grateful Dead, where dried roses gather dust on windowsills in memory of a time, a show, a man, our youth. Where it gets tricky is that Sun*Maid Raisins have been following me, too.
Don't think I've gone crazy (again) and yes, maybe I've been looking too hard for a sign, but I take solace in the fact that lately whenever I turn on the radio in my car it's always playing "I Will Survive." Wait, no, that's not right. That's Gloria Gaynor and the anthem for jilted girls in sticky bars everywhere. No, what I keep hearing is "Touch of Grey" with the distinctive guitar picks and the whiny gravel of Jerry I know the rent is in arrears/The dog has not been fed in years/It's even worse than it appears, but/It's alright/I will get by/I will survive... and even though I have always held a certain disdain for The Grateful Dead I turn it up and sing along anyway because I want to believe I will get by. Because even though it's not the right song, not the right fight even, I want to be that jilted girl in the bar with a buzz, lifting her beer high over head to shout out the lyrics right along with Gloria, at first I was afraid, I was petrified, twisting and twirling, dizzy and scared, free from a boyfriend who did me wrong, not that chained up little person/still in love with you.
It's like when I was 14 and my friend Christine and I were listening to the radio and we said that the next song that came on would predict who she would be in her life, the song after that would be me. She got Rick James "She's a Very Kinky Girl," and me? I don't think we ever got the answer. A boy called on the phone or my brother came to pick me up, honking for me outside her house in his Datsun B210, something made us stop listening to the radio and I never found out if I would live my life "Hungry Like a Wolf," or always "Blaming it on the Rain."
I still look in the stupidest places for the answers. Zoey loves raisins, eats at least one mini box a day. Last week I discovered a quote on the underside of each box flap. Yesterday it read "give it a try." The day before "enjoy today." And I cannot help but think those raisins are trying to tell me something. But what? Can't I just lift up the flap and it read "write. keep writing. have faith. someone will pay you and you won't lose your house." But I guess that would be too long to fit on the underside of the box flap. So instead they're just telling me to enjoy today.
I got my first freelance writing job yesterday. It pays a pittance of what I used to make and a mere smidge of what I would like to charge. But it's a start, a glimmer of what my life could be.
Yesterday I also started writing my book. And I spent the night tearing it apart in my head. It's not good enough. Who cares? I'm not good enough. I'm not a very kinky girl, never have been, never will be, not the kind of girl to write a song about much less a book. But maybe it's high time I turned off the radio, stopped touching the grey, stopped looking for direction inside a box of wrinkly old grapes. Maybe it's time I just shut the fuck up and start writing.

