Scary Mommy: When a woman in the shoe store called me a ‘monster’

This essay was published by Scary Mommy on August 14, 2018

Mother and baby in shopping mall

When my son was a baby, he and I ventured out into the adult world. Our mission lacked the cinematic complexity of saving the Earth from an alien invasion or defusing a bomb while wearing a leather dominatrix outfit. That winter afternoon, my mission was this: drive to a strip mall by my parents’ home while they watched my toddler so I could return some shoes I’d bought while still pregnant.

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I’m a former college instructor and I don’t agree that arming teachers is the answer

students

(Image from The Huffington Post

I was once a pretty decent shot (practiced as a kid in Russia), but I have a hard time writing on a whiteboard in a straight line. You’d think that after six full years of teaching college as an English instructor, I’d learn. Nope. I called students by the wrong name on a couple of occasions, lost track of time during some lectures and got upset when someone plagiarized.

Yes, I felt offended when a lacrosse-playing freshman in my Composition class turned in an expository essay about “bitches and hoes.” It was also a little bit alarming when a withdrawn teenager in my remedial English class at a San Francisco community college wrote, “Die, bitch” on the cover of his notebook, then turned it in. In fact, I was scared to walk back to my car that night and feared for the safety of other students. My thinking was irrational and unclear.

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The Washington Post: Four challenges work-from-home parents will recognize, and how to keep them in check

This essay was published by The Washington Post on Feb. 6, 2018. It was republished by The Philadelphia InquirerThe Chicago Daily HeraldOmaha World-Herald, The Toronto Star, The Seattle TimesThe Vancouver Columbian and The St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Telecommuters used to get a bad rap, seen as folks who lounge by the pool with a trashy magazine and a margarita on a Tuesday afternoon.

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Four lessons I learned in my thirties

Although I entered my thirties with trepidation, it turned out getting older has its perks, beyond just reevaluating dating and career decisions and no longer being carded at grocery stores.

1. Picking Battles

The human brain keeps developing through adolescence and into our twenties, changing the way we react overtime. It’s not uncommon in our teens and twenties to blow up at the slightest emotional provocation and then regret it (so-called amygdala hijack).

I’ve certainly mellowed out in my thirties. For example, the other day, my neighbor who likes to wear a Make America Great Again hat and a t-shirt emblazoned with “U.S. Border Patrol,” left a note on my car threatening to tow it, because it was parked near his house. I took a deep breath and knocked on his door, my two children in tow. “Hello, neighbor,” I said, smiling. “Is this your note?”

“Yeah, sorry,” he mumbled. “I thought you were one of them soccer moms who park here.” I wondered if he’d personally observed these women’s children playing ball or seen them pushing soccer balls through their birth canals to warrant the “soccer mom” title. I would have asked, in my twenties. Instead, though, I wished the neighbor a good day and left.

Now we are besties who go shopping and get mani/pedis together. Just kidding.  But at least we’re civil.

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Brit+Co: Sex and the City and the internet: my strange companions

This essay was originally published by Brit + Co, titled “How an Internet Ad for Rebound Friends Saved Me after a Breakup” on May 3, 2017. It is set in 2005.

Waiting inside Tasti D-Lite that afternoon, Divya looked nothing like a cult follower or an aging Hello Kitty devotee. In fact, her very normalcy was alarming, given that we’d met on Craigslist.

A decidedly trivial thing was to blame for our meeting. Just a few weeks prior, a cab ushered me across the Hudson River a liberated woman who, for the first time in her life, was about to live on her own. That’s when the trivial thing appeared. It nodded a solemn hello on the Manhattan side of the Lincoln Tunnel. It made itself comfortable in my cab loaded with two suitcases, a couple of overstuffed shopping bags, a printer, and a new twin-size sheet set. It squeezed through the closing elevator doors and slipped into my temporary studio apartment. That thing was silence.

“Alright,” I finally said to the silence. “What do you want?”

“Oh, nothing,” the silence indicated. “Nothing at all.”

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ScaryMommy.com: This one is for the mom who is heading back to work

A version of this essay was originally published in ScaryMommy.com on Feb. 25, 2017

I see you, Mama, pacing from room to room, recalling what still needs to be packed for tomorrow. You pause by the sleeping baby’s crib, in awe of his eyelashes and his measured breathing, unsuspecting that tomorrow someone else will be reading him his favorite bunny story and putting him down for nap time.

You try to cook as much as possible to prepare for your upcoming 11-hour, perhaps 12-hour, absences. You bought a crockpot and bookmarked recipes online; you stocked up on groceries as if Armageddon is fast approaching, and now your freezer door won’t close.

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