Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What the hell, let's blame Australia

My day today started with me splitting my pants.  OK they were a couple years old and all but splitting your pants is never a good way to begin. Even less so when it's a high point.

After changing my pants I went to the dog park with Jezebel and Scarlett.  Scarlett was being really weird (even for her) pulling towards the wall instead of towards the interior of the park, so I kept her on the leash, made her sit for a few seconds to make sure she knew I was in charge,  and then let her off leash - at which point she looked at me, cocked her head to the right and promptly bolted for the exit, went over the wall, ran across a busy street and disappeared back towards our house.  While I was screaming, "No, Scarlett! Scarlett get back here!" and "Scarlett, stay!!!!!" over and over again at her.  I had to round Jezzie up, put her on the leash, run back towards our house and call P all at once which worked about as well as you'd expect. My phone ended up slightly damp from a brief sojourn in a puddle. but worked just fine.  Got a hold of P, explained the dog was running hell bent for leather towards home, grab her if she got there. but I still didn't know where she was going or why, when one of the super nice landscaper guys down the street started yelling to me, "Aqui!"

Found the stupid dog with a face full of frosting.  Pink, green and blue sugar splotches all over her muzzle and doggie eyebrows.  Yes she'd endangered her life, running across a really busy street to dig through garbage to eat cake she'd smelled from across the street on our walk to the park!!!!! Resumed breathing, called P back to say I had her.  Again, not the low point.

Got home to find boy got a really shitty grade in Bio.  Turns out it was from early October but the teacher is just getting around to posting them now. Yes, despite promising better communication. Trying to figure out how the hell he's going to pass this quarter.  Yet still not my low for the day. Why do you ask?

Gave up on anything going right and decided to get ahead on some holiday shopping  Since Lord & Taylor had all kinds of coupons out I figured there would be lots on sale.  Nope, nothing but summer clothes.  Total strike-out. Couldn't even buy a lipstick. Still other than a waste of gas, not a bad spot in my day.

Got home and got into a facebook fight with an old friend about the Boy Scouts being a discriminatory organization (it's not just me - New York State says they can't meet in public schools because they are a discriminatory organization!!!!) over their ban on gays and non-theists. We've been friends since we were thirteen years old. And I believed we would be friends forever.  Friends from first periods to well past menopause.  I guess I was wrong. Or she knows she is, but can't admit it.  (I'm not saying you can't choose to have your kids belong to a discriminatory organization - just that you can't deny that you're part of one when you are.)

That was my low point. Giving up someone who was in my wedding.  Giving up someone who's wedding I was in. And no, as you can probably tell, this isn't the first time she's told me good-bye.  The last time lasted almost two years.  But this time I told her not to tell me we aren't friends and expect to come back.  I walked on eggshells for a year so she could feel comfortable with me again. Enough.

Meanwhile Halloween was just last Sunday - and Thanksgiving is next week already.  Stupid hurricane took two weeks out of my life.  Every one around me is scrambling through this truncated season. I'm just hoping tomorrow is a better day.  For me and my Scarlett.

I blame it all on the eclipse in Australia.  It's as good a reason as any for this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.*

(*with apologies and admiration to Judith Viorst)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Emperor Has No Cleanse

OK so everyone who knows me, knows I'm really not the "go along to get along" type.  It's just not in my nature to agree with everyone, when I honestly disagree.  I try, I swear, I try.  But I can't ever seem to get the go along with the crowd lies out of my mouth.

This week, with my yoga teacher training group, I'm participating in a 10-day cleanse.  We're doing the cleanse from the book Clean by Dr. Alejandro Junger.  As cleanses go it isn't particularly extreme, you can have food, you just eliminate many common allergens, wheat, dairy, soy, peanuts, nightshades as well as beef and pork, alcohol and caffeine.  It's about the health benefits of alkaline vs. acid foods - or some sort of mumbo jumbo like that.  There is a looooong list of foods you can and can't eat.

I hear people rhapsodizing over their "clarity"  how glowing and healthy the skin and nails are, but I honestly have to say I feel not a thing.  So now I have to face a tableful of rah-rah true-believers and say "Great.  So glad you are loving it and it worked for you, but I feel nothing."  Or I could just go along to get along and pretend I had some sort of cleanse epiphany too.  Especially since I was very vocal about not wanting to do this during Crew season because of the very early morning practices - I keep thinking they are just going to dismiss me with a "Sure you don't feel anything because you didn't want to do it."  But isn't the only answer to that, "Well then how are you sure it isn't just working on you because you wanted to do it?"  And when I point out the inconsistency in people's arguments is when things usually get testy.

