Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A love letter to thigh high stockings

Dear thigh high stockings,

I have missed you, my loves. I am so sorry I left you for that stupid schmuck, pantyhose. Pantyhose never understood me like you do. Pantyhose never fit me properly. They gave me muffin top. They left ugly lines on my body when I took them off. They didn’t let my junk breathe. I don’t know what I was thinking. But enough about them. It’s over. I will never wear pantyhose again. Thigh high stockings, you are the only hosiery for me.

I am so happy we ran into each other this past weekend. I needed sheer black hose, and all of those other hose had snags. It was destiny, serendipity, kismet. There you were in the back of the drawer, waiting patiently for years, since before I had kids. Waiting for that special night when I would pull you out of the package, gather you up in my hands, run you slowly up my legs, clip you into some garters, and go out… or stay in. You don’t care, stockings. You’re happy to go out, but you’re just as happy to stay home and make a night of it. I love that about you.

I have such beautiful memories with you, thigh high stockings. Remember our first time on an airplane together? Remember how you kept peeking out from under that too-short skirt until the nice couple next to us got up and switched seats so that the wife was next to me instead of the husband? Good times, stockings, good times.

You know what I really love about you, stockings? I love the way you make me feel. I feel sexy when I’m with you, like I have a secret. When I sit down, I love the way the garter caresses the back of my thigh, reminding me that you’re there, under my skirt. I love that little breeze on a cold night, reminding me that I am secretly naked in places that are not usually naked. I love that at any time, you might show yourself, just a little. That possibility makes me conscious of my body in a way that feels good. I walk differently, move differently, when I’m with you.

You know what else rocks about you, stockings? This might be TMI, but I think our relationship is ready for this level of intimacy. I love that I can pull down my panties to pee without having to worry about you at all. Those other leg coverings that we will not speak of, I had to pull them down, and then squeeze myself back into them again every time I had to pee. You just let me pee so easily. That’s really cool of you.

And while we’re getting intimate, my sheer silky darlings, I love that I can do anything without having to take you off. Yeah, anything. You know what I’m saying. You go from day to, ahem, evening perfectly. And it’s not just a matter of speed or convenience of… access. On the contrary, I’m told by those lucky few who have seen us together that you add a certain je ne sais quoi to the… event. Oh stockings, there is no need for euphemisms between us. When you’re around, I am far more likely to get laid. Why did I ever leave your side?

In both form and function, you are beautiful to me. One peek at you, and people look at me differently. They know I must be a certain kind of woman to be with someone like you. Thigh high stockings, you sexy little devils, I love you so. I will never leave you again.

Love, naughtiness, and secret smiles,

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Would it still be Christmas if I didn’t make cookies?

My mother makes amazing cookies. She’s a wonderful cook across the board, and while my brothers seem to have inherited more of her creative cheffiness, I got the baking thing. I make delicious, beautiful cookies. Chocolate chips, raspberry-coconut bars, oatmeal-chocolate sandwiches, sugar cookies with a hint of almond extract, walnut powdered sugar snowballs, and our traditional Hungarian family cookie, pineapple-walnut kifels. My mom’s recipes, most of them, because why mess with perfection? But I have added my own favorites over the years. Smitten Kitchen’s “World Peace” cookies. The Scandinavian almond bar recipe I snagged from my college roommate’s neighbor. And then, I also make… don’t judge me… that toffee with the saltine crackers. It is the epitome of suburban wrongness, I know, but damn, that stuff is so delicious. I just can’t help myself.

I just can’t help myself. There it is. If there are homemade cookies in the house, I will eat them. I will eat one every time I walk by the kitchen. And every time I have a meal and want a little something sweet after. And every time someone says the word “the.” I will eat them and eat them and will have to buy new pants.

So what if I just didn’t make them this year?

Just thinking about it, I feel sad. I want my kids to help me make cookies. I want them to grow up knowing how to use a rolling pin. I want them to have memories of pulling a kitchen chair up to the counter, of turning on the Kitchen Aid mixer, of learning to scrape the back of a butter knife across a measuring cup full of flour, tap tap tap tap and scrape. I want them to lick the beaters, squeeze the cookie press 1½ times to make a perfect tree, and sprinkle colored sugar and nonpareils all over my kitchen floor. When they’re old enough, I want to teach them to make my grandmother’s kifels, with the sticky, temperamental dough that requires the ruthless efficiency I inherited from her. I want their Christmas memories to include the smell of butter and sugar baking in the oven, and the taste of tradition melting in their mouths.

I would also like my ass to stop expanding.

I have so much to say about why I should make cookies. The words roll around on my tongue, like melted Scharffen Berger chocolate. The reasons not to make cookies are practical, like salad, and not even a good salad, but the sad kind of salad with the dressing on the side, where you dip your fork into the dressing to save a few more calories. If I only had the self-control, it would be a no-brainer.

But, you see, I don’t. I can have a lot of things in the house. Oreos, Reese’s cups, brownies (from a box or from the grocery store… from-scratch brownies don’t last long around me). I can have things in the house that are sweet and naughty, and most of the time, I don’t really want them. Because, truthfully, they’re not that good. I mean, Reese’s cups are pretty good, but not, like, my mom’s chocolate chip cookies good. Not like little miniature pineapple pastry good. Not like two oatmeal cookies glued together with chocolate good.

My relationship with food is complicated, clearly. It means home, and love, and tradition, and family to me. As I chop up vegetables for yet another salad in hopes of saying goodbye to the plus sizes, or finally ditching that "2" in the first digit on the scale, I wonder if I am doing my kids a disservice by passing along a tradition of butter and sugar and white flour.

But when I think about what I want them to learn from me, in the end, I hope they learn that life is for living, fully and fearlessly and with passion. For savoring, and baking, and family, and joy, and love.

And cookies. But hopefully not too many.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Hit on at the grocery store

Yesterday I got hit on at the grocery store, by a stock boy probably young enough to be my son. I mean, I would have had to have been preggo with him in high school, but still, technically, I suspect it would be possible. I should be less pleased than I am, but damn, it’s such a nice ego boost. This week, I began writing a blog entry titled, “The long, slow fade of giving a shit.” It’s about how I feel invisible as a woman, and how that feeling has entered into some kind of feedback loop with my inherent sloth and laziness, causing me to wear less and less makeup, blow dry my hair less and less frequently, and wear comfier and comfier shoes. That invisible feeling, that “Why should I put on earrings? No one is looking at me” feeling, it has really been dragging me down lately. (And now I don’t have to finish that entry, because I just summarized it for you. Score one for the lazy sloth!)

But nothing can perk up a lazy, invisible sloth like getting hit on at the grocery store.

I’m walking down the soup aisle. Stock boy is putting soup on shelves. I grab some chicken broth in a can. I probably won’t even need to use it, because I have a chicken carcass in the freezer and would much rather make the stock from scratch, but if I don’t have time (see above re: lazy sloth), it’s nice to have the cans in the pantry. Stock boy glances up and says “Hello.”

I smile, actually look at him, and say, “Hi.” I look at him because I try really, really hard not to treat people like they are invisible. This behavior was apparently sufficiently odd as to earn me a once over and a smile big enough that maybe it could be counted as an invitation.

Thanks, stock boy, but I am someone’s wife, and someone’s mother, and I could be your mother. So no thanks. Smile back and move on.

In the next aisle, I look at my list… and realize that I have forgotten something in the soup aisle. Crap. Crap crap crap. Lipton beefy onion soup mix. I have to go back. I’m almost out of that magical secret ingredient. I can’t go back. He’ll think I’m hitting on him. Come on, Pam. You’re a middle-aged woman wearing no makeup with air-dried hair, and wearing extremely comfortable shoes. Just go get the damn soup mix. He probably won’t even notice.

He notices. He raises his eyebrows and gets this sort of self-satisfied look. It’s nice to know that I probably gave him a little accidental ego boost too.

“So, what are you making us for dinner?”

As pick-up lines go, it could use some work. Kid, I am old enough to be your mommy, and if I WERE cruising the grocery store in search of a tender young thing for my bed, I would not want to be reminded that you are so young that your mommy probably still cooks for you. And possibly still cuts up your steak.

I didn’t say that. I sputtered out something about grocery store sushi (the traditional post-grocery-shopping dinner in our house), trying to make it clear that I was not inviting him to join me.

“I love sushi. Or, you could come over to the fire station and I could cook for you.”

Damn, stock boy actually has some game. I don’t have the fireman thing. Some firemen are cute. Some are not. The mere presence of a fire hat does not cause me to drop my panties. But for some women, the fireman thing combined with the offer to cook? Not bad, stock boy, not bad.

I don’t say that either. I laugh it off and go back to looking for beefy onion soup mix. They don’t carry it. Damn.

And I’m off to the baking and spices aisle. Did you know that saffron costs $20 for a tiny little envelope? This soup had better be delicious. I’m definitely going to have to make the stock from scratch now. But I didn’t go back to put back the canned broth.

I should really close this little story with some uplifting comment about how beauty comes from the inside and how we don’t need anyone else’s validation to feel sexy. Self-love, confidence, blah blah blah. Yeah, that crap is awesome, and nothing replenishes it like getting hit on by a 20-year-old.

[Edited to add that the beefy onion soup mix is NOT going into the same soup as the chicken stock and saffron. Because those three together? Ew. I use the beefy onion soup in beef stew, meatloaf, etc. The saffron is for a pumpkin-shrimp bisque.]

