2015-03-07 13.03.43

Remember a couple months ago when I blogged about forcing myself to NOT coast by setting challenges for myself? Well, here is one of them.

Killian reached out to me earlier this year, asking if I wanted to contribute a story to an illustrated anthology that she and Hillary were putting together with a bunch of other Pacific U MFA classmates. My first reaction was to barf and come up with all the reasons I honestly couldn’t do it because, well, see previous entry.

We’re writing adventure stories, she said.

But this requires me to actually write something, I thought.

Each writer gets a setting for their story, and they all have to connect to a pub called The Egret’s Crossing in Morocco, she explained.

But you’re asking me to use my brain, I thought.

I’ll be illustrating everyone’s work, she said.

But I don’t even know how to form complete sentences anymore, I thought.

We’ll be selling these at AWP and it will be great, she said.

So I agreed.

Killian assigned me the deep jungle, I procrastinated for a couple weeks by Googling and printing and cutting out and pasting pretty photos of the deep jungle into a pretty notebook for inspiration, and then I wept. Until she reminded me that this was supposed to be FUN and PULPY and ADVENTUROUS and GENRE-Y (is that a word?) and I listened to my favorite video game soundtracks on loop and pooped out my first story since the baby was born. (How funny. I’m pretty sure I also pooped when the baby was born. TMI? Well, sorry, but THAT’S WHAT HAPPENS IN LIFE.)

Anyway, that’s all that I’m going to share with you. I don’t think preorders are available anymore, but if you’re interested in purchasing a copy (either a PDF or a hard issue) because you love me as much as I love you, then click here or read the details in the pretty picture above.


To the holidays of 2014, I demand a do-over. You gave me two leisurely weeks with a light workload, beautiful sunny weather, an adorable chubby buttface and a pile of “omg-it’s-your-first-christmas” presents for the aforementioned buttface, but I still want a second chance. Because on top of the unseasonably warm season’s greetings, you also dropped a horrible lime-green-neon-yellow snotty cold on me, followed by an awful ear infection that made me feel like half of my skull was rapidly descending (ascending?) 100 million feet in an underwater spacesuit, with a not-very-cheerful visit to the Hollywood urgent care, another doctor’s visit, a horrible itchy reaction to the antibiotics, the frantic Googling of the types of treatment I would be allowed to take while breastfeeding, many calls between my doctor’s nurse and my pediatrician’s nurse, the uncomfortable experience of hearing everything on the right side of my body like it was coming out of a really cheap computer speaker, followed by a general malaise that made me kind of hate everything in the universe (besides cookies, B and the previously noted adorable chubby buttface).

Oh, but my ear is finally better. Like 99% there. I’m too scared to say 100% because I know that I’ll wake up tomorrow with something new and horrible on my face. Besides what is already there. Zing.

But seriously, 2014 holiday season. Let’s talk. Can we do a quick rewind and press play? Actually, a quick push on the record button, because I don’t want to relive what has already happened? I’d like a blank slate.



Heyyy 2015, let’s chat. I know you’re already almost one month old, but please take the time to read above to understand why I’m several weeks late on addressing you. Before you launch into an early Spring, let’s be clear on a few things. Like, you know, be nice. I wrapped up your older sister (aside from the stupid holidays) pretty nicely, where I feel like I kind of figured things out: returning to work, the whole daycare situation, the delicate balance of spending time with yes, that chubby little buttface, and other responsibilities without wanting to rip my fingernails out. And yes, I know that this meant I took a break on so many things but I had to, because having the pressure of doing all the things I wanted (like, I don’t know, finishing a book? Watching my favorite reality TV shows? Being creative outside of figuring out how to fit three pumping sessions into my daily routine while introducing the baby to her first round of solid foods with a back-up plan for any potential allergic reactions?) would have been awful.

I survived and I am surviving and I will survive.

