I’m pretty sure that every kid in the 80s wanted a rock polisher. I never got one, although I included it on my Christmas list until at least 1986. I wanted the rock polisher, although hadn’t ever seen one in real life — none of my friends’ parents ever got them one either and to this day I’m not sure why. My only guess is that they were not only expensive, but loud. Now that I’m a parent myself I understand that costly and noisy are prohibitive features when it comes to children’s toys.

The rock polisher though, that wasn’t a toy. You didn’t play with it, at least not as I understood it while flipping through the pages of the Sears Wishbook each fall. You took ordinary rocks of the sort that I found in the shoulders of the road, buried in flower beds, or in muddy creek beds and tossed them into the contraption, and shortly thereafter they’d come out looking like gemstones, which to elementary school me, was nothing short of a miracle, and I wanted in on that action.

I planned to play with the gemstones I hoped to create, to incorporate them into my rich fantasy world of princesses, dragons, unicorns, and pixies. The folklore and fairytales I loved were filled with talismans and amulets, enchanted stones, and jewels with the power to exalt their owners from humble mills to imperial palaces. I think I thought that one such pebble might be hiding in the gravel of our driveway and that a rock polisher could bring out its true magic.

Like I said, I never got the rock polisher, and by high school I’d given it up for something better: real magic rocks. Crystals to be exact.

I’ll start by blaming Shirley MacLaine for my intro to New Age spirituality via The Oprah Winfrey Show. My friend and I sat glued to the television set listening to the mom from Terms of Endearment tell us about her past lives and UFO sightings in the remote altitudes of the Peruvian Andes, and I was so riveted by the possibility that this stuff could be real that after the show, I immediately checked Out on a Limb out of my local library and devoured it cover to cover even though I was only ten years old and had no context whatsoever for what I was reading. It didn’t matter though. This was the proof I needed: Magic. Was. Real. It had to be. An Oscar-winning celebrity said so!

From there it was only a few short years before I, black clad and trying desperately to look mysterious, could be found regularly skulking about the occult section of Waldenbooks. I wanted to cast spells to make boys like me, and I mean, isn’t that why witchcraft was invented in the first place? To bend the chaos and unpredictability of nature to the whims of our hearts? Surely there was an incantation that could make me popular, pretty, smart enough to pass introductory algebra? (Looking back I probably could have at least started by not looking like Lydia from Beetlejuice and studying instead of mooning over crushes.)  Crystals gave me hope, though.

In the late-80s and early-90s all the cool kids wore little shards of wire-wrapped quartz on black silk or leather cords around our necks. The more the better, because our jewelry wasn’t just pretty. It had powers. My favorite necklace was rose quartz, because the pale pink stones were supposed to attract love, and isn’t that what I’ve always only ever longed for?

Unfortunately, I can’t say the rose quartz worked. The boys weren’t exactly beating down my door, and the ones whose attention I did manage to grab were probably far more attracted to the fact that at sixteen I was 5’6”, and 112 pounds with big boobs, than they were to my rose quartz. (Note: I no longer possess these enviable proportions — is there a stone that can bring back my adolescent figure? Selenite? Tourmaline? Diet Quartz?)

After the early 90s, after we stopped with the silk cord necklaces, it seems like the New Age craze died down somewhat, save for ya few wacky aunt types who moved to Sedona to channel spirit guides and bathe in energy vortexes. Also people in LA, but they’ve always been  glamorously weird anyway.

Now we’re all that weird. And honestly, how can we help it? The world has lost its ever loving mind. We live in terrifying, stressful times the likes of which none of us Gen Xers ever dared imagine. Back when I wore my rose quartz choker as an idealistic eighteen year old, I believed with all of my heart that racism, war, communism, fascism, homophobia, and oppression were relics of a terrible bygone era. I knew that my generation had come to build a new, fair, peaceful and just society where everyone could thrive and listen to awesome music like Sonic Youth and The Pixies. Maybe we took for granted that that future was guaranteed so we carried on and ate our veggie burgers and got MFAs thinking everything would be fine, and we just didn’ t do the work. Maybe we thought because we educated, middle and upper class mainly white kids were okay, that surely everyone else was too. Looking back, I seem to recall that the term “slacker” was coined for Generation X. We resented it at the time, but I think it may have fit. So now?

I don’t know what the fuck happened because thirty years later Donald Trump is our president and I’m listening to Ariana Grande telling someone to break up with their girlfriend so they can “hit it in the morning.” God help us. I actually mean that. God? You listening? Please help us.

On the bright side, we do have the camera phones we always imagined in our futures, but before I digress..

New Age spirituality has become mainstream. I get it. We are desperate. We need some goddamn hope around here and magic and faith has always, always offered us some hope. Maybe there is something else. Maybe everything does happen for a reason. Our world is screaming to be saved and we have fucked shit up so badly that it looks like our only way out is a deus ex machina, so motherfuckers, that deus better exist or we are royally screwed.

What I’m saying is that as a society we are very sick. We are anxious, depressed, terrified and insecure. Our terror manifests physically as chronic illnesses, and violence against ourselves and one another. We don’t know who to believe. We don’t know what’s real anymore. We are hurting one another deeply and half the time (or more) we don’t even realize we are doing it. We are being gaslit and ghosted. Everyone’s a fucking narcissist, including me. Our futures are no longer guaranteed, and by futures, I mean tonight. Tomorrow. Next week.

Give us whatever can help us feel better and fix things. Give us all the magic rocks.

Last year I finally had to make the difficult decision to quit working at the yoga studio I loved very dearly. My decision was based solely on the fact that my two real jobs as a teacher had become too demanding (in a good way) to continue working my third job at yoga. It was a tough decision and I still miss the yoga studio a lot, but unless I clone myself, I really can’t be and do everything I’d like. Sacrifices have to be made.

One of the things I loved about working in a yoga studio was that I was surrounded by people who were working on themselves and looking for alternative answers to problems in their lives and in our world that traditional wisdom hadn’t been able to solve. Working there, I got to talk to a lot of interesting people who were all, like me, truth seekers, and often they claimed to have found magic bullet cures for all sorts of ills: celery juice, essential oils, turmeric, breathing out of one nostril and not the other, which I still haven’t figured out, and of course crystals.

They carried crystals in pouches, set them beside their mats, and wore them strung all over their lithe, vegan, Keto bodies as colorful beaded bracelets and gorgeous tasseled malas. In our retail section we sold lots of crystal jewelry, made locally. Our malas were the most stunningly beautiful, handmade necklaces I have ever seen. Yes, I definitely have one and I love it. I fell for cystals, hook, line, and sinker, as they say.

Until only recently, I’m almost embarrassed to admit, I never even questioned it. Moonstone creates harmony? Cool. Turquoise will protect me? GIVE ME SOME. Rose quartz will strengthen my relationship? I need that. BRING IT ON. Amethyst will help me manifest and citrine will attract money? Hell yeah! Pile on the purple and yellow stones. If rocks can do all this, how about a wheelbarrow full of them? I needed all the help I could get.

But nothing changed. I was the exact same, fucked up hot mess I always was, only now I had a bunch of pretty stones and some lovely bracelets and necklaces (which is something, I suppose).

The hard truth of this is that crystals are just rocks that are prettier and shinier than other rocks. They don’t actually DO anything except sit there. Any meaning they have, and I hate to have to tell you this, we instill in them.

No one ever questions how crystals work. I mean, think about it. WHO decided that obsidian elevates your vibration or what that even means? Who figured out that aventurine will make you lucky or that clear quartz will help me attune to my higher self, clarify my thoughts, or ward off negativity? Seriously! WHO? And why did we accept these statements as fact, without question?

The obvious answer is that we accept these arbitrary declarations because they sound great and we want to believe them.

Can we talk about celery juice for a minute? Last year all of a sudden everyone was juicing fucking celery and chugging it like it was beer at a frat party. It was THE thing to do on Instagram. Oh look at me in my Insta-story ramming these nasty-assed celery stalks into my five hundred dollar juicer because I AM HEALTHIER AND THEREFORE CARE ABOUT MYSELF MORE WHICH MAKES ME BETTER THAN YOUR SORRY ASS.

It was so gross. I hate celery. When I cooked professionally I once worked with a chef who so despised celery that he literally banned it from his restaurant because it ruined everything and I agree with him.

But no one else I knew did. Because OMG celery juice could cure everything from rashes to infertility to ulcers to probably freaking testicular cancer, I don’t know, and I’m sure I heard from more than one person that celery juice would absolutely make you skinny, which is usually why anyone does anything these days. Celery juice, celery juice.

And nobody questioned any of these miraculous health claims. Do you know where the celery juice craze originated? A medical study? A team of doctors at Johns Hopkins? Nutritional science? No. None of that.

The fad was started by a guy who calls himself “The Medical Medium” and he has a very long disclaimer on his website so no one sues him for making bogus medical claims. A medium is a person who claims to communicate with spirits, okay? Spirits allegedly told this dude that we all need to be drinking celery juice. Spirits. Ghosts.

Have y’all never watched a horror movie? You should know better than to trust anything a goddamn ghost tells you. They’re trying to lure us to our own deaths so we can be like them. For real. Plot of every scary movie. Ghosts are trying to kill us so please don’t take nutritional advice from them.

I’m kidding of course because GHOSTS AREN’T REAL. And you shouldn’t blindly accept it as fact if someone tells you a spirit told them that you oughta be drinking celery juice every day to fix all your woes and then immediately go out and buy out all the organic celery in the Whole Foods produce section. Do you realize how crazy this sounds? Please stop and think about this for a second. It is fucking insane.

The exact same logic applies to crystals. There is exactly zero evidence as to their effectiveness. Any power we attribute to them is pure faith. FAITH and nothing else.

Does that mean we all need to toss our crystals into the sea? No.

I actually think that crystals are kind of nice and can still be very useful healing tools. In fact, I think if you, like me, enjoy crystals then you should go get some more.

But I’m going to repeat once more. Crystals are not magic.

Crystals are not a fast pass to healing, allowing you to bypass the line of doing the hard work on yourself that will actually manifest the better life you desire.

Here’s an example.

A few months ago, a single friend of mine got sick of dating guys who were a bunch of selfish, lying pricks.

“I need to get some lapis because my tarot card reader told me that lapis will protect me from narcissists,” she said.

I immediately pictured her on a date with an asshole. I imagined her pulling out her blue stone and it withering the man on the spot much like kryptonite’s effect on Superman. I think we know that’s not going to happen.

But think of it differently. The lapis can have the placebo like effect of boosting her confidence and nothing repels abusive men faster than a confident woman.

Crystals can be powerful tools for mindfulness. They can serve as visual reminders of things we need to work on, strive for, and in this case, be wary of.

If I put a crystal on my desk to help me focus when I’m writing, seeing the crystal there in front of me will help me remember not to get distracted. It’s not that the crystal has special powers. It’s that it’s a cue.

One of my malas was supposed to bring me physical health. I felt better when I wore it because feeling it around my neck and seeing it on my body helped me be more aware of making healthier choices. But ultimately I was the one making the healthier choices – not the beads in the mala. I was the one doing the work. The stones helped me remember I needed to stop eating Reese’s Cups and have a salad instead.

Another benefit of crystals that I don’t want to discount is their beauty. It never hurts to surround ourselves with as much natural beauty as possible. Raw and polished stones are lovely to behold. They glitter and glint and it feels good to see the way they refract light. There is nothing wrong with this and everything right about it. And there is lots of actual scientific evidence that says that beauty is healing and so is nature, and rocks are nature. Have as many pretty sparkly things on you and near you as you like. Go for it.

Remember that rock polisher? Well, I think we’re a lot like those ugly rocks ourselves. We are raw and full of jagged edges. We are flawed and muddy, and we seek a million different ways of transforming ourselves. We want to be polished and purified, and on our journeys we might try a lot of quick fixes and weird remedies to help speed up the process. But ultimately, the hard work we need to do on ourselves, like therapy, medication, exercise, eating healthier, learning to be mindful and introspective and to take responsibility for our own bullshit, is what will make us shine, and sometimes it takes a long time noisily tumbling around, over and over until we get it right.


*** And before I go, I’d like to include an important caveat here about crystals. As I said before, a lot of us want to believe in the fairytale of magic rocks, and we want to be surrounded by nice things, but it is very important to also consider where these things come from, what it takes to get them here, and who suffers as a result. If you knew the toll of mining rose quartz, you might think very differently about how much love energy is actually in it. Please read this article in The Guardian which goes more into depth on the dark side of the crystal craze.

Wax Off

If I did one of those genetic tests to find out my heritage my results would like come back looking something like this:

43% French Canadian

27% Irish

30% Sasquatch

My feet aren’t big. It’s not that. I wish.

Instead, I am covered in hair. Since entering puberty around twelve years old, I have been covered head to toe in excess body hair. Or at least what society tells us is excess bodily hair for a woman. The upside to this is that I have a head full of thick, wavy, glossy black locks. I also have full eyebrows that I’ve never had to fill in with powders or pencils or sharpie markers, which is what it looks like all the ladies are using now instead.

I mean, come on, I think we need to take it down a notch with the eyebrows. We’ve crossed a line. I saw someone comment on Facebook recently that every young girl she knows has eyebrows like a male Muppet, and now that’s all I can see. Muppet eyebrows. I have them naturally, lucky me.

I also have fantastically lush eyelashes, or at least I thought I did. This used to be my thing. I may be a curvy girl over here but the one thing I had over everyone else was my Disney Princess eyelashes. No longer. They have upped the ante on me. My eyelashes are now considered sparse and puny, because all of a sudden everyone and her stepmom and her two year old daughter has eyelash extensions. Back in the 80s when I was growing up, Tammy Faye Bakker was the butt of many jokes for her ridiculous mascara, but in 2019 everyone looks like that. People now are like “Oh, Tammy Faye. Her look is so understated and elegant. She’s so natural.”

Who would’ve guessed that a tacky televangelist was so far ahead of her time when it came to beauty and fashion?  My God, we are truly living the Book of Revelations.

I looked into getting my eyelashes done, I confess, but it’s expensive and requires an absurd amount of upkeep and frankly, I am sick of having conversations with every woman I know while dodging shedding bits of eye enhancements. Those things fall out and fly everywhere and when I’m talking to a friend who has them it’s all I can think about. They’re so distracting. It’s like watching two enormous spiders engaged in a synchronized dance routine on someone’s face. I don’t need to do this to myself. I am petrified of spiders.

There was a time when I would have. I used to tend impeccably to my personal grooming, making sure no one knew the dirty secret that I was a hirsute mess, but sometime after I hit forty I forgot to care so much. Who do I have to be attractive for anyway? What is the point? I figure I have better things to do with my money — such as pay bills and feed my child. Most of the time, at this age I feel like I’m invisible anyway. It’s like I could walk around in a gorilla suit and no one would even notice.

In fact, I do walk around in a gorilla suit. I grew it myself. But apparently, I didn’t realize how bad it really was. It’s hard to explain. It’s like I know I’m hairy, but what once used to be a source of shame and despair is now like, whatever, almost like a form of denial I’ve acquired in middle age.

This week I had an important professional obligation which required me to be dress up and be seen by thousands, maybe millions of people. Don’t ask because I had to sign an NDA. Just know that it’s a job and I can’t show up looking like I just got done milking my free range herd of goats on a hemp commune in the Everglades.

I’m exaggerating. I don’t look quite that bad. Mostly I just look like an introverted, slightly overweight nerd in her forties who works in a giant library and prioritizes her motherly duties over being hot.

I gave up on hotness ages ago when I realized that in order to actually achieve hotness, unless you are a supernaturally blessed nineteen year old, you just need to be filthy rich. What we perceive as beauty is the result of having a lot of money and privilege, but that’s a subject for another day. Right now we’re talking about how I have to do this thing that needs me to look like personal hygiene is a part of my life and I suddenly looked in the mirror and realized that I had gone way far off the pretty grid. I was so far off track it was like I’d gotten lost in the beauty Bermuda Triangle.

Here is my full routine on most days – I take a shower.

Here is my routine on special occasions – I take a shower and put on the makeup from my Ipsy bag subscription.

Here is my routine the rest of the time – my tee shirt is mostly clean.

At least I can brag that I’m low maintenance.

But I was a little hairy, I thought. I needed an eyebrow and lip wax, lest I look like Frida Kahlo, so I went to the wax place.

I don’t know what these places are called. Depilatory salons? Hair Removal Stations? Torture Chambers where strangers pour hot wax on your tender skin and rip it off mercilessly? I don’t know. I call it the waxing place. Down here in South Florida they’re everywhere because people here are completely phobic of bodily hair, which makes sense because it’s hot and we wear less clothing than in other parts of the country. Waxing, threading, electrolysis, permanent laser eradication of every follicle on the human body – it’s common. Even the men here wax, which, by the way, I cannot stand. It creeps me out when men wax their chest hair and the ones who shave their legs are even worse.

And no one in Florida has pubic hair. I remember once I saw a woman get out of the shower at yoga with a full bush and I almost fainted. I hadn’t seen a woman with any hair at all down there in 20 years. It was jarring, and when you think about it, isn’t that kind of sad that seeing a woman in her natural state would look odd and shocking?

But I didn’t go to the wax place for a Brazilian, which I made very clear. I went because I intended to shape up my eyebrows and to make sure I didn’t have a few stray hairs on my upper lip. Simple, right?


The first thing I learned was that I have not had an eyebrow or a lip wax since 2005, which is when I got married so that makes total sense. The wax place has been around for fifteen years and apparently keeps excellent records. I was almost as shocked that I was still in their system after fourteen years as I was seeing that woman with untamed pubic hair.

