The mother-daughter relationship in 174 words


“Mom, leave my hair straight & down but also braid it.”


“I DON’T SPEAK YOUR LANGUAGE,” I reply (with my eyes).


“YOU-DON’T-UN-DER-STAND-ME-DO-YOU?” she patronizes, as though I’m an annoying foreigner in a fanny pack asking for directions.


“Correct. We agree. I don’t understand you.”


“Look. It’s like this.” She mangles her hands together, then paints the air with circles, then claps twice. “See. Like THAT.”


I remain quiet for an extra few seconds so the power of her demonstration lingers in the room. “Ohhhhhhhhhh, riiiiiiiiight. The universal symbol for ‘leave my hair straight & down but also braid it.’ OK, OK. It makes sense now.”


She smiles, pleased with herself, not at all surprised she was able to teach me something, and returns to her cereal. When her back is fully to me she says, “You’re welcome.”


I stare at her scalp, take my brush to her hair, and pull as hard as I can through the tangles.


“OWUHHHCH!” she screeches.


Her back still fully to me, I smile. “OOPS. Sorry.”


[insert "winking" emoticon]


How I Trained for My 1st Marathon: Part 3

I realize I haven’t written Parts 1 and 2, but this story has been begging me to write it, and since I just returned from Miami, it’s fresh in my mind.

Chris and I were sweating in a perfect Big-to-Little Spoon hold, something that only happens about once a month since he moved to Miami when my phone alarm went off. I writhed out of his lock, pressed snooze, and tucked myself back into his arms. The sun would not have it. She slipped under the door and stared into my eyes like an unrelenting toddler waiting bedside for cereal and morning cartoons. I surrendered. I knew the longer I waited, the more abusive the Florida heat would be. I had reached the twenty-mile point in my marathon training and it was time to start my Long Run morning ritual:

1. Hate everything/one.
2. Sip coffee while contemplating going back to bed.
3. Spot iPod on the table and realize I forgot to charge it.
4. Hate everything/one.
5. Locate: hat, sunscreen, compression socks, dead iPod, earphones, water belt, food, bullet proof vest, binoculars, fishing pole, 6 pack of PBR. (Always over-prepare.)
6. After consuming approx. ½ cup of coffee, tiptoe optimistically from the kitchen to the bathroom for hopeful morning poop.
7. Trip over Chris’s shoes, knock hair dryer on the floor.
8. Hate everything/one, especially Chris. This is all his fault.

I finished getting ready, poop and all (SCORE!), and snuck out the back door. I was confident about my plan – which was to not have a plan. I figured, I don’t need a route. It’s my first time in Miami. I’m just going to explore. That’s what you do on vacation, right? One mile in as I started to cross MacArthur Bridge I was breathless – not from my heart rate but the view. I patted myself on the back. See that everyone? I’m one hell of a Non-Planner! Next I’ll run blindly to the beach! I’ll run downtown! I’ll feed the homeless and knit baby booties for orphan children!

Adrenaline is like alcohol: It distorts your perception, forces you into bad decisions until it’s too late and before you know it you’re on the couch watching Serendipity and making out with a forty-five-year-old balding, divorced pastor.

Wait. What?

So there were a few problems with my non-plan:

No. 1: Yellow tape. It’s dangerous. Sure, it’s unlikely someone is going to abduct a woman leaking sweat from her boobs, butt, ears, EVERYWHERE, but possible. Crazier things have happened. Like, Lauren Conrad wrote a book. And it was published. And people buy it.

Number 2: It’s defeating. By mile 16, every ounce of energy, physical and mental, is devoted to moving your legs one step at a time; or not crying; not pooping yourself, staying vertical. There’s no energy left to think. I was in historic downtown running the same four blocks for 2 miles and when I looked at my GPS watch to discover I was only at mile 18 and out of water I lost my shit. I started screaming, “WHAT THE FUCK? ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK.”

OK, now hang on. If that offends you, I’m sorry. I don’t want you to be mad at me because I really need your approval despite what my therapist says. But it’s important my daughter knows it’s OK to be real. That doesn’t mean I’ll allow her to fling that word just anywhere. If anyone is going to scream EFF YOU SEE KAY on the soccer field it’s going to be me. But I have defined exactly four scenarios when SHE has a pass to drop that bad boy:

(1) When something life threatening happens.

(2) When a guy dicks her over.

(3) When she runs out of water on mile 18 in Miami, FL on a 90-degree day.

(4) When someone eats the last donut of the dozen without asking. WHAT THE FUCK.

