I Can See the World From Here



Exactly four million earth years ago, I received an email from one Ms. Ayun Halliday, asking if I'd consider participating in one of those blog book tour things that those author kids are so fond of these days. I've gotten similar emails before and have always declined, not because I have anything against the author or the book or the idea of blog book tours or even that they called my incredibly important journal a blawwwg, but because I figured I would probably suck at writing book reviews.

But I agreed to participate in Ayun's. Mostly because I'd heard incredibly good things about the book itself, and also because her email told me to give her a cyber yawp at my earliest convenience if I was interested. Cyber yawp. I liked that. I am easily amused.

And thus I was swayed! On with the suckage!

She also included a long list of cool ideas for the entry -- podcasts! husband-bashing! intellectual discourse between like minds! -- and my choice of dates. And everybody knows when it comes to Picking Your Own Deadline, you pick the one farthest away, because that means it will NEVER EVER COME. August 25th? Are you kidding me? That's like, decades away.

Which is how I ended up here, today, as one of the very last stops on the Mamalamadingdong virtual book tour, feeling like:

1) Everything smart and witty and insightful has already been said by all the other bloggers; and
2) Shit. I probably should have read the book by now, right?

Ha! I am kidding. Sort of.

All month, I carted around a prematurely dog-eared copy of Mamalamadingdong. It went from the coffee table to my nightstand to the diaper bag. It's been to Starbucks, Chipotle and the pediatrician's office. I've read a chapter here and there -- a few stolen pages during Blue's Clues or before falling asleep to dreamily drool on the table of contents. The book has been yanked out of my hands by an impatient semi-toddler and been lost for days at a time in the sofa cushions. (Dear Ayun, Please notice, however, that your book did not get pooped on, which around these parts is an honor reserved only for my Coach bags and perhaps the good china.)

It felt so damn good to read a damn book again that I didn't even really notice when I never unfolded the corner of page 54 and accidentally re-read that chapter three times.

(Honestly, I have read exactly two books since Noah was born, unless you count 7,621 readings of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? or Dukes Tails: Duke Finds a Home, which was a gift from my advertisers and pretty much the best book you'll read this year about a man being buried alive in a silo of beans.)

(SPOILER ALERT! He is totally rescued by his dog.)

(It's actually pretty cute and charming, and Duke is a good dog and he needed a good home and I am NOT SNIFFLING, IT IS DUSTY, GO GET ME SOME BAKED BEANS.)

While this fractured reading style took nothing away from enjoying the book itself -- it's a breezy and oddly-blog-like personal memoir of someone Way Cooler Than You -- it's not really great for someone who needs to Write Things about the book. Especially someone who wants to Write Things that sound smart and cool and avoid stupid fucking adjectives like "breezy."

So I went back to Ayun's original email and all those great ideas that included dumping a fair amount of the work back on her lap. I envisioned a hilarious interview -- me asking her goofy off-the-wall questions and her responses would be smart and well-punctuated enough for me to just cut-and-paste. By the end of the interview, we would be best friends.

Of course, the main problem with this approach was that I needed to think of some goofy off-the-wall questions.

This was the only one I could think of:

Amy: So. Your zine, The East Village Inky, is incredibly hilarious. Yet the words are written very, very small and I have to dig out my reading glasses in order to read it, which makes me feel very, very old, and I want to know if you actually draw and write it that small or if you shrink it down later for printing?

And then maybe I would lean in, all serious-like, as if I were confronting Ashlee Simpson about her nose job, and ask Ayun to come clean about getting LASIK surgery, because seriously. The words are that tiny.

At this point, you may notice that I have not included any smart and well-punctuated responses from Ayun. That is because I again, totally procrastinated and didn't send her any questions, goofy or otherwise, in time before she went out of town this whole week.

It's really unbelievable to think about all the unexpected ways motherhood has changed my life. There's all the obvious ones that people like to whine about -- less sleep, more bodily functions, more plastic crap strewn around your house than you'll ever fully be able to comprehend -- but then there are the changes that you don't even realize have occurred...until you try to read a book about all the unexpected ways motherhood has changed another woman's life and it takes you two fucking months to do so.

At one point in my life I would have read the whole thing in an afternoon and considered it a day well spent . Now I am at a different point in my life, a point where everything is broken up into 15-minute chunks of time, but every 15-minute chunk I devoted to reading Mamalamadingdong I considered to be a chunk well spent.

