Age At Time of Travel

I am 39. Tomorrow I will not be.

This tick of the clock first came home to roost, several months ago while planning my summer birthday celebration, a trip to the Cote D’ Azure. At my desk in January I was booking an easy jet flight from London to Nice, France dreaming of summer weather, fancy wine and rich food. While drawing up the sum total of the cost of the trip, one I had dreamed of since 1998, I contemplated whether it was possible for me to actually wear all my clothes on the plane to avoid the baggage fee, like the 20 year old I had seen on YouTube. Impossible! What would I do with my shampoo? Never once did I think I might be too old to try that, nor did I think that by now I should have learned to be sophisticated or at least pretend to be like all my relatives. Certainly by now I should earn enough to shirk off baggage fees like pennies at an arcade or hundreds at the supermarket but alas I have yet to grow up.

In 1998 I was on a coast train from Italy to Paris enroute to London after six weeks of inter-railing through Europe. Watching the sun set over the beauty of the French coast line we passed through a train station with a sign for Beaulieu Sur Mer. It struck a cord; we were passing through the very town where they filmed Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Captivated by the beauty and enchanted by one of my favourite films, I vowed one day to return.

That was almost twenty years ago. How could that be? Impossible! To avoid my reservation timing out I clicked the purchase tab. I was finally going to cross something off my bucket list. Filling out the obligatory personal information, passports etcetera, my cursor blinked at me from an empty fill box. Easy Jet was asking me an uncomfortable question that in January of 2016 I was not prepared to answer: AGE AT TIME OF TRAVEL?

I am turning 40 and it was the first time I had come face to face with my impending birthday. A milestone birthday can’t help but throw you into evaluation mode, binge eating, overwork and general burn out because you are old but you still think or worse act like you are young. That is the crux of the matter of turning forty.

I suppose it is a chance to look back at what you have left behind and what is still ahead. I heard a woman at the pet food store yesterday expressing to the much younger cashier how “happy I am to have all that young stuff behind me, thank god I don’t have to go on dates, and have boyfriends all over again.” She was pushing a cart full of overgrown children and kibble. Hmmm, I thought looking down at my own cart, and checking my phone to see five phone calls from the same number.

When I was in my twenties I would have thought it was one of my numerous stalkers calling from a new pay as you go phone number… but now alas no such thought crossed my mind. I checked the messages and there were three from the psycho nurse at my OB/GYN. In true stalker form, she never said what she wanted just that it was important I call. I was one step ahead of them; I knew what they wanted; they want me to have a mammogram. As I turn forty the only thing I have to arguably look forward to is a cold machine with extra large pinchers feeling me up. Can’t they wait to harass me until the realities of middle age have sunk in, at least give me until the middle of next week?

As I approach the wisdom of middle age I realize that achievements go hand in hand with disappointments. I went on a vegan cleanse in February and lost eleven pounds, then I went to France in July and gained fifteen. My boobs are so big that they scare small children and grown men which necessitates a new wardrobe of sunshirts to wear over my miracle suit. I “pretend” these are for preserving my already wrinkled skin… Ah the trials of the pudgy.

My parenting has hit its high and low this week. Eva came home from camp with a black eye so I dutifully asked her how she acquired it. With her coy reserve she told me that Ethan had punched her. Ethan is at least three times the size of Eva and five times the weight. Attempting my best tiger mom, I texted Ethan’s mom “to make her aware of the situation,” which was met with much shock and apology and assurance that she would question him the next morning.

I felt I had done my duty until the fatal wiggling of doubt arose the following morning probably around the same time Ethan was under interrogation.

“Eva, tell me about your black eye one more time.”

“No,” her big blue eyes gave a coy flick and she buried her nose in her bunny.

“Tell me why he punched you?”


I pick up the telephone and ring my sister as I am sure Sadie, Eva’s cousin, would have seen the entire incident at camp.

No answer. I leave a message.




I open the fridge door and dangle a bag of food dye free organic gummy bears. (It’s 8:00am)

“If I give you a gummy bear will you tell me why Ethan punched you?”

Eva eyes the gummy bears like a hawk hunting its prey.


I hand over an orange gummy bear, revealing a red one in my other hand.

She scoffs it, and matter-a-factly announces, “I punched him first.”

Any hint of shame had been swallowed along with the gummy bear, but I relinquish my grasp on the second one with a sigh of defeat. She chews it triumphantly as I contemplate my next move.

I send a flurry of apologetic text messages to Ethan’s mom explaining how I had found out the entire story through bribery. She confirms that it corresponds to Ethan’s account.

I return my attention to my daughter,

“Last week when you came home with a bruise under your other eye, did the other girl really hit you with a stick by accident?”


I retreat to the fridge, and return with a yellow gummy bear.

“Are you sure?”

“Her stick was bigger than mine.”

She puts her hand out for the gummy bear and I place it in her sticky sweaty paw.

“Eva, You don’t have to turn everyday at camp into David versus Goliath.”
“Whose Goliath? You?”

“No! Why would you say that? Never mind.”

I know my daughter has spirit, but I am left wondering how have I managed to raise a pint sized swashbuckling, punch throwing, whisp of a child who looks like an angel, but fights like a gladiator and insults me without even trying.

Next a thought fleets through my mind… If I had another child how they would turn out, would I do a better job, would they sleep better than Eva, would they be as smart, or as quick with a right hook?

Now that I am 40 (there I said it) I can safely assume that it’s too late for any crazy thoughts or irrational behavior like getting pregnant.

And then I remember to be grateful for the wonderful child I do have, my elderly dog who I am catching up with in age and temperament and a happy family.

A family I am celebrating with tonight. While I was in France my mother sent me an invitation to celebrate my birthday at a Wild West BBQ at her club. But there was a catch; there is always a catch. It is to be a joint celebration with my niece, Sadie, who turned five two days before my fortieth. Five and Forty have so much in common.

I am promising to let Sadie blow out the candles if I get to eat the first piece of cake. I have bought us both pinwheels for the occasion and I plan on demanding at least two party bags to satisfy my increased appetite since I overate in France. The invite says there will be a mechanical bull so I hope my Shirley temples are spiked with vodka so I can try it with my mother’s permission of course.

I am planning to let my hair down this birthday, after all I worked hard this past year; perhaps it was the looming anniversary reminding me of all those hours I wasted in my youth. I wrote a 120,000 book, one screenplay about Bette Davis and co-wrote another untitled screenplay. This of course has come with a sacrifice, namely this blog, which I have missed.

One gift forty has given me is a damn good excuse to bring back my blog. I got a Variety alert a few days ago informing the world that Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is getting a remake. Hurrah! So is my blog. I hope to upgrade the interface and move on up in the world of the forty somethings so stay tuned.

As Bette Davis always said, “Old Age is Not For Sissies,” and neither is being Eva’s mom.

Xxx Derelict Mom



The other day I was driving with Eva in her car seat in the backseat, when a little voice piped up,



“Last day, there was a dead body in the backyard.”

“A what?”

“A Dead body”

“What happened to the dead body, Eva?”

“Nana buried it.”

Hmmm… “Nana?”

“Yes, Nana.”

Nana is my mother in law. I might have believed that my mother, Gigi, would bury a body in my back yard but not Nana. Nana is way too nice, whereas my mother could have easily buried a collection of dead bodies in the backyard. My mind reeled… maybe Ronnie the gardener forgot to weed the burm one time too many, or Alda her housekeeper did not cut the onions fine enough, or Alda forgot the starch, or missed a spot while polishing the silver. Perhaps my father had invited one too many relic hunters to stay in her apartment. Maybe my mother’s Doberman didn’t really die of a heart attack, maybe the Pet cemetery on the property contains more than pets.

When we finally got out of the car I repeated my line of questioning.

“Are you sure it was Nana?”

“Yes it was Nana”

“Can you show me where she buried the body.”

“Right there.” Eva said pointing to the back yard.

“What did the dead body look like?”

Eva started laughing….

“Why are you laughing?”

“Not a dead body, a dead Birdie.”

“Oh okay PHEW.”

This is clearly how rumors get started at Spurlingville, out of the mouths of babes and bloggers. Spurlingville, the family compound where I live, should be renamed Storyville for many reasons in addition to all the dead bodies who fertilize the rose gardens. My favorite past time as a child was digging up musket balls and horse teeth in the dirt. Oh the secrets they could have told!

I live next door to pair of almost 70 year olds – my parents – on one side and on the other, my uncles – another pair of almost senior citizens and yet they consistently out party this almost forty year old. I hope my constitution ages as well as theirs’ has.

I have no need for an alarm clock because by 8am each morning I wake up to the tinkle, tinkle, of glass on glass as the seniors next door empty their full recycling bins, clink clink of wine bottle against wine bottle, with a few beer bottles on top like sprinkles for the trash man. After years of practice they know they can’t sleep in with a hangover, that’s what an afternoon nap is for.

Night after night laughter wafts over from the next door porch at 1am, when I take my blind diabetic dog out to pee. Just as I am drifting off to sleep I am woken up by the headlights of an executive taxi returning my parents home from a party at 2am. The swoosh of the sliding taxi door has become a frequent nighttime noise- soon I think I won’t even hear it. It will become ubiquitous like the whistling frogs. But for now, it wakes me up like a worried parent of a teenager. Phew they are home I think, and finally go back to sleep.

I wonder if when Eva is a teenager, my parents will still be doing the same thing. I can imagine myself stopping in Hamilton to pick Eva up from the Pickled Onion and then driving by a party in Paget to pick my parents up. Life is for Living. They certainly live by that adage. We have started calling their house, the Playboy mansion, without a rocking chair in site they are giving Hugh Hefner a run for his money. I am thinking of suggesting that the family commission my brother in law to design an underwater grotto, it would be the finishing touch.

When I booked a business trip last month that would take me to Boston, Connecticut and New York and back to Boston in a week, I should not have been surprised when both my mother and sister decided to crash the business venture and turn it into Girls Gone Wild Boston. Inevitably I had a hang over at my first meeting, thank god it was lunch at which I ordered a burger and fries, something I would usually avoid like the plague of transfats it is.

My first afternoon in Boston started with pink champagne, something I also tend to avoid. Then we moved on to dinner, and essentially two bottles of wine between three people, and then of course a nightcap. As we made our way back toward the apartment, I became unsure of my decision to wear a short dress and heels as the two block walk seemed like a marathon. The two blocks brought us right past that aberration in my life, called a Night club. I didn’t even like night clubs when I was 19.

My sister, conspiratorial as usual said, “Mom, I triple dare you to ask the bouncer if he has a senior citizen discount off the cover charge.”

