I’m only half kidding when I say that we have two savings funds set up for Jonah: college and therapy. We really felt it was important to start putting money away, just in case he doesn’t get that academic scholarship.
Last night was the first time that Jonah slept in his own bed by himself. He’s been sleeping in that bed since he was born (in it), but until twenty-four hours ago, Ryan and I slept alongside him. We were co-sleepers.
When we decided to co-sleep, we didn’t even realize that there was a term for a thing so intuitive to us we didn’t know to question it, or that that thing was actually a hotly-debated, controversial topic in the parenting world. It’s right up there with circumcision and breastmilk v. formula. We had a bassinet when he was born, but he was really cute and little and in the immediate months following his birth, it seemed natural to hold him near. Months turned into almost two years.
I found out that there was a name for what we did during a three a.m. nursing in one of the topic rooms on a “mommy blog.” (That’s what Ryan calls apps like What to Expect where strangers simultaneously bond over their child’s birth month and tear each other apart for being on the wrong side of the food-stamps-used-for-steak issue.)
I really loathe debating controversial issues, especially online. I have yet to meet the person who has been swayed by an impassioned rando on the Internet. Mostly though, these kinds of arguments tend to swell around the poles, both sides characterized by emotional appeals to fear that I don’t relate to. On the granola side of the coin, placing your baby in a crib causes deep-seated abandonment issues, resulting in a child who grows up either a sex addict or Republican. On the other, WHAT ARE YOU FUCKING CRAZY YOU WILL ROLL OVER YOUR BABY’S HEAD! SIDS!
For the last nearly twenty-two months, the three of us have shared what Asian cultures apparently describe as a family bed, which sounds emotionally scarring. In actuality it is sweet, nurturing and most of all, practical. But I had had enough.
Actually, our couples therapist had had enough.
She urged Ryan and me to make the break. It’s time, she said. Do not let it go another night.
When nine o’clock rolled around, I got Jonah ready for bed by telling him that now that he’s old enough, he gets to have slumber parties with his animals all by himself. Whenever he needs us, we’ll be right in the other room. I asked him if he was excited. He squealed an exuberant, “Yes!”
We picked out his lucky companions, a robotic talking puppy that I hate so I removed its ability to utter anything ever, and a monkey Jonah stole from the car of one of my besties. We climbed into his bed. I started with a couple of books, and then I launched into daydreaming, and nothing. Motherscratcher was onto me. It took over an hour to get him to sleep.
In all of the time that we’ve slept next to him, I never worried about his safety. When you co-sleep, you are acutely aware of the presence of your child’s breath and his tiny body. We didn’t consider him in danger of suffocation or being crushed. Unintentionally, we also became light sleepers, which is why I’ve been longing for the day when I could count on a full eight-hour rest.
Until I got into bed last night. The distance between our rooms felt enormous. What if he woke up scared? What if he broke his head? I checked on him throughout the night five separate times, making sure his neck was intact and I could hear his breath.
He woke this morning calling for me, refreshed and bright. Meanwhile, I slept two hours. TWO. I didn’t realize that the co-sleeping was actually for me.
You know what’s harder than writing 500 words a day for a 30 days? Not apologizing for writing a piece of crap.
At an early age I was diagnosed with a condition called chronic perfectionism*. Maybe you’ve heard of it. It’s not necessarily marked by doing things well, as the name might suggest. Rather, its symptoms are repeated disappointment in oneself and physical twitching at the sight of a grammatical error. Unfortunately, no official cure has been found, though it is manageable by treatment, which includes exercises like stop doing that and get older, you’ll care less. I’m still on the fence about the treatment plan.
Anyway, over the last eight days, I’ve been forcing myself to post and not caveat it with a caution to potential readers of the impending suck. While at times my insides have screamed with the need to make sure that the Internet knows that hey, this is three to five minutes of your life you will never get back, there’s a tiny stoic army in me compelling me to just post, and let the fear of public sucking go unstated.
For a chronic perfectionist, that feels like jumping without a net. And it’s been strangely freeing. I don’t believe it’s had a measurable difference in the quality of my writing, but it’s definitely affected my own happiness with writing. It’s like I went to a party for myself–because it’s hard enough to pen 500 words a day amidst, you know, life–and no one invited Eeyore. It’s ending on an accomplishment instead of a judgment. So that’s been good.
