Sunday, December 4, 2011

Mercury Retro-egg

So, you know about Mercury Retrograde, right? A friend posted recently: Remember, Mercury Retrograde = MIScomminictaing, MISplacing, MISunderstanding. Which gives way to REjuvenating, REplacing, REinventing, REdoing.

A lovely time when shit happens, and then happens some more, and seems to be happening to almost everyone you know, in some capacity.

Marital problems seem to be at the height for many couples during this time, and that is typically the case with us, too. This time around was markedly different: we did get into a big, blow-out, someone-takes-some-serious-space argument, BUT we wrapped it up so quick with so little damage, and dealt with it in a really health, productive way. Like that quote: replacing our old ways, reinventing our relationship. So, yay us.

Here's what I learned tonight, if Mercury can't get you one way, it'll get you another. Example: tonight was date night. It was going great; we'd finished dinner at Por Que No, had shots of espresso at Common Ground, and had just exited Powell's on Hawthorne. My outfit was pretty hot, tight skinny denim and my amazing Fluevog pumps (how many times have I mentioned those on the blog???) with black leather jacket and freshly dyed red hair pulled back tight. I was just about to step into the car to head to the Peter Murphy show...and I heard loud squishy popping sound and simultaneously felt an impact on the left side of my head. It only took me a split second to realize, I been hit by an egg.

I've never been victim to senseless teenage pranks, which I gather the case to be. A fucking egg drive-by? Which, by the way, was not only humiliating but Owwwwwwwwwww. So how did I react? I wanted to cry but I didn't at first. I just asked Blake for towels and started to clean the ooze out of my hair. I just thought calmly while I did so, and paid attention to what what coming up for me.

Luckily, my humor, although completely internal, was intact. Just seconds after I'd realized the clear goo dripping down my head was in fact an egg, I saw the yolk color and it was yellow. "Huh. Clearly not from a free-range, foraging chicken or the yolk would be orange. That was sooooo un-Portland of them." (There is Portlandia sketch in there somewhere.)

I knew right away that it wasn't personal. People are, at times, douches...and young people, bless 'em, can be super-duper douches. For a moment I thought, here I am on a date with my honey, a mother of three children who challenge and fight me nearly everyday, and I have this moment where I get to rejuvenate, and reclaim and reward myself, and in an instant feel psychically knocked down by a prank. I passed through that, knowing that pranks by strangers are not personal. That was about them, not me. When I admitted all that, I did let myself cry a little, and that passed, too.

Blake stood by and handed me towels, and I felt him follow my lead. I knew what he wanted to do, hunt down that car and beat the shit out of the punk that beaned his wife. Instead he verbalized his own wave of processing: "I am feeling angry right now and I'd like to go punch someone in the face." And then "I am feeling really violated right now." Which was something I felt, too, but I hadn't been able to identify it.

I asked him to bring me to Nomad so I could wash my hair out in the sink, as there were bits of eggshell stuck to me as well. I couldn't bear to go back into Powell's or use the New Seasons bathroom, I just needed a quiet place to gather again. A shame too because my hair was in the perfect bun, and I had to re-do it, and it didn't come out the same.

When I was all cleaned up, we headed to the show. My mood was more reserved than normal, but that went over just fine given we were at a goth show. So, there was that. Another bright side was that no egg got on my pumps. But best of all was that, I rode it and I didn't let it ride me. So take that Mercury Retro-egg, see you next time around.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


last time i did nablopomo, i think i spaced on the very last day. i am so glad i decided to go for it this year, albeit the second day, and see it through. i knew i wouldn't let myself down though. mostly i wanted to see if i could still get into the writing groove and write some pieces that i felt good about: make someone laugh, touch someone's heart, push myself sometimes, be lazy other times...(this may be my boring-est yet...i refuse to even capitalize!) BLAH BLAH BLAH i did it! thank you for reading it, readers!!! daily writing is not in my future but strengthening my writing and my identity as a "writer" is. i am excited for that, so stay tuned and i won't let YOU down.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


I doubt I'll end this month with a bang. That's okay by me. Here is all
I have for you today.

Two things stuck out at me today that I put in the category of "things that my
kids said that were hilarious at the time."

First George, came me very grumpily while I was tidying and said with furrowed brow, "Ugh! You made my bed all lovely. I hate it lovely. I like it crappy."

Then tonight pulled a book off of the bookshelf called King Ink by Nick Cave. She said "Nick Cave?? Like Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds?" I said "Yeah, but..." and I was going to say don't read it, but she already opened it. Her eyes got wide, she'd just glanced at one page, and proclaimed "It says 'fuckers' here!! I am reading the word 'fuckers' right now!' I said "I know, that's why I told you not to read it!" and grabbed it back. She excitedly ran off to tell Papa.

Monday, November 28, 2011


We named him Depeche when brought him home, but soon discovered why his shelter name was Romeo...this cat loves to hump.

Right away, I needed to be reassured by the vet that he really was fixed, to which they replied, "Absolutely. Spritz some rescue remedy around him for a few days and he'll calm down in time." But he never did and adopted the permanent name of Humper. It wasn't so much a problem, and the children are well trained to shove him away if he comes a-humpin' in the night.

Three years had gone by when we brought home Glinda, a confident, affectionate, and feminine she-kitty. It took six-weeks for them to be able to co-habitate, but I kept assuring Humper that he would like having her around, and it finally clicked. Pretty soon we'd walk into a room and see them getting busy, Humper in position and on a mission, Glinda looking up with bedroom eyes.

