Who says what?

Novelist, mother, minister, and yoga teacher muses on books, babies, motherhood, and what matters with reverent humor.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Cliche is Born

Though I may pride myself on being a totally unique individual (yes, like the rest of us), I have in recent days discovered I am not alone.

Apparently, there are 5.3 million stay-at-home mothers.

But more than that, these mothers (working in or out of the home is irrelevant here), told me, upon the birth of my first child, that I should enjoy "every minute" because it would "pass too quickly." Frankly, when you're not sleeping more than two hours at a stretch, NOTHING, and I do mean NOTHING, can pass quickly enough. Their trite advice made me want to vomit all over the baby. (Tit-for-tat, I should say.)

You know what? My little dumpling, the little fat, bald-headed baby I gave birth to almost three years ago is preparing for preschool, and it has dawned upon me (and no, I haven't enjoyed it), that things are "passing too quickly." Lord, help me as I join the masses.

When he was an infant, I had a book of meditations for new mothers. The book went page by page corresponding to the age of the baby. What did I do? I read ahead in some sort of desperate attempt to make him grow older because honestly, while I love my children, and I adore babies in a rather "girlie" way (yes, I squeal when I see them, I always want to hold them, and I want more of them), the adjustment to life with kicked my unique backside.

But, as someone famous once said, everything has been said already. With that said, I want to say what everyone else has already said a hundred million times before. Enough said. Did I say it?

Thursday, April 23, 2009


In some sort of desperate yearning for comic material (for this blog, of course, because my stand-up career doesn't exist), I began contemplating exploiting my family's weak points. You know, I could write about farts. (Which we politely call toots.) Or stringy snot. (As opposed to loose.) Boogers and poop are always excellent and reliable material, but they're not very original, are they?

Let's see. What else? Marital problems are generally good for a laugh. (But I don't have any. Too bad.) The female body is outrageously hilarious. (Insert naked picture of self here.) Then there's always dinner time, which in my house is VERY funny indeed because it inspires a great deal of unnecessary STRESS as Mama attempts to feed people something that isn't chocolate. Cause, hey, when I'm tired, that's what I eat.

Which brings me to exhaustion. Literally. But that is not at all a funny topic. In fact, it's quite dire. Maybe this will be the next great pharmaceutical jackpot: meds to mask your sleepiness. I can see the commercial now: pan in on lethargic woman with slimy hair, sans make-up (can you imagine!), ignoring her progeny while sucking down coffee through a straw. Then a voice: "Has life worn you out? Do you find you're sleeping less and less at night and trying to do more and more during the day? Well then you might benefit from ARISE, designed to help you feel your best." Scene change to a woman skipping, three children in her arms. She juggles them effortlessly and giggles delightedly and has on make-up and runs in high-heels. Voice over: "Side effects may include severe dehydration, nervous tension, fear of sleep, fear of bologna, gastric temperament disorder, change in pubic hair texture, loneliness, suicide, addiction, divorce, and in some very rare cases, a strange desire to rule the world."

Oh, mamas everywhere, take pride in your exhaustion! It's not like you were up all night watching bad TV! It's a badge of honor. It means you're doing a REALLY good job. Or, perhaps, trying really hard but still doing a bad one.

Just kidding. I know that can't be true. Because where motherhood is concerned, trying is everything. You just CAN'T rule the world. Alas. On the bright side, it means you are allowed to sleep. The world, apparently, will have to run itself.

Monday, April 20, 2009

I'm on Tour!

I'm tremendously excited about my BOOK TOUR. Can you believe it? (I can't.) Will you come? (I will.) Will you spread the word? (Pretty please?) Can you imagine anything worse than doing a book talk and signing to an audience of one? (Of course you can. But still, it's pretty bad.) Or maybe three would be worse. Anyway, spread the word! I promise to be as entertaining as humanly possible. And hey, the talk is free and the book is only $11. You can afford it even in this economy!

AND if you have a great bookstore nearby and a bunch of mommy friends, I'd love to come tour in your town.

You'll notice some of the talks are with Nancy Thayer. That's my mother! Her nineteenth novel will be published on the same day as my first. Now, that's a good story....

Samantha's Big (well, sort of), Beautiful, Book Tour
Please click on the bookstore to find directions.

South Hadley, MA
Odyssey Bookshop—Reading/Signing, 7:00 pm—06/25/09

Fairfield, CT
Borders—Reading/Signing with Nancy Thayer, 3:00 pm—06/27/09

Williamstown, MA
Williamstown Library event at Williams Inn—Reading/signing with Nancy Thayer, 2:00 p.m.—06/28/09

Burlington, VT
Borders—Reading/Signing, 7:00 pm—07/09/09

Concord, MA
Concord Bookshop—Reading/Signing, 3:00 pm—07/26/09

Friday, April 17, 2009

Anotha Cool Writing Motha

The downside of blogging? I'm not into virtual relationships. Go ahead, call me old fashioned. On the upside, I have met "otha mothas" AND other mothers who write. Like this cool lady: April Henry. She's writing acclaimed page turning thrillers for youth and adults (Torched her new young adult novel is just out, as well as Face of Betrayal for big people, pick 'em up), and has essentially written a book a year since she began her writing career. (Go, girl, go.)

