Friday, October 31, 2014

Yes, yes, I suppose it is

I was talking to my cousin Lyrae about how tired I am of Jordan's penis. I'm tired of seeing it. I'm sick of hearing about it.

I'm over asking him to put on underwear. Our new rule in the house is that you have to at least have on underwear. Underwear is not just for company anymore. 

We all wear underwear, even if we're not wearing other clothes. Everybody.

And no, India cannot touch it in the bath, even if it is just out there for God and everyone to see. Your penis and your bottom are private. Nobody can touch them except Daddy, Nana and me, if we're washing you in the bath. And the doctor, as long as one of us are there. Except for us, YOU are the only person who can touch your own private penis. Nobody else.

But for heaven's sake, do you need to touch it all the time?

The answer seems to be yes.

Hey, look, you have a penis! Yes, I know you have a penis. We ALL know you have a penis. And yet somehow it's like a new surprise every five minutes. Hooray!

So I said to Lyrae, "It's a very penisy age."

And she said, "Haven't you noticed? It's always a penisy age."

Ah well, yah.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

It's 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark...and we're wearing sunglasses.

I have started working on photo books, calendars, and holiday cards.

And oh my hell is this time-consuming! It's so fun to review the year, but it takes up a ton of time.

This is the inside page of the book that I'm making for Betty and for Nick's mom. I don't know if the latter will appreciate the humor, but I myself enjoy it too much not to include it.

Going through all these photos has been making me think about how much these little humans have grown over this past year. I mean, they were born with their personalities; that I truly believe. But as they get bigger, more articulate, and more confident, they express them more and more.

When these two play together, it is magical. I love hearing their little voices and their imaginations at work. India is often the bossier of the two, if you can imagine, but they both take after their father in this way.

They now like to play this game, typically in the kitchen when they're in everyone's way, whereby Indian holds onto the back of Jordan's shirt and then he runs around in a circle so she is half flying in the air and he is half strangulated.

They both enjoy it immensely.

Until one of them wants to stop. Either India, who is tired of being dragged, or Jordan, who is tired of being asphyxiated. They each have a shockingly high tolerance for both of these things. But at the non-mutual stopping point, it is always drama-trauma.

I'm trying very hard not to get involved until I absolutely have to, because apparently you are supposed to let your children work out their own conflicts and manage their own relationship to the extent possible.

While Jordan often wants to hit me, charge at me, try to knock me over (seriously - I don't know what it is lately, but it is all about physicality towards Mama), when it's between the two of them, India is the more violent of the two. Jordan tries hard not to do things that will hurt her, while she has no compunctions about braining him.

And then I get involved and they both cry - Jordan because he's been attacked and India because she's being prevented from getting another good whack at him - and it is the kind of scene that makes me want to take a whole bottle of wine into the bathroom and give myself a very long time-out.

But when they are not fighting, they are good little pals.

So I have high hopes that they will stay friends and if one of them goes to prison the other will be right there to greet them with open arms when they get out.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

20 things toddlers do not consider viable reasons for anything

  1. Because nobody walks outside naked. 
  2. It's too cold to wear that.
  3. It's too hot to wear that.
  4. It's dirty because you wore it yesterday. And the day before.
  5. Oh, but it's so cute!
  6. I paid a lot of money for that damn dress!
  7. Because it doesn't belong to us.
  8. Because you might fall and hurt yourself.
  9. Nobody else is eating the wood chips.
  10. Rats probably pooped on those wood chips.
  11. We're about to have dinner.
  12. You already had a treat.
  13. Because ice cream is always cold.
  14. It's too late for another story.
  15. It's the middle of the night. 
  16. Mama is very tired.
  17. Because it will help you grow up big and strong.
  18. Mmm! It's delicious!
  19. Because nobody likes to have a mouthful of water squirted at them.
  20. And also that bath water is full of soap and butt germs.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Seriously hope they grow out of this. It'd be so awkward in college.

You know how dogs meet and then immediately smell each other's butts all, hey, let's get to know each other!

Jordan asked about it, and I explained that it was kind of like us shaking hands with a new person. I was all, "Aren't you glad we don't smell each other's bottoms when we say hello?"

He found the idea both hilarious (because who doesn't want to talk about butts ALL THE TIME?) and revolting. I'd agree that it is both.

But I was thinking about it. I don't know what it is about children that compels them to try and taste random non-food things. Or maybe it's just my children? I dunno. And yet I cannot get my son to taste something new and delicious at the dinner table.

