San Diego Momma. A San Diego Mom Blogger.

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Kitchen Sink


It’s November 10 Again

November 10th, 2015

{My mom died 18 years ago today. Forgive the maudlin?}


I enter the muted waiting room as I’ve done year after year: nervous, winded after trying to find parking, praying. I take a seat at the desk as an empathetic female volunteer takes my ID and health history. Any breast cancer in the family? Yes. Who? My mom. How old was she when diagnosed? 48. After, everything remains still and quiet and I take my purse to the other waiting room, the one where women are called one by one into the dressing area to prepare for their mammograms. I open a magazine and block out the voices: you have it, you have it, you have it. The nagging thought raises to a roar as my own name is announced and I’m led to change into a threadbare cheery gown and brought to a third and final waiting room, which is the last stop before my exam.


Usually I fiddle with the ribbons closing my gown in the front or focus on the water feature or just sit there and look down. No one talks, ever, and so every sound is magnified 100 times or I feel like I’m floating untethered under the ocean with the things around me moving thick and slow. Never do I visit the gift shop or allow myself the pleasure of the on-site masseuse because if I have breast cancer these things will only make me feel like everything is normal, when they’re not and will never be. Pretending things are normal shortsights me from the thought at hand: I might be sick.


I search the other women’s faces when they’re not looking to see if they’re scared or there for a follow-up or about to be told they have a tumor. I wonder at women with peaceful eyes or those calmly scanning US Weekly. You could have it! I want to scream. We could all have it! My mom did She once sat in a room just like this, maybe visited the gift shop, and walked out of here knowing things weren’t all right.


She was three years older than I am now.


I’ve been in that waiting room once every year for 15 years and every time, I grow closer to my mom’s age when she was first diagnosed and I think of her here, alone, fiddling with her dressing gown’s ribbons.


There are times when the thought gets too ponderous and big for my head and so I’ll begin to cry. I don’t want anyone to feel sorry or freak out, so I work to keep it inside, which usually results in me shaking and working my shoulders up around my eyes as a shield.


When I’m led to the room where I’ll have my mammogram, I tend to grow exhausted of holding the prayers and the thoughts and the interior shouting and so I cry with my back to the tech and hope a tear doesn’t fall on the machine and somehow mess up my results.


My results. Some years they’re normal; others I undergo a follow-up ultrasound to be sure. I think of all those as second chances; and how I didn’t need to go home and tell my family I had breast cancer and I’m sorry I know you love me but I’ll be slipping away from you now.


This happens every time I have a mammogram. Most of all, I wish I would have been there for my mom when she went through it. Because that first time, when she entered the waiting room, the dressing room, the exam room? She was alone. Now, she’s with me each time I have my test – I can feel her. Except what stays with me is that I wasn’t with her.


How I Learned About S*X: All True

November 3rd, 2015

[This is a re-post I forgot a wrote some years ago. It’s all super accurate. Also super nerdy.] [In addition and furthermore, I crypto-sized all s*x references because I’m really sick of Google sending me enthusiastic referrals from Malaysian p*rn sites.]


I was thinking the other day about my emotional development, and why it’s not as far along as I’d like it to be. My emotional maturity is pee-sized, when I’d really like it to be at least as big as a salad beet, or a medium-length tuber.


I thought that maybe I was making some progress in this area, but then I get all worked up about whether or not people will come to my 40th birthday party and last night, I told my husband “not to pee,” because the sound of his urine against the toilet water was splashy and voluminous.


In so many ways, I’m still a child, and I wonder how I got stuck in this developmental stage of jumping up and down when I want something and bursting into tears when I don’t get my way.


Then it struck me: it’s my parents’ fault.

Of course!


It’s all coming back to me now. Like most importantly, how no one ever told me about s*x. The memory that appears most vividly is how I walked into my parent’s bedroom one night to find my mom naked and laying on her stomach while my dad “rubbed” her back with the “massager.” I was 8 and confused by the sight, but I knew that it must have to do with some kind of parental “private time.” No one ever spoke of that incident again, but about a year later, when I heard the word “s*x” from some schoolyard kid, I put two and two together. A-ha! My naked parents must have been having s*x! So i asked my mom. My Catholic, dressed-up-for-church-sat-in-the-front-pew mom.
This is how it went:


Me: Mom? Were you and dad having s*x last year?