Here’s the thing (if you’re still listening, 2015). Lately, I’ve been realizing that this feeling could also be seen as “coasting,” because despite the smooth ride with occasional bouts of emotional turbulence, there was and is a constant feeling of guilt. This hovering, layer of gray smog that keeps reminding me that I’m not doing enough, that I’m not challenging myself, or that all I am doing every day is giving myself a giant excuse.

I mean, it’s true. I believe I can coast along like this for the next day, week, months…even YEARS. GAH. 99% of my brain would be okay with it, but I know that there would always be that nagging 1% constantly wondering what I could have been doing on top of everything else the whole time.

Okay, sorry, wait. 2015, I’m getting to my point. Don’t close the browser window yet.

No, seriously, I’m almost done. What? 5 more seconds before you shut your iPhone off? How about 10?



Really quickly, I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate what you’ve provided me so far (you’re doing great!!!), and that I promise not only to myself but to you, yes, YOU, that within the next 12 11 months, I will be challenging myself on all different fronts. This means saying yes more than no (but in, like, a smart way, not like the “Oh, YES, I will eat three more chocolate chip cookies” way), this means not always taking the easy way out, this means NO EXCUSES, this means staying up past 9PM to get shit done, this means being uncomfortable and overwhelmed (but in, like, a healthy way), this means knowing that I will make mistakes and own them, this means that by the end of December, I will be able to look back and think, “Hey. I actually did something!” and–Okay, okay. You get it. But like, I just wanted to let you know really quickly that I’ve already taken on a bunch of stuff that I totally wouldn’t have taken on last year, so it’s all starting off well or maybe not, because like, maybe this is all a big mistake–wait, stop. I’m done. I promise. Seriously. I just wanted to say, I can do this, so you can do this, so bring it on, but please be nice. Deal? Hello? Okay…



In Baby R’s little book, there’s a page dedicated to her firsts. First time she rolled over (3 months). First time she slept through the night (1 month). First time she sat up unsupported (5 months). It’s a nice sheet of stock paper that I am slowly filling up with important milestones of her development, where I’m even adding footnotes for other firsts (her first teeth–4 months, her first crawl–just this past week!). In case you were wondering, the photo above is from months ago.

In light of this past week’s events, there needs to be a page reserved for her other firsts. The more realistic ones that I know she’ll soon experience, the same moments that I went through, those memories burned into my brain because, jesus fucking christ, how wrong is this world that we live in?

I’m not talking about the times I got hit in the face with a basketball or when I didn’t get the coveted lead role in our sixth grade production of Monopoly. I mean those important dates of When Shit Got Stupid That Made Me Question Why We Brought Another Human Into The Universe.

The first entry would be November 24, 2014, when a grand jury decided to not indict Michael Brown’s killer.

The second entry would be tonight, December 3, 2014, when another grand jury decided that Eric Garner’s killer wouldn’t go to trial, either.

This past week, my Facebook and Twitter feeds have been filled with outrage, trending hashtags, photos of protests and utter disbelief. And usually, this would make me swell with pride, that yes, my social community feels the same way that I do, that there is some sort of weird notion of justice over injustice. Like, if so many people come together and point out what’s wrong, then at least something must be right in the world.

But there’s a little heartbreak when you look up to see your wee little 7 month old as she squeals and shakes her favorite toy at your feet. Because while your community is ready to march and riot as much as they can online, this (not so) tiny little girl has no idea what’s going on. Okay, I’m not talking about the pitfalls of social media slacktivism or how at the end of the day (I hate that phrase SO MUCH) all that matters is your family, but no matter how many years you’ve gone through, how much you’ve read, how many hardships you’ve seen people face, she hasn’t yet.

Here’s what I want to write on that page of Other Firsts: I’m really sorry. I’m sorry that you’re living in a country where progress seems achingly slow. I’m sorry that the black babies your age will face a harsher world than you. I’m sorry that those black boys are growing up in a system that will most likely fail them. I’m sorry that you’ll one day learn about the Civil Rights movement, the LA riots, the police brutality cases and so forth, and realize that we haven’t really done much since then. Or, even worse, that there are so many people who still don’t believe or refuse to understand.

