The Pinterest Complex

What does one buy her husband to make up for the general craziness of the writing/blogging/freelancing life putting the sex life on the back burner when Important Things Are Happening that Must Be Attended to Right This Minute? I'm thinking the man-equivalent to Something Shiny and Sparkly. Don't say a Ferrari. I'm freelancing. That Writer-Speak for "Looks Good On Paper Only" with "Fucking Broke" understood to be the most accepted translation. Besides, it's not like I came home smelling like another man's cologne or something. That, my friends, would require what normal people tend to refer to as "Free Time".  I have been told this "Free Time" is something one can only find outside of The Internet and requires the separation, if only temporary, mind you, of self and laptop. Always interesting, this learning about the habits of the Non-Writer.

The other night, after a frantic nod to, um, Quality Time, (and a "Was That Good For You? Yes? Good!," exchange as I bolted out of the room and into my email to reply to a revision request from my editor, I realized I'm married to a saint. I mean, I knew that before Oh Husband Whom I Know is Reading These Words, but sometimes, the little Aha! Moments tend to jump out and say You Have No Idea How Difficult You Are to Live With Sometimes and Why is Pinterest Giving His Penis a Complex?

Let's discuss, shall we? Or would it be easier to just get a calendar and a Sharpie and circle the other days of the month indicating:

  • Deadlines
  • Twitter parties
  • Sherlock
  • That blog post I REALLY need to write about that thing that just went viral that I'll go to my grave swearing a tiny part of me wasn't convinced my brilliant response would go viral, too
  • General stabbiness because ten different bloggers TOLD me I'm a much better writer than that two-bit hack that went viral only because she got lucky (after I asked them, of course)
  • My fictional characters in that novel I'm writing just acted out the next scene inside my head I have to write RIGHT now or I lose it all
  • The kid drove me nuts all day
  • PINTEREST
  • Live-tweeting Downton Abby
  • I got in a phone fight with his mom
  • I got in a phone fight with my mom
  • We're out of chocolate
  • We're out of wine
  • We're out of chocolate-flavored wine
  • The hours I need to comb through blog archives in search of THE PERFECT PIECE of literary wit to submit to --
  • A) Listen To Your Mother
  • B) Blogher Voices of the Year
  • That Facebook quiz I need to take to figure out what character I'm most like in Harry Potter, which leads me to the one about what kind of French cheese I am
  • The dishes in the sink that aren't gonna do themselves
  • The fifteenth online book launch party this month for yet another friend I can't let down
  • The twitter argument I have to finish with this idiot who has no fucking clue who they're messing with
  • The planets are out of alignment
  • Mercury is in retrograde .... Again
  • File another invoice while secretly cursing the chick with the 300 Sandwiches and the book deal
  • I'm busy buying 19 more URL's for ideas I'll never get to...just in case
  • Frantic text conversations with the online friends I've yet to meet in person discussing Important Things like how many pairs of shoes to pack for that conference none of us have actually purchased tickets for yet
  • My 1,000 word goal for the day is still 989 words short
  • The NEED to Google my blog Alexa rank RIGHT NOW even though I still have no idea what it means
  • Which, obviously, is to be followed up by checking my Klout score
  • *Googling "Does Klout Matter to People who don't think in 140?
  • I haven't yet taken 30 selfies from different angles, narrowed it down to the perfect one, and thought up a witty caption for that #365feministselfie thing and posted it EVERYWHERE before I even THINK of getting naked
  • That important email I'm waiting for that will show up right now if I keep hitting refresh
  • The conference call I'm waiting on in east coast time with everybody else in west coast time
  • The kid drove me nuts all day & we're out of chocolate-flavored wine
  • The writing and scheduling of next week's blog posts
  • When I was frisky while he was at work and I was home alone and I took care of it myself already because I was being proactive and really should be congratulated for thinking ahead to free up my night to ...
  • Pick any of the above

Damn. Poor guy puts up with a lot, doesn't he?

We writers are a special bunch. And the people who are nuts enough to love us deserve their own reality shows, I think. Because when we make it big? That's when we make it up to them and they can proudly tell the world they knew marrying the crazy lady would totally pay off in the end.

Just let me finish up this chapter so I can write this blog post and hit Publish because dammit, this one's gonna go viral.

I just know it.

 

Memories, wishes, & assholes

 

We've lived in this house since May of 2013. We aren't even close to being  completely organized. Our basement is a mess of boxes and garbage bags full of out of season clothing and stuffed animals Eliana has outgrown. If we're missing anything from our last move (the fifth in four years), we wouldn't know it.

Our old landlord called yesterday to let us know we had left a box behind and was kind enough to meet The Husband to hand it off yesterday. Inside, we found memories we didn't realize were missing.

There's one of me at 21. The  Boyfriend that eventually became The Husband had whisked me away for our first romantic weekend getaway to Mackinac Island. Truth? Yes, it was a weave and no, he didn't know it yet. When the truth eventually came out, he was visibly relieved. Turns out the tracks connecting the weave to my scalp had left a lot of unanswered questions in those wild with abandon moments during which he ran his fingers through my hair.

Monkey toes.

She was so tiny when she was born. Long little limbs. The longest fingers and toes I have ever seen on a newborn attached to the daintiest pudge-free baby feet ever to have existed. She was six pounds and 21 inches with a perfectly round head that made everyone who saw her assume she was a c-section (she wasn't).

I remember looking at this picture when I first saw the proof. It took a minute to realize that my baby's ankle was positioned just above my arm and her toes stretched far below.

"We've given birth to a monkey, I think."

And the nickname stuck.

 

My mother's parents were killed in a car accident on their way back from a trip to Mexico when I was 10-months-old. My grandfather had been a native of Guadalajara (which, I guess, explains my hair), and my grandmother had been American-born but raised, for part of her childhood, in northern Mexico. My mother  was supposed to have gone on that trip with her parents but had decided at the last minute to stay home. I was just baby; too young to leave with family.

At 19, my mother buried her parents.

I lived in my paternal grandparents' home in Detroit for the first three years of my life with my own mother and father. My mom likes to tell the stories like how my Guelo was feeding me beans and rice at six-months-old and how I called my Guela "Mom" and called my mother "Dorothy." I remember going to Bingo with Guela and I remember translating an entire conversation between my grandmother and a postal worker dropping off a package while home alone with her one afternoon.

My grandmother died when I was six, leaving my sisters and me with one grandparent. He was  just over  five-feet-tall and was a big, round belly. In my entire memory, he is retired, always balding, with sharp, hazel-green eyes. His voice is gruff, his English choppy and so heavily accented it's impossible to understand. He commands respect and once drove an old station wagon and had a dog he called Come Cuando Hay which literally means "Eats When There Is." Every Sunday we ate dinner at Tia and Tio's house and every Sunday, Guelo left with a bag of bones and meat scraps and leftover beans and arroz. That's when Come Cuando Hay could eat because there was.

Guelo called us his cabronas. His little assholes. To me, that's just proof that anything in Spanish can be made into a term of endearment if said with love and a smile.

Andale, mis hermosas cabronitas.

Come on over here, my beautiful little assholes.

And there it was.

Love and a smile.

