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The Things I’ve Ignored 

My incredibly big, thrilling, news is that I wrote a novel and it’s getting published. I’ve tried to think of ways to write those words, ways that don’t sound like I’m announcing that I just got a puppy, made the cheerleading team, or won the state science fair (none of these things have ever happened to me), but I fail – because there is something so childish, so wide-eyed about the way I feel right now. 

I tried explaining it to some of my middle school students who are impressed by both everything and nothing at all. I told them that it’s so important to do what you love, even if you can’t do it full-time, even if you have to take breaks (loooong breaks), even if you feel like you’re doing it into a black hole, only for yourself and that nobody will ever know you spent hours doing it. Then I started crying and they all shifted in their seats uncomfortably and we moved on to something else, probably run-on sentences. 

M always jokes that no matter what is going on, I will always make time for reading and running and while that’s kind of true, I’m not necessarily proud of the things I’ve ignored:

My desk is a hot mess. It’s always something of a mess, and I prefer it that way, but there are piles of things I’ve ignored while I’ve written this book, things that have now stood up on their hind feet and begged for my attention.

First among them is blogging, which doesn’t take up physical space on my desk, but which I’ve had to put aside to make room for characters and plot and dialogue. I’ve missed it. I’ve missed you. 

Second among them is thank you notes. Not my thank you notes, but thank you notes for a certain bar mitzvah boy. I took a look at the handful he’d written and they looked like a serial killer had broken into my home and written on his stationary. A serial killer with some significant small motor skill issues. When I first saw those notes, several months ago, I thought, I cannot send those cards out. People will start for feel sorry for me. And then I promptly forgot about them. 

There is also a pile of papers onto which I stuck a post-it note, with the words – kids medical. I have no idea what is in this pile. We should all live and be well because it’s possible I’ve let our insurance lapse. 

There are corners of this house into which I’ve shoved piles of things I promised myself I’d look at later. There are recipes I clipped which I may as well just throw out.

There are returns I’ll never make of clothes I should never have bought. (It seems that during a particularly tough writing patch I developed a thing for metallic pleated skirts. I don’t know when pleats returned, and I have no idea who decided that pleats + metallics was a good idea,  but if any of you want one,  I apparently have about 14.)

We can all only do so much. I am returning to the blogging world, and because I now have quite a bit of editing to do, and thoughts of another story swimming in my head, that’s all I have time for. 

The metallic skirts are first come, first serve but I guess those Ted Bundy thank you notes will just have to wait. 

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Bucket List: Bronx Camping

It’s been a lot colder here than it should be for late August – early September… so much so, that we had to scuttle plans to go camping last weekend. Never to be deterred from the pleasures of sleeping in what essentially amounts to a very large Ziploc with my children (and apparently the cat) we decided to pitch a tent in the backyard.  I may or may not have made it the entire night. 

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Diner Coffee

Every time someone calls me a snob (something of a thrice a week phenomenon at its slowest), I mutter to myself: “diner coffee.”

That’s right. I’ve travelled. I’ve tasted. Hell, I even lived in Seattle. You can have your espresso-based drinks with foamy whatever-milk. Give me a steaming mug of American diner coffee. In fact, give me 3 mugs of it. No milk. I like it best when I don’t even know my mug is being filled and I can pretend its one loooong cup of coffee.

M and I were on the Jersey Shore this weekend with some friends when I fell upon this:I don’t know what makes diner coffee Jersey-style, but I do know this stuff is roasted in Asbury Park, which brings me one step closer to Springsteen. (Asbury Park, by the way, is definitely worth a visit, even if you don’t worship at the shrine of Bruce.)

The last time I was on the Shore, I ended up on TV. This time I found some coffee. I’m brewing a cup of it in the French press this morning.

Stay tuned. 

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My One Day. 

I was supposed to have one full day this summer – one full day with no children. Four finally shipped off to camp yesterday and the baby (ok, she’s six) and I are headed out of town tomorrow afternoon. She was supposed to do her last full day of camp while I basked in the rare solitude of summer. One day. 

It’s been a pretty hands on summer so far. I’ve spent hours at the pool. Took an eleven year old to see Miss Saigon for her birthday (I may have forgotten that 2/3 of the play is set in a strip club brimming with hookers) and packed and unpacked the beach bag more times than I can remember. I have supervised the making of slime (what’s up with that shit anyway?) and made vats of pasta. As I may have mentioned, I’ve spent a lot of time gardening, but not much of it has been alone. In short, I’m a little on the tired side.  