And of course my mother has never turned down a dare, so she asked him.

He smiled and said, “No but all ladies are free tonight, including senior citizens.”

It was clear they were having difficulty attracting the fairer gender so they let the three of us in. When we descended into the dark basement of the Nightclub, called STORYVILLE, it was clear that my mother was not the only senior citizen in the place, the age gap between my sister and I and most of the people in Storyville was at least two decades.

Nevertheless my sister got chatted up with a classic line, “ You are so sweet you could have only come from a Bakery.”

I wonder if that has ever worked on anyone. It worked to boost my sister’s ego but little to boost conversation especially because he bought my sister a drink and then she walked off leaving me to make polite conversation in an establishment purposely devoid of such an old fashioned past time, while she practically funneled her vodka and soda. I think vodka helps her walk in her four inch wedges but for me vodka just seemed to make me fall off my kitty pumps. Life is so unfair.

My mother dancing:

After dancing her fair share, my mother ever the fountain of wisdom decided it was time to go home.

The next morning it was clear that I was guilty of having the least efficient liver in the family as I struggled to get ready for my meeting, but hangovers manifest in different ways. Mine was a burger and fries, but while I was indulging my mother and sister had an eventful lunch of their own.

The elite mother daughter speed lunch at the Select Oyster Bar, was intentionally a patrician departure from the film maker daughter’s budget requirements: pizza, burger, dim sum? After enjoying their lunch, my mother insisted the waitress take a picture of mother and daughter with the four star Zagats rated restaurant in the background. I wonder if my mother thought the flashbulb would annoy the other diners enough that they would notice them, dripping in Yurman, and designer shopping, maybe mistake them for a celebrity or an actress. I am not sure Shirley Maclaine would have lunch with Katie Holmes though.

My sister, to the stage born, and an expert at the dramatic entrance and exit, spun to leave. She swung her Michael Kors bag for effect and momentum, at the same time as she twirled her Jimmy Choo stiletto on its miniscule diameter and walked although she might have actually been airborne, into the glass walled partitian, which swayed and buckled under her pure force. It propelled her backwards, after diverting her septum, chipping her toe nail polish through her peep toe and leaving her with a welt, – well really less of a welt and more of a hematoma smack in the middle of her forehead. As the Katie Holmes illusion was shattering, somewhere at a Bakery in the Southend, a young man was returning his chocolate croissant saying it tasted like it was almost forty years old.


Oblivious as usual (my family would probably call it self-involved) I didn’t even notice the welt at first when I was reunited with mother and sister for a post prandial shopping spree. I tagged along with my sister who dragged me down Newbury and back, I carried her bags, acting like a verbal mirror attesting to the size of the welt and any observable shifts in its development.

“It looks like one of those implants.”

“I wish it was a boob implant”

“No one of those devil horns people get implanted into their forehead.”

“That would be apt.”

Possible brain damage and a serious head injury did nothing to stem my sisters shopping. Out of boredom I suggested we go to the sex shop. As one does while on a girl’s trip, as one pretends they are purchasing toys for a bachelorette party.

Sex Shop

“I think you should buy something for Jake for Fathers Day.”

My sister bursts out laughing.

“What now?” “Do I have something on my face that’s bigger than your welt?”

She would not stop laughing, she just kept pushing me into the sex shop. I insisted I take a picture of her among the dildos, hanging proudly perhaps profoundly on their wire racks.

“Is anything on sale?” I asked the sales lady.

“How can I help you?”

“We are looking for a gift?”

“What kind of gift?”

“A Father’s day gift.”

The shop girl’s face went white, my sister burst out laughing again looking like a deranged victim of a sex act gone repeatedly wrong. I was confused.

“Father’s Day?” The shop girl questioned. I gave my sister the evil eye.

“Oh god, your mind is in the gutter, with your forehead, you set me up! “ I said to my sister.

Blushing a color of rouge outdoing the pallor of my sisters welt I tried to explain without laughing myself.

“We are shopping for a gift for my sister’s husband for Father’s day, the father of her children.”

“Oh” said the shop girl surveying the rack for inspiration.

“Yes she is responsible enough to have children but grace is not a family trait.”

I say pointing to her head.

We ended up buying a Tuggie, a version of the Snuggie but for a man’s member. Leopard print. I am betting it has already become a finger puppet at their house after loosing its novelty. Nothing is sacred in a house full of children.

Later on while admiring the plunder which was my sisters shopping we started up a lively discussion about our drinking habits and relative hangovers.

My sister proffered, “Alcoholics don’t get hangovers.”

“I am not sure I can believe that.” I said.

“Mom’s comparatively less degree of hangoverness is actually a bad sign.”

“What that she has a hollow leg?”

I heard a clattering coming from the bathroom.

“I think I just heard her fall over in the bathroom, or did she just drop her medicine bag.”

“So because I was the most hungover I have the least tolerance so I must have less of a drinking problem.”


“I am not sure that’s right, there is liver function, food, age, genetic predisposition and a lot of causal factors that make that impossible.”

I should have shut up while I was ahead.

“Well I usually am the designated driver.” I say as a last gasp as my own Devil’s advocate.

Our conversation reminded me of the last time I drove my parents home from a party. They like me to drive home because God forbid they get pulled over and loose their license, they are retirees and it would cramp their luncheon plans.

A mutual friend of my sister and I, had a leaving party because she was moving to Australia. It was a new bar, it was Saturday night in the middle of the Film Festival but I promised I would leave the film festival party and meet my parents at the party and then take the responsibility of driving them home. There is a distinct advantage to having your daughter live next door and it is not just borrowing a stick of butter or someone to call when you have fallen and can’t get up.

The conversation on the way home went something like this:

Dad: “ I drank five whiskies.”

Mom: “You are an alcoholic, I only had three glasses of wine.”

Dad: “You aren’t counting the two vodkas you had before you left home.”

Me: “You two were preboozing again?”

I figure this was more training for Eva’s teenage years. Earlier at the party, my mother had dressed up as an outback cowgirl and then wedged her substantial derriere into my father’s bright green budgie smugglers, over her jeans. She spent the evening wiggling her back end in what could have possibly been considered a dance move or just a reenactment of urge incontinence. She was bum slapping people on the dance floor when she recognized someone from Family Court. She is a civilian judge.

“I know you from Family Court!”

The young man eyed her outfit as if he had just recognized a Supreme Court Justice at a fetish club.

“I hope your case turns out well.” She lifted her wine glass and chug-a-lugged.

I am sure she inspired him with confidence with her sober candor. To think my mother is a family court judge but shuns babysitting unless it can be scheduled in around shopping, eating, parties, cocktail hour and the first three hours after sunrise. My sister gave her a new nickname on our Girls Gone Wild Trip: “HOLIC” meaning you can add your choice of prefix as suitable.

All joking aside, my mom has started to babysit now that Eva is old enough to pour her own milk and fetch bottles from the fridge. I guess what happens at Grandma’s stays at Grandma’s… and that includes dead bodies or birdies, and drunken escapades of the almost 70s. Eva and I have a lot to live up to, and/or survive which is why when Eva asked,

“Mommy, we have to laugh like witches do… Ha Ha Ha… cackle… cackle… and get into our witch costumes Mommy. “

I answered.

“Why don’t you ask your Grandma.”

DM signature001

She is Mad but She is Magic: How I Hacked My Family’s Genome.

And Something’s odd –within—

That Person that I was —

And this One – do not feel the same—

Could it be Madness –this? – Emily Dickinson

When I decided to hack my genome in between washing my toddler’s socks and making a scrapbook of her third year, I should have known there would be a few surprises lying in wait. Many people in my position would question whether they really even wanted to know what predestiny held for them in their genes or at least give it a second thought but not me. My overly curious nature determined that I had to know everything about my DNA from the moment I knew it was a possibility. I also had to hack the DNA of all my relatives who could be convinced to give up their saliva for a DNA test that I inevitably bought them for their birthday. They pretty much thought I was crazy, and how right they would end up being.

“A Beautiful Mind” the biopic of the late John Nash, who died this past weekend at 86, is a portrait of a man burdened by schizophrenia and brilliance, what is popularly known as touched by fire. As it turns out, a beautiful mind might be closer to my own reality than I would ever have imagined before spitting in a test tube. My genetic predispositions have made me feel the weight of my 46 chromosomes worth of underachievement and at the same time intensified my awe of men like John Nash who under the darkness of schizophrenia made startling advances in mathematics, game theory and our conception of our world and ourselves. I may be an underachiever but at least I am a profoundly curious one, and what I have come to discover is that there is probably a gene for that.

After hacking my DNA, my mother’s, my father’s and my daughter Eva’s father’s DNA I have put together an interesting picture of our collective medical risks, personality quirks, and a lot of odd facts that I can categorically say I am no better off knowing. For example I have a gene SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism) that predisposes me to sneeze when exposed to sunlight. This has plagued me my entire life, and now we are all better off for knowing that I wasn’t coming down with something it is just a genetic mutation on rs10427255, also called a photic sneeze reflex, an oddity I share with about 25% of people.

On a more concerning note both my mother and I have a ten fold higher risk of breast cancer, and my mother is a survivor, something I believe I am better off knowing, especially as my daughter will likely have inherited at least half of those SNPs. Out of the numerous Snps that predispose a person to cancer we have two of the possible 25 causal mutations on the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes in addition to a host of other SNPs.

After surmising my discoveries I called my mother and father together for a genetic meeting of the minds or rather bodies, my two genetic donors to let them know all about their DNA and what they had given me other than a good education. “I have one gene for hazel eyes like dad, and three for blue eyes and blonde hair like mom, but that one hazel gene makes a lot of sense because my eyes are not blue like mom’s and a lot of people think they are green, now I know why.” They were bored already so I decided to take it up a notch.

“I am going to die at 11am.”


“Your genes, tell you that?”

“No, I am going to commit suicide.”


“I’m joking… but I have a gene mutation on SNP rs7221412 which means I am an intermediate riser, I don’t wake up early or late, which is true. Research also suggests that I am more likely to die on a morning, shortly before 11am.”

“Is there any good news in our DNA?”

“We all have obesity genes and are part of the 88% of the population who cannot maintain weight loss unless by high energy exercise- SNP GS281. Sorry mom walking doesn’t work.”

“I suppose we knew that anyway.” Mom said.

“We all have sprinting muscles though.” I countered with optimism.

“I don’t think I have ever sprinted to anything but the fridge,” Mom said.

