Thursday, July 31, 2008

make your love weapon bigger

Ewww. Stop sending me this email. I'm assuming by love weapon, you mean penis, and I don't have one to make bigger. But if I did have a penis, I most certainly would not call it a love weapon. I would call it Frank.

Monday, July 28, 2008


When I got pregnant in graduate school, the responses were mixed. “Pregnant? Really? Congratulations. Really?” I was one of the youngest students in my program at 24, but I had already been married for four years and had been with my husband for 8 years. It is true that we had no business having a baby in New York, while we were scraping three jobs together respectively, while I was still in my 2nd year of earning an M.F.A. in creative writing. There were only a few in my program remotely close in age to me who were even married, let alone thinking of children. No one seemed to get pregnant in New York until they were well into their thirties, with two high-powered, high-paying careers and a million-dollar apartment. In New York, there were parties and drinking and drugs I had never known, not even when I lived in San Francisco, and certainly not when I attended undergraduate school at the uneventful commuter school of Cal State San Bernardino. Here were rich kids at an Ivy League school with money and time and license to be “creative.” I had so much fun with these “kids,” who were mostly nearing thirty, but I did not belong with them, with my marriage and my pregnancy.
The thing is, I am a very boring person. I try to be as boring as possible to counteract my insane childhood. I met an amazing man, fell in love with him, and went to graduate school, with his support. One winter morning, we both confessed that we wanted a baby. There was no logic to it; we just yearned somewhere in our bodies for one. One month later, we were pregnant. We are a fertile people, my husband and me. My father has seven children, ages forty-one to five. The rumors about Irish and Italian people are true.
We had no plan. We had no health insurance. My program would be over in the spring, and we did not know if we should stay in New York or move back to California. We decided to move back to be near our families, but I was nervous about the move. I hated growing up in the Inland Empire—the hot, smoggy, conservative desert called the “armpit” of Los Angeles. I rejoiced when we had moved away to big cities, living and working in the gorgeous Bay Area and exciting New York for the past four years as my husband and I completed graduate school. I learned that people do not celebrate gigantic trucks and bigotry and fake boobs everywhere, that there are art museums and independent theaters and friends who like to discuss literature in this world.
But there were things about New York I was tiring of—the smattering of rats on the sidewalks on garbage day, the lack of solitude and personal space on the sidewalks and in the parks, the layers of clothing I had to put on to get a single item I forgot at the store, the lack of a visible horizon, the general claustrophobia. I was eager to go when the time came, but I kept telling myself that I would not stay in Southern California. That the move would be temporary. That I would keep writing after I had my baby. All of my friends put writing first, and I knew that they felt sorry for me in a way, I could hear this in their voices as they congratulated me; they knew I would have no time, that writing and raising a family in the Inland Empire just do not go together.
I am approaching my fourth year since the move back to the Inland Empire. That baby I was pregnant with, Benjamin, will start kindergarten next summer. And I have another one, Elliott, who is one and a half years old. Up until recently, we continued telling ourselves we would move back to the Bay Area. We compulsively looked at classified ads on the Bay Area Craigslist. We calculated what we could afford, what we’d have to give up. We taught part-time at several local community colleges, scraped by with no health insurance and criminal pay. My husband found time to write here and there, but I rarely did. And then a miracle happened: we got full-time tenure-track teaching positions at different community colleges. Our children bonded and depended upon our extended families. And then we bought a house.
Here we are. We are both college professors in the same discipline in the same region with full-time jobs. People tell us how lucky we are, that we hit the jackpot. I feel lucky. I have this beautiful family and a means to support them. I am living in the Inland Empire and I rarely write. My friends in graduate school might be saying, “I told you so.” I want to write more. I am trying to write more. The kids go to daycare twice a week, and they are there today. I should be grading essays, but I needed to sit down and write. And I feel the pressure of the unwashed dishes, the unfolded clothes, the toys strewn throughout the house, the rug that needs vacuuming, the lesson plans that need creating, the precious time alone that is sliding slowly away from me.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

