Mother on Fire: A True Motherf%#$@ Story About Parenting! [NOOK Book]


This is a story about the year I exploded into flames. Which turns out to be more common than you’d think, among forty-something humans. Yea, we can hold it together in our thirties, with a raft of hair products and semi-tall nonfat half-caf beverages and much brisk walking to a lot of interesting appointments. Come the forties, though, cracks begin to appear. One staggers suddenly along life’s path; gourmet coffee splats; the wig slips askew. ...
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Mother on Fire: A True Motherf%#$@ Story About Parenting!

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This is a story about the year I exploded into flames. Which turns out to be more common than you’d think, among forty-something humans. Yea, we can hold it together in our thirties, with a raft of hair products and semi-tall nonfat half-caf beverages and much brisk walking to a lot of interesting appointments. Come the forties, though, cracks begin to appear. One staggers suddenly along life’s path; gourmet coffee splats; the wig slips askew. In other words, my friends, THE WHEELS COME OFF.

Sandra Tsing Loh is the fiercest, funniest, and most incredibly honest and self-deprecating voice to emerge from the “mommy war” debates. In Mother on Fire, she fires away with her trademark hilarious satire of societal and personal irks large and small, including limo liberals who preach the virtues of public school but send their children to fashionable private ones, the proliferation of costly skin-care products that just don’t cut it, society’s obsession with aromatherapy, her Chinese father’s disdain for her life as an artist, and $10 Target pants (“Are they running pants, exercise pants, pajama pants?”) that are the ubiquitous Mother of Small Children uniform.

Prompted by her own midlife crisis, Loh throws her frantic energy not into illicit affairs, shopping binges, or exotic trips, but into the harrowing heart of contemporary, dysfunctional L.A. life when she realizes that she can’t afford private school for her daughter, and her only alternative is her neighborhood’s public school, Guavatorina, where most of the kids speak Spanish and qualify for free lunches. In a theater-of-the-absurd-style odyssey, Mother on Fire documents Loh’s “year of living dangerously” among pompous school admissions officials, lactose-intolerant, Prius-driving parents, mafia dons of public radio, vindictive bosses, and old friends with new money as she first kisses ass—and then kicks it.

From the Hardcover edition.
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Editorial Reviews

Lydia Millet
…a droll rant about her experience navigating the maze of school options for her 4-year-old daughter. The book, based on her one-woman show of the same title, made me laugh out loud more than once. Particularly good is Loh's rendition of conversations with yuppie parents whining about the difficulty of finding kindergartens in L.A. worthy of their allegedly gifted children: "It's very HARD for gifted children!" she quotes one mother saying. Loh's greatest strengths are these snippets of dialogue and her blunt, funny characterizations of both her own foibles and those of the many other mothers she encounters…Mother on Fire offers much to entertain the many mothers among us.
—The Washington Post
Pamela Paul
Loh's ability to write a book about a year in the life of a mom, source material for many a tepid memoir (or "momoir," sigh), and upgrade it into a—dare I say it?—galvanizing treatise on somber topics like public school education, class and midlife consumerism, all the while eliciting at least one snort of laughter per page, is no less than a feat of genius.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

