Party in Purgatory


File under “proof we get the kids we’re raising”:

Jane (texting): Check in and report.

Flora: We’re all dead.

Jane: Dammit. All three?

Flora: Yup.

Jane: Knew I should have had four.

I know, I know. She’s going to need therapy.

Jane: Home in 5 min to start planning the funeral.

Flora: Where are you?

Jane: Walking. By Sammie’s Park.

Flora. Yay… CAR!

Confession: it took me a while to get it. But I got it.

Jane: Fuck, it hit me and now I’m dead too.

Flora: Yay, party in purgatory. Is that the right word?

Jane: Pretty sure we’re all going straight to hell.

Flora: Yup.

nbtb-party in purgatory


When I was 21, I had a friend—then 28—who used to say that doing the things you didn’t want to do that had to be done when they had to be done—and not putting them off until tomorrow—was the sign of a grown up.

She was a grown up. I was working on it.

The world is sadly devoid of grown ups these days, don’t you think?

nbtb-support local



So, I went and I did the things. Some of them anyway. Sigh. Being a grown up is so utterly unrewarding sometimes. So. Now, it’s time to play.

Your assignment for this week: Every time you want to check Facebook or text someone—including me—you’re going to pull out your notebook or laptop, and write for 10 minutes. It doesn’t matter what. Feel free to write, “I really want to check Facebook, and that bitch said I couldn’t. Who died and made her God? Why am I doing this? I’m so going to check Facebook.” (And you can, love. After you write for 10 minutes first.)

You: “That sounded more like practice than play.”

Jane: “It’s both. You can’t play the game until you’ve practiced the basic moves a few times.”


Coolest thing I saw/experienced this week:


It’s a PORTABLE glass blowing studio. I know, right? Check out GlassHouseCollective for more info… and play with fire this summer, will you?



PS If you’re in yyc, check this out:

Sofar Sounds Show / July 16, 2016, 6:00pm
Location to be announced to attendees
Free, donations accepted, register for your invitation

“Are you familiar with Sofar? No? Well you should be! Its goal is to find local artists and host private, acoustic sessions in intimate, alternative settings. Think a curated house, gallery or museum concert. Each one is hosted by volunteers who welcome 50 to 100 music lovers into their space, along with three to five local music acts. Those who have signed up and are chosen will be given the address day before the event but the lineup will remain a mystery.”

PS2 If you’re looking for POSTCARDS FROM CUBA, start here or jump to the table of contents… and, please consider supporting the project with a $5 contribution:

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online!

… and the rest of the postcards will start flowing your way in September.

Jane: “What? Can you give more? Oh, baby, as many zeros after that five as your affluence permits! But a $5 contribution DOES make a difference.”

Thinking about doing…

This is me, standing at the kitchen sink, thinking about doing my laundry:

— no, of course I’m not going to post a picture, if I had, the caption would have to be, “This is me, taking a picture of myself standing at the kitchen sink, thinking about doing my laundry,” and that would have been just too meta for what I want to do –

…and, this is still me, standing at the stove, watching water boil, thinking about doing my laundry, and also, that I have clothes for at least two more days, maybe four if I ration and don’t spill anything on myself at meal time (could happen), and

— I’m also not posting a picture because, when I say, “This is me, standing at the kitchen sink, thinking about doing my laundry,” can you not see me, anyway? I bet you can—tell me, am I wearing grubby clothes, am I wrapped in a dressing gown, or am I dressed to kill? –

and I’m about to stop thinking about it and actually walk down the stairs into the basement and start DOING it – cross my heart – when Ender walks into the kitchen, so instead, I text Sean:

“Your son will not stop eating!”

and I boil a giant pot of noodles—wait for it to come to a boil—set the timer for eight minutes—and during those eight minutes, think about doing my laundry, draft this post, drink four sips of coffee, and

Ender: “These are very boring noodles. Aren’t you going to put anything in them?”

Jane: “No.”

I’m almost ready to go downstairs and sort the delicates from the “I don’t give a craps”—I rinse the pasta pot and the strainer, turn off the red hot element on the stove, remember my coffee, sit down, take a long luxurious sip, really, I could probably not do my laundry for five more days, and I’ll have gym stuff to wash on Thursday anyway, so is doing the laundry a necessity or a make-work project?

Ender: “I ate all my boring noodles. Is there more?”

Jane: “No.”

Ender: “Can you make more?”

Jane: “Here. Please eat this raw steak, and if you’re still hungry, fill up on cookies.”

This is me, in my bedroom, thinking about doing my laundry. The prognosis looks good: I’m actually looking at the laundry, and so I think if I manage to make myself sort it—actually even if I just dump it out on the floor—that might be the magic step that pushes it and me magically towards the washing machine. But I’m not quite there yet, I’m still resisting, because

Text from Sean: “Growth spurt? Or tapeworms?”

thinking about laundry and creating a story—painting with words, a portrait—of a woman standing at a kitchen sink thinking about doing her laundry

–can you not see her? She has bare feet, because she’s out of socks, but that’s okay, because she still has clean stockings, she’ll just wear those today instead, so does she really need to do that laundry?

is more interesting than, you know, engaging in the actual act.

Enough. I’m going to do it.

Jane: “Goddammit, who’s using the washing machine?”

Flora: “Me. Do you need it? I’ve got two loads to go.”

Jane: “You go right ahead.”

This is me, at the kitchen table, drinking hot coffee, writing about thinking about doing my laundry.



nbtb-thinking about laundry

Making the list, and Turkish coffee + an atheist’s prayer


I’m making a cheese tortilla for one while brushing hay (don’t ask) out of the hair of the other while proofing a manuscript. The third starts making hot dogs, and soon there is mustard in the second’s hair and ketchup on my manuscript, and the first never gets his cheese tortilla because I burn it.


I told you that story so you could find your own moral. Did you?


We’re careening down Deerfoot, and traffic’s light, and I’m not swearing at anyone, and the kids are bubbly, and I’m totally rocking being mom, and not just because I’m about to drop the kids off with their auntie for an evening and a night and a morning, so I can just be writer for 18 hours (minus sleep), and then…

Flora: If you had to go to prison, what would you go for?

Jane: Homicide.

Damn straight I didn’t have to reflect. If I’m gonna do time, it’s going to be for the big one.

Silence does indeed speak volumes, by the way, and I become aware that the car is very, very silent. And Flora, who’s riding shotgun, is melting into the passenger side door. I peek into the rearview mirror. The boys haven’t climbed into the truck bed—but they look like the want to.

Jane: What?

Flora: We’re afraid.

Jane: Don’t worry. You’re not on my list.


I’m addicted, these days, to—

Sean: Shisha?

