Rites of Passage


I’m way behind on blog posts because I turned in the final draft of my novel, Pretty, yesterday. Which means that I have about eight hundred unanswered emails in my in-box. It also means that I’m going to celebrate by totally ignoring them and watching taped Glee episodes until my eyes bleed.

I’ve been working on either Pretty or Some Girls for about the last six years, so finishing this book is the end of a major life chapter. Ever since Scott and I attended the premiere of Jackass 3D (that’s us in our sexy 3D glasses), I’ve been thinking about the place of rites of passage in our lives. The movie was pretty funny and oddly well-shot and, of course, unbelievably disgusting. Ultimately, I left feeling vaguely yucky, and not just because I had a tub of buttered popcorn for dinner. I think that the Jackass movies appeal to our tribal desire for rites of passage, but they don’t quite hit the spot because they’re all rite and no passage.



The next morning we braved a true rite of passage. We took Tariku to his first day of pre-school. Our current arrangement with the school is that one of us is going to attend with him until he can “contract when the group contracts,” which I think in hippie language means sit still for snack and story time. As you can tell from our attempt at “first day of school” pictures, T is more of an expander than a contractor. If his first day was any indication, I might just be sitting in a wee chair next to him until his middle school graduation. But even though T’s first day at pre-school felt like the longest three hours of my life, I tried to stay present for it because I suspect that this school thing is going to get rolling and soon I’m going to wish I could see more of him.


In terms of life transitions, T starting school is sort of like finishing my second book. I feel a strange combination of loss and relief every time I hear the word “school” come out of T’s mouth. I felt the same way when I sent the Pretty file to my editor.

We go to school again this Thursday and Friday. Stay tuned for more reports from the front line.

For now, I have a babysitter for another twenty minutes. I’m going to watch Glee. Or go hunt an antelope. Or give myself paper cuts on my tongue. Or something.

Road Trip


We are a family who love to be on the road, though until now Tariku has only driven for long distances in what is essentially a rolling hotel room. So we were unsure of how our drive to the Weezer show at the Del Mar Racetrack last weekend was going to go.


Well, for starters it took a full four hours through crawling traffic. Tariku has a strict no-car-sleeping policy, so about three hours into the drive I had just about run out of songs and snacks and we had a mutual mini-meltdown, but I have to say that for the most part it was a joy. Tariku is a born adventurer and loves to just drive and drive with the window down, smelling the sea air and heading to someplace new



As for the concert, as someone who has been watching Weezer shows for eight years, I think the guys have turned some kind of a corner recently. The shows seem more electric than ever and I’ve even held my breath a few times wondering if Rivers was going to take a spill off of his precarious perch on a high speaker. They’re creatively and energetically out on a limb and it’s thrilling to watch. And T-bone, as usual, partied wildly for the whole show. The only full sentences he says so far are song lyrics.


Legoland on the other hand- not as thrilling. More like a Sartre play come to life. I guess I’m going to be one of those awful moms who grudgingly shuffle through Disneyland while making sarcastic comments about gender-brainwashing and consumerism. That should get me a starring evil role in T’s memoir.


But at least he’s been to like a million rock shows already and he’s only two. That has to count for something, right?

City at Night


We try to keep Tariku on West Coast time when we travel, so we’re often faced with the unique problem of trying to find something to do with an energetic two-year-old at midnight (never fails to draw dirty looks from judgmental strangers). Two nights ago, we came up with the genius idea of walking across the Brooklyn Bridge and back. Tariku was so mesmerized by the spectacular view that he walked smack into a cable and bloodied his lip but he’s used to it. He gets a bloody lip about once a week. Other than that, it was fantastic.


Father and Son


On Father’s Day we got stranded on the West Side and let T-Bone run around in La Cienega Park before subjecting him to the endless car ride home. His latest thing is that he has no real interest in playgrounds or even in playing per se. He’s on a mission. He wants to walk. Once he picks a direction I have never seen such determination. He will not be derailed without a fight. He walks until he literally drops, then he lies down and smiles at the trees.

To me, this is at the top of the list of the many joys of life with T. I find myself sitting on the ground next to him and watching the edges of the palm fronds shine in the gold light of the sunset. For a minute, the world looks new. Even on La Cienega.

On this particular walk, T took a surprise turn into a baseball field and he and Scott ran around the bases until T was shrieking with laughter. T-Bone has the best daddy (commonly known as Dee-Doo or Dee-Dee). Really, he does.


The Magical Mystery Tour

The next few days were spent on a whirlwind tour of Axum, Gondar and Lalibela, three major cities in the northern part of Ethiopia. Our guide in Axum had the traditional scarification of the Tigrayan people- diagonal lines cut into his eyebrows (done to children to keep the vision clear) and a cross carved into his forehead. He was passionate about archaeology and about JC. In profoundly religious Ethiopia, legend and history overlap in a way that makes it hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. Miracles are an ever-present reality. In the Ethiopian Orthodox Churches, every last doorknob is symbolic of something else and there are hidden and holy places where only the priests are allowed. A sense of mystery hangs in the air as heavily as the frankincense.

The picture above is the building where the Ark of the Covenant supposedly resides. Only one man- the guardian of the ark- is allowed to look upon it. Don’t even think about getting too close because you’ll be paralyzed and your eyes will burn out of your head. Our guide told me that God himself chooses the guardian through an announcement from the angels. The building that houses the Ark is next door to St. Mary of Zion Church, built in 1967 by Hallie Selassie (that’s the Lion of Judah to all you Rastifari). The church itself looks like it belongs in Van Nuys, but it houses the 1000-year-old Miracle of St. Mary illuminated manuscript. The indigenous medieval Ethiopian art is cool for many reasons, the most notable of which is that Jesus and Mary and the rest of the gang are not farenji (foreigners). Jesus didn’t have blonde hair and blue eyes. Duh.

The Axum obelisk, the tallest of the enigmatic stelae of Axum, was recently returned to Axum after being plundered by Mussolini during the occupation. Ethiopians are proud of re-appropriating their lost historical artifacts. Another point of pride is that Ethiopia is the only African nation that was never colonized. But the Italians did try hard enough that now you get served bad spaghetti way too often at farenji hotels.