Romantic Life Lessons, Whining

Rejecting the Tradition of Misery on Thanksgiving

Like Chandler Bing, I learned my parents were splitting up on Thanksgiving. Over decades, I made a big deal of this and convinced myself to be miserable every year, no matter how many hours my hosts worked to create a festive occasion. It didn’t matter that my parents were much happier apart, that I had other opportunities I might never have had if they’d stayed together. It didn’t matter that I completely ignored other reasons why Thanksgiving is, oh, dicey. My loathing was one-dimensional.

Letting go of personal history tends to happen much later, but better that than not at all. What a burden to be miserable on an anniversary of something that happened a long time ago. Something you don’t think about all that much anymore.

To be honest, I really don’t hate Thanksgiving. There are the pumpkin products. What’s not to like about at least two days off from work? If you’re not traveling, you might be the luckiest person on earth. Rolls with butter on them. Such a massive pooling of foodstuffs for consumption with loved ones. The preparation may be frightening, but not for me. I’ve been lucky enough to have a black thumb in the kitchen. People invite me to their homes and they feed me. There are leftovers and stories for eons. It takes too much energy to hate things that are delicious and good.

My first Thanksgiving with Sam’s family in Florida is one I’ll never forget. It was my first time meeting some of Sam’s family members. Also, Florida was a mysterious place far removed from my New England/Mid-Atlantic roots. There is sun down there. You can see the sky without buildings blocking your view. The one hitch, we had to fly down to Florida and I was deathly afraid of getting on those aluminum tubes. Being in love means going places even when you’re scared. It took me days to get ready emotionally, even with medication. Oh, and my mother and stepfather were coming to meet Sam’s family. No anxiety there.

On the day of the trip, my stomach felt kinda funny. I pushed it aside. The Great Diviner in the Sky would never do that to me, make me sick as I go down for big Thanksgiving celebration with his family and my family, and did I mention low-grade terror about trying to have a baby at 42? I was fine, dammit.

When we landed, I experienced the usual terra firma euphoria and hunger. I ate whatever I could find. Steak! So far, I was killing this nerve-wracking Thanksgiving thing with new expanded family. And my mom, she was having fun in Florida. Oh the places we’d been together. I loved that she didn’t have to cook and could just party over three days. Everyone got along great. The next day, I had thick pancakes, a Starbucks sandwich, walked with Mom around town, marveling at the ducks in a pond, and then, oh no.

I was walking back to the hotel when I felt that dread of knowing I would be sitting in a dark room by myself for a day or two being sick. Time stopped, perspective shifted. People brought me ginger ale and crackers, medicine. No one shamed me for being sicker than I’d been in a while. I was so embarrassed before realizing that my healthy family was probably having a blast. That made all the difference, actually.

By the time Thanksgiving came, I felt a little better physically and utterly revived by the people around me. That was ten years ago and while still not 100% sold on this holiday (see U.S. history), I am so looking forward to being with my family, however it happens.

Here’s a picture of me on Thanksgiving 2012, kind of sick, but so grateful for the person next to me.

Romantic Life Lessons, Whining

Voting Day Metadata

6:42 wake up call. Uplifting, thrilling, vote, vote today, vote! Exciting!

Sweaty discomfort, Biotin, Black Cohosh, Silver Centrum, melatonin, sleep, Paul McKenna hypnosis, costly, effing, apps, wellness.

In the shortest line, nice people, American poll workers, heroes, on feet all day, should volunteer, get standing desk, 400$ on Amazon, no free candy at voting place, stickers just as good, not really, mandatory selfie on the sidewalk, in the crosswalk too, jawline sagging, vivid filter, not vivid enough, Botox, everyone’s getting it, even alleged Kylie.

Return to work, remote today, CNN all day, pondering candy, sugar, glucose, diabetes, early death, insulin, control through exercise, app, you can lose weight by sitting all day, $39.99 for three-month meal plan, what body type are you, bestselling has-been with never-before-seen miracle for health.

Print out overdue manuscript, visit Staples for paper, 2 reams for 12$, eat the cost due to laziness of filling out company expense form, green tea, energy, moringa tea, night sweats, all day sweats, Old Navy tank top for 5$, roomy pajama bottoms, super sale, 5$ cash back! Red pens for marking up manuscript, red triggering for students, pink!