But I can't help myself.  I feel like Rizzo in Grease singing, "There are Worse Things I could Do."  Agreeing with people just to get along isn't a thing I can do.

We are on Day 4 (started on Sunday) and I feel not a damn bit different.  I've had some kale shakes, some cauliflower soup, quinoa, greens and cold-water fish salads, a lot of almonds, lentils and white beans with chicken, and nada.  I feel not one little tiny bit different. It isn't bad, it's just boring.  Other than missing my coffee when I go to pick up the Crew kids at stupid o'clock in the morning, and my glass of wine with P in the evening, I feel nothing.

I haven't lost any weight, I haven't gained any weight.  I sleep the same. My allergies aren't better or worse.  Everything is the same.  We're supposed to be doing this cleanse until Halloween, but I can't see the point.  If something doesn't feel much better by Saturday evening, I'm going out to the Crew team dinner at Outback Steakhouse with my husband and son and the whole team and eating like a normal person.

And I'm telling everyone at teacher training the truth about my experience.  Life should be about enjoyment and balance.

Happy Halloween to all.  Hope you eat too much candy, act too silly and have too much fun.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Botox Follies

Maybe it's because my birthday (Holy shit I'm going to be 49!!!!!! How did THAT happen?) is around the corner, but I seem to be succumbing to stupider stuff than usual.  The stupidest of the bunch?  My recent flirtation with botulism - ok,  Botox.  Now I have always said that there was no way I would let anyone shoot botulism in my head, because, you know...botulism. So how did I find myself one Wednesday evening, in a chair at my hairdressers, meeting a new doctor (it's OK he was just on the Today show!) and then letting him shoot poison in my head?

It all started (as so many things do) on facebook.  The hair salon I go to put up something on their page about a free Botox party.  Never being able to resist the word free, I let my curiosity about medical grade beauty products get the better of me and RSVP'd yes - then promptly forgot about it, as it was over a month away.  I figured I could always cancel if I came to my senses.  Two weeks later I'm at The Salon (really it's called The Salon, it's in Scarsdale and it's fabulous!) getting my hair done and someone asks if I'm still coming to the "Event." (wasn't that a really bad TV show from a couple years back?)  Oh yeah, I forgot to cancel.  Now I'm on the spot, and I think, "what the hell. If it's really free and there isn't some weird gimmick - FREE (with $500 purchase) - I may as well see what all the fuss is about.  I'm one of last of the women I know to bite the Botox bullet.  Everyone loves it.  Maybe I will too." So I say, "Is it really, truly, free?" And,"I'm definitely coming." What kind of crazy woman passes up free Botox?

I check it out and it is 100% free, the doctor is opening up an office in Westchester, in addition to his one in the City.  He's looking for local clients and hoping to spread some good will - and botulism.  So the day comes and P says to me, "Are you really going through with this?  I thought for sure you would have chickened out by now." (ahhhh, he knows me so well.) I would have, but for one little hitch - I told a friend about it and she thought it was a grand idea, so she RSVP'd too, and now I was driving the both of us.  If I was going to be a sniveling free toxin coward, I'd have to admit it out loud to my friend and make her brave the Hutchinson River Parkway at rush hour all alone.  Pride beat out cowardice, as it so often does.

So gentle reader, shaking in my boots (really cute turquoise blue, Frye boots), I climb up into the chair and let the oddly lineless Doctor (who was lovely and quite professional and I have no complaints at all about) shoot me with four shots, right between the eyes. He assured me I was going to become addicted.  I immediately felt as dumb as I have ever felt in my whole life.  I got out of the chair shaken and unstirred.

Now in terms of dumb things, was it as dumb as buying acid in Central Park from some random guy, or dating actors? Well, no... but as I was waiting for the doctor and reading all the possible side effects, I had to contemplate the (very, very, very remote) possibility that I could die from trying to make my forehead look less wrinkley. And I had to fervently hope that my children would make fun of me forever for leaving them motherless in such a stupid way.  Even the minor side effects were alarming, droopy lids, random numbness (I got that one - the tip of my tongue was numb for three days afterwards). My shakiness was more from being scared that I had let my self get sucked in to something so stupid than from the effects of the poison.  I lay awake all night - propped up on pillows so the Botox wouldn't migrate, hoping not to die from my own stupidity and vowing never to participate in this form of stupid American beauty follies again.