Wait! Don’t leave! I love you! Your hair is pretty!

It was too humid to continue. I started walking in and out of high-end stores looking a lot like a wet, drunk, 8-year-old boy with fake boobs. If that’s confusing, we obviously haven’t met.

At this point if I had to rank my dignity on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being I FEEL LIKE NELSON MANDELA, and 1 being I FEEL LIKE DAN QUAYLE THE MORNING AFTER I MISSPELLED POTATO ON NATIONAL TV, I was about a four, somewhere near Miley Cyrus twerking. Or is it Twirking? Don’t act like there’s a right answer.

When I made it home, Chris and Nora were waiting outside cheering me to the finish. In typical fashion, it was so incredibly sweet of them, but instead of waving or smiling or thanking them, I yelled something like, “GET AWAY!” I had point two miles until I hit twenty and after what I’d been through by God I was going to get to twenty. So without my mapped route, I was just running back and forth outside of his house waiting for my GPS to hit the magic number. And I could tell Chris was like, “What the fuck is she doing.” And I could tell Nora was like, “What the fuck is my mom doing.” (I didn’t use question marks because I don’t think those were questions as much as acknowledgements of shame.)

My watch beeped at twenty miles and I pulled myself together enough to embrace Nora and thank Chris for spending over four hours with Nora while I ran like a jerk in circles around Miami. I asked if he was exhausted from entertaining her, and he smiled and kind of shrugged, like, I certainly wouldn’t object to a Jager bomb right now. But I don’t look like you. So I’m good.

This is when it starts to go downhill. Yes. STARTS. Everything 20 miles and prior is soft baby butt cheeks and puppy breath. Because everything after 20 miles is me holding my own poop with my bare hands.

See you for Part 4 next week. Clothes optional. I know I’ll be naked.


In the spikes and crashes of my relationship with No. 6, I was empathetically reminded by a lot of friends and family that a relationship, especially in the beginning, shouldn’t feel like work. People suggested marriage and life throw enough challenges your way – if you’re not simply enjoying each other in the beginning, maybe it’s not a good fit.

But should it? Should it be easy in the beginning? After only a few months we were struggling, yet not willing or wanting to let go. Then I asked myself that question more objectively in the context of my relationship: Should it be easy for the couple, a self-employed single-mother who doesn’t know she has a mild form of bi-polar disorder, and a twenty-something graduate student who lives 40 miles away, to just enjoy each other?

Maybe I should have dated someone who would have made life easier. But who would that have been? Someone who lived closer? Made more money, so that what, I could work on my career goals less? Maybe I could have dated a therapist who could have recognized I was suffering from a mental illness that was camouflaging itself as the kind of stress you’d expect from single-parenting.

Sure, we don’t sound like the kind of couple Match Dot Com would set up. But that’s just it. Despite all of these perceived incompatibilities, despite the exhaustion from experiencing high-highs and low-lows, we still wanted to be with each other. We wanted to work on ourselves and the relationship.

So should it? Should it be easy? I can’t answer that question for you. I can just say that I want stability for my daughter and a lifelong marriage so there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking the time to see if the work is worthwhile and how, as a couple, you handle the work.

That’s why I have to brace myself for all of The Questions. THE Questions.

“So when is the wedding!?”

“What’s taking so long?”

“Get married already!”

“So what’s going on with you two?”

“Are you really sure he’s right for you?”

“He’s perfect for you. What are you waiting for?”

I get it. Romance is exciting, everyone wants you to be happy, and weddings involve free food and 15-year-old cousins stealing liquor and break dancing until they puke. It’s hard not to want that.

But given the divorce rate among my peers and the fact that practical challenges remain – an even longer long-distance relationship (Denver and Miami) – we are being thoughtful with every decision.

By the way, the countdown begins to Miami, capital of big boobies, beautiful beaches, Corvettes and cockroaches.


So I have a plan. If you, like me, have found yourself at a family reunion, wedding, holiday party or BBQ getting washed out by The Questions (“When’s the wedding?” Or on the flip side, “Should it be this hard?”) you could answer with another question:

“Do you know the mathematical formula for determining an event horizon, otherwise known as ‘the point of no return,’ at which point the gravitational pull becomes so great as to make escape impossible?”

You will be no closer to answering those questions, but you will shut them up long enough to walk off and grab another piece of cake, a beer, or a hot dog.


Hi. Are you there?

A weird handful of you actually read this crap and I wanted to let you know I haven’t abandoned it all together. I have a lot of good excuses. First, I ran a marathon. I am getting SO good at wedging that into every conversation.

