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.
I basically love making stuff. Especially for friends. This Christmas, Ryan and I decided to make Snickers bars and package them in customized-etched French mason jars. (Here’s an example of the ones that we made for our friends, Jeff and Sabrina.)
It’s safe to say the Snickers took a few tries. Thank god glass etching is easy. I’m the sort of person who, once I get it in my head that I’m making something, will not be deterred by say, trying to make caramel one billion five times. Eventually they turned out great though, so I thought I’d share the recipe, which I’ve customized from the original. I used organic ingredients where possible, and where not, the best possible GMO-laden counterparts.
Homemade (Hella Messy) Snickers Bars
Time: Seriously, probably six hours.
Serves: A bunch? 30?
First, grease a pan with butter. Make sure you do this adequately, otherwise the bars will be a mug to cut later. I have made these twice, and both times used different sized pans. Size, ahem, doesn’t matter. Second, make the:
Bottom chocolate layer:
1 bag milk chocolate chips
1/4 c. smooth peanut butter
Melt the chocolate chips and peanut butter in a medium saucepan over med-low heat. Make sure you don’t burn the chocolate. You might be inclined to use a double-broiler ’cause you’re fancy. There’ll be a point when the chocolate mixture is, like, 98% smooth and that’s when to pull it off the burner. If you keep it on longer, the chocolate will get little hard chunks in it and you’ll feel like a failure. So once the chocolate is melted, remove it from the heat, pour it into the greased dish, and let cool for about 30-45 minutes. Then you will make:
1/4 c. unsalted butter
1 c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. evaporated milk
1 1/2 c. marshmallow creme (I like this stuff)
1/4 c. smooth peanut butter
1 1/2 c. salted peanuts, roughly chopped
1 1/2 t. vanilla extract (Here’s how to make your own)
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add in the sugar and milk, dissolving and bringing to a boil. Let it cook for just under 5 minutes, stirring. (Avoid burning the milk.) Add in the fluff, peanut butter and vanilla, and stir ’til it’s smooth. I find that I have to turn down the heat a little when I add the marshmallow, etc., since I’ve made the mistake of overcooking the nougat. You’ll know it’s over-cooked because it’ll turn slightly grainy, but will still taste delicious. Remove it from the heat and stir in the peanuts. Pour over the chocolate, and let it cool for say, an hour. The next step will be to make the:
I’ve adapted this from The Perfect Scoop, which is a really awesome book if you ever want to make your own ice cream.
6 T. unsalted butter
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1 c. heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. fleur de sel (I use Malden’s)
Melt the butter in a heavy sauce pan over med-high heat, add the sugar and stir frequently until sugar is a golden brown. Remove the sugar mixture from the heat as soon as you see it start to smoke a little. (Note: It’s super easy to over-cook sugar. WATCH IT LIKE A HAWK.) Pour half of the heavy cream in slowly. Use caution and possibly a face guard, as the mixture will start to boil like an episode of Breaking Bad. Add the remaining cream, vanilla and salt, stirring constantly. In the event that you have little bits of toffee forming, just remove them. Place your caramel in the fridge and let it thicken up for about an hour or two. When it’s chilled, pour over the nougat. Lastly, you will make the second batch of:
*See above for instructions.
When everything is mixed and settled, place the Snickers in the fridge for at least an hour.
To serve, cut into individual pieces, place into little pieces of wax paper, and seal with cute craft-store painters tape. Your friends will (probably) love you.
When will people realize that gun proliferation is NOT working, and maybe, just maybe, we should try something else?
In the wake of the CT elementary school tragedy, there are, of course, arguments across FB and Twitter about gun rights. Pro-gun nuts suggest that if citizens had been armed at the elementary school, then maybe this tragedy wouldn’t have occurred. As a person who could qualify for a gun license, I have zero desire to ever carry a concealed weapon. As a person who goes to public places like malls (when I can’t avoid it), I also have zero confidence in common citizens to somehow thwart a gunman on the loose. Friendly fire is a thing. It happens. Even with the best intentions. And if we need an example of the havoc caused when citizens take the law into their own hands, look at Florida’s disastrous “Stand Your Ground” law.
We are not living in the eighteenth century anymore, and at some point our thinking and laws should reflect that.
“The next real literary ‘rebels’ in this country might well emerge as some weird bunch of anti-rebels, born oglers who dare somehow to back away from ironic watching, who have the childish gall actually to endorse and instantiate single-entendre principles. Who treat plain old untrendy human troubles and emotions in U.S. life with reverence and conviction. Who eschew self-consciousness and hip fatigue. These anti-rebels would be outdated, of course, before they even started. Dead on the page. Too sincere. Clearly repressed. Backward, quaint, naive, anachronistic. Maybe that’ll be the point. Maybe that’s why they’ll be the next real rebels. Real rebels, as far as I can see, risk disapproval. The old postmodern insurgents risked the gasp and squeal: shock, disgust, outrage, censorship, accusations of socialism, anarchism, nihilism. Today’s risks are different. The new rebels might be artists willing to risk the yawn, the rolled eyes, the cool smile, the nudged ribs, the parody of gifted ironists, the ‘Oh how banal.’ To risk accusations of sentimentality, melodrama. Of overcredulity. Of softness. Of willingness to be suckered by a world of lurkers and starers who fear gaze and ridicule above imprisonment without law. Who knows. ” – David Foster Wallace
**Thanks to my friend Sarah for passing this along.
Because I work in a largely left-brained job, I crave right-brained activities for balance. At the beginning of the year I started a side project called 5.things about you. It’s a pretty simple idea — random people post five things about themselves that they like or appreciate — yet the simplicity is inverse to the amount of joy I get from reading about people I don’t know.
I am not sure why. I know that I love seeing the diversity of lists (I’m funny, I make art of all kinds, I have the balls — er, ovaries — to do things that scare me) and cultures (Spain, London, Illinois, Equador). But mostly it’s the earnestness that touches my heart. It’s like watching someone dance as if no one is looking.