Things I have to keep to myself because there is no one in my life that should have to listen to this: a growing list

Should I get microblading done on my eyebrows? Does getting a beauty procedure of this caliber done push me into a certain/different category? Does it matter?

Does this transitional haircut indeed make me look like Janet Yellen?

Have you watched “Legends of the Fall” lately? Did it stir up all the emotions you felt as a 17-year-old but now with the extra complexity of having aged and loved and lost and potential perimenopause that forces you to pause the movie when Samuel is caught on the barbed wire because you’re fairly certain you cannot handle it or life itself? Did you also forget how crazy attractive all the people in that movie are, and did you feel weird about noticing how attractive Anthony Hopkins is in it for the first time? He’s a dad but now you’re a mom, so?

Do you harbor secret dreams of living in your own house?



Hold on

I want to move to Ventura so that we can play this song on a Sunday morning with the back door open to the yard and there are rainbows cast across the wall from a prism hanging in the window.

I want to walk through my neighborhood in slippers to the store where I stuff vegetables into bags, smile at old people.

I don’t know if I have it in me to live down there. I remember how I was last time I lived in Southern California: Perpetually overdressed, bound up and uncomfortable in old slips and tights and polyester castoffs, desperate to distinguish myself. What if I really just don’t like the sun and athletic wear.

Recent google search history

why is my face so hot

portland pudding cart

chocolate chip cookie dough recipe for one

what to do when you feel too many feels

kilty moccasins

beluga whale mariachi

donuts se portland

daylight savings 2017


Green flash/blur

I’ve always had a very good memory, apparently gifted to me by my astrological sign (cancer, scorpio rising), my personality type (INFJ, enneagram 4), and the crinkles in my brain that created nice clear pathways to all the boxes of facts and records and impressions of my life. I remember my favorite dress in first grade (white knit turtleneck dress printed with tiny cupcakes), riding in the back of a pickup truck on our way home from preschool, my parent’s work phone numbers from 1981 to 1996 (Western Medical Center, Southern California Edison), home and relatives’ addresses flung across the western United States. I remember the details from our old houses and the moment each of our animals died and being at eye level with the front counter at Angel’s Hardware in Huntington Beach on trips with my dad to buy nails. The taste of orange frosted donuts on Saturday mornings, the supreme comfort of lying on the beach wrapped in a quilt while my teenage sister was out surfing, blissfully floating out of my body while accidentally kissing the lapel of a button down shirt the first time I lay down to make out with a boy.

Now there are times in a space of a year or two that have been smudged out of focus, white and soft like overexposure in a photo. I try to knit the timeline back together to make a straight line but am unsure of the exact sequence. I don’t remember how I got to the hospital the few hours before my mom died, but I do remember canceling a dentist appointment from the airport gate in Portland in anticipation of something happening. I remember every minute in the hospital when we were called to come in. I don’t remember Michael arriving in California that week for the funeral, but I do remember the terrible stucco hotel room we stayed in and that I couldn’t sleep in the bed; I had to move out to the tiny love seat in the living room area and watch cable and breathe recycled air.

Kelly and I went fishing with my dad on the San Clemente pier. Or it might have been Michael and I with my dad. Or it might have been the four of us. It might have been slightly earlier on the timeline, with my mom home watching garden shows and breathing in, breathing out, machines on lights on timer on to signal her next medication. It might have been slightly after, with her bathroom drawers barren and clothes neatly folded in black trash bags in her closet.

