Sunday, August 30, 2009


He wanted to buy my mother a ring, my brother a pair of red painted maracas. We sat at an outside table at Carlos O' Brian's, my father a few months into sobriety, me a few months into nothing; we poked at a platter of tortilla chips in the flat sun hot.My dad had come to San Diego to help me move back home, my chest shattered into a thousand tiny pieces by my latest breakup with Bryan. I was 19, my dad 49. My mom had just announced the end of their marriage and so we went to Tijuana for the day, a surreal jaunt that smelled of stale beer and carne asada, piss and heat. I talked my dad out of buying the ring for my mother but the maracas sat in a plastic bag at our feet. Neither of us said much of anything.

On the drive back home I would like to say we listened to mariachi music, the foibles of the heart up Interstate 5. I don't remember, though I doubt we did. What I do remember is that my cat was positioned in her kitty carrier right behind my father's head on a stack of my hand-me-down furniture. Everything I owned fit into a car back then, and my cat yowled for the entire nine hour drive, over and over and over again, the foibles of the heart broken sounding slightly dead up and over the Grapevine and into the dry of the valley.

We talk about that trip now with a gallow's humor afforded by 18 years. Bryan and I eventually got back together (broke up again and then got back together, I got a tattoo), but my mom and dad got divorced. Got mad, got restraining orders. I don't know if my brother ever got his maracas because around that time he stopped talking to my dad, the silence lasting for ten+ years. We don't laugh about that yet, although some day we may, the way a mariachi band pins you there smiling. Bryan and I are now married, Zoey. My mom and dad now friends, my brother a son. This is that tomorrow, what came next from a time that felt as if there was nothing more.

I have a friend, let's call her You, because it has happened to all of us, curled in bed wanting to die. That horrible moment when You wake up and remember that it's gone, that he is gone, that something essential that makes You you is gone. And you want to die. Maybe You are dead somehow, it feels. You are sure. I am worried about my friend, about You. I know there is nothing I can really do but proselytize my confidence in after, that sometimes we have to have faith when others do not. (Breathe in, breathe out, You are now two more breaths closer to something else.) And so I am hoping that maybe you can help? In the comments section, can you please leave a story of your own loss, how you felt, how you got over it, the After of a time when Happily was not even a hope? Feel free to be Anonymous. I am just banking on there being salve in all of our afters. So what's your story? Let's help You get through this one day.

Thank you.

p.s. Maelstrom is a beautiful Dutch word meaning crushing current. Click on image for link to photographer's Flickr account.

Don't Forget to Wish These People a Happy Birthday: Cameron Diaz, Lisa Ling, Krista's Mom and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

Happy Day tout le monde! I am here to tell you that 37 is the new 7. I had chocolate croissants and bacon for breakfast and am about to buy this lovely for myself:
One white dove, seven layers of rainbow ribbon and at the clasp a blue crystal bead that hangs down the back of your neck symbolizing the last drop of rain. Rad and right and yes, please with a cherry on top, who's to say that I am not dressing my age?

Enough of this nonsense. I went to because the world is awesome in that such a thing exists and the lucky winner of the Second Annual Petunia Face Birthday Giveaway is the algorithm-less Melissa, #11! Life is good because it "is hard and it is complicated. And that makes it challenging and beautiful and very very good. And it makes the flowers smell extra nice." Melissa, I could not agree more. Please send me an email with your mailing instructions and soon enough your neck will be oh-so warm and cozy.

Love, love, love to you all and a Happy Sunday to boot,

Friday, August 28, 2009


Friday, August 28th: the official start of High Holy Days, i.e. my birthday weekend. People always ask me about running around in my underwear and trying to sell my body, but I think I've accomplished a lot, I have a lot to be proud of, so why not share with people? Don't worry--this will make sense later. Pow!
Here is what we have on tap so far: sailing this afternoon. (I have eaten a bowl of Froot Loops to ensure special effects should I get sea sick, which I always do.) Tomorrow a lite shopping excursion with my mom and Zoey. And Sunday, the Holiest of Her Birthday Highness, a picnic with friends on a lawn overlooking the San Francisco Bay.
A perfect birthday weekend to cap off what has been a tumultuous but ultimately charmed 36th year.
Two years ago I gave myself this blog for my birthday, not knowing how very much it would mean to me. Thank you, all of you, for reading, for commenting, for lurking, for you. Thank you for the best birthday present ever.

Speaking of which, don't forget to get in on the Second Annual Petunia Face Birthday Giveaway! Winner will be announced on Sunday.

In the meantime, here is a little sumthin' sumthin' for everyone. Pow!

Happy Friday and more.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Battle of the Sex(es)

(Sometimes--okay, most times--I sit down to write with a few jumbled thoughts rattling around in my head and I'm not quite sure how they're related but somehow I know that they are. Today is one of those times, so bear with me.)

The hair on Zoey's legs. I noticed it the other day in the sunlight, tiny wisps of blond like wheat and soft. The first time I shaved my legs I didn't even do it. I was 12 and my friend Lisa said I had to, that it was disgusting. She sat me on her bathroom counter and shaved my legs for me with her pink razor and a bottle of Jean Naté bath oil. Later she gave me her colorblocked sweater with the oversized buttons and sent me home, insisting she was the Jessica to my Elizabeth.
The other day I had to get my tires aligned and rotated and sat in the office of the mechanic for two hours with a book that turned out to be boring. There were 5 men working at the place--I counted. 5 men in the office of the tire shop talking and joking, razzing each other, which is maybe why it took 2 hours to finish my car. But that is not the point of this story. The point is that these men in the tire place reminded me of an all-male Designing Women, and as I sat there I cast each man in his role. The one with the greasy ballcap and the pen behind one ear played by Dixie Carter, the large one with the railroad stripe overalls totally Delta Burke. I always wanted to work at a place like Sugarbaker Designs; too bad I know nothing about radials.

