So I’ve gone back and forth on posting these pictures. On the pro side, it’s:

“YAY! Pretty photos! To share on the Internet and prompt people to say nice things about me!!!”

And on the con side, it’s:

“Umm, ok. My pregnant body on the Internet! That’s a little weird! Vulnerable! Potentially embarrassing!”  

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you’ll know that the concept of self-branding eludes me entirely and I’m just not very good at it. As an aerialist/yoga person, I am a-ok with pictures of all bodies, including mine, because human physiology is fascinating (to me) and its capabilities beautiful (to me).

But as a writer, I have a knee-jerk hesitation to showing any skin, because, because…well, I’m not entirely sure. Life of the mind vs. life of the body, I guess.

However, as previously discussed, a topic that captures both my interest in bodies and my interest in thinkerly, writer things is that of sex positivity for women. And specifically, pregnant women.


Hence, this maternity photo shoot. I did it a few weeks ago with a very talented local photographer, Whitney Martin, and my dear friend Fannie, a stylist-slash-video game programmer. (Slash-badass.)



We shot it at Bull Creek, a craggy park in Austin overhung with ancient oak trees and wrapped in mossy caves. It’s one of my favorite places in the world.

AE7 AE11

Over these past 37 (whoa) weeks, I’ve found that it’s very, very easy to feel infantalized as a pregnant women. The maternity wear complex creates clothes that make you feel like a giant baby yourself, with frilly, pastel outfits and message T’s that say things like, “I’m baking a GIRL!” with appliqued cupcakes or “Mama’s little RASCAL!” with an arrow pointing down to your belly. Why?

Maybe it’s because pregnancy is a clear, visible sign of sex being had, and cutesy outfits like that take the edge off, making a woman’s sex-having body less threatening.


Anyway, that definitely wasn’t the route I wanted to go for a maternity shoot, but conversely, I knew I didn’t want a pregnancy boudoir shoot either. I’ve seen beautiful, sensual examples of that, but I’m just too immature to pull it off. I’d be snickering the whole time and acting a fool for the poor photographer.

So what did this picky photo subject want? Well, something that felt like me.


I wanted something that captured the all-encompassing womanliness I’ve felt during this pregnancy, something that felt nature-y/natural, and something that felt interesting. And, maybe, something like Stevie Nicks.

AE13 AE9

So Whitney, Fannie and I collaborated on putting together a session that didn’t divorce sexuality from the whole maternity experience, which is a very formal way of saying we shared a Pinterest board.

And how do I feel about the result?

I am THRILLED. I love them! These photos will probably humiliate my daughter to no end one day, but until that time, I’m happy to have a visual memory of this little sliver of my life, thanks to Fannie and Whitney.

Pregnancy is a time where I haven’t always felt 100% awesome about my body, but you know what? I think that’s good for me. I like to think I’m a feminist, but my perception of what is beautiful is just as influenced by media / American culture / the “male gaze” as anyone else’s. On top of that, pregnancy always seemed like this freaky, science fictional thing to me (probably because most science fiction is written by men), akin to Alien or Gremlins.

But now, corny as it sounds, I’ve been converted. I’m shocked at what the female body can do, and I like the idea that baby and I are working together as a team to make her strong. Nutrition / good sleep / prenatal care / blah blah are all parts of that, but sex was (obviously) a pretty essential part of it, too. “Sex positive” and “belly proud” don’t have to be mutually exclusive concepts. You can celebrate the cute little baby growing inside your belly, and simultaneously celebrate the sex that brought him or her here. I don’t think anyone openly disputes this; I’m just ready for a culture that finds a portrayal balance between hyper-sexualized moms (i.e. MILF’s) and one that pretends moms are these harried, sexless creatures who are only focused on motherhood and THAT’S IT!

There’s a middle ground, I like to think.


Thanks again to Whitney and Fannie – I love you both.



Oh, blog! Blog, blog, blog – how I have missed thee.

As I write this, it’s a rainy Sunday, and exactly one day before my 32nd birthday. But lo, it’s the first year I haven’t felt compelled to make a big deal about it, or subtly entreat my friends and family for gifts* (*please refer to the end of this post for a mailing address to send birthday checks).

