The Male Mind in the Grocery Store

“Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.”

“Be careful what you wish for.”

“Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face.”

If we were playing $10,000 Pyramid, these would all be clues I could give you to describe a recent singular event here.   And we’d both be wearing plaid polyester.  In the Winner’s Circle, of course.

Contrary to popular belief, the answer to my clues wouldn’t be “Bad Cliches My Mother Overuses.”

No.  It would be “Things I Have Been Mumbling to Myself After Sending My Husband to the Grocery Store With the Kids.”

My back was out again last week.  Which played out nicely in avoiding things like laundry and grocery shopping.  My husband was more than helpful.  And I really shouldn’t complain that he did the grocery shopping.  I shouldn’t.

Because that would be bitchy and ungrateful.

I won’t complain.  I’ll just document what items came back with him.



If anyone needs me, I’ll be working on getting the Entenmann’s figure down to 5%.  It seems more productive and enjoyable than complaining.

Did you like this? Share it:

Get These Naked People Out of Here

Did any of you catch something different on my blog last week?  Like the masses of naked people looking for “dates”?

Please say no.  Please say you never saw any of it.

Hackers.  They are persistent motherfuckers.  And, unfortunately, they like my site.

I was hacked in January.  That time, I basically couldn’t log in to my blog or access it in any way.  I was locked out.  That was upsetting.

Turns out that was nothing.

This time, I wasn’t locked out, per se.  I was held hostage.  I had access to my site but was unable to stop the crazy shit that was happening to it.  It was like being locked in a room with a Keanu Reeves movie marathon and no liquor.  But worse.

Take, for instance, last Friday night.  My husband was away for his guys’ golfing weekend {more on that another time}.  I had the kids in bed early.  It was just me, the pug and the torturous question of whether I was ready to switch from white to red wine for the season.  So I sat down to do some blogging.

And then.  Suddenly.  A voice.  Deep, creepy, British.  Through the speakers of my computer.  No video.  No pop up.  Just an invisible audio file that I had never heard before.

Talking about some crazy sexual antics.  Over the top, really perverted stuff.  On. My. Blog.

I was basically in the fetal position with one hand covering my ears and the other hand swatting at the laptop until I could shut down the browser and just make. it. stop.

Holy shit.  What was that?

I called my web hosting company, who had been rock stars during Hack #1.  This time, they couldn’t find anything, nor could they replicate the “situation.”

I was creeped out.

Then, two days later, bizarro pop-ups on my site about malware and potentially infected files.

I was getting upset.

Then, on Day Four, my site started redirecting on its own to spammy, weird sites that sold bad music videos.

I felt violated.

Until I realized I had no right to previously feel violated.  Because the worst was still ahead.  Like, later that day —  when the site started redirecting to the most deviant websites I’ve ever seen.  This was violating.


It got bolder, the hack.  It wouldn’t let me shut down the browser.  Then it wouldn’t let me shut down the computer unless I did so manually by holding down the power button and weeping, “Please, don’t show me those websites ever again.”

The web hosting company had multiple techs pore through my files on the server.  They could find nothing.  Nothing.  While my eyes burned from the trauma that was now my blog.  My baby.  I felt like I was waiting for the interventionist to arrive and help me send my child to rehab.

Then, last night, some light.  Someone referred me to a lovely woman who knows how to deal with these situations.  She was like The Cleaner.  Or The Hack Whisperer.  Within 12 hours of contacting her, she found the infected file and all of the naked people in chains went away.

So, if you saw anything, uh, wonky here over the last few days — I’m so sorry.  {Or, you’re welcome, if that’s your thing.  Let’s just never speak of it.}

As for me, I think I’ll be OK.  Once I get this PTSD in check with a therapeutic amount of wine.

Hackers, you suck.  Go bother some mom who blogs about making her kids’ clothes from the cotton she grows herself.  Or go and violate some fantasy baseball site.  Leave my only emotional outlet alone.



Did you like this? Share it:

I Might Be Scared of These Families

It’s possible that I’m about to make some enemies.  But I’m sorry — can we talk about matching family outfits today?

To clarify, I don’t mean matching or coordinating your kids’ outfits with one other.  Fine, fine, that’s kind of cute. Until they are old enough to protest and then demand, perhaps through a Cease & Desist Order obtained on, a sweep of your photo hard drive.  And all Facebook images to which they did not consent.  And then they present you with a release form that must be used going forward for all electronic use of their likeness.

{Remember when it was easier just to burn embarrassing photos?}

So, the kids matching.  I get that. It’s not for me, but mainly because, frankly, I’m just not that organized.  And I  think my kids are already predisposed to suing me because of this blog.

What I really mean is family matching.  Parents and kids.  Together.

Oooooohhhhhh, that.

{Right about now, I’ve begun to lose readers.  But come on, stick with me here.}

Hanna Andersson, I’m looking at you.  Queen of the Family Matching Catalogs.

Image credit: Hanna Andersson


I have a few thoughts here.

