What is a “burner”? Well, since I’ve started living with one, I’ve had a decent amount of exposure to the community of people who not only attend Burning Man but have invested themselves in attending regional events all year round. At these events, people congregate for a number of days, and eventually they burn an effigy, and sometimes more than one. During the days between setup and the actual burn, any number of things can and do happen. If I had to summarize it in a sentence, I’d say it’s free-for-all Disney for adults. Imagination runs wild, and so do the people. Here’s my take on it all.

I’ve wanted to go to Burning Man for years; for me, the appeal of 70,000 people putting together a temporary city is nothing short of astounding. What’s more, some of the most impressive and creative sculptures in the world are there. Some of them are burned down by the end of the week! For a theatre geek like myself, the allure of seeing such creativity exploding at the seams is irresistible, and I hope dearly to go one day soon. Still, it’s always seemed like such a remote and esoteric experience, I had no idea until the last couple of years that Burning Man existed outside the once a year event in the Nevada desert.  Nor did I realize that it’s a community that people identify with and define themselves by, though if you think about it perhaps it shouldn’t be a huge surprise.

Burning Man appeals greatly to Gen X-ers and Millennials for the same reason we still want to watch transformers and mutant turtles. We who are constantly accused (maybe rightly so) of never growing up, not only have we turned Halloween into an adult holiday, but we find almost any excuse to dress in silly costumes and get snookered. We can’t even exercise without silly makeup. I’m so accustomed to seeing runners on the way to their latest drag-themed 5K, zombie 10K, or glow-in-the-dark bocce tournament that I hardly even turn my head at the constant stream of crazy costumes mucking about the city streets all year long. Well, here’s another example of us trying to bask in everlasting youth. Always wanted to be a fairy princess in a castle? Sure, why not? Buy some glitter and fairy wings, dye your hair, and build a castle. Then do a lot of drugs and burn it down. Burning Man is in many ways the ultimate example of our generation’s slow saunter into adulthood. It’s no wonder Black Rock City has grown so quickly in the last few years. Rumors has it if they can get the proper permits it will grow to 100,000 within the next five years. Tickets sell out so quickly that you’ve got to be in the know to get one. Continue reading

In Which I Direct You Elsewhere


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I haven’t had a chance to write here for the past couple of weeks, partly because I’m trying to do NaNoWriMo – or a version of it, anyway – and partly because on a whim I went to a presentation on executive functioning skills yesterday that took up most of my night, which is often my only available blogging time.

In lieu of a new post here, I am proud to say that I have a personal essay up on The Toast this week called “Hope Is Not a Strategy: On Violence, Redirected.” It is probably the most personal thing I’ve written to date, and I hope you read it if you have a chance. Then you should read everything else on The Toast because they are awesome.

And hopefully I will be back to posting here next week, unless I’m still trying to decipher how Hilary Mantel can write so very perfectly that maybe the rest of us should just give up, at least on NaNoWriMo if not altogether.


In Defense of the Thousands of Little Elsas Descending Upon our Cities Tonight


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It is the word you knew was coming. The dreaded one-word answer to “What do you want to be for Halloween?” Gone were the days where you could stick your baby in a Hot Dog sack as a nod to Portillo’s. Or glue a mustache to their binky in homage to the great Ditka.

unnamedNo. Now they have opinions of their own. They don’t like your hilarious ideas or genius play-on-words costumes. This year, they want to be what THEY want to be.
And they want to be Elsa. Continue reading

An Ode to My Favorite Kids’ Show


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My kids are obsessed with the TV show Peppa Pig. In case you are not familiar with it, which is likely unless you also have small children, it’s a British series about a family of pigs and the other animal families they are friends with, and it centers around 4-year-old Peppa and her little brother, George. It’s actually pretty adorable and not super annoying, even when you, the grown-up, end up watching a whole bunch of episodes in a row. It features nice little moments like a bull who loves his china tea set breaking it and having to take it to a china shop to get repaired, where the rabbit who owns the shop gets to yelp, “Oh, it’s a bull in a china shop!” See? Hilariously cute, and the kids don’t get it! That joke was just for you!

