I’ve Been Busy

By Erika Rae


The other day as I was standing in front of the mirror plucking my eyebrows, I was hit hard with a thought: I don’t have time for this.

I leaned back and stared hard at my twin in the mirror.

“I see you, Gemini,” I told her. “But you’re not on the schedule. Sorry.”

I put down the tweezers and walked away.

Now, before you judge me, ladies, I do realize that I need to make time for myself. As the end of my thirties approaches faster than a train filled with Gideon Bibles on the way to the Branson hotel circuit, I acknowledge that if I want to look presentable, I have to make an effort. I must wash and dry my hair. I must change my jeans every so often. I must wax certain places. I must not make a habit of replacing sex with homemade baked goods. If you’re a guy reading this, I can liken it to the necessity of brushing your teeth before you go on a date and thank you so much for reading a full five paragraphs of this post.

The thing is, I don’t have any time. I know a lot of people complain about this. As far as I can tell, this characteristic appears to have been carried on by natural selection, and particularly by those who carry large amounts of German and Scotch-Irish stock, plus the DNA from one illusive yet profoundly legendary Cherokee. That is to say, “lack of time for anything” appears to be one hell of a dominant trait. And lest you think I’m writing this to complain, let me stop you right there. I love it. I love being busy and having something to work toward.

Here is a snippet from my daily schedule, which I write religiously at the dawn of each day:

12:50-1:00 – Clean lunch dishes.
1:00-1:05 – Change “Ashtray Babyhead’s”* diaper. (Multitask challenge: count his toes – he’s falling behind in math)
1:05-1:10 – Make soy latte
1:10-1:15 – Put Ashtray to bed for nap (Multitask challenge: Set 4-year old to work writing the letter “H”)
1:15-1:25 – catch up on essential emails
1:25-1:45 – ISP/Billing
1:45-2:15 – Write 500+ words on memoir
2:15-2:45 – Edits to resume for client
2:45-3:00 – Edits to one Scree article
3:00-3:15 – Check in with publishers for TNB features
3:15-3:30 – Fold laundry
3:30-3:35 – Scrub bathroom sinks (Multitask challenge: come up with topic for next chapter)
3:35-4:05 – Work on book trailer for Devangelical
4:05-4:10 – Refill latte

I would have started the schedule earlier in the day, but it basically can be reduced to teaching my second grader history, language arts and science (we do online charter school), making breakfast and showering. Sometimes in between those things, I get crazy assignments that I have to tuck in here and there. A few weeks ago, I had set up the TNB feature for Oriana Small, author of the porn memoir, Girlvert. Perhaps you saw a picture of a girl with her fist stuck in her mouth on the TNB Headline banner. Yeah, so she was my feature. You’ve always wondered what we TNB editors actually do around here, haven’t you?

Problem was, her excerpt didn’t come in a format that I could just paste into the highly sophisticated TNB interface we TNBers have come to know and love, so I had to type it in word for word. So there I am, in between feeding Goldfish to my two youngest while frantically tapping in eight glorious pages of:

I took the piss into my open mouth with a smile. It was totally ridiculous. I was thinking, Okay, done. Now I’ve tried piss and I can say with truth and conviction whenever someone asks me about it: It’s not that big of a deal.

Then to the kids who are now pulling on my sleeve: What’s that sweetie? You need some more orange juice? OK, here you go. Now where’s your Cookie Monster dolly? Mommy needs to get back to work.

It’s a crazy life. And no, I don’t always finish the task I set out to do in a set time frame – the point is that I pay SOME attention to it during that time period, and then revisit later. After the children go to bed. After the husband gets attention and the dog gets fed. Maybe I’ve plucked my eyebrows by then. Hard to say.

But the MAIN reason for my conspicuous absence as of late (other than the fact that I’m ghostwriting a memoir for somebody…oh, that) is that I’m starting a magazine.


I’m really excited about it, in case you couldn’t tell. I have two partners: the lovely and talented graphic artiste, Carissa Carter, and my tech guru of a husband, Scott. We’ve been working hard at it for months now. The concept is the celebration of the scramble on the way to summiting your venture. Scree is the name climbers use for the loose rocks and boulders you have to cross before you reach the top of a high peak. It’s immense and it’s challenging. Just like my magazine. Just like my life.