1)  Yeah, yeah, I know, there’s a Christmas Pajama Loophole for people who don’t normally family-match.  I’ve heard this is the exception.  OK, I’ll buy that.  I do crazy shit around Christmas too.

2)  This dog is clearly way more subservient than my dog.  Because, as you may know, I have certain legal limitations I’m obligated to follow after his post-Halloween rant last year.  So, this would not cut it with a certain ornery pug who lives under my roof.

3)  Obviously the dad in this photo has recently been caught having a torrid affair.  Presumably, in the act.  Because there is no other logical reason, apart from extreme penance, why he would submit to this family matchery.  Oh wait, he’s just an actor?  In that case, can you imagine the fucking earful he just gave his agent after realizing what “holiday modeling” gig he was booked for?

4)  The kid on the left clearly knows about her dad’s affair — and possibly has damning proof that she’s holding onto as part of her pre-tween angst phase.  It’s evident that she has threatened to go public with said evidence unless her parents let her wear the non-stripe-set and spread her non-conformist wings.

5)  I just hope, for everyone’s sake, that the gift boxes behind the couch don’t contain matching formal wear for Christmas dinner.  But we all know that they do.

6)  How does the mom keep her hair color so fresh while raising five kids?

7)  Why did she have five kids with this guy if he was cheating on her?  Did she know all along, or just recently?


But what really got me started on this topic was the arrival of today’s Pottery Barn Kids catalog.  As you may have seen, I do love a good rant about the unattainable perfection of the PBK Catalog Family, and I refuse to let them live on my street.

Really, we all know it’s just me projecting my feelings of parental inadequacy brought on by PBK.  It’s the same reason I yell about Martha Stewart and Real Simple Magazine.

So I’m flipping through the Halloween section tonight {because, you know, let’s not get through mid-August without marketing Halloween}.  And there it is.

The Family Costume Section.

Can we just review the options for a minute?


Level One:  Generally harmless.  Completely silly, but harmless.

The Chef Family Costume:  Yeah, this is borderline OK.  I would still give you candy if you showed up at my door like this.  But we’re not hanging out at the next block party.

Image credit: Pottery Barn Kids


The Sushi Family Costume:  This is blue ribbon costume contest material right here.  If you enter family costume contests.  I just want to know if there’s a wasabi add-on if the kid starts behaving badly.

Image credit: Pottery Barn Kids


Level Two:  On the border of Crazytown

The Chicken Family Costume:  Vegan friends, beware.  You are not the target audience.  Hell, I am a happy consumer of eggs and I’m not even the target audience.  Because, PBK, I’m not going around my block dressed like a goddamned fried egg.  At least, for $69, dress me like Eggs Benedict.  Preferably with a side of lox.

Image credit: Pottery Barn Kids


Under the Sea Family Costume:  We’re starting to see some real female rage here.  Note that the mom is not even in costume.  She is so pissed at her husband (who looks eerily like our Hanna Andersson philanderer) that she has sent his ass out to manage the three kids trick-or-treating on his own.  While he wears a shark head and she splits four or five bottles of Pinot with her best girlfriends at the local bar.

Image credit: Pottery Barn Kids


Level Three:  Um.  I’m afraid of these people.  And not in a traditional Halloween way.

The Woodland Family Costume:  I am not often speechless.  But I’m going to let the official PBK description speak for itself on this one.  “Like characters from a storybook, these friendly woodland creatures come out of the forest to hunt for treats on Halloween night. Featuring faux fur and lush details, an owl and gnome watch over the group as they embark on their adventure. A sweet toadstool with a red cap springs out from the grass to join the fun. Wrapped in soft fleece, the little wily fox and baby owl stay warm in the crisp autumn weather.”  

Did you guys see the Olympic closing ceremonies?  Because I think the team who orchestrated that acid-laced mind trip stole the giant dose of illicit hallucinogenics from the PBK team in charge of this concept.















The Spooky Family Costume:  Well.  I think it’s pretty clear that these people will be filing for divorce imminently.  What else is left after this family photo?  In fact, see those smiles all looking with great anticipation in the same direction?  That’s the arrival of their lawyers in the driveway.

Image credit: Pottery Barn Kids

But, hey, don’t listen to me.  Because, as of tonight {again, in August}, the PBK website notes the above Dad-werewolf costume as “quantities are limited.”  Maybe because it includes paws.  For real.


I don’t know.  Maybe I haven’t thought this through.  It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been closed-minded.  I guess we would look good as Spooky Costume Family.  After all, the black witch costume is nice and slimming, and I wouldn’t have to wash my hair.  And let’s not rule out Under the Sea.  So I can sit at the bar and anticipate all the candy that comes home.

And before  you curse me out completely for my unfair outlook on family-matchery, I’ll leave you with this.

From Easter.

Shhhh — don’t tell my husband he was coordinating with our daughter.  Although I swear it wasn’t intentional, it seems that the subliminal seed has been planted.  The Woodland Family Costume could be just a matter of time for us.

