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Expecting: A Zine About Pregnancy

belly parade

Dear readers, fellow pregnant ladies and those who think pregnancy might be a hoot, I made a zine about my experience being pregnant. It’s not about the adventures and misadventures that led up to it, nor will it include the labor, delivery, or gory aftermath of childrearing. I will not broach the natural versus medicalized birth debate. Nor will I give any helpful tips or insights to alleviate physical or mental discomfort.

It is simply about what a strange time pregnancy is, how it changed my relationships with other people, with food, how it generally complicates social interactions, and all the bodily weirdness that no one tells you about. And you may identify with some of it. Or not. I’m writing it down now because I assume it will get wiped from my memory shortly after I give birth.

The physical paper zine is available on etsy and hopefully soon at Pegasus Books in Berkeley and Needles & Pens in SF! You should check out those locations anyway for their awesomeness. As well as San Francisco Zine Fest Aug 30-31 in Golden Gate Park.

Here are some of the illustrations in the zine as well as outtakes. Rest assured, there are no fewer than 32 nipple illustrations that appear in the zine. (I love painting nipples and bellies.)

first trimester floating

fetal fruit

about me

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Feeding Expectations

drakes beer

I’m a terrible hostess. I hardly invite friends over to my place. When I do I get so distracted by their presence that I’m barely able to ask how their grandma’s been doing lately and pour a beer at the same time. My meals are haphazard and I never have the right condiments. I invited my cousins over for a BBQ last year, declaring that I would have hotdogs and hamburgers, but then forgot that I don’t own ketchup (I don’t eat it, so I don’t buy it), much to the surprise of my guests. You don’t have ketchup?!

Despite being hopeless when it comes to entertaining and feeding others, I have learned that I do enjoy rules for feeding guests. And I enjoy being fairly certain of what to expect when eating in someone’s home. I have written about the differences in eating with my French relatives compared to eating with my Assyrian relatives. But they do have something in common, there are clear rules to feeding others, and guests know what to expect.

Every single time I’ve eaten at a French person’s home, they offer an aperitif. This is a little alcohol to stimulate the appetite and it is usually served with some nibbles. Sure, the quality of what is served varies a lot based on how old the host is, his taste, how much money he likes to spend on such things, etc. It could be malibu rum and lays potato chips or it could be champagne and home-baked bread with Sicilian olives and lardons. The point is, you know that upon arrival you’ll get to nibble and chit chat in the living room. Then you move to a table where you get entrees, then there’s the main dish, followed by cheese, dessert and a digestif. As a guest, you can bring a bottle of something or offer to bring a dessert, but rest assured you will leave satisfied.

french table

At an Assyrian (or we’ll more broadly call this Iranian) household, it’s the same thing. You can bring a bottle, dessert, or flowers as a guest, but no worry, you will leave with a full belly, leftovers in hand, and probably a little tipsy…or a lot tipsy. The rules are different, however, than the French rules, but in both cases as a guest, you pretty much just show up. As a kid at my aunt’s house, I’d be offered, or rather told to have some “pepsi mepsi” and munch on “chipseh mipseh.” Almost scolded, as if my refusing to eat and drink is a criticism that I don’t think their food and drink is good enough. Now as an adult, I get booze and the same appetizers. There are tons of dishes to snack on, and it’s easy to get full on this. Pace yourself! After a couple hours of grazing, comes dinner, which is always family or buffet style, including giant pots of stew, rice, salads, mounds and mounds of food for days. Same with desserts, there’s often more than two kinds to choose from, and you’ll be offered tea with your dessert.

At a “my great-great grandfather is German, his wife was Italian, my family’s been here for many generations” European mutt white-American house, there are no rules. It’s very inconsistent. You never know what you’re going to get or not get, and I’ve left more than one American party hungry. Hungry! The shame! I went to one party recently where we were instructed to not bring anything but booze. So that’s what everyone did. All liquored up, we realized, oh, there’s no real dinner. There were probably 20 adults and 10 kids at this thing, and enough food for half of us. I perched in the kitchen area and managed to grab 1/3 of an ear of corn and some chips but completely missed any salads and BBQ. The plates emptied before they hit the table. We were starving. “Aren’t they ashamed?” I asked my guy, horrified that the hosts would not have enough food to feed their guests. But I don’t think they knew that they should be embarrassed. Also, the parents at the party had no shame in grabbing food, “it’s for the kids,” they smiled sheepishly, sneaking bites into their own mouths. I know I’m whining, but I was stunned, and starving. I whispered to my man friend, “can we please go get some dinner and come back?”

All this to say, I like going to someone’s house and knowing I won’t go hungry.

“It’s so stressful,” my cousin said to me once, “going to a white person’s house, it’s all potluck, byob, you have to buy and prep stuff ahead of time. With Persians, it’s so easy, you go and you know you’ll be taken care of.”

So, come on my white folk, let’s pull ourselves together and buy too much food, or at least enough food. And I’ll promise to buy some ketchup.

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Holiday Cookie Binge Recipe

xmas4

Ingredients:

3+ lbs unsalted butter (“European style” preferred)

1 bag unbleached flour

sugar, sugar, sugar (white, brown, molasses, crystallized, powdered, candies…bring on the sugar)

1 bag 99% cacao, unpronounceable, super snobby chocolate chips

accoutrements of your liking: walnuts, pecans, rolled oats, seeds (poppy, sesame etc.), spices, jams, and so on.

a pinch of self-loathing

baking tools (cookie cutters, rolling pins, etc.) that are at least 20 years old

10-12 hours to kill

a partner in crime is ideal, but not necessary

xmas

xmas2

I rarely bake. I swear. This year, for some reason, I found it necessary to make 6 batches of holiday cookies: several sets of Sunset’s big oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (the old standby), snickerdoodles with cardamom (which kinda sucked), shortbread with jam, and gingerbread reindeer. Actually, I kinda blame a friend for starting the obsession by inviting me to her cookie exchange.  I love using my mom’s and grandmothers’ baking stuff that I remember from my childhood. The worn grooves on the rolling pins and scratches on the cookie cutters really feel like the holidays, you know?

xmas3

Hoping you had a fun holiday binge of your own that your thighs and bum now regret.