And I have a feeling Ayun, a fellow mother, would completely understand what a high compliment that actually is.



Could I possibly be first? And congrats!


I think I'll pick up a copy of that so I can enjoy it before I have a baby. Irony alert: my friend Kate and I were joking yesterday that I was going to name my kid Ramalamadingdong because really, could there be a more ridiculous name in this day and age of ridiculous names?

I was kidding about the name. He'll be Henry.


I think that may be the best book review I have ever read because of the honesty behind it.


I just finished Da Vinci Code. Yes, I was one of 4 remaining people on this earth that had not read it, but having a 13 month old made it a much bigger project than book reading should be. You described the experience perfectly.


Mother's secret - which wouldn't have worked in this situation but you can apply it in other situations. Books on tape (or cd) - which can totally be checked out at the library. LIFE SAVERS! And also, sanity savers when listened to via headphones while the toddler enjoys a rousing 1/2 hour of Barney!


I remember my Mom telling me how jealous she felt when she saw me curled up with a book by the fire as a kid while she was making dinner and chasing my baby brother around the house, trying to get the colander off of his head. It wasn't until I bought a house, got a puppy, continued to work full-time, and try to maintain a semblance of a social life that I realized exactly what she meant. I have a dog-eared book in my purse, in my car, my gym bag, and three on my nightstand. I will finish them all some day, I hope! Until then, I'll enjoy my life!

I'm sure that my Mom wouldn't have given up colander-retrieval for a chance to sit down and read alone, even if only for 15 minutes!


This is why I can't work at home. I know, for my personal situation (can't speak for anyone else), I wouldn't get anything done if I had the little one with me 24-7. She's in preschool, I work full-time outside the home. My hubby & I divide up the tasks and I get most of mine done on my lunch hour. I hired a housekeeper (best money I ever spent), hubby does the grocery shopping on the way home from work, I do the laundry at night after the lil' one goes to bed. Luckily, I don't ever have to bring work home. Miraculously, everything gets done (although I never have time to read a book, ever!). But, if that got all jumbled together I know I would be the world's biggest procrastinator. I think it's hard to work at home, because you have to do all of those tasks, plus work, plus take care of the lil' one all day.


"How do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight" is at the top of my reading list. In fact, it is so well read here, that my husband decided to add motions to it and the kids even have them memorized.

Reading for myself? Now that's just plain crazy-talk!!


Two months is actually pretty good. I've been reading Pillars of the Earth since February...all I've been able to glean from the plot is that involves many, many pages.

On the other hand, that mischievous gorilla sure is good at stealing the zookeeper's keys, isn't he?

Silly Hily

What is this reading you speak of? The last book I read was a Dora book b/c duh, what else is there in life except for that damn Dora!


I'm sorry. What is this "book" thing you're talking about? It looks like a block? It has words? Is it about Britney and K'Fed? Like a magazine? I know those.

I havent read a real book in so long. I promised my son I'd read ALL 12 of the Series of Unfortunate Events before the 13th comes out on October 13th.

Yeah. I'm thinking that's not going to happen.

Y from the internet

I'm sorry, I can't get past the picture of the book in the tire because OMG. THERE IS A BOOK IN THE TIRE!

You know I love the tire, right?

Because I love the tire.

I think you should take requests. "Things you want to see inside of my tire."

That would make me happy. You want me to be happy, right?


I stopped trying to read books eons ago, and resorted to flipping though magazines, mostly Entertainment Weekly, to try and have some semblance of the pop-culture whore that I have always been. Now I find I cannot even stay awake long enough to flip through a few pages of why 'Snakes on a Plane' was supposed to be so damn funny. BUT! I did, last year, discover these little Ayelet Waldman books, and I love her, in her real writing, because she is so funny despite the fact that many people hate her and her mothering skills for some reason, many of which are the same people who now hate Heather Armstrong for some reason, but anyway Ayelet's mommy-track mysteries are awesome. And short, and easy to read, and so fun and kind of make you feel again like you got a college degree for a reason, and it wasn't just to have pureed carrots stains on every shirt you own. Although, as you can see, my sentence structure skills are permanently destroyed, so much for that English degree.