“Hi Katie! Want a coffee? I’m at Starbucks.”

“Nah, I’m all good. I ran a marathon.”

“Katie, OMG Have you seen Breaking Bad?!”

“Uh. No, been reeeeal busy running a marathon.”

“Katie, did you cut your hair?”

“No, it just looks different cuz I ran a marathon.”

Anyway, excuses. I ran a marathon. And I have more. My dog ate my underwear. Again. And then she ate my kid’s underwear. Again. And then my kid told the security guard at the grocery store. And the security guard was all, “Who is Layla and why is she eating your child’s underwear?!” And I was all, “I ran a marathon!” and he was all, “Are you gonna pay for that?” And I was all, “NORA WHO SAID YOU COULD OPEN THE DORITOS!”

If you drop by here to procrastinate, I’m sorry you’ve only found tumbleweeds. I’m working on posting new stuff. And also? Did you know I ran a marathon?

Willy’s willy

Nora: Mom what is THAT?! (Points to TV)

Me: Ummmmm.

Nora: What is it what is it what is it?

Me: I really don’t know. Ummm. Um. Not sure. I think it’s a… (Cock my head, squint eyes. Narrator on documentary says, “Tilikum’s sperm is worth millions.” Inner dialogue: WHALE PENIS WHALE PENIS OMG OMG ITS A WHALE PENIS WHAAAALE PEEEENIIIISSSSSSSSSSSSS)

Nora: Mom. MOM!! What IS it?

Me: Oh. THAT? You’re talking about THAT? It’s just a –.
It’s a –.
A PEE. I mean a PEEEN.
It’s a fish.

Nora: Oh.


At what age do they start making sense?

While I stretch, she stretches:

I’m doing my exercises because if I don’t my brain will be eaten up by a monster’s panic so now it won’t eat my brain.

2 minutes later:

Mom I was totally just kidding that a bear was about to eat my brain. But look, this exercise is making my blood thicker. (flexes arms)

Assisting with grocery bags:

These grocery bags are so heavy I can barely take a nap.

She says it again, this time a little differently, because she can:

These groceries are so heavy I can barely watch TV.

(At least it made sense the second time…)

In reference to the ties of a halter top dress:

This is the boob connect. And it covers our boobs so we don’t get ants on them. And then we can play focused.

Saturday morning. She walks into my room. Naked.

“Mom, is it OK if I be a naked doctor?”

“Um. Sure. Why not.”

“OK. Let me take your heart beep.”

She looks at the thermometer. “It says you are puking.”

I make a sad face.

“Mom-Kid, you’re not going to be better for 6 to 7 days honey.”

“What’s wrong with me?” I ask.

She makes that I-don’t-know sound. The one that translates, Why would you ask me? I’m a naked kid acting like a doctor.


Photo by Paula Fahey Rahill

I was this obnoxiously happy all 3 hours and 53 minutes of the race. Check out that chick to my right. She’s like, Hey Tom Cruise, have a seat.

It’s been a wild ride getting to the other side of 26.2, and I’m eager to tell you about my experience. But I’m in recovery mode — not so much physically as practically catching up on the hours of work I lost to training.

This truly took a village and I’m humbled by all of the selfless support offered by my family and friends for what was a somewhat selfish pursuit.

Stay tuned. Much love.

Hobo Intermission for DesignLoveFest Dot Com



Hi. Meet this Indian warrior princess, Bri Emery (of course she has a cool name), “an art director and the Los Angeles-based founder and editor of designlovefest, a lifestyle blog with an eye for design in style, DIY, food, travel, entertaining and more.” (Bio pulled from I stumbled upon Bri’s Instagram feed which led me to her blog which led me to a lot of unfinished business and piles of laundry.

I dig her airy and bright white canvasses with pops of color. It allows art to speak for itself. (You’ll see below! White frames with white matting!) And somehow she manages to use almost every color in the rainbow while still keeping the style clean and consistent. I’m inspired by the simplicity of her designs, the mixtures of patterns and look at me acting like I know what I’m talking about.

I think my favorite part of her creations is that it’s hard not to be uplifted by them, and uplifting I often need. I mean, come on. That pom pom polka dot sweater? Does that not make you smile? If not, you haven’t imagined putting that thing on and walking into work. Continue to write that script. What happens next?