Radio commentator and performer Loh (A Year in Van Nuys) has penned a hilarious memoir with the same title as her one-woman comedy show, which ran for seven months in Los Angeles. The story begins as a droll little breeze that soon sucks the reader into a frenzied whirlwind as Loh recounts her harrowing quest to find a suitable kindergarten for Hannah, her four-year-old daughter (Loh habitually calls Isabel, her two-year-old, simply "The Squid"). Spurned by the local Lutheran school (which deems the precocious Hannah "not developmentally ready"), Loh vaults from pricey and competitive private institutions to public school settings, discovering that the chances of Hannah making it into the desirable public magnet school are minuscule, and only one in 20 is admitted to the idyllic private school, "Wonder Canyon," which costs $22,500 per year. Loh is prone to insomnia, expletives (she's fired from her radio spot for using the F word on air), panic ("panic attacks are my booster rockets") and exaggeration as she grapples with rejection, middle age, friendship, a clueless but lovable guitar-playing husband and a brilliant but eccentric Chinese father. All parents who have searched for an ideal school for their youngster (and even those who haven't) will be snared by Loh's crackling prose. (Aug.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
Outspoken writer/performer Loh tells all about being an industrious minivan-driving mom during a particularly brutal midlife crisis: "the year I exploded into flames."At 42, living in Southern California and the mother of two young daughters, the author spent many nights fretting about how "unbelievably complicated" maternity had become in the modern world. During a woman's 40-something years, she explains with wry candor, a molting process occurs whereby females cast off the wilting skins of their former selves and attempt to silence the "ceaseless drumbeat of domestic tedium." But domestic issues reasserted their importance when older daughter Hannah reached kindergarten age and Loh realized that exclusive private institutions like Wonder Canyon or The Coleman School were completely beyond her means. Enrollment in the Los Angeles Unified School District was free, of course, but horrifying theories about the social stigma of public school swirled around the author as her devoted, tolerant musician husband Mike did his best to placate her fears. She contemplated placing Hannah in a Lutheran school, fraternized with a few of the moms, and soon playdates were materializing in abundance. Then came the devastating news of Hannah's poor kindergarten testing results, which ended her chances for the Lutheran School. Loh experienced other traumas: After forgetting to tell her engineer to bleep out a casual use of the F word, she was unceremoniously fired from her public-radio program; then she gave the boot to her longtime feminist therapist. Never one to become unmoored by strife or circumstance, the author managed to land on her feet. She chronicles her panic-stricken neuroses in arelentlessly frenetic, blog-like narrative. It's all about capitalized key words, hyperactive hysteria and . . . reestablishing a firm grip on motherhood. Like a long dinner date with that melodramatic, motor-mouthed best friend you can't imagine life without. Agent: Sloan Harris/ICM
From the Publisher
"[Loh has transformed] herself into the foaming mouthpiece of dissent and outrage over the state of public education....Her language is imaginatively twisted and fearless."
Los Angeles Times

"A droll rant...[Loh]’s not afraid to touch on issues of class and race in a way that’s both humorous and trenchant....Mother on Fire offers much to entertain the many mothers among us."
Washington Post

"Loh’s ability to write a book about a year in the life of a mom...all the while eliciting at least one snort of laughter per page, is no less than a feat of genius."
New York Times (Editor’s Choice)

The Barnes & Noble Review
A few years back -- according to an article she wrote for the Atlantic Monthly in March 2008 -- the writer and NPR radio commentator Sandra Tsing Loh got a chance to interview Jonathan Kozol, the author of Savage Inequalities, Shame of the Nation, and other scathing assessments of American public education. Although she counts herself as "long-time, rabid fan" of Kozol, she nevertheless had some beef with the guy. "Speaking of moral leaders," she claims to have said, "since your work is so admired by such magazines as Harper's and The Nation, why don't you simply exhort those readers to SEND THEIR KIDS TO PUBLIC SCHOOL? How many of those staffers' kids are in elite privates? Talk about Shame of The Nation!" Kozol, who has no children, politely said that he didn't feel fit to judge other parents' private decisions. It was up to Loh, who does have two children in the Los Angeles public schools, to do a little exhorting of her own.

And exhort she has! From her bully pulpit as a contributing editor at the Atlantic and a regular NPR commentator, Loh has emerged as this generation's worthy -- and wildly funnier -- successor to Kozol. A self-described "Pushy, Type A, whitish mother" (her father is from Shanghai; her mother, from Germany) who considers herself a member of the "middle-class poor," Loh has channeled her considerable, aggressive talents into improving her children's school: Among other things, she's banded together with Armenian and Salvadoran mothers to start an after-school basketball team, snagged a grant from VH1 to buy instruments and start a music program, and started a blog to help other parents navigate the "RING OF HELL" (this is a woman partial to ALL CAPS) known as the Los Angeles Unified School District.

