Thursday, December 31, 2015

Just put this on Facebook

Thank you, 2015. You gave me gifts I never knew I wanted and couldn't have imagined would be so joyous.
For some reason I'm thinking about a man named Corrado who I met on the bus in Venice during the leadup to New Year's 2001. "You're leaving after three days?" he asked. "I've lived in Venice my whole life and I still don't know it."
Here's to a new year of exploration, be it our home territories or the far-flung places.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Play on Words

Very excited to be part of Play on Words San Jose on Jan. 6! Read more here.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Wedding bells

Earlier this evening I was reading this article about weddings and the cash grab. I almost hurled. I didn't even want a wedding, at least not the kind of wedding that most women slaver over, these entitled little wenches who think that the whole world revolves around tablecloths and tampons that match. I wanted to get married in Prague, away from the crap that both our families put on us, in a place that could just be ours.

We didn't. Instead we listened to our mothers and had a small ceremony in Berkeley. I look at the pictures now and I cringe at the excess weight I carried ... which is so sad because I can't see past it to the joy on my face.

I know it was there, though. It still is. I married the man of my dreams, the person who thrills me to this day, the only one I've ever really loved. I would've done it with a damn Cheerio on my finger, standing at the counter of City Hall. I would do it over and over. And never would I see it as an opportunity to gain anything more than a partner in life, because in that moment there would be nothing else that I would need.

Seven in Santa Barbara

A year ago, we drove down to Santa Barbara to celebrate New Year's. We ate at a restaurant called Seven. It was hip and fun and had overpriced, overwrought drinks.

What we didn't realize is that we had already conceived a child. I'm convinced this happened a year ago today. When we had our Cajun breakfast the next morning, when we walked down State Street taking selfies and laughing together, when we celebrated 2015 in a burst of drunken joy at some bar in Goleta, I was pregnant.

Hell of a year.

Monday, December 28, 2015


Some days you really realize you dodged a damn bullet. I want to say more, but I can't let myself. I'll just quote a conversation from early this morning:

ME: I just want to say fuck you.
ADAM: You do. Often. And loudly.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Monday, December 21, 2015

In progress

No one in their right mind would call my two-room garage apartment in Pardubice, the Czech Republic, a homey place. Then again, neither was the country itself. Forget about the lace curtains that decorated each window, the stacking dolls that nested on so many shelves. Ice chips shone in the eyes of passersby. Little girls barely old enough to remember their own names looked me up and down, evaluating.

And my heater was fucking broken.

There are times and places where this is really no big deal. That’s not exactly the case in Central Europe, particularly in early February, and particularly in particular during this exact winter, which was nothing short of ass-freezingly brutal. Snow stung my face on the way to the bus stop, where I lingered in wait for my ride across town to the school where I taught hundreds – literally hundreds – of students whose names and faces were one big foreign blur. But I was the foreigner. I was the outsider. I was the one whose name, face and historical context didn’t fit here.


I walked the dogs last night. In the rain. This was the first time in three and a half months, since Baz was born, that I have walked them together. First, of course, there was the fact that I was healing from a Caesarean section and those two crazy lugs would probably pull my stitches out. That lasted six weeks.

But what about the rest of the time?

They haven't been getting out nearly as much as normal. Adam's been doing it and -- let's face it -- we're damn tired. That's not to say they don't get exercise. We have a big backyard and they run around there, but they love their walks and not to get them out every day is just bad form.

So yesterday I said fuck it and went. We walked for a half hour or more. I realized that I've grown tougher, sterner, less willing to take shit. It was a good walk.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Thoughts on oversharing

There's comfortable oversharing and then there's the oh-fuck-did-I-actually-say-that? oversharing. That second kind is kind of like scraping cells off  your inner skin and holding them up for inspection. Jesus, that's a terrible metaphor, but I figure I'll just leave it up anyway.

