never married, over forty, a little bitter


Although the roommate hasn’t moved out yet, we are studiously ignoring each other’s presence. I’m so over it. I can’t wait to have my space back completely for sewing and reading and writing and editing. As it is, I’ve embarked on these things with a new fervor.

I don’t know if I could handle another roommate. I’ve realized my error with this one. If I live with someone again, it has to be someone who truly gets and empathizes with the NoMo experience. It can’t be someone who is going to judge me or who views me as a patsy.

Sometimes I can’t believe I left L.A.– just as I was about to meet my favorite living author– for this situation. Talk about not worth it! As far as my former work organization goes, I’m starting to think that perhaps I don’t care so much about being a part of a club that would have him as a member.

If I do manage to finagle a job with them (or anyone), I will stay for reasons I’ve written about before. Financial reasons. Being closer to my family– my mother is almost eighty and it’s not unrealistic to think she might only have a decade left and that flying to California will become too difficult for her. Ease of life. Better health.

L.A. is uber-stress. And (even more) loneliness. And a possible earthquake in which I’d be left to fend for myself.


It is, admittedly, dynamic and exciting. There could be worse things than having to go back (that is, if I could survive the move).

At this current moment, my actual friends in both cities are about the same in number and intensity. But L.A. has that extra layer I’ve written about before– that layer of imaginary friends who are doing great things. I miss that motivation, but I won’t move back for it unless I have to.


It’s nice to know that the grass isn’t always greener:

When it comes to socializing these days, I’m beginning to notice a pattern: Not many moms seem interested in making friendships beyond one get-together.

Motherhood is a lonely gig. This is the real issue, isn’t it? We often read the wrong signals or make concessions to befriend someone we wouldn’t otherwise for the sake of company. I adore my children. But who wants to play in the sandbox alone all day with a 2-year-old? (If you say that spending every waking moment with your child is the MOST FULFILLING day of your life, then I can tell you right now you are reading the wrong blog.) In desperate attempts to hang out with other adults, I tried to make friends with people that weren’t exactly love connections. Why? We need each other. We need adult interaction.

other dreams

I wish, in this answer, that she’d given some space to the possibilities of a childfree life:

Oh, the dream. The god damned man + baby dream. Written by the High Commission on Heterosexual Love and Sexual Reproduction and practiced by couples across the land, the dream’s a bitch if you’re a maternally-inclined straight female and not living it by the age of 37.1; a situation of a spermicidally toxic flavor. Of course you want to bring out your six-shooter every time you see another bloated mom hoisting up another squinty-eyed spawn on Facebook. You want the dream too! The man. The baby. The whole god-damned shebang.

But, M, you didn’t get it. Not yet. Not quite ever, perhaps. That doesn’t mean all is lost. This is not “how your story ends.” It’s simply where it takes a turn you didn’t expect.


I’m so sorry that your baby girl died, sweet pea. So terribly sorry. I can feel your suffering vibrating right through my computer screen. This is to be expected. It is as it should be. Though we live in a time and place and culture that tries to tell us otherwise, suffering is what happens when truly horrible things happen to us.

Don’t listen to those people who suggest you should be “over” your daughter’s death by now. The people who squawk the loudest about such things have almost never had to get over any thing. Or at least not any thing that was genuinely, mind-fuckingly, soul-crushingly life altering. Some of those people believe they’re being helpful by minimizing your pain. Others are scared of the intensity of your loss and so they use their words to push your grief away. Many of those people love you and are worthy of your love, but they are not the people who will be helpful to you when it comes to healing the pain of your daughter’s death.

They live on Planet Earth. You live on Planet My Baby Died.

It seems to me that you feel like you’re all alone there. You aren’t. There are women reading this right now who have tears in their eyes. There are women who have spent their days chanting daughter, daughter or son, son silently to themselves. Women who have been privately tormented about the things they did or didn’t do that they fear caused the deaths of their babies. You need to find those women, darling. They’re your tribe.


