My mother had a real knack of embarrassing her children on a regular basis. She is and always has been a real piece of work. I remember when I was in elementary school and it was Parents Day, the day that moms and dads could come into the classroom during the school day. The day is for quiet observation but she can’t help but speak. My mom was wearing her woolen coat that was this shapeless garment in kind of an oatmeal color with a brown pixie collar. It didn’t tie up or have buttons so we wore a brown wide leather belt around it, accenting her pear shape. She looked a little bit like a homeless viking. It was bad enough how she dressed but of course she had to comment on the teachers or the classroom and make up something to say just so she could hear her own voice. I was regularly mortified.

When I was turning 13, we had a birthday party at my house and invited boys for the very first time. Here we were, having our first co-ed party right around the time that girls and boys figure out they are supposed to find each other interesting. I can’t remember for the life of me which boys were there, but I remember my girl posse and we were tight. With all of this newness of the boys’ attendance, we were probably concerned about what we were wearing and the party itself was at my house so I was concerned with what we were serving. In due time, my mother comes down to the lawn where we were seated and cozies herself up in one of the seats and asks us all “So kids, do you all masturbate?” There was silence and shock and I went red from head to toe. Needless to say, we never had a party at our house again when she was home. Never.

She visited me my first year of college in Montreal. I was dating a man named Chris, he was kind of cute, a guy from Toronto and he had an attractive receding hairline kind of like Sting. We were in the early stages of dating and my friend Janet had a little TV watching party at her house to see the last episode of MASH. We were comfy on the carpet together, many of us lying down or seated cross legged. My mother had and still as enormous hips compared to her waist so when she lay down her curves were more pronounced. My mother reclined all the way over on her side, her hand supported her head and began to chat with everyone, while rubbing her waist over her hip repeatedly. Like she was feeling herself up. Like she was enjoying it. Like she was flirting. My mother was young, around 42 and may have been in better shape at that moment, though I always remember her being bigger and dowdier than my friends’ moms. The evening went on and we left. I remember Chris saying goodbye to me, maybe a kiss on the cheek. He called it off later that week, broke up with me. I’m convinced to this day he was repelled by her, by her conversation, and the mere question of whether I might turn out like her was too risky. Getting out when the getting’s good. My mother could cause disruption in my life even while living 400 miles away and in a different country. Jesus Christ, when my father visited, he took me and around 5 friends to the fancy hotel brunches in the buildings where the top floor turned around slowly for the 360 view. And paid for it. That’s a good way for parents to visit.

I moved to CaIifornia when I was 22 and I met my husband when I was 23. We dated briefly and broke up within a few months. When we got back together, I was 25. We got engaged, had a very short engagement and were married in around 8 months time. He met my parents on the weekend that we got married, way too late to bow out or leave me at the altar. I reminded him of this story recently and he claims he was in no matter that he could tell my mom was a loon right from the start. He claims I am nothing like her though I do think I am overtly friendly sometimes and it bothers people. If I got that from my mother, so be it.

Gentle Readers, I started a podcast with my friend Charla a few weeks ago titled STFU: We are not done talking yet. We discuss current events, popular culture, writing, books, movies, and women’s lives. Please give a listen. Below is our most recent episode which you can find on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Breaker,Continue Reading

It doesn’t matter that I last saw you six months before you died. I wanted to come see you one more time but I was traveling between San Francisco and Shanghai and it was complicated. It doesn’t matter that I found out you died while sitting in an airport in western China and it wasContinue Reading

One of my earliest body memories is when I was 6. My family was going away for the weekend with our friends. It was Labor Day weekend and I noticed that my housecoat (bathrobe in American) was missing a button. I endeavored to sew one on, finding the basket where thread, needles and scissors lived.Continue Reading

When I was 22 years-old I moved to San Francisco from New Jersey. I arrived for a visit but in less than two weeks I was subletting a room in the Haight-Ashbury district and had found employment. Less than 2 months after that I got the lease on my own place with two roommates andContinue Reading

There is a pot on the stove, steam rising. A dry smell emits itself and the children ask, “What’s for dinner?” Potatoes and Chicken. Potatoes and beef. Potatoes and a pork chop. My favorite: potatoes and cottage cheese. My mother is a terrible cook. My father has a sensitive stomach which is always called anContinue Reading

I think it’s brave that you go to Whole Foods even though you might run into someone you know and have an awkward conversation about why you’ve been out of touch for months. I think it’s brave that you continue to attend Yoga classes because someone might ask you how you are and you mightContinue Reading

Where I am from (I really wish I had more photos–working on it) I am from the Hackensack River and its tributary, the creek which runs under Baylor Avenue. I am from the dams we built there, to clog up the water flow so we felt like civil engineers. I am from mosquitoes which hatchedContinue Reading

Letter to my younger self Dear very young Danielle, Have fun and smile just as much as you used to but don’t be such a pushover. Don’t think that you need so much good feedback from everyone — be yourself and know that you’re really smart. Don’t worry about what your mom’s and dad’s friendsContinue Reading

Hush Child and listen (rough draft) You don’t listen enough and sometimes you listen too much so that you are underlistening and sometimes overlistening–what is the right. balance? You need to hush to hear the rain, you need to hush to hear the sunshine, you need to hush to hear the cat’s purr, you needContinue Reading