As long as I get to be the gnome.

Did you like this? Share it:

Breaking Up With Adele

“Fiiiiiiiire to the raaaaaaiiiinnnn…”

Ugh.  I change the station in the car.

“Rollin in the deee-eeee-eee-eeep…”

Wait, she’s on another station.

“I wish nothing but the best for yooooooouuuuuuuu…”

And another.

It’s a hostile takeover.  Or at least a clinically depressed one.

We are a nation overdosing on Adele.  And if misery loves company, I’m not sure what to think about our collective mental state.

Well, I’m taking a stand.  I’m breaking up with Adele.  I can’t take it anymore.

At home I can control my Adele intake.  I am in charge.  I can say no.  But the car?  It’s just not a safe zone.  The minute I realize I don’t have a CD of my choice inserted and find that the radio is on — it’s already too late.  I am bombarded with heartache and loss.

Adele has a lovely, lovely voice.  She is super-talented.  And I do love me some of that retro bee-hive hair.  But we have to part ways, for the sake of my sanity and for the safety of the drivers around me.

I realize I may be going it alone here.  And it’s a risky move, especially after finally being sprung from my post-Oprah-bashing Witness Protection assignment.

But here is what will inevitably happen if I am subjected to ongoing Adele overload.



It’s important to understand the risks.  And I think we can all agree that it takes a lot for me to voluntarily spill my coffee.

So if I see any of you driving hazardously, I’ll know what’s happening in that car.  You’re in an Adele Sound Trap.  Just pull over to the nearest shoulder, insert a distracting CD — and disable your car radio for the next 6-12 months.

Did you like this? Share it:

The Basement Epilogue

If you’ve been here before, you may have heard a little something occasionally about a certain basement renovation.  You know, just a casual mention here and there.  Mostly about how it was ruining my life and aging me beyond my years.

To clarify, I’m referring to the basement renovation that started last August 20.  The one with a five-week time frame.

The one that was not, in fact, finished five weeks — or even five months — later.

The one that was finished eight months later.  And by “finished,” I mean for the most part, and as good as it’s going to get without litigation.

Just a mere eight months.  The same time frame it takes to erect an entire subdivision.

During six of those months, I had no laundry machines.  I might have mentioned that a few times.  This meant no ketchup or tomato sauce for my kids.  I also had to consider catheterizing my son overnight.

I’m just kidding.  Partially.  {We totally had ketchup on special occasions.}

For all of you who stuck with me through this, I feel like I owe you the final update.  Plus I need a place to channel my fury.

OK, so let me just pre-empt your questions right here about how five weeks became eight months, and how we could allow this to go on, etc.  The questions where you make me feel like a jackass.  It’s OK — I’m used to these questions.  I would ask them too.

I won’t bore you with the lengthy details of what went wrong.  Suffice it to say when you start messing with the foundation of a 100 year-old house, it may not always go well.  It may in fact come to pass that, in certain places, your house essentially is resting on piles of stones and not a true foundation, per se.  And it may come to pass that the mason who is handling this sub-contracted portion of the job is one slippery motherfucker.

We’ll leave it at that.

I have to wonder how people with those pretty home renovation blogs don’t carry around the same rage that I have.  Clearly, I wasn’t cut out for this.

I mean, I just wanted some extra living space, new laundry machines and room for a wine fridge.  And I didn’t want it to look like the set of a horror movie anymore.  Because here it was.

I mean, tell me this does not scream Poltergeist or The People Under the Stairs to you.

So the project was to be fairly straightforward.  More space.  Better laundry room.  A new bathroom.  No horror movie vibe.  Oh, and better water drainage — which is where the foundation issues began.  And once they started, it was like a domino effect.  On crack.

Let me show you what I mean.

See this?  Not really what we signed up for.



There was also a lot of this.


Which led to a lot of this.


And, of course, there was this.  Week in and week out.


Which brought me back to this.

It was kind of cyclical.

When we heard that we needed brand new multi-ton steel beams inserted under the length of my house  — to hold it up — I moved on to this.

Because the espresso martini fixes everything.

Except this.


But, eventually, we got there.  Even if our patience was shattered.  Even if we called bullshit on every HGTV family ever filmed for one of those shows.  Even if we considered the earn-your-law-school-degree-from-home approach.  Like a prisoner researching his case and trying to get parole.  The two scenarios were not dissimilar.

And now, we have a shiny new basement.  No dumpster in the driveway.  No house shaking as the new beams were moved beneath the Earth.  No ladder to get downstairs.  No profanity spewing episodes (OK, that’s not really true).

Here are some before and after shots.




I’m considering moving down there and making it my apartment.  Forget the Man Cave.  This is a Mom Cave.  Mostly because of the ease with which I can move between the laundry machines and the wine fridge.

Now that it’s all said and done, do I love it?  Yes.

Will I ever complain about doing laundry again?  Nope.

Am I still pissed off about the insanity of the project?  Absolutely.

