Follow My Sorry Ass

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Santa Cruz vs. The World

 A Comparative Photo Essay

Everywhere Else, USA:

Santa Cruz:

FYI: Groms are 16U.

Everywhere Else, USA:

Santa Cruz:



Santa Cruz Real Estate:

Taunted from the garage attic by a ventriloquist's dummy

Some Celebrity is Gonna Name Her Kid:

Outlandish-Yet-Predictable Picks for Tomorrow’s Celeb Babies

Sur (for Big Sur, CA)—the name of Gwen Stefani's daughter someday.  She already has a Zuma.

Battle—Josh Duhamel or some ‘80’s rocker’s next child.

Serendipity—but not with a nickname of Dippity.

Hyperion “Hy”—Elon Musk’s next kid. Nicknamed “U.”

Egon—like that guy from Ghostbusters.

Californian— it’s the next Aurelian, Christian or Lucian.  

Hyper—if Wilder and superlatives can be a thing, so can this.

Striker—inspired by a fierce border collie.  The next badass baby name after Ryker. 

Monday, March 28, 2022

Land of Flowers and Nuts

Tiptoe Through the Lupines


I thought some old-ish lady was trying to Karen me when she shamed me for picking these flowers by the side of the road. 

“There’s not enough of those this year,” she motioned toward a hillside with acres of them.

OK Boomer Karen.

Turns out, they were endangered lupines. And it’s a misdemeanor to pick any wildflower on public lands in California, even those irresistible sweet peas or whatever they are that line the roads in Bonny Doon every April. I didn’t get caught by the authorities this time but learned something new about the left coast state that is my home. 

Apparently super-violent California criminals like Michael fucking Cheek can live among peaceable people, on privately owned roads, in the woods, with little to no supervision, butttttt if you touch any of these public-domain flowers we are going to have a situation here.

I imagined doing a little reiki on the lupines after putting them in that vase I like. They would’ve said it’s all good, girl. Pick away

Thursday, March 24, 2022

I Broke Up With my Mom Using a Meme

 I swear to God this blog isn't all just heartless digs at my mother.  She had an incredibly hard life, with two alcoholics for parents.  Just because I'm not able to continue a relationship with her doesn't mean she doesn't deserve compassion.

But sometimes, you're just done.

I remember the beginning of the end.  I was about to have my fourth child and was having a lot of pregnancy complications.  I was scared to death about the baby and me, but I was most worried about how our other three kids—9, 8, and 6–were going to handle being with a sitter for days and ending up with sleep-deprived parents to boot.

This girl right here needed a mom.

I screwed up my courage and called her.  I asked her--begged her--to please come and help with my kids when I was in the hospital delivering.  We’d already had three babies but this would have been a first. Plus, there is only so much Joe can do to support us all, and unless he figured out how to be in two places at once, he needed to be at UCLA with me.  We don't have any family that lives nearby, and like I said, I was sick with three young children and desperate.

Why didn't I just call Aunt Kay?  I can't remember exactly but there has to have been a good reason.  I think she had just been out to visit us and she was pretty busy with her own four kids.  I don't like to impose on anyone, >>even that *other* woman in my life who actually birthed me and is kind of supposed to be into that sort of thing<<.  I know AK would have loved to help but would have felt badly if she couldn't make it happen.

Mom could have made it happen, and she didn't.

Even she had to admit it was for a stupid reason.  Her boob job was overdue for a re-do, as she eventually confessed when I pressed the issue, and my brother's wedding was coming up.  She was sure to see her ex and about 40 other people from Dad's large, close-knit family she hadn't seen in 20+ years.  Not that the Millers cared one bit about how round her t*tties were looking these days.  Nor were there more than a handful of them who could possibly have wished her well.  She hadn't budgeted for this, though--she never did budget for any of this.  She picked the surgery.

Surprisingly high price somebody pays to be vain.

But what was the final nail in the coffin?  I asked her, for the 199th time, to stop compulsively buying a bunch of sh*t for my kids and mailing it to us.  I sound like a spoiled-@ss brat when I tell this story.  But her shopping addiction is seriously detrimental to her whole life, to the point that she cannot afford any travel to spend time with my children due to spending it all on Pottery Barn.  