I’m sorry that you probably won’t be paid as much as your male colleagues. I’m sorry that if you’re ever sexually assaulted, your school will probably ignore you. I’m sorry that rape culture exists, that having children comes with some sort of systemic penance, that you’ll have to work extra hard to overcome the obstacle that is your gender. I’m sorry that some jerk out there will inevitably mock you for your background. I’m sorry that many more will (possibly unknowingly) judge you based on the color of your skin. I’m sorry that everyone will continue to set expectations on you because of your appearance or your name, but will deny doing so when you call them out on it.

I’m also sorry that with the way things are set up right now, you have automatically been given your own set of privileges. I’m sorry that you’ll probably learn this the hard way, and that by the time you accept them, enough people would have already been hurt or wronged from it.

I’m rambling. It’s clear that I haven’t really written anything in the past several months because right now, I can’t make any sense of what I’m typing. Except maybe this.

Is it possible to feel the loss of someone else’s innocence before they’re even aware of it?


I’ve got pie on the brain. I haven’t baked one since last Thanksgiving, and lately the only thing I’ve been mixing up are chocolate chip oatmeal cookies, but all summer, I can’t stop thinking about pie.

For one thing, a (do I say former since I graduated?) classmate’s amazing award-winning story, Pie Girl, didn’t help.

Then another friend wrote about baking three pies and the hard work of writing–though I mostly drooled over those pies, while another friend started a Twitter war about (not) eating pie a la mode. (For the record, I’m not really a fan of eating ice cream with my pie. The warm crust just melts the ice cream and then you have a sloppy, creamy sludge all over your delicious slice.)

Before that, a high school friend shared a recipe for her husband’s favorite apple custard pie, which I instantly wanted to bake but then despaired over having to buy an entire bottle of rum for a single tablespoon. Is it weird that we don’t have any hard liquor in the house? Speaking of which, liquor companies should really sell tablespoon sized bottles of their alcohol specifically for cooking. I know I could have just walked down to the liquor mart to buy one of their miniature bottles, but the thought of marching in with a three month old baby strapped to my chest and demanding a tiny bottle of rum from their locked glass cabinet sounded like a bad idea. (On the other hand, those miniature bottles are SO ADORABLE. Someone throw a miniature cocktail party so I can stock a miniature bar with these little bottles, complete with miniature martini glasses.)

So guess what happened?

I baked a pie. Just a boring, normal, all-American, all-butter, brown sugar apple pie using the fruits of my uncle-in-law’s labor (or his gardener) that my psychic mother-in-law dropped off yesterday. Not only that, but I also managed to bake this boring pie while dealing with a three month old. It only took me two naps, one feeding, one fit of shrieking (because someone is learning how to use her vocal cords), one foot on her bouncy chair while I peeled, cored and sliced the apples as fast as I could, and one Ergo carrier to get this done. Phew. Where’s my Nobel Peace Price?

PS. Can we talk about how much I love seeing how other people’s homemade pie crusts turn out? It has to be some reflection of the baker’s personality. Are they a perfectionist with uniform and impeccable borders? Did they prefer upright ridges along the edge or soft curves molded from their knuckles? Why do some use forks and others use their fingers to pinch their crusts? Maybe they don’t even think about the shape because it’s all about the filling?

Or do they attempt to cover up their personal insecurities and boredom by using a heart-shape cookie cutter to create a weird lopsided pattern that doesn’t quite turn out as cool looking as they’d originally hoped for a top crust?

Some people read crystal balls. Others read tea leaves. I would like to read pie crusts.


Thanks to the little one, I’ve been reading the infamous Goodnight Moon book every day for the past two months. And while my parents never read this book to me (or any book, from what I remember) and we never owned a copy until now, I do appreciate the genius behind this picture tale. The primary colors. The miscellaneous but easily recognizable objects ingeniously placed around the room, away from the text. The rhyming and cadence. The anthropomorphic characters. The anonymous narrator (which I assume isn’t the sleepy bunny). The “old” lady who doesn’t even look that old, so just calling her that is really rude. The fact that there’s a tiger skin rug on the floor in a house inhabited by BUNNIES.

