Category Archives: Family

Black diamonds.


So, this happened:

engagement ring

After 8 years, we’re officially engaged. I COULD NOT BE HAPPIER. ❤

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The timing is bad…


…because I just came back from an AMAZING trip to Hawaii (more on that later). But, I read this today and it did nothing if not resonate with me completely.

“I know from my own upbringing how useless it is to compare [a] child’s circumstances to the far worse circumstances other people have, i.e., “At least you never go to bed hungry.” When you are feeling miserable about the state of your family, a pantry full of Ramen is a cold consolation.” -Michelle Tea

I really wish more people understood this.

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The Yellow Corn Road: Midwest Road Trip, 2011 – Part Three


Anyone who’s watched Parks & Recreation, which takes place in the fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana, should know that the show’s portrayal of Indiana folk (sans the main cast, who are obviously Hollywood…ies) is not all that much of an exaggeration. I’m not a huge fan of generalizations, but welcome to me being a jerk: if there are people living happily in Indiana who aren’t white, strictly Christian, at least fifty percent racist, obese, or wasted from drug use, alcoholics or some horrible combination of two or more of those things, I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting them. And if you are out there, healthy, open-minded people of various ethnic backgrounds…why are you out there?

There is a reason my parents moved to California the second they got married.

If you watch the episode of P&R titled “Harvest Festival,” that’s almost exactly what going to the Indiana State Fair is like. Except the ISF is HUMONGOUS and they left out the Fried Kool-Aid.

Yup.

I’ve been going to the ISF just about every single summer of my existence, but it didn’t become completely ludicrous to me until last year, when I witnessed a morbidly obese individual, dressed head-to-toe in f*cking orange, get told he couldn’t enjoy one of the rides because of his immense size; pissed as a hornet, he stomped off (if there had been a seismograph nearby, this shit would FOR SURE have registered) and bought himself deep-fried butter.

Yes.

This year I just vacillated between staring in horror and laughing myself into fits, but I expect that next year will bring tears and no one wants to see a grown woman cry, right? Well, maybe Chris Brown. Or Kanye. Or John Edwards. REGARDLESS.

Either way, I imagine I’ll still go to the Fair until I no longer have reason to be in Indiana at all, because [1] nostalgia is a sneaky motherf—–, and [2] as I grow older, outfits like this become exponentially more hilarious:

When he turns around, you can see his whisker implants.

…and you get to play the adult version of Where’s Waldo?, without even trying:

MOM! I FOUND HIM. Winnerrrr

I know these are real people, and that’s precisely what f*cks with me the most: this dude is out there somewhere, perhaps enjoying a good hide in a large crowd, and it is SUPER POSSIBLE that he has children. For all I know, he could consider that there cart a fine specimen of baby carriage. Either that or he was planning to haul a large amount of fried goods and cheese sculptures home.

There were things I enjoyed this year: taking my niece on her first carnival rides; watching my mom try to choke down fried kool-aid balls because she’s one of those ‘waste not’ folks and would’ve felt guilty trashing them; seeing the largest chickens and bunnies that probably exist anywhere in the world; snickering like a mean during the “homemade designers” fashion show. Oh, and this:

I was afraid to go inside. You never know.

I did NOT, however, enjoy this:

Are you people effing kidding me?

Nostalgic I am not for the racism of the midwest. Which is why I don’t mind ending this post here, with a big, fat “GET YOUR HEADS OUT OF YOUR ASSES, RACISTS.” Until you  do, I’ll continue to mock your stupid, dated outfits and morbid obesity. GOODNESS.

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Confessions, #30


I don’t have a huge readership, with the exception of friends who pop over here now and again. But those of you strangers who do hang out here once in a while: thanks. Also, I know most of you got here trying to find information about whale parts… wtf you guys? MAN it must’ve pissed you off when you realized that post actually had nothing whatsoever to do with whale weens. Heh.

Anyway, I’ve decided to get some of my dirty laundry (stained?) out there on the internet via this odd confessional thing that’s similar to people with their picture-a-day blogs or surveys. Just because I can and, because, why not? The internet is no place for skittish, private folk. So:

#30: Who do you hate?

A: Ah, that question. Here’s the thing– I’m not sure there’s anyone I really, truly hate. I think to hate someone you have to want them dead or mangled by a bear at the very least, and I’m a little more peaceful than that (only a very little). There are certainly a few people that have f*cked me over to the point where I wish them no goodwill, though. A guy who handled my heart like a replaceable toy; a racist, daft girl who gives the rest of us a bad name; an old friend who cared more about securing a dude than keeping my decades-long friendship; a couple other friends who’ve crossed unacceptable boundaries (you know what’s creepy? Finding out that a girl who knows you’re straight wants to bone you, and that’s the sole reason for their being your friend. Oh, or finding a totally DIFFERENT girl with the same intentions… having fun in your bed with your photo, while you’re two feet away in the bathroom). Several random people who got in my way, a parent that is not my mother. Hitler, but that’s really just a given. A hideous little person who talked shit to the wrong people at the wrong time. OH AND my neighbor across the hall. She’s rude and she’s nosy, AND she smokes in her apartment which means the entire hall and occasionally our entryway smells like death.

