Aminal Crackers.

My handbag is basically a pic-a-nic basket (whenever you can be more like Yogi Bear, I strenuously recommend it—start by adding an extra syllable to pic-a-nic basket). At any given point in time, there is an apple, an orange, three bars, candy, nuts, apple chips and likely half of a sandwich. When I fly, I tend to bring the same arsenal—apple, orange, three bars, butterscotch candy, pretzels, cut up veggies, and a box of animal crackers. I don’t know what it is about animal crackers, but I. Can’t. Help. Myself. Can’t.

While I ate them yesterday over Atlanta, I got to thinking, “what is it about Animal Crackers that I like so much?” I mean, let’s be honest. They don’t taste very good. And I’m notoriously picky. I’m a “Drive to three stores, two farmers markets and a dairy to grocery shop for ingredients every week” kind of picky. Why do I insist on consuming these bland stale teething biscuits during air travel (Not on a road trip. Don’t be a monster. Everyone knows that during a road trip, you eat Cheeto’s Puffcorn and David’s sunflower seeds you crazy person)? So here’s what I’ve come up with:

First, they are AMINAL SHAPED. Yes, I spelled aminal correctly. Because when you are an adult eating food shaped like zoo inhabitants and you lovingly pull out each cookie and consider the form that has been gifted to you then have a little conversation in your head, “Hellooooo Gorilla! I’m so sorry that I’ll be eating you today! ZEBRA! I can’t believe it! I never get a zebra!!” You call them aminals. And who doesn’t love food in childlike imagination inducing forms?

Second, they come in a PURSE. I know that some dastardly manufacturers are attempting to quash the joy of childhood by selling animal cookies in other containers—buckets, for example, but those nefarious buzzkills should be put on notice—animal crackers live in a box shaped like a Circus Train Car. With a handle for convenient carrying. Period. End of story. The insane amount of satisfaction that I garner from opening the box, mentally dividing the pasty flavorless forms into the number of servings that I anticipate having legs of flights, and taking the little handled lunchbox out of my purse like a small child every time that I reach cruising altitude is unquantifiable. Really. Glee.

Finally, every one of these tiny cookies is packed with whimsical nostalgia. I used to watch Shirley Temple movies with my grandmother and loved her ringlet covered tap dancing little soul. Every time I buy a box of animal cookies, I sing, “Animal crackers in my soup!” In my head and I silently wonder whether animal crackers used to be savory because it would be strange to have cookies in your chicken noodle. I always vow to give it a Google, but I always forget. And it doesn’t matter, really, because these cookies taste like kindergarten and a time when friendships were easy, and politics, war and the worries of the world weren’t even a twinkle in the universe’s eye for me yet. And when I’m eating them, I allow myself to be that child again, apologizing to the hippopotamus for chomping his rump and giggling at his polite response—hippopotamuses speak in a lovely South African accent, you know, and are very formal.

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My Four Cents About “Me, Too.”

First, and foremost, let me say, “me, too.” And let me share my wish of so many deep, hugs and bottomless glasses of wine and fathomless conversations with loved ones that heal with their words and their presence to every human that has felt denigrated in that way.  

I’m not going to say, “but” here, because there is no “but” in denigration, so I am going to say. . . ALSO…..because someone needs to be the Lorax for the good men who are confused. And to stand among the angry women with a sign that says, “I’m angry, but I want my anger to be constructive, not destructive.” Or something better, shorter, and maybe rhyming, you know, for tv.  
I am the mother of men. And shit, are they amazing men. Really. Funny, smart, handsome, they cook, they mow, they clean, they care. . . And they’re scared. They’re scared because I have had to raise them in a society where they are supposed to act asexual without sacrificing their masculinity. Where, in addition to all of the things that men have had to know since the beginning of time—how to provide, how to protect, how to lead, when to follow, how to adapt—they are also tasked with knowing all of the things that modern society demands—how they are perceived, how to interpret nuances, how to be sensitive to the feelings and needs of others around them, which emotions are appropriate to show in which situation and when to mask their emotions, desires, and opinions in order to tread lightly on the other humans around them, and how to protect themselves when what has historically been sold as tacit consent sometimes isn’t actual consent at all. Don’t freak out. Hear me out here, please.  
I’m not saying that these traits are dumb, but I’m saying that as recently as 50 years ago, these traits were not only NOT desirable but actually deemed unsellable for a man who wanted to find a life or sexual partner and that maybe we might need to take a second and wonder if we’re demanding a lot of things from men in a time frame that is incompatible with the speed at which human evolution works? Bear in mind, for example, that all of the changes that women are demanding of society are changes that we WANT and we still find it hard to adjust (ask any working mother how much easier her life is now that she has the potential to be as successful as her husband if her life is so much easier now than if she was just tasked to be a mother). We’re asking an entire society of men to change their lives for the worse and to be fair, we’re not really clear about what our expectations are of them. Really, think of the mixed messages we send.  
Most of us will shout from the rooftops that there’s no correlation, but we live in a time where 50 Shades of Grey—arguably one of the worst written novels of all time with poor character development, a trite (if I’m being generous) story line and a fourth grade level vocabulary sold more than 125 MILLION copies in it’s first two years on the market. Those numbers are more than two years old, so they’re underestimated. At 125 million copies, 50 Shades is one of the top ten best selling novels of ALL TIME. Of. All. Time. A book that sexually aroused women—apparently more than 125 million of them—through the denigration and sexual abuse of a woman who actually found her abuser to be marriage and father material. And lived happily ever after. Let’s not even get into how many women went to see the movies. So why, if we think that men who demand sex or are sexual predators should be arrested, do we as a female society at large find it titillating to read about? To sexually idealize? To fantasize about? I’m not making a judgement call here, I’m just asking the question.  
Almost every single romance novel marketed to women has a male character that is: 1. Wealthy and powerful with a ruthless ability to succeed. 2. Tall, has a full head of hair and a minimum of six abs—eight abs are also acceptable. 3. Commanding and forceful in a sexual situation. If that’s what turns hetero sexual women on is a rich ruthless prick who can pick us up and throw us against a wall (in a good way), why are we grinding the men in our society into man bun wearing feminazi’s THEN complaining from the rooftops about how hard it is to find a good man?!?! Are we being truly honest about what our definition of a “good man” is?  
I would never justify or belittle the disgusting antics of the likes of Weinstein or Cosby, or Trump or Clinton or. . . .whomever, however, I DO think that this behavior speaks to a greater problem. Successful men are what society reveres and to be successful requires a certain amount of ruthless narcissism. Sorry, there. I said it. There is evidence that 15 of our 44 presidents have been involved in sexual misconduct. That’s more than 1/3 of the leaders of our nation. We revere them, we write history books of their great deeds. We made Monica Lewinsky famous and Clinton never spent a day suspended from his job without pay. JFK is still adored by women and his oft scorned wife held up as a paragon and we pretend that presidential sex scandal is news. But it’s the same prechewed and regurgitated baby bird food that the press has been spitting in our mouths since Washington, Lincoln, Eisenhower, Cleveland and FDR. Do we love testosterone? Does it give these men success and charisma? Why do we LOVE men who assault women, harass women, use their power to seduce women and then pretend criminalize it but offer no real consequences?! Why do we want them to lead our nation and be the men that we ask our sons to idolize and emulate? Don’t even get me started on professional athletes. 
What are we teaching our girls about the big bad world out there? They have hair colorists, sexy clothing, sultry role models from cartoons to play dolls. There’s teasing everywhere we look—makeup, push up bras, camera filters. . .girls are expected to entice.  We are teaching women that their goal in life should be all about “look at me” first, substance second and that “look but don’t touch” is what they should expect of the world.  A world that has been a little more “you break it, you buy it” for generations.  They are trained by society to primp every day and to document it with photography that is ever present. There is no privacy. Nothing is sacred. And, apparently, teenaged boys are now supposed to asexually support all of these Disney style fantasies of prudish Victorianism and pine at home content with chaste kisses until marriage. But these girls aren’t wearing floor length skirts and pouring tea in sitting rooms with supervision. They are half naked, grinding, fleshy touching sirens who text naked pictures of themselves. . .and teenaged boys don’t know when they’re crying wolf and when they’re not. They’re teenaged boys. And let me clue you in on a little bit of accurate history here—Courtship and engagement in Victorian times rarely took longer than 90 days from kissing gloved hand to married copulation—and that was for the top 1% of the population. Most marriages took place within weeks of meeting. The couples had rarely spent time together alone and there were certainly never boobs or legs showing in this equation. But don’t worry. The men were taught about sex by prostitutes and lower classes of women with different views on sexuality and were frequently just marrying for financial means. . . Not love. Sex within marriage was for the means of procreation. Sex for satisfaction, fun or love occurred outside of the institution. Do I think that’s appropriate for now? NO, but I also don’t think that men have changed all that much in the time between then and now. My sons don’t want to “date” the vapid simpering baggages that some people call daughters for three years and wait for marriage. And if they did, those daughters would find them unattractive because asexual men are not masculine enough to elicit sexual attraction in a woman! Expecting hormonal teenaged boys to spend time and money on girls who tease and tease and tease and tease and tease is well, a pretty tall order when girls are being told to wait until they’ve graduated college and started a career to entertain marriage.  
My sons and I talk about consent a lot. We talk about booze and passion, drugs and knowing who you are with. We’ve talked about having girls sign condom wrappers or asking them to videotape consent. When I think back to the onset of my sexuality, I try to superimpose these regulations onto my experience in love. And it sucks.  
I think about my “Me, too” moments. There have actually been a fair few. I think about how I blamed myself or laughed them off and I’m disgusted with how ambivalent I am about all of it. But it helps, I think, for me to live in a world of men. It sounds counter intuitive, but it is cathartic to live with the “enemy,” to know his struggles. I was raised with only brothers and I have only sons. I have been forced, by situation, to view the world through a man’s eyes and despite the media’s opinion that white men rule the world and that life is all a box of chocolates, it’s not true. The good men are struggling, too. They feel marginalized by a society that can’t seem to make up its mind. Where, because of their sex or sexual orientation or the color of their skin, THEY aren’t entitled to voice an opinion about marginalization because society pretends that they hold all of the cards in a very stacked deck. They are expected to silently play the hand they’re dealt fairly and honestly while tacitly accepting that society believes that they are cheating just by being dealt in.  
There is no justification for assault. None. But there continues to be celebration of it because our society makes heroes out of these criminals. By giving them money, votes, buying tickets, making documentaries and books, they are our leaders, business owners, professional athletes and entertainers.  Yes, we are calling out these instances today, but we have been here before. And we have actually discovered that pointing a finger at it and shouting about it doesn’t affect change. What will make change happen? By continuing to place men who act in this way on a pedestal, are we saying that there is some part of us that doesn’t want change? For what it’s worth, that’s my question and probably more than a Susan B Anthony dollar’s worth of soapboxing.  