I had plans for today, big plans. Plans that involved hours alone, including a long run and time at the keyboard. (I admit, we may not all celebrate in quite the same way.)

But the baby woke up in the middle of the night with a fever. She woke up in the middle of the night in my bed because that is where she went to sleep. She figured if it’s just the two of us, she may as well skip the middle man and jump into bed with me. Before she woke up, I slept alongside her, her toes wedged in between my ribs. 

So, my One Day has turned into this:

That long run never quite materialized (and frankly, I’m a little too tired to make the most of it) and while I’m getting time at the computer, I’m doing my fair share of mothering, which includes watching Barbie movies on an endless loop and making cups of tea. Say what you want about Barbie, but that girl can seriously do anything. In just one morning she has piloted a space ship, designed an entire fashion line with the help of some fairies, and turned into a mermaid while winning a surfing competition. I, on the other hand, have yet to get dressed.  

There’s always next year. 

Right? 

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Nice girls grow zucchini.

I can’t bake. I have horrible handwriting. I can do no sport which calls for hand-eye coordination or the use of a bat, racket, or paddle. I am, at best, a fair driver. Some would even say I am unsafe behind the wheel. 

But I just did this:

This zucchini is so big it borders on the obscene – I felt almost dirty picking it. (As I yanked the thing out of the ground, I heard myself whispering, really, I’m not that kind of girl…)

But pick it, I did. And tonight – we feast.  

All those other things that I’m bad at, all those many many things, the driving, the baking, the dancing (yup), heck, even the parenting… They can all suck it because I just went and grew part of dinner.

P.S. Fuck. I just burnt the chicken.

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Have Nest, Will Travel.

It’s comforting to know that there are some things married couples can fight about even when they are on the road.

One of these things is air conditioning. At home we have a Nest thermostat, and M. tells me that it actually has a mind of its own and sets the house to the temperature it thinks the house needs to be. But I refuse to believe that any computer believes our house needs to be the exact temperature of a meat freezer. The coldest spot is our bedroom, and the coldest spot in our bedroom happens to be on my side of the bed, most likely because the AC vents blow directly onto my pillow. (Also because I sleep next to the always open window, because M believes in sleeping in a room full of fresh air. Even with the air conditioner blasting.)

I once told him that Jimmy Carter said that in the interest of conservation, we should set our house to 74°. M wanted to know why I would cite Jimmy Carter when I was neither living in the US during his presidency, or politically aware at the time. I had no answer for him, but just thinking about Jimmy Carter right now makes me want to cry, so I’ll move on.

We are currently in a vacation rental. There is also a Nest here and hours into our visit the entire rental is the exact temperature of… you guessed it, a meat freezer. Naturally,  every time I pass the Nest I do this: Occasionally, just like at home, spite will often get the best of me and I will set it to 80°. But within seconds it has plunged back down again…

The other thing we can apparently fight about anywhere is towels. M. does not understand why I refuse to go a full week before laundering my bath towel. I tell him that I am happy to wear the same pair of jeans unwashed for two months, but if it were up to me, I would have a clean bath towel every single day.

Here we are in a cute little vacation cottage, and just like at home, I am doing laundry from sunup to sundown. Please do not get me started on the sand. 

If I am going to be doing round-the-clock laundry, and sweeping sand from crevices unknown, I get to have a clean towel. Every day. 

I’m sure that Jimmy Carter would agree.

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The Next Stop: Home Goods

Once you’ve packed what you think are the entire contents of your home, the second step of summer road tripping (if you survived the car ride), is the trip to Home Goods to buy the things you thought would be in your rented cottage, but aren’t: BEDDING.

Last night at 10.30 pm, when the kids were already a hot mess, we discovered that even know there was a quilt on every bed, there was nothing under the quilt. We made do with what we could find last night and huddled together for warmth, but this morning M. took the boys fishing and the girls and I headed to Home Goods. We thought about Walmart, but it was 20 miles away, and it’s Walmart.

And Walmart, while it has its uses, does not provide your children the opportunity of waiting in the mile-long checkout line and finding things like this to beg you to buy:What the hell would I even do with that?

Or this:DENIED.

Or, Dear Lord, this: Once they have declared you the meanest mother on earth, you shuffle to the checkout, pay and leave. You may not have two sets of press-on nails, but at least you’ll all be warmer tonight.

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