Jane: Um, that’ s not what I was going to write about…

—my own bastardized version of Turkish coffee and I want to tell you how I make it. Apparently, it’s all wrong—but if you don’t ask Google or the Turkish coffee purists, you’ll never know, and you’ll think it’s delicious. Ok, so: heat water in a pot. Add a heaping tablespoon of finely ground coffee (per cup) to the pot BEFORE it boils. Don’t stir—just let it sink. While waiting for it to sink, add a dried chile (experiment with a variety, I’m currently using mulato chiles), a few crushed cardamom pods, and cinnamon. (If you like it sweet, throw in a lump of sugar in there too).

Then stand over the stove and watch the pot come to an early boil—tiny tiny tiny bubbles, foam starting to rise—and lift it up off the burner. Hold it (smelling heaven) until the boiling-foaming action stops. Then repeat.

If you’re digging the process repeat again. And again. Especially the smelling heaven part…

Sean: I wish they could see the expression on your face.

Jane: Good thing you told them about it, then.

And that’s pretty much it. I strain it as I pour it into the cup, which is another bastardization, but, you know, I’m not much for rules. And then, I add cream with the highest fat content imaginable.

And then, I taste heaven…

You: Is it better than my homemade chai?

Jane: In the same class, my love. And it’s not a competition, ya’ goof.

Now, if you want to strip the above activity to its most minimalist brush strokes—I’m essentially watching water come to a boil. Again. And again. And again.

And then tasting heaven.

Even atheists find a way to pray, when they have to.


Flora: You have a list?

Jane: What, don’t you?


I really, really, REALLY need to wash the kitchen and living room floor. And the stairs. And the bathroom.

I’m not gonna, not anytime soon.

But I’m starting to feel a little badly about their grubbiness.

Could you, would you come to my house and make my floors sparkle? I’ll make you soup—before you do the kitchen floor, I guess—and cover you with kisses, and write you a beautiful love letter.

Actually, I’m going to write you a beautiful love letter anyway. You don’t need to clean the kitchen floor.

Sean: Is this about me? Is that why I found a Pablo Neruda poem in my pocket yesterday?

Jane: Maybe…

Actually, it’s an open love letter. Can I do that?

Why not.

I can do anything. 😉



nbtb-munchkin manuscript mustard

PS Yes, some hay does end up in the hot dogs. How did you know? But mentioning it in the first paragraph would have been overkill—you would have thought I was trying too hard.

PS2 They’re really not. On my list, I mean. And neither are you. We good? Okay.

Episode #405: Pre-holiday Smörgåsbord


Ender is crying that his daddy is at work.

Flora: Daddy has to work a lot right now because we have to eat and Mommy’s writing another book, and books don’t pay nearly as well as corporate whoring.

It’s one of those moments when you (I) just don’t know when to laugh or cry, right?

I laugh.

Note to Self: deploy internal censor more often when speaking in front of the children. And instruct Flora to not use the term “corporate whoring” when talking to her friends. Better yet, perhaps, I should stop using the term in front of Flora. Children. People, period.


Flora’s lost my car keys and is panicking. She can’t find them, and we can’t leave, and it’s all her fault, and tears, panic, self-hate, help mom… I find them, in five seconds, under her brother’s ice-skating helmet. Then deliver a lecture about how panicking is a useful response only if it gives you the adrenaline boost you need to run away from a predator but is absolutely useless when you need to strategize, i.e. retrace your steps and figure out…

Cinder: Not helping, Mom.

True. I know this. What am I doing? Never, ever deliver a lecture to a hysterical child. Instead:

Jane: Ok, everyone in the car. No, don’t turn the radio. We’re going to listen to Beethoven’s violin sonatas until Flora calms down.

Flora: I’m good.

Jane: I think you’re still upset.

Flora: Totally good. Perfect. In total control of self and over that whole car key incident. Radio?

I preen.

Cinder: Well played, Mom.

And when I really need to shut them up? Sufi meditation music. Oh-yes. I say, “I’m going to play The Passion of Rumi,” and the car falls COMPLETELY SILENT and they will DO ANYTHING I ask…

Caution for the beginners in the crowd: the secret to the efficacy of this technique is to NOT overuse it. Deploy sparingly.

(Apply the same rule to the use of obscenity, in writing and speaking. That’s a separate conversation I have with Cinder a few minutes later.)


I’m trying very hard to practice loving communication, mindfulness, presence, compassion, and then, traffic…

Jane: Goddammit, bitch, get-the-hell-out-of-my-way-and-let-me-merge, what-da’-fuck-is-wrong-with-you?

Cinder: You’re kind of a terrible role model.


I’d turn on The Passion of Rumi to punish myself but I’ve raised clever children; they won’t let me.


I’m burning supper, and the kids are pretending to be helping, and nobody’s doing the dishes, but there are enough clean plates left to set the table and Ender is really really hungry and getting really really annoying and…

Jane: Cinder, please, please, please do something to amuse your brother for five more minutes so I can get supper on the table?

Cinder: But of course. At your service, sir-yes-sir. Ender, come here. Come here ya’ little buttsack. Listen. ‘Roses are red, violets are blue, children turn dead if you hold them by the neck for a minute or two.’ Look, I’m a poet, just like Mom.

My proudest moment.


Actually, maybe this was my proudest moment:

Cinder: Mom, Mom, Mom, you have to see this!

And he’s right. I HAD to see it. And so do you:




For the writers in the crowd: Famous Advice on Writing: The Collected Wisdom of Great Writers via

For you: “When I count my blessings, I count you twice.”



nbtb-405 anatomy of a good day

tweet tweet @NothingBTBook / Instagram @NothingByTheBook

Priorities, baby, priorities—or, “I don’t” as an answer to “How do you do it all?”

I finally figured it out, and so I’m going to tell you. You see…

Ender: “Mom! Where are you?”

…you’ve been asking me for years, “How do you do it?” What I thought you were asking was “How do you work and take care of your babies; how do you write and homeschool” and variants on the above…

Flora: “Moooom! Where are you? Ender wants you!”

…and I would tell you, and you’d get this glazed and confused and frightened look in your eyes, and never actually—so it seemed to me—hear anything I said—certainly in no way heed my unadvice. But I had this immense epiphany the other day…

Cinder: “Mooooom! I want to make cookies; where the hell is the margarine?”

…that is was my fault—I wasn’t telling you what you needed to know, because I wasn’t hearing what you were asking. You see, while I thought you were asking…

Flora: “Mom, Ender just stole my orange marker, tell him he has to give it back!”

Cinder: “Hey, Mom, can you wash the good cookie sheet? It’s covered with chicken grease.”

Ender: “It’s! Not! Fair!”

… while I thought you were asking, “How do you find the time to write and take care of the kids and take care of the house and exercise and have a life and, and, and,” what you were actually asking…

Flora: “Mom, Ender won’t leave me alone!”

Ender: “Mom, Cinder pinched me!”

Cinder: “Mom, the little bugger stole my Lego guys again!”

…what you were actually asking is…

Ender: “Maaaaaa…”

Jane: “Shut up, shut up, shut up! GET OUT OF HERE! Now! Outside! All of you! Give me 30 minutes, and then you can come talk to me. Now—out. OUT!”