Monday, April 21, 2008


This weekend I went to Target because, well, because as the mom of a toddler if you don't go to Target at least once a week a Target team member in a red poly-blend vest will come to your house and take away your child. That's just how it is.
So there I was in Target with Zoey in the cart eating animal crackers we had stolen from an end-cap. All of a sudden Zoey got very excited about something and began to shout COCK! COCK! And I looked around and saw what she was talking about and gave her a high five. Yay! You're right! Good job! It wasn't until I saw the woman in the aisle next to us shoot me the stink eye that I realized: not everyone knows that a cock is a clock in my house. That a fuck is a frog, a shit a ship. That Zoey had seen a row of digital numbers and simply wanted to point them out to me and the lady in the aisle next to us, to tell us what time it really was.
Sometimes I wonder if I swear too much in this blog. Writing about penises and vaginas, mother fuckin' this when I get too emotional, fuck that when I don't. Because I don't really swear very often in real life. I mean, yeah, if I joined a group of scrapbookers in a church basement then sure, I would be categorized as a potty mouth. But if forced to spend a weekend in Vegas with Heather from Rock of Love 1 then I would come across as a real prude, my lip-liner-less mouth pinched tight, my hair lacking extensions and product of the spray-on variety. It's all relative.
My mom allowed my brother and me to swear when we were little. The rule was that we couldn't call other people names; we could only use bad words if we stubbed a toe or lost a tennis ball in the neighbor's yard. I can still remember the first time I employed this free pass of profanity. My mom had taken my brother and me to see the movie The Toy and at some point I spilled my bucket of popcorn and quick said shit! And then I waited. My mom did not flinch. The sky did not fall. My mouth did not seal shut and in that dark movie theater I was not poked hard in the chest by the long disapproving finger of god. It was just a word and it felt so good to say it in that moment when all of my buttery kernels were glued to the floor with decades of soda stickiness and smashed flat jujubees. Shit. It was also in that movie when Richard Pryor learns he has been bought to be the toy of a little boy and that he must call the boy master. Master what? he asks. Bates is the boy's last name, he is told. Master Bates. And the whole theater laughed loudly and I sat there, the shit still reverberating in my small mouth, confused. What was so funny about Master Bates? Old enough for shit but still too young for that.
The thing is, I love words. And sometimes I do feel like I'm masturbating when I write, the obscene pleasure I get from a well-placed expletive, from an image created with simple strokes and serifs. And just as there are words that I love there are also words that I hate: turd. sebum. kumquat. moist, (except when referencing a cake. A moist cake is a-ok). But I only hate those words because they make me feel something I don't want to feel. That's the power of words, both the beautiful and the damned. And I want for Zoey to know the pleasure of words, how the word thistle feels soft inside your mouth, of clutter and creature and ink and fuck, yes, fuck, because fuck is a beautiful word when used correctly. Fuck yeah, it is.
But fucker? Not so much. You little prick-fuck-face-dick-hole. I get road rage and these words and others fall from my mouth like hail. My mother's rule still binds me at times and I know I am smaller for calling other people names. Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will always hurt me. The thing is I don't want Zoey to go to daycare tomorrow and scream shit! when she drops her crayon. Those words should be reserved for someone maybe a wee bit older, say 4. But more than that I don't want her to call anyone a shit. I want her to be kind, her heart large, her sweet red mouth to be full of soft downy thistle and whispers. I want her to yell COCK! in Target if she gets excited about seeing an alarm clock. I want her words to free her.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Zen of a Venn

I think I was more comfortable in my skin when I was 13 and constantly had my hands gripping the inside bottom hem of my shirt to pull it out so no one would notice I was getting boobs. Because this unemployment thing? So not me. I feel guilty enjoying even a smidgeon of weekday sunshine. I cannot eat a bowl of Lucky Charms without thinking that I have not contributed to the grocery list, even if they are magically delicious. And each morning I wake up with a heavy thunk of realization: I am so far out of my comfort zone I feel like using my raggedy unmanicured nails to tear away at my skin, to crawl outside of myself so that maybe, just maybe, I can breathe.

In high school Venn diagrams were the only thing that made sense to me. Algebra? Not so much. ax² + bx + c = I am a big fat idiot.

My old life was drab. Get up. Go to work. Complain about work. Gossip about co-workers. Go home. Try not to think about work. Go to sleep. Wake up depressed about having to go to work. Drab, but predictable. Stable. Profitable. Like that thick ugly coffee cup from that greasy spoon in Truckee--you detest it, but can't make yourself throw it away. In its own way, my old life worked.

This new life? I just don't know. It's a beautiful thin glass that I don't know yet how to use. Is it for wine? Water? Milk? Vomit? As someone who has always been driven by fear I have to figure out which fright pushes me the furthest: the fear of not realizing my dream, or the fear of losing my house, my sense of security, my sense of the self I have been so far as an adult. Because Langston Hughes wrote about what happens to a dream deferred, but there are no words really for what happens to a dream confronted.

Does it also sag like a heavy load? Or does it explode?

You want more of my discomfort? Okay then, here you go: I was featured on Indie Bloggers today. If you don't yet know about Indie Bloggers, well, you do now. Go. Subscribe.And a special thank you to Maggie for letting me in on it via her post--Congrats to both Maggie and Pare for also being published there.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Note to Self: Q and A, not T and A