NaBloPoMo: The Little Bits

 

So...long time, no blog, huh? I kinda think I need to show ID or something to prove I belong here. As busy as I've been (and still am) I shouldn't be here right now. But that's the way of it, ironically. Sometimes our writing makes us too busy to...you know... write.

I remember when I had the luxury of staying up until 3 am to get that post out that just had to be written. And that year that I churned out the first draft of the manuscript that got me my agent while simultaneously blogging like a crazy woman because writing more, frankly, makes me crazy less. But things change. Priorities shift. I got to do all of that aforementioned writing spree-happiness when I didn't have a job. Now that I do, I tend to stay up until 3 am working on a deadline, getting a few hours of sleep, and then waking up to homeschool my daughter before I sit down to work again. Until 3 a.m.

Hello hamster. Meet Wheel.

This blog used to serve as my scrapbook, of sorts. I never did a baby book (very well, anyway), nor have I written with a pen in a journal since I was in high school and dotted my "i's" with puffy hearts. But I was covered because if Eliana made me smile when eleventeen used to be a number or that time she told me I was beautiful, I took a picture with words and hit publish and then it was saved for always. And you can bet your sweet ass I "captured" the time she yawned out a chipmunk-voiced mother fucker at just 18-months-old because, obviously. But it was more than that. I can't tell you how much this blog has saved me on co-pays for therapy.

Lately though, I've had to skip the little bits that matter so much in favor of the work and responsibility. Don't get me wrong. I love my job. And my editor kicks ass. But I do feel like I'm cheating myself because those missing words are still trapped in my brain. I really don't think I'll have room for more unless I Write Them Out.

So I'm going to do something Slightly Crazy. I just signed up to participate in BlogHer's #NaBloPoMo. I'm a few days late, but I'll just go with some story about me showing up fashionably late for the party.

Here's to the little bits.

Trick or...Complex???

The internet is the greatest time suck ever invented. Yes, it's where I make my living. But I'd probably get a hell of  lot more sleep if I stopped reading Things Written by Other People. Like this story on CBS News about the judgmental asshat getting ready to present giddy little kids decked out in their vampire costumes with candy....if your kid passes the visual once-over for not being too fat, that is. No, I'm dead fucking serious. My friend Deb over at Truthful Mommy already wrote about it here. Normally, I'd be happy to just pretend I don't have an opinion (which, frankly, I suck at) but this is important. Mainly because What The Hell?

As a mother, I can't imagine the effect on a child's body image, self-esteem, self-image (and quite obviously) a letter like this one will have...

As a life-long recovering bulimic, I can tell you what this letter would have done to me as a young girl; it would have crushed me, broken my very spirit, and sent me into a frenzied sugar-filled binge/purge cycle because the mean lady called me fat. Obesity rates and BMIs go right out the window on all levels when you're dealing with an eating-disordered child or adult. We can be so rail thin that our fragile bones can barely hold us upright to so severely overweight that we cheer ourselves for successfully masking our inner-turmoil behind the fat society won't bother to look beyond. Giving anybody, child to adult, the once-over and making a judgement-based call on perceived health is not only irresponsible, it's stupid.

What if the kid has a bum thyroid, y'all? What if it's that cute pudgy stage a lot of kids go through before hitting another growth spurt before they lean out again? And what if they are actually fat? I'll tell you what...when they knock on that door or ring that bell and you look out into that sea of happy faces who still believe strangers are nice people from whom we can still take candy? It's time to smile back, drop the Preachy Judgy Bullshit and just had out the fucking chocolate. Not your child. Not your job.

It takes a village to raise a child, she says? Let me tell you what I say in The Letter For the Lady with the Fat Letters:

Happy Halloween and Happy Holidays, Neighbor!

*Insert Unimaginative Photo Shopped Pumpkin Here*

You are probably wondering why I'm writing up this note. Have you ever heard the saying It takes a village to raise a child? Oh, you have? Interesting... seeing as how you're note to our children indicates you have no fucking clue where the village holds its monthly meeting. Turns out only Those Who's Homes My Kid has Defiled With Peed Carpets While Potty Training have voting rights and even they know I'll kick their ass for even broaching the topic of weight in front of said child. That shit is best saved for when the kids are running off the sugar high and me and the Village are kicked back with a nice bottle of wine. I might not like or agree with what they have to say, but at least their words won't be the reason my kid ends up in therapy in five years because they said TREAT and you said COMPLEX!

My child is moderately obese, you say? I'm sorry but I didn't catch your name...Doctor...???

They shouldn't be consuming candy like The Other Children, you say? I'll bet you are a hoot at the office Christmas party after a few paper cups of boxed wine.

You hope I Step Up as a Parent, you say? You got it. I've already alerted the village and I'm sorry to inform you that you've been voted off the island. Cease and desist all contact with our children immediately.

Thank You.

P.S.: If you didn't want to pass out candy, just fucking say so like the rest of us.

Sincerely,

The Head Villager

 

The Master Plan

The Husband is making setting the coffee maker for the morning and counting his blessings he's gotta work during the day, seeing as how I'm currently writing a blog post that may or may not have me explaining to the Men in Black that I took my meds. Hopefully my kid won't be sneezing while I'm blinking prettily and explaining What a Blog Is and that Sarcasm is a Thing because she's more likely to ask for Adderall than she is Benadryl and Lord Help Me, I've tried explaining multiple times that Mama takes the one that starts with an A and Let's Not Say That Out Loud Anymore, Okay?

I'll bet you're wondering why you're looking at a picture of a dollar store light house, a bunch of birthday candles marked 'TNT", and a key chain alarm clock. Perhaps, you are asking yourself, The Master Plan is a cry for help?

Look at all the free time this woman must have, you might be thinking. The construction paper TNT marker on the candles? The candle wax "fused" together with a drop of hot glue? Obviously she needs an intervention. Quick! Someone hold her down and we can all bust out with the rainbow loom! That's at least Productive, right?

Well listen up, Judgey McJudgerson, because this is all actually about to make sense. Stop laughing and let me explain: This little psuedo-bomb concoction is actually serving as the Welcome Sign for the visiting Best Friends. Still with me? 'Cuz there's an explanation for that one, too.

We are born and bred metro-Detroiters and when we left five years ago, we left behind the BFF-Couple we both love. We spent weekends hanging out, no one felt the need to hide the pile of dirty clothes in a closet for appearance's sake, and there are private jokes involving fluffy pants and out houses with pet spiders bigger than your head. It was beautiful.

Every year when the leaves were a gorgeous autumn mix of reds and golds, we'd pack up the truck, the dogs, ourselves, and drive (and drive) to the Upper Peninsula for a week of camping (hotel optional). As long as we were within driving distance of a Walmart, we were happy and loved exploring places like Pictured Rocks and Tahquamenon Falls. The latter is actually where The Master Plan was born, my friends.

We were sight-seeing, checking out a light house, and when we got hungry, we all headed back to the Suburban to eat an "indoor" picnic while surfing the web on a laptop for our next stop. I should probably mention that we were in the middle of a very, ummmm, monochromatic area and that The  (heavily beared) Husband and I are about six shades darker than The BFF's and that this was all relayed to the local cops when a fellow light house visitor walked by the suburban and decided we must have kidnapped the white people. Plus, we were On the Internet and obviously we must be planning to blow up the joint, right?