These lovers are a daily fixture, and we know now what is about to transpire when they start to nuzzle and kiss each others faces...but only when it's convenient do we give them any privacy. Sweet kitty lovin'!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Simple Sundays: Collective

She is one of us now...owner of her first Apple iPod Touch, paid for by herself at the age of nine...welcome to The Collective, child.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


I found myself with just George on yesterday's crisp late-November afternoon, with nothing pressing to do. We grabbed a stroller and snacks and walked 9 blocks to a park on the foot of Mount Tabor. I was so delighted when I first saw this playground--the older 70's metal play equipment and each feature--swings, slide, tetter totters, and merry-go-round--are all spaced out over a lovely slope canopied by large trees with golden leaves. The grass is completely covered with a crunchy leafy carpet. I was surprised to see the merry-go-round at all, as they have been removed from every other public park; I think the city might have forgotten about this one.

George was all abuzz and quickly met another little girl just younger than him, named Amia. She started off as the chatty one, but George quickly out chatted her into silence and awe. The adults stood around and exchanged pleasant conversations ourselves, and giggled and smiled at the toddler entertainment. It was a really nice time.

Toward the end, another group had joined us, a new walker who braved the spinning wonder with her mother. George decided to get off and help push, but somehow he tripped and since I wasn't looking, I am not sure exactly what happened, if his foot or shoulder got caught under for a moment. We all glanced over and paused to see if he was okay, and at first he did pop back up and brush off. For a moment, he seemed fine. Just as I was turning back to my conversation, I saw a look pass over his face. His bottom lip came out, his skin whitened, and he began to frantically push his way around the other children toward me. We could all see a great turmoil about to spill over and I knelt down to receive him. When he secured his little arms and legs around me and buried his head in my neck, he let out a deep cry of anguish followed by a gravelly scream, and then melted into sobs. The depth of his emotion took me by surprise and I choked up myself, to be heart to heart with him during this intense release, that seemed unlike his usual reaction. I got the sense that he was not physically hurt, but that he had almost been badly injured and it had rattled him to the core, took him by surprise and also embarrassed him by so swiftly taking away his "leader of the babies" good time he was having.

When he finally spoke, it was a heaving, "Don't let them look at me." I walked him over to a tree in the distance, and he said, "I wish I could climb up in that tree where no one could see me," and I soothed and listened to him. In a minute, his little friend came over to say goodbye and wish him well soon. It was a darling gesture, but he was still too angry to receive, so I thanked her for him and told her I hoped we'd see her again. George eventually recovered, and was soon running down the leafy hill with delight.

While this sounds like a typical play-ground interaction, and there is truth to that, I'll share why it was so profound for me. Over the last year, my little boy has been very explosive, which has never been his typical temperament. Something has seemed troubled in his soul. I know that much of it has to do with my own anger and explosiveness. I have for years been preoccupied with my own pain and dysfunction in my marriage. Then there is the trickle down effect: if Mayan has a problem that she can't process (and she is approaching her adolescence rapidly) she will take it out on Isadore, who will take it out on George....who then will kick the cat. There has been so much upheaval in our lives and while it affects us all, it's the littlest ones that have the hardest time telling us what they are going through. I am finally to a place where my marriage is a source of strength, and feel like I can give the children the focus they deserve and assist in their healing process. Since our ritual the other evening, where we let go of something from the past that didn't serve us (mine centered around my anger) and made space to bring in something more constructive (relating to patience,) I have felt more connected to George, and able to hear him more clearly and offer him what he needs to feel accepted. The reason I was so stunned by the playground scene was that a few months ago, George would have immediately reacted with violence. But instead he knew that from across that platform, I was waiting there to catch him, to hold his feelings, and to be his safe place. I have to honor and maintain that, as being that soft place to fall, I think is the ultimate goal of a mother. I have failed at that time and time again, but I am rebuilding, and the proof was in that moment. Thank you for letting me receive you in your moment of need, and for your redemption. I love you, Georgie Boy!

Friday, November 25, 2011


Day 25 and I just discovered the Blogger app. It's a blessing I suppose to find it late in the game, because the convenience will probably produce shorter, more half-assed this one! (I'll make up for it tomorrow, I promise.)

Your lazy, leftover-stuffed author

Thursday, November 24, 2011


I was pondering in the shower today, a spectacular place to ponder, because of the peace and quiet and hot water cleansing action. I was thinking about how good it feels to inspire people and I wondered how it is that one gets to a place of inspiration. To go from a divorce lawyers office to a new level of healing and connection, has such a profound change for me that I am I am humbled and dazed by it every interaction, every conversation, I see the difference. Cue Depeche Mode's Higher Love. This transformation has affected my husband and I in the most immediate layer, then ripples out to our children, and our family and our friends and hopefully continues on. But what make it possible cannot just be one's (or in our case TWO people's) own determination. What my ponderment centered on was the other factor in our success: the support people in our lives. Loving, positive, supportive people were essential, and will continue to be essential forever, in my life, in your conquer whatever comes. "No one does it alone" is not bullshit.

When I look back over my 20's I see that outside of my marital and motherhood work, my most significant progress was fostering the RIGHT kind of relationships. Weeding out the friendships that did me no good, and seeking out and nurturing the one's that challenged me in positive ways and brought me up. Seeking therapy when I needed it was one part of that, and something my family taught me was a normal and healthy thing to do. I have been lucky enough to have a handful of amazing therapists cradle and guide me during my toughest years. I have come to know that friendships are about quality and not quantity, and that in each of my most defined stages of life I have two close friends to confide and celebrate with on a regular basis, and stemming from that a community of women to share with and support when needed or wanted. Finally, identifying and honoring the members of your family who bring you up and not down. This is the most difficult to manage as it seems we all have people in our family who not only caused wounds but tend to poke at them at every turn. Developing boundaries with toxic family members is undoubtedly challenging, and while those people are blood and can assist us in our growth, it's often from the right distance. Truly lucky we are when we have family members who love us, guide us, and support us in ways that only family can. It's a fucking blessing to the core.