Apparently, fourteen years ago a savvy sales lady talked me into buying a package of lip and eyebrow waxes. This was when I had a great job at the country club and had no children, so I could still splurge on stuff like this. I can also guarantee you this was during one of my “I am going to start being more polished and finally take care of my appearance on a consistent basis” phases. I bet I had every intention of going monthly. I’m sure I went once, for my wedding, and then never went again, because the current receptionist informed me that I still had like four wax sessions left. After a fourteen year absence! Big ups to the wax place for STILL HONORING MY 14 YEAR OLD PACKAGE. That’s great business practice right there. For reals.

Things were a lot different in 2005. When we went out we wore jeans and nice shirt (I mean, I still do, but apparently this isn’t a thing anymore.) In 2005 gauchos and ponchos were very much in style. Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. We were all scared of getting Bird Flu. I still had a pink flip phone.

A lot has happened in the past fourteen years. Smartphones, social media, the opioid crisis. We finally got sick of reality TV. Paris Hilton has faded into obscurity. OJ is out of jail. We elected our first black president and then turned around and elected Donald Trump. So many of our heroes have gone – either passed away too soon or been exposed as rapists and predators. We worry about too much screen time and if we’re “woke” enough. Everyone is practically guzzling coconut oil. Print media barely exists. I could go on and on. My point is, a lot of big, crazy, unimaginable things have happened in the past fourteen years, and through it all, I have been growing hair like a god damned chia pet, and the wax place never forgot me.

I would be willing to bet you that 90% of my ex-lovers don’t even remember my name, yet the wax place held out hope, after all these years (14 of them!) that one day I would come back to claim those remaining lip and eyebrow waxes. That is some loyalty right there. I was a little misty-eyed just thinking about it. But this is where the romance ended.

My aesthetician was, umm, no-nonsense. That is the polite way of saying this woman was freaking metal. I could see her as the leader of some kind of resistance army on The Handmaid’s Tale. I think you have to be like that to rip wax off naked people all day long and look at literally hundreds of wooly crotches. You have to be a special person because if a man I’d never met before asked me to wax his balls there’s no way. No way could I do that with any semblance of professionalism and maturity. I’d be a combination of hysterically amused and utterly grossed out the whole time.

She had me lie down on a table and took one look at me and said “Oh.” And in that one tiny syllable, she really said so very much.

I think that “Oh” translated to “You have more hair on your face than a fucking cat.”

“I know you just said you wanted a lip and eyebrow wax, but I’d be glad to take care of the rest of this for you,” she said cheerfully. She really was lovely and kind.

I didn’t really know what she was talking about, to be honest, so I mumbled something like “Yeah, ok, do what you gotta do.” I mean, how bad could it be?

Narrator that sounds like Ron Howard: It was very bad.

She shined a light on me and made noises of grave concern.

“You have some nose hairs. Should I take care of them?”

“Yes! Absolutely. I don’t want hair on my nose,” I said.

I had hairs on my nose? Oh my god. Why had no one told me?

But I had it all wrong. All wrong. The hairs were IN my nose.

The aesthetician stuck a popsicle stick of hot wax UP MY NOSTRIL and proceeded to fill my entire nose hole with wax, and before it hardened she shoved a tissue wrapped cotton swab up there too.

“Wait, WHAT??” I protested, “I thought you meant I had hairs ON my nose. Not IN it!”

She laughed.

That’s how I learned that people are now waxing out their nose hairs. All of them.

“Oh, it doesn’t hurt,” she said and then proceeded to yank the stick of the cotton swab out of my nostril, thus ripping out all of the tissue and hardened wax and literally every one of my nose hairs in one fell swoop. I almost passed out. While it didn’t hurt as badly as one might imagine, it wasn’t without sensation.

“But I need my cilia,” I whispered, weakly.

Then she did the other side, but since I was more prepared for it, it actually hurt more.

After that she slathered wax all over, and I mean totally covering my chin. My chin, friends. I have hair growing on my chin. I have a full goatee and didn’t even know it.

In retrospect, I guess I should have known it because I’ve recently come to accept the fact that I’ve reached the age where I can no longer pick the hell out of my face in the bathroom mirror before bed without wearing glasses. Without glasses my complexion is flawless. I look like an Instagram filter. With glasses my face looks like an organic tangerine that’s been in a kid’s lunchbox for a week. See, this is what denial will do to you. You can grow a beard to rival the ones on every hipster dude at the craft beer garden, and never even see it.

I’d also like to call out all of my friends who were being too polite to tell me. Friends, stop being polite. Please tell me when I look like a Billy Goat Gruff.

Then the aesthetician began drawing on my eyebrows. I appreciated this because she proved to me that precision was important, but what I wasn’t expecting was when she pointed out to me that my eyebrows are asymmetrical. Well of course they are. Doesn’t it just figure? Did I want her to fix that? OF COURSE. Jeez, I can’t be walking around with naked nostrils and still have unmatching brows.

This is when I began to feel dreadfully about myself. Self-hatred is my default, but this was next-level.  My favorite leisure activity is finding flaws on myself, and somehow I had actually missed some?? I’d committed the ultimate crime of a woman in 2019 – I’d become overly confident and missed some of my physical faults.

Sheesh, just thinking you’re fat is so amateurish. You should also be noticing when your eyebrows are different.

Well, they’re the same now, because the wax lady fixed them. So there’s that.

At one point I thought she was going to make me get up off the table and jump into a huge vat of wax the size of an above ground pool, encasing my entire body in the stuff, because that seemed like it would be more efficient, and about what I needed.

How am I so hairy?

More important, the question I found myself really asking is, why does this matter so much? Why do we do this to ourselves? Who decided this was beautiful and that was ugly? At what point did we as a society decide that hairs inside our noses that no one can even see are no longer acceptable because God forbid the hairs might stick out, or as someone else explained to me, get boogers stuck in them. We are shoving wax up our noses, paying someone to do this mind you, because we are petrified that we might have a few bats stuck in the cave and someone might notice and judge us. Why this desperate, all-encompassing need to turn ourselves into plastic dolls?

My face is smooth as marble now. I am free of all unwanted (and heretofore unnoticed) hair, and you know what? As of today, zero miracles have occurred. I don’t feel suddenly beautiful, or fixed, or glamorous or anything. If I’m being 100% honest, the situation is worse because all of that waxing made my face break out, and that doesn’t happen to me. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful to be rid of a mustache, and I’m thrilled my eyebrows now look the same, although I still don’t see a difference. I look good for the job I need to look good for, but I don’t see myself maintaining this level of…baldness forever. It’s a lot of work and I prefer to focus on other things besides how I look all the time.

The good news is I still have three or four more wax sessions left on my package, so maybe there’s hope, but at the rate I’ve been going, that should last me well into my 80s. I guess I didn’t realize back in 2005 that I was buying a lifetime supply.

Summer Break in the 70s Vs. Today

Photo Credit: Someone in My Family, Summer 1976

Photo Credit: Someone in My Family, Summer 1976

Summer Break in the 70s

1.      On the last day of school watch as the kids tumble out of the big yellow school bus at the end of the street. Wave to them from the screen door while you savor your Virginia Slim. Immediately every kid in the neighborhood runs to the neighborhood empty lot where they will do who knows what until the sun sets. In the meantime you will slather yourself in iodine and baby oil, lay out on your vinyl chaise lounge and enjoy the latest Sidney Sheldon novel.


2.      When the sun goes down and the street lights flicker on, go outside and yell for the kids. They return filthy and covered in scratches, bug bites, and mud. Hose them down, hand them the bottle of Absorbine Jr., bring them in and feed them some Hamburger Helper. Later on let them make some Jiffy Pop to eat while they watch Fantasy Island. They can’t get enough of Tattoo.


3.      The next morning, after they down a few bowls of Life Cereal, send them back outside. They will spend the morning playing stick ball, building forts, fighting over whose turn it is on the old tire swing over the creek, and catching tadpoles in the muddy water. If they get into a spat, they’ll work it out, because they know if they don’t they’ll have to come home and pull weeds. If they get thirsty there’s the hose. Lunch is at noon – tuna fish or lunchmeat on white bread, Fritos, cherry Kool-Aid, double stick Popsicles for dessert, butf you’re feeling generous you can give them quarters for the ice cream truck instead.


4.      While the kids play for the rest of the day bake a pineapple upside down cake for Barbara’s Amway party.


5.      Repeat the next day, and the next until Labor Day.


6.      On special occasions, visit the community pool where the kids will splash and dive and play Marco Polo and have Chicken Fights for seven straight hours until they are burnt to a crisp and their goggle-less eyes are red and swollen shut from chlorine. They will spend several weeks after this peeling the dead skin from one another’s backs seeing who can pull off the largest piece.


7.      A few times a month, throw them all in the back of the station wagon, grab a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken and haul everyone to the beach.


8.      Have a big, July 4th family reunion BBQ with plenty of hot dogs and macaroni salad. Play horseshoes in the backyard and set off some illegal fireworks when it gets dark.


Summer Break 2019

1.      Pick the kids up from school on the last day. Celebrate. For two glorious months you get a reprieve from the honking horns, and the parents who don’t know when to move forward because they won’t look up from their phones. When the kids finally get in the car, they are celebrating that there will be no more lockdown drills for the next eight weeks.


2.      Announce that your kids are going to have a 1970s summer this year. They deserve a break from the overscheduling, technology, and whatever else it is that people are saying is so bad about kids’ childhoods now. They should get to have the experiences you had as a child. We’re going old school! That means their imaginations will be nurtured by boredom and you won’t have to entertain them 24/7.


3.      Realize that you are in fact going to have to entertain them 24/7 because the overwhelming pressure and Mom guilt is unbearable and all of your children’s friends parents are humblebragging online about circus camp, vegan cooking camp, yoga surf camp, rockstar ice-skating camp and space camp. You feel inadequate. Constantly.


4.      First, try to introduce your kids to 70s TV. Schedule a Botox appointment when you realize that all the vintage shows available on streaming are now from…the 90s. The 90s was 30 years ago, not the 70s.


5.      During Arts and Crafts time, hopelessly entangle yourself in a retro macramé plant hanger. Watch a YouTube video to figure out how to do this. Still don’t figure out how to do this. Attempt latch hook and give up because who on earth needs an orange shag rug with wild mustangs on it to hang on the wall? Maybe it would look okay if we still had brown wood paneling, but it totally clashes with the sea salt grey shiplap.


6.      Children should play with each other in the summers! Look for the neighborhood kids but they’re all gone to camp or far away, fancy summer homes, so no one is around. The cul-de-sac looks like a ghost town. Dude, they could film Westworld out there it’s so desolate.


7.      Send the kids out into the yard. 15 minutes later explain to the nice policeman at your door that although your neighbor said the youngsters were unsupervised, you were in fact watching them from the window the entire time. Yes sir, you’re sorry, and you won’t let it happen again.


8.      Go online and look up the sex offender registry to see if people’s fears are overblown. There are 37 pedophiles in your development alone. The children are never going outside alone again. Ever.


9.      Throw a party with snacks from your childhood, but there are no Planters cheese balls anymore, no pudding in a can, no Hi-C or Hawaiian Punch in a can. There is nothing in a can, not to mention Jell-o pudding pops are extinct, never to be resurrected like the Jurassic Park of junk food because Bill Cosby is a rapist and he and his stupid, frozen pudding on a stick have been canceled for all eternity.


10.   Make some Kool-aid, but omg the amount of sugar in this is a serious concern. Your toddler is now terrified that the Kool Aid man is going to come crashing through your kitchen no matter how many times you explain the open floor plan to him. Make Tang Tea instead. It as good as your remember, but this is going to cost you at least two hours on the Peloton.


11.  Impulsively purchase those freezer pops that look like colored water in a long tube of plastic that come in a weird net bag, and present to children who demand to know what flavor these things even are. “Well, honey we have blue, green, purple, and cancer.”


12.  Burn the Jiffy Pop, but who cares. It was GMO.


13.  Make the children fried bologna on Wonder Bread. Your offspring turn their noses up and request “crusty bread with the good olive oil, please,” because your children have apparently turned into the Barefoot Contessa now.


14.  Plan lively, interactive outdoor adventures. Take the family to play in the stream and woods you once played in. When you arrive you realize that forest is now a lifestyle center with a pole fitness studio and a kava bar, but there is a float therapy center, so hey kids, do you want to suspend yourself naked in a dark pod of salt water and meditate for an hour? Or would that be too freaky?


15.  Go home and play in your childproofed, zero-scaped, Astroturf backyard. Encourage them to drink out of the garden hose for old time’s sake, but then notice the package it came in clearly states NOT SAFE FOR DRINKING. The hose is made of vinyl and BPA and maybe this is why Heather and Jen both had polyps removed from their colons at 42? They were champion hose drinkers back in the day, but then again, their moms also let them have Tab, so maybe the saccharin did it.


16.  Miraculously find a woodsy creek to play in and instantaneously remember every single news story you have ever heard about brain-eating amoebas and chronic Lyme disease until you have an anxiety attack and need to sit in the car and do deep breathing exercises. Maybe call your Life Coach about this.


17.  Agonize over sunscreen, the ultimate Catch-22 of Summer. No sunscreen = sunburn and melanoma. Sunscreen = that article everyone just shared on Facebook about chemicals from sunscreen seeping into your bloodstream = some other kind of excruciating death that was unclear from the article but it was bad. Make a pros and cons list. Remember your own childhood without sunscreen. Also remember that literally every woman you know has had precancerous growths burnt off of her body by dermatologists in the past year. Is that the kind of future you want for your children? IS IT?


18.  Attempt to plan a summer BBQ. Look up food-sensitivity friendly Farmhouse menus on Pinterest. Go to Homegoods and purchase $400.00 worth of rustic decorations, and as many string lights as you can find before all of your friends text you that they can’t come because they are just SO BUSY this summer. SO FREAKING BUSY.


19.  Maybe go to the movies instead? Yay, AC and summer blockbusters! The only things playing that are not in some way problematic socially, politically and culturally are the fourth installments of the third reboots of super-hero franchises you have never heard of, and live-action remakes of all the animated films your kids have already watched a hundred times on their iPads. Actually, those are problematic too. Go anyway, and remember all the great filmmaking of the70s, 80s and 90s with sad resignation as tremendous CGI explosions rock the theater’s ultra-plush reclining loveseats.


20.  Pay almost $100.00 for 4 tickets, popcorn and 1 soda to share. Before you sit down, scan the theater for all exits. Create an escape plan in your mind to get everyone out quickly in case someone starts shooting.


21.  Take the children to the diner you loved as a child. It is now a hipster, fusion, taco/sushi, food truck inspired BBQ joint with avocado toast. Before you can order, your server tells you all about HIS food intolerances. Your son and daughter’s milkshake arrives topped with a king-sized Snickers, three pink cupcakes, an entire key lime pie, a Mason jar of chia pudding and a chalkboard with an inspirational message: “Just Breathe.” Everyone takes a selfie with it.


22.  Try an unscheduled day. Encourage boredom. Go insane in an hour. Boredom is definitely 100% not encouraging and there’s nothing new to post on your socials. Meanwhile your childhood best friend just went live with a video of her children sketching the masterpieces at the Louvre while her husband surprises her with a bouquet of peonies from a Parisian street florist. She is really skinny. How is she eating that croissant? Oh, she just said it’s gluten-free. In French.


23.   Begin researching sleepaway camps. They cost three times your yearly salary, but that Charlie Brown movie where they go to camp and go river-rafting and there is somehow not a single responsible adult is in charge is streaming free on Netflix. Make the kids watch it. Then they can watch a marathon of “Bunked.” Next best thing to six weeks in the Maine woods, right?


24.  Tie dye some tee shirts. No one has any desire to actually wear a tie dyed tee shirt out in public.


25.  In a fit of nostalgia, remember those lightweight, metal lawn chairs with the woven plastic upholstery. They’d burn your butt and make weird designs all over your thighs, but those things were the best. They were dirt cheap at the old Dollar General on Main Street. Find retro lawn chairs online. They are now $70.00 apiece.


26.  Play miniature golf! Remember the feel of AstroTurf under your Keds? The salt air, the smell of the boardwalk? Getting the ball in the hippo’s mouth for a free game? Yeah, that’s all gone now.  Put-put’s now at a giant indoor metroplex, blaring top 40, under a black light with glow-in-the-dark monsters and lasers that give you a migraine.


27.  Your son has just informed you that technically catching fireflies is cruelty to animals and is condemned by PETA.


28.  Summer reading is important! Okay so maybe you don’t want anything to do with that massive dossier your teacher sent home on the last day, but how about Lois Lowry, Judy Blume, Paul Zindel, Anne McCaffrey, Madeleine L’Engle, Lois Duncan, Katherine Paterson, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor?  No? Not even an Audiobook? The world building and storytelling elements of Red Dead Redemption are more compelling? You’re not going to get into a good college without higher reading scores in fourth grade. Excuse me, no I cannot just bribe someone to let you into Stanford on a Synchronized Swimming scholarship.


29.  Realize your summer looks much better in your Insta-Stories than in real life.


30.  How many days ‘til school starts again?

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Mother's Day Can Be Hard - And Here is My Wish For The Struggling.

On Mother’s Day, we celebrate our first human connection, the sacred bond between mother and child. We’ll see ads and social media posts everywhere this weekend. Some friends will share old photos of their moms, while others will write tributes to their mothers. The people we know who are moms themselves will post pictures of roses and eggs Benedict, and presents, some quite lavish, bestowed on them by an appreciative nuclear family that looks like something from a 1950s sitcom. There will be posts from husbands tagging their wives, announcing their reverence for the hard work the women in their lives do every day.

But what if none of these pictures and posts look anything like you or your life, your relationship with your family, or your own mother? What if it feels like Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate everything you aren’t, or don’t have, or can’t have? Some may ask “why isn’t that me or my life?”

