Monday, April 04, 2016

Dear Every Seattle Homeowner Who Has Given Me Real Estate Advice This Past Year,


Please stop.

As I write this I’m waiting to hear from my Realtor whether or not I just bought a house. It’s my sixth attempt at purchasing a home in Seattle this year, and you know what they say—the sixth time is the charm!—or maybe it’s the sixteenth? Whatever the case, if this offer isn’t accepted it’s going to be because, as my three-year-old daughter keeps forecasting, “Someone else has more money than us.” Not because I lacked good counsel from your well-meaning but out-of-touch self.

So stop.

It’s been a harrowing adventure, trying to buy a house in this market in the year since my marriage ended and I was shooed from the family home. I’ve learned more than I care to know about poured concrete versus post-and-pillar foundations, stucco versus EIFS siding, knob-and-tube versus modern-era wiring, interior perimeter drains, exterior perimeter drains, sewer scopes, sump pumps, and the nesting habits of rats.

People are beginning to feel sorry for me. My inspector stopped charging me for pre-inspections. My Realtor has taken to baking us cupcakes—from scratch. One of my best friends and my ex-husband both offered to loan me thousands of dollars just to Make It Stop.

This market is a hungry, greedy beast—insane in a totally predictable way.

Please stop telling me I need to keep the faith because my perfect house is right around the corner. Stop suggesting I look for houses in neighborhoods you would never set foot in, let alone purchase property in. Stop recommending fixer-uppers, tear-er-down-ers, vertigo-inducing five-story new construction, and/or drowning-nightmare-inducing houseboats. I’m a single mom, not a contractor, and my children are accident-prone and—despite what they claim—do not know how to swim. And for the love of god, stop recommending that I include a heartfelt letter and photo of my adorable children in my offer packet.

I’m on top of all these things, and I promise they aren’t enough. This just isn’t that kind of market. No seller is going to accept my offer of 20% over the asking price when someone else is going 30% over, and no one would choose 20% down over 100% cold hard cash, no matter how cute my children are. (For the record: extremely.)

There’s nothing quite like waiting for the call from your Realtor to find out whether you just spent your entire savings and then some on a house that may or may not survive even a minor earthquake—you won’t know until said earthquake hits because you had to waive the once-standard opportunity to have the house properly inspected because inspection contingencies are so 2015. Nevertheless you hope beyond hope that you get this house—despite the fact that the foundational supports are shimmed up with a log, a brick, a wedge of plywood, and—is that a stack of plates?!—because if you have to write one more sickeningly earnest letter about why you’re the best buyer for this home, you might have to call it quits and move back to Iowa where hundreds of thousands of dollars buys you an entire operational farm—including a posse of cats totally on top of the rodent issue.

I’m in the state fellow home-shoppers know as “Trying not to get your hopes up about getting this particular house while maintaining a modicum of enthusiasm for the general process because you might have to resume the house-hunting slog tomorrow.” Like a job interview, it’s totally nerve-wracking, and it feels both personally judgey—like a beauty pageant—and vitally important—like hearing from the surgeon after the operation. “The good news is that you’re going to live. The bad news is. . .”

Thursday, March 31, 2016

If you don’t support Hillary Clinton, you might be a misogynist

Like many voters, I’ve never been a huge Hillary Clinton fan. She comes across as stiff, robotic, distant—the cold polar opposite of her I Feel Your Pain husband, a wet blanket contrast to Fired Up Obama, an overly rehearsed and polished foil for Revolutionary Sanders.

As a woman, a mother, a Democrat, a daughter of a woman who graduated from Wellesley around the same time as Hillary Clinton—and especially as a feminist—I wanted so much for Hillary to be my candidate. I wanted to feel the call to rally hard for the most qualified presidential contender in history, to make calls and put up signs and get into fights with relatives on behalf of this strong, powerful woman.

But remember the 2008 New Hampshire primary debate where Obama damned Hillary with faint praise by quipping—unconvincingly—that she was “likeable enough”? Despite Hillary Clinton’s qualifications, her brilliance, her tenacity, and her rainbow wardrobe of pantsuits, I’ve never found her likable enough to be excited about her candidacy—until two nights ago.

