Category Archives: Uncategorized

Grinding… and the Corners of My Mind.

“It looks like you’re grinding your teeth at night,” said my dentist.

“I assure you,” I said, knowingly. “I am not sleeping long enough or soundly enough to do any grinding of any sort.”

“Anything on your mind?” He asked, ignoring me. I thought about unpacking the corners of my mind right then and there in the dentist’s office, but I have an entirely different doctor for that, so I sat back in the chair and got fitted for a night-guard.

As if being a forty-something retainer wearer wasn’t enough, I am now a forty-something retainer and night-guard wearer. I apparently must look too damn hot when I’m going to bed, because the forces of the universe are working to make me look less and less appealing at bedtime. Bring it on, people. Bring it on.

I asked M if I’m grinding my teeth. “No, but I do,” he said. “That’s why I wear that extra thick retainer.” My first thought: This man and I are MADE FOR EACH OTHER. My second thought: How did I not know that? I cannot imagine how I didn’t pick up on his nighttime teeth activities, what with a seven year old and a cat between us in bed. I made a note to be more attentive. I made another note to move the seven year old. The cat stays.

While at the orthodontist with the seven year old (palate expander) and the thirteen year old (Braces, round two. Jealous?), I learned that the thirteen year old may not have brushed his lower gums in about two years. The orthodontist suggested he have his teeth cleaned every three months while in braces, rather than every six months, which is all our insurance covers.

I looked at the thirteen year old. “Listen buddy,” I said. “I don’t have time for this shit. You can either fork out for the extra cleanings, or you can start brushing your lower mouth.”

“Does this mean I also have to start brushing in the morning?” He asked. He and I have gone back and forth on whether or not morning brushing is actually a thing.

“Yes,” I said. “It does.” He just shrugged and smiled at the bewildered orthodontist, who I could feel judging me.

It’s no wonder I’m grinding.

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Can you please take a picture of someone else and say it’s me? (Or, how to panic about your author photo)

The good news is I wrote a book. The bad news is the publisher wants a photo of me. 

I hate photos of me. I have always hated photos of me. I don’t mind looking in the mirror, but show me just about anything other than a photo of me. I think I had kids just to get out of the picture and behind the camera. In fact, I would rather go to the dentist while simultaneously having a flu shot AND a pap smear than have my picture taken.

Needless to say, I don’t have any pictures of me around the house that I’d want to use. We are not an official pictures type of family. The only recent professional photos we have are from the boys’ bar mitzvahs, and I learned a few things from those:

1) if you want to look good in a picture, keep your young, dewy, nubile children out of it; and

2) parents who spend their time worrying about what their kids will look like in the picture, will often end up looking like something the cat dragged in, peed on, then dragged back out again. 

Desperate, I reached out to some friends in the know and found a photographer to come to the house and take pictures of me. 

“Please tell me you are not coming alone,” I said to him. “I am going to need serious hair and makeup help.” The photographer offered to bring a hair and makeup person. 

“Also a trowel and a bucket of spackle,” I added. I think he thought I was kidding. 

Then I went online and Googled: How to take a good author picture. I gathered a few tips:

1. Avoid loud prints. Given that I have pretty much spent 30 years avoiding all prints of any kind, one point for me! 

2. Stick with navy, grey or black: DONE, DONE AND DONE.

How hard could this be? 

3. Think of your most natural setting. 

What now? 

My most natural setting? Did the photographer really want to climb in the minivan and snap a picture of me yelling over music I have not chosen, while holding trash for children who can not hold trash for a second longer than they have to? 

Or, did he want to come over at seven AM to find me in the kitchen, sleep mask shoved up in my hair, bra-less, clad head to toe in sweat-material,  feeding children who may or may not eat what I’ve made because the egg is not crispy enough, these pancakes taste different, and what did you put in this smoothie? 

I am thinking about a friend whose author picture is in front of a beautiful wallpapered wall. Being a white-wall person, I don’t have any pretty papered walls. Being a white wall person also means that none of my walls are white anymore – they’re more of a smudgy, shmutzy grey. 

Who wants to to see that? And how do I find a clutter free corner of my house? 

This is all too much. Maybe if I tell the photographer I am having a root canal and a pap smear tomorrow, he will give me more time. If that doesn’t work, I have decided to wear a navy mou-mou, stand in front of my vegetable garden and have my picture taken with the cats.

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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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Filed under coffee, NEW JERSEY, Road trip, travel, Uncategorized

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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