elliott ups the ante

Occasionally when I walk in to get Elliott up from his nap, he has pooped explosively all over himself, rolled in it a few times, and smeared it all over his crib bumper and sheets. This is something I am used to. Ben used to do it worse. Yesterday after nap time, I entered Elliott's room, and the smell smacked me in the face. Poop explosion. I picked Elliott up (holding him as far away from me as possible) and laid him on the changing table to wipe him off. As I was furiously cleaning him, I noticed a small chunk of carrot on his thigh from his lunch the day before. Gross, right? I'll get that next I thought to myself. I have a cleaning method, and I had not worked my way up to the thighs yet. So probably thirty seconds later, I go to get the poop carrot but it isn't there. I look at Elliott's face and notice he is chewing on something. He opens his mouth slightly, and there it is. The poop carrot is in his mouth, and he is working it around like it is a tasty snack. I had taken everything in stride up until this point. Seriously, Elliott? You poop a chunk of carrot out and then put it in your mouth? While you are still coated in poop? That is too much to ask from me. So I sanitize my hands and get the carrot out of his mouth--he acts as if I have stolen a precious meal from him--finish wiping him off, dunk him in the bathtub (screaming), and a few minutes later, he is satisfactorily clean. Elliott outdid himself this time.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Here I am, sitting at home, To Catch a Predator creeping me out in the background. Why is that show so popular? Is it the lurid details? The fat men being tackled to the ground by the police? Why are there so many perverted fat guys out there? There are so many perverted fat guys in America that they created a television series about catching them. One of them sent who he thought was a thirteen year old girl 8 photos of his penis. Time to turn off the tv. Okay, back to feeling sorry for myself. I feel sorry for myself. The end.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

can't move...too sweaty...

It is so freaking hot here. I can't wait for offshore drilling to begin. Go global warming!

Monday, July 14, 2008

i'm avoiding doing my work right now to talk about the beach...

On Saturday night, I asked Ryan if he wanted to go to the beach and he said yes and on Sunday morning, Ryan, I and Elliott were driving in one car, Mary, Eric, Bridget, and Ben were driving in another car, and Jillian and Morgan were driving in yet another car, all headed for Santa Monica. Elliott screamed miserably half the drive down. This in-the-car screaming literally makes me want to stab my eye out with a key, but luckily, I left my keys at home. Benjamin, who had been assaulting Elliott all morning, was in the other car thank god or else he would have been pressing his fingers into his ears yelling, "Too loud! Too loud!" as a counter to Elliott's efforts. Ryan insisted on driving. Aware of my extreme tendencies to be controlling, I relented, but I regretted this instantly and regretted it even more when we got lost. For some reason, when I am driving (AND IN CONTROL), I can get us where we need to be. But with my hands off the wheel, I'm just useless and angry. So we finally got there, stressed out, exhausted, and hauled all of our stuff down to the shore.

But once we got there, we had an amazing time. It was gorgeous out--breezy and sunny. The ocean had a lovely lime green film over it, which stopped none of us from swimming. Benjamin had so much fun digging up sand cockroaches (crabs), building castles, and running from the waves. I love the ocean so much and was happy to dunk my head into it, however polluted. And Elliott. I had such low expectations. But he was great! He smiled at the waves for hours, crawled around in the sand, and ate about 100 crackers.

It was such a lovely day.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

a list of what isn't cute

...Benjamin smothering Elliott's face with two couch cushions
...Benjamin shoving Elliott out of his tent
...Benjamin taking Elliott's toys and hiding them from him
...Benjamin falling over and blaming Elliott
...Benjamin smashing Elliott's fingers between the dining room chair and the dining room table--on purpose
...Benjamin screaming because he is in time out for all of the above

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

ben stop putting your fingers in his eyes that hurts him

If I have to say this one more time...Ben keeps pleading with me to take him to the jungle (thanks a lot, Diego) and I have to tell him over and over that we live in Southern California, and why not the desert? Beach? Mountains? But, no, he wants the jungle. Maybe the San Diego Zoo will work? Meanwhile, Mona is running around the house like she is hunting something; I'm paranoid because apparently there was a rat problem before we bought the house (neglected to be mentioned in the disclosures by the sellers). And Mona is fat. As a rule, she doesn't run. While Ben's fingers attempt to explore Elliott's eyeballs, Elliott keeps smacking his head on the hardwood on purpose. When do I get to go back to work?