“Well we would all benefit from a low fat diet and staying away from carbs but lucky us we all have the genetic mutation that allows us to digest lactose so we can eat all the cheese we want as long as we don’t care about getting fat.”

Mom reaches for a cracker, I pick up the cheese knife and point it at her.

“Put the cracker down, carbs will add at least five pounds over night.”

Then I reconsidered, “But don’t worry you will live long enough to waste away so you might as well have a few slices, you both have longevity genes unlike me who drew the short straw and have but one gene for a shorter lifespan.”

“Are we going to get Alzheimer’s?” Mom asked.

“No, but I will probably end up with dementia- better hope you don’t live past 100.”

“Good news?”

“Dad and I have an enhanced hippocampal volume, which means we have a higher IQ.”

“Than me?” Mom asked.

“Who knows but this one might ruin my life,” I say reading from my report, “I evidently have a higher risk of diarrhea and susceptibility to the Norovirus. This alone has solidified my decision not to have any more children.”

“You need give us the good news now.”

“I have a better episodic memory- it must be why I am really good at remembering everything for my blog.”

“And I don’t have such a good memory?” Mom asked.

“No mom you just have cognitive impairment with ageing on snp…”

“Okay enough” She said interrupting. I ignored her.

“To tell us all something we already know- we all have at least three addiction genes, especially for nicotine.”

“What no cigarettes, no booze, no carbs, no cheese?” Mom shook her head in profound disappointment.

“Yes and you are still going to get Gout.”

“Good news?” Dad asked again.

“You have high good cholesterol. Must be all the cheese!”

“Well isn’t that the cherry on the top!”

“We probably shouldn’t eat ice cream we have a gene snp for higher sugar cravings.”

By the time I introduced the hacked family genome to the siblings, there was a family backlash brewing. When we went to Government House in Bermuda to celebrate my parent’s dual Queen’s Badge of Honor for community service, the topic naturally came up over cocktails.

Here we are at Government House: Mom, Dad and the siblings:

Government House

“We should be on spritzers, or we will end up in the Mid Atlantic Wellness Center.”


“We have a genetic mutation on snp rs1800497 for addiction.”

“Half the family is in AA.”

“Or should be.”

“Well mom and I have an officially bad gene snp that predisposes us to really BAD hangovers- our dopamine receptors don’t recover as fast as other people, but in this case I think it might be a protective gene.”

“That is optimistic.” My sister said.

“There is a gene snp for that! Mom and I have a gene for optimism and more sociable, less aggressive behavior.”

“Maybe we should try cocaine instead.” Mom offered sipping her wine with an sly smile.

“Oh no mom, we both have a snp predisposing us to cocaine and heroin addiction.”

“We shouldn’t be discussing this at Government house.”

“I don’t believe a word of it, sounds like airy fairy BS.” My sister said.

“You aren’t going to find this on you know, it’s all written up on PUB MED, this is hard science.”

“Remember what I told you?” my sister asked. I felt a Psychology 101 lesson coming on from her degree twenty years ago.

“What? – that I have an external locus of control, because I read my horoscope, talk to psychics and am now hacking my DNA.”


“Oh I remember, you believe this stuff too- you always told me with horror when we were teenagers that one’s sexual proclivities are inherited from one’s parents, therefore what you like in bed is probably what your mom likes too.”

“No I was going to say you and dad, and Giles must have a gene for being out to lunch, away with the pixies.”

“Oh well there is probably a gene for both, at least we don’t have a gene for liking to be peed on during sex.”

“Thank god for that.”

“We really shouldn’t be talking about this at Government House.” I agreed with my mother for once.

Later on over dinner, Anna Laura’s husband said to me, “I know I am not supposed to notice, but your boobs look huge in that dress.”

“There is a snp for that. I have three large boob genes, lucky me and a ten fold increase for breast cancer so Ill probably have to cut them off eventually.”

There was a collective family eye roll.

“Maybe that’s why people were staring at you at Government House.” My sister added.

“You probably have the gene snp that mom has on rs10246939 – the ability to taste bitterness.” I said with glee.

Saving the best for last, I described to everyone the difference between an Orchid Child and a Dandelion Child. Orchid children tend to be difficult toddlers, prone to externalizing and grow up to become sensitive children who need specific parenting techniques and be coddled into adult existence. Orchids need a greenhouse to thrive, whereas Dandelion children can grow and thrive anywhere, a sidewalk, a metaphorical ghetto, the fifth child of a welfare mother.

“I am definitely a Dandelion.” Announced my mother.

“Me too.” Said my sister.

“Well I’m an Orchid, at SNP rs 1800855 so someone else is an orchid.”

Everyone looked at Dad, who shrugged.

“I think you are an Orchid,” I say to my sister.


“Because you have middle child syndrome- still.”

“What happens to Orchid children who get a Dandelion upbringing?”

“They become drug addicts or generally fail at life, or become highly functioning sociopaths.” I look over at my sister; she looks at me. We laugh.

“What happens to Orchid children who do get a greenhouse upbringing?”

“Orchid children become capable of blooming spectacularly. Eva is an orchid child and I am starting to understand that her raging intemperment and sensitivity is about more than being a toddler, she is an orchid toddler.”—-how-your_b_6158588.html

Another collective family eye roll.

“What is so fascinating is that all of this underlies a new genetic theory which suggests that the very genes that plague us as a species, addiction, orchidery etc evolutionarily persist in our genome because in the right environment they can create the most successful people. “

“An Orchid Bloom.”

“Yes, and what is interesting is that not only are dad and I orchid children we also share the mad genius gene.”

“Does that mean you are mad or a genius?”

I suddenly had a vision of all of my exboyfriends dressed in chorus gowns swinging back and forth in rhythm, singing “Yes Jesus!” and nodding in unison.“Crazy.”

But scientifically I answered, “Possibly both, or schizophrenic. We have a homozygous T:T allele on the Rs6994992 SNP on the neuregulin 1 gene, a 65% increased prefrontal lobe activity, high academic performance, high creativity, high psychosis risk and addiction. Touched by Fire. There is a legitimate link between psychosis and creativity, think John Nash, Sylvia Plath, Lord Byron, Van Gogh.”

“Perhaps this is why most of my followers are mental health bloggers?” I added.

“Genetic Delusions of Grandeur,” offered one of my siblings.

“Leave me alone I am blooming,” I responded.

“Are you going to cut your ear off now?”

“No but I probably would if I had become an accountant, instead I am a writer and artist in a long line of writers and artists with the same genetic predisposition for creativity, madness, and addiction. Can someone pass the red wine?”

“Somehow Dad survived thirty years as a lawyer.”

“He drank a lot of scotch.”

Our genetic conversation could continue for years, but I decided as a coup de grace I would make the following prediction for my life based on what I have discovered about my genetic predispositions:

I will die at 11am at age 70 while making love to a man half my age ( rs2811712 lack of physical impairment with age) of an exercise induced stroke ( RS1024611 increased risk of exercise induced ischemic stroke) or heart attack (rs5174 increased risk of myocardial infarction) but what a way to go ( rs53576 more likely to be an optimist) and my substantial estate ( rs6994992 mad genius gene) will be bequeathed to AA and the Mid Atlantic Wellness Center, and my very own orchid child, Eva who is mad like me or like the line from a Charles Bukowski poem, “She is mad, but she is magic, there is no lie in her fire.”

Sylvia Plath-Mommy


If you would like to hack your own genome, order a basic gene test for $99 on:

And then when you get your results download the raw data off of their website and then run it through this website for $5:

I’ll Hack Yours, You Hack Mine


Last weekend, in between cutting my toenails, drinking two pints of coffee and folding laundry I decided like a typical middle aged mother to sit down with my laptop and instead of reading about Hilary’s campaign for the presidency I spent my all too valuable free time hacking my genome. We all have secrets locked away, encoded into our DNA, and that accident of conception and human mutation over centuries that resulted in you and me is just begging to be hacked so hack I did.

Believe it or not this all started over a year ago with my ambition to become a member of the DAR, Daughters of the American Revolution. To become a Daughter, you must prove your bloodline to a revolutionary solider through birth and death certificates or other evidentiary methods like published genealogies. This is no small deed, and the process usually separates the dilettante from the serious. It’s been a year and I am still an “in process member” or dilettante but I have not given up. I have proven the first three generations back and then the hardest generation, the oldest one but I have two in between that elude me proving on paper that I have revolution in my blood.

However, this was but a starting point for something much deeper. The same revolutionary line, my mother’s father’s family has been traced all the way back to European royalty and Charlemagne himself on one branch. Not to scoff at royalty but another line of his family intrigued me more. My grandfather always maintained to all of us that his grandmother was a Cherokee squaw and was very proud of his Native American heritage. This has been passed down to all the branches of the family but we have no photographs or proof? In my pursuit for revolutionary status I discovered that we could probably find out if my great great grandmother was Native American by simply spitting in a test tube and testing our genetics. How novel!

During the last year I have made my father, mother, husband and finally myself spit into test tubes and have our DNA extracted. I have been warned that this was not a good idea, to send off your DNA to be held in a database for fear someone might want to clone me one day. My curiosity in my own DNA far outweighs any one’s desire to clone it, and that counts triply for my mothers DNA, who is by far the most cynical about the entire process. She spat in one test tube of DNA then held off for a few weeks on the other kit, alternatively holding it over my head like a carrot with hopes I would brush my hair more often, and then decrying it as “ridiculous” and then confessing that, what she really wanted for her birthday was “ a purse” not a “rubbish DNA test.”

I gently reminded her that it was the only way to discover if her great grandmother was really a Native American. That would pique her interest just enough to work up a bit of spit. My mother has always wanted to identify herself with a minority for the shock value if nothing else as my mother pretty much looks like Heidi from the Swiss Alps.

Eventually she mustered enough saliva, no doubt by fantasizing about a bucket of fried chicken, to warrant a DNA test. Then you have to wait a month or two or more for them to process it before they send you a login to access a complicated portal that sucks more time from your day than Facebook.

In the meantime, distraught with anticipation I endlessly read blog articles about genetics, and became even more upset with the idea that if the DNA test came back without any Native American genes, it does not mean that my great great grandmother was not a Squaw, it just means we haven’t inherited any of her genes, which is entirely possible if not probable after four or five generations. Perhaps DNA was not the answer to all my questions after all.

My mother’s dna results arrived at the same time as mine. It felt like I was a talk show guest on Maury Povich and he just handed me an envelope and at any moment I was going to find out if the trailer trash guy my mother had been hanging around with years ago was really my father. I opened the envelope and there was the answer in my DNA 99% European, 1% Native American, and in my mother’s DNA 93% European, 7% Native American. The Squaw’s DNA had persevered five generations to convince us not to doubt my grandfather’s word, and to give us some sort of proof for the skeptic relatives and acquaintances, and for me an overwhelming sense of satisfaction.