Not many emails, social media, deep work, Cal Newport, turn off noise, Calm app, Matthew McConaughey sleep story, why does gin smell so good? Honey, can you get some lemons at Westside? Zabars better, bagels, Lenny’s bagels, cream cheese, sudden trip to corner bagel place, bagels = 5 pieces of bread? Carbs, non keto, maybe you should exercise more instead, hand eczema explodes, Acure oatmeal hand lotion. We’re having lentils tonight, that okay? Sure. Lentils, legume, vegan, heart healthy, gassy, oh well. Uplifting!

It’s a full moon, blood moon, eclipse, witchy, Practical Magic, midnight margaritas, Nicole Kidman, Oscar winner, Keith Urban, city, New York City, pandemic, anything can happen tonight!

Romantic Life Lessons, Shameless Promotion, Whining

Post-COVID Vegan Not-Success

It seemed to happen all at once. Sam said, “I don’t feel right” one Sunday night. We took tests, did another dance with the COVID fairy, and reset ourselves after a week of isolation. When you’ve recovered, the first thing you want to do is delve into the joy of wellness.

We watched The Game Changer* the next Sunday night, learning things we obviously knew before (eating plants = healthier) but this time it felt different because athletes modeled supreme health while chowing down on legumes. Sam and I are intense athletes ourselves so we thought, why not?

Sam was particularly affected by the doc’s showing meat-based-diet plasma compared to vegan plasma. Having survived e.coli and norovirus, he’s hyper-aware of his insides. I, too, am aware of my insides since cultivating a duodenal ulcer in my teens and 20s and, of course, the stomach flu of 2007. There’s also that I like to do drastic things and relish the self-loathing once I fail. Going vegan was perfect for us.

Our habits changed at once! I culled memories of the unintentional veganism of my 20s, mostly due to fear and paranoia. One can’t control traumatic events, but one can control what one eats. I only trusted things like potatoes, bread, cigarettes, and Sprite–from the beige, tar, and transparent food groups. These were trustworthy foods, and I didn’t feel bad at all. Surely I could avoid animal products thirty years later.

Sam and I discussed how veganism would support our cat, even though he himself is not vegan. Clearing out the fridge was a gradual chore. Wasting half and half is worse than drinking it. Somehow, I choked down unsweetened oat milk, which I would still drink if on a deserted island. But what would I do if the plants were poison and a rotting boar was the only thing to keep me alive? Would my stomach acid be strong enough to break down the boar so that I could survive? At the very least, I could clutch my new fake pearl necklace from J-Crew.

My week of veganism wound up being a topsy turvy voyage of feeling great, thrilled by my moral high ground, then a rapid plunge into despair. Even though I could skip a few meals, the idea of hunger reminded me of a darker time when I did not eat because I was afraid of what it would do to me. I’d been coping with the immediate aftermath of trauma and a lot of this involved learning to eat, sleep, be out in the world again. Going vegan wasn’t about giving up ice cream but putting hyperfocus on an issue that pushes my buttons.

There is a happy ending, one I know I can carry to the end of my days. As my vegan adventure ended, I started watching The Kardashians on Hulu–a never-say-never event. So maybe I could go vegan a few times a week, nudging me into healthier habits as I trudge toward the coffin. In the meantime, I can watch a matriarchal family do their thing and remember that I’ve spent my some of my 30s, 40s, and 50s watching them without suffering for it. It is a blessing to choose more vegan options and to find something that whisks me out of circular thinking — and COVID.

*An amazing documentary on Netflix

Romantic Life Lessons, Whining

My Mother Says to Write Something Outrageous

I have a Satan voice, which first revealed itself when I had to recite French poetry in first grade (as one does). At family gatherings, I get requests for Satan and my audience still wonders where it comes from. I’ll never tell.

What neutralizes this blasphemy is that my husband Sam, who is Jewish, can speak in tongues. It’s pretty amazing. You ask for it, and it’s like the divine is speaking through him. We’re trying to find a way to monetize this.

