But the Pot's so Much Stronger Nowadays!

Today's New York Times has a long article about crank in the suburbs. Guess what, America? Those of you who have been busy watching American Idol or charting the course of Brad and Jen's breakup (of course he was boinking Angelina) are probably stunned to discover that methamphetamine use is at "epidemic" proportions among our "suburban" youth. By suburban, by the way, we mean white. Those black and brown kids can snort, smoke and shoot themselves into a collective stupor for all we care. It's only when white young people start in that we get worked up. The crack "epidemic" freaked us out not because black people were using crack, but because black people on crack were encroaching on white golf courses. You think I'm kidding? Those actual words are in the Congressional record. Golf courses. I kid you not.

I don't know about you, but I'm a little tired of all this brouhaha about the latest drug epidemic. Don't get me wrong, it seriously sucks when your kid becomes a crank-freak. Meth is a bad drug. It has all kinds of serious side effects, from messing with your dopamine levels to causing long-term heart and arterial damage. Like any addiction, it's a hard one to shake. What bothers me is that we wring our hands about this latest drug and refuse to confront over one hundred years of failed prohibition policies.

We spend 50 billion dollars a year fighting this "War on Drugs," a war that makes the battle of Falluja look like an unmitigated US victory. Worse, the hypocrisy inherent here is even more obvious. We have a president who has a long history with cocaine. (And yes he found God. Blah blah blah.) Adolescence (which, for our fearless leader lasted well into his fifth decade) is a time that is meant to be devoted to making poor choices. Risking-taking during this period is developmentally appropriate. How many of you took foolish risks? I know my Israeli boyfriend and I climbed to the Annapurna base camp in cloth boots with insufficient equipment on a sunny day, despite warnings that the snow was melting in the crevasses and we were in danger of plummeting to our deaths. It was the most beautiful trip of my life.

I'm not going to list the drugs I used back then, but let's just say that if Meth were out there, I probably would have tried it.

But, you say, in 1986 a nickel bag of pot gave you twenty-five joints and you had to smoke all of them just to get a buzz on. Nowadays, two tokes gets a person stoned for a month. It's a much stronger drug. So what? What difference does that make? I have news for you. Your kids are going to do drugs. They are going to experiment. They are going to smoke pot, take E (or X, whatever they call it in your neck of the woods), snort some coke, and maybe do some Meth. The only thing you can control is your response, and what happens to them.

Conservative estimates say that 54% of high school seniors have used drugs. That's lowballing it in my opinion. If you want to reduce the harm associated with drug use, if you want to avoid the situation in the Times where the 13-year-old "suburban" girl was turning tricks in her nice suburban house after school to get the money for her crank, what you need to do is adopt a policy of harm reduction. You have to confront the issue head-on. You have to talk to your kids. You have to know more than your kids do about drugs, teach them what they are dealing with, and teach them how to stay safe. You tell them which drugs are relatively benign. Marijuana, even the stuff they have nowadays, is one of the safest drugs known to humans. You cannot overdose on pot. Nobody -- NOBODY -- dies from ingesting marijuana. There is no known quantity of marijuana that can result in a fatal dose. (That's not true of Tylenol, by the way.) You have to teach them which drugs are particularly dangerous, which drugs are dangerous to mix.

They need to be armed. When Sophie goes out to a rave, I want her to know that MDMA (ecstasy), despite its absurd placement in the DEA's Schedule I, is a relatively safe drug. (BTW - that spinal fluid study is the scientific equivalent of an urban myth. I'm not even going to waste space on it. Email me if you need the info.) But I want her to understand three things. 1. There is a risk of dehydration that can be fatal, especially if she's going to be dancing. 2. Dealers often try to pass off other, more dangerous drugs as E. and 3. MDMA's potency diminishes substantially with repeated use so that it would be a shame to 'waste' it on a lousy party, or a stupid boyfriend.

I want to surprise my kids continually by knowing more than they do about drugs. I want them to shock and frighten me with their questions. Think about it, if they shock me, that means they trust me enough to come to me with the frightening problems. If they didn't trust me, that wouldn't mean that the scary stuff wasn't happening. It would just mean that I wasn't hearing about it.

For more about this, check out this URL.


Ayelet Waldman | Booklog

The new booklog is finally up, and it's not in Chinese! I know you probably don't think that's much of an accomplishment, but for days it was in Chinese, for some reason known only to the Gods of Mozilla.

Where Have All the Republicans Gone?

I used to like Republicans. Okay, let me rephrase that. There was a certain kind of Republican I admired. Hell, I even wanted to be one of them. Part of me wished I had a father who wore green golf pants and knew how to mix a perfect martini. I longed for a tumbledown beach house in Maine, one that our family had been going to for years, right down the dirt road from Binky and Skitter Britteridge. (Pop went to Yale with Skitter, and Mom and Binky were at Bryn Mawr together, way back when.) You know what I'm talking about, Republicans in the tradition of Nelson Rockefeller -- let's ignore the Rockefeller drug laws for the moment. Tall, patrician white people who considered themselves social liberals and fiscal conservatives. Remember them? Proud heirs to Abe Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Fiorella La Guardia. What the hell happened to those folks? Christine Todd Whitman's got a manifesto coming out about the death of the moderate wing of the party, and at the same time, that wing nut, Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, has her knickers in a twist about Buster Baxter. What's ol' Buster's crime? He's hanging with the homos.

Wait. Roll that back a minute. He's visiting American families. Mormons. Hmong. Families in trailer parks. And the children of a lesbian couple in Vermont.

Well that just won't do. Our fearless leader responds by holding a press conference quoted on the front page of the New York Times. He cites studies describing children who grow up in heterosexual families as better off. Except that's not true. The studies don't, in fact, show that. The studies show no difference. Not to mention my non-empirical data. Which shows no difference, either. In fact, the children of my gay friends are all way smarter and less neurotic than my own children. My friends Alison and Judy’s daughter Talia was cheerfully talking in complete sentences and planting kisses on her older brother’s cheeks while Rosie was still staring blankly at the ceiling and smacking her brother on the head with a mega block. So go smoke that, Ms. Spellings.

Potty Mouth

Michael and I had a little, er, altercation this morning. It's too stupid to recount, other than to say that I did not hide the phone, I was not on the phone, I had nothing to do with the phone, and being unjustly accused of phone-antics would have made any of you pissed off, too.

Zeke, age seven says to me, "Daddy is not a dick, mommy. If Daddy is a dick, then you are a bush."

I stared at him and said, "What? What did you say? How do you even know that word?"

He replied, "What word? You know, Dick Cheney and George Bush."


In an article (that I participated in because I am self-absorbed and narcissistic) about blogging (the world's most narcissistic activity) in the Sunday Styles section (the most narcissistic and vacuous section of the New York Times, and, incidentally, my favorite), I am quoted. But only on the second page. Something that is causing me a little bit of narcissistic angst. I mean, I know Heather B. is much more blog-portant than I am, but who's this fussy person and why is she so interesting?

Oh my GOD. I have got to get back to work. I have books to write, for Christ's sake.


Dr. Von Ferber Can Kiss My Ass

I am the quintessential sleep Nazi. All my children have been Ferberized in one way or another, usually with the minimum of crying. In fact, I was one of those loathsome women who very sanctimoniously shook her head at you and said, "Really, it never takes more than ten to twenty minutes. And it's much, much better for the baby." And then I met Abraham Chabon, aka, Vomit-Kid. Tonight his father decided that enough was enough, the little rotter was going to go to sleep at a decent hour. This is a house where the children are normally all in their beds by 7:30, 8 at the latest. That’s the only way it works with four kids. And this little bugger had no nap today. NO NAP. He's not even two.

It's now 9:45 at night. By my last count Abe has vomited 6 times. That is, he has cried hysterically, until he’s made himself throw up, six times. He's made a slow circuit around his crib, vomiting as he goes. For the first two hours he wailed, "Daddy, Daddy, no, no." Then he cried, "Mommy." Twice. And that’s all she wrote. One second of Mommy and I sent Michael in with a bottle. I couldn't hack it because I’m a big wus.

I don't know what's wrong with me nowadays. Back in the day, I probably would have let Sophie sleep in a pool of her own dried vomit. I think I'm just worn out, ground down. They've emerged victorious, those children of mine. I'm raising the white flag. I quit. Abe can just sleep with us in our bed. Presumably he'll move out at some point, right? Like in high school, when he wants to start getting laid? He's not going to be bringing chicks home to his mom and dad's bed.

I think that might be too gross to be funny.

Cut me some slack. I have a smear of white vomit on my black T-shirt, and I spent the last two hours hysterically cleaning out my medicine cabinet in order to drown out the wailing. Who knew I had so much Vicodin?


Kate, Prettier

Kate, Prettier
Originally uploaded by Ayeletw.
You see here? Her face is fuller. I didn't post the naked pictures (of which there are many, trust me) but she looks so much more beautiful. I guess it's not her fault that she has fallen victim to the slenderness craziness, and to her credit she does seem to have put on a tiny bit of weight since her all time low a few months ago, but she was so damn gorgeous in that naked scene in Iris. So hot. So exactly what I wanted to look like.

Kate Winslet

Kate Winslet
Originally uploaded by Ayeletw.
Is it me, or did she look better with more meat on her bones? Now that Kate Winslet's lost weight, her face looks kind of harsh to me, sort of Sarah Jessica Parkerish. I wish she'd get a little more voluptuous. Like she used to be.

A Night Away

We are in Los Angeles at my favorite hotel of all time, the Chateau Marmont. Everything here is just perfect, from the stupendous linens, to the incredibly good-humored service, to the terrific food. God, I love this place. I wish I could move in here. Plus, there's a build-up of some incredible Hollywood movie romance vibe and Michael and I can't help but tear each other's clothes off as soon as we walk through the doors of our room. Thank god for the little "intimacy kit" they provide, because I'd probably be pregnant, again, god forbid, because who can remember to travel with birth control? It's all I can do to pack a toothbrush.