This all makes sense if you consider how she grew up.  When you’re a neglected kid who doesn’t have enough clothes that fit, you never want your loved ones to feel those awful feelings of insignificance.  It made her feel worthless not to have stuff she needed.  Buying people random crap they don’t need or even want is her love language. I know her heart is in the right place.

She has a problem, though.  A stepmother-please-bail-me-out-again, credit cards routinely declined, drive three hours to go to the Restoration Hardware at that one mall, all-out clusterf**k of a problem.  Lying. Insolvency. Chaos. More pieces of high-end furniture, more rustic farmhouse tables, more Belgian Flax Linen duvet covers, more f*cking lamps than she can fit into her modest living space, renting a storage unit that is exclusively for them.  She lives paycheck to paycheck, despite making good money.  She never stops moving residences and is always looking for the windfall that is sure to be just around the corner, if only her rent were lower or they just paid her enough or she'd married that doctor who never got around to getting divorced.

She has a problem that helped to end her marriage.

Still, the kids really needed to see her face.  No excuses about that eel skin wallet “demagnetizing” that MasterCard again, or it costing a lot to fly out.  No surprises. No bullsh*t.  It was pretty tough when she didn't.

A few years later, it was time for me to give it one last try to have a mature and honest relationship with Mom.  I braced myself for things to come crashing down. And then I finally mustered the words to tell her how I have felt, over and over again over the years, when she consistently chose to nourish this addiction.

"Mom, I feel so sad when you can't afford to come out here because you've made these decisions.  Yes, it is your money and your choice.  But we can only fly ourselves and all of the kids out to see you so much. It is super hard to see you harm yourself like this, and I know that not hanging out with your grandkids for years at a time is probably not what is really in your heart."

Her: [Denial of any self harm or problem whatsoever with these behaviors]

"I can't enable this anymore.  It needs to stop now."

Her: [She blocks my phone and I can no longer text her for what ends up being a day or two.  I promptly move on with my life, so very tired of this dynamic.]

[She unblocks me and sends me a meme:]

I wasn't even going to bother.  But I sent one, too.

And that was that.

Six and-a-half years later, I don’t regret a thing about our “breakup”.  I finally feel that I can talk about these shameful secrets without fear of judgment.  Most of the judgmental thoughts were coming from inside my own head, anyway.  You can't even manage to have a relationship with your own mom.  She will die someday and you will regret all of this.  It's your fault you couldn't get her to listen.

It all turned out okay in the end. Dad ended up coming to help us.  As has happened many times before, he was the adult in the room.  I have also learned a lot since then about being my own adult in the room.  I still don’t know why I kept hoping my mom would be there for my kids when she wasn’t ever really able to be there for me, but that was the day I stopped hoping.  I have learned to let go of what never will be, and to quiet the critical voices within me that refuse to acknowledge the obvious--she has no real interest in changing even if she might actually get to hang out with my family.

It's her loss.

And. When I am (hopefully) a Grandmaw one day, I’m going to have the saggiest t*ts you ever did see flapping around through an evening gown. 

Separated at Birth

 Separated at Birth, Perez Hilton Style

That one kid from Jerry Maguire. 


Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Name Sightings

Spotted at the Playground Today: 'Double Down' Names

Harlan, a girl who was about two.

I asked her mom about this cool and unusual name when I overheard her calling the super cute child from the slide.  A family name.  The first name of Mom’s grandfather.

"It's kind of like Harlow, but not," explained Harlan's mom.  I nodded my head, hoping that Harlot is not the next logical iteration.

I also asked Harlan’s mom if she’d heard of a national fast food promotion a few years ago wherein KFC promised to give $11,000 to the first parents who named their baby after the fried chicken chain's founder, Harlan "Colonel" Sanders.  That dubious honor went to a little girl named Harlan Rose (“Harley”) who was born in 2018. This playground Harlan’s mama hadn’t heard of that one but hopes it’s somehow still a thing.

