Flirting in Yonkers.

Our kitchen is in Yonkers.**

Because we want to renovate our kitchen, we need approval from the Yonkers Building Department. (Even now, it is hard to capitalize those words, so unworthy are they; there is nothing proper about those nouns.)

I had heard nightmare stories about the permit approval process so when our permit was denied the first time, I was told to “put on something cute, go down to the Building Department, and flirt.”

“Oh,” someone else added, “you should bring cookies.”

I heard M sniggering when I relayed the pieces of advice. First of all, nobody really wants to eat my cookies. I live with teenage boys, who will eat anything that isn’t soldered to the plate, but Building Department people? Surely, they wouldn’t want burnt-on-the-bottom chocolate chip cookies which are raw in the middle?

The flirting got an ever bigger laugh from M.

If nobody wants to eat my cookies, even fewer want to see me try and flirt. “What does that even look like?” M asked.

What does that look like? It looks something like this:

I woke up early and put on a pencil skirt, blouse and a pair of heels. I had an early morning breakfast midtown, and I planned on going straight from there. I looked cute enough for the breakfast, but after a subway ride home and an hour or so of NYC humidity, the bloom was most definitely off the rose. When I got on the subway, I threw my heels into my enormous bag and put on a pair of Birkenstocks. When I emerged above ground and caught sight of the size of my hair in a store window, I threw it up into a twist. By the time I climbed into the minivan, I had untucked the blouse, which was drenched in sweat and something else which I could not identity but which it hurts to think about.

By the time I got to Yonkers, I was less Breakfast at Tiffany’s, more Travels With My Aunt. Still, I persisted. I walked into the building and into a time warp. I had to exit and enter again just to make sure I wasn’t losing my mind. Although it was 2018 on the outside, in the Yonkers Building Department, it was either 1957 or 1978, depending on the floor. Either way, it called for a lot of eye shadow and some pretty big hair. (My eye makeup had long since melted off, but my hair was certainly complying.)

I found the right floor, tucked in my sweaty shirt and marched on. When I was greeted by a room of partially gray women, sitting at desks, nursing giant mugs of coffee, my heart skipped several beats. A room of older ladies? These are my people! I can definitely flirt with this…

I collapsed into a chair.

“What’s wrong, honey?” One of them asked.

“I looked a lot cuter when the day started,” I said. “And I really want a permit for my kitchen.”

The thirty minutes I spent with the ladies of Yonkers was lovely. They assured me I looked just fine. We laughed about summer hair and what happens to your feet when your take off your heels, put on Birkenstocks, and try to get your heels on again. They even gave me a special number to call to check on the status of my permit revisions. I left feeling so much better about myself and the Yonkers Building Department. (Caps restored!)

I called that number every day for ten days and nobody answered. I even tried the special email they gave me: nada.

I went back yesterday, all gussied up, and received a second denial, in person. I was even wearing heels this time.

I guess I really don’t know how to flirt.

PS: A snapshot of the current state of my kitchen.

** Our house sits on the county border, but our kitchen is firmly in Yonkers.

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Filed under home decor, home improvement, Kitchen, remodel, knife rack,, yonkers

Fortunately, I didn’t eat the maggot poop.

I got a little braggy on Instagram and posted a picture of my chard recently. My punishment for my garden-bragging is usually the ridicule of my children, who do not particularly enjoy seeing the pictures. They reserve a special disdain for my most favorite hashtag. #IGrewDinner

This week I got a different kind of comeuppance. I noticed the chard was brown and patchy. More watering didn’t help, so I took pictures of the leaves and that night, while sleep eluded me (here we go again), I went down the rabbit hole of my gardening blogs . (As luck would have it I stumbled onto a Seattle Times article, no comment.)

It turns out the brown spots were caused by flies, specifically, beet leaf miners. The little flies lay their eggs on the leaves of the plant, in my case, chard. Then the eggs hatch into green maggots which feed inside the leaves and then poop everywhere. The brown blotches were poop, squeezed inside the leaves. Maggot poop, to be exact.

When the boys were younger and came home with lice, I ran to the drugstore, bought a shaver and sheared their heads down the the scalp. I basically did the same thing with the chard. I chopped the plants down to their nubs, shoved the infested leaves in a bag, and called it a day.

Ok kids. You win.

#IGrewMaggotPoop

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Filed under gardening, New York City, Uncategorized

I’ll Get You Karma, and Your Little Dog, Too.

The biggest problem in my marriage is this: once a month (or thereabouts), M knocks over a giant glass of water which rests on his nightstand. The water douses everything around it. While this is happening, I usually play dead — so that I do not have to get up and help him mop up the water with whatever he can find lying around. I do not play dead because I am mean-spirited, or even lazy. I play dead because if I open my eyes, I will be awake for the night.