In my web surfing and narcissistic fascination with my own genome I discovered that far beyond tracing my European and Native American ancestry, I can actually discover what genetic predispositions to disease I carry around with me waiting to be flipped on like a switch through environment, stress, or just the ravages of time and age. So last weekend in between loads of laundry I hacked my genome.

While my mother was probably building a teepee in the backyard “for the grandchildren,” tying a chicken feather to her headband and practicing her drum circle chanting, I was hacking not only my own genome but my father, mother and my husband’s. It’s kind of like looking in their underwear drawers but 21st century style.

What it turned up was quite surprising. It turns out its not just my husband who says, “You are just like your mother.” We both have at least ten gene SNPs which give us something like a ten fold increase in risk for breast cancer, and my mother is herself a survivor. I will be getting a mammogram soon. Both my parents have longevity genes. I drew two short straws and inherited one gene for a shorter life span and increased risk of dementia with age. What a pity, looking after my parents as they approach 100 ( they both have a greater likelihood of living to 100) will probably kill me off at 70 or at least give me breast cancer but then again that could be all the booze. Turns out we – that means everyone in the family on all sides including my husband- have rampant addiction genes, for me I inherited more of the high likelihood to become addicted to nicotine genes, and a dodged the stronger desire for alcohol gene both my mother and husband have but we all have at least two or three more for alcohol dependency. The nicotine genes make me very very happy I somehow had the personal drive to quit smoking after my freshman year in college when I smoked about twenty cigarettes a day. That one year of smoking is probably still chipping off days from my genetically abbreviated lifespan- at least it was fun in a Bette Davis chain smoking kind of way.

To counteract the alcohol dependence genes my mother and I share a gene SNP that unifies us in commiseration, we share an SNP on the dopamine/serotonin feedback loop that leaves us with the genetic disadvantage of suffering from terrible hangovers. I always marveled at people who recover from hangovers by 3pm, for me they tend to get worse as the day goes on.

If hacking my genome didn’t have me running out the door to get a head to toe MRI, then it did at least depress me somewhat, but there are not just bad SNPs there are also good ones. Somehow my three genes for “unlikely to go bald” did not bolster my mood any, considering chemotherapy looked almost inevitable but you know I even have an SNP for intolerance or greater negative reaction to chemotherapy drugs. I now felt like I had read my own diary, and knew things I might be better off not knowing and I haven’t even said anything about my personality genes. Yes there are gene snps for personality too. I will devote an entire post to this next week.

Another reason I hacked my genome was to find out if I had a common and at the same time potentially catastrophic mutation in my methylation genes. Methylation is a necessary cellular process that governs many fundamental functions in the body. My father and I share a mutation on the A 1238 gene which can affect methylation but is far less problematic than the central mutation of the AC3677 gene which is far worse. Thank god we dodged that snp.

If you are interested in hacking your genome read this article by Suzy Cohen, which explains the process really clearly.

This is what I did… order a basic genetic test from for 99 dollars. They are better and easier to understand than and the other services out there. They will send you the kit, spit into the test tubes, send it back, wait, then they will email you. When your results are ready login and download the raw data. Then upload your raw data into:

for $30 dollars and it will list all your SNPS and if you have two plus signs you are homozygous for that SNP and will most likely display the trait, if you are heterozygous for the trait plus/minus you may or may not display the trait. If you have two minus signs you will not display the trait. There are good and bad predispositions and traits. Click on each one and it will take you to the page devoted to your SNP mutation on You better devote an entire day to this process. analyses your health snps but if you go another step further and upload your raw data for 5 dollars into:

you will find it analyses personality and other traits, like big boobs or small boobs, blue, green or brown eyes. Then do the same for every member of your family so you know who to blame for what you got in the genetic roulette of conception. I also uploaded my DNA to to find out what supplements I should and shouldn’t take- however a lot of what came back was contradictory- so best to have a naturopath or holistic doctor interpret the data in reference to your symptoms rather than a computer program… more on that from Chris Kresser.

Start with this Suzy Cohen article:

Then watch this podcast with Bulletproof diet man Dave Asprey and Dr. Ben Lynch of, the website I used to analyze my genome.

And this podcast by Chris Kresser called Methylation 101:

Chris says in his podcast that genes make up about 10% of what will happen, and your environment is the other 90%, so there is no such thing as inevitability just predisposition. Dr. Ben Lynch echoed this when he referenced the wonderful book Biology of Belief, which is on my reading list and found on amazon.

I wonder if there is a predisposition to being revolutionary, and if I submitted my DNA to the DAR I could be granted membership based on a gene SNP. Joking aside the DAR have just opened up DNA as a course to membership but you must have a direct male descendant and be able to match his DNA to yours which is a possibility in my lineage. I wonder if he would let me hack his DNA too. Ill Hack Yours, You Hack Mine.

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Will I or Wain’t I

I am never sure what next weeks blog will be about until something happens to me, and at the moment it is unfolding- I think- yes this is it…

The other week when I was in Miami I was walking down the street and I passed a rather large man sitting on a bench. He was a down and out, who probably sits on the same bench every day, wearing the same clothes (of that part I am certain) and probably spouts the same vagabond wisdom to other passing tourists.

He saw us coming and I could of sworn he was looking at me but I couldn’t tell because he was wearing sunglasses- the CVS variety, which some drunk South Beach reveler probably left on his bench. He leaned in and said/sang in his down and out alla breve:

“Some will and some wain’t

Some can and some cain’t

Some are REAL and some AIN’T”

I laughed appreciating the spirit, especially as we were in Coconut Grove and Miami has to be second to Los Angeles for silicone and Botox and all things plastic surgery- calf implants anyone? Some are certainly real and some ain’t.

We came to Miami for the wedding of a good friend and at the festivities I met plenty of thirty eight year olds who had already started with the facelifts, boob jobs, eyebrow lifts, botoxed lips, so much so they looked simultaneously unreal and much much older than they really were, which is clearly not the objective – or perhaps they were lying about their age too. I think there is a bottom line with plastic surgery, which I keep telling my mother who doesn’t listen: Don’t F_CK with your face.

Because we spent our week in Miami celebrating a wedding, I figured that perfectly delivered vagabond wisdom was symbolic of the institution of marriage and the sometimes, institutional world of dating.

Like boobs, some marriages are real and some ain’t. Plenty of people get married to stay in a country or leave one. In Bermuda, where I am from, you have to be married for ten years before the spouse of the Bermudian can become a bonafide resident without fear of being redomiciled to their country of origin, or even allowed to become a majority owner of a business.   This is a sticky issue for many people, and more than one divorce petition has followed a status application.

I myself might as well be a bond girl because I have three passports from three different countries. My one passport only, British husband and I have been married for seven years. He is probably worried I will get the seven year itch, evidently women come down with this but men don’t- I was told by a divorcee the other night. What my husband should be really worried about is me getting drunk at the wedding, standing over a subway grate and lifting my dress over my head like Marilyn Monroe in the movie of the same title, or shall I say rather not like Marilyn Monroe. I had escaped our three year old daughter and a party was destined to ensue.

The bride and groom were on the older side of a first marriage, and so a lot of the guests had ditched their children for the weekend and escaped the everyday grind of parenthood. The multitude of people just like me, made it feel like Spring Break in Ibitha or the first time you climbed out of your bedroom window and went to a night club. We were free, uncork the wine, turn up the music – there isn’t a kid you are responsible for for ten thousand miles.

Our friend Martin was walking past another hotel in Coconut Grove on his way to the sports bar when he passed an couple sitting on the stoop outside the Sonesta puffing away on cigarettes, head to toe in fake tan, and the Primark summer line.

“Its not difficult to spot the British holidaymakers, smoking fags, fake tan!” he laughed.

On the return trip, passing the same hotel a few hours later, there they were again – the same couple and more cigarettes. But this time he was with Chris, and Chris went up to the couple, “Mr. and Mrs. Hill, “ how are you?” Martin was mortified. It was the mother and father of the groom. I suppose it takes a Brit on holiday to spot a Brit on holiday.

Given our age there were a fair share of divorcees attending the wedding too and the divorcees were particularly hilarious people perhaps because of or in spite of their experiences in marriage and divorce. The couple, Brett and Mollie who were sitting at our table at the wedding dinner met on and after their respective divorces and had a sum total of four children between them. It turns out that the Bride and Groom actually met on too and were now entering that special place, the one on prime time television commercials for couples that met on Match and got married- an internet dating success story.

In my dating life, I never tried Match but perhaps I should have considered it and perhaps I would have if I had not ended up back resident on an island where a good percentage of the population would respond to the title, Cousin. Learning your extended family tree is not just a history lesson but a dating protocol, however that doesn’t stop some people. I was asked out on a date by a cousin way back in 1998. My response- that of horror- was “but we have the same great grandfather and the same last name! ” How many people can say they have been asked out on a date by a relative, at least he did have a full set of teeth.

I suppose there isn’t anything desperate about admitting you would like to date someone who doesn’t disgust you at first glance and shares in your interests and priorities and who you haven’t known for most of your life or god forbid- are related to. I am sure is far more successful than that other dating establishment which I was also horrifically subjected to in the past – the blind date.

When I moved back to Bermuda from England the dating pool was pretty slim, so when I met a wonderfully extroverted woman from Texas who said she had the perfect man for me, I believed her. I had no good reason to believe her. I don’t even remember his name but Blind date guy called me, and I agreed to meet him for drinks on a Friday after a cocktail cruise. My friend Julie was in town for a wedding so she would be with me and it would be a relaxed meeting between Blind date guy, Julie and myself rather than create any expectations like him buying me dinner or anything serious. This was my first blind date, I was taking it slowly and as it turned out it was also to be my last, after the assault.

Julie and I arrived at the bar on time and I looked around for blind date guy but didn’t see anyone that met his description. I told him precisely what I would be wearing that night and between that and a description of my hair there could be no confusion. Julie and I ordered a drink, and then another. By ten pm it was clear he was not going to show up. Julie and I ended up – full hot- with me running around the bar telling everyone that I was stood up by a blind date- “Can you believe it! He’d be disappointed if I ever meet him,” and on and on. Eventually after the clock struck midnight we decided to leave, and we disappeared down the dark ally way next to the bar in the direction of home.