Along those lines, someone once named their kid after a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup (Reese Eve Cupp, nicknamed “Reesee”)--it was in People so it must be true.  The name choice is alleged to have been due to the parents’ love for the candy, but they were ostensibly stoked to hear that they, too, were eligible for a large cash prize.  Even if little Reese E. Cupp wins, though, there is no word as to whether older sister Mr. Goodbar will also be awarded any scholarship money.

This reads like a blurb from News of the Weird.

Good to hear that the KFC cash prize went straight to the “winning” child’s college tuition fund. This is much better than if the parents were allowed to blow it all on CBD oil and a second honeymoon in Turtle Island, leaving the afflicted child with an “I was impulsively named after the face of the Double Down and all I got was this lousy” t-shirt.

I never thought I would like this name, especially on a little girl, but it is making sense in the family names context and its distinction from the trying-too-hard name Harlow.

Sunshine—what was shaping up to be the ultimate Santa Cruz hippie name for this young lad at the pump track was, disappointingly, just a nickname. Real name of the seven-year-old boy was Christian.  Sunshine is the real first name of Jerry GarcĂ­a’s kid, though.

Ira—another playground girl two looked to be about two.  Or it may have been a boy.  They had long hair and gender neutral clothing.  Ira's a pretty cool name in any case.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Lies, Damned Lies, and Real Estate Tactics

Green house (center): what we can afford here.


We’re trying to buy a house after prices have surged over 20% in the last twelve months.

Joe and I have tried to keep a sense of humor about the whole thing, especially because we never thought we’d be in this situation—scrambling to purchase something--anything--not even four years after we thought we’d bought our forever home, and probably kissing a swift goodbye to all of the equity in our old place.  This is only remotely possible by our having begged our parents* to help us, and we also slashed our family’s budget dramatically on the eve of sending two kids to college. But another tough pill to swallow is that we’ve had no leverage to negotiate with our offers whatsoever. It is such a strong seller’s market that homes in our area are easily going $150-200k over ask, as-is, and please pick our offer, pretty-please-with-a-cherry-on-top. 

I hear it is even crazier and more competitive in other parts of the Bay.

[Dr. Evil voice:] Two *million* dollars, but you can't have the VW

I know.  It’s a douchey thing to complain about.  At least we are not unhoused.  It’s unbelievably fortunate to have had the financial horsepower to leave our old neighborhood, however reluctantly, when our batsh*t crazy neighbor opted to screw over all of her neighbors within a mile’s radius. Stupid c**ty lady is gonna have her publicly funded, privately profiting “halfway house” with minimal supervision.  For violent serial rapists.  Who have just been released from prison.  And whose therapists are quite concerned about their known personality disorders.  Because she hates our other neighbor and feels like doing that sh*t. Ahem.

Anyway, we had a huge stroke of luck with the house hunt with the following letter we sent to the sellers of our dream home.  Let it be said that we'd never have a chance to get this place if it weren't pre-market.  And to write such a letter may be an underhanded, saccharine tactic, despite the fact that all of the things we’ve said in it are totally true.  Also, it probably doesn’t hurt that we have cute kids, one of whom has a ‘Jonathan Lipnicki in Jerry Maguire’ thing going on.  Who can say no to these kids’ faces?

“To the Owners of X  XXXX Dr,

We are a family of eight, with five sons and a daughter. We are looking for a new place to call our “forever home.”  We were recently displaced from our home in Bonny Doon because the state of California approved the release of a sexually violent predator into the home directly next door to ours. 

Our younger kids now attend [nearby elementary school] and we would love for them to be able to walk to school and [extremely close park]. Also, having proximity to open space (something we loved about Bonny Doon) and being situated on a quiet and safe cul-de-sac make this location ideal. We love this beautiful home, which would be perfect for our family, and would be forever grateful to live there. 


L & J”

The “heartstrings” tactic, however obvious it must have been, has worked. They've accepted our offer. Full staggering price and they’re renting back to us for a few months at an extreme discount for themselves while they find a new place to downsize into.  Joe is nauseous at our new monthly payments, but I figure we can have a steady dinner rotation of red beans, rice, ramen, and ice cubes. Let our financial pounding commence.