The thing is, I believe that to really hate someone, you have to care about them. With the exception of the one deceased person on my list, I don’t wish for terrible things to happen to these people (I’ve absolutely fantasized about it, but not in seriousness). In fact, I wish them well. I wish them growth and change. I don’t think they’ll ever accomplish it, but I’m a hopeful person. And, despite the simmering rage that surfaces when i think of them, I don’t care about them enough to get all screwed up about it anymore.

And if they HAPPEN to get bitten by a piranha…well, that’s none of my business (::ahem:: UNIVERSE).

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The Yellow Corn Road: Midwest Road Trip, 2011 – Part Deux


So. I better get to this ish before I happily destroy all of the horror forget my trip to the Midwest. I arrived early on Friday the 29th, so after our little religious burger experience and my subsequent discovery that I’d be sleeping out in the open-ass dining room, I immediately sought three things: phone service, a vegetable that wasn’t fried, and the internet.

OH, INTERNET, my dear love. Fresh veggies and phone service, my darlings! You have no idea what you mean to me. I had no idea what you really meant to me. Until this trip.

Hey you guys: you know what the Midwest has? Miles and miles of open sky. Unsurpassed space for network towers. Fields upon fields of fertile soil in which to plant many vegetables.

Do you know what it doesn’t have? THE F*%$ING INTERNET, working mobile service, or a variety of produce. Instead: my brain dying because I paid $20 for a 3G Mobile Hotspot on my Android to correct the internet issue, which proved completely effing useless because you have to have a functioning mobile network for it to act as an internet hub. And corn, only corn, just corn. All. Of. The corn.

Look, I know corn is in like, everything. Literally. Hair products, every food ever that is packaged, makeup, medication, fuel. But you guys. The land taken up by corn production in the middle of this country is god damn mind-boggling. There was a point on our drive (oh yes, DRIVE. Don’t worry, I’ll get there) back to California that I thought, shit, we died somewhere back there because of that procession of windblown, triple-car FedEx trucks and this endless strip of dead road and corn is actually not middle-America but hell in its truest form! MAN I hope my underwear was clean when they found my body.

Aherm.

Really, I was only in Indiana for seven days. A lot of that time was spent working (the internet being a loser was REALLY fun for the web conferences and email exchanges necessary to being an editor, but I could still read book chapters!), going to the “store” (a bar down the street) or going to the store (by myself, to purchase booze that I hid under the bed). You see, my extended fam frowns a bit on the whole drinking extravaganza, but there was no way I was going through that shit sober and they don’t sell booze on Sundays, so I had to stock up.

Anyone who went under my bed that week would’ve thought I was f*ckin’ Johnny Cash risen from the grave.

The first six of those days, in addition to drinking and working, included a lot of quality grandma time (awesome), quality mom-and-niece time (also awesome, I taught her to say ‘horsies’ and how to squat like a frog and say ribbit! ….my niece, not my mom), church (mmph) and random appearances by my many ridiculous cousins. I could easily talk about how effed their general attitudes are (racism? Come now, that’s just being NICE) but I won’t. For most of them, it’s a matter of sheer ignorance, and I can’t blame them entirely for that.

What I will share, with much shame, is that my IDIOT PIG COUSIN (mentioned in my previous post) who lives like a sad with his wife in my grandma’s house, has a KKK hood in the garage. There ya go, Junior. I’ve outed you, you stupid bigot. YOU AREN’T FOOLING ANYONE BY DRAPING IT OVER THE COMPUTER AND CALLING IT A SHEET. GOD.

It’s cool though. I took a Sharpie and wrote “d–khead” on the bottom, so hopefully he won’t notice until he’s wearing it and chanting with his brainless cohorts around a giant burning cross, or whatever the eff they do. Dumbshits.

In other news: the insects of the middle country are giant. I’ve said it before and will continue to flip out about it because ants traipsing around and being the size of my pinky nail are bullshit. As are spiders who fight back when you Raid them. Seriously, it happened three times and I’m pretty sure the third one was carrying a tiny dagger in one of its… hand-feet. NOT COOL, NATURE.

On our last day with the fam, we went to the grand ol’ Indiana State Fair. That’s next up, with pictures, so stay tuned.

