Charlie work for parents.

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of Charlie work, it originated on an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and refers to the crappy jobs that no one wants to do–like cleaning toilets.

As parents, there are endless rewards and inspiring moments, and you can read all about them in a stack of Hallmark cards, or in one of those Chicken Soup-y books.

Then, there are the boring moments, like when your child is not quite sick enough–when pulling the shades and administrating tylenol is not sufficient–and you are forced to read Rainbow Magic Fairy books aloud all day long.

What remains after all the inspiration and the boredom is the Charlie work.  This category includes diaper duty, of course, but the bad jobs continue long past potty-training days.  Here’s the very tip top of my current list of Charlie work for parents.  Feel free to add to my list.

Attending assemblies.  Weirdly, I’ve heard some parents dig these.  I don’t know why.  They are always scheduled smack in the middle of the day, so you get to hunt for parking at drop off, pick up, AND assembly, but don’t have time to do anything useful in between except lament having to go.  You are funneled into a malodorous multi-purpose room, where the floor clings to your shoes with the lingering remains of corn dogs and barf.  Time to choose:  scrunch onto the end of one of those long clammy tables, or duel for one of the last rusty folding chairs in the back?   Choose wisely, because assemblies start late–REALLY late–providing ample time to reflect on “chicken fried steak” and canned peas.  An eternity passes.

The room swells with more and more children that are NOT YOURS and are consequently far less tolerable.  Someone is being gleefully squashed by their neighbors on the bench.  As the collisions escalate, crying starts, triggering an endless lecture.  Someone is making fart noises, and at least one or two small people have a sticky appendage lodged in a nostril at any given moment.  Make a mental note to use hand sanitizer at the next opportunity.  At last, the Principal waves awkwardly, taps the shrieking microphone, and makes the sign for “silent fox.”

Ears open; mouth closed.

The show commences.

Time grinds to a halt while everyone else’s kids do impossibly boring things that you can’t hear anyway. Then, when your own darling child finally lurches onto stage and does the most amazing thing ever, some asshole with a ten-inch lens elbows you out of the way and you miss the shot.

I’d like to see a greeting card for that mess.



The Party

A few weeks ago, my youngest turned seven.  Normally, I have a conniption before hosting birthday parties, but Josie had decided months in advance to have a cooking party.  I had plenty of time to track down aprons, chef hats, and mini-rolling pins.  I ordered cookie cutters, too, to flesh out the goodie bags.  Even the menu was decided well in advance:  pizza and chocolate soufflés.  This shindig was going to be a breeze.

I asked my husband that morning, “Should I be worried about something?  Because I’m not.”  He just shrugged at me, confused.  He doesn’t worry about kid parties.

Cherubic guests arrived, smiling shyly.

Suddenly I realized I had skipped lunch while cleaning house.  There was no way my celiac-self would survive a house full of pizza without eating something.  While the girls chatted politely, I rummaged in the freezer and found a chunk of a gluten-free pizza crust, about the size of a single, large slice.  I topped it and tossed it in the oven.  All was well.

Then we started cooking with the girls.  Holy crap.

I have repressed most of that pizza-making extravaganza, but I do vaguely recall a boatload of whining and yelling and hogging cheese.  Leon and I finally shoved the pizzas in the oven and began to deal with the aftermath left in the wake of ten small chefs.

Suddenly a new guest arrived.  I got all of the ingredients out again and helped her make a pizza while Leon took care of criers and looked for bandaids.  We sort of forgot about the pizzas in the oven.

“It’s burnt!” one child announced with disdain.  I looked down at her pizza and had to admit it was pretty unappetizing.  Man.  I asked a few kids if they would share.  As expected, they would not.  I sighed and took the sullen child back to the kitchen.  I got out all of the ingredients for a third time, and we made her another pizza.  This time, I set two timers.

She moped at the table, so I got out extra tasty things to share around and keep her busy. The chorus of whining and yelling for drink, napkin, new cup, a different seat, went on relentlessly.

“Do you want to eat now?” my husband asked.

I laughed, a little maniacally.  “Are you kidding?”  I asked.  “Now is the time to maintain vigilance.”  I looked longingly at my little nub of gluten free pizza, though.  Someday we would be united.