My Mom (probably thinking back to whether her rhythm birth control method allowed her to have had s*x last year): Why do you ask?

Me: Because you were naked and dad was rubbing your back.

My Mom: Oh. Um, let’s see. Uh, well honey, s*x is very private.

Me: Why? What do you do during s*x?

My Mom: You make babies.

Me: Do you lay on top of each other naked?

My Mom: Um.

Me: Do you have your clothes on then?

My Mom: Yes, you can have your clothes on.


I absolutely swear that she said the last sentence. For YEARS, I thought you had s*x by laying on top of each other with your clothes on. Then, when I learned that a p*nis was involved, I imagined two people laying on top of each other until whenever the p*nis decided to inject its sp*rm. I did remember wondering how the p*nis got inside the woman, because I knew they were kind of soft and floppy, but I let those questions go unanswered in my small little Catholicized mind.


It wasn’t until the end of my eighth grade year that I found out the truth. I was babysitting and turned on Pay TV, hoping for E.T. or Tron, and somehow got a p*rno instead. Oh good Lord. Up until then, I had NO idea that people actually MOVED during s*x. And they moved fast! Also, there were other positions than just laying on top of each other? And, they were NAKED! Plus, the p*nis wasn’t soft and floppy! Why, it wasn’t soft and floppy at all!


I watched for a few minutes, stunned and curious. After a bit, I guiltily turned it off.

Then, I turned it back on.






These people were still moving up and down quickly! And they weren’t even in bed anymore. Wow! She was going to have a lot of babies, because from what I could tell, they’d been having tons of s*x.


After this eye-opening experience, I never looked at my mom and dad the same way again. Also, what was that crap about having clothes on? In my vast Pay TV experience, I never once saw any of these fast-moving, happy people wearing clothes, and lycra didn’t count.


So, the pieces of the puzzle are coming together for me now. If I’d learned about s*x earlier, I’d have better things to do than complain about my husband’s pee.


I’m glad we had this little talk.


New York: A Rambling Recap

October 1st, 2015

About 47 months ago in blog years (last June), the kids and I and The Rock took a trip to New York to visit with my siblings. My brother, Marky, and other brother, Dane, recently bought and remodeled a house on Long Island and they, my sister, and I, along with our respective families, convened on the home in typical fashion – loudly and with much exuberance.


But first things first. We’re scattered all over the world. Marky lives in Brooklyn, Dane’s in Singapore, and my sister parks it in North Dakota. No we don’t know why. Yes we tried to talked her out of it.



New York

Siblings and barn in situ.


Because we live far from each other, we don’t visit as often as we’d like. There’s a Christmas here, a dad’s open heart surgery there, and random trips everywhere. To have us all in one place is a special treat, until we revert back to childhood and annoy the crap out of each other. A marination process that usually takes about two days.


But still. We’re a close family. We regularly indulge in deep conversations (I remember at my sister’s wedding reception – when the four of us were huddled around a table talking our philosophies and collectively gazing at our navels – that my aunt asked us wonderingly – “do you always talk this way with each other?”). When we reunite, we fall back into the old routines of commenting on life, and the soul, and the meaning of it all. Our significant others hate it and usually leave us to ponder and pontificate around the fire pit all by ourselves.


That’s neither here nor there. This is about New York.


So we went. For those who don’t know me, I hate to fly. Getting myself across the country in the first place was a feat worthy of some kind of award. I mean, five hours on a plane. What the hell? Can’t we supersonic a Google car? Just get me to another state without requiring me to step foot in a capsule that hovers 30,000 feet above Earth.


But, my kids had never flown before, so I had to be strong. I didn’t want either of them to know that I was having anxiety diarrhea every night just THINKING about getting on a plane. The amount of times I texted my brother, “Am I going to die?” could set mental health world records. Yet kids are tuned into all the things, and so Booger absorbed my seemingly hidden panic and began to ask me every day, “Are we going to crash?” I’m so superstitious, I couldn’t even reassure her with a “no.” Instead I mumbled a kind of half-hearted “ehmewnah” that wouldn’t anger the gods into thinking I was full of hubris for believing I might actually survive a cross-country flight.