Out of nowhere a car screeched to a halt. A man jumped out of the car and chased us down the ally. He grabbed my arm violently or maybe just drunkenly and with my free arm I took my purse, which was heavily weighted with an early generation digital camera the size of a small melon, and clocked him over the head, not once, but several times. Clearly I thought this stranger was trying to rob us, but it was in fact my blind date. He was shorter than me and four hours late so in the end I felt I had dodged a bullet, even though he had not dodged my digital camera.

A few days later I was in the grocery store and happened to see the woman from Texas, I was trapped by distracted women and grocery carts so I pretended to be looking at the expiration dates on the milk cartons ( they were all the same) but I could not avoid her.

“So have you had your blind date yet?”

“No. We were supposed to meet up last Friday but it didn’t work out. ”

I felt it was the simplest explanation of something that had no hope of succeeding. I don’t think she knew about the assault or at least she didn’t let on.

About a year later she tried to set me up with someone else at a party, who was just as short, about my height five foot three at the most. At the risk of sounding completely superficial, I think I told her that I was only interested in men who were at least six feet tall. The moral of the story is that if I had used ( was it around then?) it would have prescreened all the short and late men out of my dating pool, and it might have saved me some time, and a digital camera.

Typical of a Generation X, I am fascinated to hear about people my age and their experiences on Match. Their stories did not disappoint. At our table at the wedding, Mollie’s match, Brett seemed like quite a catch, but his Match stories were well—horrifying– but there is just something about love that convinces you to never give up- until he met Mollie.

Brett described going on a date with a woman who lost no time in letting him know that she, “likes sex with liquids.” He said he told her he would be up for that, thinking to himself, honey, melted chocolate, candle wax- worth a try- not too weird. As the night wore on she confessed that her overwhelming desire was to get naked and pee on him. There was no second date.

Brett said when he got home he mulled over in his mind the eternal question, “Maybe I am really a prude? Am I a prude? ”

I told him categorically, “No.”

On Match you have to put your age down and select an age range of potential candidates. Perhaps they could do with a box for whether or not you like to be peed on. Brett said his range was 35-50. A woman sent him a message saying that she was 51, and he agreed to go on a date as she was only one year out of his range, which was not a big deal to him. The date was going well and Brett said she didn’t look a day over 40, his own age at the time. On their second date she said,

“I have a confession to make.”

“What?” at this point he was probably worried she would say she was really a man.

“I lied about my age.”

“Okay, how old are you?”

“I am not 51, I am 62.”

Brett found this hard to believe, he thought she looked like she was 40 not his own mother’s contemporary.

A few days later, the 62 year old emailed him on Match declining the possibility of a third date, “ You are too old for me, I like younger men.” Brett was twenty two years younger, but somehow not enough.

Just to out due his own stories Brett had yet another one. He took another prospective out for dinner one night, afterwards they went to a local bar for a night cap. Everything was going well for a change, until after drink number three.

“I have a confession to make.”

You can imagine what Brett was thinking… “Are you going to tell me you are really 16 or 84?” but just to out due any of Brett’s other dates on the crazy Richter scale…

“I was abducted by aliens.” She said with utmost sincerity.

“ I’ll pay for your cab home.” Brett said with a matched sincerity masking his horror, and disbelief. At this point Brett was wondering not only if he was really a prude, but what question he filled out on Match that paired him with a bunch of crazies.

I laughed hysterically hard at his final dating disaster story, because something very similar had happened to me in college without the help of There are some people that attract crazy all on their own, I am a beacon. No one has wanted to pee on me yet however.

Back in college when single men were everywhere, there was a house of three boys and my roommate was dating one of them. One of the boys- I think his name was a deceptively simple- John -was quiet and mysterious and piqued my curiosity. Eventually one Saturday night after a show at the Mermaid Lounge in the Quarter in New Orleans, I ended up in his car. After he kissed me- for the first time (and last) – he went into a twenty minute story about being abducted by aliens on a beach in Alabama. During which time I was desperately trying to figure out how I was going to convince him to let me out of the car, which had automatic interior locks. I think I was overcome with a parched throat and had to get another beer. I don’t think I ever saw him again, not sure if he graduated or if he was returned to the ether, some plaything of alien men and their anal probes. I am pretty sure he told me he was probed. I think I would rather be peed on.

And then there was the time, also in college when the boy I liked had a psychotic break and for some reason decided to run around our New Orleans Garden district neighborhood naked clutching a bottle of Captain Morgan’s rum. We had to chase him down in my friend Jane’s car. He didn’t drink and I think at this moment I discovered why. He is now married with three children and I assume off the Captain Morgan.

“Some are Real and Some Ain’t” or as I will tell my Eva when she grows up- you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince. However you can also drink too much, tell dating stories about alien abductees and have fun at a friend’s wedding, and I did!

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The Princess and the Pea Green Turtle

I described myself the other day to a writer I met, as the black sheep of my family. Since then I have given some thought to that term, and how it pertains to my current mid life crisis. We bandy about terms like that to label ourselves, put ourselves in our own comfortable pigeon holes. In reality our lives are our own creative journey, what is the point of trying to be someone you are not. It’s becoming one of my mantras – I will not apologize for who I am. Perhaps I only say that because in numerology I am a number 7, the intuitive loner. Number 7’s aren’t good at generally being subject to any one else’s agenda. So when I had my daughter Eva three years ago my life changed more than I could have ever anticipated or like to admit. She has reminded me of the value of my own time by essentially taking it all. She also inspired this blog. My daughter Eva reminds me of me, something that you need when you are almost forty and your own mother is trying to get you a job as her friend’s personal assistant.

In fact if I am the Princess in my own fairytale then Eva is the pea, my responsibility, my fate, my niggling destiny. She is my reminder that when life throws you twenty mattresses, who you really are will keep you up all night, like Eva has on many occasions, in sickness and in health through tantrum and night terrors, never will we part.

I subscribe to the Universe, not only the actual Universe and its mysterious workings in our favor but also Mike Dooley’s daily email list. He sent a zinger the other day,

“For every fork in the road there are two paths to choose, the one you should take and the one you want to take. Always take the second. “

Eva always takes the second; she is a toddler after all. Her “courage always overrides her common sense,” another note from the universe, and as her mother I wouldn’t want it any other way.

A couple of weeks ago Eva was invited to a dress up birthday party for her friend Scarlett’s fourth birthday. When it was time to get ready, I brought out her dress up box and asked her a rhetorical question, “What would you like to dress up as for the birthday party? A Princess? A Cowgirl?”

“I am a Turtle.” Eva always owns not only, who she is but who or what she wants to be. For the last year, that has been a pea green turtle. It was Halloween when I fulfilled her wildest three year old dreams by buying her a felt Turtle costume complete with a stuffed shell. Six months later, I am only able to pry it off of her occasionally to wash it, the stuffing is coming out of the shell and the seams are loose but Eva isn’t phased by loose strings and imperfection because she is, “a turtle.” Abstract scribbles come home from school which she informs me are “turtle paws,” in reality the scrappy outline of her own hand. She cannot have her hair brushed because, “turtles don’t have hair.” She won’t eat her vegetables because, “turtles only eat jellyfish.”

Eva makes me live up to my every word, and for her I am grateful almost as grateful as Eva the turtle is for dress up birthday parties. When we arrived late at Scarlett’s house, a Princess tea party had already begun. My little turtle wedged herself in between two among the twenty members of the royal family, in time for cake. She stood out like a sore flipper: a turtle in a sea of princesses. I was worried but there she was forging her own path to the glass slipper cakes.

glass slipper cake

I spent the party following her around while she played by herself, occasionally interacting with a princess over entry to the trampoline or playhouse, but most of the time blissfully in her own little turtle world. It reminded me of a birthday party I went to as a child. My mother went to war with me about wearing a party dress, to my committed refusal. It became a battle of wills, which I eventually won. When I turned up at the party in trousers and a t-shirt I was the only one not in a dress. The birthday girl, half offended and half bewildered questioned me on why I had not worn a dress, to which I responded, “I didn’t want to,” to her committed dissatisfaction. I probably did not get a loot bag. Times have changed however and turtles are more accepted by the princess world, and I would not trade a turtle for a princess any day. There were at least five Elsa’s from Frozen at the party and I would rather have a turtle that simultaneously stands out from the crowd, and does not even notice.

Here she is showing me her turtle flipper.

turtle paw


All of my thoughts on Eva’s sparkling individuality came home to roost when I was sitting with several other mothers on the couch and a princess ran up to us and said to the woman sitting next to me,

“Are you Avery’s mother?”

“Yes” the woman answered.

“Avery said she was going to kill Lucy.”

Our collective mouths dropped and Avery’s mother went off to teach her daughter the ten commandments before she stabbed someone with her plastic tiara.

“Everyone hates a snitch.” I thought at the same time as, “Thank god I gave birth to a turtle.”

group shot

As much as Eva is an individual she still does the same things as other kids, I have the mommy moments that are predestined, having stomach flu at the same time as your child, or just last weekend standing in the ER because Eva had stuck purple play dough up her nose and inhaled it followed, three days later by a multitude of popcorn kernels. The only difference is that Eva does it all in a turtle costume, and during the most recent episode she said, “ Mommy, I stuck popcorn up my nose, I need to go to the vet.”

Eva does notice differences sometimes like those important ones between boys and girls. She said to me the other day when she got out of the bathtub and was inspecting her own body, as she will for years to come,

“Sadie is a girl because she looks like me.”

“Yes Eva.” I said

“Not like a boy, boy’s have pee pees.”

“Yes Eva that is right. “

“Caelan likes to play with his during story time.”

“Oh really.”

“Yes he likes to swing it around.”

Eva already knows everything she needs to about men at age three. I suppose I might be forced to reconcile that my little Eva won’t be a turtle forever, but as long as she keeps the same qualities of defiance, individuality and compassion she will be just fine and I will be her constant reminder. We will each be the pea to each other’s princess. Eva might even convince mommy to follow her through the dog door once in a while, just to be different.

dog door

Xx Derelict Mom


4 20 : A Geriatric Purple Haze

When my life as I knew it ended in December 2011 with the birth of my daughter Eva, I never thought I would see a mountain or ski slope ever again. It took me four years to get back to Colorado but get back I did in 2015. I spent a week in March in Vail with my parents, who by divine intervention could not find anyone else to share their timeshare. Enter last minute air miles flight purchase, ski pass and just a credit card between me, a fabulous holiday week, and an empty bank account. Mommy only lives once.

My last minute holiday plans took some getting used to, especially for Eva’s father who was informed that he would have to do all the drop-offs, pickups and lunch boxes for the six days I was gone. He had not done this since I went to a wedding in Greece when Eva was six months old and not yet on solid food. Mommy likes an adventure.

