The Perfect Dish

Gaby’s love of food extends beyond the act of preparing it. Until her, I never really thought about how food is presented to someone to eat. I grew up in a household of corn mixed into mashed potatoes and gravy drenching everything. And though I do appreciate how food is plated now, I still don’t care. I just want to eat. But I do see the psychology  in making food look good in order to taste good.

Another thing I never really thought about until her is the art of food photography. It’s not just snapping a photo, straight on, of your dinner and posting to Instagram. Like any good photography, it’s about angles, light, and composition. A shitty photo of your dinner can make it look like garbage. Gaby’s really good at making amazing food look even more amazing. Just recently she bought a real camera and spends all of her free time practicing. If you don’t follow her already, I suggest you do in order to watch her already baller skills develop.

One of the benefits, I guess, of having her learn photography is her taking pictures of more than food. She’s snapped some great candids of friends. And, since I have a new essay coming out, I thought it was time to update my author photo. The last one was taken nearly 6 years ago. Six years ago I was in my early 30s; now I’m in my late 30s. That’s like a life time. Well, in preparation, and in an attempt to figure out lighting and the best time of day, she asked me one evening to sit just for fun. Since I was wearing a Christmas shirt and it was February, I took it off. And since I had just made myself a martini, I brought it with me. It was fun, or at least not horrible, and I actually liked one of the shots: Capture

This is an honest shot of me. This is my typical, non-smiling look. This is my sarcastic look. This is me, not really wearing clothes after I get home from work. My hair hadn’t been cut in over a year, and I figured out how to twist up my man bun. This, I thought, could be social media-worthy. I am not unattractive. There are things about me that people can appreciate. But then. I kept staring at myself. Like, one of those moments when you look in the mirror and you’re overcome with the thought, “I’m a human person. I am a mind inside a body. This is that body. This is what my shell looks like. Look at that face. I can make my face move like this…”  I used to go down that rabbit hole when I was teenager. I guess I had a lot of time on my hands. Or, I was a teenager. So, my 39 year old self looked deep into my own eyes for the first time in a while, and then this happened:

now this

I’d like to say at my age and with my life experience, this doesn’t happen to me. But it does. As much as I try to keep it from coming. I think we all do this. Or, if you don’t, please tell me how.

I see Erika, who is nearly 15, staring at herself in the bathroom mirror for way too long. I see her walk by her reflection in a window and pause to look at her hair, only to move one strand of curls back and forth for several minutes. I see her in the living room mirror adjusting her shirt around her waist and then turning around to pop her booty out and give it a hard look. I see her self-consciously moving through this world. I see her have the same anxiety we all have. Or the same anxiety I have which I assume everyone else has. We’ve talked about it. I try to tell her that I understand and that is gets better. Or we learn to turn down the volume of our inner critic. I think of this scene from Bojack Horseman.

I understand food seems to taste better when it’s expertly presented. When it’s an array of colors stacked to trick the eye into believing there is more there than in reality. Arranged to show only the best parts of each component. I suppose there are people like that, too. They know how to put themselves together.

I am not always this hard on myself. There are times I’m able to forgive myself for all the things I’ve done and move on. There are times when I’m positive that my friends like me and even care about me. There are times when I’m proud of all that I’ve lived through, when I know that I’m a good person, despite the bad things I’ve done to you all. To myself. There are times when I feel like I’ve really found myself and my truth and my wholeness and all of those things we are striving for. I can see those things in the martini photo. I can see a woman comfortable with all that she is. Sometimes I am her.

But, despite all the angles and light, I can also see that I’m not an elaborate, colorful, carefully constructed dish.

I am something like biscuits and gravy. I am either gross or delicious, depending on your tastes. Sometimes, I am way too much. I am best warm and terrible cold. Or I am something like a sloppy Joe: full of savory filling but just barely held together. If you put me down, I’ll fall apart.










Pride and Prejudice

It’s pride month. So, let me remind you that I’m a homosexual. I’ve been aware of myself and out for 21 years. In that time, society has changed drastically, but not enough.

Maybe it’s because of my age or the people I hang out with, but it’s very rare that someone asks me “when did you know you were gay?” or “who’s the man?”  It’s such a relief.