“Perhaps,” I think, “this is the beginning of parental selflessness. When for once, I think about other people more than I think about me, people like my baby, and all the things I need to do for her instead of me.”

That’s a nice thought. But in truth, I’m just too lazy to plan a birthday party.

I haven’t been too lazy, however, to enjoy the hell out of the podcast I was telling you guys about, “Statesman Shots.” The experience has given me a tremendous amount of respect for all of my favorite existing podcasts – Slate Culture Gabfest, NPR Pop Culture Happy Hour, the Dinner Party Download – and the amount of work that goes into each one. The topic planning, the guest scheduling, etc. – Shots is this tiny, mewling baby of a podcast that stands on the shoulders of giants, giants with way more involved shows than ours, and yet we still bust our bootays getting it all ready each week. We want to talk about stuff that is fun, but also thoughtful; we want GUESTS who are fun, but also thoughtful, and that regular challenge has yielded one of the most singularly fulfilling creative assignments I’ve ever had.

Besides the opportunity to talk with smart people each week like Omar, my co-host, the other lovely thing about the show is that it gives me an excuse to mouth off about whatever cultural topic I feel like. It’s exactly what I wanted grad school (in a very practical field – English Literature – shut up) to be! Here are a few stories I’ve written for the Statesman that were hatched out of Shots conversations:

Locating the heart of Wes Anderson films

How LBJ’s ghost haunts House of Cards

There’s so much insightful pop cultural criticism on the Internet these days, but I’m grateful to have this one little corner of it. In fact, writing here has made me think about the recent shuttering of Television Without Pity, the early aughts-founded site where Omar, and a ton of other glittering culture writers (like Linda Holmes, host of Pop Culture Happy Hour and NPR’s Monkey See blog) got their start; a site that pioneered the TV recap form.

Now, I’m not sure how many people read the Statesman Shots blog yet (Mom? Dad?), but hear ye, hear ye, Internet writers: claim those nascent website homes! When you see a promising new site, one that doesn’t yet claim a huge following but does glint with quality and smarts – pitch it. Pitch it now, before it becomes huge. Writers for TWOP didn’t just go on to contribute to NPR, some became novelists and program show runners. That means fancy TV show writers, y’all! 

Anyway. Aside from podcasting, I’m just doing all my writing work before le bebe gets here in six and a half weeks (whoa), winding down my yoga classes, and enjoying the last halcyon days of pregnancy hair. Here it is in action:


Ok, well, you can’t really see said hair here, because it’s all tucked up under a hat. (Note: there’s also a handwritten message on the rock in the background that I believe says “BE HAPPY,” but could also have said “BE HARPY,” which is solid advice for new mothers.)

I did a maternity photo shoot last weekend A) because I want to document this time in my life, and B) because I am very vain. Someday, I’ll haul out these photos for my teenage daughter and be like, “look!!! You were just a sweet little baby in my belly back then!!!!!” -To which she will probably roll her eyes and stomp off angstily to text her friends via her contact lenses, or whatever teens of the future do.

The other guiding force though in my maternity shoot was – ahem – Beyonce.


In the world of feminism, Beyonce is a polarizing figure. Me? Totally in her pocket.

Here’s a reader comment from the Bitch magazine article linked to above:

“She conforms to the beauty ideals and does nothing to fight them. she may not be an anti-feminist, but she doesn’t seem like a feminist to me. Maybe she’s a sex-positive “feminist”.”

That comment immediately got jumped on by others in the Bitch community and rightly so, because who says you can’t be sex positive and a feminist?

Here’s what Beyonce says about her own sexuality, shortly after releasing her latest album, and shortly after becoming a mother:

“I’m still finding my sensuality, getting back into my body, being proud of growing up. It was important that I expressed that in this music because I know there are so many women that feel the same thing after they give birth…I don’t at all have any shame about being sexual and I’m not embarrassed about it and I don’t feel like I have to protect that side of me because I do believe that sexuality is a power that we all have.”

