In Which a Good 75% of You Will Glaze Over By Paragraph Four

Post-Nasal Block

I've been sitting here all morning -- yes, actually physically here, in this virtual white space of my publishing platform, it's kind of like Tron -- trying to think of something to write about. And having a bit of trouble. I'm tired, I'm congested, I've just discovered that this "parent-teacher conference" thing is just a thinly-veiled excuse for schools to force you to parent your own children for two days in a row, and somehow our personal math means two schools x two days off = THREE days of scheduling fuckuppery.

(And only ONE actual parent-teacher conference. RIDDLE ME THAT, expensive hoity private school. EXPLAIN YOURSELVES.)


It's punt time. I could use a little writing exercise, so how's this...YOU GUYS post questions/topics in the comments -- any old random topic you want! the more off-the-wall the better! -- and I will pick some and update this post each time I write a little bit about it. Live, in real-time! know, whenever I get around to it, in between the whole keeping-children-alive thing.

I have actually done a variation on this before, a long, looooong time ago, if you would like to refer to that post for inspiration. Yeah. That's dryer lint. And multiple paragraphs about a kitchen sponge. I'm hoping we can come up with something a little more interesting than that.

Okay. Go!

(Oh, God. Nobody's going to ask me ANYTHING, and it will all crickets and silence and I will not only be forced to come up with my own post topics ANYWAY, I will also have to spend mental energy on creating sockpuppet commenters to hide the fact that no one asked me anything and maybe I didn't think this through very well.)


Whoa. Well. Oh em gee and all that. I guess my little attempt to guilt y'all into participating worked better than I anticipated! While my plans to rapidly update "live, in real-time" did NOT work as well as anticipated, what with the immediate and simultaneous arrival of Thing One on the school bus and the wide-awake caterwauling of Thing Two from upstairs. So there was much lunching and some sobbing when I had to break it to Noah that his afternoon school is closed today.

"But whyyyy I miss my friends, Mommy? Whyyyy my friends are all gone, Mommy?"

"Because it's Staff Development Day, sweetie." 


"I know, dude. Laaaame."

THEN I got momentarily derailed by the sudden appearance of an itchy, bug-bite-like thing on my boob, which required much Googling. Turns out it's a bug bite. Okay then! Now we are ready!

First up, by nature of her being FIRST!!!1!!1 is Allisone's suggestion of irrational fears.

Yes. Look. I'm still very, very scared of volcanoes. I've told you this one before. It's nothing I made up to be cute or calculatedly quirky on my About Page: I once had a full-on anxiety attack at the Mirage in Vegas while watching the beginnings of the outdoor laser/lights/fountain volcano show they do. THE GROUND RUMBLED. IT WAS OMINOUS. I FREAKED THE FUCK OUT. IN FRONT OF COWORKERS. I DON'T WANT TO TALK ABOUT THIS ANYMORE.

And yes. It really is thanks to an episode of Reading Rainbow. Hill of Fire, to be exact. Farmer finds a bump in his field, bump gets bigger and bigger and then eventually erupts and like, I don't remember. Everybody dies. Some with puppies. I think I was cowering behind the couch by the end. The WORST parts, honestly, were the scenes with LeVar Burton at the site of an erupting volcano in Hawaii. I kind of had my first girl-boy crush thing with LeVar. (Or maybe second, after Magnum P.I.) I was also maybe seven. My memory put LeVar like, RIGHT THERE, on the very edge of the volcano's mouth, gazing into the fiery abyss with his usual non-threatening enthusiasm, but according to the PBS website he was actually 2,000 feet away

That night I had a dream that my class was going on a volcano-climbing field trip, and we were all lined up and tied together at the waist with rope, when the girl in front of me turned around and told me that we were SUPPOSED to wear closed-toe shoes, AMY, way to follow the RULES. I looked down at my feet and saw that I was wearing flip flops. Then I woke up. I spent the entire day after in my backyard, looking for bumps. And probably a lot of other days after that. 