Flora: “Mom, it’s like zero degrees out. And raining.”

Jane: “OUT!”

Cinder: “Maybe she just means out of the room.”


Ender: “But I’m hungry!”

Jane: “There are bananas and bagels in the kitchen. GET! OUT! AND STOP ASKING ME FOR SHIT! OUT! NOW!”

… what you were asking me was “How do I work (write) while interacting meaningfully with my children while making amazing dinners while keeping an immaculate house while pursuing my personal interests ALL AT THE SAME TIME.”

Yeah. So, the answer to that…




If you have this picture in your head of your laptop computer on the kitchen table, and you writing a novel—or, fuck, even a 1500 word article—while washing the dishes, peeling potatoes and teaching your children math and having a meaningful conversation with your lover…

Cinder: “Are you done yet? About that baking tray…”

Jane: “Clean it yourself or make chicken-flavoured cookies, I don’t care, leave me alone!”

Flora: “Is she done?”

Cinder: “No, she’s still pissy.”

Jane: “Writing! I’m still writing!”

Cinder: “Writing, pissy. It’s kind of the same thing.”

Jane: “Only when you interrupt me. NOW GO AWAY!”

…you are dooming yourself to failure, because all those “while’s” are impossible.

You know this intellectually, right? You can’t, oh—have a shower WHILE typing on your laptop. Make risotto WHILE scrubbing the kitchen floor. Paint a bedroom wall WHILE having sex.

So. You can’t write (work) WHILE interacting meaningfully with your children (or cleaning house or making supper or buying groceries or doing yoga or…)

Now, you CAN—I do—do most of these things sequentially, at different parts of the day-week-month.


You will do some better than others.

And choosing to give time to some things will mean less time for others.

Priorities, baby.

Again, you know this, intellectually, right? But practically… you never seem to hear me. You know, like when I tell you what a crappy housekeeper I am, or that my children eat cucumbers and mustard as snacks when I’m on deadline? And you think I’m being funny?

The truth: say, I have two hours. In those two hours—I can write a story—edit a chapter—craft a rough draft of a pitch.

Or. I can make risotto.

(I don’t, by the way, know how to make risotto. But I understand it involves standing at a stove for an eternity, stirring a pot of rice. Fuck. That.)

Or. I can scrub the kitchen floor and the stairs. Or, do laundry or make the beds or declutter.

Or, read a chapter or two of Harry Potter or Hank the Cow Dog or Wow! Canada to the kids, teach Ender to read, help Cinder with his math…

These are all things that I should do, and do do at some point in a week (month… year… except that risotto thing, that’s just NEVER going to happen).

But if what I need to do—want to do—with those two hours is write a story… then I have to use those two hours to write the damn story.

And that may mean ensuring other-adult child care for my children.

Jane: “Moooom! I’m on deadline, can you please come and take the monsters AWAY for a while BECAUSE THEY WILL NOT LEAVE ME ALONE!”

Or, leaving the house for two hours for an adjacent coffee shop, so that the house—“The fridge really needs cleaning today, Jane, it does, it does, clean me!”—doesn’t make its passive-aggressive demands on me.

And, picking up a roast chicken or frozen pizza from the grocery store on the way home instead of making the perfect, healthier pizza crust from scratch (this, by the way, I can do and I do do… just not on deadline days, y’know?).

I have become much better at this over the years. Accepting that my time and energy are limited—as are yours—and becoming better and better at channeling that time and energy into the things that are really important to me.

So. I write. Every day. (Really. Sometimes, utter crap. But. Every. Day.)

Read with my kids. Take them on amazing adventures. (Most days.)

Exercise religiously, no matter how urgent the deadline, because, health.

Make guilt-free time for my friends and loves and just for myself, too—but not so much for organizing the Tupperware drawer (or for people who drain me).

Scrub the kitchen floor only when it gets to THAT level of filthy—or I desperately need to procrastinate (sometimes, that happens).

Never, ever make risotto.

Cinder: “You done yet?”

Jane: “Two minutes.”

(I think, by the way, that if making risotto is an essential part of who you are and need to be, you will find a way to make risotto and write/work and take care of your kids and all those other things. You will maybe let something else slide more than I do. Read less, stir more. Stay home more—the stirring demands it—and skin your knees in the wild less.)

Priorities, baby.

Cinder: “Hurry. I didn’t scrub the tray that well, the chicken fat caught fire and I can’t turn off the smoke alarm.”

Jane: “Coming.”


You’re welcome.




P.S. Speaking of priorities—I’m taking a sabbatical in October and November from Nothing By The Book while I pursue other priorities. Stay in touch via Instagram (@NothingByTheBook), and come back in December, will you? I promise I will be back.

Oh, and babes—I want to take my brood to Cuba, Mexico or some other hot-and-beachy place for (ready for this?) January, February, March 2016. If you’ve got a lead on affordable and cockroach-light accommodation (so long as we’re walking distance to a swimmable beach, we are not picky, and will co-habit even with pestilent insects), email me at

“Jane” out.

Read my mind, Part I


Client: What I want you to do is, well—I want you to read my mind and to deliver a product that’s exactly what I need and want it to be—without me having to tell you what it is that I want and need. Got it? I don’t actually want to take the time to give you instructions, to explain to you what I want.

Jane: Yeah… that’s not gonna work.


Sean: Love, but the problem is, you don’t want to tell me what you need and want. You want me to read your mind.

Jane: What’s so fucking hard about that?

Why I love him: he heard that first conversation. And he doesn’t call me a hypocrite.


You: I would really love to watch you write.

Jane: Yeah… watching a writer write is about as exciting as watching paint dry.

Flora: Not! True! She makes the most amusing, the most horrible faces.

Cinder: And sometimes, if you time it just right—if, at just the right moment, you say, “Mom! Where’s the charger for the iPad?” or “Mooooom! I’m hungry!”—she channels Cthulhu. And. It’s. Awesome.

The goddamn bums. Did you catch that? They. Do. It. On. Purpose.

Oh, for a room of her own… with a lock on the door.

(Soundproof, too…)


I can read Ender’s mind. Totally.

Jane: Don’t even think about it.

Ender: But…

Jane: No!

Ender: Come on!

Jane: No! Way!

Ender: Humph. Fine.

He stalks off. I dial.

Jane: Hi, Ender’s on his way to your house. Whatever he asks—I already said no.

Her: K. Good to know.

It takes a village, don’t you know.


Client: This isn’t at all what I had in mind.

Jane: Good. Now I have a little more information. I still don’t know what you want. But I have a better idea of what you don’t want. Let’s talk about what, specifically, you don’t like about this.

Client: I don’t know. It just doesn’t speak to me. It doesn’t pop. Make it… snappier. More… you know… more… something or other, you know? Like this… but different.

Jane: You’re fired.


Interlude: A neighbourhood cat wanders into my basement office while I write. Sniffs around. Possibly pees in the laundry room.