I mean, in this case, I get it. It's a GIANT M&M. Even if he has a face and arms and legs. My kids knew it was not a real candy, and yet they couldn't help themselves. Too tempting!

But you know, we used to have this big poster of that little wretch Elmo at our bus stop. He was promoting vegetables or gun violence or some such thing. Anyway, Elmo.

Every time we saw this poster, which was daily, the kids would go running towards it. "Ellemo! Ellemo!"

I was so glad when then changed posters. Because both of them would head straight up to it. And then open their mouths and press them against the bus stop glass.

It didn't matter how many times I told them that there might be all kinds of yucky things on the glass at the bus stop. They couldn't help their little selves.

Ellemo! You are so awesome! I just want to lick you!

The hell?

Friday, October 17, 2014

Just put it all in one place where I can see every single one of everything

I have to thank you all so much for generously sharing recipes and thoughts with me.

One of my friends said I clearly struck a chord, and this seems to be true. I got a tremendous inpouring (spell check is telling me this isn't a word, but I still like it) of comments here and on FB, and emails with recipes and laments!

Here is what I've learned: many of us are in the same boat. Some of you have been feeling the same shame. I love not feeling alone, and so do you.

Also, you have terrific and concrete ideas! I now have so many recipes and suggestions for books, approaches, and classes. I need to weed through them all. I didn't expect this wealth.

We are going to improve our dinner situation. I will let you know how this goes. I'm going to have to figure out how to organize them first.

And on this note...

Recently Nick hooked up a hard drive containing the contents of my long-dead laptop and loaded them on my so-not-new laptop. I kept meaning to but one thing and another got in the way. And then at some point I really wanted those old pictures and music and such. So he pulled it out and transferred files.

I looked for some things that I knew I had before but cannot find now and asked if he got it all. He said,"I'm not sure. Your filing system was...unclear."

"Oh. That might be because I don't file anything."

"I didn't want to suggest that and get you all defensive."

I'm a terrible filer. With physical files, it's more that it's just tedious. I do it, but only when I have to. But that's a matter of cramming a bunch of papers that go together in the same folder.

On the computer, it draws on some kind of skill that is not my strength. I think it's sort of like when I took probability and statistics and letters stood for whole calculations and I could never figure out the likelihood of pulling a green marble out of a deck of cards perched on a coin flip. Plus I couldn't bear never understanding what was going on and I was too depressed to drop the class so instead I just stopped going and spent my time eating chocolate peanuts.

It was a grand success, in case you're wondering.

It also harkens back to when I sucked at making outlines, because I couldn't decide if my A, B, and C topics were parallel, or if one should go under the other, and then making things parallel under them was just ugh. Now I make outlines with dots and lines and the parallelity doesn't matter.

Me, I could happily have everything spread out on my desktop. Except, you know, that you can't.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Animals of the Fear List

So you know I have this fear list.

In case you yourself have one but haven't thought about the animals that maybe should be on it, I have some suggestions.

They are listed alphabetically rather than in order of danger.

Cows. I got stabbed in the leg by a cow while walking down the street minding my own business. Seriously. This cow veered across the street just to try and gore me. I still have a huge lump on my thigh. I am still afraid of cows.

This was, incidentally, shortly before I saw a bull giving himself a blow job. Which has nothing to do with meanness but is still one of the most fascinating things I've ever seen. Who knew?

Deer. This is really about Lyme disease. Because Nick says they don't bite.

Geese. When we lived in Bangladesh my friend Robbie had geese in his yard. They used to chase us for no reason whatsoever. There is a reason some companies have guard gees. Those little fuckers bite.

Hippos. But you already know these are top of my list. They are so mean and fast and they can turn on a dime.

Monkeys. They look all cute and we all know Curious George but if for example you are a little kid with long blonde hair and a monkey gets hold of it through the bars of its cage it will pull as hard as possible, which is very hard because even if your parents are holding onto your legs trying to make sure the monkey doesn't pull you close enough to bite you, which it is trying very hard to do, they still have to struggle.

The free ones who hang out in front of your friends' houses are also mean, so it has nothing to do with cages. So, monkeys. Bitey bitey monkeys. This is more of an India problem than a DC problem.

Swans. I've talked about them before and given examples of their evil nature. They'll go out of their way to knock you out of your kayak and drown you dead. Big fear.

Sharks. Duh.

But did you know there's a kind of shark that can go between sea water and fresh water and thus can swim into the Potomac and bite you? Honest to God. Bull sharks.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


So I have told you about shaming our family at Friendly's, and I have told you about terrible, terrible behavior on dates. And I've even told you my worst fart story ever.