I have some issues I'd like to address, however. It's one thing to spew your guts on a blog. I admit it's inappropriate, and that I'm part of the cheapening of privacy in contemporary society. But when did it become okay to take care of bathroom tasks in public? When did it become okay to floss your goddamn teeth in the goddamn airport? I mean, WHAT THE HELL? I'm sitting at the Oakland airport, minding my own business and reading my Entertainment Weekly, when some woman sits down next to me. At first I thought she had Tourette's Syndrome, but I soon realized she was just sucking on her teeth. Then she pulled out the dental floss. There she sat, next to me, working up the world's smelliest case of floss fingers. Gag.

Stephen King is God

Of all the amazing things being married to Michael has brought me, the opportunity to meet famous writers is really the most minor, I swear to God. Still, it's pretty cool. Last night, I met someone who has been scaring me senseless for most of my life. I remember when I was in high school and I read Night Shift, his marvelously creepy short story collection. The title story is about mutant rats, and thus began a rat phobia (wait! I forgot that one!) that persists to this day. I can't even see a rat on TV without freaking out. I cover my eyes and shriek until Michael tells me it's off the screen. Remember that scene in El Norte when the rats run over their bodies as they are going through the tunnels to the US? I nearly had an apoplectic seizure. And it was all Stephen King's fault.

And I got to meet him. Not only to meet him, but I got to appreciate what an amazingly generous guy he is. A while ago I read an article in the San Francisco Chronicle about how this lame ass "university" (actually a diploma mill/real estate scam) in the city had expelled a student for writing a violent short story. Not only did they expel him, but they fired his instructor on the grounds that she had assigned a reading by some unknown writer -- that unknown writer was, according to the Dean of the English faculty, "George Foster Wallace." Um. George?

Anyway, a lot of people got up in arms about this. Daniel Handler ended up leading a huge protest, which resulted in him being tossed out of the school building. Michael wrote an Op Ed piece for the New York Times (I know, but he's a brilliant writer type, not a fiery protestor lay-your-body-down type.) Stephen King sent a message to the protestors.

It turns out that all over the country in response to Columbine kids are being prosecuted ... yes PROSECUTED ... for writing fiction. Now, I understand the fear. I understand the horror of the shoot out. What I don't get is the response. My response to Columbine is to wonder what is wrong with a culture that so ostracizes and alienates a child that he ends up so crazy. What is wrong with the mentality of a high school where kids are made to feel so bitterly freakish and outlawed? Instead, we fixate on the kid writing the fiction. Instead of worrying about what's going on in his head, instead of feeling his pain and wondering at its source, we arrest him. Instead of stopping the bullying, we target the bullied.

Michael had a brilliant response to this. He decided to teach a class at 826 Valencia in horror and dark fantasy writing...for teenagers. He told Stephen King about it, and this incredibly famous man, this man with a million things to do, a million commitments, a million demands on his time, said, "Dude, you teach that class, and I'll be there."

On the last day of class, he was there. As a surprise guest. You should have seen the kids' faces. They were out of their minds. When he told them that he was an amateur, just like them, they scribbled in their notebooks. When he asked them what they wrote, what their techniques were, you could see their self-confidence expand before your eyes. It was amazing.

I've met some incredibly generous people in my life, but honestly, he's something special. This guy flew across the country (obviously at his own expense -- 826 doesn't have a pot to piss in) just to inspire a dozen kids. Now that's a mensch.


Another Med Roller Coaster

When I went to my shrink for the first time I told him that my problem was that I had a wonderful life, Kenehora poo poo poo, and something was keeping me from appreciating it. I was worried about my daughter, and about how mean I was to her. For some reason, all my craziness channeled itself in her direction. I couldn't bear the idea that I would damage her. I have a little marker that tells me when my meds aren't working. When I lose it with Sophie, when I scream at her, when I grab her and drag her up the stairs, when I toss her into her room, when I slam her door, I know that things are bad and I need to get my ass into the doctor's office for an adjustment.

I always tell her that it's not her fault, that it's mommy's fault. That I'm sick, that my pills are screwing up, but how often does she have to deal with this crap? Those shoulders are awfully skinny for such a heavy burden.

I'm on a new regime again. Lucky for me I'm back on the skinny pills (Topomax). The Trileptal wasn't supposed to make me fat, but it did. It also wasn't supposed to make me as stupid as the Topomax, but it made me stupider. These meds all make you lose words, proper nouns in particular. Terrific side effect for a writer. I spend a lot of time leafing through the thesaurus looking for words like "individual" or "omelet." Those are two words that I actually found myself unable to remember within the past few weeks. Egg-thingy doesn't cut it when you're writing a novel.

But what can you do. It's either stupid or evil. I'd probably choose evil if I lived alone, but with four kids, I've got no choice but to spend my life in a little bit of a medication haze.

Solomon In Sri Lanka

Do they all really think this little baby is theirs?

His identity is unknown. His age, according to hospital staff, is somewhere between 4 and 5 months. He is simply and famously known as Baby No. 81, the 81st admission to the ward this year.

Baby No. 81's awful burden is not in being unwanted, but in being wanted too much.

So far, nine couples have claimed him as their own son. Some among them have threatened suicide if the baby is not delivered into their arms.

Is it that their PTSD has twisted the memories of their own infants' features into the lovely ones of this child? Does desperation and pain make us all insane? Or is there perhaps a conscious decision not to care, to compete for this child because in the absence of the lost one, any will do?

It's so achingly sad.



It's taken me ten years of parenting, but I've finally found it. The best way to pass the time with small children. ABBA.

We danced for forty minutes, until we were all sweaty and exhausted. I am a Dancing Queen, goddamn it!

Could This Book Be Good, or is it Just My New Meds?

I'm going over the copy-edited manuscript of Love and Other Impossible Pursuits now, and I'm having this amazing sensation...I think it's...good! This has NEVER happened to me. Every other novel I've written I've hated so much by this stage that I've barely been able to read it (hence the horrible typos in all my books). But this one I'm actually sitting and reading aloud (to catch all aforementioned typos) and I'm sort of loving it. I'm getting all teary in the right places, I'm getting all steamy in the right places. I'm laughing in the right places.

Might this book actually not suck?

"You Like Being Mean to Us. You're Nothing But a Hatred Machine."

Thus sayeth Sophie, age 10. Thank God those words were directed to her father, and not to me.

That would make a great book title. "You're nothing but a hatred machine." She's a damn fine writer, that girl. She's got a terrific sense of language and a good eye for detail.

This terrifies me.

I can see it now. The tell-all memoir in which she writes about the miseries of growing up with a mother who wrote chatty little mystery novels about being a mommy, but was secretly an evil wretch, locking her daughter in closets and denying her food and clothing. Well, denying her chocolate bars for breakfast and midriff-baring tops from Limited Too, but you get the point. She'll describe how she awoke at age six months to witness the primal scene and has never recovered. She'll list the various drugs her mother ingested, both legal and less so.

Her memoir will be titled something like "Co-Dependent No More." Or, "In Your Face, You Bitch."

I wish she had the remotest talent in something else, so I could channel her energies to something that wouldn't come back to bite me in the butt. Sadly, her violin playing is, well, let's just say that it is at the precise pitch and tone of the whistle on my tea kettle and whenever she practices I come tearing into the kitchen to turn off the burner on the stove. She loves musical theater, but she sings as well as I do, and I was one of the people required to mouth the words to the Christmas carols in chorus.

Math. She's really good at math. Maybe I'll enroll her in some upper level math programs. Great mathematicians rarely turn to memoir.


New URL Soon

I'm going to be switching to Moveable Type and to a new URL in a week or so. I'll put a post up with the new address and will give plenty of notice. It won't be until later in the week, at the very earliest. I am too much of a Luddite to make this transition with ease.

Jesus Fish

I saw a bumper sticker today that freaked me out. Actually, it was more like a bumper banner. It was a large American flag, with a Jesus fish in the middle of it.

Now, what is that supposed to mean? That America is and should be a Christian nation? That the driver of that car is advertising his/her devotion to that idea? Surely it cannot be intended as with as much hostility as it comes across to a Jewish women driving along behind that car.

Phobias and Fears

I told you I'd need to update this.

Mad Cow Disease -- How could I have forgotten this? I'm convinced we're all going to be dead of Spongiform Encephalopathy in about twenty-years. But does that stop me from eating burgers at In 'n Out? I wish.

My friend Peggy gave me this fabulous Pop-Up
Book of Phobias
for my birthday this year. It was very gratifying to realize that we shared all the same ones, more evidence for my conviction that Peggy and I will be perfect roommates when we are ancient crones spending our days sitting in our wheelchairs next to the elevator in the Jewish Home For The Aged.

My shark fear, and the realization that I'm not alone, has inspired me to try to produce a comprehensive list of my crazy, neurotic fears.

1. Sharks. We talked about that already.

2. Cancer. Again, I'm a Jewish girl, from a long line of women who whisper, "The C-Word" with nearly titillated horror. I'm afraid I'll get breast cancer and leave my children motherless. I'm afraid I'll get pancreatic cancer (that's a really bad one) and die when my husband is still young and sexy enough to remarry some hot little thirty-year-old who still has the energy to be acrobatic in bed and give constant head. I've made him promise that all pictures of me will remain hanging on the walls of the house, so that my usurper will have to live with my beloved image staring down on her, cursing her every move. I've also reminded him that it's very rare for a stepmother to truly love her stepchildren, and that if he does remarry he is likely to jeopardize his relationship with his children and make them miserable neurotics who soothe their grief-stricken selves with black tar heroin and labia pierces.