But as Mother on Fire makes abundantly clear, it was not always thus. The year her eldest daughter, Hannah, turned four, Loh pursued the perfect school with the kind of ardor usually reserved for pursuit of a lover -- and initially, not a single one of them was in the L.A. public school system. In fact, while the book opens with Loh sending the Kahlo-worshipping, pierced, tattooed feminista undergrads she teaches at Marymount College into paroxysms of horror with her "portrait of the narrative in the post-feminist age" -- a chalkboard scrawl that reads, "NO MORE MR. DARCY!" -- each new school she visits, in her mind, is rated on how closely it resembles a suitor in Pride and Prejudice. Forget the trophy husband, Loh implies -- for the modern mother, it's all about the trophy kid. And who decides whether you've bred a winner? Why, the school admissions officer, of course.

Of course, trophy husbands are useful -- someone has to foot the tuition for the trophy school, and sadly, Loh doesn't have one of those. Her own husband, Mike, a bread-baking, tomato-growing, intermittently employed studio musician, is a sweet, artistic, family-oriented kind of guy described as having "the soul of Mr. Darcy with the income of Mr. Collins" (who came in dead last among the Austen-novel suitors). Loh has always been at her best when describing the crunch of being an artist with upper-middle-class tastes and middle-to-lower-middle-class income -- back in her 30s, in her collection Depth Takes a Holiday, she was writing about her family's infatuation with Ikea and Trader Joe's -- and it's here that she differentiates herself from most contemporary writers on post-feminist family life, the vast majority of whom seem unapologetically preoccupied with the child-rearing dilemmas of "professional-class" (i.e., wealthy, educated) parents (A partial laundry list would include: Sylvia Anne Hewlett, Lisa Belkin, Allison Pearson, Meg Wolitzer, Judith Warner, Adam Gopnik, and Caitlin Flanagan, Loh's predecessor at the Atlantic).

As a Cal Tech–educated radio personality and author of four books, Loh is hardly the poster woman for the working poor. Likewise, she's hardly above yearning for the baubles enjoyed by her wealthy friends, be it the four-handed massage she gets at a spa day with her screenwriter friend, or admission to Wonder Canyon, the school so exclusive that no one can even get a tour. But more often than not, her writing hinges on the moment when the bill, be it literal or metaphorical, comes due and she reminds herself -- and her readers -- how few have the dough to pay. The cast of characters reads like a (sometimes kindly) satire of 21st-century über-parents: There's Aimee, the pharmaceutical rep, who sends Loh dire updates on schools via BlackBerry and is convinced her son, Ben, is a violin virtuoso (when Loh replies, "Perhaps Ben can grow up to be a musician, a real working musician like Mike, and move out to where we live, in Van Nuys," Aimee's husband snaps back, "Well, there are plenty of surgeons who enjoy playing the violin!"). Loh's long-lost best girlfriend, Celeste, suggests she "liquidate some stock" to pay for her child's education (Loh has none, of course), and there are some tense years after Celeste's stepdaughter mistakes Loh for the Third World nanny of her own blonde children. Los Angeles, Loh discovers, is suffering from "an epidemic of frighteningly gifted children," according to their upper-middle-class parents, who wield diagnoses of ADD and Asperger's syndrome like badges of honor and insist their offspring are too fragile for the rough-and-tumble world of subpar schools. Loh sums up one overprotective mother's view: "Some children in this world survive without shoes; Ezekiel will not survive if he has to take French from a non-native speaker." Loh's chance to secure a place for her own children in the world of the "frighteningly gifted" comes, incidentally, from a well-timed -- and by now infamous -- use of the F-word. When her engineer failed to bleep an expletive she let loose when she pre-recorded her public radio show, Loh was fired -- and soon thereafter became a bona-fide free-speech celebrity. She was covered by CNN, the BBC, and Frank Rich, invited to gatherings where socialites smashed their NPR mugs in her honor. Most important, she was offered a slot at the Cartier of kindergartens (for only $25,000 per year!).