Again, neither here nor there. I put on a weird fake happy face and got on that damn plane and made it in one piece. But not before calling my brother as I stepped over the boarding threshold, gasping, “It’s a woman pilot!” (My fear is irrational and believes only middle-aged, graying, former-military pilots can fly planes.) As I continued to tell him I had a bad feeling about “this,” he answered, “Your little voice has been talking to you all your life.” {Pregnant pause} “And it’s always been wrong.”


So there was that.


He picked us up from JFK about five hours later, and refrained from saying “I told you so.” Because irrational fears and unbidden panic runs in the family and he gets it. Also I would have ripped his brains out of his face.


What was I saying?


Apparently that’s neither here* nor there.**


*So much more to tell about New York. Like how we did stuff. And the fire-pit talks. And the barn. Have I told you about the barn? Oh! And the haunted house!


**Looks like I’m on a roll. Stay tuned for more in-depth, detailed reporting on our trip to New York!


My Netflixes of the Month

August 3rd, 2015

I’ve been all over the Netflix this past month. I mean, ALL OVER. No genre has been safe. Documentary? I’m coming for you. Lifetime movie from 2011? Lock your doors. Teeny-bopper spookfest? Ding dong!


I don’t know what July was all about for me. Schizophrenia, maybe. Or inability to make decisions. Or super-ability to make many decisions. Whatever the reason, much Netflixes (Netflixi?) were had by my eyeballs.


Here’s what I watched:




1) An Honest Liar

Does anyone remember James Randi? A former magician, he used to debunk paranormal phenomena, so-called miracle workers, and psychics profiting off others’ naiveté. I used to watch him on “Johnny Carson”, and “That’s Incredible.” (Why don’t I just call myself San Diego Grandma?). At any rate, I loved to hear how Randi exposed those guys who claimed to heal the sick, or read people’s minds, or bend spoons. Full of vim and vigor and self-righteousness, Randi fought for all the people who were easily swayed out of money or dubiousness. In his ’80s now, Randi moves much slower, but still has the trademark fire and snappishness I recall. “An Honest Liar” documents his career and recounts true irony when Randi was fooled himself by a big life deception that rocked his “I’ll-always-see-trickery-coming” world. This one was my favorite of the month, except for…


2) Tig

Tig Notaro is one of those comedians who you’re never sure said something funny, but after delivering a post-joke smirk and long pause, it’s clear she did. Laid back and deadpan, Tig delivers comedy sets with an ease that raises her above the more frenetic comedians who make your brain fire too many synapses to keep up. A few years ago, life dealt Tig major bad hands all in a row (deadly infection, death of her mom, breast cancer), and this documentary shows the moments up close and personal. I liked the pacing and mood of this documentary because it showed the woman behind the comedian, which doesn’t always come across in other productions like it.


3) Haunter

What can I say? Sometimes a girl needs to cleanse her documentary palate with inane thrillers that are super cheesy, but of course, also awesome.


4) Secrets in the Walls

What can I say? (Did I already say it?) See directly above.


5) Noah

If you’re in the mood for epic biblical, do it. (It’s much better than “Gods & Kings” in my opinion.) (But still meandering and self-important.) (Still: epic biblical has its place in my heart.)


BONUS! The 100

I haven’t watched this post-apocalyptic series, but my two daughters (ages 9 and 11) are obsessed, along with my husband. I asked my oldest to write a little summary about it for you to chew on, and she came back with this:


“This show appealed to me because of the ingenious plot and drama. “The 100” is an enthralling story of bravery and drama. 97 years earlier, the planet we know as earth has become uninhabitable due to a nuclear war. But there are survivors. They live on a space station that circles the earth called the ark, where any crime committed by a person over the age of eighteen is punishable by death. The ark is faced with one inevitable fate: they will run out of oxygen. Scrambling for a solution, they send 100 children to earth to determine if it is habitable…”


That right there is more sensical than anything I’ve ever written. So, obviously I’m not inviting her back.


San Diego Grandma out!