3. That my oldest daughter will hate me. I'm afraid that all my unmedicated years taking out my bipolar disorder on Sophie will cause her to write me off and make disparaging comments about me on her blog.

4. Hotel Bedspreads. Fecal matter. Semen. Need I say more?

5. Getting permanently ugly. This has subcategories.

a. Fat. I'm afraid that I will forget to get on the scale for six months, only to find out that I've gained sixty pounds. I'm afraid that I will have to shop for shirts that are cut loosely in the upper arm area and that I will need to do even more than the usual origami with my crêpey and loose-skinned belly in order to cram it into my pants.

b. Aging. I'm afraid that one day I will take off my bra and my breasts will tumble down and brush the tops of my shoes. I'm afraid that my nose and ears will continue to grow and that I will one day look like Abe Vigoda.

6. That my husband will leave me. I'm afraid that one day, when Michael is sixty, and I'm fifty-nine, some sexy young wanna-be writer will throw herself and her perky breasts at him and he will have a Philip Roth moment and tumble into her bed, where he will discover that the joys of sharing your life with a soul mate are significantly less than the pleasures of supple skin and the above-mentioned acrobatic sex.

7. That there will never be a progressive movement of any real strength in this country, and that the Christian majority will slowly and inexorable rise to even more prominence, until they manage to amend the Constitution to ban homosexuality altogether, to rescind the First and Fourth Amendments and to deport all Jews to Israel, the better to implement their plans to assert world domination and bring about the coming of the Messiah.

8. Poverty. I’m afraid that my next book and my husband’s next book will not sell, and we will be faced with an uncertain future and be forced to sell our house at a substantial loss (We’ve done too much weird stuff to it. Nobody would want such a rabbit warren of bedrooms and offices.) and move to Nebraska, the only place where we will be able to afford to live on the tiny royalty checks we receive from the sales of Kavalier & Clay.

9. That one of my children will get sick. I’m terrified that one of children will come down with some mysterious and horrific disease – a virus that destroys their hearts, a broken leg that results in a blood clot that kills them. I’m afraid that all the jokes I’ve made about bad mothering will come back to haunt me and I will lose one of them forever.

There must be more...I fear I will need to update this entry.



I must cancel plans to shoot my author photo anytime in the next two weeks. Apparently, my skin has decided it does not accept my recent fortieth birthday. It has decided to behave like a sixteen-year-old. Wasn't there supposed to be some perfect moment between the onset of wrinkles and the presence of hideous, suppurating zits? And yet, now I have an oozing pustule smack dab in the middle of one of my many wrinkles.

Can I really be blogging about this? Johnny Carson is dead, much of the country is hiding under twenty-five feet of snow, Abbas is talking ceasefire, and Ayelet is blogging about her pimples.



I just wrote a blurb for a book I truly loved, by a writer whom I not only admire but also really like, and it damn near paralyzed me. I'm such an incompetent blurb writer. First of all, it seems so absurd for me to be blurbing anyone. If every single one of the people who buy my books rushed out to buy the book I blurbed, my friend would still have to be sweating his sales. But that's not the real problem. I'm flattered to be asked, and I genuinely like doing it. Not least because it means that someone out there might associate my name with a really terrific book. I.e., they buy the book, love it, and then flip it over. "This Ayelet Waldman person has such good taste," they say. "Let's go buy her books, too!"

The problem is that I suck at it. Michael effortlessly writes these pithy blurbs. They take him thirty seconds to compose and sound not only erudite, but also inspiring. The person he blurbs invariably ends up all choked up with emotion. Me? I sit sputtering at my computer, eking out things like, "Wow. This book rocks." Or "I really loved this book." Or "This book is much better than you might imagine given the subject matter -- I found that I possessed a genuine fascination for the history of orthodontic research, and so might you."

I have to get better at this, because it's all part of the give and take of literary life. Every time you publish a book you find yourself in the hideous position of having to grovel for blurbs. And if you're asking for them, then it's only fair to give them, too. Some writers have a "no blurb" policy, but I've noticed that most of those writers are themselves happy to accept blurbs. Maybe that's not fair. Their books are most likely festooned with blurbs because their editors insist on it. Still, unless you are a professor and thus besieged by students demanding blurbs, I think the only reasonable thing is to reciprocate. Plus, it's a kind thing to do. It's a nice thing to do.

Direct reciprocation, however, could result in ridicule. Remember that Spy Magazine column, "Log Rolling?"

Author I: Author's II's book is the best book in history.
Author II: Never have I read anything as marvelous as Author I's book.


What you really want to know is if blurbs are real, right? OK, so here's the thing. We get dozens of books coming into this house for blurbs every week and we could never read all of them. Actually, it's more relevant that Michael could never read all of them, because they are for him, 99% of the time. The sad truth is that most of the time a writer blurbs because the other author is his friend, or shares his editor, or is a client of his agent. Or is his wife's friend. That doesn't mean that he doesn't like the book -- not at all. It just means that he would never have picked it up absent that connection. Authors almost never "cold-blurb." That's not to say that it's impossible, but just unlikely.

Still, even knowing that, I find myself swayed by blurbs. There is something genuinely enticing about them. Wow, I say to myself, I love Jane Smiley, and she liked this book. So I'm bound to like it, too.


"Will They Have People In Carmel?"

You have to wonder what small children are thinking. They have no idea at any given moment where they are going, or what they are doing. How many times have I just loaded the kids into the car (the little ones) and shlepped them off to run errands. They kind of just go with the flow, and then every once in a while they say something that highlights the extent of their true cluelessness. On our way down to Carmel this weekend, Rosie asked, "Will they have people in Carmel?" Excuse me, what? What did she even think Carmel was? For all she knew, we could have been heading off to spend the weekend in prison. Turns out I had even bothered to explain we were spending the night there. She thought we'd moved.

Obviously, we went on that roadtrip -- and I emerged victorious in the DVD battle! Michael set up his laptop for the kids to watch movies on. We drove all the way to Carmel accompanied by The Country Bears. Unfortunately, Michael and I had to listen to it, too, and couldn't even put on music of our own. I only mentioned once during the whole ride that the built-in minivan DVD comes with headphones for every kid. I thought that was very restrained of me. And I probably wouldn't have said anything at all if the profound sadness of Bonnie Raitt's presence in that movie hadn't overwhelmed me with a deep and abiding despair at the transience of success.

I never expect vacations to be anything but horrible, probably because as a kid all we ever did for "vacation" was go visit my dad's family in Montreal. Not that that was necessarily horrible, but it was no Disneyland, let me tell you. Tea with the Aunties is all well and good, but when you're seven, the Yiddish jokes wear thin.

I'm always surprised when trips turn out to be actually fun, which this weekend has been. Don't get me wrong, Sophie and Zeke are at each other's throats ("He's making that sound again." "She called me butthead."), but despite that, and despite the fact that this evening Abie was possessed by a Dybbuk (no other explanation for his twenty minutes of hysterical screaming makes sense), we're having a lovely time.

Everyone loved the Aquarium (Monterey), but I won't bore you with details. I will say one thing, however. Forgive me, but I just can't get myself worked up about the potential extinction of the Great White Shark. I know I'm being terribly shortsighted, I know how important predators are to ecosystems, blah blah blah. But my mother took me to see Jaws when I was a kid, and then to see Jaws II when I had only just recovered from the first one, and I haven't been able to swim in the ocean since. I'm in a constant state of Great White panic. Frankly, I don't even like swimming in lakes and ponds. If I can't see the bottom, there's always the chance of shark attack. I swear to God I read once about a freshwater shark. Or not. Still. It's a phobia, it doesn't need to make sense.

We go to Hawaii every year, and I spend almost no time in the ocean. The kids are like little sea lions, splashing around, swimming out to the diving platform. Every afternoon I wade majestically out a few yards -- wearing my sunhat and with my UV protective coverup trailing in the waves. I flick my hands at the water once or twice and say, "Oy, what a machieh." Then I hightail it back to the beach where the chances of having my limbs gnawed off by an eight-foot-long beast are slightly lower. Yes, I'm your seventy-six-year-old Tante Sadie. What can I say. And this year I get to add a whole other anxiety to my Great White phobia (which, I must add, is pretty reasonable, as phobias go, given that the Big Island is on the Great White migration route, and don't forget that surfer kid who got her arm bitten off just two years ago. But I digress.) I'm planning on adding tsunamis to my list of vacation-related anxieties. A neurotic Jewish girl can figure out a way to make any tragedy feed her own craziness, no matter how distant and unlikely. It's a special talent we have.

Oh, and one other note from the field. In case you're wondering if Shout wipes take out strawberry jello, the answer is no.


Fashion Victim

All I wear nowadays are long-sleeve shirts with short-sleeve shirts layered on top of them. Every day. Some days it's a gray shirt with a black Believer baby-doll T on top of it. Some days it's a pink shirt with a Free Piper T. Today it's a long white V-neck with a pink shirt.

My children have all adopted this style, too. The three older ones wear it, and when they dress the baby, they put him in a little turtleneck with a polo over it, like some kind of tiny, floppy-eared escapee from Andover. When we go out together we look like those couples you see on vacation wearing matching Hawaiian shirts. In other words, stupid. We look stupid.

I'm trying to figure out why I've suddenly decided that this style, one that highlights the fleshiness of the upper arm is so compelling that I must adopt it despite its obvious unsuitability. Why am I dressing like a sixteen-year old? Why do my jeans rest at my hips, the better to force my four-caesarian-sectioned belly to ooze out over the top? What's the deal?