You can’t watch me write, lover. But next week, I’ll tell you how I cook. It’s like writing… but different.

nbtb-read my mind 1



Vices, Heaven


I have this neighbour who only ever sees me when I’m loading my kids into the car. Three out of four times, I’m yelling at them. Example:

Jane: It. Is. 11. A. M. And. I. Am. Already. Sick. Of. You. Will. You. Stop. Fighting. Before. I. Go. Raving. Mad?

I suppose she thinks I’m a terrible mother.

I think I’m providing a public service. No matter how bad her day goes, her Super-Ego can reassure her Ego by whispering to it,

“Well, at least you didn’t call your children fucking assholes this morning…”

(I didn’t actually call them fucking assholes, but the phrase was strongly inferred in the yelling. And yes. I thought it.)


Jane: Your job, now, is to look out for a coffee shop. Starbucks, Second Cup, Tim Horton’s, I don’t care—I need to be caffenaited. NOW.

Cinder: You know, Mom, you’re not supposed to drink coffee after 10 a.m.

Jane: Do you want me to yell at you again? Find me a coffee shop, now. Starbucks! Yes! Wait here. Don’t drive away. Don’t let anyone steal the car. If the dog jumps out through the window, don’t follow her. I’ll be right back.

Flora: Mom? Have you ever thought that you might have a problem?

Yes. Yes, I have. But you know what? I only have three vices right now, and this is the least troublesome one of them. Caffenaite me. Now.


Hell is being trapped in a car in traffic while three children sing “What does the fox say.”


Heaven is this rocky river bank I know. Bald eagles and ospreys fly overhead, the water is fucking cold but blissful. The children roam free, and there are no other people.

The bitch of it is—to get to heaven, you have to first endure hell.



A stranger wanders by.

Stranger: Having a good day?

Jane: No, not really.

FYI: pretty much the best way to get a person to walk away from you as quickly as their knobbly legs can carry them.


Flora: Feeling better, Mom?

Jane: Gods, yeah. Thanks, babe. But that doesn’t mean you guys can start acting like little jerks again.

Flora: No, we’re all feeling better too.

We have lemon meringue pie for dinner. Then lazy sushi* for dessert.


On the way home, after I stop to pick up the lemon meringue pie and cucumbers for the sushi, I swing by the liquor store.

Cinder: Jeesus, Mom, how much wine are you planning to drink tonight?

Jane: That all depends on you.

I’m joking. Really. A glass, maybe two with dinner. That is not one of my vices. Although, between June 22, 2013 and June 21, 2014, it was definitely one of my more common, yet least effective coping techniques.


Flora: I wish I understood Ender’s fascination with dog’s butts.

Cinder: I can explain it to you.

Jane: Please wait until I’m out of the room…


Exhausted, Ender falls asleep on the couch. Excited, Flora packs her lunch for camp.

Jane: What do you want to do, Cinders?

Cinder: Take over the world with Paul and Sam.

Jane: Go to it.

Cinder: What are you going to do?

Jane: Come up with creative excuses not to work.

Cinder: Go to it.

I do.


I actually kind of feel like working. Magic combination of afternoon coffee + wine with supper + chocolate for dessert for the win.




P.S. Lazy sushi: Make rice. Shred carrot. Cut a cucumber into long pieces. Ditto avocado. Put basil, cilantro or something like that on a plate. Shred crab meat or left-over chicken. Cut seaweed paper into squares. Put everything on the table. Have everyone make their own sushi cones or maki rolls. It’s like tacos… but different.

Anarchy, not


So. This happens:

Cinder: Mom! The light in the bathroom burned out!

Jane: I know!

Cinder: Are you going to put in a new bulb?

Jane: Well, I was thinking about it, but the bathroom was getting really grodie, to that “I need to clean it or the world will end” state, and I was starting to feel bad about it, like I should maybe, you know, clean it, but now that it’s dark in there, I don’t feel that way, so now I can get back to that “OMFG-it’s-finished-it’s-almost finished” project and…

Flora: Oh-my-god-mom-you’re-insane. Where are the bulbs?

Jane: Home Depot.

Flora: We have no spare light bulbs in the house?

Jane: Well, they were in the basement, but then there was that flood thing…

Flora: That was two years ago.

Cinder: Are you saying you’re not going to put a new bulb in the bathroom? Do you expect me to pee in the dark?

Jane: Entitled child, how hard is it to get your pee into the toilet? Leave the door open!

Flora: Mom! You have two sons!

Cinder: You will regret this.

Fuck. I will. I know.

Fortunately, when their father comes home and notices the bathroom light’s burned out, he just changes it. Without fanfare, drama.


“everyone feels the inanity of the sad family nucleus”

The Invisible Committee, The Coming Insurrection


I am too practical-cynical-critical and insufficiently romantic to be an anarchist. But I enjoyed reading J. Jack Halberstam’s Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender and the End of Normal (Beacon Press, 2014) enormously.


Sean: Are you going to write about the end of the nuclear family again? Cause that always makes me twitchy.

Jane: No, not the end…


The thing is, what’s inane/sad about the family nucleus is that it’s NOT ENOUGH. It needs to be one part of the web of the relationships that support parents, children. Not the end-all, be-all.

The beginning? The centre? I’m not even sure about that. Because it isn’t the beginning, unless you reject/lose where you—the adults—come from… And the centre? Sometimes, maybe.

And sometimes, not.

And throughout: it’s not enough to have just one other adult watching your back, providing you with support—define support as you will, emotional, physical, financial, other. I know you despise clichés, Internet memes and tried-and-truisms as much as I do… but…


You: Are you going to say ‘It takes a village’ again? Cause I’m gonna vomit if you do.

Me: At this moment, I don’t think even a village is enough. It takes an entire society, culture. Think about it. Everything is related, interdependent…


“Mutual aid or mutual protection or new notions of exchange actually flourish already in the worlds we inhabit and those we are making as we go—open-source exchanges on the Web, cooperative food collectives, subcultures, new modes of kinship, and different understandings of our mutual responsibilities exist already for the purpose of exchange and not profit, and this motion of working with others rather than in competition is probably the only thing that will save us from the greed of free-market economies.”

Jack Halberstam,
Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender and the End of Normal


You: You’re incoherent, and just kind of babbling.

Me: I know. I have too many thoughts in my head, and I can’t exert any kind of discipline upon them at the moment.

You: How almost anarchistic of you.

Me: Shut up and let me free-form.


Cinder: Mom? Can we turn on the sprinkler in the back?

Jane: No!

Cinder: Why not? It’s like 100 degrees Celsius!

It’s not. It’s only 33. Still. For a Northern Hemisphere human: boiling hot.

Jane: Because you will turn the weed patch into a mud pit, get filthy, and then need baths, and I’ll have to clean the bathroom!

Cinder: You said it was so grodie you had to clean it anyway!

Point. Sigh.

I text Sean: Why, why, why did you have to put a new light bulb in the bathroom?

Sean: You’re welcome?

Jane: Sob.