Finally, late girl and sullen girl’s pizzas were ready.  They looked perfect.  Late girl was full from snacking, though, and ran off to play.  Sullen girl wanted the pieces cut a certain way.  A fresh napkin.  More to drink.  Then she called me over.  “I forgot I can’t eat pizza,” she said.  I stared at her.  I may have narrowed my eyes a little.  I picked up her plate and inserted it directly into the compost while maintaining stern eye contact.  “Go play,” I ordered. It was the nicest thing I could think of to say.

What followed was another round of herding cats in order to whip up the soufflés and get them in the oven.

I accidentally said yes when Josie asked to open a couple of presents.  I really meant to wait until after dessert, but who knew when that would be done, anyway?  The girls crowded around her and fought to see first, to grab card, to foist gift.  I was losing track of who gave what.  At this point, the party was actually supposed to be over, but who was going to leave before soufflé?

Parents started to arrive.  Leon had quaffed our last two beers trying to survive the party, so he sent me to retrieve the magnum of scotch from the living room.  Mostly to be funny, I think, but we got a few takers and then one of the dads went on a beer run.  It was a mercy mission.  The chaos continued.

I found myself completely overcome for a minute.  I took a swig from a giant wine glass and stared blankly out the window until I realized a parent was standing directly on the other side of it, frowning at me and gesturing toward the door.  I wonder how long she’d been there.  By this time, it was so loud we couldn’t hear ourselves think, so no one had heard her pounding.

I wish this had been a parent I knew better.  Instead, it was basically a stranger, eyeing the gigantic bottle of scotch on the kitchen counter, empty beer bottles, dirty dishes piled to oblivion.  Feisty folks were talking smack about annoying children and teetering marriages.  I felt like the whole scene was a neon sign reading:  “We’d have looked after your kid if we weren’t so busy getting soused.”

In the living room, things were much worse.  Inappropriate songs–think ‘Teenage Dreams’ and ‘Love Game’–were blaring while my oldest was sashaying around in what looked like hot pants, a bra, and thigh high black boots.  It was actually her swim suit and a pair of my boots, I swear, but it looked terribly risqué.  To add to the effect, she was sporting Jackie O-type sunglasses and an eight-foot stuffed snake wrapped around her like a boa.  I don’t know where she learned her moves, either, but I was glad all of the dads were in the kitchen.  Meanwhile, a critical mass of the younger girls had shoved all of the furniture out of the way and were beating each other to a pulp with every single pillow in the house.  Half were screaming in delirium, half pain, with a couple of criers here and there.

The unknown mom sank onto the stairs while I hunted around for her kid and her belongings.  “I know she’s here somewhere,” I reassured her. When I finally got them out the door, I turned to the folks in the kitchen and gestured toward the living room.  “Don’t even think of going in there,” I advised firmly, refilling my glass.

“Party’s over!”  Leon yelled.  “If your parents aren’t here, you can wait on the curb.”

No one paid any mind–except the adult guests, who laughed.  Frankly, I was only 50% sure that Leon was joking.

About this time, I decided I absolutely must eat before becoming completely delirious.  I looked at the stovetop, from which my pizza had beckoned all evening.  Empty.  I looked at Leon.  “Where’s my pizza?”

He shrugged.  “Where’d you put it?”  So helpful.

Then I noticed the dish towel over his arm.  I turned to look at the sink and saw a tower of dirty dishes under the running faucet, and three or four levels down I found my pizza slice, literally swimming in the run off.  I took a long swig from my glass.  I punched Leon half-heartedly and stared at the soggy remains.  Then I reached in, shook it off, and put it back in the oven to dry.

An hour or two later, when we finally had a moment of silence, I ate that thing, too.  It wasn’t so bad.  Next year we’ll order out, though.  Happy Birthday, Josie!

How I ruined my kids’ chances of becoming President by microwaving their food in plastic containers before I knew better (plus a million other parenting mistakes)

Parenting was always hard work.

Except, perhaps, in Betty Draper’s world, where you hired someone to cook, clean, and raise your kids while you mooned about in your house dress.

That Mad Men model of parenting never appealed to me, though.  I like being involved–hearing what my kids are thinking, helping them solve problems, exploring the world together.  I’m certainly not advocating for a hands-off experience.  Still, when did parenting become so fraught with pressure and competition?  When did my goal to raise happy, healthy children devolve into sheer panic that my children will never achieve their full potential because I failed to be the perfect parent.  I admit:

a) I didn’t wait list my children for a competitive nursery school before they were born.

b) Those eighteen-dollar, über green metal sippy cups from Switzerland that I gave my toddlers contained bisphenol A.

c)  I’m monolingual.  Mostly.

e)  I avoid PTA meetings like the plague.

f) The robotics workshops for 3rd graders were completely booked up before I figured out how to log onto the registration site.