Fun update to this story! I now follow LeVar Burton on Twitter, but have never worked up the nerve to tell him this story and/or ask if he knows how I can obtain a copy of that episode. For like, therapy, and stuff. 



Okay, next question, from Mary, who wants to hear how I discovered my love and/or talent (AIRQUOTES talent AIRQUOTES) for writing. 

I'm actually one of those cheesy Tracy-Flick types who ALWAYS knew exactly what she wanted to do. I was going to be a writer. I'm not sure I ever remember seriously wanting to be anything else, beyond the usual "actress/mommy/astronaut" phases. I wrote my first "book" when I was five or so. It was called "The Pink Bunny." My mom still has it. Aside from the questionable design choice of writing a book about a pink bunny on pink construction paper using primarily pink crayons, it honestly was not a terrible first effort.

Pink Bunny is lonely. Pink Bunny goes out to find her friends. She finds one (who I think was a purple cat or a blue bear or some other dubious, carnivorous companion for a bunny) and invites them over to her house. They eat popcorn. The end. I even made a cover and additional title page, asking my mom how to spell each and every word. "How do you spell 'written'? And how do you spell 'and'? And how do you spell 'illustrated' And how do you spell 'by'?" On and on, this went, and my mother never once let any trace of boredom or OMGness into her voice as she patiently went along with it.

I even made a back cover, where I drew long squiggly lines to represent the book's synopsis and publisher's information. 

I routinely started and abandoned book ideas all through elementary and high school -- usually whenever I came across a really cool notebook that I just HAD to write something in. Most of the results were predictably horrible, so, so horrible, but my parents never, ever stopped telling me that I was a good writer and to stick with it.

It also helped that my dad was a high school English teacher and our house was almost hoarder-levels full of every classic piece of literature in the WORLD, and I was encouraged to treat his office like my personal library, and also to write "book reports" for him on the books that his much-older students were reading.

Later, I started mixing in funny short stories based on people and teachers from school, or big controversial events that I thought needed to be diffused with a little humor. I'd pass the stories around and even the snotty popular kids would laugh and tell me that I was soooooo funny and should write a book or for a magazine and I would nod seriously and then go back to whatever crap-ass "serious" novel I was currently attempting to write longhand in an obnoxiously twee leather journal. 

In college I tried my hand at "real" journalism and absolutely HATED IT. I wasn't good at it. The style and form and pace didn't come naturally to me at all, and two weeks after landing a super-prized position at the Penn State student paper, I quit and switched my major to English, even though I had no idea what the hell I would do with it. But clearly, I was not cut out to be a writer after all. I guess maybe I would teach? Or be some kind of editor? Eh?

But! Then! (Oh my God, this story. It is so looooooong. Where's a goddamn editor when you need one?) (Oh. Right.) I took a literature course in American Comedy. Mark Twain. James Thurber. Erma Bombeck. Garrison Keillor. David Sedaris. While I was sort-of famous for being one of Those Students who regularly wrote A-level papers on books that I didn't even READ (hello, HEART OF DARKNESS, YOU ASSHOLE), I read every scrap of assigned reading for that class, and even all the short stories in our textbook that we never actually covered. I still HAVE all the books from that class, to this day. Changed my life, this realization that writing "funny" could still actually "count."

I toiled away for a few more years after that, more aborted novel attempts, some short-story and essay rejection letters, struggling to keep myself disciplined to KEEP WRITING even after a long day of editing investment advice and stock market commentary.

So I decided to maybe start a blog, just to have a dumping ground for my existing stuff and maybe a place to write something new, and just to see what would happen. The end!

(Still haven't written that blasted novel yet, though. Sigh.)



lady gaga.