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Open letter to the TV people

Dear TV people,

You suck. Sincerely, Pam. Do you need more elaboration than that? OK. If you produce a show on Sprout or Nick Jr., I would like to hereby demand that you produce and continue to produce toys and merchandise for every single show that still airs on TV. My kids asked Santa for one thing this year: characters from Word World. Duck, Pig, Frog, Bear, etc. You have never even made a Frog, which is dumb because he is clearly the most awesome of the animals. What the hell were you thinking? What did you make? Two Mega Bloks sets, each including two characters. So that exists. Yay. I can get a few of the characters as well as a cool barn made from the letters B-A-R-N and a fence made from F-E-N-C-E. On ebay. For more than $100 because you discontinued that shit.

Do you see why that sucks? By discontinuing toys from shows that are still on TV, you are creating a very weird black market. Some random plastic doo-dad in my kids’ playroom should not cost more than my smart phone. My phone can access the internet from anywhere in the country. It is also a GPS and a camera and a video camera. And a scrabble board. And a flashlight. And a clock and a calendar and a music player… oh, and also, it’s a phone. It should not cost less than a used plastic piece of crap made in China just because you discontinued that item five years ago. I shouldn’t have to explain to my kids that Santa doesn’t exist just because your merchandising people are all stoned.

The shows are still on TV. New kids are watching them. New kids are asking Santa to bring them crap from these shows. Sadly, elves don’t exist and cannot craft custom toys for my children. I have to actually find and purchase the things they ask for (or make them like I did last year when all my kids wanted was “Wiggle” from Miss Spider’s Sunny Patch Friends, one of the characters you never bothered to make.) Could you make my job a little easier and make yours a little more lucrative and merchandise the shit out of these shows? That would be awesome. Thanks.

Oh, another thing. Kids lose shit. If it’s small enough to fit into a toilet paper tube, I beg of you, make 8 bazillion replacement parts and make them available. FOREVER. Your crap is made out of lead-laced plastic. But if you make replacement parts, we won’t have to throw incomplete sets in the trash, so you can market yourself as a “green” company. Moms eat that shtick up with a spoon. This is gold here, I’m telling you. You really should listen to me.

Parents will buy crap from their kids’ favorite TV shows. Make it, make it non-sucky, and we will buy it. Even if you make it sucky, stick it in stores and our kids will make us buy it. Make all kinds of crap. Tiny 2-3” plastic characters, 6-8” plushies, coloring books, T-shirts. Seriously, TV people, there is money to be made here. Put down the bong and get to work.

I'm not saying no more bong hits for you. The shows you make up while you are high are awesome for parents. Yo Gabba Gabba... Dirtgirlworld... These little gems could not exist without your altered states. Feel free to smoke up and make new shows that make parents glance knowingly at each other, raise their eyebrows, and mime smoking a joint. But then when you're done writing the shows and brainstorming on cool visual effects that "will totally blow the kids' minds," don't just hang out on the couch eating Cheetos for the rest of the day. Have a cup of coffee and get back to work making toys.

You are making cool educational TV with minimal commercial interruption. That is awesome. Keep doing that. Thank you for teaching my kids to read, exposing them to art and classical music, making bugs less icky/scary, and whatever the hell the Bubble Guppies are supposed to be teaching them. But please, please, make the damn toys.

You know who’s good at this stuff? Disney. They could give the movies away for free rather than locking them in the vault (you hear that, Disney? The vault is really dumb. Let us buy your movies so that we will buy your merch.) I’m sure that Disney makes far more money on the crap than they do on the movies. You can’t swing a baseball bat emblazoned with Lightning McQueen without hitting a guitar or roller blades or Band-Aids with the Disney Princesses on them. Sure, Word World has a smaller audience. I don’t need my toilet paper to be quilted with images of Duck and Frog, and I don’t need pictures of Pansy and Snowdrop, the spider twins from Sunny Patch, on my box wine.

But just make the damn toys. OK?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

No Wiggles in MY minivan

On the way to preschool the other morning, I was singing along with my road trip playlist, and Liz Phair’s “Big Tall Man” came on. My son announced, “Mommy, this is the race car song.” I was like, “OK, kid… whatever.” But then after the lyric “I’m drag racing,” he said, “See mommy, I told you it’s the race car song.”

Um, crap.

I had no idea they were listening so closely. That’s soooo disturbing. Especially since these are some of the other songs in semi-regular circulation in the swagger wagon:

“Let’s get it on” – Marvin Gaye… OK, not Marvin Gaye. Jack Black, from the High Fidelity soundtrack, because I love Jack Black and find him weirdly, disturbingly hot and like to listen to him singing about getting it on. Speaking of Jack Black singing about getting it on, our home phone ring tone was Tenacious D’s “Kielbasa Sausage” until very, very recently. Every single time someone called me, that song played in our house.

“Every day I love you less and less” – Kaiser Chiefs. Some lyrics for those of you who don’t know this little gem: “Everyday I love you less and less. I can't believe once you and me did sex. It makes me sick to think of you undressed. Since every day I love you less and less.”

“Comfortably numb” – Pink Floyd. This is probably the least disturbing song on this list, but it still gives me a twinge when I look in the rear view mirror and see them sort of swaying in their car seats like a couple of tiny stoners.

“Super freak” – Rick James. More problematic than lyrics like “That girl is pretty kinky. I’d really love to taste her” floating through the minivan is the fact that this is my four-year-old daughter’s theme song, and has been since she was able to hold her head up. My hubs started holding her up by waist and butt and doing the MC Hammer “Can’t Touch This” dance move side to side with her while singing the bass line. At a few months old, this made her laugh like a miniature hyena. But since that bass line will always be Superfreak for me, those are the lyrics I sang to her. Poor kid. That’s just so messed up. I guess that’s why therapists make the big bucks.

“Creep” – Radiohead. You’re so f*cking special, kids. So f*cking special.

“Get Up/Sex machine” – James Brown. James Brown. Kids love him. I love him. He makes kids dance like kids shouldn’t dance and mamas dance like mamas definitely shouldn’t be allowed to dance anymore. Shake your money maker, kids. Oh yeah.

“I wanna be sedated” – The Ramones. If exposing my kids to The Ramones is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

“I touch myself” – Divinyls. Yes, really. Don’t judge me. There is an 80’s nostalgia section in my road trip mix (which also includes “Whip It”). Actually, I usually skip the whole touching myself thing when the kids are in the car. There’s really no redeeming musical value, so I feel OK about censoring their experience.

So yeah, that’s what my kids have been listening to. Kind of makes “I kissed a girl and I liked it” seem charmingly naive, huh?

Anyone want to share fabulously wrong songs and lyrics their kids can sing from memory? Come on… it’ll be funny.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


It seems as if at least half of the women in my life have been participating in that heartfelt and beautiful facebook meme in which one only posts status updates about stuff for which one is thankful all November long. It’s lovely, and sincere, and… it makes me feel kinda guilty for continuing to use my status update space for talking about weird random crap my kids say (like “These wipes smell like butt” or “Mommy, I love boobs.”), weird random crap my kids do (like making up songs about my coin slot), pumpkin-flavored seasonal snacks and beverages, wine, dirty jokes about leaf blowers, and… did I already say wine? I did have two thankful updates this month, one in which I was thankful for not getting into an accident on an evening with three near-misses, and one in which I thanked the Chick-Fil-A play area for a half hour of feet-up time with a novel. But if I had limited myself to thankful posts, you all would have missed my most “liked” status update to date:

“As our family left the grocery store in a sea of noise, tears, snot, and stress hormones, every single person in the joint silently vowed never to have unprotected sex again.”

Aren’t you thankful you didn’t miss that little gem because I had committed to only writing about being thankful? Yeah, me too.

So here it is. My 30 days of thankful, all in one shot:

1 - I am thankful for my kids. Like, duh. They change everything, and they suck sometimes, but until I had them, I had never felt my heart explode with love. Love, sure. Lots and lots of love, oh yeah. But that full-to-bursting love feeling… it’s only for them. I am thankful for the unique people they are and the joy they bring to my life every day.

2 - I am thankful for a husband who doesn’t care whether I clean the house, who doesn’t fight with me over money, who is a loving daddy and a thoughtful and considerate partner. Oh, and a morning person. That rocks. And also he makes awesome cosmos and martinis.

3 - I am thankful for my health. Seriously. I am so effing grateful that all I have to deal with is some rash-prone skin.

4 - I am thankful for box wine. No longer do I have to make the decision whether or not to open a second bottle. No longer do I have to fight my husband for that last ½ glass of wine after we have both had 2. Rah-rah for the wine spigot.

5 - I am thankful for my siblings. They are fun and hilarious and serious and smart, and they will always get me like no one else ever could.

6 - I am thankful for my parents, for all that they sacrificed so that I could have dance classes and art classes and creative writing classes. For museums on the free day. For knowing that life was more than what I could see from where I was then. For still being there for me, even now that I am all old and stuff.

7 - I am thankful for love. For every single time and in every single way I have experienced it. For the times that it felt good and the times that it hurt and the ways that it changed me forever.

8 - I am thankful for dance. Dancing makes me feel alive. I am myself when I am in motion.

9 - I am thankful for my education. I may never use it again, but when those survey people call to ask me my opinions about politics or local issues, I get to tell them I have a PhD. Yeah, that’s right bitches, a PhD. It’s from Stanford too. Take that. I usually don’t say that last part, but I get to think it every time I feel like all I ever do is wipe butts and fetch snacks.

10 - I am thankful for my fellow twin mamas. Without you, I would feel guilty for not having used cloth diapers. Without you, I would feel guilty for having put my children on leashes at the aquarium. Without you, I would be surrounded by moms who had their kids one at a time, and those moms just don’t get it.

11 - I am thankful for my boobs. They really balance out my ass.

12 - I am thankful that my husband’s job is flexible enough that he gets to spend lots of time with the kids. I like the breaks, but mostly, I am glad he isn’t missing this time with them.

13 - I am thankful for awesome TV. Six Feet Under, Californication, Dexter, Firefly, everything Joss Whedon has ever touched, BSG, West Wing, SYTYCD, oh hell, and all of the singing shows too. Whatever. Shut up.