Sean: Are you ok? Is your work not going well? I thought you were at the “OMFG-it’s-finished-it’s-almost-finished” stage?

Jane: But then you fixed the light in the bathroom.

See? EVERYTHING is connected.


There is a mud pit in my backyard, my bathroom is still filthy, I’m proofing that “OMFG-I-think-it’s-finished” project, and I’m planning a party.

I think I’ll clean the bathroom for that. Actually…

Jane: Hey, Flora? Wanna make $20?

Flora: Does it involve taking care of Ender while you write?

Jane: No…

Flora: Let’s talk.

Tapping into the greed of free-market economies for the win…



nbtb-anarchy not




Sometimes, I do this: stroke into stroke into letter into letter into word into word into sentence and another one and look, there’s a paragraph, and then, what?

There is a book, by Stanely Eugene Fish, called, How To Write A Sentence. It is an academic book, a critical analytical reader’s book, a lover of words book, but not a writer’s book. No writer should ever read it.

Flora: “Whatcha doing, Mom?”

Jane: “I’m writing about writing.”

Flora: “Is that as pointless as reading about reading?”

Jane: “Pretty much.”

But I’m doing it because in this moment, writing about anything else is too difficult.


I’m at this conference thing, and there’s a break, and the room naturally, inevitably divides into editors and writers. The editors are talking about participles and dangling modifiers.

The writers don’t actually know what any of those words mean.

That’s why we have editors.


Jane: “Why! Are! You! Guys! So! Evil!”

Cinder: “It’s not our fault, Mom. It’s the way we were raised.”

Flora: “They fuck you up, your Mom and Dad.”

Ender: “I! Am! The! Most! Evil! Thing! In! The! World!”


Stroke into stroke into letter into word into sentence… it’s called practice, perseverance. It becomes chasing flow. Sometimes it works. Sometimes, it doesn’t—there is only word after word, sentence after sentence, paragraph after paragraph, oh, fuck, look, 500 words, 1400 words, it’s done. It’s not good. But it’s done. (The editors will make it better. Sometimes, even good.)

You can’t explain that to the people who say “Oh, I just love to write.” See, because they stop as soon as it’s difficult.


I used to procrastinate by cleaning house, did I ever tell you that? My mom or Sean would take the kids out, I’d sit at the computer, the words wouldn’t come, and I’d get on my hands and knees and scrub the kitchen floor until it shone. Clean baseboards. That awkward-to-reach place in the bathroom.

I don’t do that anymore. I chase flow. The kitchen floor be damned.

Sean: “You’ve noticed I clean the kitchen floor now, right?”

Jane: “Um… sure, baby. Yes. Thank you so much.”

Jane: “Um… do you ever clean that awkward-to-reach place in the bathroom?”

Sean: “There’s an awkward-to-reach place in the bathroom?”

Yeah… I wonder what’s growing there…

But not enough to check.



Mosaic II

NBTB-mosaic ii


What happens today is that I’m spending some time thinking about one year ago, but no time at all thinking about one year from now, which, on the whole, is an improvement.

And I’m not thinking about one year ago that much. Just a little. And mostly, the memory is accentuating my gratitude for today. Which is as it should be, right?

One year ago, I was 365 days poorer.


“Moooom! Look! I made a giant poop in the toilet! I made you a birthday POOP!”

“Oh, sweetheart! I! Am! So! Happy!”

…and if your five-year-old had undergone a more-than-two-year-long toilet training regression, you too would think this is the best birthday present ever.


Twenty years ago, I turned 21 at an R.E.M. concert.


In this precise moment, I’m listening to Leonard Cohen (but not crying) because instead of sitting in the bathtub in the dark, I’m sitting on my balcony in the sunshine, drinking Awake! tea and feeling mildly guilty—but not really—about all the work I didn’t do today. But fuck it, it’s my birthday and +22 and sunny and so, no. Instead, I roast hot dogs with my kids over a firepit for lunch while wearing my new dress (thank you, baby, your taste is immaculate) and I listen to that song again (oh, yes) and my fingers are covered with all the new shades of pastels I now have to play with and I don’t look in the laundry room once.

But I do the dishes and clean the kitchen. Because. Adult.

Leonard Cohen is telling me it’s closing time and to lift my glass to the awful truth which you can’t revealed to the Ears of Youth, and I laugh. There’s a note in my in-box from an editor, asking me if I’d like to spin a column about the rates (high) of depression among Millennials in the workplace.

Meh. Today, only give me cheery things.



Stumbling On Happiness: First, find a squished beetle…

NBTB-Stumbling on Happiness

So she writes and says, “You haven’t been funny in a while, whazzup?” And I get all defensive and spittle goes out the corners of my mouth—she’s so lucky she’s writing from far away and not sitting across from me. But then I think… haven’t I? Perhaps not. It’s probably Joan Didion’s fault. That, and too much poetry, not enough television. That’s it. Ok. Funny. Funny, funny, funny. I haven’t forgotten how to do funny. Here you go, love:


So we’re walking down the street in the coolest ‘hood in YYC and they’re skipping and I’m skipping and all of a sudden Flora’s in tears, tears, tears, because—squished click beetle, so-very-dead, on the sidewalk.

Cinder: “Look! Another sign of spring!”

And that just makes it worse of course, tears, tears, what to say, wah, I don’t know, must say something, so I say…

Jane: “Sweetheart. Don’t cry. Someone will eat it and it will be part of…”

Flora: “Ugh! That is so gross!”

Cinder: “Betcha Ender will eat it.”

Ender: “Eat what?”

Cinder: “The dead beetle.”

Ender: “Mmmm… maybe?”

Jane: “I meant a bird or something! Not one of you!”

Flora: “Are you sure, Mom? Cause you’re kinda disgusting…”

And also, tricky. D’you see what I did there? Tears—gone.

Click beetle—not eaten by one of my children. But it’s not there when we walk back.

Jane: “See? Someone ate it.”

Cinder: “I bet it was that guy. Look—he’s a-chewing something…”

Ew, ew, ew.

Birds. I’m sure it was birds.


Wow, I think that was it. I. Got. Nothing.

Too much poetry.


yeah… nuthin. Nuthin, nuthin, nuthin funny coming out.




PS I’ve just finished reading Daniel Gilbert’s Stumbling on Happiness—brilliant, get it, read it, devour it—and, here, have a joke on Dan:

Two psychologists walk into a bar. One says. “You’re fine. How am I?”

Funny? I don’t know. But this video by Gilbert is funny AND it will tell you why you keep on making choices that don’t make ya’ happy. It won’t tell you how to stop doing that… but, you know. He had to save something for the book:

Original Gilbert TED talk on TED

PS2 Actually, if you’re gonna read the book because you want to make better choices, let me save you some time: you’re kinda screwed, you’re not gonna… but at least you’ll know why. And it’s fatalistic. But if you’re not gonna read the book, at least read this: The Psychology of Your Future Self.