Two nights ago I was perched on a stool at a local whiskey bar with a man I’d matched with on Tinder. All I really knew about him going in was that he was (self-reportedly) 6 feet tall, not currently married, and not into polyamory—a surprisingly rare breed, it turns out.

We awkwardly shook hands, then he kicked off the conversation by accusing me of being an “extremely aggressive texter.” I’m still not positive what he meant, but I think maybe he was referring to the fact that I type fast? Or that I use complete sentences when perhaps an emoji would suffice? Or—surely not in 2016—that I’d texted him first? The conversation went on to cover his siblings, his young adulthood, his college years, his former job, his experience being catfished by a (self-reported) porn star.

It was one of those dates that made me wish I had a giant red ABORT! button I could push that would open up a flap in the floor to send my date down the chute with all the other bad eggs a là Veruca Salt in Willy Wonka. Instead, I drank.

One and a half barrel-aged Manhattans in, I found my voice. Apropos of nothing I said, “Tell me you’re not voting for Donald Trump.”

He laughed. “Trump? No. I won’t vote for Trump, but I’m definitely not voting for Bitch Clinton. Bitch Clinton? No way.”

And that was the moment Hillary became my candidate.

Because here’s the thing about misogyny: it’s often quite subtle and insidious, and when you accuse people of it it’s easy to come across as, um, aggressive. Or a bitch.

But right now in America a virulent and un-subtle form misogyny is alive and well, and it’s not just Donald Trump. Misogyny is a bumper sticker that says “Monica Sucks / Hillary Blows.” Misogyny is a campaign button that reads “I’m not voting for Monica Lewinsky’s Ex-Boyfriend’s Husband.” Misogyny is a t-shirt declaring “I believe Hillary can make this country what it once was—an arctic region covered with ice.” Hillary Clinton may not be warm and fuzzy, but she’s going to be one hell of a President of this diverse, pluralistic, always progressing, deeply complicated country of ours. And for that reason alone she’s pretty damn loveable.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Love *Is* Love, Dammit!

It's a rare day that I'm particularly proud to be an American. But today? Hell, yeah! Not one moment too soon, SCOTUS.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Cheap Beer & Prose

Do you like being read to while getting drunk on practically free PBR? If so, please come to my reading alongside 3 other Seattle writers this Thursday night at Hugo House!

7p, Thursday March 20
Hugo House
1634 11th Ave (on Capitol Hill)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

My Future Little Art Historian

The not-quite-2-year-old while looking at a picture of Grant Wood's American Gothic (apropos of nothing):

She grumpy. [Pause] He grumpy, too!

Monday, February 10, 2014

More Thoughts on Mortality

The 4-year-old to her not-quite-2-year-old sister in the backseat of the car:

Someday soon Mama and Daddy are going to die, and then we can do whatever we want!

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Go, Hawks!

The Seattle Times published this piece I wrote this week in defense of football fans, skipping school, and busting your own eardrums. It's in the print copy of the paper today (Saturday) and online for all eternity—or until the internet breaks down under the weight of So. Much. Porn.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Modern Love

Please join me and kick-ass memoirists Nicole Hardy and Theo Nestor and New York Times "Modern Love" editor Dan Jones for a night of (modern) love—or at least a night of entertaining readings on the topic.

7p, Monday Feb 10
Richard Hugo House
1634 11th Ave

Monday, December 16, 2013

Sunday, September 22, 2013

New writing

There are far more important things happening in the world right now, but nonetheless Salon has published a not-at-all-newsy essay of mine today, about a brief scare involving a needle, a babysitter, and possibly some heroin. You can read it here if you'd like.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

The Cat Is Still Dead, and I Am Still Sad

I think that pretty much sums it up.

Oh, and there's this:

The vet who came to the house to, um, do the deed handed me a booklet on his way out about grieving the loss of your pet. I of course promptly threw it in the trash.

Two nights later after I'd put the kids to bed and found myself sobbing uncontrollably, I dug it out of the garbage can and read the whole thing, minus the first-person accounts of pet loss—which I know from occasional forays into the Self-Help section make my skin crawl with their made-up-sounding-ness and italicized lettering.

In any case, it helped. A lot.

I guess I'm not the only person who cried harder when her cat died than when her grandfather did.