14 - I am thankful for my friends. My friends, you are the family I chose. We may not talk all the time anymore, but I would still walk on fire for you. Like, you know, if you really needed me to walk on fire. Perhaps more likely and maybe a bigger sacrifice, I would stay sober to drive your drunk ass home safely. Or at least I would call us a cab.

15 - I am thankful for lists. I love lists. I love to make lists. If I had said what I was thankful for every day, I wouldn’t have gotten to make this list. Lists, I love you.

16 - I am thankful for my in-laws. I kind of hit the in-law jackpot.

17 - I am thankful for facebook. It allows this closet introvert to pretend I am the extravert I always wanted to be.

18 - I am thankful for my teachers, past and present. For the ones who taught me the rules of writing and when it is OK to break them. For the ones who taught me to think. For the ones who forced me to learn to speak in public. For my dance teachers. For my first drum teacher, who changed my life forever and who really deserves her own entry on this list.

19 - I am thankful for health insurance and a steady paycheck.

20 - I am thankful for my stick vac. Oh stick vac, I have spoken of you before. No one will ever replace you in my heart.

21 - I am thankful for people who came before, who fought and struggled and protested for rights that I have the luxury of taking for granted. Kind of like how I fought and fought to shave my legs and then my little sister totally got to shave hers like a month later.

22 - I am thankful for my minivan, with its magically opening doors. I love you, minivan, crumbs and all.

23 - I am thankful for Mirena (my IUD). I have migraines with aura, so I can’t be on the pill, and I am allergic to spermicide, so that pretty much leaves condoms or iffy methods that tend to result in pesky babies. Thank you, Mirena, for allowing me to choose not to have another set of twins. Also, that whole thing about how you all but eliminated my period? Yeah, that rocks too.

24 - I am thankful for books, for my favorite authors and the worlds and characters they create, for the calm that comes from complete escapism behind someone else’s eyes.

25 - I am thankful for Leapfrog and Word World. Thank you, TV, for teaching my kids how to read and spell.

26 - I am thankful for my smartphone. For the luxury of checking e-mail and facebook and twitter from the toilet, for the ability to play scrabble with friends in the same room without having to get out a board and tiles, and also with friends I haven’t seen in a decade, for something to do while my kids climb around in the McDonalds play place, for multi-tasking during American Idol results shows.

27 - I am thankful for cotton knit and spandex and clothes that feel like pajamas.

28 - I am deeply, deeply thankful that my kids are healthy.

29 - I am thankful for electricity. I take you for granted a lot, and for that, I am sorry. When you go away, dude, it sucks so hard.

30 - I am thankful for this present moment. And this one. And this one. I am thankful for mindfulness and gratitude and breath.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Off the wagon

Coffee. Remember that coffee scene in Ally McBeal? Yeah, that’s how I feel about coffee. I don’t just love coffee. I LOVE coffee.

“But,” my friends are all thinking right now, “you don’t drink coffee.”

That’s right. I don’t drink coffee like an alcoholic in recovery doesn’t drink wine. Nope, I’m not kidding. I have tried and enjoyed my share of substances over the years. Sure, the red wine intake creeps up every winter. It’s just so easy when you drink from a box and have fabulously gigantic wine glasses. But nothing hooks me like coffee. It starts with a cup. It very quickly becomes a pot. A pot of coffee. Every day. Or more. I get jittery and anxious, and I stay up until 4 in the morning. Even when I finally get tired, I can’t sleep. So the next morning, I need more coffee. And more coffee. And more coffee. Hot, creamy, magic coffee. Coffee all day. Curling through my sinuses, rolling on my tongue, warming my hands, coursing through my veins. Mmmmm coffee.

I can’t have my beloved coffee in the morning because I have no coffee off switch. I can have it once in a while if it’s not part of the ritual. I can have a cup in the afternoon, or some decaf after dinner. I can have the occasional overpriced coffee at a café because I can’t afford to do that every day and because we pretty much only have Starbucks here, and that swill is just not that tempting. I can even have coffee in the morning… if I am at someone else’s house. At my own house in the morning, I drink my coffee methadone, Diet Coke. Those are the rules, and they have kept me clean of coffee benders for years. If there were 12-step meetings for coffee, I would have been an awesome sponsor. It had been something like 10 years since I had a cup of coffee at my own house in the morning.

Had been… yeah…

It all started when my husband left for the day. He left some coffee in the coffee maker. He often does. I don’t know why today was the day. But I thought, “What’s the big deal? I can have a cup.” So I poured it. I found some half-and-half in the fridge. My husband drinks fat free half-and-half (yuck!), but we had the real stuff from a houseguest. It wasn’t expired. I sniffed it. Smelled OK. Poured it into my coffee. And some tiny chunks floated to the top.


Universe, it’s really nice that you are trying to save me from myself. It’s super cool that you are looking out for my sleep problems and anxiety issues. But man, universe, you can be such an effing douche. That. Was. Not. Cool.

So I dumped out my chunky coffee. I rinsed out my cup. And I looked at the coffee maker.

I don’t know how to use our coffee maker. Yeah, the coffee maker we got as a wedding present 9 years ago… I don’t know how to use it. It’s this fancy thing that grinds the coffee and has all sorts of bells and whistles. My husband doesn’t use the grinding part because it is a pain to clean, but it still makes the whole thing kind of daunting. But still, how hard could it be? I put in a new filter with some coffee, and the water, and turned it on.

Beep beep beep beep.

What the hell? I push all sorts of buttons. Lights go on and off. Beep beep beep beep. “Just make my coffee, you temperamental bitch! Just heat up the damn water and run it through the grounds. What’s wrong with you?”

Oh, there’s a piece I had to take out to put the grounds in. OK. I put that back in. Close the lid. Push the button.

The coffee-maker starts making that water-heating sound. It’s like a whisky drinker hearing an ice cube clink into a cup. Want. Need.

Coffee. Coffee is ready. Peet’s Major Dickason’s Blend. With real cream left over from making ganache. Oh. My. God. I am so off the wagon. If you see me facebooking at 3am, that is my cry for help and the sign that it’s time to set up an intervention. Until then… it’s just one cup.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Might makes right

Being a mom. It’s a great job. It’s rewarding, and inspiring, and it fills your heart with love… and sometimes it makes you want to cheerfully bludgeon your sofa cushions to death. No sick days. No vacation days. No measurable metrics of success. No recognition. Shit hours. No respect. And your bosses are total tyrants. They don’t care if you’re having a rough day. They demand that you work weekends, early mornings, late nights, through your lunch break, and through dinner too. They come with you on vacation, and even follow you into the bathroom.

Who would want this job?

Well, I did. Apparently lots of you did. And there’s one more person who seems to. My son.

He has figured out that I’m in charge, and the ambitious little devil is after my job. He has spent the last few months trying to figure out how to become the mommy. See, the mommy says whether or not brownies can be eaten. The mommy is in charge of the Halloween candy, the TV, and the Wii. The mommy decides whether we can buy the remote control helicopter at Toys R Us and what time we go to bed. The mommy has the power, and my kid wants it.

His scientific mind started with rules. The mommy makes the rules. Like this gem: “We never say fruckin’ in this house. Or at least, kids never say that. Sometimes when mommies and daddies are angry or frustrated, they might, but we shouldn’t, and well, just don’t say it in front of your preschool teachers, OK?”

My son’s version: “Mommy,” he tells me in a perfect imitation of my firm voice, “we never ever give time outs in this house.”

But that didn’t work. He still had time outs and he still couldn’t have a Hershey bar 10 minutes before dinner. Hmmmm, he wondered, what else does she do?

I know, she counts.

“Mommy. Get me a lolly right now. One… two… three.”

What?! She didn’t do it. Crap, what happens now? I don’t know. We all live in fear of three. We never get to three. I have no idea what happens when you get to three. I’ll try that for a few days and see what she does.

Oh, right. Time outs. Time outs suck.

I’ll give mommy a time out, and then she’ll learn to heed my counting. “Mommy, give me cookies right now or you will have a time out. One… two… three… That’s it, Mommy. Time OUT. Time out, Mommy. Now you have to go in time out. Mommy? Mommy?”

Crap. How do I get her in time out? Well, how does she get me into time out? I always just go. What happens if I don’t go?

Oh, right, she picks me up and puts me in time out. OK. Got it. I can do that.

Um, no, kid. You can’t. You can drag at my leg all you want. In fact, please do, because it is effing hilarious to watch you try. But there is no way in hell that you are going to be able to get me into a time out against my will. I’m sorry, kid. In the end, the reason that I get to tell you what to do and you don’t get to tell me what to do is that I can pick you up. That’s not fair, is it? It sucks for you. But there it is. You have to do what I say because I am bigger than you.

For now. Hopefully by the time he is a teenager, he will forget this little lesson, and will just do what I say out of habit. Yeah, I know, I’m not holding my breath.

Monday, November 7, 2011

On marriage

My daughter, prompted by the lovely people in Disney’s marketing department, has become interested in brides. The Disney Princess Polly Pocket bride and groom 3-pack, a bridal veil I picked up for her at a thrift store a few months ago, and playing bride with her other toys. We were playing, as usual, with Mario characters, and the twin Princess Peaches decided to get married. (No, not to each other.) For my Peach’s groom, I chose Mario. My daughter chose the less obvious Toad. I guess she’s into a man who is the right height for frequent motor-boating, although surely that gigantic hat would get in the way.

So I asked her, “How do two people get married?”

Her answer: “They dance.”

“That’s it? They dance and then they’re married?”


Thanks Disney. Yeah, when I think about it, that’s pretty much how it works. They wear wedding clothes and dance, and poof, they’re married. And then the movie ends. Watching them actually be married with how little they knew about each other… watching them try to work it out as their beauty fades and they pop out a couple of kids… that would be a very different movie. But I’m not here to rag on Disney.