In the middle of this podcast, the three hosts discuss a GQ article entitled “The Cooler Me” by Eric Puchner in which the author, a domesticated parent, compares his life to a bohemian doppelgänger. The female host reports that she was a bit disappointed by the ending, in which the author “of course” has to insinuate that his kids make all his compromises worth it. All three hosts are childless, so it was interesting to hear their take:

And here’s the essay, with some highlights:

“It was like being winked into a secret world,” Kyle said. “I sort of realized I didn’t have to be a busy ant. People get so caught up in ending up somewhere specific, in chasing a certain kind of life, but it’s like that Alan Watts quote: Every point on the surface of the sphere is the center of the surface. You’re at the center already.”


What about kids? I asked. A family? Did he ever worry he was missing out on something?

He stared at the bed sitting in the middle of the yard. “I haven’t knocked it off the list. It might be fun to be one of those freaky old dads. But I’m too attached to my freedom, I guess—waking up at 10 a.m. and hopping on my skateboard to check out the surf. I like watching all the bandwagoners hustling off to work. If I’m feeling good, I’m the king of the world.”

“And if you’re feeling bad?”

“I’m the scum of the earth.”

I told him that children would help with that. If I’d had a bad day of writing or teaching and I was generally feeling like a worthless piece of shit, there was nothing like being greeted by your kids back at home to snap things into perspective. I was bragging a bit—I wanted to squeeze some jealousy from him—but it was also, I felt, one of the unconditional rewards of fatherhood.

“But it’s important to feel like scum sometimes, isn’t it?” Kyle said. “To get down in that dark place and dwell awhile?”

I looked up at the house, surprised to see stars twinkling in the empty window frame. It was one of the hardest parts of family life, actually, the thing maybe I missed the most: the loss of that lonely place I used to dwell. As a young man drunk on books, I used to walk the streets for hours, feeling like an alien creature, following the darkening detours of my mind. People tend to talk about self-absorption as if it were a bad thing, but I missed those walks very much.


There was his amazing popularity in the neighborhood, for instance. It seemed like everyone who walked by burst out smiling or yelled his name or asked him if he wanted to hit the surf. “My buddies,” he called them. It was like sitting next to the groom at a wedding reception. When we went to buy beer at the corner, the Korean convenience-store owner embraced him like a son. In L.A., my life was consumed by family—I knew almost none of my neighbors, and the ones I did know I actively avoided. I had a balcony, but I never used it. If I wasn’t inside the tortoiseshell of our beautiful apartment, I was in our low-emission station wagon driving the kids somewhere or getting myself to work. Here was a man who lived three blocks from the beach, one block from Golden Gate Park, whose life—as far as I could tell—was spent on porches. He even went outside to piss.


Recently I went to see a famous old poet read at the college where I teach. His poems were about death, yet they were hopeful and elegiac. Between poems, he rambled on about not being afraid of the unknown. He talked about his friends in Hawaii who were astronomers, how they understood that time was a fiction. He discussed the last line of his most famous poem, how it is important to bow “not knowing to what.” Then something terrible happened. He began to trip over his words. He seemed lost and disoriented. Eventually he said he felt too weak to go on, and when he sat back down his eyes rolled into the back of his head and he lay there motionless, gaping at the ceiling. I thought he’d had a stroke. The look on his face—its yawn of frozen terror—seemed like a perfect rebuttal of everything he’d been talking about, of his life’s work. Time, it seemed to say, was definitely not a fiction.

They shepherded us out of the room while sirens wailed in the distance. Strangely, when I got outside, my first thought was: Did he have children? It seemed like a very important question. As it turned out, it wasn’t a stroke, he’d be okay—but I didn’t know that yet. When I got home, my daughter was still awake, and I kissed her good night and sat on her bed longer than usual. I told her a story from my childhood, one of her favorites, and she corrected me when I got a detail wrong. She knew the story better than I did. Miniature plastic planets hung from her ceiling, meant to mimic the geography of the solar system. A few of them—like Saturn—had fallen off, but the earth still dangled above us, hanging literally by a thread. If someone told me I was going to die tomorrow, I thought, I would still want to be sitting right here. Because it was going to happen someday—very soon, in fact, in cosmological time—and it mattered immensely where I was. There was no time not to waste.