I feel obligated to admit that it’s been a little more challenging to post publicly publicly. I mean, I’ve definitely done it, but not always willingly and not always consistently. My reluctance to post daily to my own profile is less rooted in being scared of being judged–though that was definitely a thought going into this–and more to do with my own personal social media strategy, which falls under the umbrella of something I call The Boy Who Cried Wolf effect**. It is has yet to be peer reviewed in a journal. My theory is that the greater volume of things I post that I don’t really care about, like having the plague, the more likely people are to ignore the things that are really important to me, like would anyone like to get up at six a.m. and go to a yoga dance party with me? I’d prefer the latter not happen, so I limit the former. Incidentally, I don’t recommend this strategy, since it doesn’t guarantee that anyone will ever get up at six a.m. and go with you to a yoga dance party.
Overall, writing daily has been more of a treasure than a curse. There’s the whole finding time thing, but when I decided to write 500 words a day, I set out thinking of it as an opportunity to tell 30 stories. And while those stories sometimes come out as typing through sludge, I am excited to look back and see the result of this effort.
*Holy shit. On a lark I googled, symptoms of perfectionism and learned that it’s basically a gateway to obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Which makes sense, but how disappointing. I thought I made this shit up.
**Apparently that’s a thing too, though in simpler terms it’s just known as “posting too much” in social media strategy circles. Going back to my day job now.
Today I am less plaguey than yesterday. It is still the plague and plagues suck. But I digress.
A few years ago, my job sent me to the East Coast for work every week. I had a corporate apartment in Hoboken, which I euphemized as The City to anyone not from New York.
As a consultant, travel rules generally go like this: you can expense airfare to and from your client site (in this case, LAX to JFK and back) or you can expense a ticket of equal amount to fly elsewhere on a return trip. This meant that I spent probably a total of ten weekends in my apartment in LA over an eighteen-month period. It’s the reason my roommate and I broke up. Sadface. But, I was able to do one of the things makes my Sagittarian heart leap: travel.
My coworkers, BA and BS and I, decided that we would fly to Iceland for a weekend. Reykjavik is only a four and a half hour flight from New York, making it faster than flying home. Coincidentally, my roommate was working in London for two weeks, and she agreed to meet us there. After work on Thursday, we headed straight to the airport. We stopped at the bar on our way to the gate. By the time they announced boarding, we were two celebratory scotches deep.
We got on the plane and BA immediately popped a sleeping aid. Normally I’d have too, but I didn’t want to overshoot on a short flight. We waited on the tarmac for about twenty minutes. Finally we taxied from the gate. We didn’t get far. The pilot–utterly charming in his honesty–announced that there was a “critical failure” and we’d have to return to the gate to look for a part. Like, a part? Just one? By critical, how critical? So we returned. They deplaned us as they looked for the part. We got another drink. I highly recommend having a conversation with a friend who’s on Ambien and scotch.
Eventually we learned that they cancelled the flight until the following day. We didn’t want to wait, so the three of us tried to book another city. BS and I tried to sell BA on the Bahamas instead. But BA found the freezing cold of DC more inviting, so BS and I headed to London to hangout with my roommate.
An ill-fated Reykjavik trip turned into an even greater ill-fated London trip for reasons that are another story altogether. More importantly, three and a half years later, I have finally booked a trip back to Iceland. This time I’ll be foregoing the bars and instead yelping parks. It’s marginally less glamorous. My son is turning two in August, and we wanted to take advantage of seat-sharing before we have to start paying out the nose for his own ticket. By the time we return from this trip, in his two years he will have visited six countries outside of the US, eleven states, plus the capital.
As a parent, I try to be conscious about letting my little guy develop his own interests. But I can’t help but hope that he, too, gains a sense of wanderlust and appreciation for foreign soil, be it city, state or country. And if he ends up finding joy shopping in a place where he’ll be able to buy clothes not found at home? Well that’s a bonus.
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Tonight I was putting my almost two-year old, Jonah, to bed. I have this trick where I tell him to pretend like he’s sleeping. Actually, I learned it from our nanny because she’s about a million times smarter than I am. Anyway, I say, “Close your eyes and pretend like you’re sleeping.” Typically he puts his head down and then will pop back up in about five seconds. At night I secretly hope that he’ll just close his eyes, forget that he’s playing a game and then accidentally fall asleep. It’s sort of similar to the other game we play where I keep reading him books hoping that he’ll just, you know, nod off. He doesn’t. I’m not that good at this parenting thing. It’s probably why I waited so long.
Sometimes I surprise myself. When we laid down tonight I told him that if he looks up towards the sky and closes his eyes really hard he can see the stars and the moon. If you want to go the moon, all you have to do is reach up for a star with one hand, and then pull yourself to another star with your other hand, and you just keep doing this–you keep climbing the stars back and forth–until you reach the moon! And once you’ve reached the moon you can go anywhere you like. You can see friends you miss–there’s Wy wy and Havey, remember Granny?–you can climb on forklifts and diggers… In his sweet little drifting voice he whispered, “dig-guh.”