What’s going on here?

Am I really stressing out that my kids’ summer day camp might not be academically rigorous enough?  Do I really believe that a single parenting misstep will impede their potential progress forever?

Worst of all, I worry about their school.  Why is that?  The basics are completely covered, and my kids are doing well.  They have amazing gardening, art, dance, and computer classes.  They have science fairs, field trips, carnivals, committed teachers and parents.  Yet, whenever I talk with parents of children at other schools, I feel my blood pressure start to rise.  I get school envy.  Your kid’s class has launched a website?  They are learning Italian?  They went on a field trip to China?  I am driving myself crazy.  I keep losing sight of what is important here.  These are kids.  They are learning.  They are creative.  They are happy and growing confident.

At the end of the day, isn’t it more important to teach them to think for themselves and enjoy life?  Isn’t that a greater gift than a childhood resume cooked up by parents hell-bent on making sure their child has no leisure time whatsoever?  Play is important, too. Extended periods of unstructured time formed the basis of my childhood, and those were the times that I could choose my direction of inquiry; I could develop as the author of my own creative world.

Last year, I was weirdly elated when I dropped my girls off at a camp I like to call:  “Lord of the Flies.”  It’s just a hundred kids running amok, loosely supervised by pre-teens sporting color-coded bandanas.  Campers are singing inane and vaguely inappropriate songs, making endless lanyards, and building forts out of fallen branches.

I think it’s fabulous when children are immersed in another language, taken on a trip, introduced to science, opera, and history.  We seek those opportunities and seize them when we can.  But in the meantime, let’s not forget to take some time to play and enjoy each other’s company.  Life is good.

Ill-advised Double Features

Long, long ago, when I was allowed near the remote now and then…

It was possible to rent movies, but a person had to actually walk to the store to do so.  I lived in a funkier part of town then, one with decent public transportation, cheap, interesting restaurants, and a movie Mecca called Leather Tongue Video.  That place had just about anything you could imagine–from the craptastic to the inscrutable and obscure.

Every Tuesday, the painfully hip folks at Leather Tongue offered a double feature deal. They rubber-banded two VHS tapes together and you could rent them both for the price of one.  The catch was, you had to take them both.  I probably only made it there once on a Tuesday–I also had a regular paying job and a life in those days– but I will never forget the first pairing I randomly picked up:  Joe Piscopo Live and Misery.

I didn’t rent them, of course.  Is it really necessary to see if you can survive those two back to back?  I went home empty-handed, opened a few beers, and spent the entire evening making up equally hilarious pairings with a pile of my beloved housemates.  It was one of those magical times when you laugh so hard you weep and hiccough, and the next morning your abs are mysteriously sore.


A couple of days ago, I had the good fortune to see a few of those former housemates, and it was delightful to hang out once again.  An hour or two in, I mentioned the doomed double feature night.  “Remember?”  I asked them.  “I want to write about those mythic double features in my blog, but I can’t for the life of me recall any of our inspired pairings.  Help me brainstorm a few to get me going on the post.”

They looked at me blankly as we sat in silence for an awkward couple of minutes.

“I think it was really about the beer,” one woman finally offered.

Damn!  Is that why I used to think I was funnier?

Now that we are on a cleanse, pregnant, ill, gluten-free, living in the suburbs, and/or trying to keep the wee ones regular, it’s rare to see us really let loose.  It’s not like grown-ups are always boring or even necessarily sober, and parenting itself can be goofy delirium on a fairly regular basis.  Still, I have some mighty fond memories from a time when everyone was single-ish, childless, and too broke to go out.  We all just lurked on the sofa and amused ourselves night after night.

So here I am sitting here at a coffee house chain, sucking down a lame-ass decaf latte and racking my brain for a couple of decently ridiculous double features, to no avail.

Dead Ringers with episodes of Saved by the Bell?

Bigger, Longer, and Uncut with Yentl?


Maybe you’ll have better luck.  Ping me if you do.

The Milk of Magnesia Incident

You may have wondered why new parents no longer socialize with others.  Why do they only hang out with other parents?  It’s really not what you think.  New parents don’t believe they are better than you.  They are not tired of you or your random anecdotes.  They are simply constantly talking about poop, and have thoughtfully excluded you from the conversation.

