Monday, December 28, 2015

When the moon is in the seventh house and Jupiter aligns with Mars...

What I'm saying is, I need some help with my hair.

I mean, look at this state of affairs:
Nice mug shot, Lisa.
And I know, I know, I always go back to the hair. (And boots.)

But here's the thing: I am getting it cut next week and I don't know what to do.

We've all been doing these anti-lice olive oil and combing treatments, and then to get the oil out, I wash my hair with Dawn, and now with all the dishwashing soap and combing, the ends are getting all dry and frazzled. And I'm overdue for a haircut and reblonding anyway.

I have this bob, which I have liked. I've had this bob on and off since I was like 15. I have a bob. And then I cut it all off. And then I grow it out. But it always comes back to the bob.

But at the moment, it's kind of dire.

So I'm fantasizing about getting it all cut off super super short. But then again, I'm afraid to get it all cut off.

I feel like I used to be able to carry no hair, and I felt bold when I did it. But now I fear it would highlight all my wrinkles. And I'll regret it immediately and it will take forever to grow out.

I loved, I mean beyond loved, my asymmetrical bob. But it was limited. When I put it up to exercise, I put the long side in a sticky-outy ponytail.

So I was thinking of maybe cutting it short but having long bangs. I fell asleep thinking about it.

And the next day I looked at Facebook and it turns out my friend Nicole had posted this pic the night before. This!

She's got very long hair, but for like 15 minutes she was considering cutting it short. Her husband was clearly amused.
Hi, Kendall!
Nicole has a perfect face and this would look amazing. But she's not going to do it, as she says she'd get bored with short hair.

I love this look. But is it too 80s?

Because I was telling one of my friends about the short but long bangs and she said, "Oh, like Flock of Seagulls?"

No. Not like Flock of Seagulls.

More like...Well, kind of like Flock of Seagulls, I guess. But hopefully not.

Or maybe I could just get a trim and grow it long and be able to pull it back, which I do like to do. But I think I need some bangs. Whenever I grow it out, it's just flat, one length, and pulled back all the time. Boring and not flattering.

What I'm saying is, I need help.  Have any of you done short with long bangs? Or long with long bangs? Or something bob-ish with bangs?


Thursday, December 24, 2015

Love and hugs to all of you

Holidays are such a time of both joy and expected joy--the hap-happiest time of the year! As such, they can be extra hard for people.
It's easy to forget this in the Christmas frenzy.

If you've lost someone, you live with your memories of times together, which almost always include holidays. And you miss the person even more.

Or sometimes you're more alone than you want to be, and you see all this togetherness! Families! Together! Every single one of which is probably happier than you!

It can feel very lonely.

Social media shows the sparkliest lights, the fanciest cocktails, the juiciest steaks, and that perfect family moment where everyone is getting along, or at least looks like they are. You see the picture of the happy family. What you don't see is that the parents had just had a fight. And right after the picture was taken, one kid whacked another and both started crying.

Our house cannot be the only place this happens.

I'm not saying we are always pretending. But life is still life, no matter what day it is.

It's a lovely, sparkly, loving time of year. And it's a stressful one.

Let's embrace those we love, and allow ourselves to miss those we've lost. And be gentle with ourselves and each other for not being perfect, or even close.

Life is a mix of the happy and the sad, and this doesn't stop just because it's Christmas. And sometimes Christmas makes us sad. Please, reach out if you are in a bad place. Reach out to your friends, your family, to me. Please don't feel all alone.

You are so very loved. We all are. I promise.

Big hugs and lots of love,


Monday, December 21, 2015

Soy un perdedor...

Sometimes you are really stupid and you're so embarrassed and you don't want to tell anyone but you kind of have to.


Last Wednesday someone stole both Nick's and my Mac laptops, Nick's two antique watches, one of which was his father's, his dad's gold signet ring, and my mom's watch.

Oddly enough, Nick's PC laptop, which was with his Mac, was still there. As was Betty's laptop. And all our jewelry. And radios, other electronics. Also, we have a tall row house. So they bypassed the first floor, went to the second for my laptop, the third for Betty's watch, and the fourth for Nick's stuff.