I am so Annie Potts.

If forced to choose I'd say I'm a girl's girl, the kind who will tell you if you've got a poppyseed stuck to your lip, the kind of girl from whom you'd ask to borrow a tampon. Growing up I always had guy friends but that is who they were: a guy first, and then yes, my friend. We flirted, the back and forth banter of the language of maybe. To this day when talking to a man I am always aware that it is a man. I feel it, that undercurrant of other and then some. (This sometimes makes me sad, although if pressed I couldn't say why.)

Zoey loves boys. Men. She watches Bryan's friends, repeats their names, Chris, Chris Chris until they listen, then she has nothing to say and so she laughs. She does funny little jump twirls at the playground when there is a boy, and Bryan and I look at each other and smile oh no. Maybe I should be worried, my own adolescence a cautionary tale of how not to act, not to feel, not to be, not to breathe. But I'm not not. Worried. I turned out fine. I love my father, my brother, my husband, my cat (although we did have him fixed and in doing so found out he only ever had one ball in the first place).
Yesterday I took Zoey to ballet class and she loved it, as expected. There were magic wands and tulle scarves, plastic daisies, at the end: miniature pink cupcakes. Miss Rachel, the teacher, wore a glittery stiff tutu with appliqued roses and spoke with a thick Canadian accent, so thick that it might have been faintly Eastern European, I'm not sure. Let's meke a slice of pizza with owr feet! And then gobble it op! From first position to whatever no position is called. Have you ever seen a three year old try to point her toes?

(Maybe none of this related, I don't know. But this is what I have been thinking about lately before I fall asleep.)

I'm a girl's girl, true; you've got a poppyseed on your lip and I support you in creating your life, family, work, a Lifetime channel of a house with no glass ceilings in a room of your very own. But I don't trust you. There, I said it. And I hate it, this feeling. I have my friends, girlfriends, woman friends, whatever, they are few and I love them to death and trust them, yes. But you? I don't know you, don't know what you want from me, something ineffable between the sexes when there is no sex but this. This, what is this? I hate this, this thing that I feel when I smile. I am a hard person to get to know and I wish this was not the case. I wish I were a Ya-Ya traveling with jeans and a sisterhood, a bad book and an even worse movie, but I am not. I am a girl's girl who once had to make a New Year's Resolution to touch people more, on the shoulder, the hand, hugs; I broke that resolution in early February of that same year, and this is what worries me most.

Not boys. Okaay everyone! Hold hands weth eh partner and dance like eh butterfly! Only Zoey refused to hold hands with the girl next to her, choosing instead to dance by herself, flit and twirl and collapse in a heap on the floor, a very loosely interpretive dance of a metamorphoses into something else, the hair on her legs glinting like the fine powdered scales of a butterfly's wings.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Happy Hump Day (The Beginning of a Currier and Ives-Type Petunia Face Family Tradition)

Call it what you will. Laziness. Boredom. A slight penchant for the perverse among us. Quite possibly d.) all of the above. But from here on out I hereby proclaim Wednesday to be a day of Happy Humps, i.e. a day when I fall back on an image I have saved or a funny video, a bizarre product floating in the hinterlands of the www. Somethinganythingeverything that is not about me.

And because I am a woman of pomp and certain circumstance, I hereby declare these two the Petunia Face Prom King and Queen of Happy Hump Day!I do believe this gent possesses a certain je ne sais quoi worthy of title, non? If nothing else, he appears equipped to give you the time should you ask.

And this little lady--well, if hips are a sign of feminine wiles then this little lady is a camel of womanhood, storing wiles in those two impressive lumps should she come across a desert expanse of dry tumbleweed testosterone. I like to imagine the King and Queen living in this Castle of the Bizarre, the two of them carrying on like two bad actors in an "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" commercial, touching each other's wrist just so.

And if that doesn't illustrate just how very random this Happy Hump Day thing will be, then nothing will.

From my castle to yours.

p.s. I feel compelled to point out how much I loathe the word hump, the term "hump day," the picture that comes to mind. Which makes this all the more absurd.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Getting Down to Business

Meet my husband:
Oh sure, you thought his name was Bryan. Maybe you pictured him a little less feathered, his jeans a little looser, a little less jaunty perhaps? But you'd be wrong, because this is him all hands on hips and snug package cocked. I do so love me a man who can pull off the broken down Tyra high fashion pose replete with a dash of Zoolander Blue Steel.

Bryan Gary Bryan (which is what I am calling this look, this husband of mine) is going to kill me for this post, but I do not care. He deserves it, this matrimonial Kenny Loggins of my very own. See, Bryan Gary Bryan sails competitively. And there is a regatta coming up (not soon enough) and all of the men on the boat decided to grow beards for the race. (Why, I don't know. Perhaps because they would be disqualified if they sailed with their ball sacks hanging out? This is not for me to know, the goings-on of testosteronic logic.) Anyway, Bryan Gary Bryan is a noon o'clock shadow kind of man and I am his wife with sensitive skin. So I started breaking out. Bad. Pizza face dry with an extra thick crust and I could not figure out why exactly until this morning, duh.