At sunset on the pier we might have fished using my dad’s poles, the same poles we used as children on a boat back when my mom was home watching garden shows but breathing freely, moving freely, luxuriating in the peace and quiet and freedom to feel angry over such inconsequential annoyances as discarded socks or dried food stuck on the tine of a fork. But I don’t remember casting out the line with the pole; I don’t remember baiting a hook with the same pride and confidence I felt at age 8 — pushing the point through the rubbery flesh of squid or half-frozen anchovies. We might have just thrown out a few crab traps as an excuse to sit on the pier and wait and look out at the water, creating space to talk if we wanted to, our eyes all equally focused on the horizon. I do remember walking away from the pier, maybe on my way to the restroom or to grab a sweater from the car, and turning just in time to watch the sun dip completely into the water. I think I stopped to watch, not even able to form the thought as it happened: the sun disappeared and the sky flashed lime green. Not enough to notice if you were in the parking lot or paying for french fries at the snack stand. But enough if you held the possibility in your head and were looking toward the sun. I vaguely remember running back to my dad to yell that I saw it, but I don’t remember whether he had too, if anyone else with us had. And I don’t remember if he missed his big chance, whether he had ever seen it in the 60+ years of his life, at least 20 of those spent daily on the water or with his feet in the ocean as a bait fisherman, or on one of the trips with my mom on cruise ships (the only way she’d be on the water) on which they sat dutifully at sunset each night waiting to see the flash. I don’t remember.

What you were like upon turning 7:

  • You still prefer wearing only your underwear while at home. If it’s very chilly, you’ll drape your “cozy blanket” around your shoulders, but you’re usually active — doing cartwheels, doing handstands, dancing — so only unders it is.
  • Right now your favorite music is Angel Olsen, the B-52s, Shrek the Musical soundtrack, Annie soundtrack, Moana soundtrack. You sing them all unself-consciously, sometimes so soulfully I have to sit down to listen.
  • You pull your gym mat out almost daily to do cartwheels or handstands.
  • You draw women and girls all the time. You seem to be most interested in their fashion. Right now you love a “look book” workbook that has pre-printed women’s faces and bodies on which you can draw hair and make-up and clothes.
  • You went through a serious sewing phase, both by hand at school and using your Christmas present machine at home, but it’s cooled lately.
  • You’ve been trying out the word “fuck” lately — to yourself or carefully surrounded in quotes. Last night I made the bad decision to let you yell it several times while I drove you in the car, thinking it would help to release them all, but I think that probably just makes it stronger.
  • You self identify as a brown person. You perceive me as different from you because I am fair skinned. It sometimes places a barrier in our family: you and your dad vs. me. I don’t know how to navigate that.
  • All of the sudden you are sophisticated in a way I didn’t expect until your teenage years: you believe you know best. I am uncool. I am here to embarrass you. You don’t need help and are exasperated when I offer it.
  • You do not regularly brush your teeth.
  • You are not a tidy person. You hate cleaning/tidying up your room more than most anything and will do anything to postpone it. Somehow you are much more likely to get injured/suddenly feel pain from an old injury once I’ve asked you to clean your room.
  • You and your dad wrestle several times a week. You are usually in your underwear; your further occasionally changes into jogging tights and the Encinitas tank top given to him as a gift. He usually plays the “Let’s get ready to rumble” song, and you two spar on our bed. You hit your head on the wall/kick your dad in the face/fall funny/knock something against the bed frame corner 70% of the time.
  • You and your dad dance several times a week. Lately you’ve liked “shadow dancing” the best, in which you stand on the high chair in the kitchen in the dark, and your dad shines a flashlight and plays songs for you.
  • I like going out with you the best. I like walking down a sidewalk holding your hand and stopping to sit at a little table with something to drink or share. I like embarrassing you by hugging you too hard at stoplights or forcing a dance step in public. I like singing with you in an aisle at the supermarket or fake fighting.
  • You have the uncanny ability to detect when we’re upset. You ask for a hug when I need one or something doesn’t feel right between us.
  • You still won’t take any classes. You say you already know how.