Still, with all this, I'm so ashamed to tell you about dinner in our house. Here is the mega-shame part: We eat terribly and I don't know how to make real dinner.

And here is where I'm going to ask for your help.

So dinner in our house is mainly kid dinner, because it happens around 6:00-6:30, hours before Nick is home. Here is our main course repertoire, in no particular order: Fish sticks; chicken patties; spaghetti and meatballs (no sauce! the horror!); mac & cheese; grilled cheese; pizza; eggs - scrambled, fried, in a sandwich, with sausage, in a box with a fox.

India will eat vegetables and beans as well. She also likes tomatoes and mozzarella. Jordan will eat broccoli, but that's it. But still, it's something. We have a lot of steamed broccoli.

Betty and I eat dinner with the kids. We typically have what they're having, at least in part. I quite like fish sticks, actually. I love eggs. But otherwise, I only eat the vegetable portion. Maybe Betty heats some tomato soup or maybe I make myself a smoothie later.

And then Nick comes home around 8:30 or so and fixes himself a sandwich.

We have been doing this for a long, long time. It works, but it doesn't, in that it's not healthy. It's not how I grew up, with mandatory family dinner at 7:00 pm, and with a meat and a veg and a starch.

I hated those dinners. They were often tense and when I was in high school and trying to avoid food and my dad was sliding into crazy, they were particularly terrible.

And I've never liked to cook. So I've hated dinnertime for a long, long time. And now that you add the stress of trying to get kids to sit on their bottoms and not put their fists into their water cups and please don't poke your sister and India! Biting is not what we do to people! It is all the less appealing.

But dinner is important. It's unavoidable. And I need to get better at it.

Even on weekends, we rarely have a cohesive dinner. Nick and I will sit with the kids, and then we'll figure out later what we're having. But historically we haven't liked the same things, so we don't really have an actual together meal. Or we'll go out or get takeout.

I feel a strong need to change this. Nick has lost 15 pounds since August, and he is energized to lose quite a bit more. He's in a place where he is open, for the first ime, to changing how he eats. I want to foster this.

So what I need to have to MUST do is start cooking. We have to start eating real food, and it has to be me.

Betty is an excellent cook, but she's not remotely interested. It's all on me.

And so I'm asking you.

I am looking for easy, nutritious, tasty recipes. Could be anything - chicken, lentils, soup, stew, you name it. I do not know how to cook meat, so it needs to be super easy, like meat for dummies. And just about the only thing I know how to do with vegetables is steam them. Beans? I know how to open a can and put the pot on low. I do know how to roast Brussels sprouts. Mmmm.

Jordan won't like any of these things, because he is five and hates everything. I'm not worried about him.

But the rest of us need to start eating real food.

This is my shame. Can you help me?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Day done: And just like that...

Smoothie: Kale, spinach, apple (for Nick), blueberry, flax seed, protein powder

Tea: Black, with milk and sugar, but not so much of either

Taste: Delightful

Guilt points: 42

Happiness points: 700

Nick came home last night and was all, "I read your post, and I think you should just stop the cleanse. After tonight, you've done it a whole week. You feel terrible, you're crabby, and I think you've gotten what you need to get out of it."

I wavered. It's only three more days. I know I can stick it out. But I've also done it a whole week, and the author says to evaluate where you are at big points like five and seven days. Sooo, just like that, I could stop feeling so listless and angry.

His position was as follows: I've cleansed. What am I trying to prove? We both already know I'm as stubborn as a mule. (We do.) And I've probably gotten rid of all my SFM. (Lord, it does seem like it.)

Also, I hadn't worn my regular jeans in a week, and they are totally loose.
See? I mean, they're not like twice my size. But they used to fit snugly to my waist, hips, and thighs, and they are baggy in all those places. It is much more dramatic from above, looking down, because the gap is huge and you can see down my legs. So I took a picture that way. 

But then I realized that really, the picture was all, "Hey! Look in my pants!" Which is just weird and pervy and not at all what I'm trying to demonstrate.

What I guess I'm saying is, I've gotten plenty out of it and yes, I feel guilty for stopping, but it is far outweighed by how nice it feels to head towards energy and away from snapping at everyone. Also. My haircut makes me feel like Brienne of Tarth and so it is, as much as possible without making me look like a headless torso, not in the picture.

You know what I didn't miss, which was totally unexpected? The alcohol. I turn to it so many nights to get through dinner-bath-bed time. I am wondering if that's part of a sugar-fix cycle. No sugar, no cravings for easy sugar.