Orphaned baby hedgehogs clinging to a stiff bristle brush for comfort. We should totally adopt them and they can nestle under Bryan Gary Bryan's neck.

When he kissed me, it hurt. Stung, the prickly bristles of Bryan and the Gary and the Bryan. And so I must call a moratorium on kissing until September 13th after the regatta. Like a prostitute--no kissing on the mouth, my new skin care regimen more of a don't than a do. Which will be really very hard because please--check him out up there all thick-thighs and oh baby sighs. We are so totally going to make out on September 14th, Bryan without the Gary without the beard, but still Getting Down to Business all the same.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Happy Happy Joy Joy (Complete with Giveaway at the End!)

I spent my weekend smiling into shadows.A sullen teenager walking by my house. Hi! (He looked surprised.) A screaming child at the bookstore. Awwww. The kind of for-no-good-reason happy that has you looking for eye contact. Come on, look at me! I like you! I want to smile at you! La la la, anyone want me to make pancakes?

This is not like me, all this smiling, the eye contact. Pancakes. A near-sighted girl too vain for her glasses. (I learned long ago not to smile at people more than 5ft away as it is never who I think; the Girl Who Smiled Too Affectionately At Strangers forced to become The Girl Who Doesn't Smile At All, Her Eyelashes Not To Be Hidden Behind The Glare of Actual Vision.) But this weekend something shifted. My landlady invited us to dinner with our other neighbors, her home a topsy turvy mystery house she built herself using only recycled materials and found objects. We ate roasted chicken on her rooftop and drank wine, all of us characters from an Armistead Maupin story sans Jonestown, the children staying well away from the edge. The next day another neighbor baked us an apple pie--an apple fucking pie! And although I was in my bathrobe and had never been formally introduced I wanted to hug her, but not before I ransacked my own kitchen for something to proffer in return. Here kind neighbor lady! Care for some string cheese?

Then Sunday. Oh, Sunday. Easter, bloody, palm or passion, Sunday was the day of the Blog Out Loud event and I am still reeling from the kindness of strangers who are not at all strange. And here I gush: Megan and Rebecca are pretty much the most creative, dynamic women I have ever met. And genuinely nice. And, and, and: And I am thinking I should save the gush for a post when I can publish some of the video from said event. However, I would be remiss in not mentioning my fellow panelists who also deserve pancakes and pies, they are so rad: Sasha from The Bell Jar, Anne from The City Sage, Christiana from Ferm Living, Cassandra from Coco + Kelley and Lynn from Paris Hotel Boutique. A trickle of a gush, video content to come.

So yes, this weekend life was beautiful, la vie en rose, tra la la, the smell of bacon in the morning. And now I feel the need to give back to a Youniverse that is so Yes. Presenting the Second Annual Petunia Face Birthday Giveaway! Last year I gave away a fossil that not many people wanted; this year I am giving away a handmade scarf knit by Yours Truly that hopefully more people will want. Here is a pic of the piece that is in no way a master:And here it is modeled by the girl herself, alternating loopy colorblocks of muted pink, taupe, slate blue and cream:I believe the yarn is a cotton/wool blend, but I threw out the tags from the skeins and don't really remember. What I do know is this: it is incredibly soft. Not at all itchy. Like having butter wrapped around your neck if butter were fluffy squish and chunky wan. So I guess not like butter at all, but oh. 6"wide x 54" long. So here's the deal: in the comments section tell me why you think life is good. Cite specific examples, making sure to show your work. Then, next Sunday (my actual birthday), I will randomly-but-not-really (it is not at all scientific) choose an entry and announce the winner!

Thank you guys. Really, honestly, thank you for everything. If I could make the world a scarf today I would. Or at the very least a pie, but I am a terrible baker and have no apples.

Happy Monday.


Friday, August 21, 2009

The Church of Zoey and Then Some

I am fairly certain there is something I am supposed to be doing. Always, but more so now. (It is almost September, a month when things seem to change.) Instead I go to the grocery store and buy two apples, cheese, more milk, always more milk, (who drinks so much milk?) And a bag of frozen chicken breasts knowing full well I will never cook them, that they will get freezer burn, that in February of 2011 I will finally throw them out, the frozen block of poultry weighing the trash bag almost too heavy for me to carry down the steep staircase myself. Still, chicken breasts make me feel right.

At midnight Zoey calls out for me as she does every night at midnight. And as I have done every night since she was born I carry her into our bed, past the stack of parenting books that say I shouldn't, past my friends who roll their eyes, past the sharp corner of the frame and over the lump of Bryan who says he cannot sleep what with her kicking. But Bryan is snoring, and outside our window the fog rolls in thick, water vapor condensing tiny liquid droplets into the air, the world full of things that cannot be seen, and tomorrow is coming faster than I think.
Happy Friday, everyone. I hope to see you this Sunday at the Blog Out Loud event!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Gimme Gimme (With a Side Order of Fur)

What I want for my birthday.
by Susannah Clay Lastnamehere, age 36 and 355/365ths

These Kate Spade sunglasses.Here's the thing: I wear glasses. Which means that when I spend a buttload on sunglasses I need to spend yet another buttload on getting prescription lenses put in. I am just as cheap as I am vain, however, so I wear my sunglasses for years on end; my current pair has scratches on the lower lefthand side, hence the world at large as been marred in the life of yours truly. Which leads me to What I Want Item #2:

2. LASIK. A few years ago I made an appointment. Then I chickened out and cancelled. Then I made another appointment. And cancelled. Before I was last laid off I was planning on ACTUALLY GOING THROUGH WITH IT and I swear on all that is visionary that I am ready to have my corneas lasered off and repositioned. If given extreme amounts of Xanax first, of course. So, sure, a gift certificate to have LASIK surgery, with maybe those sunglasses above just so's I have something to unwrap?