This is a dated quote to point out by now, since it accompanied her album release back in December. But it’s a sentiment I’ve been thinking about so much lately being pregnant, and on the verge of becoming a mom.

When Beyonce uttered those words, I was immediately like THANK GOD. Then I wondered, wait. Why do I feel such relief hearing that? It’s not like tabloids don’t play up the sexy celeb mom thing all the freakin’ time.

But isn’t there also a very real, deep-rooted value in our culture that sorta asks moms to tuck away their sexuality? That associates sexuality with greed? That says you can’t simultaneously be greedy and also nurturing…right?

Usually I think no – we’re past that. But then, there was a slew of posts a few months back from Christian blogs on yoga pants that totally fascinated me. Here’s one. In sum: yoga pants provoke lust and cause men to sin, so don’t wear them, ladies.

Now, if sexuality –> lust –> sin is in your rubric of religious beliefs, then that’s that and we don’t have to argue about it. Also, not all Christians think this way. But! I am weirdly fond of thinking through the issues surrounding sexuality and motherhood, and Internet discussions like these reveal something even more profound: we’re still sorting out sexuality and womanhood.

I don’t have a concrete answer to any of this, by the way. Except to say that there’s a difference between being an object of sexuality, and an agent of your own sexuality, and this is the novel thing I think Beyonce is doing here. By voicing desire, and by democratizing it (“sexuality is a power that we all have”). She’s certainly not the first pop star to have done so, but to assert both that side of herself as well as her joy in being a mom, on the same album!, is incredibly cool in all sorts of ways.

(And if it wasn’t clear before, this is all a brief way of saying that my maternity shoot was made up entirely of Beyonce dance move gif’s. Werk!)




Omar Gallaga’s Statesman story about local podcasts from 2.10.14.

Forgive the sparks that I fear will shoot out of this blog post at any moment, Reader. Not only am I terribly excited, but I’m currently drinking coffee, REAL COFFEE, which to a pregnant woman is like Adderall combined with Four Loko combined with cocaine. I am hyper.

But I’m exercising restraint, because I want to tell you about this new culture podcast from the Austin American-Statesman that I’m a part of, without overselling it! You know when someone tells you about a movie, and they are like, “you have to see it. No, seriously. This weekend. F-k that. Right now! I will take you to see this movie RIGHT NOW and you will love it because I loved it and I have already seen it six times it’s just that meaningful”? And that creates pressure on your viewing experience, and then you just like the movie just ok, but you have to insert fake enthusiasm into your voice because your friend is so fanatical? (If you’ve ever discussed the claymation classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer with me, then you already know what this uncomfortable situation is like.)

So I don’t want to do that, but I do want to say that the new culture podcast that Omar Gallaga (tech/culture writer at the Statesman) and I put together – “Statesman Shots” – is causing me a lot of happiness.

Each week, Omar, I, and a third guest talk about three items that are popping up in local Austin conversation – items mostly culture, and mostly local – and intersperse them with games. Sometimes our topics aren’t local at all: this week, for example, we discussed House of Cards and it’s return to Netflix with Season 2. Why? Because it’s amazing. But we also talk about things like Austin’s food scene, the evolving mission and huge-ness of SXSW, and Disney characters we feel very strongly about.

Right now, our third guests all come from Statesman‘s own newsroom, but we’re eventually going to expand that net to include other local folks as well.

It’s a project Omar and I have been cooking up for nearly a year and a half, after we spoke on a panel together for Online News Association and discovered we both had mutual geek affection for podcasts. WTF with Marc Maron, Radiolab, The Dinner Party…all the hits. That’s when we realized, uh – why doesn’t Austin have a culture show? Could we make a culture show? (If you’ve followed my weird little blog for a while you know this has been a longtime dream.)

So we put together a treatment for our show concept, pitched it around…et voila! Omar’s very own professional home, the Statesman, picked it up. We started it for real in January, and we love, love it. Maybe you’ll love it too! Here’s how you can listen/connect:

Statesman Shots Blog

iTunes! (i.e. your phone)

Statesman Shots Facebook Page

Statesman Shots Twitter

This is a weekly show, so we are always looking for topic and guest ideas. Seriously.