So I made a smaller, breakfast-sized version of the smoothie I made for Nick, but with a different protein powder, and I had tea, and all of this made me happier. I'm going to keep it all light and vegetarian for the next several days. A salad-y meal with beans for lunch and then green smoothie for dinner.

Last night I slept eight solid hours. Let me repeat this, because it is so huge in my life. Eight. Solid. Hours.

No waking, no interruption. I haven't done this in years. I cannot remember the last time I did this prior to this past week. In general, except for some sleep-killing India antics, I've slept so well  through this cleanse.

This says to me that something I eat regularly is fucking with my sleep. I don't actually ingest a lot of caffeine, and it's almost always tea. I don't have coffee more than a couple times a week, and if so, usually not even a cup.

Are caffeine effects cumulative? I do hope not. I love real tea. I do not love decaf tea. It always tastes a little like floor dust to me. 

So it can't be that...can it? Say no! Say no!
I'm adding back dairy for a few days and seeing how I feel. Could it be dairy? I'm afraid it's dairy. That will bum me out.

So there you have it. I'm a quitter. A relieved quitter who no longer feels like stabbing anyone/everyone. I'll let you know how it winds up for Nick, though, in case you're interested.

I mean how the cleanse winds up for him. Not the not being stabbed.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Day 7: And on the seventh day

Smoothie: Mixed greens, spinach, mixed berries, banana, mango, flax seed, protein powder. There was supposed to be pineapple but we didn't have any so I substituted mixed berries.

Taste: Good

Mood: Tired and crabby

Smug points: None. I'm too tired for smug.

Divorce points (metric credit: Cynthia): Also none, surprisingly enough

When I tell you Nick is thriving on this I mean he is practically dancing around beaming. He's in a good mood. He admits to being hungry, but he feels good.

I'm so proud of him. I've said multiple times that I was shocked when he proposed this, and even more so that he's been so positive about it.

He's lost weight. His pants have gotten looser. His body has shifted positively. He's got plenty of energy.

Me, I'm cold and limp and I have no energy. I'm now like those little grey stricken merpeople stuck in Ursula the Sea Witch's cave. Yes, I do realize that harkening back to the other day this means I'm the stagnant fecal matter (SFM). This isn't far from how I feel.

Also, you know what I've realized? Ariel wanted to be human before she met the prince. It's not that she fell in love and gave it all up for him. And yes, we may have been watching a lot of Little Mermaid lately. Why?

Oh, speaking of the SFM; Nick is also highly satisfied in this department. Onward and upward! Or rather onward and downward, more accurately speaking.

Anyway, today is my last day of strictly following the cleanse, I've decided. I know we have only three more days. I know I could stick it out. But I'm going to start adding legumes tomorrow. It's not a tremendous modification, but I think it will make a difference in my energy level.

In my workout groups I am always telling people to listen to their bodies.

Maybe a day on your calendar is scheduled as a tough workout day but your body is saying it needs a rest. In this case believe you should rest. I mean, sometimes you're just not into it, and you need someone to tell you to get up and work out, and then you do and you feel so much better. But there are times when you know to just take it easy.

Sometimes you may also feel the need for a threesome with Ben and Jerry. Occasionally is fine.

Now, I know a big goal of this cleanse is shifting food from being something emotional to being fuel for your body. For me food is mainly that already.

But there are comfort foods we all have. Foods our mothers fed us. Foods that make us feel warm and nurtured. I believe in eating well, but I don't believe your emotional connect to all foods goes away. I don't even think we should try to stamp them out. We just can't indulge all the time, or even all that regularly.

So I've decided to listen to my body.

If I weren't living with Nick and following the same regimen, I might just feel wimpy. But I see how he's doing and I see how I'm doing, and he's all practically doing naked backflips.

I, on the other hand, feel shaky and tired. I've lost weight, but that's Nick's goal for himself, not mine for me. I've been walking a bit, but I miss hard workouts. I need them for my mental health.

He's been working out. He feels good. He's dropped some weight and he feels motivated to change the way he eats for good. He said he's realized he needs to start focusing on foods that are good for him, rather than feeling like each meal should be something he enjoyed - meaning must contain meat and cheese and starch. Vegetables and fruits were never, ever something one would choose to eat.

On a normal day he'd be eating red meat for at least two of his meals, more likely three. He's never gone without meat and cheese ever - honest to God ever - in his life. I mean, this is the "Honk if you love cheese sauce!" man we're talking about.

I told him the other night as I collapsed into bed that I think this cleanse really resonates with him. He agreed, and said it didn't seem to be as great for me. I said that he's strong like bull. Also, he has way more reserves.