No one tells you this as they coo over your swelling belly, and, later, over the squeaky drooler in the stroller.  No one talks about this at the baby shower, or in the pregnancy books, or at the obstetrician’s office.  No one.  My only inkling came from a wine-tasting event I once attended with a whole pile of new moms.  Three glasses into the evening, a woman I barely knew suddenly turned to me and shrieked, “I didn’t know that my whole life would revolve around FECAL MATTER!  I NEVER would have signed on for this job!”

I should have listened.

Hundreds of crap-tastrophes preceded The Milk of Magnesia Incident, of course, and many, many followed.  I have blowout stories.  I have double blowout stories. I have stories of Leila eating and excreting pachinko balls.  I have seen poop ingested.  I have seen it laid on the table on Easter.  I have power-hosed a screaming infant at a gas station in mid-winter, to the shock and dismay of the public at large. I have also had to yank half-digested seaweed salad from Josephine’s nether parts.  Even now that the girls are six and eight years old, few days go by without a reference to excrement, but the day I am about to describe was the one that nearly broke me.

Come to think of it, this was the same day I got my belly stuck in a play structure trying to rescue tiny Leila, who was teetering precariously 15 feet above the concrete.

I was seven or eight months pregnant and quite sick.  I was also completely exhausted from running after a non-napping toddler while lugging a six-pound parasite in my uterus.    In a moment of desperation, I did what politically correct parents are never supposed to do.  I plopped that kid in front of the television.

Please let mama lay down for twenty minutes or she is going to fall apart!”

Leila looked at me oddly, but she must have known how serious I was, because she readily acquiesced.  I headed upstairs.  “Whatever happens, whatever you need, it can all wait for TWENTY MINUTES,” I said repeatedly.  I closed the door and lay down.  What followed were the most amazingly peaceful three minutes of my life as a parent.

Then Leila started to call to me.  “Mama…” she whimpered.

I played dead.




I refused to cave in.

After she called for a minute or two longer, I heard her footsteps on the stairs, and I broke into a feverish sweat.

The door slid open, and I continued to feign sleep, even as her little feet slapped closer and closer to the bed.  Lord knows how long I would have lain there like a corpse, but Leila said, very quietly, “Mama…something happened,” in a way that induced real terror.

I opened one eye.  “Where are your pants?” I wanted to know.

“Uh oh,” she said.  This was not good.

I noticed smudgy little footprints from Leila to the top of the stairs and, as I discovered, all the way down them and across to the couch, where her pants lay in a gooey pile.

I suddenly flashed back to a conversation I had had with my spouse a couple of days earlier, when we discovered that two teaspoons of Milk of Magnesia miraculously cured our constipated kid.  Now I wondered if, perhaps, after he said, “That works well,” did he then continue to put two teaspoons of it in EVERY SINGLE TIME HE FILLED HER SIPPY CUP?  Why, yes he did.  And at the time, Leila drank about a half gallon a day.

“Stay right here, honey,” I said.  “Mama is going to clean this up, and then we’ll give you a bath.”  Instead, she walked back through the mountain of poopy goop and continued to follow me as I went to get old towels and Pine Sol.  “No, no, Leila.  STAY RIGHT HERE FOR A MINUTE.”

“Mama!”  Even as she said it, I knew what was happening.  The second bout was starting before I had had the chance to win the first round.

“Sweetheart, STAY RIGHT HERE AND I WILL GET MORE TOWELS!”  Splat, splat, splat, she followed me wherever I went.  I have no idea what I said right then, but I am certain it was nothing to be proud of.

She tried, I’ll give her that.  But as soon as I would get a load in the washer, or disinfect another room of the house, one more travesty would occur and she would forget, running anxiously about, spraying and tracking poop like some raccoon with dysentery.  I bathed her and got her into clean clothes multiple times, but in desperation she would pry them off and leave large, runny deposits in any available nook or cranny.

The whole ordeal was simply foul, but the nadir was scraping the residual solids from the sides of the washing machine while hearing Round IV or V happening in the background. My hands were raw from disinfectant for days, and I was terrified to walk barefoot or eat anything brown.  Plus, everything smelled a bit funky.  Everything.

