Those four years, I wrote compulsively, afraid I’d one day forget the details of days that were starting to melt and months that were starting to blend. At 18 I started marking time by reference to days out drinking and categorizing eras according to romantic interests of the moment. In between the bleeding, blurry, evenings, I documented the color of the leaves in my morning tea, described the exact shade of gold flecks found in his eyes only in a certain light, and recorded the pattern of sunlight creeping in through the pergola on the cafe patio. I was wearing a plaid skirt and fishnet shirt that day, and carefully noted clouds in my coffee on lunch break. This was the summer I worked in a teeny bopper retail store; on this particular day, my friends had gone skydiving.

I did not know that when I was 33 I’d read the deliberate loops and lines and still could not remember anyway; familiar though the handwriting may be, it was as if it was written by a stranger. This stranger was a bit neurotic and disjointed, vaguely touched by hackneyed angst. The whiskey-laden scrawls on some of the pages were less grand than Jack Daniels would have you believe, but rather, vacillated between nonsense and maudlin nostalgia. The stranger woke up at 9:00 in the morning on a Saturday one weekend (early for her), to a phone call from an old man from the coffee shop who wanted to talk about nothing in particular. She thought he had meant to call her friend, but she ended up talking to him anyway, after taking a seat on the kitchen counter of the sorority house, apple in hand.

The next time I saw the old man, he told me the tragic tale of his wife inexplicably leaving him, fleeing to Japan, and absconding with their child, when in reality he had been convicted of possession of child porn.

I eventually went skydiving, and it felt like flying, but I didn’t write about it.


Not Again…

On Christmas day of all days, I started to feel another bout of mastitis coming on (#4!) I was so unbelievably fucking fed up by this time, and did not need to think twice about immediately instituting the preventative measures. As I watched my temperature climb on the thermometer, I took ibuprofen then got super aggressive with hot baths two-three times a day, I doubled my lecithin dose, doubled my probiotic dose, pumped twice a night, iced after feedings, used cabbage leaves, etc. I called my doctor’s office, and they prescribed antibiotics for me to pick up just in case things worsened and I needed the meds after business hours.

Despite my initial doubts, I also boiled and drank the Chinese herbs my mother mailed me (desperate times call for desperate measures). The herb concoction is a combination of peach pit, dandelion leaves, peony leaves, red jujubes (Chinese red dates) and some other plants, the names of which I do not know in English. I Googled these things, and was faced with a slew of non-information and/or warnings indicating these plants had not been proven safe for breastfeeding. Oh yeah? We’ll I’m pretty sure oregano, dill, and cayenne pepper probably also haven’t undergone vigorous FDA testing for breastfeeding safety, but no one’s worrying about random spices, so I’m not going to worry about random plants. Plus, I’m pretty sure the three courses of antibiotics I’ve required thus far aren’t exactly the best for breastfeeding either, so I’ll take my chances with the dandelion, peony, and unidentified roots.

The herbal “tea” tastes awful. Husband doesn’t think it so bad, but I imagine it tastes similar to flavors you’d find from a muddy puddle of stagnant water in the forest. Very appetizing.

After 3 days of this time-consuming and maddening routine, I declared victory, having avoided full-blown mastitis for the fourth time.

Daydreaming In Bed

Mom went back to work last week and we ended Friday on a good note. I gave in to my hunger and drank quite a bit at grandpa and grandma’s house. This put Mom in good spirits.

I still hadn’t eaten as much as I wanted so Mom fed me as soon as we got home. Her new thing is to feed me lying down while reading travel and food magazines and eating Life cereal. She was duped into buying year-long subscriptions to Bon Appetit and Conde Nast Traveler after seeing some $5 deal on Instagram and has been collecting idle magazines for the last 4 months. She finally found some use for them – reading while breastfeeding.

She still dreams of travel but makes fun of Traveler magazine even as she leafs through the publication wistfully. She finds the whole idea of “high-end boho”  – a term used by an author to describe one particular Marrakech establishment – ludicrous. She is also opposed to another writer’s recommendation to stay at the Park Hyatt Bangkok. We live just two miles away from a Park Hyatt, and mom and dad have attended rowdy holiday parties that end in the hotel’s lobby bar the last 2 or 3 years in a row, so she doesn’t see why she would go all the way to Bangkok and camp out somewhere so familiar. To be fair, the last time Mom and Dad were in Bangkok, mom was a recent law school grad with a ton of loans, so it’s not like she could have afforded to stay there anyway. Could it be sour grapes?


She sneered at a one-paragraph mention of Taiwan, which rambled on only about tea and featured an elderly Asian woman wearing a rice hat in a tea field. Of all the ways to represent Taiwan! However, she got a little nostalgic at the unexpected mention of one Greenbrier resort in West Virginia on the list of top resorts in the United States. She was suddenly brought back to her childhood, at the age of 7, on family vacation. Her dad (my grandpa) rented bikes and in the front of the Greenbrier lobby is where she first felt the freedom of riding a bike.


She considers most of the recipes in Bon Appetit rather unimaginative (read: it’s not Indian, Thai, Korean, Chinese, or insanely spicy) and definitely rolled her eyes at a picture of pasta plated in a bite-size serving on a 4-inch dish. She did dog ear some pictures of the Italian countryside and a hotel in Chile for Dad though.

I eat and eat and meanwhile, she drops Life cereal crumbs on my head and on the sheets. Later at night, while in bed, she will complain that she is being stabbed by crumbled pieces of Life. Dad will ask her if that is meant literally or metaphorically, while I dream noisily in my basinet.

Cafe Conversation

She invented the cloudy dreaminess in boys eyes and their obvious intentions,

While drinking a golden tea rendered from a sunburst of alien tentacles with a red heart.

He explains he is a budding musician and believes in god so she asks why and says

You can find god in pews, or resounding from the throat of a holy man or

You can find god in the five-lined staff

Where your wings force their way through the skin of your shoulder blades

To glitter or reflect the steely pall of your confessions –

But then sacrilege appears on the patio casting his poison on every frame of her daylight

A blank ghost, with colorless, translucent skin composed of love molecules from her youth.

She suddenly feels she might be compressed to a vanishing dust to be dissipated with the breeze

Becoming only a glint in the saga of conquests

A dead, buried, short story with no premise.

She has forgotten about the young musician and his guitar

And her tea has turned to mud.