The only thing I can’t get on board with are Bri’s DIY posts, because NO. Don’t tell me what to do. When did it become socially acceptable to say DO IT YOURSELF and then profit from it! People are making money off of telling you how to do the work they should be doing. What kind of capitalist manipulation is that? No. You do it YOURSELF and then mark up the price a gross amount and sell it to me when I’m doing my therapeutic shopping. And while you’re at it I’d like a donut. I’ll need it to go along with my shopper’s remorse.

I can’t afford to upgrade my lifestyle until I’m out of debt and building a nest egg for retirement and Nora’s college (so never), but someone in my life has got to get those blue patent leather shoes.

Life can be dark. Take a break from it and soak in all this color.

(Images pulled from @designlovefest Instagram feed.)










Conversations with a Four-Year-Old

You may notice some themes threading through these quotes…

Twenty-something guy in skinny jeans and a beanie finds his seat next to us on the plane home from Miami. He smiles as he gets buckled, pulls out his phone and avoids eye contact, obviously not in the mood to chitchat with the four year-old he got stuck sitting next to on a 4 hour flight. Cue Nora:

So, where do you live on Colorado?


Where is that?

The intersection of Parker Road and Arapahoe Road.

[She turns and looks at me like, Please translate. Is that by the pool? Papa’s house? Give me a landmark or something.]

That’s by Gigi’s house, I whisper.

[Satisfied, she turns back to him.]

Cool. We live with Layla.


I’ve just stepped out of the shower into the kitchen for a cup of coffee. She stumbles out of her room like Kramer.

I’m feeling sick.

Like what? What hurts?

Like I can’t go to school and I need to eat donuts and watch TV.


In the ocean in orange floaties bobbing up and down over gentle, rolling waves.

I don’t like it when Chris goes to work. It makes me frustrated and it makes me lonely and you lonely. Right mom?

Well, not lonely. But it sure is fun with him. But when he works he earns money. And that’s how he bought the surf board.

OK! We don’t need him here!


On way to school and work:

Me: “Uuuugggghhhh. Dammit.”

Nora: “What mom. Did you forget your wallet again?”


On a walk after school:

Jesus, Layla, stop pulling on the leash!

Uh, Nora, we shouldn’t say “Jesus” unless its in a very nice, appreciative way.

Then why do you yell it?


Nora, from the back seat:

Mom, what is the letter that’s close by “B”? It has antlers.

Close by “B”? You mean “C”?

I said antlers. Like duh duh Deer. “D.” Do you not know your letters?”


Conversations in the bathroom:

Mom! I thought I had to poop but nothing is in there!

So you didn’t poop?

I thought I did.

Well, did you or didn’t you?

Ohhhhh I know. It was just a toot!

A toot.

Yeah. It was like I felt a toot that was an anchor up there and I had to pull it out and then it was a toot!


More on poop:

Mom, promise you won’t be upset when I say it.



Say what?

Promise you won’t be mad when I say IT.

[deep breath] OK. I promise.

I accidentally stuck my finger in poop. [Holds out finger]


Pretty much every day when I check the mail:

Me: Shit. I can’t find my keys. I lost my keys.

Nora: You left them in the mail box again.


Random quotes:

Dammit, it’s raining. Now what.

I can hold my breath for 30 pounds.

You’re talking so loud I can barely hear you!

We wipe our bottoms so we don’t get cracks inside our bottoms. Right mom?

Mom, ‘member that time you lost your phone in the airport? That was bad.

I need to go pike my bark.

Why? Why? But why? Why? How do you know? Why? But how do you know?! Why? Why?

You keep telling me to put on my pajamas, but you just told me that like 6 years ago.

To Chris over the phone:

My mom wants to talk to you (no I don’t. She just says that when she wants to get off the phone). But we will always love you when we aren’t talking to you.

After spending two nights at my parents/her grandparents’ house, we lied down in my bed and stared at the ceiling quietly. Then:

Ahhh. There’s nothing like sleeping in your own bed.

After I stopped by her preschool for a pizza party I helped her get cozy on her mat for nap time:

I love you, mom. You have boring work to do. And I have boring sleep to do. Then I’ll see you soon.

On the couch:

I don’t know what I’d do without you, mom.


You took the words from my mouth. I love you, beautiful.


Seven Ways to Propose If You Want Me to Say “Not it!”

I don’t like that 99% of the time when people propose they presume the answer will be “yes” because their partners love them.

Really everyone? Love? What kind of criterion for saying “yes” is that? I’m sorry, but maybe more marriages would last if people had higher standards, like, if there is an Awesome Blossom on the table, probably not the best time to ask me to spend eternity with you. Or is it? Here are some proposal scenarios where I will have to respond, “Not it!”