PS3 Why are you still here? Go get off your laptop or ‘fone, find a squished click beetle, stake it out, and see who eats it…

“Love is disgusting.” But you knew that already.

nbtb-love is disgusting


How I know he’s mine:

Jane: Cinder? Could you take out the recycling when your game’s over?

Cinder: Is it urgent?

Jane: Well… it’s not urgent right now, but the cupboard’s stuffed full and barely closing, and so next time someone opens it, all the recycling will flow out, screaming, “Freedom! Freedom!” and make a mess on the floor and…

Cinder: So how about, as soon as I hear it screaming, I take it out?

Jane: Ok. Works for me.

Cinder: Just so we understand each other—you’ll scream “Freedom! Freedom!” if you’re the one who opens the cupboard?

Jane: Yes.

Cinder: But you won’t do it on purpose. Only if you actually have to try to stuff something else in there.

Jane: Yes.

Cinder: Ok. Works for me.


How I know she’s mine:

Flora: I can’t believe this. I! Can’t! Believe! This! The only likeable character in the book, and they kill him off—and there’s like a third of the book to go! What the hell? Who does that? What’s wrong with this writer? I am never, ever, EVER reading anything by this jerk again!

Jane: Where are you going?

Flora: I’m going to rewrite this chapter the way it should have been written!


I don’t know where the hell he came from:

Ender: I! Love! Boogers! I! Love! My! Boogers! I! Love! Your! Boogers! I! Love! Everyone’s! Boogers! Sooooooo! Muuuuuuuch!


How they know they’re mine (even though they’re not):

Flora: He’s so disgusting.

Jane: It could be worse. When Cinder was his age? He used to feed you his boogers.

Flora: Jeezus, Mom, seriously? And you let him? What’s wrong with you?

Cinder: She didn’t let me. I mostly did it when she wasn’t looking. And only if you were awake.

Flora: That’s supposed to make me feel better?

Cinder: Well, at least I never puked on you, Ms Lazy Esophagus!

Flora: I didn’t… Mom? Did I puke on Cinder?

Jane: Yes. Kind of incessantly. Don’t feel bad. It’s very common. And he peed in your ear. So, you know. It all balances out.

Flora: Children are really disgusting. Like, the most disgusting thing ever. And that’s not even counting the bloody birthing part.

Jane: Pretty much.

Flora: But you’re happy you had us?

Jane: There is no meaning or purpose to my life without you.


I’ve read Joan Didion’s Blue Nights last week, and it almost killed me. Listen:

“When we talk about mortality we are talking about our children.

… Once she was born I was never not afraid.”

“A question: if we and our children could in fact see the other clear would the fear go away? Would the fear go away for both of us, or would the fear go away only for me?”

““You have your wonderful memories,” people would say later, as if memories were solace. Memories are not. Memories are by definition of times past, things gone. … Memories are what you no longer want to remember.”

“I no longer want reminders of what was, what got broken, what got lost, what got wasted.

In theory these mementos serve to bring back the moment.

In fact they serve only make clear how inadequately I appreciated the moment when it was here.”

“I do not know many people who think they have succeeded as parents. Those who do tend to cite the markers that indicate (their own) status in the world: the Standford degree, the Harvard MBA, the summer with the white-shoed law firm. Those of us less inclined to compliment ourselves on our parenting skills, in other words, most of us, recite rosaries of our failures, our neglects, our derelictions and delinquencies.”

“I tell you this true story just to prove that I can.”

I am changed.


They are loved.

They know they are loved.

Ender: Mooom! Hug! Kiss!

Cinder: Don’t do it, Mom! He was eating boogers!

Ender: I was not! I was only pretending. I was feeding them to Maggie.

Flora: Well, at least it wasn’t me.

Ender: Next time, I will share… My! Boogers! With! Yooooooooouuuuuuu!

Cinder: That’s my little bro! High-five, man!

Flora: Groooooosss! Moooooom!

Love. Disgusting, innit? 😉



PS Of course he took out the recycling. Of course.

FROM THE ARCHIVES: There is such a thing as loving nature too much, or, more proof that children are disgusting.

“Is it important? Yes? Then don’t text me.”

I’ve instituted a new rule in my house. You’re welcome to copy it. It might save your marriage. It is thus:


This is my compromise on the rule that I initially proposed, which was the draconian:


This is because—ready? Revolutionary!—we do not speak the same texting language. AT all

Example A:

I’m working out of the house. Ping.

Sean: We are out of milk.

My reaction: Why the fuck are you interrupting my work flow with this inanity? (I don’t text it. But I THINK it.)

What he meant:

“We’re out of milk; could you pick some up on your way home?”

My reaction to which would have been:


But instead I’m pissed, my flow disrupted, and I wonder why I didn’t turn off the phone?

Example B:

I am out in the wild with the children and I see something beautiful-ugly-heartbreaking and I take a photo and I send it. Ping.

Jane: [Image]. Heart-broken. Sobbing. Despair.

Sean: WTF? Are you ok? What happened?

What he wishes I had said:

“Look at this disturbing picture of [X] I took. Doesn’t it make you think of heart-break? Despair? It is so evocative!”

What I want him to say in response to what I actually said (didn’t say, implied, experienced, tried to convey with fragmented words):

“God. Baby. Beautiful. I love you.”

Example C:

Jane: 2 out of 3 of our children want to go swimming and I’m going to force the other child to cooperate. Should we wait until you get back home so we can go together?

Sean: Walking from Bridgeland to downtown. PS Forgot to take out the steaks to defrost.

Jane: Does not answer my question.

Sean: I also have to go print photos after.

Jane: You! Still! Have! Not! Answered! My! Question!

But he thinks he has…

Right? He’s said:

“Here are all the things I’m doing and have to do.”

But he hasn’t said, what I need to hear, which is:

“There is no way I will make it back in time, go without me.”

Or even, you know, I’ll accept this:

“I really don’t want to go swimming. Just go with the kids; I’ll see you at home later.”

Dedicated to that girl I love, so far away now. You know who you are. Who insisted I should get a cell phone. And ruined my life. ;P

(Not really. But. Don’t you sometimes wish you could go back? I do…)

nbtb-is it important don't text me



…but research shows…


The rather annoying thing about having me as a mother:

Flora: Mom? I made my bed yesterday.

Jane: And?

Flora: And what?

Jane: Is that the whole story? Did you find something, break something, think something, learn something?

Flora: No. That’s it. I made my bed.

Jane: That totally doesn’t work as story.

Flora: Does everything I tell you have to have a plot or a climax? And character development?

Jane: Yes.

What? I’m busy. And I like to be entertained.


The kinda awesome thing about having me as a mother:

My 10 year-old can define plot or climax. And character development.

So can the five-year-old.


The really annoying thing about having me as a mother:

Flora: Ok, let me do this again. Mom? I made my bed yesterday.

Jane: I’m waiting…

Flora: Did you know that studies show that people who make their beds are happier than people who don’t make their beds?