So I was envisioning, one by one the people that assisted me and Blake in exceeding our hurdles, in the most critical and painful period of our marriage yet, and having such gratitude for their influence. I was also, admittedly, commending myself for choosing to turn toward the right people. When you are at your most vulnerable, unstable, and defiant state it is very easy to turn toward others that are in the same boat, but sometimes that digs you deeper. It can be scary to turn toward those that know your heart, know your capabilities and weaknesses, your history and patterns...they may say everything you want them to say and they may say everything you don't want to hear. Oddly, it may be both at the same time. The fact is they are, if you let them, helping you get to where you need to go to grow. And if you fumble and fuck up, and start all over from the beginning, they won't judge you for a moment because true family and true friendships don't work like that.

That is the kind of family member and friend I strive to be, and the only way I can be it, is because I've been shown it, time and again. Nothing is more powerful than example. My most desperate advice to anyone who is losing their shit over this thing we call life it is to seek out the RIGHT kind of support, the right kind of friends, the right kind of therapy, the right kind of family. Even if your heart is broken, your gut knows where to go. Fucking listen to it.

This is where I do my shout-outs. No particular order.

George and Gigi, Toby and Patricia, and Payson and Kamla--the married elders in our lives that clearly love us as is, never criticize, and know what it means to stay married.

Breana and Savannah. My ladies who offered endless wisdom, text messaging, hugs, drinks, and couches...friends who I am so assured of their love for me that there was no question to where to turn.

Allison and family. Fucking offered me their home. My foster care who showed me what a traditional-modern marriage looks like in real life, what deep love and commitment is possible even with such different personalities. Never once shoved it down my throat. I was seen so starkly it freaked me out, but my gut knew how safe I was. The gratefulness pours out of me in tears now.

The amazing Anusuya, the counselor/therapist/shaman, who's wisdom runs so deep and knowledge seems to run parallel with every challenge we bring onto the couch. And even if the work we did was our own, we would NOT be together without Anu, period.

Halle also saw me through, with talks that fueled me, gave me clarity, and kept me from crying alone. Her understanding of our history turned my venting in to constructive insights, and her home became a welcome haven when I felt most displaced.

My sister, Naomi. Always her. Sisters get you like no one EVER can.

These are just some of the ones that Raise Me Up. Looking back upon my history with all of these people, I see how they are hidden gifts. I had to love myself enough to see their value, and welcome them in to my life, and hear what they had to say, and also I had to recognize that I was worthy of their love. It feels so incredible to be held in the arms of unconditional support, and now that my life is settling I want to know that I can raise up my arms and carry others along: my children, my extended family, my precious friends, my community members in a way that promotes growth and gratitude. Even better, is that as a team Blake and I can do this side-by-side.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Tonight, I got married again. To the same man who I've been married to for exactly ten years to the day. 11-23. It was tiny and perfect and packed with meaning. In the heart of our new living room, our girls sat with purple chrysanthemums--mini-bouquet versions of my own--and watched as their mama and papa exchanged words of renewal and made-over wedding rings, while one other single person witnessed and facilitated: our amazing therapist. Other than the flowers, I spent no money on the decor: two of the paper stars from our original wedding hung above the fireplace, and candles were scattered throughout. Blake wore his black and gold guayabera shirt from 11-23-01. The bride wore her favorite white lacy Forever 21 dress ($20 and still kicking) and those infamous Jon Fluevog pumps.

Blake read from his iPhone, which was adorable since he's been the last person to give into technology--he has finally graduated from post-it notes. My notes were scrawled on the back of my thanksgiving grocery list, much like my original vows were. (I swear, I grew in different ways!) Our rings were refurbished with ten diamonds added around each band to symbolize every year of wedded bliss (and non-bliss.) Mayan shared an inspired piece of writing, about the world as a window and sometimes the window has cracks and bird poop on it, so you have to periodically clean it (ie keep the love flowing)...all HER words; fantastic. Anusuya read a piece from a book that had called her name from the bookshelf that afternoon, with an entry for every day of the year. When she looked up November 23rd, it was a story about two friends, one daring and one rooted in the truth and past. They helped each other grow, but at one point the daring one wanted to go out further and explore beyond what the other one could handle, so they parted and it was very sad, but over many lifetimes they eventually found their way back to each other.

I'm so grateful that it didn't take us lifetimes to find one another again. What we've accomplished, especially in the past year, has astonished me, given me the belief in the ability to awaken, rebuild, and heal. After our little ceremony, Anu led us in a ritual re-potting of a plant, that asked us all let go of something we were ready to put in the past (we wrote these on paper and buried them in the soil to decompose) and made space, psychically, to bring in something new, which we all shared with each other so we could be accountable to one another.

We celebrated with bubbly and Mexican wedding cookies, shared our wedding album from 2001, and the girls performed a dance piece. (George slept the entire time and it was best that way.) We created a moment that had everything it needed and nothing we didn't, and meant the world to our family."

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


My neighbors name is Phuk.


Welcome to the neighborhood. (I love it here.)

Monday, November 21, 2011


For a boring number like 31, I had a pretty great birthday. At least, after a rough start....and middle. I enjoyed the classic breakfast in bed, even if someone who I will not identify was being grumpy (but not at me.) We attended temple and showed the house, which was business as usual. At one point, I sweated and struggled for 30 minutes with a child who was stuck in a pair of my rain boots--she had her sneakers on when she stepped into them. The boots were destroyed as was my patience.

I did have some pleasant moments with the kids sprinkled here and there, but all in all they are a fighting, miserable bunch lately, for reasons that don't fit into a birthday blog. I love them dearly, but taking the evening away with my husband was the saving grace. Dates with him are the best, and this one had no time limit, so it was a mini-vacation of multiple pleasures.