I found myself describing a world of delight and wonder. We defied physics and time. As we lay in the dark, we flew over the countries we have visited together, and then moved on to the ones that we’re about to visit. We glided over Iceland’s tundra and then swooped down through Amsterdam’s canals. We looked at the bicycles on the cobbled streets and we put on our sweaters at night for a brisk ride along the waterfront. A ladybug landed on his arm and told us that we should go see Paris so we did.
He nuzzled softly into me as I pulled the covers over our shoulders. Our little universe continued to unfold. When you close your eyes and look up at the sky, it turns out that butterflies and dinosaurs and kitty cats are all the same size and you can climb a tree to float on the clouds. Clouds are like bubbles that don’t pop; they just gently change their mind.
Somewhere between swimming with dolphins and riding on the backs of orca whales, Jonah fell asleep. In the near dark I listened to the rise and fall of his breath and looked for the outline of his tiny mouth. I want to hold onto time. Of the countless nights I have spent trying to bribe, cajole and trick my way into bedtime, I had no idea that we only had to close our eyes.
I have a nemesis. She works the front desk at the yoga studio I frequent, if by frequent you mean once every two months. We didn’t start off on the best foot.
Me: Hi, I’m new and I’d like to sign up for a class.
Nemesis: Okay, have you been here before?
Me: No, I’m new.
Nemesis: Okay, do you have a series?
Me: No, this is my first time here.
Nemesis: Do you have a Class Pass*?
Me:*cocks head to side* *stares* *sighs*
The second time we met, I waited my turn in line to ask about package options. In the middle of her explanation, a teacher stepped behind the desk and started talking to her. She placed me on virtual hold as they chatted casually about class. That’s not normal, right? I guess I just have this thing about customer service.
But those are really her only sins.
Yesterday I went to the studio only to find out that I must have looked at the schedule wrong. My nemesis explained that I could wait for the 12:30 Pilates-type class and there’s a great coffee shop across the street if I wanted to wait around. “I know there is,” I snapped. “This is my ‘hood.”
You know those moments when all of the sudden it feels like you’re looking through a camera lens at yourself and you realize you look like a complete crazy? That. Then.
It’s not her fault.
I have this love/really hate thing with yoga that is totally unreconciled. It’s vexing in its elusiveness and known to me vaguely through its symptoms. I’m drawn to practice but loathe the trappings of all things associated with going to class: the way that music becomes a distraction because not everyone loves Imagine Dragons and also, we’re in hip openers. The way that I don’t need you to be my life coach I just want you to call the pose, please. The Wow, you curse?! You still want to be my life coach. The Spiritual Gangster hoodies and tees–new summer colors!–in the shop. The pervasive optimism is maybe most cloying.
And yet, home practice just isn’t the same.
That I have been and done and represented and probably still am all of these things isn’t lost on me. The moral and intellectual superiority I allow myself is, admittedly, void of merit. I know this. I’ve done all of those tricks where you look at the thing in you that is like the thing you dislike and identify the similarities and then you recognize your oneness and you find a sense of peace. Still, I want to punch this first world problem in the face.
I thought about my nemesis this morning and our last exchange. Her freckled countenance and effervescent voice remained eager. If she silently judged me she didn’t let on. I remember those days, too.
*I realized several days after the fact that Class Pass is an app used for signing up and paying for classes. At the time the question was as confounding as its predecessors.
I have just spent the last thirty minutes googling, My two-year old ate a tube of lip balm.
I suppose I should have been watching him. He is a toddler, after all. In my own defense, he’s a really good toddler, I’m playing single mom tonight, I’m really tired and I can’t find the pacifier he should be over by now, so when he’s sprinting around the house well past his bed time refusing to be tamed and suddenly gets quiet in the other room, I consider myself lucky and use the opportunity to Amazon shop on my phone.
Until, of course, he comes in, his doe eyes widened, holding the remains of minty sweet lip balm and looks up at me and says, “Num num.” I glance at what’s left in his hand. His tiny palms contain what was literally the first time in probably a decade that I’d bought a brand whose ingredients could likely be substituted for auto fuel. I got suckered in by the cute packaging and the fact that I saw a girl at work whose makeup is always Kim Kardashian-on point using it. Christ. There are better times to fall prey to marketing and one’s own insecurities.
