We live in a
part of the country that gets hit by big storms this time of year.I expect that.Not embrace,
so much, just expect and tolerate.
What I did
not expect, and have some difficulty tolerating (or even understanding) is this
new thing the meteorologists like to call, “wintry mix.”The cute blond weather girl bobs her head up
and down, cheerfully explaining that we must have our ice scrapers at the ready
because she anticipates a “wintry mix” on Saturday.She smiles as if someone has just told her
she won a new car.Smile, smile, enthusiastic
nod, wintry mix.
I’m not even
sure I am spelling it correctly.Is it “wintry”
or “wintery” or “wintree”?It’s hard to
spell something when you don’t know what the heck it is.
I do what I
always do when I want information but am too lazy to type it into Google:I ask The Husband.
‘wintry mix’ all about?”
“What do you
mean?”He stops reading his book and gives
me a look as if I had asked why oranges are orange.
know.Snow, ice, freezing rain.Wintry mix.”He shrugs.His shrug says Oranges are orange, don’t ask me again.
don’t they say ‘snow, ice, freezing rain’?” I inquire thoughtfully.“That would make more sense.”
don’t know which one it’s going to be.See, at certain altitudes, if the cold air is intercepted by precipitation,
then it could be hail, depending on the temperature.But if warm air is trapped under the clouds,
it might only be rain.Snow happens when
the temperature stays below 32 degrees, but it is hard to predict because if
they are even off one or two degrees, it could change.”
scrunching up my face, trying to listen, but honestly he had lost me at “altitudes.”Sure, I was a flight attendant for 10 years,
but the only altitude I had to remember was 35,000 feet.
I was being punished because I was from California.No one in California in their right mind
would say, “summery mix,” as in:a mix
of sunshine, ocean breeze, and chirpy bird noises.Summery mix is implied by the mere fact that the zip code starts with a 9 and a
2.(A 9 followed by an 8 is
Seattle.I wonder if they have “rainy
I look out
the window, confused.It is pure, fluffy
snow.I want to call it “snow,” but I know
better.Wintry mix, to me, sounds like it should be some elaborate cocktail
involving vodka, Sambuca, and liquid nitrogen.
I walk in
the kitchen and am vaguely disappointed that we never purchased any liquid
nitrogen, like they always have in the pantry on my favorite TV show, Top Chef.Straight vodka would have to suffice.
I have written
three books.Really, they have written
themselves, I just sort of vomited up all the words.
I take the
books off the shelf now and marvel at them, thinking, I did this!This thing in my
hands did not exist before me!
I imagine it’s
exactly like the person who built the Duomo felt.Well, people.It was probably a lot of people.And they most likely died during that time, since it took 140 years to
clarify, I don’t feel dead. What I
meant, was, it’s a big accomplishment.Not to brag, though.I don't have a t-shirt with “I’m an Author!” printed on the front.(Although, to my darling husband if you are
reading this:potential Christmas
It’s not like
I’m rich and famous or anything.I don’t
have a cleaning lady, and Oprah still won’t return my calls.But, FYI, I would take rich over famous any
day of the week.Think about it:if you are famous, you are hounded
relentlessly.If you are rich but no one
knows who you are, you can just go about your business, buying jets or 2nd
houses in Belize (or 25th houses in Belize) and no one cares.
not make you rich.I found that out.What it does make you is neurotic.I carry a little notebook around and pluck it out of my pocket to jot down
quick notes.Actually, since I bought my
new iPhone, I dictate to SIRI.SIRI
sometimes misspells things or misinterprets things, and I am left to decipher
later:What the hell does “Thistle turns green” mean??Why was that important?
SIRI is helpful
with directions, though.I use her as my
GPS.She never says in a snotty tone, “Recalibrating,”
when I miss my turn.She calmly gives me
a new route.
And then I
say, “Read me my last note, SIRI,” and she says, “You are bitch and famous, or
you will be moon.” MOV **** trifecta writing challenge/ 333 words/ required word is "pluck" **Shameless self-promotion: You can buy the books I wrote here, and here, and here, and they make great Christmas or Hanukkah presents!!
dead.I am, however, buried alive in
boxes. Packing is a
mindless task—a robot could do it.Put
stuff in, pad well, tape closed.Repeat.While my hands wrestle
the cardboard, my brain hijacks a plane to childhood.
full of wonder.I wonder what it will be like to grow up?I wonder what it will be like to drive a car?I wonder what it would be like to go to
Paris?I wonder what it would be like to
stay up late?I wonder what it would be
like to get married/ have kids/ buy a house/ fill in the blanks ___________?