Of course, we didn't know any of this until we were in the lookout area back at the top of the lighthouse and the cops pulled up and flanked the truck. Because we are all smart-asses and knew we hadn't broken any laws eating our sammiches, we took our time mosey-ing our way to the beach to look for pretty rocks. The cops, we figured, could come to us.

Eventually, we had a State Trooper join us, looking all kinds of uncomfortable and obviously already aware that the asshat that had called on The Terrorist and his wife was, in fact, a giant asshat and not the brilliant informer he had assumed himself to be. The conversation, when he finally approached us, went something like this:

State Trooper:  I'm sorry to bother you folks but...we had a call that a man with a beard was on the internet in the back of a truck facing the light house.

Me: What the Holy Hell?

The Husband: It's because I'm Mexican, isn't it?

State Trooper: Actually, sir, the caller actually thought you were of Arab decent.

The Husband: Right...because that makes it better?

State Trooper: Well, not when you put it that way.

The White People We Are Friends With: *motioning furiously at me and The Husband*  THEY KIDNAPPED US AND FEED US DOG FOOD!

State trooper (ignoring The White People We Are Friends With): I'm really sorry...the caller was concerned you might be planning to maybe set off a bomb...

Me: Not until after we ate. I never plan terrorist attacks on an empty stomach.

State Trooper:  I'm really sorry...

Then me and Mel (the girl-half of the BFF-Couple) flanked the State- Trooper and yelled CHEESE as The Husband snapped a picture of us smiling big smiles while he tried avoiding all eye contact.

It's one of my favorite pictures ever.

So the State Trooper left and the incident turned into a giant running joke called The Master Plan and now our BFFs are looking at the homemade bomb and we are all wistful and giggling like 6th-graders and it's the best night ever.

And that, my friends, is the reason I'll make sure I put a bra on when I wake up so I'm ready for the Feds when they show up. I'll be honest...I'm gonna be kind of disappointed if they don't.

 

Pretty as a Princess

 

A random stranger wished my daughter luck today. What she was really saying as she made eye contact with my five-year-old instead of meeting my eyes was that she was sorry my daughter had the misfortune to be born to me instead of someone else.

Maybe a nice lady with a sense of humor who understood the nuances of a little girl’s imagination and forgave little indiscretions like purposefully ignoring strangers compliments on her beautiful curls or comments about whatever adorable princess outfit she has decided to wear out of the house on that particular day. But good luck is apparently needed and will be offered, no qualms about the judgement on my mothering that is handed along with it, because she was born to me and had the gall to be rude and ignore my fourth reminder that day that if she’s going to wear costumes in public, little old ladies are going to gush because that’s just the way things go.

What a pretty princess!

I’m NOT a princess. (Hands on hips.) I’m just pretending.

Oh. You are TOO a princess and with such beautiful curls.

Blink. Blink. Blink.

She is bored with the concept of having to explain to adults who should know better that she isn’t really royalty from an animated movie. She isn’t really a superhero ballerina in a tutu with a cape and cowboy boots. She’s just is who she is and that happens to be a little girl who really doesn’t give a flying fuck if you like her outfit or not because she chose to wear what she has on today because it makes her happy and that happy is being drained every time she has to explain to you peasants that she’s not really a princess but a five-year-old with an imagination and a sense of self so strong I applaud it just as much as I cry thinking about the hell I’m in for when she becomes a teenager.

So I take a deep breath to remind myself that I want to not beat this spirit out of her. To remind myself that I need to help focus her energies to recognize that there comes responsibility with stepping out into the public eye as a princess. Or a superhero. Or a superhero princess in a cape with a crown and mismatched socks and a wand to freeze the bad guys. Because a sense of self that strong, one in which the opinion of others has no bearing on what I decide to wear or how I act in certain situations or how I feel, is something I am still working daily to attain.

I’m jealous of her confidence because it’s the confidence that allows her to not care what you think now that makes me believe will help her avoid the path I took and the daily battle I fight every time I look in the mirror when she’s older. And, as her mother, I’m very aware that I can celebrate her confidence only if I’m making sure that respect for herself, her elders, and sweet strangers giving compliments are part of the package. Without respect and kindness, confidence is easily confused as just plain rude.

It’s my job to make sure she is as strong and self-assured as she is polite and understanding that a simple thank you will suffice. We’ve have this conversation countless times. But my child is bull-headed. While she may understand that she may stand out in public for her princess attire and cowboy boots, she’s also not sure why anyone else cares what she is wearing and feels the need to start up a conversation about it. This is when I explain that the lady at Walgreens doesn’t know that every single person she encountered today has tried having the exact same conversation with her and that even if she is bored with it, she is the one who made the choice to not blend in and must therefore learn to be patient and polite.

She rolls her eyes. I grit my teeth, take a deep breath, and explain to a five-year-old who is perfectly aware the she is being rude (again) that she is being rude (again).

Baby, remember what we talked about with Daddy? That when you wear your fun outfits, nice strangers are going to want to tell you how cute you look as a princess?

Yes.(She mumbles because it’s the fourth time today she’s heard this.)

And remember how we said if you are going to argue with every stranger that calls you a princess by telling them that are you not a princess when you are dressed like one that it’s just back to the regular clothes in your closet until you can learn to just smile and nod because arguing with nice old ladies is rude, baby?

Yes. (She mumbles again because she doesn’t really want to be bothered with having to apologize to this woman who is now openly staring at me and my defiant little girl who surpassed brat and became bitch long before I was ready for it. That’s my fault. The not being ready, I mean. There are mirrors. I own a few.)

I’ve been told often how I cloned myself when I gave birth. I use to tell people cloning probably would have been less painful, but then I forget that labor was temporary. This woman judging me for reprimanding my free-spirited child for countless missteps and purposeful rudeness and the failure to respect her elders by simply nodding and smiling and acknowledging their kindnesses…this is not. I somehow know, standing there at the Walgreens pharmacy that this woman is going to go home and tell her husband or her kids or her girlfriend and maybe all of her Facebook friends about this bitch at the store who told her five-year-old she couldn’t dress like a princess in public until she learned to mind her manners when gushed over by grandmothers and grandfathers alike.

I imagine her saying things like:

That poor kid hasn’t got a chance. She’s five. FIVE. How many five-year-olds actually say thank you for stupid shit like this. And in public, this mom makes her kid apologize to me for telling me she isn’t really a princess. Can you believe that? I mean, seriously. Kid needs all the luck she can get…

But I still haven’t gotten my prescription and that’s because the store is out of my Adderall for my severe ADHD but here’s the bottle for the Xanax to take the edge off of that anxiety. No one knows or cares — nor should they care –  that I have gone three days without my full dose of Adderall to slow my brain and calm my nerves and help me breathe and think and be. And now, I have to wait until I get back into the truck with the princess who isn’t really a princess and drive an hour back into town to the closest store that can fill my prescription so I can take a pill and wait for it to work its way into my bloodstream. First, though, I tell the woman staring at me with contempt for having the nerve to expect my daughter to have manners when she’s going out of the way to draw attention to herself, thank you very much, that my daughter is five because that’s what I was just asked.

How old is she.

And the question isn’t really a question but more of a challenge and enunciated just so to let me know that she is judging me and has no problem making it known. It’s not a question but a challenge to not bully my kid because she’s five and for fuck’s sake woman, have a heart because she’s five.