3. A BMW 5 Series Wagon.I realize that this is not my Super Sweet 16, that my dress is not pink sparkley and The Jonas Brothers will not be playing at my party because for one, there is no party and no dress. I also realize that right about now there is an Anonymous person sitting at her computer, finger poised on the comment button. R U kidding me? UR so entitled. UR the reason our economy crashed!! Obama is a socialist and I am not paying my tax $$$ 2 buy U a BMW. Stop whining woe is me!!! And to that Anonymous person I say this: it's my birthday and I can wish if I want to. Because $130 sunglasses? LASIK? A BMW? Nobody is going to buy me these things but a girl/woman/37 year old can dream. And then post. Plus, a 16 year old totally wouldn't want a station wagon, fer fuck's sake.

Which leads me to!

4. Barbarella. For one day I would like to be Barbarella. And not one of these sad little waning days that are getting shorter, darker, cooler. No, I want to be Barbarella on a long summer day waxing, all big hair and sex machine on some sort of faux fur backdrop that most likely smells like ass but who cares I'm Barbarella.

5. Which lo and behold leads me to this!
No, not the empty spotted shadow of a dalmation, or even a dalmation itself. I just included this picture because I thought it was cool and the website on which I found the PERFECT RED TRENCH COAT WITH FAUX LEOPARD FUR LINING won't let me right click the image. So go here if you want to see the most perfectest sexiest please someone I want this coat ever. I mean, how kookookachoo would this coat look with those sunglasses above?

So that's that. What a 36 and 355/365th woman wants, aside from world peace, the end of AIDS, a cure for all cancers and maybe a gift certificate to Anthropologie. Barring any of these, I will take a hug.

Currently I'm working on a happy birthday giveaway--more on that next week!


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Speaking of Beetles

Anyone know where a girl can get 1.4 million beetles? Because take a look at this:
No, closer. Look closer:
Beautiful, right?
Known as "Heaven Of Delight," this stunning art installation can be found at the Royal Palace in Brussels and was the brainchild of controversial Flemish artist Jan Fabre, a man renowned for working with all sorts of media including blood and sperm. Personally I do not take my art with sperm, particularly when the canvas is a ceiling and the medium is bodily fluid. But this? This is incredible.
To create the luminous green effect, Fabre used 1.4 million Buprestidae, commonly known as the jewel beetle. Apparently it took Fabre's team of 29 people 4 months just to glue the beetle shells to the ceiling.

And that's that. I want to do this to my ceiling. Okay, so I probably won't need 1.4 million, but maybe 500,000? Anyone have a 500,000 jewel beetle carcasses to spare? But only if they died of natural causes. I do not abide by the ritualistic killing of beetles.

In other news, now I totally want to get another cat and name him Scarab.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Gift of Curiosity, an SAT Question in Philosophy

Question (relatively innocuous and seemingly random): How does one get ladybugs out of one's car? Like, say, if a three year old opened up a cardboard container of 1,500 live ladybugs in a Honda Accord station wagon, and that Honda Accord station wagon was driving 65mph on the freeway headed due west, how long would it take before 12 ladybugs crawled inside a warm bra? (Bonus points if you can actually feel tiny black bug feet along the thin skin of your armpit right about now.)
Scene of the crime: Yesterday. Why: I don't know. I told her not to open them, that she could hold the cardboard container on her lap because she was begging me so, but only as long as she did not open them. I had also bought her a Venus Fly Trap, but she was slightly afraid of that, so sure was she that the eyelashes of each petiole would prick her like a cactus. Then I had to promise pinky swear look into her eyes that the Venus Fly Trap would not eat the ladybugs, when really, who knows? So perhaps I deserved it, her breaking her promise not to open the container. A lie for a lie, Pandora's box of 1,500 ladybugs looking for a dewy garden in a grey upholstered car with crumbs of what in every crevice.
She screamed, of course, because let's be honest here--a ladybug is really a beetle even if it is polkadotted red. So there she was in my rearview mirror covered in teeming tiny beetle bugs, screaming, and every last one of us was confused, all 1,502 of us in the car. What the fuck, was my first thought, because it's not everyday you see your child covered in ladybugs. It took me a second to figure it out. My second thought was also what the fuck, as was my third.

Later, much later, after I had contorted my body under car seats trying to entice ladybug after ladybug onto the tips of my fingers, we released what was probably no more than 1,200 ladybugs into the garden. It is best to do this at dusk just as the fog rolls in, to sprinkle them onto the base of plants infected with pests. (Pandora's box well ajar, all the world's evils, ills, diseases, burdensome labor and then some scattered into the cool night air.)

