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Showing posts from 2019

tops of 2019

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Hello from the tail end of what I think was a good year? I’m too superstitious to make proclamations, and hindsight usually doesn’t kick in till a few years out anyway. I’m not so into the personal decade-in-review blurbs people are offering up on Twitter. The same people who call out privilege all day long seem awfully quick to boast about their triumphs as if they’re not the result of good luck and not dying.   Anyway. AK, Dash, and I just got back from a three-day trip, two of which were spent in Cambria at my brother-in-law’s family vacation house, and those days were excellent ones to end on. My sister is the only person who can take care of me in the exact way I need without eliciting a parallel guilt reaction. She mimics my mom in all the right ways. And her husband, David, is a natural caretaker too, eager to share his ancestral home with newcomers, to feed them fancy cheese and cook hash browns and tell the story of the time he scratched up his grandparents’ banister by s

the hardest privileges

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1. hibernate This time of year, my body wants to hibernate. Even in LA, when we're never more than a week on either side of a heat wave, the warm air filters through extra layers of atmosphere, giving everything a surreal glow. Today it's chilly but bright. There are holiday playlists and discounted pajamas for grownups. It's so tempting to curl up on the old crib mattress in Dash's old room, which recently became our office/eventually-maybe-a-baby-room. Dash has moved into the front room, which he loves, and which also prompted a week or so of extra meltdowns because change. I want to read all the books and watch all the seasons of Madam Secretary and drink hot spiked beverages. To fall into a mood the same way I'd fall asleep, a dreamy surrender. But those hygge vibes are hard-won. Maybe not actual Scandinavian hygge, which Wikipedia tells me translates to "everyday togetherness," implying that you don't have to do much more than stay in to ac

smithing words, making space

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Homeboy Industries had a beautiful culture of storytelling, but not of reading or writing per se. People would send long emails about the staff barbecue with detailed information about the type of meat the cafe crew would be grilling, and forget to include the date. Someone would inevitably reply-all: What about veggie burgers? And someone else would reply-all: This is so important to our model of kinship and I just want to really thank Rulies for organizing this!!! It takes a village!!! And someone else would say: When is it??? And eventually we'd find out. I wrote grants, but I also helped a former trainee rewrite a policies-and-procedures manual, and I wrote descriptions for a bunch of salsas I'd never tasted. Word got out that I could write a variety of things, and people started bringing me their stuff, saying, "I was hoping you could wordsmith this for me." At first, I was flattered but also annoyed, because "wordsmith" sounded like a word that peo

elementary

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Friday night I met with my writing group, had a glass of wine, dug into Auzelle's poems, walked home in the humid dark, and started feeling the sparkly urge to write a poem. About the layers of being connected to and separate from another human being (are there poems about anything else?). Saturday morning, one of the moms from Dash's new school organized a pre-first-day play date so kids and parents could get to know each other, and it was nothing short of a smashing success. Every parent was friendly and chill, and the kids started a group project of Moving All The Sand From The Sandbox Out Of The Sandbox. Dash hit it off with twin boys who were adopted by two dads, and I can't tell you how excited I am that Dash won't have to do all the queer-adoptive-family explanatory lifting himself. So we're feeling pretty optimistic, and the blurry unknown is coming into focus. This morning I wrote the poem that took shape Friday night, even though Sunday morning is a di

some things old, some things new

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Sometimes moms post pictures of their nine-month-olds to celebrate "nine months in, nine months out." I've never been sure whether to count Dash's gestation in our lives as two weeks or four and a half years, but here he is, four and a half years out, about to start elementary school (technically "extended transitional kindergarten," but it's part of LAUSD and there is a principal and we downloaded an app, so). It's late summer--finally hot after months of mild weather, strangely balmy in a way that stirs my sense of possibility. New life phase? I wonder. I'm always a sucker for new starts, even though much is not new: Dash, a veteran daycare kid, will still be away from me for the same number of hours each week. "Mommy, draw me a Southwest airplane." My sister got married two weeks ago. Dash cried through the ceremony and acted like a crazy drunk throughout the reception. Her husband is kind and clever and has the kind of dark