I am not a sleeper. If something wakes me up in the middle of the night (which I define as anywhere between 11.30 and everything that comes after it), I do not go back to sleep. I go thorough stages of resistance and acceptance and usually end up on the coach downstairs, watching TV, reading, or listening to a podcast. I know that I am not alone, and therefore, I won’t bore you with any more of the details of my sleeplessness.

Last night I tempted fate. As we headed to sleep, I said to M — I really hope you knock your water over tonight, because that is the only way you’ll throw out all the piles of random paper shit you have next to your bed. I do not exaggerate about these piles. It looks like a small mountain range of random magazines, bills, circulars, printouts and whatever else he can find in the house. Nobody touches the piles because M knows the contents of each one and can tell if we’ve been messing around. The only way those piles disappear is when they are soaked beyond saving.

Hence, I have come to rely on the monthly spillage.

Last night at three, I heard a CRASH. Then I heard, “OH SHIT.” I played dead. Very dead. Minutes later, spillage mopped, M falls back to sleep.

I have been up ever since.

I got some writing and editing done. I gardened by moonlight (really, I did! It’s awesome! You should all try it!) and I even gave myself a manicure (a lot less successful, but what can you do?) But when M woke up, I was in no mood for him. I yelled at him for taking a leisurely shower (Seriously? Fifteen minutes on a weekday?) and just about everything else. His face looked like it did in the early days of our marriage when I was mad at him, and expected him to know EXACTLY WHY I was mad, but refused to tell him. It goes without saying that his lack of inherent knowledge only made me madder.

We are about to hit our 20 year mark, and if I don’t get some sleep, our marriage may very well come full circle.

(Here is his nightstand AFTER it has been cleaned up. It is somewhat disconcerting to see that M sleeps with a hammer next to his bed. Also, I am very confused about the canoe escape pamphlet. Maybe I should be more helpful in the middle of the night.)

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Filed under Sleep, Sleeplessness, Karma, Marriage

Coffee + Seltzer =

May is hard. May is happy and sunny and here in NYC it’s even gotten warm (thank heavens, because I was on the verge of a complete and utter weather-related breakdown, the likes of which I hadn’t experiences since I did time in Seattle). But it’s not necessarily an easy month. In addition to the onset of seasonal allergies (please send help, there is Mack truck parked in my sinuses), there’s a lot to do, which for me means there’s a lot to forget, a ton to let slip through the cracks, a mountain to overlook. You see where I’m going…

One day, after a doctor’s appointment I’d failed to calendar and a kid-related deadline I didn’t make (am I beating a dead horse?), I stumbled upon this bottle of loveliness:

I love coffee. I love seltzer. What could possibly be better than a combo of the two? Standing near the checkout of my local market, I felt a little like the guy (or girl) who fell upon peanut butter and chocolate or ketchup and just about everything. I immediately texted a picture to my friend R, who is a coffee drinker and a seltzer aficionado. She was unimpressed. Undeterred, I bought a bottle and drank it on line and texted R immediately: It was delish — like a not-too-sweet caffeinated cream soda, with giant bubbles. Plus, it’s limited edition, which means soon it will disappear, so I am compelled to down as much of it as I can while it is on the shelf.

I have bought a bottle every day since then. Sometimes two. It’s May. I need it.

People in my neighborhood market: I see you looking at me. I feel your judgy eyes on me. I hear you thinking, “Who on earth would buy that revolting looking beverage?” Me, that’s who. And I’ll buy a second while I’m here in case I’m done with this one by the time I check out.

Happy May, people. Do whatever you need to.

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Filed under New York City, Uncategorized

Get your own knife rack, people.

We are planning a kitchen remodel. Recently, I was sitting in our kitchen with some of my teenage son’s friends. They were asking questions about the new kitchen.

“Is it gonna be white?” One asked.

“Yeah,” said another. “All our moms have white kitchens. White kitchens are nice and bright, but this kitchen is homey.” He spread his arms out wide, as if presenting my kitchen to me for the very first time.

By homey, I think he meant dark and outdated. But I just smiled and refilled the giant snack bowls they had depleted.

But they were not done.

“I mean, this is a really comfy kitchen,” one said, lifting an empty snack bowl and emptying the crumbs into his mouth before I had a chance to pour more popcorn in it.

Comfy?

“Yeah, like there’s just weird stuff happening,” he explained, wiping his mouth. “I mean – look at all those knives on your wall. My mom would never like that.” He pointed to the knife rack in our kitchen. “She likes stuff you can’t see.”

“Yeah, I mean what IS that?” Another giggled.

“And all the jars.” This conversation now had a life of its own.

“Jars?”

“Yeah, I mean my mom likes a clear counter, but you don’t care. You have stuff everywhere!”