A dandelion! After we spread the ladybugs she spotted a dandelion, only she pronounces it dandeeelion and has proudly proclaimed it her very favorite flower even though she does not like the flower itself but the ball of fine-haired seeds. So last night she pulled the dandelion stem, held the ball in front of her mouth and took a breath so deep I feared she might inhale the thistle into her mouth. Then she closed her eyes and made a wish because that's what we do when we do not know the answer.
Because at the very bottom of the box lies hope.

*Top two photos Summer of 08. Last photo Halloween of 07. I'm thinking that if the Native American lore is true and we all have a Spirit Animal, then Zoey's is a ladybug. The ladybug imparts wisdom of past lives, rebirth. It also helps us to get out of our own way. I am also thinking that I am getting a little too crunchy granola paisley hoo-ha and really need to get a job.

Monday, August 17, 2009


Today I have nothing but gum wrappers in my pocket, receipts, one dime and three dried out pens at the bottom of my purse. And this:
I have been saving this pic for the next time I feel peeved, but I simply cannot wait any longer. No, I'm not peeved; instead, this makes me smile. Tiny baby mice crawling around on a cat's head. And then there's this:
I could not choose just one, so here are both The Torrances and The Griswolds; if you look rully rully close you will see my nose pressed against the canvas, smell the open need to have my own family drawn badly but oh-so perfectly just so.
I mean, right? Find more here.

And then this, always this:
Pushed down deep into my pocket like a talisman, the edges worn soft like lint. This.

Friday, August 14, 2009


I hate it when people forward those emails about dirty syringes in the ball pit at McDonald's or creepy men hiding beneath your car waiting to slash your Achilles tendon. You just know they're from some Nigerian businessman. But this one is REAL! And I'm NOT NIGERIAN! NOT THAT THERE IS ANYTHING WRONG WITH BEING NIGERIAN! This is important--Please send this warning to everyone you care about, plus the people in your office.

If someone comes to your front door saying they are checking for Madagascar Hissing Deer Ticks due to the warm weather and then asks you to take off your clothes and dance around with your arms high overhead making jazz hands, DO NOT DO IT!! THIS IS A SCAM!! (And then? If that same person asks to inspect a possible tell-tale rash from said Madagascar Hissing Deer Tick on your bum bum? DO NOT BEND OVER!!! )They only want to see you naked.

Dude, I know.

Now please send this to 47 of your closest friends plus your mother within 30 seconds or you will get a phone call in one hour with horrible news.

I wish I’d gotten this yesterday. I feel so stupid.
Happy Friday.

p.s. Yeah, I have no idea what that lady is doing on this post either. I just took a liking to her--feel some sort of strange kinship what with the dingleberries because Lord knows I love me some dingleberries. Plus, I could not find a suitable photo of a Nigerian businessman.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Dave. Juanita. Phil. Allegra. Marty (a Mazda Miata). Bruce was a Ford F150. Zoey has taken to asking me for the name of everything, proper names, not the make/model or thing itself. Mama, what its name is? And quick on the spot I say Marsha, and she is satisfied. Marsha, yes, Marsha, mama, that's right, and she pats my hand proud that I have gotten it right. Marsha was a bicycle locked against a tree outside the coffee shop. Last weekend the weather was perfect, and on the drive back from the beach we passed many cars, so many that I began to dread when I saw a knot of them in the distance coming toward us. TomJanineAlRebeccaGigiJavier! It's hard, this thinking of names. Try it. Try naming each car you pass, never the same name twice. Sure you might start with assigning certain names to certain types--a minivan is almost always a Pauline, Paula, something from the family of Paul--but soon you don't care, can't care, minivans are Salome, mustangs become Beth because goddamn if this isn't America and everyone feels like driving.

Mama, what's my hair made out of? We are going to the grocery store and I thought I was so smart to have already stored a bank of names in my head for the drive (Hank, Ben, Sara, Germaine, Geordy, Hillary, Ron). Fuck. What is hair made of? I rack my head and say protein. Stupid, stupid, I think before I have even finished saying the word because next comes this: what is protein? And I stammer, because what? I have a Master's degree in English. Plastic, I say. Protein is made of plastic because somehow this has become a QED for Zoey, plastic. What is Barbie made of? Plastic. What is my pony made of? Plastic. What is my cup made of? The End. It is only later that I look it up to read about polymers and peptide bonds, carboxyl, selenocysteine, words that make me smile they are so beautiful. A BMW 5-series named Selenocysteine... I think my daughter might be schizophrenic. I mean, of course, not really. But I just watched The Soloist and either she is schizo or Jamie Foxx studied the speech patterns of Zoey to form his character. This is an excerpt from our drive to daycare this morning [with my answers in these nifty bracket thingies]:

Mama, what is an egg made out of? Mama? Mama? YOU DIDN'T ANSWER ME! [What?] Is heck a bad word? [No, but sometimes...{interrupted}] Look at my toe! Heehee! My toe has a tiger on it! Did you know that? What are the tiger's name? [Raoul] Who made me? [Me and Daddy] Why? [Because we were bored] What is my eyeball made out of? [Plastic] And then what did he say? [Who?] Colin! Mama! YOU DIDN'T ANSWER ME! AND THEN WHAT DID HE SAY? [Hi? I like the tiger on your toe?] NO!!! No Mama, AND THEN WHAT DID HE SAY? [Who's on first?] What is it church? [Plastic]For the record, there was no tiger on my daughter's toe. You know, in case you were wondering why I would have a tiger in my Honda Accord station wagon on a Thursday morning. Which would not be out of the question considering I have a half eaten bagel in there, a pail full of seashells, 22 pens, 4 receipts, wet wipes, a book on Ghandi, tampons, a soccer ball and finger puppets. Considering the question and the answer itself which is plastic. Sometimes I feel as if I have fallen down the rabbit hole, I'm late, I'm late, Tweedledee and Tweedledum, Yoda, Jennifer, Lyle, Uri, Millicent, Jason, Jack and Joe. This never ending litany of questions directed at me when I have traditionally been the one doing the asking. Why? Because my name is Susannah Clay Lastnamehere and I am made of Zoey.
Images found here.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Blog Out Loud>> (Don't Mind If I Do)