{I’m a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam}




PROMPTuesday #239: Fear Itself

June 16th, 2015

I pack robotically. Put shampoo in small bottles, stack underwear, throw toiletries in a carry-on. The whole time I’m thinking I won’t be back to return everything to its rightful place. A sharp ache has plagued my stomach since I booked my flight to New York, and it won’t leave until I’ve taken off and landed safely both times (please God let me live).


Upon taking my aisle seat, I’ll clutch my mom’s rosary and picture, as I do. I’ll recite 100 prayers 100 times, often not stopping until I’m back on solid ground. I’ll rock back and forth, hitting my head on the seat in front of me; I’ll unstrap my seatbelt immediately on take-off and ignore the flight attendants who tell me to sit down. I fight the plane’s upward motion knocking me down. But I’m not stopping. I’m going to the bathroom. It’s the only control I have.


As soon as I can, I’ll order wine. I took a Xanax an hour ago, but adrenaline won’t allow my phobia’s edges to soften. If the plane hits a rough patch, I’ll collapse on the inside. On the outside, I’ll grab your hand if you’re seated next to me. It’s never intentional. It’s a knee-jerk response that has elicited as many dirty looks as it has sympathetic ones.


I’m in the middle of a Hail Mary. I’m convinced I’m going to die. I make promises. Let me survive and I’ll finish my book. I’ll be a better mom. I’ll follow my bliss. Make something out of my life.


I order another glass of wine. I try to let a magazine’s pages catch my interest. My head is pounding, my eyes are dry, my heart is jumping, and I’m still with the praying.


I don’t let myself envision the vacation ahead. That would tempt fate. Don’t think of landing until you’ve landed.


I don’t care if my shampoo explodes over my underwear, or if my carry-on is lost.


I just want to live. I just want to live. I just want to live.


What do you fear?


Here are the PROMPTuesday rules:

  • Respond to the prompt by posting your response in the comments section.
  • Write your response in 10 minutes of less – don’t stylize it or agonize over it or overthink it.

I posted my response above! (I fly next week. Pray for me?)


PROMPTuesday #238: I Survived…

June 8th, 2015

Upon looking back on one’s life, one might marvel at how he (or she) survived certain events. For instance, one’s 46-year-old self may wonder why his (or her) 18-year-old version got into a Tijuana stranger’s car at 2AM in a drunken bid to get back to the U.S. before curfew. Or a person may rethink walking down a dead-end alley near Chicago’s Cabrini Green in 1996’s pitch black, heading straight toward the voices of ne’er-do-well youth wielding baseball bats.


That same person could possibly NOW be baffled at his (or her) extreme willingness to stay platonically in a Baja California hotel room with a shifty someone he (or she) just met because his (or her) best friend asked him (or her) to occupy him (or her) self for a few hours while his (or her) best friend entertained a certain young man (non-platonically). Could be one, now a capable and sane adult, now questions why he (or she) spent so much damn time in Tijuana.


“One” may (or may not be) me. I mean him (or her).


Which begs the question and this week’s PROMPTuesday creative writing prompt:


What have you done that you can’t believe you actually survived?


You can be serious or funny with your response. I’m pretty confident that if you’re over the age of 20, you’ve got an answer or two that applies.


Here are the PROMPTuesday rules:

  • Respond to the prompt by midnight Tuesday
  • Post your response in the comments section.
  • Write your response in 10 minutes of less – don’t stylize it or agonize over it or overthink it.

I’m already imaginating my response. And guess what? It didn’t happen in Tijuana!


How to Get Your Child Interested in Netflix, I Mean History

June 5th, 2015



Booger composes her outfits like a symphony. Each element fuses to the whole and results in a perfectly constructed blend of beauty. Somehow, in her hands, stripes go with plaid, and scarves go with summer. Her masterpieces take time and plenty of brainstorming, but she approaches each wardrobe arrangement with a positive attitude and heaping doses of imagination.


The same cannot be said of her homework.


Instead, she rushes through math, mopes into social studies, and postpones reading.