“All the jars!” The first said. “And none of them match!”

Hmmm. It was true. None of the jars did match. There were also bottles of oil and little (mismatched) jars of salts everywhere. I do love oil and salt.

“And look,” said a third who had just walked in. “I mean, there’s a brush over there.” He pointed to a brush on a crowded shelf. It had long since lost its handle, but it was a good brush.

“And all these random cards!” He pointed to three decks of cards, none of them complete, and all in piles, their boxes long gone. They were on the shelf with the brush, some vitamins, a dying fish, a cupcake-shaped eraser, cat snacks and some mechanical pencils.

“Our moms would go nuts! But not you! You don’t care.”

I was rendered speechless.

It passed.

“Rest assured, boys.” I told them. “Whatever color this kitchen may be, you can count on me to have cluttered counters and random stuff on my shelves.”

“What about the knife rack?” One asked.

“The rack stays,” I said.

They smiled and nodded at each other.

Then I refilled the snack bowls again.

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Filed under Kitchen, remodel, knife rack,, Uncategorized

Naked runners and second place in-shape moms, unite!

I went to the gym today because I slipped on ice at the bottom of our driveway and was too sore to run. I got on an exercise machine and within minutes one of the guys who works at the gym was next to me, looking very sheepish.

“Hey,” I said, taking out an earbud. My politics podcast would have to wait.

“So… we are doing this photo shoot,” he mumbled. “And we’re looking for all kinds of people. I was wondering if you could help out because we are looking for (wait for it) … an in-shape mom.”

I smiled demurely (what, this old thing?) and acted as though this was the oddest thing I’d ever heard, which it kind of was.

Huffing and puffing on that damn stair thing, I thought about it for a minute. Surely, there were other moms around, more in-shape moms, moms who have to wear real bras and not the kind you slip over your head and can buy at Old Navy for 6.99, moms who did upper body work (I rarely do), moms with core muscles (nope). If I’m anything, I’m a runner, and as a character in my book says: Nobody really wants to see a runner naked.

And here’s another thing — an in-shape mom? What is that anyway and why does it sound so creepy? It may have been a case of not wanting to join a club that would have me as a member, but all I could think of were mom-jeans, soccer-moms, mom-hairdos, and the mother of all mom-items, the MINIVAN.

I spent a while protesting too much and then the gym guy interrupted. “We’re really stuck. The mom who was supposed to do it had to cancel.”

“The who?” I yelled over the podcast still playing in my left ear. “Really? There’s another, more in-shape mom than me??” I looked around the gym in an exaggerated manner, my hand over my eyes, as if looking off into the distance for another mother in better shape. Suddenly, I was Jane Fonda. (I have just dated myself in ways unimaginable. Who should I have said – Gal Gadot???)

“Um…” The poor guy. What was he to do?

“I can’t make it anyway,” I said. I was nobody’s sloppy seconds. (I wasn’t lying. It was smack in the middle of teaching.)

I finished huffing and puffing and went home to my eldest child, who is now old enough to have a man-cold. Feeling out of sorts about the whole encounter, I made myself something to eat. Please don’t judge, but this is what I ate:

My friend, R., thinks it’s revolting, but quinoa with ketchup is my favorite dish. Frankly, there are few meals that cannot be improved a squodge of ketchup, but this one is spectacular and cheers me up without fail.

Besides, It’s the official dinner of second place in-shape moms everywhere.

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Filed under running, Uncategorized

Drip, Drip…

I wouldn’t necessarily call it a resolution, but this year I told myself I’d take one picture a week – specifically, a picture which encapsulates the kind of week I’ve had. Last week I wanted to post a cute picture of the minivan as we returned from our road trip to the Great White North, but I didn’t know which picture to post. I had a few choices:

1. The pic of the new brakes I had to put on the minivan before we left. (Not myself, but by Bruce, my well-named and flawless mechanic.)

2. The pic of the fresh dent I put in the back of the van when pulling out my driveway as we were leaving.

3. The pic of the heating vents in the ceiling of the minivan dripping onto our heads as we drove through Quebec.

4. The pic of the tire pressure light which goes on each time the temp drops below 20 degrees. That light all but imploded as we dropped to -25 in Montreal.

In the end I couldn’t bear to post a pic of the minivan – I hardly want to encourage it. Instead, this week’s pic comes from M – in yet another attempt to subtly remind me to replace the toilet paper.

As I have already made clear, I do not believe in replacing the toilet paper. Other things in which I don’t believe: those crappy little snack-size ziploc bags and the half sheets of paper towel.

Consequently, we have all thawed out from our week in the Great White North; even the minivan. It is now 30 degrees in NY and it feels like Maui. Aloha!

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Filed under Canada, driving, Minivans, New York City, Road trip, toilet paper, Uncategorized