As a result though of the story Omar wrote about both our podcast and Austin podcasts in general last week, I realized that – duh! – Austin actually does have a lot of culture shows. Other programs like When in Austin, Austin Sessions, and more. It’s kind of a scattered community right now and reminds me of the early days of Austin’s blog scene, when we were all little islands and wondering how to do what we did better. We are very fortunate to have a platform like the Statesman to launch our show, and I personally am very fortunate to have a co-host like Omar, who is a hard worker, sharp writer, and overall gracious and kind human being. He midwifed our show into existence! But as Austin’s podcasting scene matures, perhaps we’ll start having little meetups or something where we can coalesce and get to know each other better, those of us in the podcasting scene.

Do you listen to podcasts, Reader?

Also, since we haven’t talked in a while, and because I’m still flying high on caffeine, I feel compelled to catch up on other aspects of life. Can we do that? Can we have a proper Cawfee Tawk?

CAWFEE TAWK #1: I’m still pregnant! Wow, I’m pregnant. This is how I look, and this is how I feel. I’m officially in the third trimester now, and we’re still dutifully attending our hummus-laden birth classes. Still teaching yoga, and even doing the teensiest, tiniest bit of aerial, but once baby girl is on the outside I’ll be very eager to hop back on the silks again.

CAWFEE TAWK #2: Speaking of silks, I’m in a new silks company! Did we discuss this already? I can’t remember. Anyway, it’s called Rapt Aerial Dance, and we’re putting together an open house during SXSW to celebrate our brand new space on E. Cesar Chavez. If you’d like to come by during the open house and take some free aerial classes, email me! Or leave a comment. And if you’d like to be an edible/drinkable (non-alcoholic) event sponsor, or a band that wants to come play, let me know too.

CAWFEE TAWK #3: Writing. I performed in a storytelling event for Austin Bat Cave on Tuesday (Story Department) that was a ton of fun, telling (naturally) my story about attending a naked yoga class. That thing just doesn’t get old. Also, I wrote a short piece for the Statesman about the House of Cards connection to Lyndon B. Johnson, and if you’re a fan of that show (like me) as well as a dork for presidential history (also like me), then perhaps you’ll enjoy it – it comes out this Sunday in the culture section. Oh, AND. Wrote a story for Citygram Magazine about moms with tattoos – “Mom Ink” – that came out today. Was a serious blast to write, and it probably deserves its own proper post. Other than that, just pitching my strange little ideas around, often getting rejected but sometimes accepted. (<–Which should be the title of an after-school special.)

Whew. I think that’s it. And you, Reader? How goes it on your end of the computer screen?



AE2Image source

I’m sitting in a circle with my husband and six other couples, in a softly lit room with hummus and lentil chips perched invitingly in the corner. At the head of the circle sits our leader, an earthy woman in jeans and two loose pigtails rolled into buns. We’re going around the circle introducing ourselves, sharing how far along we are and at least one interesting fact about ourselves.

“This is our first child,” says one of the expectant mothers. “And we’re having a boy!”

“Oh, that’s wonderful,”  says our leader. “So you’ve already done your anatomy check with the ultrasound, then?”

“Well, no,” says the husband, he and his wife exchanging a knowing glance, “but we met his soul already. It was in a tantric spiritual ceremony.”

Welcome to my birthing class.


Ever since before Ross and I got pregnant, we knew it was going to be either birthing center or home birth. In this way, we are card-carrying Austinites: one screening of The Business of Being Born, and boom, done – no hospital for us. Not that Hollywood depictions of birth in the hospital looked all that appealing anyway, but The Business of Being Born viewers are a self-selecting group, so in many ways it preaches to the choir. I am a member of that choir, as well as – when it comes to the pain associated with all-natural, drug-free birth – hugely naive.

But am I hardcore enough to birth at home? Nope. I liked the idea of being whisked away to another location, where a whole staff was on-hand to take care of me. Plus, I am easily seduced by interiors, and between our house and the birthing center, the birthing center — with its chiffon curtains, satin throw pillows and general atmosphere of Enya — totally wins.