One day Eva will be old enough to come with me, maybe when I move to LA. J

As it turns out my globe trotting Sagittarius friend had just been in Vail and said she was going to leave me a package at the front desk of my hotel, but that she had not been able to because she had consumed all of it.

“What was the surprise?”

“What else do you come to Colorado for?”

“Skiing and? … Oh, Oh yes.”

“You have to try it.”

“No, I have to get my mom to try it.”

“I’ll send you a link to where we went.”

“I think I’ll tell her that I have planned a shopping trip for her.”

“She will certainly buy that.”

And buy it she did for a brief moment. I let my dad in on the cover story. We were going to get the doorman to drive us to Native Roots and tell her it was Colorado’s version of Gucci. My mother, although she has a loveable gullibility, also has a compensating controlling nature, which must be in charge of all minutia. The rest of us could not possibly cope without her mastery of our every move.

“Mom, I am going to organize the doorman to take us to the boutique.”

She whipped out her ipad.

“What is it called?” Her pointer finger hovering over the Google toolbar.

“Let me organize it.” I pleaded

“No, What is it called?”

“Native Roots.” I say tentatively the corners of my mouth curving up in the hint of a laugh.

My father shakes his head.

My mother hunts and pecks and presses enter.

She squints at the screen, puts on her reading glasses, squints again then flips the ipad in my direction.

“Is this it?”

“That is it.” I say with a big smile.

“It’s not a boutique, it looks like a marijuana farm! “

“It’s legal here mom, it will be like a rite of passage.”

“I am not smoking weed.”

“You don’t have to. You just have to buy weed, exercise your legal rights.”

“Whatever, if you insist.”

“I insist. It will be an adventure. ”

“I better not get arrested.”

“I told you its legal in Colorado, even for socialites.”

“The doorman of The Sebastian is NOT taking us to buy weed, I will find a driver.”

She flicks her hair, and flips open her address book from circa 1980, and turns the page to a well worn bookmark, never considering once the option of not going, but a firm commitment to find the right method of transportation.

“Shall I call High Mountain taxi, or Mountain High Car Service?”

My father and I burst out laughing. My mother seemed oblivious.

“I think I will try Mountain High, High Mountain did not call me back in 1986 and I almost missed the first Pepi’s Wedel week, Ill never forget.”

She dials, and in her best telephone voice, “Hello we are at the Sebastian in Vail, and we would like to go on a sight seeing tour to the marijuana farm.”

“Native Roots in Eagle Vail.” I say pedantically.

“If you could please pick us up at 4pm.”

“How long will it take to get there?”

“Approximate arrival time, 420pm, perfect.”

“420pm,” I echo, “Perfect.”

My mother hangs up the phone and announces,

“I am not buying any marijuana.”

“Mom, Ill buy it for you, because you are over age. “

“What do you mean?”

“When you are underage you get older friends to buy you beer, and when you are overage you get your daughter to buy you weed.”

“We will work something out,” she says giving me a side eye.

At 4pm we milled past the fur coats and leather carry alls that littered the lobby, and piled into our Mountain High chariot.

“Thank you for taking us,” my mother broke the ice, “It’s my daughter that wants the weed.” In another universe she could have been my pimp, running my life, getting me to buy her drugs, and speaking for me.

“It’s a marijuana factory we don’t want to buy any, just take the tour.”

I could see Mom was restraining her self from asking our driver if he was a regular.

“I haven’t smoked weed since 1969.” She said to the driver.

“That’s not actually true.” I said.

“Yes it is.”

“No its not.”

My father just shook his head and said nothing.

“You don’t remember because you were drunk.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Anna Laura’s ( my sister) twenty first birthday party.”

“The indecent proposal party.”

“Yes you made an indecent proposal.”

“I did?”

“Yes you went up to a young girl who was smoking weed, she was mortified convinced you were going to turn her in to the police or worse her parents, and instead you asked her if you could have a toke.”

“What’s a toke?”

“A puff mom.”

“Oh yes its all coming back to me now.”

“I don’t think it had any effect on me.”

“It had an effect on the young girl, she was shocked.”

“Do you remember what happened next?”


“ The next weekend, Giles ( my younger brother) was at the local bar and picked up a young girl, they were making out on the golf course and she told him about a raging party she had been at the weekend before when an old woman came up and asked to share her joint. “

“Oh yes I remember this,” my father said.

I continued, “and then Giles said, Oh my god that was MY Mother! At about the same time as you drove up to the bar in a rage beeping your car horn, because he had missed his curfew.  Giles left the young girl on the golf course, and sheepishly got into the back seat. I am not sure though who was in more trouble that night him or you.”

“Okay that’s enough no more story hour in front of the driver.”

“He has a name, it’s Doug.”

We pulled into Native Roots, in Eagle Vail at 4:19pm.

“One minute to spare.”

We posed for pictures outside. I got this particularly nice one of my parents “sightseeing” about to “tour the factory.”

Native Roots

When we arrived, I announced that we were tourists, and I handed over my passport. My mother slipped her passport under the Plexiglas divider, and the woman on the other side picked up the other end of the passport. My mother would not let the other end go, her grip tightened and she started to pull it back.

“What are you going to do with my passport, you better not report me.”

“Mom, it’s a formality, you aren’t being done for ten years in the Bangkok Hilton, relax! “

She let go.

“This woman needs some weed.”

The strung out cancer patient in the corner laughed and offered to take our picture, it becoming increasingly obvious to everyone in the establishment that we all had never been there before, had no idea what we were doing, and not smoked weed since at least 1996. Which was not quite as long ago as 1969.

The doors clinked open and the woman behind the Plexiglas motioned us forward, like the bellboy at the Ritz as far as my mother was concerned.

Mom sauntered in, “What now?” looking at me, expecting wait staff, a silver tray, or an opium den or all of the above.

“We stand in line,” I said assuming our spot.

We shuffled up to the boy behind the counter.

“My goodness, you look younger than my son!” My mother exclaimed.

“You have to be at least 21 to work here, it’s the law” the boy pointed to the sign.

“Your son is 32 years old, mom.”

She ignored me, “We would like something light. I haven’t smoked weed since 1969.”

“1996,” I countered. “Wine at lunch makes her dyslexic.”

“Nothing has over 10grams because we are regulated by government.” He said staring straight ahead but pointing to another sign as if he had done this thirty times that very day.

“Now what do you want?”

My mother looked down over the display cabinets moving her ringed pointer finger around, “I would like to see this one,” she said as if she was choosing an engagement ring from the millionaire’s club at Tiffany’s.

She sniffed lavender kind buds and held the Sour Kush strain up to the light before wafting it toward her nose. She discussed the merits of buddery like she was discussing the fine citrus notes of a glass of Chablis.

“Look they even have a Harlequin bud.”

Then something important distracted mom just as she was nearing a decision, after pulling everything out to the young man’s quiet annoyance. He was given away by the frustrated wiggle of his backwards baseball cap, and the eye rolling. She was taken in by the metallic glint of a rack of clothing. She finally felt at home in the drug den.

Pointing she said, “I would like to see that t-shirt in a women’s medium.” The young man walked so slowly into the back wardrobe, his pants almost fell off of his non existent butt. He returned with a Native Roots T-shirt in a plastic wrap.

“I am taking it out of the plastic wrap.” She announced to him. He shrugged.

She unfolded the t-shirt and put it up to her and to me and my father.

“It’s a women’s medium.” I said.

“Right you are, young man fetch me a large.”

He returned eventually with a large, she gave him a don’t even try to stop me look, and took the large out of package, made my father hold it up by the shoulder seams while she held up the medium to gauge the difference in size, fit and texture.

“Now let me see a men’s large.”

He disappeared and returned.

“Now a men’s medium”

When she had taken almost every t-shirt in every denomination out of its package and ummed and ahhed about size, color and who would get what for which birthday. She decided on five t-shirts, which she stuffed in her purse like she had just bought postcards in Tuscany.

“Do you take credit cards? “

“No, cash only.”

“Don’t you take gold credit cards?” She said waving hers around.

“No, marijuana is still illegal federally so the banks don’t want to have anything to do with us, it’s a cash business.”

“Someone should talk to them, credit is king! “

“We are a weed dispensary, would you like to purchase any weed or just the t-shirts?”

My mother gave him the side eye and adjusted her David Yurman.

“I want two lemon drops.”

“And a vapor stick.” I added.

“In vapor sticks we are selling two for the price of one.”

“Look mom they must have known we were coming, they are having a sale! “

“What flavor would you like?”

I remembered my friend’s advice and so I tried to sound like I knew what I was talking about. Like a truly almost middle aged mother, I said,

“I would like the Stevia flavor.” Assuming of course that it was flavored naturally with the calorie free sugar like herb.

“You mean SATIVA not Stevia.” He said smugly while reaching into the case.

“Yeah whatever that is.” I said mortified.

He took two vapor sticks out of the case and put them in front of me on the counter.

“One for mother, one for daughter.”

“I have a question.” My mother interjected. The young man had had enough of us by this point. Mother rattled her lemon drops.

“Can these be smelled by sniffer dogs?”

The young man’s annoyance abated into amusement.

“She will be 70 soon.” I added for effect.

“I don’t think anyone will find it if I hide it with my vitamins, no one will be the wiser. Can we take it to Bermuda?”

“YOU can do whatever YOU want, Mame.”

“In Colorado.” I added.

“What happens in Colorado stays in Colorado.”

“Can we get a printed receipt for customs in Bermuda?”


“One more thing, can you take the weed off of the receipt?”

Mom winked at him, the rest of us rolled our eyes.

When we finally got back to the hotel mom laid her stash out on the cocktail table, fixed herself a four finger vodka and contemplated her return to the world of drug use.

“What is it going to do to me?”

“Relax, you might like it better than booze.”

We both knew that was impossible.

Mom turns the lemon drops over in her hand, reading the label.

“There is too much sugar in this.”

“Mom, this is not the time to be health conscious. You are about to get high.”

“What is THC?”

“That’s the active ingredient.”

“Oh, Maybe I shouldn’t do this on an empty stomach.”

“You never have an empty stomach.”

She tried to open the child proof pinch and pull triggered lever to open the box and couldn’t.

“It’s geriatric proof.”

“No match for my heavy duty kitchen scissors.”

When she finally got it open she looked at the lemon drops as if she was about to take one.

“What happens if I go nutcase?”

“You already are a nutcase.” Dad said.