Here’s the thing. The book opens by introducing the reader (or, in this case, a three month old baby girl who could care less about what I say to her right now) to the various objects  around the room…

In the great green room,

There was a telephone

And a red balloon

And a picture of…

Then we slowly wish them all a good night.

Except for the telephone.

WHY DON’T WE WISH THE TELEPHONE A GOODNIGHT? Is it because nothing really rhymes with “telephone?” Is it because a phone never sleeps, always ready to ring in the middle of the night due to some family emergency? Why do we go as far as to wish “nobody” a goodnight, but skip over this amazing communication device? Or the stupid bowl of mush? If there’s one thing in this world that doesn’t deserve a farewell, it’s a gross bowl of mush. Who the hell leaves an open bowl of food next to their bed overnight anyway? Does the little bunny hate the telephone? Is he too young to use the telephone? Speaking of which, isn’t he a little too young to have his own phone in his room? My mom wouldn’t let us have our own phone until I was at least in fourth grade, and even then, we couldn’t have our own line, even though some of my rich classmates did. It was awe inspiring to see their own phone number listed next to their name in the school directory, a whole separate line from their parents. How grown up was that? But smart move, mom, because no one ever called me anyway. Just like today. Wah.

And guess what? Margaret Wise Brown is DEAD. She’s been dead since before I was even BORN. I’ll never have an answer about the poor telephone.

PS. I do love how the quote from the book on GoodReads gets the opening stanza completely wrong though. It’s a cow jumping over the moon, you idiots. Not a cat. Since when do cats jump over the moon? DON’T YOU KNOW YOUR NURSERY RHYMES? And the painting of the cow is featured like five billion times throughout the book. Aren’t you paying attention? I hate everything.

photo (2)

Look! It’s my turn! The awe-inspiring, multi-talented and fellow Pacific U MFA-er Maisha Z. Johnson asked me to join her in a round of Blog Hop, where I have to answer simple questions about my writing.

Here’s the thing: with a now-omg-she’s-already-seven-weeks-old baby in my life, I could easily argue that writing has been put on the back burner–even further back (possibly now stored in the deep freezer) than when I was dealing with being pregnant (and the subsequent early 30’s identity crisis). Except that this would have been a huge lie, a big excuse, another procrastination, and another step towards denial.

Not to say that I’ve been doing the complete opposite, but it’s been a rough several months in terms of creativity and motivation, and I should just get straight to the Q&A.

What am I working on?

So I have a confession to make. When I found out I was pregnant, every incentive to be creative and continue what I left off after graduating from school completely dried up. The combination of feeling totally sick, a lot of shock, the gradual coming-to-terms with what was going on with my body and what was going to happen in my life, was just so completely overwhelming that the last thing I wanted to do was write.

Read the rest of this entry »


My dad is really weird, and that includes his inability to handle small children. Or maybe just children related to him? (See picture above.) It’s all good now that I’m in my thirties and B is around (who he gets along really well with, especially when it comes to cooking food and asking for help on all of his new Apple products/high speed Internet connection/office set-up). Except that when I found out we were going to have a baby, he managed to break every etiquette rule in the book.

While my mom would share her excitement about the new addition to the family, he’d simply look at me and say one of the following:

“Your stomach is getting big.”

“It looks a lot lower now.”

“Did you give birth yet?” (This was over the phone when I called to talk to my mom when I was 7 months along.)

“You look like you have worms.”

And now, since the baby is here, he just asked:

“How is breastfeeding going?”


UPDATE! I saw my dad yesterday and the following happened:

Dad: Are you doing the breastfeeding?

Me: Yes.

Dad: …Is stuff coming out?


Dad: What?