Can you please apologize to the nice lady for not saying thank you when she complimented your dress?

But m-o-o-o-o-o-m. I’m not really a prince…

Say it one more time and you can donate all of your princess outfits to little girls who aren’t lucky enough to have a trunkful of dress up clothes and would love to be called a princess just once by a kind stranger. One. More. Time.

Ok. I’m sorry, mama.

Not to me, baby. Please apologize to the lady. And please say thank you, like you should have in the first place.

Ok, mama.

She looks a the woman who is looking back at her with pity. She apologizes for her rudeness and thanks the woman for the originally ignored compliment that started this whole mess, but only because she knows she has crossed the line in the sand.

I thank my child for listening and kiss her on the head and tell her that I love her and maybe when we get home we can watch a movie together or what book did she want me to read to her tonight because all is forgiven because she is five but I’ll be damned if she’s wearing a fucking costume out the house again until she learns to smile and nod because Punky Brewster is sassy and sweet and I know this and so does everyone else who knows my child which means thanks must be given for every compliment received by those who do not.

I am old-school Mexican-American in many way. Respect your elders. Please and thank you and you are welcome and Mande instead of Que when asked a question we need repeated because mande is the polite way to say what and que is just construed as rude by the adult asking the original question. I am a coconut in many others. Brown on the outside and white on the inside. I am English dominant. I have forgotten much of the Spanish that once was my primary language. My daughter knows more Chinese than Spanish because Kai Lan is less annoying than Dora. And while I might suck at teaching her the language I once thought in, I’m not raising a little girl who doesn’t know how what manners are.

Good luck, little one.

That’s the woman’s response to my daughter as their eyes meet and I am purposefully left out of the exchange because I am the one being apologized for by a stranger to the child I bore. Because I am the one being judged for the back story she will never know.

My daughter says nothing and squeezes my hand and I have the sense that she understands that something beyond her has just happened but she’s not going to ask and I’m not going to explain. Not yet.

We leave the store, judgement boring holes into my back.

 

** This piece was originally published in October of 2012 and was also posted on Girl Body Pride.

 

Outspoken

I am many things. A mother. A writer. A Wife and lover of all things Dr. Who.

I'm ADHD and I'm anxiety and I'm really, really bad at putting the forks back in the same spot every time I unload the dishwasher.

I'm allergic to the world, infertile, and at 35, I'm dealing with major hormonal imbalances that are a total pain in my ass. I'm an insomniac and a tennis player and a paleo-eating, homeschooling accidental hippie. I'm the Mexican living in Maine.

I'm in love with possibility and a master of procrastination. I can't tell you how many spectacular things I want to accomplish but maybe after I pin this one last thing.

Butterflies. I'm a lover of those, too. Especially when they are fluttering about in my gardens. Not so much when they've taken up residence in my stomach. Like now.

I'm a life-long recovering bulimic on a mission. I'm a founder and self-image activist and Weight Loss Industry survivor.

I'm in therapy. Or at least I would be more often if my therapist read my blog every now and then, because in the time that passes between writing something I need to talk about more and showing up 15 minutes late for my appointment, I've written about four more and the clock is ticking  so I talk about my kid and her anxiety instead.

I'm a contradiction in terms; outspoken and afraid to speak. So I say what I can when the time comes to say it with words that appear letter by letter on a screen.

Right now, I have something to say.

I want to apologize to Cherice Morales on behalf of all that is decent and right in this world. I want to tell her mother that I am so very sorry her daughter's bravery in reporting being raped by her teacher when she was 14 was pushed away like that bravery meant nothing. Twice. I want to hug the friends and family left behind after Cherice took her own life while her case was still pending and tell them how I want to be like Cherice when I grow up.

I want to ask that judge exactly what the fuck he was thinking when he sentenced ex-teacher Stacey Rambold to serve just 30 days of a 15-year prison sentence. I want to know how he'd feel if it had been his 14-year-old granddaughter who was said to be"as much in control of the situation" as the authority figure who admitted to raping her. Would he still blame the victim? Would he be angry if someone said the rapist deserved a break because the victim looked older than she actually was?

I want to tell that judge that his 81-word apology is bullshit and that I don't believe him. I do believe he is sorry to be the center of a public outcry for his resignation. He's sorry he got caught. No more. No less.

I want to ask the Washington Post who thought publishing the op-ed piece arguing for the legal acceptance of consensual sexual relationships between teachers and their underage students was a good idea. I want to ask the writer if she used Cherice Morales as her example because she legitimately thought there was a valid reason to do so and why, considering the small fact that both Cherice and the rapist teacher both stated their sexual relationship was not consensual. I want to ask the writer, an artist and former lawyer, to look me in the eye when she answers. I want to see if she's got the balls to admit that the shit storm that hit after her piece was published was the end goal.

No one ever looks at the byline unless the reporter pisses them off.

I want to ask all these things and know I won't be happy with the answers. I want to thank Cherice Moralez for being strong enough to open up to her family and press charges because so many victims never do. I want to tell her that assholes -- like that judge and the Washington Post and that lawyer painter writer who thinks teachers having consensual sex with their students is a phenomenal idea -- will always exist. And that for every unsympathetic idiot in a position of authority who thinks like they do, there are so many more willing to listen so that girls like Cherice feel safe in revealing their abuse.

Because that matters.

I am many things. I'm sarcastic and say bad words a lot. But usually for good reasons. I'm full of good intentions that are, more often than not, completely misplaced. I'm a mother raising a daughter to know that she can always come to me if the unthinkable happens. That I will support her. And that even after recent events, it will always be okay to speak out.

Because I never did.

 

30scondmom: Self-worth & Scrubbing Stoves

My house is spotless.

This is directly related to the fact that The Husband, Eliana, and I leave before I usually drag my ass out of bed in the morning for New York for my Secret Thing and my first visit to Latina Magazine offices since I started writing my Dimelo advice column.

I should be sleeping. I swept, scrubbed, and organized instead. Minus the lack of sleep, The Husband is all for high-anxiety freakfests triggered by things like, say, going to New York for a Secret Thing and vising the Latina offices for the first time since I started writing that column. Mainly because the house gets some much needed TLC and because we both know I'm not scrubbing a damned thing until the next time something big is going on. Or the Adderall wears off.

Since I'm waiting for the laundry to finish so I can fold it before climbing into bed, I figured I'd use the time I have to officially invite you to the 30Secondmom Twitter Party I'm leading on Wednesday night, 9 p.m. EST.

Being confident and believing in your self-worth isn't about weight, beauty, or that kickass corner office with the receptionist. It's about knowing yourself and loving who you are during the good, the bad, and the nights when bleaching garbage cans at 1 a.m. seems like the right thing to do.

RSVP here to be eligible for prizes. And don't forget to BYOB.

 

Blogher13: The Loner's Conference Guide

When I was a sophomore in high school, I found myself sitting on a hotel bed trying not to cry.

I was in Orlando, Florida with the marching band, and because no one had wanted to room with me, not even the flag girls, I ended up in the extra bed of a room shared by a group of the Popular Girls. One was a cheerleader. Another was a star soccer player. And I was the girl no one wanted in their room only because there happened to be an extra bed.