Anyway, my favorite thing about Peppa – other than the fact that the animations are simplistic almost on the level of stick figures, like a talented kid drew them – is the fact that, almost once an episode, everyone in the final scene starts laughing together at something that has transpired, and they always laugh so hard that they fall over. The episode typically ends with them laughing as they lay on the ground in a big group, so tickled by whatever the situation may be that they just can’t stay upright.

I love this. I love it because it somehow feels like it encapsulates the best parts of childhood, the wonder and the hilarity that can be found in so many odd places and that tend to evaporate the older we get, the more we are bogged down by the many details of orchestrating a life. Continue reading

Things Taken, Things Given



Up until recently I’ve been relatively lucky in the arena of theft. As a long-time resident of a crime-filled city, I’ve had very few things stolen, but all of those instances have been within the last six months. I’ve had three sets of bike lights lifted, my car broken into twice, my bike stolen, my checking account drained, and my entire security deposit commandeered by my crappy ex-landlord. Ugh. And yet, I’ve experienced a tremendous amount of generosity in return that far exceeds what I’ve lost. I’ve gotten everything back somehow, and then some.

I’ve been trying to figure out the patterns. In some instances, what I get has been as a direct result of the things taken. When my bike was stolen, a guy I was dating custom built one to replace it. When my account was drained, friends came to the rescue, sweeping me away to dinner parties, fun evenings out, and even the beach. My bank replaced all of my money pretty quickly anyway. Partly I think I’m getting more because I’m better at asking for help than I used to be, but also fate seems to have steered me at the right time into a small minority of DC residents who are very generous, giving, and kind-hearted.

One of my friends said recently that mediocre people don’t exists in DC. People here are either incredibly wonderful, or really awful. I’m of a mind to agree. Continue reading

Domestic Erotica

CandlesHey baby.

No, not the baby. I was talking to you. Yes, you! Put the baby down. Let’s- no, she’s crying but she’s fine, she just… here, just here, let me take her. Oh god, she needs a diaper change. Oh god that stinks.

Where were we? Oh yeah. Hey. You look good. Have you been working out? Ha, I know. I was kidding. But seriously. Is that a rabbit in your pocket or are you happy to see me? WINK, WINK. Oh… it IS a rabbit. Kiddo was looking for that everywhere yesterday. Ew, what is all over it? Gross, it’s like gum or something. And hair. Hold on, I’m going to go throw this in the hamper. I don’t know if it’s salvageable at this point.

Kiss me. Wait – let me take these Crest White Strips out. They do? Yeah, I didn’t know if it’d work or not, but you think so? Oh good, they were expensive! Continue reading

The Back-to-School Blues


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So, I had a conversation with my five-year-old about child labor laws on the drive to school last week. We discussed them again briefly at breakfast this morning.

He already complains about going to school. It isn’t a consistent complaint, and he loves it once he arrives, but he hates having to get dressed and get out the door on a schedule. On one hand, I understand, and that’s why I work from home. On the other hand, I did attend school and then report to a 9-to-5 job for many years before I had the privilege of sitting around all morning in my pjs, drinking coffee and repeatedly calling the Public Works department about that nice big gap they’ve left between the curb they recently installed in front of my house and the street.

Anyway, last week – the FIRST WEEK OF THE SCHOOL YEAR – he was complaining, and I had just had enough. I couldn’t face it anymore, or the thought of having to deal with it every day for, literally, months. But yelling, cajoling, reasoning, all of these things have not worked. So I decided to try reality, or possibly fear, and I started talking about how much better school was than working in a factory or on a farm all day. He wanted details: what kinds of work does one do on a farm or in a factory? How early does one have to get up? And then when he started asking what could be bad about working in a factory, I thought, maybe this conversation isn’t quite appropriate, and I reined it in. Of course, I didn’t have much more to say anyway because I don’t actually know all that much about child labor laws. I know just enough, it turns out, to get my kid to stop whining about going to school. Continue reading

A Brief Bunny Eulogy


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Extreme Fergie close-up!