The vast majority of us don’t look anything like the images we see. Those pictures are an illusion. They are carefully curated advertisements, or they’re filtered snapshots of lives that don’t tell the whole story. Our lives are much more complicated and nuanced, and when that’s the case, Mother’s Day can be particularly triggering and sharp-edged. It can be very tough on a lot of people for a variety of reasons - be it their relationship with their own mothers, or their roles as mothers themselves.

There are so many out there who will not be having a “perfect” day and who will not be tagged in gushing statuses, who will not get jewelry, or bouquets, or days at the spa, and I keep thinking about them.

I see you and you are not alone. Let me tell you something. This isn’t a day to slump on a lonely periphery of exclusion or victimhood. This isn’t a day to hide in shame, regret, could haves, or should haves. You don’t have to sit this one out, hoping next year something will have changed. This is your day too.

I want to say Happy Mother's Day to the people who lost children, can't have children, don't even want any children, had their children taken away. This is for every failed IVF treatment, every fallen through adoption, every unviable or terminated pregnancy.

I even want to wish the moms of dogs and cats and ferrets and chickens a Happy Mother's Day. I know you get left out a lot, and the love you give to babies with fur and four legs or feathers or scales is valid and real.

I send my love to every single one of you who has a complicated, non-brunchable sort of relationship with your own mom. This is for those of you whose mothers were a mess, whose moms were and still are a pain, for the motherless, the sons and daughters of the mothers who couldn't get it together, or who couldn't be Carol Brady or Maggie Seaver for you growing up because they struggled with addiction or could never get a grip on their mental health.

My Mother's Day wishes go out to everyone who is sad and feels alone, everyone who is burdened by guilt, or feels inadequate, to the sisters swimming through grief and loss of anything or anyone. This is for the sons and daughters with the wicked stepmoms, the children of narcissists and zealots or mothers who were so brainwashed by their ideologies that they simply could not accept the beauty of the child they made exactly the way they are.

And how agonizing is this day on those who have lost their mothers? Let us hold space for you on Mother’s Day too. My wish for you is that this will not be a day to dwell in the pain of the past, in the hurtful moments, and the vacuum of loss. May you find comfort, support and peace.

This is also for the ones who deal with Baby Mama Drama, the single moms, the ones who get no help, no cards, no lilies in a vase, the ones whose low down, no good men are in jail for domestic violence. This is for the cheated on, the ghosted, the left behind, broken-hearted ones, the girls who said “I’m pregnant” only to have him turn his back forever. This is for the mothers who needed restraining orders, and for the side-pieces waiting by the phone. Happy Mother’s Day to the mothers who are incarcerated and can’t be with their children. To every mother who has received nothing but judgment, you are doing your best and it’s your day too.

The world may tell you that you aren’t a mother, that you can’t be a mother, that you don’t fit their definition of what a mother is, does, or looks like. This day is for all of you. Not everyone is against you. We raise you up too. Aunts, foster mothers, adopted mothers, bio moms, grandmothers who raised their grandbabies, older siblings who raised younger siblings because they had no choice, mothers who made the hardest choices and did what they thought was best. All bearers of nurturing motherly love, regardless of sex or gender, I praise you.

Listen to me. I got you. You are the strong ones. You are survivors who are part of a proud kinship of bravery, and Mother’s Day is your day too. Mother’s Day isn’t just for people who fit into a certain, tiny, and terribly specific mold. Those people are very few and far between. Your struggle forges your character and that doesn’t usually show up in a nicely filtered Instagram picture. You are real life, Mama. I commend you.

Mother’s Day can be hard because the relationships we have with our mothers are intricate, layered, and multi-faceted. The way we define motherhood is often too narrow and unintentionally hurts those who fall outside of that definition. Our expectations of what the mother/child bond should be set us up for sadness and a perception of lack. If you aren’t perfect, if you don’t live up to some arbitrary standard, if things didn’t always go as planned or expected when it came to mothering or being mothered, make a choice to accept yourself and your connection to the mother energy of the universe. You may not get a gift or a card. You might not get to be with your mother. You may not receive the acceptance and forgiveness that you should, but honor yourself no matter what, because we are all worthy. Mother’s Day is for you too.

You Can't Do That...In My House - My Daughter's Obsession with Slime.

I was a kid of the 80s. That meant I desperately longed for things like a plastic charm necklace, a clear phone with my very own landline, Z Cavariccis, and a TV in my room so I could watch my favorite show “You Can’t Do That on Television.” I thought it was hilarious when the stars of the show got “slimed.” If they said “I don’t know,” they got a bucket of bright green, lumpy, liquid dumped on their heads. It was total, pre-adolescent gross-out humor, and I absolutely loved it.

Fast forward thirty years, and my, how things have changed.

The popularity of “You Can’t Do That on Television’s” slime oozed over to other shows, like “Double Dare,” and three entire decades later, slime lives on. It’s made appearances on countless other kids’ shows since I was in sixth grade, and is currently an integral part of the Kids Choice Awards, and you know what? I’m fine with slime on celebrities’ heads. I can deal with slime geysers, and slime canals, but you know what I can’t handle?

Slime in my living room.

At some point in the past few years, slime made the transition from silly television special effect to something that is now a part of our real lives – like every single day, in my actual house. Luckily I’m not getting buckets of the stuff poured on my head, not yet anyway, but I may as well be.

I am the mother of a second grade girl, and she is obsessed with slime. Actually, I feel like obsessed is an understatement. Do we have a stronger word? Because that’s how my child feels about slime.

It began innocently enough. She made it at a friend’s house, and was instantly transfixed, which makes sense. It’s way cool to see a real chemical reaction happen right in front of your eyes when you mix regular old school glue with baking soda and water and it turns into what is best described as a massive glob of malleable snot. Apparently it has something to do with molecules and polymers, and is educational. The first time I saw it, I was like “whoa, that is pretty neat,” but after the 789th time, slime has more than lost its appeal with me.

My daughter, however, is still going strong. She has used all of my plastic storage containers. On more than one occasion she has raided our bathroom for her dad’s contact solution (he’s more patient than I am about this stuff), and we’re going through plastic baggies at the rate of successful drug dealers. If you come to my house for dinner and my gravy’s runny, don’t even ask me where all my corn starch went. My daughter makes a special slime out of it that she says is called “ooblek.” We also have flubber, mermaid slime, and of course unicorn slime.

I knew we had a serious problem when she asked Santa for a box of Borax, and her favorite birthday gift was a gallon of white glue. Back in my day, the biggest thrill we got out of a bottle of Elmer’s was spreading it on our palms, letting it dry, and then peeling it off, pretending it was skin. When I showed my daughter that trick, she rolled her eyes, and asked if we had any food coloring to add to her latest batch of gak.

Jars of multicolored slime line my laundry room shelves. My child is apparently a slime hoarder, and on top of that she’s like some kind of bizarre aficionado of gloop. She makes scented slimes with essential oils, and fluffy slime out of shaving cream that she buys with the money the Tooth Fairy gave her, because I refuse to enable her addiction any more than I already do. We have one anthropomorphized jar of pink slime with two expertly placed googly eyes. Its name is Maria. She is now a member of our family, and every time I try to throw her away those googly eyes look at me sadly, and out of pity I let her live on. I had to draw the line at glitter slime, though.

Our home already looks like a scene from the 1958 schlock, sci-fi/horror flick The Blob. I don’t need it to sparkle too.

I’ve become an expert at scrubbing slime from carpet, upholstery and that super cute outfit I just spent my last Old Navy cash on and which my kid has only worn once. Here’s the secret: soak all fabric in vinegar until the slime liquefies and then scrape and rinse it away. Apparently this is another interesting chemical reaction, but I’ve long since given up caring about the science behind slime. I just want this fad to be over before my daughter gets any more slime in her hair. Would you like to know how to get that out? Patience, a fine comb, and a lot of coconut oil. The Internet also recommends clarifying shampoo, and I hear a sacrifice to the gods also helps.

Every day my daughter comes home from school and rushes to make slime. She pours, she stirs, then she pulls and yanks and glops and giggles for what seems like hours of gelatinous entertainment. Meanwhile, I remain puzzled about how this can be so fun, so all consuming, so…addictive. When she finishes, and I make her clean up, as a reward she asks for her iPad to watch YouTube videos of, you guessed it, other people making slime! I even found a best-selling, slime recipe book written by a teenager, which really made me question those eight years I spent in college getting my MFA in Creative Writing.

All fads eventually die out, right? I mean, I’m not wearing those Z Cavariccis or playing with my Cabbage Patch Kid anymore, and my daughter probably has no clue where that fidget spinner she wanted so badly last spring got to, although I have a feeling it was consumed by a vat of slime somewhere in her bedroom.

So when will this end? Will another trend stage a “Goo D’état” on slime? Will this gluey rage soon fade away to the land of pet rocks and invisible dogs where it belongs? The only answer I have is…

I don’t know.

Smells Like Middle-Aged Spirit

“Odors have a power of persuasion stronger than that of words, appearances, emotions, or will. The persuasive power of an odor cannot be fended off, it enters into us like breath into our lungs, it fills us up, imbues us totally. There is no remedy for it.”

― Patrick Süskind, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

I don’t have a rational reason for thinking that I stink. It’s more of a concern, a symptom of social anxiety more accurately. When I’m around other people, I become inordinately afraid that I smell. My breath, my hair which instantly absorbs the odors of every room I walk into, my Goodwill clothing, my underarms, my crotch beloved by dogs the world over. And what if my house has a terrible house-smell, to which I’ve become nose-blind?

I am convinced that I reek, and because I believe this utterly, I’ve been forced to go to great lengths to purchase products promising to eradicate the multiple odors which I imagine visibly emanate from my body in wavy brown lines much like Pigpen from The Peanuts.

Special mouth rinses, coconut scented wet wipes for intimate areas, a pH balanced body wash, anti-bacterial this, that, and the other in bottles line my bathroom shelves beside a rainbow of fruity spritzes and herbal-scented sprays and a couple fancy perfumes just for fun. Most obviously, I also use deodorant, which is a given, because the very foundation of my anti-stink offensive is of course, underarm deodorant. None of those other products matter if you have rank pits. As my grandfather used to say, when you try to cover up a bad smell with perfumes, it’s like someone took a shit in a rosebush.

I have used the exact same scent and brand of deodorant since I was in high school. As a person who doesn’t like change or having to make decisions, this has worked out fantastically for me. At Target there is an entire aisle devoted exclusively to deodorants, which come in myriad formulations and fragrances, none of which I’ve ever needed to familiarize myself with, because I am a Lady Speed Stick Powder Fresh kind of woman.

Or, at least I was, until I learned it was definitely going to kill me.

I’d been hearing rumors about this for some time, even before Facebook, back in the days when everyone had that friend or relative who forwarded chain emails with sensationalized, all-caps subject lines about the horrors of things like NutraSweet, vaccines, and well, deodorant. I never opened those emails, but now here we are in the era of social media when entire websites devoted to misinterpreting scientific data, or to just making shit up all together, exist under the guise of wellness education. They always have cheesy names like HEALTHHEADLINESGREENINTERNATIONAL that sound like Nigerians in Internet cafes with a shaky grasp of English launched them and then half-assed wrote all the articles after loading the pages with ads for herbal Viagra. Yet it seems like a good 75% of the people I know post these articles regularly.

GMOs, Monsanto, natural remedies for Autism that the government doesn’t want you to know about, 15 benefits of marijuana you never heard of, more Big Pharma conspiracies - you know the type. And then…

Your deodorant is toxic.

Deodorant has aluminum, and that causes Alzheimer’s and breast cancer. Or something. If this is the case then I hope my deodorant gives me Alzheimer’s before it gives me breast cancer. My logic is that the dementia will render me less frightened of the cancer. Maybe if the Alzheimer’s is advanced enough I won’t have a clue what’s going on.

But that’s not all. Apparently deodorant can also cause kidney failure, so not only will I be senile and riddled with cancer, I will also be on dialysis. This seems like the worst death imaginable, but at least I will smell divine.

I should not believe this stuff, and logically I don’t, but there’s a part of me that’s always like well, what if? It doesn’t not make sense, which is why we’re inclined not to question the headlines, even though they might come from the St. Petersburg troll farm.

We live in an era of uncertainty. Over the past twenty years we’ve lived through terrorist attacks we never dreamed could actually happen, the collapse of the housing bubble, the mortgage crisis, the great recession, mass shooting after mass shooting. We’ve seen crooked financiers that we trusted to manage our money hauled away in handcuffs, and we’ve watched on video as police officers kill innocent people in cold blood during traffic stops. We’ve heard about cancer clusters and we’ve seen Erin Brokovitch, and everyone knows the story of thalidomide. It feels like the very institutions designed to protect and serve us are the ones out to get us in order to make a buck. Who will save us when we can’t trust anyone? In a society like this, everyone feels expendable and unsafe.

When this is our reality and our worldview and when our newsfeeds are flooded 24/7 with hate and destruction on a scale far bigger and with greater consequences than body odor, it’s easy to see how simple it is to believe that deodorant is deadly. It’s not a stretch to imagine that aluminum accumulating in our brains like an inner foil hat.

Some articles I’ve read believe that it’s not just the aluminum and parabens that will kill you. They say deodorant screws up your microbiome too, which is actually kind of obvious, because BO is caused by bacteria, so yeah, you’re preventing foul-smelling bugs from taking over your armpits in order to avoid stinking. But your microbiome is important and you don’t want to mess it up. It’s the colonies of bazillions (an official number) of single celled organisms living all over our bodies.

I only recently learned that all this was going on in and on my body, and frankly, I’d like to go back to the days of blissful ignorance when I had no clue that entire civilizations of microscopic organisms were thriving on me as their host.

It’s not that I’m grossed out by it. I’m actually not bothered by the idea that I’m covered in bacteria. I’m bothered by the fact that my microbiome is one more thing I have to worry about. I mean, I already have a cat to take care of and she’s enough of a pain in my ass, and now I’m expected to care for bazillions of bacteria too? It’s a lot of responsibility and I don’t need any more pets, much less bazillions of them.

The microbiome is a delicate ecosystem that has to stay in perfect balance or all sorts of terrible things will happen. A number of diseases have been blamed on bacterial imbalances, and there’s even a theory that anxiety and depression is affected by gut bacteria. Any woman who’s ever suffered from a yeast infection knows the importance of keeping the good morale of the crotch colony going.

Since all this bacteria is so important to our overall health we have to be nice to it. There’s  “good” bacteria and “bad” bacteria, and you have to strengthen the “good” bacteria so the bad guys don’t take over. It’s like a never ending invisible Game of Thrones episode playing out in our bodies and you have to make sure the Stark bacteria always wins over the Lannister bacteria or you’ll get sick. This is a lot of work. You have to take probiotics. Now there are even PRE-biotics, which I gather is like food that the good bacteria enjoys, and you have to take them too and in the correct amounts. Conveniently, and I’m saying that sarcastically, the good bacteria, like a pack of little Gwyneth Paltrows, loves stuff like kale and quinoa and plain sweet potatoes. It demands fancy food, whereas the bad bacteria is all over the strawberry Twinkies and Dr. Pepper. It likes Cool Ranch Doritos too. (I’m actually starting to wonder if I’m not a bad bacteria myself.)

And now they’re telling me that deodorant wreaks havoc on your bacteria. Do you see how exhausting this is?

I may have continued to ignore all of the warnings about how apparently toxic deodorant is and kept on slathering my armpits in Lady Speed Stick were it not for the fact that a lot of the smartest, most beautiful, healthiest, and most successful women I knew wouldn’t go near an anti-perspirant. Toxins, yo.

Perfect women didn’t load their bodies full of chemical poisons, so I decided neither would I. As part of my commitment to wellness, meaning my goal not to be a fat loser anymore, I decided I would try alternative methods of dealing with my funk.

What if, I wondered, for all these years I’d been using deodorant unnecessarily? How did I even know my armpits stunk at all? Truthfully, I didn’t, because I’d never not used deodorant. I decided I needed to establish some kind of baseline state, and figure out what would happen if I left my underarms totally naked. Let me see how bad the problem even is, I figured. I hoped that perhaps it would turn out that I didn’t smell at all and I could live my life joyously deodorant free.

This was not the case.

After a few hours I had some smell. After a few more hours I had a lot of smell. By that evening, my daughter asked me why I smelled like taco seasoning.

Okay, so it looked like I needed something, but what?

My sister informed me that she hasn’t used deodorant in years and that she swipes a bit of coconut oil under her arms and goes about her business just fine and she has never had BO.

Jeez, is there anything that coconut oil cannot do, I thought.

Yes there is. It cannot prevent my underarms from smelling like taco seasoning and I found this out fairly rapidly. Not only that, it made oily stains on my tee shirts and clogged up a pore under my arms so that I got a gigantic sore which I proceeded to pick at until I had a gaping wound, thus making myself even grosser because what’s worse than stinking? Stinking and having sores, naturally.

Thank you next, coconut oil. My stank is no match for you.

Nor was it a match for the fancy, all natural deodorant that we sold at yoga. I bought 2 sticks of it because they smelled like Princess Aurora – one lavender and one rose.

Here is my review of the fancy deodorant we sold at yoga. Most important, I didn’t stink. Yay! That was a definite check in the winning column. The cons, however, were that the lavender stick for some reason that I haven’t figured out was really crumbly and fell apart and left chunks in my armpits. Since I didn’t want to waste it, I ended up trying to smush it up with a butter knife, which I then used to smear it on. This was a less than satisfactory outcome. In addition to that, it stung my skin when I applied it (the butter knife didn’t help), and it didn’t stop me from sweating (just smelling) and I live in Florida so I don’t want wet armpits, especially at work. That’s not a nice look in front of a room full of teenagers.