But — and I know this is crazy — I see how people get the renovation bug.  I do.

In fact, we’ve decided to take our residual renovation rage and channel it to another project this summer:  The Kitchen.

Why get comfortable, right?  And yes, we’ll be using a different contractor.  And medication.

I mean, how bad can it be?

{Crazytown, Party of Two:  Your table is ready.}



Did you like this? Share it:



So, the unofficial kick-off to summer is nearly here.  And while that’s exciting in many ways, I have to tell you that there are some things I hate about this time of year.

Mostly, the sun.

See, there are people who need sunscreen (everyone, in theory) and then there are people who NEED SUNSCREEN.  Like me.  I can burn under a 50-watt bulb. I can burn while going out to get the mail.  I can, despite my very best efforts, suffer at least one burn per year that causes the general public to wince and point in sympathetic pain, while considering calling an ambulance.

It’s like trying to outrun and outsmart a very powerful enemy, all summer long.

This has been going on my whole life.  Remember how much you loved Field Day as a kid?  Not me.  I burned every year.  Class trips?  Fried.  Beach outings?  Forget it.  And then there was the time in seventh grade when my family went spring skiing at a very high altitude.  My face suffered second degree burns that were not only incredibly painful, but also required my use of a burglar-style ski mask for the remainder of the vacation.  It made for a great family photo, as well as preparation for any potential life of crime I was considering.

The sun hurts.

It wasn’t that we didn’t use sunscreen when I was a kid, but the truth is that nobody was nearly as diligent as they should have been back then.  {Omg, I’m saying “back then.”  This is what happens when one turns 40.}  And, at that time, pure white zinc oxide was probably the only reliable consumer product available that would have helped me.  That wasn’t really a look I was going for in junior high.

As I got older and suffered more and more burns, I got smarter about my approach.  Kind of like the mouse in a science experiment who gets an electric shock every time he eats the cheese in the maze.  Yet, despite my best efforts over the years, I’ve missed spots in the sunscreen application process.  I’ve burned the backs of my knees, my scalp, my ear lobes, the tops of my pinky toes and my armpit.  I’ve had bizarrely random handprints formed on my stomach from where my sunscreen application began and ended.

Stupid sun.

So about ten years ago, all of this caught up with me and I had a brief fling with melanoma.  I was lucky that it was easily treated.  But, lest I forget that entire experience, I am forced to endure some resulting humiliation twice a year.  I have to see my dermatologist, obviously, to make sure I have no new/bigger/threatening moles.  And do you know how that’s done the super-thorough way?  No?  Let me share.

Shortly after my melanoma episode, my visit to the dermatologist went like this:

Him: “You know, the only effective way to keep a diligent watch on your skin is to have slides done.”

Me:  “Slides?  What do you mean, slides?”

Him:  “You know, we’ll send you to a  medical photographer and he’ll do a series of photographs to capture everything currently on your skin.  That way, I have a ‘before’ comparison to look at every time you come in.”

Me:  “By ‘series of photographs,’ how detailed are we talking?”

Him:  “Every inch of your naked body.  But they are all super-close-up, so nothing could identify you.  It’s not like a centerfold.”

Me:  “Is he a doctor?”

Him:  “No, he’s a medical photographer.”

Me:  “Oh.”

Him:  “You really need to do this.”

Me:  “Oh.” {cue smelling salts}

Goddamned sun.

So off I went to some random penthouse (no pun intended) in Manhattan to see this medical photographer.  It didn’t help that this guy gave me  a business card that appeared to be run off of old ditto paper on his home printer.

My husband came with me — because this whole thing was feeling very Law & Order Special Victims Unit.  Or at least like a bad bad ABC After School Special.  Thank God he did — not because I was physically put in harm’s way, but because I have a lifelong witness to verify the extent of humiliation and psychological scarring involved in medical photography.

How bad could it be?  Well, let’s see.  I’d characterize it as far fucking worse than I ever imagined.

  • Bright, industrial-grade photography lights, EVERYWHERE.
  • Me on a pedestal.
  • Naked.
  • Some stranger — who IS NOT A DOCTOR {and looks eerily like the bartender from that great place on the Lower East Side} — with a camera, who I was quickly beginning to suspect was hired off of Craig’s List, snapping away.

“Can you turn so we can get the inner thigh please?”



Kill me.


I looked across the room at my husband and his jaw was more than slightly hanging open in shock.  Probably not what he had in mind when we did that whole “for better or for worse” thing.

The sun sucks.

So now, every trip to the dermatologist entails my slides being projected across the room {life size, naturally} while every inch of my naked body is compared to these “before” photos.

Fucking sun.

As luck would have it, my kids are just as fair-skinned.  Talk about hitting the DNA shit list.  So suffice it to say I’m a freak freak freak freak about sunscreen for them (and for me).  Basically, if they are going outside in the sun, or looking at it through the window screens, there’s going to be copious sunscreen.

You can imagine how much they love this.  But they know it’s a deal-breaker to play outside without “sunscream,” as they put it.