This is the time I dreamed of when I was 17 and sitting in that therapist’s office and he was trying to tell me that being gay was going to be so hard and weird and maybe I should reconsider. As he would go on about all of the challenges of being gay, I would try to imagine the day when I just lived without anyone caring if I was. Today is that day.

I’m so grateful to feel so much safer than I did 21 years ago.

That doesn’t mean that everyone is safe, though, or that things are just fine.

My fitbit app updated the other day to include “female health.” It’s a nifty period/ovulation tracker. I pushed the button to allow it to ask me a series of questions. They included what type of birth control I use. I clicked none. And felt judged. Now that that portion of the app is set up, I can go in and track things in my life like: sex, unprotected sex, and the morning after pill. Obviously, these things don’t apply to me.

And I really hate that my fitbit thinks I have sex with men. My fitbit has made an assumption about me based on the fact that I clicked “female” at some point in time. At least I’m a cisgender female. Think of those others who have clicked the same and then been faced with a menstruation app that doesn’t apply to them. I’m sure all of this seems like the stuff that makes your conservative uncle want to say something like, “all of these gotdamn people wanting everything to be sooooo POLITICALLY CORRECT.” But, if the people making the fitbit app update were a little more diverse, I bet this wouldn’t happen. Someone in that room would’ve said, like, wait not all women have sex with men or have a period. And they would’ve designed a separate button that says, like, “click here if you have sex with women.” I would’ve felt so included. I would’ve happily clicked the shit out of that button. I wouldn’t known that someone out there was looking out for me. Instead, I feel a little sad. Instead, I have to stare at those options of clicking protected or unprotected sex.

Speaking of sex.

I’ve had this skin problem on my right hand for years. In the past, it went away and came back. I would have a few months with no outbreak. But now, it’s been here since October. It’s eczema, I think. These tiny bubbles form under my skin that leak fluid. My hand itches like a sonuvabich. More specifically, my thumb, middle, and pinky finger and no where else. It never goes away. Something as simple as water can make it flare up. It’s the fucking worst.

But here is what is worse than the worst: this is, essentially, my penis.

I’ve been to the dermatologist and allergist. I’ve had patches stuck to my back. I’ve been prescribed some insanely expensive steroid cream (which only makes my skin crack and bleed). I’m not telling you all of this for a diagnosis. I’m telling you this because, as I mentioned before, things are better for queers, but not the best.

I had to suck up my feelings and tell the dermatologist that my partner is a woman. That my right hand is vital to my sex life. She smiled, but didn’t seem to care.

The allergist, when I told her, at least showed sympathy and said, “oh, my, this must really be affecting your quality of life.” I said it was. And I felt heard. Or nearly understood.

But yet. Here I am, still suffering with this stuff. Now, before you all start messaging me with other ways to be sexually active without my right hand, believe me, I know them. I’ve been having sex with women for 20 years.

Consider this: maybe a male friend you know has confided in his doctor (and you) that his penis has tiny, itchy bubbles, that it is constantly burning and flaring, that the skin cracks and bleeds. Would you offer him other ways to have sex or would you want to help him find a solution? Don’t you think the doctor would do everything in their power to help this poor guy?

So, why am I sharing with you these intimate details of my life? Easy. I want you to know that homophobia, or even lack of awareness of homosexuals, affects my life in a lot of strange ways. Several times a week, maybe even every day, I’m reminded by others that I’m not the status quo, that I’m not still fully included. And I’m white and cisgender. Just imagine how trans people feel. How people of color feel. How immigrants feel. How differently-abled people feel. How someone who is all of those must feel.

This is why inclusion and diversity are so important.

Your conservative uncle might also get annoyed with all the pride talk this month and all the rainbow flags. He might ask, “who cares if they’re gay? Why do they have to run around waving flags?”

Because. Every other day of the year is straight, white man day. And though there is no specific flag for that (though some might argue stars and bars), I see it everywhere, all the time. And I’m reminded, even when I look at my phone or visit my doctor, that I am still an outsider.



Mother, Mother

I’ve been a mom for eight years and two months and some days that I don’t feel like counting. The journey has been very, very long.

My whole life, I’ve had two mothers: the one who gave birth to me and the one that did the real work of raising me. But really, there is only one.