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Today. . . 

Today I lost my dog.
Today I lost my dog. The heaviness of this sentence keeps echoing against the walls of my empty chest in utter disbelief. In the silent early hours of this morning, I lay on the hardwood floor of my entryway. She simply couldn’t get up. So I laid down beside her. I tucked my pillow up under her chin, cuddled us both into my favorite blanket and we watched each other breathe. We listened to the sounds of the world around us–a burbling water heater, a furnace kicking on, a car driving down the street–and we just soaked each other in.
Today I lost my dog. When a person is dying, there is talk of bucket lists and wishes lost or come true. Looking into her eyes, it occurred to me that, while my bucket list is the size of a Dicken’s novel, my dog had only ever wanted one thing in life–to be loved by me. To follow me, have my scraps–affection or edible, play with me, walk with me, share my space and time. I spend so much energy believing that fulfillment lies within a great world that I consume at warp speed. She found utter happiness in just being able to love me. Obey me. Catch snips of pie crust and bits of chopped onion that fell from my hands as I cooked. Ride with me in the car and sit by the bath supervising the shaving of my legs. I have eyes for the universe and she only had eyes for me.
Today I lost my dog. And I remembered at the last every word I wanted her to hear. I chanted to her all night about her goodness, her beauty, her lovely soft ears and her verve. I stroked all of her favorite spots until my hands were numb and her fur was wet with my tears and the sweat from my hands. I cooked for her. . . she wouldn’t eat, but I wanted her to know that I could serve her, too. I could comfort her, if she would let me.
Today I lost my dog. And I realized that all of it–even letting me comfort her as she lay dying. It was all for me. Even in dying, she was giving to me. Comforting me. Letting me lie with her and breathe my terrible morning breath on her when she really wanted to be alone. Letting me fawn over her when she felt terrible. Letting me stick her with needles and shove medicine droppers in her mouth.. . all for me. And it’s gone now. The comfort of her is gone. But the loss is only mine. She lived every day in exactly the way that she wanted. In bone chomping, grass rolling, toilet drinking, face licking joy.
Today I lost my dog. And in this life where people come and go and love is fleeting, where friendships end or fade away, the chronic nature of her incessant affection which felt suffocating at times while she lived has ripped a vacant chasm in the fabric of my life. Who will ever love me as well? Love all of my faults and be a silent sounding board for all of my ideas? Who will eat the food that I burn or shuffle in to watch me pee? Who will listen to my outlandish ideas and alternate eyebrow quirks to tell me how interesting I am without interrupting? Who will follow me to the ends of the earth now and remind me that grass is for frolicking and that the sun on your belly is almost heaven on earth?
Today I lost my dog.
Today I lost my dog.


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Disenfranchised or Shallow?

I can’t tell. Here’s a low down dirty truth about me–

This morning, The Ginger wanted to know whether the formation of PACs was a result of the original FEC laws from the seventies or the BCRA. This is NOT a typical banana pecan pancake breakfast conversation (I have to put bananas and pecans in them to cover the taste of the protein powder in the mix). He was doing some AP Government test corrections and wanted to use my brain in order to skirt looking up the answer in the textbook (he failed, rather, my brain failed, but I wouldn’t admit that to HIM).

While working an avoidance tactic that simultaneously rose colored my knowledge base on the subject (nonexistent) and gently encouraged him to seek the answer through the appropriate channels of NOT being a lazy ghit, I started to think about how much time I have spent thinking about the Presidential Elections that are about to happen–or rather, how much time I SHOULD be spending thinking about it–and it occurred to me that I have spent most of my idle brain energy in the last week thinking about the fact that I can FEEL a hair growing out of my chin but when I look in the bathroom mirror, I can’t FIND it with the tweezers.

What I want to know is this–If I have (honestly) squandered the portion of my intelligence that I should be investing in strong political decisions in this way, does that make me shallow or disenfranchised? Both? Should I put more effort into changing my life path? Am I the only woman on the planet who obsesses about one stray Billy Goats Gruff style chin protrusion? What is the meaning of it all?

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My REAL Resume

I am updating my resume. I’m not looking for a job, it’s just that sometimes, I like to sit down and put my accomplishments in writing. For me. Also, I am equally forgetful and prone to embellishment so I think that it is important to state, “just the facts, ma’am” while I remember them.

