B and I compared notes this evening over dinner, and so I learned the following.

When B picks up R from daycare (AKA today):

  • She runs excitedly towards him and gives him a hug.
  • She happily sits in her car seat.
  • They chatter and giggle back and forth on the drive home.
  • He brings her inside the house without a problem.
  • He feeds her dinner, which she eats willingly in her high chair.
  • She takes her bath without a problem.
  • She puts her jammies on in a similar fashion.
  • After he pats her gently on her back in her crib, she drifts off to sleep and he’s able to leave the room and continue on with his life.

When I pick up R from daycare (AKA yesterday):

  • She sees me, gets up and walks straight past me to the door.
  • I put her shoes on, she runs away and hangs out on the other side of the room.
  • She sits in her car seat and asks for a cookie.
  • I apologize.
  • She asks for a cookie every 10 seconds.
  • I tell her I don’t have any cookies for her.
  • She cries and wails every 20 seconds.
  • I ignore her and check Waze to see how horrible the traffic is.
  • It’s horrible.
  • She asks for a cookie again.
  • I tell her no.
  • She sobs.
  • I try to distract her with something else.
  • She asks for a cookie.
  • The car in front of me refuses to use his turn signal so I pretend to key his door as I pull around him.
  • She gets so quiet in the back seat that at the next red light, I have to turn around to make sure she’s still alive.
  • She glares at me.
  • I continue to drive.
  • She whines a little.
  • I drive.
  • She burps loudly.
  • I drive.
  • I finally pull into the garage, get all of my stuff while somehow making sure the garage door clicker and the house keys and my water bottle are all within reach.
  • I open her door and unbuckle her car seat, only to discover a slimy half digested tangerine in her lap.
  • Yup, that wasn’t a burp. She had barfed.
  • I get her out and she cries.
  • Everything smells like barf.
  • I put her down so I can grab all of my stuff and close the garage door and she cries.
  • I make her walk up the front step and she cries.
  • I make her dinner and she cries.
  • She stops crying to eat grated cheese but starts to cry every time her bowl of grated cheese looks slightly less than half full.
  • I hold her in my lap while I try to eat dinner over the barf smell and she cries.
  • I draw her a bath and she cries.
  • I wash her face, her hair, her chubby folds, her butt, and her teeth.
  • She no longer smells like barf.
  • She cries.
  • I carry her into the bedroom and she stops crying.
  • I put her down and she starts crying.
  • I help her into her jammies on and cries.
  • I take her temperature because maybe something is really wrong with her.
  • No fever. SERIOUSLY?
  • I rock her in the glider as she whines in my arms.
  • She passes out.
  • 20 minutes later, I put her in her crib.
  • She wakes up at 4:30am.

My car still smells like barf.

We have less than two weeks until October, which means the time to find the perfect Halloween costume for the toddler is slowly dwindling. What do you dress an almost 18 month old when she has zero understanding of pop culture and her favorite thing in the world is to eat this fruited Israeli couscous that we have to cook every weekend and be carried around in a laundry basket? This will probably be the last year I’ll get to dress her up as anything that I want, so we NEED TO MAKE THIS GREAT.

Help me decide with the following options.


Mr. Yunioshi from Breakfast at Tiffany’s


Setsuko from Grave of the Fireflies

Kim Davis from Redneck America

Boo from Monster’s Inc


Kiki from Kiki’s Delivery Service


Whatever the fuck this is? (I mean, why not since it comes it toddler sizes?)


I have this problem where when I love something, I start obsessing over it, and the only thing that satiates my appetite is to consume them over and over and over again. Until I move on to the next thing. This happens a lot with food. Around the fourth grade, this happened with The Little House on the Prairie books, which I would read again and again, sometimes in order, sometimes out of order, until I moved on to the Anne of Green Gables series. And then Star Wars. And then the Emily of New Moon series. And then My Sassy Girl. And then the Studio Ghibli compilation soundtrack, which was the only thing that got me through my first post-college year. Oh, and most recently, this.