I asked next, “After they’re married, what do married people do together?”

“They hug.”

“What else?”

“And kiss, kiss, kiss.”

So far, very sweet. But she goes on.

“Sometimes one gets on the other one’s head.” Um, what?!

She then demonstrates this by showing Mario lying down on the ground and Peach standing on his head. My brain pretty much interprets this as a Mario moustache ride. I have no idea what my daughter intends, but it’s too late. There’s no going back once you picture the Mario moustache ride.

“What else?” I say, NOT giggling.

“The get up on the table together.” And do what? I will not ask.

“Anything else?”

“They watch a show together, and that’s it.”

Now you’re talking, kid. Hug, kiss, moustache ride, get up on the table, and then watch a show. Awesome.

Next kid. Now that I know how fun this is, I am curious what my son will say.

“What do married people do together?”

His response: “I don’t know. Do you know?”


“Then just say it.”

“I want to know what you think.”

“They go round and round, holding hands like ring around the rosy.” Hmm, Disney again? Or cartoons? A sweet image.

“What else?”

“They do stuff.” Do stuff? I swear there was a naughty twinkle in his eye when he said this. It’s like he knows there’s something there that he doesn’t totally understand. He’s very innocent, of course, but just like me at his age, I think he knows there’s something more, and he’s intrigued. I may be projecting, but I don’t think so. I’m gonna have to watch that one.

“What kind of stuff.”

“Like, check their computers.”

Ah, reality. You are not a Disney movie.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Pajama Genes

Not, not PajamaJeans. Pajama genes. The pajama gene is a strong one in our family. My mom comes home from work and gets into her PJs. When she was a stay-at-home mom, she drove us to school on days too cold to walk, wearing a flannel nightgown with a long coat over it. She picked us up after marching band rehearsal similarly attired. I don’t know which side of her family passed the pajama gene to her, but I definitely got it. I get home and I can’t wait to get out of my bra and restrictive clothing and into something pajama-like. I’m more yoga pants than flannel nightgowns, so I like to think I pull it off, but yeah, it’s all about the pajamas.

When we have an unscheduled day, we all wear pajamas. All. Flippin’. Day. Not even the weird October opportunity for my kids to play in the snow managed to get me into clothing on a pajama day. (Yes, that's me in actual pajamas. Actual pajamas with snow boots. Since the pajama flow chart post, I have acquired a few true pajama items.)

My kids are no exception. When we get dressed, they immediately ask, “Where are we going?” They know we don’t get dressed unless we have plans. This leads to an embarrassing number of photos and videos on facebook in which my children are wearing pajamas. But it’s not just nurture. I feel quite certain that the pajama gene is nature too. We got home yesterday from a day of errands and dance class and a blissful afternoon in the Chick-fil-A play area. The kids had been really sweet, and had earned enough marbles in their reward jars for a coveted “marble present.” A new marble present should have been enough to distract even my pajama-loving kids from the urge to strip down.

But no.

Five minutes into playing with his new “Mater saves Christmas” snow-covered Mater and McQueen, my son stopped and requested pajamas. “Because when I sit down I feel the buttons on my jeans and they are bothering me.” Ah, my son, I understand. I support you. Here are some pajamas for you, my little love. Because there is nothing more annoying than trying to play with your toy cars with a waistband pinching and jean pocket buttons poking into your butt. I get it, man. I totally get it. You are of my people. We, the pajama people.

Be proud of your pajama heritage, my son. You come from a long line of people who don’t like clothing to poke at them. You are descended from a clan of cotton-knit-wearing, pantyhose eschewing, shoe-less, bra-less cozy people. Fly your yummy-soft flannel flag, my son! Wear your pajama genes with pride.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The class pet

Yesterday, my daughter came home from preschool with “Freckles,” the class pet. It could be worse. It could be something actually alive. But the stuffed dog is bad enough. I am expected to photograph evidence of his “adventures” with us over the next two days and report on the activities we do together.

“Freckles watched TV with us and watched us play Mario Kart Wii for 3 hours. The end.”

The photo could be Freckles in his bag next to the door so I don’t forget to take him back to school on Friday.

But I flipped through the book of Freckles’ adventures, and no one else seemed to have gone that route. Some moms, the ones I could actually be friends with, did a hastily scribbled handwritten note with a photo of their kid hugging the mangy pooch. But some moms took this on as a serious scrapbooking task. They glued paw-print patterned paper into the composition book as a background, and used fancy scissors to cut the photos into a scallop pattern, attached with bone-shaped 3D stickers. Barf. I know I shouldn’t judge them for raising the bar, but I can’t help myself.

Here is the account I really wish I had the guts to send back in Freckles’ little book:

I was very excited to bring Freckles home with me! I was hugging him but Mommy took him away and sprayed Lysol on him until he was soaking wet. She told me she was giving Freckles a bath. Even after his bath, she kept pulling him away from my face. She washed her hands a lot more than usual, and started drinking wine before dinner. She never does that.

I don’t know what “fecal material” means, and Mommy wouldn’t tell me, but she said Freckles was probably covered in it from more than one child. Fecal material must mean something like kisses. I kissed Freckles a lot so he would be covered in my “fecal material” too!

I took Freckles into bed with me, but when I woke up, he was not in my arms anymore. He was on the floor next to the bed. Weird.

While I was kissing Freckles, I noticed that he had some orange stuff on his face. My mom said it was “schmutz.” It kind of looks like the spaghetti sauce we had at dinner, but it couldn’t be because Mommy wouldn’t let him anywhere near the dining room. He also has some black spots on his belly. Is that why you named him Freckles?

When I was looking at the freckles on his belly, I noticed that one of his legs isn’t right. It freaked me out and made me cry when I saw it. I don’t understand why one of his legs isn’t stuffed and is hanging from the middle of his belly. Mommy said maybe he had a “congenital deformity.” Daddy said it looked like a “neutered scrotum.” Do you know what that means? Me neither.

But I don’t care if his leg is a “scrotum.” Freckles is awesome. I decided to ride him like a pony, which involved humping him across the kitchen floor. My mom hasn’t mopped in a while, so I thought Freckles could help out with the cleaning by using his tummy. I looked to see if it made him dirty, but I couldn’t tell because he was already kind of gray all over. He looks just like the steam mop that Mommy uses to clean the kitchen floor! Those mop pads used to be white too, just like Freckles.

Thank you for letting me bring Freckles home. He made me feel so much better when I didn’t feel good. I didn’t even need a tissue because he is so soft and fuzzy and perfect for wiping my nose. I love Freckles so much! He is my best friend.

Death: It’s not just for stink bugs anymore

Remember a while back, when I was wondering how to talk to my kids about death? Well, yesterday it happened.


It wasn’t the way I expected it to happen. I was making my lunch and trying to get the kids to eat their lunch. I had been cleaning out our old office all morning, trying to get it ready to become my son’s new big boy room. It was the kind of day I love and my kids hate, a completely unscheduled “get stuff done” day.

So they were cranky, which makes me cranky. I should have taken them outside or played a board game, but when I’m being productive, it’s hard to stop. My son had a major meltdown over lunch. He kept getting up to play instead of eating, so (after a warning or ten) I took his plate and put it up on the counter.

Cue the complete losing of his shit. Meltdown, tantrum, freak out. He didn’t hit or kick. He told me, screaming through tears, “I am so angry at everything right now! Grrrrrrrrraaaaaggghhhhh!” Yay for using words.

I managed to keep my cool and told him he could have his lunch back if he could calm down and ask me nicely. After a few minutes, he took some breaths, something we have been working on, and calmly said, “Mommy, please give me my lunch back, because when I say something, you have to do it.”

I gave him his lunch, but reminded him, “No, I don’t do what you say. You do what I say. But if you ask me for something nicely, most of the time I will do it.”

This sparked a discussion of what would happen when he grew up and he was the Daddy and I was the kid. For some reason, despite correction, my kids have persisted in their belief that someday the tables will finally be turned and they will be able to force me to eat one bite of gross things and come up with other seemingly arbitrary rules.

I explained, once more, that I would never be their kid. That I was a kid a long time ago, and Mimom was my mommy. And then my daughter asked… “Who is Mimom’s mommy?”

They don’t know. Because they never met her. She died when I was a kid.

Deep breath. “Honey, Mimom’s mommy is not alive anymore. She lived for a very long time until she was very old, and then she died.” Now this is not strictly true. She died far too young, but for the purposes of our death lesson, this feels like a safer thing to say at this stage.

It clicks. It’s not the first time we’ve talked about it, but it’s the first time we’ve talked about it in terms of a concrete person. My daughter’s lip starts to quiver. I see her get it.

“But I don’t want Mimom’s mommy to die.”

“I know, honey. It’s sad when someone dies. But when we get really, really old, we all die. Everyone does. But hopefully by the time someone is done living, they’ll be ready because they had a wonderful, long, life.”

“Mommy, I don’t ever want to die.”

“I know, honey. But you’re going to live for a long, long time. Long enough to grow up and have your own babies if you want to, and long enough for them to grow up. You’ll be very, very old when you die.”

And then, either because I am smart or because I am a complete idiot, I say, “Mommy and Daddy’s job is to keep you safe so that you won’t die until you’re old. That’s why we make rules to keep you safe, so you won’t get smushed by a car or fall down the steps. We keep you safe so that you can stay alive for a long, long time and not get big boo-boos.”

And bam, it clicks for my son. He gets it. “Mommy, I want you to take care of me forever so I will never ever die.”