So many of the women I admire have innate senses of style. They know what looks good on them, they wear it, and that's it. I used to have, for better or worse, one fashion rule. Black. Only black. Everything I owned was black, everything I wore was black, everything I allowed near my body was black, with the exception of my lipstick and nail polish. This was an easy rule to follow. It brooked no compromise, and allowed for little flash, but it was hard to make too obvious an error. Now, I'm all about the colors (pink, green, etc.) and I fear I have become one loud fashion faux pas, wandering in search of a Queer eye. I am a fashion weather vane, pointy-shod when told to be, rounded-toed when told to be. All in the service of what? I always look more or less the same - fine. Except when I make some kind of terrible mistake. Then I look, well, ridiculous. Like, what was I thinking, a purple dress. Redheads should never wear purple, even when they become old ladies. Especially when they become old ladies. And that gold top with the ruffled tail? Gevalt.

The person I'd like to be has a small closet with just a few really "good" pieces. You know that woman. She oozes class, even when she's wearing a pair of jeans and a T-shirt. Maybe she tosses an ancient cashmere sweater over the ensemble, adding a little dash of expensive chic. Instead, I'm the woman with the bulging closet full of things purchased on sale, just a half-size too small (I'll shrink into them), in the color of the moment that just happens to lend my face a greenish hue.

What secret do those women know that I don’t? Sofia Coppola doesn't read "What Not To Wear," so how do she and her ilk just know this stuff? Is there a gene that I'm missing? Probably. You should see the pictures of my wedding. The only things more terrifying than my mom and grandmother in dueling knock-off Pucci prints was me in my wedding dress. I look like I dropped headfirst into a jar of marshmallow fluff.


Welcome to My Fantasy World

I'm already adding to my cabinet. Terrific suggestions, folks!

Do we have to even notice tomorrow's festivities? Can we just pretend it's not happening? I know...let's play ROTISSERIE politics. This is a game I invented after the last election. It's like that fantasy baseball game the weird guy in the next office (or the weird guy next to you in the bed) plays. You pick independent players to be on your team. You aren't bound by anything other than you have to have a complete cabinet. Then, for the next four years, skip all political news. Just put your fingers in your ears and sing, "Na na na." Tell yourself pretty little stories about what your rotisserie team is doing.

I'll start. I warn you, I'm just doing this off the top of my head, with a little help from the web. I'll need to change my picks if I come up with a bunch of losers.

President: Barbara Boxer (it's fantasy politics, people)

VP: Barack Obama (Young, inexperienced, I know. But we went to law school together, and if he remembers me it can only increase my chances of getting invited to the White House.)

Secretary of State: George Soros

Secretary of the Treasury: George Akerloff (UC Berkeley Nobel Laureate in Economics)

Attorney General: Kathleen Sullivan (one-time dean of Stanford Law School. Out lesbian. Very smart.)

Secretary of the Interior: John H. Adams, president of the Natural Resources Defense Counsel

Secretary of Agriculture: Michael Pollan (author of The Botany of Desire)

Secretary of Commerce: Nancy Folbre (an expert on time, money, and family values.)

Secretary of Labor: Sara Horowitz

Secretary of Defense: Daniel Berrigan. Priest and Peace activist.

Secretary of H.U.D.: Julian Bond of the NAACP

Secretary of Transportation: Matt Gonzalez (our own SF dude.)

Secretary of Energy: Carl Pope (Sierra Club president.)

Secretary of Education: Dave Eggers. Seriously. Check out 826 Valencia. The guy is an idea machine.

Secretary of H.H.S.: Katherine Gottlieb, MacArthur genius.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs: Max Cleland

Department of Homeland Security: Richard Clarke (brilliant idea, here, Fred. Thanks.)

EPA: Pam Matson (She knows about greenhouse gases and what they do.)

Chief of Staff: Ideas?

US Trade Rep: HELP!

Office of Management and Budget Director: Would Byron Dorgan work in this slot?

Drug Czar: Ethan Nadelman, director of the Drug Policy Institute

Blogger Ethics

Am I'm doing something I shouldn't? Or not doing something I should? I know approximately 500 of you visit every day, so here's my question...why so few comments? Is it because I don't reply to each individually? Should I post more about the size of my butt (note plethora of comments on that day)?

By the way -- huge. Just in case you were wondering. But as Michael grew up in a truly integrated neighborhood, and had most of his first crushes on the girls he knew from school, he is not real interested in skinny white girl butts. Lucky me, because God knows I've got back.

How did I end up talking about that when I was supposed to be asking blogging etiquette questions?


Lordy, I love working. I'm just a churlish bitch when I'm not writing. I'm still a bitch, but much less churlish, when I accomplish my daily word count. I've started the novel...not the kids' book yet. I have to talk to someone who knows the market before I launch into that. And this book is beginning. It's all a matter of catching the voice, and I think I am. I think so. Kenehora, poo poo poo.

Michael and I work in the same office. I sprawl on the couch, my laptop in my lap, and he works at his desk. This way if he desperately needs a bit of information he can ask me to do a quickie web search, and if I desperately need a word I can ask Dr. Thesaurus to cough one up. It's a complementary relationship. He's not allowed on the web when he works because he gets far too sucked up into it and would waste the whole day, and I have a sieve for a brain and can never remember the word I'm looking for. The only debate we have is over music. For instance, he just put on Jeff Beck, and if it weren't for the fact that I was finished for the day, I'd make him switch it. I like to listen to minimalist classical music when I work -- Steve Reich's my favorite. Either Reich and his cronies or weird world music crap that I'd never listen to in my non-working life. I'm not hugely into gypsy music, for example, but it puts me into a good frame of mind for writing. Go figure.

So, a good day, despite Sophie's moods. I swear that girl is having phantom PMS. She's got the S, without a doubt, and a healthy does of the P, but no M as yet (thank God). Every month, before I get my period, she goes through two days of intense moodiness. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking it's MY mood that's the issue, but I swear it isn't. The girl wakes up with her own little black cloud hovering over the top of her head. I will acknowledge that it doesn't help matters that my thunderous cloud makes hers look like a puff of smoke.

Poor Michael. When she does finally get the M to match the P and the S, and we're in synch, he's going to have to retreat to a pup tent in the yard with Zeke and Abe. They can roast weenies over an open fire, beat some drums, and wait it out.



Thanks to Maud Newton, I bring you the first line of a review by Kinky Friedman of Jimmy Buffet's new novel.

THERE is a fine line between fiction and nonfiction, and I believe Jimmy Buffett and I snorted it in 1976.

Road Trip!

A good mother will not have a DVD player in her minivan. A good mother loathes the idea of her children bickering over whether to watch fifteen minutes of Castle in the Sky or fifteen minutes of Finding Nemo on their way to school. A good mother makes play lists of fun and funky Power Pop music and plays them for her children, in order for facilitate their appreciation for good music and the life of Alex Chilton.

But what's the name of this blog? All together now...

I am so bummed that I caved in to Michael's refusal to get the DVD player option on the minivan. On Friday we're supposed to drive all the way to Carmel - that's, what, three hours? My kids are going to be at each other's throats the whole way. Instead of popping in 88 minutes of mindless entertainment (the exact length of the Lion King), I'm going to be desperately searching for music that they all like -- something sufficiently raucous for Zeke and Abraham, with a female vocalist for Sophie aka Betty Freidan, and easy to understand lyrics for Rosie ("What did he say, mommy?" "What did he say?" "What did he say?"). Fun. Oh so fun.

The very words "road trip" make my skin crawl. Remember when road trips meant a 2-liter bottle of diet coke, bags of Doritos and ruffles, a couple of extra-long Slim Jims, and your entire tape collection? Not to mention the occasional not-so legal recreational substances.

(FYI, researchers in the Netherlands have proven conclusively that marijuana does not significantly impair driving. In fact, it might actually make drivers more attentive. What with all the paranoia.)

Now road trips are all about whining, punctuated with a few episodes of vomit.

And don't suggest a book on tape. Try finding something that can be enjoyed by a 10-year-old, a 7-year-old, a 3-year-old with a four minute attention span, and a baby.

This is going to be about as much fun as the time Michael and I went to Staten Island to visit his aunt with the noise phobia. Every surface in the house was littered with little pink clotted earplugs, decorated with a bit of green earwax, just to make it all that much more appetizing.


What You Gonna Do When They Come For You?

It was a scene from cops out in front of our house last night. At about 2:30 in the morning we were woken up by shouts of "put your hands up," and the sounds of heavy-footed men thundering up and down the block. We peeked out the window to see no less than three cop cars and six officers tearing around with flashlights. They had apparently caught a couple of car thieves in the act of breaking into our neighbor's car. As a property and car owner, I would be all very pleased with these efforts on the part of my local law enforcement agency if it weren't for what had happened a couple of years ago when my own car got stolen.

I was hugely pregnant with Abie, and Michael was out of town. I was hustling the three kids out the door to go the grocery store and I had Rosie in my arms, a diaper bag draped over my shoulder, and the two big kids weaving in and out between my legs. I looked out in front of my house at the spot where I always park. No car. I looked up and down the block. No car. Then, I did something really stupid. I took my car alarm control and pushed the button a few times, as if that would make the car suddenly reappear. Didn't work.

Someone had stolen my minivan. Truth was, while I was mightily inconvenienced, I wasn't particularly bummed. The minivan wasn't old, not more than a year or two, but it had already started to smell. You know, that noxious combination of old bottle, half-empty gogurt tube, old soccer cleats? You can have the damn thing washed two hundred times, and the smell of children will never disappear.

I had four days before the insurance company would give me the go-ahead to buy a new minivan. Four short days. And of course, on the morning of the fourth day, the cops found the goddamn car. It was trashed, cracked up, in Hayward, a town a few exits down the freeway. Worse luck, the thing wasn't totaled. The insurance company decided to repair it for me.