I want to make my living oversharing, in a sense at least. That's where the memoir stuff comes in. Then there's the fiction, which is oversharing of a different type. I mean, if you write something, that means you've thought it, no matter how seemingly terrible or embarrasing. Even if it's just your character thinking or doing something, it means that's gone through your head too.

Secrets, I think, are more destructive than honesty. Usually.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Thanksgiving thoughts

I'm grateful for the expected -- my beautiful baby and wonderful family, my amazing friends, and so it goes. I'm also grateful for the less expected. Those who pissed me off and hit my triggers. Challenges that left me tearful and feeling helpless. Shitty Prius drivers. They all help me to become even more fully who I am.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

On heartbreak

There have definitely been times I've sat in front of my computer crying. Not just crying -- sobbing. It's been a while and I don't ever want to be there again.

The hardest part is that I know my son will eventually have his heart broken. I can do nothing to stop it but be there for him.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Sunday, November 8, 2015


I'm an oversharer. I'm working toward being a professional. Not everyone defines writing thusly, but I do.

That's it for now.

The vagaries of Facebook

I can post what I consider an intriguing literary-related thought or an edgy topic or just an off-kilter observation about myself or the world and get a moderate amount of notice. I can post a picture of Baz considering his fist and my friends go apeshit. Damn.

Monday, November 2, 2015

On motherhood

I love my son.

If you told me a year ago that I would be writing those words, I would probably not wait to finish my drink before I told you to go to hell.

I thought I knew. I thought I knew it all.

Each day I learn how much I didn't know. Each day I wake up eager to hold this little guy. Each day brings something unepected: the discovery of toes, the flash of a grin.

Yes, indeed. I love my son.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Monday, October 19, 2015

Monday, October 12, 2015

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Adam, Costa Rica, 2006

My baby Baz

Motherhood suits me better than I would've ever expected. That doesn't mean it's always perfect. The other morning I kept emailing friends with the threat that I was going to throw myself off a building. But believe it or not, even in moments like that, I know how damn lucky I am. This little boy is incredible. I love you so much, baby.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Love you, Uncle Jon

Yes, I did need caffeine

Read from the bottom up ...

From: Adam Sandler
Sent: ‎Thursday‎, ‎October‎ ‎8‎, ‎2015 ‎11‎:‎47‎ ‎AM
To: Allison Landa

The only other option was iced chai. But I guessed you needed caffeine. Ly, FFF
On Thu, Oct 8, 2015 at 11:41 AM -0700, "Allison Landa" wrote:

Oh God. You know me too well. Ly fbbd

On Oct 8, 2015, at 11:40 AM, Adam Sandler wrote:
I bet an iced latte helps. Ly, FFF

On Thu, Oct 8, 2015 at 11:22 AM -0700, "Allison Landa"  wrote:

Uh ... Sort of ... Ly fbbd

On Oct 8, 2015, at 11:15 AM, Adam Sandler wrote:
Happy family now? Ly, FFF

On Thu, Oct 8, 2015 at 11:04 AM -0700, "Allison Landa" wrote:

Got him down, showered, going to Trieste soon. Ly fbbd 

Monday, October 5, 2015

I have the best friends

Part of a response to a Facebook post where I postulated that I may have a bit of postpartum depression. I love this lady:

You have wonderful friends giving you great advice. Now, reach out your right arm as far as it will go in front of you. Bend your elbow and reach your right hand as far back onto your back as it will go and pat it. Yep. Just like that! You have discovered a natural reality about having a baby: it's hard and that's okay and you can get PPD and that's normal! Take the advice of your friends (all of it seemed good to me, especially the rest and diet part, if you can do it).

But also take my advice. Drop the expectations that may be haunting you. 

You're doing a great job. Everyone can tell.
You have a wonderful, loving husband who clearly sees that great job you're doing. 
Baz is happy, healthy and already plays the piano.

You're golden. Even more so than usual.

You're loved. 