“We all die someday, baby. But I will take care of you until you’re very big and then you will be big enough to keep yourself safe.” That seems to be enough for him. He feels safe and content for now and goes back to making words with the magnetic letters. (Not, it should be noted, back to eating lunch, which was what he was supposed to be doing. Oh well, getting his sister to ask me about death is pretty effective as diversionary tactics go.)

My daughter: “You’re old mommy. Are you going to die?”

“No, Mommy is a grown-up, but I am a young grown-up. I get to live a long, long time, until you are grown-up and have your own kids and maybe even until they are grown-up too.”

My daughter again: “But Mimom’s mommy died.” Her lip is quivering again. “Can we call Mimom?”

My heart breaks. My four-year-old daughter wants to comfort her grandmother over the loss of her Mommy. She can’t, because Mimom is at work, but she wants to. Melt.

Then she asks, “Who can we call? I want to talk to my family.” Confronted, really for the first time, by the idea of mortality, she needs to talk to her family. We call Daddy.

“Daddy, I don’t want to die.” She starts hugging the phone, really hugging it. “Daddy, come home, please.”

Melt and double melt. She gets it, and she is processing it, and she needs her Daddy. She settles for phone hugs from Daddy, real hugs from Mommy, and Daddy’s promise to come home a little bit early.

Something’s burning. It’s the grilled ham and cheese I was making for my lunch. Hmmm, I guess I can scrape off the burnt part.

And just like that we’re done. They’re drawing pictures on their magna-doodles and asking to watch Toy Story. The process moves into the background. They’re done talking about death.

Until next time…

Monday, October 24, 2011

Vanity is a harsh mistress

I went to the dermatologist this week. I love my dermy. She told me once that her family was surprised that she became a doctor, that her parents were betting on stripper (no she doesn’t look like a stripper). In that same visit, the underwire from her bra came poking out, and she showed me more skin than any other doc ever has while pushing it back into place. She gives out her prescription samples in little leopard print bags. She gives a big, warm hug at the end of each appointment. It’s all probably wrong on paper, but I adore her, and you have to wait ages to get an appointment with her, so I know I’m not alone.

I went in a few days ago to check in on my various skin maladies (eczema, rosacea, and various other things that happen to pale people with sensitive skin), as well as for a full body check. Basically, this means that the doc looks at every square inch of my skin for possible skin cancer, and makes a note of the size and location of my various spots. I am very fair and very spotty. It took a while. The physician’s assistant came in first and started cataloguing my spots. After a few minutes, my doc came in. She asked me about the kids while smearing something onto my face. My face started tingling.

“Um, what is that?” I asked.


OK. She is smearing acid on me. It kind of burns. I lick my lips (a nervous habit). It turns out that acid tastes really gross.

“Is that OK with the rosacea?” (It’s not that I don’t trust her, but she’s a busy woman, and I am one of those annoying “advocate for my own health” people.)

“Yup, it’s fine. I’m just going to take you down a layer.”

Um, OK. We have acid on my face. OK. And my thin paper gown is being ripped off piece by piece. I am essentially hanging out in my undies while the PA writes down every freckle and the doc smears burning liquids onto my face and admonishes me for the size of the pores on my nose.

Apparently I should not be moisturizing my T-zone. Who knew?

Doc is very happy with my lips. She says they look like they have filler in them. Um, thanks?? “But no more red wine,” she scolds. “It is terrible for your rosacea.” Until she asks what I do for work and I remind her that I stay home with my kids.

“I take it back,” she says. “Drink whatever you want. You earn it.”

Do you see why I love her?

Now it is time to zap some capillaries. See, if you don’t know about rosacea, it is this thing that sometimes happens to us, the pink people. When we get red or flushed from normal things like saunas, sun, wind-burn, exercise, sex, booze, embarrassment, etc., our bodies respond by becoming completely freakish. We get weird red scaly patches, and blisters, and things that look like spider veins on our faces. It sucks.

So anyway, I have these broken blood vessels/visible veins on my face. She pulls out the laser. Each zap is fine, but put them together one after the other, and it pretty much bites. Each one is a startling shock, and the ones right next to my nose… um, ouch!

At some point during this process of steel-flinch-steel-flinch, I start thinking about gender. Effing men. They get soft and gray and wrinkly and they have scammed us into thinking it makes them look distinguished. Bastards.

So I come home with what looks like a slight sunburn (which later peeled, lovely), a dozen or two little red scabs from the laser, prescriptions for my rosacea cream and the milder acid that I smear onto my face regularly at home with new instructions to start smearing it onto my chest too, and the $50/ounce eye serum to which I have become addicted. (In my defense, half an ounce lasts me six months.) In the time I was there, we also discussed laser hair removal, for which I am apparently not a great candidate because my body hair is not coarse enough. So I guess I can stop saving up that $2000 give or take for the perma-Brazilian, but that means it’s waxing or shaving forever. Sigh.

Being a woman is just not fair sometimes.

Sometimes I think, what if I just stopped? What if I stopped wearing makeup and stopped shaving my legs and stopped smearing acid on my face and stopped dying my hair and stopped yanking stray hairs out so that my eyebrows would conform to some random notion of how eyebrows “should” look? It’s what’s on the inside that counts. It’s what’s on the inside that makes me beautiful and unique and worthwhile. So why do I spend so much time and effort fiddling around with the outside?

Here’s what’s weird. I don’t think it’s for men. I don’t think my husband would ever notice if my eyebrows were a little thicker. I don’t think he’s losing any sleep over the size of my pores. Sure, the body hair removal is at least partly for him, and maybe the eye makeup and the sexy shoes, but the rest of it? Not so much. Maybe it’s a little bit for other women. Other women notice eyebrows and toenail polish and cute jeans and when our skin looks especially radiant. But really, it’s for me. It’s sheer vanity. Isn’t that weird? I smear acid on my skin and pull hair out by the roots and put potions and powders on my face and try to avoid sun damage and ever-so-gently dab on eye serum at night with the tips of my ring fingers so I don’t pull the skin and give myself wrinkles… all so that what? I’ll look younger and prettier when I look in the mirror? That is so weird. I wouldn’t have thought I would care enough about that to put that much effort into it.

But the idea of stopping freaks me out.

I remember a conversation I had at lunch one day during my TaKeTiNa training. It turned out that a couple of the women had shaved their heads at some point in their lives as part of a spiritual journey, as a way to release attachment to appearance (my words, not theirs, but that was the gist). They were talking about how it felt to completely let go of vanity to that degree. I get it. I deeply respect it. I’m staggered by their strength of commitment.

It’s one thing to say that it’s what on the inside that counts. It’s another thing to shave your friggin’ head.

For me, for now, I’m not ready to let go of the idea of pretty. I like my long hair, with its pink and blue stripes. I like when my skin looks and feels smooth. I like my sexy sparkly red pedicure. I like how my eyes look with eyeliner. I like dangly earrings and low-cut tops and jeans that make my butt look cute. I won’t be shaving my head anytime soon.

But maybe it’s time to spend a little less time primping and a little more time smearing figurative acid on the old dull layers of stuff in my psyche. I’ve been in Mommy mode for four years and have been getting just a little less and a little less mindful every day. Maybe it’s time to take it down a layer, laser away the distractions, rejuvenate my soul with a moisturizing serum, and give the stuff on the inside a nice sparkly pedicure. My soul deserves a spa day too.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Coin slot, there's an app for that!

If you haven't read yesterday's blog yet, please read that first, because this will probably be kind of disturbing and confusing without the back story.

My sister's friend, Tim Babasade, was inspired by yesterday's blog to create a new game for iPhone and Droid. It involves putting various things into my coin slot.* It's just a conceptual mock-up at this point but oh yeah, there's art.

It's gonna be huge! Everyone's gonna be playing! We just need a name. Suggestions welcome. Bring 'em on, you bunch of pervs.

* Coin slot pictured is not actually my coin slot.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Sand in the coin slot

I was scheduled to go to the petting zoo with a friend yesterday, but at the last minute, she had to cancel, so I called my sister wife (the friend with whom I share everything except a man), and we went to a park with our kids so mine wouldn’t lose their marbles over the lack of sheep and roosters to chase around and abuse.

It was lovely. Perfect weather, fall foliage around a lake, children rolling in piles of fallen leaves. The stuff that totally fake blog entries are made of. This is not one of those blog entries. This is the blog entry in which my son grabs a double-handful of sand and puts it into my underpants.

We had gone for a little nature walk and wound up at a different area of the park, with a rock-climbing rock and a large flat rock for kids to play on. The rock-climbing rock was set in sand, presumably for safety. Three of the four kids were playing on the flat “spaceship” rock, so my friend and I took a load off on the pressure-treated 6X6 retaining wall. We are cool and sexy moms. We try not to wear mom jeans. So it is entirely possible that we were both displaying a little bit of “bottom cleavage” in our non-mom-jeans while perched on these convenient but altitudinally-challenged seats. No whale tails, just possibly a little bit of coin slot. (My, my, we have a lot of words for what happens when our jeans dip down in the back.)

My son was scraping furrows in the sand behind me. I was just happy he was quiet. He had been displaying his notorious devil-child persona that day. No one is more gleefully naughty than my son when he is in this mood. You say jump, his eyes twinkle, and he jumps into a puddle, spraying you with mud. My sister wife had described him less than an hour before as the cutest ever little Lucifer. He was in that mood. So I was just happy that he was playing sweetly and not putting banana peels on the spaceship rock or, you know, just walking up onto it and shoving the other kids off while laughing like a spawn of Satan hyena.

It was all good until I felt something cool and wet slide down my ass crack into my undies. I looked back in time to see the twinkle in tiny cute Lucifer’s eye as he released a double-handful of wet sand into the back of my pants.

I wish I could give you advice on what to do if this ever happens to you. Maybe if I hadn't stood up, I could have gotten more sand out before it, um, migrated. I don’t know. But I did stand up. And the sand… settled. Into the crotch of my panties. Like maybe half a pound of sand. In my underpants. Bugger.

