Ok I'll Trust You, Ira Glass

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through. ”
- Ira Glass


Like a Redwood

I was driving and saw my son, Otto, coming towards me on his scooter. He appeared to have a lollipop in his mouth. As I got closer, I saw that the lollipop was ON FIRE.

No, no, no!

Later that night, we were the only two home and I cornered the boy.

When did you start smoking? I pressed. Why? How much are you smoking? Do your friends smoke?

He admitted to starting three months ago. He just wanted to see it what it was like, and now he likes how it makes him feel. No, he defended.... none of his friends smoke. "I'm the only one."

Nice. At least my son is a leader, not a follower.

I told Otto that he would probably be kicked off the Executive Council. I told him I had no problem reporting him. I grabbed for the phone to call the executive council adviser. Otto made no move to stop me, proof that this addiction had already grabbed him.

My stomach was icy cold and churning like an electric ice cream maker. I just cannot believe this.

And then I woke up.

Still, the disturbing discomfort I felt in my dream has lingered throughout the day. Those dream scenes keep flickering by and replaying themselves in my mind like the end of an old movie reel.

My intense emotional reaction re-affirmed how interconnected we are as families.... whatever my children do affects me physically and emotionally. Like the mighty redwoods, we are bound together for our life span.

Sometimes, when I'm exhausted from worry, or frustrated with choices my kids make, or hurt because they hurt, it sounds enticing to be a singular tree among a grassy meadow - with no-one to worry about and no worries about who is worrying about me.

But, for the redwoods at least, a solitary existence is incompatible with survival. Without an intertwined complex root system, even the strongest of trees topple in the wind. The strength of the redwoods....and the strength of families... and the strength of individuals... lies in the strength of connections.

Yes, the decision to have children, and the non-decision to have parents, is a commitment to a lifelong road of ups and downs. It is a commitment to entanglements: including the good, the bad, and the beautiful.

That is simply the essence of life-giving life.  I wouldn't want it any other way.

Keep swimming,
Ms Fish

PS: In honor of my father who loves trees and taught me to do the same, and in homage of the symbolism described in this post, I designed a new blog topper to include a glorious tree.

And if you are fascinated by the mighty redwoods, here is an incredible TED talk about their complex eco-systems.


19 Truths About a Flower Named Daisy

A long time ago, I was working at Ask-A-Nurse... a free-call center for community patrons to ask registered nurses any possible questions about health, sickness and everything in between. And believe me we got a LOT of crazy stuff "in between." But that is a story for another day...

On August 27th, 19 years ago, there I was at work: 35 weeks pregnant. I was happy as a clam taking calls and eating carrot cake that Doris Williams brought. Sometime early in the shift, I

uh..hum... warning: graphic personal details ahead....

expelled my mucus plug.

Then I started having stomach pains. Weird. Finally, after several hours of denial and ignoring the increasingly painful contractions, along with some heavy cajoling from my co-workers,  I gave in to the idea that I might be in labor and drove myself to the hospital, cringing with serious labor pains along the way (I like to point this out to show how incredibly stupid tough I was)!

When I got to the labor and delivery floor, my cervix was dilated to 7 cm. "We'll try to stop the labor, but you are pretty far along, so it probably won't work." I was cautioned.

The stoppage efforts were futile and just before midnight we were the shell-shocked, unprepared, proud parents of a healthy 6 lb 2 oz little girl.

For three days, we couldn't think of what to name The She. And then the perfect name presented itself and Possum and I both loved it: Janessa. No middle name. Just Janessa.

Her name has varied over the years. In kindergarten, Janessa came home one day and announced that she wanted a middle name. And she wanted it to be May. Janessa May. Then a couple of years later, she wanted to be called Daisy, after her favorite flower. Daisy May. Her daddy called her "velociraptor" when she was a baby for reasons we will discuss another time when it isn't Daisy's birthday. She's had a host of other nicknames as well.

Whatever she is called, Daisy May has lived her life just as she entered it: ready and anxious for the next challenge... prepared, excited, and full of vigor.  She has kept our lives busy and happy and far from dull.

As I did for her brother's birthday, here is a game called

19 are true. 5 are false

1. Homecoming queen her senior year of high school
2. Has played the violin for 15 years
3. Absolutely loves and still keeps in touch with her first violin teacher
4. Maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout high school until she forgot one assignment her final semester
5. Went skydiving on her 18th birthday
6. LOVES math, LOVES to color, and LOVES sour candy.
7. Can quote the movie She's the Man word for word. Come to think of it, she can quote Princess Bride, Raise Your Voice, Big Fat Greek Wedding, Miss Congeniality, Napoleon Dynamite.... just pretty much any movie she's seen word for word
8. Has an extra toe on her left foot that she calls Little Nubbin'
9. Loves serving her mom breakfast in bed
10. Been on a volunteer health mission to Bolivia
11. Dreams of being a ventriloquist someday
12. Works as a dental hygiene assistant
13. Can do wicked impressions of popular YouTube videos
14. Is a sucker for cheesy romantic chick flicks
15. Can make delicious bread
16. Has handwriting a professional calligrapher would covet
17. Has had more dates than a California grove of date trees
18. Idolizes her grandparents
19. Hates potato salad. Loves to suck on watermelon rinds
20. Won't sing in public even though she has an incredible voice (shhh.... don't tell Daisy I said this, but PLEASE ask her to sing sometime)
21. Boy magnet - boy magnet - boy magnet
22. Supports her three brothers in everything they do
23. Favorite snack is bananas and cheese. Together
24. Rode a bucking bull for 7 seconds

Bonus: A dead give away that this one is TRUTH because shared below is the positive PROOF.
25. Can say all the prepositions.

You bring us happyNESS!
Thanks for 19 wonderful years.


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