That's me on the left.
There's a reason why I married my high school sweetheart. I mean besides being completely in love with him and all. No, I also married my high school sweetheart because I sucked at dating. I thought nothing of calling whenever I felt like it, no 3 day rules for me. I said I love you too soon and cried big buckets of snot when we went to see the movie "Ghost." I made schmaltzy mixed tapes featuring Phil Collins; I bought him silk boxer shorts from Victoria's Secret for god's sake. So I really had no choice in the matter. Once Bryan said he loved me back it was a done deal.
I am a social retard. When faced with small talk I either completely go blank or blurb out inappropriate comments, stories about playing doctor with David Burger when I was 5, what that soft little penis looked like exposed in my room next to my pile of stuffed animals and all of their hard plastic eyes. See? I'm a social mess.
So you will understand that I am more than a little nervous today, going to my first job interview since being laid off. I don't know why but I want this job without even knowing any specifics on what it actually entails. I want to call this job and hang up when it answers, praying that it doesn't *69 me back. I want to make it a mixed tape with songs like "I'll Stop the World and Melt with You." I want to slip my hand into the back pocket of this job's jeans and feel its ass as it walks away from me.
The interview is at 1pm. I have already done a drive by to see where it lives and let me just say that I like that, too. Wish me luck because maybe, just maybe, this job totally wants to make out with me, too.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Things We Carry

The second they come out you try to pigeon hole them into someone they're not. Who does she look like? everyone asks. And you trace your finger down the stub of a nose and think maybe, yes, that's it, she has her father's eyes, her grandmother's toes. She is not her own person but slivers of everyone that has ever come before.

And it doesn't stop once you leave the hospital, your baby bathed, dried, fed and swaddled. One hundred and forty three photos you take in those first few days at home, sleeping baby, awake baby, baby in the bath, baby in your arms, emailed photos to relatives and friends who all comment on her mouth, that mouth, that is so you they all say. And you smile with your mouth because it is true, it's yours, baby, all of it. You plus him = a child that is a push me/pull you of the two of you.
One night years ago before we were even married Bryan drew a picture on the back of an envelope of what he thought our kid would look like. It was an unfortunate semblance of his wide nose, my big cheeks, both of our round eyes, our chiclet teeth, his big lips, bobble head on a stick figure with knobby knees. That drawing languished in the drawer of our coffee table and when I was pregnant I would take it out sometimes and wonder, the envelope resting on my taut belly. Knock, knock? Who's there? Baby. Baby Who? Baby You.
I have my father's coloring but my mother's movement. Both of them gave me a strong sense of the absurd, a love of words, a dark humor and an even darker genetic tangle of melancholy and panic, alcoholism and rage. This is what runs in my family, the things I carry: colon cancer and spending, southern stories that go on too long, curiosity and a pair of sterling silver candlesticks from Black, Starr and Frost or Black, Starr and Gorham, I can never remember which. My grandmother was a Black, my grandfather a Jenkins, my mother's father the son of textile mill workers in the City of Spindles. I am not myself but shards of these stories and I carry these things sometimes without even realizing it, the figurative weight of what came before. And I wonder now, my belly no longer taut but loose, what Zoey will carry without any of us even knowing that we loaded her up with it.
The envelope was only partially right: Zoey has Bryan's starfish eyes and my big cheeks. Jury's still out on the nose but there are times when she gives me a look, head tilted downward, eyes looking up at me, her mouth a half smirk that I cannot place. Who is she, my daughter, this thing that spilled out from us like a secret? I worry that she will inherit my panic, my father's depression, that she will become a diabetic like Bryan, that she really does have stubby toes, that she will carry what I have sometimes found to be too heavy. But what I worry about most is that 1 + 1 does not really equal 2, that despite it all she is her own person and I cannot carry the weight of memory for her.
Bryan would like nothing more than for Zoey to love the ocean. I would like nothing more than to bubble wrap my daughter and keep her on dry land.
If you have not read
The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien then you're in for a great read.

Friday, April 11, 2008

IHOP: Leave Happy

It's official: I have no ass.