The rose stick smelled heavenly. I’m not kidding, this deodorant was the best body care product I’ve ever smelled, but it’s dark brown. Yes, people. You heard me right. Dark brown deodorant. The color of a Hershey Bar. When you use this one you will have mahogany colored pits and look like you need to shave. Worse than that, it will stain your clothing, which is absolutely unacceptable. I love this deodorant, but it has too many restrictions. I can’t use it when I need to work, and I can’t use it unless I’m wearing a black shirt with sleeves.

It was back to the Whole Foods self-care aisle for me. (They don’t actually call it the self-care aisle, but the fact that they don’t, I believe, is a huge missed marketing opportunity.) That’s where I bought myself a rock.

Obviously it wasn’t just any rock. It was a special, magical crystal deodorant rock. I wet it and scraped it on my pits, which felt more like a sacred ritual than part of a normal hygiene routine, but whatever. I felt like I ought to chant a special incantation to make it work, but it didn’t say anything about that on the packaging, though anything to elevate my vibration, right?

Because you are advanced, you have unlocked the highest level of New Age woo if you use an actual hunk of crystal to prevent odor.  I felt like I was finally doing it right.

You should have seen this thing. It literally glittered. I wondered if I should build a pedestal for it in the middle of my bathroom to display how beautiful it was. It looked like it could open up portals to alternate universes, and I half expected to wake up some morning to find a Gelfling rifling through my drawers looking for it in order to restore peace to its mystical fantasy world and save its civilization from the evil Skeksis. My deodorant looked like it had that much power.

It may have been able to play a role in a 1980s, obscure high fantasy, but alas, ‘twas no match for my BO.

I don’t know if I did something wrong or not. Maybe the armpit crystal wasn’t meant for me, an actual human woman with active sweat glands. Maybe it was only meant for yoga girls who weigh as much as finches and eat nothing but the occasional drop of food-grade, organic lemon, essential oil that has been blessed by high priests in the Amazon under the first new moon of spring. Maybe it was meant for people who are so enlightened that they have transcended normal bodily functions, people who are so advanced that they can communicate with their microbiome and politely ask it to tone down the odor output. I don’t know, but what I do know is that I stunk like taco seasoning again.

Not only that, my BO was so bad that it somehow contaminated the deodorant rock too. Yes, folks, I’d like to introduce you to me, the only person who is gross enough to transfer her body odor to her deodorant, therefore rendering it useless, unless perchance you might want to use my pit crystal to flavor your carne asada. (Seriously, why do my armpits smell like cumin???)

It seemed I had two choices. I could stink or I could die. I decided to conduct further research, and predictably the mainstream sources scoff at claims of deodorant’s toxicity. Studies say it’s harmless. Holistic practitioners say it’s not, and it’s tough to know who to believe anymore, although anecdotally I’ve never known a soul who has passed on with Old Spice or Secret listed as their cause of death.

I fantasize sometimes about going off the hygiene grid, totally pure, abjectly alive and real. But I conform to societal norms where we tell women it’s not polite, not responsible to smell like our healthy bodies in their natural states. There would be consequences for a move so bold, and I’m not willing to face them, so it’s back to powder fresh, smelling like middle-aged spirit. If the warnings are true I can only keep hoping that the dementia sets in first.

Anyone in the mood for tacos? Didn’t think so.

What I've Been Reading This Week!

This post contains affiliate links.

One of the biggest things I’ve missed about blogging is being able to share my favorite books with you.

This week I am proud to say that I have completed 3 books! Yeah, I know that’s kind of a lot, but 2 were audiobooks and I drive a lot. The other was an ebook, which I read before bed each night.

All 3 were nonfiction books written by women, and all 3 were excellent in their own unique ways.

I feel good when I read great books, so this week, I got a lot of literary satisfaction that I’m hoping to pass down to you.

A few weeks ago, author Samantha Irby, who I idolize by the way, recommended on her Instagram story, Gross Anatomy, by Mara Altman. So I bought it because I do what Sam says.

Gross Anatomy is a collection of hilarious and well-researched essays all about the disgusting things women’s bodies do. I have thoroughly related to Altman’s struggles with bodily hair, PMS, and BO. She is shameless and liberating. We are all human beings – stinking, insecure animals in bodies that do strange things against our wills and none of us can escape that fact. After reading this book, I felt a kinship with her and every other woman who just wants to not be gross anymore. But you know what? Not gonna happen. We’re repulsive creatures.

Besides the fact that Gross Anatomy is funny, I liked how detailed Altman’s writing is. She consults with lots of experts and finds out the answers to the questions we’ve always wondered about why our bodies insistently do the things they do. I also learned far more than I ever knew I wanted to know about lice (my favorite chapter by the way). When Altman has a question, she digs deep, and as a very lazy researcher, I really admire this quality. Her writing though, is deeply personal, scarily honest, yet lighthearted enough to make this a truly entertaining, fun book. You’ll feel good after reading it, even about your errant nipple hairs. If you’ve ever wondered why sometimes you have to poop but then it goes away, the mystery has been solved and it’s explained in the book.

Last week, my husband recommended Mary Laura Philpott’s book of essays I Miss You When I Blink, which ended up being the most pleasant, charming surprise read I’ve had in forever. It was not what I’d expected. I thought it was going to be a harrowing anxiety memoir, which I am definitely always down for, but I was actually glad when this turned out to be anything but.

I Miss You When I Blink is a gently, warmly funny and sincere gathering of thoughts, ideas, and experiences from the life of a woman who, like the rest of us, has too much to do and does not have time to listen to your banal blather about what’s in this chicken salad.

Philpott made good choices. I envied this. She was a good girl, type A, respectable and driven, yet wonderfully normal, wholesome even, at least by my standards. She did everything right, so why did she feel so..dissatisfied? She had a mother who pushed her to succeed, but also made her homemade banana pudding, not the boxed kind. Her life resembled the American Dream, but she found herself restless and wanting more from life than event planning at her kids’ school and then feeling guilty for wanting more, because her life was undeniably pretty great. Several times as I reveled in her narrative, I found myself envious of how lovely her life sounded. She lived in Atlanta with her husband, children and dogs. She had enough of everything. She had the life that I’d once dreamed of many years ago when I too lived in Atlanta. Yet she wasn’t totally thrilled with it, and I probably wouldn’t have been either. I get it.

I was also envious of Philpott’s writing. She’s good. If I simply give you a few plot points – she has fertility issues, she’s a perfectionist, they moved to Ireland and it was dreary and grey, they moved back, she was not happy with some of her jobs, she took some time alone in Nashville and decided to move there – well, this sounds entirely unremarkable. What makes these essays magical is the light and life that Philpott infuses into her words. She is witty, funny and insightful and her ideas are so wonderfully crafted that it just felt good to listen to them. It literally made me feel good to listen to this book. I liked being in Philpott’s world and hearing about life from her perspective. Much is often made about a writer’s “voice” and I found Philpott’s writing voice (not her actual voice, which is nice too) really comforting.

I hate when people judge a piece of writing by its relatability. I don’t think you need to be able to relate to everything to enjoy a piece of literature or to be able to empathize with those with a different story, but dammit, I’m gonna say it. I could totally relate to a lot of what Philpott writes about, and many of you will too.  But even if I couldn’t, I’d still like this book, so there.

The last book of the week was Heather Armstrong’s The Valedictorian of Being Dead, a memoir of her battle with severe anxiety and depression and how she took part in a study and underwent a new procedure wherein she was flatlined with propofol ten times in order to “reset” her brain and restore it to factory settings.

This one was the harrowing anxiety memoir and it needs a trigger warning. I’m warning you right now. If you suffer from depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, eating disorders, phobias of needles and medical procedures, or if you have maybe recently lost someone to depression, please use caution in deciding to read this book. It’s tough, but it’s real and it’s important and I freaking loved it. This book consumed me this week. I told my therapist about it. I’ve told everyone about it.

I’ve been waiting for what seems like an eternity to read this book and I’m going to disappoint you right off the bat. Armstrong does not have any near death experiences. There is no going into any lights with deceased loved ones. I have to say, I was kinda hoping there was because I selfishly would like someone I trust who seems reasonably as cynical as me to tell me what happens when you die, but no. The way she describes her ten deaths is like falling asleep suddenly and then waking back up a little disoriented thinking it’s 1979. That’s not what’s important about this book, however.

There’s a lot to unpack regarding The Valedictorian of Being Dead, and it has to be framed in reference to Armstrong’s having been at least somewhat of a well-known public figure for quite a while, so I don’t know where to start here. I feel like I could write a full-on conference paper about this memoir.

I’d planned to buy the ebook, but long story short I didn’t have any money, but I had Audible credits, so I used the Audible credit to get it so I wouldn’t have to wait to get paid to read it. This proved a wise decision because Armstrong reads her own book and I feel like I got more out of it having her read it to me in her own voice as she intended her words to be heard. I could hear her emotions, her voice cracking, her unbearable pain, in a way that my own reading wouldn’t have conveyed and it added another layer of compassion in me as the reader.

I have no negative judgments of this woman whatsoever. None. She is kind to a fault, brave, vulnerable, selfless and funny. And she has suffered so much.

Some of her suffering from mental illness is purely a terrible genetic glitch, but in reading between the lines of Armstrong’s words, I had to wonder, how much of her anxiety and depression was also, well, society’s fault? The Internet’s fault? Toxic masculinity’s fault?

This woman has been relentlessly, viciously, endlessly trashed on the Internet by total strangers for decades now. How can that not have a devastating effect on one’s mental health? Seriously, how? I believe my own struggle with panic disorder has some roots in writing publicly and being subjected to the often cruel judgment, comments and blogs of people who are a. assholes, b. sick in the head c. don’t know anything about me. The cyber-bullying Heather Armstrong has endured has been hundreds of times worse than what I’ve experienced. I know that there will be people who will attack her for this book and she’ll have to continue to endure this kind of unfair treatment, and I’m sad about that.

Armstrong’s memoir should be part of several ongoing and important conversations we’re having as a society - how we treat people online for sure, and also how our online lives affect our mental health. Why do we expect so much of women? She didn’t address this in the book, but I still felt it was there.

Another thing  Armstrong does not outright state, but which was glaringly obvious to me, was that she was suffering from an eating disorder. Truthfully, I had always wondered this about her. I mean, how can you be on that many meds and not blow up? I gain 25 pounds if I so much as look at a Zoloft, and I found Armstrong’s discussion of her obsessive exercise routine and strict diet extremely triggering. You will too if you have disordered eating. As an author and a public figure I don’t think she’s obligated to share anything she doesn’t want to, especially when it comes to eating disorders, however, I still wanted her to in spite of myself. I felt like it was the elephant in the book. I kept wanting to jump into its pages and tell her doctors to treat her for anorexia, and I have to ask, how much of her 18 month depressive episode could  have been caused by malnutrition? When you exercise to the degree that she did, while eating a strict, gluten-free vegan diet how can you possibly fuel your brain properly? I’m not asking this to criticize Armstrong at all. I’m asking this because she is every woman that I know, exercising and starving and obsessing over fad diets that we swear are healthy, and then feeling devastated by anxiety and depression and still having men tell us we eat too much. Maybe part (obviously not all) of the problem is that we are hungry. What are we doing to ourselves? What damage are we doing to our brains and therefore our mental health by stopping at nothing to be thin?

And why do we do this to ourselves? Toxic masculinity, partly. As much as I wanted to jump into the book and talk to her team of physicians, I also wanted to jump in the book and cuss out every single man she interacted with in her personal life. I’m warning you now, there’s a man in Cancun who needs a very serious Come to Jesus talk, and I hope one day he finds a woman who will tell him in no uncertain terms that he is an abusive asshole. In the book, she is single and dating and the way these men treat her, the way they treat every single woman I know in real life, is unacceptable. It causes very real trauma and it needs to stop. Men need to be held accountable for the things they say to and about women, and I think we should acknowledge that some of Armstrong’s mental illness was brought on by how she was treated by men. One cannot be abused so much, so repeatedly and remain unscathed.

Armstrong really is the valedictorian of everything. She has accomplished and overachieved so much. She has truly lived this life to its absolute fullest. Dear god, she ran a marathon around the base of Kilimanjaro. She was successful at everything and she really had it all – beauty, skinniness, wealth, a writing career, fame, a big house, cute dogs, beautiful children, amazing clothes, impeccable taste and style. It’s impossible not to envy her. For many years, as a reader of her books and website, I have compared myself to her, never measuring up, never coming even remotely near anything she’s done. I even got rejected by her literary agent. So many times over the years I’ve wondered what she has that I don’t and where she got that drive. I’ve compared myself to her and berated myself over it. I said, if she can do it, why can’t I? But what I never understood was that she was destroying herself in order to succeed. She was achieving at her own expense and all that achieving that we’re told will finally make us happy, made her the opposite of happy. And isn’t she the exact embodiment of what society tells us all that we should be? The woman who is and has and does EVERYTHING? She did it, she was that perfect woman, and it nearly killed her, and she had to die ten times to come back to life.

I could go on and on. The book brought up so much for me. I am so grateful to have read it. Thank you, Heather. In some ways I felt like it was a sort of cautionary tale for women. We need to stop holding ourselves to this insane standard. We need to stop this.  I cannot stop thinking about it, and I am sincerely happy that she is well now and with a man who loves her. I was thrilled to see her with a bowl of non-vegan, full of gluten, ramen on her Instagram story the other day. I hope she actually ate it and didn’t just take pictures of it. I know that trick, girl.

I can’t wait until her next book. I was rooting for her so much throughout this memoir, and I still am.

Here’s to happy endings.

 Next week’s book:

Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls by T Kira Madden

This Week’s Books

Gross Anatomy

I Miss You When I Blink

The Valedictorian of Being Dead

Sunday - A Poem for the Start of Every Single Week.

Sunday - Victoria Fedden

This is the week I will stop being disgusting. This is the beginning of my story, not the end.

This is the week I’ll give myself a second chance.

This is the week that I will drink enough water. This is the week I will learn to drink tea with no milk and sugar. This is the week I’ll take it plain.

This is the week I will try apple cider vinegar.

This is the week that I will meal prep. I will pull my dinner in a box from the shelf like a library book I will eat without complaint because food fuels your body like books fuel your brain and macros but poetry is what taught me how to feel something not think something.

This is the week the blackberries won’t rot in the crisper.

This is the week that I will fit into those pants. This is the week that I’ll do it.

10,000 steps every day. This is the week that I will work out.

This is the week that I will have all the parts of the eating disorder instead of just the endless thinking part.

This is the week that I will reduce my screen time, and stop looking for and at and wishing and wondering and searching. This is the week that I will stop thinking about you.

This is the week that I will be brave. Try new things. It will be better. Step out of the comfort zone, out of the box, out of the bed and girl, wash your face, and maybe someday someone will think you’re pretty. Be a bad ass. Go to war. Unjunk your spirit. Subtly don’t give a fuck. Get unstuck. Follow your bliss. Find that big magic. Enormous magic. Magic the size of the universe magic. Take an entire course in miracles, make the agreements. Stop resisting. SOULdier on. Just breathe.

This is the week that I will observe my breath. Start saving money, pay off the debt, go to the bank, assess the situation, plan, make spreadsheets. Take control.

This is the week that I will relax.

This is the week of a radical shift.

This is the week that I will finally speak up and ask clearly for what I want, but I will also stop talking about myself so much because that is awkward. Am I a narcissist? Am I a sociopath? Where does the trauma hide inside my body? Have I been gaslit? Each night why do I dream of voodoo?

This is the week I’ll find some piece.

This is the week I’ll stop forgetting the wet laundry in the washer. This is the week I’ll remember.

This will be the week TO remember.

This is the week I’ll go out, make friends, make out, shine, sparkle, be present, in the moment, have a drink. This is the week they’ll all get my jokes.

This is the week I’ll break down and take a pill. This is the week I’ll stop the medication, yes I know it’s only for heartburn.

This is the week that something’s got to give. This is the week it all stops. That’s why I’ll start writing again, reach the muse. Where have you gone? Why don’t you text me anymore?

Sometimes in the middle of the afternoon I will stop what I am doing which is never anything and I will go outside and look at the sky and wonder exactly what you are doing at that exact moment and what did you do with my ideas? Where are my words? Who holds them now? And I will make demands. The bullshit stops here. Give me back everything I’ve ever lost.

I used to think you were so beautiful.

This is the week that I will show up and throw down. This is the week that my ass is in the seat.

This is the week I’ll be results-driven. I don’t even know how to speak the language of synergy’s optics in the new millennium. Ambition. I can learn.

This is the week I’ll get enough sleep.

This is the week I’ll learn to let go. This is the end of the stories I tell myself. The stories have to end. The stories never end. The stories have no end. This is not the end.

Nothing to Lose, Fire Away

As a teenager, I was not one of those girls who mooned over magazines about their favorite celebrities, but as a grown ass woman in her forties, I am all over any article I can find about my celebrity boyfriend Jimmy Fallon, which is exactly how I nearly sent myself to the hospital after trying something called “bulletproof coffee.” I’m blaming the goddamned Internet for this one.

            According to the worldwise Interwebs, my famous, future second husband, the great Mr. Fallon, drinks coffee with butter in it, and coffee with butter in it apparently fixes everything. Literally. Everything.

            Are you a mess like me? Do you have a collection of old Chick-fil-a bags all over the floor of your car? Does your kid get too much screen time? Did you get passed over for that big promotion? Is your hair dry? Does your poop sink in the toilet? Because it’s supposed to float, did you know that? Is everyone else significantly hotter and better dressed than you? Obviously you have not been putting butter in your coffee, and you are a loser, and if you put butter in your coffee you can absolutely change your entire life.