"If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud."
~Emile Zola

Once upon a time I worked in a cubicle. Then I got an office which basically meant my cubicle had a ceiling and a door that was expected to stay open at all times as the company had an open door policy (in name and literal laminate door only). I went to work. I worked. I came home from work. Lather, rinse, repeat for seven years. My business card touted my title, had my name on it, a logo. I was me but notme all at the very same time. I became good at Excel spreadsheets.

Once upon a time a little after that I used a label maker to print out my very favorite poem and I pasted it across the bottom of my computer just so. What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun, or does it get printed out on a P-Touch and stuck to the side of a company-owned pc, years later its edges slightly brown with whatever suck floats there in recycled office air?

Once upon a time that now seems as if it happened in a galaxy far, far away I started this blog, notme writing that poem that is notmine, blogging to reclaim what was. I started there with a dream deferred hoping that if I just opened my mouth something authentic would come out. Because along with the poem by Langston Hughes, that quote by Emile Zola is my favorite and I think of it often, a mantra for me to write. Of course Zola ultimately died of carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a stopped up chimney, his own ceiling, his own exhale. Some believe it was intentional, a political move, that he was murdered, J'accuse and all that, though it could never be proven.

Oh, I am not saying I am worthy of a chimney plugged. I am not pushing the political liberalization of France or anything heady like that; I'm not pushing anything really. But that ceiling I was talking about? It sure felt low at the time.

For Zola, his "fiery protest was simply the cry of his very soul," and I know just what he means. Without the politics,of course, the enlightenment, without justice or the threat of death, without accents à grave even, my own protest lukewarm, a simple hey you of my very soul. Which is why I began to blog.

It is fitting then, and oh so very exciting, that now, almost two years and two weeks to the day that I started this blog from that cubicle with the acoutistical tiled ceiling, I have been invited to speak on a panel called Blog Out Loud. Created by Megan Arquette and Rebecca Orlov, Blog Out Loud is a networking resource for creative people, its sole purpose to help people with their own blogs to enhance their business, create an online presence, or simply to connect to community. Along with some fantastic other bloggers, I have been asked to sit on the panel for their second event which takes place Sunday, August 23rd from 5 to 7pm at Bell Jar in San Francisco. Repondez, s'il vous plait here. If you live in the Bay Area, please do come by. I would love to see you, meet you, hear your questions even if I have to make up the answers. (I'm good like that. E=MC2 the energy of me times the speed of light, yes, I am pretty sure of it. See? I have something to say even if I am not always right.) And if that doesn't get you, I hear there are going to be some bitchin' goodie bags.

Hope to see you there, and thank you, as always, for listening.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Love. (That is all.)

Who am I kidding? That is never all.
My name is Susannah Lastnamehere, and I'm a mom. A writer.
I got laid off and became something More. This is just a Working Title.
I love this. Lovelovelovelovelove. Watch and see if you do, too.

Monday, August 10, 2009


Sometimes I love the internet. Make that all the time. Like I want to send it candy grams and buy it an ID bracelet from Things Remembered at the mall. (I would engrave it with our initials intertwined, natch.) I want to dry hump the internet. There, I said it. I want to slow dance to Debarge with the internet and then dry hump in the back seat of its car until my hips are bruised, my mouth raw. (You just know the internet would have a bitchin' Camaro.)

I am an internet slut.

Because look at this. Just. Look. (And watch and listen.)

How else would I ever know what Dr. Seuss's ABC book would sound like in Jamaican Patois? I mean, short of traveling to Kingston to have someone read it to me over and over and over again?

And the best part is listening to Zoey recite the book now in Toddler Patois. Ehwnt Ehnneees Aehligayterrrr, eh, eh, eh.

For more of me being an internet slut please hop on over to The Voyage of V today where I am guestblogging my way to awkward. (Same PF, different address.) I told you I get around!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Choose Your Own Adventure Friday Edition

Disclaimer: I wrote the below post last night after seeing (500) Days of Summer, an adorable movie about not love. Perhaps I should have just written about my lust for Joseph Gordon-Levitt who now occupies the #1 spot on my Free Pass Five right above James Franco. Who knew I had a thing for squinty eyed boy/men (but good god yum, right)?

Yes, I probably should have just stuck with that on a Friday, liking the boy from 3rd Rock from the Sun. So if you want your Friday light, your adventure ends here. However, if you'd like your Friday complex, a little bit woody with an undertone of WTF, go down the stairs and turn the page to below.

Sometimes I think about 1976 when I was 4 and the world was the tinged yellow of old photographs. I think about the space between my mother's legs as she stood talking to a friend, Swanson's tv dinners, how a few peas and maybe one miniature cubed carrot always ended up in the burnt edge of the square of sweet apple pie. I think about the hot cigarette smell of my mom's little red Datsun, linoleum, Woolworth's and how one very bad day after a corner piece of cake at a birthday party I threw up there: In my mother's car. On the linoleum floor of somebody's kitchen. In the denim department at Woolworth's.