Here are some other outrageous things I want to say on this July 4, which is not really about independence but the lack thereof:

I don’t understand people who put just a splash of milk in their coffee. Do you think one splash will significantly alter the taste or color? It doesn’t! I’ve tried it so that I can see where you weirdos are coming from.

George Clooney and Brad Pitt–just barely handsome. Never have they been hot.

The Highline is just a walkway above the ground. That’s it!

Gross: hot chocolate, beets, 90% of soups (people who love tomato soup, I don’t even know you), acorn squash, melted ice cream, untoasted whole wheat bread, and whatever tilapia is.

There’s this orange/peach color that clothing stores try to get rid of. It looks like stomach contents. Don’t convince yourself that it’s peach–it’s just barf.

Can we stop ugly-shaming Mitch McConnell? Do we need to keep talking about how hideous he is both inside and out? It’s so cliche, but let me check one more time if it’s actually true.

The worst day in New York City is SantaCon, but since we’ve moved further uptown, we don’t encounter the staggering young Santas yelling and vomiting in front of our building.

Hemingway and Laurence Olivier–overrated!

I used to have some respect for the Republican Party. My grandparents were proud Reagan voters, and I could at least understand why they loved him (though I didn’t). The GOP has changed so much in the last ten years I don’t even recognize it as anything but a fear-filled, power-hungry mass of old guys and Patrick Bateman youth. The Democrats get angry and have some brilliant minds to convey outrage, though they need an action-hero to pull it all together and make change happen. I keep waiting for that moment when the good guys to win, but they seem to go home at night and tweet.

I hated Bill Maher in my 20s and 30s. By my 40s, I started enjoying him as a pissy truth-teller–even if he’s not everyone’s truth. I agree with him 80% of the time and like that he brings educators onto his show. Most shows invite big dum dums to say the exact same things. Hey, Bill, my mom is always available, but if you talk over her, she’ll cut you.

If I had to work on Below Deck, I’d want to be third stew doing laundry the entire time because I hate boats yet adore all things related to laundry. While working for Captain Lee, Sandy, or Glenn, I would iron their clothes with unabashed giddiness.

COVID has ruined so many things, the least of which is the award show format. It was hanging by a thread before COVID due to the blinding whiteness and nostalgia for Billy Crystal. We still love movies and TV, but it is overshadowed by understandable social awkwardness and general thirst for celebrities behaving badly.

Non-cartoon talking animals in commercials and movies, not cool. Scary, in fact.

When you’re talking about pubic hair on a soda can or sexual assault at a Supreme Court justice hearing, it’s time to set the bar a little higher.

There are angels in our midst. A few weeks after my friend and I were robbed and raped at gunpoint, we started taking self-defense classes. This giant red-haired dude drove us every week and went at a snail’s pace through scary neighborhoods–scary because I was petrified to be outside at all. During our ride, he reminded us that even though this happened to us, the monsters didn’t take our souls.

You can take away women’s freedoms, money, dignity, rightful places, power, but it’ll never be enough. Enjoy your July 4th with hotdogs, parades, and waving flags. It won’t cover up the atrocities this country has inflicted upon women, people of color (which includes women), other countries, and just about anyone who comes to this country seeking a better home.

I don’t buy this holiday, but thanks for the day off!

Romantic Life Lessons, Whining

Day #24 of Staying Home

Greetings from Awfulville!

How is everyone doing and when is this going to end? Remember the days of *no* daily press briefings and packed streets on a Sunday?

I hopped off listening to the “coronavirus task force” updates and transferred my allegiance to local reporting since urban COVID has a different twinge and I just want facts. Today was the first day where the number of deaths had gone down from the previous day. A grizzly, sad but positive-ish sign.

Here are other positives about staying home indefinitely:

*It’s training for your future nursing home/hospice care. You make your own schedule. You get a fifth wind at 4am? Go for it. You have nowhere to be.

* Wearing a bra is optional. Sorry, Mom. You know it’s true. Your own mother is applauding this point from Heaven.

* Impulse (not affordable?) purchases are excused because mental health is crucial. I bought a trampoline and a sewing machine! In addition to wanting to help healthcare workers, I made Sam a shitty mask but it brings out his beautiful green eyes.