*When I say parents, I do not mean my mom. 

Going Rogue

 I'm supposed to go gluten-free.  The doctor told me so.

“Noooo, I need my soup in a bread bowl!”

It's hard to imagine that a life without Pringles, bagels, Eggo Waffles, f***ing bread, et. al, will be worth the while.  But I keep having this heartburn/pain/bloating thing that happens pretty dramatically every morning after breakfast.  No, I'm not wolfing it down as I run out the door (well that's a lie; usually there are people to feed and my breakfast comes in last place).  I'm taking lots of Omeprazole and Tums.  And I'd rather not keep wondering if I'm having a daily heart attack and would kind of like to figure this out.

If someone expects me to give up cheese and chocolate we're going to have a real problem.

Saturday, March 19, 2022

The Names That Got Away

He’s got a daughter he calls Easter;
She was born on a Tuesday night 

-Sheryl Crow; Everyday is a Winding Road

I am super done making and naming babies.  I've said that and lied at least three times--hell, we've even been through a vasectomy and a vasectomy reversal--but this time it's for real.  

I have to admit that my naming obsession might have been involved in my wanting to bring so many children into this world.  So I'm letting them go (the names, not the children!).  These are the names that got away; I’d love it if my brother or cousins had more kids and used some of these, and so should everyone else.


Tabitha Easter—I love Tabitha and sometimes think I should’ve named Elise that.  But she laughs at that name for some reason.  And she doesn’t look like a Tabitha at all.  Tabitha Eve is another combination I like, though both combos are a little biblical for my taste.

Rose Audrey

Linnea Catherine

Anna Kathleen (Kathleen is my grandma’s first name)

Constance “Connie” Lark (Joe would’ve shot that one down after making a joke about oral sex—you know the one I’m talking about.  At my high school there was a diver named Brian Lingus and people thought it was the absolute height of cleverness to ask him if his mom’s name was Connie.  The swim team was a lot more educational than Sex Ed.)  

Or something with Kay or Julienne (my late grandma’s name) as a middle name.


Desmond (yes, of the “moon bear” meme)



Separated at birth, Perez Hilton Style


and Tabitha Stevens from Bewitched.

I definitely pined for a little Tabitha. But I wouldn’t trade my Georgie—or any others of ours—for ten Tabithas.

Spotted: Hippietastic Baby Names

Cool Baby Names for Hippie Children, Recently Spotted in the Wild

Creedence (like Credence Clearwater Revival; nickname Creed?)


Torrey (respelling of Tori, in homage to the Torrey Pines)

Wilder (after Wilder Ranch, an oceanside state park on the coast in Santa Cruz)

Friday, March 18, 2022

I Call the Shots Around Here

 Actual correspondence from my LinkedIn inbox today, where I have listed the job title on my profile as Director of Reproduction Operations for a fictitious company.  Stay-at-home moms gotta impress people somehow, you know?  Follow me for more tips on having an illustrious career. 

My "job title" is actually a jab at Joe's.  He used to be Director of Productions Operations for a company he worked for for nine years.  I figure if he's an executive (MBA, shmem-BA), his baby mama and wife should be considered one, too.

Because moms are the original CEOs.

Anyway, some poor SOB sent me this, unaware of my real job.

My response---

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Separated at Birth

 Separated at Birth, Perez Hilton Style


Arthur at 20 months old:

And Side Eyeing Chloe:

Monday, March 14, 2022

All I Need to Know: Flatulence

 Everything I Need to Know in Life I Learned From My Family of Farters

A corporeal weapon is one of the most readily available means of revenge.

Some people should never, ever consume pulled pork with beer. 

Someone who eats a pound of dried apricots in one sitting before boarding an airplane is up to something sinister and should be reported to TSA.

It’s a good idea to hold your breath for about twenty-five seconds when someone suddenly rolls down the car window. 

An unborn child is almost fully responsible for his pregnant mother’s gas and thus provides a perfect scapegoat.

Some of the worst stank imaginable can come from a kitten or a breastfed two-month-old.

