Weekend in Zion

At The Desert Pearl Hotel in Springdale, Utah

Ethan (age 5): The sink in our room is so short! I had to bend over to use it!!!

Me: What sink? What are you talking about?

Ethan: The one in the bathroom.

Me: Right next to the toilet?

Ethan: Yeah!

Me: That is not a sink. It’s a bidet.

Ethan: What’s that?


Matt: It’s European.

Me: Only it’s for when you’re-a-poopin’.

Ethan: WHAT?

Matt: It’s a sink for your bum.

Ethan: 😐

End scene.

(Photo: Zion National Park –  Mt. Carmel Highway Scenic Drive)


Rhyme Scheming

I like to think of myself as a reader.  Not so much that I’m “well read.”  I’ve read some classics and a lot of nonfiction in the last few years.  I have also read some highly entertaining novels that few would list as “literature.”  I’m rambling… My point is that I like to think of myself as someone who reads a lot of different genres and forms.  But I have a dirty little secret.  I hate poetry.

Maybe you are thinking that isn’t so uncommon.  A lot of people dislike poetry.  I, however, have discovered I have a completely irrational hatred of poetry that I do not completely understand.  I know it is judgey but nearly all poets make me roll my eyes.  I think as a writer I feel like poets should make the time and effort to write a story that might relate to someone besides themselves.  I suppose a poet’s response might be that I’m too inefficient to express myself in a poem; I need an multi-page composition.  And I would defend myself.  With a classically structured persuasive essay.

A few years ago I was talked into going to a poetry reading at the King’s English Bookstore here in Salt Lake City.  I went with a friend and once we arrived I saw that they had an open box of wine, which is my favorite flavor.  Open, that is.

I thought, “Okay… I can do this.  It is poetry, but it isn’t bourgie poetry.  It’s box wine poetry.”

I was fine (bored, but fine) until the second poet got up to read from his recently published collection. You are already picturing him, probably. He was wearing a sports jacket, jeans, and a stringy pony tail.  In the third or fourth poem he recited the line, “The spider scuttled out from beneath the ice cube…” and I had to bite my hand to keep from yelling, “No it didn’t and fuck you for saying that it did!!!”

Where the hell did that come from?’ I asked myself, taking a sniff of my boxed chardonnay to search for clues.  What about this poor cliché of a man had invited the full furnace of my rage, without any discernible prelude?

I elbowed my friend and we slipped out the side door and went to dinner at the Lebanese restaurant next door.  ‘Maybe I was hurt very badly in a past life by a mediocre poet,’ I hypothesized as we crunched through the snow between the two sidewalks.  ‘Or maybe I was a spider who was unsuspectingly crushed by ice.’

We will never know.

The Introvert at the Party; an exploration in Haiku

Introverted girl
at a social gathering
trying not to cling

Releasing Matt’s arm
I take a deep breath and wander
deeper in the house

Determined to learn
from the mistakes of my past:
don’t drink all the wine!

What is the most time
I can hide in the toilet
before eyebrows raise?

Do I look social
crossing the room with purpose
looking for “someone”?

Hovering over
the table of finger foods
not sure what to do

It’s called ‘finger food’
but do I use a napkin?
What’s the proper way?

And then what happens?
If I put it in my mouth
I will get a question

From someone or other.
I’ll stand there, mouth full of cheese…
happens every time.

Better to slip it
quickly into my pocket
for later, alone.

Time to venture off;
initiate a friendship…
thank God, there’s a dog!

Check the time, dear Christ!
How can that be possible?
It’s six forty five.

Cross the room again:
bathroom appetizer time.
It’ll be a long night.

Sisters in Seattle

I went to Seattle for a few days to visit my sister Andrea and meet my brand new nephew who arrived too soon – at just 25 weeks – over the New Year’s weekend.  I flew up to help out while her hubby was traveling for work.  Mostly I went to give my five year old nephew some attention.  Also I talked Andrea’s ear off.  (I really need to call her more.)  I also cooked a little.  I loaded the dishwasher once.  I barely helped at all, truth be told.  I always think I’ll be more helpful when I’m projecting the future in my mind then when I get into the future and see what reality allows.