There was a two-hour period of time that day where the only people at the house were two men working on our doors--the closet in the front hall, and the back door.

My laptop was there when I left just before 3 pm; I know this because I was frantically working on last-minute photo gifts and looking through my email for addresses for holiday cards.

Nick called 911 when we discovered the theft. And he called the contractor, who got his assistant and hurried to our house. Both arrived when the police officer was still here, and both said they had no idea what happened. The assistant said someone must've come into the house when he left the front door open and went to his truck.

I said, "And headed all the way up to the fourth floor?"

The officer said he'd be following up with them, and would send someone to do fingerprints, as they would be fingerprinting our house. And the assistant said, "But there won't be any if the person was wearing gloves." Hmm.

I cried. I went on Facebook and ranted about the theft and the violation. But then I got to a point where I was like, it's only stuff. We're all fine. And we still have the Time Machine with the backups of all our pictures and my writing. We can always get new computers.

Thursday it occurred to me that I ought to find the backup and start figuring out how to get all the data onto Nick's computer. I walked over to the bookcase in the front of the living room, a location fully visible from the front windows.

It was gone. I went into hysterics. I couldn't breathe, I was crying so hard. Who would do this?

Every baby picture. Every picture. Everything I'd ever written. The book I may or may never finish. Writing samples. Gone. Who would take the data backup? I called Nick, sobbing.

I put it up on Facebook. Friends were so sympathetic, so kind, so upset on my behalf. Who would do this?

I cried for practically two days straight. I did nothing about Christmas presents. Nick tried to console me, but I was inconsolable.

Saturday we went to the Mac store, and I brought the specs for my 2009 laptop, which I loved. I explained what had happened and said I wanted to get something comparable.

The guy, who was very nice, said that mine was old enough that anything I picked would blow me away by comparison. And "No offense, but I'm not sure why anyone would steal your laptop at this point."

And then I told him that they also took the backup. He said, "Who would do that?" And then I started to cry.

Really, I wasn't fit to be anywhere.

Oh, and also, we had The Lice! None of us were fit to be anywhere. I combed through my hair that morning in addition to the kids. And I had nits. Nick found nits.

We were all lousy and had no photos of our children. I'd washed my mom's pillows early in the week  and a feather pillow had broken. We still have tiny feathers flying out during spin cycle.

I can take a lot, but this was my breaking point.

All the washing, all the bed making. All the memories. I sat down and sobbed and sobbed. I just couldn't deal.

Kristin messaged me from Geneva saying she was worried I was in crisis. I was.

So I called a lice service and after the laptop store we spent all Saturday night being combed with olive oil and thoroughly picked over and bagging stuff up and changing beds.

Having lice seemed pale in comparison to losing all my pictures of my babies. I'd take double lice and have my stuff back! Which didn't stop me from wishing a pox and lice on The Assistant.

Why didn't he take my car instead? Why was I so stupid that I hadn't backed my data up to the cloud?

I may have drunk a lot of Leffe during the delousing.

Sunday I awoke olive oily but feeling more in control. The lice, nits, eggs were out, and we had a plan. We'll be greasy for weeks, but we're on winter break. It's fine.

Nick went to work first thing and pulled photos off his computer and found all the camera cards and flash drives he could and started loading every picture onto my new laptop. As it turned out, there were a number of them.
I had newborn Jordan and India! Some of their wee toddler videos! Our honeymoon! My dad before he died! (But what about all those pictures of four-month-old Jordan in the snow? What about...?)
So I kept crying intermittently.

I really was trying to pull it together.

Through this, Nick and I fought. Because what I heard him saying was, "I am fixing this! And you're not even grateful. Stop being so upset!" And I was all, it's a terrible situation. Why does he want me to stop crying? He doesn't even care. Asshole!

And then he was really pissed that he was doing nice things for me and I was disparaging him. Which, yah. I could see that. After.

Then a DCPD detective called Nick and he said it did sound implausible that someone walked in off the street and bypassed easily salable goods and only took these very specific things. He was going to call the owner of the company and ask him to come downtown. Nick also gave him every scrap of background check information on The Assistant We Believe Is Guilty.