Gaby was a mom when I met her, so Cyrus has three moms. Poor Erika lives with two moms.

My own mom is a woman most of you have met. You love her. You love her because she is always able to be positive in any situation. You love her because she hugs you, even though she might not remember your name. You love her because she only wants to dance and have a good time.

I love her because she is my mom. And like most people, as I’ve aged, I’ve realized her wisdom, how much smarter she is than I. I strive to be like her while at the same time I try not to be like her. I see this pattern in Erika, who is nearly 14, trying to cling to Gaby and push her away at the same time. It is exhausting, this pulling and pushing of our mothers, ourselves.

Today,  Gaby had to work and Cyrus was at his other mom’s house for the holiday. Erika went to her dad’s for a while. So, I went fishing with some friends; we paddled around a lake, caught fish, or in my case, struggled to catch fish. I spent the day in the sun, on the water, not trying to please anyone, not trying to do the laundry or mow the yard. I got to spend the day mostly in my head, sweating and cussing at the stupid fish for not biting. I think that’s what all moms really need: a fucking break. I wish Gaby could’ve been with me. She needs a fishing trip more than I do.


The thing is, Cyrus did not come from my body. The same way I didn’t come from Faye’s body. None of that matters to me. You see, my whole life is about being a part of a family that doesn’t look like me. I don’t feel like him coming out of my body would make him any closer to me, but I know most people feel that way.

When I meet strangers and I tell them I’m a mom, they assume Cyrus is biologically mine. They assume all of the physical pain and sacrifice that comes with giving birth to a child. To be a mother is to sacrifice your body, they think. You might think that, too. But you also may know what else I’ve sacrificed–what matters more than that.

I’m adopted. I’ve never thought of my mom as a lesser mom because I didn’t come from her body. I’ve fought with her for the reasons we all fight with our moms: we are teenagers and they couldn’t possibly understand us, right? It is very true and very not true. But the whole time I knew she was my mom. My only mom.

People have asked me if it was hard bonding with Cyrus since he wasn’t mine. He isn’t mine? So, I’m not Faye’s? So, I’m not a “real” mom?

It’s true, no baby has ever come from my body. No baby has ever come from Faye’s body., either, but can you imagine another mom for me? I can’t.

The fact is, I have no idea what it means to have family that are biologically related. It’s weird to me that you look like your parents. It creeps me out a little that Erika and Gaby look so much alike. But, by some wonderful coincidence, Cyrus and I resemble each other.

I don’t feel like a lesser mother because I’m not a biological mother. And I hope that my mom has never felt that either. I don’t feel that way toward Erika, but maybe she has trouble understanding that since she looks like her mom and comes from her mom.

One of the women I went fishing with today was, at a certain point, my daughter. She was already adopted. Then, adopted again. There are too many layers in our lives to even dig through.

All of this is to say:

All of the children in my life are mine.

Being a mom means giving all of yourself, all the time.

Being a mom means kayaking around a lake trying to forget, for just a moment, you are a mom.









This is the Day

There is finally an answer to the ultimate question we’ve all asked for years: today.

Today is the day Cyrus’s button, that fucking port in his stomach where the feeding tube has been hooked up thousands of times, is coming out. Fuck. I’ll even do some math. The tube was inserted about 6 times a day for nearly 8 years…2,735 times is a conservative estimate. For more than two years, the first two of his life, he had to be hooked up to a pump for a better part of the day. Then came the bolus feeds. Then came those times when he’d be out of the house for more than a couple of hours and someone would’ve forgotten the tube. There would be a trip back to the house to retrieve it.

His life revolved around that goddamn tube. If the button broke, which it did many times, he couldn’t eat until it was reinserted, either at home or at a hospital. There were times it fell out and the hole closed and had to be re stretched. There were times when the tube that connected to the button would break. There were so many fucking times that he’d cough in the middle of a feeding and milky liquid would fly everywhere. My house smelled like the sweet rottenness of dairy, soaked into the carpets, the couches, the beds, the sheets, his clothes. There were times when I forgot to feed him.