            One day I was messing with my phone, which is not a surprise because 95 percent of my life is spent messing with my phone. I’d like to say that I at least use my phone to read The New Yorker, but I don’t. I read lame ass articles that friends I’ve never met in real life, and distant cousins in other states share on Facebook, and this is my main source of learning what’s going on in the world at any given time. I know nothing about the growth of the economy, but I am an expert on “Eleven Little Things He Does if He’s Super Into You,” plus videos of alpacas skipping, and of course Jimmy Fallon’s beverage choices.

I am even more ashamed to admit that I am the person who reads the “suggested” articles that show up in my feed, which are actually ads, and not even stories shared by people I sort of know. That’s like the lowest form of reading that exists, and I have a terminal degree and I still read it although you’d think I should know better. I think it’s written by robots. Not that that has stopped me, obviously. Basically nothing can stop me from reading garbage, especially if it involves Jimmy Fallon. That’s how I found out that Jimmy Fallon “totally swears by” something called bulletproof coffee.

            Bulletproof coffee sounds badass as hell, and I consider myself a wimp. The most badass thing I’ve ever done in my entire life is one time, when my husband was out of town, the breaker on the water heater flipped leaving me without hot water. In a death-defying feat of bravery, ignoring the terrifying buzzing sounds coming from the electrical box in my laundry room, I flipped the switch back on, thus restoring hot water to my house and saving myself from having to wash my hair in seventy-degree water. I felt like a god-damned super-hero, if that gives you any idea of how not a badass I actually am.

I can’t even program the clock on the stove after a storm, yet I long to be the sort of woman who can change a tire, although I make zero effort to learn how to do things like that because I am lazy and like to sit around and read “The Kind of Blowjob He Likes Based on His Zodiac Sign.” So if I could be a badass by doing something with as minimal effort as drinking a cup of coffee, which I did all day long anyway, and if Jimmy Fallon was all about it, well, I was in.

            As far as I could google, there was nothing unpleasant about bulletproof coffee — fancy coffee beans, butter, coconut oil, and that’s it.  I liked all of those things, and when I read the words “bulletproof coffee,” in my brain I heard Sia singing them to me in her pouty growl, which only added to the appeal. Obviously, this new adventure was going be nothing like the time I watched Dr. Oz at my grandmother’s house in rural Delaware and decided that the cure to all that ailed me was drinking a slurry of chia seeds and tart cherry juice. Rural Delaware has no Whole Foods, but so determined was I to FIX MY LIFE NOW with chia seeds and cherry juice that I managed to find the only natural foods co-op within a sixty-mile radius, and I swear to you this place hadn’t changed at all since 1976, and it reeked of vitamins and brewer’s yeast. It had chia seeds and tart cherry juice, though, so forty dollars later I was choking down some crunchy, snotty assed chia seeds stirred into a horrifying, black, Harry Potter looking juice for which the term “tart” was a very tragic understatement, all because Mehmet told me it would make me skinny. IT DIDN’T.

            But bulletproof coffee would. I mean, it even has its own Instagram account. Chia seeds don’t have a hundred and seventy five thousand followers, do they? Exactly.

            Part of the reason I felt like bulletproof coffee might finally be the thing that worked for me is that I love coffee. My favorite flavor of Haagen Dazs is espresso cookie crumble, after all, and I think it makes a reasonable, or at least wonderful, breakfast. The chia seeds were disgusting, so I had a hard time sticking to Dr. Oz’s regimen, because no one in their right mind wants to ingest several glasses a day of gritty slime. Coffee, however, was a whole different story. So was butter.

            I love both coffee and butter so much that if someone told me I had some tragic disease that prevented me from ever having coffee or butter ever again, I might actually consider euthanasia, because it would be a more humane ending for me than spending my last years drinking mugs of hot water and slicking vegan margarine on a desiccated square of gluten-free “bread.” I’m just assuming the bread would have to be gluten free, because why on earth would wheat be okay if butter and coffee weren’t, you know?

            Very few rap lyrics are as relatable to me as the line from the Beastie Boys’ “Intergalactic” which says “I like my sugar with coffee and cream.” In a nutshell, or perhaps 67 packets of raw sugar, this pretty much sums up my coffee problem. I love coffee so much that sometimes (a lot of times) I go to bed at night excited to get up in the morning, just so I can have my next cup, but I think that it’s not so much the coffee I love as much as the sugar. Cream is a close second. Without those two magical ingredients, my morning cup of coffee may as well be a can of synthetic motor oil. I realized this at my friend’s house.

            My good friend is a barely size-zero, successful executive. On paper she is that woman who “has it all.” She is an independent mom, who in every way lives up to the mainstream beauty standards. She even has huge boobs. Her six figure income affords her all the things, brands, stuff, vacations, and leisure activities that we’ve all come to unconsciously associate with success, and her Facebook proves that she is indeed having a lot more fun than the rest of us. Her only fault is that she can’t make a decent cup of coffee to save her life.

            My friend was all excited because she had a new Keurig coffee maker, and when she offered to pop a K cup in the machine I was nothing short of enthusiastic. Until she plopped a box of artificial sweetener and a bottle of organic, non-fat, almond milk creamer on the table in front of me.

            “What is this?” I asked.

            “What are you talking about?” she said, pouring half a yellow packet into her oversized café au lait bowl.

            “Chemists discovered that shit when they were trying to make a new pesticide. You’re basically pouring pesticide in your coffee. You won’t put it on your lawn because it causes cancer, but you’re totally cool with drinking it?” I asked.

            She nodded. “It doesn’t have any calories.”

            “And what is this?” I wondered, twirling the bottle of “creamer” in my hand trying to read the nutritional information that explained that there were 900 servings at fourteen calories each.

            “Creamer! It’s healthy and so delicious!” she chirped.

            I poured some into my coffee, winced in pain, and asked her if she genuinely enjoyed drinking this, to which she replied, again, that it was delicious.

            “Do you have half and half?” I demanded.

            “Half what?”

            I sighed. My friend was so thin that she didn’t even know what half and half was.

            “How about real sugar?” I needed to know. “Do you have real sugar?”

            “No! Of course not. Do you?”

            “It’s not like I asked if you had cocaine or something.”

            “Oh, cocaine? I don’t like it, but I probably know someone -”

            “Jesus Christ. No! I just want some real sugar for my coffee, and yes, at my house I have sugar – brown, white, coconut palm, honey, agave, maple…”

            I decided to poke around in her fridge where there was so little to eat, that I began to wonder how my friend stayed alive. It was painfully obvious now that I had two choices: drink my coffee black, or dress it up with artificial sweetener, dilute it with nut water, and hope for the best. I went with door number two, and I swear I must have used at least 700 of the 900 servings of whatever that almond creamer stuff was and it still stayed black. That’s when I realized that I don’t really like coffee. I like sugar and cream, and coffee is just a more socially sanctioned vehicle for those things.

            The joyless coffee I had that day made my soul ache. It sort of looked like coffee, but that was deceptive, because it tasted thin and bitter, and was mildly redolent of the ant killer aisle of Home Depot.

            “Have you ever heard of bulletproof coffee?” I asked her.

            She shook her head, and then I explained it to her.

            “Butter?” she said scrunching her nose.

            “Yes!” I said.

            “In coffee? Eww. No. I haven’t eaten butter since I was in middle school. Aren’t you scared?” she wondered.

            “Of what? Butter is amazing!”

            “The fat,” she whispered. The word was so repugnant to her that she couldn’t even say it aloud. It was like the Voldemort of food – the spread which cannot be named.

            “I fucking love butter,” I said. End of conversation.

            True. Butter in coffee sounds weird on the surface, but think about a traditional breakfast. You’ve got a nice cup of coffee and some toast on the side, and the toast has butter, so technically, we’ve all already, at some point, had coffee and butter. It’s not a stretch. In fact, there are stranger combinations. For instance, I love pineapple and I love pizza, and while I understand that there is some controversy over this and that the two things together sound almost terrifying, pineapple pizza is one of my favorite things on earth. Butter coffee wasn’t nearly as unusual a combo as tropical fruit on Italian food.

            The next morning I found myself standing in front of a blender with a brick of Kerrygold, a bulk-sized tub of coconut oil, and a pot of freshly brewed Starbucks Breakfast Blend. I was ready to be slender, focused, motivated, and self-assured. I was also a little bit ready to be Jimmy Fallon’s future second wife material.

            “Bulletproof, nothing to lose,” I sang.

            Pleasantly surprised, I held up the finished product in a ray of morning sun that shone through my kitchen window. My coffee cups are clear glass, so I could see the bulletproof coffee pretty well, and it wasn’t what I expected. As promised, and let’s face it, none of these things are ever what’s promised, the bulletproof really did look like a latte. I feared it would stay black and that the butter would melt and rest on top in a queasy layer of oil like one of my daughter’s science experiments, but it didn’t. The Vitamix had emulsified the butter and coconut oil into the coffee, so that it looked almost like normal coffee with cream, and this brought joy to my heart.

Maybe I was going to be okay. Maybe I really could stick with something this time. My only fear was that this coffee wasn’t allowed any sugar. Like none, and technically, you weren’t supposed to add any sweet tasting, calorie free pesticides either, but I’d already broken a few of the other rules, so…what could a little pink packet of cancer powder hurt?

            I guess I should state here that I didn’t exactly make real bulletproof coffee. Instead, I made poor(ish) people’s bulletproof coffee. First off, you’re supposed to get some kind of really expensive coffee beans that are supposed to not mold or something, that I felt sounded a bit ridiculous and snake oily, so I splurged on Starbucks because that felt fancy enough, and also I bought them at Whole Foods and not Walmart, which I feel counts for something. Next, you have to get grass fed, unsalted butter. Fine. I bought the five dollar Kerrygold that’s made from Irish Riverdancing cows. Done. After that you have to pour in something called MCT oil, which is mostly coconut oil, but if you buy the real stuff it’s basically seven thousand dollars for three ounces, and my credit isn’t good enough to obtain a second mortgage, so I was going with the coconut oil I already had.

 As a side note, I had a lot of coconut oil to use up since my failed oil pulling experiment. According to an online slide-slow a year earlier, which I didn’t finish because the ad-filled pages wouldn’t load on my phone fast enough, if you swish coconut oil in your mouth and then spit it out, some kind of health miracle is supposed to occur. I googled it extensively, and apparently there’s something in coconut oil that can kill bad bacteria in your mouth, and when your mouth is healthy, the rest of your body is too, so oil pulling isn’t totally bogus, unless you’re talking about the texture.

At first, I thought swishing a spoonful of coconut oil around in my mouth for twenty-minutes sounded pretty simple. I liked coconut after all, so what could be so bad? The texture made me want to hurl almost instantly, and sucking a mouthful of saliva and grease through my teeth repeatedly, while letting the resulting slime coat my tongue was flat out disgusting. I found it nearly unbearable almost instantly — except it didn’t feel like it was instantly. I thought for sure I’d had the oil in the mouth for longer than the prescribed twenty-minutes, but when I looked at the timer I’d set, only three minutes and forty two seconds had passed. I spit it out in the trash as instructed, because the oil clogs up plumbing, and spent the rest of the day feeling like I’d rubbed lip balm not just all over my face, but inside my mouth. I guess that I just didn’t have the patience for oil pulling.

Which is exactly why I convinced myself I needed bulletproof coffee: I had no attention span. My preschooler had better focus than I did. I mean, the kid could play with Legos on the floor for hours, whereas I spent most of my days repeatedly walking into rooms and forgetting what I’d gone in there for. I’d open up the refrigerator and stare blankly inside unable to remember what ingredient I needed or what I was craving. My daughter asked me all the time to sit on the floor and play with her, but it was like torture for me to sit and stack blocks without grabbing my phone to scroll through Facebook and see what everyone I went to elementary school with was having for lunch. I couldn’t pay attention to much of anything for very long, and the second I’d begin a task, I’d start to worry about something else, feel compelled to open an app, or I’d feel like I needed to turn on the TV to compare what was on all three major news channels. I heard a lot about highly effective people, and I was not one of them. But maybe with bulletproof coffee, I finally could be.

I have long suspected that I may have a mild case of Attention Deficit Disorder, which, in recent years, has been greatly exacerbated by the distraction wonderland of the Internet. I’m not concerned enough about my functioning to get an official diagnosis — my medical file already looks like an alphabet soup of acronyms, and frankly, the medication for ADD scares me. At the same time, it also intrigues me because I know a ton of women who take it because it makes them skinny. Some of them, adult women here, even take the pills, crush them and snort them.

I will never forget the day I learned this secret. Apparently it is a thing, a common thing even, and I’d had no clue that everyone was illicitly snorting their fidgety sons’ meds. I was pissed when I found out.

Being a woman today, for me, was an Olympic feat. I was expected to be a super mom who looked like a supermodel. I was supposed to have money, a successful career, an enviable relationship with my husband, and a car that was not held together with duct tape because I couldn’t afford the insurance deductible to get it fixed from two accidents in one day. I was supposed to be smart and organized, a clever conversationalist, and an expert entertainer, and I was required to look good in the middle of all this, and everyone knows that part of looking good is being thin. I was trying so hard to do it all, to the point of utter mental and physical exhaustion, and still failing to qualify for the medal round, while these bitches were doping to win the game, Lance Armstronging their way through life and it wasn’t fair.

I wasn’t willing to risk my health to have it all, because everyone with any sense knows that snorting amphetamines is probably not a long-term strategy for success, but I theorized that bulletproof coffee could work in a similar, if milder, fashion, and that it could actually afford me some health benefits instead of, you know, landing me in rehab and probably killing me. Caffeine is, after all, a natural stimulant, so if I drank enough of it, then it would likely have the same effects on my concentration as ADD meds.

I drank three large cups of bulletproof coffee that morning alone.

It was like coming home again. It was like finding everything that I’d ever lost.


I’ve never tried cocaine. I’m such a goody-goody that I’ve barely even seen it in real life, but as I spent the next hour confined to the bathroom, I surmised that the jittery, amped up, I CAN DO ANYTHING RIGHT NOW feeling that I was currently experiencing must be why so many people (at least in movies) are willing to pawn their TVs for a bump of blow. Except for my stomachache, I liked this new energetic, productive version of myself. I didn’t want to lie in bed. I wanted to make the bed, and properly, with those hospital corner things my grandmother does! A mild case of diarrhea seemed like a small price to pay in exchange for actually getting things done for once in my life, and doesn’t everyone need a good intestinal purge once in a while? I had an organized kitchen AND I’d lost two pounds of water weight. Bulletproof coffee for the win.

Since it was working so well, that afternoon, after skipping lunch, because this stuff really did suppress the appetite, I made myself another enormous mug of coffee with butter and coconut oil in it. I figured I needed the extra energy, because I had to babysit at yoga that evening.

I’d been babysitting at the yoga studio on and off for a couple years now, and I enjoyed it a lot, because it was my way of showing up and being part of a community that I felt good supporting. A lot of nice and interesting individuals practiced yoga, and many people came there to heal. I was one of them, and I wanted to help others on their journeys (yes, I just said that). At the time, I figured the best way that I could lend a hand was by babysitting, so some other moms could get a break and have 75 minutes alone in a hot room to stretch their joints and process their emotions for once without tiny humans climbing all over them with sticky hands and snotty noses. It was the least I could do, and it made me feel good.

But babysitting did require a bit of stamina, in some ways more than an actual yoga class, because instead of keeping track of one kid, I now had to supervise about ten of them, in a very small room, with a DVD of Frozen playing on a loop, and a bin of donated toys. The job required focus — I had to watch the babies to make sure they didn’t choke to death on a Shopkin that belonged to a preschooler with separation anxiety, while keeping the kindergartners away from the surly middle schooler who wanted to be left alone to play Minecraft on his iPad, in addition to protecting the little girl with allergies from the boy whose mom didn’t know and dropped him off smeared head to toe with peanut butter, at the same time that I bottle fed an infant and made funny faces at a fussy six month old bouncing in a jumper. Bulletproof coffee  was exactly what I needed. So I had another cup.

The yoga studio is about fifteen minutes from my house in traffic, and when I was about halfway there my stomach began to feel a little…off. Okay, I’m being delicate. My stomach had become Kilauea.

Before a volcanic eruption, there are tell-tale signs: a series of small earthquakes, rumbling, and the sounds of small explosions beneath the surface. The volcano will begin to swell, or bloat, with increased emissions of hot gas from the mountain. Small animals will flee in terror.

I was about to explode, and this wasn’t going to be pretty.

Waiting until I got to yoga wasn’t an option either, and not just because the studio was still about eight minutes away. No one at yoga pooped. I figured their systems were so balanced and efficient from their vegan paleo diets that they’d transcended shitting altogether. Clearly I hadn’t, and I’d like to issue a formal apology right now for what I did in the Starbucks restroom that day.

But that wasn’t the end of it. The seismic event at Starbucks was merely a precursor for what lie ahead.

My little Starbucks detour had made me a few minutes late to babysitting for the first time, and when I finally stumbled through the door, probably looking more than a little tweaked out on caffeine, there were already seven children and their harried mothers waiting for me.

“We’re late for class! They’re already in child’s pose setting their intentions!” one mom complained.

I apologized profusely, blaming traffic, as my stomach made a noise much like a draining bathtub.

I cold sweat my way through the next hour and a half as toddlers squirmed and writhed en masse on the padded floor of the babysitting room. I didn’t supervise them as I should have. There was no story time that day, no cut and paste craft. I could barely tolerate another Disney film, because every ounce of my energy went into not shitting my pants. I actually envied the little ones for the convenience of their diapers.