Anyway, the problem with this obsessive consumption is that 98% of my brain is filled with completely useless facts and plot points. Like, I will literally lie in bed at night and try to fall asleep, until I start going over the details of a particular scene where Emily Byrd Starr is busy sanding the floor of the New Moon farm kitchen in a complicated “herringbone pattern” while wearing an embarrassing wrapper when she catches site of a local gossip, and she jumps into the broom closet to hide from the detestable woman, but ends up stuck there and overhears all the horrible things this woman has to say about the Murrays. See what I mean? This is not photographic memory. This is STUPID.

Proof: I can list almost every random detail that Laura Ingalls Wilder provides in her beloved series (the books, not the stupid TV series, ugh), yet I cannot think of how any of this would apply to my life in 2015. For example:

1. The tail is the best part to eat when your Pa butchers a pig. Except the closest that your father has come to butchering a pig is opening a package of prosciutto.

2. You can use the pig’s bladder as a ball.

3. The fact that your suitor/future husband can span your waist with both hands is a sign of beauty and the only thing worth bragging about when your daughter immortalizes you in her books.

4. When your parents harvest sap during the maple sugaring season, a fun treat to make is pouring maple syrup into snow, despite the fact that you don’t have any maple trees around, you don’t know how to harvest the sap and the only time you can get snow in your city as at The Grove during Christmas time.

5. Salted pork comes in a barrel. This is a good protein option if you’re moving to another part of the country on a covered wagon. Otherwise, stick to your Blue Apron subscription.

6. Calico is a type of floral fabric pattern that you would never be caught wearing right now.

7. Sometimes, your Pa will wear blackface and put on a minstrel show with other townsfolk. If he tries to do this right now, stop him IMMEDIATELY.

8. To save your new crops from a deathly frost, you have to pour water over them. At least, that’s what Almanzo’s family did. I still don’t get it? Oh no. Time to read Farmer Boy again. BRB.

9. Trundle beds are a good idea for children if you’re living in a one room cabin.

10. If your beautiful older sister goes blind, you can always ship her off to some fancy school where she’ll come back even more beautiful (but still blind) and can show you how she can write using a weird stencil. (I still don’t get that either).

11. If your Pa gets lost in a freak snow storm on the way home from the general store, he will eat your Christmas candy as sustenance. You’re not allowed to get mad about this.

12. Anyone named Nellie is the worst.

13. If your family is starving during a long winter, you will find wheat hidden in the wall at a young man’s (a future son-in-law) cabin.

14. A good way to wash your sheep before shearing them is to soap them up with soft brown soap and drag them through a washing pen that you’ve constructed in the river next to your farm.

15. You can turn a hollowed out tree into a meat smoker.

16. It’s okay if your first doll is really just a dried up old corncob.

17. Beware of locusts. They ruin everything.

18. The best career option for any young woman is to become a teacher.

19. When baking a pie plant pie for your husband’s farm workers, don’t forget to add sugar.

20. If your family is still starving during a long winter, use your coffee meal to grind up wheat for bread.

And don’t get me started on all the intricate dress buttons from Little House in the Big Woods! But, really. Can any of this be useful?



Note: I wrote this blog entry 11 months ago, but never got around to finishing it until tonight. I held off because I’m a master at procrastination, but I figured with the Baby officially becoming the Toddler tomorrow, I should finally finish what I started. This also applies to the Bioshock: Infinite DLC chapters but I’ll get to that later.

Dear Baby,

Though I don’t always stick to it, my mom taught me to always be on time or–even better–be early. This meant arriving at birthday parties exactly when they started, showing up at the piano teacher’s house for our lessons when we were supposed to, and picking me up from school when she promised she would. (I used to hate this because it meant that I never got enough time to play with my friends after school on the playground, until one afternoon, she purposefully picked me up late and it was the best afternoon ever. How sad is that? I didn’t want my mom to take me home on time because I wanted to stay at school and play.)

That said, thank you for taking after my mom by arriving a couple of days early. Not only was I immensely pleased to not have to deal with my enormous belly longer than I had to, but you also proved wrong all those people who insisted that firstborn children never arrived on time, that I could expect to go into labor up to two weeks later, etc. etc.

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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.

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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.

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