It was hard to find a babysitter; the tube is a scary thing. He had to go to a particular preschool because they were willing to tube him while others didn’t have the insurance coverage for it. My dad has never tubed him. Very few of you have ever done it. He had to have a doctor’s note in order for the nurse at his school to give him water. Tap water. A doctor’s note. He needed a doctor’s note when he required more tube food in the day. In order for the school to feed him, a doctor had to say so. A doctor has controlled most of his food intake: how much, when, what, how. Until Gaby came, made a nutritious, real smoothie. Of course, I had the instinct to ask the doctor, anyone in a white coat, if it was okay. I had to ask if it was okay to feed my kid. I had to relearn that part of myself.

As I wrote a bit earlier, he has gone without a full day’s feeding since October 1st. It was that time that he was given a tube, secretly, while he was sleeping. When his button broke on November 27th, that seemed a sign that it was time. He hasn’t used the button since.

His eighth birthday is in 15 days. He got the tube in July of 2010. That’s a lot of years for everyone to have to deal with that thing.

He is really excited.

It feels impossible to tell you how ecstatic I am about this. Today is the shedding of the last layer of weighted sadness I still wear from the NICU. The final symbol of all that pain, all of those muddy days of mere existence.

Since he was born, people have said eventually he’d outgrow all of his preemie problems. I was naive to think that they meant “soon.” I suppose in the span of his life, 8 years isn’t a long time to deal with all that’s been thrown at him. For me, though, that’s been the first 8 years of my parenting experience. Doctors, therapists, surgeries. That’s all I’ve known. That’s all he’s known. That’s all you’ve known of him, too.

That’s not even 1/100th of who he his.

If you see me this week and I’m staring into space, I promise I am not sad. If you see me crying, I’m not sad. If you see me drinking too much, I am not sad. I’m light and airy. I am made of sunshine.

The grass is turning green. The buds are forming. The birds are singing. Cyrus’s long winter is over.

The long days of sunshine that pull life from under the dark soil are finally here.




Going Dark: Day The Last

It’s January 31st. This is the last night of our going dark challenge. Neither kid is with us tonight to offer some illuminating thought about the process. I guess it’ll just be up to Gaby and me to tell you about our experience.

The first two weeks were hard. I don’t think we even cheated in that time. We got some cards and letters. We played some board games. It was hard adjusting to the kids’ constant conversation about things we don’t always care about. Gaby worked her ass off making bread. We even cleaned a lot more than usual. We sat around the kitchen table together, wondering what to do with our time. We lamented about how we missed the screens.

After the 15th, we got a little looser with our rules. Gaby checked and used her phone all day since it was her birthday. I did the same for mine on the 18th.

I admit that I streamed some spotify once or twice to my sweet bluetooth speaker. I used my phone several time to set my fitbit alarm so as not to wake up the whole house (cats included) super early in the morning. Some of those times, I accidentally hit the facebook app button.

The kids, I know without asking, have enjoyed having a home phone. Cyrus loves to answer it and hang up immediately if you’re not someone living in this house, Erika’s dad, or my parents. But, honestly, when he talks to Mom and Dad he is usually very short with his conversation. “HellOOOOOO. Hi. Do you love the Cardinals? By the way, bye!”

I’m pretty sure Erika cheated last weekend when she had a friend over; they slept in the basement and I found the t.v (and every single fucking light) on the next morning. We never confronted her.

Gaby is scrolling through her phone right now. So. I guess we’re really done.

I’ve missed Netflix. A lot. And turning on the t.v. on Sundays just to see what noise is on. We have only local channels, but sometimes I enjoy a random college basketball game. I don’t care about football, but the noise sounds like home. Cyrus, of course, loves to watch a full game.

Cyrus has missed video games, but has been amazing at self monitoring. If he sees a phone lying around, he tattles, “Ummmmm, you said no electronics…”  This morning he asked if the stove is an electronic.

The thing I’ve enjoyed most is not having a t.v. or video game on right after school, or coming home from work. We’ve eaten dinners together. At the beginning, we played games and wrote letters after dinner. Then, well, we just started going to bed earlier. Like old time farmers. It’s dark, so there’s nothing to do but sleep.