Remember when I reviewed all of B’s weird movies that I walked in on or sat through? Well, he hasn’t stopped watching them and I haven’t stopped walking in on them, so I thought I should compile a new list, just for posterity’s sake.

What hasn’t helped is that we’ve both been mopey and sick lately (for different reasons), so we’ve been finding solace hanging out in the living room. The result is that we’re both in the same room at the same time. In fact, I can’t even believe how many movies B can consume in one sitting. I mean, I’m all for reading a single book in one setting but movie after movie after movie? I’m surprised his skin hasn’t grown into the sofa cushions.

For example, he became feverish one Saturday after we came home from brunch. How convenient. Instead of taking some medicine and curling up in bed (like any normal person), he refused any medicine and curled up on the sofa to watch movies for the next 12 hours. I’m not even exaggerating.

In case you wondered, B’s taste in movies hasn’t gotten better (AKA more mainstream), so I was able to experience a slew of movies that a) I didn’t even know existed and b) apparently had enough of a target demographic to be produced in the first place.

Marwencol: This is a documentary about a guy who got into an accident and then started taking pictures of his Barbie dolls, or something like that. I think you were supposed to feel sorry for him but I just felt funny.

Videodrome: I know this is a cult classic but this is the one movie that B told me he absolutely loved when we first met. (Mine was and is Spirited Away.) We finally watched it and like, WTF. All I remember is James Wood having a VCR-vagina on his stomach. Oh, and Debbie Harry.

Naked Lunch: Like WTF. David Cronenberg is really weird and I am beginning to hate his movies. Listen, I read parts of William S. Burroughs’ book but this was even grosser. Cockroach typewriters and the guy from RoboCop? I don’t get it.

Searching For Sugarman: A documentary about this musician who was like homeless or something? But he had this cult following in South Africa so he goes to perform for them and everyone is happy. I think this won an Oscar so I feel bad for not really getting into it.

The Marriage Of Maria Braun: A German lady speaking German in Germany after World War II. Super boring.

Cure for Pain: The Mark Sandman Story: A documentary about a lead singer from a band I’ve never heard of. It was really boring, mostly because I think it was in black and white. I don’t really remember.

Lady Snowblood: Another one of those Japanese movies that B likes to watch as a reminder that I’m really not in touch with my ethnic culture, but like whatever.

The Insect Woman: Yet another one of those movies that B enjoyed while I sat there with a cultural identity crisis. Like WTF is going on. Why is this woman so weird? Why can’t she get it together? Did she really just breast feed her own dad? Like, gross? I think that’s what happened. Not sure.

Attenberg: What I thought was a rip-off of that super weird Dogtooth movie because it has the same girl in it doing the same weird dance. Also, I think they spoke Greek.

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare: I accidentally called this Wes Craven’s Last Christmas and then asked when Jason was going to pop up and then fell asleep before the big climatic scene and B still won’t tell me why Robert Englund was playing himself, why Wes Craven was playing himself and what the hell was going on.

Modus Animali: Okay, so like, there’s this Asian guy hiding around in a house? And runs around the woods? And someone dies on a fence? And then he has a syringe? And he yells a lot but I have no idea what is going on. Really weird.

Livide: This is a French horror movie with horrible translations about two guys and a girl who break into a haunted house (I think) but then get terrorized by weird ballerina corpses? And then there’s this long flashback sequence where you realize the ballerina teacher and her ballerina daughter were like vampires or something weird like that. It was pretty bad.

On a happier note, B has been super patient and nice by sitting through the Vanderpump Rules and Shahs of Sunset episodes without complaint. Today he even asked why Mike was so mad at Reza (“the mustache guy”) at the reunion!!


I slipped into a swirling vortex of old YouTube videos, Spotify playlists and memories today when I challenged myself (and two others) to tracking down songs from our youth that incorporated the record scratching fad. Remember when almost every rock song featured some kind of turntable in the late 1990’s to early 2000’s? It was either from some rock band that wanted to go super pop or dance-y, some white/non-black rapper who wanted to sound a little more authentic or some nu metal band who wanted to…Actually, I don’t even know what nu metal bands were trying to do.