* Talking with loved ones rocks. I don’t need a lot of human contact. My phone convos are purely altruistic. Just kidding! I usually feel better after a good chat on the phone. It’s fascinating to learn that I actually miss people.

* Makeup tutorials are relaxing. Bobbi Brown’s MasterClass is excellent. I also enjoyed Kim Kardarshian’s five-minute contouring routine. Her use of bronzer to minimize her forehead is one I’ll attempt. Kim is a total face-Monet.

* RuPaul’s MasterClass releases endorphins. Best quote so far: “If you want money, wear a suit.” I want money. Not enough to wear a suit, but I get it: Get your lazy butt out of those pajama bottoms. Also, RuPaul recommends meditation to get in touch with one’s “frequency.” This in itself triggered deep vibrations to my frequency.

* The Tiger King! It’s depressing, entertaining, seedy, and binge-worthy in not a virtuous way. Sort of how you saw that one thing in the garbage, and even though you insist you never eat anything once it’s been discarded you go back and–ugh–wolf it down and insist this is your last depraved act. Once we finished the series, I went to my closet and gasped. Sam is terrified of me.

* You may find unexpected beauty in watching A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. This one will cleanse you after The Tiger King. Mr. Rogers was one of my fixtures while growing up. Hard to believe such an angel existed.

* Reading and editing heal. I never regret turning off the TV for a book. I am about to start Harlan Coben’s The Boy from the Woods.

* No more endless campaign speeches or debates. Remember when the most stressful thing was that upcoming presidential election? And the Russians. What happened to them?

In today’s briefing, our gov said that Cabin Fever will make people irritable and resentful. Because it’s now an official illness, I blame Cabin Fever for my irrational resentment of Influencers giving us advice and support, saying “We’ll get through this” and “We’re in this together.”

That’s true. But really, this is a never-before situation. We don’t know what will happen, which in itself can be bonding. Some are natural social-distancers. Some have coping skills to manage during gigantic disasters (just not the little ones). At the end of this spectrum, there are some whose suffering is on such an epic scale that “You’ll be okay” isn’t nearly enough. Healthcare, essential workers seem to be the ones who bear the brunt of everything horrific.

I don’t even know what to say except, “You’ll be okay.” What else is there when you don’t know?

There is always Yossi.


Marriage Minutia in a Time of Chaos…

I’m trying to lighten up and not rage about politics, so while I’m taking a knee, yelling at the TV, and donating to relief efforts, let me offer this bit of annoying privilege.

In our early courtship days, when Sam asked me what I wanted for dinner, I started crying. That’s totally weird, and I didn’t expect this emotional response. How bratty that I can’t choose. Figuring out what to eat is like passing Econ 101 for me. I just can’t do it.

Because he’s so nice, Sam took over food preparation. We’ve been married for almost seven years and I’m very spoiled now.* We are happy, ebbing and flowing like any couple. He’s a social butterfly, which is fun to watch from my comfy corner of the party. On quiet nights at home, he likes our movie marathons. But food is his arena, not mine (except for Cheetos and dessert).

I won’t mention some of my concoctions, mostly involving ranch dressing and canned peas.

This semester poses a challenge. Sam has long hours this fall and I need to start cooking. There is no space for my cooking panic. In the grand scheme, this is nothing. Look at these hurricanes, these earthquakes, the floods, the chaos in government. We don’t even have children (or pets). I am fortunate to chop wood and carry water for him.

Still, there are neuroses to conquer. Let’s start with grocery stores. So full of delicious things, but so full of choices. What goes with what? The longer I walk up and down these cluttered aisles, the more I want to run home. You have to bring a list and plan. Grab a cart, dodge people, find the shortest line, and dart home. Repeat. Readers who grocery-shop (and with children) on a regular basis, you are heroic to me.

Last week, I made salmon, a monumental feat since I’m afraid of fish. Sam told me to cook it for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. I cooked it for 30 minutes at 375 degrees just to kill any critters lurking inside. Progress.

It occurs to me that this is part of marriage, helping your spouse, and his happiness when he sees the laundry and dinner ready is so worth a million trips to the store. Though, he really doesn’t like my cooking. He pretends, like the prince he is.

Next stop: Cooking chicken or going vegan altogether.

*While knowing and appreciating every day how lucky I am.