It's been two weeks and honestly I don't see that much of a difference. (I think I scared most of the toxin right out of my system by sheer will.) My forehead is a little smoother and I can't quite glare as effectively as before, but if I really concentrate I can still make the mommy evil eye.  I can't imagine paying five hundred bucks for this privilege though.  Once it wears off I think I'll keep my well earned wrinkles where they belong.

Of course later this month my yoga class is doing a group cleanse, so there is always more ridiculousness to come.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Summer Cooking - Composed Salad Nicoise(ish)

This is my favorite summer meal.  It looks elegant, it's easy and it's cold.  I blatantly stole this idea from my wonderful friend Jessica Scott, so feel free to steal and edit in your own way - hell, it isn't like she invented the damn thing either.  French housewives make this out of the stuff they have still lying around at the end of the week. 

We've done it with tuna (traditional), boquerones (pickled white anchovies from Spain), grilled salmon (what this is) and swordfish (pic that follows) but you can use any fish. cooked to your liking, then - 
put a bed of lettuce (not iceberg, but really anything else - a variety is best) on a platter. chop up onions, tomatoes (or use cherry tomatoes), cukes, red pepper, and/or whatever else you have lying around for veggies - traditionally slim green beans or haricot vert (we used asparagus in the first pic, haricot vert in the second), a couple hard boiled eggs, some bits of cheese (Manchengo is awesome, but any semi-hard to hard cheese will do), cornichons (the little french pickles) and olive tapenade (both at Trader Joe's). Sometimes I put in baby boiled potatoes (pic below), but not if I don't feel like turning on the stove.  Place all ingredients on the bed of lettuce in discreet sections.  (Perfect for those of us who don't like our food to touch.) The best part about it is that there is no way to go wrong - don't like one of these ingredients? Leave that out, put in something you do like - the key is variety.  Of course salt, pepper and season to your heart's content.

For dressing whisk together olive oil, vinegar (I like the TJ's Orange Champagne Vinegar) and good french mustard dressing, drizzle over the whole thing just before serving

Make it a few hours ahead so you can put everything in the fridge to get cold and you have a yummy summer composed salad - it's a lot of chopping, but other than that not a lot of work and it looks like you've done something magnifique (and it's really healthy!).

Great with this rose. But any summer wine will do.

Happy summer!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Am I a Salt Wife Yet?

So as many readers know - we have a sailboat.  She's a 30 foot Ericson, lovely boat. (this is me when we picked her up on Long Island - behind the sunglasses is complete surprise that we really went ahead and actually got a sailboat)  Most of you also know I am a very committed JAP - more likely to go into paradoxms of pleasure over a shoe sale at Bergdof's than over a weekend at sea.  But my lovely and patient WASP husband is a true boater - loving (almost) nothing more than being out on the water and as I really enjoy spending time with him, I try to find my way.  In my own fashion.

The sailboat has been a challenge for me and a blessing.  A challenge because I really am a know-absolutely-bloody-nothing, heaven helps us if he falls overboard, because while I am learning, right now I'm not sure I even know how to drop the sails and call for help,  and a blessing because she's an amazing entertainment platform - I can chill out, tan, get drinks, get hors d'oeuvers, play music, invite our friends for dinner...unlike our motorboat (did I mention my lovely and patient husband loves boats?) where I really can't do a damn thing but make squeaky noises whenever we hit a particularly nasty wake and sit there hoping we make it home alive once more.  So I like the sailboat better (it's like a play house underneath - there is a tiny little kitchen and a tiny little bathroom and a table that drops down to form the base of a bed) but over the last couple of days, it seems like she's been trying to see what it takes to make me say "Uncle."

Yesterday we had friends out and the ladder down to below came out of its fastenings (while I was on it!!!!) and collapsed to the floor.  Bumps, bruises and a bit of injured pride, but no real harm done.  We need to figure out a solution to hold it in place (since this is the second time this has happened to me) but this is a problem easily fixed.  We just have to get around to it.  Today, however was a whole 'nother story in our continuing adventures.

