Talking about the weather…

Like thousands of other New England homeowners, I spent the day waiting for the roofers. I’m no genius, but this might be a problem.

ICE DAM

Or… this.

ICICLES

As soon as the mercury rises a scoach, we’ll need umbrellas to pass through the front door. And we’ll have to pass through the front door, because we’re snow prisoners at every other portal to the house. Instagram cannot really do justice to the historic enormity of it all because everything is just so very… white. Snow this deep has nothing peeking out for perspective. So, we use props—like our kids or the basketball hoop— to collect Kodak proof that it is really up to there.

BRODIE SNOWHOOP

The children are becoming stupider, public transportation is crippled, roofs are caving, decks are sagging, and forced family togetherness and nothing but white white white is making us a bit loony. It was snowing again this morning. We oscillate between fist shaking disbelief, muttered expletives, and giggles. Because, really? REALLY? We tentatively joke that the unrelenting snow has a bit of a Biblical feel to it… if the Bible stories took place, you know, in colder climes. But we’re shy to make these jokes, because maybe a little part of us thinks this might be supernatural karmic payback for all of that Super Bowl gloating.

Whatever this is, it’s beginning to feel like punishment.

Those of us who haven’t budgeted thousands of dollars for shoveling, roofing, and re-painting (not to mention ice melt and fender benders and snacks and wine) are wondering if our homeowner’s insurance will pony up or if our plans will deem The Winter of 2015 an Act of God. Another 4 to one hundred inches of snow is expected again between tomorrow and this weekend and our collective learned helplessness and StormWatch fatigue leave us nonplussed.

However, New England law dictates that I must don a sleeping bag-cum-jacket, race to the grocery for more crock pot necessities, and check the vents and alarms and drains before this new snow. And then once more for the next scheduled wintry mix promised for Valentine’s Day. If carbon monoxide and icicle daggers don’t get us, boredom might. We are absolutely desperate to talk about anything but the weather, but there is nothing to talk about except the weather, and if you’re not currently suffering through this weather, forgive us our snarky comments on your ice-dam-free posts. It’s raining INSIDE over here.

The only distraction is today’s insanely large Power Ball draw. Reporters could interview any number of locals about dream plans for impossible winnings, and I’d wager nearly all of them would include moving closer to the equator. After 72 inches of snow, even this Atlantis-escaping advocate of happy homebody-ness is willing to give the islands another go. Stir-craziness will cause most of us to stand in line at the convenience store to buy tickets for a 1:170 million opportunity of a warmer life. And while we’re in line, you’ll find us talking about… the weather.

This is the State of the Commonwealth, darling reader from afar. We’re dodging ice daggers, pairing all outfits with unflattering, puffy clothes, packing on the pounds, and using our best Emily Blunt voice to repeat, “I love my kids. I love my kids. I love my kids.” And really, we do. But after the 158th “… ugh, but there’s nothing to do” and neverending requests during a neverending day, cocktail hour now applies to school nights. Luckily, I’ve got my tickets to paradise right here.

POWERBALL

Here’s my 1:170 million chance to write future posts from St. Barths. Sadly, winning a half billion dollars is far more likely than the slimmest chance than we won’t need to shovel again, or need Marcello because it’s raining in the foyer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Mixtape for You, by Steve Safran

An early Valentine, and possibly my favorite bit of writing from Steve Safran… read, listen, rewind, repeat.

 

We’ve known each other a while now, dear readers, and I think the best way I can express my affection is through that most ancient of all rites: a mixtape. Cassette tapes are hard to find and somewhat impractical to distribute via the internet. Instead, I’ll link to 10 songs. However, you really should hear these over good speakers– in your car, house or through headphones. If you have Spotify, most are there. Otherwise, pony up and get them from iTunes. NOTE: I realize there are few things more boring than what someone else considers a “good” song. So I appreciate your sticking in here.