He said he knows an underhanded compliment when he hears one.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Day 4: It's all very random.

Smoothie: Mixed greens, spinach, apples, peaches, mixed berries, flax seed, protein powder

Taste: So-so, better when I added Stevia

Mood: Fine

Smug points: 341

Yesterday I just wanted a cup of tea with milk and sugar. I was all, what's one cup of tea? And it's just a wee bit of dairy and a tiny bit of sugar...

Nobody even has to know.

And then I gave myself a stern talking-to. Because I know myself. It's just like Nancy Reagan said about gateway drugs in the 80s - today it's a little cup of tea and before I know it I'll be injecting Nutella into my eyeballs.

But you know, five-year olds are so haaaaard. Or anyway, lately mine is. People talk about the terrible twos but nobody tells you about the obstreperous fives. I was trying to find an f-word so there would be alliteration. But the only f-word that came to mind was The F-word.

But seriously, people, is this a Thing? Because Jordan has been so belligerent lately. He challenges everything. Everything is a struggle. He is much more difficult than my two-year old.

Which then makes it that much harder for me to stick to my guns on this cleanse business. I get frustrated and angry and lose my temper and feel guilty and also kind of sorry for myself. Big realization: I soothe myself with food and drinks!

Through all this Nick has been remarkably positive. He's jazzed about doing this. He feels good. He said his office was filled with treats yesterday and he didn't have any. I said that actually, this is the perfect time to be doing this, because you never just have one.

Two nights ago I dreamt of eating pink frosted sugar cookies and donuts, neither of which I eat in real life, in Philadelphia with Jane.

Last night I dreamt about having sex with Dexter in Las Vegas and my only explanation is the fact that we've been watching episodes of Dexter in between Game of Thrones. It's been very death-y around here.

No sugar, no grains, no dairy, no meat, no I can't even remember what-all. But lots of death. Good lord so much death. You can't get attached to anyone in Game of Thrones.

That's where we are: Stagnant fecal matter and valar morghulis.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Day 3: Why, then, ’tis none to you, for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.

Smoothie: Mixed greens, spinach, banana, apple, blueberries, flax seed, protein powder

Taste: Totally decent

Mood: Tired and phlegmy (Allergies? Toxins working their way out?)

Smug points: 32

Have I told you how I spent a lot of my time in high school?

Not on sex and drugs and rock 'n roll, sadly. This a fact that I totally regret.

No. I spent a tremendous amount of time on not eating. And exercising. Because anything I did eat, like food, would instantly make me fat. Which would be terrible and nobody would love me. So I would immediately have to go for a run. Because for God's sake, my thighs were huge enough as it was.

I don't know if you've ever done a bunch of not eating, but if you haven't let me tell you: when you are trying not to eat, food is ALL. You. Think. About.

So I wasted all this time and energy trying to avoid food, which is pretty hard, really, because most people have meals three times a day and snacks at other times. And also, food is delicious. And important for your muscles and your brain and so on and so forth.

This meant that I was almost always tired, plus I was a teenage girl, so I wasn't necessarily the most emotionally stable person around. I once burst into tears and asked my dear friend Kris, "How did I get so fat so fast?" Kris was and still is gorgeous, tall, and willowy, but she also had body dysmorphia and as such was always happy to compare enormity of thighs with me.

All very helpful, yes, yes.

In fact, when I saw her last year, one of the first things we did was compliment each other and then we reached over to squeeze each other's stomachs to insist that the other's stomach was not squishy like she claimed.

Old habits die hard. In fact, maybe they never completely die.


Now I can look back and say that when everything in your life is out of control, like if you're a first-born rule-following teenage girl in a crazy household and other people have all the power, the one thing you can control is your food intake. Unless your parents are willing to hold you down, shove food in your mouth, and make you swallow - and mine weren't - nobody can actually force feed you.

You might not be pretty enough or smart enough or whatever enough, but you can eat less than everyone else, which means you can be thinner. Which is still not thin enough. You can feel momentarily better about yourself when you see someone eating a cookie and know you want one but are strong enough to resist.

And then I went off to college and fell thoroughly apart, and all the control I had over my eating went straight out the window and I gained 40 pounds and hated everything about myself.

So fast forwards a couple decades and a lot of therapy and here we are, with Nick and me doing a lot of not eating.

For Nick, this is something completely different, in that for the longest time he was athletic and could eat whatever he wanted, which was a lot of everything except fruit and vegetables. He was big and strong and he burned all those calories without trying. And then once he started sitting at a desk all day, he still ate whatever he wanted. And it all caught up with him.