Things were really looking up!

That afternoon, as Nick was getting my new laptop set up with our new Time Machine, he noticed that our old Time Machine showed up as a Wi-Fi signal. Was this real? This meant it was close!

Which meant we could get our stuff, right?!? I texted several computer-genius friends to ask.

Also! If it was here, then we were wrong about The Assistant, who lives in Alexandria. We share walls on both sides. Was it really a neighbor, as he'd suggested? Had we defamed and disparaged the wrong man?

Thank god Nick hadn't let me find a thug to rough him up. (I do not actually know the criminal element, it is true. But I've been watching The Wire. And Nicole says she knows a guy.)

Nick called the police, who came over and said that the signal was clearly very close. They asked if we'd checked the house. Who else lived here? And did we trust our tenants? Neighbors. We should suspect everyone.

One officer said, "I tell people who  have been burgled to check the whole house, because robbers often defecate in a corner. Really. It's all about the power trip. Could be any of your neighbors. Nothing is weird to us at this point."


They left, and we set about getting into the old Time Machine to import the files. My dear Vik told me how to find it on the new laptop and get into files to drag them. He sent screen shots. A bit later our friend David, who works at Apple, got involved and took over my computer. Nick ran off to Best Buy to get an external hard drive, because it was a lot of data.

The pictures! The writing! We could get the files! Which, really, was the most important thing to me! Things were really taking a turn for the better!

I was afraid to get too excited. I didn't want to share any news until it was really real.

The time estimate for download was 10 days(!!), because the wireless signal was good but we had hundreds of gigs of data.

Nick downloaded an app on his phone to help him find the strongest signal. This, he decided, would lead him to the neighbor. And would also speed up the download, which hopefully would complete  before the neighbor took it offline.

Nick said the signal was much better upstairs on the right side of the house. This meant it really was one of the neighbors that The Assistant described to the police.

We'd been maligning and wishing poxy lice on the wrong person!

I was terrified they'd turn it off before we got the files. I willed it to hurry. It seemed fortunate that I had kiddy bedtime to occupy me. And I didn't have to rush, because it was going to take 10 agonizing days.

Once India fell asleep, I found Nick in the kitchen and asked how it was going. He said to come upstairs. He'd show me.

This must be better than expected! All kinds of amazing files!

We bypassed the third floor. He led me up to the fourth floor, saying, "It wasn't a neighbor. The Assistant definitely did it."

Oh my god! Had he actually defecated in a corner? Left his mark?

Thankfully not.

While I was cuddling my girl, Nick was prowling the house, phone and laptop in hand, looking for signal strength. Second floor was better. The front of the third floor was even better. Signal was great.

He kept walking up the stairs, and on the fourth floor it was fantastic. Better lower, near the floor. He followed the signal, bending, crouching, ultimately crawling, laptop and phone outstretched.

It got stronger and stronger and stronger until...he found the Time Machine!

HE FOUND THE TIME MACHINE! Our Time Machine! Under a small table at the end of the couch. It turns out the Verizon guy had moved it several months ago when he installed Fios.

Except that for five years prior it had been downstairs on the bookcase in the front room. So that's where I went to look for it. I was so used to seeing it there, I never noticed when it was moved, and Nick forgot it in the hysteria and chaos.

I was like, "Do you think The Assistant moved it up here?"

Nick said, "Not unless he put the cable into the wall and then wired it into the network. That was Verizon."

I was horrified. I was like, "Now I look like the biggest asshole! I've been crying and complaining to everyone that we've lost all our pictures! And look! Look! We must never tell anyone."

You know how well that ever works for me. And what am I going to do? Lie to save face?

Then I was spitting mad. I felt so stupid. Particularly since Nick kept laughing at me. He laughed and laughed. When he should've known it was there. I never knew.

And then I was like, wait! This is the best thing ever! We have all our pictures! I have all my writing! Life is fine! All is well! And we've been terrible, accusing The Assistant of taking our data!

Everything is fine! We can drop the charges!

