Category Archives: resignation

Month 9 from Outer Space

My pregnancy is going fine. Anytime anyone asks, that’s what I tell them, and it’s the truth — comparatively, I’ve gotten off easy and I feel grateful. Yes, I was nauseous but not too drastically or for too long. Yes, I gained weight but my body didn’t morph into an entirely other formless, unrecognizable being, comme ca: 

Largely I’ve been able to continue living my life with an acceptable level of inconveniences. I have been able to travel, I have been able to work. Of course, the inconveniences started to feel a bit like they’ve been piling on as I got closer to full term, including:

  • More uninvited interactions with strangers — in elevators, on the subway, at the coop.
  • Less breath for climbing stairs, let alone the gym. At this point, walking from my door to the door of the gym is all the exercise I can handle.
  • More waking up at dawn to feed the ravenous, insatiable creature that is [in] my belly.
  • More crying triggered by sudden, terrifying realizations, like that I don’t know how to change a diaper.
  • Less attention, time, money, and brain power available for anything besides Planning for Squee.


Once I blew by the milestone of Full Term (i.e., MORE THAN nine months pregnant), the pace of the piling on began to accelerate. One of my ankles decided to swell. Just one — but it had been my favorite! For a day or two, I looked like a pirate with a peg leg.

The swelling went down, and then the waddling started. For every step I take forward, I also move side-to-side, calling to mind a very poor imitation of Marilyn Monroe. (“Like Jell-O on springs!”) My boss, fondly, started calling me “Fatso.” It was definitely time to (maternity) leave.

Today, on my second day of baby-free maternity leave, I got my hair chopped off. (“Jo, your one beauty!”) Once I waddled all the way home, I realized I’d been wearing my dress backwards. Then I hoisted myself off the couch and had my third breakfast of the morning. This is just the way of things: the way pre-motherhood breaks you down, like the Marine Corps, so that you can be built back up again without your old, no-longer-useful standards of dignity. After all, soon you’ll be handling someone else’s poop on a daily basis; you have to get used to a certain amount of humiliation.

Squee, aren’t you eager to join the non-stop embarrassing hilarity that is the outside world? How can my womb compare? Come join the party, little one. We’re all waiting for you.

To Bear or Not To Bear?

When I get too many writing rejections in a row, I often return to one particular despairing thought: “Maybe I should just give up and have kids.”


Perhaps not EIGHT of them and perhaps not all at once. But I could have kids! Then I’d be too tired to think about writing, and agents, and publishing, and whether Katie Roiphe would hate me if she knew me (Team Chabon/Waldman!), and should I be heartened or threatened by the success of Sarah Vowell, who is who I want to be when I grow up (also: Margaret Atwood), and is 28 young or old, really, when it comes down to it?

Everyone has ideas for me. One agent suggested I turn my first novel into a Young Adult book because kids, unlike adults, wouldn’t be turned off by magic realism. Another agent suggested I write essays because fiction doesn’t sell. A third agent said essays don’t sell, and have I considered turning memoir into fiction? So round and round we go.

Unless I give up! In which case, I could live here, in Barbie’s Southern Dream House, complete with arbor:

Wouldn't you visit to sit in that arbor?

Or here! Look at that kitchen:

Mmmmm kitchen ...

I could get involved in local politics or something, and garden, and raise the kids with one hand while I read with the other. (Do the kids deserve better? No! Entitled brats. Unless they’re Tina Fey’s kids, in which case, duh, yes, of course. I will be extra-nice to Tina Fey’s kids. They will get to eat sugar and meat while my own offspring will be raised on veggie burgers out of the box which they’ll be lucky if I bother to thaw.)

Or I could redouble my efforts. Grit my teeth and get the IUD I am scheduled to get on April 9th, which I expect to be about as traumatic as that time I got my wisdom teeth out but not quite as bad as Scientologist home-birth. If I succeed in not passing out from the pain, I could go shooting, and then come home and write more of whatever I am moved to write, whether it be YA, fiction, or memoir, and keep on hoping.


PS — If you have any stories about getting an IUD that do not involve you going all swoony and unconscious, please share!

a little ball of ester

A chronicle of death foretold:

Having gotten tired of sitting passive waiting for the phone to ring, I called the school. An automated message reported that it was very sorry, but the admissions staff hadn’t shown up for work.

The admissions staff showed up! But they could tell me nothing. Could they transfer me to the English department? Certainly. But the English department knew nothing. Who would know something? The MFA people — and they don’t come in Thursdays and Fridays.

The MFA people don’t get in til 12:30. (Wow, it must be nice to be an MFA person.)

MONDAY 12:30
Yes, we can tell you over the phone if you like. We’re going to stutter and sound apologetic. No, you have not been accepted.

Now I am sad and would like to curl up in a corner. Unfortunately I am at work where corners are wanting and anyway are in full view of everyone; everyone would be rather curious. Being as it is St. Patrick’s day, I should go off to a corner in a bar and get drunk. I will not, though. I will go home and, as I promised myself I would a few weeks ago, when I realized I wasn’t going to get to rub shoulders with Michael Cunningham and Myla Goldberg after all, I will do some writing.