If my baby made a mixtape

November 20, 2015

My 15-month-old son is really into music. But despite my best efforts to indoctrinate him with Ramones and the Clash, New Order and the Cure, R.E.M. and Sonic Youth, he insists on being his own person with his own particular preferences. The nerve!

His musical palate right now is situated somewhere between Burning Man and an episode of “Scandal.” I don’t know how that’s going to shake out as he grows up, but in this very moment, his taste rocks.

Here are some of his favorite jams:

Don’t You Worry Bout a Thing • Stevie Wonder


Tell Me Something Good • Chaka Khan and Rufus


Take It As It Comes • J. Roddy Walston & the Business


i • Kendrick Lamar


Alright Alright Alright • Mungo Jerry


Lovely Day • Bill Withers


Janglin • Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros


Friend of the Devil • Grateful Dead


I Love You and Buddha Too • Mason Jennings


6AM • Fitz and the Tantrums

That last one is no surprise, as E is up at 6 a.m. EVERY DAMN DAY.

My son’s name is the title of an action movie

September 15, 2015
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My son, Everest, shares a name with a movie, Everest, that will be released this Friday.

So it’s funny when I hear TV commercials boom, “The ultimate challenge is about to begin: EVEREST.” Sometimes I find myself looking at my own wild Everest, nodding along, like, “Yes! This voiceover guy is talking about my life.”

That’s why I took some of the movie marketing and mashed it up with my child. The results make me wish every baby came with movie taglines.

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Questioning authority

July 29, 2015

My son turned one recently, and that milestone brought an enormous package of emotions along with it, most of which I don’t even know how to unpack yet.

The point is that his birth — and the frenzied period of time that led up to it — has been on my mind a lot lately. When I went past my due date, my doctor insisted on inducing labor, even though I wanted to wait for the baby to come naturally. I begged for more time. I offered to go to the hospital every day and have additional tests to make sure the baby was still thriving, even though it meant paying for those tests out of pocket.

For this my doctor labeled me as “noncompliant,” and made a note in my file that I was a problem patient. She scheduled my induction and said if I didn’t show up to the hospital, she’d drop me as a patient and I’d have to deliver the baby on my own. The more I tried to reason with my doctor, the angrier she became, which was incredibly frustrating for both of us.

I cried. I didn’t understand why, if my baby was healthy, my doctor wouldn’t allow me to have the birth I wanted. Why didn’t I have the right to be in charge of my own body? I wasn’t making an outrageous request; I was merely asking for time.

Eventually I submitted. I was too vulnerable and frightened. I didn’t have the strength to question the doctor’s authority, even though I was certain I was right, and I ended up with a surgery that could have compromised my health and the life of my son. One year later, I still wonder if I would have had a better birth experience had I been more assertive and stood up for what I believed.

All of those memories were fresh as I watched the Sandra Bland arrest video, and it reminded me of my own standoff with an authority figure. The escalating anger and frustration. The questions that were met with aggression. A situation in which mere protest became a threat to someone with the upper hand. The dehumanization that followed.

The difference is that Sandra Bland didn’t waver. She knew her rights, and she didn’t cave. She displayed the courage I wish I had.

Do you remember those “Question Authority” bumper stickers? I used to have one of those, slapped across the inside of my locker in high school. It’s a phrase ripped from a Benjamin Franklin quote: “It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority,” because it’s a good thing to challenge conventional thinking, to assert opinions, and to be critical. Somewhere along the way, that part of me fell silent.

I don’t know where to place all the rage and sadness I feel over Bland’s death. I don’t even know if my feelings matter, since this isn’t about me. It’s about the complex, sticky web of injustice, and the lack of empathy for those who at their most vulnerable. How do we even start to fix that?

My friend, Natashia Deón, posted this on Facebook when asked, “What can I do now?”: “You have your wisdom, your voice, your vote and your poetry. Even if you’re not a poet, the ACTIVE pursuit of justice is poetic. Be brave and Godspeed.”

This is what I want to do moving forward. I want to listen and learn from others, and cultivate empathy and compassion in the face of fear and injustice. I want to find that tiny voice inside that has been silent for far too long. More than anything, I want to be brave and outspoken, always questioning. Always, always questioning.

I hope you’ll join me.


Little Man: The One-Year-Old Update

July 21, 2015

How are you a 1-year-old already?

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It wasn’t so long ago when I would place you on your tummy and coax you to roll over. And now you’re running.

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It’s so bittersweet. I love how quick you move, how much you learn every day, your fierce and wild independence. Yet the faster you walk, the more I feel you pulling away from me. You’re becoming a little man already, and it stretches my heart out like salt water taffy.

Most everybody tried to warn me. “Enjoy it!” they said. “It goes by so quick!” Even perfect strangers said, “You’ll miss this when it’s gone!” I hated those people. But I was delirious from a lack of sleep, my body was sticky with spit up, and I often felt like I was stuck at the bottom of a long well with a purple eggplant. A purple eggplant that screams.

If I’d realized that someday you’d stop falling asleep on my chest, I’d have relished those long, lazy afternoon naps. If I’d known how you’d leap from infant to pre-toddler, I might have appreciated those early newborn days a little more. I still wouldn’t have enjoyed the colic, but overall I might have cried a little less.

Anyway, now you are one. But it won’t be long before you are two. And then 22. And then I will die, because ACK! Too soon. I can’t handle it.

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Frankie the Fox. Oh my god, do you love Frankie the Fox. In fact, one evening as I put you in your crib, your eyes searched the mattress, your breath quickened and you started to panic, right up until you saw Frankie in the corner. I thought, “This is foreshadowing,” and that very night your dad bought a backup Frankie for us to keep in reserves.

You also love playing outside. Your family. Lemon and Kung Pao Kitten. Duplos. Swings. Bruno Mars and Daniel Tiger. And books — it makes me proud to see how much you enjoy turning the pages to see what happens next.

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Favorite foods:

Watermelon. Kiwi. Mango. Banana pancakes. Homemade oatmeal “cookies.” Peanut butter. Sweet corn on the cob.



Bubble bath. Swim class. Diaper changes, which are like trying to pull the skin back on a snake after he’s already shed it.

You also weren’t crazy about your birthday cake, which made me happy. That’s your last taste of sugar until you turn 18. I hope you enjoyed it.

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The day love won

June 26, 2015

Today when I heard about the Supreme Court ruling for same-sex marriage, I tried to memorize the morning. The mug of French roast coffee. Michael Franti singing on my iPhone. My husband on the couch, reading sports headlines. A scroll of news on my computer. My 11-month-old son crawling on the floor, building a tower of soft blocks. It was so normal, so everyday.

And yet, it was extraordinary.

I wanted to imprint it all on my brain so someday, when my son asks about the historic day all Americans received the right to marry, I could tell him every detail: The pale haze that diffused the sunshine. The humidity that hung thick in the air. The whirr of a lawnmower. How history was just a moment after breakfast, when everything was the same and different all at once, and a cup of coffee was suddenly underscored with great importance, and I was joyful.

Then I realized my son might never ask me about this day at all — because he will have no reason to. He will grow up in a country where people just get married. No qualifier.

This is all he will ever know: That people love and are loved.




Thank you, America.