1. At a restaurant, any restaurant, especially Chili’s, unless you order an Awesome Blossom and margaritas and cup the small of my back with your hand as I whisper in your ear that my margarita lacks a very important ingredient – alcohol – at which point you throw your hands in the air and complain to the bartender that there is no alcohol in our margaritas THERE IS NEVER ANY ALCOHOL IN THESE JEE DEE FRANCHISE MARGARITAS motivating the bartender to add an obscene amount of tequila to the subsequently ordered margaritas that are now on the house. In this particular case, I would most likely say “Yes” to your proposal because going to bat for your girl at Chili’s is sort of my version of Ryan Gosling climbing a ferris wheel.

2. At a baseball game or, while we’re at it, any place at any time involving a jumbotron. This is really offensive, so I will break this down for you.

As a mother, I want the entire game, a full uninterrupted four hours to eat my stadium hot dog – 1 minute to inhale it and 3 hours and 59 minutes to digest it and reflect on how exquisite it was to not have to share my hot dog or take someone to pee in the middle of eating my hot dog. Do not interrupt. Rude. (@anjelahjohnson)

Repeat of above, except beer. Let me drink my beer. Do not interrupt. Rude. (@anjelahjohnson)

I don’t want my proposal to occur right after the t-ball players from Forsyth Middle School show off on the field so proudly during the transition from the 8th to the 9th inning. What kind of man one-ups the t-ballers?

The jumbotron was made for the idiots who try to catch pop flies from the bird mascot because they have a 1 in 1,000 chance of winning a $15 gift card to Best Buy. Or for the people who like to kiss when they see themselves on the screen. By the way, I don’t understand that ritual. A stadium full of thousands of drunk assholes and not one person shows hiss ass on the jumbotron? We’re kissing? America, you’re getting soft on me.

My pores do not ever need to be enlarged to 1,000 DPI. Oh hale no.

Moving on.

3. My birfday. That’s a celebration of ME, not us. I don’t want you to think that a proposal replaces gifts. I would like gifts, including Taylor Swift perfume poured into a Dolce & Gabanna bottle. That’s really GETTING ME. Go the extra mile. And just so we’re covering all bases, please shy away from Christmas and Easter. If you want to overshadow Jesus, that’s fine. But leave me out of it.


5. Alone on the beach after a stroll or on a blanket looking at the stars. Ugggghhhhh. I’m bored. So bored. And hungry. So hungry. Can we eat something already? Donuts? An Awesome Blossom!! Or let’s DO something! Cart wheels? Each other? Stars are boring. Maybe instead you could put a ring inside a jack-in-the box and wind it up until it pops out a ring and I pee myself. Every time. It gets me every time! That would be way more fun for me, for us both! But don’t get the kind that has a clown inside because that would just be weird.

6. In Paris. How many people have gotten engaged there? It’s like an engagement mill. Every time I see an engagement photo by the Eiffel Tower I imagine a long line of tourists who want to stage a cool engagement and a bitter woman in a booth charging $100 bucks a pic, per pose, sort of like the kids wrapped around the mall waiting to take pics with Santa. A total rip off, but you feel like you have to do it because it’s Christmas! Except it’s Paris! What would be cooler than getting engaged in Paris! I know what would be cooler than getting engaged in Paris. Not getting engaged in Paris.

7. Some kind of scavenger or treasure hunt where the last clue leads me to you. Huh? Wha? You want me to use my brain and answer questions and move my legs and EARN the proposal? I have to WORK for it? Why don’t you just give me a hand tool so I can chisel my way out of Shawshank to meet you on the outside, squealing, “Good job, sweetheart! You win ME! And a ring you’ll sorta like! You make me so happy. Will you be my wife?!”

First I’ll stare at you, jaw hung open. And you’ll be so proud of yourself. Then I’ll respond, “Ummmmmm, how do I say this?


I’m not working for a proposal. I’ve worked enough through my own dysfunction, several men’s commitment issues, fights, drunken breakups, sober breakups, and a lot of Kelly Clarkson songs to get to a place where “proposal” is even a consideration. Knock yourself out creating a scavenger hunt, but there better be an Awesome Blossom or some donuts at the finish.

Note: If you got engaged in one of these ways, please don’t hate me. I’m sensitive. And I love you. But to be fair, this isn’t about you, and according to my therapist, I don’t know how to be happy and as a side effect of that disability I resent your happiness and life choices.

But congratulations!!!!