We’ve got some incredible features lined up, including some of TNB’s own.

Slade Ham talks about what it’s like to be pushing toward his goals as a professional comic.

Joe Daly spotlights the next big front man in rock n’ roll in the band Dom.

Brin-Jonathan Butler discusses his push uphill as he creates a documentary about world champion Cuban boxer Guillermo Rigondeaux.

Kimberly Wetherell talks about being on the brink of successfully producing her first feature film, Lullaby.

Rich Ferguson writes about what it’s like to push toward that ever-illusive goal of actually becoming an urban legend (as well as his poem under the same name).

Nick Belardes even makes a brief appearance dressed like a Russian cosmonaut, excuse me, Commanaut.

There are many others, too. We’ve got an interview with a trending robotics company. A steam-punk electric tandem bicycle inventor. A fashion designer. An award winning photographer. And more. All people working toward the common goal of hitting the top of whatever it is they’re aiming for.  In a way, it’s like reading about next year’s super heroes before they hit it huge and are on the front page of Wired or Rolling Stone.

But it’s not about fame. It’s about the struggle. The push to be the best. The things that drive a person to keep going and make it all the way to their dream. It’s epic. And it’s just a little bit in all of us.

The really cool part is that we’ve finished design on the hard copy and have held the first proof in our hands. It’s a magazine. It’s real. It’s a real magazine. We’ve been working on this for so long now and we’re finally on the brink of letting it go. The web site is close behind the scenes, but to the public it currently looks like this:


So, yeah. I’ve been busy.

But man, it feels good.



* And, no. My toddler is not actually named Ashtray Babyhead, thank you very much, Rich Ferguson, for naming him to the TNB community. (Sweet Wittle Ashtway.)


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ERIKA RAE is the author of Devangelical, a humor memoir about growing up Evangelical (Emergency Press, December, 2012). She is editor-in-chief at Scree Magazine and nonfiction editor at The Nervous Breakdown. Erika earned her MA in Lit­er­a­ture and Lin­guis­tics from the Uni­ver­sity of Hong Kong and to this day can ask where the bath­room is in Can­tonese, although it is likely that she will not under­stand the answer. In her dream world, she fan­cies her­self a kung fu mas­ter clev­erly dis­guised as a gen­tle moun­tain dweller, eagerly antic­i­pat­ing dan­ger at the bot­tom of every latte. When she is not whipping one of her 3 children and denying them bread with their broth, she runs an ISP with her husband from their home in the Colorado Rockies.

36 responses to “I’ve Been Busy”

  1. J.M. Blaine says:

    In the Deep South
    is the sound
    a Crow makes
    as it circles
    that fat yellow moon


  2. J.M. Blaine says:

    At the magazine store
    you will be one slot
    before Goldstein’s

  3. Uche Ogbuji says:

    Now that is one Geminastic schedule, but I know some of the feeling. Oi! It’s a right slog on a TNB editor’s shift. But I can say that I’ve never had to reformat or retype anything that distracting. Best of luck with Scree.

    When you endo down the hill
    To the hoots of whip-poor-will
    And you find yourself thinking “poor old me.”

    Just remember there’s a quill
    That’s written up your thrill
    And you’ll probably find its traces here in Scree.

    • Erika Rae says:

      Words can not express the act of typing in those 8 pages with children running all around. I don’t think even you could do it, not even with your mad poetry skills.

      I’m going to be saying “to the hoots of the whip-poor-will” all day now.

      Uche, you need an album so I can listen to you recite poetry on demand.

  4. Good lord. It always amuses me how people (myself very much included) respond to a painfully overcrowded schedule by taking on enormous new tasks. A magazine… I can say, as someone who has spent about four and a half years building and maintaining a magazine, that you’re in for a fun but utterly exhausting ride. It sounds like you have the pages packed already, so that’s a great start. I look forward to reading it.

  5. Becky Palapala says:

    I didn’t know you didn’t name Ashtray Babyhead.