Dad was cooking steaks and the grill started to smoke up the hotel suite.

“Can one of you open the door, we don’t want to set off the alarm everyone will think it’s the drugs.”

Mom got up opened the door, and went to fetch the cordless phone, she put it next to me.

“Just in case, so you can call 911.”

“Mom, I am not a responsible adult, I am sucking on a vapor stick.”

“I know you aren’t a responsible, but you are capable of dialing for help.”

“Just take your lemon drop mom.”

She did, and then chased it with vodka.

“I should take one of these before I go down Riva Ridge.”

“But you won’t even go down Lodge Pole?” Dad said.

“That was before I discovered lemon drops.”

She cranked her lazy boy into a full recline and removed her fur lined snow boots, dressed still in head to toe David Yurman.

“Does it get into your system really fast because its got so much sugar? I feel mellow.”

“Maybe I should take one?” Dad said.

“You need at least two because you are bigger.”

“I am not that much bigger.”

“They look like cough sweets.”

Mom popped another one in her mouth, “If its legal can it still fuck you up like LSD?”

“Wait, you took LSD?”

No answer.

“Do you get hangovers from this stuff.”

“I don’t think so, time will tell.” I said.

“Is it addictive?”

“I am going to take one of these before I get on Chair 4.”

“I am not sure if that’s a good idea,” I said imagining my mother with the giggles getting plowed over on the carpet by a series of young sober people.

Mom looked at the ingredients again.

“We got jipped, these only have five milligrams each. We should have gotten rookie cookies.”

“Mom take another lemon drop.”

“Pass me your vaporizer.”

I obeyed, and she took a deep inhale.

“What would be better is if they invented a ganja humidifier and then everyone could have some.”

“The lemon drops must be kicking in.”

“Pass me my ipad.”

I obeyed.

“I am going to post something on Facebook.”

“Don’t say we are getting high.”

“Why not?”

I realized at this moment that in college dorm rooms across the world people were getting high and surfing facebook, but there probably weren’t many 70 year old grannies, dripping in fur and David Yurman in a fancy hotel suite in Vail doing the exact same thing.

“Shit, I have done something to my facebook, can you fix it?”

She passed me her ipad. I took a look and erupted in a fit of vapour induced giggles.

“Mom, how on earth did you set your Facebook to Chinese.”

“I feel Chinese,” She giggled while squinting at me from her old age recliner.

I managed to switch the language back to her native tongue, giving me a translatable look at her Facebook profile.

“Mom it says you like Justin Bieber?”

“Who is Justin Bieber?”

“He is a juvenile.”

“I don’t know how that happened.”

“Blame the lemon drops.”

“Where is the stuff I am supposed to snort?”

“We don’t have anything that is snortable.”

“Thank god.” Dad said. He was still sober.

“When you are finished, you had better hide your paraphernalia from the maids.” She said to me waving her pointer finger.

“Mom we are in Colorado, and when you are done there will be nothing left, especially if you start snorting lemon drops.”

“I think they should open a Native Roots branch in Vail proper. I was looking for one last year.”


“I am going to put the rest of the lemon drops in my makeup bag, and take them home.”

“Mom you really can’t do that, ending up on the Bermuda drug list will be mortifying for a socialite. If there are any left just pack them in the crate and we can have them next year.”

She checked the label again, “Oh they don’t expire until 2018.”

“Hopefully we don’t either.” Dad said.

Mom packed what was left into the crate mumbling, “I am putting it away in the crate because no one will let me take it home.”

“We could send it to Henry and Judiann as a surprise, or give it to Malin.” I said

“I don’t think you should share your drugs with your ski instructor.” Dad said.

“I am feeling a bit hazy, I might have to lie down.” Mom started to stagger.

“It’s called a Purple Haze.”

Mom later fell asleep and started snoring in her recliner.

I said to Dad, “I bet she is dreaming of smoking weed with Justin Bieber.”

“She could be his grandmother.”

“Great Grandmother.”

Mom survived without a hangover and lived to smoke/inhale a vapor stick, another day.

Mountain high

Xx Derelict Mom.

Hello Vodka This is Mommy Calling

I was thinking the other day, that Reza could be my mother. If my biological mother had decided to leave me on the side of the curb in 1976, Reza would have adopted me, I know she would have. It would have made her a teenage mother, and in someways I am surprised she wasn’t a teenage mother, her big heart is always taking in strays. Stray dogs, stray people, stray people’s problems, stray teenage adoption- not such a stretch. I distinctly remember showing up one Saturday morning sometime last year to see Piglet while Reza was out, and noticing a suspicious car in the yard. It was an unmarked car parked next to the swing set with two men wearing matching grey suits and ray bans. It was then I knew her latest stray who she was hosting in the spare room, was a bit more trouble than the usual alley cats. A few weeks later something happened between them, someone called the cops, Reza kicked her out, and has been locking her door ever since. She won’t tell me what happened, and although I wish Piglet could talk he doesn’t divulge any of Reza’s secrets.

Reza, much like my own mother, also gives me parenting advice. She tells me Eva needs a sibling. I tell her … “Just like I need to saw off my arm.” She is horrified, tells me I spoil her, and looks at me suspiciously when I say no then give in and say yes because by the time Eva has had two lollipops what harm does a third one do? kind of like wine. It’s irrational but I am sticking to it – but only on Saturdays. Then mid sentence Reza runs outside and starts mowing the lawn in her way too small nightie with bizarre and at the same time random timing, like she left the kettle on or something. The noise makes me loose concentration and I start thinking I am in my own version of the Truman Show.


Reza is always trying to convert me to religion, to save me, to earn her golden ticket to heaven, and be my spiritual guide. My cynicism of religion has not budged but I was searching through my drawers last night for a pen and found a poem on a card about Motherhood with an image of Mary Magdalene. Reza probably gave it to me, slipped it under the door, or with her bill. It read:

Dear Lord,

It’s such a hectic day, with little time to stop and pray. For life’s been anything but calm, since you called me to be a mom- running errands, matching socks, building dreams with stacking blocks, cooking, cleaning and finding shoes, and other things that children lose. Fitting lids on bottled bugs, wiping tears and giving hugs. A stack of last week’s mail to read- where’s the quiet time I need? Yet when I steal a moment, Lord, at the sink or ironing board, to ask the blessing of your grace, I see them in my little one’s face, that you have blessed me all the while. And I stoop to kiss that precious smile.

I thought of my own mother and how she is still doing a lot of these things, she still nags us all to be her best version of ourselves, she has taken in our partners and all the grandchildren in kind of like strays and nags them too. Last weekend she was throwing a dinner party and wanted Chris and I to attend, but we declined not because we had a better offer but because it was the only night we have off all week because life with a three year old and jobs is otherwise hectic. She twisted our arm and convinced us to come for a drink.

“Why do we have to come for a drink?”

“Because the Gig man is here and he is English.”

“Who is /What is a Gig man?”

“Your father has brought him over to start the pilot gig racing program in Bermuda.”

“Reza’s father was a pilot.”

“The Gig man does not want to meet Reza he wants to meet Chris.”

“Why does he want to meet Chris?”

“Because he supports the same team as Chris, he is a Tottenham Hotspurs supporter.”

“Oh they have a huge game on Sunday.”

“So you have to bring Chris over for a drink.”

“Okay fine.”

We came over, my mother had hired staff for the evening, unbeknownst to me I was drafted too and spent cocktail hour passing canapés. Then my mother requested that Chris make her a cocktail. We started gossiping together in the kitchen like Anna and Bates in Downton Abbey. Chris was fixing her a drink, while I was arranging toast points.

“Do you think that is enough vodka?” he asked me looking down at the two finger vodka he had poured.

“For my mother, not at all, why don’t we double it and make it a four finger and just put a touch of soda water in it.”

“We can’t do that.”

“Yes we can, she can send it back and we can water it down if need be.”

“You are going to get her drunk.”

“Not off one vodka, it will be funny, come on.”

He poured the stiffy.

“I want to see if she flinches.”

I took my almost seventy year old mother the drink.

“Chris wants you to taste it to see if it’s okay.”

She raised it to her lips and drank with reverence.

No flinch.

I returned to the ante room and reported back to Chris.

“No flinch.”


I looked down and started laughing.

Chris said, “What are you laughing at?”

The cocktail napkin, its so mom.

Chris looked down and read it: “I laughed so hard tears ran down my leg.”

A Life in Cocktailnapkin002

Then I started to think…. It would be a pretty hilarious character portrait to hunt through all her stuff and find all the cocktail napkins in her collection.

“It would be quite a portrayal.” Chris said…and so I did, like the good researcher I am, collecting all her cocktail napkins my mothers own pracied memoir, a life in cocktail napkins. Maybe that is what I will entitle her eulogy.

Here goes:

I tried jogging but I couldn’t keep the ice in my glass

A Life in Cocktailnapkin003

At our age swimming is dangerous, lifeguards don’t try as hard.

A Life in Cocktailnapkin007

SLUTS: Southern Ladies Up to Something

A Life in Cocktailnapkin006

Don’t get your tinsel in a tangle

A Life in Cocktailnapkin008

You will always be my best friends, you know too much!

Hello Vodka, this is mommy calling.

A Life in Cocktailnapkin004

This last one is especially fitting. I am thinking the three of us kids, should ask her to choose one for her epitaph.

Later on, when we were invited out of the kitchen, Chris finally got to meet the Gig man.

“Hey, I hear we support the same team – YID ARMY! Woot. Woot.”

“Huh? Oh You are a Spurs supporter? “


“You have a big game tomorrow.”

“Yes WE have a big game tomorrow.” Chris said.

“ I support Torquay United. “



“Maybe we did give her too much vodka.” I said later.

“It’s almost impossible to get a third division team like Torquay confused with Spurs.”

“Almost isn’t good enough.”

“Write that one down.”

“What for?”

“Your life in cocktail napkins, the abridged memoir.”

“We should do one for Reza too.”

“If Reza was my mother, I would need a four finger vodka.”

DM signature001

WANTED: Personal Assistant… God Needs a Day Off.

The closest I ever got to self help was reading a book called the Artist’s Way by Julie Cameron. There was one chapter which talked about how creative people often have crazy makers in their lives, people close to them who sap all their energy and time with demands, crisis and otherwise high drama. Hmmm. Sound familiar.

The book recommends that you either cut these people out of your life completely or distance your self from them in order to nurture yourself. I have several of these in my life, we all probably do but instead of distance myself I have decided to mine my experiences for the blog, but sometimes it gets me down. I have a hard enough time managing my ridiculous career, my own expectations, a three year old, and I could go on but it wouldn’t be flattering.