There is no
more wonder, because all those things have happened.
I am Bill
Murray in Groudhog Day:get up, make breakfast, kids to school, do
laundry, run errands, pick the kids up, drive them to sports, eat dinner, watch
TV, go to bed.Same as yesterday.Same as tomorrow, and tomorrow’s
There is no
room for wonder while filling up the empty gas tank or buying paper towels at
And yet …
brimming with possibilities:we’re
moving into an apartment because we’re renovating.We are making this tiny house into our dream
home.The possibilities are about room
designs, furniture, tile choices. Yet, still
no wonder.I had those decisions mapped
out the day we bought the house.Wonder
disappears when it is replaced by MUST.I must have an island, I must have a
walk-in-closet, I must have floor-to-ceiling windows.Wonder sneaks in and MUST chases it away.MUST detests this naïf companion.
I rush around to fill these boxes, fill them with china, clothes, photo albums.My children absorb this frenzied energy.
We take a break.We have a new origami book:Short studies it, wants to attempt a paper frog.He folds the green square carefully.He whispers, “Mommy, origami is not a fast thing.Origami is a calm and peaceful thing.”
I hired a
personal trainer.Before you think I’m
some wealthy heiress, know this:I
suffered from a debilitating back injury over the summer.After ER trips, X-rays, drugs, doctor’s
visits, physical therapy, massage, and a renewed desire for a drink called a “zombie”
(a nauseating-sounding blend of rum, brandy, pineapple juice, and orange juice—don’t
judge), I figured I had earned a few sessions of personal training.
training would not only cure my back pain, I rationalized, it would inevitably turn
me into Claudia Schiffer.Or Heidi
things went great with my trainer until he announced that he expected me to be
working out on some of our “off” days.(Note to self: I always thought “off” meant “off”?)Since
I can only afford the trainer twice/week, that meant he expected me to work out
at least three of the remaining days.
asked him if it would be okay if I swam on one of those days.
think that would be a great idea!” he enthused.
morning at 5am sharp, I was in the pool swimming laps.I had new goggles, a new swimcap, and a new
attitude.I was a female Michael Phelps.
When I got
out of the pool, I decided to chat with the lifeguard for a few minutes.Since he would be the one saving my life if
my future self happened to hit her head against the cement pool wall, I thought
it would be good to at least know his name.
It was a
difficult Russian name and I immediately forgot it.I changed the subject and asked him if he
liked swimming.(Gimme a break, it was early.I couldn’t think of anything else to chat
He promptly replied,
“I can’t swim.”
Yikes!The lifeguard can’t swim?!
his error in language, he corrected himself:“I am not allowed to swim
while on duty.”
great.I’ll be honest:if feels really great.Especially when that particular 9-year-old
happens to be my junior Einstein son, Tall. Everything
this child touches turns to gold.He is
smart, funny, athletic, and has tons of friends.He is also one of these people that instinctively
understands how to play a game he has been introduced to mere moments
I made the
mistake of allowing him to sign up for his school chess club several weeks
ago.Ever since that time, all I hear
is, “Mom, let’s play a quick game of chess!”
And it is a
quick game, since I find myself in check mate in a matter of 10 minutes,
But he was
not going to win at checkers.No.Checkers was mine.
I taught him
the basics and of course he beat me.Twice.But then something kicked
in, some sort of primal need for redemption, and that was it.He was half my size and one quarter of my
age.I could take him.
My guys got
across the board in record time.“King
me!” I cried out, with an inappropriate amount of glee.
you know, I had Tall’s two remaining pieces backed into a corner.I tried not to laugh a wicked little laugh,
but I couldn’t help it.I had not won a
game against this child since that time he had the flu when he was three and he
was just not up for Monopoly that day.
that he had no way out.He abruptly stood
up and intentionally upended the board, with all the pieces splattering across
the table and the floor.