So here’s the list of songs we came up with for your listening pleasure, from sugar pop to WTF-did-I-used-to-listen-to. Feel free to share any songs I might have missed. (The only criteria is that it can’t actually be a hip hop song.)

Better Than Ezra – “Extraordinary”

Sublime – “What I Got”

Sugar Ray – “Fly Featuring Super Cat”

Citizen King – “Better Days”

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Happy last day of 2013! I’m calling myself a big failure when it came to reading this year, because unlike 2012 or 2011, when I tried to read as much as possible throughout the weeks (and the semester reading requirements for grad school totally helped), this time, I fell short at only 31 books. By the time July rolled around, reading a book a week was the last thing on my to-do list since I was spending most of my time either barfing, lying down because getting up made me feel like barfing, crying because all I could do was barf, thinking about barfing, learning that even when your body has nothing to barf up, it will still find something to barf up, sleeping in between the moments of not barfing–and when I was finally able to get up and function (somewhat) as a normal human being, I was still barfing enough on my free time to make me abhor anything that wasn’t sleeping, trying to eat, going to work, having a conversation with other humans and watching movies.

Anyway, enough of that. It was odd enough to hate the idea of reading for once, but I’ve managed to slip back into the habit, all thanks to the Game of Thrones books. And speaking of which, those THREE books done (and therefore, the entire series so far, which means I totally know what’s going to happen on the next season gaahhh) amounted to about 2, 713 pages, which is like totally worth at least 10 books. Right?

I mean, think about it. That means this year, I’ve read 11,726 pages which is way more than the 9,194 pages of 40 books that I read in 2012, and KINDA CLOSE to the 16,924 pages (of 50 books) that I conquered in 2012. So congratulations, brain, you did it! You (kinda sorta but not really) read 40 books this year! Just kidding. I won’t lie to myself.

Here’s the pitiful list of books from this year, with my favorites in bold:

  1. Emma – Austen, Jane
  2. Pride and Prejudice – Austen, Jane
  3. Sense and Sensibility – Austen, Jane
  4. Collected Stories – Bellow, Saul
  5. The Girl in the Flammable Skirt – Bender, Aimee
  6. Stories – Boyle, T.C.
  7. Mockingjay – Collins, Suzanne
  8. Catching Fire – Collins, Suzanne
  9. Passion and Affect – Colwin, Laurie
  10. In The Gloaming – Dark, Alice Elliott
  11. This Is How You Lose Her – Díaz, Junot
  12. The Great Gatsby – Fitzgerald, F. Scott (Had to re-read this after the godawful movie!)
  13. The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel – Hempel, Amy
  14. Dubliners – Joyce, James
  15. Burning Fence: A Western Memoir of Fatherhood – Lesley, Craig
  16. A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, #5) – Martin, George R.R.
  17. A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire, #4) – Martin, George R.R.
  18. A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, #3) – Martin, George R.R.
  19. A Parisian Affair and Other Stories – Maupassant, Guy de
  20. Explorers of the New Century – Mills, Magnus
  21. Self-Help – Moore, Lorrie
  22. Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose – O’Connor, Flannery
  23. Drinking Coffee Elsewhere – Packer, Z.Z.
  24. Enormous Changes at the Last Minute: Stories – Paley, Grace
  25. The Shipping News – Proulx, Annie
  26. Tenth of December – Saunders, George
  27. Shakespeare’s Kitchen – Segal, Lore
  28. The Fluency of Light: Coming of Age in a Theater of Black and White – Sloan, Aisha Sabatini
  29. Honored Guest – Williams, Joy
  30. The Collected Stories – Welty, Eudora
  31. The Collected Stories – Yates, Richard

Anyway, here’s to more reading in 2014. And less barfing. Or at least, less barfing from me but probably lots of barfing from this creature that’s currently growing inside of my uterus.

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