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The Yellow Corn Road: Midwest Road Trip, 2011 – Part One


You guys, first off: Nebraska has got to be the flattest place I’ve ever seen. Flatter than a nine-year-old boy. Flatter than a cow pie run down by a tractor. Flatter than a piece of the paper that they don’t recycle in the Midwest (::dies::). And frankly, its only redeeming quality is the beautifully-colored, terrifying thunderstorms, and even that can’t make up for the creepy little town of Henderson (DO NOT GO THERE) or the lady at the hotel pool who tried to straight insert herself into my family. (More on that bullshit later).

Anyway.

As I do every summer, I visited my Grandmother and extended fam in Indiana two weeks ago. What that means to most people? “Aw, you got to visit your family! YAYZ!”

What it really means: I did get to visit my family. Half of them think I’m going to burn in hell because I don’t belong to their specific church/ live in San Francisco/ live with my boyfriend/ have tattoos. Makes no difference, I guess, that I’m super nice, successful and have never done hard drugs or killed anyone, but hey, THOSE ROSE TATTOOS ARE F*CKING SUSPICIOUS, YOU KNOW. I went to a very tiny church, in the middle of two giant fields of corn, three times in as many days. I learned that my family, as a whole, is– let’s be tactful– more ridiculous (efffeeeed uuuuuuup) than I thought they were already. The cousins who are supposed to be living with my grandma (who is 92 and kickin’, btw) to “help her” are disgusting piglets. If they know how to read (which I doubt) and find this for some reason (which would be a surprise, considering their sweet AOL service, DSL connection, and an Apple desktop comp that I think I played Oregon Trail on once…in the garage), I’M TALKING TO YOU. YOU ARE GROSS, SELFISH, AND SHOULD BE ARRESTED SIMPLY FOR YOUR INEPTITUDE. You make my sweet, wonderful, old-ass g-ma live in filthy conditions and you pay nothing for it, you sad, sad middle-aged fools. I can’t WAIT to see you get kicked out, which is so happening, because my mom is moving back to Indiana to take care of her mother so HA.

Ahem.

Starting from the beginning: I took a red-eye that lifted off at 12:30AM. I was not assigned a seat number on the first flight and got stuck in the emergency row (which has no trays) between two large men (of course I got the middle seat), one of which smelled like he had been sweating for three weeks and attempted to dry himself with a damp towel. Then, a three hour layover in Texas. Next flight, I do get a window seat (THANK GOD) but, it comes with a chatty, chatty neighbor who is ridiculously excited to see the car races (his reason for traveling to Indiana) and doesn’t take the hint even when I put on headphones and bust out my Kindle.

Bro. I am from California and we think people like you are insane, like when cats get all dumbfounded by moving lights. Snobby of us, yes. But true. So shhhh.

Eventually I land in Indiana. It is so. Many. Degrees and so humid and my mom screams at a security guard with me on the phone while I’m trying to find where they’ve parked. I have deafness in my left ear. I get in the car, am questioned about my state of hunger, which is large, so I say hey, can we find a place with like, burgers and salads? Somewhere we can all sit down and…

Naturally, a light bulb goes off in my aunt’s head and she drives to Wendy’s. Naturally.

In my extended fam, public prayer occurs before every meal. And I mean EVERY. I have no issue with thanking God or the Universe or what have you for providing you with food. I do it all the time– just… in my head. NOT OUT LOUD OVER A SPICY CHICKEN COMBO AT WENDY’S.

I spend the next twenty minutes in the back seat of an over-heated vehicle that smells like fried, and when we finally get to my grandma’s, discover that instead of my b**** cousin-in-law giving up her “dressing room,” they’ve moved the guest bed into the dining room. And that is where I set up camp.

More to come.

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Tomorrow night…


…I will be leaving on a red-eye flight to Indiana to visit my extended family. Then, after five days, will be taking another five days to DRIVE HOME TO CALIFORNIA, with my mother and 2-year-old niece, in a car with no air conditioning and no tape adapter.

1. The current heat index in Indiana is fluctuating between 91 and 113 degrees. lefjal;dfjk;sdfjaoifje

2. No tape adapter = CDs only. Oh, god.

3. My niece. Is two. TWO.

Think happy thoughts for me. Please?

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[Defined.]


Friend [frend]:

–noun–

1. Someone who allows you to be a complete idiot. 2. Someone who will not turn their back on you for being an idiot. 3. Someone who tells you when you’re being a total idiot. 4. When you’ve realized what a monumental idiot you were being and are suffering the consequences, someone who offers you a clean slate, a stiff drink, and a ride home.

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Ashes, ashes.