Sunday, October 4, 2015

From a short piece in progress

My father is waiting in the arrivals hall. One glance and I exhale with tentative relief: he appears to be in a good mood. This can change at any moment, but my father’s version of bipolar disorder typically involves less rapid cycling than that. He is undiagnosed and untreated, by far the most dangerous type. One doesn’t need to be a shrink to know that.

“Welcome to New York,” he says, and folds me into a hug. The way my father hugs is a bit of a tragedy. There’s an awkwardness there, even with me. Especially with me. He too has flown in today, traveling from Southern California, where I grew up. He grew up here but swapped coasts when I was four years old, rarely if ever looking back. My father is not a nostalgic man. His memory is too good for that.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Promises, promises

ME: That would be nothing compared to the (fill in the blank) that I would give you if you booked a trip to Europe.

ADAM: I'm still waiting for my (fill in the blank) from that time at Spaghetti Factory.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Leaving the hospital

Cafe society

My Bazzy is a cafe maven's dream baby. We have been sitting here at Caffe Trieste in Berkeley for more than an hour and all he's done is be cute and make baby noises while I work. My fingers are crossed hard in hopes that this lasts!

Sunday, September 27, 2015


I’m not always lost in rapture. Sometimes I just play on my phone. I feel guilty as I do it, but I do it anyway. The guilt comes from the cult of appreciate every moment. You’re not supposed to let a single second slip through your fingers. It’s that whole awareness thing, the meditation bullshit that I every so often actually buy. In a few weeks, this period of my life will be at an end. I will be a mother. I will have a child, a son. Lose this moment and you forfeit the battle. Give up the battle and you’ve tossed away the war.

So I shouldn’t play on my phone. But Facebook is so addictive.

For most of the 20-minute testing period I’m alone in my curtained solitude. Every so often, though, a nurse will come in and ask me questions. They’re pretty much always the same. Are you still taking the same medications? Are you having contractions? Are you experiencing swelling-nausea-constipation? The glamour of pregnancy takes on new and radiant meaning every time I set foot in this place.

And yet in a way I like it. I like it the way that you sometimes like the dentist or a boring university lecture when you’re a sophomore or something. It’s routine. It’s logical. It makes sense, and how much does during this chaotic time of my already ridiculous life? I come in and they sit me down, offer me water and a parking-validation slip, and I feel – I don’t know, protected. I can’t think of a better way to put it.

Once a week they send me to get an ultrasound. That’s a pretty awesome part, actually. I walk in and arrange myself on the exam table, listening to the crunch of the roll-out paper underneath me. The ultrasound techs are nice. They joke with me while I half-wriggle out of my jeans, exposing my pregnant belly. They give me a cloth to tuck into my underwear and then squirt pre-warmed lubricant onto my skin. Then they touch the paddle to my stomach and he appears: a series of pixels on a grainy screen, the image of my child. I always say the same thing when he comes onto the screen: “Hi, baby.” Fortunately, I don’t expect an answer. 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

My writeup on Baz for the St. Mary's newsletter

Baz Franklin Sandler was born to Allison Landa (MFA, Fiction, 2006) and Adam Sandler (de facto MFA, Fiction, 2006) on Sept. 6, 2015 at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Berkeley. Baz lists Dr. Seuss and baby formula as his main influences and looks forward to tackling angsty poetry by his first birthday. His parents are rather awed by him, as has always been his intent. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Nearly two weeks post-baby

First strike at writing after giving birth

They tell me about Braxton-Hicks contractions during non-stress testing at Alta Bates. This is where I’m going to be delivering Baz. It’s also known as the Baby Factory. God only knows how many babies have screamed their first screech within these walls. Mine will be but one. At the end of the year they inscribe the names of the babies born on a scroll, frame it, put it on the wall. My son will be Baz Franklin Sandler. Adam likes to say that his DJ name will be DJ B. Frank. I picture a little six-pound baby spinning the tunes. I try to imagine his musical taste. How will I influence it? Will he say my mom really liked this with a smile, or will he say it with a sneer? 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Yesterday's bris