You know what sucks about sand in your panties? EVERYTHING! There is nothing good about sand in your panties. Except for the facebook status you get to write about it, everything about sand in your panties effing sucks.

So I updated my facebook status to reflect the abundance of SAND IN MY EFFING UNDERPANTS and then proceeded to try to remedy the situation. Remedying the situation looked something like me shoving both hands down into my jeans and trying to tip the crotch of my panties sideways so the sand would fall out and go down my leg. Go ahead, picture it. I’ll wait. You’re welcome. And no, you’re right, it doesn't work. It does get out the bulk of the sand, but sand is still coating anything… *cough*… anything at all… um, moist.


You know what sucks about sand on and in everything moist in your panties? Yes, that’s right, gentle readers, effing EVERYTHING. There is absolutely nothing pleasant about sand in your va-jay.

You know what sand is? It’s dirt. You know what else it is? It’s the crap they make sandpaper out of! You do not want that on your lady bits. Trust me. I have would put a lot of weird stuff on my lady bits if someone told me it was cool or awesome. Ice. (Don’t do it. It is neither cool nor awesome. It’s just psychotically cold.) Mentholated cough drops. (Not cool!! Not awesome!! Get that burning thing off of me NOW! People actually think that feels good?!) Whipped cream. (Fun enough until the sugar gives you a raging yeast infection). The moral of this little section of our story is just don’t put weird stuff on your hoo-hah.

But you know what sucks worse than any of those things? Sand. Walking back to the car with sandpaper panties, sandpaper ass crack, sandpaper va-jay. Not cool, tiny Lucifer, definitely not awesome.

Upon reading my sand in the coin slot facebook status update, my sister revealed to the world that she has had the bizarre urge to put things into my coin slot on occasion. Apparently, I have an irresistible coin slot, and might as well have a tramp stamp with an arrow pointing down that says, “Please put random stuff in here.” I then requested that if people could not restrain themselves from putting stuff in there, that they please choose something other than sand next time. So my sister asked me to post a list of acceptable items to be placed into my coin slot. Here they are, in no particular order:


Winning lottery tickets

Individually wrapped gourmet chocolate, still in its wrapper

Bacon. OK, I know that’s gross, but for some reason I just pictured someone sliding a piece of bacon into my coin slot and I was oddly OK with it. So bacon in the coin slot is OK assuming it stays in the coin slot region and doesn’t… migrate. Who knew?

Two tickets to Book of Mormon (Imagine handing them to the ticket-taker. Heh.)

Southwest travel vouchers


You get the idea… This is not a complete list, but basically if you are going to be putting something in my ass crack, it had better be either expensive or delicious or both. Obviously, the list is longer and more varied for my husband, but for the rest of you, really it’s best if you just stick to cash.

Or maybe bacon.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


I have joked for a year or two about my little “metro” boy. Metro, metrosexual, a man (or boy in this case) with an interest in fashion, appearance, and design. When he was two, it was a cute photo op. Don’t all two-year-old little boys want to wear their sisters’ sparkly shoes? (Yes, many of them do.) What about three-year-olds? Don’t all boys that age wear butterfly wings? (Well, no actually, most of them don’t.) My son also likes cars and trucks and power tools. When left to his own devices, he draws “monsters with slime.” And also, he also picks out my accessories for me, with a special affection for huge earrings and my lipstick red patent leather 5-inch heels. He feels strongly about my hair. It was for him that I included one blue stripe in addition to the pink stripes I had been doing. And you know what? He is totally right. The blue stripe makes it. I did not, despite his urging, dye half of my head pink and half of my head blue. Even I have limits. But I’ll change my shoes or jewelry for him, and he is usually right, even though his shoe choices are seldom practical. The half blue/half pink thing probably would have looked pretty cool. He notices when my friends get new throw pillows, or a new mirror. He notices light fixtures. He notices when I do something different with my makeup.

My metro son is the only boy in his preschool ballet/tap class. Watching him tiptoe across the room on “relevé toes” in his generic black pants and white T-shirt from Target with all of the tutu-clad girls is one of the cutest things I have ever seen. The girl half of a set of boy-girl twins is in the same class, and the boy half is one of my son’s buddies. That little boy is “all boy” as they say (an expression I don’t particularly care for, but it is efficiently descriptive). On the first day of dance class, my son’s buddy walked up, literally with a football under his arm, while my son put on black ballet shoes. One of the things that was so beautiful about that moment was how excited the buddy was about my son’s dancing, and how there was zero tension around the contrast. We have so much to learn from kids. I cried a little, tears of happiness that I tried to hide.

On my kids’ second birthday, I made a list of future careers that wouldn’t surprise me. I wanted it in writing, so that if my son became an engineer or my daughter became a professional athlete, I could hold up that journal page and say, “See! I totally called it when you were two!” Well, he’s four, and I’m gonna put it in writing. If, someday, he comes to me and tells me he’s gay, I will say I always knew it.

Of course I don’t know anything. He’s not gay or straight. He’s FOUR. His sexual orientation right now is pretty much, “Hey, I have this awesome thing hanging here on the front of my body and I can touch it in the bedroom or the bathroom if I want, but not in the living room or dining room.” I’m just saying, you know, maybe. But just like my career predictions, (a) I may very well be wrong, and (b) I truly don’t care whether I am wrong or right. Maybe he will be straight and an interior designer or hair stylist. Or maybe he’ll be gay and will “cut down trees” (his own current prediction of his future job). Maybe he’ll be a stand-up comic, because that boy has some seriously genius comic timing. Or maybe he’ll have a job that hasn’t even been invented yet.

Maybe he’ll like girls. Maybe he’ll like boys. It doesn’t matter at all to me. I hope that, whether my kids are gay or straight, they will be able to marry whomever they want to marry in all fifty states in this country. I hope that so much.

But my son doing pirouettes and picking out my earrings was not the true inspiration for this post. This was. This week, I took the kids to Pier 1 for the first time. Oh. My. God. It was the funniest thing ever. Both kids enjoyed it, but as we walked in, my son’s eyes went wide, he gasped, and he said, “Wow! This place is fabulous!” He went from display to display. “These are the most fabulous pumpkins I have ever seen!” “These are the most fabulous candles I have ever seen!” And my personal favorite, regarding a display of decorative spheres covered in red glass mosaic tiles, “These are the most fabulous balls I have ever seen!”

I don’t know many four-year-old boys who would be that excited to be dragged along to a home decor shop. “Mommy, these pillows are fantabulous! We should buy some.” Fantabulous? No, I do not say fantabulous. I have no idea where he heard it. And it’s not just a mispronunciation of fabulous, because the sparkly silver napkin rings were deemed “fabulous AND fantabulous!” He even noticed the fabulous aprons, and pointed them out to me. At his urging, I bought one. And it is completely… yes, you guessed it… fabulous. Just like my amazing son.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

“Mommy, what’s church?”

My kids are really interested in what roads we’re driving on and what direction we’re going. They have a better sense of direction at four than I had at ten (yes, really, I am truly direction-impaired), and they know all of the roads we take to get to most of our popular destinations. So yesterday, on our way to the grocery store, we were on Linden Church Road, and one of the kids asked, “What’s linden?” I replied, uncertain, “I’m not sure honey, but I think it’s a tree or a plant.” (Note: yes, it is a tree.) And then, of course, “Mommy, what’s church?”


My internal dialogue went something like this: You could just say it’s a pretty building. You could say a lot of things. You could say it’s a building where people go to talk and sing. You’re driving to the grocery store. Do you really want to get into this right now? But it’s a teachable moment. They’re interested, and listening, and a captive audience. Take a deep breath, don’t chicken out, just tell them.

“A church is a building where people go to learn about God.” (Yes, I know a church is much more than this. I know that a true church is not a building at all. They’re four. I started simple.) “Do you know what God is?”


Right. Because we don’t talk about God. My husband is a lapsed Catholic who probably hasn’t been to church since his mom stopped making him go. He’s a scientist, and would probably describe himself as agnostic. I was raised Protestant, and have been many other things since. I am not an atheist or an agnostic. I have faith, but it doesn’t fit neatly into any of the boxes I have tried. Since I found out I was pregnant, I have debated what (if anything) to do about the kiddos’ religious education. I liked growing up believing in something, even if it wasn’t quite the right fit for me. Even at a young age, organized Christian beliefs were too rigid for me. I questioned, always, even as a kid. In the end, that whole good people who don’t believe go to Hell thing was a deal breaker. I just don’t believe it. I believe there are many paths to heaven or bliss or nirvana. So no, we don’t go to church, and we don’t really talk much about God.

Until yesterday.

“God is someone that some people think made everything. The Earth and all of the trees and the ocean and animals and people.”

“And the clouds?”

“Yes, and the clouds.”

“And McDonalds?”

“Yes, and McDonalds. Everything. Some people think that God is real, and other people think that he is pretend. I don’t know the real answer. No one knows. It’s a mystery. What do you think?”

My son, looking confident: “Real.”

My daughter: “No, he’s pretend.”

Me: “I don’t know the real answer. Everyone thinks something different. You can think whatever you want.”

At this point, my son starts trying to convert my daughter with the zeal that only a four-year-old can exhibit about something they only heard of two minutes ago. “He’s real. He’s real. Say he’s real!”

My daughter looks upset. “No, I say pretend. I don’t want to talk about this anymore.”

After a few minutes of holy war in the back of the minivan, I redirected to a discussion of the names of trees, and breathed a sigh of relief. That stuff is HARD. I want my kids to have a spiritual life, and I wonder how much of my own odd but still very present faith can be traced to the fact that I grew up being taught that faith and spirituality were important. I don’t feel comfortable teaching them things that I don’t believe, and I don’t feel comfortable with anyone else teaching them that stuff either. But I’m not sure that teaching them my weird mélange of faith would help. It would probably just be confusing.