At which point Nick was like, "Lisa. I am still missing two gold watches, a gold ring, and my laptop. Your mom's watch is gone. And, may I point out, so is your laptop. We have our files, but someone still stole all those things"

Oh. Right. All the original stolen stuff is still, you know, stolen.

And Nick said good that it was inadvertently hidden, because why not take it if you're taking Apple stuff?

So. Here is my apology.

If you were one of the many people sending me hope, thank you for it. I'm sorry for troubling you. Please forgive me my idiocy. Thank you for your well wishes and love.

I'm embarrassed. But I'd rather be foolish and wrong, but have my files intact than be right and not have them.

I have to say, losing every all those memories, both photographic and written, and then having them back, has put everything in perspective for me.

Stuff is, at the end of the day, only stuff.

Lice are rude little bastards, but not insurmountable. Everything is getting clean and our hair is going to be spectacularly shiny. The feathers will eventually all eject themselves from the washing machine.

People are what matter, which is what it always comes back to. 

And yes, photos are stuff, but it's also true that they are so much more than that. So you have to back that shit up and keep somewhere nobody can steal it. Or, uh, move it and not tell you.

This is the best Christmas gift ever. And it's something I already had. (Isn't that an O'Henry story?)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Lice are lousy all the time. They suck your blood, drink your wine, say shut up and quit your crying...

LICE. My kids got lice.

We were late to the lice party at Jordan's school. It's gone around and around. We were lucky. Until we weren't.

So the lice is my new fixation, which I don't think is all that strange, considering the fact that I'm re-washing all our bedding, towels, etc, and we're doing another treatment tonight to be careful.

Nick asked me if this was going to be the new rabies. But since you can't die of it, it's not. Unlike sharks and sinkholes, both of which are deadly. He is ready for it to be over and seems to think I'm making too big a deal of it.

Whereas I am like, if you have to wash 54 loads of laundry and practically shave one kid's head and pick through both with nit combs, there is no such thing as too big a deal.

It IS a big deal.

I mean, a rhinoceros infestation would be much, much worse. (Yes, reading Ionesco in high school has stayed with me for a long damn time. And yes, I know that rhinocerite is a metaphor, but even so. That would really suck.)

But the lice.

For the past couple years we've gotten regular letters from Jordan's school saying lice was going around. He never got it. I thought his hair was too short.

It was not.

But since we'd received several letters in the last couple months, I've been peering at their heads with some regularity. And thinking how lucky we were.

And on Sunday morning, I found a teeny tiny little bug in Jordan's short short hair. Like, the hair on the back of his head that's so short you can see scalp.

I'd known from discussing lice with other parents last year that I was not up for toxic chemicals. So I sprinted over to CVS and got a metal lice comb, and did some combing and came up with more evidence.

So I doused my kids' heads in olive oil and put shower caps on them. For eight hours.
And then I stripped all the beds and started laundry and then went off to a march against gun violence with my friend Victoria. First she inspected my head.

In the beginning, my kids looked at the shower caps as a game. They were kind of like odd little helmets.

Nick took them to the park with their little oiled heads and shower caps on and they got weird looks from a mom and Nick said, "Lice." And she said she figured, and that they'd been through it as well.

As the day wore on and their little heads got all hot and sweaty, they were over it. Still cooperative, just complainy.

So in the last hour we set them up with videos and they forgot about it.

And then it was time for the combing and nitpicking. Nitpicking! I'm going to have such a different visual when I use the verb nitpick in the future.

Anyway, I thought I would fall down and pass out if I ever had to deal with lice, but I have to say, there's something fascinating and satisfying about combing them out.

I mean, if you can get over the fact that these are wee bugs that have set up house on your children's heads.

Although is this worse than parasites living in your intestines? You just can't see those. Unless you have worms. Sometimes you can see them. And Guinea worm is still the grossest thing I can think of.

Can you tell I'm trying to put the lice business in perspective?

Not to minimize lice. Because, lice!

And they are sneaky little bastards and I've been informed that we are going to have to be vigilant for weeks and weeks.

Also, I haven't been as calm and perspective-y in person as I might seem here. So don't be deceived.