That day, my favorite couple was there. Like everyone else at yoga, I’m convinced these two didn’t go to the bathroom. They were vegan and lovely. The wife’s bodily proportions were that of a Malibu Barbie, whereas if I were a doll, I’d be shaped more like a Raggedy Ann. People who look that good don’t have embarrassing experiences, and they certainly don’t have diarrhea, especially not in public places, because their gut health is perfectly balanced. Mine clearly was not, and by the time class let out and all the children had been retrieved, I was convinced I was dying.

“You look dehydrated, and on edge. Are you okay?” the wife commented.

“You should try meditation. It changed my life,” her husband added.

“You should drink LIVING water! Did you know the water that comes out of your faucet is actually dead? So is bottled water, so it doesn’t actually hydrate you and 99% of people in America suffer from chronic dehydration - look it up!” said a random stranger.

This sort of thing happens a lot in a yoga studio. If you mention any kind of not feeling well 35 people will pounce on you with different reasons why Western society is making you sick, and give you 35 different remedies for it that Big Pharma doesn’t want you to know about.

“I think I ate something that didn’t agree with me,” I said, and this was not a lie, because five cups of coffee (maybe, I lost count) and at least a stick of butter definitely did not agree with me.

I don’t know how I made it home, but as I spent the rest of the night feeling like I was near death on the bathroom floor, with bolts of jagged pain knifing through my abdomen. I was sick. Like food poisoning sick, and I convinced myself that I’d given myself a gall bladder attack. At one point I seriously considered an ER visit.

Nearly a bottle of Pepto later, I decided to do a little more research on this whole bulletproof coffee thing. There were many articles and blog posts touting the benefits of bulletproof, but there were just as many others calling Bulletproof founder Dave Asprey on his supposed bullshit. The New York Times went so far as to compare it to a cult, while yet another article alleges that Asprey takes performance enhancing stimulants banned in the sports world, plus off the label use of thyroid meds, and that these things are responsible for his ripped abs, not “magic butter coffee.” Others accuse him of faulty logic and bad science. Asprey apparently claims that he “discovered” bulletproof coffee in Tibet (and we all know every New Age hipster will gulp down anything that comes from the Himalayas, home of the Dalai Lama) where he observed the locals mixing yak butter into their tea (eww). He then concluded that their spryness and longevity was because of this, and not, as some studies have suggested, a genetic adaptation to living in high altitudes.

So what did I think? Hard to say. Bulletproof coffee, at least my more affordable version of it, tasted good, but technically what I made wasn’t exactly REAL bulletproof because I had to wing it on a few ingredients.

It did suppress my appetite, but I mean, that’s what caffeine and fat do, so no alchemy there. I also lost weight, albeit from severe gastrointestinal distress, but still, I’ll take it, and I couldn’t really blame the coffee for my stomachache. That was my own fault because I went overboard. My verdict on this one is that it probably does work to some extent. It tastes great and it’s unlikely to hurt you unless you lose your damn mind and drink too much. Don’t do what I did. I guess I wasn’t titanium after all.

The Journey Begins With 10,000 Steps a Day

I suffer from an alphabet soup of mental illness - PTSD, OCD, Panic Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, there are probably some more in there. Surprisingly, I manage to function miraculously well most of the time in spite of this. Sometimes I am medicated, and sometimes I’m not. Some days I’m amazing, and some days I’m a god forsaken disaster. I’ve learned to accept this and to ride out the bad moments. Learning to do that one thing alone, has made the disaster days fewer and farther between. But they’re still there, and I still need coping mechanisms to get me through.

For the past few years, in addition to traditional methods of dealing with mental illness - for the love of all that is good if you don’t feel well go to a god damn doctor, there is no shame in this PLEASE - I have also been experimenting extensively with every alternative therapy, remedy, and whatever else I can find (and afford). Admittedly, I’m doing this partly for my own entertainment, but I’m also doing it because I am skeptic enough to give other people, who are also dealing with the same shit as me an honest account of what works and what is complete and utter BS. I’m going to write about share all of my experiences with you in the hope that I can help you too. At the very least, some of my escapades will surely make you laugh, and as they say, laughter is the best medicine. Except, that’s a ridiculous cliche, and I think SSRIs might be the real best medicine, but whatever. Laughing is good, and I like to make people laugh.

Here is the story about one thing that has worked, even though I’m slightly pissed that it did. I discovered this one a couple years ago when one of my thousand diets wasn’t producing results.

I know, like we all know, that the real only way to lose weight is to eat less (starve yourself half to death), and exercise. Exercise, at least enough of it, was what was missing from my weight-loss equation, but look, I’ve never been good at math, and I barely scraped by with a C in college algebra, so finding X isn’t exactly my forte over here. I don’t even like writing mathematical metaphors, so I think I should be given a temporary pass for ignoring the most obvious reason that I wasn’t slimming down much sooner.

You can’t expect to lose weight without exercise, and while I was still regularly practicing yoga (I worked at a yoga studio at the time), I probably needed more cardio (I don’t know, it sounded good), so I started taking walks around the block. I was soon discouraged when I learned that my little jaunts burnt a grand total of forty calories, and I calculated that in order to eat what I wanted and still lose weight, that I’d need to walk to Key West and back each day. I wanted better results, but I felt far more motivated to watch the next episode of my favorite TV shows than I did to break a sweat.

I’d never been the type of person who enjoyed exercise. My sister did. She said she felt awful on days that she skipped the gym, which was incomprehensible. I’d always thought that exercise tended to make me feel worse. Being winded, sweaty, sore, and exhausted was the very definition of misery to me, so was there any hope? Could anything motivate me?

It turns out, there was.

Around the time that I went on my lifestyle change, I began to notice that everyone I knew was suddenly wearing identical black rubber wristbands. All of the women I saw at yoga, who, incidentally possessed the enviable BMIs of hairless show cats, wore Fitbits — jazzed up pedometers, synced with their smartphones that allowed them to obsessively monitor their calorie intake, heart rate, hours slept, weight lost, minutes active, and steps walked. The device set daily and weekly goals, and when met, the user could earn virtual “badges” to mark their progress. Fitbits were all the rage, and I obviously needed one.

One of the many things I hate about myself is how easily I fall prey to fads. One of the other things I hate about myself is that whenever I fall prey to a fad, I am always the last one to find about it. I’m always the person who only starts liking a band once they’ve had a big hit. I can never claim the hipster-level cred of having loved Coldplay back in the late 90s before everyone got sick of “The Scientist.” In fact, I am still not sick of “The Scientist.” So basically, I will never be a trend-setter, only a follower, and to be truly cool, you have to be the first to do something, but I’ve never been the first to do anything, because that would require too much social risk. Yet at the same time there’s another kind of social risk in taking too long to catch on. I’ll never forget the time I brought my brand new Cabbage Patch Doll to school in the fifth grade, only to find out that the popular girls had abandoned theirs the previous weekend.

Timing is key when it comes to trends, and I was already late to the Fitbit party, but this time I didn’t care because I was still determined that being thin was the ultimate solution to everything. At the very least, I believed that if I were a size two that my career would take off, my marriage would be secure, I’d have lots of glamorous friends, and I would finally HAVE IT ALL.

I got my husband to buy me a Fitbit because this would kill several birds with one stone: I didn’t have to pay for it, I could prove that I was taking concrete proactive steps to be healthier and more attractive, and I could also harbor resentment toward him for not telling me that I was flawless as-is and did not need a Fitbit in the first place. For the record, my perfect relationship would be with someone who required absolutely nothing of me except my existence. I once saw a viral Internet post that was a picture of a guy hand-feeding his girl chicken nuggets while she got her nails done, and that seemed like a couples’ goal worth striving for. I put the photo on my vision board, but as yet my man hasn’t run to Chick-fil-a while I’m at the salon.

My husband is one of those people who is excellent at putting things together, hooking up electronics, and filling out online forms. When confronted with any of those tasks, I lose the ability to function normally, decry all technological advances, and melt into a heap on the floor gnashing my teeth, wailing how I should have been born in pioneer times. Except, if we are going to be totally honest here, I am no Ma Ingalls, either. I have zero interest in making hoop cheese, and I’m consciously grateful every day that the only corset I have ever worn was an ill-advised late 90s purchase from Charlotte Russe. So needless to say, my husband was in charge of setting up my Fitbit.

The Fitbit came with parts: chargers, cords, mysterious chips that needed inserting into USB ports in my laptop. Like everything in the complex new millennium, there were logins and passwords to create and confirm, emails that must be exchanged, and endless questions that the device wanted answered. I even had to tell it my actual weight, and I was honest, because I had a sneaking suspicion that it would know if I lied. My husband helped me with all of that, but then it was my turn. I’d have to do my part by walking.

“Take a spin around the block and try it out,” he said.

I gave him the side-eye. I may have audibly growled, but I laced up my sneakers and went outside.

The bracelet syncs to a smartphone app that tracks steps and time spent consistently active, so while I walked I stared at my screen (obviously a safe thing to do) watching the numbers tick up. It was practically euphoric. My initial goal was to walk 10,000 steps per day, or just under five miles, and to log at least thirty active minutes. Although the device didn’t say this explicitly, it definitely implied that if I did this every day that all of my dreams would come true.

They say that it only takes one time smoking crack to become dangerously addicted, and the same rings true for walking with a Fitbit. I was hooked after approximately 2,000 steps. When I got home from my first jaunt around the block, it rewarded me with a push notification, further sealing the deal. I knew I was in trouble when later the same evening, when I went to Target for the 76th time that week, I parked at the far end of the lot just so I could grab a few hundred extra steps. Normally, I’ll circle the lot a minimum of twenty-minutes just to get a spot three feet closer to the door. Later that night, I took another walk, this time longer than the first, because I needed to reach that goal. I was almost scared of what might happen if I didn’t, because the Fitbit looked like it might zap me with electricity as punishment if I didn’t stay in line. But no. The bracelet sent me more texts, colorful with praise and exclamation points. The next morning, I bounded out of bed predawn to take another walk.

I barely recognized myself.

In the spring of 2000, a psychiatrist formally diagnosed me with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I’m not one of those people you see on TV who washes the skin off their hands, or counts the ceiling tiles — my version of OCD is a lot less theatrical. Over the years, I’ve learned to manage my symptoms, to channel them into productive activities like baseboard scrubbing and closet organization. Sometimes, when my compulsions have gotten out of control, I’ve had to tone them down with medication, but this hadn’t happened in a long time, and I’d come to think of my OCD as more of a personality quirk that I could live with instead of a full blown disease. That was before I got a Fitbit.

The Fitbit had awakened a sleeping monster in my basal ganglia. It was the ultimate OCD trigger, appealing to everything that made my brain spin and whir like a windmill in a hurricane. Calculating, logging, and tracking, the Fitbit showed me that my actions produced measurable results. On top of that, the damn thing praised me incessantly, which was more than I could say for any of the human beings in my life. Whereas the people around me had often become impatient and critical of my faults, the Fitbit was an electronic source of the unconditional positive regard I’d always craved. Don’t even get me started on its connection to my iPhone addiction. It wasn’t like I needed another excuse to mess with my phone, but I certainly welcomed it with open arms, or thumbs as the case may be, checking the app a few times an hour to rate my progress. I struggled with loneliness too, and wished that my friends would text me, and where real people failed, technology succeeded. I heard from my Fitbit hourly as it cheerily encouraged me to get up and move. People weren’t that reliable.

Within a week, I had turned into Joaquin Phoenix in Her, only instead of being enamored with a computer program, I was in love with my Fitbit. It had managed the impossible by turning me, the girl who was so unathletic that she’d been suspended in high school for cutting the dreaded gym class to buy potato chips at an off-campus convenience store, into a woman who couldn’t stop exercising. On more than one occasion, I found myself pacing the floors of my darkened house close to midnight while my family slept, because I was THIS CLOSE to my 10,000 steps and could not go to bed without making my bracelet buzz.

I loved my Fitbit so much that I began to wish it tracked and rewarded other aspects of our lives like parenting, or romantic relationships. Imagine the possibilities.

I would love an app that rewarded me for all the things I did as a mom. Forget earning a badge for walking the equivalent of the length of India. I needed a parenting app that sent me motivational quotes, logged my hard-earned milestones, and awarded me with a message like: “Fantastic! Between camp, swimming, Mommy and Me, Kindermusik, the grocery store, and a last-minute playdate, you drove 250 miles in two days while listening to Kidz Bop. You are excused from cooking dinner. The calories from fast food drive-thru officially do not count tonight!” Or how about a “Zen Master” Badge for not cussing out that smug crunchy mom at the playground who told me my daughter’s picky eating could be solved with something called “Thieves?” That was a real milestone, especially when it was obvious she was just trying to sell me some overpriced MLM essential oils. Talk about thievery.

Husbands everywhere could use a romance Fitbit reminding them of their wives’ birthdays, and sending words of encouragement for finally fixing the ceiling fan, or making a simple snack without the kitchen looking like a scene from Apocalypse, Now. Think of how many marriages would be improved if our partners wore bracelets that purred with approval each time they brought home flowers, or let their other half sleep in while they took the kids to the park.

But maybe my regular Fitbit was enough for now. It had, after all, consumed me. Incidentally, I hadn’t lost any noticeable weight. My husband commented, after I’d worn the thing for about three weeks, that I appeared more toned, but I saw no difference. Instead, I felt a difference.

I am absolutely loathe to admit this, but when I walk ten thousand steps a day, I am a lot less sick and depressed. There. I said it.

One day in yoga, my teacher said something that registered with me as both obvious and simple, but totally profound all at once.

“What is the purpose of the human body?” she asked.

I immediately thought of a list of things that pissed me off about my body. A lot of the time, it seemed to me like its purpose was to be attractive to others, and that it continually failed at that one job. Thanks, stretch marks on my ass and rogue hairs. Or maybe my body’s purpose was to thwart all of my efforts to live how I liked. I mean, why else would I always get diarrhea when I was nowhere near a bathroom, or start my period the day before vacation? It tended to get sick before parties too, and it further summoned my ire by refusing to bend and twist into advanced yoga poses. It hurt, smelled, made weird noises, and remained stubbornly animal and abject no matter how much vanilla-scented, glitter mist from Bath & Body Works I tried to spray on to transform myself into a fairy princess.

“The purpose of the body is to move,” the yoga teacher said, “Think about it. Your body is the container for your soul, your consciousness. You need this body to transport your spirit around, like a vehicle, through the world. You experience life and creation here through your physical body. When you are sedentary, when you refuse to use your beautiful body for its intended purpose of movement, it stops working properly. Everything malfunctions. You get sick mentally and physically.”

It made so much sense. My body, even with its limitations, craved movement even when my mind tried to convince me that the healthiest possible activity was reading in bed. Reading in bed is still wonderful, but when I walk, everything is more balanced. My digestion improves and my stomach hurts less, and I”m able to focus my thoughts better so they don’t spin out of control quite as much or as dramatically. Since I’m essentially wearing myself out I also sleep better, and for me, walking is my favorite form of exercise because I have always enjoyed being outside.

On my daily walks, I look forward to seeing the birds, or petting my neighbor’s cats at the edges of their driveways. I liked seeing some orchids blooming in a sabal palm, and watching the progress on a home being remodeled down the street. Some days I go to the beach, kick off my shoes and walk in the wet sand looking for sea glass and shells. If it rains, I walk in the mall and entertain myself by admiring the new summer collections in the store windows. None of these things seem like a work-out. They just seem like fun ways to pass time.

Eventually walking became something I looked forward to, instead of a chore, or some weird OCD compulsion that I had to satisfy lest I feel even more anxiety. Taking walks turned into something pleasant that I did for myself to shake out my joints and clear my head, instead of a miserable obligation, because lord knows, I already have enough miserable obligations.

Exercising, and using our bodies for their intended purposes, shouldn’t feel like torture. In fact, walking became such a part of my life that eventually I forgot to obsess so much about my weight (this is a lie) or my Fitbit. I’m proud to say that my Fitbit has integrated nicely into my life as more of a pleasant reminder to get up and move throughout the day instead of a freaky obsession. It doesn’t feel like punishment, it doesn’t hurt, and although I still don’t look like a Victoria’s Secret model, I’m glad I’m using my body for its intended purpose more.

Why I Won’t Be Your Next Self-Help Guru

I have to confess an embarrassing secret. Several years ago I imagined myself as your next big, self-help guru. I made this my goal, I pasted it on vision boards, and I spoke it aloud to make it real. My dream was to travel the world speaking words of inspiration to awed crowds who would leave my speeches with a renewed sense of hope, feeling that they were now able to face their problems with inner peace, loving themselves. I wanted to write books that made people feel like they weren’t alone and that they were going to be okay in spite of the hands they’d been dealt. In doing this, I think I somehow believed that I too would have inner peace and self-love and be fixed. I would also, finally, after all these years be the kind of person who likes green juice, has discipline, does not watch trash TV, never spends hours on Instagram stalking former exes and the bitches that terrorized me in middle school, and oh my god feels awful when I don’t exercise every single day.

I am exactly zero of this. For the record, I feel fantastic on the days that I don’t exercise, my worst sixth grade bully made crock pot pulled pork yesterday, I want to gag when I see people chugging celery juice on social media, and I dream of spending hours watching 90 Day Fiancé or something equally tawdry and exploitative, with a king size Snickers in one hand and the remote in the other. That is who I am. Partly anyway.

I will never be a light-worker. I shudder to think that at one point in my life I proudly announced that this is what I was. Not even wanted to be, but WAS. Like for real, I can’t even change the bulb on my ceramic, probably cancer causing, scent-warmer thing without a major production, but here I was announcing to the world that I was a LIGHT-WORKER.

I gave myself a job that I now realize I am not qualified for. Here’s why:

1.      I am not a skinny blonde. The first five successful self-help gurus I can think of off the top of my head are all rail thin, blonde white women. There are even more than that. I will never ever be a skinny, blonde woman, although I am white. My natural hair color is a shade away from black. My eyes are the same color. Skinny I am not, nor will I ever be. I come from burly farm woman stock. I’m tall and thick, and I have big boobs, but not in a good way because my big boobs are real and nursed a child for a long time, so they are disqualified. The way I look is not a beauty archetype.


