Hank, Your Brother Made Me Cry

We braved the middle school girls yesterday and saw The Fault In Our Stars, which if you don’t know is an adaptation of the novel by John Green, who if you don’t know is the brother of my friend Hank, who if you don’t know is awesome.

The movie was awesome too (as are the novel and John and probably the middle school girls when you get to know them). There was love and there was cancer and death and Big Questions and a blind kid egging a fancy car. Hollywood didn’t take all the smart out of it. I cried and the middle school girls laughed inappropriately so they wouldn’t cry and then cried anyways.

The strangest thing was that Gus, the boyfriend in the movie, had John and Hank’s mannerisms. He had the eyebrow lift, the hand thing, the quick delivery of the witty line. Either he watched a million of their videos or they mimic the mannerisms of today’s awesome eighteen-year-olds. Either way, it’s weird to see a movie star doing someone you know’s mannerisms. Even if that person also happens to be a teen heartthrob of the internet age.

Anyways, go see the movie. Read the book. Buy stock in Kleenex. Be good to the people you love before the inevitable oblivion.

Swimsuit Season

You guys, I bought a swimsuit without having a panic attack. Sure, I did it through the mail, but I’ve tried to buy swimsuits through the mail before and nearly died of shame in the privacy of my own bathroom. The first time I bought a bikini — in a Southern California boutique while my boyfriend at the time did laps around the block in his van because if he turned it off it probably wouldn’t start again — I really did panic. In general, I like buying clothes and I like my body, but that day in the dressing room I remember hyperventilating and wishing I could melt into the floor.

It’s no secret that swimsuit shopping freaks a lot of people out. Things that feel perfectly great to wear underwater on a hot day are much less flattering in the hard light of a dressing room. Or a bathroom, for that matter. Also, it’s actually really hard to find a bikini that’s comfortable when you have breasts. They make most of them halter tops, which keeps them from looking like bras, but means that all of your breast-weight ends up hanging from a thin string tied around your neck, like when you go blueberry picking and they give you those tin cans to pick into. Having full can boobs myself, I think this is no fun. I’ve gone so far as to make my own swimsuit, which worked ok, but wore out eventually.

Anyway, this spring I wanted a new swimsuit. I wanted a great swimsuit. I wanted to buy summer and sunshine and sexiness and the feeling of diving into cold water and I wanted it to not hurt my neck or fall off or feel frumpy or unflatteringly revealing or cost a million dollars. See why this whole swimsuit-buying thing is so hard?

But this time around, the experience was so different. Partly, I wasn’t twenty-two in a string-bikini boutique in SoCal. And partly, I had Nate. He really should be some kind of volunteer swimsuit consultant. It would be a serious kind of community service. I showed him a LOT of swimsuits. He considered them patiently. He vetoed some and liked others, but his vetos were things like “that one makes it look like you’re trying to cover up something you don’t need to cover up.” See why I like to have this guy around?

In the end, I found a good suit. It isn’t quite summer-in-two-pieces, but what is? Summer, after all, isn’t something you can buy.



Hey apologies for not being a very friendly moth. I’ve been busy with boring things. Like: I’m not eating sugars and starches for a couple of months. Hopefully, this will help reset my metabolism, and I will no longer break down like a toddler in a grocery store when dinner is twenty minutes later than my body wants it to be.

In the mean time, I’m getting inventive. Last night, I just really wanted some dessert. So I melted butter, coconut, and cocoa powder together.

“Do you think it will taste ok with no sugar?” I asked Nate.

“Butter is sweet,” he said.

“Yeah! Butter is pretty sweet,” I said. But my concoction was bitter.

“Add some almond butter,” he suggested. I did, and some salt, and it was pretty ok. Then we sat on the couch and I learned why Nate says “Super,” whenever there is soup. (Hint: 1980’s TV.)

But that is a measure of how things are around here. I’m eating butter for its sweetness.

The Beard of Poetry

(This post also appears on my Frog Hollow School blog about teaching writing.)

Last week my friend Joshua Gottlieb-Miller came to my Friday class as a visiting poet. It was pretty exciting. The kids had great questions for him. Some highlights:

“Are you a famous poet like Robert Frost?”

“I am zero percent famous.”

Joshua Gottlieb-Miller

“Are you a famous poet like Charles Darwin?”

“I may be a more famous poet than Charles Darwin.”

“Do you write poems about nature, or reality?”