Don't get me wrong—I cried when Grandpa died—just not quite as hard as I did this weekend for Turtle. That's just how it is. If you have issue, find your local mobile pet euthanizer (try googling "peaceful parting" or "how to euthanize your cat without having to stick her in a carrier and drag her to the vet in her final moments") and ask him or her for a booklet on pet grief, and you'll see that I'm not psycho.

At least not about this.

Friday, May 03, 2013

I Totally Get Why Other People Believe in Heaven

This will not be news to any readers out there over the age of four or five, but losing your pet really, really sucks. And by "losing" I mean "having them die." And by "having them die" I mean "putting them to sleep." And by "putting them to sleep" I mean "euthanizing them." And by "euthanizing them" I mean... Well, you know.

It sucks.

Suckity suck sucks.

I promise this won't become a Dead Cat Blog (I'm sure that's some trope out there, how could it not be?) but for now, for today, I wallow. How exactly does one grieve one's pet of 16 years without becoming one of those people posting pictures of their now-dead cat all over Facebook and creating a creepy shrine where the cat food used to be and/or writing an entire book about the experience? (I actually liked that book—like any good memoir, it was mostly about the author, not her cats.)

Why don't atheist WASPs (WASAs?) have more rituals and rites, dammit? Why must I always make them up or uneasily appropriate them from others? I mean, that's fine for, say, saying grace ("Cheers!" we say, and clink our forks together), but when it comes to dead cats? No idea.


p.s. I didn't keep the body, didn't pay extra to have the ashes returned to me, declined to have a clay print made from her paw... I would have said sure to the paw print if the vet had done it before euthanizing her—if nothing else the three-year-old would have found a use for it. But he offered to make the print after she was, eh, gone. Dead cat paw print? No thanks.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

An Atheist Trying to Explain Death to a Three-Year-Old

Me to the three-year-old: We're going to have to say goodbye to the cat today, honey.

The three-year-old: Yes, I think so, too.

Yeah. [Sniff.]

Is she going to the happy store?

The happy store?

Daddy said some people believe—

Oh, you mean a happy place?


Some people believe that but, well, her body is almost all done working and when she dies it will be totally all done, but her spirit will go to—well, I mean, her spirit will live on in our hearts and that's a happy place, so she's going to a happy place in that sense. But not her body. Just, like, her spirit. We'll remember her in a happy way.

I think she's going back to the happy store where she came from.

Yeah, honey. Something just like that.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Goddamned Circle of Life

Not my cat. Just an amazing Parisian flee market cat painting.
I'm sitting here staring at an index card on which I've scribbled prices for various, um, end-of-life services for my cat.

Euthanasia: $52
Euthanasia at home: $110
Cremation with ashes: $163
Cremation without ashes: $40
Yard burial: Free

You can imagine how much I hate this index card right now, right? I mean, I pride myself on not being any kind of crazy cat lady—I barely mention my cat—did you even know I have a cat? But I love my cat. I've had her since I graduated from college and struck out on my own for Madison, Wisconsin to become a lesbian. (Just kidding—have you been paying any attention at all?)

When I was little, seven or eight, I desperately wanted a cat—specifically one of the sweet, fluffy, playful kittens being offered up by the neighbors. Instead my parents inexplicably bought me a box turtle. WTF, parents? Did getting me a sweet, fluffy stuffed cat not cross your mind? Because that would have been a much closer approximation of what I was after.

I vowed to get a cat as soon as I was on my own. And I named her Turtle.

Turtle has been with me through 8 apartments, 1 house, 17 (92?) jobs, scores of terrible dates, scores of awesome dates, some boyfriends, a girlfriend, too many heartbreaks to count (I'm easy that way), 9/11, too many wars, three cars, one husband, two pregnancies, and two grabby kids. And she's only complained once—that time I cut her claw too short and hit a nerve.

Euthanasia is so fucking weird. It feels sort of evil and inhumane, but the alternative ultimately feels more evil and inhumane—to make her suffer when an end to her suffering is a mere $52 away. $273 if we go all-out.

I know everyone's been through this once or even lots of times—tell me how to make it better. For her, for me, for the three-year-old?