As a mom of
a 4th grade son and a 2nd grade son, it may come as
somewhat of a surprise that I found myself at my very first Boy Scout meeting
As we all
know, Boy Scouts instill wonderful values in your child, values like hard work,
respect, discipline, and good citizenship.
Clearly, I would be happy to have any Boy Scout around to open a door,
help me walk across the street, or provide necessary first aid if I was ever
bitten by a bear.Boy Scouts perform a crucial role in society.
last night I got the impression that everyone else had started scouting at an
earlier age (say, in the womb), and that I was once again late to the
party. There were 5 and 6-year-olds covered in merit badges, decorated to the point that you could no longer see the khaki uniform shirt underneath. Nevermind that.Put that all aside for a moment, and let’s
concentrate on this new fun concept I was introduced to:Badges.
your child does has the potential to earn him a badge.Your boy plays Little League?He simultaneously earned the Baseball Badge.He accompanied you kicking and screaming to a
few museums last summer?Those represent
Cultural Badges.How about the time the
two of you fed the neighbor’s cat for a week?That would be the Community Service Badge.Do you see where I am going with this?Everything gets a badge.
compelled to design a few badges of my own.How about all those times I asked Tall to make his bed and he ignored me?Non-Compliant Badge.And Short whining incessantly about doing his
homework the last two weeks?That would
be the Vocal Complaining Badge.Both of
my kids forever leaving their dirty clothes in a giant pile and not remembering to
take them to the laundry room?The
course, have inadvertently earned a few badges of my own.There is the Dish Washer Extraordinaire
Badge.The Errand Queen Badge.The Chauffer of My Own Children to All Their
the fact that I have memorized the exact aisle location of everything I need to
buy at Target?That would be the Target
Memorizer Badge.It is a bigger badge
and more prestigious than the others, and in the shape of a red and white bull's eye.It
takes years of practice and training to earn that one.
has earned a few badges as well.Most
notably, the highly coveted Good Listener Badge.This badge (sadly) has been revoked a few
times over the years.He also
has his Knows Everything About Football Badge (the stitching on the badge is an
image of a football on a TV screen).Obviously, this badge is what caused the Good Listener badge be revoked
most recently.He also has his Forgot to
Feed the Cat Badge (symbolized by a scrawny cat meowing) and his I Promise I’ll
Take Your Car to the Shop Badge (along with a broken car).
See?We can all earn our badges.
There is a
new badge I am currently training for:Shoe Buyer.The symbol is a sexy
stiletto.Oops, I need to get to
Nordstrom now to practice.Gotta
My hair had
never been what you would call “luxurious.”Pantene shampoo marketers had never phoned and begged me to be in one of
their commercials.Even my beloved gayer-than-Liberace
hairdresser of 20 years had frequently oh-so-subtlely hinted, “Hon, let’s consider
going ultra-short!” But then I'd
gaze in the mirror at my lackluster blond hair, and I'd see Alice in
Wonderland.Yes, a stringier, more
split-endier version of my childhood idol, but Alice nonetheless.
“I like it
long,” I would say to Robert-the-hair-guru, and he would give me a weak Mona Lisa smile and
reluctantly set down the scissors.
So it should
come as somewhat of a surprise that women (yes, that is plural) literally stopped
me on the street one day to compliment me on my gorgeous hair.
I did not
have the heart to tell them it was a special hair clip made of (I hoped) horse hair but possibly (I tried not to think about it too much) even human hair.Human hair that some altruistic soul had chopped off to donate to cancer
victims who had lost their hair to chemotherapy and radiation, not exactly
meant for narcissistic stringy-haired individuals like me who just wanted to
look like Heidi Klum or Claudia Schiffer for once in her life.
I had been
shopping at Nordstrom with my mom (a rarity, since I favored Target and she
preferred to not shop at all since “I will always see something I want to buy
and then have to buy it”) when we innocently wandered into the hair accessories
barrettes and satin headbands had beckoned to us, like an all-you-can-eat
buffet of Godiva chocolate at a Weight Watchers' meeting, when I saw it:a fluffy blond hair clip that pretty much
doubles the volume of your hair.Not
only that, but it was the EXACT color of my own hair, a golden blond with a
touch of mousiness for reality’s sake. (Now you can see these hair thingies at kiosks in malls everywhere, but this was 15 years ago, so they were a complete novelty at the time.)