I have a working theory about the whole skinny blonde thing, and I do believe that how these women look plays some part in their success. I’m sure they would argue me on this and credit The Secret or something, but hear me out. These women DO look like a beauty archetype. They are the embodiment of mainstream beauty ideals. They LOOK like what most people unconsciously equate with success. When you look like this, to paraphrase Glennon Doyle to some extent, people automatically assume you have your shit together. People will listen to and glom on to people they think have their shit together, like that shit-togetherness and privilege will rub off on them.


Another thing is that these wellness-leaders look like stereotypical popular girls. The vast majority of us were not popular in middle and high school, many of us felt left-out and lonely, and those feelings have never totally left us. Inside every one of us is the kid who wanted to fit in in high school and who spent hours alone imagining how great life would be if we too could be popular. We are still trying to grab that elusive ring. Although they’d never admit to this either, the Queen Bees of self-help are essentially selling what we always wanted in adolescence – a how-to guide to popularity and perfection.


I can’t be a self-help superstar because nobody wants to look like me, which means no matter how wise I might be (I’m actually not, but more on that later) no one will listen to me. Also, my hair is as coarse and straight as a horse’s mane, so I can’t do that beachy wave thing that every inspirational speaker does with her expensively highlighted hairdo.


2.      I have no tolerance for vague BS. The entire holistic community speaks a bizarrely vague, coded language of faux positivity that doesn’t actually say much of anything. It’s right up there with the creepy jargon of evangelicals, just different. As an English teacher, who grades papers daily, when I read self-help books and inspirational quotes, it’s all I can do not to grab a red pen and x out half the page, scrawling VAGUE across entire paragraphs. What are these people actually saying?

 In the present space of the divine now, greatly brave in the lightfulness of your true source authenticity. Hold space for your vulnerability to manifest bliss at the soul level. Purge your quantum essence of stagnation. Breathe into your fullest equanimity.

 The fuck does that even mean? Nothing. It means absolutely nothing. I know because I made it up using New Age buzz words, but I guarantee you I could take that paragraph into a yoga class and recite it when people were in savasana and half the class would be in tears about how my words had resonated with them.

 So why do people eat this stuff up and spend tons of money to hear it? The answer is precisely because it’s meaningless. They can project their own meanings onto it. When people say these words speak directly to them, it’s because they’ve attached their own meaning, which means they don’t have to hear actual concrete advice that is usually difficult, unpleasant, and not fun or magical at all. This stuff is way easier and much prettier.

 I suggest that if you enjoy lyrical language so much that your soul would be much more nourished by reading actual poetry.

 3.      Food is wonderful. I have fraught and complicated issues with food because I am a middle class white woman in America and I am basic AF, so of course my relationship with food is problematic. The problem is I have no will power whatsoever and I love food more than I wish to be thin. I constantly say I want to be thin, but I am not willing to give up deliciousness to get there, so there ya go. I love to eat, and I love to eat all kinds of things. In order to be a successful self-help guru one must develop of deep and pervasive terror of food, but it cannot be for vain reasons (even though it is). It is for HEALTH reasons, because TOXINS. I have yet to develop this level of fear for long enough to make any sort of difference in my physique.

 Entire food groups must be eliminated. Questionable science should be cited. In fact, forget science period. You can just blatantly make up health facts and if people want to be skinny enough they will accept it without question.

 For real, I know people who ate actual clay and charcoal because they swore it was healthy.

 3A. This is kind of a sub-point. I’m not willing to body shame anyone in the name of enlightenment or self-improvement. The majority of the wellness community engages in horrific backhanded body shaming, and they get away with it because they make it sound nice, and positive, and like it’s all about self-improvement and being your best self and health. It’s the equivalent of your annoying aunt who points out at Thanksgiving that you shouldn’t have seconds of stuffing, and when you get mad she says something like “But, sweetie, it’s just because I love you so much and I care about your health and I don’t want you to be alone forever, because you know how people are.”

 4.      I trust my liver. The holistic wellness folk are obsessed with toxins and cleanses and ridding your body of whatever these mysterious toxins are. They are completely preoccupied with and phobic of toxins. Here’s the deal, if you are worried about toxins, you probably don’t actually have any. Stop being obsessed with purity. It doesn’t exist. You’ll never get to a state where you’re like “okay, I’m pure now so I can stop worrying about this.”

 I don’t do any of those things. I think my liver can handle the relatively small amount of actual toxicity I impose on it, and I figure if I’m too pure, my liver would get bored. I have to give it SOMETHING to do. Come on.

 5.      No one wants to see my ass on Instagram. Sex sells. And it sells to New Agers same as everyone else. They just reframe sexy pictures as anything other than sexy, add some quickly googled inspirational quote that’s probably misattributed and BAM. Watch the likes pour in. I can’t even count how many times I have seen comments on ass pictures saying how deeply life changing, inspiring, and moving that ass picture is. I’m like “IT’S AN ASS PICTURE.”

Am I jealous? Obviously. See? I’m also too petty to be a New Age influencer.

I don’t really like to take or post a lot of pictures of myself. I’ll do it every now and then if I get one where I don’t look old and misshapen, but I don’t want to make a habit out of it. I feel like, why would people just want to look at a bunch of pictures of me? That seems so narcissistic. I prefer turning the camera lens outward. I’d rather show you the beauty in the world as I find it, rather than have you look at me and tell me I’m beautiful.

 6.      I am an asshole. I don’t want to be an asshole, but I’ve had to accept the fact that I am far too much of an asshole to ever be a self-help guru. Everything gets on my nerves. I am perimenopausal and please don’t mess with me. I have no patience for your nonsense. I just want to sit in bed and play with my phone. Go away. I do not radiate divine light, and I am not floaty or dreamy or breathy when I speak.

 To be a successful Light Worker, one must be your standard manic pixie dream girl. I’m not happy about this, but I am far from the days of ever being a supporting character in a Cameron Crowe movie. Even that reference shows my age.

 I am now a depressed crone-like middle-aged nightmare woman.


7.      I don’t think everything that happens to us is our fault. At some point I probably did believe this, but I looked more deeply into this belief system, which is pervasive in American culture in particular, and I’m not buying into it any more. Someday maybe I’ll write more in depth about this, but essentially what I’m saying is that we have this culture where we’re told that we create our destiny. Everything is up to us. Our choices shape us. We are in control of everything. Hard work pays off. If you don’t have what you want you are obviously doing something wrong. This is a core American belief, it’s part of a lot of Evangelical beliefs, and it’s been repackaged with different language and pretty crystals in the New Age world. But just because it smells like palo santo doesn’t mean it’s anything different than the same old you get what you deserve nonsense.

 Sometimes people do get what they deserve. A lot of times they don’t. Sometimes hard work is just hard work and makes us sick and exhausted instead of rich and famous. Often we can make all the right choices and the rug still gets pulled out from under us. Sometimes shit just happens and it isn’t for a reason. I tend to embrace randomness. That’s probably why I have panic attacks.

 Sometimes it really seems like the bad things that happen to people occur as a direct result of their choices, but only sort of. On the surface it can often look like this, sure, but what about when you go bigger? What about look at why people make those choices in the first place, or look at how limited those choices often are and why. Turn it around in your head a few times, go beyond the obvious, and you’ll see that things aren’t usually as simple as blaming everyone for what went wrong in their lives.

 I’m more a fan of blaming the collective over the individual. Not in every case, but in most.

 When that’s what’s going on, the advice and language used by the wellness community is actually, dare I say it, pretty toxic. I’m not saying that the gurus are intentionally harmful. I know most of them are coming from good places, and I always give credit for meaning well (I think it’s awful not to), but I also think that maybe instead of so much telling people they aren’t breathing right and trying to sell vagina crystals and luxury spa retreats in third world countries, that they could direct some of their time and “energy” and MONEY toward working on dismantling the systems of oppression that societies have in place that are what’s actually making everyone sick, sad, anxious, and unfulfilled in the first place.

 8.      I am so not fixed. Some days I’m fantastic. Some days I’m a mess. I’m usually pretty honest about it and I do possess a decent level of self-awareness even if I don’t have the skills to act on that awareness and make changes. I think some of the reason my aspirations for being a Light Worker never panned out is that I’m still a work in progress. I just haven’t earned it yet, baby. Besides that, I cuss way too much.

 9.      I can’t afford most of this stuff. Holistic healing in an expensive undertaking. That’s because, like anything else, it is a business. I don’t have a problem with that, except when it tries to make people think that it isn’t the industry that it, in fact, is. I mean, just be honest. These people who are trying to sell you essential oils, meditation retreats, kombucha workshops, mala beads, yoni steamers, and whatever the trend is this week, are trying to make a living too, and I don’t necessarily begrudge them of that. I also don’t necessarily think that it’s all a sham (some of it is, some isn’t) but I do think that to really be able to live this lifestyle, which I’m sure is undoubtedly healthier than most alternatives, you truly need a lot of money. That means that the healing promised isn’t accessible to everyone, and therefore it’s no different than the mainstream healthcare system in our country where the rich people are the ones who get to heal and be healthy, while people with less means stay sick and struggling. That’s not fair. So would I be healthier if I could consistently afford weekly acupuncture, all organic produce, a personal trainer, meditation classes, salt therapy, float therapy, a weekend yoga vacation, and all the other treatments and supplements that go along with it? Hell yes I would. Obviously. But is any of that practical for most people? Definitely not. And that’s my point. And I have a problem with people who can afford all of that stuff telling people who cannot that if they would just do these things that they’d be fixed.


We need self-help for poor people that doesn’t make them poorer, and then blame them for not being rich and beautiful already.


So here’s where I am instead. I’m fine with my failed career in New Age holistic wellness woo-woo. But I still want people to know that they are not alone, and I began to look deeply at what I was actually trying to accomplish. I want to be a helper. That’s the root of this. But perhaps the world doesn’t need me to help out by charging people thousands of dollars to go on a fancy vacation with me so I can tell them, gently, to love themselves more.

 I needed to take my own advice about that dismantling stuff, and it was overwhelming at first, like, what can I even do? What do I have that can help? And then I figured it out. I had an education, and I could teach. I DO teach. And wait! I could work to dismantle a lot of wrong and unfair shit just in my little classroom alone!

 So I’m starting small and I’m working hard and I’m still trying to figure things out as I go. I’m doing my best and I’m okay with it.

 The reasons I’d be a terrible self-help guru are the exact qualities that make me a great teacher. I question everything relentlessly, even obsessively. I love to analyze. I don’t take anything at face value. My BS detector is state of the art. I will always love the wellness world – it’s very pretty and relaxing over there and there’s a lot that’s very appealing. I just don’t think I’m as cut out to lead workshops in vibrational vortex healing as I am in rhetorical analysis.


Halloween in the 70s vs. Today

A Step by Step Guide…

Halloween in the 70s

1.      Two weeks before Halloween bring the small box of Halloween decorations up from the basement. Scotch tape the two dimensional, cardboard skeleton to the front door. Open up the crepe paper honeycomb pumpkin and put it on an end table in the living room next to the gigantic, iron eagle lamp. Dump a bag of candy corn in an amber glass candy dish. Done. Smoke a cigarette and let the kids watch Creature Feature on the TV set all afternoon to get in the mood.

 2.      One week before Halloween grab a pumpkin at the supermarket when you run in to get cube steaks.

 3.      Check the TV Guide to make sure the kids don’t miss “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” when it’s on. Let them have the Swanson TV dinners in the little tins on TV trays in the den as a special treat that night.

 4.      Go to the town drug store down on Main Street to pick up supplies. Get a big bag of Smarties and Tootsie Rolls, film for the Kodak and some flash cubes, and let the youngest kids pick out a costume in a box – basically a flimsy plastic rain poncho with a picture of their favorite character on the front and a mask with minuscule eyeholes and a teeny slit for a mouth to (somewhat) breathe out of. They’ll probably choose something like Wonder Woman, Holly Hobbie, Casper the Friendly Ghost, Bullwinkle, Wilma Flintstone, Mighty Mouse, or Dom DeLuise. Possibly Vinnie Barbarino from “Welcome Back Kotter.” Or you know, maybe a cute, happy, clown. Everyone loves clowns.

 5.      Allow the older children to come up with their own costumes. Let them rummage through the attic for ideas. Possible options are: use the old rubber mask that you’ve had for fifteen years and wear one of dad’s flannel shirts and be something vaguely scary, or take an old sheet and cut some holes and be a ghost. They will go as a bum, a gypsy, and someone will throw an Afghan over their shoulders along with the sombrero that Grandma brought back from her cruise to Puerto Vallarta, and call that a costume.

 6.      Bake some homemade (Duncan Hines) cupcakes for the class Halloween party and make bright orange frosting by mixing red and yellow food coloring right in the can. Top with a Brach’s Mellowcreme Pumpkin. Deliver the cupcakes to the class party, enjoy the kids’ costume parade through the school, then go have a Virginia Slim with the other moms on the playground (no dads are there).

 7.      The night before Halloween, let Dad carve the pumpkin with the children. Cover the dinette set in the kitchen with newspaper and give him a butcher knife to make triangles for a nose and eyes. Have a Tab and watch “Laverne and Shirley” until it’s time to clean up. Toss all of the seeds because no one ever eats them anyway. Leave the jack o lantern inside because this is Mischief Night.

 8.      Halloween Morning, survey the Mischief Night damage. You got off easy with a light toilet papering of the shrubs in the front yard. There are several smashed pumpkins in the street, and some egged Chevrolets. Your El Camino and the Duster next door are clean. The house that got hit the worst belongs to the weird family on the corner who, instead of Three Musketeers bars, hands out creepy comic books about trick or treaters going to Hell.

 9.      Halloween evening. After an early dinner, turn the porch light on, light a candle in the jack ‘o’ lantern and put it on the front stoop. Tell the children to get into their costumes themselves and hurry up because their cousins are on their way over (on foot) and it’s important to get to the house across the road where they hand out McDonalds gift certificates. Those things go fast now that everyone’s in on the secret.

10.   When the cousins arrive, bundle your brood within an inch of their lives. So what if you can’t see their costumes, they’ve still got masks. It’s freezing out there. There may even be flurries. They will all throw fits about their coats covering their costumes. Ignore them.

That's me as Casper.

That's me as Casper.


11.  Give the kids some old pillowcases for their candy and don’t forget their Unicef boxes. Hand them a flashlight from the garage and turn them loose. They will inevitably complain about the house on the corner that hands out raisins and toothbrushes. You understand though. Who does something like that? (People who watch PBS.) All the other neighbors are fine. Tell the kids to get you an extra rice krispie treat from Mrs. Allen. Hers are the best.


 12.  Hand out candy to all the trick or treaters. It seems like there are at least a hundred. Every year there are more. Thank heavens you got an extra bag of Dum Dums and Bazooka.

 13.  When the kids get back, quickly scan their candy to make sure it’s okay, knowing this is ridiculous because you know all of your neighbors. You are secretly excited about all the homemade treats and the McDonalds gift certificates because you can go get those crispy, bubbly, deep fried apple pies tomorrow. Steal a couple Snickers.

 14.  Throw out ALL of the Necco Wafers and Sugar Daddies. These are disgusting. Take snapshots of the kids smoking candy cigarettes. Send everyone to bed with the rest of their candy.

Photo via Snopes.Com (It's a joke!)

Photo via Snopes.Com (It's a joke!)

Halloween Today…

1.      September 1st. Pumpkin Spice is upon us. Buy pumpkin spice coffee, coffee creamer, candles, air freshener, pumpkin butter, pumpkin bread, pumpkin kale chips, pumpkin spice gluten free granola, pumpkin spice Pringles, pumpkin spiced oreos, and tampons.

 2.      Redecorate your entire house with fall wreaths, decorative gourds, wicker pumpkins, all things orange and brown and rustic, and be sure to remember as many pieces of wood with inspirational quotes about harvest and family and gratitude painted on them as possible.

 3.      October 1st – begin important research into acceptable Halloween costumes free of cultural appropriation, micro-aggressions, and anything that may, in any possible way, cause anyone to feel even slightly uncomfortable about anything. Scour Etsy for cute felt animal costumes that look very twee and somewhat vaguely Scandinavian. No, your toddler can’t go as Chase from Paw Patrol because people have been seriously traumatized by dog attacks and many people have phobias of dogs and may be triggered.

4.      Fail utterly at convincing your eleven year old daughter not to pick a “cat” outfit that looks exactly like a feline prostitute, complete with fishnet thigh-highs and a bustier because “ALL HER FRIENDS’ COSTUMES HAVE GARTER BELTS, MO-OM.” Well, maybe this is because she has a healthy body image and will grow up to be a sex positive woman.

Photo via Pinterest.Com (Also a Joke, Don't Flip Out.)

Photo via Pinterest.Com (Also a Joke, Don't Flip Out.)

 5.      Paint a teal pumpkin and buy non-food treats. Spend $87.00 on organic, locally grown boxes of raisins, and toothbrushes made from recycled yoga mats. Candy is out of the question. What kind of a monster would give kids candy?

6.      Pray that your four-year-old son’s witch costume is not offensive to actual Wiccans, because Samhain is a very important holy day in their religion and people’s belief systems should not be objectified and reduced down to caricatures. The whole broom and pointy hat thing is an unfair stereotype, as is the green skin. Call your own mother and ask how one year she actually let you go as a Roma woman, because they are an oppressed European minority. She has no idea what you’re talking about.

 7.      Receive robo-call from your daughter’s school RE: URGENT CLOWN THREAT. The school is on lockdown because scary clowns. No one panic now.