Erika has been reading a little bit more and going to sleep around 8:30 because that’s when Gaby and I go to sleep now (since I get up at 4:30 most of the week). With it still being pretty dark here in the evenings, Cyrus goes to sleep well before 8. It’s 7:00 p.m. right now, and I’m ready to call it a day.

I’ve been reading, too. I read one whole book, 3/4 of another, and maybe 1/4 of a new one. That’s a whole lot for me. I haven’t read this much since grad school. And, as some of you have asked: I finished Half Broke Horses, by Jeanette Walls, am 3/4 of the way through Hungry for the World by Kim Barnes, and have started Hunger by Roxane Gay. The first book was recommended and given to me by a friend. That was about 10 years ago. I’ve owned Kim Barnes’ book for more than 10 years, and she even signed it at a reading in Fairbanks. Roxane’s book is new, so it’s nice to read something that hasn’t been guilt-tripping me from my bookshelf.

Gaby says she’s ready to go back but doesn’t want to lose her pen pals. She wants to keep up the good work making our own white bread, too. She loves the house phone because she loves to hear the kids answer and wonder who it is. She wants to implement a schedule for having our phones turned on/off. I like the idea of the times when we can or cannot be on our phones/screens. I wouldn’t even mind if we went weekdays without screens and just allowed them on the weekends.

As for me, I’ve enjoyed blogging about the experience, but it’s taken me away from responding to some letters. I’m sorry. I will. I promise.

So, friends. I recommend you try it. As with forming any new, healthy habit, it sucks. It’s hard. It’s a lot of work. It feels like a huge sacrifice. But you’ll get used to it. You’ll sink into new rhythms. You’ll cheat a little to find out what’s best for you.

Slowing down so drastically on my social media consumption has been phenomenal; I have less anxiety. I reach for my phone less often. I got into only one, tiny political facebook fight. (when I did, I spent too much time thinking about what to respond) I don’t want that kind of bullshit to take up space in my head anymore. I’m busy enough worrying about feeding Cyrus enough food, about helping Erika plan her high school classes, about cleaning up after the cats, about being a good and present partner to Gaby.

The times I’ve scrolled through facebook I’ve thought, “I can live without knowing all of this.”  The news, well, I get that from the radio without all of the bullshit comments from stupid people. Knowing what you had for dinner and where you had it, I mean, that’s cool, but I don’t love you or hate you any more for it. Maybe I’ve missed out on some events, but I don’t know, so I didn’t really miss them.

And, who knew, the fewer things you say on social media, the smaller and smaller you become. No one comments. No one “likes” your post. No one bothers you.

I bet you were so busy seeing everything else, you didn’t even miss us.

Maybe that’s why we social media at all: so we’re not forgotten.


Photo from molepoet


Going Dark: Days 17-23. Tide Pods and other obviously bad choices

By now you’ve probably lost interest. Or, maybe you figured that we just cut the cord for real. In less exciting, but very real news, we’ve been busy and I’ve been too tired to type.

So much has happened that I can’t even remember. I had a birthday last week. Then the weather was 65 degrees. Then we made a lot of food.

We’re still getting cards and letters from you all. One awful day, I opened the mailbox and found one million of Gaby’s fancy cards returned. I guess the cardstock was too heavy. So, we’re sorry. She broke down and went to the post office and bought what she needed. Those should be on their way now. And this time, they should get there.

There have been a lot of nice moments: the kids doing homework together at the kitchen table, each one shouting questions at me at the same time. We all played Monopoly Millionaire the other day, too. We’re still enjoying Karuba, even Gaby and I play it when we’re alone.

I’ve been cheating a little. On my birthday I read all of your messages (thank you!). What’s weird, is I feel compelled to respond to each post individually, like I’ve been doing with the mail. That’s a new feeling for me. I mean, social media is so full of people saying things to you and at you. Sometimes we acknowledge them with a thumb’s up. Sometimes, we just let them live there, out in the ether. That’s the cool thing about the letters; they’re very personal. And you feel obligated as fuck to return one.

Once you cheat, even just a little, it sets off a cascade of bad habits. Just. Like. That.

If I set my fitbit alarm (I’ve been getting up at 4:30 and not wanting to wake up the whole house) before bed, I might accidentally hit the facebook app. And then have to throw the phone across the room. Once that happens, you need more.