I look super sappy, but I don't care. Naming ceremony with (from left) Grandpa Jay Sandler, us and Rabbi Adam Schaffer, our brother-in-law who also officiated at our wedding seven years ago.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Written to a friend just now

You are absolutely right. I was worried. I was worried about identity, about wasting my time caring for another rather than myself. Right now I'm in a sweet thick hormonal soup that somewhat allays those fears ... But it's more too. It's wordless, really. It's as if those fears themselves were given power, but good power, like the Power of Grayskull. (Was that good power?) It's as if everything has turned to nourish me and my love for this goofy tiny beauty of a guy. That is not to say perfection exists here. It never will. But circumscribed in the lines that tie me to Baz, Maizie, Jack and Adam, there is strange and wonderful magic.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Back in my ass-kicking boots

When I first got pregnant in January, I weighed 160 pounds and was on my way down, down, down. I lost weight during the first trimester, bringing me to a low of 146.4 pounds. My doctors were telling me that I needed to keep weight on and gain weight ... Christ. Did I ever think this would happen?

My ultimate high in the pregnancy was 171.1 pounds as weighed the morning before I officially went into labor. Baz was born Sept. 6 and having just stepped on the scale, I was greeted by a total of 153.3 pounds.

Do I still carry some baby weight? Of course. But check out what I looked like this morning. I'm happy.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

If I make you happy I don't need to do more

Baby what you've done to me
You made me so good inside
And I just wanna be
Close to you, you make me feel so alive

- Aretha Franklin, "(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman"

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Baz Franklin Sandler

Our wonderful little boy was born at 2:25 pm on Sept. 6, 2015. He weighs 6 pounds and 14 ounces and is about 19.1 inches tall. Currently he is cooing in his bassinet next to me at Alta Bates Medical Center here in Berkeley. The happy days, my friends. Incredible photo by Courtney Roberge.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Pet peeve

Women (and it's always women) who bitch-bitch-bitch about their partners and then go off on Facebook about how much they looooove them. Not only are they hypocrites, they're time-wasters.

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Emperor's New Clothes

I will live by my own policies
I will sleep with a clear conscience
I will sleep in peace

- Sinead O'Connor

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Pink and blue belts

Twice a week I go to Alta Bates Summit Medical Center for non-stress testing and a once-weekly ultrasound. I guess that's what you get when you're a 41-year-old mother-to-be with two surgeries in the past and a pre-existing condition at the ready.

The pink and blue belts go around your stomach. One secures a fetal heart monitor, the other an activity monitor. The nurses are sweet. They encourage you to put your feet up and they bring you water. They joke with you too. It helps.

The ultrasound techs are fun too. They print out glossy pictures. If you're anything like me, you text the ones showing off the scrotal sac to your husband. If you're anything like him, you bitch that they haven't measured The Business.

If you were me today, you cried. Just a little bit. Just a few happy tears.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Something to remember

Last night Adam lay with his head on my stomach listening to Poppy hiccup. I don't think I've quite grasped the emotional significance of that.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Cutest motherfucker on the block

Put this on Facebook just now

Love has always come to me with a hard right hook.

When I first met Adam, I didn't look at him as a potential romantic partner. First he was a coworker, then a friend, then a best friend, and only after years did we try our hand at a relationship.

Our dogs came to us in a time of intense grief. Oliver had passed away and although we knew we would eventually have room in our hearts and lives for dogs, we had no idea that a week after saying goodbye to him we would be holding two five-week-old puppies in our laps and saying yes, we will. Three weeks later we were carrying them down our front pathway, smiling at each other as though we'd just been gotten hit with something huge and heavy.

When I found out that I was pregnant, the shock was smooth and cool. It wasn't until weeks later that I found myself sobbing with disbelief.

But we're doing this. Oh. My. God.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Mendocino Coast Writers Conference

I just spent an amazing three days at the Mendocino Coast Writers Conference, where I learned a ton from master class leader David Corbett and my incredible workshop-mates. I haven't had so much fun talking writing in way too long, and in an incredible setting to boot. I was also honored to be the recipient of the Ginny Rorby YA Scholarship Award! I'm tired today, but it was beyond worth it!


