Thursday, December 26, 2013

My Etsy Shop!

Oh, Half-Assed Mama community--I am so, so happy to announce the opening (finally!) of my Etsy shop, amymorgan jewelry. Please come visit!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

California Stars

Homesick all weekend. I've sat here for almost an hour now, trying to write about that, but the words won't come. I've felt in limbo since I got here, and such a non-place seems to defy description. Things aren't bad here at all--I love my job, my students, the many friends I was too far from for years. But now there are people (and dogs) on the other side of the country, and I can't really think about that distance too deeply, because I need to be able to function.

And there's the place itself, that other side. Maybe we only ever really find our place in the place where we find ourselves, whenever and however that happens. Maybe it would have happened here if I'd stayed. But I left before something in me was fully formed, and something about California helped me grow, expand, free myself.

All of this has been spinning around in my head. And then I heard this song tonight while I was driving, and suddenly I was on a cliff along Route 1, a damp, freezing wind blowing in hard from the Pacific, the scent of the ocean mixing with eucalyptus and coastal sage. And off to my left in the darkness there's a halo of light hovering over San Francisco, but it's nowhere near close enough to interfere with the millions and millions of stars in the perfect night sky.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Saturday Night

On the corner, a gaggle of young men and women waits for the light. In 50 degree weather, four women are dressed identically, in shorts so short and tight and Lycra-ey they may as well be underwear, button down shirts that fail to cover the underwear, four-inch platform sandals. The weirdest part: I don't think they're in costume.

Friday, November 1, 2013


Up in the air it's uncomfortably warm, and my neck and shoulders ache from craning my head upward as I cable lights. Down below me, six or seven young people are talking and laughing as they paint. Some have spent all day with us, and one bribed herself to finish a paper by telling herself she could work in the theater once it was done. My coworker, in the air with me, has been listening to them too. He turns to me, smiling and gesturing at the students, and says, "This makes me happy." I'm calculating how long each of them has until graduation. I'm already sad at the thought.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

End of Day

Bare trees are silhouetted against early twilight, windows glow in the old stone; French drifts out from the family in the front apartment; cutlery sounds against china as tables are set. All around the complex, people settle back into these homes, birds returning to nests.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Everyday Travel

The majesty of every bridge. The way every city glitters like Oz as it rises in the distance.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Saturday Morning

The storybook ideal of fall: A neighborhood of large, old stone houses and vividly colored trees. All around a maple, the ground is carpeted with orange and red, and the sun slants through the tree's remaining leaves.

Late October

Cold air, dark blue sky. Stillness and the chirping and twittering of night things.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Last Light

Just before the sun sets, it bursts across the tops of things. Then the autumn trees look like Tiffany lamps, mosaics of green and gold and crimson.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Fall Fruit

A friend posts to Facebook about eating pomegranates. I consider how far I am from the pomegranates that grew in my backyard and think of all the crisp-tart apples I picked last weekend.

Saturday, October 19, 2013


A string of white lights in a glass jar, like a hundred fireflies on a summer evening.

Friday, October 18, 2013


A chill October night. A one room schoolhouse in the middle of a graveyard: Candles flicker across walls, pumpkins, dried corn stalks. The smell of hot cider. Ghost stories.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Brain and the Heart

Why is the language of the brain so much easier to understand than the language of the heart? The brain has an unfair advantage, of course--it speaks in words, in concrete images. The languages we use every day to engage with other people. The brain stores information, and it warns us to stay out of traffic, or keeps us from putting our hands down on hot stoves. Its practical value makes the brain cocky. It believes its own hype and so do we. If it's wise enough to tell us that we shouldn't burn our hands, surely it should be listened to in all other situations, right?

But keeping our hands away from flames isn't wisdom. It's only common sense. Despite its clear, blunt communication tactics; its loud voice; its brute strength; its stash of facts, the brain is often misguided. It panics, it jumps forward and backward in time. It's afraid of pain. It's afraid of what other people will think. It's afraid, ironically, of making wrong decisions. 

It's afraid of the wrong things. And mine resents me for even writing that.

My heart knows better. My heart, after all, knows what's in my heart. And my heart's signals are as clear as my brain's, but they take different forms and I'm less practiced at reading them. There are physical signs when my heart knows a decision is wrong--crying I can't control, nausea, pain or coldness, awful electric shocks of anxiety at the very idea of settling on a particular decision. Or more subtle discomforts. Just...a feeling that something isn't right.

And you would think it'd be easy to pay attention. If something feels bad, why would I want to do it? But if the right decision might cause extraordinary pain, my brain is all in favor of living with my heart's discomfort, and it mounts the most amazing arguments in favor of a bad decision. In favor of ignoring my heart. And any time my heart is conflicted, my brain leaps in to fill the gap, to "take care of" things. And it's loud, it's a bully--it drowns out my heart as much as it can; it tells my heart it's naive or foolish or cowardly. And so my heart is often beaten down by my brain.