“Both. Sometimes I start a poem with nature, and then it needs some reality so I put in a telephone or something. You know?”

(Rapt stares and nods.)

They were amazed to find out that poets can work at Trader Joe’s (Josh says he is one of two staff poets at his branch), and that you can write poetry about recycling (Josh has an entire manuscript of recycling-related poems). Mostly, however, they were fascinated by Josh’s beard. And it is true, he has an impressive one.

When Josh was leaving, one of the girls called out, “You’ll always be famous to us! What was your name again?” Classic.

After Josh left, they wrote him a collaborative poem, each student adding a line as we went around the circle. They managed to put Josh, basketball, beards, garbage, pink fluffy unicorns, squash, and luna moths in one poem. Pretty coherently. And they wrote it in the shape of a beard and called it “The Beard of Poetry.”

This week, they waxed on for a long time about how much they liked his teeth. They also decided they want to memorize one of his poems. Random poet-face objectification aside, I think introducing Frog Hollow to a living poet was a success.

Black Holes and Socks: a scientific study

Everyone knows about how socks disappear into black holes in the wash. No one, as far as I know, understands how or why this happens. However, I recently have observed something that I feel will add significantly to the scientific study of this phenomenon.

For the past couple of years, I have been doing laundry separately from anyone else’s laundry. During this time, my socks seemed to avoid the vortex of oblivion. Occasionally I would lose an ankle sock, but who really cares about an ankle sock?

Then the strangest thing happened. Nate moved in and we joined laundry. Now he washes and I fold and somehow, socks have begun disappearing. I do not think this is Nate’s fault. We’re talking about a man who is very good at laundry. Did you know that wool socks should not be dried on high? I did not, but Nate did. That is why he washes and I fold. But still, somehow, despite his careful sorting and my careful matching, chaos has inched closer. Is it because of love? Is it because of the low heat setting? These are questions science has yet to answer.


How about them Seahawks, huh? Let me tell you. Actually, I’m the least qualified person ever to do that, because I a) don’t understand football, and b) didn’t actually watch the Super Bowl. But I’m just not going to let that stop me.

Recently, Seattle has been pretty Seahawks crazy. Everywhere you go, there are people in Seahawks gear. It’s kind of like being in Boston on an average day. Only the Seahawks. The obsession even hit the homeschool crowd.

“How do you spell Russell?” asked one of my students.

“Wrestle,” I told him. Poor old Wrestle Wilson.

And then there are all the 12’s. I have no idea what they mean, except that they are suspiciously footbally. The construction crane hangs a 12 flag during its off hours. Our neighbors made a 12 from Christmas lights in their window. I don’t understand it, but it’s friendly-feeling, like a big snowstorm. Like we’re all sharing something.

I did watch some football earlier this year with my friend Scout, who’s a fan. At least, we got burgers and beer and the game was on, and she kept trying to point out the hot quarterback — Marshawn Lynch, Google helps me remember — and I kept missing the hot moments when he had his helmet off, and with helmets on they all look like wind-up warrior ants to me. Finally, I saw a good shot, where he was wiping the sweat off his face and breathing hard. Totally hot. Totally heroic. Is that what football is about — drinking beer and objectifying guys in tight pants? If so, we got it down.

Anyhow, that was all the football watching I did. During the Super Bowl I went up in the Cascades with Nate and Squinch. We hiked in the snow, and it was still and quiet. When we got back, it was over, and the internet showed us pictures of so many people dancing in the streets it looked like Obama had been elected on New Years. We walked around our neighborhood. A drunk man lifted his coat and flashed his jersey at some cars.


Then we went home.

But you know, even when I was off in those quiet woods being a bad Seattleite, guess what color my hat was. Seahawks green.

Best New Ideas for 2014

It’s 2014, folks, which until recently was the future. To make the most of that, here are some innovative ideas for the new year.

Addiction Stores: Like a mini-mart but more so, these stores would sell everything addictive. Sugar, booze, tobacco, video games, porn, buffalo chicken wings, quilting fabric…. Credit goes to Nate for this one. It might not make the world a better place, but it sure would be efficient.

Dog and Owner Yoga: They have yoga for babies, why not for dogs? That way, people wouldn’t have to choose between yoga and walking their dog. Oh no — Google tells me this actually exists. Should I be happy or worried?

Six Pack Keyboards: Keyboards that work your abs. Gently. So you don’t really notice. I’m serious about this one.