That being said, I feel like my professional resume is a very poor reflection of who I ACTUALLY am. It’s a contrived concatenation of colloquial conquests that paradoxically tells the reader exactly what they THINK they want to know about me while not actually informing them of all of the things that they SHOULD know about me (like how brilliantly I alliterate). I kind of hate it. So I have decided to write a different kind of resume. One that is meaningful, honest, and would land me the kind of career where I could happily spend time earning money. . .if you can’t see the photo, there is a hyperlink below.  Resume.jpg


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Facewash – A Parenting Play in Two Acts


Last evening, while unpacking a bag of toiletries from the store. . . .

Me: Hey, boys. Put this in your shower and use it on your face.

The Ginger: Um, I don’t think so. It’s kind of inappropriate looking.

Me: There’s nothing inappropriate about face wash. It’s great for blackheads and I bought the mens’ version so it doesn’t smell like a “Chick Product.” Use it.

The Giant: Nah. It looks insensitive.

Me: I’m not trying to be insensitive. There are blackheads on your nose. Use the wash. I love you regardless of the status of your pores.  Female society at large might not share my unconditional approval.

The Giant: No. It is black. I’m not using a black face wash.

Me: Nobody is going to SEE you in the SHOWER, you jackass.  You rinse it off.

The Giant: Blackface is inappropriate and insensitive even in private, Mom.

The Ginger: Yeah. Just so you know, this is definitely turning into one of those stories that I will tell my grandchildren–the time my mom made me put on blackface every day in the shower.

Me: Put. It. In. Your. Shower.

The Giant: This “Yes, Ma’am” is brought to you by a conscientious objector.

The Ginger: Yeah, I’ll feel so dirty about getting clean.

This morning, as I’m pouring myself a cup of coffee, the Giant enters the kitchen looking serious. . .

The Giant: I feel TERRIBLE.

Me: <panic> How?! Where?! Did you barf?

The Giant: It’s just. It’s just that I feel like. . . like I’ve seriously wronged a significant group of people. My face. My face just feels. . . . racist.

The Ginger, slowly coming down the stairs, acting like he’s melting into the floor.

The Ginger: I’m soooooorry Democratic paaaartyyyyyy. . . .

Me:  You DO understand that inferring that a racial sensitivity is specific to a political party is ridiculous, right?

The Giant: You DO understand that the ridiculous fruit is landing right underneath the ridiculous tree, right?

I slid their ommeletes on their plates, grabbed my coffee mug and left the kitchen and heard. . . 

The Giant:  I’m thinking we should let up or she’s going to make us eat cereal for dinner.

Then. . . Loud fork clink.


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Sorry, (Whatever is Italian for Charlie)


Dear Italian People I Have Known,

I regret to inform you that you may be required by nationality to disown me after this post, but it must be said. . . I know that this pasta shape has a name. It was printed on the package. There were a lot of letters. Italian seems to be a language for a person whose tongue is very talented (if you married an Italian guy, go you). But as the leader of the world, I hereby declare that this shape shall heretofore be called “ADORABLE LITTLE JELLYFISH” pasta. I am writing an email to the Pope. It’s a done deal. Don’t fight the inevitable. Jellyfish is a new pasta shape. And it holds soooo much sauce. Perfetto! (see what I did there?)

With love and fond memories of our past exploits and a hope for forgiveness for renaming your national food heritage with terminology from Little Golden Books,


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What Brings the Boys to the Yard?

Let’s be clear about something. Shakes should be made of ice cream. Only of ice cream. Not of protein, not of yogurt, not of fruit. Ice. Cream.

I don’t want to see the nutrition information on a liquid that you are calling a “shake.” Not the protein to carb ratio, the amount of calcium, or any other detail that convinces me to consume your melted warm powdery oyster textured sweety goo instead of a cheeseburger for lunch! The best thing about a shake is its ability to combine calorie rich foods into a happiness substrate. With a straw.

Why do you drink your meals? Do you hate your teeth? Are your bowels lazy? What did real food ever do to you?

I only drink shakes made with ice cream and I only drink juice that can be mixed with vodka. Really. If vodka is your juice’s friend, we’re a go. For the record, vodka loves cranberry, orange, grapefruit, pomegranate, and even tomato juice. Vodka hates all semi liquid concoctions masquerading as “juice.” If it has a vegetable in it, it’s SAUCE. This is food 101. Fruit blood=juice. Vegetable blood=sauce/consommé/purée. Mammal blood=blood. Fish blood=shit, that’s blood too. But somehow it’s grosser because it can’t be made into delicious sausages.

If you drink your meals in the form of a reconstituted powder, you should refer to the concoction as a “Liquid Meal Replacement Substrate (from concentrate).” That is all.


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DC Calling

Generally, I’m a Marvel girl. It’s nothing personal, really, I just find the cast of characters more interesting. The lynchpin has always been the DC cornerstones of Superman and Batman–Superman with his super irritating clean-cut incessant goody-two shoes bumbling and butt chin (I HATE a ridiculous cartoon cleft chin cliche throwback to 1950’s Cary Grantism) and Batman’s Mary Poppins belt of bottomless implausible one-trick devices coupled with the world’s least sensical costuming choice. BUT. . . I’ve been turning over a new leaf.

My kid got me watching The Arrow on Netflix about a month ago and I like it. Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t changed my life or my comic realm religion or anything, but it rolled in like a wave and filled a lull that had developed in my entertainment life. It helped me make it through the grey of January when I was forced to run on the dreadmill and was a delightful weekend binge when I was snowed in. It turns out that The Arrow was a gateway series and I am about to ride out the rest of the winter stealing away quiet moments to sit alone in a corner with my iPad sneaking in The Flash (Oh, Barry, you hot derpy thing!!!) then again, Marvel DID just pipe in with badass Jessica Jones. . . . decisions, decisions.


The universe doesn’t want to stop pushing, it seems, and when I was at Costco last, the new 1000 piece jigsaws were all DC cover art so I bought a pack with one vintage Superman and one Batman. As far as I’m concerned, in the dead of winter, when you don’t want to put on lipstick and brave the frigid and when your couch beckons, a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle is pretty much the most fun to be had with your clothes on.  A vintage comic book one? Heavenly.


Aaaaaaaah, Thursday night. Cocoa and almost infinite butt chins.

To top off the ceaseless morningwood back poking of the DC Universe, last evening, while waiting for Deadpool to start in the theater, I was blasted with the trailer for the new Suicide Squad movie coming out in August. Suicide. Squad. Movie. With Will Smith as Deadshot, people. I was planning to toodle around Europe somewhere with my kids for the month of August, but now I have some serious decisions to make.

To conclude–fine, DC, FINE. I’ll like you, too.

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The Affair Continues

For anyone who is following the progress of my affair with Shuffle, I wanted to let you know that he is in full Valentine week woo. Saturday, when faced with the grueling task of completing my long run on the dreadmill, he showed up with the musical equivalent of my favorite flowers. This is beyond a feat–my favorite flowers are Peonies and orange blossoms–rare and American exotic, extremely hard to buy.



One by one, he flung musical gems at my feet–Scott H Biram, Spoon, The Thompson Twins. . . he reved me up with some White Stripes and flipped the switch right to a little Ray Charles then twisted it in a little with a Roger Miller to Social Distortion to Yellow Card mix up. Seven miles flew by. Really, they didn’t, but they were at least bearable. There were even a couple of times when his surprising song gifts made me bark out a loud laugh or shout out a chorus–my son came to check that I hadn’t fallen off the treadmill, no, I was singing along, not crying out in agony.