I’m sure I could have handled the incident more gracefully, and I probably could have done something to avoid the unending fountain of diarrhea from spewing over the entire house.  You might even have a few suggestions, but go ahead and keep them to yourself.  We don’t allow Milk of Magnesia in the house anymore.  If the kids are backed up, we give them a glass of water and a pat on the back.  That will have to suffice.

Learning to have an opinion

I’m not trying to sound pathetic when I say this, but when you are the mother of small children it is so much easier if you have no needs or desires.

Babies can be very sweet, and they can also be ridiculously helpless and demanding.  Any ideas you might have about the purpose of evenings or weekends–or NIGHTS, for that matter–are best left repressed.  Just go with the flow.  If baby is hungry, baby gets fed.  If baby needs a fresh diaper, by gum she gets it.

If you are at the playground and the bathrooms are locked you simply do not need to go to the bathroom.

If you are at the zoo and everyone is happy, then it does not matter that you forgot to eat breakfast.  And lunch.  Or that the only snacks you brought are teething biscuits and boobs.  You just wait until you can pry your child away from the lemurs.  It’s not like you’re going to die.

On the weekend, you dump the baby with the spouse and race to lay in groceries and supplies for the week.  Who knows when you might next escape unchaperoned.  It is so much more bearable to drop a small fortune on pre-landfill when no one is screaming or battling diarrhea in your orbit.

If your infant does not nap or tolerate being set down, any serious business just has to wait for the spouse to return.  And if he happens to be in Japan like mine often was, you’re just fucked.

Around this time, a friend asked me if I had seen the movie Kill Bill.  I laughed maniacally in her face.

“I’m on house arrest,” I explained.

She looked at me quizzically.  “It’s out on dvd now,” she countered.

“I know,” I sighed.  “It’s just that–”  I cut myself short.  How could I explain that even if I did manage to get the kid to sleep without dozing off myself, I was still going to have to get up two or three or five times during the night.  I wasn’t about to squander the opportunity to restore my sanity on 111 minutes of choreographed violence.  Chances are, if something was published, released, sung, built, or exploded between 2003 and 2008 I’ve never heard of it.  You can ask, though, and I’ll do my best not to get huffy.

Now that the girls are six and eight, I am realizing that I have completely forgotten how to figure out what I would actually like to be doing.  Not only is my spouse willing and able to step in, the girls can amuse themselves for an hour or so, yet I can’t decide how to spend my precious sixty minutes.  Occasionally I figure it out at the end of the day, when it’s too late.  Oh, yeah.  It would have felt great to write and exercise, but I spent the whole day playing with the dollhouse and schlepping the kids around town.  If I set clear goals, I could squeeze in dolls and exercise, right?

Lookout world.  I’m thinking about formulating an opinion.

Novel excerpt: Bad Parenting 101

I cannot account for the drive to swap ‘most embarrassing moments.’ Perhaps it is just a “misery loves company” sort of phenomenon, or a chance to release old baggage and laugh at ourselves in the process.  I do know that it is more enjoyable if you follow certain rules.  You have to pick the right sort of person with whom to share, and then make sure to speak last—just in case. Gauge the level of trust based on how heinous your friend’s story is.  Personally, I have such an accumulation of humiliating moments that I like to select one that is only very slightly less mortifying than my companion’s.  I was about to share a truly devastating, ego-crushing debacle with an acquaintance, but LUCKILY I made her share first.  Since when does accidentally running a load of laundry twice through the wash count as embarrassing?  I immediately reneged on my promised reciprocation.  After that lame-ass, milquetoast non-revelation, there was no way was I going to talk about what happened to me in a port-a-potty once at a rock concert.  NO WAY.

Swapping bad parenting stories follows the same principles, and it feels even more liberating to get that shit off your chest and begin to forgive yourself–especially if your friend did something even worse.  That feels great.

I was once in a terribly uncomfortable situation…trapped in a station wagon with a gallery-owner I had never met, despite the fact that I had been interning at his place for months.  He was driving around downtown like a maniac.  My job was to run into places and pick up ridiculously valuable objects here and there, and toss them into the trunk while he double-parked and stared at me vaguely.  “WHO are you, again?” he asked for the third time.  I realized he would never get the hang of my name, so I changed my tactic:  “I’m the fool who found out I was pregnant 3 weeks into art school and has been trying to finish ever since.”  Suddenly, his vision cleared and he started talking with me like a real person, to my great relief.