Maybe they should start joining me in a meditation practice. Can kids sit and breathe? It doesn’t seem terribly likely, and even if they could, would they derive any benefit from it? Or would they just play with their belly buttons and wiggle around on their miniature zafus? We could certainly start having more conversations and hands-on lessons about helping those in need. I think they’re ready for that. They already have a very strong sense of environmentalism and know about being good to Mama Earth. Last time we went to Storyville (at the Baltimore County Public Library), they wanted to clean up the field full of litter before going in to play. And on the topic at the very heart of my belief system, love, they are experts.

In some ways, a lot of my spiritual searching has been about coming back to some things that children do naturally. They are already in the moment. They are authentic. They dance like no one is watching and laugh hard enough to heal anything in the world. They are beautiful bright spirits. For now, maybe it’s enough. Even if they don’t know that they have spirits.

As usual, I am left with more questions than answers. But when it comes to faith, maybe that’s OK.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Sandwiched between the grocery trip from hell (a hell in which I would swear that someone had secretly given my children a couple of Red Bulls each) and a Mom’s Night Out I organized for my Mothers of Multiples club, it happened. I was driving, a block or two from home, whiny insanity still echoing in my ears, when I came around a turn and saw this.

A sunset. How cliché. I mean really Pam? A sunset? Yes, really. There was no question. I pulled onto the shoulder, put on my hazards, and got out of the car. The 4” heels of my favorite brown boots sunk into the rain-saturated earth, and the hem of my too-long jeans got soaked, as I got out of my car to look, and breathe, and take that picture with the camera on my phone. It’s not a great shot. I didn’t take it to be a great shot. I am many kinds of artist, but a photographer is not one of them, and even if I were, the camera on my phone is not up to the job of capturing what I saw with my eyes and my soul. I took this photo for me, to remind me. To remind me to look, and breathe, and take moments as they are offered. Moments of grace.

When I lived in California, pre-kids, there was a place halfway between Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz called Pescadero Beach. When the tide is out, it has a sandy beach, but there are better beaches for sand and surf. But it’s quiet—on colder days it’s often deserted—and the waves splash on the rocks like a postcard, and there are tiny perfect creatures in endless tide pools, and one rock perfectly shaped for sitting. For sitting and looking and breathing.

I got engaged on that beach, and you would think that would be what I remember most about it, but it isn’t. I remember quiet days there by myself, listening to the birds, breathing in the living smell of the sea, feeling the wind and salt spray on my face and in my hair, watching the sun set on the water, opening myself up and quieting my mind and leaving a space to let grace come in.

I don’t leave that space much anymore.

I’m busy and stressed and overscheduled. My sleep-deprived body drops into unconsciousness as soon as I sit still. There is no room for space, no time for grace. So sometimes grace has to come along and smack me upside the head. “Hey dumb-ass, here’s a miraculous friggin’ sunset for you! Wake the hell up, you sleepwalking zombie! Wake UP!”

OK, OK, I’m awake. Now what?

I don’t know.

I don’t know is an excellent place to start.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The pop-by

A few months ago, a family with three-year-old twins moved in down the block from us. They are maybe only five houses away, but the lots are big, and their house is in the wrong direction (that is, uphill), so we hadn’t quite gotten around to being gracious and welcoming neighbors. Our neighborhood is kind of anti-welcoming. People are all very pleasant, but I have lived here for six years and I only know a handful of neighbors to say hi. The houses are far enough apart that parents drive their kids from house to house on Halloween, or many just go to a more easily navigated area (one with sidewalks, which our neighborhood also lacks) to trick-or-treat.

I know the families on each side of us, and the one across the street. I know the dog-walkers and the power-walkers from walks with the kids. I know a few moms from the cul-de-sac in the back of the neighborhood where we like to walk and play. I know the guy who testified against the schmuck who robbed our house last year. That’s pretty much it. We all wave from our minivans and keep to ourselves. It’s a bummer when you really do run out of sugar in the middle of a recipe, but it’s kind of OK with me. I like my privacy and I am not a fan of the pop-by.

The pop-by, for those who don’t use the expression, is when a neighbor or other acquaintance appears unannounced at your front door. It’s friendly, and neighborly, and I am firmly and vehemently against it.

So here’s why I’m anti-pop-by. It’s very simple. If I am home and not busy, I am in my pajamas. I may be technically wearing clothes, but I am almost certainly not wearing a bra, and there’s a 50-50 chance that at least one of my kids is running around in underpants or less. Also, unless I know people are coming over, the house is probably covered in toys, clothes the kids took off and dropped wherever they fell, goldfish crumbs, and a nice cozy layer of dust. It makes me crazy, but that’s just how we live at this particular stage of my life. It feels like I spend all of my time trying to maintain that level of squalor without it devolving into an even lower ring of hell.

I came home from a night out a few weeks ago and was informed that the new neighbors had done a pop-by while I was gone. I glanced around the living room, horrified, but my hubby reassured me that he had gone outside to talk with them and hadn’t let them in. Relief. Un-neighborly, unfriendly relief. They left their names, but no contact info, and invited us to come on by any time.

Ugh, they’re pro-pop-by. They couldn’t possibly be my people.

But when we went on our walks, we started walking up the hill first to see if they were home. Yesterday, for the first time, they were. It was around noon. The mom was in her PJs. And the kids were wearing PJ tops with underpants. And there were toys everywhere and Cheerio crumbs on the floor and a pile of magazines that had clearly been the recent victim of some sort of tantrum or gleeful naughtiness. Yay, just like us! She used to live in Santa Cruz. Her husband has a PhD. Her kids watched an hour of TV in the hour and twenty minutes we were there, and we bonded over how TV is awesome and totally teaches our kids stuff.

She scooped up the magazines, and threw some dirty clothes in the hamper, but otherwise didn’t seem at all fazed by the fact that she was meeting me for the first time in her PJs. She’s pro-pop-by, but she is my people after all. What were the odds?

So next time I need a cup of sugar… I don’t know… maybe.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Out of the mouths of babes… comes my voice

Every parent of a preschooler has experienced it. We hear something coming from our child’s mouth that sounds eerily familiar. From the words to the inflection and facial expression, it’s us to a tee. It can be embarrassing, hilarious, or a sobering mirror.

Sometimes, it reassures us that our kids are getting messages of love. Once, my daughter was watching me re-write the grocery list in order by aisle. (Does everyone do this or did I just inadvertently reveal that I am a freak? Oh well, either way.) She simply observed for a moment, and then said quietly, “Mommy, that’s beautiful” in the sweetest, proudest-sounding voice I have ever heard. That’s me. I do exactly that. I watch them draw, and then I tell them their art is beautiful. Yes, I know that I should be using non-judgment phrases like “I like how you made that wiggly line” or whatever, but I don’t. I tell them their art is beautiful, in exactly the tone of voice I heard coming from my daughter’s mouth. When my kids say, “I love you so so so SO much forever,” I know that they are hearing me when I say it to them. And when I hear one tell the other, “I’m so proud of you,” my heart just about explodes.

Too often, I hear my voice mirrored back saying things I shouldn’t. The other day, irritated and impatient in the grocery store parking lot—I don’t remember why—I muttered, “Jesus” under my breath. Both kids looked at me and started chanting “Jesus Christ” over and over. Um, that’s bad. That’s very bad. Hilarious, but bad. I guess it could be worse. It could be the “for f**k’s sake” that emerged from my son one day and then never again. Blame for that one is squarely on Daddy’s shoulders. But the old JC name-in-vain thing is all me. My hubby and I have tried very hard to tame our potty mouths, which is apparently working to some degree, because the word “friggin’” has become very popular among preschoolers in our house. I honestly think that one is funny as hell, but their teachers won’t, so I guess we nip that in the bud too. If anyone has an f-bomb substitute that would be socially acceptable coming from the mouth of a four-year-old, please let me know. I desperately need one.

My favorite (yes even better than “for f**k’s sake”) is hearing them make rules, lay down discipline, or be firm parents. Every time my son receives a time out, he informs me in perfect firm-but-calm parent voice that “we never, EVER give time-outs in this house!” Once, at dinnertime, he gave me a choice: He could play Mario Kart Wii now and eat later, or I could bring his plate to the couch so he could take bites between races. When I chose option C, turn off the Wii and come to the table, he informed me calmly and politely, “That’s not a choice, Mommy. I gave you two choices. You have to pick one.” My daughter’s rendition of the steps of “1-2-3 Magic” is much better than my husband’s. When he has trouble following the steps, I like to remind him that it’s so simple a three-year-old can do it.

And then some words are just plain funny coming from the mouth of a four-year-old, especially when they are used correctly: “Actually,” “otherwise,” “reboot,” “nunchuck.” Nothing is more silly and at the same time sobering than hearing your kid tell you, “I’ll come to dinner in a minute. I just have to check one more e-mail.”

The “one more e-mail” moments make me cringe. The “I’m so proud of you” moments make me cry in a good way. Kids are a mirror. They show both the good and the bad. But unlike a physical mirror, the stuff you don’t like hearing back is stuff that you can change if you want to. And that makes me so grateful. So I stopped writing this blog entry in the middle when my son asked me to play Hullabaloo with him. I put it off again to snuggle with my daughter. Interrupting my flow makes it harder to write coherently. My blog may suffer for it. But better my blog than my kids. Any day.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sauntering under the raised bar

Yesterday, I had an epiphany. About parenting and competition and self-acceptance. I have been working on re-doing the kids’ rooms with the goal of making them excited to have their own rooms after sharing for four years. I’m planning all sorts of ludicrous things for the princess room I always wanted as a kid and the Mario Kart room that I think every little boy might have wanted. I am custom-making a castle bed for my daughter and modifying a little Tikes car bed for my son to make it look like the Wild Wing car from Mario Kart. I am doing a mural in my son’s room and using GlitterGlaze to make my daughter’s walls sparkly. I’m swapping out ceiling fixtures and adding lots of fabulous details that they will never notice.