Still it was a great trip.  Frog (my new nephew’s nickname) is so tiny!  Just 2.7 lbs when I left, but growing a bit every day.  I was watching him fight against his breathing mask and squirming to get his arms and legs free of the swaddling wraps and I was amazed.  He is so little and he looks so fragile – like a pink baby bird that fell from a nest – but he is fierce!  He can lift his head already, and he can voice his displeasure.  It made me happy.  I don’t want him to wear himself out, but I can’t describe the joy I felt watching him fight.  I’ve been so worried about this kiddo for weeks but now that I’ve seen him, I’m reassured.  He is a warrior and he is firmly in this world.


My other nephew, the kindergartner, is really struggling with the changes.  He seems angry.  He’s not listening or asking for things with politeness or patience.  He is demanding things with a force that suggests his wants and needs are consuming him.  I’m not sure he gets what is wrong exactly, but there is a level on which he is aware.  He even commented on the fact that there are suddenly a number of photos of his brother on his mom’s phone.  “Why are there so many pictures of Frog on here?” he asked like a jealous boyfriend.  Like, “Who is this guy and what does he mean to you?”

Oof.  Just wait until the little one actually gets sprung from the NICU and comes home!  Then the real pain will begin.

On one hand my heart is breaking for him because it is hard to see him hurting.  But on the other hand, the one where I’m looking at it from the perspective of a second sibling, I’m less sympathetic.  “What? You don’t get to have your parents all to yourself? What would that be like?” [insert eye roll]

I’m told that when I came home from the hospital my older sister tried to smother me with a diaper.  She was wearing it at the time, just so you understand.

He is such a sweet kid and I believe he will be fine once he has had time – lots of time – to adjust.  He’s so funny.  I’m not sure how to describe him except to say that he has a dynamic inner life.  He is so imaginative and precocious.  He spent one entire day of my visit dressed as Yoda.  Not for any special occasion.  He just loves Yoda.  When I arrived he presented me with a drawing he did for me at school.  It’s a portrait of me.  “What’s this red part?” I asked.

“It’s a bloody thumb.”

“Of course it is, kiddo.  Of course it is.”



What I wouldn’t give to spend some time in that kid’s head.  Frog is going to have the best playmate in the world.  Maybe not soon, you know.  But in a little while.

Giving Myself a Bit of Credit

On Christmas morning, my boyfriend’s son (age 5) had a small breakdown. “I wish you and mama hadn’t got a divorce,” he said to his dad. “I wish we were all together today.”

“Of course,” I thought. “It’s Christmas morning. He wants to be with his people. I totally get that.”

Later it occurred to me that could have (would have, some years back) stung. I’m here. I’m trying to be his people, after all. But it didn’t present itself to me in that light. He is five. He needs what he needs. It isn’t about me.

The one thing I can say about turning 40 is that I genuinely feel less focused on myself, and that feels good. It doesn’t take effort and that makes me like myself more. It doesn’t mean that I can fix the things I would like to fix, like a small boy’s otherwise perfect Christmas morning. It just means I can listen and empathize without putting myself in the way

Fingers Crossed

I learned the first time I tried pottery as a university student in 1999 that it isn’t a good idea to get attached to an outcome once something goes in the kiln. You’ve invested a lot of time, all spent envisioning a final product. So it feels impossible to let that go when the kiln lid lowers. But you must. You must, or you will get your heart broken.

I say I “learned” this, but it isn’t a lesson that sticks well. I’ve learned it the hard way hundreds of times now, it seems. And yet, I’m sitting here today, telling myself to at least lower my expectations if I can’t let them go entirely.

Here are a few in process photos two bowls which are currently in the kiln. Despite my better instincts, I love them so much! Which means they will die a sad cracked death at the hands of the kiln gods, if they haven’t already.

Good luck, bowl babies! I hope you can come home so I can wrap you up and put you under the Christmas tree! But if you can’t, I’ll understand. I’ll cry a bucket. But I’ll understand.

UPDATE: One pot did spectacularly self destruct, unfortunately. But the other lived and is with a new home, now.


My writing group was discussing a piece submitted by our youngest member, a very bright and passionate millennial girl. Young woman? It was mostly great but I told her that I was having a hard time keeping her characters straight and maybe she could give them names?

“There’s just the one guy,” she said.

“Really? Oh I thought there were two. You are talking to your ex in the first scene but then a few pages later you wake up next to this guy and there’s no transition…”

“Yeah it’s the same guy. It’s just one guy.”