At work, I’ve let myself check my phone too many times, and that just leads me to wanting to check it more and more and more.

Gaby’s phone is on her nightstand, charging. Before her birthday, it would’ve been downstairs in the basket.

If Cyrus sees a phone lying around he tattles, “Hey, no electronics!”

So, we have just a week left of January. I guess we’ve done it…mostly. I miss Netflix. But I don’t miss Cyrus being glued to the t.v. asking me to play a video game with him. I love not feeling the need to check my phone before bed and as soon as I wake up. Hell, I we’re all guilty of just waking up a bit in the middle of the night and reaching over for the phone. We tell ourselves we’re just checking the time, but then, maybe that instagram icon is there. Or a little message. And we go down the rabbit hole.

One great moment (with photo evidence not included in this post) was when Erika gave Cyrus a make-over. Since her foundation doesn’t really match his skin, he looked a little orange. But his lip color was nice. And his eyelashes are beautiful with mascara. She called him Donald Trump Junior. She even made his hair look windblown and thin.

I suppose that’s it for a while. I’m not sure what else there is to say. I promise, if nothing else, that I’ll write a final post when we’re done.

Hold up. I almost forgot to tell you. Remember when I published the first post and I put our address out onto the internet? Remember, Tia Carla, when you were like, “don’t do that!” And I was like, “eh.”


This is a bit weird, so bear with me. There is a person out there whom I’ve known but not really known for some years. She worked with me for a semester. Then she wrote a 90 page manuscript about how we met. Like, it had the kind of things I wrote about friends and celebrities when I was 14. “I love her, but in a friend, and totally Christian and nonsexual way.”  That’s the gist of the manuscript. She pursued a friendship, of sorts, with me. She wanted me to read her writing. I politely did what I could for about a year, then just stopped saying anything. After many messages from her, the last thing I wrote to her was, “I don’t want to be friends. Don’t contact me again.” But she did. Many more times and over the course of a year.

She sent me card. Because she reads this blog. And she found my address.

So, kids. Don’t eat laundry detergent, and definitely don’t put your personal information on the internets. Let that be a lesson to you.






Going Dark: Day 16. Shelter From the Storm

As you’ve heard me say many times now, weekends are the hardest.

This weekend was no exception.

Gaby did a lot of her side hustle. Erika was at her dad’s a lot. That left Cyrus and me a lot of time by ourselves. It’s good to have time when it’s just the two of us. Cyrus got his hair cut on Saturday, of course, and then the hilarious phone call asking for Ben Dover. But.

Sunday Gaby worked from 7-12. Erika was with Gaby. Then there were two.

As usual, Cyrus woke us up early, and repeatedly, asking when he could sleep in our bed. After Gaby left, he climbed in with me. He does this on occasion. I tell him that if he’s going to be in bed with me, he’s going to sleep. “Okay, Mom.”  But then comes the chatter. “Mom, did you have a bully when you were a kid?” “Did you like My Little Ponies when you were a little girl?”  “Did Joe Montana and Jerry Rice retire?”

There was a dusting of snow on the ground, but we got in the car anyway. I drove us to JJ’s Cafe where he had biscuits and gravy, and I ate the chicken friend steak covered in eggs, hash browns, cheese, and gravy. He ate a whole biscuit!  We sat side by side in the booth happily eating and watching big snowflakes fall outside. It was a wonderful time of just the two of us. I nearly cried at the amount of food he ate. I marveled at how he is finally old enough to carry on a conversation. I thought of the times when he was still in a car seat, and a feeding pump had to be taken everywhere. Those times are dead. Really fucking dead.

What I haven’t shared with you is this: Cyrus is eating. Since October 1st, he’s been without a feeding tube in the day time (he got calories through it at night when he was asleep). And since November 27th, when his button broke at school, he’s gone totally without. He’s scheduled to have the button in his stomach removed on March 5. He now has an answer to the question you’ve all asked since his birth. The answer is March 5. Just a few weeks before his 8th birthday.

I’m telling you this because it’s stressful feeding him. He likes to eat, but it takes him a long time. So. A meal can last an hour or more. We have to use a 30 ml syringe to give him a caloric smoothie to supplement what he eats. But. He fucking eats. Tonight he ate a whole pear, and beans, cheese, and sour cream–and he squirted a teaspoon or more of sriracha into it. He ate it all. He said, “I love spicy food.” I’m so fucking proud. It’s exhausting, though. Counting his calories to make sure he gains weight.