 

SIDE ONE

  1. “Knock on Wood” http://youtu.be/CVt3GWuGM9s (Otis Redding & Carla Thomas) While there won’t be thumpy dance floor music here, I dare you to hear this at a reception of some sort and not “Knock-knock-knock-knock-knock… on WOOD!” If nothing else, it will embarrass the kids.
  1. “The Lord Bless You And Keep You” http://youtu.be/NN7b-DZgGjs (Composed by John Rutter): TOTALLY caught you off guard there, didn’t I? You were expecting something else from the Atheist Jew, right? On the second song? The power of a good melody is transcendent. I sang this in high school choir. I was never again in a choir that sang anything nearly as good again. And we were going through puberty.
  1. “Landed” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vPygzPSg8M (Ben Folds): This is for everyone who has gone though a change in their lives. Nominally, it’s about a guy who needs to be picked up at an airport. Bigger picture: He made a big change, flew back across the country and is reaching out for help. You’ve been there.
  1. “One Day Like This” http://youtu.be/OUUASDWrBdc (Elbow): Magnificent and devoted ode to the power of a single morning– a moment really, where a man celebrates “the now.” “Throw those curtains wide/One day like this a year will see me right.” It was recorded with the BBC orchestra and chorus.  And oh, those lyrics. “Kiss me like a final meal.” “When my face is chamois-creased.” If I made you a one-song mixtape, “One Day Like This” would be it.
  1. “Big Sky” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QaDUFC8nigM (Kate Bush) The only ‘80s track on this side. And we’re going out huge here. This is an album that contains the directions “PLAY LOUD” and if this song isn’t on your exercise tape, you’re missing valuable heart rate potential.

 

SIDE TWO

  1. “Nowhere to Run” http://youtu.be/ABbc-O_3_Ac (Martha and the Vandellas) We ended side two uptempo and loud, so there’s no need to adjust the volume just yet. Note: The “Vandellas” are named in honor of Della Reese. So, something for you “Touched by an Angel” fans.
  1. “My Ride’s Here”  http://youtu.be/NRkcBcyB7v4 (Warren Zevon): “I was staying in the Marriott/ With Jesus and John Wayne.” You can find better Zevon songs, but I love this one. Zevon, dying of cancer at this point, puts out a peppy song about those he might meet soon. When asked in an interview if he had any advice for the young people, Zevon answered “Enjoy every sandwich.”
  1. “Tempted” http://youtu.be/7PmtS_qMdXg(Squeeze): This is the perfect pop song. This is the A+ of pop. It’s High Honors. It’s the essay your friend wrote, and pisses you off a little because you didn’t think to write it first. It tells a story, has a great hook and my gosh, that Hammond organ at the top. I’m biased because I’ve seen Squeeze more often than any other band. However this is not my favorite track of theirs. It just belongs here, in this context.
  1. “Little Bit O’ Soul”  http://youtu.be/bMIydy3Tyuw (Music Explosion): Should I ever take over this or any other country, “Little Bit O’ Soul” will be our national anthem. Listen to it and picture a stadium groovin’ to it.
  1. “Moonlight Serenade” http://youtu.be/VHBX0813MXc (Glenn Miller Orchestra): Nothing comes after “Moonlight Serenade.” It’s the end of the evening in a smoky room as the janitor sweeps the floor through the haze. One last couple slow dances while a few drunks are passed out at the bar. The room lights have come back on. The bartender drags a dirty rag across the tables. It’s the last song you hear before heading home. I’ll say it again: Nothing comes after “Moonlight Serende.”

That’s the mixtape I made for you. Wear it out.

For those of us who used to own shoe boxes full of these... this remains a symbol of starry-eyed love.

For those of us who used to own shoe boxes full of these… this remains a symbol of starry-eyed love.

Escaping Atlantis…

When you say you don’t prefer the Bahamas to Boston, you’re the asshole. Especially in January. But Bernie and I recently returned early from the Caribbean—choosing to weather Historic Juno (and now Laudable Linus) from the coziness of home rather than getting stuck in “paradise” for a few extra days. We never take proper vacations, my happily housebound husband and me. Rather, we go to Conferences where he attends Lectures and Meetings while I sleep late, order lots of room service, nap poolside, drink too much, and repeat. Grandma travels to Boston to watch the boys, and we’re deliciously childless for three to seven days at least four times a year.

Of all of them, this January conference is my favorite get-away. Though most people think plastic surgeons are obsessed with enhanced cleavage and perfect noses and a Magically Erased visage, that stuff is just meh for the ones I know. Bernie and his colleagues are reconstructive plastic surgeons who can re-attach severed parts, transplant new faces, re-create breasts from jiggly bits, fashion fully functional phalluses, and perform other feats of microsurgical wonderment because they are able to sew teeny tiny vessels together using only their steady hands and a microscope. The January conference coaxes all of these superstars to one warm locale where I entertain myself picking their brains… and pickling mine with supersize mojitos.

Skating around the outskirts of the plastic surgery world as The Wife, and then–quite drastically—plunging cancer first into the deep end as The Patient, I have a deep appreciation for these gifted surgeons. And usually, I am thrilled to reconnect with them at finer resorts everywhere. But this year, some waterslide-loving planner decided this meeting needed a family-friendly venue, so all of us headed for the Vegas-of-the-Caribbean, Atlantis. And Bernie and I just couldn’t stop… giggling.