When I got over my despair and picked up the phone to call the guy at the body shop, he said the damage wasn't too bad, but he did have some bad news. "The van is totally disgusting," he said. "It looks like a homeless family has been living in it for a month."

Terrific. Not only had some psycho stolen my car (who goes joyriding in a minivan?) but he had also skanked up the inside. Yuck. I couldn't even bear to see the thing. I sent Michael's assistant down to the body shop with instructions to get the car seats and anything else that could be salvaged. She called from the lot. With worse news.

"Um, Ayelet," she says. "I don't know how to tell you this, but, um."
"This is all your mess."

No, no homeless family. Just Ayelet and her disgusting mess. Sigh.

But all was not lost. At least I would have the satisfaction of getting my revenge. The thief had left a Grateful Dead CD (!!), his leather jacket and...his cell phone behind him. I called the cops all atwitter. Crime solved! Trace the phone, I tell them, and we've got our criminal! Their reaction? I haven't confronted such a lack of interest since the time I suggested we spend Christmas break at Club Med. (Unfortunately, I was more persuasive that time. A Club Med vacation, the antidote for anything good in your life. More about that another day.) The cops didn't care. They didn't want the phone, they weren't interested in finding out who stole the car. They were shocked, in fact, that I was bothering them about this at all. I tried going up the ranks. Nothing. I even called the mayor's office. No response.

Yet, last night, they were all over solving the exact same crime. Maybe it's just me they don't like. Anyway, as the middle-of-the-night action wound down, I heard the cops ask the kid they had nabbed what his name was. The name sounded Cambodian, I thought. As soon as they began talking to him, the kid began insisting that it was all his fault. The other guy was innocent. Please let him go, etc. etc. So immediately I created this scenario in my head about T and his young cousin, a recent immigrant whose father had been killed by the Khmer. The cousin and his mother were lucky enough to be allowed to come to the US to be with her sister, and now they live in a studio apartment in the same complex as T's family. T's mother, awash with guilt over not having been able to save her own sister, has made this young cousin T's responsibility. And now T's gone and gotten him arrested.

I've been worried about T and his cousin all day.


Formatting Horror

Anyone know how to fix the formatting on the next post?

David Brooks Discovers the Wheel!

Look what I found! It's round! It can make vehicles move!

Okay, maybe I'm being a little snide. And maybe I should just be grateful that any male commentator is discussing the challenges inherent in raising a family and having a career. (After all, we could be treated to another of Caitlin Flanagan's "I'm a wife and mommy and I've never wanted a career -- except for that gig at the New Yorker and please don't talk about my full-time nanny" diatribes.) But still, I couldn't help but greet Brook's column with a great big DUH. Allison does a terrific job of taking on the various implications of his fundamental point, so I'm not going to bother replicating her analysis.

Here's the thing. Let's say I had done what Mr. Brooks suggests. Let's say I had taken the following advice:

it might make more sense to go to college, make a greater effort to marry early and have children. Then, if she, rather than her spouse, wants to stay home, she could raise children from age 25 to 35. Then at 35 (now that she knows herself better) she could select a flexible graduate program specifically designed for parents. Then she could work in one uninterrupted stint from, say, 40 to 70.

What would my life be like now? Well, I'd be married to a very pleasant albeit, er, simple Israeli who, like my father, is missing the communication gene. I'd be wretchedly unhappy, as would he. I'd not only be wearing my bathrobe at noon on Sunday, I'd be living in the goddamn thing, because I would never be able to motivate myself to dress for the misery that my life had become. See, the big ol' problem with Mr. Brooks argument is that for the vast majority of us, marrying the person we are stupid enough to be dating at, say 23 (because shouldn't we be married for at least a year before getting knocked up?), would be a catastrophic mistake. And let's not even talk about your average 23-year-old American man, and how ready he is for marriage at that age. The whole idea makes me shudder. But wait, is Mr. Brooks saying that 23-year-old women should marry 40-year-old men? Is that the whole point of this column?

The truth is I actually do think we need to rethink the way we sequence careers. I always say that your profession can't be like a train that you get on at the bottom of the hill, ride for 40 years, and then get off at the top. We need to make room in our understanding of what constitutes a career for stopping and starting, changing trains, etc. Many women (and some men) are doing that. It's just that the employment world forces each individual to (if you will) reinvent the wheel. And they are almost always penalized for their choices.

A Menthol Cigarette

It's 11:39 on Sunday morning, and I'm still in my robe. Abie was up again and again last night, which is not really my problem, since all he ever wants is his father, but it did wake me. I ended up awake once and for all at 7, and have been reading the paper and wafting around the house ever since. My hair is standing on end, something I didn't even bother to do anything about when each of the kids' playdates were dropped off. The carefully coifed moms were a tad on the shocked side.

Michael just told me to go take a shower. "You're kind of turning into that mother," he said. "You know, the one who spends her day in her bathrobe shrieking at her children?" In response to my expression of disbelief he said, "Seriously, I was just about to go get you a menthol cigarette."

What, no Pabst Blue Ribbon to go with it?


What to Begin Now?

It's time to start a new project. I'm finished with the rewrite of The Cradlerobbers, I'm expecting the copy-edit of Love and Other Impossible Pursuits, but that won't take more than a week. Now what? I have an idea for an adult novel. I have an idea for a screenplay, and I have an idea for a children's series. I can't decide which to do. I've never written a screenplay, and it's entirely possible I'll suck at it. It could be a complete waste of time. On the other hand, I bet I could pound out a first draft in a month. The children's novel is also another long shot, but the idea is pretty cool, and who knows. It might sell. Stranger things have happened. I suppose I should begin the adult novel. It's scary though. The idea I have is bound to hurt people I'm close to (just like Impossible Pursuits, frankly). Starting a novel is also like setting off on a trip with no itinerary or return ticket. It could be a short trip, or you could find yourself stuck in Burkina Faso for years.

What to do, what to do?


Poor Grrl

As I'm sure you all know by now, Chez Mis has bad news to report. I wish that woman could just get a break. Would it turn the heavens up for down for her to catch a single goddamn break?

The Nag Gets Hers

Oh, one more tidbit about last night. I went into the city before Michael did, and I made a big deal out of him forgetting his ticket. He's a bit of a luftmensch (head in the clouds) and I got all pissy.

"Do you need me to staple this to your collar?"
"Don't forget."
"Don't forget."
"Seriously, don't forget."

So what happened? I forgot my ticket. I am so bummed, because now I've not only lost all credibility, but I've lost all snide-rights. It will be months before I can bitch at him for being absent-minded.

I hate that.

So Much Money For Diamonds, Such Bad Plastic Surgery

Last night Michael and I went to the San Francisco Symphony's 60th Birthday party for the conductor, Michael Tilson Thomas. We had no idea it was going to be such a scene. In fact, I somehow didn't notice the "black tie optional" notation on our invitation. Man, was I underdressed.

Michael was wearing a very dapper suit, and coincidentally, a nice black, white and silver tie. Sophie picked it out for him, and I swear to God the kid has some kind of fashion radar. At least he was appropriately dressed. Most of the men were in tuxes, but he looked stylish, and since the average age was about nine zillion, you could make an argument that that's what "the youth" considers to be black tie.

I, on the other hand, was wearing a fine and dandy little cocktail dress, which had I worn one of my dozens of pairs of high heels, would have been innocuous enough. Instead, I chose a pair of funky, casual John Fluevog boots. I felt like I had a sign on my head that read "tacky bitch." Although, why was the neon blinking over me? Why wasn't it blinking over the woman whose ball gown was decorated with little patches of rabbit fur shot through with sequins? I'm betting Easter is going to be a sad holiday around the Bay Area this year. I doubt she left a bunny unskinned.

That wasn't the most ludicrous outfit, though. That award goes to the ancient crone in the fuchsia ribboned and ruffled gown with the six-foot train. Rosie has a swath of fuchsia tulle she uses for dress up, and I swear to God that old broad was peeking through our windows and taking notes.

Michael and I felt like two guppies in a dry pond, gulping for air. When we saw two actual friends of ours, we fell on them, we were so relieved to see someone we had anything even remotely in common with.

The music was gorgeous. Really beautiful, and fun. FUN. MTT had his usual delicate touch last night, and he was genuinely having a great time. I know nothing about classical music. Bizarrely (and luckily for me) everything I know I've learned from hearing him conduct and getting mini-lessons either before or afterwards. Michael makes up for my ignorance, however.

But since I'm about as deep as a goldfish bowl, what I really want to talk about is the plastic surgery on display. What is with the bad plastic surgery? I mean, these women are dripping in diamonds, and their faces look like Easter Island statues. You know, that horrible stretched look, with the huge cheekbones and the weird lips? There are a few women I know who have had good plastic surgery -- one of them was sitting next to me last night. Obviously, it's possible to get a face-lift or an eye-whatever without ending up looking like you're standing in a wind tunnel. These broads have all the money in the world, and man, oh man, are they SCARY. Way to push all thoughts of a tummy tuck from my mind. I'll live with my flaws, thank you. I'd rather not end up looking like a Barbie doll that's been hanging out in a microwave oven.


So Much To Say

There are so many serious things I should be blogging about today. For example:

1. Two cases, Booker and Fanfan, have been decided, and the Supreme Court has radically changed the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. Some of you who know me from my life outside of this blog (is there life outside of the blogosphere?) will recall that I take a serious interest in sentencing, especially in the way the Guidelines are constructed and used. In brief (very brief), the Sentecing Guidelines are a series of rules requiring federal judges to give specific sentences to defendants. Judges were constrained by the guidelines; they could not use their discretion to decrease a sentence if, say, a man filed an incorrect mortgage application in order to get refinancing to pay for alterations to his home made necessary by the fact that his profoundly retarded daughter had to leave the rehabilition facility that had been caring for her. That, by the way, was an actual case of mine.