“This information is applicable for small, unintentional ingestions. If your child becomes unresponsive, please call Poison Control immediately.” Small? Unintentional? I need something more quantifiable than just “small,” but also I’m not sure that “unintentional” is relevant when it comes to poison. One cannot be a little bit pregnant. Even in the throes of crisis I still find time to be critical of web copy.
“Toxicity level: Minimally toxic in small amounts such as a taste or a lick.” Guess that answers that.
“Possible symptoms of an overdose/toxicity: An episode of vomiting, loose stool or diarrhea.” He is now sitting on my lap, looking up at me while I’m asking him if his stomach hurts. “Stomach,” he answers, though it’s clear he’s just parroting what I’m saying. “Jonah, why did you eat that?” I cry. “Num num,” he logics. I take the next few minutes to hold him tightly, watching his stomach for signs of protrusion which he mildly resists. When I first became a parent I tended to call the pediatrician at every sneeze. But by the time of his first birthday I became so tired of my own baseless paranoia that I resolved to set a higher threshold. I’m not even sure what could make me call anymore. Probably blood.
So in those seconds of wrestling between fear and pragmatism, I did what makes virtually zero sense to the thinking mind: I pictured him a veritable zombie, drained of his vibrant and engaging personality by the effects of too much Soft Lips. I missed the sweet softness in the way he said, “orca. whaaaale.” to any stranger who would listen. I longed for the son I once knew and hadn’t yet lost. I teared up and panic-blamed my boyfriend over a series of spiral texts for leaving us at home while he went to a barbeque.
I googled again. This time I found a Facebook post in which the poster’s daughter ingested Eos brand lip balm. Eos seems close enough since I almost bought that brand instead. The company responded to this woman’s post stating that while they’ve had many questions about this, they’ve yet to hear of serious injury. Their post was followed by tens of other posts of parents saying, “Thank god I found this post.” Irrationally, I too felt solace.
Jonah looked up at me, winced his face, and said, “Poopie.” He got up and ran to the bathroom. Oh no. Here we go. I pictured diarrhea in a training potty and wondered how I’d clean it up. I closed my eyes, held his hand, and waited. He sat there for a moment, then got up and and looked at me, proud of himself. I looked down. His delivery was underwhelming.
Now, as the night has passed, it appears that his appetizer was only that. The visions of a different life–one in which I’m blamed on the Internet for being a shitty, neglectful parent–have waned. And with only 2 hours and 31 minutes remaining to receive my items on Tuesday, I finally hit purchase on that Amazon order.
- Vote Democrat.
- Vote Republican.
- Vote Green Party.
- Eat meat.
- Eat meat again.
- Have another hangover.
- Go on a cleanse.
- Go on another cleanse.
- Have children.
-Allow my child to: watch a screen before the age of two, drink formula, eat meat until he was old enough to choose for himself, eat GMOs, eat another goddamned cookie.
- Be hard on myself.
*This is a measly entry to the 500-day challenge and I get that it doesn’t make the length cut. But it took an unusual period of time to develop. Actually, this list was pretty quick to get to but drafting a longer list proved boring. So.
I am having a total and complete panic spiral right now. The kind where your chest actually feels tight but Christ, you’re too not male for a heart attack, and your thoughts spin furiously and you’re maybe also shivering although who knows because what day is it anyway? The moments blur.
In the last fifteen minutes since accepting this challenge, I have checked Facebook eight times, opened the PowerPoint presentation I’ve been consciously ignoring, FaceTimed with my tiny everything, and have started a list of Why I’m The Biggest Dumbass, Ever.
The source of my duress dates back about four years to the time when my besties and I set out to create a creative refuge for the spiritually disenfranchised called Recovering Yogi. At the time, the yoga world was rife with (more) panderers and sycophants, long on meaningless adages and flowery accolades thrown at anyone who could pack a sweaty room. We were refugees from that world ourselves, three former yoga teachers, bent on nurturing an alternative voice.
In our newness we had weekly Skype calls discussing everything from editorial decisions to inventory counts for our fledgling tshirt line. We held strategy sessions over a weekend at the Ace. We had a goddamned punk rock fashion shoot for godsakes. Did you know we are in Wikipedia? Some college student can cite us.
At first our stories came from friends, family and any unsuspecting co-worker who could be persuaded with a cheap bottle of tequila in return for a few hundred words on why yoga teachers are like hookers. We were fortunate in Joslyn’s early relationship with Elephant Journal to leverage the work she had written there, and to be able to reach a much wider audience than we would have had otherwise. And we, Joslyn, Leslie and I, took turns writing our own missives for the site.
We were passionate.