Extreme Fergie close-up!

This is a good-bye to my lovely furry friend Fergie, who came into our lives almost exactly seven years ago and who left us this past Saturday night. She has made several brief appearances on this blog and was well-known to those who loved her for her excellent disapproving rabbit face, her penchant for bumping you with her nose when she wanted whatever you were eating (this happened a lot), and her joyous hops in which she liked to change direction in mid-air. Also, she used to lick Scotch off my husband’s nose whenever he drank it, and she once ate the eyes out of a jack-o-lantern we left on our kitchen table because we forgot to push all the chairs in to block her ascent.

Fergie steals an apple.

Fergie would steal an apple right out of your hand.

She was an awesome rabbit who behaved like some sort of cat-dog, giving us the best of both worlds and the annoyances of neither because rabbits are quite clean little animals who don’t make any noise. When I was pregnant, I would fall asleep on the couch almost nightly and awake to her sitting by my head, just in case I needed her. Every night when my boys went to bed, she would hop into their bedroom and give it the once-over, just in case they needed her. Then, typically, she would settle down somewhere on the living room rug to hang out while we read or watched TV. Also, she liked to stand under my feet while I cooked, hoping I would drop something down to her, which I did whenever I had something that was safe for her to eat. I think she ate her body weight in Cheerios, too, by the time my older son was two. Continue reading

If you are really an ally…


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I recently saw this blog post and I wanted to share it with you all.  This is exactly how my wife and I feel ALL of the time.  People, mostly good people with good intentions, feel that they have the right to ask personal questions about our daughter’s conception. Most of the time we are nice about it and don’t say what we want to say or what we actually are feeling. Such as:

It’s none of your F*&&*** business, or maybe, what position did you and your husband have sex in when you got pregnant with your kid?

I don’t think that most straight people would appreciate us asking them that kind of question. So, what makes a person think it’s OK to ask us intrusive and inappropriate questions?

We go through this more often than most would think and are dreading the day that someone says something like this in front of our daughter when she is old enough to understand. I honestly can’t tell you how I will deal with that.  It isn’t my nature to be rude to someone or throw a punch, but inside that is exactly the way I feel.

Inside I scream, but outside I smile politely and bite my tongue.

I don’t want to come across in a negative way because at times, we represent all LGBTQ families. For some, we might be the only family like us that they know. This is a difficult burden to bear because it is hard to balance my feelings regarding standing up for my family and making sure that people are being respectful, and being an advocate for the LGBTQ community. In each moment we have to think about if we will take this moment to educate or if we will take this moment to put someone in their place.

I guess my question is: If you are really an ally, why aren’t you acting like it?


Not Part of the Plan

life-is-what-happens-to-you-while-you-re-busy-making-other-plans-1-777x350June was a big month for me. We moved into a new home, we blended families. Sitting firmly in mid July now, I can say that things are going really well. We’ve settled into a dance of driving everyone to where they need to be and picking up and dropping off and dinners and baths and bedtimes for a family of five.

Five, not six.

It’s taken me a bit of time to process this turn of events, hence my writing absence.

Moving weekend finally arrived. The plan was for Norm and I to drive the four hours to pick up Callie and bring her up to Chicagoland to join us in this new start. The next day, the movers would come to Norm’s house to pack him up as I packed up my moving truck, and we’d all meet at the new house. That was the plan, anyway.

Saturday morning, Norm and I hopped in my car and started the roadtrip. I was giddy. On the way, we talked about how excited we were. The things we’d do this summer. We laughed, remembering how I lied to my parents about going out to dinner with friends instead of actually going out with Norm those first few dates, and how far we’d come.

“My boobs hurt,” I complained.

“Maybe you’re pregnant,” said Norm.

Continue reading