When your Danish swim coach shakes his head scornfully and says, “you make the bad air”, very little is lost in the translation. 

The human anus has an impressive repertoire of sounds—a towel ripping in half, someone dropping a cup of Jell-o pudding, or the violent squeezing of an angry cat, to name a few.

Your relationship has reached the next level of intimacy when your SO comes over and you no longer bother to cropdust your downstairs roommates before getting it on.

In the flatulence industry, nobody labors harder than six college boys doing abdominal exercises in Speedos.

Establish dominance by sitting in your spouse’s lap and releasing the hounds.

He who smelt it dealt it is mathematically improbable in a household with six males.

The best way to make a classroom full of children scream with delighted laughter is to back yourself through the doorway while dragging an AV cart and loudly rip ass.

There’s a simple fix for when one of you isn’t totally in the mood—one that doesn’t invoke Kathy Bates’s hot tub scene in About Schmidt.

There’s insidious danger in being the big spoon.

The surest way to get your first black eye is to squat over your sleeping brother’s face, yell WAKE UP CALL and let one fly*.

Give a child bean burritos, make him laugh for an evening; teach him to read Walter the Farting Dog and he’ll laugh for a lifetime.

*I should know. I did this to Max in ‘93 and am still laughing about it. 

Friday, March 11, 2022

All I Need to Know: Teenager Edition

Everything I Need to Know in Life I Learned From Parenting my Teenager

Stony silence is not acquiescence.

Don’t post somebody on social media without their consent, even if it’s a f***ing hilarious clip of her doing that Alanis Morisette impression with the yodeling. 

Life is tough, but it’s tougher when you’re at the mercy of someone who makes you listen to her ‘90’s Battle of the Boybands playlist while driving you to practice. 

Interdependence makes the world go ‘round. 

It’s possible to love someone and loathe to be on the same planet as them in the same five minutes. 

The path to independence is in fact littered with decent report cards and minimum wage 1040-EZs. 

There’s a time to speak up and a time to shut up. 

There are certain tales that are best left untold. 

If you want to discourage your teen from piercing her navel, get your own navel pierced. 

Even flipping someone off in traffic can be uncool if your mom does it enough. 

Nobody likes it when their mom does ab exercises on the front lawn of the high school while waiting for dismissal. 

Conscripting your best friend as a de facto therapist might not work out very well. 

The way your parents respond to your first romantic heartbreak is related to the way you will, for better or worse, try to soothe yourself through disappointments in your young adult life. 

“Bros before h**s” stopped being a thing in the last century. 

Gender does not determine the extent of a person’s inner life.

The “cooler” a high school teacher seems to be, the bigger the red flag. 

You can never explain the concept of consent too many times to someone, especially those under a certain age. 

If you want to see how long you can hold your breath, watch a movie’s sex scene with your parents.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Mom’s Playlist Sing-Along, Interrupted

(In the car)

8: Honey came in and she caught me red handed creeping with the girl next door...

6: Picture this we were both butt na--


--- ---

"It smells like stinks in here" -Arthur

Sunday, March 6, 2022

Throwback: Baby George Birth Plan

August 15, 2015

Dear Healthcare Providers,
As the induction date for our fifth child approaches, I have developed with the help of my husband some specific preferences about the birth. I trust that, as I have had a rather complicated and difficult pregnancy, my wishes will be adhered to explicitly and, if need be, at the expense of other patients on the floor.

Part I: Lighting and Private Birth Suite Logistics

Although early to mid-September is a high-traffic time in the labor and delivery department of [Large Academic Medical Center], due to other people being totally f***ing annoying the general vicinity of L&D will be cleared of all other actively-laboring patients for the duration of my stay. Patients may be admitted and discharged in other wings of the same floor, however.
I will also require dim lighting in the event that any medical personnel look at me or any part of my person for any reason. A special interior light dimmer switch may need to be installed, but these can be found inexpensively at Lowe's for $12.87 as of this writing.