I think about how somewhere relatively nearby Bryan was probably eating a Salisbury steak. Throwing tanbark, wearing Toughskins, his bowl cut washed with Herbal Essences, the green kind in the Mother Nature bottle bubbling, the love of my life right there yellow same as me all along.
But this is not a thought of myself. After all, what's done is done and we are here, the image of us now digital. No, this is a thought of Zoey, the color of her childhood all around so that we cannot see quite what it looks like. Blue crystal clear and crisp? Will she remember milk in cartons, butter in sticks, the way we carried our bags to the grocery, I used to be a plastic bottle, her shampoo pearly white opaque?

I think if maybe somewhere there is a boy, a girl maybe, who knows? But for the sake of argument: a boy. Maybe he is also 3, maybe he is 1. God forbid he is somewhere right this very minute studying for his final exam in Keynesian Microeconomics of First World Market Failure, a post-graduate class for which he is woefully behind--it's been known to happen, the color of childhoods not corresponding. I think if maybe there is such a thing as The One, The Two, a love that merits capitalization, I don't know. Maybe it's because I have just come home from seeing a movie about love, maybe it's because I'm a sap. Maybe it's because who cares, a matter of minutes, rose colored glasses when the appliances were burnt avocado all along.

But I think of this boy, how one day Zoey might pinch the skin on the back of his hand in bed at night as she now does mine, how he might notice that her eyelashes really do look like starfish from that close up, how one day maybe he will nickname the two dimples above her bum, This and That. I think of this boy, this one year old now, somebody else's baby, maybe three and asleep sweaty head snub nose, and I want to tell him how very lucky he is to love my daughter, to have her love him, to have found each other after years of swinging on monkey bars miles apart in a lifetime that surely could not have existed in quite the same colors as before. Now, whenever it happens, wherever, with whomever. This boy. This three year old, maybe six, where is he? Because I want to tell him, this son-in-law whom I will undoubtedly love, the father of my grandbabies, the skin on the back of his hand now loose. Dear boy, know this: if you ever so much as slowly pull your fingers away from my daughter, if you break her heart or hurt her in any way, so help me God I will kill you black and white easy, the colors do not matter but oh how she does. How hard it will be when my daughter's heart belongs to another.

Oh dear.

And just because I don't want to start the weekend sounding like a lunatic, here is this: long exposure photographs of insects flying around a street light stitched together into an amazing video. In my mind this has something to do with my post.

flight patterns from Charlie McCarthy on Vimeo.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

For Under the Axis is Written

I feel stagnant. As if my life is constipated, something inside of me hard and compact. (Too much? The reference to shit?) And it's not just because I found this beautiful photo which so perfectly illustrates how I feel. Fortes fortuna iuvat. Fortune favors the brave. But what does it do to the lazy? The weak? The scared? It's been 9 months since I was laid off and it feels oily thick and viscous, the time. What happened to it? What have I done?

Last night Bryan asked me what I do during the day and the answer was everything and nothing. I look for jobs, I apply for jobs, I clean the house, I write blog posts, I do laundry, garden, pay bills. I wrote a children's book that has, at last count, been rejected by 11 publishers. What does anyone do really? On days that Zoey is not in school I am a mother. These things take time, I tell myself. It's a tough job market, everyone else tells me. You are eligible for a reduction in interest rates, says the automated voice at the other end of the telemarketer call I get every morning at 10am. It's been 9 months.

I do not watch daytime tv; nothing is more depressing to me than the sounds of Wheel! Of! Fortune! Vanna White and Pat Sajak, the ding of those plastic letters slowly turning. Instead I wait while somewhere the goddess Fortuna spins, Rota Fortunae, the capricious nature of my fate like the moon not of my control.

If anyone were to ask what I would do with 9 months off my answer would be easy: write a book. Fiction. Not a children's book, although that's okay, too. No, I have always wanted to write a book and yet here I am, 9 months later, the time it takes to gestate a life and I have nothing but a house clean and lavender bushes. Nobody to blame but myself.

I am scared. Backspace delete, pause and write it again. I am scared. (Backspace delete, dot dot dot.)

From antiquity to medieval literature, Shakespeare through the Victorian era to The Hudsucker Proxy, fate has always spun at random leaving us with no control, no blame, monstrous and empty, always melting away. Up, down and around: I don't know what to write. And so I wait. 9 months later. I am almost 37. I don't know what to write. Backspace delete ...

Last summer my brother got married and there was a ferris wheel at the wedding. You must be this tall to ride; Zoey fell a few inches short. Still she was enrapt. In love. Determined. The carney saw her determination and bent the rules, or maybe he just didn't care about safety, who knows. So we sat atop the rocking seat and went up and over, down and around, Zoey laughing and squealing and scared. Go! she shouted, and the wheel, it went.

I hate that I have waited. That I am scared. That there are a million things about this and me that I do not understand. Waxing and waning. What the fuck do I write??? 9 months from now it will be May and I will be well on my way to 38. I will have finished knitting a scarf, my house will be clean, the lavender will be purple from the rain. 9 months from now will be 9 months from now regardless of whether I have shit or gotten off the proverbial pot once and for all, constipated, the ding of the plastic letters lit up to answer the puzzle correctly.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

What's Left of Me (And Yes, I Am Quoting Nick Lachey. So?)