And I, therefore, spend my time from Memorial Day to Labor Day (actually from about April to November) basically chasing two greased pigs in an endless cycle of applying and re-applying sunscreen.  All in an effort to avoid public wincing, red hot burns in strange places and a future photography session with a shady guy who has zero medical background.

I hate the sun.

If you’re a leisurely tanner — well, enjoy your long holiday weekend in the sun.  In our house, we’ll be stocking up on wet suits and putting our names on a list for a melanin transplant.

Happy summer, all.


Did you like this? Share it:


I’m not a nature girl.

I mean, I like nature.  From a distance.  It’s pretty.  But I’m not a camper.  And, late at night, I’ve always been more comforted by the sounds of the city streets over the sounds of crickets outside.

Bugs, in particular, are not my thing. I know they’re not most people’s thing (except for you budding entomologists out there) — but they are really not my thing.  Bees scare the hell out of me.  Correction:  One bee scares me.  I’m that person who, against all advice, does the spastic, desperate arm flapping and yelling when a bee is nearby.  You know, *that* person.

So you can imagine how thrilled I was when P realized we have a bees’ nest inside a giant tree in our backyard.  It’s a big ass tree — probably 80-100 feet high.  It’s old and imposing and provides lots of shade.  And, there, on the side, about 30 feet up, is a clear entry point where the bees fly in and out of their deluxe accommodations.

Since the nest is conveniently located right over the kids’ swing set, we called the pest control folks to see if they could treat it.  It was going to require ladders and hoses and stuff.  By “stuff,” I mean cash.

When they came to treat it, we hit a roadblock.  They are honeybees, which are endangered.  You’re not supposed to kill them.  So I had two choices:

1) Leave it alone.  Honeybees are, after all, docile in nature, I was told.

2) Find a honeybee specialist or beekeeper to scale the giant tree and extract the hive.

I’m sorry, but I wasn’t going to leave it alone.  I’ll take Curtain #2, for the win, Chuck.

As with anything on the Internet, you quickly discover the passion that some people have for subjects you never spent a moment thinking about.  Like beekeeping.  I found a local guy online and contacted him — I’ll call him The Bee Dude.  He’d be over the next morning to have a look at the tree.

Great!  Progress.

And then.


About two hours after I called The Bee Dude, I was in my kitchen.  It was a sunny afternoon so I thought it was odd that, out the window, I seemed to be seeing something like rain.  Brown rain.  Raining dirt?  It took me a few seconds to realize…



I did not have the wherewithal at that moment to take a photo (which confirms my suspicion that I will also never be the gal videotaping an oncoming twister because I’ll be too busy peeing my pants and screaming).  But in my hours of post-apocalyptic online research, I learned that I had witnessed a swarm of a honeybee colony.  And I also found this picture, which looks exactly like what I saw.

{Photo source: Wikipedia}

It lasted only five minutes but it was one of the freakiest things I’d ever seen.

Well, until my neighbor called me an hour later, her voice kind of shaky.  I figured she was calling because she had seen the swarm too.


“Hey, uh, you know that tree [this is a different tree from the original large one I mentioned] in between our driveways?”


“Uh, can you, uh, take a look out your window and tell me if you see what I’m — “


“Bees!  Everywhere!  What the hell is that?”

She had managed to take a photo from inside her car.  It was this.

Maybe you guys have seen something like this before.  Maybe you’re all “Hey, it’s a hive on the move.  No biggie.”  If you are one of those people, please forgive my histrionics.  Because when I tell you I went batshit crazy at that point, I’m kind of understating it.

I still can barely look at the photo.  My friend described it as Biblical, which I think about sums it up.

Is it just me whose skin is crawling from this?  It can’t be just me, right?  It was like a horror movie.  Do you remember Candyman?  Uggghhhh.

So while I was trying to distract my mind that night from the mental image of the End of Days swarm outside my house, I read up on this whole phenomenon.  In a nutshell, when the colony gets too crowded, about half of the bees leave with the queen (this is when they swarm) and find a temporary place to land for a few days.  During this time, they all gather around the queen to protect her, while they send out scout bees to find a new location for their colony.  They leave a virgin queen behind in the old nest so she can take over.

Holy shit, it’s just like high school, isn’t it?

Anyway.  We survived until morning without my nightmares of bees boring through the walls of  my house coming to bear.  And The Bee Dude showed up early the next day, as promised.

I hadn’t told him about the swarm development since we last spoke.  He saw it and was like a kid in a candy store.  Or in a honeycomb, I guess.

He insisted we cut the Shock and Awe/End of Days conversation short so he could put on his swarming gear.  Because, in his words, “Every minute we spend not collecting this swarm is a minute the scout bees could locate a new home for the colony.  Possibly in a nook of your house.”

Oh.  Carry on, then.  I’ll just wait inside.

{Why didn’t we build a panic room as part of our basement renovation?  Why?}

And then a live episode of National Geographic unfolded in my backyard.  The Bee Dude was in full gear and managed to get all of the bees into his trusty box within a half an hour or so.  The key is to make sure you get the queen — to ensure that all the others follow.