There was loud, piped-in music everywhere. Insidious jingles invaded every public space and at any moment we’re belting out “I Swear” (All-4-One!) or “I’m Not a Girl” (Britney!) because it’s impossible to ever forget lyrics to these ridiculous, top 40 gems from yesteryear, and enthusiastic sing-alongs to terrible music, well, them’s the rules.

There were goofy photo opportunities around every bend. And there were many bends: we logged thousands of steps between our room and the actual conference, passing through a shopping mall and entire casino to get there. Those better parents who used the conference as an opportunity for family togetherness found that the lazy river had a mean streak, that children could actually get stuck inside the waterslide, that all kid activities shut down at cocktail hour, and that incessantly piped music will drive three-and-unders into a glassy eyed coma or Benadryl-resistant fury, depending on your luck.

There was a rather impressive aquarium lolling beneath the noise. And any weather that doesn’t include a “feels like” caveat is a bit nice this time of year. But my dear friend April, my beacon of preparedness, my travel-tip guru, my have-flight-tracker-phone-app gal texted early in our trip that if we didn’t get back ahead of Juno, we would get stuck listening to “I Swear” until Groundhog Day. So, we packed up our gauzy clothes, spent umpteen WiFi hours acquiring seats on the last plane to Boston, and pulled into our driveway during the first blush of the blizzard, happily housebound again with our boys, Grandma, drinks without novelty containers, and… silence.

We’re enjoying a third snow day this morning. Linus has turned the backyard into a violently shaken snow globe. Nearing noon, we’re still in jammies. The house is warm and safe and incredibly quiet. Plans for the day include baking, movies, and couch snuggling, or maybe nothing at all. Preferring a snowstorm to paradise probably makes me a jerk, might even be unbelievable… but I do. I Swear.

There are too many things I love about this photo.

There are too many things I love about this photo.

 

Fresh Air and Mirth

Some people are so generous, so wonderfully share-y, so thrilled for you to join in on their fun, they hardly appreciate the magnitude of their gifts. I hope we all know one or two of these fabulous souls. Or maybe you’re one of them… and wondering what’s this all about? I mean, who wouldn’t be wonderfully share-y given the means and opportunity? That’s their mindset, these happy givers. Do you know them? When you thank them, hug them, attempt to return the favor, or even raise a glass in their honor, you’ll get an aw shucks shoulder shrug. And they mean it. This is a genuine aw shucks shoulder shrug. And then they totally want to return to the fun awesomeness you were having because your heartfelt thank yous are probably just delaying more fun awesomeness.

I spent the past two days in a picturesque mountain town with my happy giver friends who invited us to join them. My kids had never been on skis, and when you live up here, apparently your kid becomes some weirdo outcast if he’s never been on skis. For me, the idea of adhering thick knives to bent boots in order to plummet more gracefully down a cold mountain sounds like a ridiculous way to get injured or (gasp) delay cocktail hour… but my boys were up for the scary challenge. So we stuffed duffles with puffy clothes and joined our outdoorsy friends for a mini-break, pre-Christmas get-away.

The house belonged to their friends, also of the happy giver ilk. I mean, who does this? Sure, use our house while we aren’t there, bring friends, make sure to test the hot tub, light the fireplace, sample the wine cellar, enjoy enjoy enjoy? Who doesn’t worry that the house will be a messy wreck for Christmas or that kids that aren’t yours will lose the board game pieces? The happy givers don’t. My mother would rope off the living room and restrict certain bathroom usage for days prior to the arrival of guests: vacuum lines in the carpet and triangulated toilet paper arrangements were necessary indictors that our house was ready for an audience. The notion of permitting others free range enjoyment of your home mere moments before a major holiday is beyond the pale. It also betrays a belief that a house and its contents are just stuff, and people and fun and fellowship always trump stuff. And can’t we all, especially at this time of year, use this reminder?

Oh, did you want to read all about the skiing? Skiing types always do. The conditions, quality, weather, memorable “runs” and tricks, and oh-we-ran-into-the so-and-sos… there is nothing a skier enjoys more than to share his zeal for skiing. The wide-eyed euphoria that accompanies people who happily hurl themselves down mountains is quite similar to my exhaustive enjoyment of peonies and caladiums and dahlias. I’m equally passionate about pursuits on flatter, warmer grounds. But nearly everyone strapped to go-fasters (save a few over-bundled, overtired toddlers) was full of fresh air and mirth. Because teenagers exist, it’s possible that so does the occasional, grumpy skier. But it’s impossible to be anything but delighted around skiing types who are skiing. Fresh air and mirth. It’s contagious.