(Though honestly the three-year-old seems totally unfazed so far. On the way home from the vet the other day she asked if we could get another cat "when we're done with Turtle."

"You mean when she dies, honey?"


"And she's all done living in her body?"

"Yeah and we throw it in the garbage and get a new one."

I swear my kid's not a sociopath. She hugs trees. She loves Turtle. She buys her treats and gives her food and scratches her head and keeps her company on the radiator on cold mornings.

But when Turtle's good and gone, the three-year-old would like you to know she wants a new cat.

"What kind of cat would you want if we got a new one?"

"A purple one."

Yes, that I can probably do. A purple cat. The stuffed kind—and I don't mean taxidermy.)

Turtle and the three-year-old three-ish years ago.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Deal With It

I have a piece in The New York Times' Modern Love column this Sunday—which appeared online today. I didn't come up with the title ("Yes, I Really Am Bisexual. Deal With It.") so I'm allowed to love it. Which I do. It's so much more audacious than any title I would ever in a million years write. It cracks me up—as does the fact that whoever wrote the title maybe probably didn't realize my last name is pronounced "deal." Which makes it extra awesome. Yes—I just wrote "extra awesome." Deal with it. (And if you're so inclined, please give it a read. I'll be grateful and love you forever. But only if you're a man. Or a woman. Or both!)

photo courtesy click, morgueFile

Friday, April 19, 2013


I want to say something thoughtful about Boston this week, but instead I'm going to share a link by my brilliant and lovely friend Elizabeth, who writes the NosyGirl blog. I could never have said it (any of it) as well.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Kibbles? Bits?

I'm pouring bowls of Cheerios for my kids this morning, musing on how I've never really liked Cheerios—the smell, the taste, the texture, the milk-sog—and suddenly it hits me: Cheerios are dog food. For small children. It's too obvious to even bother saying, right?

photo courtesy Infographe_Elle, morgueFile

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Reign of Gender Norms

At our house we do not do Princess.

The girls possess zero tiaras, zero plastic high-heeled shoes, zero polyester Disney gowns in ghastly Easter egg hues. I’m the only family member who can nominally distinguish between Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty. If you were created after 1990, I haven’t got a clue.

As graduates of progressive Quaker colleges and inhabitants of liberal (oftentimes drearily so) Seattle, my husband and I are disinclined to foist the standard commercial gendered crap on our kids. Happily, our girls are still young enough we have final say over what comes into the house and, more significantly, what leaves in a giant Goodwill-bound garbage bag in the wee hours of morning.

The three-year-old does have friends, however, and attends preschool and generally exists in the world. She’s been to the mall, attended birthday parties, scoped stuff out on the internet. She’s been exposed to many a (toddler-sized) ball gown and is not herself any kind of tomboy. She loves getting dressed in the morning, taking great time and care in selecting her outfit, which more often than not involves a dress or twirly skirt, tights in some contrasting color and pattern, legwarmers in yet another color/pattern, and, on a particularly cold day, a pair of legwarmers on her arms as well. She adores accessories—beaded necklaces, bangly bracelets, sequined barrettes, hair bands adorned with flowers and hot-pink stripes. Girlfriend’s got style.

The other day she came up to me wearing a sundress over a long-sleeved t-shirt and announced, “I’m going to go put on a different dress so I can be more beautiful.” When I offer her a swipe of my sparkly lip gloss, her face lights up the way mine would if you gave me a lifetime supply of the stuff. We are plenty girly—it’s just that I like to think we enact our girliness in our own less commercial (certainly less Disney) way.
I find princesses—both royal and fairy (a distinction seldom made, weirdly, given that one exists in reality and one has magical powers and wings)—to be cloying, passive, prissy, shallow and beneath all that glitter and sheen, oh so heteronormatively dull. But if my daughters were totally into them, I’d get over my distaste and bestow upon my girls whatever tacky accessories they required. I’d find a way to embrace Bell or Belle or whoever she is because I love my children and want them to be their own people with their own preferences and aesthetics and gender expressions and dress-up-clothes collections and ideas of what’s beautiful. Even if they're radically different from mine.