But how can you write really scary stuff when you have a kid? That's what I want to know. I can't even watch COMMERCIALS for scary shows on TV without getting sick at my stomach. And that great movie everyone loved, Slumdog? I almost had to leave the theater. I mean I can't take ORPHANS! I told my husband that movie was going to cost him a lot more than $17--like a trip to India and a few extra kids.

Well, April said that in one of her books she gave a kid leukemia. It was a big plot point. And I still believe that because of that I saved my child from ever getting leukemia. Because it would be just too big a twist of fate.

I love that logic. I'm always imagining awful things just to ensure they won't happen! Because if they did--I would be a prophet. And I'm not. Obviously.

Well, whatever April's doing killing off her characters, she's doing it right. In PW (that's cool writer speak for Publisher's Weekly), her work has been called "off-beat and vital" (I'm hoping PW even looks at my stuff).

Of course, we could attribute her great success to the fact that her daughter is out of diapers. (She's 13). April says, I used to say (and believe) that children took equal amounts of work, just different kinds of work. But my life has been progressively easier each year since she turned three. Of course, I also lucked out and got a kid who likes to play banjo, pogo stick, and read.

April's daughter even listens and comments on her novels. So cool. Adeline just tries to eat mine. But then her writing has been called "fast-paced and harrowing" (Bookpage). Interstingly enough, that's how I describe my days at home with the kids.

Give her a virutal visit on her excellent blog. Tell her anotha motha sent you.

Monday, April 13, 2009

What's a Smart Girl Like You Doing Writing a Book Like This?

I hope you're sitting down. I'm going to get really honest. But first, a true story.

Back when I was dating, a man once said to me, "You went to Smith College and Yale and you're a yoga teacher?" Like what's the point lady? Why spend all that time and money just to do something any old Jane could do? Haven't you been bred for something better?

And then, many years later, I wrote a book. A funny, honest book that can rightly be called (as my agent lovingly refers to such books), "literary lite," and what the press calls "yummy mummy" lit. So why did I go to Smith and Yale just to write a silly book? Shouldn't I be saving people's lives in some poor country or at the very least using my education to write something brilliant in order to win the Pulitzer Prize?

I'll tell you why. When I first became a mother, the books that saved my sanity were funny. My dear friend Elizabeth read the book and said, "This is a ministry to mothers." And that's what I want. A ministry of laughter to mothers. I used to think I'd write some great, deep, earth-shattering book. Instead, I wrote the book I wanted to read.

Isn't that what all the feminist fore-mothers really fought for? CHOICE? That we might carve out our lives with integrity, no matter how they look from the outside? I don't want to keep up with the Pulitzers. Or the Joneses. I have a hard enough time keeping up with my toddler.

And you know what else? I don't want him to grow up and outdistance my educational accomplishments or surpass my Adjusted Gross Income. I want him to grow up and outdistance my joy, surpass my level of happiness. And I wouldn't mind if he praised me either: "My mother is a very funny person." That's a hell of a lot better than being a very "famous" person, now isn't it? I mean, funny people are, well, funny. I hereby create a new category of literature: Funny Mummy lit. Now, please, I've coined it--give me the prize!

Friday, April 10, 2009

You Aren't Zen At All

I had the new curtains on my lap which I'd picked up at Target because Linens n' Things (oooh, things, aren't things so lovely, don't you just want more of those things hanging around with all the other things that get to live in your house?), kicked the consumer bucket. Target, being Target, only had two curtains in stock which ended up being fine as I bought the 84 inch variety and then sewed the bottom to the back to make it extra thick and while I was busy with my stitching, I called the mechanic and put him on speaker phone to make an appointment for my car because the emergency-pull-over-right-now-or-die brake light goes off when I hit the brakes, but only sometimes, and I've been meaning to fix it for a year now. And while they couldn't see me on Saturday they could see me on another Saturday but he couldn't quite make out the time I wanted due to the explosion of screaming in the background, which was just the toddler picking up the baby and putting her into the potty.