I decided last minute to stop by Target before heading downtown, to get a dress that I'd seen earlier that day. Sometimes a piece of clothing mind-worms me and I have to go back. Funny thing is that it came in many colors and it was the one color I hadn't considered that creeped in (a hot magenta.) Sometimes the hottest outfit is the one that cost $25 on top and $300 below: I paired it with my amazing Jon Fluevog "pebble" pumps.

We went directly to Anthropologie once we got downtown, and Blake knows the routine. He held my tea while I piled high my potential choices, then settled into the overly-beautiful dressing room lobby with the other husbands and boyfriends, for the try-on showings. Two cotton tops and a navy wool sweater pencil skirt made the cut.

We had just enough time to check in to our hotel, run upstairs to iron and scotch-guard my dress, and squeeze into my nylons, dress and heels. Make-up happened on the drive to the restaurant, where we just made our reservation, good thing too because we got a romantic private table by the windows. We've eaten at Higgins a few times before but only in the bistro which is a more relaxed, lounge-type atmosphere. The food is so fresh and creative and compliment-inducing. Its one our favorite things to do, share dishes and talk about the flavors and textures together. This night was extra-special since we know a chef in the kitchen and also a server, so in between our orders came little tasty off-the-menu delights. The pork belly over fluffy potatoes and gruyere and topped with caramel corn, and the pumpkin hummus with picked vegetables a crispy thin toast were stand out. By the time our scallops and duck entrees came, we were laughing at the ridiculousness of the volume and decadence. Regardless, I still convinced Blake to head over the the warmer bar, to share a light dessert (coffee cheesecake with spun sugar and caramel sauce...complete with birthday candle) and espresso, which ended up also on the house. Such happy grinning fools we exited as.

Then we had a first: we went to a landmark club together, to see some beautiful women dance nude in a mellow setting. My first time to a strip club was only maybe 6 months ago. Blake hasn't been to one in over ten years. He's a very "eyes for you only" type of partner, and I have never been attracted to women sexually in the past. But after my first time there, I got it. The dancers are impressive on so many levels-- I appreciate their confidence, I love the diversity of bodies and energy, and its impossible to not find that sexy. We had so much fun, sipping our drinks and laying our cash down while smiling and flirting and chatting with each other, amidst the soft, fleshy, sexy entertainment. Plus the music is so well chosen, not obnoxious at all; in fact, one girls danced to a National song which blew us away since its one of our "love song" bands. We left with even bigger grins than Higgins.

Yup, that's all you get. Our comfy hotel awaited us, and I don't get to say what we did or when we went to bed. So yada, yada, yada, I was really tired this morning. (Seinfeld)

Bless his husbandly heart, in the morning, Blake brought me a onion biali with lox and an espresso in bed, and went home so Grandma, who watched the kids overnight, could get to work. I stayed in bed for a few hours, shoeing away housekeeping until the retail stores opened at 10am. I put on my heels with jeans and red lips and my green waterproof linen raincoat I got in NYC and I hit downtown for a final shopping excursion, before hopping on the Max and riding home.

Last year would have been impossible to top--flying down to L.A. with my best friends to meet up with my sister to attend a Price is Right taping. But this year was as perfect as you can get, and if every year's birthday could be like last night, I would please like to live to be 100.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Simple Sundays: Depeche

Can you believe no one bought this at the estate sale?????

Saturday, November 19, 2011


the old house is a beast. four and a half hours today, my mom and i both, cleaning it to get it ready for a showing on sunday morning. and its not even close to being clean, its just barely show-able. its not just the sheer size, but also the oldness, of crusty gout and carpets with deep edge cracks that accumulate the potpourri of pine needles, pen caps, bobby pins, and the like. stickers on pergo are a pain the ass. and oh, the finger smears and rebel crayon art. groooooosssss. my magic eraser disintegrated before i even left the first room. i work top to bottom...spent the first 45 minutes dusting the cobwebs from the corners, and using my 20-foot dusting pole to get them from the glass panes and beams at the tip of the a-frame. not the best thing for my neck, but necessary. then i shined up the bathroom surfaces, wiped down the walls, swept, vacuumed and did some hand mopping where it was absolutely needed. still looks like a shit hole. my amazing mom tackled the kitchen, cleaning the whole fridge to perfection and washed the windows. the kids alternated between playing and fighting. i alternated between yelling and ignoring. but it's over and now my husband is rewarding us with sushi. so maybe i won't burn the energy-sucking house to the ground after all. fingers crossed the couple viewing it are crazy enough to want it!

Friday, November 18, 2011


I can't tell you how many times in the last week I have cried. Blame it on hormones, it's my best guess. When we visited the new school will Mayan be attending, I was a wreck. She's had such a hard time where she's at--her first expereince with public school, and within just a few months it's dimmed her lights and dampened her spirits, she's been categorized as the freak and the bad kid. Standing in the lobby, clients and friends streamed by us, warm and welcoming, dancing eyes asking "are you guys in??" It was too much for me to hold back and I lost it. Clearly, that was a good reason to get misty, but it doesn't stop there.

I cried while I watched on tv the Occupy March, not a movement I have been particularly close too, but passionate groups of people together always get me. (Take note in case you ever invite me to a parade.) I had to turn it off when a scuffle between the police and some protesters broke out. I was so worked up I ended up taking a Valium. I also cried while watching Robyn videos, then choked up twice later thinking about those videos. That's also not a surprise, I am often moved by pop music. Also, I fought tears two more times just telling the story about visiting Mayan's school. I cried over the fact that my neck is still fucked up and I'm worried it will affect my running and cleaning schedule. I bawled over a friend's blog post.