a few words of summer

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Yesterday my department had a four-hour meeting at WeWork. I arrived in a pissy mood because I'd spent the first three hours of my workday putting together a mailing list and the fourth on a series of freeways. The Culver City building that housed WeWork was across from the Sony Pictures lot, over which a giant fabricated rainbow arced. I imagined a team of producers and diversity-committee types saying, "We have this leftover rainbow from the set of [something Sony produces]. Can we repurpose it for Pride?" The lobby of the WeWork building was decked out with bright lounge chairs, palm trees made of balloons, and an old-timey ice cream cart. It screamed "summer selfie." It also screamed: "Haha, you're not at the beach, you're at work." Photo by Etienne Girardet on Unsplash It's been almost a year since our department was reshuffled and I was moved from a higher-ranking position to one that seemed like a better fit for my act

housing and home

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1. don’t call me moogle Moogle! began the post in a NELA mom’s group I periodically dip into. Since leaving Parenting for Social Justice and sort of burning out on Facebook groups, I haven’t been super active in any. But a few embers remain, and sometimes the mighty algorithm tosses a match. My husband and I have been trying to find the right neighborhood to move to to raise our son, but we haven’t found a place in our price range that meets our criteria. Her price range was up to a million, which in LA will get you a house that would play a poor person’s house on TV, but still. A million bucks. Her wishlist followed: walkability, lots of trees, safety, “a strong school district with good public schools that will nurture our son’s upbringing,” and my personal favorite: “Our son will grow up with a peer group that is motivated to learn, open minded and driven; the culture also scores low on materialism and sense of entitlement.” Bitch, I grew up in the neighborhood yo

running down a dream when already quite rundown

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This is a post about how rundown I am, and how I want it to be otherwise, so get ready to be bored and scroll on by, or to relate wholeheartedly, or maybe a little of both. Many days here in my Very Nice Life, I feel like I'm swimming upstream, just constantly trying to find the motivation to do the next thing. That makes it sound like I'm lying in bed, though. Ha! Almost never. I'm usually doing the previous thing. I am cleaning up mailing lists at work and replying to emails ("Sorry for the slow reply!" they all begin) and cleaning up toy trains and changing peed-on sheets and contemplating the fact that I might smell a little like pee myself. I am trying to help Dash through a difficult phase and trying to work through a difficult phase at work that has lasted longer than any easy phase, even though I Still Believe. I complain the whole way, and then I apologize for complaining, and then I eat things I shouldn't, and too many of them. In some ways, th

no one is free when others are tethered

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One evening back in the fall, I pushed Dash around Highland Park in his stroller. A carnival had sprung up like a cluster of toadstools in the park next to the library. The lights blurred in the fog and paint peeled from the signs on the rides and exhibitions. It felt like we were in 1992, or 1955, or 1890. The carnival was crowded with families and packs of teenagers and couples with their hands in each other’s back pockets, but I was the only white person I saw the whole time. The sense of witnessing a ghost Highland Park, a fading twin of the mixed, gentrifying neighborhood it is in daylight, was palpable and eerie. Us opens on the Santa Cruz boardwalk in 1986, when a little Black girl named Adelaide wanders into a funhouse called Shaman’s Vision and returns shell-shocked and changed forever. In the present day of the film, it has been renamed Merlin’s Forest, presumably because we don’t appropriate Native American culture anymore. That’s all in the past, right?  

we are the coolest

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The first time I met Molly in person, I was coming off a morning spent roaming the aisles at Target, contemplating the fact that, depending how you sliced the statistics, there was a ten percent chance I would be dead in five years. It was 2013. Then I remembered that coffee existed, and I got some and dried my eyes. I sat down at Swork and waited for Molly to find me, which wasn't hard to do because I was the only bald woman in the place. She told me her story, which is to say her cancer story, which was of course only a piece of her story. She'd reached out to me at Poets & Writers about a Poets & Writers thing, but in the process she'd come across my blog, so she added a P.S. to her email: "If you ever want to talk to someone who went through the same thing at a similar age...." And here we were, talking. About fake boobs and prognoses and the super annoying social worker who'd crossed both our paths. I admitted: "I just feel so old and c