I tried it
on, pulling the front sections of my own hair back into this blond wonder.My new (fake) hair cascaded in a way that can
only be described as “super model.”I
instantly looked 10 years younger, 10 pounds lighter, and 10 IQ points
dumber.I had to have it.
My mom, who
had been posing with brunette poufy pony-tail holders and I-Dream-of-Jeannie fake
braids, glanced at me, grabbed her chest, and let out a loud gasp.When she regained her composure, she began to
that wig is stunning!You have to buy it.Wow!You look amazing.How much is
it?You know what, I’ll buy it for you.We used to call them ‘falls’ back in my day,
but these new ones are such better quality.Oh, MOV, look in the mirror.”
right, there was no way we were walking out of Nordstrom without it.My mom pulled out her Mastercard and chatted
cheerfully with the salesgirl.
sell a lot of these, right?What a great
product.I might have to come back and
buy one for myself, too.”
nodded encouragingly, and then turned to me and asked, “Do you want to wear
it home right now?”
where I panicked.Wear it?Wear a wig?I began to have second thoughts just as my
mom was signing the credit card slip.
“No, uh, it
is for special occasions.Can I just
have a bag, please?”
“And lots of
tissue paper,” interjected my mom with a wink.“And maybe a nice shiny box with your pretty Nordstrom logo.”My mom liked the entire experience of
high-end department stores, which is why she was wise to stay at home with her
credit cards tucked safely away and try to get some gardening done
As we walked
out of the silver mecca that is Nordstrom, I gave my mom a big hug.The fake hair had been expensive, a real
splurge.It is not something I would
normally have bought for myself.
you going to wear it?” she asked, still giddy from buying a frivolous present for
to dinner with The Husband?” I volunteered.“That would be fun.”
opportunity arose faster than I thought.A mere week later, The Husband told me his work was hosting a Christmas
luncheon at a local restaurant and spouses were invited.I put
on my cutest black dress with a short red jacket and a colorful silk scarf tied
around my neck like I was French, or an American pretending to be French.Then, as the finishing touch, I put on the
new blond hair clip, fastening it securely high on the top of my head for
walked out of the bathroom from getting ready, The Husband actually swooned.There was no other word for it.
look so beautiful!Did you just get your
hair done today?Did you buy those hair roller
things that plug in?WOW!How did you get your hair to do that?You should wear your hair like that every day.”
I basked in the glory of the undeserved attention, and momentarily considered telling him it was a just a fluffy hair clip.A fake.But then I reconsidered, because I did not want him to tease me about
it, even in jest, nor accidentally slip and tell one of his co-workers.Instead, I played it cool.
“You like my
hair?” I whispered, channeling Marilyn Monroe.“Well, I tried a new conditioner.”
conditioner it was, we are buying stock in it.Okay, let’s get going.”He had a
grin plastered to his face as if he had just found a $100 bill lying on the
When we got
to the restaurant and valet-parked the car, three random women standing on the
curb waiting for their cars said, “Your hair is soooooooooooo pretty!”They looked at me with pure admiration and
perhaps a slight touch of envy.
into the private room and most of The Husband’s co-workers were already
there.They greeted me enthusiastically
and smiled warmly at me and my hair.
I ordered a
club sandwich and a glass of Pinot Grigio (everyone else was ordering wine or
liquor, and since it was the holiday season, I thought, Why not?).I was suddenly
very self-conscious and concerned that I might have a stray piece of bacon in
my teeth.Honestly, I shouldn’t have
worried about that at all.I should have
been thinking about my hair.Throughout
lunch, The Husband, sitting right next to me and with his hand on my back, had
been absent-mindedly petting my long flowing locks, like I was some exotic
creature from the petting zoo.Maybe a
rare pink sheep.
Husband is not one to pet my hair.He
never did that before, and I can safely say he has never done it since.But in that one particular moment, he could
not stop stroking my magnificent Brigitte Bardot hair.
obsessing about the bacon potentially lodged in my teeth.Lettuce could be stuck in there as well, and
this combination (in my Pinot Grigio-addled brain) convinced me that The
Husband could end up getting fired for being married to someone like me.Someone who was … messy and a bad eater.
excusedmyself to the ladies’ room and
was shocked to see that not only had my new hair clip not stayed on the top of
my head like it was supposed to, but the clippy portion was somehow defective
and had loosened to the point that it was half-way down my back.I was like some mutant “Growing Hair Barbie” experiment
gone grossly awry.
