Mother’s Day: CANCELLED until further notice

A leaf from Infinite's book

A leaf from Infinite’s book

Mother’s Day is a big deal in my family. A really big deal. It might not rival Christmas or Thanksgiving, but it blows birthdays and Father’s Day out of the water.

In theory, all the kids would be involved, but since my brother lives so far away the planning falls to my sister and me. Each year, a month in advance (give or take a month), one of us sends the ominous email to the other: “So, any ideas for Mother’s Day?”

We could always default to a simple lunch out or flowers, right? Wrong. Not in this family. Oh no. We have the best mom EVER, and goshdarnit, she deserves a Mother’s Day for the ages!

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They’re called breasts, not bazongas

Dear Voltaire,

Is there a reason why the top of page 29 of Candide had the word “breast” front and center? You see, I’m doing a Writing 101 challenge, and I was supposed to flip to page 29 and write about the word that jumped out at me.

When I tried to cheat by looking away and glancing back quickly, you know what word I saw? Breast. Because you said it twice.

My breast began to take its right form; and such a breast — white, firm, and formed like that of Venus of Medicis.

That’s just lovely for your old woman character, but really, why? You and your translators must have conspired to give me a word that most people don’t feel comfortable saying unless it is a prefix for “cancer” or a suffix for “chicken.”

I’m not sure why it’s an awkward word. It shouldn’t be. Its informal alternative, “boobs,” feels a bit awkward too. “Chest” works sometimes, but it’s not exactly accurate. Let’s not even talk about knockers or hooters.


I mean, seriously. This is Google talking here. Bazooms? Jubblies? What are we talking about again?

I don’t usually think much about the objectification of women,  but maybe I should. After all, as a woman, why can’t I talk about my breasts without feeling like I’m in the doctor’s office? Why can’t I talk about my boobs without feeling silly? Why can’t I talk about my [insert vulgar synonym of choice here] without feeling, well, like an object?

It could just be a personal hang-up, but I doubt it. Why do we have so many words for breasts? And why are about 2% of them neutral descriptions of female biology while the rest are absurd nicknames or crude sexual labels?

I’ve done a Google search for “breast synonym” — and I’m unpleasantly surprised by what I’ve found. The first alphabetically listed synonym on Wikisaurus is “assets.” Awesome. It’s great to hear that my D-cups are such great assets. I guess that’s preferable to calling them bazongas, fun bags, or lady lumps.

And any of those terms is less abhorrent than the very existence of Campus Talk’s 262 Names for Boobs, just a few Google Search Results down. Straight from the horse’s mouth:

If I sat here all day on a throne made of dirty magazines watching porn on a wall of plasma screens armed with a pen, paper and a case of beer, I MIGHT be able to come up with 100 names for boobs. So I enlisted the help of every person I could find to compile this list of 262 names for boobs. I like to think of it as the definitive boob thesaurus. And you’re welcome for it being in alphabetical order. If you want to actually SEE some hot boobage, check out our hot chicks galleries.

Sigh. Don’t worry, that lovely introduction to your “definitive boob thesaurus” doesn’t make me feel objectified at all! Just my boobs. Sorry, my
big boppers.
flesh bulbs.
gob stoppers.
hand warmers.

REALLY?? I can’t even finish the alphabet, it’s that humiliating. According to Campus Talk’s list, my breasts are any and all kinds of fruit (melons preferred), airships, light sources, missiles…generally, anything round, touchable, and/or edible. I’ll add that most of the other terms I’ve mentioned here weren’t included on their list, so we can safely assume the count is over 300.

Well, Voltaire? Why are we so obsessed with breasts? We’ve coined hundreds of synonyms since you wrote Candide. Unfortunately, the vast majority we’ve managed to invent are unflattering at best and dehumanizing at worst.

And so I leave you with a question. How are we supposed to overcome objectification of women — or men, for that matter — when we have so many words designed to do just that?

Sincerely Yours,

(with a brain, thank you very much)


Oh, and Voltaire. I can’t say you helped matters with Candide.