I still didn’t tell you about, you know, the skiing. Well, that’s because I don’t. In case this wasn’t made plain: I don’t ski. I was content to wander the lodge, mix hot chocolate into my coffee, and have an appropriate venue for the debut of my mohair legwarmers. But my boys? Champs. Two lessons and they were switch backing down the mountain with a cool ease that made my heart soar. Even though controlled mountain plummeting scares me all bejeezously, I do want my kids to try new things. Better still when they love the new thing and don’t suck at it. But the biggest gift of this mini-break get-away was the memories made in an idyllic setting surrounded by people we love, and hosted from afar by generous people who care more about celebrations than stuff.

And now the usually slothful Lees will greet this Christmas with grateful hearts, full of fresh air and mirth, inspired to be happy givers this season, too. Maybe we’ll even plan our own trip for controlled mountain plummeting… or something equally outdoorsy that allows for legwarmer accessories during and Proseccos afterwards.

Merry Christmas, friends!

Happy little skiers...

Happy little skiers…

Quinoa Shampoo

My shampoo lists quinoa as a vital ingredient. Quinoa. In the shampoo. Seriously. Add kale and goji berries to my daily lather and these curls would probably auto-twist into a protected enclave for honeybees. But my hair is awesome– all thick and that good sort of wavy and blonde (with assistance). I won’t demur with false modesty if you have the thoughtful notion to compliment me on my swingy locks. Ancient whole grains are not responsible for its fabulousness: this hair is still new(ish). Most of you have children and iPhones older than my ponytail. And because this mane is my badge of verve, spunk, and survival, I’m going to be as smugly proud of it as a Prius-driving, composting, “I Voted,” recycler.

A hair post on The Cancerversary is predictable for this gabby gal. Three years ago today, in April’s living room, I learned that my hair would be included, but would be the least of my losses. Breast cancer does not tolerate a reasonable, disease-free interval after which a celebratory remission is announced. And so the previously bald and anatomically reorganized veterans are left waiting, waiting, waiting. After the first year, I was just so happy and relieved to be finished with treatment. Year two found me grateful for everyone and everything and especially the ability to hold aloft a barrette. But year three? Hope feels jinxy, but the alternative is that every ache and pain is cause for worry and restless nights… or worse, biopsies and scans. So girls like me choose prayer and yield to the que sera sera quality of life colored by cancer.

Anniversaries are too powerful to be ignored. Unfortunately, this holiday season will always recall a scary time for me. Naturally, I approach this with the brand of humor only the cancered would find funny in a holiday enclosure:

“Another year… totally not dead! Merry Christmas from the Lees!”

Cancerversaries also make a sleepless night or two sort of inevitable and a drink or two sort of necessary. So I stumbled into a late night bloggy Internet discussion that I assumed was about kindness, but that was actually about race, and I was accused of microaggression (yikes) and white privilege (admittedly). As a white girl who shampoos with quinoa, I cannot imagine what I thought I could add to the discussion. And although distracting, this wasn’t the best antidote for my annual freak out. But I’m as tired of anger as I am of looming cancer. I want feel-good, Christmassy stories, people! Distract me with mirth!

It is an unfair luxury to be exasperated by angry people. No one is trying to kill my kids or treating them like criminals. I cannot know that anger. I believe we can all just assume the best of each other because no one has ever, ever assumed anything else of me. I won’t apologize for my bubble, but it is ridiculous and unkind to rest inside of it and demand that justified fury should be kept at a lower simmer using prettier words.

For someone who enjoys baser language, I am a sucker for the pretty words. I want everything tied up with a bow; I want examples in the universe where we act like One People, and proof that the world isn’t a shitstorm of racism, fear, and cancer. Even if it is. It’s Christmas, friends. Let’s share the good stories. Here’s mine. It’s short:

Year three. You were there in ways big and small, loud and quiet, prayerful and even angry. And it helped. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

My hair isn't just awesome, it's gluten free.

My hair isn’t just awesome, it’s gluten free.