Jane: What studies?

Flora: You know. Studies.

Jane: Where did you hear about these studies?

Flora: You-tube?

Jane: Did you know that most people who say “studies show” or “research says” are just making shit up? Whenever someone says, “Studies show” without referencing the specific study, what they’re actually saying, “I read this article on the Internet once and I’m now passing it on to you as proven truth, assuming you’re just as lazy as I am and will not track this information to its source.”

Flora: Does everything I tell you have to be supported by evidence?

Jane: Yes. Except when we’re talking about unicorns. Where are you going?

Flora: I’m going to Google the fucking bed-making study.

Jane: Good.


The really awesome thing about having me as a mother is that I’m going to loom over her shoulder as she scrolls and tell her: “Not a real source. Not real science. This is a blog—this is a blog post, and that is not research. Yes, this looks like a journal article, but what does it say, right here? See? ‘Research shows…’ What research? Yeah, this one’s not worth anything either. Keep on going… OK, now that one’s better, but what institution is he professor at, exactly? Let’s check that out… ”

My kids are going to know that typing search terms into Google is not research.

Research shows that children whose parents take the time to explain this sort of thing to them make better researchers. ;P



nbtb-research shows

PS My original headline was “Research shows people who make their beds in the morning don’t understand climax is necessary to good story” but apparently it had subtext.


Facts of Life


Ender hatched from an egg. That’s how they tell the story, anyway.

Flora: It was the cutest egg ever. Orange, all orange. But I’d decorate it with purple squiggles and rainbows.

Cinder: …and we all took turns sitting on you. Like, when Mom had to go somewhere, or even take a shower, Flora or I had to sit on you. But sometimes, when she was out for a long time, instead of sitting on you, we’d just throw you back and forth like a ball. You’re so lucky we didn’t smash you.

Flora: Mom was so mad was she caught us doing that once…

They’ve told him the story so many times, they’ve even got these details down:

Flora: …and after you hatched, I tried to keep the egg shells for my museum, but Dad said it would be unhygienic and he threw them out.

Cinder: But I kept one. Want to see?

(and the mystery to why he was rooting through the garbage earlier for chicken egg shells, and through Flora’s room for an orange marker, is solved)

Flora: You were the cutest little baby.

Cinder: Well. The cutest little maggot. You were all white and squirmy. You didn’t really look human until you pupated. That happened when you were two.

(he might have crossed the line here. Yes. Yes he did?

Ender: Mooom! Did I pupate when I was two?

What would you say? What should I say?

Isn’t all life just a really long metamorphosis?


This is 100% true: While Ender was in the womb, we called him Two-Horned Rainbow Merlin Stinky Socks Marsh.

So it’s all our fault, really.


I’m in a café, working, and there’s a new proud father at the table next to me, showing off his progeny to co-workers. “She’s such a good baby,” he says.

What he means is “easy.” And “convenient.”

She’s four months old.

In three to six weeks, he and her mother will look at each other, and one will ask the other, “When do things get back to normal?”



What they mean is “the way they were before.”

What they don’t want to hear: Never.


Jane: Do! Not! Call! Your! Brother! A! Maggot!

Ender: Yeah! I’ve pupated!




NBTB-Facts of Life


“Smoking is all the rage, but it will kill you,” mixed messages, and boring people


Flora: “I can’t stand bossy people. But boring people, they’re okay.”

Jane: “Really? How do you figure?”

Flora: “Well—bossy people, obviously—they always tell you what to do, and who likes that? But boring people don’t force you to do anything. I mean, yes, you have listen to them talk if they trap you in a room, but thanks to you, I know how to totally zone out and just think my own thoughts while they blather on.”

So… I’m not sure. Parenting win? Parenting fail?

Yes, I’m a little bit defensive. Yes, I must own this quality and technique: she learned it from me. My disassociation capabilities are legendary. It’s how I stay sane. (Not to mention, productive.)

Still, it’s not the sort of thing you put on your resume, right? Or a quality that endears you to… um, well, boring people. Because every once in a while, they stop and ask you a question—just to check if you’re listening to their boring story.

(BTW, darling… are you reading? I’m still writing here…)

And when you’re not…

Flora: “Fortunately, we don’t know that many boring people. Why is that, Mom?”

I think it’s because we live in this really awesome community in this really awesome neighbourhood in this really awesome creative-edge bubble and…

Flora: “I guess it’s probably because you’ve offended and alienated most of their parents. Good work, Mom!”

Parenting fail. Definitely, parenting fail.

Sarcastic little titch.

She gets that from me, too.


I’m chasing happy. It’s right there—right there—just within reach—just two, three tasks away. 500 words away. A load of laundry away.

Ah, screw it. I jump. Grasp it with both hands… hold on to it for 30 seconds. An hour. Yes.

Let go. Put in the laundry. Write the words. Do all the things.



I’m writing so many things right now, in so many different voices, sometimes, the different voices start to shout at each other in my head.

Jane: “Shut! Up!”

Cinder: “Mom, please treat your computer with respect. And speak in an inside voice.”

Sarcastic little titch.

I don’t think he gets that from me. Oh wait. Yes, he does.


NBTB-Smoking is all the rage

Flora: “Mom! Take a picture! The caption is: ‘Smoking is all the rage,but it will kill you!’”

Parenting fail? Mixed messages. Mixed messages…


Flora: “Sometimes, I wish my life wasn’t so easy and so ordinary.”

Jane: “Really? Sometimes, I wish my life was…”

…so I was going to say, boring. More ordinary. But… really? No. I’d be lying. I was, truly, wishing for boring in the summer, fall of 2013.

But, I’m done.

Jane: “I accept the consequences of needing to live an interesting life.”

Flora: “What did you say?”

Jane: “Nothing. Why do you think your life is so easy and ordinary?”

Flora: “Because I don’t suffer. At all.”

Jane: “I can probably change that. I mean, if that’s what you really want.”

Flora: “Um… on second thought… I’m so glad I have an easy and good life.”

Parenting win.



Because, life.

NBTB-because life


In the category of things I’d never thought I’d hear:

Ender: And Mom is driving AND eating bacon! That’s just wrong. And dangerous. Aren’t you going to stop her, Daddy?


In the category of things I’d never thought I’d say:

Jane: Do! Not! Use! Your! Butt! As! A! Bookmark!


In the category of things I hope other people don’t hear them say:

Cinder: Mom! Construction workers in the middle of the street! Go to ramming speed! Mom? Come on? Please? You can swerve to the side at the last second…


In the category of “This my life”:

Client: What we’re really looking for… See, how can I put this… Have you any experience… have you ever dealt with someone completely, totally irrational, unreasonable and prone to throwing temper tantrums at the least provocation—and you had to deal with them, and work around them, and get the job done in spite of them, because firing isn’t an option, and killing them is wrong?”

Jane: Yes. Yes, I have some experience in working with people like that.


I’m in the shower and I’m writing bad poetry in my head and life is really, really good.