 

Every year the band raised money to travel to a new location for a performance and that year we were all about Mickey and Epcot and All Things Disney. We had plenty of time to tour the park outside of our performance commitment, and I blissfully attached myself to the room number my roommates shared because that was my only proof that I belonged anywhere.

Until the high school seniors I had leeched onto very kindly sat me down and haltingly explained that we might share a room, but that didn't mean I was their friend.

Even while they said the words and I crumbled inside, I knew they were right. And because I had felt lost, I attached myself to their group without asking if they minded. I'm not mad at them for doing what they did. I'm grateful, actually, because as I found myself wandering BlogHer13 happily alone at times, I thought about the parallels to the insecure 16-year-old who just needed to belong.

A lot has changed. A lot has stayed the same. I might still have bad days, but I'm also arrived in Chicago with only the MultiCulti on my schedule and left proud of myself for going with the flow. I've read posts by friends about their jam-packed schedules and am thrilled they had so much to do and choose from. But I'm thrilled for them.

I was thrilled to have time to take my daughter to the American Girl Store and decided at the last minute that I just had to get to the Voices of the Year where I had the opportunity to tell Dresden Schumaker, one of last year's speakers, that her words still stuck with me and I thanked her for sharing them. Imagine my surprise when she congratulated me on my column and I managed not to blurt out "you know who I am?"

Dresden did. And she made me smile.

Eliana and my mom outside of what has beeb deemed The Best Store in the World.

I wandered the hotel lobby and ran into Elisa All, founder of 30 second mom,  and one of my favorite bosses of all time. I found Deborah Cruz and Jenny Chiu and hugged them both because karma was kind and our paths were meant to cross in a place where hugs and verbal validation were possible. I met a woman working on a documentary about lead poisoning in America and am committed to helping promote her work because it is simply amazing. I inspired a woman to start the blog that made her smile just talking about it and she made sure to find me again and thank me. And then I thanked her for reminding me why I live for the chance hallway/bathroom/elevator meetups.

For me, these stolen moments are the heart of the conference experience. I can plan anything. I'll miss half of it. I always do. But the paths I'm meant to cross and the connections waiting to be made if I'm open to the opportunities as they present themselves? That's why I go.

The only difference between 16-year-old me and 35-year-old-me is that today, I'm perfectly content to wander independently, and that my friends, is fucking empowering.

 

 

Kumbaya, Bonfires, & Fuckability

No one ever said I was subtle. I recently had the honor of participating as a panelist on Gigi Ross' Bonfire Chat on Sex & Body Image with a group of incredible women. My goal is to get every single one in the same place at the same time (I'm talking Girl Body Pride Weekend Retreat, y'all) and sing Kumbaya as we high five each other for how great we all think our own asses are, and see how many times we can use the word "fuckability" in a sentence.

Then?

We each take turns stating the two things we love about ourselves so we all go to bed Feeling Empowered and Entirely in the Realm of Fuckability (see? The word...it flows...) and thank Gigi for bringing us all together in the first place.

Because there's nothing like hearing someone else say the words you've been saying and knowing that Other People Get It and Understand. Relating with and being validated by others is incredibly therapeutic and powerful. This Bonfire Chat might even save me a copay on a therapy visit because I'm flying pretty high right now on the absolute OOMPH rising out of the combined voices of women discussing how our self-perceptions and body image issues affect our sex lives, who gets the blame for making us all think we aren't perfect if we don't fit an unrealistic ideal perpetuated by the media (hint? I'm not pointing the Finger of Blame at the media entirely because Honey Boo Boo isn't watching itself and the world seems to be getting quite the kick out of buying magazines with stories calling Kim Kardashian fat for looking like a normal pregnant woman. Supply and Demand, my friends.)

I heard voices of body confidence, of the eating disordered, and voices echoing my own body image issues. We talked about how to teach our daughters to grow to love themselves and how to teach our sons to love our daughters as they will be and for the person they will become. And then we reminded ourselves that we are beautiful, strong, and fuckable only if we choose to believe we are. If we don't, our husbands and partners feel rejected, the lights stay off when we do have sex, and we miss out on the orgasms that are supposed to get better with age.

That's selling ourselves short, ladies.

I'm not saying I have all the answers, fixed the mess inside of my head, or that I don't have bad days (weeks and sometimes months) where I'm too busy concentrating on hating my body to feel sexy (because I don't, I do, and shit happens). What I am saying is that when it comes to body image in general, we all need to try to be a little nicer to the naked lady in the mirror in order and love ourselves just the way we are right here and now.

If you'd like to see the Sex & Body Image Bonfire Chat in its entirety, have at it. Either way, I want you to choose two things you love about you.

Me?

No matter what kind of day I'm having, I love my eyes and think my lips are dead sexy.

Now, let's relate and sing Kumbaya.

 

Housekeeping! (A List in Accented English)

* Yes, I did in fact say that in my head with an exaggerated Spanish-accented English voice. * Because I can.

* If you don't laugh, you're actually hurting my feelings.

* Things are insane.

* Hence, the list.

* Turns out you guys are all Made of Awesome.

* Why, you ask?

* Because 418 of you signed my Change.org petition to get Disney to drop the sex kitten crap with Merida.

* It's too late.

* Maybe.

* She's been crowned & the new image is available on a variety of Crap We'll Buy Our Kids Because We're Giant Suckers.

* And because even if she's been sexed up, the movie is still amazing.

* Oh right.

* Because if we tell our children it's the message that matters and not the size of her waistline, we done good.

* We have no choice, really, since Disney contradicted the very message behind Brave with this whole debacle.

* You know, the one about family, independence, and finding the strength to find out own fates within us?

* Yeah, that one.

* The happy asides?

* A Mighty Girl has a petition with over 18,000 signatures.

* Brave's director is a bit pissed off about the animated plastic surgery job, too.

* So high five on that, y'all.

* New subject.

* Keep up with me, will you?

* I've got an updated version of my Mind Over Medicine review on Girl Body Pride.

* You'll want to stop by.

* Gigi Ross from Kludgey Mom needs some love.

* And Lissa Rankin has written a book I promise you'll want to read.

* Trust me on this one.

* Also? I've got a winner for the Aspiring Mama giveaway of Mind Over Medicine.

* Tanessa Knoll? Buttercup just said Comment Number Two is my winner.

* So ... you're welcome.

* Email me your address, will ya?

* Twitter works, too.

* New subject.

* Yes.

* AGAIN.

* Buttercup is about to follow in Mama's footsteps.

* Little girl has been granted permission by The Mama (me) & The Daddy (The Husband) for a pretty cool gig.

* Girlfriend is going to be a regular contributor to Holly Fulger's Speaking of Beauty blogging team.

* Which also happens to include me.

* I know, right?

* The girl can read at a fourth grade level but has the typing skills of a 5-year-old.

* Probably because she is five.

* So I can't knock her for that.

* Instead, I'll be transcribing my baby's words and views on what beauty means to her.

* I promise not to edit what she says.

* I hope like hell I've done right by her and taught her that beauty is everywhere.

* That the only size that matters when it comes to beauty is the size of our hearts.

* And that society is full of assholes who will try & knock her down a peg or two but that they don't matter.

* I'll know I've succeeded in about 10 years.