“Okay, well I was confused. Maybe I’m the only one…” I looked at the other writing group members for help.

She laughed. “You Gen-Xers. You don’t get us at all. When I say that we broke up I don’t mean we are over. I still need to get off. I still need a roommate. You guys are so easily shocked.”

She was right – I didn’t get it. But it wasn’t in a prudish “do you mean that you did the DEED with a BOY you aren’t IN LOVE WITH?” way.  I don’t care. It’s a clarity problem. Not a generational problem. Also, for the record, I spent most of the last ten years focussed on either dating or writing.  Good relationships are hard.  Good transitions are harder.

Still, it reminded me of the time I was at that dance club in Greece (I never go to dance clubs but we were in the Greek Islands) and I was wearing white pants (I never wear but we were in the Green Islands) and I got my period of fucking course. And I asked a group of Australian college aged tourists if one of the had a tampon and they looked at me like I was a particularly nasty leper asking for a band-aid and said, “Uh – no!? We haven’t had a period in years!”

Once I got over how an accent could be super cute and way judgey at the same time, my mind exploded. “What do they know that I don’t know?”

When I got back to the States I asked all my friends, “We are all still having our periods, right? Because apparently Australians have evolved and don’t do that anymore.”

So, apparently Aussie girls had that figured out back in the aughts and now millennial girls have evolved beyond broken hearts and paying full rent. Good for them. Less Tampax and Kleenex in the landfills.


I started this blog after a breakup – a really bad one – with the idea that I was done with relationships.  I decided that I was tired of comparing myself to my ex-husband (married with two kids, while I was still single and lonely).  I decided I was done waiting for a guy to come along and stay in my life.  I was going to take myself to a sperm bank for my next birthday.  I was going to write about this process as it went along, as I made lemonade out of my sour relationship lemons.

I didn’t get far.  I went to my doctor and told her my plan.  She was discouraging.

“Your eggs are old; they won’t be very high quality anymore.”

I was 37 at the time.  I thought I was still in the window.  When was I supposed to freeze them? In my twenties?  Teens? No one told me!  My poor eggs.  I knew I had passed the ideal age, but I imagined there was still some green in my inner garden.  Suddenly I saw my eggs, not as colorful uncut blooms, but as the dusty and mold spotted roses rotting away on Miss Havisham’s wedding cake in Great Expectations.  Intended for a joyful event that never took place.

“Have you thought about adoption?” my doctor asked.

I did.  I thought a lot about it.  I certainly wasn’t opposed to it.  I did contemplate the fact that it is much cheaper to make a baby from scratch than to adopt one.  But the real deterant to me was the the fact that I would have to convince a number of people that I would be fit and capable of doing it on my own.  The sperm bank doesn’t have that obligation.  And I imagine they take credit cards.

The thought did leave me with the question… Could I prove to some strangers that I would be a good single parent?  If not, what did that mean? Would I be a good single parent?  I’ve got a paycheck, insurance and a spare room.  But it’s just me.  There’s no fall back plan.  If something happens to me, what happens to the baby?  Would bringing a child into the world, or even just my life, be a terribly selfish thing to do?

I decided it was.  And that was the end of that lemonade stand.

Let me say with full caps for emphasis: I AM NOT SAYING THAT SINGLE MOTHERS ARE SELFISH!!! THAT IS NOT WHAT I REMOTELY THINK OR FEEL!!!  I just decided that I didn’t have the resources to do it.  I have an amazing family, amazing friends, and I’m living a rich life that a part of me would love to share with a child.  The rest of me, however, is afraid.  Afraid I don’t have the physical or mental staminal to handle it.  Afraid that I would be too anxious or too sad to do it well.  And what if I get injured or sick and slide into destitution or a coma…?  As it stands, I already lie awake worrying about things like this.  If a little person were depending on me and only me?  I don’t think I could function.


Also, I heard a story on the radio about a woman whose 35 year old autistic son took a shit in the back of her car, and it terrified me so much I couldn’t blink for forty-five minutes.  So, just in case I implied that I am NOT selfish, that’s not what I meant.  I am.  I’m completely selfish.  That may be the real problem.

Anyway, that was three years ago.  And I did move on with my life.  I sold my condo and bought a house.  I got a promotion at work and that was a good thing.  I found other ways to connect with the children that were already in my life.  I focused on being the best damn aunt that I could be.