See?  Just like high school.

My photos are not great because there was a window screen in.  And, as much as I like all of you, I sure as hell was not going outside to snap some higher quality pictures for your benefit.  You understand.

So The Bee Dude removed all 30,000 of the bees protecting their queen.

Yes.  30,000.  That’s what he said.

And that’s when I thought about the tidbit I read the night before that only half of the bees leave the original colony in a swarm.  Which means…there are still…

OH MY GOD.  There are still 30,000 bees in the original giant tree?

At that point, The Bee Dude, who clearly loves nature more than most, looked me in the eye and recommended that I have the giant tree taken down.  ASAP.  Because a colony that size has certainly hollowed out and compromised the structural integrity of the huge branch that hovers over my house.  Oh, and the virgin queen is laying 2,000 new eggs a day.

Seriously?  She is not messing around.

So now I’m in what I can only describe as a Nature Clusterfuck, which involves various tree removal companies and the pest control people.  The tree guys won’t touch the tree with 30,000 live bees inside (OK, fair point).  And the pest control guys won’t exterminate because of the endangered species issue.  Even though I did my good deed for Beekind and saved 30,000 of them this week.  They went to a very nice home in a neighboring town.  I was even promised jars of honey this fall.

We’re at an impasse.  Just waiting for the virgin queen to ascend to power and the after swarms and a Candyman sequel in my yard.

I’m so not a nature girl.



Did you like this? Share it:

Spring Break: Are We Done Yet?


APRIL 15, 2012

TO:  Education Administrators of New Jersey

RE: Spring Break Coordination


To Whom it May Concern:

It is with my last shred of sanity barely intact that I sit down to write you this letter, on the 16th and final night of the 2012 Spring Break.

I wonder if I could have a moment of your time to ask one simple question: Why can’t you all coordinate with each other and have Spring Break the same week?  Because some of us who have children in more than one school were faced with an odd, and seemingly avoidable, predicament of two different weeks off.

Why would this be?

In my specific situation, I dealt with two schools.  In the same town.  With two different weeks off.  So the last time I had both kids in school was on March 30.  I looked visibly younger then.

I’m not sure if you have children of your own, or if you’re familiar with the personality transformation that occurs when young kids are taken from their structure and routine over an extended period of time.  Perhaps not.

Furthermore, I’m not sure if  you’re familiar with the personality transformation that occurs when the mothers of these children are stripped of the kids’ structure and routine over an extended period of time.  But I can tell you that last Friday (aka Day 13), I went to Starbucks and saw throngs of fellow moms with at least one child in tow.  Said moms were clearly all at the end of their ropes and each was drinking a triple-something-something coffee the size of her own skull while allowing the kids to eat the cake of their choice for breakfast.  And I sat right down to join them.

Because we had given up at that point.  We had collectively overdosed on playdates, crafts, road trips and even disguising meager attempts at spring cleaning as “family projects.”  We were done.

Which leaves me with my original question and what we can do to fix it.

Was it merely a lack of communication?  If so, I’d be happy to facilitate a meeting regarding next year’s school calendar.  I’ll even have it at my house.  You can all come over and I’ll cook for you.  And then I’ll lock you inside until you all swear to never do this to me again.

We can use this guiding principle going into the meeting:  HOW ABOUT YOU ALL FOLLOW THE PUBLIC SCHOOL CALENDAR?

Just a suggestion.

If this wasn’t a lack of communication, then I’m left to believe that you were trying to kill me.  In that case, well played. You almost won.


Did you like this? Share it:

How to Lose Your Will to Live at the DMV



You know all of those awful stereotypes about the Department of Motor Vehicles?  Unfortunately, I’m here today to report that the New Jersey DMV is, in fact, the Ninth Circle of Hell.

To appreciate the full story, I need to give you one quick bit of prelude.


1989:  I sat in the local New Jersey DMV with my mother, applying for my very first driver’s license.  Probably wearing shoulder pads. As I went to fill in my eye color as green, my mom stopped me and said, harmlessly, “I think your eyes are more hazel, aren’t they?”

“Uh, I guess.  Fine.”

And so, New Jersey recorded my eyes as hazel — something I never really agreed with and a point I continued to belabor with my mom for years to come.  Just to torture her.  It became an ongoing family joke whenever the subject of eye color arose.  And, I considered it a personal victory when, a few years later, the fine State of New York let me go on record as a green-eyed girl with my Empire State license.  It was long-deserved vindication.

Hold on to that little story for a few minutes.  You’ll need it.


Fast forward to 2010.  I’m back in the suburbs of New Jersey, after 17 years in New York.

I had to finally relinquish my last bastion of Manhattan residency and convert my New York license back to New Jersey.

I read all of the paper work.  I prepared.  I went in.


Visit #1:  Cross-Border Mystery.  Apparently, my circumstances were extraordinary and confusing to the fine employees of the DMV.