And yet, we all know how it ends. Loh's "A-hah!" moment comes when she walks into Guavatorina, the neighborhood public school she has thus far likened to sending her kid to school in Mexico. "Every time I've spat out 'Guavatorina,' it never occurred to me that any of us was talking about actual children," she writes. "I had always assumed we were talking about the Bush administration, an evil government torture institution, twin office towers full of bureaucrats, a bunch of smoky, sky-fouling oil derricks." But standing in the classroom, looking at a room full of kindergarteners she realizes: "It's like that moment when Charlton Heston yells, 'Solyent people!' Oh my God, I think. The horrible truth children!" And those of us with kids in the public schools have found our post-feminist, post-Kozol, fire-breathing advocate. Who needs Mr. Darcy? --Amy Benfer

Amy Benfer has worked as an editor and staff writer at Salon, Legal Affairs, and Paper magazine. Her reviews and features on books have appeared in Salon, The San Francisco Chronicle Book Review, The Believer, Kirkus, and The New York Times Book Review.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307449740
  • Publisher: Crown/Archetype
  • Publication date: 8/12/2008
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 223,321
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Sandra Tsing Loh
SANDRA TSING LOH is an NPR commentator, an Atlantic Monthly contributor, and a successful performance artist. She is the author of four previous books.

From the Hardcover edition.
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Read an Excerpt


The War Room

This is a story about the year I exploded into flames.

Which turns out to be more common than you’d think, among forty- something humans. Yea, we can hold it together in our thirties, with a raft of hair products and semi-tall nonfat half-caf beverages and much brisk walking to a lot of interesting appointments.

Come the forties, though, cracks begin to appear. One staggers suddenly along life’s path; gourmet coffee splats; the wig slips askew.

In other words, my friends, THE WHEELS COME OFF. Whatever vehicle you were so confidently hurtling along in in Act One of your life, that sped you to age twenty-six, thirty-four, thirty-nine . . . even forty- two? Yea, that buggy will skitter sideways into a ditch, flip over, burst into flames; firemen will have to use the Jaws of Life to get you out. And if you do not find another car to climb into, well . . .

“Look at Anna Karenina!” I remember exhorting my female writing students at Marymount College, spreading my arms wide, and expansively. The Rebecca A. Mirman Chair of Creative Writing—this was my Second Act, the sudden forgiving windfall of a plum teaching job, complete with a year’s worth of truly excellent health insurance, and I played it to the hilt, never mind that I was sweating a lot. Even trying to figure out the faculty parking made me sweat. Anyway, I’d been trying to describe the difference between metaphor and metonymy, how Anna Karenina’s little red handbag sitting by the side of the train tracks does not “symbolize” her but actually “is” her, which is to say it STANDS for her, in the manner of a linguistic SIGN . . .

When all at once I heard myself veer off into a tangent about how depressed I am that over and over I read that novel, year after year, and things never turn out better for Anna. By my count, the last time Anna is happy is on page seventy-six out of a five-hundred-page tome. She peaks at the ball, where she dances with Count Vronsky—and it’s not even during the WHOLE ball—it’s not during the waltz, the gavotte, the schottische, or the fox-trot but in particular during . . . the MAZURKA.