I didn’t want a relationship.  Frankly, the pain just wasn’t worth the reward.  I was never going to throw that much time and energy and love away on anyone ever again.  But time passed and – like I always do – I started losing my resolve.  Because I got lonely.  And I have these coupled friends that I hang out with and they make it seem so… possible.  So, I got back out there.  I met somebody.  And yada yada yada… my boyfriend and his five-year-old son moved in with me in September, just after my 40th birthday.

So far, it is going really well.  I was worried I would feel invaded and have a hard time downsizing enough of my stuff to make space for “the boys” (two human males and one snake that I am told is male; I haven’t verified).  There were a few pieces of furniture that I gave to charity that were harder to let go than they should have been.  Perhaps because they were things that I bought immediately after the divorce and were emblematic of my independence?  I bought them during the first period in my life when I had the freedom to choose a piece of furniture for myself.  First, I had to figure out what my own “taste” was, and I honestly had no idea.  I chose a few things, including a red armless chair and a faux leather trunk, that may well have been completely ugly, but they were new.  And all mine.  It was a scary, fun, and luxurious place to be.  Maybe giving those things away felt like closing of a chapter on my life, and that’s the issue?  Even though I wanted to close that chapter.

Or maybe I just liked that chair and that trunk and now I don’t have them anymore.  I guess I don’t need to get all Freudian about it.

My other concern was for Ethan, the kindergartener.  He expressed enthusiasm over moving in from the beginning.  He most often expressed excitement about getting to live with Wensley, because apparently moving in meant that the dog “will officially be my big brother!”  There was one other time that he told me he was really excited to come and live with me because I have Blu-ray, but mostly it was all about Wensley.

Still, I was concerned.  I was worried that once he saw his stuff in his new room in my little 1940’s house, he would realize just how much smaller it is than the one he had in his 2010’s town house.  He didn’t have a backyard at the town house, but there was a playground with a slide and swings.  And the old living room was more accommodating to wrestling.  Similarly, the old couch was more suitable for cannon-balls and similar.  I had the idea that I would set up his room with all of his old things but also put up a few new things that he could get excited about to distract him from the habitat shrinkage.  So I set about doing one of those HDTV makeovers, but on a much smaller budget.

First I got a Totoro night light.  You can choose if you want the stomach or the umbrella to be lit.  (When I turn it on for him at night I ask him, “Belly or brawly?”)  Then I got a large wall decal showing an X-wing and TIE Fighter battle over the fate of the death star from any one of the Star Wars movies (am I the only one who has noticed that they all seem to end the same way?).  His rug is five foot Millennium Falcon and his light switch cover says “Light Side / Dark Side.”  Admittedly, that last one was for me. Ethan will appreciate it when he is older, I’m sure.  But puns are not the natural purview of five-year olds.

Ethan got a tour of his room and he loved it.  Matt even helped make the light switch a success by acting out the difference between “light side” and “dark side” at the speed of Ethan’s switching.

It was a little strange because we were heading up to Idaho that day for a long planned visit to see Matt’s parents, so Ethan got to see his room but not stay in it that night.  While we were in Idaho Ethan and I were hanging out in Matt’s childhood room, looking through his old knickknacks.  We were blowing dust off sports trophies and holding sea shells up to our ears to listen for the ocean while Matt and his parents talked in the other room. Ethan put down his sea shell and told me again how excited he had been to move in with me.

“Daddy said we were moving and I said, ‘let’s move Friday!’”

I laughed. “Yeah, it took a little time to get it all planned.  We still have a lot of unpacking to do.  But I’m glad you are happy about it!  I’m happy too.”

Then he looked me in the eye and said, “You and Dad made a really good choice.”  I know it sounds like I’m putting words in his mouth, or like I don’t know how to write children’s dialogue.  But he talks like he is 28.  He just does.

I was charmed and more than a little bit verklempt.  He’s such a sweet kid; of course he wasn’t focused on the size of his room, or his stuff in general.  He’s been through a lot in his five years, and he is good at making lemonade, too.   I felt like he was telling me he’s glad I’m in his life, Totoro night light or no.  It suddenly occurred to me that he is gaining more than a dog and a yard – he’s gaining me, too.  I’m so glad he thinks that is a good thing.

Mine… All Mine

At long last, it went on sale!