I know you had posted that you spent some $$ in Sephora in the past. SO: suppose you are one who isn't really into makeup. When you go into a Sephora store, how do you decide what you want, what you need, what color will look good on you, what is appropriate for your age, etc, etc, etc?!
(Okay, I am 47, have zero style and am probably too old to even be reading your blog, but hey! I like it! and by the way, I totally have the answer for brushing toddlers' teeth when they don't want to open. (I'm a pediatric dentist))


I second the "30 Day Shred" question, and the coming to Vancouver to visit (Jen and John over at Cakewrecks just did a tour, why don't you? Pack up the kids and hang out with us!) I'm wanting to do the shred, what kind of results did you see? What was the most effective way to get your postbaby body back, or at least to the point where you were ok with it?


I have no question, I just wanted to tell you that DAYS later, I am still snickering over the whole - pull up another browser window while muttering "F you Amahla." Classic.


Besides seconding Teachergirl's request (even though I'm sure I could find the answers in your archives, but--lazy!) give me your thoughts on communication etiquette! Does one have to respond to a text w/ a text, phone call with a phone call, etc. or can one cross-mojonate replies? This is a heated discussion betwixt my husband and I...


I would love your inquisitive insight on the following:

How to make Christmas Carols diiirrrtttyyyy.

Eureka Salesmen

Stinkbugs vs. Spiders: War of the Spawns-Of-Satan

How not to end up on

If Ceiba had the voice of a celeb, whose voice would it be?

And last but not least, if Noah were to ask you right this minute about where babies come from, what would you be inclined to tell him?

You asked for any old random topic and, baby, I deliver.


Things maybe I should know but don't:
How do you pronounce your dog's name?
What's the status of your kitchen - to be painted or not? what color?

Kate Myers

Why don't you take sock puppet commenters to the next level - Sock Puppet Portraits:

We bought some of these (seriously) and we love them :).


Oh, thought of another one - what program do you use to edit your video montages?


How do you deal with internet crazies? Like, people who hate you and leave haters comments? Because it really gets to me, and it seems like the only "high road" is not responding at all, because really, what's the point with internet trolls? But what about if someone wrote WHOLE blog posts about how terrible you are (hypothetical you, of course, hopefully this doesn't happen to real you.)

Also, what about internet-non-crazies saying something that sounds crazy? I have many times wanted to offer to mail something care-package like to complete internet strangers, but how can I do that without sounding like I am, in fact, an internet crazy. The best kind, the one looking for people's addresses!


I second the Irrational Fears one. Mine is people who are missing a finger. The whole Lord of the Rings trilogy - where Gollum bites of the finger - FREAKED me out as a kid!

Also, Flarp from carpet, I believe needs vinegar - or rubbing alcohol - or both.

I KNOW WD-40 gets crayon off things. WD-40 is amazing. Make sure it's OK on the wood though.
Heck, it might even get Flarp out of carpet.


I have nothing. I'm about as creatively dry as they come right now. But, this is all seeming very Kate Gosselin of you. :) (the last episode I actually watched was when viewers wrote in and she spent the entire episode sitting on the chair answering viewer questions).


Do you have a favourite British comedy? (if you don't can I recommend The Mighty Boosh!)

AND ('cos I'm greedy like that) what joys can I expect when we start weaning our daughter next month

Amber McN

I'm oddly inspired and deflated by your writing comment.
Yous gots smartz.


Upon reading that long-ago blog entry, I'm wondering if you ever made that Candle Salad, and if instead of looking like a candle, it resembled... something else?


So are you planning on writing a book? Because I would totally buy it :)


I want to know (from you or other commenters) some good ideas for holiday presents for preschool teachers and how much to spend on each teacher. My kids are in full time daycare, so the teachers definitely DESERVE something much better than I can afford, but I don't know what's good/appropriate/expected. I've done gift cards in the past, and think those are appreciated, but always waffle on the amounts.


okay, here goes. I am 30 years old and recently was stabbed in the back by some women I considered friends who are in their 50s. Call me naive, but I thought that business was over in grade school. So...this is not really a question. More just a topic for discussion if you have any thoughts on it.


I love how on the PBS site it says "LeVar is only 2,000 feet from a major eruption of Kilauea Volcano. He tells about two kinds of larva and why volcanoes occur." so it all goes back to insects, eh?