Now here's a video that makes me feel downright incompetent. Get this--this woman can breastfeed her baby while standing on her head and doing the goddamn splits, while I could just barely feed Zoey a few drops of breastmilk while sitting on my couch with a baby blue Boppy and kneading my boob that never once got engorged. (And before you get all Fenugreek on me, believe me, I tried it all. Mother's Milk tea, blessed thistle, alfalfa, La Leche League on speed dial, I choked down Guinness, turned around in circles three times under a full moon and hooked myself up to a hospital grade pump while staring at my tiny baby that just wasn't thriving. The low point came one day while Bryan was at work leaving me at home with a very new Zoey. I sat on the couch where it seemed I had not moved since returning from the hospital and I held tiny Zo with her little smurf face and wept over a Nick Lachey video. A Nick Lachey video. I'll let that sink in. You know the one? Where he is breaking up with his lady friend as she gradually fades away from the house? Somehow I knew that Nick Lachey being half the man he thought he would be was intricately connected to me not being able to breastfeed, that these were both signs that the earth was surely dying and I called Bryan at work absolutely sobbing. In hindsight, perhaps I suffered from a touch of post-partum depression, I don't know.)

Good god that was a long paranthetical ramble. So here you are:

Something tells me Zoey turned out just fine, though, despite all that formula she ingested from bottles fairly swimming in BPA and oh-no-she-di'int. Because here is my little yogi chanting her own made up mantra of Om something something peace! Namaste for roughly two seconds (the time it takes a three year old to fully meditate):

On a side note: I just watched the link of that Nick Lachey video and is something wrong with me? Did my hormone levels never return to normal because fuck me if that doesn't still bring a tear to my eye.

Om something something peace (out). Happy Hump Day mothersuckers.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Just a Fat Question Mark Where There Ought to be a Period.

There are things I want to believe but my head won't let me. There are things I want to know but my heart gets in the way. Then there is the body I want to have were it not for the cheesecake, the life I want to lead if only I had no couch, the book I want to write if only I weren't afraid to fail. Or succeed. Now this is getting away from me, this introduction to a thing I'm not even sure is real.

I believe in ghosts (so long as they don't make me a fool).

My father had two brothers. They grew up in Rye, New York. When they had left the house and she was older, my grandmother bought a second house in Santa Fe. She loved Native American history and culture. Eventually she got cancer of the everything, and when she got very sick my dad and his brothers went to Santa Fe to be with her when she died. She died and my dad bought his older brother a Native American pin to wear on his lapel at the funeral. My uncle lost the pin the day that he went to pick up my grandmother's ashes. (To ashes and dust to dust) Nobody thought much about it, there was so much going on.

Months later the brothers went back to Rye, New York to close up their boyhood home. It had sold and the house was bare. They brought their sleeping bags to sleep one last time in that house, the three of them lined up on the black and white checkered floor of the foyer. In the morning the wind began to blow. It was August in New York, hot, thick and still, but the wind was blowing so my uncle got up to check the windows but they were already closed. When he got back to his sleeping bag he slipped his hand under his pillow and there was the Native American pin he had lost the day he went to pick up his mother's ashes.

From Santa Fe to upstate New York. The house was bare. My dad swears that neither he nor his other brother put the pin under the pillow and I see in his eyes that he is telling the truth. This is the story in my family and we all just kind of tell it and stare. My grandmother was an Auntie Mame kind of lady, funny, a lady almost broken who made a party out of the everyday. She taught me how to fold my cloth napkin into two perfect pointy breasts, the punchline of a joke I don't quite remember. She blew spitballs through her straw at The Apawamis Country Club and then blamed my brother, so why wouldn't she steal her son's pin and make a grand show of giving it back 3,000 miles away?

Sometimes at night I ask for her to come to me. Grandma Do, I whisper, I miss you. She died when I was twelve and I can't help but wish I had known her as an adult. Come to me, talk to me. It's okay, I'm ready. And then I feel my neck naked and I say no! Forget it! I'm not ready! I'm scared! And I hide my head beneath the covers hot with no air. So far she has not come.

I want to believe in so much, but more than ghosts, more than the possibility that there is nothing but this so on and so forth the end, more than anything I am afraid of being duped. How silly is that? In the grand scheme of life and death I am afraid of being made a fool?

Last night Zoey could not fall asleep so I sat on the edge of her bed and tickled her face lightly. Zoey? I asked. Did you choose me to be your mommy? Yes, mama, she said and smiled. It was one of those nights impossibly soft. Then again she also said that she'd just seen a scorpion when that was months ago in Costa Rica, yesterday and tomorrow the same as today, that her plush chihuahua was thirsty for juicies, that there was a fairy beating its wings against her window. tap tap tap There are things I want to hear but I am too tired.

Watch this video and tell me what you think. Or feel. Whatever. Tell me what is true, please, if you would, about life and death and ghosts, reincarnation what in tarnation. But please watch this video before you comment.


Monday, August 3, 2009

Nothing To See Here

Okay, so this blog isn't a church and I am neither a lesbian or a witch. But I do have those glasses although they don't look half as good without her hairdo, and I am holding a rose beneath my face right this very minute! What are the chances, I ask? Plus I am also missing something--writing, being funny, my daughter, maybe you?--but promise to be back tomorrow with more. (More what remains to be seen.)