Without Gaby, this tube removal would not be possible. When she came into his life 3 + years ago, she worried at his nutrition; he got pediasure through his feeding tube. Four times a day. Plus water. I’d consulted with a nutritionist to see about a more nutritious alternative, but no one really seemed to have one.

Gaby made one. She made a fatty, organic, healthy smoothie that had double the calories and no fucking corn syrup, which is the first ingredient in pediasure.

This was at least a year and a half ago. She fattened him up. But she didn’t stop there. She kept trying to feed him things that he liked, with added oils and fats.

Now, he eats half of his calories like we do, and half with one of many flavored, caloric smoothies. Without Gaby, I’m positive he would still be using pediasure. I can’t believe they feed that shit to people.

But, like I said, the food doesn’t just slide down. He chews forever. Sometimes he chipmunks it in his cheeks. Sometimes he makes some excuse that he has to go to the bathroom or that he’s really tired. It’s a challenge.

And sometimes that coupled with “Hey, mom hey, mom hey, mom hey, mom” and no one else there to absorb the kid energy is enough to make a person feel overwhelmed.

I mean, I struggle with depression and anxiety a bit any way. Loud noises, like talking and shouting, make me spaz out. I do everything in my power to shut it down. Like, Cyrus talkingtalkingtalking or when he clucks like a chicken for ten minutes, or just makes all of those noise while we’re all trying to play Karuba. Sometimes, it’s all too much for me. This weekend was one of those times. And Gaby’s birthday was yesterday.

So, I’d had two days already of a lot of kid time. I have a lot in my life to be anxious about right now, having to do with Cyrus. And, on top of that, birthdays have always been a little weird for me.

Yesterday I woke up to a cat putting his claws in the mattress, then Cyrus asking when he could sleep with me. Then the cat. Then Cyrus walking back in. This went on for an hour and a half and ended around 7:00 am on our day off. On Gaby’s birthday.

So, Cyrus and I made coffee. Gaby had some, turned on her phone, and got exactly one million phone calls from her family all across the world. She retreated to the bedroom, leaving just Cyrus and me again. He demanded we play balloony ball. I tried to clean up the kitchen as a birthday present for Gaby. He “hey mommed” me the whole time.

I’ll get to the bottom of this story now. I was grumpy all day but trying not to be because it was Gaby’s birthday. I know my history of not really liking birthdays, so I thought I was trying extra hard to be happy for her. We all went outside in the super cold and played snow volleyball and snow soccer.

Mom and Dad came and we all went out to dinner. Dinner was amazing. Cyrus even at salad. He ate fucking lettuce with shredded carrots. He called himself a baby brachiosaur. He roared and ate more vegetables while the rest of us shoved bloody steaks into our mouths.

And then a piece of cake came. With a little candle. And Mom and Gaby were singing happy birthday, quietly, and I started feeling that anxiety that I can’t describe to you, you just have to have it to understand.

I blew out the fucking candle.

I snuffed out my love’s birthday.

I’m telling you this intimate detail because I’m ashamed. And maybe you’ve done something just as shameful. Maybe you’ve also wished for just 20 minutes of silence from your beautiful child. Maybe, sometimes, everything can feel like too much and you do something utterly stupid.

Or maybe it’s just me.

So, it felt like a long weekend. There are no screens to hypnotize my child, so I must figure out how to make him have some time to himself. There are no screens for me to sit in front of and live somewhere else.

I have to be right here, with myself, by myself, with all of my feelings.

The woman who snuffed out her partner’s birthday.

Without Gaby, my son would not be eating on his own. Without Gaby, I wouldn’t be eating so well with such small amount of effort. Without Gaby, there would be no Erika, no too-loud laughing, no one to check me when I’m wrong. No one to fight by my side, guns a’blazin’ when I’m right.

Tú eres mi refugio y mi verdad.


This is me after a half mile walk from my office to my car, after a long, screenless weekend.  I didn’t realize until today the lines I’ve earned under my eyes.