* If the child is self-assured enough to wear this when she's 15 because it makes her happy without giving a damn what you think?

 

* I win at motherhood.

* Whiplash warning.

* New subject.

* I really need to take my Xanax.

* That wasn't the subject change.

* Just proof that I need the fucking Xanax.

* This is the subject change...

* Dammit.

* I forgot.

* No, wait.

* GOT IT!

* Girl Body Pride has new team members!

* Congrats to Heidi Zalamar and Margaret Elysia Garcia.

* You guys kick major ass.

* I promise to add your bios to the writer page sometime before 2014 hits.

* Was that all?

* No, seriously.

* I was asking you if I needed to cover anything else before I chase that Xanax with an instant espresso.

* Shut up.

* It works for me.

* Last subject.

* I'm still sitting in a secret.

* And it's a Big One.

* Oh...

* And The Husband just warned me to be on the lookout for the family of moose in the area when I let the dogs out.

* Drops Mic & Saunters Offstage.

 

Hearts and Flowers

 

I'm supposed to be writing this in Tucson, my feet tucked up nicely beneath me, while Eliana plays with her little besties she has known for most of her life. My friend Jill said Hotel What? No, you stay here! And we nodded happily and made sure to pack the flower girl dress and the bridesmaid dress and our shoes and asked the BFF where the hell my headband and pretty shrug were because I had torn my closet apart and Oh Thank God...she made me leave them at her house when I moved to Maine because I lose everything. I'm in control again, of only for a short while.

I was supposed to have written three other blog posts by now that may be obsolete by the time I have time to write them. And I wasn't supposed to be worried about a family emergency I can't do anything about from 28,000 feet.

Instead, I'm on a plane heading from Georgia to Tucson  for what is turning out to be the most expensive hand basket ever made. If you didn't get the reference, ask the other kids in class, cuz I've got a lot of material to cover here. So...moving on.

We missed yesterday's plane because the child had the kind of meltdown that led to her therapy. Delta rebooked us and was kind enough to waive enough of the change fee so we could afford to make the trip, but because of Life and Shit Hitting the Fan, that meant we had to wait until today for a flight.

The Four Points Sheraton across the street from the airport took pity on the sobbing mess that was me when I went to see if we could get a room once we realized we were stuck. Miss the morning flight out of Bangor and you missed your chance, period.

I was also supposed to have launched my writing and social media coaching services by now, annoyed all of my friends with requests for NEDA Awareness Week retweets, and possibly slept for more than 24 hours in the last week. But that was before the two ER trips and the day at the pediatrician and the resulting questioning looks from strangers when the five year old is wandering around with her legs so wide apart you'd think she has chaps on. The plastic doughnut she's got hooked on her arm like a security blanket confuses the hell out of the people really paying attention, but I don't have time to explain things like "cellulitis" and "drama queen" and "future broadway star" and "distress tolerance" and "anxiety."

Eliana is finally asleep after a morning only Xanax and a few deep breaths could cure (for ME, people. She's the one who took the deep breaths) and I am relieved. I need the quiet. There is so much to process.

I'm exhausted, but I'm not stupid. Falling asleep would be letting my guard down and if she wakes up and has another screaming fit because I DON'T WANT TO and LET'S GO BACK HOME, NOW!!! (she means Maine), and MAMA, PLEASE!!!!! aren't going to make the woman sitting in front of us on the plane a very happy neighbor. She's already turned around once to tell me she's trying to sleep because Buttercup and I were laughing at knock knock jokes. I was like SHE'S FIVE. She rolled her eyes and turned back around, mumbling about how she has an 8 year old. Which is nice, but I'm not sure how the apples and oranges belong in the same basket. I've got DDDs. The woman with the stick up her ass about the laughing child who was inconsolable only a few moments before because change scares the absolute shit out of her? Well, I didn't get a good look, but I'd ballpark them somewhere in the B-range.

My point? Just because we both have a set of  chi-chis doesn't mean we can trade bras. And my inner child almost wishes the my own child would freak out again and make me feel like the worst mom in the world because I can't fix it. Because then I could ask the woman how her nap was going.

Admit it. You'd feel better, too.

But karma is, it turns out, not always a bitch. We have the happy gay flight attendants chatting in the galley right behind us. This is being mentioned because 1) I miss having a gay boyfriend. I had one in college. And then there one who liked to hit on The Husband  whenever he picked me up for lunch when I was working as a reporter just because The Husband is hot and my GBF was adorable.

2) The Three Amigas are conversing, y'all. It's girl talk and it's loud and obnoxiously cute and I secretly hope the woman in front of me can't sleep.

Petty thoughts? Yes. I freely admit that.

But it's easier to be petty inside of my head while going back and forth with the therapist by email while trying to talk the child off of another ledge because something just set her off and we have no idea what it is or how to fix it or keep it from happening again. I'd rather focus on how she just woke up smiling and asked if she has ever told me that I am the flower of her heart while she plays with her ballerina sticker stage than the feeling of complete and utter helplessness that comes when nothing I say or do can make it better and The Husband has no choice but to leave us in the busy airport terminal so he can order lunch during a layover and I'm sitting on the floor with a child who went from logical, loving, and so adorable it's insane to completely and utterly inconsolable in a matter of seconds.

It's the In Between that does it. The Before, too. And sometimes, The After comes into play in the form of night terrors because we went to a Mexican wedding and my little girl isn't used to hands reaching out constantly to touch while she hides behind my dress because she wasn't exposed to any of the cultural craziness I was growing up. The Before is a bitch because no matter how much time we have to prepare her for any change, it's never enough. The In Between just comes into play on days like today when we have two layovers and three planes for a 3,ooo mile trip.

Because once we got on each plane? I'm in familiar territory. I'm in the place where I am a flower and inside her heart.

Motherhood & the Writing Life

See that? Robin O'Bryant, my writing bud and roomie at Blogher12, just summed up my life in one simple Facebook update. The woman is hilarious and speaks truth, I tell you. Case in point? Take a look at my week:

 

Monday

Ice skating was only supposed to be an hour but morphed into running to the post office, stopping at the doctor to get a prescription, dropping it off at the pharmacy, spending hours on this resume job thing for a columnist spot I am drooling over, and somehow I have managed to get 1/2 of the homeschooling goal in already. There's still tax write-offs to categorize and add up for the accountant because that's how we roll, calling the bank about refinancing the house we can't sell because it's so underwater that I'm pretty sure Atlantis wasn't lost--the economy just crashed and took the island with it. There's still work for Girl Body Pride, writing something funny just to remind myself that I still got it, finishing homeschool, bill paying, laundry, cleaning one room in the house just to make myself feel less like Pig Pen's big sister and it's on my To Do list which makes it equivalent to Jesus leaving me a message on a tortilla.

I'm Mexican. So I can say that. And yes. You are allowed to laugh.

Oh right, and the making of the dinner, the sniffing of the pits to see if I can skate on giving little girl a bath tonight, the story time, the waiting for her to fall asleep next to me because it might steal away a few hours from my writing but that time also grants me the opportunity to make up for one too many "Mommy's Busy Right Now's" and the chance to breathe. And then I get back out of her bed and work until 2 am, clock out, and try to fall asleep before 5.

note: I never cleaned that room.

Tuesday

There was an appointment with the same doctor I went to yesterday for the handwritten prescription required by law to be handed to me directly for the shit I take to keep my head on straight because people like to make it in their basements, which is only annoying to me because I always sucked at chemistry This time, I'm here to follow up on the crazy high thyroid levels that are not supposed to be crazy high (and probably explains EVERYTHING I've written that has sucked, so I should get a doctor's note for that while I'm here to send along to my agent ), grocery shopping, and calling the realtor to line up a few houses/properties to look at on Wednesday.

The grocery shopping never happened because when I got to the pharmacy I learned the doctor had never signed the prescription for my ADHD sanity pills, which required me to call the office in hysterics, the staff to hunt to doctor down before he left for the day, and me to hightail it back to the office with a very pissed off five-year-old who was missing out on her date with Disney Jr. and the couch, and then back to the pharmacy for a 30 minute wait because the great irony of an ADHD person without their stimulant to slow their brain down is that they tend to turn into zombies with responsibilities that like to call them Mommy and ask for things like dinner and attention.

By the time this whole mess was done, I texted The Husband, told him I was done and the groceries could wait, and came home to do nothing for just a little while, knowing full well I'd be up until 2 a.m. playing catch up with my words to be written for daring to just freaking relax for once.

note: I texted the BFF with the following: "went from 90 to 135 on the armpit thyroid pills to get my happy ass back on track." Then I followed up with words like "fucking auto correct" and explained that my armpits are fine cuz I shaved them this morning and had actually been referring to the armour thyroid pills I take.

Addendum: Forget it's Fat Tuesday. Preemptively decide to skip Ash Wednesday, and will offer up my sanity for Lent. I'll even promise not to ask for it back when I show up to church with Buttercup on The Day We Go Look For Eggs, which coincides with the one day a year I actually make it inside a Catholic Church.

Wednesday

Ice skating because it's free and the season is almost over and I'm milking this free private ice time for all it's worth until the moment they drain the rink. Then hopefully home to work on Buttercup's science fair project with her (that's on Friday) and clean, work, write, breathe while Buttercup drives The Husband crazy because she is his shadow on his days off. Possibly looking at houses? Wait, nope. I forgot to call the realtor guy.

note: Don't let the simplicity of the day's list fool you. Trust me on this.

Thursday

Shit. I'm not sure. Vet appointment? Oh wait. Therapist. Right. The sad thing is I didn't even do that on purpose. The punch lines write themselves, people. This is why I write non-fiction.

Dammit. That means I probably forgot to get the dogs to the vet. No matter. I'm too busy for that. I'll probably be driving to the Sam's Club in Bangor to buy things in bulk because things like toilet paper are nice to have on hand when the plow truck gets stuck plowing out your driveway and needs to get plowed out by an actual construction truck front-loader. And that's after the therapist and before I sit down to write at 11 and come up for air at 2 a.m. because when the hell else am I going to do it?

note: Don't tell me you don't have time to write. Because that, my friends, is bullshit. No one HAS time to write. Not even the best-selling authors I know because of all the speaking and self-promoting and hoops involved when big book deals are involved. And especially not us moms who are doing this for free while trying to build our platforms. You don't have time to write? Awesome. I'll relate after I tell you I don't have time to watch The Bachelor and Jersey Shore.

Friday

It's a skate day. MILKING THIS, remember?

Also? Ice time is like $100 per hour for private rental. So? Yes. I am totally about making myself crazy for $300 of free time to find my zen on the ice while my little girl finds her confidence on the double blades. Then it's off to a knitting lesson with the nice old guy who runs the local shop, home to clean up, relax, eat dinner, and head off to the science fair before coming home to do the clean-up, story time, bed time, snuggle time, Screw the Dishes cuz I Need to Write thing.

note: Estimated bed time? 4 a.m.

Saturday

This is the day I get to load the truck up with two weeks worth of trash to haul off to the town dump because that's how it works up here, y'all. Why two weeks? Because Snowmageddon 2013 hit this past weekend on freaking dump day and the squirrel in the shed probably popped a nut (the kind you eat, okay?) when he realized he was going to have seven extra days to tear through the trash and leave rotting broccoli all over the dirt floor. Which means I get to stop at Tractor Supply on the way home and buy some steel garbage cans before heading home to, you guessed it, work, write, home school, and go to bed at 2 a.m. because there are never enough hours in a day whether the kids are in school or at home.

When Mommy is a writer, time is carved out of stone to be present for our kids and families because Mommy's brain is always working. And when she's not, she's mentally filing snapshots made of words in her mind to use later when she makes the time (because time doesn't make itself and never will) to sit down, ignore the sink full of dishes again, and empty her brain of the words within. note: I'd like my padded room now, please. And let the front desk know I'll be requesting a late check out.

 

Cinnamon Scented Lies

Mom! I'm ready to leave now. Of course I'm dressed. Wonder Woman? Underwear? Hello?

 Buttercup asked me if fairies were real the other day. I have to admit, the question knocked me on my ass and I didn't know how to respond at first. My Little, my One and Only, sat patiently as Mama tripped over words to try and reassure her that the very foundation for her world built of imagination, fairy tales, and Tinker Bell, is cracking. She's five. She's brilliant. She has known how to outwit me and The Husband with actual and applied logic when trying to get her way since she was two.

But magic and fairies that smell of cinnamon and the Easter Bunny that can take a bow for being the only reason I take her to church once a year? Santa and his elves making toys for all the children in the world and Christmas magic and Santa's magic key to get into our house with no chimney...all of these little white lies we've built up and encouraged and reinforced as parents simply because she has always looked at the world through the eyes of the child I wish I had been. At her age, I knew too much, had seen too much, and Santa was something to say I believed in so I could open a few extra presents every year.

I was eight when I finally fessed up and said I was no longer a believer of the fat guy in the red suit who somehow made it legal to break into houses all over the world just to leave presents. I grew up in Detroit. I've been to Mexican weddings where the final dance is the cue for every woman with a free arm and three kids running along to help to grab as many centerpieces as they can just because they are there. I wasn't buying this Santa business. And then I kicked myself after because suddenly my Christmas present pile looked pretty sad as it got smaller. Pretending to believe the half-assed Spanglish Christmas my Green Carded father and his family put on for us kids every year was something I suddenly missed.

Buttercup didn't grow up in that craziness. It's been me and The Husband and a few very close friends most of her life. Presents appear under the tree while we sleep and as they should so that Christmas morning is magical and Mama and Daddy try to stay awake with coffee after wrapping all night. Mexican weddings scare the shit out of her because she was never trained to address anyone as old or older than her parents as Tia and Tio or to kiss and hug every single person in the room on demand upon arrival and departure. And she sure as hell wants nothing to do with People She's Never Met grabbing at her and cooing at her and expecting her to come willingly into their arms just because that's Tia So and So and No You Are Not Supposed to Tell Her that Her Perfume Stinks.

My baby speaks Dora Spanish and believes in personal space, magic, and that if you smell cinnamon it must mean that a fairy was just in the room. So I make sure to keep the Fairy Magic spray bottle I made with water and cinnamon essential oils hidden away for the days when magic and a simple Do You Smell Cinnamon are all it takes to make her entire spirit radiate with happiness because fairies exist.