Not that I had a lot of junk in my trunk to begin with, but the stress of the last few weeks has really taken its toll and now my ass is no longer a Rootie-Tootie-Fresh & Fruity but a lonely little flapjack without even a pat of butter.
Why, just the other day I was sitting on a wooden bench with my friend Rosalie who is on maternity leave (because that is what you do when you are unemployed or on maternity leave: you sit on benches outside of gelato stores without buying anything, just to talk) and my butt actually hurt from sitting there. The wood seemed to cut into my butt bones and I don't even know if there even is such a thing as a butt bone. It seems a little suspicious, like a ham hock or something you would throw in a pot to make stone soup.
I contend that there are people who eat from stress and there are people who lose their appetite due to stress. I'm a loser. Ha. Not only that, but I'm also fairly convinced that you either expand as you get older or you shrink with age. And guess what? I'm a shrinker. It's genetic. I look at my mom and she is basically just a pile of QVC necklaces on a sweater. You can hardly see her she is so tiny and her butt might actually face inward. Sorry Mom, but it's true. If my ass is a flapjack then yours is the little splatters of batter that brown up on the edge of the grill, a dot of a pancake.
What am I doing today other than talking out of my ass? Well, my dad is coming over later to talk book proposals with me. He is a writer. And I want to be a writer. And this should be an interesting afternoon because talking about your writing is really very intimate. Especially if you want to write about motherhood as I do because by its very definition that means I have a VAGINA and that is something neither my dad nor I are very comfortable with: the fact that I have one. I remember when I got my first period my mom yelled into the kitchen "Hey Ed! Can you go down to Center Market to get some pads for Susannah?" and I am fairly certain that something inside of both my father and I curled up and died from embarrassment that day. So Dad, get ready. I want to be a writer and I have a vagina.
But apparently I have no ass so perhaps we can somehow take solace in that.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Lately Zoey refuses to fall asleep without her cape. I will put her to bed only to hear maybe ten minutes later a little voice calling out for Super Zoey! Super Zoey! And so I creep into her bedroom in the dark and place the cape around her shoulders like Muhammad Ali's coach after a fight. Then, unlike Ali, she is down for the count.

As you can see it's a nice satin number similar in style to Flash Gordon if Flash Gordon had been a 2 year old girl and not a homo-erotic blond man with feathered hair.

I have to say I envy Zoey her cape, her ability to ask for it and her belief that somehow that pink satin lightening bolt sweeps her to sleep safely. Because right about now I could use a cape and someone to place it around my shoulders. I could use the belief that I have any power, super or not.
Cape brought to you by Baby Leo Designs, bought for Z by my mother for about $30 bucks.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Holding On For A Hero

At my previous place of employment aka The Place That Sucked My Soul Like A Cheap Slurpee Through A Straw And Even Used That Spoon Thingie At The End Of The Straw To Scoop Away At The Very Marrow Of My Being (TPTSMSLACSTASAEUTSTATEOTSTSAATVMOMB for short) certain web sites were access denied. For instance, I could not look at or Perez Hilton. You Tube was banned as was all streaming videos, sort of like music was forbidden in Footloose. If you tried to go onto one of these banned web sites this is what you got:

And at the bottom it said "Name of Asshole Company Here: ACCESS DENIED!!!" If the IT department could have figured out how to rig a wrangling cow bell to each person's computer I think they would have done just that so when you stumbled across an ACCESS DENIED web site your computer would jangle and lights would go off like a jackpot in Vegas. Only pink slips would tumble out, not coins.
A few months ago the stop signs disappeared. One day a friend of mine at work was at my desk and told me to look up some video on You Tube and I looked at her as if she was Kevin Bacon dancing in a warehouse with a cigarette and a beer. But we can't! I said. No we can! she said, They unlocked all the web sites! But I had seen enough Wile E. Coyotes to know that the cliff of the mesa is always just ahead, that a bundle of TNT awaits and that any product of The Acme Corporation will destroy you in the end.
A week later the stop signs were back and I can't help but wonder what it was all about. An IT glitch? A bar across the border of town with a jukebox? A conspiracy to out web surfers at work? Because I strongly believe that just because you're paranoid doesn't mean someone's not out to get you.
Admittedly I did have a long list of blogs under my favorites at work, aka TPTSMSLACSTASAEUTSTATEOTSTSAATVMOMB, blogs that flew under the radar of ACCESS DENIED. And I perused them often, in the mornings before anyone else got in, at lunch, before and after stressful meetings. I remember thinking that I really had to put them on my own blog or at the very least email them to my home computer. But I had no reason to think I would not be at TPTSMSLACSTASAEUTSTATEOTSTSAATVMOMB for a very long time, that I would not be there long enough to at least memorize the blogs I frequented throughout the day. And now my list of blogs is gone, sucked into the vortex of The Acme Corporation and I am left having run off the edge of the mesa, stuck in the air for that split second before gravity kicks in and I begin my free fall. In this second of float I am holding up a sign like the coyote used to do in those cartoons of my youth. My sign reads: "Fuck. I have lost my list of blogs" and my face is that stricken mix of confusion and absolute clarity.