Along the way we attracted some pretty great writers and maybe a crazy or two. Owing to the former, Kirk Hensler wrote for us in those early days, penning first about being new to yoga. I remember thinking that his brazen style–the kid literally just wrote what he thought–might be offensive to women who are over being objectified for wearing perfectly-fitted Luon. But Kirk is one of those guys who pulls off offensive in a way that makes you say thank you and buy him dinner afterwards. He followed up his first post with this on point poster, which became shared widely across the industry.
Since those early days, I’ve followed Kirk’s writing through his own site, Kale & Cigarettes, and have admired his crisp and immediate honesty. He writes with enviable ease. It is no small endeavor to share the logistics of cross-continent video date sex with the Internet. I have wondered what his mom’s friends say to her.
But good writing comes at a price, and that price is discipline and vulnerability. Kirk has both in spades, and that is, I suppose, why he put this challenge out there. So when Joslyn asked me to join her in Kirk’s 500-words-for-30-days experiment, I instinctively said yes! before my brain had a chance to remind me that I haven’t written in two years and also? I’ve never made a good decision after 14 hours at work. Not once.
And that’s perfect, because I’m sitting here in a hotel room in Nashville, TN, about to hit Publish. In the two hours that have passed since I first started typing, my pulse has softened, and exhaustion has given way to not giving a fuck–the lesser known mother of invention.
A couple of years ago I received an email from a gentleman named Zubin Shroff asking me if he could interview me about yoga. The previous year Joslyn, Leslie and I had started Recovering Yogi, but since his email made no mention of the site, I assumed that he was looking for another rote conversation on asana. At his suggestion we met in Venice at the skatepark. I got a traffic ticket on the way the interview; I arrived both ridiculously late and in a pissy mood.
Like many things, if I were to draw a Venn diagram in which my expectations represented one circle and my experience another, the circles would be on opposite sides of the page. We sat on a grassy hill and talked for a couple of hours. About yoga. The kind of yoga that I can still talk about. The kind in which there is no difference between who I am hanging out with a bunch of friends who are into asana and who I am on figuring out process on a royalties system implementation. After we spoke, using this ancient old skool camera on a tripod, he took my portrait. And then he left.
I connected him and my bestie Joslyn, who, being a triple Virgo is one of the best editors around, and she edited his book. (If you need a keen eye on your work, seriously, she’s your gal.) And then I forgot about it. Two days ago I was reading an article in Yoga Journal (don’t ask) and a woman’s byline said that she was featured in the book, “Conversations with Modern Yogis.” I ordered it online. Here is that day, captured.
This little angel recently turned ten months. He is sweet and kind and silly and curious and clever. And he–all 17.9 pounds and 29 inches of him–utterly and completely melts my heart.
So here’s something neat: a few of my cartoons made their way into SF-based magazine, Common Ground.
The moment you find out you’re pregnant, you voraciously devour information regarding your own health and that of the developing thing (just kidding, little one!) inside of you. There is no shortage of guidelines, lists, forums, and horror films who exist solely to scare the bejesus out of help you.
I wrote this and it was published on McSweeney’s.
A few months ago, an acquaintance of mine passed away. He wasn’t just any acquaintance; he was the best friend of one of my best friends, Leslie, and just a gem of a human. She wrote this really beautiful ode to him today and I wanted to share.
While googling just, you know, stuff, I found this completely useless post. Sigh.
One of my very favorite things when I first started travelling to Texas was Ruth’s biscuits and gravy. I had never had anything like it. Being an umami girl, it changed breakfast for me forever.
Until I became vegetarian.
One of the things I missed most during that 11 year stint was that divine meal. And even though I’ve since re-incorporated cow and fish, the fact that I still don’t eat swine means I steer clear of traditional gravy. A couple of years ago I was introduced to Pine State Biscuits in Portland and more recently The Wandering Goose in Seattle, both of whom have vegetarian gravies. (Pine State wins, btw). But since Los Angeles has not yet figured out what they’re missing, I knew I had to figure out a scalable solution to my frequent craving.
Today I set out to master vegetarian gravy. I’m happy to say, I’ve found a really great recipe. I tried this one. I made a few substitutions, partly because I had to and partly ’cause that’s what I do. I substituted fresh mushrooms for dried, leak for shallot, heavy cream for light cream (what is light cream, anyway?), red wine for sherry, and tamari for soy sauce (which is technically kind of the same thing). It turned out delicious!
Now to master the biscuits…
I spent Friday and most of this weekend laid up in bed with a sore throat, phlegmy lungs, and a one-for-the-road migraine. I got loopy. So I drew this.