That’s all. There’s no punchline. Maybe this: and nobody interrupted me.




PS Eating bacon while driving is NOT dangerous. Eating salted caramel ice cream, however, is.

’tis the day before Christmas…

NBTB-Christmas Eve 2014 Post

‘twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house…

Ender: Moooom! Can we go to Babi’s yet? Is it Christmas yet? Do I have to brush my hair? Can I just wear a hat? Can we go…

All the creatures were stirring, and making a fuss

Sean: Jaaaane? Did we buy a present for my mom? And my sister? And her new-in-laws? And do we have any wrapping paper or scotch tape or…

The stockings were precariously attached to the tack board with push pins…

Flora: Moooom! I just realized I never made a card for Moxie, and I’m out of good green markers, and green is her favourite colour, and we need to go to the store and get me new markers RIGHT! NOW!

In the vain hope that this year, Santa would remember to put something there…*

Cinder: Mooom! Cookies! We never made those special cookies I wanted to make. Remember? Florentines? You said we could. And you said it was easy. Do we have time? Do we have the ingredients?

The children were running around like chickens with their heads cut off…**

While visions of presents-food-cookies-Christmas-is-tomorrow-we-can’t-wait! danced in their heads

Ender: Can this day just end, so we can have Christmas? Can you put me to bed now? I’m tired. It’s dark.

Flora: That’s because it’s still morning, doofus!

Jane: Do not call your brother names!

I’m trying to settle my brain for the season, but there is so much clamour, without much good reason…

Sean: Jane? Tape?

Cinder: Mom? Cookies?

Flora: Please? Can you take me to the store?

Ender: I. Want. To. Go. To. Bed!

Cinder: She’s not here.

Flora: Where did she go?

Sean: Jaaaaaaane?

Ender: Mooooom!

Flora: Oh, no her laptop’s gone too. Do you think she’ll come back?

I’m in the bathroom, the bathtub, with lights off and curtain drawn

Typing so very quietly, pretending I’m not home…

But I always come back. I’ll leave this dark space. Put on pretty clothes, maybe make up my face (probably not)

Brush Wolf Child’s hair. Braid the girl’s too. Argue with Cinder that ‘tis an occasion for a shirt without skulls and blood on it (or maybe not)

Give Sean the tape. Say,

Jane: Um, no, I didn’t get anyone presents this year, you know how I feel about that, and this year, yeah, I just decided to really walk the talk…

…just to get his heart pounding…

Ha. That will be FUN. Ok, no, just terribly, terribly mean.

Jane: In the office! Under the “to-be-shredded” boxes!***

My mom sent me this meme for Christmas:

Unicorn for Christmas

I hope all of you get a unicorn for Christmas. I want mine to be green, with silver hoofs. And filled with dark chocolate (Chili or ginger).

It’s almost over. We almost made it!

Merry Whatmacallit. See you in 2015.



*That’s not, by the way, an expression of my grinchiness. The stockings are just not part of my cultural tradition. And I never think to get anything to put in there. Ugh. What a make work project.


***For Christmas, Sean needs a shredding service. OK, Santa? Thanks. J.

An Ode to My Messy House


I love you.

But oh, you infuriate me. How do you get so filthy?

(It’s your fault, you don’t clean me.)

Why are you blaming me? You lousy ingrate, what have you done for me lately?

(More than you’ve done for me, slovenly slattern.)

And it just goes downhill from here. There’s a slam. And a bang. I threaten to leave it, walk out, FOREVER. It says fine, but it gets to keep the children. Oh yeah? I holler.

(Oh, yeah, you foul slob, where do you think they’re going to want to live?)

I weep.


Flora: What the heck’s going on?

Jane: I’m fighting with the house! Leave us alone.

Cinder: She’s lost it.

Flora: Totally.

Ender: Does anyone want to build a fort in the living room?


I think I would clean you more if… oh, I don’t know. If you just didn’t get dirty again. Immediately! If you could give me a day’s… hour’s respite. You know? Would it kill you? To stay clean, tidy, organized for more than 30 seconds?

(I am not the one who messes myself up, you know.)

I know.


(Beloved. Do I not take good care of you?)

No! You’re drafty and squeaky! Too hot in the summer, too cold in the winter. You’re dusty and stinky and…

(Beloved. I wrap myself around you the best I can. Don’t I? Am I not your sanctuary? The place you run to when you need a rest from the rest of the world? Do you not write me the most delicious love letters when you are in that mood?)

Sob. Yes. But you are such a mess. And you need so much work. And I don’t want to do any of it. It’s thankless and never-ending. And you never say thank you.


Screw off. Do you ever thank me? Never! And then, when I do all the things… you just get filthy again! Look at that wall! That floor! And is that spaghetti sauce on the ceiling?

I don’t even remember the last time I made spaghetti…

(I just want to be clean. And beautiful. And welcoming. For you. You know? Don’t you love me more when I’m all, you know, all beautiful, all dressed up?)


Do I?

I don’t know. Maybe. Sure. But it doesn’t last. Ever. And so… I really don’t give a fuck. No. When you’re all prettied up and sterilized and scrubbed? You’re just this reminder, slap-in-the-face of what I’ve just done with my time that will immediately be undone.



(Ingrate for what? You do nothing for me!)

I do everything! And it’s never enough!


Flora: Do you think we should call someone?

Cinder: We shouldn’t. They might take her away. You know. To the loony bin.

Ender: Let’s go hide in my fort.



Go away.

(Just the bathroom and the kitchen floor. Ok? Please? Just… just the toilet and the mirror. Please?)

 I pour Listerine into the toilet. Because, no cleaner. I feel the house roll its eyes and I bristle.


Fuck off!

(Thank you.)


(Thank you.)

Really? Did you just…

(Thank you. Now… scrub the tub. And fill it. And put in bubbles. And my pipes and furnace will sing to you while you relax. Yes? Take all the time you want. Unwind… Yeees. Like this… And then… you can wash the kitchen floor.)


Flora: Hey, Mom… are you writing? I thought you said you were going to clean the kitchen floor?

Jane: Um, well, I was. But I decided to write about how I didn’t want to do it instead.



NBTB-Hey Mom Kitchen Floor

PS The kitchen floor’s still filthy. What, you think I’m that easy to play? This house has no idea who it’s dealing with.

10 Surefire Ways to Achieve World Peace, Eternal Happiness and Total Creative Fulfillment by Friday

photo (22)

  1. Don’t click on, and for goddsake, don’t READ, anything called “10 Surefire Ways to Achieve World Peace, Eternal Happiness and Total Creative Fulfillment by Friday.”

Yeah, I got nothing else.

But I’m pretty sure I just gave you an immense gift of time. What are you going to go do with it?



P.S. “That’s it?”

“That’s it. Hey, I threw 3000 words—written in strappy knee-high, gladiator sandals, did I mention?—at you last week. This week—I give you the gift of time. Don’t squander it. Or, you know, do. It’s yours to do with as you will.”