Now, since I put it on Facebook all, LICE!, a number of friends recommended Fairy Tales Lice Good-bye, which is non-toxic (and comes with a fabulous comb!) so this evening our entire household is doing that, and then combing again. And as I type I'm rewashing all the sheets, blankets, etc.

Also, I cannot believe that I am now like, ooh, that's a nice nit comb!

We moved so much growing up that I am still like that with boxes. It's seriously hard for me to pass up a sturdy box in case we will need it.

I have been known to exclaim, "Nice box!" while walking down the street. Which turns out to sound really weird.

So, lice.

Friday, December 04, 2015

Standard plugs

I just bought a lightbox to help with the dread dark of winter. It has a three-pronged plug.

My Mac does as well. And as such, I needed an extension cord thing that could accommodate them.

This morning I found one in the closet, so I took it and, with great difficulty, because there is not much room between my IKEA closet and the wall, plugged it in. Since the closet is bolted to the wall, there's no scooching it over a wee bit. 

So I finally got it plugged in.

And then my damn plugs wouldn't fit. The round hole was too far from the two thin holes. See?
I was all, "Do they really not make these in standard sizes? Are you kidding me with this?"

Maybe this was an old one of my dad's that he'd used in another country, where there was more space between the round prong and the two thing ones? Except that these looked like American plug holes. Plus, it fit into the wall.

It had been so hard to get in. And now I was going to have to buy another one and pry it out of the wall and then go through all the effort to get all those three prongs into the wall without being able to see what I was doing.

So annoying. So annoying!

Nick came down and I was just about to work it out of the wall. I complained to him. What the hell? Aren't these plug things standard? I was all indignant.

Look! Look how it won't fit!

I picked it up to show him how the plug wouldn't fit. Except...except this time it did.

Because you have to plug them in the right way.

It is hard to describe how hard Nick laughed at this. Perhaps you can imagine.

Kind of like the time I was so indignant about that mortgage guy giving me a hard time about our income and a 15-year fixed loan. Must be sexism! Wouldn't make it so hard if I were a man!


Yah. So, happy weekend!

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Boot porn

OK, I know this is a boot post right on the heels (heh) of a boot post, but as far as I can tell, a lot of you are shoe people, so this works out fine.

I mean, after I posted my cowGIRL boot post, I learned that many of my friends have cowboy/girl boots. And they shared pictures! I loved it!

Turns out I am all, "Show me your boots!"

I could pretty much look at boots all day. This is sad but true.

Anyway, on to the story!

I also got this fabulous pair of boots in Austin.

They are much more fabulous in person, and kind of hard to photograph, as they're shades of dark grey and silver patent leather. If you embiggen you will also see a wee bit of me lying on the floor taking the picture.

I haven't worn them yet—except around the housebecause it's been raining and also, no matter how practical they may be, I'm not scuffing them up on my bike and on the playground.

As far as I can tell, they go with everything, including boxers and an old T-shirt.

(Also, it turns out that Maison Martin Margiela is a superspendy fancy brand. Also also, Nicole and I seem to be the only people who might call patent boots with Lucite heels practical.)

Nicole and I basically spent four hours and made it one block on South Congress Avenue. To be fair, some of that time was spent eating nachos and drinking beer with my friends. And then we took the women of the group to The Store.

Because here's what happened. The guy in the cute spendy boutique pointed us to UAL down the block, which has hugely discounted designer stuff.

Who could pass up a store like that? Nicole, who can spot a bargain the way the child catcher in Bednobs and Broomsticks could smell children, made a beeline for a wall of shoes at 40% off. She immediately began trying on shoes. And then I did. Because who wants to try on shoes alone?

They only had one pair in each size. I found these boots and handed them to her. Lucite heels! Lucite heels!

After all, I had just bought cowboy boots. I hardly needed more boots.

We tried on so many things with such enthusiasm. We minced around in them. We giggled. We chatted with the store people. Nicole complimented random customers on their choices. She talks to everyone.

And finally, when it was time to decide, I was all, "You MUST get those boots. Must."