I swear, he way laying it on so well Saturday, I was more than a little worried about today. I needed to squish six miles into a crowded schedule and, on top of having caught a serious case of the ennui, there was another inch of snow on the ground this morning so I had to run inside AGAIN.


Mortified, I grudgingly put my shoes on and pushed “start.” I was SO sure that he would be yet another disappointment in this day that I queued up season three of Arrow on Netflix as back up. I would rather run to music, but when bad music happens, it ruins my workout mojo faster than a shin splint so I have to plan for all eventualities. . . and. . . it was a pound of Neuhaus Chocolate truffles wrapped in vintage paper and topped with a stack of bars from Rogue Chocolatiers in Three Rivers. Warming me up with Drew Holcom’s American Beauty, he made me smile. Then, the second I upped the ante on speed, he matched me beat for beat with Cowboy Mouth, Eminem and Ryan Bingham. When I started to wane and glance at the clock (The trouble with treadmill running is that, you really can quit at any time. If you are on the road, you still have to get home so you might as well finish up.) he sprinkled me with Aretha, The Waitresses and Phoenix. Just when I thought I would pretend to pee then hang it up, he kept me to my goal with Muse covering Nina Simone, Incubus and the Hives. . . . and it was all sooooooo smoooooooth.


While I desperately love my husband, I must say, I AM enjoying this little flirtation with an electronic device.

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The Run Playlist and My New Affair (Bad Words)

Alright. I’m saying it out loud. In writing. I. Was. Wrong.

I have MF’d the iTunes Genius (or lack thereof) and the “random” shuffle feature on my Big Brother Apple devices for years. I mean, NOBODY can design a playlist like me. Especially a running playlist (look at the modesty on Pam, people). I organize all music libraries by beats per minute, then by general mood, then genre, and then alphabetically. I can tell you, when a song comes on the radio, whether it is a seven minute mile or a ten minute mile tempo and practically anything in between (not any faster, because if you run faster than a 7 minute mile, I think you should die a painful Two the Hard Way/Playing with Fire death of a million terrible songs). I can write a playlist so that you grin hilariously through 26.2 miles of shit eating hell in the cold rain and make all other runners think you have eaten Gu laced with Ex. And someone else picking my music is my own private hell.


Today, I ventured outside. I’ve been limp d*cking my way through a half marathon training program on the treadmill I keep in a cupboard across from the guest room and, while I’ve been technically clocking the miles while I binge watch Arrow on Netflix (don’t start, you know that derpy is my kryptonite), I’ve been just that–technically clocking miles.


I’m hooking up with some of my favorite people on the planet in May to run together and I know that they’ve been actually mindfully training. And I’ve been a lurp, so I needed to get out and see what the old legs could do when faced with mud and, gulp, fresh air. I procrastinated for so long this morning–actually drove to the airport to get fingerprinted by TSA which was some award winning Heisman arming–that I finally had to grab my Shuffle, slip on some shoes and run out the door before I lost my nerve.

When I got to the Reservoir, I hit ‘play’ only to discover that I was not carrying my running Shuffle but a ‘travel’ Shuffle that I use to transport music and drown out people who have the nerve to sit next to me on airplanes. It’s fair to say that there were a few random curse-style flare ups as I skipped the first few songs trying to get into a groove and then, something happened, I pushed the tiny lever (c’mon Apple, that lever is as hard to operate as a frigid girl’s clit) to ‘shuffle’ and the most amazing thing happened–shuffle rocked my world.

I was hesitant to get excited at first, you know, like when your sibling is being TOO nice to you, you sort of just know something is up? During the first three songs I just tilted my head like the RCA Nipper–I was intrigued, amused, but reticent. But by the time I hit mile two, I knew that the son of a bitch was really working it for me. Years of silent treatment had made him WANT to impress me. Shuffle–that old so and so–was COURTING ME!!! I would have skipped and done a little Phoebe run (my typical celebration of an awesome run song), but I spied a hill on the horizon and I knew that our burgeoning relationship was about to be tested. It’s about here, on a typical playlist, where I would have put a giggle song–a tune that is just so randomly happy that you forget about the whiny bitch inside of you telling you to walk for a while, no one will notice. Truly, a ditty. I braced myself for the eventual disappointment–and the hill–and waved the fingers of my shootin’ hand over the device at my hip, prepared to pull the trigger in a high noon shootout of music veto, and then I heard it. John Lee Freaking Hooker. Three minutes of blues guitar and alto heaven. . . Boom Boom Boom Boom. . . My new boyfriend, Shuff, John Lee and I kicked that hills buttocks!


My run progressed with amazing and thoughtful surprises–jumping from the Dead Milkmen to The Pistol Annies, answering my laugh with some Kidney Thieves from the Queen of the Dead soundtrack and then soothing me into Spiderbait with a touch of AWOLNATION. Shuff threw me a little Hugo and a random Trey Songz then punctuated it with a smidge of Local H. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any more delightful, he threw OK Go covering the Muppet Show theme song at me and then pushed through a little Cake (because who doesn’t love Cake, right?) before Audioslaving me to the finish line. I gotta tell you, I was seriously considering giving Shuff a serious go at a relationship with me then I stepped off the trail, stopped my Garmin and started walking back to the car. . . and he played me a little Otis. Now, I know that if he asks me to leave my husband and join a cult, I’ll probably say, “yes.” I can NEVER resist a little Otis. And a giant bottle of ice water.


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Cereal Killer

When I was a child, cereal was an integral part of my life. Assured by advertisers that it was “part of a balanced breakfast,” (I guess I assumed that the remaining parts were hidden in the milk and under the snooze button) cereal was always a very respectable start to my day. I’m pretty sure that my desire to read the backs of cereal boxes drove my early reading (do you think that I could sue General Mills for causing my book addiction?).

In the years between adolescence and adulthood, cereal turned into an embarrassing awkward holdover–like the Raggedy Ann doll I refuse to throw away. I don’t know when it happened, but somewhere along the line, it became inappropriate for me, as an adult, to sit down at the kitchen table and eat a bowl of cereal with milk. Sometimes, I find myself hunched over the sink scarfing it down without breath like a lactose tolerant asthmatic in a morning rush, loitering in the pantry stealing it dry from the box deluding myself into skipping the tracking of clandestine calories, under a blanket on the couch when nobody else is home like a bing-y couch eater, or late at night standing in the middle of the kitchen like a criminal trying to pour, soak and crunch as quietly as possible with eyes darting frequently to the doorway to make sure that I’m not found out.

Why has cereal become my secret shame? Are Honey Nut Cheerios really worth giving myself a panic attack? I’m hoping that admitting the problem here in public is the first step to my cereal and milk recovery. I hope that someday, I will feel comfortable enough to sit down with Frosted Mini Wheats and make peace. Until then, if you are a guest at my house, please announce your presence near the kitchen by loudly stomping in the hall. I might be, um, working on a project in there.

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Today, I’m packing away the holidays. Yes, I’m a lazy ghit, I should have done it a week ago, but my family was off school and work and I just couldn’t bear to add finality to our tryst by tidying up the evidence.

We don’t do a lot, in terms of decorating the house, and since it’s just me and a bunch of practical to the point of curmudgeoney men, over the years the traditions have been slowly boiled down but, instead of being sad, I am increasingly impressed by my little family’s ability to separate the wheat from the chaff holiday style and concentrate on what is really important to us in a personal way.