For me it is something completely different, in that it is a temporary choice. Normally I eat plenty of real food and I know that at any moment I could walk down the street and have a chocolate milkshake and it wouldn't affect my outer attractiveness or how much people love me.

Although if I did that right now, what it would do is really piss off my husband, because we have seven more days to go. And we are in this together.

Mmm, detox tea!

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Day 2: Not my idea of foreplay

Smoothie ingredients: Mixed greens, apples, strawberries, banana, flax seed, Naturade soy-free protein powder

Taste: Mildly salady and pleasant

Mood: surprisingly good!

Smug points: 17

Genuinely, I feel good. I am having a ginger kombucha, partly because it has a wee bit of caffeine. The lack of caffeine and the shakeup of my morning cup of tea routine have been the hardest part, I think. It's not that I've necessarily been hungry - I just want particular things.

So although I was wondering to my friend Meg last night why I jumped into a 10-day cleanse rather than a shorter one, and why I utterly lack moderation, right now I feel good about the whole thing.

Because listen. What I really want to talk about today is fecal matter.

Now, if that sentence bothers you, go ahead and stop reading right here. Because the upcoming sentences are only going to get worse.

JJ Smith, the cleanse author, focuses quite a bit on the importance of keeping your bowels moving in order to keep eliminating toxins. I picture it kind of like a DC bus at rush hour. You're all squished in and uncomfortable and you have to exit through the back door and everyone feels better once enough people have gotten out.

Of course, in this scenario, sometimes you're the poop. But in any case, it's always a relief to get the hell out of a bus at rush hour.

And now that I've written all this I realize that I've just compared a DC bus to a colon, which, um, sorry if you take public transport. You're not the poop. Also, did I ever tell you my friend Jen got peed on once in a DC bus? But that's a whole nother story.

So there's this sentence in the book that I've read aloud to a variety of people, because it's such a gem that I cannot resist. "One product that really works wonders at getting at the old fecal matter in your colon is Mag07..."

I just...never thought about old fecal matter in my colon. Or old fecal matter at all.

Old. Fecal. Matter. Have you ever seen The Little Mermaid? If so, you know those mermaids who have been zapped by Ursula? They're grey and despondent, nearly lifeless, unable to break free,  waving in the current. This is how I imagine old fecal matter in one's colon.

But more importantly, yikes! So then! Then in the chapter Five Detox Methods to Enhance Your Cleansing, I read this bit about colonics.

Because listen to this: "The average colon weighs about four pounds, but it is not at all unusual for colon cleansing to flush away as many as 10 to 20 pounds of stagnant fecal matter."

Can it be true? Twenty pounds is so many pounds! So is ten. Even five. Any! Any stagnant fecal matter seems like too much stagnant fecal matter.

If you Google "stagnant fecal matter," it only gets worse. Stagnant fecal matter seems to be the devil. I'm not kidding.

So now I really want a colonic. And I want Nick to have one. He's not so interested.

I just know his colon is full of old lamb chops and beef and sausage pizza and such.

So last night as we were heading for bed I said I'm getting him a colonic for Christmas. I know he's got 20 pounds worth just waiting. It's going to be great.

And then he patted the bed next to him and wiggled his eyebrows and offered to knock some of my stagnant fecal matter loose.

I said that kind of talk might be considered foreplay in New Jersey, but it's no way to get me into some sexy time.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Day 1: Green smoothie cleanse

Smoothie ingredients: Spinach, apple, strawberries, mango chunks, grapes, flax seed, Naturade soy-free protein powder

You blend all the stuff, drink a third, put the rest in the fridge for later and there's your day and Bob's your uncle. 

Mood: not as crabby as expected

Smug points: none so far

My old friend Alice had this little kid cousin who would stand on the edge of the pool, hands and arms pointed straight down to dive in. For the longest time he would stand there saying, "I don't want to I don't want to I don't want to." And then he would dive.

So last night we were both all, ooh, we're excited to start this cleanse tomorrow!

And then this morning I woke up all I don't want to I don't want to I don't want to. I mean, obviously it's optional. And Nick is trying to lose weight and change how he eats and his relationship to food. I support all these things and agreed to do this with him.

So I made Nick's smoothie, gave him his glass, put the rest in a Nalgene bottle for him to take to work. And then I turned around and made mine.

In his cold bag I also packed potential snacks: carrots, cucumbers, broccoli, peanut butter (unsalted, organic, crunchy), almonds (raw), pumpkin seeds (raw), and boiled eggs.

Nick drank his glass and then was all, "Is that all? It's not very much."