I tried to
unclip it and re-clip it, but then a few of the plastic teeth of the clips
broke off in my fingers as I clumsily attempted to adjust it.The bathroom was the kind that only one
person can fit in and lock the door, so someone (The Husband’s co-worker?his boss?the owner of the restaurant?) started knocking.
minute!” I screeched.
I felt big
tears well up in my eyes, but I knew a smeary mascara look would only make
things worse.As a last resort, I
hastily untied my scarf from around my neck and somehow managed to loop it back
around the hair piece to hold everything in place.I looked very different than when I had gone
into the ladies’ room originally.
returned to the table, I leaned down and whispered to The Husband, “The crab
cakes made me sick.We have to leave
volleyed back, “You had a club sandwich.”
“We.Have.To.Leave.”I smiled through gritted teeth. The Husband turned to his co-workers and announced apologetically, “Sorry,
guys, you know MOV is a flight attendant and she just got paged for a
flight.We have to go.So sorry.”
people stood up at the table to shake hands with me, and then The Husband’s
boss leaned in for a hug. I cringed
inside.Please don’t hug me, dear God, you’re going to pull my hair, no, no
I decided to
kiss him instead.A kiss would throw him
off guard and maybe make him forget all about the hug.
I leaned in
for a peck on his cheek, and he pulled away so as not to be kissed by me, but
we inadvertently found ourselves kissing on the lips.
The kiss was
approximately half a second, maybe less, but we were both mortified.His wife, still seated, took another swig of
her wine, then glared at me and my silk scarf tied around my head.
and I walked out to the car in icy silence.He finally sneered,
“What the hell was THAT all about?” right as the valet was bringing our car
around.He handed the valet a $5 bill,
then got in the driver’s seat, leaving me to get in on my side by myself.
Just when I
thought things could not possibly get any worse, the valet helped me into my
seat and shut the door.On my hair.
to drive away and the valet frantically chased after us, with my hair piece in
his hand.The Husband stopped the car,
and rolled down the passenger window.
you dropped this!” the valet said apologetically as he held out the fake hair.
not mine,” I said without even looking at him, and then we drove away, me
stringy-haired as ever.
a sharp metal object mere millimeters from my eyes.I tried desperately not to flinch while
silently begging Please don’t stab me.I would have begged out loud, but she had
both her hands in my mouth.
Now she was
rambling on about her son playing lacrosse.“He’s really good,” she said, “he might qualify for a scholarship.”
the edge of my tooth and I tried to move my tongue out of the way. “Do your
sons play sports?” she inquired.
Why do they
always do this?How am I supposed to
answer with the little round mirror jammed inside my cheek and that silver gougey-thing
do?That’s great.Which sport?”
I closed my
eyes tight and pretended that I was a narcoleptic.It’s not that I didn’t want to say “regional soccer,” it’s just that I would most
likely swallow the suction tube if I attempted to answer.Also, she kept spinning that steel pick
around like she was in a dental baton twirling competition.
Dr. Beyond Gorgeous walked in the room.He is so dreamy.Think George
Clooney’s unknown and much better-looking younger brother.Mmmmmmmmm.
He grinned wide,
like an ad for toothpaste.His teeth glistened
like the light of 32 flawless diamonds
on a snowy peak at high noon.I was
temporarily blinded.He waited for Kathy
to finish, and then he started examining my mouth.
try to lay off the sugar.I notice a few
areas that could develop into cavities if we’re not careful.”
I liked how
he said “We,” like we were a team.Team
Anti-Decay.Kathy winked at me, as if to
say, And you will make my job a lot
easier too if I don’t have to scrape so much.
I made a
quick stop on the way home.As I
purchased my treat, I thought, Well, at
least Kathy gets to keep her job this way.
trifecta writing challenge: 333 words, key word is "light"; I wrote this piece a few days ago and have made minor modifications to fit the challenge
I was scrunched
in my middle seat, saying futile prayers to The Gods of Travel that nobody would
sit in the aisle seat.