Sunday, August 2, 2015


Marcus, Pi Wen, Kristen, Sean, and Maya surprised us this morning with a celebration of family, friends and life's transitions at Paisan. They got us the most amazing gifts and just generally made us feel awesome. So touching.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

In pictures

When I was a kid, I used to scrutinize pictures of my parents. I wanted to find a shred of happiness, of love, of joy. When I look at pictures of Adam and I, I know that Poppy won't have to search that hard to find all those things and more.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Poppy, 32 weeks

The hard things to see

Being into animal rescue, I see all kinds of bad shit come down the pike on Facebook and elsewhere. I look into the eyes of these dogs and cats and want to run to their sides. I've always wanted to save them all. My inability to do so kills me each day.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Just wrote this

Then there was the ultrasound. We hadn’t expected it to be part of the first doctor’s appointment, but exactly what about this situation did we expect? The whole appointment was a circus. We waited an hour at the East Bay Women’s Center before our doctor breezed in. She was cool, though. She wore dreads. She spoke in a low tone and we had to lean forward in order to hear her. She took my history, did a pelvic exam. Then she said: “Want to see the baby?”

Inside my mouth I could feel my tongue dry up, turn into a crumpled and atrophied thing. To say yes opened up so many possibilities I couldn’t and didn’t want to fathom. To say no just seemed rude. In the end I chose my own weird version of etiquette.

“Sure,” I said, and could almost hear Adam grit his teeth beside me. I ignored it. In that instant I realized that I wanted to see what – who – I was carrying. I needed to know what that creature looked like, to observe whatever features I might be able to make out. This was – for now, at least – my child.

My child. When exactly does one become a mother? Does it happen at the moment of conception, before the awareness even settles and is recognized? The first time you see the changes in your body, feel the creature move within you? When he or she finally emerges, goo-covered and screaming?

When does the universe christen you a parent?

Have Love Will Travel

This song was big in 2002, the year I fell in love with Adam. Every so often I go on a jag where I play it over and over. The lines that get me the most: And when all of this is over/should I lose you in the smoke/I want you to know/you were the one. Every time.

Friday, July 24, 2015


I place my hand on my stomach. I find myself doing this more and more, much to Adam’s amusement. He’s always said I was going to wind up being that person who rubs her pregnant belly, much as I deride the mothers who I see doing it. I always said that wouldn’t happen. As with most things, I’ve been proven to be full of shit. But I’m not really rubbing and I’m not feeling happily complacent the way most of these women seem to be. It’s more of an odd clash without conflict, reassurance without fulfillment. It’s a coming-together of sorts, but of what sorts I have yet to determine. 

Shit just got real

We got a stroller. Actually, a stroller and car-seat combination, if you must know. I poured Adam a glass of wine and he set it up. Then we tested it out. Then we laughed our asses off.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Taken by Courtney on Sunday


My father works in GPS and has for as long as I can remember. When I was a teenager, my parents had me convinced that they had some device implanted in my car that could tell them where I was at any time. I bought it, like the idiot that I was and am, but still I went anywhere and everywhere.

Flash forward to last month, when I returned from Santa Cruz. As I pulled up to the curb, Adam came out to greet me. How did he know I'd gotten home right at that moment? He held up his phone and grinned. Seems I'd shared my location over text message at some point and hadn't realized that it didn't turn off on its own.

I don't care, of course. There's nowhere I go that he can't know about. Still, it's kind of funny when I go to meet him somewhere and he says: "I was wondering why you made a right instead of a left ..." Damn technology.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A friend's prediction of the delivery

I read this comment yesterday that a woman's delivery often reflects the way a woman lives her everyday life. When I read that, I had this flash of you having a super chill birth while live blogging all the gory details and taking selfies with Adam ;-).