Uncategorized, Whining

Still in the Rabbit Hole

I should be writing about writing or even editing but I confess to a one-track mind, as depicted on the most recent Real Housewives of New York City. 100% of the time, my life bears no resemblance to a housewife’s but this season, I feel Carole Radziwill‘s pain. In the first episode, she recounts going down the rabbit hole during the presidential campaign (and I assume afterwards since I check her twitter constantly). Friends, I’m still there, just like Carole. It’s hard to wean myself off news, especially with the Constant Chaos. And all the damn bombs! It’s like high school again, only the chubby psychopath* is launching missiles instead of dissecting a fetal pig in Biology class.

My self-destructive days are over, and I’m determined to climb out. Here is what I’ve done so far:

  • I went through all my shoes and threw out 7 pairs I haven’t worn in years. And bags. So many bags. Sad bags–gone.
  • You know that button that needs sewing on the shirt you never wear? Did that.
  • Volunteered for another project at work. It’s really dumb how I keep raising my hand and, sometimes, I regret it the instant my hand comes down. Work is a fabulous distraction–and it lasts longer than Designated Survivor. I figure that after twenty years, I sort of know what I’m doing no matter what the mental state. And this time, while I’m meeting deadlines, I actually feel good about being plugged in to the world.
  • I’ve cooked three meals since November. That’s better than 0, which was my score for most of 2009-2016 (i.e. the second Sam darkened my door). You know I’m desperate if I go to the grocery store and offer to make dinner. The pork chops were inedible. Still, overachieving in the food department.
  • I text and Snapchat my brother and high school friend Nici all the time now. Stupid stuff. Usually, I keep to myself. They must think I’m crazy.
  • The little things help every day: going to the gym, checking my Google alerts on Gwen & Blake’s relationship, watching/listening to Sam talk to his brother on the phone, bugging my mother,  a new fountain pen

And there’s the fact that I wrote my first blog post in three months. That’s another step forward (or backward if you’re reading this).  Here’s hoping for some peace and quiet in the world soon. And if not, I am ready–eyes and ears open. If you have any good tips on how to cope with current events, please share! Except giving up sugar is not an option….

*There is more than one, isn’t there?


6 Days Until I Can Stop Watching Television Forever

seal_of_the_president_of_the_united_states-svgThis past January, fueled by caffeine and post-flight euphoria, I promised a group of writers that I would pen 10 craft-related blog posts this year on this site. Well, kids, I’ve done this, partially on this site and partially on another–my daytime professional one. If you check my twitter posts, you will find them. Given my prolific blogging elsewhere, I figured I would burn out fast writing in two different places. You have to have separation between church and state.

Here, I will post more about my life as a person (new and different). Maybe as a writer and a wife and a New Yorker and a reader. Also a little about being a shameless seeker of cookies, Gwen Stefani/Blake Shelton updates, cheap yarn that doesn’t look cheap, and recipes I will never use. Maybe I’ll mention that I can’t turn away from election coverage and am looking forward to finally turning off the TV on 11/9.

Everything seems to have stopped until I can vote. I didn’t volunteer but I donated $$$, bought merchandise and have watched more television than is healthy. I had to procure a mouth guard from my dentist. Perhaps, there is some nervous candy bar consumption as well.  I have two 1/2 written books on hold. My normal TV watching has suffered, as in I’m no longer caught up with the Housewives or Grey’s. The apartment needs Swiffering and there are emails to answer. Stacks of puzzles to do, books to read, summer clothes to pack away, makeup to put on my face, and sweaters to bring out. And there’s my wonderful husband who, with his own insane schedule, gets take-out dinner because I am too preoccupied to shop (he does 80% of cooking). I make up for this by ironing clothes because you can do this and watch TV. That said, I do my job and make it to the gym.

For now, I’m frozen until the verdict is in. Who else is feeling this way?

Oh, and just because, I am reading two engrossing must-read books–but slowly because of TV crack-heroin-poison:

The Starboard Sea by Amber Dermont

Can I Go Now? The Life of Sue Mengers, Hollywood’s First Superagent by Brian Kellow

Oh wait, never mind all of the above except for the book recommendations. I am way too privileged to complain.