The tire. It's cracking me up considerably.

(for some reason, likely that I do not have a child, I have not really been all that interested in Ayun Halliday, but I have enjoyed the book tour.)

Anne Glamore

I've read and enjoyed the other reviews of the book (not the book, no time for that, but the reviews) and yours is WILDLY ENTERTAINING!

(I capped that so 1) You could read it and 2) you could use it as a blurb some day)



Amalah, have you not also read Good Night Moon and Guess How Much I Love You? Because I think you HAVE.


By the way, your tire is beginning to remind me of the tire in Strong Badia, Population: Tire.


The URL www.stuffonmytire.com isn't taken. Just in case you were interested.

Was it difficult to convince Jason to let you paint the door purple? (Or perhaps I am being close-minded when I assume that it wasn't his idea.)

shy me

but..but... now I've had to go listen to " Ramalama (bang bang)" which is a song I'd never heard before this season's So You Think You Can Dance. And. Well that doesn't reallly have anything to do with your post exactly. But, I think the tire might like to dance to it. (that's tyre for you British folks)
i'm craaaaaaazy this morning!


Ayun is amazing. I'm shocked you've read her zine before, but mainly because I'm always shocked when other people know what a zine is.


That was an awesome book review, truly Mommy-fied. I just hopped on to the book tour bandwagon today, and yours was my first stop. Thanks for making it enjoyable.


Awesome book review! I know all about he little chunks of time. And spending them all on one book, is definately a compliment.


That tire is killing me.

Day 97: Friendship in the Making


or Day 97: Intelligence Gathering


Ayun Halliday! Aaaacchhh! You have corresponded with her! I'm that jealous. I love her books. We have an autographed copy of No Touch Monkey and we still walk around my house going-Inky. Baboo. Inky Baboo. BABOO!! Not, that I don't love you too, Amalah, so please don't pout. And as for reading...do Little Einstein videos count? Cause some of them have words in them. Really.


I think you will find you can rediscover reading when the child learns to walk without falling and therefore must not be watched every millisecond. That was my experience, anyway.

When the little angel was Noah's age, I read way too much What to Expect the First Year and was traumatized for some time, so I returned to good fiction. Yea, verily, thou shall not waste reading time, sayeth the Lord.


Duude. Totally. Now I'm off to tell phoeby that I"m one of the four that haven't read da vinci code..and I'm listening to it on tape..because I have two rugrats...and I haven't read a book in years...it's books on tape or thomas the tank engine and his cranky ass pals.


I am posting simply to put a contrarian view out there. I read like it's oxygen - I would not survive without pages and pages of wonderful words. I'm a stay-at-home mom of 2 (ages 3 and 5) and would not survive with my Calgon moments (usually behind a locked bathroom door!) of escape into another world.

Recently completed: "The Devil Wears Prada", "Confessions of a Shopaholic", "The Historian", "Never Let Me Go" (weird and creepy for a book where nothing really happens), "Once Upon a Day" (a wonderfully written story about amazing characters that makes you really think - what lengths would you go to if you thought your spouse, who you love, was a danger to your children?) and I must admit my addiction to trashy novels about serial killers - I mean have you read "Darkly Dreaming Dexter" (soon to be a Showtime series - reason enough to get premium cable!) - can you love, love, love a fictional character who's a serial killer? Cause I do, I really, really do!

Here's hoping you find similar worlds to dive into soon!


damn nice review. I almost want to try and spare the six-month span I would require in order to read it, myself.

p.s. congratulations on finishing a book. (the adult kind.)


I'm the mother of two cats, and just trying to orchestrate their feedings is enough for me! Greedy little pigs.

On the one hand, I agree with you, amalah, that AH is "way cooler than you" (not "you", amalah, but "you" in general), but she does have that self-deprecating closet geek thing going on, which is why I dig her so much

Amy M

I read a lot while my son is breastfeeding. I mean, there aren't that many things to do while I'm stuck there, with a child attached. I actually read "War & Peace" during his first couple months of life. Then I switched to books where I wouldn't have to think as much. Because epic novels with 3 hours of sleep isn't a good combination.

sarah c.

Nobody tells you how hard it is to read the "project babalah" sidebar without getting Mmmbop in your head, and then the one time you're triumphant you go outside and the neighbor has it playing on their radio.

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