We have a tree. When we lived in what I have come to know as the Wild West, we used to slay a tree together as a family. We would bundle up and hike miles through the snow until one of us was hungry, settle on a reasonably shaped evergreen, take turns stabbing at its trunk with a rusty little saw we used once a year for this purpose, bicker about who was going to drag it back to the car through the snow, argue about where we parked the car, then proudly strap it to the roof like a prize elk.  You know, a heartfelt and loving family holiday tradition!  Grandma and Grandpa lived LITERALLY over the river and through the woods so we would stop off for cocoa and then head home. In the civilized world where we now reside, trees can only be executed in the safety of tree farms where they grow in orderly rows and are trimmed into the romanticized triangular shape that we have been trained to associate with appropriate holiday spirit (personally, I feel that the rhombus shaped trees in the wild are more spirit filled). Faced with this lackluster slaughter fest, we opted to just purchase one this year. It’s fair to say that, given the emotional wet blanket that purchasing a tree at a Home Depot provides, I can understand why people buy a fake tree.

In our home, the children decorate the tree. Yes, all of it. Truth be told, it’s never well lit and there are only ornaments on the sides that show in the living room, but I really don’t care how my tree looks through the front window. In our hearts, every year, it is the most beautiful tree in the neighborhood.

After the lights have been strung, I sit on the floor near the tree and hand my sons the ornaments from a box and, one by one, we tell each other the stories behind the baubles as they hang them on the tree. When they were young, I told almost all of the stories–most of the ornaments were from before they were born, “Daddy and I bought this on our honeymoon. . . when we moved into our first house, I bought these with Grandma Pat. . . this is the year that you loved Elmo so much we knew that we would need to remember with an Elmo on the tree. . . ” and I loved it. I loved that my children would bustle around a tree listing to our family history dragging step stools around to make sure that the precious memories were hung high enough to be safe from dog’s tails. But now, I sit and listen while my children tell me the stories of our life, “Remember when we bought this in Venice, Mom and it was soooo hot and all of the signs that pointed to the bathroom went in a circle?. . .Oooh, these are from Amsterdam, remember when they talked about all the bicycles in the canals? . . . Ha! Look at me. What was I, 5? We handed this sweater down to Matt and Evan, didn’t we Mom?. . . MMM. Hershey Penn-do you think we should go back there this summer? The coasters were pretty good.” I am struck every year with the realization that, while they act like tough teenagers most of the time, they GET it, what their father and I are trying to do in raising them, and they LIKE it. They celebrate our family traditions in their own quiet, angsty way.

This year, something strange happened. Every year until now, we have hung our family keepsakes and a handful of traditional glass orbs, nutcrackers, and stars, but this year, every time I handed one of my sons a generic ornament, one that didn’t have a story, they handed it back and said, “Let’s do these last” but when the time came, they declared, instead, that the tree was “Perfect!” And they were right. Our tree tells the story of our lives together–of our travels and foibles, our obsessions and hobbies, having raised camera shy kids before there was a camera in every cell phone, I don’t have a lot of photos. But I do have our tree. And it is the most beautiful photo album I’ve ever seen. So you understand why I might not want to take it down, even though the needles are mixing with the dog hair on my living room floors in a constant reminder that I might be harboring a terrible fire hazard? My children are on the brink of adulthood and someday soon, I’ll lose them to their own trees and families so I wish that I could hold onto the magic of our memories together for just one more day.

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Watched TV Today

Women in perfume ads look at perfume bottles the same way that I look at great food. Until they come up with a perfume that smells like steak, warm brownies and ice cold beer, you wont see me getting PG-13 with a cut glass bottle on national TV. Or rushing to Macy’s in this religio-economic catastrophe to purchase one to make out with in the privacy of my own bedroom. As you were.

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Playdate at Ralphie’s House

It’s easy to love A Christmas Story. Even if you don’t love Christmas, the movie speaks to either a childhood that you had or one that you longed for. An amazing blend of a uniquely American holiday experience, a coming of age tale, and a glimpse behind the curtain into a family dynamic that, once purposely bygone, is in an almost chronic state resurgence, the film has provided a laugh, a sigh and a nostalgic sympathetic moan for three decades of audiences. Is it odd, then, to hear that this film was almost never made? And that when it was released, it was not a box office success? Well, both of these stories are true. And maybe I’ll get to them in a minute, but first, let’s talk about why I’m really putting finger to keyboard to write to you today. . . THE HOUSE!!!!


Though the story takes place sometime between 1939 and 1943, A Christmas Story was filmed in 1982 so it is NOT, in fact, an OLD MOVIE (I tell my children this about so many movies made in the 80’s and 90’s that they have a practiced shared smirk dedicated solely to my idiocy on this subject–what is old). And the story and human characters are lovely, but the vintage setting of the movie is such an important diorama that I feel it’s fair to consider the town itself a “character” since it goes so much further than “setting” in this particular case. Filmed on location in Cleveland, Ohio and Toronto, Canada, the steel yards, working class housing, school house, and department store are so much more than window dressing that they have procured a cult following among movie fans including Brian Jones, an entrepreneur producing leg lamps for sale on the internet to help ends meet when he discovered in 2005 that THE Christmas Story house was being auctioned on EBay. He bought the house sight unseen for $150,000.


When the new owner arrived, he found that the house (an actual family home, not a movie set) had been used as first a family home then converted to apartments at some point so the conversion back to “Ralphie’s House” took years and a whole lot of dinero (not to mention a fair bit of imagination since this house was used on a limited basis and for the exterior shots, but the interior scenes were actually filmed on a sound stage in Toronto). But now, not only has the house been restored to it’s appropriate midcentury glory, but also a museum dedicated to memorabilia from the original motion picture and a garage containing the Old Man’s car have been built across the street.


Here’s where I come in. . . YOU CAN VISIT THE HOUSE! It is now a museum and a hands on one at that. You can touch everything, lay down on the beds, dress up in bunny suits, caress the leg lamp, eat at the kitchen table, use the decoder pin, heck there are even bars of Lifebuoy soap and Red Rider BB Guns! This was one of my favorite roadside stops of all time. It costs $10 for the tour of the house and nearby museum, but it was money well spent. They are generous with time and folklore about the movie and characters. I learned a bunch of great stuff and I had an amazing time.

The movie is based on a series of short stories by Jean Shepherd originally published in Playboy and later as a book titled In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash. Director Bob Clark heard Shepherd reading the stories on the car radio one evening and fell in love. Throughout his career, he tried to talk studios into letting him make the film, but he had been pigeonholed into the corny horror genre and couldn’t get execs to see him as an endearing holiday story teller. It was only because of the success of his film Porky’s that he gained the leverage he needed–the studio wanted Porky’s Revenge and he parlayed their interest in a second Porky’s into a small budget for A Christmas Story.


When released on Thanksgiving weekend in 1983, the original reception was lukewarm and the film had been pulled from theaters before the Christmas rush (Scarface and Carrie came out–nothing says Christmas like lots of blood, people). It wasn’t until the rights to the film were purchased by Warner Bros as part of a 50 film deal (it was pretty much thrown in for free so that they could make the 50 film number) and started being played on cable television that it became a beloved holiday tradition. And I couldn’t be happier.

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Prior to my off the cuff stop in to the Jello museum in Le Roy, New York, I knew a few things about Jell-O. I knew, for instance, that Jell-O is a colloidal protein and that the protein chains require denaturation in hot water in order to reform as a semisolid colloidal suspension and that alcohol cannot be heated to an appropriate denaturing temperature without evaporation. WHAT?! O.K. To translate, you can’t make Jell-O shots with ALL alcohol. You have to use SOME water to dissolve the gelatin. This is the universe’s little way of making sure that my Jell-O shots aren’t TOO dangerous to be served at parties. Now, I make them in medical grade syringes, so they SEEM safe, but you can bet your sweet patooter that I have experimented for YEARS to find the maximum amount of booze I can squeeze into those puppies and still make the chemistry work.