Potty Mouth Christmas

Those of you who include me in your Facebook feeds might occasionally wish you didn’t. But if we’re friends (in the world webby ether or of a fleshier variety), you know that the Christmas Market at the Church of the Redeemer has mercifully and finally come to an end. As the Church Service League President this year, it was my job to interrupt your BuzzFeed shares, What Color Is Your Animal Spirit?, and Santa’s lap pics with my Shop for Jesus alerts. Organizing the yearly fundraiser is truly an honor, but in the 11th hour, it feels more like that dream where you’ve forgotten to go to class all semester and here’s the final exam.

Churchy do-gooding is mostly fun; and the entire week was peppered with the Christmassy smells of wreaths and greens, giggles between good friends, and moments when the Holy Spirit is tangibly flowing all over the garland-draped church. But the rather awesome responsibility of raising money loomed… and that made me want to hurl my chicken and mushrooms all over the place.

Terrified that the generous people who had donated houses and family jewels and lavish parties to our live auction would be rewarded with a quiet room of un-bidding church folk, I couldn’t push anything past my pylorus. I recently raved about people who have the Godly gift of inspiring generosity in others, baffled by the criticism of any sort of philanthropy. Though I thrive in the busyness of passion-fueled volunteerism, asking people for money will always be awkward for me. Bernie keeps reminding me that this aspect of charity work isn’t really one of my keener skills. And because it makes me physically ill, he’s probably right.

What my stomach always forgets is that this annual event is a team effort coordinated by really lovely souls and presented to a parish hall brimming with people who want to be part of something great and good. Nearly all of the money we raise is channeled to outreach efforts, and results in real improvements at our sister Church, our food pantries, care for our community’s elders, even our West African brothers and sisters afflicted with deadly Ebola. It’s a night to think about others, and that’s what everyone does, and there’s really no reason to get all pukey.

Floating on that isn’t-everyone-and-everything-just-wonderful feeling that accompanies a weekend of Christian fellowship, I returned my attention to my own home and hearth, sorely neglected during Christmas Market week. The halls were un-decked. The cupboard was bare. The checking account was overdrawn. Sagging pumpkins at the doorstep, half-unpacked clothes from Thanksgiving travels, and not a single photo in any of our cameras or iThings worthy of a holiday card quickly froze all those floaty feelings and grumpy, potty-mouth mommy delivered chastened, weepy children to the bus stop yesterday.

Yelling at the boys to “Fucking smile! We’re going to miss the goddamn bus!” in order to snap the Christmas photo before school doesn’t align terribly well with the spirit of the season. Zealot Sister wisely counseled that I should avoid unimportant activities that sap the joy out of the next two weeks. And after a deep breath and a pot of coffee, the necessity of a perfect picture or pumpkin-free stoops seems… stupid. So does cursing at small children, in spite of the breadth of their early morning assholery.

With a better attitude and entire platter of French toast, I greeted two happy little guys this morning who couldn’t wait to tell me about their ham radio exam. After umpteen classes and hundreds of sample questions, my boys passed the test and have earned operating privileges for vintage communication. Sometimes I wonder if we should install lockers in the home so my kids can practice escaping them. But most times, these boys delight and amuse me and I can go entire weeks without wanting to backhand them (kidding) or demonstrating the correct context for bad words in angry sentences (confessing). Fa la la la la… la la la la.

I’m going to slow down, friends. Drink the entire pot of coffee. Send the blurry Christmas photo… after the New Year. Watch “Love, Actually” over and over and over. Order takeout. Leave gigantic tips for the wait staff wherever I go. Pop the Prosecco and read every holiday letter enclosure. The King is coming whether I pitch the pumpkins or not. And though my home and hearth may not be ready, it’s pretty important that my heart is.

Fa la la la la… la la la la.

The best plot line in the movie...

The best plot line in the movie…

 

 

 

The Gym: Part II

Hey Britt

I’m emailing you because I was expecting to see you at 10am this morning. Everything ok?

Sure, David. Everything’s A-Ok. It’s been one full week since our little face-to-face fitness assessment wherein I repeated, in person and right away, how much I loathe exercise. You handled it well when I made fun of your blood pressure equipment and other pseudo-medical toys that are supposed to lend some weight your clipboard-requiring fact-finding. And I held my tongue when you told me you were an entrepreneur-ing sort of something, or maybe you already wrote a book, or you’re planning to scale mountains, or whatever crap you youngsters do that sound exhaustingly noble or potentially lucrative and certainly like something I immediately want to poke fun at. We’d probably work well together, you and I. You, you’re wonderful. But, me? I’m sort of a terrible person. Also, lazy.

Oh, sweet dimpled barely-voting-age David, you didn’t flinch at all when I told you I wouldn’t do exercises that test the limits of my bionic parts (using helpful hand gestures to indicate the location of my fake bits). And you didn’t balk at my coffee intake or potato chip addiction, or repetition that I planned to– like never– do any sort of personal training. It was all fine and good to fill out forms and tell you what I eat (chips) and that I swim (but not far) or take barre classes (but not often) and wear a step counting bracelet (that would log more activity strapped to my patio furniture). It was adorable that you believed I only have four drinks a week. And then I showed you how flexy/balancy I am with years and years of gymnastics muscle memory on board, but that I cannot run even close to a mile without lots of gasping complaints and begging to stop.

Would I like to be stronger? Meh, I have a husband to lift the heavies. Increase my endurance? No small animals or children to chase.

Lose weight?

Duh. Everyone does. Everyone on the planet wants to lose weight. But this isn’t why I’m here. The Gym will have zero effect on the scale; losing weight is all on me and what I stuff into or deny my greedy maw. Plus, I don’t really need to lose weight. Well, I’ve almost never thought so… until I met you.

Though I wouldn’t let you assess my vital signs– as you aren’t a medical professional and I don’t like being touched by strangers and maybe, like, 47 other reasons– I relented to standing on the wretched, lying scale and having the bee boopy doo dads calculate the sum total of my fatness. What better way to launch a gym membership than to have Equinox’s Watson tell me I’m sixteen pounds overweight! It was kind that you noted it wasn’t always accurate. And though I did want to, rather immediately, throw up my entire quinoa breakfast, I’m sure that’s not the way you want new members to get skinnier.

Now David, nearly all Americans could stand to lose five pounds. Me? I’ve always assumed I’d be almost unfairly appealing if I lost five pounds. Ten pounds down, and I’m a teenager. Fifteen pounds lighter and people will wonder if my cancer has returned. Probably a very good use of my time would be to station myself in the room with Watson and tell women that the machine is a jackass. I wear a size 4 (most of the time) and the deli guy flirts with me (unfailingly). I can still shimmy into my prom dress and do splits and hold a handstand. The bee boopy doo dad machine can go suck a shoe.

Possibly the worst way to inspire a gal to exercise is to deliver a lethal blow to her self-esteem. Because the only thing that girl wants to do is to submit to a couch-bound, maw-stuffing spree. Instead, I agreed to meet with you again—to show up and see what ridiculous exercises you planned for this girl who can balance and stretch, but not run or spin or jump or lift with any sort of enthusiasm or compliance. Ten o’clock on Friday. Yup. I’ll totally come. What the hell, let’s exercise!

And then I forgot all about it. Forgot about you. Forgot I had sixteen pounds to deny this body that I have always assumed is serviceable, healthy (temporarily), lively, and cute, dammit. So I’m sorry if I messed up your schedule. Though I was actually at the gym this morning, I would have been useless after spinning class torture with Potty Mouth Boy who is certain we could all be going faster (and yet nowhere). I will continue to swim (not far), and spin (occasionally, because it is so incredibly hard and awful it deserves it’s own set of paragraphs), and plié, and do what is necessary to keep this body active and healthy. But I’m not losing sixteen pounds, nor hanging out with anyone who thinks I might need to.

xoxo,

Britt

The only scale I ever trust...

The only scale I ever trust…

 

 

Ten Dollars

I only needed 10 dollars. That’s all– just 10 dollars would spring me from the cold parking garage. Who leaves the house without a purse, or a phone, or even a wadded up bill in a pocket? Me. I do. As I raced out of the house to the earliest appointment at the pediatrician so my kids can have flu MIST–not flu SHOTS because flu SHOTS suck, mom, and I DON’T WANT THE SHOT, did they promise the MIST?– I grabbed only my coffee travel mug. Admittedly, if you’re going to get stranded in a cold parking garage with your children, it’s nice to have a hot beverage.

I realized my mistake as soon as I pulled the ticket out of the machine, so I had the entire length of a flu mist appointment to hit up strangers for a ten-spot. I’m friendly; my kids are polite and cute. Easy peasy. I told the boys not to worry, people being mostly awesome and all. Right away, I planted the seed for charity with the piggybacking mom in the elevator.

“Mine are exhausted, too! Late night with all sorts of junk, right? Why did I think this early appointment was a good idea? Right? I LEFT MY PURSE RIGHT ON THE COUNTER!”

“…”

Whatever, piggy backy mom, I suppose you’ve got your arms literally full if your sort of large child with completely serviceable legs can demand carriage.

Stepping out of the now awkward elevator, it was too much to hope I’d see a mom I knew. Strike two. None of the other parents was chatty, either, but all quietly tortured with un-immunized children too early on a Saturday. Quickly, we were escorted into a room to await squirtable antigens and, with any luck, a tenner from the nurse. Sniff, sniff, thanks, thanks and then,

“Could you do me an enormous favor? I left the house without my purse! Stupid, right? But now I’m trapped in the garage. Is there any way I could borrow ten dollars from you—or the office—and I’ll drive right back to repay you?”

“…”

This ellipse was actually accompanied by slow, backwards walking and confused utterances including, “I don’t know. Um, can you call someone?” and other things that weren’t “I don’t have 10 dollars” or anywhere near, “sure, let me get my bag.”

Whatever, nursy. Maybe your credit cards are maxed and that bill in your wallet is destined for the Starbucks break that will safeguard your sanity during a Saturday spent injecting children. I understand. (I also hope your barista spelled your name all normal, thwarting a hilarious Facebook update.)

Stepping out of the now awkward exam room, Flustered Nurse was still offering inane suggestions that did not include giving me ten dollars. Certainly nurse #2 was sidling up to offer an actual solution to my problem,

“I can’t even call anyone. My phone is in my purse. Stupid, right? I just need ten dollars to get out of the garage.”

“Oh, just go talk to the garage attendant and explain it to him.”

Sure, because reasonable people will have a simple solution to this problem of being trapped in a parking garage. I wondered if it would involve me asking the garage guy for 10 dollars? Probably. I backed away with apologies and assurances that All Would End Well in spite of their eye-averting denial of how easy all of this could be remedied if they would just let me borrow ten dollars.

As luck would have it, Piggy Back Mommy was stooped at the elevator to let her spider monkey child push the down button. Testing the kindness of strangers again, I shamelessly floated my concerns about the garage,

“Well, that was fast! Did you get the mist?”

“Yes. Her nose is all tickly. It took longer to park than to wait for the appointment!”

“I know! But, silly me, somehow I left without my purse and now I might be in there for hours.”

“…”

doors open

“Good luck!”

Thanks. Thanks, Piggy Back Mommy. I think luck is all I need. I mean, 10 dollars will get me outta here, but luck is another fun route to take. Explaining myself to the slightly scary and certainly grumpy man in the glass cubicle should go swimmingly. And good luck to you with that whole daughter-as-sloth thing you’ve got going on.

Grumpy cubicle man wasn’t all that grumpy, just super suspicious of Weird Handout Mommy asking how to get out of the garage without paying. He offered to call my husband for me to get his credit card number. Whew! Really? It’s actually this easy? Yay, a solution! Numbers are written down, I am viewed not as a criminal peddling cash with my small children in tow, and the attendant slips my card into the magic machine that tells the electronic garage powers we’re square.

“You’ve only been here ten minutes.”

“I know. It was a quick appointment. All that fuss for 8 dollars, right?”

“Right. I’m cancelling this. No charge.”

Thank goodness for not-so-grumpy cubicle man. Because when you really want your kids to believe that people are mostly awesome, it’s easier when someone occasionally is. And awesome cubicle man is getting a thank you from Weird Handout Mom… with a 10-dollar Starbucks card. Because what you put out there comes right back atcha.

TEN DOLLARS

The Gym: Part 1

Hi Britt,

I’m emailing you because I’m a trainer at Equinox in Chestnut Hill and I want to welcome you to the club.

I’m also contacting you to schedule your Equifit fitness assessment that’s included as part of your membership. It’s an hour long session where we review your goals and perform several tests to determine your current fitness level. I can then use this info to create a custom workout plan for you.

With that being said: what are you currently training for?

Reply to this email and let me know, then maybe we can set something up.

Best,

David

 

Hi David!

I’m largely free in the mornings. Except when I’m not. Equinox is lovely– all shiny and new. It would probably be perfect for someone who likes exercise. I, however, loathe it. Dread it. Honestly, if I could be healthy and skinny couch-bound with potato chips, life would be dreamy. But since I’m vain and human, hey… let’s exercise!

My fitness level is 1, or whatever sad sack slug dials in at. Picture a pack-a-day smoker with arthritis. That’s me. Except I look like someone who is totally healthy. I fake fitness with yoga clothes and a high ponytail.

I imagine gym enthusiasts return this email with chipper goals of marathon-running and keep-butt-off-cycle dreams and other nonsense. My goal is seam blow-out prevention. I have a closet full of really pretty little dresses it would be devastating to leave hanging there, ignored by the empty promises of a chubby girl who won’t stop eating Ruffles.