Today we had P's stepbrothers and kids out, along with his mom, we had such a lovely sail, P and I decided to stay out on the boat when everyone else went back.  It was the perfect summer day, felt like a little mini-vacation.  Sun, tunes, wine, lunch.  Both kids are busy - and even better busy elsewhere!  Life is good. We had been out for a good long while, luxuriating in no kids, no phone calls, no worries, when  P went down below to use the head (which is  a very silly name for toilet, but sailboats are full of silly names).  Now at this point in all fairness, I do have to mention that last night we both said we really ought to bring the boat into the work dock because it's probably about time to pump out the holding tank (gross but true, you have to go to a pump station and pump out the toilet's holding tank, which is still way less gross than just dumping it overboard, which people did for YEARS!!!!!) but it was a vacation day and we hadn't gotten around to it yet.

All of a sudden there was a lot of yelling, swearing and consternation coming from below decks, "Shit, shit, shit....paper towels!!!!! Do we have paper towels?"  Yes gentle readers, the holding tank was interrupting my perfect summer day by overflowing - so that was super, super, super gross, but P got the small overflow cleaned up and we decide we have to head in to the work dock to get this pumped out PRONTO.

So we do.  We get to the work dock and I manage to throw the line to the dock attendant without missing or hitting myself in the face with it, or any other sort of embarrassing mishap.  I'm feeling pretty good about this whole boaty thing.  I've got this.  P jumps on to the dock and tries to start up the Pump-A-Head.  He uncoils the hose, presses all the buttons in the order prescribed on the sticker, but nothing seems to be happening.  He asks me to go in to the head and flip the switch from dry bowl to intake, maybe that's the problem?  I try it, but no.  That doesn't do anything at all.   So I flip it back.  He's standing on the dock, holding the stupid hose, after pressing the buttons all over again, with nothing happening...so he says "Here, hold this.  I'll check the inside."  And shows me how to keep one hand on the boat and one on the suction hose that is supposed to be sucking sewage out of our tank.

He goes below and I swear, not two seconds later the pump decides to start working with great force and  an incomplete seal - covering our boat and me, (in my super-cute white and silver sequined bathing suit cover-up) with raw sewage.  Now, to be fair, not with a lot of sewage - the pump automatically shuts off when the seal is broken, but really how much sewage do you need?  "HONEY!!!!!!" was about all I could muster.  He came outside, looked at me, looked at the pump. looked at the boat, looked at me again and said, "OK, I'll take care of this, why don't you go up and shower."  So smelling horrific the whole way, I toddled up to our pool locker, showered, changed and came back to a sparkling clean boat and a sparkling clean head.  He'd gotten the pump fixed (better late than never?) gotten the boat hosed off, and gotten the floor (there's probably a silly boat word for that too, I just don't know what it is) next to the head cleaned up.  We headed back out to our mooring and continued on having a great lazy Sunday.  We were having a nice peaceful summer day together and I was damned if a little raw sewage was gonna get in the way of my enjoying the day.

I still love my boat even if she is testing me - but still once we got out there I sprinkled little bits of salt on every hatch and porthole (doorway and window) to shoo the evil spirits away - no sense taking any chances. I think I've proved myself as seaworthy now.  And I really hope she thinks so too.

The moral of my very long winded story?  When life throws poop at you, take a shower and move on as if nothing had ever gone wrong.  It's a beautiful day, what else can you possibly do?

Friday, March 16, 2012

I'm no longer trying to not be my mother

At 48 and a half I have decided I am no longer trying to not be my mother.  I am now trying to not be my grandmother.  Yesterday I plucked a quarter-inch long, black, spikey hair from my chin.  I do not have black or spikey hair.  I have no idea where that sucker came from, but I have a feeling he'll be back.  And he's going to bring friends.

The hair on my head still looks pretty good - of course, I've been highlighting it since I turned eighteen, so I'm not sure I would know if it was changing color.  But it still grows in with dark roots, so I think I'm OK.  As for any other hair, fortunately, my formerly flat (yes, even after two c-sections) belly now sticks out just far enough to make any other hair invisible.  Besides, my eyesight is shot, so I'd never be able to see anything that far away anyway. The crow's feet are close enough to my eyeballs so I get quite a nice view of them.  Having a son doing crew team at the High School means 4:15(AM!!!) wake-ups and that puts the facial wrinkles in stark relief.

This week I've been going through old pictures to put together a greatest hits album of all our adventures and it made me realize how old all my clothes are.  This isn't out of any sort of frugality or noble reasoning - it's because I steadfastly refuse to buy clothes in a size that fits me.  I'll go to the store, try on something cute, realize the only size that fits is one I won't wear and put it back. I'll go back to the store a month or so later to see if they have anything decent in any size under double-digits, but until they do - I'm not buying.  Did I mention I' currently unable to run or jog because of bursitis in my left hip?  Does anything sound older than bursitis?  Maybe my bunion does.