“It is like a spa,” says Fabiana, a Brazilian beauty friend of mine who also gave birth there. “Bed, shower, huge whirlpool. I am almost positive -” she leaned in with a conspiratorial whisper – “they keep champagne in the refrigerator.”

Which sounded like my kind of place. After my first visit, I broke up with my old obstetrician with all the sensitivity of a cheerleader dumping her original prom date for the quarterback, and threw myself at the birthing center’s mercy.

“Records release form? No problem!” I sang to the birthing center receptionist. “Where do I sign? Can you get me in for a visit next week? Does that mean you have room for me to give birth here in May? Yes? You need a deposit? How much? Here’s a check!”

It was all very whirlwind, but fortunately, I think this is going to be a good fit. This was all the more affirmed at our first birthing class last week, which at the birthing center is called “centering class.” It’s where you meet other couples giving birth around the same time as you, and talk about things with the midwives like nutrition, financial planning, etc. But this is not just any centering class – this is a centering class in Austin, as the following conversation attests.

“Does anyone have any recommendations for allergies?” one of the expectant mothers, a bubbly engineer in glasses and a bob, piped up.

“You could try honey? From local bees?” suggested one of the husbands.

“There’s a natural serum at People’s Pharmacy that is soooo helpful,” added a mom, seated in lotus.

“Often, allergies are a reaction to a larger toxic issue in your body,” someone said. We all nodded in solemn agreement.

What was not suggested, however, was Zyrtec. Not once did anyone say, “just get yourself a steroid shot, yo.” Ross leaned down and whispered, “heh — only in Austin would the very first recommendation be the local honey thing,” then immediately raised his head back up to share a special gut-healing dietary method with the group.

I looked around at all the local honey acolytes and beamed. Hello, my people.


Next time in centering class, I’m going to ask about the phenomenon of “baby brain,” which at first I regarded as an infantilizing insult, and am now convinced is scientific fact. Science is also convinced it’s scientific fact. It’s been coming up lately because my own brain is basically divided into two creative halves, the movement part and the writing part, and as aerial gets f-g impossible slightly challenging, writing has taken over. I’ve been pitching story ideas right and left, wrote a cover story here, am starting a podcast here – but not without herculean effort. It’s like the words aren’t blocked, exactly, but chugging along like a wheezing, beat-up Pinto. Rather than fingers flying lithely across the keyboard, it’s more like fists clubbing the keyboard, me banging away at various keys until logical sentences start to appear.

But the one arena in which I don’t feel like Lennie and the rabbits? The kitchen.

Everybody is shocked: my husband, my friends, even myself. Once a champion of reheated veggie burgers rolled into a tortilla (“it’s a tofu taco, you guys”), I now research actual recipes online, and buy things like lamb and cooking sherry. At times, my efforts are punctuated by brief moments of panic, as the Pregnancy Industrial Complex would like to convince you that even common household comestibles are fraught with peril. “Sure, go ahead and enjoy that coffee!” they seem to say, “IF YOU WANT A HORRIBLE AND TRAGIC MISCARRIAGE.”

The funny thing is though, right from the very beginning, I’ve always had this fundamental belief that our girl was going to be alright. Which didn’t stop me from crying at the anatomy ultrasound, when we checked for all her fingers and toes and happily discovered that all parts were in working order. But way before the kicks, which happen all day long now, I sensed she was going to be a badass. A tougher cookie than I ever was.

We meet her in May.



Full disclosure: This post title is a sarcastic one.

Recently, I got contracted to write a travel guide about Austin via this publishing company, and while wary – my insider’s knowledge of Austin is truly a flimsy guise – these past couple of weeks writing/shooting it have been pretty (burp) darn enjoyable.

Since I’ve bragged about this assignment on just about every social media channel I am registered on, I figured it was time to have a proper blog post about it, too.

IMG_4549 IMG_4828IMG_5080 IMG_4932 IMG_4917 IMG_5671 IMG_4534

As you can see, writing this guide involves a lot of eating. Which is convenient, because guess who’s eating for two? (PREGNANT LADY HUNGRY.)