Just a typical Saturday night. . . 

I also knew that Jell-O makes me smile. I mean, honestly, it has SUGAR in it, it can turn a boring party RIDICULOUS, and it JIGGLES. If I had a personal crest, those three all caps words would be on it. Take note, ballad writers, put ’em in the ode. So, I knew some stuff, right? Well I could never have guessed at the weird fun I was yet to learn. . . .


Auspicious?  No, not really what I was expecting, either.  But then again, we’re not dealing with Disney here. 

Jell-O was patented by a man named Pearle (Pearle Bixby Wait) late in the 19th Century. He was a carpenter and cough syrup manufacturer by trade (does this sound like the 1800’s version of Breaking Bad to anyone else?), but he and his wife experimented with a method of mixing powdered gelatin with sugar and fruit flavoring to make a dessert style food. Gelatin itself has been around since at least the 15th century but since it is actually made by boiling animal bone, bladders and hooves and has to be purified through a very lengthy and complicated process, it was typically a meat flavored food for the wealthy (aspic–also known as as-puke – oh, maybe that’s just me). When vegetarians you know don’t partake in your Jell-O Pretzel Dessert Casserole at the company potluck, now you know why. A little known fact is that Peter Cooper (the inventor of the first steam powered locomotive) patented the first powdered gelatin, but Pearle, well, he perfected it by adding sugar.


Why Daaaahling, what a lovely rack you have!  I mean, your Jell-O rack, of course.  🙂 

The museum itself is, I am sorry to say, not all that comprehensive (maybe they are still reeling from having to remove so many exhibits spanning from, let’s say 1974 to 2011 when your and my favorite “Drug ’em, Love ’em, and Leave ’em” television star was the face of the entire product line) but it was an interesting romp. Jell-O was manufactured at the site from invention through 1964 and visitors can tour the infamous birthplace which shows the journey from hoof and bladder to dancing dessert, see historical marketing costumes, marvel at the kits used by traveling salesmen when Jell-O was sold door to door and store to store, and stare flabbergast at an enormous collection of Jell-O molds. After the museum, Jell-O enthusiasts can walk the “Jell-O Brick Road” to see the remaining Le Roy sites of historical Jell-O importance.

I was born the year that Bill Cosby was made the official spokesman for Jell-O, so I have never known another face, but I loved seeing advertisements starring Colonel Klink and the rest of the cast of Hogan’s Heroes, Carol Channing, and the stars of The Lucy Show in spectacular 1950’s form serving it up family style. Even Jack Benny, who wouldn’t stop his show for advertisements, was sponsored by Jell-O with hilarious feigned irritation at Don Wilson’s interjections.


Do I like this doormat?  Yes.  Do I think  that a white doormat is a good idea?  Noooooooo. 

My visit to the birthplace of Jell-O prompted further gelatin research and some hilarious pop culture references that I had forgotten came out to play–The Simpsons, SNL, MAD TV, and Mormons. I had forgotten the hilarious and strange Mormon-Jell-O connection. Apparently Utah consumes more Jell-O per capita than any other state and Jell-O is the official State Snack Food. If you are wondering whether you should choose state of residence based on best state snack food, give it up now. Apparently only Utah has such a designation.


I bought these citrusy shirts for my zesty kiddos.  

Fun takeaways– Weirdest actively produced Jell-O flavor? Mixcheif Juice. What is that?! Weirdest discontinued Jell-O flavors (heretofore to be referred to as Jell-O Flops)? Italian Salad, Celery, Coffee, Seasoned Tomato, Maple Syrup, and Bubble Gum. Jell-O Brand does not condone either the making of Jell-O shots nor Jell-O wrestling as these activities tarnish the “family friendly” image of the company (*cough* Cosby *cough*). For the record, I personally condone both of these activities. With fervor.


Wait!  I thought that the DIDN’T condone Jell-O wrestling. . . 


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That Time I Almost Peed on the Rug

There are fourteen two story outhouses in the United States. Fourteen. I’ve seen a few. I’m not going to say that “See All 14 Two Story Outhouses” is on my bucket list, but I’m also not prone to missing an opportunity to shenanigan around in an iconic latrine– especially the only one that is technically built like the proverbial brick shithouse.


The historic Howe House and Museum in Phelps, New York is the proud owner of this nation’s only brick two story outhouse. In addition to its solid brick construction, this particular privy also boasts a three and three system–three holes up and three holes down–of graduating size. They are the Mama Bear, the Papa Bear and the Baby bear of Goldilock’s crapper dreams. In naming unique features, there was also some bragging about attachment (that it is attached to the building, which is rare for an outhouse) but both entrances are outside of the building and the largesse of the existing kitchen space (which is the portion of the home attached to the room of requirement) coupled with the age of the home causes me to discount any benefits that “attachment” might have added, since you cannot enter the facility from inside, you must still brave the elements (sometimes across a slippery roof) to, um, evacuate.


Most outdoor lavatories are hole bound meaning that falling, um, objects, end their descent in a large cavity in the ground. While this inauspicious ending was most common, it led to eventual mandatory relocation of the powder room once the earthly receptacle overflowed. This comfort room was a considered a modern marvel as it was equipped with a tray liner which would be removed by household staff regularly and scraped into an offsite repository thus preventing any eventual physical need for attached commode expatriation.


The Phelps Six Holer (they’ve yet to name the john officially, so I’m brainstorming here) is no longer open for ‘business,’ plainly speaking and, though I am a rule evader by nature, the maintenance level and restoration of this particular loo did not invite me to push this particular envelope BUT, I had not known that prior to making this potty a destination on my route. My VERY LONG route. The route upon which I had consumed almost a case of lime flavored fizzy water. Which wanted to give a novel litter box a little whirl. Really. Now, I had mistakenly assumed that the two story throne was the primary attraction of the building. I mean, why else would a tourist pull off the expressway and drive down the main street of Phelps? Well, let me tell you a little secret–the docents at the Historic Howe House and Museum think that the magnificent poopatorium is but an annoying barnacle on the butt of an otherwise lovely HALF HOUR long tour of a partially restored old house where each room contains a curated collection of ennui inducing curiosities.


Now, before I tell you about these roomfuls of curated artifacts, I would like to restate that I HAD TO PEE. BADLY. I wince/smiled through an introduction to the history of the house and a peek into the genealogy room where the history of every family in the city of Phelps can be researched. I clandestinely pee pee danced through the oral history of the Howe family and tried to look interested in their portraits and family tree. I alternated crossed legs in a room filled with doll houses made to represent the various historic residences in the city of Phelps. I almost peed in the kitchen sink. There was a touch and go moment when my guide tried to tell me that the outhouse was not available for public viewing–that it was just somewhere where they stored cleaning supplies and empty pails (the humor of this was lost on her and I didn’t have the heart to explain or giggle besides, I was sure that giggling would be disastrous at that juncture). I am not sure whether it is my ridiculous capacity for sweet talk or the desperate and ridiculous look in my floating eyes, but she did finally take pity on me and show me the interior of both stories of the iconic head.


I wish that I could share with you some artful and transcendental photography from dramatic angles that is professionally lit. What you get, however, are the clandestinely shot grainy snaps taken with my smartphone, of an unlit room, on a grey rainy day, whenever my guide looked the other direction for a millisecond–around a bevy of dirty mops and precariously stacked debris. In the end, I chose not to avail myself of this unique can, but to avail myself of the hospitality of a gas station toilet up the street. What can I say, apparently my wild conjectures about sneaking in for a trespass tinkle didn’t hold water.