I'd already picked out a very practical pair of Robert Clergerie lace-up oxfords. And I'd sadly set aside a bargain pair of black patent Dior stilettos with silver tips at the front. Because, really? When in my life am I going to wear 5" stilettos? Chasing my kids around the sandbox?

So it was done. I thought. And then she said doesn't wear flats. Like, ever. Not even to the grocery store.

I suggested she make an exception. For these spectacular boots.

So I tried them on, to show her how nice they looked. And then I was all, "Look. If you don't get them, I will. One of us has to buy these."

(See how hard I tried not to buy another pair of boots?)

It went back and forth and back and forth and finally she said she just knew she wouldn't wear them. So I bought them. It would've been a crime not to, really.

And then the salesperson said I could avoid tax (and trying to figure out how to get the items in my carry on) if they shipped them. So I did.

And then we met up with my friends and told them about the boots! They immediately wanted to see them, and the store of magical bargains, which was maybe three doors down from the bar.

I was like, "Hey, we're back! I just wanted to show my friends my boots."

They were delighted. They pulled them right out.

One of them said, "I'm so glad you got them. I was going to cry if one of you didn't buy these."

Monday, November 30, 2015

That's right, I'm not from Texas. But Texas wants me anyway.

Sorry for not-great lighting (and, I just realized, dirty mirror).
Ooh, boy, did I love Austin. And my hell, do I love cowboy boots. Or rather, cowgirl, as India is constantly reminding me.

"CowGIRL boots, Mama! We're girls!"


So I can't claim to know much of anything about Texas because let's be honest: I only spent like three days there--a Thursday afternoon to mid-day Sunday. But I didn't sleep very much, so it was a lot of  awake hours.

Also, it was Austin, which apparently Rick Perry called the "blueberry in the tomato soup" that is Texas.

But I digress. What I saw of Texas, I loved. Plus a number of people I love live there, so that ups the adoration. And I went there for a reunion with people so dear to me.

So for a multitude of reasons, despite terrible politics, I think Texas is awesome.

Now let's get back to boots.

If you live in Texas you can wear cowboy boots anywhere and everywhere and nobody blinks.

Did you know that cowboy/girl boots are works of art in themselves? They're beautiful, some exquisitely so. And if you find a pair that fits you right, they feel soooo good.

I didn't know how they were supposed to fit. The first pair I tried on was wide, and as such I clomped around with my legs kind of far apart in an effort to keep them on. Nicole and the boot-store woman were like, nope, not your pair.

And I tried on some more, and some more, and eventually found a pair I really liked that also felt great, and then Nicole looked across the store and said, "Hey, look! Those are a lot like yours AND they're on sale!"
They were on sale, but still similarly priced. And the design was very similar. But not exactly. I didn't like the sides quite as much, and they didn't have stitching on the front, which seemed more cowboy booty. If I were doing to get one pair, shouldn't they be, well, cowboy-y?
See? More cowboy booty. But admittedly not that different.
If you've ever seen me try to choose anything, you know it is a process.

So I tried one on and the other. And then Nicole put one on each foot so I could see. We went back and forth and back and forth. The store owner weighed in. As did our salesperson. I was still torn.

And then the saleswoman said, "If you're doing other shopping, why don't you walk around for a bit and come back?"

I took pictures and texted them to Nick and discussed pros and cons. There was a cute young guy working in a really cool boutique we went into, so I solicited his opinion. (He, too, liked both and was torn.)
Nicole enjoyed the taxidermy in the cool boutique.
And then Nick mentioned that the pro of the ones without the stitching is that with black pants, they could just look like dressy boots. And that was that. Sale pair, no stitching.

We walked back in after like half an hour and the saleswoman said, "I was sure it was going to take you a lot longer to come back."

It was like she knew me or something.

Anyway, I gave her my credit card and donned my new boots and she said, "Great choice. You could definitely wear those to a wedding."

People in Texas wear cowboy boots to weddings. Seriously. The dressy ones. Not the work ones. Apparently.

In fact, you see guys walking down the street wearing boots and cowboy hats and it is adorable. I mean, I doubt they put them on thinking, ooh, "I look adorable!" But they do.

