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By homey, I think he meant dark and outdated.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.


“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.


“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.


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!


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

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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