I resisted the temptation to say, "Listen, asshole, this was your idea. You were all gung-ho, so I found a cleanse, I bought the book, I sort-of read the book, I bought all the stuff, I made your smoothie!"

Instead I said, "I followed the instructions. That seems to be it. Oh, and drink your detox tea. It's kind of gross." 

But I did snap when he was all, "Do we take vitamins? When can I start eating my snacks?"

Now, the truth is that those three big handfuls of spinach blend down very small. Even when you add an apple and two cups of frozen fruit and a handful of grapes and some flax seeds and protein powder. 

You wind up with an amount that is kind of like, hmm. Is that all? I ate a spoon of peanut butter not long after. I'm not trying to lose weight. I'm just trying to cleanse and shit. Oh, this reminds me. I have so much to say on this topic. Perhaps tomorrow.

When Nick called, I was no longer so hangry, plus I'd had a cup of plain black tea with ginger chunks. I am easing into the no-caffeine. I have children. I cannot be completely evil.

So after I said that I had resisted saying all those this-was-your-idea things to him, we talked about how maybe this isn't going to be a joy but ultimately, we agree it's good. You can do anything for 10 days, as my friend Dana pointed out.

Plus, we're going to be able to assign ourselves so many smug points as we go along.

Monday, October 06, 2014

We start tomorrow

We are starting a 10-day cleanse tomorrow.

I told you Nick got this wild hair, and so I looked around and one that seemed manageable was The 10-day Green Smoothie Cleanse. You drink three smoothies but you eat snacks like veggies and fruit and nuts in between. I figure this will make things easier.

One of the things she offers, however, is to eat boiled eggs as snacks. But if you add protein powder to your smoothies, she says it needs to be all veg. Since eggs are animal protein, I don't quite understand it. Anyway.

My friend Kaysha has described me as "not particularly food motivated." I could be insulted as I know it's a way to describe pets - food-motivated dogs seem easier to train - but animal comparisons don't bother me and I think it's true and works in my favor.

I was telling this to some friends the other day. I was saying how I think it will be much harder for Nick, because one, I'm not food motivated, and two, I already eat lots of vegetables and fruit and don't have a problem going without meat.

I said, "I think it'll be fine. I mean, really, I'm only cutting out dairy, which I don't have much of anyway. Except I do like cheese. And milk in my tea. Oh, tea. I love tea in the morning. Yah, the caffeine might be hard.  And sugar, but I don't eat a lot of that. Except sometimes. And I do like alcohol."

And they were all, "So basically this will be a total breeze."

Perhaps not. But you will absolutely not hear me complain, because it's such a first-world problem, you know, to have such an abundance of food and choose to be abstemious.

It's kind of like winter. I don't feel like I have a right to complain about summer, even when it's way too hot, because I complain so bitterly all winter. Maybe it's not at all like winter because that comparison makes no sense.

OK, here's how they're alike: I'll feel like a dick complaining about a cleanse in the same way I'd feel like a dick complaining about summer.

But sometimes I'm a dick, so there's that.

Also: Winter is coming. It is known. Yes, we are immersed in Game of Thrones. We're only on the second season but I've read four of the books so I know not to get attached to pretty much anyone.

You're encouraged to start on a weekend because you might be tremendously crabby in the beginning, but we kept having one event and another on weekends and so we've agreed.

We start tomorrow.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Gradual changes in Grover's Corners. Horses are getting rarer. Farmers coming into town in Fords.

Dear Dad,

Today would be your 78th birthday. October, for me, is your month.

I have dear friends who are dealing with the recent deaths of family members. I ache for them. I know how brutal it is right now, and if I could do a cosmic fast-forward for them I would, because time is the only balm that actually works.

And I know that after a while, you stop feeling like all of your skin has been peeled off, like your heart is raw and exposed, each beat on display for the world. You stop feeling so fragile that even a breeze or the sunshine can hurt, because they bring a memory.

After enough time - however much that might be - you actually start feeling fine. Not that you don't have bad periods or hard moments. But mostly, you are fine. Eventually, you are happy, and the rough patches are few and far between. Sometimes you feel guilty for being fine and happy.

All you need is time. Time time time, like that Tom Waits song. But time just takes so damn long. And you hurt so much in the meanwhile.

No, it's not a perfect remedy. Sometimes I still get very upset. Sometimes I still wonder how you could've left us. And birthdays and holidays still hurt.

But time time time. It's the best we've got.

The kids are now five and two. Jordan doesn't yet ask why he doesn't have a grandpa, but I suppose eventually he will. He's a little fixated on death and dying right now, and his teacher said it's the age. They're trying to sort out what it means.