But ignoring my heart isn't wisdom. It's not even, it turns out, common sense. It always, always ends up being tremendously painful, in a way that's much harder to recover from than the pain of missing out on something potentially great, or the pain of necessary loss, or whatever other clean, pure pain the brain is trying to avoid.

So how to learn? How to learn to quiet my brain so I can listen to my heart or give it time to reach a decision? How to learn to calm the brain's fears, to comfort it enough that it's willing to work together with my heart? 

How to keep myself whole?

Thursday, July 4, 2013

•spinach squares•

My mom used to make these squares for parties, and it was impossible to eat just one. Happy American Independence Day! We've been quiet, but we're still here. xox


2 T butter
3 eggs
1 C milk
1 C flour
1/2 tsp table salt (reduce)
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 10-ounce packages of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained, or the equivalent of broccoli

  • For the record, I think roughly any amount of spinach will do. I inherited a bunch of frozen chopped spinach from a massive freezer clean-out (why does this always happen to me, Amy?), and have been draining it in preparation. I'm about to squash all the moisture out of it, using a colander and my brawn.

1 lb half sharp cheddar, half monterey jack cheese, grated
1/4 chopped onion

Preheat oven to 350, melt butter in huge glass baking pan (9 by 17 inches is what the recipe says, but who has that?). Beat eggs, add milk, flour, salt, baking powder. Mix well. Stir in spinach, cheese, onion. Bake 35 minutes, remove. Let cool 45 minutes. Cut into 90 (ninety!!!) small squares, or larger if serving for a main dish. These things freeze well, and thaw easy for last-minute meals and unexpected guests.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

• candy •

Penn is rummaging around for piece of candy. "Mommy, look: a dumpling! I want to save it." He made off with a chocolate umbrella and a dum-dum pop. The peep remains. xox

Sunday, April 14, 2013


One spring, when I was in high school, a friend taught me the Korean word for forsythia. I didn't know what it was called in English, so I couldn't tell her, and for quite a while after that, I only knew the Korean word for it.

I don't remember when I learned the word "forsythia," or when the Korean word or my friend's name fell from my memory. But every spring, I see the yellow blossoms and I think of her.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

•way-no the pooh•

One of the reasons I keep "tot blog" (to the right of this post), is to catch hold of a few grains of Penn's childhood before they disappear forever into the giant beach of his life. And to celebrate the freedom of language kids have. These days, he's coming up with more and more adult-flavored clips... and while those are fabulous, I love when his thoughts are delivered in small-child speak. He still refers to Way-No the Pooh. He has recently dubbed those sugar-coated marshmallow chicks that pop up in drug stores around Easter time, "dumplings." He has recently begun to refer, unabashedly, to his "crotus" (scrotum).

My heart aches for the time when I'm just looking back on these posts. When he's a teenager and talking about kissing Tatum on the mouth in an entirely different way (and perhaps not even to me). When he's a man and talking about how cold-brewed coffee imparts the truest flavor. When he's a writer and explaining how important his community of fellow artists. Or when he's an engineer and asking me about his grandfather's greatest inventions.

Of course I want this now to last forever. Five-year-old Penn, with his enthusiasm for skiing and aptitude for games that are slightly beyond him (Fluxx, or chess). Who is learning to climb trees and collect pine-pitch to help start the camp-fires of our future. Who is pedaling furiously and leaning into his training wheels and arguing fiercely about wearing crocs instead of sensible protective shoes. Who is--"Mommy, look! Come quickly!" He has spilled soap on the concrete out back. A cluster of bubbles is moving slowly east. "It's a flower." And it is. xox

First-base stance.

Friday, January 25, 2013

365 Project Photos

So, regular readers will perhaps have noticed that we're quieter than usual around here. For my part, writing has been low on the list of ways I feel capable of expending my creative energy. Which is really pretty ungood for me, but there you have it. In the absence of writing, I've committed to a 365 self portrait project for the year, which...well, let's just say there may actually be well over 365 photos by the end of the year, but it won't be because I'm diligently taking one photo a day every day. No, not so much.

Which leads me to some genuinely interesting questions about why I'm doing a year-long project, what I want from it, how I want to (gasp!) improve my technical knowledge and execution, why self portraits in particular, how much can you do with self portraits, etc. Which will all maybe encourage me to sit and write at some point, which is a cheerful thought. But for now, I thought I'd take on at least a little bit of the bloggie responsibility around here and share some of the photos I've done so far this month, the ones I'm most excited about.  xoxo

Friday, January 11, 2013

•cold breaths•

I told Penn I'd just gotten an important voice message from our landlord. Penn sat up straight in the bath. "What did he say?" He's going to sell his house in March so he has money to fix parts of our house. Like the air conditioner. Right now, if it were hot, we wouldn't have a way to blow cold air into the house, because the A/C is broken. Penn looked serious. "We'll make cold breaths. And we'll build a garage up to the side of the house, and put the car in and close the [outside] garage door... while opening the [inside] garage door, and we'll turn the car's cold air on. So it will go into the house." I didn't have the heart to tell him the car A/C is also shot... xox