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other's day

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"Go big or go home" is a phrase befitting reality shows more than reality. (Prototyping innovations on a small scale and growing gradually usually works better.) But when it comes to adoption, it's fair to say that this year we went big. We signed on with as many attorneys and agencies as we could afford. We had three matches with expectant moms, none of which led to an adoption.  The last disruption, less than two weeks ago, took us to Reno for three days (more about that at some point). And then we went home. Since our disruption in the fall , we've been working toward becoming a licensed resource family in the foster care system. In addition to a hell of a lot of paper work, it's meant asking myself what it will look like to parent a child I probably won't get to keep. It's meant leaning into being Trauma-Informed, a Helpful Member Of My Community, and a bit of a Badass (resource parents: I think of you as badasses). It's meant leaning away from my

the berlin zoo

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The zookeeper’s bathroom becomes a nest: dirt and twigs from sink to toilet, the bathtub a makeshift pond. The shoebill is part cartoon: beady eyes and a loafer for a beak. The zookeeper’s wife becomes a zookeeper, dropping a slice of stale bread into the bird’s smile.  The zoo tower becomes lookout and barricade. A black gun as long as three men points at the sky, reminding airplanes that they are not birds, or that they are: as easy to down as a duck. The ears of giraffes and antelopes, built to hear lion paws on leaves, hold the sounds of bombs and flak guns. Their bodies tell them to run, but the cage bars say otherwise.  Two hippos, a black rhino, a sea elephant, and eight land elephants become meat. People who thought the worst part of their job would be sweeping shit now eat their charges. Now there is more waste than ever to shovel. Now there are not enough dust pans in the world. Now the world becomes a dust pan. Now they must admit: tenderized crocodile tails taste like fatty

tops of 2021

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I recently learned that the original lyrics to "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" were "Someday soon we all will be together, if the fates allow. Until then we'll have to muddle through somehow," not "...hang a shining star upon the highest bough." I'd heard both, but I sort of thought they were different verses of the same version. Apparently the latter replaced the version in Meet Me in St. Louis, which I remember as a bittersweet, kind of weird movie.  Then I read this article  and found out the first draft of the song was "Have yourself a merry little Christmas. It may be your last."  Muddling through suddenly seems appealing, and I did plenty of it this year. Things were not too shabby—vaccine, book contract, schools reopening, summer road trip, a hummingbird outside our window —until August, when the adoption roller coaster chugged anxiously uphill, then plummeted down, and at times I felt like I'd flown off the tracks en

this is how it works

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If you think about the game , you've already lost. That's the whole game. You might approach someone, perhaps at a party— perhaps there is brandied eggnog, or maybe it's a cooler full of beer, juice boxes for the kids, in celebration of the end of soccer season, or a savior's birth, or the strong possibility that soon the days will get longer. You would say, "You've lost the game," and it would be true because now you've passed the torch of consciousness like a virus to the person closest to you. There's no winning the game. It was invented by the British, of course. Land of fog  and consumptive moors, land farmed to the bone.  Maybe this resignation  is what happens after you conquer a continent or two, leverage a famine to your advantage, make the locals bring you tea. And still it tastes bitter, and still your wife finds you a bit disgusting  and your children grow up and write books about the terrible things you've done leveraging that educ

ode to the end of peach season

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1. The peaches this summer were inexplicably good. The ones from Trader Joe's, I mean. Trader Joe's —known for all those plastic clamshells and sad hard oranges. But there they were, better than we deserved: ombre globes the size of tennis balls, the big soft ones that our son keeps hitting over the fence. Run-down-your-chin juicy, though I always cut them up, because why ruin something exquisite with a sticky face?  I tried to eat them all. I did. I bought them in cardboard pallets and by the bag. Accuse me of all the contemporary sins: working too much, planning and fretting, checking pandemic stats like the weather. Bending my head toward my phone until my spine is a floor lamp, an inverted J. Despairing because we might not, in fact, upgrade our wonderful lives to extra wonderful in the space of a month.  But who is here, like a motherfucking Zen master, enjoying seasonal fruit? Photo by Vlad Deep on Unsplash And now it's almost gone. Now pears are populating the shelv

road trip!

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Cross posted from my daily travel journal on Instagram Day 1:  We packed up our car and drove through the desert, where it was 102 degrees in the dark, and landed in Vegas, where we haven’t been in 15 years. “We’ll be creatures of the night,” we decided, as we headed east into a heatwave with an intense year and an intense couple of weeks and dreams of Nomadland in our rear view mirror. Now we are in the sweet AC of our hotel, watching Peppa Pig in the flicker of the strip club next door.  Day 2:  We jumped in the pool at 8:30 and then overloaded our senses at the Discovery Children’s Museum (as seen, notably, in a Blippi video). By lunchtime we were wilting. We stopped for gas at a station called Terrible’s that was running out of gas.  We hit the road again, and I watched the temperature like it was my own blood pressure, like we were on the precipice of something dangerous. The rocks turned from yellow to red, clouds dumping long fingers of light on the mountains like a prophecy. W

sympathy for the devil and my own dirty hands

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1. skip this part if you don't enjoy white tears When it comes to acts of individual violence, society has little patience for the perpetrators. Or rather, we try to make up for the failures of courts, the child welfare system, public education, and more with our own swift, harsh judgments. The woman who drowned her children, the man who shot up a McDonald's—why should they get a moment of our time when the people they hurt don't get another moment, period? On social media, we tweet hard against the Trumps and Kavanaughs and white women who commit microaggressions. I'm not sure it should be otherwise—a tweet just composed itself in my head:  Just realized that you can't spell Kavanaugh without ugh —but the urge to judge is also a deflection from self-judgment. If I can dehumanize Karen, then I must not be Karen, right? Right? It's not that I think every villain deserves an origin story, but I do believe every villain has one, whether or not we should tell it or