I wear the T-shirt I had made for my walk last summer, and he knows the man playing piano is my dad, and he knows the girl in the picture is me. Both kids do. Every time I wear it we have to examine the picture and identify all the characters.

India used to identify the girl as India, but now she points says, "That's Mama." They know the little boy I have my arm around is my brother, although they do not know him. They used to think that the boy was Jordan. They're so used to every picture of every kid they see being them.

Anyway, they're growing into really interesting little humans. They would make you laugh so much. You would love them for who they are, not just because they're your grandchildren.

Sometimes Jordan goes upstairs to sleep with his Nana. Sometimes they both go up in the morning and crawl in her bed and watch TV and eat sweets. This past summer we all went to Maine, and Jordan and Nana shared a bed. I asked one morning how they slept and he said, "Good. Sometimes we sleep, and sometimes we wake up and chat. And then we sleep some more."

I love they are growing up so close to Betty.

Our lives are normal now. I mean, my kids have never known a life that didn't involve Betty living with us at least part of the week. I don't think Jordan remembers her house, in fact. Your house. They never had a world that included you.

So this, for them, is how life is.

One of Jordan's new friends had her grandparents visiting. They left a week ago, and as they were saying goodbye at school that last morning, Jordan got teary for her. "She has to say goodbye!" I reminded him how lucky he is to have Nana right upstairs. To see her every day and never have to say goodbye.

I think for me, each one of these letters to you is a fractional goodbye. I'm making peace with the past, peace with your actions, peace with the fact that I failed to save you one last time. That was my expectation of myself, foolish as it may sound, but it is true.

It's a process. It takes time time time.

It's your birthday, and I miss you.



Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Artist in residence

So last night I asked friends on FB if they would have a painting of their house done if someone came along and was painting pictures of neighborhood houses.

Overwhelmingly, the response was an enthusiastic yes.

Except my friend Eric, who was all, "This is a trick question."


Here's the story. Last weekend this guy set up in front of our house and was painting a picture of the house across the street. He had a couple other paintings with him.

Nick and Betty got all chatty with him. Nick brought him a glass of water, as it was hot out. I took the kids to the park and when I got back, the man and Nick were each enjoying a nice cold beer.

When  Nick came inside he said, "He's going to do a painting of our house."

Personally, I hate this kind of thing. Nick shares his father's love of artists' renderings of buildings in one's life. And we've inherited approximately 97 million etchings and paintings of various edifices at Harvard and Oxford.

Nick knows how I feel about this, but in an effort to be more positive, I said, "I'm in favor of supporting local artists."

This is a true statement. I do feel like it is important to support artists and art.

Our local artist, it turns out, told Nick he charges by the day, and our house, he thinks, will take about four days. Also, he's storing his other paintings in our foyer, so it reeks of oil paint.

Also, at various points during the day he rings to ask to use the phone and the bathroom. Betty let him use her phone but I told her for safety it had to be outside, on the sidewalk. I let him in yesterday to use the bathroom but left the doors open.

I mean, we don't even know him. I think he lives kind of on the edges, possibly because of some kind of addiction problem or mental illness, but is probably harmless. But who the fuck knows? Years ago, an old colleague of mine was murdered by a homeless man that he'd taken under his wing. Honestly.

Yesterday evening, when the kids and I returned from the park, the artist asked me what I thought of the painting. I said my opinion wasn't important, because it's Nick's. Then he said that he needs to buy more paint, and so he needs some money. Again I said this was all on Nick.

So last night, when I learned that he charges by the day rather than the product, and Nick was all OK with it, and it's going to wind up being way more than I believe it is worth, because I don't want it in the first place, and also I don't want strange men pooping in my toilet, I lost my little mind.

I said, "I was trying to be positive but I personally think it's ridiculous to have a painting of your house in your own house."

Many people seem to like the idea, but it's not my thing.

Although I realize that my feelings at this point are a lot more about feeling imposed upon by the guy than about this actual painting. Even though I don't feel the need for a painting of our house.

But then, you know, I thought back to when I lived with Maude, and we had this giant zigzag patterned couch that she and Lyrae rescued from the curb when our neighbors couldn't get it in their door.

It was hideous and perfect. And unique. If I ever saw that couch again even from a distance I would totally know.

So Maude, who is an artist, suggested painting a picture of me reclining nude on the couch. We'd hang the painting above the couch. And then when people came over, we'd sit with them in the living room and watch them feel all awkward.

We never did it. But I still like the idea.