“I need to change my license from New York to New Jersey.”

“Have you ever had a New Jersey license?”

“Yes, a long time ago.”

“Under your current name?”

“No.  Under my maiden name.”

“Wait.  You mean you had a different name in New Jersey, moved out of state, got a new name in New  York and came back to New Jersey?”

“Uh, yes.  I grew up here.  Then I moved to New York.  I got married.  And now I’m back.”

“Oh.  I’m going to need to get a supervisor.”

“This has never happened before?  It doesn’t seem so unusual.  New York is 30 miles from here — you can kind of see it out the window with all those tall buildings over there.”

“Ma’am, fighting with me will get you nowhere.  I will need the address under which your last New Jersey license was issued.”

“I don’t remember.  I lived at four different New Jersey addresses and it was almost twenty years ago.”

“You don’t remember where you lived?”

“Not every address, no.  I gave you my maiden name — is it not coming up in your records?”

“It’s coming up.  But I need you to tell me the address to prove who you are.”

“I honestly don’t remember.”

“I need another supervisor.”

I left.  I couldn’t handle it another minute.  I decided to put off this whole process.

For two years.



Fast forward to today.  It was time to get this taken care of.

I re-read all of the paperwork.  I prepared.  I went in.


Visit #2:  Marriage Shock and Awe.  Wherein the Federal Government ID process means nothing to The Garden State.

Repeat all steps of Visit #1 (“Yes, I now remember the street address from 18 years ago where I lived for eight months.”)


“I need your marriage license.”

“Why?  All of my ID documents are issued under my married name.”

“We have no record of your name change in New Jersey.”

“Right, but see this passport here?  Issued by the Federal Government?  The one that allows me to fly outside of the country?  This has my legal name change processed.  See?”

“No.  I need your marriage license.”

“Your Be Prepared pamphlet — ironically named, I must say — makes zero mention of this in its extensive list of warnings about required documentation to change a state driver’s license.  Is this a new requirement?”

“I need it.”

“That makes no sense.”

“Ma’am, fighting with me will get you nowhere.”

I left.  I couldn’t handle another minute.



Fast forward 90 minutes.  I had to get this done.  This time, I brought my two year-old with me — just to make it more interesting. Also, it began to rain heavily, thereby ruining any slim chance I had of a decent license photo.  This is the real tragedy of the story.

I re-read all of the paperwork.  Again.  I prepared.  I went in.


Visit #3:  Falsifying Documentation.  Because your eyes are not only the window to your soul, but also remain on your permanent record.

Repeat all steps of visits #1 and #2 (“Yes, I remember the street address from 18 years ago where I lived for eight months,” and “Here is my original, raised seal, embossed marriage license.  The one that the Federal Government OK’d when they legally changed my name on this here passport.”)


“I’m back.  Again.”

“I see that.  But we have a problem.  Your original New Jersey license application from 1989 states that you have hazel eyes.  In today’s application, you listed your eyes as green.”


“Well, which is it, ma’am?  Hazel or green?”

“You look and tell me.  I think they are green.  But my mom thought, back in 1989 — never mind.”

“They do appear green, ma’am.  Why did you falsify them as hazel in 1989?”

“This is insanity.  I need my license.  I have provided everything you asked for and now I’m losing my patience.”

“Ma’am, fighting with me will get you nowhere.”

“So I see.  So now what?”

“Now that you have green eyes, we will have to create a whole separate identity number for you in our system, and this can cause problems.”

“Then just leave them as hazel.  I don’t care.”

“Ma’am, I can’t do that.  That would be misrepresenting your identity. Again.”

{Blinking audibly through my green/hazel/bloodshot with rage eyes}

“Please just figure it out!”

“I’m going to need a supervisor.  We’ve never dealt with a change in eye color before.”

{Supervisor arrives, concurs my eyes are, in fact, green, and agrees to miraculously issue my license.}

“Ma’am, you’re going to need to leave us your phone number.”


“In case we have any problems with putting two identity numbers in the system.  We’ll have to call you.”

“And then what?”

“We’ll let you know.”


Well, that was easy!  And painless, too!  Everyone was so pleasant!

Mostly, I’m so glad there was no inconsistency, bureaucracy or confusion involved in my application to continue driving a residential automobile.  

And I’d like to extend special thanks to my mom for almost getting my driving privileges revoked over a color hue detail {Just kidding, Mom.  Sort of.}.

But, look. You know and I know that this isn’t over.  The crazy Eye Change Mystery/Double Identity detail is going to haunt me somehow for the rest of my life.  Maybe they’ll call me to come in with a notarized Letter of Eye Color Change.  Or an essay explaining the mysterious circumstances around which I crossed state lines, got married and moved the 30 miles back across the Hudson River.  Maybe I’ll call it A Stranger in a Strange Land.

Or, more likely, I’ll end up on the No Fly List on my next trip.

“You there, with the hazel/green eyes!  Drop that passport and come with us!”