While all this is within my normal relm of tear jerker territory, I'll confess the three things that made me cry today: first someone took some papers from me in a brisk fashion. Then the gas attendant couldn't take my cash and I had to unclick George and go all the way inside to pay. Finally, I spilled over about the complete relaxedness of George's lips when he fell asleep in the car. Granted, there were Robyn songs playing during each of these instances, so maybe I was already on the edge.

Oh, wait! Thought I was done...but no. Just pulled away from the school, for Mayan's final day and she rolled her window down to say goodbye to her math teacher. He's a friendly, rosy-cheeked fellow and called out "Bye! Good luck at your new school!" I gripped my steering wheel, and turned away as quick as I could but it was too late, there was serious welling happening....I really hope this passes before thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


In Blake and I's previous years of shitty communication, cell phones were a source of huge stress for us. We'd developed this unhealthy assumption that we should in theory always be able to get in touch with other and we began getting spoiled with this convenient technology. Reality meant a lot of missed calls, oops-my-ringer-was-off, shit-my-phone-died, why-can't-you-pick-up-I-need-to-ask-you-this-question-NOW....and then, from the bill-payer, the "forget these stupid things, I'm canceling them tomorrow" threats. Those moments were the worst, and I felt really powerless. It was an example of a larger problem: our co-dependent relationship dynamic.

A few years ago, in order to grasp at some independence, I decided to begin cleaning houses once or twice a week for pocket money to buy the one little device my heart desired: an iPhone. While Blake focused on the negative aspects of the personal technology invasion, I merely accepted them as some annoying side-effects to a much larger picture of awesomeness. From what I 'd seen of the iPhone, it rocketed well past the average cell phone, and would become a life-managing tool. I had iPhone fever bad! Blake wanted nothing to do with it--he was still using the pay-as-you-go 7-11 phone. So worth it to me it was, that in order to make it happen for myself, I decided to face my fear of working outside the home and market myself as a non-toxic house-keeper. A steady roll of clients fell into my lap, the pay was great, the hours flexible, the people very cool, and besides having cash and iPhone in my pocket now, I also felt really good about helping other families have happy homes and I loved feeling appreciated. A win-win.

As my cleaning days are winding down for the next phase, I am grateful for what I've gained: besides the phone, the ability to get my first credit card and keep it payed down, building a name for myself, the feeling of a job-well-done, and saving up for a few memorable trips that I paid for all on my own top the list.

As part of the Change, I don't feel under appreciated at home at all (by Blake at least, the kids could use some work:), I am in a home now that I find less-isolating and more manageable so I'm not itching for freedom the way I was in the past. Blake and I have worked very hard on using things like cell phones and text messaging as a supplement to our (new and improved!) healthier in-person communication; it is no longer a symbol of our out-of-sync-ness. I'm thrilled to report that Blake has given in to the "dark side" and has his own iPhone now. Praise, Jeebus!

Our phones are in a better relationship, too--a constant stream of loving banter, picture heavy flirting, details going back and forth to manage our life together, documenting our adventures from our own perspectives. Other than all of these obvious communication uses, I love the little things that our phones allow us to do to help keep us connected, and me more organized. I've put a few examples below, many of them involve shopping decisions.

At Old Navy, text to to Blake, to show MG: "Ask MG which one"

For myself, pic taken from a magazine while waiting for a pizza of a cocktail recipe

One of many Ikea pics, to document the items we want to buy for the new house, providing me with the item to show B, the price and dimensions

I always have problems with these people and payments so I took a screen shot, just in case.

From Target, text to Blake: "what do you think of Geo in this? It's fleece..only $7, can u pay me back?"

From Lounge Lizard, text to Blake: "This one is only $200!"

From Nordstroms with MG, text to Blake: "She wants these. They have zippers inside."

From a taco truck, menu for future reference

From the Rack, texting slipper options to Blake

Tell me, do you have these on your phone too?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


I have amazing women in my life. I've said before that one of the most important aspects of my 20s was sorting out my friendships: figuring out who was inspiring and beneficial in my life (and fostering that) and who was bring me down (and phasing that out.) This practice has changed my I have the smartest, funniest, most creative and special women who know me, support me, and love me! This is accentuated around my birthday, especially last year when I turned 30 and invited my closest comerades to LA to fulfill a long-time dream of attending a Price is Right taping. I flew down with my best ladies--one I've known since grade school, and two others who I both met when I moved to Portland (they were already friends with each other) , and met up with my sister who lives in Santa Monica. Memories were made! As a team of travelers, we worked together seamlessly, and everyone had their own strengths and contributions. Delicious meals, shopping and an epic show taping experience... so fucking fun. Tonight my local ladies (everyone but my sister) met me for a birthday dinner one year exactly after our Price is Right adventure. Gratitude bursts forth whenever I see them. Loveliness, listening, all just clicks. Being a part of it means piles to me. Sharing a meal with these beauties...its best gift ever.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I'm tired and grumpy and don't want to blog. I wish I had time to write during the day instead of the evening coming and me wanting to settle in, then remembering I have to write. I have many ideas just none that are quick and easy to whip out last minute. So this is what you get.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Maybe I've told you this, but the Hung Far Low lounge, a few blocks from our new house was going to be my new hangout. WAS. I just had a drink there and I'm relieved my female companion and I made it out unscathed. The bartender was drunk and periodically disappeared into the back parking lot. The partons were too drunk to stand, except for those that were leaned again their video poker machines, oblivious to anything but their dwindling cash. A large dark man of shady character stared at us for a period, struck the table repeatedly to try and get our attention, then got up to approach us, at the last moment breaking into a lonely solo dance and then bailed out the back door to our utter relief. Huge wafts of weed periodically passed by. Maybe I can find a bar within walking distance in the other direction, away from 82nd street. Damn! I was really hoping to say often "Meet me at the Hung Far Low!" but unfortunately its far too low for me to hang:)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Simple Sunday: Spoonful

Is there really a better way to eat a spoonful of almond butter...?