My mother unsubtly suggested during a moment of unemployment last year that I become her friend’s personal assistant. It was never a career I aspired after or even looked up to nor would it be something that I would be good at because it would be really hard for me to have my heart in personal assistance and when it comes down to it, I am just too stuck up.

Maybe it was the threat of divorce or maybe it was the book’s advice but I finally came to the decision last year to re-home Piglet who had been driving the household crazy for eleven years with his bullying and fleeting attempts at murder of his brother, filicide . Everyone had finally had enough. It was me or the dog.

When Reza agreed to adopt Piglet I was relieved but I was of course inheriting another crazy situation, just different kind of crazy, crazy on a different day but still crazy, belovable crazy.

It became even crazier when someone ( not me) took Julie Cameron’s advice and decided to create some distance, and as of January Reza was out working on her own instead of for her brother’s company which before neatly took care of all her taxes and health insurance, depositing a sum every month in her account. Now she was out on her own, and Piggy was diagnosed with diabetes, all of which added to the stress of her situation and mine.

“Don’t worry, I am not worried, God will provide.”

So in January God lined up at the bank got a token and all the information, sat down at her computer with Reza, devised passwords and set up internet banking. God also typed up information sheets for all her clients to fill out with their details and contact information. God organized a photo shoot and designed a business card. God also monitored all her ashamble finances for the last two months, tracked down missing payments and worried about how she would pay her car registration or even get the car passed through TCD. God then realized that Reza had not signed up for health insurance, so God will take it upon herself to sign Reza up for the government program, and pay for it directly.

“God will provide.”

The problem with Reza is she is not an effective communicator. It took me weeks to understand the communications she had had with clients over the missing payment. She seems to commune with God just fine but he is not providing the translation. She also has a short temper which is made worse by hunger, sickness or tiredness and Reza like myself seems to always be afflicted by one if not more of those.

The other day when we did her photo shoot it took about an hour to get one usable picture because she was shouting and yelling and carrying on, sending one dog, east, another west, and at least three cowering. She was shouting at me, at her self, at all eight dogs and the sky. She was Fing and blinding and then apologizing to Eva who wasn’t even there.

Then there is the old station wagon God helped her buy last year and its various afflictions. Every car Reza has owned or driven has ended up with a bumper tied on by a piece of string. Reza’s impulsivity drives her to careen over small objects, perhaps even dogs, she has certainly mounted my small boundary wall every now and again. A ding or a dent in a car over the span of a year is hardly news worthy, but fifteen dents and the body work she had to organize before taking the car in for its test. To my sheer amazement, Reza told me the other day,

“You know I used to drive buses. I loved it.”

“You mean public buses with people on it, who pay for you to get them home safe and sound.”


“Lets not go back to that.”

I thought to myself it either didn’t work out because she was sideswiping customers or letting them ride for free, or both. When a bus took out a sidewalk of cars while I was away I was convinced Reza had taken a position as a substitute.

I lay awake nights waiting for the phone call from Reza and then it came one morning.

“The car has broken down, and I have no food or insulin for Piggy.”

“Reza we were just at the vet with Piggy for his glucose curve three days ago, I told you specifically that there is no need to be in this situation, you can charge on my account at any time, I told you to keep at least a week supply at all times. You know you cant mess around with a diabetic dog.”

“I know I know, I am just so worried can you get me the food and insulin.”

“I wasn’t planning on driving to town today, but I will- it will take me two hours out of my way, but I will deliver the food and put the insulin in the fridge.”

“Thank you Thank You Thank You.”

“Reza, don’t let this happen again. “

“It will never happen again.”

So instead of working I spent my Thursday afternoon driving up to the vet and without telling Reza got a case of food and a vile of insulin to keep at my house. I can say with Darwinian certainty that this will happen again.

It turned out to only be her spark plug, the week before she had been leaking oil down Speakers Drive, so we had her oil filter replaced. God provided again.

While I was at the vet I rested my head against the counter as they rang up my credit card and I thought… to myself,

“My god I need a personal assistant.”

Then my second thought made my mother’s suggestion bear fruit.

“My god, I am Reza’s personal assistant.”

This weekend when I came to visit Piglet, and brought Reza some vegetables from the family garden. ( my god maybe I am an enabler.)

She told me that by some miracle her car had passed its inspection. God gets a day off.

Then she started on about politics.

“Do you know that they are taking away our post office, did you know that we only got the post office in St. David’s in 1966, we were last, and now they are taking it away.”

“Reza, that was almost fifty years ago.”

She continued unabated.

“I heard the only reason they kept our medical center open was because they were going to put all the people with M-BOLA in St. David’s. Can you believe the nerve. I don’t want M-Bola.”

And she continued.

“And why did they close the Severn bridge, if something happens to swing bridge no one who lives in St. Georges will be able to get medical attention. They should have kept Severn bridge open, it was all made out of wood- it wouldn’t have cost anything to maintain.”

“Reza they closed Severn bridge in 1937, before you were born.”


She has a little backpack which had the PLP ( Progressive Labour Party) logo, and it was crossed out with a ballpoint pen and in her handwriting the letters OBA for the current government’s party etched on top. I imagined she would be crossing it out again soon and writing Say No to M-Bola.

I decided to try and steer the conversation away from politics and decided to bring up the lack of health insurance.

“You have to have health insurance Reza, so this is what is going to happen, when I get back I will set you up with HIP insurance and I will pay it directly, and then pay you anything else I owe you for walking Piccolo. “

“Okay, thanks that would be great but don’t pay me anything extra, you keep that, whatever it ends up being.”

“No Reza, I won’t keep it.”

“I want you to have it.”

“Are you trying to tip me Reza?”

“Well you should get paid something for being my secretary.”

There was nothing to do but laugh, so I laughed.

“My Secretary…. I think I prefer GOD.”

Reza photo

Examples in Motherhood

Okay I know I have been absent for a while- blame a holiday and the film festival. But I am back- starting off with a tame one… I ramp up from here over the next week. Stay tuned.

Sometimes my life seems more like a split end than a strand of hair. This past week was a perfect example. I was desperately trying to get a lot of work done to feel accomplished before I left on vacation. As I slowly chip away at my work load and organize my life around it I seem to overwhelm myself with the enormity of what is left. I have yet to master the art of realistic projection and I still try and do it all, and top everything off with a nice tasting bottle of red or pot of coffee to keep me going.

On my list of goals this week were several recipes, to provide Eva’s favorite food – readily accessible in the fridge while I am away for five days. My first task was to make her coconut granola that she eats every morning for breakfast. I got up early one morning and while it was in the oven I somehow got distracted by email or brushing Eva’s hair and left it in a little too long.

“Shit, I thought, it looks a little too brown.”

“Tastes okay to me, she won’t notice.”

I gave her a bowl.

She looked at it with a funny face and then put it to her mouth, cautiously surveyed it with her tongue without actually chewing it, and spat it back into the bowl.

“It needs more honey.”

The translation was for my attuned ear, “It tastes burnt.”

That evening Daddy expressed his disapproval, and mommy was back at the drawing board finally able to create a palatable version.

Another night I was cooking a “one skillet meal” of garlic spinach, pork loins and apple. How can you mess up a one skillet meal? I can mess up anything. After cooking the pork to perfection I lightly salted the dish as per direction, but my pour was little too heavy from years of making my mother vodka drinks and the top fell out of the gallon of sea salt falling right into the skillet followed by an ant pile of salt. My energy level hit the floor. I scooped out the pile of salt and served it anyway.

It was inedible. I went without. Chris’s only comment was.

“Are we on the Deliverance, is this a flashback to the Starving time, slating hogs for survival?”

“It was an accident.”

Later on the same week I decided to make kale chips, because Chris was going on about how much he loved my dad’s kale chips, and I kept saying oh yeah those are really easy to make, which begged the obvious question- well then why haven’t you made any for me yet.

I thought if I made a big batch of them before I left him as chief parent for a week that it would be a kind culinary gesture. I followed directions but I must have added too much oil and again too much salt ( its that heavy vodka pour) and the chips never became chips more like oily dehydrated spluge.

But I wasn’t done in the kitchen yet, I set out to make a double order of Eva’s favorite tuna fish. I have recently learned that basically all store bought mayo is terrible for you, with soybean oil or canola oil which are both generally bad and full of GMOS. So I have started making my own mayo. Ambitious I know, but to my surprise the mayo turned out well and the tuna salad was a success, the only one so hopefully it will last them the week. But my disasters were not done.

I had a collection of egg whites left over from making the mayo, so I decided to cook them up for the Piccolo’s dinner. The problem was that sometime between when I set the egg whites cooking in the pan and when they should have been ready which is only really a minute or two, I got distracted but not by a dirty dish or a thirty second email, but I decided to call Eva’s grandparents in England and have a thirty eight minute conversation with them downstairs. Opps. By the time we all said our goodbyes and I started up the stairs for the kitchen I realized something was very wrong as the stairwell was full of smoke.

“Something’s on fire.” I yelled dropping Eva on the landing as I started running up the stairs only to be stopped dead by Eva’s piercing scream of terror.

I had to return to Eva then take her to her father, admitting that not only had I lit something on fire in the kitchen and was not sure what was burning but I had also terrified my daughter by abandoning her alone in a smoke filled house. Opps.

Chris took Eva. I returned up the stairs, when I entered the kitchen I remembered the egg whites. We had no choice but to evacuate.

“Eva has earned her smoking jacket today.” Chris joked.

Eva, my mini Hugh Hefner wears her dressing gown everywhere and she has several varieties, which are on a wash rotation.

I took Eva to feed the fish and wander around outside while fresh air and fans wafted fresh air into the house.

“Cooking is usually your expertise. I think you need a vacation.” Chris joked with a twinge of disgust.

“I have lost my touch. Anything to get a week away.”

And so I left the stove and the salt shaker alone for the rest of the evening, and instead fielded obscure emails from my mother about what she ate for lunch, and if I could pack her sugar free vanilla protein powder in little Ziploc bags and hide them in my suitcase and bring them out to Colorado when I come. Luckily she was able to find some at Whole foods, which is just as well because I was given a full Security profile, and had every belonging searched. I would have had a hard time explaining why I had Ziploc snack bags filled with white powder hidden in the arms of my ski jacket.

“Its my mother’s sugar free vanilla protein powder.” Would probably earn me a few hours in the back room and a missed flight.

When I reached my destination in Colorado I was comforted by the fact that I was at least somewhere where my heavy pouring arm would be welcomed and exercised.

XX Derelict Mom