That’s how it was for women in those days, it was all about the MAZURKA—

And then, inevitably, the MAZURKA ends and now come four hundred pages of falling action, of dragging tediously around Europe with Vronsky, consuming all those carbs together, putting on weight, particularly around the neck (with a potato-based diet, all the weight for those Russians would certainly fly to the neck). It’s all about overpriced English baby prams and go-nowhere piazza remodeling projects in Italy (It is! Reread it! Feel free to skip the endless Levin/wheat farming parts, I always do), modern plots for women in the post–Jane Austen/Pride and Prejudice/Elizabeth Bennet era boiling down to just four words:

Indeed—with sudden inspiration, I turned and wrote, in giant letters on the board:

And then I drew a circle AROUND and a diagonal slash THROUGH Mr. Darcy, as one might on a verboten no fumar sign at the train station of life.

“Portrait of the narrative in the postfeminist age?”

And I felt my Marymount College girls actually shrink, and gasp.

“But that’s what true liberation of the soul means!” I cried out, smacking my chalk triumphantly on the board, like a teeny tiny épée. “It’s not like you put on your ‘Save Darfur’ T-shirt, march . . . and then go home to Mr. Darcy . . .”

At which point we entered a brief conversational snorl in which one of the girls argued that HER Mr. Darcy might well encourage her to march, as long as she went home every night to Mr. Darcy’s estate at Pemberley, which she felt she could live with. Another imagined she could share a tent with HER Mr. Darcy in Darfur, perhaps Mr. Darcy was even the co-organizer of the Save Darfur effort . . . And now imagining the safari wear, the eco-carbon credits, and the tangle of yellow rubber Lance Armstrong bracelets, I was struck with a distinct, dismal Jane-Austen-novel-remade-as-a-summer-cable-TV-movie- starring-Matthew-McConaughey feeling. No!

“What I’m saying is, no matter what you do, at age forty . . . THE WHEELS COME OFF!

A pierced-nose student in a Frida Kahlo muscle T clarified it for her more flighty, foolish sisters: “She means for women, at forty, the TRAINING WHEELS come off—”

“No!” I yelled. My upper lip was beaded with moisture, the room felt so hot. “THE WHEELS OF YOUR CAR! THEY SIMPLY! COME! OFF!”

The tragedy for Anna Karenina, of course, is that she lived in St. Petersburg in the 1870s rather than America in the 2000s. One no longer has to hurl oneself under a train upon turning forty—there is medication for that. No, nowadays forty and all the ages like forty (which apparently can range up to fifty-two or even sixty-one) are a mystical opportunity to begin an inward journey of fabulous wisdoming. (On the back of a tea packet I saw it recently, used as a verb: “Wisdoming.” Even the prose of our herbal tea nowadays is amazing!) No, with proper hormonal and nutritional supplements, and a full tasting menu of Pfizer antidepressants, it’s no longer necessarily a bad thing, this bursting-into-flames, this midlife “transition,” this second adolescence—

(Well, perhaps for the men it is bad, particularly for those who’ve already managed to live THEIR ENTIRE ADULT LIVES in a state of adolescence, and here I am thinking not of Count Vronsky of Russia but of my ex-boyfriend of Culver City, Count Bruce.)

Forty-something women, though—this kicking off of their calcified/ thirty-something/Gail Sheehy/Passages lobster shells is the golden time. By God, they’ve EARNED their raucous “You go, girl!”s, their giddy high-fives with somewhat flabby upper arms (upon which shudder bold temporary tattoos), their raspberry-flavored tequila shots, their “Woo woo!”s gaily Dopplering out

the back of the speeding-off Mustang. Lord love ’em, they deserve escape, these sparkle-eyed, plus-aged women, and makeovers, and perhaps a fashion spree, or at least a mad, buffalo-sized wicker basket of wildflower soaps, raffia twine tumbling everywhere amid a crazy menagerie of rose petals and tiny mad bottles of lotion . . .