I was thinking yesterday that if I were someone on the outside looking in, I might be irritated at that mom who was raising the bar.

And it hit me. Blammo. (No, not decorative gourd season. Um, by the way, if you don’t like excessive profanity, don’t click that decorative gourd link.) Aaaaanyway, as I was saying, it hit me. Blammo. I’m not raising the bar. I’m just doing what I love to do. I fully recognize that my kids would be just as happy with some Disney Princess and Mario printed comforters. Everything else I am doing in those rooms, I am doing because I love to plan and decorate rooms. I’m decorating those rooms for ME.

You’re probably thinking, “Well, yeah, duh, of course you’re doing it for you. Your kids are four. I thought you were smart, but if it took you that long to figure it out, you’re really dumb and I’m not reading your blog anymore.” Yes, duh. I did already know that. But also, wow. Because those moms who made their own baby food? Maybe they like cooking and mashing things. Moms whose houses are always clean? That’s probably important to them or maybe they find cleaning therapeutic. Moms who somehow manage to show up in clean clothing with their hair done and makeup that doesn’t look like it was put on in the dark? They must be really into fashion. Moms who go to the park a lot? Maybe they like fresh air more than they like the catchy tunes of the Fresh Beats. Moms who are thin? Maybe they enjoy working out, or maybe the child care at the gym gives them their only alone time of the day, (or maybe they just have a fast metabolism… but let’s not talk about those bitches because then I start getting all swear-y.) Moms who don’t have any crumbs on the floor of the minivan? Well, OK, something weird is definitely going on with those moms. But other than that, do you see it?

Here’s my point. We do what matters to us. And if someone else wants to raise the bar, let them. And then just walk the hell under it. Do your thing. Your kids will remember you for the things at which you are awesome. I remember my mom’s amazing cooking and baking. I remember that we were allowed (nay, encouraged) to get dirty. I remember that she took us to museums. I remember that she (and my dad) made our Halloween costumes. She was awesome at those things. Was our house clean? Nope. Did I care? Nope.

My kids will remember that I took them to the Renaissance Faire, that I decorated their rooms for them, that the three things we never ran out of were fresh fruit, fresh veggies, and brownies, that I planned fun parties, that we did a lot of painting and art, that sometimes I let them stay up late for family fires outside, and that I snuggled them and tickled them and just loved them like crazy.

We all know it’s not a competition. But some days, I forget. And I think most of us, when we forget, probably feel like we are losing. We’re not. We rock. We’re good at what we’re good at, and our kids will remember that we loved them in all of the ways that we are best at showing it.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The ding dong guide to the fitting room

Sometimes my kids are amazing. They tell me imaginative and amazing stories about how the world works. They hug me tight and kiss me and tell me that they love me so so so so much. They dance and spin and make music and make my day. Today is shaping up to be one of those days. Friday? Not so much. It was one of those nonstop whining days when nothing I do is good enough for them, and I get beyond sick of trying. By the time we got home from the tear-filled grocery store trip, I was more than ready to pass them off to Daddy. I went into the office to catch up on facebook and e-mail, but my usual 20-minute Mommy detox didn’t have the usual effect. I needed a more serious intervention. It was time for some retail therapy.

Honey, I love you. Take the kids. I’m going to Ross.

I joke sometimes that if it weren’t for Ross and Marshall’s, I would be naked. The Old Navy clearance rack plays its part in keeping me from getting arrested for indecent exposure, but mostly, it’s Ross and Marshall’s. I have sticker shock everywhere else. I am used to paying $30 for a Calvin Klein dress, $20 or less for a pair of jeans, and $25 for a good winter coat. That’s how I roll. So Friday night, I closed that place down. I bought some kick-ass black boots (for just $18! And yes, for those in the know, that is a pink clearance sticker on the price tag), a pair of jeans, some black pants, a sweater, a strapless bra, and some clothes for my kids. I came home euphoric. Retail therapy is magical, like drugs without the health risks. Retail therapy does carry its own risks, to the budget in particular. But in my budgetary defense, I tried on my fall clothes recently, and they all looked like pajamas. It turns out that spring and summer attire is much more forgiving of a 30 pound weight loss than the fall wardrobe. Which makes sense. In spring and summer, you show skin. In the fall, your clothes actually have to fit you, and mine just don’t.

Clothes shopping is not as easy as it used to be. Before my metabolism thunked to a stop, I had a very good clothes body. I could try on 10 things and they would all look good, so it was just a question of style. Gaining weight made things a little more challenging, but I still looked pretty good in most clothing. And then I had twins. I weigh 20 pounds less now than I did when I got pregnant, but everything has moved around. Between the diastasis and the abundant extra skin on my belly, my body has become much more difficult to dress. But after a few years in this new body, I am once again a well-oiled machine in the fitting room. Here are some of my best tips:

1) Wear your favorite jeans and a cute top to go shopping. Look at yourself. This is how good you should feel in everything. If you don’t like those new jeans as much as you like your favorite jeans, don’t buy them.

2) Never try on a top without pants or jeans on. It may look really nice with your undies, but the important question is: How’s it gonna to look with your muffin top?

3) Slouch. If you’re like me, when you look in the mirror, you stand up straighter. Maybe you even suck it in a little. It’s a reflex. Let it hang out. Slump a little. Do you still like it? Oh man, if you do, buy it.

4) Try on everything. If you like it, try it on. Make the fitting room attendant hate you. It’s their job to put all of your discards away. It’s probably not a fun job, but in this economy, they are probably happy to have it. Be friendly. Smile, with genuine warmth. Be a bright spot in their day. And keep them in a job. My ratio in the fitting room is maybe 10% yes. Maybe less. I try on a lot of no’s, because you never know, and the things I buy are not usually the things I thought would look good. You have to try it on.

5) You don’t have to try on everything. I know. I know what I just said. But here’s what. If you’re a DDD cup, you can look at a top and KNOW that that “under bust” seam may not even make it under your nipples. So don’t bother. If you like the cut but you don’t like the way the fabric feels, that will be even more true when it’s rubbing on your tender armpit skin. Don’t waste time.

6) If you even THINK the word “Spanx,” it’s a no. I like a good corset as much as the next girl. Really, I like a good well-made corset way more than the next girl, with a steel busk and spiral steel boning and at least a 6” reduction in waist measurement… *blush*… but I digress. So, um, yeah, corsets are awesome. For a special occasion dress, sure, rock your Spanx (or better yet rock a luscious Dark Garden corset). But on a random Tuesday, you just want to wear your clothes without having to wear some torturous foundational garment. Some deliciously torturous... um, never mind. Here’s my point. Don’t buy an outfit imagining how good it will look with Spanx. You’re not gonna want to wear Spanx out to dinner. If you do, I don’t think we can be friends.

7) If it’s a maybe, it’s a no. Almost right? No. But it might be cute if maybe... no. If you don’t love it, it’s a no. But but but... what about? No. Save your money for stuff you love.

8) This should be obvious, but if you have to lose weight to wear it, no. Not even if you’re PMS-ing or bloaty that day.

9) Sweater dresses, just no. Save yourself the trouble. They look really cute on the hanger. Because hangers don’t have any fat. If you’re shaped a little bit like a hanger, have at it. For the rest of us, with bulges and whatnot, they are a nightmare. If they don’t show the bulges, they look like a sack. If they fit properly, they. show. everything. Save yourself the body image issues. Don’t even bother. (The exception to this rule is sweater dresses with some kind of belt or structure in the waist/belly region. If they have something that is going to cut across the problem area, by all means, follow rule #4 and try it on.)

10) It’s not you, it’s the clothes. When you start to feel like your body is freakish, put your favorite jeans and your cute top back on. See how cute you are? Stupid clothes don’t fit you. Your body is perfect and can look awesome in the right clothes. These are not the right clothes. Look how much money you’re saving by not buying them.

11) Plan alterations with caution. Those makeover shows talk a lot about getting clothes altered. “Fit to the biggest part of you and take it in everywhere else.” Um, that’s awesome when you’re buying $200 jeans on “What Not to Wear,” but when you’re buying $15 jeans at Marshall’s, you’re not gonna want to shell out another $15-20 to get the waist taken in and the hem taken up. If you have a tailor you trust and you know what it will cost to make the alteration you need, go ahead. I have a friend who has to alter every pair of pants she buys. She just figures it into the price of the pants. If that’s not you, you’ll probably never get them altered. They’ll probably sit in your closet with a price tag on them until the day you give them to Goodwill.

12) Do the ebay thing. No, don’t buy clothes on ebay. It doesn’t work. But you know how on ebay you figure out your maximum bid? Do that. Don’t look at price tags when you’re putting stuff in your cart. Just try it on. And then say, “What would I spend?” Be honest. And then if it’s more, don’t buy it. This is kind of a Ross/Marshall’s/Kohl’s strategy. At a department store, a pair of pants might be like $200, so save yourself the trouble and don’t bother trying that on, because they could come with a built-in vibrator and I still wouldn’t pay $200 for a pair of pants. But at Ross and Marshall’s you can do this. Nothing is likely to be more than $40, and most stuff will be under $25. So you think, “Hmmm, cute top. Maybe with jeans. Ummmm, $16.” And then you turn over the tag and it turns out it’s a BCBG Max Azria top for $29.00. Don’t buy it. Or you turn over the tag and it’s on clearance for $7. Score.

13) It's OK to buy nothing. Some days, you don't score. That's OK. As in life, don't settle.