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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