So if you notice that maybe I haven't posted any comments on your blog lately that's why. Comment here and remind me of your name. Or maybe you want to let me know of a few blogs you think I'd enjoy. Leave a comment and help me build my list once again.
In the meantime I'll be here in my undershirt drinking a beer and doing back flips off the grainery at the mill.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Right Said Bryan

Word to all of the unemployed: do not wake up at 6:30am, get your daughter ready for daycare (which is paid through the month), drop her off at 8 and then come home and crawl back in bed to sleep in until noon. It might sound like a good idea at the time, like maybe you deserve a little nappie with the curtains drawn, but believe me, you will wake up with your jeans all crumpled, an ache in the back of your head where your ponytail was, depressed.
An even worse idea? Once you wake up, don't go online to balance your dwindling checkbook.
Yesterday I spent the afternoon at Barnes & Noble reading books about writing. I made it out of there with only 2 purchases: The Writer's Market 2008 and The Dog Walked Down the Street: An Outspoke Guide for Writers Who Want to Publish and Keep Their $4000/Month Mortgage On The Up and Up. Okay, I added that last part about the mortgage but I'm really hoping there's something in there about that, too. I was the type of girl who in college would go to the library and take out every single book with a reference to Lysistrata in it, feeling good about the progress of my term paper because the books were stacked high by my desk. I would sit at my computer and play Tetris until I saw those little geometric shapes even when I closed my eyes, not actually writing anything until the night before the paper was due. That method served me well in college, but now? Now I have 4 months to figure out my life and those little geometric shapes are dropping from the sky faster and faster.
Bryan left for New York last night. But before you say "coffee table" let me assure you this is a wife-approved trip. Because apparently my husband is too sexy for his pancreas.

Long story short: Bryan is diabetic. Diagnosed at 17 after a Vespa accident, the trauma of which shut down his pancreas. He gives himself 4 shots a day. My brother is a filmmaker and commercial director. He got a gig directing a campaign for a new glucose meter and just happened to mention to the client that his brother-in-law is diabetic but still surfs and sails and doesn't let it get in the way of his life. The client liked that slant and now my west-coast scruff-muffin is in NY getting a wardrobe fitting and a manicure, maybe a little eyeliner to bring out the green in his eyes. He will kill me for saying this but years ago after much pleading on my part he let me put mascara on him because he really does have the most beautiful thick curly lashes and oh my. He was stunning.
So if you see this guy on a commercial or in print ads telling you that some new glucose meter works, believe him, he is not an actor. He is my husband and might I say pancreas or not, a very sexy one at that.

Now you will excuse me if I have to run off to read a book on writing. There are a lot of holes in my Tetris wall and it's creeping upwards much too quickly.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Where is Alan Greenspan When You Need Him?

Last night I took the last birth control pill of this month and I couldn't help but breathe a big ol' sigh of relief. I mean all this time I thought maybe having a nervous breakdown and then losing my job was really terrible and now I know the truth: I just had PMS! Thank god, right?? Now I'll just get my period and in a week everything will be hunky dory again. Phew.
Yesterday I went to the grocery store and there I was faced with the first sign of my very own personal recession.
Usually I would have bought Us Weekly, People, maybe a Marie Claire and a Cookie (both the magazine and a baked good). But hard times call for hard decisions and I had was faced with a real toughie:


Now because of this damn economy I may never know if Heath really did have a secret love child and even more of a disappointment is that I will never get the Exclusive on the Pregnant Man. Because I chose Us Weekly over People--I had to, right? Stay true to my peeps with mental illnesses. But even more riveting was to read about Heidi and Spencer staying in separate beds while partying at the Hard Rock in Vegas. Poor Heidi, her lips and breasts all puffy from crying. Now that, my friends, is being between a rock and a hard place.
Later on at home I realized that even though I used my debit card to get $20 cash back at the check out I did not, in fact, have a $20 bill in my wallet. I looked at the receipt and lo and behold I was charged an extra twenty. Pre-lay off I would have shrugged my shoulders and flipped on Keeping Up with the Kardashians, chalking it up to you win some you lose some because I am really just that lazy. But no, with no income I got back in my car and drove at a reasonable speed (so as not to waste any gas) back to the grocery store and stood in line at customer service, receipt in hand, steely eyed with the injustice of no $20. This is the new me. The other night I actually had a dream that Old Navy opened a new discount store with super cute peasant tops but they did not have the orange one I wanted in medium. An OLD NAVY DISCOUNT STORE.
Yes, times, they are a-changin'.
Which reminds me: does anyone have any recommendations for the most profitable way to advertise on your blog? AdSense? Blogher Ad Network? Google ads? Or should I just get right down to it and sell my worn panties to men in Japan?

Friday, April 4, 2008

To the California Sun

I'm getting a little sick of hearing myself whine so I can't imagine you're all up for yet another woe-is-me post either. So let's just get the dribs and drabs out of the way once and for all: I spent the entirety of last night hitting refresh on my own blog. On my email. Reading and rereading your comments and feeling sorry for myself and then reading your comments again. I was a bit like a puppy who had piddled on the rug, been chastised and then forgiven with pets and treats and high-pitched rounds of "good boy!" In my tail between my legs state of mind I could not get enough of it. Your kind words got me through night #1 of unemployment. Night #1 of freedom. THANK YOU.

The thing is all my life I have taken credence in Janice Joplin's words that "freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose." I thought it was a negative lyric for freedom, that it meant that the ties that bind are positive. Family and friends and a mortgage and a job--in their own way they each shackle. But the alternative? That's having nothing. That's freedom. That's also Janice Joplin, dead at the age of 27.
I hate to admit it but I am a cubicle girl. Comfortable with routine. With pats on the head when I have been good, with getting my nose rubbed in my own piss when I haven't. With this new unemployment thing I am going to have to get used to marking my own territory and that? That scares the shit out of me. But I am beginning to see that maybe that's a good thing, being scared, taking risks, growing. Coming out from behind the safety of the cubicle to question, to search and to live.
"Do not ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."--Harold Whitman
Because nothin 'aint worth nothin but its free.
Photos of strong women courtesy of a very scary website called

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Salt in My Wounds

Apparently when it rains it really does motherfucking pour.
This is not the post I had planned for today. This is not the day I had planned for today.
I had planned for this to be my first day back at work after being out for a week with panic attacks. I had planned for people to ask me how I am doing, for a few hugs from my friends at work; I had planned for women to comment on my skinny wrists and collarbones, for the gay guys at work to compliment me on how my jeans fit.
I did not, however, plan on being laid off.
But that is what the day gave me and I am vacillating between feeling absolute shock, relief, terror, depression and an absurd out of body this-can't-be-my-life what-the-fuck why-me?
I was promoted to Director 10 months ago.
Let's get one thing straight: I hated my job. There: I've said it. I couldn't say it before because people from my work ex-work read this blog. And while there are some people there that I adore there are also a bunch of absolute assholes that make my skin crawl. I wanted out but I wanted out on my own terms. And I wanted out with a secure source of income.
Hell, I'm pretty much naked emotionally right now so let's just get down to it. I want to be a writer. Saying that feels a little bit like saying I want to be a ballerina or a princess or the cruise ship director on The Love Boat: stupid. But I do. I want to write. Problem is I need income and everything I know about writers is corduroys worn thin and stubbing out your cigarette and saving the butt to smoke the rest later. I like Starbucks Chai Lattes and Anthropologie. I don't smoke. And I don't have a clue where to start.
What I do know is this: I have been unemployed now for 4 hours. I am going to go meet some friends for a drink and try to swim my way into sense. And somehow someway somewhere something will happen and that will be my new reality.
For now, I answer to no one.