Complete relaxation, deep inside the "I'm a baby" mode, the northwest November sun shining on your face through the kitchen window, in your new favorite hand-me-down sparkly sneakers, on the $20 estate sale granny couch....toddler perfection. XOXO

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Estate sales are weird. For the most part it was a success. Some thoughts before I retire to my deserved wine and and episode of Lost:

*I could have never pulled it off without the help of my mom and dad.

*Always have a backup for hanging the signs in case your brand new out of the package staple gun is a piece of shit.

*If you have your own children therr be prepared to have them want to reclaim various items even from the hands of customers. (A friend to swoop them away is invaluable!)

*Some of the things you had the hardest time letting go of don't even sell.

*If you don't tape them shut people will literally riffle through your cupboards.

*I click with funny, chatty older men. Almost awkwardly so.

*When it's all said and done there is still a ton of leftovers.

*Pizza is a great way to celebrate when it's all over.

*In this case, the envelope full of cash was totally worth it. But I wouldn't want to do it again anytime soon.

And, yes, I am one of those responsible people who took my signs down at the end of the day....

Friday, November 11, 2011


When I decided to keep at the marriage, one thing I knew after stepping away from our household was that I did NOT want to move back into our house. It is an amazing house to be sure--completely unique mid-century A-frame with exposed beams and a glass roof, on a half acre on a peaceful mountainside. Seriously stunning. I would never consider selling the house; I'd be very happy being buried in the backyard when it comes down too it, but a change of venue was needed. Three kids plus a husband with a long, rich family history times a 3000 plus square foot home equals TOO MUCH STUFF. Suddenly, I realized how much just keeping the house tidy, let alone clean, had been sucking the dear life out of me. When I was visiting one evening for dinner, and Blake was cleaning up after a meal he had cooked (all new and great things), I had to laugh and confess, "I feel sorry for the sucker who has to maintain this house!" We had a good chuckle. In just one moment I was struck: I wanted to move--as a family. Closer-in, and with half of our belongings, tidied in plastic bins. We were all going to have to let go of the material if we were going to focus on what really mattered: our relationships with each other.

As we sorted through the house room by room, drawer by drawer, cabinet by cabinet, and box by box we sorted things into must take, garbage, and garage sale. The guest room, a mostly empty space downstairs, became the go-to spot for any thing to be sold at a later date. "Take this to the Garage Sale room!" I'd declare and hand the kids a box. By the time we, and the belongings that made the cut, moved to our new house, the room was packed to the door jam. And there were still some closets to be sorted...and a garage half full of more sacrificial items. I set the date for our sale and my dear parents joined me the day before to spread the items out for labeling. That's pretty much when I had the panic attack. There was NO WAY, even with help I could pull it off. I conceded and called it off, postponing until the following Saturday. That first day, we had the kitchen items sorted, and my mom convinced me to use the kitchen counter for the display. "Then everyone will be milling about the house...." I complained. "Yeah..." she said. "But its empty. And it will be out of the rain." My mommy is smart.

Almost everyday this past week, I have been at the old house to tackle some task that brings me closer to being Ready for the Sale. The random furniture has been moved to the living room. The books, DVDs, and CDs all placed on shelves. Bathroom and household items on tables, garage items on the tool bench, an office supply area with wipe boards and unused photo albums and paper organizers on a massive antique desk, a toy area spanning half the dining room...and the clothes, OH MY GODS the clothes are in massive mounds only able to be sorted by gender and "kid or non-kid." My best guess on how many hours of prep-time in the last two weeks....15 hours. What consumer beasts we are! It's liberating and humbling and downright ridiculous to see how much stuff we were holding onto that we didn't need or even WANT, but there it was--a clusterfuck of junk insulating our home for what? For no good reason. Our simple garage sale is now a mid-life modern family estate sale. Wanna come? Bring cash.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


A dynamic shift has occurred in my life over the past year. In more than one way I have pressed the proverbial reset button resulting in Change--some ways small and subtle, and other mind-bogglingly impactful. Depending on your proximity to my life, these changes may not be obvious. My husband and I have felt it the deepest, and it has trickled down from there, to our children, to our extended family, friends, and so on. Last spring, I moved out for a period of two months. Deciding that our problems were unmountable, our relationship doomed to an unhealthy existance if we remained together, I left in a desperate effort to save my emotional well-being. In order to regain my most whole self, I needed to break free and and break it all down. It was an enormous leap and scary as hell. In the short-term, I felt that I was risking my relationship with my children, basically stomping all over my ideals, and writing a chapter I never in a million bajillion years would have thought I'd have the guts to write. I had to remove myself from the life I've built in order to gain clarity. This meant leaving our huge, difficult-to-operate home, and three home-schooled children in the primary care of my husband, who also works full-time. I had to trust that he would figure it out, that the kids would not hate me forever, and that what I was doing was essential to my development in the end. Holyfuckingshit, it was terrifying.

But even as I ventured out into this darkness, I was surprised by the guiding light I found. At the risk of sounding syrupy, my heart knew what was right. I found so much strength in knowing that in the long-term, it would get better, because I was was doing the work I needed to do to be happy and that would ultimately be better for my children. The results stunned me. My story can be visited in a number of ways, and many facets of the diamond it unearthed can be peered into. So I have to start simple, and I will start here, with the blog.