So far we’re in the clear. The princess kingdom has remained invisible. For Halloween the three-year-old elected to dress up as a cat, and for her birthday she wanted the theme to be “purple.” Her favorite things are chocolate chip cookies, the number eight, and her gender-bending stuffed cat (“Is Elliott a boy cat or a girl cat?” “She’s a boy. Where’s his dress? She needs it for the dance party.”). (The baby is too preoccupied with chewing on things—pretend fruit, plastic cars, a wrapped stick of butter, my boob—to be concerned with tulle and tiaras.)

When my mother-in-law gave the three-year-old a giant book of stickers—a page of cats and dogs, a page of farm stuff, a page of trees and birds, a page of cut-out-dolls and clothing—my daughter gleefully used them up making elaborate "This is the sister and this is her cat and they don't like the horse but the horse is eating this thingy—what's it called?—oats, and they live in this tree, and the birds sing, do you hear the birds, Mama?" scenes on sheets of glittery silver paper. When she was "all done" with the stickers—after months of use—there were three pages left untouched: a page of ballerinas, a page of fairies, and a page of princesses.

And, yeah, I’m not ashamed to admit it: this made me very happy. I might even have done self-satisfied little dance before tossing the remaining stickers in the Goodwill bag.

I know I can’t shelter my daughter from Princessland forever. Every time she gets a party invitation featuring some obsequious cartoon girl in a 1980s-prom-style dress and a crown atop her age-inappropriate updo, I assume it’s the beginning of the end. How can she resist the lure of sparkles and sequins and pastel dresses? And why would she?

The other day we attended her best friend’s birthday party. After two hours of castles and knights and horses and princess craft projects and princess cupcakes and princess garlands and princess balloons and princess party guests, we were sent home with a princess bag full of princess stickers, a princess bracelet, and a princess wand. She was quite taken with the wand. She carried it around for the rest of the day, waving it in her sister’s face, tormenting the cat, and generally making me nervous for everyone’s eyeballs.

“I live in the castle,” she announced, wandering into the kitchen as her dad and I made dinner.

“Oh?” her dad said, raising his eyebrows at me as if to say, “Shit. Here we go.”

“Yeah, I live in the castle with Elliott. And I have this wand.”

“Why do you have a wand?” I asked.

“Because,” she replied in a perfectly even tone. “I’m the queen.”

And the baby?

“She’s the king.”

If you’re going to be royalty, why not aim for the top? A princess is just another pretty girl in a hoop skirt, but the queen is sort of a badass—she’s got clout. (Not to mention the king.)

And if nothing else, the queen gets to raise the princess and try—gently!—to mold her into the kind of woman she’s (secretly) most excited for her to be.

photo courtesy panso, morgueFile

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Organ Meat

A short version of my essay about my desire not to eat my baby's afterbirth appears in the current (April/May) issue of Fit Pregnancy magazine—check it out in your nearest OB/GYN's waiting room. (It's on the last page, accompanied by an illustration of a blonde lady eating a placenta with a bottle of champagne—the only way to do it if you're gonna do it.)

A paragraph from the original (longwinded) version:

I was pleased to learn at the eighteen week ultrasound that the placenta wasn’t obstructing the baby’s most likely exit route, and I was grateful in a vague sort of way that it appeared to be doing its hormonal and nutrient/waste transport jobs with aplomb. But mostly I gave my placenta very little thought. Like the varicose veins snarling up my formerly lovely lady parts, the unrelenting feeling of motion sickness, the barfing at all times of day and night, the wicked indigestion, the itchy nipples, the sore hips, and the squished bladder, the placenta is a necessary, unavoidable part of creating a baby—but no more in need of reverence, celebration, memorial, or ingestion than the amniotic sac or mucus plug.

Will you be eating a placenta anytime soon?

photo courtesy NinoAdonis, morgueFile

Saturday, March 09, 2013

At What Age Do Balloons Stop Being Appropriate?

Today is my 38th birthday.


And now, for a recap of some of the best moments of my 37th year...

1. Having my second and final baby.

2. Finally stopping barfing an hour after having my second and final baby.

3. Bring brought chocolate milkshakes for every meal after finally stopping barfing after having my second and final baby.