Speaking of pottys. While I was cleaning out a poopy cloth diaper--because I have decided to clean them out immediately now instead of leaving them until I have time since the last time I left one until I had time it sat for three days and a spider took up residence inside it--I put the baby on the bathroom floor to play with a toy. Before I knew it, she had made her way to standing using the toilet. Fine, I could clean her hands later because I certainly couldn't pick her up with my own hands covered in baby poop and while I tried to dissuade her with my voice she put her chubby little fist into the toilet water so I had to grab her up with one hand and finish rinsing the diaper with the other. Then I washed both of our hands which was when she decided to put her hand in her mouth. Well, she got a mouthful of soap, but that's what you get for not listening to your mother. She's lucky she didn't get a taste of toilet water (Yum-yum, mama's all-natural, organic, toilet water soup!).

And to think I spent a lot of time and energy learning how to--in true yogic fashion--do one thing at a time. If I didn't multi-task, we would all eat soap and shit for dinner! Take that you Zen masters!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Hey, Lady, what's your name?

This blog is all about profound things. Deep. Insightful. Of world significance. Clearly.

That said, I want to write about the name I am most often called. MAMA.

I am a Mama. I am not a Mommy. I am not a Mom. Mommy sounds so whiny, so helpless, so done with itself. Whereas Mama, Mama has chutzpah, sass, power. Mommy is wearing flat-soled orthopedics. Mama could be wearing black knee-high boots, gardening clogs (actually used while gardening), or better yet, she's barefoot. And pregnant. Mommy is quiet and occasionally listless; she can't figure out if she's in charge or her toddler. While Mama has been known to yell (only when justified, of course), and likes the following cheer: "Who's the boss?" "MA-MA," (children reply.) "Who's in charge?" "MA-MA!" "Who knows best?" "MA-MA?" "Who's a babe?" "MA-MA!" (And so on. You could probably think of your own variations.) Basically, to boil it down to it's maple syrup essence: mama is sex, mommy is sexless.

And Mom? What can be said of that one? It's so dull. It is the word a teenage girl gives to the woman who makes her come home and do her homework. We do not want to be that lady, do we?

Ma is too home on the prairie. The person saying it has a tired mouth--they can't even bother to get two syllables out. Either that, or she's from a 1970s sitcom and wears a de rigueur house dress.

So what's your name? Take my poll on the sidebar and tell me. Forward it to your friends and have them take it too, because the six people who read this thing aren't going to make any decent majorities. No pressure, naturally, but you should do it while you're thinking about it. Because you'll never think of it again. Despite the pressing, global nature of the issue.

Friday, April 3, 2009

And we said DDD all the way home...

This blog entry is about boobs. If you can't handle it, you shouldn't be on the internet, home to many, many, and many more boobs. But more than boobs, this is about bras. It is about the bras that could fit me properly, if only I had them.

See, first the baby comes. Then your breasts blow up like their pregnant. They get hard and pornographically huge. Then, after you make some money selling photos of them (say for the first nine months), they shrink. And not back to their former shape. They shrink into a new formation, with a gracious nod of acceptance towards the powers of gravity.

Then, you have another baby. You think you're a D or maybe a DD and once you were a 36, but now it seems like your rib cage has enlarged (presumably to allow you to scream LOUDER at your toddler; isn't nature amazing?) to something like a 40, and no bra you have ever acquired comes close to doing anything useful with those puppies.

So what am I supposed to do? They keep changing! Every nursing bra I have is ripped. (You know, the baby clawing at me for more....) The underwire is beginning to escape from certain other bras. (Oh, yeah, that feels good in my sternum.) And, in yet others, the little metal clasps have gone creative on me, taking on new, impossible to clasp, directions.

My husband is convinced I am a hippie. But it can't be so. If I were a hippy, I wouldn't care about a bra. But I do. I want a bra. I really want a bra for my two little piggies. And I want it to fit. And lift. And NOT break. And Last. Gee, now that I think of it, I feel the same way about most of the people in my life, including my husband.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Happy April First

When I woke up this morning, my husband turned towards me and offered to rub my shoulders. He proceeded to give me an hour long massage focusing on my worst spots. The children slept peacefully until eight o'clock.

I got a phone call early in the day from my agent. It turns out that my book, despite the fact that it hasn't even been published yet, has hit the bestseller list in every country that reads books.

Later, I received a number of emails from once un-requited loves of mine stating how wrong (wrong, wrong, wrong!) they were not to love me when they had the chance.

At lunch I noticed that my nose, which I often worry is too large, has shrunk to half it's size.

In the afternoon, my babysitter refused to accept payment. "Taking care of your children is reward enough," she said, smiling and waving as she left. "I'll watch them any time, for any length of time."

My husband arrived with take-out for dinner. He rubbed my feet while I ate. The children didn't feel at all like crying. And the baby put herself to bed. Then, my toddler read me a book while I lay under my warm quilt. He brushed the hair away from my forehead and kissed me sweetly. He apologized for throwing temper tantrums and told me I am the best mother on the planet.

I slept for nine hours. And I woke up to chocolate cake my husband baked me for breakfast.