Yea, these women deserve it all, so long have they plowed in the arid fields of their marriages, with dull oxen husbands, in that ceaseless drumbeat of domestic tedium. Divorce is tragic . . . but becomes a bold new start as, wiping tears, our heroine manages to pack just the one overnight bag and grab the red-eye to Portugal or Bali to live in a thatched-roof beach hut and feel the sand in her toes and wear a sarong and drink sangria and have a hot affair with a poetry-writing swordfisherman named Paolo who helps her shed her puritanical type A ways and teaches her about the tides. Come midnight, they tear off her bra and BURN it, howling, like wine-drunk Santa Fe coyotes, up at the stars!

Or at least that was how the forties were being rapturously described in the book I fell asleep on, my face smashed into the spine, on the night my year of fire began.

The book in question was the lush midlife literary romance 28 Beads. It was an Oprah pick, and supposedly ideal book-to-fall-asleep-by—all the female hosts on all the morning shows were reading it. 28 Beads had inspired new lines of scents, tropical marinades, wraparound sarongs (I had never seen Joy Behar in a sarong—it was quite a revelation). I had been so swept away by the fantasy, I myself had just placed twin swordfish filets on the grill, squeezed on a rhapsodic amount of lemon, hiked up my white caftan pants, and in fact was just preparing to wade into the ocean, Paolo waving at me from beyond, under a giant blue cyclorama with puffy white clouds— (And that should have been the tip-off—that sky was much too blue . . . )

When my eyes popped robotically open in my familiar stiflingly close bedroom, much like Linda Blair’s in The Exorcist. The time: 2:07 a.m. Damn! Where was MY fab world-traveling divorce? I thought. I have the miles (coach)! But no. Here I was, once again, waking up in the middle of my life . . . adventure-impaired.

Adventure? Me? In my forties? Where would I even start?

I sat up in the darkness, took a sip of warmish, even brackish, water out of a cartoon jelly glass.

I could start with feverishly burning my bra, sure. But that heady act of womyn’s liberation was so much easier in yon freewheelin’ Joni Mitchell days of olde, wasn’t it? For me personally, a braflagration . . . that would take a full week because by now I have so damned many of them. Look at that unsorted pile of laundry, heaped like a dark hunchback on my dresser. Over the years, in a haze of Condé Nast confusion, I’ve bought—what?—“angel bras,” “T-shirt bras,” “Wonderbras,” “Miracle Bras” . . . I have such a flotilla, I could make my own giant bra ball. The triumphant Carole King music would screech to a halt as I literally struggled to rope the bras together.

(I’m also not sure if the Miracle Bra would actually burn—bought in 1998, the Miracle has since disintegrated into a lone plastic strap upon which hang two lumpen cups of strange discolored polymer. It’s Victoria’s most poorly kept Secret.)

Of course, a bigger gravitational force holding me prisoner of

un-Unspontaneity in un-Adventure land (a new un-Ride in un- Disneyland) are my two daughters. They are disproportionately young, ages two and four, because in the wacky postmodern jumble of things, I’ve happened to birth relatively late, like one of those National Geographic turtles who washes up gasping on the beach with her last leathery eggs. At my advanced age, it is all I can do to keep track of all the teeny-tiny slightly unmatched socks that flow past, along with all the pint-sized children with their teeny-tiny unmatched names (Colin, Cole, Corey, Coley, Colby). Which is why I refer to all children now as “Honey.” I even refer to socks as “Honey.”

Adding to that gravitational pull (ciao, Paolo!) is my partner for the past eighteen years—a nice man who is even, unfortunately, soulful. Mike plays guitar, grows tomatoes, bakes bread, and can chat about the tides all day long. A musician, the father of my children has failed to have the sort of heartless if bracingly lucrative career (corporate law, international banking, periodontal surgery) that would now fund defiant whirlwind travels for me in full flaming Condé Nast Traveler style. Picture the soul of Mr. Darcy with the income of Mr. Collins. (If you recall, Mr. Collins’s wealth was in third place, behind Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingham and even behind Mr. Collins’s patroness, the insufferable Lady Catherine de Bourgh.)