In Booker/Fanfan the Court has ruled, essentially, that the Guidelines should be just that, guidelines, not hard and fast regulations. (For more information on this, in a readable format, go to your local library and pick up a copy of my novel, Daughter's Keeper.)

I think this is without a doubt the correct resolution of the case, and I'm terrified of it. Now, with an entrenched and emboldened Republican majority in Congress, I fear that their reaction to this case will be to make life even harder for defendants and judges.

Keep your fingers crossed.

2. Prince Harry has proved, once and for all, the importance of genetic diversity in the breeding of human beings. I, for one, am responding to the latest proof of his blithering idiocy by requiring my children to marry outside our genetic cohort.

3. Human Rights Watch has just issued a report condemning US actions in Iraq and elsewhere. Surprise Surprise. Thank you, Militiary Intelligence, Rumsfeld and cronies. Next time a US soldier is tortured you can congratulate yourself on doing your bit to decimate the Geneva Convention.

But I don't want to blog about any of that. I want to blog about something else. I want to blog about The Person With Whom I Live and how goddamn irritating he can be sometimes. I want to blog about how maddening it is to live with someone who immediately gets to his feet when dinner is over and rushes to the computer in the kitchen to choose music by which to clean up. This decision invariably takes precisely the same amount of time as it takes me to actually clean up the kitchen. So I load the dishwasher, while The Person With Whom I Live waffles over whether Keren Ann or Fountains of Wayne provides the best clean up music. The Person With Whom I Live hovers over the keyboard, scrolling through itunes, and invariably decides that he must purchase something new, something especially composed to assist with the cleanup. By then I have swept the floor and wiped off the counters. The Person With Whom I Live finally chooses a Shonen Knife cover of a Carpenters' song, just as I am squeezing out the sponge and turning on the dishwasher. When The Person With Whom I Live is confronted about this incredibly aggravating behavior of his, he replies, "Just give me a walk on this one." Thus, a situation is set up by which I am the unreasonable bitch for not "giving him a walk," and he is the reasonable, sensitive soul. I am seriously considered smacking The Person With Whom I Live upside the head with a frying pan.

This, by the way, is the same person who decided that it would be fun to give Zeke a buzz cut ... with his beard-trimmer. I came home from the gym one day to find Zeke sitting on a chair, hanks of hair at his feet, gaping bald spots on his head, and The Person With Whom I Live mumbling, "Don't cry. When Mommy comes home she'll tell us how to fix it."


Safe, Legal and Rare

The pro-choice and anti-choice world is abuzz with debate and discussion about Frances Kissling's 7500 word essay entitled Is There Life After Roe: How to Think About the Fetus. . (I suggest you go to the cached version of this article, as everyone and her aunt is trying to load the site, and they've effectively shut it down.) I found the article fascinating for a variety of reasons, not least because it is aligned in many ways with my current thinking about abortion.

As readers of this blog know, I had a second trimester abortion. I was pregnant with a much-wanted child who was diagnosed with a genetic abnormality. I made a choice to terminate the pregnancy. It was my third pregnancy, and I was very obviously showing. More importantly, I could feel the baby move. We had seen him on the ultrasound; I have a very clear memory of his two tiny feet, perfect pearl toes, footprint arches, round heels. This was, for me, a baby, not a "clump of cells" as an older woman, steeped in the arcane language of the early feminist movement, called him. He was my baby, and I chose to end his life.

Let me be very clear here. I support absolutely the right to abortion. I give financial support to Planned Parenthood, to NARAL. I am fanatical on this issue. I believe that every woman is entitled to choose when and if to end a pregnancy. I also believe that to end a pregnancy like mine is to kill a fetus. Kill. I use that word very consciously and specifically.

I have no regrets.

I made a choice based on my own and my family’s needs and limitations. I did not want to raise a genetically compromised child. I did not want my children to have to contend with the massive diversion of parental attention, and the consequences of being compelled to care for their brother after I died. I wanted a genetically perfect baby, and because that was something I could control, I chose to end his life.

This decision was not without its terrible costs. I mourned this baby's death. The night before the termination I lay awake, feeling him roll and spin within my body. I wept for the death of the baby inside me, and I also wept for the death of the "fantasy baby," the perfect baby I lost when the amnio results came back. I was catapulted into a six-month depression after the abortion, a depression that ended only when I got pregnant again. On Yom Kippur I wrote an essay about what I had done and read it before my congregation. One of the lines in that essay asked how I could apologize for being so inadequate a mother that I would not accept an inadequate child.

Everyone knows now how early a fetus becomes a baby. Women who have been pregnant have seen their babies on ultrasounds. They know that there is a terrible truth to those horrific pictures the anti-choice fanatics hold up in front of abortion clinics. When I was wheeled into the operating room, I begged my doctor to make sure my baby felt no pain before he was torn out of my womb. I knew the grim truth of a D&E -- I knew he would be dismembered -- and I wanted him dead before this happened. My doctor told me that he would make sure my baby felt no pain. You see, all this is horrible, and grim, and terrible to think about. But contemporary women know the truth about abortion, and those of us who remain firmly committed to a woman's right to choose need to accept and acknowledge that truth, or we risk losing our right completely.

I talked yesterday to my brilliant friend and role model, Lynn Paltrow, a woman who has devoted her life and career to pregnant women and their rights. Lynn represents women who have been charged with various offenses because of drug use when pregnant. Lynn said something truly brilliant, I thought. To be relevant to the contemporary world, to be valid, the pro-choice movement must listen to pregnant women. We must listen to the woman and value her words. A woman who is unwillingly pregnant, whose pregnancy at, say, 10 weeks, is nothing more than a source of desperation, of misery, knows one truth and we must respect it and honor it. A pregnant woman whose 4 month-old fetus has Down’s Syndrome knows another truth, and we must respect that, too. A pregnant woman whose batterer kicks her in the stomach, trying to end her baby's life, knows another truth. Respecting the truths of these pregnant women allows us to deal in shades of grey, to liberate ourselves from the straitjacket of the black and white.

I know why the feminist movement (of whom I am a proud member) has been so wary of using the language of fetal life. A Senator who uses the phrase "partial birth abortion" is exploiting a rare procedure to attack our broader right. I also know a woman who had two "partial-birth abortions," or D&Xs as they are more accurately called. My friend Tiffany is a carrier of a terrible genetic abnormality. In addition to other defects, her babies developed with no faces, with no way to eat or breathe. They were doomed. The only way to extract them without hurting her chances of ever having another baby was through a D&X.

Tiffany named her children. She mourned and mourns their deaths. She is the face of the "partial-birth abortion." If we listened to women like Tiffany, we could acknowledge the value of the babies they lost, and defend absolutely their right not to carry them full term, not to force themselves and their babies to undergo the trauma of a doomed birth.

Listen to the pregnant woman. Value her. She values the life growing inside her. Listen to the pregnant woman, and you cannot help but defend her right to abortion.


Hanna Andersson, Do I Get a Discount?

So the others won't feel bad, and I promise no more pictures. It's a terrible one of Sophie, and Zeke is making a face, sort of, but it gives you an idea. I'm not even supposed to put their pictures up. It violates all sorts of "children of writer" rules. But screw it.

Abe, In Costume

Abe, In Costume
Originally uploaded by Ayeletw.
By popular demand, Abraham Wolf Waldman Chabon. Yes, that's his name. It's a lot easier to deal with than his brother's -- Ezekiel Napoleon Waldman Chabon.

Israel Courts Get it Right

In the same day, the U.S. Supreme Court left standing a Florida law that bars gay couples from adopting children, and the Israeli Supreme Court decided that gay and lesbian couples should be allowed to adopt one another's children

Now, obviously these two laws are not the same. In California, at least, gay couples have long been allowed to adopt under these circumstances (albeit with the caveat that a conservative judge could simply turn them down). Florida's law is about adoption of children unrelated to the spouse, although I imagine it would have ramifications for adoption under the circumstances that the Israel Supreme Court dealt with.

So let's ponder this for a moment.

In Israel, they respect the rights of gay families.

In Florida, if you've been convicted of Domestic Violence, ie., if you've beaten your wife to a bloody pulp, we're happy to let you adopt. Take two, they're small! But if you are a gay man who has fostered, for example, 8 children with AIDS and HIV (one of the actual plaintiffs in the case), we'd rather find some abusive son of a bitch to adopt the children. As long as he puts his schlong in the right place, we don't care what else he does.

Poor Abie

Someone (anonymous) just took me to task for constantly posting about how homely Abie is. You're right, anonymous one, I do talk far too much about the boy's looks. In thinking about it, I realize that I always pick one flaw about my children to talk about with other people. We used to call Rosie, "The pretty one." I.e., maybe not so bright. And Sophie's got, well, attitude in spades. Zeke wouldn't recognize the truth if it beat him about the head and shoulders. What a horrible mother...

Actually, I think this is about the evil eye. I want to make sure that the Angel of Death knows that these kids are just not worth snatching. They're homely, stupid, crabby and dishonest. You don't want them. Leave them here with me.

It's also probably a reaction to hearing people talk about their kids as if they were the second coming of the Messiah. Or the first, if you're one of us. Or the second, if you're a Lubavitche.

Here's another essay about this very topic. From Child Magazine.

At every parents' night I've ever attended -- and with four children I've been to more than my share -- I have waited for the inevitable question.

"Excuse me," someone asks. "What accommodation do you make for the exceptionally gifted child?" We all look around to see who the lucky speaker is; who is the parent of this future Bobby Fischer, this Stephen Hawking of the second grade?