 8.      Plan pumpkin patch visit. Pack family in car in coordinated plaid, earth-toned outfits, drive over an hour away, fight the hoardes of PSL fueled maniacs for a parking space. Stage informal, spontaneous (not really) photoshoot in the pumpkin patch with 400 other identical families doing the exact same thing, and then spend $135.00 on biodynamically grown pumpkins and a bushel of heirloom apples. Post 27 pumpkin photos on Instagram. Come home to find that everyone has an itchy rash from the hayride. Put arnica on it. #itsworthitfortheciderslushies

 9.      Buy expensive pumpkin carving kit with Dremel tool, stencils, and templates. Let the children watch as you spend four hours masterfully etching a complicated Halloween scene into the pumpkin’s flesh per something you saw on Pinterest. After fifteen minutes they get bored and disappear into their rooms to watch Charlie Brown on their iPads. Save all the pumpkin seeds to roast via the recipe you saw on Epicurious.

 10.  Dip elaborately carved pumpkin into bleach solution that you read about online in desperate attempt to preserve your masterpiece until Halloween. Place LED candle inside. Put on front step to find that the next morning it has been eaten by opossums. 

11.  Try desperately to get the kids to watch Hocus Pocus with you. Feel heartbreak when they don’t “get it.” Come on, there’s a talking cat! How can they not love the Sanderson Sisters?

 12.  No one liked the Epicurious pumpkin seed recipe. It was like eating tear dropped shaped bits of cardboard sprinkled with cinnamon.

 13.  No, your son cannot watch Halloween on Netflix. This movie attaches a stigma to mental illness, a serious condition that doesn’t actually cause people to wear weird masks and go on mass stabbing sprees. Michael Myers was a character that needed compassion and understanding, and a team of good medical professionals and holistic healers. Reiki could’ve totally saved Haddonfield, Illinois.

 14.  Receive note home from kids’ school that explains there will be an “Autumn Harvest Celebration” the week before Halloween, but that it must, under no circumstances, contain any references to actual Halloween. There will be no costumes or costume parade, and all treats for the classroom must be store-bought and individually wrapped and cannot be in the shape of ghosts, Goddess forbid.

 15.  Buy personalized, artisan-crafted, wicker, trick or treat baskets for the children on Etsy.

 16.  Mischief Night? Huh? That doesn’t sound very mindful.

 17.  Wonder why you feel like that mom in The Babadook. Post something on Facebook about how tired you are and how much coffee you need.

 18.  Halloween afternoon: Take the children trick or treating at Whole Foods so they can fill their artisan wicker baskets with free samples of vitamin drink mix, pumpkin quinoa chips, Mayan spiced pepitas, vegan gummies, and 70% cacao, free trade, dark chocolate, which everyone knows children love. Feel bad and buy them sunbutter cups and hibiscus iced tea.

 19.  Realize you were so busy that you forgot to dress up. Your Halloween costume is officially the gold butterfly sparkle Snapchat filter. Change all your social media profile pics to a butterfly head selfie. This is fine because you look more attractive, are more interesting, and lead a richer life online anyway.

 20.  Relent when the entire family revolts and demands to trick or treat for actual candy. Explain that trick or treating is an unsafe activity, that you will not let them knock on strangers’ doors in the dark because we have no idea who our neighbors are, and even if we did know them, there are too many people leading double lives these days, so you can never really know anyone, so, fine we are going to the mall.

 21.  Joylessly trick or treat at the mall. Live Tweet your frustration as this turns into an epic battle to keep your youngest away from Build a Bear and your eleven year old in her “cat” costume out of Justice.

 22.  Get home before sunset. Attempt to get everyone to eat gluten-free, butternut squash and sage tortellini.

 23.  Meticulously inspect each piece of candy your children received from the mall because you can never be too sure about those girls that work at Pottery Barn. Find zero razor blades. Hand each child one cream soda Dum Dum because they seem like they have less food dyes.

 24.  Turn on the porch light, put out the terra cotta jack o lantern from Hearthstone, along with the teal pumpkin, listen to an Indie Halloween playlist on Apple Music, and wait for trick or treaters.

25.  Three hours later – There was only one trick or treater and he appeared to be about twenty-three and was wearing a suit. Oh wait, he wasn’t trick or treating. He wanted to talk about some kind of religion. Give him all the raisins and toothbrushes anyway. Make him take them.

 26.  Bust out the Switch Witch. She needs all that garbage candy the kids got at the mall to heat her house or some BS. The kids look dubious, but you convince them to give up their Swedish Fish, Warheads, Sour Patch Kids, and Pretzel M & Ms anyway because the Switch Witch will leave them some toys in exchange.

 27.  Once the kids go to bed, eat ALL the Pretzel M & Ms. Throw the candy in the outside trash where no one will find it and leave the children a bunch of trinkets from Dollar Tree knowing full well they will hate you for this in the morning.

 28.  The next day – Relief. Now you can start getting ready for Thanksgiving.

Happy Halloween Everyone! May your October 31st be free of refined sugar and micro-aggressions.

If you liked this piece, you’ll also enjoy these:

Thanksgiving Back in the Day Vs. Now

Don’t Be An Asshole on The Internet

If 70s Moms Had Blogs

 And if you enjoy my posts, you’ll love my memoir THIS IS NOT MY BEAUTIFUL LIFE, now available everywhere!

You're Better Than That, Corey Feldman.

Photo cred: US Weekly

Photo cred: US Weekly

Dear Corey Feldman,

Hi. I’m guessing that you are probably reading this because you have set up a Google Alert for yourself. No shame. Not judging. I have one too, so I get it.

I know you’re having a hard time with the reaction to your recent Today Show performance. People said some things, Corey, and they made you cry, which is awful. Screw those people. Get out of bed. I’m not going to be one of them. I thought they were mean, and I sincerely don’t want to hurt your feelings. You come off as a person who’s probably had his feelings hurt enough already. I know your story, and you’ve been through some shit, man. Let me just stop to take a second and validate that.

However, Corey Feldman, we need to talk. Just you and me. This is going to go sort of Intervention style, and I might say some things that are tough to hear, but you need to listen to me.

What you did on the Today Show wasn’t working for a lot of us. I don’t know what it was about it, but I found myself, like many others, strangely fascinated by it. I could tell you were trying. I could see you remembering your choreography. I give you props there because I can’t dance at all. Not even a little bit, so I know this was tough. I could see you trying hard to channel Michael and I think maybe Kurt, and also a little Trent, plus, yeah, Kylo Ren. This is where you went wrong.

I could see how much passion you put into that performance, but it still went terribly wrong in the eyes of the public. I kept thinking: Dude. Come. On. You need to be yourself. Yourself now. Not yourself in 1987 and for that matter not anyone else from the late 80s either. That was a long damn time ago. We have moved on. We will love you for you.

The last thing anyone on the planet should ever try to do is be Michael Jackson. There was only one Michael Jackson, and the thing is, his window of actual coolness was very tiny and closed very quickly before he turned into a total wack job freak show. You do not want to be associated with that level of trainwreck. Seriously. Michael Jackson? He might have been a nice person to you, but he was the very essence of dysfunction and disaster and he looked ridiculous and was such a mess that he died from being a mess, and I tend to believe the stories that he was a pedophile, which I feel is so tragic.

You are better than that, Corey Feldman.

Michael Jackson as an aesthetic, not as an actual human being, is cheesy and lame. The only person who has even been able to come close to successfully emulating MJ is The Weekend or however the hell he spells his name, and he looks NOTHING like Michael. He just legit sings like him, except arguably better, and The Weekend is cool as shit. Why? Because he is original. There is no one else like him. IDGAF oozes off of him, and he doesn’t need to resort to a whole lot of schtick because he has real talent.

You have talent too. Also, you seem like the nicest person ever. I want you to stop with the dark evil look and be nice and inspiring. You got that in you, man. Do I have to get Tony Robbins on you?

If your songs are good, they’ll stand on their own, and you know what? As a proud ironic hipster, the more I heard your song, the more I liked it and that’s not easy for me to admit. But all the other stuff distracted me from it. What I’m saying is, if your music is real, you don’t need the drama, or the angels.

Can we talk about those angels? Fuck those angels. Not literally. I hate those angels. I’m sure they’re lovely girls, but I fucking can’t stand the image of sexy women dressed up in the Slutty Angel Halloween costume from Party City. How can I take this even a little seriously as art? I cannot. Neither can anyone else. It’s stupid. Stop making those girls dress like that. They will never ever be the Teen Spirit goth cheerleaders, nor can they ever compare to the Victoria’s Secret angels. Objectifying women into a pitiful cliché will never make you edgy. Just let them wear normal clothes. I feel like just getting rid of the angel costumes would change a lot.

No more cheeseball BS. You are better than that, Corey. Don’t forget it. I’m going to say it over and over ‘til it sinks in. I really want to send you to Stacey London for a makeover because I firmly believe that you could be transformed into a much classier, hipper version of hotness that would surprise a lot of people. I think with the right stylist you could be in that People issue about sexy men. Not even kidding.

Someone has mislead or mismanaged you and I’m sure there’s a long, upsetting, unfair story behind how this happened. Maybe you too made some bad choices.

But I am sick of listening to people make fun of you for it, and I want you to listen to me. I will not lead you wrong. We can show all of those haters.

You are a brilliant actor. I am offering up one of my deepest darkest secrets as proof. I even liked Blown Away. You are so good that you made Blown Away entertaining. It was a guilty pleasure. I had it on VHS tape. I really liked Dream a Little Dream too. Like, a lot. I don’t know why it wasn’t more successful. I thought it was great. At least in 1989 I did. I might think otherwise today, but back then I loved it and I wanted to be Meredith Salenger bad.

I don’t think talent like that goes away. Which means that you could be great again. Greater even.

Corey Feldman, you need to find your Tarantino.

Do you have a clue how awesome you would be in a movie that was actually well-written and well-directed? You would kill it in something Pulp-Fiction-esque. You need a genius director to take that chance on you like Tarantino did for Travolta. I could see you going full on Coen Brothers. You would be the greatest Coen Brothers villain since Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men. You need Paul Thomas Anderson. You need roles like Joaquin Phoenix gets. You can be that good.

You need an Oscar, Corey. We’ve got to get you a comeback. I’m even willing to start a petition to Hollywood to bring you back in something that isn’t straight to Netflix or a TV show that no one has ever heard of or is on VH1 (does that even still exist?) I’m talking real movies here. Sundance. Cannes. Toronto. Movies that are real art. Shy away from comedy and action, at least for now, because they can slide over into the lame-o category too easily.

I promise you, if I can ever get my shit together enough to write a screenplay, I will write you a part. But there are already people in Hollywood who are better writers than me, so I think you’re good there.

Make me one promise. Okay a few promises:

No more angels. Those girls are pretty in normal clothes.

Lose the schlock schtick. Let your art stand on its own.

Be yourself proudly. No one else is like you. We want the real you.

DON’T DO ANYTHING TO YOUR FACE. Age naturally. Don’t get plastic surgery or Botox or fillers or any of that garbage, ok? If you look like a freakshow you won’t get good parts and everyone will know you had work and everyone will make fun of you, and you will waste money jacking up your face so some asshole doctor can drive a red Maserati. So don’t. You look fine the way you are. If you disregard everything else I’ve said, listen to this. I really think that if MJ has left his face alone and looked like God made him that his life would’ve been significantly less tragic.

Start acting in quality stuff again. An amazing TV series (they need to find you a part on Westworld), great movies, fabulous writers and brilliant directors. You are hereby banned from doing anything cheesy even if you need to pay the bills. Work at Whole Foods before you take on a bad role in something awful. Maintain your dignity.

Because you are better than that, Corey Feldman.

I have faith in you. Lots of us do. You got this. We have your back, but you have to listen to me. We are praying for your comeback. We are #teamcoreyfeldman

And don’t be sad because a bunch of jackhole fools on the Internet said a bunch of bad stuff about you. Pick yourself up and prove them all wrong. Like actually prove them wrong, by not doing anything cheesy ever again.

I’m expecting good things from you. Don’t let me down.

If all else fails, take comfort in the fact that Brad and Angelina are getting a divorce and that news is so big that no one will even remember your performance because they’ll be too busy flipping out over Brad Pitt allegedly smoking too much weed or whatever they’re saying about him.

Wishing you all the best,

Victoria Fedden


If 70s Moms Had Blogs...

If 70s Moms Had Blogs

This morning I got up and Jennifer and Kimberly were eating Pop Rocks in front of the TV set watching Captain Kangaroo while Matt was already out in the back yard with a glass of Tang. I sat down and had a cigarette. I really wanted to watch my programs but I didn't want to have to get up and change the channel or mess with the antenna to get it to come in clear, so I let the girls continue until I was done my cigarette. I made sure to tell them not to drink any Pepsi for a couple hours so the Pop Rocks wouldn't explode in their stomachs. That happened to some kid on TV, you know.

Then I went into the kitchen and poured them all bowls of Apple Jacks while I had my coffee with sweet n low and another cigarette. Halfway through my smoke, I went and got the baby, changed its Pamper and made it a bottle of formula. Then I put it in the walker so I could vacuum in peace while the other three kids went outside.

About an hour later Matt came back crying that Mrs. Johnson had spanked him because he was throwing rocks at cars.

"Good," I told him, "I hope you learned your lesson. If I hear of you doing that again I'm going to bust your ass too, so you got lucky this time that you only got one whipping."

Then I sent him back outside while I continued to clean.

Little while later, here come the girls saying they're hot because it's 80 degrees and sunny. I gave them some more red Kool-Aid and told them if they were hot to stay in the shade and stop whining about it. 

That gave me the idea to lay out, so I covered myself in baby oil and positioned my plastic chaise lounge right in direct sunlight. I put the baby in the playpen with some blocks while I cracked open a Tab and listened to some Neil Sedaka and Captain and Tenille on my portable radio. Don't worry, I put a bonnet on the baby since she doesn't have hair yet.

Matt had been down at the lake fishing with all the other four year olds and he came back yelling that he had a fishhook caught in his lip so I had to get the pliers and cut it out for him. I gave him some ice, told him to stop crying and sent him back to the lake to fish some more.

Around noon the kids all came back from wherever they were and I made them fried baloney sandwiches on Wonder Bread with some tasty-kakes for dessert. After that we had to go grocery shopping so I put the three older ones in the back of the station wagon and set the baby on the front seat and off we went.

I decided I needed another cigarette when we were in the car, so I lit one up and I've discovered that if you only crack the window instead of rolling it down that the smoke ventilates much better, so I have no idea why the kids were coughing and fussing for me to roll the window all the way down. They were just being dramatic, I swear. Naturally I didn't listen to them.

Bill's going to be so mad at me. I spent an entire $27.00 at the grocery store this week. Prices are so high these days. It's just ridiculous. I don't know how the A&P is going to stay in business. I bet Gerald Ford has something to do with this. Or the Russians.

I sent the kids back outside again. This time I made the girls take the baby with them, which was fine because they were just going into the woods to play. Gave me some time to watch The Edge of Night in peace.

I'm planning a big night out with Bill this weekend for our anniversary. I thought maybe we'd go have fondue, drink some Harvey Wallbangers and go to a disco. I called the eleven year old down the street and told her we'd pay her three whole dollars to babysit all night and not to worry if the baby woke up and cried. I told her if you ignore it, the baby will eventually stop crying and go back to sleep, so just turn the record player up louder or something and that if the other three want to stay up late and watch television, it's okay but make them go to bed after Carol Burnett goes off and if they want some Jiffy Pop, that's fine too. They know how to make it themselves.

Hilda called while I was making dinner (cube steaks and crinkle fries) and we got to talking about playing cards and then she said she liked Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore better than The Godfather II and I had to agree with her. I told her they ought to make a TV show after Alice. She said it would never work. I told her I had to get off the phone because I needed to mix up my Brandy Alexander and the phone cord didn't reach all the way to the liquor cabinet.

Fed the kids and Bill dinner. Then Bill went off to Bob's for poker night and the girls all came over here to play Gin Rummy with me. We had some Chex Mix and Linda brought over her famous pineapple upside down cake, which we had with Sanka. We all talked about what we were going to do for the bicentennial and then Debbie started going on and on about how she likes this Jimmy Carter guy from Georgia for President and she and Doris got into an argument because Doris is a Republican. The kids tried to peek out of their rooms, where I'd put them for the evening, but I yelled at them and told them it was grown-up time and to keep playing Candyland and Lincoln Logs until they fell asleep. I asked Debbie what color she thought I ought to redo the kitchen in - harvest gold or avocado green and she said she thought rust or Colonial blue would be even prettier. Good lord. Too many choices!

After the girls left I had to clean up the kitchen. Thank God for Corelle ware because I keep dropping coffee cups in the sink. This stuff just will not break, I tell you! It's a miracle. I mixed up another pitcher of Tang for breakfast, went and filed my nails into long, pointy ovals and then painted them a new shade called "Shimmering Ecru." When they dried I put on a polyester negligee, touched up my blue eyeshadow and sprayed my hair. Then I added a spritz of Charlie. I feel like celebrating our anniversary a little early! I have an IUD now after all. I'm not really worried about hemorrhaging or getting an infection from it. It's just a bunch of hype like that whole thalidomide scare. I knew lots of women ten years ago who took that and only one of their kids was born with a weird hand. She's not very crippled from it though. The kids in school tease her but middle schoolers are like that and it will build character.

Anyway, I think I'll have a cigarette and read some of Waiting for Mr. Goodbar. Maybe I'll put on a Streisand record until Bill gets home.

Good night!

Please Pre-order my memoir THIS IS NOT MY BEAUTIFUL LIFE,  out June 7th, by clicking on any of the links below!