I suck at posting these days, and for that I apologize. BUT…I have (somewhat) good excuses. One of them is this: I’ve decided that, rather than spending the rest of my life copping out of kitchen activities because I think I suck at cooking, I will try to cook often and simply get better at it. Last night I made veggie/ tofu curry from scratch, and it was actually pretty bomb. Yay for me.

Secondly, I have been pretty caught up at work, so much so that I’ve been taking editing work home with me. Couple that with the fact that I just started tutoring on the regular but have yet to un-barista myself, and I’m basically energizer-bunny status. All day. ALL DAY LONG.

One thing that has gone down in the last few weeks has completely changed my life, and will forever alter my perspective: this precious little monster (the one in pink, of course):

Meet my beautiful niece, Phoenix. And my stupid (heh) big brother, Bogey. I seriously have brain explosions when I think about him being a DAD, but even I have to admit– he looks like he knows what he’s doing here. *heart…bursting…GEH*

I was there for the birth. Actually, I filmed it. It was terrifying, gross, sometimes boring, sometimes hilarious (my sis-in-law Laura? Stopped mid-scream during labor to ponder about Chinese food for dinner). But above all, it was absolutely incredible. There was a bit, after she…emerged… where I felt my heart literally stop. She came out blue, cord ’round the neck, limp and not making a sound. And although it was probably only seconds before the doctor got her clear, it felt like we waited centuries, breathless and petrified and praying.

And then she screamed.

It was awesome. And I collapsed.

Now she’s just a little grump fighter, which proves beyond a shadow that she’s part of our stubborn, sharp-tongued family. For anyone who knows my background, my family’s background– you also know that there could not have been a more appropriate name for this little potato than Phoenix. Rising from the ashes, indeed.

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Dear Phoenix–

I haven’t gotten to hold you yet, and you’re already two weeks old. Actually, I’ve barely gotten to see you, save for those few minutes when you MADE MY HEART DROP INTO MY ASS because you came out of Laura looking all muerte. Brat. When they rushed you to the NICU to make sure your lungs were okay, I wasn’t allowed to come. So instead, I sneaked out into the hospital garden and up to an outside window. And I watched you, all pink and fussy and new, making horrible grumpy old man sounds at the doctors because they kept touching you. I laughed and cried, and was proud.

I counted your perfect fingers and tiny toes, and was fascinated by how incredibly shiny your little nails were. They caught the light like pearls. I felt sorry for your big ears– all of the Petty girls have them, but at least yours don’t stick out– and thought of how lucky you were to get your mama’s perfect mouth. It was hard to get a really good look at you– the doctors were always in the way– but it was easy to see my brother. Your daddy. (After all, he’s like 3215213 feet tall and has the constant presence of an angry lion.) I can tell you that I have never, ever seen him look so totally and completely in love as he did while he stood back and watched you. And some day, when you’re older, I’ll explain to you just how truly incredible that really is.

Eventually I grabbed Grandma Connie and brought her to peer through the window, too. You’re her first grandchild. Her eyes sparkled something wonderful when she saw your tiny self, and she couldn’t say much. Neither could I, because you were too unbelievable.

And then, the most amazing thing happened. I was perched behind a spiky bush, and there was a branch behaving inappropriately, and grandma had walked back inside to escape the cold. You’d been wiggling around aimlessly in your plastic crib while the doctors poked and prodded and my brother stood sentry, when you turned your face towards where I was hiding. Your face was squishy and blotchy and perfect, and just as I was about to look away, you opened your eyes. And you peered directly into mine. And I couldn’t breathe.

One day I’m sure my brother will be a total ass to you, just like he was to me. Don’t take it personally– he’s always an overprotective shit to the people he loves the most, and you, my dear, are his most precious possession. And I’m sure that there will be something sacred to you, something embarrassing or terrible that you need to confess but won’t be able to say to Laura, no matter how awesome she is, because she’s your mom and sometimes you just can’t bring yourself to sully their good image of  you. One day, I’m sure it will be me that you come running to, for solace, for protection, for advice, for help, for condoms. I can’t promise you that I’ll ever know the perfect answer, the right solution, or that you will like what I have to say. But I can promise you that I will always, always be there for you, for whatever, whenever, however you need me. I can promise that there is nothing you could do that would ever make me love you less than completely. I can promise that I will always do my best to understand, or help you understand, and that I will never buy you an ugly sweater for Christmas, or make you eat Brussels sprouts, or tell you anything less than the truth (depending on how old you are, of course). I can promise that you will always be my niece, and only mine, and that you have no idea how effing awesome that makes me feel.

Little lady? You’re in for one hell of a ride. You better learn to talk as fast as you can, because there is so, so much I have to tell you.

xo,

Auntie Arwen

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