a week of spending.

in the spirit of full disclosure, allow me to give you a week of my spends. i do my best to stay on a budget that errs more on the side of saving and less on the side of lattes, but this week was not without it’s budget blowers. firstly i had a rare ladies night out on tha town, and secondly i allowed myself a few impulse buys from the likes of walmart (where cheap lil’ cute and not exactly necessary things line up at the end of every isle like low hanging fruit in a video game) and amazon (which is pretty much the new target). were i being a perfect angel i would have foregone many of these things, but it was all in the name of fun or a hangover or outfits or bad hair so, those guys won.

monday: $40.65 amazon. i needed bubble bath for my son, so i threw in a super cool clear plastic belt and a fancy hair mask for my fried split ends.

tuesday: $24 at sprouts. had to do a grocery run for essentials aka non-dairy creamer, dark chocolate, avocados and fancy lollipops for my son. i also bought some ingredients to make a birthday cake for my hubs AND another hair mask because my hair is a problem you guys.

wednesday: $23 at walmart. my son works on a barter system in which he does things “for me” like going to school and to the bathroom in exchange for toys (which i have to buy for him). i really got the short end of the stick on this one. so i spent about $12 on little mini thomas trains and spent another $6 on a pair of granny panties, 40 cents on some bright colored felt (for cutting into little hearts) and $3 on a flower sheet mask purchased solely because of this episode of jimmy fallon with drew barrymore (starts at 1:42). i grew up with drew b and i will love her ’till the end of time and sure hope she can improve my face.

thursday: $0. had a meeting with my boss which i held at my house so no dollars were spent. i baked a cake and we had a lil’ birthday party when my husband got home.

friday: $36 at a wine bar. a super extremely rare night out with my best ladies. we split some pickled items, nuts and olives and i threw back a few glasses of cava. my bff treated me to an espresso afterwards.

saturday: $5.55 at starbucks. i do my best to avoid buying coffee but i was feeling a bit hungover so i got a matcha latte. my son & i made grain free banana pancakes for breakfast and spent the day listening to the best of the 80’s and reading pete the cat books. my husband brought home a rotisserie chicken for dinner and we watched a documentary on mick ronson.

sunday: $84 at trader joe’s & $10.34 at thrift town. this was the big grocery run for the week. afterwards i hit the thrift store b/c i had a coupon for $10 off $20. found a thomas the train pillow (like new after a wash) for my son, a khaki skirt, a tan blouse, a super rad 80’s lime green top, a nearly new snake print belt with an orange buckle and a pretty bowl to hold all of the fruit we don’t eat. we had cobb salad for dinner and watched atomic blonde which my husband & i found entertaining and my son found v v upsetting because he’s a pacifist but also cool because he loves the 80’s.

grande totale: $223.54

 

 

 

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of a fire on the moon.

it goes like this. for months i cannot cry. i hold myself together with quiet discomposure. heavy with a presentiment. my body, the hand grenade. and then, a paroxysm of weeping. i spend my days waiting for the other shoe to drop. and repeatedly, it does. and when it does, i tell myself it will get better. and sometimes it does. but that other shoe, suspended above me by a single hair. the sword of damocles. a pocket full of cliches. a penny for your thoughts.

when he was a baby he started to say words. mama. hi. i did. and then, they disappeared. he never stopped making noise. he never stopped babbling. but the words disappeared. became formless. and then it began. mining for radium. the months of work to find those words again. when they came back, they were different. a subtle change in pitch. in emphasis. in tone. human perception of string tension & compliance. atmospheric layers.

when the girls come (they are always girls); with their clip boards and ipads and their fancy water bottles and yoga pants; they check their boxes. they give things to him and take them away. they trick him with their words. they trick him, over and over. they say he is doing so much better he is doing so much worse. they teach him to say no to say i don’t want to to say i don’t like it. they teach him to say no thank you no thanks. and then they tell him do it anyway and then they tell him you must. they say first this, then that they say what does the fire engine what does the train say. the sky is blue a bird has wings you eat with a fork and other sordid truths. and how can i explain that nothing really means what it is supposed to. how do you teach the dialect of negation. the social contract. the irony of faith. allusions. they snap their fingers they put out their hands they motion sit they motion stand. non-verbal cues. prescribed manipulation.