I’m just kidding: as my friend Sissel recently pointed out, there’s a tiny organism in my stomach, not – unless my ultrasounds have been seriously erroneous – a full-grown man. So really you’re eating for 1.1, which isn’t nearly as cool as eating for two.

Nevertheless! Pregnant or no, duty calls. And though I’m in a professional place now where I’m seeking out more news writing, more issues work, assignments like this are admittedly super fun.


Baby’s first Uchi!


This is a REAL sandwich.


Please don’t get diabetes, baby! But here, enjoy these garlic-smothered meatballs. 

Working on this guide has brought to mind two distinct things:, and Frank Bruni’s Born Round – one of my favorite food memoirs of all time.

I say because in many ways, trying all this food is a bit like I imagine speed-dating to be. Traditionally, I suppose it’s the food critic (don’t really think of myself that way, but you get the idea) who is the one with all the power. But, I still get incredibly intimidated each time I walk into, say, Jeffrey’s, and have to pretend I know what sous-vide is (thanks Wikipedia) when the chef is explaining his or her dish. “Mm hmm, right,” I say, looking down at said sous-wide dish, nodding in mock understanding. Like dating, it’s a situation where both of us are hoping to impress: one with actual ability, the other with faux knowledge.

So I’m not really a food expert. At all. But, I went through a phase where I voraciously read food memoirs – all of Ruth Reichl, Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential of course, Molly Wizenberg’s A Homemade Life – but one of my top reads was Frank Bruni’s Born Round. Frank Burni is an imposing journalist anyway, and got a post as The New York Times‘ restaurant critic after dedicating years of his life to covering the Catholic papacy and George W. Bush’s presidential bid for the paper. But, he also entered into the restaurant critic position – a dream job for just about anyone – with a degree of trepidation. And this is where I relate to him.

Bruni grew up with a weight problem, which later evolved into bulimia in college, then obesity as a journalist. And the moment he finally turns his health around, hiring a trainer, losing all the weight, and healing his compulsive eating…that, THAT is when he gets the call from the Times about the restaurant critic position.

So he must learn to not only wrangle his food demons, but to be a professional with his new job. At the Times, this means visiting a restaurant multiple times for multiple tastings. As someone who has a handful of food issues herself, I 100% get both the giddiness and simultaneous fear this must inspire.

To be honest with you, I’m grappling with the reality of having a changing body during pregnancy. Many pregnant women contend with this I suppose, but when I’m out doing all these tastings, I at once feel, “OH MY GOD I’m eating at Uchi and not paying for it!” mixed with, “fuck, fuck, fuck – I need to limit my bites here.”

Does this sound obnoxious? Probably. To get an opportunity like this, and then be a bit whiny about it. But like Frank Bruni, it’s a situation where the sheer, animal joy of your assignment hits frequent walls of self-conscious, self-imposed restraint. Like Bruni, it was college where I learned all the tricks for controlling weight, but it was never throwing up. More like a strict regimen of protein shakes and working out. I lost my period for a little while, and of course lots of pounds. Interestingly though, I don’t really look back on this as a dark time: as anyone with eating neuroses can tell you, exerting that kind of control is extremely gratifying.

Pregnancy, however, is a period that forces you to cede control, because like it or not: you gon’ grow. And when faced with the most delicious food in the city, that growth is augmented by enormous sensory pleasure. So I never refuse to try a dish – I mean, c’mon. But, I’m trying to get to a place where I regard each bite as somewhat magical. Not because I’m attempting to be preggorexic (a term I learned the other day) and survive off five bites daily, but to be a bit Buddhist about it, and to think about all the hands and effort that went into my perfect little bite, and now I get to eat it. I get to replace my faux knowledge with the real thing. I get to expose the tiny organism to braised octopus, roasted beets, and the occasional deep-fried peanut butter and marshmallow creme sandwich, and I get to not freak out about it.

And, slowly, I get to accept some change.

Photo locations: The Goodnight, Winflo Osteria, Arro, Swift’s Attic, Second Bar + Kitchen, Salty Sow, Uchi, Haymaker, Patrizi’s.