I could not, after this personal pilgrimage, go back to my old blog, Milk and Ink. After four years, it holds the dearest memories and deepest writings about my life as being Mama Nomad, the gardening, home-cooking and home-schooling, domestic queen of the outer southeast, and was very successful for me in a more than one way. It was my main outlet for creative writing, and connecting with other moms who led a similar life-style. It was an online scrapbook, our family's most comical, beautiful, and memorable moments for our relatives and community and complete strangers to share. Milk and Ink inspired me, got me excited, and did the same for others. While it could have certainly survived my transition, starting fresh feels better. I'm telling you, pressing the reset button has been my mantra.

I assure you, if you aren't hip to it already, I am still Mama Nomad. My ideals may have swung, waivered, been polished or been ditched altogether. In time, I'll lay it all out here, what other buttons I have pressed to create a life that keeps up with the modern me--the me with ten years of marriage and family life under my distressed leather Anthropologie-inspired belt.

The "milk" of Milk and Ink has always symbolized, in general, motherhood but more specifically my child-bearing and baby-rearing days. Another reassurance: three is a good number for me, and I will not be nursing anymore babes. I got my two girls, my boy (weaned well over a year ago) and my desired home birth--I'm all set. The "ink" has stood for two distinct things--our affiliation to the body modification industry, and my writing. My poor, neglected is a practice that regardless of being pushed and encouraged by every English teacher I've ever had from elementary school to college, I have mostly ignored. So it's with this newborn blog that I press another reset button, and navigate Beyond the Milk.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


the juices, they are not flowing yet. i'm rustier than i imagined i would be. writing is so much more enjoyable when you are pulled to write, when words have already been strung together in your head and you hurry to the paper and ink. nothing i've written so far seems particularly brilliant, moving, or funny. i know i can be all of these things. but i can be patient, i can be dedicated. i will get it back, in some way or another, and for now this daily bumble is as good as anything.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


mom's night
ladies in real life
b0urbon and brisket
flushed face
hot with laughter
grateful for ride home
cool down with mirror pond
and something salty
this is essential

Monday, November 7, 2011


I finally found my shade of red. People have asked me if I'm a natural redhead and it's really hard to explain: I'm kind of a red head. My stylist said she's never seen anything like it, but while most people's hair grows in darker then lightens at the tips, mine grown in a mousy light brown, and then turns dark auburn. My German morphs to my Irish, I guess. I have dabbled in shades of red all along the way since my teens. I have green eyes and fair skin, so while I can pull off the faux Irish tresses, it is a sensitive color--fades quickly and cannot be "dyed" over, as red pigments are the tiniest pigment will always shine through anything you try to mask it with. Also, I can be coppery and only truly natural red heads can wear that shade that spurred Gilbert of Green Gables to call Anne Shirley "Carrots." Anne desired that rich red-red shade, a lovely auburn. Being a bottle red is a risk and a commitment.

Rocking the dark burgundy in 1999

If you are going to use any hair dye, especially for an extended length of time, the gentler the better (ie: semi-permanent.) When I go all-the-way red, Cinnaberry by Natural Instincts has given decent results and is one of the least chemically offensive dyes. (Although in the 90's, that never-found-in-nature dark burgundy shade was popular--see senior pictures for example.) I have let my natural two-tone shade shine for a few years, but recently I've found that dark auburn calling my name again, and have been on the hunt for the perfect box of dye. After a brief mishap involving a promising shade in a "creme" base to be applied to dry hair, I went back to Cinnaberry but was not satisfied. My stylist suggested I branch out and look at permanent colors as well, but to apply it to damp hair, creating a more semi-permanence.

Kiss me, I'm Irish

I found it: Feria's Auburn Brown. More even, richer, less-coppery but not borderline purple-burgundy ala 1998. Most importantly, it's sexy and looks hot when I'm drinking Guinness and slinging cabbage and potatoes.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Simple Sunday: Crash

*While I want to keep the focus of my blog as a writing practice, I need to have a day of the week off where I don't have to commit a lot of time on a post. Since Sunday is our family day, and our time is precious, I just made up Simple Sundays. At least, I believe I made it up, maybe someone else pulled this genius gem of an idea of our their tushies, as well. Either way, here I bring you a weekly slice of family, with minimal wordage.

This first one goes out to my darling sister, an ER nurse in Santa Monica, CA. Love you , Auntie NaNa! The kids are totally distracted by Spongebob in this video....

Saturday, November 5, 2011


Video stores are not dead, although you may believe otherwise. Chain stores like Blockbuster and Hollywood may be blackening their windows daily, and Netflix may be keeping a steady flow of DVD's in your mailbox, and Redbox is there for those quick fixes. Streaming movies from your computer is a mainstay. But there is a place where, like what you remember from previous decades, dizzying rows of white metal racks filled with videos are there to browse.

Leave it to a town like Portland to keep the old school movie dream alive. Movie Madness on Belmont is not only a video store (and yes, they have actually VIDEO cassette tapes as well as DVDs and Blu-Ray) but a museum with costumes and props collected by the store's owner, Mike Clarke. They specialize in hard to find, which is how I came to find them, after 4 years of living here and never putting it together in my head what the red neon marquee was all about (I thought it where they showed old horror films.) My friend and I had a date to watch Dirty Dancing, which she owns, and National Lampoon's European Vacation, which is impossible to find at a big video store. The one's that still exist are packed with ridiculous amounts of the same lame-ass movies and racks of cheap movie-related promotional products and disgusting crap like Mountain Dew and ring pops to shove into your face while watching said lame-ass movie. Movie Madness has so many movies, divided into specialty sections, including their own special National Lampoon's section! They have a wall of every Best Picture from the beginning of the Oscars, massive foreign films, movies organized by actor or director, and freaky weird special interest stuff that you just have to browse yourself to fully absorb.

Business seems to be thriving, as I have waited there in long lines on Saturday nights and have also had to wait for movies like Little Shop of Horrors to be returned so I could sing "Skid Row" at the top of my lungs from the comfort of my living room. I tip my hat to this gem of an establishment, and promise I will see you again in three days for my next round of rentals, because now that daylight savings is falling us backward into long nights, there will be plenty of snuggly movie-watching happening under our roof.