i sit in my chair i sit on my hands and i want to scream louder than he does. they tell me to look away; to ignore him when he is in the thick of it- screaming and throwing things. to ignore it when he looks to me to make it all better. part of me dies in each of those moments. i must admit: i am terrified that if i am not the one to console him; to jump through twenty thousand hoops; to tread so carefully along a tight rope; to walk over shards of glass to get to where he needs to be. if i am not the one. if i deny those clear moments where his eyes lock onto mine. that they will disappear into the void. that he will no longer look to me. for comfort. for affection. and the sun will cease to shine in my life.

i used to think it was anger. blind rage. the cinder block that lives at the pit of my core; its porous edges expanding daily. and the enormity of its grayness which reaches, with smoke like fingers, and wraps itself around the base of my throat. i realize now that it is actually fear. terror, in fact. i am the lion. i am protector. by design. who would i be if not that. what role should i play. in this insane world. where the goal is correction; where the goal is to tame the untamable; name the unnamable; make the crooked straight. we keep on breaking all the wild horses.

___________________________________

(featured on the ma books)

ghost pressure.

yesterday morning i woke up and decided to go to the city. after spending 11+ years living there, san francisco is as much “home” to me as my true home town. the difference being that my family still calls my home town home and no one that i know lives in san francisco anymore (because it is now entirely populated by millennial millionaires who can afford to pay the millions that it takes to live there). while i wasn’t raised in san francisco; i certainly did a lot of growing up there.

i grew up in a verrry small town in the foothills of northern california. my back yard was pretty much a forest. i spent winters snowed in; went multiple days without power; learned such transferrable skills as how to build a fire and make a pipe out of a soda can. time is oddly slow in the town where i was born. everything moves at a softer pace. moving to the city should have been a shock to my senses; but somehow, it wasn’t. there is something about the city that makes sense to me. something that feels right. a rhythm that is more in line with my own. i like the pace of it. i like that it moves in a steady stream; which i am able to jump into or out of. the city has changed enormously in the 7 years since i left; but the geography of it is forever embedded in me. i know that city like the back of my hand. now that i live in a quieter place; i still get a certain restlessness that can only be soothed by the city.

when i lived there, i would always walk around with headphones on. i liked disappearing into a soundtrack of my own choosing. i liked being in the thick of the crowd; lost in the shuffle. what i most enjoyed was finding empty spaces there. the deserted financial district on the weekend. union square at 7am- long before all the shops opened. dolores park on a cloudy day. running along typically crowded streets that were emptied for street sweeping. grace cathedral at night. ameoba records right when they opened; while all the employees were still shaking off their hangovers and their patrons were still sleeping theirs off. i moved through the city like a ghost; and that was a comfortable position for me.

there is still an element of that that is comforting to me. when i go now, it is early in the morning on a saturday- one of the only times that traffic in the bay area is light. i know the exits; the back streets; where the parking spots can be found and the opening times of the shops. i don’t wear headphones anymore. i walk around listening to the dinging trolleys and squeaking breaks & elctro-crackle of the busses; the rants and raves of panhandlers and hobos; the confused chatter of tourists and teenagers looking for photo ops. i basque in the neon white of the giant h&m and let myself try on the most ridiculous outfits i can find. i climb the heavy concrete stairs at urban outfitters and curse the slickly reproduced remnants of my youth on display there. i roll up my sleeves and dig into the musty racks at thrift town. i shake my head at the freshly installed rows of condos and ultra modern ultra curated versions of shops that used to be. i walk with the quickened pace of someone who has somewhere to be; someone with no time to waste. i get in; i get out. i speed past the lines of stalled traffic heading into the city on the bridge as i leave.

what i realized yesterday was just how comforting it is for me to visit that sort of innominate world. the city has a sort of delphic quality to me; and it also provides this paradox of familiar and unknown. the ability to be there while not being there. there is something so exquisite about that kind of loneliness; and it feels like a luxury that i no longer have. i wouldn’t trade my life; but being mother- being front and center for a family and community takes a lot. sometimes it feels good to disappear for a little while; into the long shadows of deco green and slate gray neo-gothic spires; to haunt those old alleyways and bask in the glow of red fabric lanterns hung from winter bare branches and the discovery of forgotten treasures.