For the vast majority of us, the question serves only to make us feel bad. We all wish we were the parents of the gifted child. I should know. My husband and I still swear to this day that our oldest daughter said the word duck when she was only 6 months old.

It was this same daughter, Sophie, who taught me the folly of these expectations. When she was in preschool, I began buying her First Readers, convinced that it was only a matter of months before she'd be whipping through The Chronicles of Narnia. So when Sophie was still painstakingly sounding out words at age 7, I ended up calling my mother, completely distraught.

"She's only reading at a first-grade level!" I wailed.

There was silence on the other end of the line for a few moments. Finally my mother said, "Honey, she's in first grade."

More hysteria. "But Michael was reading by age 4! And I was such an early reader!"

"What are you talking about?" she said. "You took forever to learn to read. You were the last in your class."

I am a Bitch and Catherine is a Mensch

Today I got the loveliest email from someone to whom I behaved hideously on this blog. I posted a sour and bitchy comment about Catherine Newman's column, based on having read a single one. I criticized her for being something that she isn't -- cloying. She sent me this email basically saying that I hurt her feelings, but she thought we had a lot in common. We might have a lot in commom, but she is much more generous and much nicer than me.

I then went to read her archived column, and it's great and does not deserve my snarkiness.

I owe an apology to Catherine, and to her fans. I am so so sorry.

People, go ahead and blast me when I behave badly. I promise I'll learn from my mistakes.


Pump Moms Do It In a Vacuum

I heard from one of my old pumping compatriots today. We were united in the secret netherworld of the Symphony and the Pump-In-Style. It was lovely to hear from her, although it did bring back the horror of the six months I spent pumping breastmilk (40 ounces a day) for Abraham. You see, Abie was born with a recessive chin. So recessive, in fact, that he could never latch on. Poor guy. He also has a unibrow and a moustache (Seriously. A black one). Now it turns out this kid has a gimpy hip. His little foot turns out. It's supposed to pass with time, but with the one eyebrow, the no chin, the moustache and the limp, he looks like a ninety-seven year old Armenian. Not that that's bad. Some of my best friends are Armenian. Come to think of it, their children are way better looking then he is.

So here's an article I wrote for Parenting Magazine about Abe and his nursing problem.

Baby Abraham won’t nurse. Despite the fact that I’ve successfully breastfed his three siblings, despite the efforts of his pediatrician and not one, but two lactation consultants, this baby will not suck. Were he a tiny Stone Age baby, born to a nomadic hunter-gatherer tribe, he would have long since been left out for the saber-tooth tigers and prehistoric dire wolves. He’s lucky he was born to a 21st century soccer mom who refuses to give up.

Or is he? Might four-month-old Abraham be more content were I just to give up, and stop the daily battles over the breast? Wouldn’t I be? I’ve been mulling this over lately, as I sit in an exhausted fog at three in the morning, strapped to my breast pump. While I enjoyed nursing Abe’s sisters and brother well enough, I never found it to be the glorious exemplification of all things maternal that some women feel it to be. And although I understand that breast milk is the best food for my baby, I’m not one of those moms who considers formula a bare step away from strychnine. Anyway, I can certainly pump milk for him, even if he drinks only from a bottle. So why is it that I can’t seem to stop this nursing business?

It’s all my husband’s fault.

The reason I refuse to give up on the possibility of nursing baby Abe, is that breastfeeding is the only thing I can do that his father can’t. My husband is the feminist’s fantasy father. He changes diapers, does middle-of-the-night feedings, cleans the house, constructs elaborate Lego structures, pitches baseballs, and plays a mean game of Uno. About the only thing he doesn’t do is laundry. And he’d do that, too, if I didn’t feel like something in this house had to be my responsibility.

Are you jealous yet? Are you ready to beat your husband about the head and shoulders next time you find him spending three and half hours reprogramming TIVO while you juggle carpool, homework assignments, and birthday present shopping? (The last of those, incidentally, is my job. The first two are not.) Put that remote back in his hand, because this ideal of egalitarian parenting is not the bliss it seems.

When your husband is the best mom around, what is left for you to be? I’ll tell you what. Second best. And sometimes that just doesn’t seem like enough. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t miss having to do all the work myself. We all know how tedious and miserable many of the mundane tasks of parenting can be. I’m thrilled to have someone else scrub out the Diaper Genie and pack the lunch boxes. I certainly don’t begrudge my husband his relationship with the children. I’m glad both for him and for them that they share this unique bond. It’s just that I find myself longing for something absolutely selfish and absurd: I want the primacy that defines the traditional role of mother, without having to earn it.

With a few exceptions, my mommy friends all possess a decidedly paramount place in their children’s hearts. I envy them. When Rosie, age two, wants someone to teach her how to ride her tricycle, she’s much more likely to call for daddy than for mommy, and every time I hear that little voice, I get a pang. Okay, not a big enough pang to haul myself off the couch – heck, I might as well put my feet up since I’m not the one she wants – but a pang nonetheless. When six-year-old Zeke crawls onto his father’s lap, a newly constructed Bionicle in hand, full of questions and stories about his day at school, about which would win in a fight, the Thing or the Hulk, about whether your eyeball is really a ball, I sit, empty-lapped, longing to be the one cuddling those knobby little-boy knees. Even Sophie, age eight, would rather go clothes shopping with her father, although that probably has more to do with the fact that, unlike her price-conscious mother, daddy never bothers looking through the sale rack.

Yesterday, I had begun to feel really sorry for myself. Abe was turning from the breast, screaming for his bottle (and probably for his daddy), when suddenly I heard a terrible wail. I ran downstairs. Zeke had not, in fact, fallen from a dizzying height, or broken a limb. Something far worse had happened. His sister had refused to allow him to join her at her lemonade stand. Daddy was trying to comfort him, but it was Mommy he wanted. As he sat, his damp face buried in my neck, his fingers tangled in my hair, I finally realized that while I may not be the only one who matters, I am worth something around here. Sophie comes home from gymnastics weeping over her best friend’s elevation to the next-level class while she’s been forced to stay in Girls Beginner I (daddy’s suggestion that she work harder on her cartwheels misses the point entirely. It’s about how it makes her feel, not what you can do to fix the problem), or Rosie shows up, chin atremble, because of some complicated preschool social slight. That’s when they come to me, and that’s what I do best. There is, I think, something unique about the comfort a mother provides. Or at least the comfort this mother provides. Daddy may be the better cook. He may be more fun at story time, he may even be less liable to get frazzled when everyone is throwing a tantrum at the same time. But it’s usually Mommy’s lap they go for when the going gets tough, but the tough are crying too hard to get going.

Does understanding how important I am to them make me any less envious of my husband’s centrality to my children’s lives? Probably not. But I think it may make it possible to give up the breastfeeding struggle. We’ve been at it for four months now, and it’s time to acknowledge defeat. Abe will love and need me even if he never nurses, just like Sophie, Zeke and Rosie do, and just like I love and need them. And that’s really what it’s all about.



I was a public defender. Not for that long, only a few years, but for long enough to have developed a sense of outrage at the costs imposed by the system on offenders.

Morally and legally, I believe Megan's Law is seriously problematic. I think our criminal justice system depends on a defendant being able to serve his sentence and then be released. I am aware of the frequency of unjust convictions. I am horrified by the routine violations of civil rights that plague our court and penal systems.

But I checked the Megan's Law webiste anyway.

I'm a mother of four. As most of you know, my children are 10, 7, 3, and 1.5 years old. I am as susceptible as anyone to the fears that accompany contemporary parenthood. I am terrified that my children will be harmed. My fears run the gamut from tsunamis to pedophiles to car accidents and plane crashes.

In my zip code there are 11 registered offenders. Some of these men likely fall into the category of offenses I would not concern myself with. For example, if an eighteen-year-old boy has sex with his fifteen-year-old girlfriend, he can be convicted for statutory rape. When I was fifteen I had boyfriends who were in the Israeli army. One coerced me into losing my virginity. The others were just boyfriends. I would even say I had the upper hand in at least one of those relationships. These guys were all between 18 and 22.

Some of the other 11 men listed on the website scare the shit out of me. There are two who were committed to long-term psychiatric care due to their sexual offenses against children. There are a couple who were convicted of "sexual penetration with a foreign object."

I tried out some other random towns. Mill Valley's got 8 offenders, Pasadena has 119. Ross doesn't have any. Just for the information of those not from the Bay Area, Ross is our little Marin enclave of fabulous wealth. Sean Penn lives there. And a bunch of other really rich people.

So what's a mama to do? Do we sell our house in Berkeley and buy a place in Ross for the same money? Not an option. While it's possible that a family of 6 can fit into a double wide, I'm not sure they'd let us park under the underpass for long enough to get the kids into the Ross school system. Do I stop letting my kids walk around the corner to the market where they can sign for an ice cream? Do I stop letting them have lemonade stands out in front of our house, complete with a tin marked "Tsunami Relief?" (Why else would someone pay a buck for a half a cup of cloyingly sweet lemonade made from the Meyer lemons on our tree and the entire contents of the sugar canister?)

No. I value my children’s independence too much. Moreover, it already makes me so sad that when my kids go out and play there's no one for them to play with, even on our street where kids live in almost every house. When I was a kid, we roamed the neighborhood, getting tootsie rolls from the lovely young woman in the wheel chair, playing war on the dirt hills above the busy main street, making faces at the mean dogs behind their fences and petting the nice dogs that ran along with us. These languid child-centered afternoons and evenings are the sources of some of my most important memories. I can still remember the feel of the wind in my hair as I rode my bike down to the Kentucky Fried Chicken to get 1/4 regular and a biscuit. (I was an suburban kid with a taste for junk food, what can I say.) The idea of Sophie saddling up her bike and riding down to College Avenue for a donut strikes me as absurd, but she's the same age as I was back then. I can't deny my children the independence and fun of my own childhood. I can't constrict their lives because of my fear. There are statistically no more child abductions now then there were in the 1970s. The difference is that now I can plug my zip code into the Megan's Law website and confirm my worst fears and anxieties.