    I’ve complimented you on it before, I think, and you let me.

    My life is a lie.

    But on the other hand, Yay! A magazine!

    • Erika Rae says:

      Did I? How very two faced of me. Can’t say I’m totally surprised.

      Just think though, now you know who to ask when you’re looking for a TNB approved nickname for Baby P. Just ask Godfather Rich.

  6. M.J. Fievre says:

    Congrats on the magazine. Can’t wait to see it 🙂

  7. Jessica Blau says:

    Hilarious. Great! Love the name AShtray Babyhead.

  8. Haha. Love the absurdity of typing about drinking piss while you tend to innocence.

    I am excited about your magazine! I’m sure it’s going to be amazing.

    Bonus: This piece reminded me of a band I once saw that I loved called Ashtray Babyhead. And then I found them on Facebook. Magic! (:

    • Erika Rae says:

      I do believe Rich may have named Ashtray after the band. There was originally more to the name…but we’ve truncated. And yes, the transition to piss to OJ in a sippy cup is absurd. On another note, thanks!!!

  9. Dr. Amo says:

    I can’t wait I can’t Wait I can’t wait! Will this Scree! Mag be more slick than the Drumstick? Is it possible to be slicker than the ‘Stick, I ask?

    • Erika Rae says:

      Ah, you sneaky Dr. Amo, you can’t hide your ID from me. (Romp Romp!) Slicker than the Stick, indeed. 100 pages of full glossy goodness, my friend. Scott sends his love.

      • Dr. Amo says:

        You better make sure I can have a subscription in the ATX! I like real deal glossy, to hold in my hands. kisses to you and scotty and ashtray children.

  10. Jorge says:


    If you’re a guy reading this, I can liken it to the necessity of brushing your teeth before you go on a date and thank you so much for reading a full five paragraphs of this post. …. What a great line!

    I missed you in this space!

    Hopefully, you can get time to offer more for us!

    Can’t wait for Devangelical and now for SCREE!

    • Erika Rae says:

      You’re the best, Jorge! Thanks for the vote of confidence.

      I often wonder what I would actually DO with a vacation. I think sitting still in a hammock might prove difficult. At any rate, we sleep when we die, right?

  11. Nathaniel Missildine says:

    I’ll never fail to be astounded by other people’s multi-tasking abilities. It’s one stay-at-home parent superpower that I only partially possess.

    The magazine sounds thrilling. With a name like that, it’ll go places.

    One day, I believe, all our porn-transcribing will pay off.

  12. Quenby Moone says:

    Why, you sneaky little bugger! SNEAKY! You are SNEAKY!

    I am impressed. Because we talk on the phone…about actual THINGS! You are SNEAKY!!!!

    Congrats, and holy cats I’m excited for you! YAY! Go, Team Rae!

  13. Lorna says:

    ‘I must not make a habit of replacing sex with homemade baked goods.’
    Uh-oh, is all I got to say on that. :/


    So, yeah. I’ve been busy.’

    Ha, you make me smile.

    Congratulations and yay! I’ve missed you and all these other fabulous people. So this should be a blast!

  14. Amanda Ellis says:

    I loved the band “Ashtray Babyhead” as a teenager in the suburbs of Little Rock. I haven’t seen that name for awhile, and coincidentally was just thinking about them the other day…

  15. Joe Daly says:

    Rock on!

    I’ve been anxiously awaiting news on the release of Scree! Can’t wait to read everyone else’s pieces. Been a long time since I reclined with a dose of Slade…

    This is a glorious metaphor: faster than a train filled with Gideon Bibles on the way to the Branson hotel circuit.

    Bravo, and congrats on the mag! I look forward to watching it grow, expand and blow up in all of our grateful faces.

    • Erika Rae says:

      You’ve got a fantastic article in there, Joe. Thanks for being in our first edition! Just making a few tweaks and voila. Scree will be live.

      I really dig your hair in your gravatar.

  16. Slade Ham says:


    That’s it. Just a big smile. This makes me happy.

  17. The first 4 paragraphs? They felt like butter to my toasted soul. I’m melting into all the right corners. Thanks.

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