No amount of coaxing or threatening motivates her. She’d just as soon eat 20 worms with a spider-leg chaser than practice multiplication. For a parent such as myself who approaches Tiger Mom status with schoolwork prioritization, this lack of interest in anything studious on Booger’s part is disconcerting and aggravating.


Until something amazing happened.


A few weeks ago, one book captured her attention – the Ripley’s “Believe it Or Not” series – and one story in particular – the Titanic.


She couldn’t get enough. “Who found the Titanic shipwreck?” “How did the iceberg get there?” “Did anyone survive?” “Did you know it set sail on my birthday?” “Why did the band play while the ship sank?”


We nurtured her curiosity. I purchased Kindle book after Kindle book to feed her interest. We Googled Titanic facts. We talked about intrepid shipwreck enthusiasts, ice formations, and metallurgy. We downloaded Titanic on Netflix.



 (I’m a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam)


THAT turned out to be a roaring success. She viewed the three-hour epic again and again. Each time, Celine Dion’s voice nearly drained my earholes of all life, but this was for my kid’s education, dammit.


The first time she watched the drama unfold, she ran to me after, excited and completely out of breath.


“Mom? I’m going to put Titanic facts in my journal and write a book!”


Next I saw, she was running down the stairs two at a time, arms filled with pencils, notepaper, a desk lamp, paper clips, and Harry Potter glasses. Apparently, writers wear glasses. (I’ve found that to be true.)


She set up shop at the dining room table, and after five minutes, decided she needed to wear more studious clothes.


You can take the outfit off the girl, but you can’t take the girl off the outfit.




I’m just thankful she felt moved by history for a brief moment. At least enough to delve into actually reading and wanting to know more about something. All it takes is happening upon an interesting fact or picture or book or movie that strikes a chord with your child. And if you’re raising a fashionista, flash her a pic or two of the Titanic necklace. That ought to do it.


And if you really want to get your kid’s head wrapped around the Titanic for learning purposes, here’s some non-snarky ideas:


Read the Titanic story in Ripley’s.

If facts are packaged funly (made-up word alert), it can make all the difference in how kids receive them.


Buy or download “I Survived: The Sinking of the Titanic.”

If true stories of history are packaged excitingly (what? no underline inferring this is also a made-up word?), then kids are triply interested.


Watch a documentary.

I believe the last Titanic survivor recently passed away, but to watch a documentary where you see the survivors’ faces and hear their words, is a powerful curiosity-piquer (yep, made-up) indeed.


Read a bit on the Robert Ballard discovery.

There’s something about this man. His passion for historical significance and exploration is infectious.


See the exhibition if you can.

The Titanic “The Artifact” Exhibition was in San Diego a few years ago and I missed it. Now that Booger’s mind pump is primed, I think it’s time to go.


Watch the movie as a treat for vibe and mood and sense of history.

And for the necklace-ness. (Had to end on a made-up word).


PROMPTuesday #237: Regretful

June 2nd, 2015

Smashing fears - PROMPTuesday


In 2008 I “launched” PROMPTuesday, a series of weekly creative writing prompts designed to stoke the writing fire. The whole idea was to get me – and whoever read my blog – writing without the mind weight of perfection, judgment, or inner criticism.


As I wrote back then, my intention was to encourage all current writers, wannabe writers, and writers-for-the-day to respond to the prompt by “free-writing” for 10 minutes, and posting their submission in the below comments section for self-expression, encouragement, or just because why not.


And many of us did write, and shared their words here. Some of my favorite prompts remain the ones that got us to dig deep, or just throw a little dirt at the evil internal editor:


Like this one.




This one.


After several years of continuing to post PROMPTuesdays, I abandoned the prospect a few months ago in favor of going crazy at work and attending to life’s details. BUT, I keenly felt the loss and the existential pounding in my gut brought me back.

And so it is Tuesday and I once again return with a writing prompt.


As always, here the rules:


  • Respond to this prompt by midnight Tuesday:
    What would be your greatest regret if you didn’t accomplish it before you die?
  • Post your response in the comments section.
  • Write your response in 10 minutes of less – don’t stylize it or agonize over it or overthink it.


Like is my norm, maudlin and melancholy marks the prompts. Because I’m pretty sure that’s what drives me to write.


I’ll be back tonight with my answer.