Can’t you see it?

But I can tell you this:  I would rather be incarcerated than ever, ever go back to the New Jersey DMV.  Maybe I’ll just move back to New York where my green eyes are appreciated.

Did you like this? Share it:

Passwords Are Eating My Brain

Maybe it’s the aging process.  Maybe it’s parenting.  Maybe it’s both.  But I feel like I am losing brain power by the day.  You know that feeling?  {Please say yes.}

And with my ever-diminishing mental capacity to retain details, let me tell you what is pushing me over the edge.

User names and passwords, people.  Eating. My. Brain.  One log-in at a time.

Like most folks, I have a few go-to user names and password combinations on hand.  And I follow the basic rules of online security:  Don’t give away your password (duh).  Don’t be a jackass (I’m paraphrasing from official guidelines) by using obvious personal information, like your birthday.  Do use a combination of letters, numbers and characters.  Don’t repeat passwords across multiple log-ins.

And it’s that last little rule that is killing me.  I can’t keep them all straight.  And I feel like they are multiplying.

Unless it’s a log in that I use regularly (this blog, Facebook, Twitter, banking or online wine purchases by the case), I pretty much give up after one failed attempt and resort to the old “Reset My Password” option.  This tends to involve my favorite part of the process — The Secret Question.  I’m always strangely nervous about failing a pop quiz about my own  life — for which I’ve pre-set the answers.  There’s a treasure trove of psychotherapy, don’t you think?

If I remember my own life and pass The Secret Question, I basically go on to the vicious cycle of having to repeat this exercise and reset the password upon each log-in.

I mean, really.  How many of these combinations can I be expected to remember?  And obviously it’s not smart to keep a list of these on my computer.  And more obviously, I’m not going to be a pioneer and go purchase things in person.

It’s frustrating.  And it came to an ugly head yesterday.

I was on the Zappos website to order a fetching pair of summer shoes.  Now, I’m a long-time Zappos girl.  My user name and password were seared into my frontal lobe.  Or whichever lobe is responsible for the swift purchase of fabulous footwear.

But there was a problem.

Their system got hacked recently and, as a result, they are forcing everyone to change their passwords.  I get it.  It’s totally the right thing to do.  No problem.  Zappos has my back.  And I want these shoes.  The web page tells me there are only two pairs left in my size.

OK.  Time is of the essence.  I enter one of my other go-to passwords.

This password is not strong enough.  It must be at least eight characters long, with one upper-case letter, one number and one special character.

They’re trying to protect me, I tell myself.  It’s fine.  Let’s see what else I have in my mental password arsenal.  I try another one I’ve committed to memory.  These shoes will be mine.

You may not use any of your last six passwords.

Right, right.  I understand that.  Makes sense.  I try again.

You may not use any of your last six passwords.


And then.  In red text:

Only one pair left in your size!  Order now!

People of Zappos, I’m trying!  Please take my money!  I want the damn shoes!  But I’m clear out of password ideas that make any sense to me and conform to your requirements.  Just invent one for me, because I’ve got nothing.  And really, I’m not investing my retirement money here. I just want to look casual yet cute from the ankle down this summer.

I create a new password under Cute Summer Shoe Duress.  One that means nothing to me and I’ll surely never remember again.  But whatever.  I think it was BuySize7.5Now!  Or maybe it was 88__**&*^%^$^pain*in*the*ass^*&&*^%rynTTTT+++$$.

I type it in.  Twice, somehow, because that’s required.  I’m rushing.  I know that some other woman with a more organized mental password file, who also happens to wear a size 7.5, is after that last pair of my shoes.  It’s going to be an online showdown.

In my haste of typing the new meaningless password twice, I get this:

Passwords don’t match.

Sonofabitch!  I type them again.

Your password has been changed!

Great.  Whatever it was.  Let’s just get on to the business of shipping those wedges to me, stat.

And then.

We’re sorry, this shoe is no longer available in your size.

That password-organized wretch.  She got them.

What’s a size 7.5 shoe-deprived girl to do?  Go to a department store?  Let’s not be crazy.

It seems I have to create some additional strong passwords for my arsenal.  And then remember them.  According to Microsoft, once you have a strong password, you can create an acronym from an easy-to-remember piece of information. “For example, pick a phrase that is meaningful to you, such as My son’s birthday is 12 December, 2004. Using that phrase as your guide, you might use Msbi12/Dec,4 for your password.”

Is it just me, or does this seem like a stretch?  The only acronym I have for that is STFU.

But, hey, I’m not going to miss out on my shoes next time.  So maybe I’ll use the phrase “I can’t fucking remember another goddamned password” — easily reduced to IcFraGDpw!!

You must include a number.

See?  My brain.  It has died.  All in the pursuit of shoes.


* * *

{Unrelated PSA:  Just a friendly reminder that The Fordeville Diaries is on Facebook.  If you’re not already following along with my nonsense over there, I’d love to have you.  And I totally know my password to that account.}

Did you like this? Share it: