• Family Dynamics,  This is Me


    I haven’t had much to say the past few months. I have had so much to say the past few months. Sometimes it comes pouring out of my mouth like ectoplasm, provoked by the social outrage of the day, or just the day-to-day drama of being a human woman during the 21st century. racism sexism gun-violence police brutality the donald democratic primary friendships self-worth money everything Or I suppose I just imagine it that way, a film of unholy outpourings, because pregnancy has cautioned me to hush. If I were to express thoughts or feelings I would surely spiral into madness. So I say nothing. I have been hyperaware, yet this has not served me.…

  • Family Dynamics,  This is Me

    This New Person

    I don’t feel like a mother yet. Some people feel like they’re born to be mothers; I was never one of those people. My desire for children was more complicated than that. We felt the baby’s first kicks at week eighteen. It was pretty surreal, to feel that faint flutter of life for the first time. After a large meal consisting of burgers and milkshake, what felt like delicate bubbles popping began to tickle my full middle. My husband, his hand serendipitously on my belly for an affectionate pat, felt it first, even before I did. This doesn’t surprise me. “I just felt it kick!” he exclaimed. “No, you didn’t,…

  • Family Dynamics

    Take Us to the Snow

    When I was five years old, my dad promised to take me and my sister to the snow. We lived in a suburb of Los Angeles, and the idea of snow was as foreign to me as the idea that people lived anywhere but California; I knew it in the abstract, but when I tried to solidify it in my imagination, it dissolved like so much mist. The memory of my dad promising to take me to the snow is one so old that I don’t actually remember it anymore; it has been repeated so often over the years that it has the cemented certainty that oral tradition imbues a story. Long…

  • Family Dynamics

    She’d Have Liked That

    She died on Thanksgiving Day, hours before dawn. We had known it would be soon, but had hoped someone would be with her when she went. As it was, we were spending twelve hours a day at her bedside, taking turns holding her hand and waiting. But she met death on her own terms, and really that seemed fitting, even if it haunted us. I don’t like to remember her as she was in those last days, but I do, especially on Thanksgiving. Her previously plump cheeks had been hollowed by cancer, her downy soft silvery hair like a cloud above the gaunt temples. The worst were her large, china doll…

  • Family Dynamics

    Grown-up Furniture

    A fun factoid most people don’t know about me is that my dad built most of my nice furniture. Sure, there’s the glossy piano that I got as a graduation present, back when teaching piano was my only means of self-support, and the exotic media stand I bought from my cousin, whose taste I’ve tried to emulate since L.A. Gear was the hip new thing; however, nothing comes close to the same level as the furniture my dad built. This is the only reason I have had grown-up furniture at all, rather than apartments full of Ikea hand-me-downs and garage sale finds. It started with the desk. I had started writing my first novel at eighteen, back…

  • Family Dynamics

    Moving Thoughts

    Most of the boxes are unpacked now. Those that aren’t have been stacked up in storage, to be forgotten until we move again someday. There’s not as much to store as I’d anticipated. Turns out, I don’t want to hang on to all that stuff, the cute clothes that no longer fit and the iron candelabra that made me feel like I lived in a European castle. If we don’t have room for it, I don’t want it. I came back from the Bay Area bone tired, yet hesitant in my new space. No oven yet, which made dinner preparation interesting. No shelving in the pantry, the remnants of my spice rack still…

  • Alcohol and Sobriety,  Family Dynamics,  This is Me

    I Would Change My Name

    I was starting to realize I always notice smells. This room smelled of bureaucratic dust and the yeasty, lingeringly angry odor of people standing in line all day, exactly how I imagined the county recorder’s office to smell. We stood right up front, because we made sure to get here just as the building opened. Warned of the epic wait times in Los Angeles municipal buildings, a lifetime of lengthy DMV lines and once, a four-hour wait to apply for SNAP benefits, had prepared us. I had taken the morning off work and met my future husband here, this beige hub of government business. Paperwork must be filed, names must be changed, and this…

  • Family Dynamics,  Fiction/Poetry

    Sherlock Mom

    Only a white lie. Colored in, embellished. Harmless, really. She doesn’t need to know the extent of it. She asks questions with a poker face. She’s a pro. Her expressionless look signals I change my teenaged tactics, quickly. She always finds out.

  • Family Dynamics

    What If

    “Should we wait for Emile?” I ask. Grandpa doesn’t slow down, and each steady stride of his equals three of mine, even though everyone tells me I’m tall for my age. “No,” Grandpa answers. Emile is my sister. It’s pronounced “Emily,” but everyone always says it wrong. She is two years younger, and we fight a lot. She is annoying because she follows me around and always messes up my side of the bedroom. She was still putting on her windbreaker and shoes when we left. Grandpa told her we’d be on the beach walking toward the point, although I would rather just wait for her. When we pass the…

  • Alcohol and Sobriety,  Family Dynamics,  This is Me

    “What do you want to do for Christmas this year?”

    “What do you want to do for Christmas this year, hon?” I felt myself jump, even though I know I didn’t actually do it on the outside. We were driving home from dinner, and I mentally cursed the twenty minutes on the freeway ahead of us. Twenty minutes of what would very likely be a Marital Dispute. Someone, probably God, was punishing me. Faster than you could say “Let’s change the subject, sweetie,” the memories of the past few Christmases wheeled through my mind. Like last Christmas, when family members didn’t cooperate with my ideas and Mike and I opened presents alone. I felt guilty for forcing my plans on…


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