P.S. If you were counting (or if you weren’t) that’s twenty, yep, TWENTY euphemisms for bathroom–which I chose not to use since there was obviously NOT a bath. I also avoided all terms that inferred running water would be present. I really can’t figure out how I managed to marry a normal person. What was he thinking? Truly. He should get a medal.


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Kidnapped a Friend

I have kidnapped a friend. I think that I’d be great at improv, because when I commit, I COMMIT.


My great friend just hit U.S. soil after a long deployment somewhere unsavory (or very savory–depends on your point of view, I guess) and as soon as her debriefing finished in Nevada, she grabbed a flight home to Ohio to see her family. Now, I consider myself family, so I assumed that I would be invited.

Travel is addictive for me and my trip to St. Thomas was exactly the heroin hit I needed to drag me back into the abyss. I needed to stay home for two days, mostly for laundry and urgent care needs–I had to get a tetanus shot. A SHOT! Can I say that I was a soldier during and a toddler after? But once I had run a load of laundry and assured my husband that my self destruction was in check with a sufficient injection of prophylactic and a bottle of what I’m sure are equine anti-biotics, I packed a knapsack, hugged my kiddos, and hit the road.


I choose travel routes based solely on the “Interesting Shit” factor. This means that I don’t care about travel time, don’t care about tolls, never plan further than the little red dots of crazy excitement spaced along a line that heads generally in the direction that I am going and then hopefully arrives somewhere in the vicinity of my destination. All in all, I NEVER sweat the small stuff. If I get hungry, I eat. If I need gas, I stop. If I get tired, I find a hotel. It’s a Pam Style Road Trip. This meant that, instead of the two shorter routes, I chose to take I90 to Ohio–through Mass, up along the northern border of New York, a quick jaunt through Penn, and down along Lake Erie to my final destination outside of Toledo. A twelve hour trip on a good day, I was pretty sure that I could add in a couple of roadside stops to make it a solid 15 hours.


The trip, titled, “Kidnap Sarah” in my GPS passed so many interesting sites that I had to hit social media for a weigh in. I narrowed my options to: The Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame, Betty Beaver’s Fuel Stop, The International Boxing Hall of Fame, Angel Was Here — an angel statue in the VERY place where The Book of Mormon was dug up, A Two Story Outhouse, The Longest Covered Bridge in the U.S., The Jell-O Museum, The house where A Christmas Story was filmed, The Flintstone house, The World Capital of Duct Tape, and The National Hot Dog Bun Museum. The weigh in of friends and family did absolutely nothing to help make my decision. They were all over the place and I really only had time for a couple of stops! As it turned out, the decision was made for me by daylight savings time–it got dark right before five–so I stopped along the way until I ran out of daylight then powered through to a cold beer and lots of Sarah hugs.


I’ve reviewed each attraction that I was able to see (just click on them here to read) and I was able to hit quite a few: The Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame (closed), Betty Beaver’s Fuel Stop, Angel Was Here, Two Story Outhouse, and The Jell-O Museum, but I was strenuously disappointed to miss the house where A Christmas Story was filmed. Strenuously. Soooo, after spending two WONDERFUL days pretending that Sarah’s family was mine (It was easy. Her family is the same kind of loud, hilarious, ice cold beer and hilarity filled good time that mine is, kinda made me homesick.), we set back off together in the opposite direction! I usually don’t advocate taking the same route twice–how can you possibly absorb the entirety of the world if you are always rutting the same path–but I really wanted to hit a couple more destinations AND I discovered that an old high school friend that I hadn’t seen in TWENTY TWO YEARS was living in Niagara Falls, NY and I wanted to catch a very long awaited hug. This meant that, on the way home, I was able to see the house where A Christmas Story was filmed, The Flintstone House, and Niagara Falls (not only did I get my hug, but it turned out that I had stopped by on her birthday!).


I stumbled into my entryway at about two a.m. on Monday night, gave my hub and kiddos a smooch and got on a train later that morning for Manhattan. But that’s a different story for another post.


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Angel Was Here Monument

I’m not Mormon, so my adding the Angel Was Here Monument to my “Road Trip Bucket List” seemed like a strange choice to some. I entertained a lot of ‘Whys’ and requests for explanation so here’s how it breaks down: Despite the fact that I don’t have one, I enjoy religion. I really do. It fascinates me. I am entranced by how an entire population can believe with every cell of their being in one thing while their neighbors believe something almost exactly the same, save one minuscule difference and that one minor difference makes a universe of separation. I love the captivating conversation created by discourse among intelligent people who can compare their polarity in a compassionate way. While I am NOT a Mormon person, I have found that people who ARE certainly make the global conversation interesting and always in a solicitous way. And I’m intrigued by the idea of an American Mecca, of sorts. That there might be a sight of religious importance in the United States. Add to this the fact that if a kooky place is open to the public, I’m in (but if I have to break and enter in the dead of night, all the better).


Tucked into the countryside outside of the picturesque little village of Palymyra New York is the Hill Cumorah–the very spot where Joseph Smith claimed to have found the golden plates that he later translated into the Book of Mormon. I have studied this story a lot, more probably than most people who associate themselves with the sect and I could pontificate about the origin of the Book of Mormon for a while, but this is not a story about that. This is a story about a place that began its life as a humble wooded hill outside of an otherwise unremarkable town and became a spiritual Mecca filled with mystery, controversy, wonder, contemplation and contribution to the global conversation. And that, my friends, is something that I can get behind.


The hill itself is approximately five miles outside of Palmyra in a rural area along State Route 21 where the hillsides are dotted with adorable small scale farms. Lazy cows stare at you and fat brown horses laden with ennui swish their tails as you drive by. It is certainly an unassuming location for a hill that has changed so much of the cultural landscape of the world. I would like to interject, at this point, the fact that Google Maps believes that the road that runs through the center of the city of Palmyra is State Route 21 when, in fact, it is State Route 31. When given the request to be delivered to 603 State Route 21, Google Maps repeatedly directed me to a dilapidated Dollar General. Google was so certain, in fact, that the Angel Was Here monument was located in the Dollar Central that I went as far as to go inside and check. After all, I’ve seen weirder things. Upon discovering that the Angel was not, in fact, available for purchase for less than a dollar, I was kindly re-directed by the owner of an antique shop across the street and was on my (corrected) way.


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has erected an imposing statue of the Angel Moroni at the crest of the hill. The base and pillar that the statue top are rife with secular significance including four panels depicting the story of the Book of Mormon and the “shaft” (their word, not mine–I prefer ‘pillar’ when referring to a religious monument, but ‘shaft’ is the term chosen by the church and engraved in bronze for posterity) decorations are symbolic of the administrative pattern of the church. There is a sizable area of built in stonework benches and gazing areas as well as a short staircase that leads around and down the hill to a spot with a better vantage for photo opportunities. At the base of the hill, the church has erected a visitor’s center–much better in my opinion than a temple which would prohibit non-practicers from meeting the pleasant guides and asking questions about the monument and the history of the church.


All in all, I found the Cumorah Hill Monument to be clean, beautifully landscaped and maintained, and well attended by courteous staff (day and, I have to admit dead of night when I snuck back for a second time in the dark with much late night cell phone flashlight bufoonery). I don’t know that I would plot a trip CENTERED on this site, but I certainly recommend turning off the freeway if you find yourself passing through upstate New York on I-91. It’s maybe a lovely place to stop and eat your sandwich.


Posted in Just Being Me, Travel, Uncategorized, Weird America | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Ridiculous. Squared.