diary.

breathing a sigh of relief that january is done. this one was really a doozey. however it is sooo not lost on me that each year, right at the bitter end of january the clouds part for several days of crazy freaky gorgeous warm weather. it always happens when i am at the end of my rope with relentless colds and flus and bad hair days; when i am so tired of putting on the same winter coat every day; of piling on all the blankets and waking up to freezing floors; of watching the weeds take over my yard as the rain gutters fill up. every year there comes a streak of bright, sunshiny days that make me want to take to the streets & DANCE. it doesn’t last long- just long enough to catch my breath before the real rainy season begins. but i am so very grateful for it this year; because it is happening right now; and it could not have come at a better time. hope the sun is shining on you, too.

 

on winter.

 

 

winter is difficult. full stop. each year i dread it, and each year i vow to try to do something about it. something to make it less of a drag. all of the things that make it such a drag: the bad weather; the cold; the lack of sunlight; the sicknesses- they feel heavy. but each year i get through it, and the first flashes of spring; the first warm days of summer; they feel so much lighter; like shedding the weighted blanket of winter that covered me. they seem to easily erase the winter past. it becomes a blur in my memory; like a trip to the dentist that felt like hell whilst sitting in the chair getting my teeth drilled on, but forgotten after the novocaine wore off.

yesterday as i was sitting with my son while he whined and cried for attention that i felt unable to muster; i let out a deep breath and realized: this is it. this is winter. i am in it. after a lengthy 2+ week winter break from school, my son came down with a terrible cold on the day that school started again. then, i came down with the cold. then, his therapist came down with it. on top of his nagging cough, my son started getting nose bleeds. on top of the terrible cough and nose bleeds, he is also going through a mysterious bout of diarrhea that has lasted close to a month. then, i awoke this morning to find my son had projectile vomited all over himself and his room. to recap: 3 weeks without school; cancelled therapy; a cold; constant nose bleeds; diarrhea; vomit, and my own cold. my son is beyond tired of being cooped up at home, but we can’t do anything about it. we are grounded. i see his speech starting to disappear into lazy babble; his anxiety over going places rising to match his level of boredom. and i, in my weakened state, feeling incapable of denying the constant craving for dark chocolate that i have been dealing with since the holiday season began. this is it. this is winter. nowhere to run.

last night we watched an episode of the show black mirror, where a worried mother has a tracking chip implanted into her 3 year old daughter. it also allows her to “filter” out disturbing things. when the girl walks past lunging barking dogs; sees a violent interaction; or sees someone upset; something explicit or someone having an accident; the image and sound are blurred out. the girl doesn’t experience anything negative. as she grows up she develops aggressive, violent behavior; and acts out sexually and with drugs. all of the things that she was protected from sort of explode inside of her. it felt pretty profound, this metaphor laden show. a mother trying to protect her child from bad experiences, from negative feelings; from all of the things that we cannot escape in the world and within ourselves. no matter where you go, there you are.

just before i got pregnant, i had decided on a new tactic to avoid christmas and beat the holiday/winter blues. i was going to start an annual tradition of going to a tropical climate every year at christmas. i would use my vacation time each year to spend a few days alone in the sunshine instead of dealing with mouthy relatives; card tables stacked with fatty, sugary foods; all while feigning delight over redundant, impersonal gifts. but by the next christmas, i was at home with a newborn. my plan of escaping winter would never come to be. that first winter as a newborn i saw my son in agonizing pain with colic as his digestive system; seemingly under-developed, tried to adapt. with his first winter colds he was paralyzed, curled up in a ball on my lap. the first time that he threw up he screamed with anger and confusion over what was happening to him. i could see how his body was just forming; learning to process those things; his immune system building itself.

for the past few weeks i’ve been using a therapeutic light lamp that simulates daylight. every morning when i wake up i sit at the kitchen table with the lamp on for about an hour before my son gets up. this is my way of trying to combat the winter blues this year- a little faux-sunshine. while i can’t say it has magically transformed me into a ray of sun and erased winter from my psyche; it has taken the edges off of my moods. allowed me a little clarity; the ability to stand back and notice myself in the thick of things. i look outside and see how much the plants have needed the rain; how everything is now a vibrant shade of green. how my son now treats colds as an annoyance instead of an attack. how much he appreciates school once he returns from time off; how the teacher and the toys and songs and games there feel new again once he’s been away from them. i see how winter serves as a black background to the rest of the seasons- how it makes the colors of spring & fall pop; how living through the cold makes the warm feel somehow warmer. my new motto is this too shall pass. for now, there are oversized sweaters and over the knee boots; pink camelia & azalea bushes; simmering pots of pozole;couch snuggles under faux fur throw blankets; and clear plastic raincoats.

these days.