Part II: Ambient Music

The following four songs will be played on loop (in the following order), at approximately 80 decibels so that the baby can effectively differentiate the lyrics in utero:

-Ramblin' Man (The Allman Brothers Band)
-Every Breath You Take (The Police)
-Hey Ya! (Outkast)
-Wrecking Ball (Miley Cyrus)

If at any time the above music loop is interrupted, my cousin Doug Chaffee will need to be reached immediately via Skype for a live, A Capella rendition of Heat of the Moment by ASIA.

If for some reason Doug is unable or unwilling to assist, my Uncle Glenn Miller's {preferably pre-recorded) voice singing Lawyers, Guns, and Money by Warren Zevon will suffice.

Part III: Pudding

Pudding (chocolate) and crushed ice (the cylindrical kind that is easy to chew) will be freely available at all times.

Part IV: Modified Lotus Birth
My husband will sever the umbilical cord NO SOONER than 36 hours following the birth, using a series of well-placed aerospace-grade zip ties and an heirloom samurai sword. At that point, the detached umbilical tissue will be collected, combined with herbs in a gallon-sized Ziplock-type bag, and sealed in order to make umbilical cord jerky that we will enjoy on the baby's 3rd birthday.

The circumcision will be performed to the particulars of the 10-page addendum (see attached).

Saturday, March 5, 2022

Yet Another List of Things My Children Are Never Allowed To Watch (And Why)

More Sh*t My Kids Are Never Allowed to Watch (and why).

In no particular order:

TV Shows

1. The Thundermans. Reason: Theme song is catchy AF and haunts me in my dreams

2. Family Guy. Reason: Every time someone cracks a masturbation joke, my oldest three kids laugh. Loudly. Then, my fourth or fifth child asks me to explain the joke, and what should easily be a teachable moment turns the joke not funny

Speaking of masturbation jokes...

3.  Women's water polo or swimming--Pretty much any aquatic sport that women are playing these days. Reason: Atomic wedgies turn all of these respectable female athletes into unwitting strippers.
You may be asking yourself what I expect my kids to do in the event that they are sitting behind the starting blocks as official meet timers. In that case, they should close their eyes and listen for the splash.

4. That Discovery Channel Dolphins DVD. Reason: Contains live footage of a dolphin gang bang mating strategy. Babysitter who first viewed it with them was unsure of what to say.

[An actual book cover I found during my internet quest to remember the name of that Discovery Channel Dolphins DVD.  Some things just aren't meant to be Googled, such as "dolphin sex".  Also, for the record--gay dolphin sex is fine; I draw the line at hurting others, crimes against humanity, or group sex, though.]

Friday, March 4, 2022

Incorrect Responses to Correspondendence From Your Child's Teacher

What Not to Say When Your Child's Teacher Reports That They're Having Behavioral Challenges at School

Scenario #531

Teacher: Today, [Child's name] rolled around on the floor for kind of a long while and ignored whatever I said to him during instruction time.

Me: [prolonged, wry laughter]; Sounds about right

All I Need to Know: Brother Edition

Everything I Need to Know in Life I Learned From Having a Brother

Love is biting your popsicle in half and sharing it with someone who just rollerbladed over your bare toes by mistake.

You can be mad as hell at someone and still want to sleep in the same bed.

Bathroom humor is the glue that binds us all.

Ownership is a relative and fleeting thing.

There can be such a thing as "community" underwear.

Brotherly goodwill is more important than avoiding backwash in your Sprite.

There's a special place in hell for he who purposely occupies your favorite chair at the dinner table.

Peace on Earth begins in the home.

Existential FOMO takes root when someone close to you uses the red swing, the top bunk, and that one coveted pair of socks with the avocados on them.

Some people get away with everything.

The more older brothers you have, the greater the chances that your first spoken phrase will be, "the snake bited the man's penis!"

The only sanctioned type of bullying is of the (mild) sibling-on-sibling kind.

Leading by example means teaching someone all of your favorite swears.

An eye for an eye; a punch in the solar plexus for a balltap.

To err is human; to forgive is for the sister in Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

A brother is a first friend, a best friend, and one of the few people who will take the time to wake up early with you to watch the trash truck.