Jen Ambrose

If you were on ProjRun, what would be your 'point of view'. What would your Bryant Park collection look like?


DUDE. I SO FEEL YOU on Heart of Darkness. I HATED that book. Gah. Conrad can suck it.


My own "actress/mommy/astronaut" phases were "rich housewife/ballerina/psychologist".

I also discovered that funny was the way to go. Forget words, though. It's all funny pictures up in my business. Yay animation!!

I loved reading your story about your love of writing.


I will read anything you write....


Should I get a boob job?


I was one of Those Students too.

And I too wrote one on Heart of Darkness without having read it. EWW.

We always said they should change our degrees in English from BAs to BSs because that's what we learned to do.


(hello, HEART OF DARKNESS, YOU ASSHOLE) Yes! Thank you for writing that. :)


OMG, I took that same class at Penn State and Loved it, too! I still have all the books we used, and many of my current favorite authors are people we read (David Sedaris, Molly Ivins) or people I discovered through those authors (Sarah Vowell). It was such a fantastic experience.

Oh, and I vividly remember that Reading Rainbow episode as well because it was the start of my life-long obsession with and desire to touch molten lava. So gooey and glowy... :)


Weird: I am working my way backwards through your archives and I just read the lint entry YESTERDAY.
Also: your writing makes me laugh. Thanks!


you funny ha


Frist, I think it's hilarious that the Reading Rainbow site talks about LeVar teaching children about "larva" not "lava," and second, I love that you used the word "twee"! More people should use that word.


I have a REALLY good and original topic for you...
[suspense building]
EZRA AND NOAH. Pictures. They always do the trick where words cannot.

I know, I'm a genius.


That episode of Reading Rainbow is the reason I have an irrational fear of volcanoes too! Not the already in existence ones, but I admit I sometimes look at my backyard with trepidation...should I let the dogs go out there? Hmm...


A novel? Really? Have you seen how long those suckers are? I'm already exhausted just thinking about it. I say go with a novella--sounds so much prettier, too.


Hmm, a comment that I tried to post last night from my blasted phone seems to have been lost in the ether, so I'll try it again.

Anyway, I took that same course at Penn State, and LOVED IT. I've always been a fan of humor writing (I was probably the only 5th grader reading Erma Bombeck and laughing my fool little ass off), but that course showed me so many different genres and themes within humor writing. A lot of my current favorite authors are either people I discovered by reading for that class (David Sedaris, Molly Ivins), or people I discovered through them (Sarah Vowell). It's also really deepened my appreciation for authors I already enjoyed (Bombeck, Mark Twain). Excellent course.

And I vividly remember that episode of Reading Rainbow, but for very different reasons. It began my life-long obsession with molten lava...I want to touch it! It's just so pretty and gooey and oozy and glowing!! If I'm ever given a superpower, I can't promise that I wouldn't choose "ability to touch molten lava without getting burnt."


Today, we moms are more likely to have a house full of sick kids battling the seasonal flu, I am sure topics of wellness are on your mind as they are for many people across the country. Research shows that many families face barriers to accessing quality heath care for themselves and their children. At Ronald McDonald House Charities, we’ve been working to bridge that gap for 35 years. We focus on helping families access the necessary health care their children need, and/or keeping families together during that time so their children can heal faster.


Honestly, the day that I realized that I could write with humor, and that it would still "count," was one of the best of my life because I had spent so much time lamenting that I couldn't write like Pat Conroy, et al.

I think finding--and being proud of--your authorial voice is the best gift you can give to yourself as a writer!


Could you please scan and display "Pink Bunny"? I have to see this.


...Ceiba? Please? I miss Ceiba...


I am having my first baby -- a boy -- in 3 months. I THINK I want to use cloth diapers... and then I think I am insane. I know you did it. Would you do it again? If so, would you point me to the diaper service you would use? (I live in NoVa so local referrals might actually work.)

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