Person gets the window, they get all the power, right?Shade up, shade down.View, no view.Blinding sunlight ruining the movie, or
complete darkness combined with a burnt-out reading light when you have a
brand-new book.The Window People are a menace.
damn Aisle People.They jump up and go
to the bathroom anytime.Right after
take-off, right before meal service, during the movie, whenever.They have more power than the Window
People.They practically own the
goes to their heads.They suddenly think
they have rights to both armrests.Theirs and mine.Isn’t it enough that they have one armrest on
the outside and that they can get up whenever they want?And if the plane crashes, they are getting
out to safety 15 seconds before me?By laws
of adverse possession, they claim the middle armrest.
Loser (me) is clearly not a planner.By
the time the Middle Loser got around to buying a ticket, all the good seats
were taken.The Middle Loser deserves to
sit folded over like a broken umbrella for five hours.
I stage a
coup.When Aisle Person gets up to stretch,
I pounce.I adhere my elbow to the
armrest like a very strong magnet.
Now I notice
Aisle Person is holding two full glasses of white wine.He must be an alcoholic.Drinking while flying, stretching his legs,
hogging up armrests.How did this freak get through security?He has absolutely no consideration for—
miss?I brought you some wine.”
He hands me a
“For … me?”
nods.“Middle seats suck.You deserve a free glass of wine.”
I smile and thank
him.I accidentally lift my elbow for a
second when I take a sip.
enough for him to regain access of the armrest. MOV ***** trifecta writing challenge/ I shortened and edited a piece I wrote a few days ago/ exactly 333 words/ required word is "freak"
Dear Loyal Shirt,
when we first met, at the mall of all places.You beckoned me over from a metal rack where you were hanging out with
your colorful comrades. I noticed
you right away—your basic black hue, your stunning embroidered neckline, and your flattering boxy cut.
different somehow, longer.You offered
more coverage than is typical, obscuring not just the tumucular region, but
even offering a respite from the viewing of the hips.
I knew I had
to have you, and when I found out you were on sale (!), well, that was just the
proverbial cherry on the whipped cream of my shopping expedition sundae.
I got you
home and for years you behaved even better than expected.You had no qualms about accompanying me to
work, school functions, even doctors’ appointments.You could be counted on for holidays,
vacations, sporting events, or trips to the grocery store. You unilaterally embraced every climate; every raindrop or snowflake or ray of blazing sunshine was your pal. You were
flexible and could be paired with virtually anything in my closet: denim jeans, floral print skirts, cotton khakis, plaid shorts, striped capris, even a
formal interview suit. You made numerous appearances in several family photos.
You were my
silent workhorse, my prized clothing chameleon. Until.
always an “until,” isn’t there?
what I am talking about. Don't pretend you don't. The Husband
made the grave miscalculation to …
No.It’s too painful.I can’t talk
about it yet.
… he made
the grave miscalculation to put you in … the washer … and then … the dryer. ON HIGH
Has he never
had a wardrobe component like you, Loyal Shirt?I always dry cleaned you.In
fact, I know for a fact, factually speaking, that The Husband had accompanied
you to the dry cleaner (for drop off AND pick up) on several occasions.I have witnesses!Gray Skirt and Navy Linen Dress had seen you
there.Red Cashmere Sweater Made In
England told me you two stopped and had lunch.Even Black Work Jacket had cozied up to you in the very same plastic bag.
So what is
one tumble in the dryer between friends, hmm?After all we have been through together?Why would you insist on shrinking up like that?Why?I
always did treat you well, before this one isolated incident, I swear.And you know it was not my fault anyway!So why punish me?Isn’t that like blaming the victim?
Husband you are mad, don’t take it out on me when I am getting ready to have a
conference with my sons’ principal and need to match you up with Boat Print
Skirt.You know that White Rayon Sweater
shows every bit of deodorant or cat fur, how dare you even mention such a
What I am
saying is:It’s over.It is.I, for one, wish it could be different, we
all do.The kids do (who wants to see
their mom with deodorant or cat fur at school conference day?). I know that deep in my heart of hearts, even
The Husband wishes things turned out differently.
Why?Because I took his credit card and I am
headed to the mall.