I now know why Chico's marks all its clothes 1, 2, 3 and 4.  It's to baffle you into not knowing that you don't want to wear something that big. Who know what sizes those actually translate to.  Is that an 8?  Recently all I've felt is chubby, old and wrinkly - not like me, but like some alternate universe version of me.  My mother.

This was my general mien today when I had to make a quick stop in Marshall's today to pick up a decent pair of dress shorts for my son who is going to need something to wear to regattas.  The line stretched on and the women in it chatted to pass the time.  I was at the short end of the line in between a young mom with an adorably grumpy toddler in her basket and a grandmotherly type holding a couple of baby and dog toys.  Our talk turned to the crazy weather  - as it often does in a crowd of strangers.  It was a typical March day today, 45 degrees and pissing down rain - but the beginning of the week had been mid-70s and beautiful.  I lamented my daughter's wearing of shorts to school this morning and how she must have spent the day freezing.  We all cooed over and agreed the toddler was lovely in his grumpiness.

The woman in front and her toddler moved up at the call of "register 6 is now available" and the grandmotherly woman and I were left alone.  "How old is your daughter?'  she asked.  "Sixteen."  I replied.  She looked genuinely shocked,  "Really, you don't look...I thought you were talking about a young child...."  And at that moment she became my very favorite person on the planet.

Maybe becoming a grandmotherly type isn't so bad if it allows you to see the middle-aged woman in front of you in line at Marshall's as an elementary school mom.  I might not want to drive too close to her, as I think she might be badly in need of an eye test, but I am ever so pleased I stood in front of her in line.  Now all I have to find is a magic eye cream.  And a team of old ladies to stand nearby.

Friday, February 3, 2012

A Meditation on the Sisyphean Nature of February - or you know, Groundhog Day and shopping.

The Sisyphean nature of life has just been too much for me lately - as it often is this time of year. Everything I do feels like the same damn thing over and over again.

I don't know if it's the lack of warmth or the lack of light (although I sure suspect the latter, since I have been reminded time and time again I have nothing to complain about given the mild nature of this winter in the Northeast.  Yet I persist.) but by the time Imbolc rolls around I am a full on mess.  Every new year, sometime in January, I develop a type of seasonal disorder.  I begin to notice how pointless it all seems, and how endless - fill the dishwasher, empty the dishwasher, fill the dishwasher, empty the dishwasher....same with the parade of dirty then clean laundry to the basement and back.   I seem to always be wearing the same clothes, making the same dinners,  checking the same homework, from the same (dark) time I get up every day to the same (dark) time I go to sleep every night, things are stuck in an autonomous loop, over which I have no control.

Even the nature of the disorder feeds into my sense of repetition.  Every year, it begins with a mild sense of unease, which moves to ennui, then heads on into sheer dissatisfaction, a lack of pleasure in the things around me, and a strong feeling that if only I could get myself to a Tiki Bar with a full view of palm trees and parrot fish all would be right in my world again.  I don't care that we've had more days in the 40s and 50s this winter than we have in the 20s and 30s - I still hate it. And I'm still going to complain.  I feel trapped in the house, trapped in the coats, hats and gloves.  Trapped in putting it all on every time I go out and taking it all off every time I come in.  I need sultry air, a warm breeze, a fruity drink in one hand and a trashy novel in the other.  (Which is not happening anytime soon.)

So today was not the day for my son to leave his clean laundry on the floor instead of putting it away - for the third time in two weeks.  Not the day for the dog to sleep on said (formerly) clean laundry - for the third time in two weeks.  Most definitely not the day for that son to then call from school, immediately after I'd dropped him off, to ask me to come back to school with his Giants helmet since he needed it for Chemistry.  (ok that was a new one) Yes, even after he explained to me that I didn't need to wash his clothes again because he didn't mind at all if they were doggy smelling.  And so not the day for having the finding and bringing of his helmet to school make me miss yoga.  Yet that was the day it was.

So I did the only thing that made sense to me.  I got back from school the second time, changed out of my yoga clothes, pointed my car toward the sun, turned the radio up way too loud and drove directly to the J. Crew Outlet where I bought half a new summer wardrobe.  A bright orange dress, a cute sweater, two t-shirts and a belt, all for under $130.00.  And you know what? I feel better.  Sometimes retail therapy is my only answer.