00-tout-okeeffe-closet

georgia o’keefe’s closet via vogue.

my husband and i have been doing a lot of cleaning out around the house lately. he totally re-did our laundry room storage area and put in open shelving (’cause he’s cool like that). we also re-arranged our son’s room, after sorting through the mountain of christmas gifts that he received and thinning out the herd. then we tackled our shared closet and cleared out quite a bit of old t-shirts, records and abandoned running shoes aka junk. i love the feeling of clearing clutter, it somehow has the ability to make me feel like my life is not a spinning spiral of cray and everything is going to be ok. here are some things that are catching my eye of late.

  1. although i love having an empty space in my closet beneath my hanging clothes, i kinda need a little piece to hold my ridiculous collection of brightly colored/ultra gaudy vintage belts, metallic and hand-made clutches and espadrilles (with varying heel heights). it’s between this brass geo stand from west elm, and (more likely) this wire organizer from target. also eyeing this quilted storage bin and these stackable wood bins for my son’s room.
  2. i plowed through joan juliet buck’s the price of illusion in about a week, i could not put it down. she has had such a super extra remarkable life. artfully told recollections of growing up around hollywood royalty like john (and her best friend anjelica) huston, peter o’toole and lauren bacall. crazy tales about travel, money, power and everyone in fashion from guy bourdin, karl lagerfeld, yves saint laurent and of course anna wintour. romances with the likes of donald sutherland, california governor jerry brown and leonard cohen. and at the center of it all, a complex relationship with her father. one of my favorite books of all time.
  3. current favorite lazy dinner from trader joe’s: roasted chicken patties over zucchini spirals, topped with either almond butter turmeric dressing or vegan kale cashew basil pesto. also fully hooked on their pistachio cranberry bites.
  4. i didn’t really make resolutions this year, but i have vowed to finally start taking care of my under-things. i got myself some new underwear, along with some mesh laundry bags to keep them from falling apart. i feel like a grown up now.
  5. brushing teeth is always a struggle with my son. i got him this dentrust 3-sided toothbrush and he loves it. it covers a lot of territory in way less time, so i can get in and out of there quick.
  6.  last weekend while standing in the candy aisle at sprouts i spotted this jo jo’s chocolate bark with a label that read “kick the craving.” i bought it based solely on that statement, and holy crow, it’s pretty much the best thing i ever tasted.
  7. i love this piece in the cut: 25 famous women on thrift store shopping.
  8. i finally found a non-dairy creamer that honestly tastes and feels like half and half without all the weird corn syrup chemical shiz. praise.
  9. how pretty are these little ballerina heels?
  10. can’t wait to watch the new david bowie documentary: the last five years.

the end.

diary.

here we are winding down december, winding down the year, and yet! time seems strange to me now. november was sort of a lost month for me. much of it spent nursing sicknesses with twin peaks episodes and madonna videos and all of the kings of late night. savoring all of the daylight i can get at and doing my best to appreciate california’s mild winters, as ever. using a rare couple of hours without the kid to sink into cushy seats and enormous tubs of popcorn and my husband’s warm hands at a movie theater. wading into the sea of a most precious sort of nostalgia courtesy of lady bird. december is feeling like the sprint at the end of a marathon. looking back on the year i feel like i amassed some wisdom, but it was hard won. this has been a karmically heavy year for me. a whole lot of reckoning, not unlike the rest of the country. despite this i’m still feeling a bit dazzled by christmas, maybe because of my son, for whom there is nothing more exciting than opening another door on his advent calendar or shouting “hey!” while singing “jingle bells.”

hope your holidays are sweet.