We’ve been hearing something scratching away in the middle of the night. I think it’s coming from a wall or down below; Michael’s convinced it’s in the attic. At night we cock our heads in opposite directions and hold still in the dark, like birds. He lies back down to drown out the sound with snoring. I push my ear to the wall. I wander out in the dark to lie on the dining room floor and listen. I did the same as a kid when sure my parents were discussing me, and the sound was similar: muffled, soft at the edges, hard to make out, more than casual eavesdropping. Are you just making a nest for yourself to ride out the cold snap, or are you chewing a gaping hole to let your buddies in? Do you have a taste for electrical wire? Are you rat, mouse, squirrel or raccoon? Michael would give raccoons and squirrels free passes to stay, at least until it got warmer. Rats and mice must go.

The other night Michael opened the kitchen door leading to the garage, turned on the light, and saw at least 4 rats scurry into the corners. “This is war!” he said. I stood in the doorway to find out what he was up to. He started walking into the garage and one ran past him. He pushed me out of the way to cower in the kitchen. “I’m buying traps!” he yelled half at me, half at the rats. “And we’re getting rid of all this stuff so they won’t be able to hide,” he said, waving his arm at everything stuffed into the garage: neglected scooters, emergency rations, Tupperware boxes of my childhood, stand-up paddle boards, toolboxes, forlorn beer-making equipment, sleeping bags, bags of quilts, art supplies. To punctuate this he opened the garage door to see if they would run out, turned off by the threat of dismantling their broke-down palace. It just let in a lot of freezing air and forced the rats into tighter hiding spots.

Last night Michael asked me to go up in the attic to look for animal evidence. It isn’t clear why he wouldn’t do it himself, although 1) he’s afraid of heights, 2) he pulls the “you’re a feminist, why don’t you do the house maintenance” bullshit regularly, 3) seeing a rat causes him to scream and run. I zipped up a parka and put on the hood and put on a headlamp and hoisted up my dress hem to climb into the attic . Because I was wearing a work dress and tights and slippers, which seemed important to retain for some reason at the time. The attic is about 4 feet high in the tallest parts and covered with insulation circa 1954. I walked along 2x4s and wooden boards, tracing the flashlight beam along the corners. Michael and Mari stood below in the hallway, looking up, asking if I saw anything. I lost the fear that something would fly at my head; there was nothing. I stayed up a little too long just because I wasn’t at all afraid and knew Michael would be. I set a trap. I climbed down the ladder with dust clinging to my tights.

This morning Michael yelled from the kitchen, “one down!” I asked him if he threw it out. “After I eat my breakfast,” he said, shaking his head. Mari ran in to the garage to get a good look at it — curled, small, dead.

Things I have been doing while it feels like the world is falling apart

I drink beer. I drink wine.

I stopped looking at Facebook. I’ve been looking at photos of my daughter when she was a toddler.

I bought a subscription to National Geographic Magazine in my daughter’s name.

I bought a subscription to New York Times online.

I donated to Planned Parenthood.

I donated to Southern Poverty Law Center.

I watch benign reality TV: Rupaul’s Drag Race, House Hunters International, Skin Wars, Project Runway.

I eat a lot of candy.

I’ve been wearing predominantly black.

I regularly trot out all the surefire, tried-and-true things that make my sad: mom ghost, cat ghost, global warming, relationship with my dad, cancer, financial crap.

Yesterday I wore my high school Doc Martens to my job as a professional lady. It gave me so much comfort to wear them, like I was easing back into myself or touching a truer sense of myself. Or subtly flipping off my job as a professional lady.

I really want to quit my job.

I find most comfort in drawing. Hours go by and I then I slowly drift back down to earth.

When I lie down to sleep I miss my daughter so much I want to get up to sleep beside her.

During the day I just want to be holding my daughter.

I left my friend’s birthday dinner early because I couldn’t curb my crying. I instantly regretted it but knew I wouldn’t be able to keep it together. I drove home and sat at the living room table and drew for an hour, then got back in the car to pick up my family still at the birthday dinner. My family was waiting on the front porch for me when I arrived.

I thank my lucky stars for Michael.