I’m prone to exaggerate. It’s fine, I’ve come to terms with it. But I’m also kind of a magnet for the ridiculous. Which I’ve come to embrace. The trouble happens when something truly DELICIOUSLY ridiculous happens to me but, because of my natural flair for the dramatic, nobody believes it. Disclaimer–the following account is true. Hilariously, fantastically true.


Witnessed. On the beach. It’s hard to tell, but thats a zebra shorties and a cheetah shorties. Rawr!

I stayed at the beach until the very last possible second and rode an island cab to the airport in a wet bathing suit, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame cap and running shorts. In a last desperate attempt to soak up as much sun as possible, I ditched the sunscreen and crisped it up like a teenager so I was a lobster hued, sandy haired, sweaty, hungry, sticky, gin soaked mess. That’s one kind of perfection, no?


When I arrived at the airport, customs was empty and I found that I had ample time in the postage stamp sized airport to change clothes and grab food. There is one restaurant in the St Thomas airport. The menu choices make the cafeteria scene in the Shawahank Redemption look like the marketing photos for the Four Seasons. Given the choices of a six day old grayish green ham sandwich, a ladle full of greasy meat-style bits floating in a vat of rust colored liquid that might have been auto shop runoff, or a hot dog with fries, I chose the hot dog.

Now, I order whiskey neat. I can somehow manage to smile while chugging an entire beer. I sometimes eat a half pound, pretty much raw steak and follow it up with a giant dessert. I’m constantly conscientiously NOT a lady when it comes to food. My brothers would never let me live down,”grilled chicken breast with steamed vegetables,” and I kind of hate a salad that costs $12, so, I’m a dude where food is concerned, unless I’m served a footlong hotdog (and I LOVE hot dogs). Then, I carefully slice it down the middle, cut each long slice into ten smaller bites and eat the sucker with a fork–each perfectly bite sized piece coupled with its very own small piece of bun. With my legs crossed. Because I’m a lady. A very classy lady. Eating a footlong hotdog in the airport. With sand in my hair. You would think that the citizens of St. Thomas had never seen a lady eat a hot dog. Someone took a photo of me.

Actual portrait of my ACTUAL hot dog.

Actual portrait of my ACTUAL hot dog.

Once boarded, I set about my typical flight/crash/humanity analysis. You know what I’m talking about–you look around you on the airplane and determine if a higher power would ensure the safety of your flight based on the quality of humanity on board. I know that isn’t how it works. I really do. I know that amazing people die in horrible ways every day. I’m not an idiot, I just also believe in a grander scheme–that there is some cosmic thread of karmic riotousness that would prevent a plane full of nuns and chubby cheeked babes from dying in a fireball. I was screwed. With a few small exceptions (I’ll get to that in a minute), the flight was packed to the gills with the dregs of humanity. Worse than that. If you boiled the dregs of humanity, skimmed off the floaties and drained the liquid then cooked the dregs in the rotted fleshy drainoff from Dante’s seventh level of hell, the tasty reduction would be the conglomeration of the passengers on this 7somethingorother7.

The passengers were drunk and sun soaked. Fine, I was a little bit, too, but I haven’t tried to pretend that I was one of the redeemers from the flight either, so don’t get your britches in a bunch. Nobody wanted to sit in their assigned seat so loading the plane was like a hostage negotiation between the b-list of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour and a group of gangbangers that was picked up outside of a convenience store. Every person was incredulously entitled in the dumbest and most irritating way with too many oversized carry-ons, touristy straw hats, and unbuttoned shirts showing off proud red beer bellies The undercurrent of belligerence was an acrid fart trapped in an already filthy sky bound tube.

My row of three was a particularly interesting cocktail consisting of a stunning (STUNNING) young chiropractor from Charlotte who had popped down to St. Thomas to compete in a five mile ocean swim to the island of St. John. She was breathtaking in that clean faced, perfect featured, bright eyed, slight build, unassuming smile kind of way and carrying a dog eared little known Bronte novel like it was a baby–pretty much the best and most refreshing cco-rower. . . then our center passenger arrived.

Stumbling drunkenly down the aisle of the plane just as the doors were closing, I groaned when I saw him because I just KNEW he was headed our way. Still wearing his wet Hawaiian print low slung swim trunks and a filthy wrinkled grey t-shit with a faded bar logo, he was barreling towards us belching and smiling at his luck. There were plenty of empty seats, but there was no way that he was going to pass up an opportunity at the hottie in the window seat and I felt some strange sense of responsibility to stay and buffer her the best I could. He crowded into his seat and immediately spread his legs to the 85 degree angle that small peckered men use as an excuse to usurp the personal space of innocent bystanders world round. We get it. You have balls. And now we can smell them, jackass.



He immediately began chatting up Dr. Hottie and, upon discovering her “committed relationship” status, began to do his darndest to convince her that he was the coolest fucking badass alive (those might have been his own words). He started by telling us that he had travelled to St. Thomas at the behest of an ex-girlfriend who loved him so much that she orchestrated the trip in a desperate attempt to get him to marry her (um, likely?). When we failed to be suitably convinced of his desirability by this tale (weird), he decided to enthrall us with his importance and net worth. After producing a battered old laptop covered in college and alcohol stickers with a strip of duct tape covering a crack, he insisted that he was a “Startup Investor.” Yep, he put together financing deals for start-up companies. Oddly, when the knowledge of his assured financial prowess didn’t end in Dr. Hottie’s head in his lap, he decided that, fuck it, he was going to use the remaining two and a half hours of the flight to show everyone what a big shot he was. He ordered a rum and coke. Then another. Then two more. And two bottles of red wine. He consumed the six drinks in the time that it took the attendants to get to the rear of the airplane then started talking about drugs. How great they were. How many drugs he took. How he wished that he had some right now, but had passed out so many thousands of dollars worth at the parties he had attended over the weekend that he didn’t have any left. Then he talked the flight attendant out of another rum and coke.

When we arrived at the Miami Airport, there had been a security breach. We were stuck on the tarmac for an hour. Next to the drunkest creepiest, motherfucker I had ever met. Then he pulled out the ham sandwich. Remember the grey green ham sandwich that I had passed on earlier? Well, he had one. At this point, it was three hours older, a whole lot more squished and certainly no better smelling. He masticated the entire soggy mess without once closing his mouth, stopping talking, or breathing through his nose. Truly. THEN IT GOT INTERESTING.

He pulled a prescription bottle from his bag and shook five or six different colored pills into the palm of his hand, thumbing through them like a child looking for the green M&M. Once he settled on a little orange pill that I think was a Xanax, he used a credit card to crush the pill on the screen of his phone, chop it, divide it into three thin lines and SNORT IT while Dr. Hottie watched with a slack jaw and raised eyebrows. As soon as I saw the three lines forming up, I excused myself to walk three rows back, hoping to be able to inconspicuously photograph it for you, but I couldn’t catch it on film. I was laughing too hard.

Luckily, Prince Charming passed out shortly after. I say ‘luckily,’ not because I wasn’t enjoying his antics, but because he was starting to get a little handsy with Dr. Hottie and she was too nice to give him the bloody nose he so desperately needed.

When we were finally cleared to get off the plane, I had missed my connecting flight and the next available American flights north were unapologetically not scheduled until the next morning so I spent a romantic evening alone in a Miami Courtyard Marriott. I would say that the flight shenanigans were a day ruiner, but remember, I spent the previous five days on a beach in the Virgin Islands reading trashy novels in the sun. . . for free. . . so I figure I can take this smiling, too.

I’m on my way to Washington DC now, let’s see what kind of trouble I can find. 🙂

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