I could have told you I would become a non-fiction writer when I was eight. If my kid ever decides she wants to become a writer, she's a novelist in the making. She's too little and innocent to have Mama bursting her Happy Place wide open but too smart to have me lie to her face and not blow my cover.

Do fairies exist? She asked me again and I cried inside because it wasn't that long ago that she sucked her fingers as she slept and that eleventeen was a number. Now she wanted me to reassure her that something I wished to be true actually was.

Fairies and their magic exist for those that believe in them, I told her. It's the lucky ones like you who know a fairy just flew by when you smell cinnamon.

She smiled and sat back on the couch, satisfied. And I waited for just the right moment to spritz some Fairy Magic in the air when she wasn't looking.

Why I Write NonFiction

My child is driving me batty. The Husband doesn't understand this, of course, but he also didn't understand why I started crying when the ultrasound tech told me I was having a girl, either. The bottom line was, quite frankly, that raising me almost broke my mother and I was feeling preemptively sorry for myself.

I love my girl. With a fierceness that explains all that Mama Bear protecting her cub stuff. Think Merida and Queen Elinor in Brave. Think of your own girl and how you love her and are drove to banging your head into a wall in what probably equates to an even 50/50 split.

Think of all of the parenting milestones that no one ever tells you about. Like how one day your sweet little girl, bedecked in bows and too much pink, will suddenly (and without warning) outgrow crabby into bratty then boom--bratty morphs into bitchy and you're left wondering how in hell you're going to survive when the child who is five realizes she has hormones and starts trying to negotiate for a later curfew and the keys to the car.

The Husband is clueless. The child is pouting and pissy and arguing everything you say for the sake of arguing before she realizes she's totally against no TV for a week, no iPad for two, and has no interest in that pony you were going to buy her tomorrow just because and then you have to try not to laugh because it was funny even if she's now pissed off even more that you are the meanest mom ever because you won't buy her a fucking pony.

So you open up your browser, log into Facebook, and tell perfect strangers who sometimes get it more than those that know you ever will how your day is going. And this is what it looks like.

The End.

Ninja Attack Guppies & Other Funny Moving to Maine Stories

So we booked the moving truck yesterday. I'm also pretty sure the only reason my head didn't explode for the 24 hours between signing on the truck to move the belongings we aren't selling and finally securing a rental home for the next six months is the fact that I'm ADHD and allowed to forget I already took my Xanax. Three times.

Five minutes ago.

 

*ahem*

 

So now we have a house on actual property and shit. Which is cool. And then I looked at a map and about fell off my chair. Maine? You mean THAT Maine? BY THE OCEAN? I may have to put the Xanax away once we arrive just so I can take in all the thisisnotthedesertness that will probably overwhelm me into writing sappy poetry and hugging trees that I am am not allergic to.

When I'm not crying about the Living in Maine and Can't Eat the Lobster Thing, I mean.

Also, and only because I consider it a public service announcement to the world, I just listed this for sale, too.

 

Beautiful 5 gallon fish tank with live plants and added serenity background. $60. As an added bonus you also get the guppy, which I am convinced is a trained government assassin, and the Ghost Shrimp, otherwise known as the "clean up crew". I'd offer you the single little school fish left from the school of five we had yesterday, but I can't promise it will still be alive in the morning. I'd tell you more, but I'm pretty sure I'm being watched.

Today's List

 

To do:

* scare away Internet with emotional brain dump: check

* finish my edits on Strong like Butterfly ebook for Girl Body Pride: check

* take a nap: check

* wake up just in time to realize the child will not be going to bed anytime before midnight: check

* sniff my child's armpits to see if I can skip her bath...again : check

* teach my child how to use deodorant: check

* begin to fill out Listen To Your Mother application: check

* doubt myself because it's what I do: check

* continue to fill out LTYM application anyway: check

* realize child and her stinky pits need a bath: check

* bath, book, bed, blog: check

* read more words by Ariel Gore because she is my word Goddess: check

* decide that I've been a self-righteous ass this whole time waiting for my life to be validated by someone else: check

* reaffirm my convictions to become a famous writer before I'm dead: check

* even if it is on my own fucking terms: check

* look over list of contributors for Strong Like Butterfly again while heart flutters: check

* look over state of my newly-moved-in-home (unpacked boxes stacked as far as the eye can see): check

* shrug, figure it can all wait until tomorrow, go back to writing: check

* ponder branding and monikers and real names and what it is that I have to offer the world: check

* still pondering...

 

When the Play Date Ends: An Army of Ermas

 

Since Buttercup was a little tiny baby, she has despised goodbyes. Newborn shrieks would replace content gurgles the instant she got wind of diaper bags being packed up, hugs exchanged with whomever it was we were visiting, and car keys jangling.

Those newborn shrieks have since been replaced with tantrums, MAMA I DON'T WANT TO LEAVE I LIKE IT HERE's and hours of pouting afterward just to prove her point. And that was when we visited my adult friends. Without kids, people. Heaven help me when it was an actual play date that was ending.

She's five now. Adorable. Smart. Hilarious. She has strength and character and Mother of...

She's going to break me with that attitude.

Her teacher told me the other day that Buttercup crossed her arms over her chest, dug her heels firmly into the ground, and flat out refused the green journal being handed to her for an activity in class. It seemed that Teacher Lady had assigned each child in class a random journal that was theirs to use for the entire school year. Only problem was that green has never been one of her favorite colors and apparently Buttercup was a bit miffed that her preferences had not been taken into consideration.

"I don't like that color," she said. And I know exactly how she said it.

"I'm not working in that." she said. And I can hear the bitch that will replace the brat when my little princess grows up just the tiniest bit more. Because, and trust me on this, it's a milestone that you and your family will note. There might not be a Hallmark card to designated for the very moment you realize it is now socially acceptable to tell at at least one person outside of your head that your kid was a total bitch today and then get weepy because yesterday she had just been bratty. Something changed while she slept. She grew up a little bit. And now you aren't sure if you are crying because you miss your baby are are dead-fucking terrified because it's probably only moments before she realizes she has hormones and all hell officially breaks loose.

Which explains the instant sobs when the ultra-sound tech announced that the baby in the belly was a girl. So sweet and dress-able when they're small. But then they grow up.

And it's always too fast.

We had a play date recently with her BFF from preschool two years ago. In elementary school years, these two have known each other for decades.We managed to leave with only downcast eyes and whispers about being sad as we walked out to our car.

"I like it here. I'm sad I have to go."

And I understood. Because I just learned that a play date of my own is ending.

An Army of Ermas riding off into the sunset on September 30. The site will remain live for fans to peek at when they need to go searching for a favorite laugh. But there will be no more reasons to try and swear less while while writing about something funny. And I'm going to miss that.

I want to pout. Maybe throwing a tantrum will make the fun last long enough for everyone to forget we were supposed to be leaving. Or I could change tactics and promise to play nicer and share more and not call people names anymore.

I kneel down to Buttercup's level and give her a hug before we get into the car.

"I know, sweetie. I'm going to miss my friends, too. But we'll see them again. And it will be soon. Right now, though, it's time to leave."

Thank you, Ermas. It was fun while it lasted. And to Boss Lady, Stacey Graham: Thank you doesn't even begin to describe the gratitude I have in my heart for having had the opportunity to be a part of such an amazing group of writers.