In a way, though, these things are all a moot point. I can’t run away to a tropical island, I’m very much needed right where I am, because . . .

Well . . . ?

Okay. Has it ever seemed to you like this planet we live on is a hairsbreadth from utterly exploding out of control? Has it? What’s interesting is, you’re right! And it turns out that hairsbreadth of restraint, that one lone figure with that one saving finger in the dike . . . is me.

And in the dead of night, when everyone else is asleep, that’s when I personally check and re-check that all the burners are off on the world’s stove.

It’s similar to air travel. When I’m on a two-hour flight, I open my airline magazine to our route map and, usually up in the clear space around Alaska? I draw two circles, divide each pie into twelve slices, and carefully shade in each new slice every time another five minutes has gone by. See?

In this way, instead of helplessly “riding along” on the flight, I am actively, energetically “completing” the flight. I also make evenly spaced hash marks along our route and shade those in as well. (If it is available, I listen in to what our pilots are talking about in the cockpit, to ensure that they’re “getting it.”)

On arrival, I carefully replace the magazine in the seat pocket, so the next passenger can fly into a panic, realizing he is flying across the country with crazy people.

So—checking the current state of the entire world—let’s get to it. I put my water glass down, swing my legs out of the bed, and go to work.

If he were awake, of course, Mike would get up and bar my path. Unlike myself, a nervous denizen of the city, Mike, from South Dakota, holds the quaint agrarian belief that the night hours are for sleeping, not angsting. It is Mike who proferred the idea that falling-asleep books should be calming, comforting . . . And, indeed, on his nightstand, which I’m passing right now, the happy moonlight (I picture a Man in the Moon playing a banjo) reveals a veritable boatload of Tom Sawyer–ish cheer. You have books about whaling adventures, bass fishing, how to cook meat, and of course, Popular Mechanics. Have you ever looked inside Popular Mechanics? (I have, in the bathroom—where it belongs.) Popular Mechanics will have a whole article on how an outdoor barbecue works, complete with fussy computer diagrams. Here is a steak! How does it heat? Grill? Convect? What IS convection? Does BACON convect?

That’s why Mike himself bought me the 28 Beads (which I’ve started referring to as 28 Beads and No Pants, what with all the Tantric sex), on sale at Costco. He laid the book down before me and slowly backed away from it, with his hands up, saying: “Apparently it’s a very popular women’s book. For women.” On the word women, he waggled his fingers, as though saying: “These are tampons. It’s a women’s thing. It’s for women.” (Or alternatively: “It’s an Oprah book. Doctors recommend you insert this inspiring-female-journey-from- darkness-to-light into a medicated bath puff. Smear with aloe vera. It’s a women’s thing. For women.”)

Mike wasn’t bothered by the book being an escapist divorce romantic fantasy. Indeed, I can just picture my husband in my pulsing Caribbean dream, under that too-blue cinematic sky, a bit farther down the beach, in shorts and a baseball cap, cheerfully throwing a line into the water. (Like Paolo, Mike is an avid fisherman, although, from the Midwest, Mike likes to catch trout.) Yea, I can see Mike airily waving us on: “Sandra, Paolo, have fun this weekend! Read poetry to each other! Learn the macarena! Compare scents of different massage oils! Do all those girly vacation things you enjoy! While you’re away, I’ll turn these swordfish filets over for you. Although in my opinion, Sandra, you may have over-lemoned. But never mind, it’s your dream—lemon these fish the way you like. However, whatever ELSE you do in bed at two a.m.—” Here Mike’s normally sunny snub-nosed face would darken: “Do not let me find you lying awake ANGSTING!”

From the Hardcover edition.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 2013

    A hilariously true account of the parenting experience!

    A hilariously true account of the parenting experience!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 2013

    A hilariously true, easy read that made me laugh till I cried be

    A hilariously true, easy read that made me laugh till I cried because everything she discusses was so relatable as a parent!  

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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