4. Obama being reelected.

5. The three-year-old consistently calling the valves on her sippy cups "velcros."

6. That one time I slept all the way through the night without any interruptions. That was nice.

photo courtesy anitapeppers, morgueFile

Monday, March 04, 2013

Everything Including the Kitchen Sink

I'm wary of becoming one of those writers (the kind with a vagina that's been used as an exit for bodies, not just an entrance) whose literary output hinges on charming anecdotes about my adorable, winsome (if a bit whiny and eczematic) children—but wait!—isn't that why I bothered having them in the first place? For career advancement and financial and literary gain?

In any case, for the moment it's that or nothing—take your pick.

For Christmukah I gave the three-year-old, among other awesomeness (read: lip gloss), her own suitcase—a toddler-sized rolly bag that vaguely resembles an obese bumblebee. We haven't traveled anywhere for her to put it to use yet because, hello? Who wants to travel with a three-year-old who insists on bringing her own suitcase but then claims it's "too heavy" for her to "lift all the way into the overhead compartment" herself? Who put all those books in there in the first place, hmmmm?

The suitcase lives in the living room, and she gets it out from time to time and "packs for a trip." (She usually "travels" by bus, for those who are curious. She's very democratic that way.) She makes me proud every time because mostly what she packs are books and snacks. Lots and lots of them. What more do you really need? You can always buy toothpaste and undies, but bookstores and (wooden) cupcake shops can be hard to come by.

Occasionally she also includes some blankets, a stuffed animal or two, a harmonica, some plates and cups, a ball, some doll house furniture, a juggling scarf—you know—the basics.

Yesterday day she was packing for a trip while I was attempting the Sisyphean task of "tidying up," tossing Fisher Price people and cars and animals into their proper card catalog drawers, wooden food into the wooden fridge, toys I don't like into a "super special" garbage sack, plastic dishes into the plastic si—whoa. "Hey, three-year-old."


"Where's the kitchen sink?"


"The kitchen sink. In your play kitchen. It's not there. It's just a hole. Where'd you put it?"

"I packed it. For my trip."

Yes, my child packed the kitchen sink.

Hoarders, Season 38, here she comes.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Just a Bug

I have a virus. The preschooler had it first, then her dad, then me. So I know it's a virus.

A virus that causes nausea.

And makes certain foods smell weird and unappealing.

And creates cravings for foods you wouldn't normally think you'd want when you had a stomach bug.

Like pizza and grilled cheese and doughnuts.

Yes, if I didn't have an IUD I'd be freaking the fuck out.

If the preschooler weren't walking around bitching about the smell of sausage frying and broccoli steaming and spinach wilting, I'd be freaking the fuck out.

If I weren't having my period RIGHT NOW, I'd be freaking the fuck out.

Because, people, my uterus is CLOSED FOR BUSINESS. Permanently. No more babies. They're super cute, but no more. I can't take any more cuteness.

photo courtesy dieraecherin, morgueFile

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Pass Me the Crack(ed) Pipe

Not my pipe.
Here's a question: how horrified would you be if you found out the pipe that takes sewage away from your home was cracked—massively cracked, tens of thousands of dollars to repair cracked—and every time you flushed the toilet all your stuff wasn't traveling down the sewer main with everyone else's stuff to be chemically treated within a millimeter of its life but instead flowing directly into the ground in all its raw glory?

Just curious.

After a revolting-but-could-have-been-oh-so-much-worse basement-coating sewage backup a few days before Christmas, we discovered that the sewer pipe leading away from our house has a branch the diameter of a thick, meaty adult male arm growing inside it which has cracked the pipe to pieces. It has probably been that way for some time. Certainly as long as I've lived in the house and flushed its toilets.

But if you live next door to me (or across the street on the downward slope (Hi, S & C!) never fear. The guys came and saw and fixed this week, so everything is back where it belongs. Or at least is on its way there.

It turns out we pretty much entirely take sewage removal for granted nowadays. When was the last time you sent any kind of send-up—no matter how perfunctory or brief—to anyone who has anything to do with getting rid of all your shit?

Thank you pipe snaking guys, thank you sewage cleanup guys, thank you other pipe snaking guys, thank you second team of cleanup guys, thank you guys using backhoes on our yard this week and fixing our pipes. Thank you from the depth of our souls (and, yes, our bowels). Thank you.

photo courtesy click, morgueFile