Even the tender Candide, that affectionate lover, upon seeing his fair Cunegund all sunburned, with bleary eyes, a withered neck, wrinkled face and arms, all covered with a red scurf, started back with horror.

Good to know he loved her for her wit and intelligence.

Writing 101, Day 14: Pick up the nearest book and flip to page 29. What jumps out at you? Start there, and try a twist: write in the form of a letter.

Candide cover photo taken from

Okay, forget about Voltaire. Everyone’s guilty to some degree. Everyone’s a victim to some degree. Men, women, everybody. What do you think?


A rental on West Park Street

When I was twelve, I lived in a rental house. Our plans to update the kitchen had turned briefly into a kitchen and bathroom renovation before morphing into a complete house remodel. Since our real home was stripped down to the studs, my family was forced to relocate for about a year.

It wasn’t terrible. It was weird, though, having to worry about not changing things. No customizing here —  like the ideal public bathroom, we would leave it cleaner than we found it.

My bedroom walls were red. Not bright, R: 255 G: 0 B: 0 red, more like a deep red wine, burgundy color. It was cool for the first week, but the dark walls made for a dark atmosphere. I don’t actually remember anything about the room, because I never spent any time in it. All the fun happened out of doors.

In the back-back yard — there were two, sort of — there was a huge grassy space with an enormous tree at the back fence. Up the fifty foot ladder, up the rungs built into the tree, and I could just reach the plastic green handles of the zip line. I flew. Past the tree branches, past the mini apple orchard, and straight at the shed, painted red with white accents to look like a barn. The house owners had kindly left a big piece of plyboard leaning there so I could slam my feet into it before I crashed into the shed.

One time, I forgot to prop the board back up before I jumped. Continue reading

Blini Sunday

Have you ever heard of Marti Gras, also called Fat Tuesday? Thought so. What about Blini Sunday?

Thought not.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but my impression is that for the world at large, Marti Gras is an excuse to party before the start of forty days of…well, the next forty days until Easter, which is in turn an excuse to eat chocolate.

If that’s the case, Marti Gras really doesn’t mean much of anything. But it was originally nicknamed “Fat Tuesday” — the day before Ash Wednesday — because it’s your last chance to stuff your face before, theoretically, fasting for forty days.

In the Russian Orthodox Church, Lent is a big deal. We take the fasting thing seriously. Continue reading

The art of knitting in red

I swear, we were just minding our own business, having our Sunday stroll through Kennedy Park. Clara and me, holding hands, like we always do. I was on the right, she was on the left. Like always.

I don’t remember what we were talking about. Nothing important, just chatting. God, she’s beautiful, I remember thinking. I was so wrapped up in her presence, her being, her scent, I didn’t even see it coming.


It was a gorgeous day to walk in Kennedy. Spring was in the air: birds chirping, green leaves swaying in the breeze, kids running around laughing. The wind caressed my hair, Tom held my hand in his, and all was right in the world.

I smiled at the little old lady sitting on a park bench. She was knitting something red this time. We walked by her every Sunday. By now I felt like I knew her, even though we had never exchanged a word. She looked like such a dear, sweet woman, right up until the moment she lunged at my husband. I can’t imagine what came over her.


Click click, click click, click click, go my needles. Red rum, red rum, red rum. I grin. Funny. Glance up. That couple again. Happy. Woman smiles at me. Always smiles.

Man doesn’t smile. Dirty man. No smiles for old auntie. Red rum, red rum, red rum.

My needle finds its mark. Tears on man’s face. Good. Tears cleanse the soul. Red yarn the color of fresh blood. Yes. Red rum, red rum, red rum.

Writing 101, Day 9: A man and a woman walk through the park together, holding hands. They pass an old woman sitting on a bench. The old woman is knitting a small, red sweater. The man begins to cry. Write this scene.

Today’s twist: write the scene from three different points of view: from the perspective of the man, then the woman, and finally the old woman.