It's the fourth day and I've already fucked up. Excuses as follows: took all afternoon trying to get up internet and was finally successful after a kind lady from Comcast worked her techno-magic over the phone for me. By then I needed to head to the old house to set up for Saturday's garage sale. As my parents and I sorted and organized and hauled and disassembled...and my stress level rose, and the kids manic-ness increased, it dawned on me that the sheer volume of our crap pile was too huge properly prepare for a sale the following morning. I conceded (I hate that, probably has something to do with self-imposed rules) and postponed sale until next week. Besides, I needed to get home and put the kids to bed as I had arranged for a sitter so I could see the husband's band, Murderbait, play out in St. Johns, which is basically another country, it seems. What I didn't realize when I offered to give the babysitter a ride home was that she also lived in St. Johns. So I drove to the show, which was lovely as usual, and then drove home and then back out to St. B.F.E. to brings sitter home, and then home again. By then: 12:09am. I will not beat myself up over this. Even though I aspire and desire to obey the rules and this post is marked Nov. 5th, it is still TODAY. And this challenge is about me WRITING. And I am. And I am glad about that.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Good Day

My new blog has been alive for three days and I want so badly to compose longer posts, to refine the design, to tell the story of Beyond the Milk, and explain myself. An introduction seems more natural in the beginning, but alas I have misplaced the computer modem cable and am surviving on iPhone only. I had lovely hopes for a post today that would only be complete with a picture, but uploading an image to blogger via my beloved pocket computer is not possible. I will have to be patient, and instead take a moment to briefly acknowledge my day.

It was a handsome day, sparkling with mundane wonder. One of those days where you have things to do, nothing exceptional, but it all gets done. A day where even though all the stresses present themselves, they are never too overwhelming. I didn't wake too soon or too late. I was fed by my husband two out of three meals today (and the dishes were also handled accordingly.) I had, through out the day, connecting moments individually with each member of my immediate family and also in various combinations. I had a better than average coffee. I budgeted my Target and Ikea trips properly and didn't forget anything on my list. I came close to Motherhood nirvana when I placed George in the Ikea play zone, a brand new occurrence as he has just within the last two months reached the appropriate height, and had 60 unadulterated minutes to frolic amongst the showroom and marketplace. I helped a friend. I had a period of extreme frustration over my childrens behavior and I rode that wave, in the end successfully tucking them all in feeling loved. I organized the art supply closet. I am finishing this post before the man returns from band practice. I have cookies in the cupboard.

You don't see good days coming, so it's important to give them proper respect. Thank you, good day. (Maybe tomorrow will bring me that lost blue cable.)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


I can't remember the last time we did this: the family reading together by candlelight. It's bedtime and the power company is out fixing the frayed main ground wire coming off of the power pole. A crew of three rubber rain-suited men are out there in the sog, while we are inside in our darkened new house, all electronics oddly asleep, reading Yurtle the Turtle. Mayan is bathing by candlelight in the next room. I'm grateful that I had taken out some Virgin Mary of Guadalupe candles for Dia de Los Muerto yesterday. Blake also located his grandma's silver candelabra and I filled it with candles I always keep in a kitchen drawer. There are always matches handy since there is a cigar smoker among us. As usual, any flashlight that is locatable is dead. Since I was aware ahead of time that we would be cut off for a brief period, I had time to gather these items. But it was a reminder to me that being warned of an outage is not often the case. Now I have this vision of keeping old-fashioned but operable oil lamps in every room, just in case. I felt like Jane Eyre when the lights first went out and I made a dash for the candelabra, then stepped lightly down the hallway careful to avoid dripping wax on my inexperienced fingers or extinguishing the flames by walking to quickly. All in all, we basked in the ethereal-to-our modern-eyes light for 20 minutes, but it was possibly the most pleasant memory we've made in our new home by far.

Q: How well are you prepared to be "in the dark"?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


I am a chronic rule follower. I didn't even know this about myself until a few years ago when I was playing a game with my newish group of Portland friends. I was clinging to the rule sheet, getting uptight over a rule that another gamer wanted to ignore. My friends called me out, "Ooooh, Leah is a rule-follower!" and I was taken-aback. Moi?? I always thought of myself with a punky rebel streak and attracted to controversy. I began to observe this in myself, and I've found that not only is it totally true but that its best for me to embrace it. Whether it's a public sign, a game or an expectation I put on myself, I just feel icky and off if I don't follow directions properly, or if I leave something out or cut something short. For example, last week a did a 10k run (my first) and the halfway point was an orange cone that all the runners were supposed to approach, and run around. You can bet I ran my ass up to that cone and made a graceful, intentional turn around it, with a heart full of integrity and satisfaction. You can also bet that I was irritated as hell when I watched other runners cut short as they got close and just mosey over the other lane where the cone-obeyers were, therefore being in front of me rather than behind where they belonged. It is not a contest for me but it took me about 3/4 of a mile to get over it. Maybe more.
National blog posting month is also not a contest but because I hold myself accountible to my own rules, I don't want to miss out or be late. Writing is screaming to get out of me, making leaps to escape--this feels like my month, as rusty and bumbling as I am. But we moved this weekend and the internet isn't up yet, so at 11:23pm as I sat reading others NaNoBloMo posts, I felt a sense of disappointment. "It's too late," I whined. "Can't you just start tomorrow?" my husband inquired. I reminded him of me-and-rules, and he got it especially after I confessed the orange cone story. So thanks to the glorious magnificance of the iPhone, I had a new blog up and running by 11:41 in bed, in the dark, in the nick of time. Because I'm no cheater.