So, let’s spend a morning trying out all of the machines I’ll never use! Or assess my level of slug-ness. Whatever.

Your move, chief.

 

Hey Britt

Thank you for the great email! I think I see where you’re coming from.

Are you free tomorrow at 10am or Thursday at 9am by any chance?

 

Garden club on Wednesday. Bible Study Thursday. This is the Jesus-loving green thumb you’re dealing with. Halloween? I’m free Friday until early afternoon.

 

I can do Halloween at 10am does that work?

 

Yup. Let’s scare the shit outta my cellulite.

Instruments of torture

Instruments of torture

Tips for Flying the Infected Skies

If you’ve been in an airport lately… well, I’m sorry. I loathe traveling by plane. Like, blech. And it has nothing to do with a miniscule probability of plummeting to a fiery death, padding sock-footed through scanners that herald the quality of my implants, or being asked for the millionth time if my husband and I are, in fact, together. It’s the proximity of strangers that tests my nerves and immune system. And if you’ve been in an airport lately, then you’ve heard every nervous titter, hackneyed joke, and armchair theory about Ebola. And if you haven’t, all of the big screens will be tuned to CNN’s Scare Loop, ensuring your participation in the hysteria. Should you want the real skinny on the transmission of this deadly virus, here you go. But if you want tips for travel from someone who hardly travels at all… sally forth, dear reader.

In spite of every single doctor type and infectious disease guru telling us it’s really really really difficult to contract a virus that does not fly through the air with any sort of ease, we’re Americans… and we’ll make up our own minds, thank you very much. We’re going to be a bit uneasy about flying around the country right now. This hardly means we’re going to, like, stop flying around the country. That would be bonkers. We’re very very busy. And important. We will, however, harbor murder fantasies about anyone who risks pulling out a hanky. So to safeguard your in-flight reputation, and to put your traveling companions at ease, maybe a bit of subterfuge is in order. Three tips:

Are you feeling feverish? Well, here’s an idea: stay the fuck home. But since you’re very very busy and important, you’d better have a ready excuse for those flushed cheeks. When you push a damp armpit past my face to aim that jetted air of concentrated microbes at your sweaty mug, I’d better be hearing lots of disclaimers about The Change. “Whew! Hot flashes! Goodness. Should’ve known better than to have that merlot. Whew!” Loud and clear, hot lady. With lots of hand waving incredulity regarding the temperature of the cabin.

Are you nose-drippy, sneezing, and snorting? Well, here’s an idea: stay the fuck home. But since your pseudoephedrine hasn’t kicked in and because you’re very very busy and important, please give us the courtesy of fake allergies. “Do you have a cat? I’m very sensitive to dander. Well… this is going to be a long trip.” Or maybe a bit of talking-to-yourself blather about tree pollen and climate change and how Obama won’t pay for your seasonal immunoglobulin therapy. Really, we’ll believe anything. But speak up, sniffly Sal. And Purell those filthy, filthy hands after every blow. After Every Single Blow.

Tickle in your throat? Is your cough a deep rattle that is unearthing pasty chunks of bacterial debris hardly contained by your filthy, filthy hands and aerosolized for the rest of us to share? Well, here’s an idea busy, important guy: stay the fuck home. But until your codeine knocks you out cold, you’d better fabricate a 25 pack/year smoking history. Loudly lament the good ol’ days when smoking was permitted in the plane; joke about the ease of disconnecting the bathroom alarm. Accompany those phlegmy sputters with boozy stories about the Grateful Dead, twitch nervously, chew gum. Slap on a patch mid-flight. Whatever, dude. Just pretend for our sakes you’re not a tuberculoid avain flu SARS Ebola typhoid carrier. Launch a convincing case that your lungs aren’t brewing a sludge cocktail of death pathogens, but are innocently (and un-infectiously) suffocating from exposure to inhaled poisons. This will make us feel much, much better.

So if you’re feeling under the weather, and not too Busy and Important to risk exposing fellow travelers to your shedding germs, then crawl back under those covers, sickie. But if you must fly the infected skies, you’d better summon a plausible alibi for your disgusting symptoms. We don’t want to share an armrest with anyone right now, but your best menopausal, cat-hating, Marlboro Red-sucking impression will assuage the fears of your traveling companions while you unwittingly dose them with your bug-addled breath.

Me? I’m not going anywhere.

Bon voyage, friends!

You'd better have boozy reasons for using this bag...

… and you’d better have vodka-related reasons for using this bag…