We talked about everything:  art, philosophy, truth, but mostly parenting. When I told him my two year old threw down her crayon and yelled “fuck it,” when she got frustrated, he just laughed and said, “That’s nothing.  On his first day of kindergarten, my son turned to his neighbor at the lunch table and said—in front of the teacher and half a dozen other parents–‘Wanna toke of my cookie?’”

He won that round, but lately I’ve been working on some seriously competitive material.

Novel Excerpt: Dangers of Parenting

Parenting is dangerous work.  Kids will do, throw, and say things that make it impossible to watch where you are going, by foot or by car.  Thanks to legions of alert drivers ahead and behind, we have avoided countless close calls.  Small people seem strangely intent on committing suicide.  They throw themselves off of slides and into the street on a regular basis.  They eat rocks and shiny metal objects.  They put small round things up their nose.  They choke on all manner of harmless-looking food items.  Meanwhile, schlepping their tiny bodies and their disproportionate mounds of accompanying crap screws up your back and shoulders.  Even playing with them can be treacherous.  I once threw out my neck playing Oogie Boogie.  I got physically stuck in a maze of tunnels ten feet off the ground while pregnant with #2.  No one had explained that being pregnant while raising a toddler is a Herculean task.  Instead of resting when you get sick or tired, you take a whiney child to the zoo, and carry them around when they refuse to walk or sit in the stroller.  The needs of a pregnant woman and her eighteen month old are diametrically opposed.   As they get older, they start to walk reliably, but it’s still dicey.  That last round of spanky tag got so heated I twisted my ankle and had some discomfort sitting down to ice it for the next hour or so.

Yet long-term sleep deprivation is by far the most hazardous aspect of parenting.  It endangers life, limb, sanity, and all personal relationships. You snap at your spouse.  You can’t tell your friends from your frenemies.  You become bitter and stupid.  You can’t finish a thought, let alone a sentence.  You drop things, spill things, break things, and lose things, especially your shit.  I once got out of the car while it was running to wander around and rummage in the trunk.  It took a moment before I realized that the car was still in reverse and careening backwards down Potrero Hill with my babbling child inside.  As I stared dumbly at the unfolding debacle, I knocked myself over with the door I had left open.  Though secretly impressed by my wonder woman leap to the rescue of surrounding people and property, I never told anyone about the incident until now.  I’m pretty sure it is more indicative of my stupidity than any sort of heroism, but it does illustrate nicely why sleep deprivation is used as a torture technique.  You become completely unglued and irrational.

Day two: another excerpt

But baby was born and she was just perfectly beautiful. She latched on and started nursing eagerly, and I thought, “when she’s done, we’ll just sleep and sleep and sleep.” She didn’t finish, though. She was insatiable. And, it turns out you have to do stacks of paperwork before they let you go to the room. It took hours to fill it all out, administer exams, tests, shots, eye drops, the whole nine yards. When we finally headed to the room around 4 am for some sleep, guess what? Baby did not want to sleep. Baby wanted to scream. She wanted to nurse. She would not be put down. This frustrated me to no end. I had made a rational and informed decision that the baby would sleep in her own crib from day one so I wouldn’t ruin sleep patterns for the whole family as well as end my sex life. It had never occurred to me that the baby might have her own opinion on the matter. She wanted to be held. At all times. She nursed relentlessly, and when the colostrom was gone and my milk had not yet come in, she bit at me until my nipples bled. “See?” I thought to myself. “It’s because you weren’t well-centered enough throughout the pregnancy. You didn’t do enough yoga. You harbored bad thoughts about your hippie birthing coach. You didn’t sing stupid twinkle songs to the fetus. Now you’re fucked.”

Ooh! Today’s novel excerpt!

“My main concern about art school was a vision of quirky painter types, holing up in their studios and spewing arty masturbations about their tiny inner lives onto giant canvases.  What if I got sucked into their self-indulgent little cult?  Ugh.  But I was studying photography!  I would journey out into reality, recording lives legions away from my inner world.

Sadly, when I found out I was pregnant, I felt tremendous pressure to turn the lens on myself.  “If not now, when?” my teachers queried.  Here was this tremendous opportunity for self-exploration, they persisted, a once in a lifetime chance!  And so my work devolved into self-indulgent arty masturbations about my tiny inner life.  As I transformed into my own worst nightmare, at least I was too broke to make the ginormous prints that would have reified the accompanying self-loathing.”