I won't do it anymore. I will teach my kids to holler, "Mama" as loud as they can, never to get into anyone's car, even if invited by a man who says he needs them to help take care of his sick puppy. But I won't hem their lives in so much so that they have no idea what to do with an empty Sunday afternoon when I've forgotten to book a playdate.

Zeke and his friend Jack are out in the yard, in bathing suits, having a Super Soaker fight. It is 53 degrees out there, and only an insane person would prance around in a wet bathing suit. An insane person or a seven-year-old boy. Any minute one of those 11 pedophiles (as defined by the statute) could walk by my house and snatch the boys. (If Fanny, our huge Bernese Mountain dog, would let him). But I can hear them laughing hysterically, screaming with feigned rage and hysterical glee. I remind myself (again) that they are safe, that they are having fun, that the risk of danger to them is the same as it was to me when I rode my bike around my neighborhood, pigtails flying, leaving a trail of KFC grease in my wake.


North Korea

I cannot Ferberize Abraham because, like North Korea, he retains the nuclear option. He cries so hard he throws up. Only Michael can put him down. And Michael is gone.

Oh help me, Lord.

Lying Murderers

What do you call someone who tells a lie in order to get someone else killed? I'd call him a murderer, and so would the law. At the very least, he'd be an accessory to murder. The government calls him an expert witness.

Dr. Dietz testified in 2002 that an episode of "Law & Order" depicting a mother who drowned her children in a bathtub and was found not guilty by reason of insanity had been broadcast shortly before the Yates children were murdered.

There was no such show.

I am absolutely horrified by this. I'm stunned that charges are not being pressed against this man. Let's review. HE LIED on the stand, in order to support a first-degree murder conviction.

It's also typical that the show he's talking about is Law & Order. I have long hated that show, despite it's seductive watch-ability, and I'll tell you why. It is a terribly pro-prosecution show. It portrays a world that does not exist. Over and over again, counsel for defendants convince judges to exclude evidence. Over and over again guilty people almost go free, or do go free, by playing the system. Well, guess what? OJ Simpson notwithstanding, that doesn't happen. Judges almost never rule in favor of defendants, even when there have been egregious cases of prosecutorial and police misconduct. It's maddening, as an ex-public defender, to see this kind of nonsense on TV. It just feeds into the misperception that the system is playable. It ignores the fact that when mistakes are made, there are almost invariably at the expense of the criminal defendant.

We've got two million people incarcerated in this country, a percentage higher than any other Western nation. That's a shameful statistic.


A Hassid and A Heretic

So this is interesting. A Hassid and A Heretic is one of many blogs kept by outwardly Hassidic (ultra-Orthodox) Jews who are harboring doubts about their faith. Next time someone asks me about the benefits of the Internet, remind me to mention this. Finally, instead of struggling alone, people like this man have an outlet for their feelings, their questions. More importantly, they have a community of similarly struggling folks.


My father once told me that if I ever became an Orthodox Jew, he would sit Shiva for me. (OK, for those of you who don't get the joke, he would treat me as if I'd died. When that comment is made it's usually about marrying a non-Jew.) The idea of me donning a wig and refusing to eat at his house horrified him. Frankly, I feel the same way about the prospect of my children becoming Orthodox, although I am "tolerant" and "open-minded" and would thus have to chew on my tongue and crochet Yarmulkes for my grandchildren. I abhor fanaticism of any kind, except fanatical support for progressive politics. That I'm all in favor of. Unless you're trying to bitch me out about buying disposable diapers. Which happened once in the grocery store. I was picking up disposable swim diapers for a trip to Hawaii and some woman looked at me disapprovingly and said, "You know, you can get those in a reusable form." To which I replied, "Really? Because I was hoping to spend my vacation rinsing shit out of my baby's diaper. Thanks for the tip."

I digress. Where was I? Oh, right. The Orthodox. When I was in college in Jerusalem (junior year abroad) I worked in a Laundromat. We did the wash for a couple of yeshivas. Twice a week the boys' clothes would arrive. Clothes they'd worn under wool suits in the blazing Middle Eastern sun. Fragrant. Delightful. I used tongs to empty the laundry bags. I might have developed my aversion then. I know there's a lot to admire in the Hassidic community -- support, companionship, etc. I even wrote a novel about it. But still. I'd rather the kids married in the faith. My faith. Doubt, perversity and self-loathing. Now that's a religion I can get behind.

Maybe Virginia is Trying to Beat Out Texas

Oh for God's sake. Is this crazy or what?

Fun New Words

I learned some new words at the gym today. They're so much fun.

Hoggin': When a group of men gather together and compete for who takes home the fattest girl.

Cougars (also known as Nolan Ryans): Older married women on the prowl for young men. Why Nolan Ryans, you ask? Because he's an old guy who's still in the game.


Inevitably this leads me back to the conclusion that there is just something sad and dreadful about large groups of men and about the sexual politics of contemporary American society. I was recently talking to a friend, an artist, whose studio-mate makes her money doing Full Body Sensual Massage. Full body. From "prostate massage" to "sensual release." Perhaps there's a little reflexology in there, too. I don't know. Her clients, my friend insists, are all married men, young men in their thirties and forties whose marriages are centered around child-rearing. So they say. This may simply be a "blame the victim" -- or, rather, blame the cuckold -- situation, but the men insist that their wives have lost interest in sex, and that they are actually saving their marriages by visiting these FBSM practitioners. They don't want to "cheat," so instead they pay for a "release."

There's an entire website in San Francisco that rates these experiences. You can find spreadsheets comparing various practitioners, complete with elaborate numerical scoring systems. Some guys, they just like to work those numbers.

I'm not sure what to make of all this. I am confident, absolutely, that my own husband is faithful. I also know he suffers from a surfeit of whatever gene leads to commitment. He is a prairie vole, he mates for life. My artist/FBSM lady is of the impression, however, that most men are meadow voles, and without a genetic transplant they stay that way.

Are the husbands of my friends out in the meadow getting their sensual massages? Should it make any difference to their relationships if they are? Is a meadow vole likely to turn his wife into a cougar?

Meanwhile I slept with someone other than my husband last night.

Michael is away and Rosie made her customary migration into my bed. Her brother Zeke soon followed. I spent the night with a set of 7-year-old feet pressed up against my legs and a little 3-year-old hand stroking my shoulder blade. All very sweet, but I miss their father. He's a lot easier to sleep with.


Fat is a Feminist Issue. Sort of.

Thanks to Allison, I've been thinking about fat. Slate asks us this question: "Can you be a fat female and also an object of desire? "

Sigh. This is such an issue for me. I am in a constant state of weight anxiety, and have been all my life. When I think of the skinny years I wasted being convinced I was grotesquely obese, I just want to scream. In college, I weighed 100 pounds. And all I wanted in the world was to lose the five pounds that stood between me and eternal loveliness. I was convinced that if I could just peel off that layer of hideous blubber, I would be thin and beautiful. Did I mention that at the time I weighed 100 pounds? By the end of law school, I weighed 107 pounds. I obsessed over my weight. I thought about it constantly. I ate bagels "Jewish girl stye." (What? You don't know what that is? You cut the bagel in half, scrape out the inside, and eat a shell of a bagel. Mmm. Not.) I bought clothes in a size two, whether or not they fit, because the idea of being a size four made me weep. Let me repeat that -- I was upset about being a size 4.

When I married Michael the first thing he did was put some weight on me. He grew up in a completely integrated neighborhood, and all the first objects of his desire were African-American girls. If a baby don't got back, he's not interested. I've always had me some back, but he wanted more. By the time I got pregnant with Sophie, I was up to 112 (horrors.) Is anyone noticing that while I cannot remember my children's names, how old they were when they took their first steps, or what I ate for breakfast, I can recite my weights through the years with precision? I put on over 50 pounds when I was pregnant. Yes I did. For the first time in my life I ate whatever I wanted. Ice cream sundaes every night? Bring it on! Whipped cream on my pancakes? Bring it on! Butter on that croissant? Oh yeah. How about butter on my steak? That too. You know what? Five months after Sophie was born, I was down to 115. I had a trainer who was a methamphetamine addict, something that every overweight person with adequate resources should consider. He couldn't stop moving, and so I got thin. Objectively thin. But I thought I was fat. Huge. Obese.

Then Zeke. Up another 55 pounds, and then down to 114! Then up to 117. Where I hovered, despite my feelings of self-loathing. Then the baby that wasn't. That pushed me to 120. Another fifty pounds with Rosie. And down again, but only to 120, again. Never to that beloved 117 which I am convinced is the key to slenderness. Then Abraham. Sixty pounds. Yes. Sixty. Shut up. I had to have a root beer float every night. EVERY NIGHT. Because I did. Just because.

OK, so this is getting boring. Let me just say that I now weigh 122 pounds and I'm in a state of panic. I hate my body. I hate the flap of skin and fat that hangs over the waistband of my underpants and pooches out my slacks. I hate the saddlebags of crumpled and dotted skin on my thighs. I hate the way the flesh on the underside of my arms sway in the wind.

And you know what? If you saw me, you'd think I was a normal human being. You might even say I was in decent shape. More importantly, my husband thinks I'm hot. He loves my flap of a stomach. He loves my huge ass. So what gives? Why am I so tortured by this? Why aren't I just happy and grateful for him? Why do I evaluate my bipolar medication based on whether or not it makes me gain weight, instead of how well it controls my mood swings? Why am I such a moron?