So. Now I know that one can actually wear them with anything, I've taken it to heart. I wear them with everything I want. They feel great.

Yes, I get some weird looks in DC. But anyway. It's not like I'm trying to blend.

So here I will mention that my birthday friend Rhonda was also on a cowboy boot quest. And she seemed to find a lovely brown fringed pair without great agonizing and consternation. (And as it turns out, her daughter Charlee also admonishes her for saying cowboy.)
Embiggen photo for better look at boots.
I don't have a closeup, but look how natural she looks in her fringed boots. The fringes move really nicely when she dances.

She lives in Maine, so I need to ask how the cowGIRL boots have gone over up there. She's not one to try to blend, either.

And then, you know when I get into something, I get really into it.

Like the rabies. Dear Lord, you all know about The Rabies. And like the tiles. I bought some dragons, and some more dragons. And some bird tiles for the fireplace, for when we do it. And then I started talking about maybe tiling our sofa...


I've been looking online at cowboy/girl/person boots. Not to order now, but just, you know, for the next time I save up a pot of cash and go back to Austin to visit friends. I've gotten a little obsessed interested.

I told my friend Meg how I'd identified a couple really beautiful pairs, and she was all, "I knew it! I knew those cowboy boots were going to be a gateway drug!"

There are worse things, right? (And I really, really want a fuchsia pair...)

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Lend me your ears and I'll sing you a song and I'll try not to sing out of key

This is basically just a big old love letter to my Peace Corps friends. It is self-indulgent, with way too many photos.

I haven't said it perfectly, but I've done the best I can.
We love you, Rhonda!
I owe giant thanks to my friend Rhonda for turning 50, for inviting me to her birthday party, for pulling such an incredible group together in Austin.
Birthday lady!
I have many, many things to say about Austin, but this post is about reconnecting with friends from the long-ago, far-away past. 
The bakery misspelled Rhonda. When I told my friends there was no H, Ralph said, "They spelled it Appy Birthday?"
So. Here's the story.

My Peace Corps friend Rhonda was turning 50 and wanted a destination birthday party.
Kombucha and birthday button and new boots!
She invited a bunch of other Peace Corps friends--all of whom she has kept up with over the years. She and I just reconnected a year ago. I last saw all the others 20 years ago in Ecuador.

I was excited but also nervous. Twenty years is a long time.

How would it feel seeing old friends after such a long absence?
And here we are again.
It felt like sunshine and giant hugs and love and awesome memories and laughing until it hurts, all wrapped in rainbows and sprinkled with pixie dust and unicorn kisses. Oh, and then doused liberally  with Moscow Mules made with Tito's vodka.

Is approximately how it felt.
Rich is the Moscow Mule master.
My god, it was amazing. These are people we struggled with, laughed and cried with, had truly crazy adventures with, and loved. We remembered things that were in each other's hearts, way back then.

And that's what it all comes down to, every time: love.

I had the same feeling as I do with my high school friends, which prior to the weekend I'd have said I have with nobody else. And in fact, my worlds collided seamlessly when my dear Delhi friend Nicole, who drove me to Austin from Dallas, took me to hook up with my Peace Corps friends.

They all met, Carissa liked Nicole's boots, and Nicole immediately set about hooking her up on Poshmark.
We just met and we're busy.
There was a feeling of magic, of suspended time and reality, of complete acceptance, of unmitigated joy.
Women of Omnibus 70!
It was both extraordinary and so utterly normal. Instead of beer and nachos in Austin, we could easily have been chatting over beer and chifles in Tumbaco or Quito.
Mas cerveza, por favor.
For me it is gratifyingly deep and soul-affirming to reconnect with people who lived through particular and unusual circumstances and time together.

There was much remember-when-ing all weekend. We are still the same people. Older, with more life experience. But the same.
That Suzy look!
I have a vivid memory of buying sliced watermelon on the street in a hot, grimy coastal city. When the vendor asked which pieces we wanted, Carissa said, "The one no flies have walked on."

Remember when: we took overnight buses and hitched rides in the back of pickup trucks to go visit Suzy at the beach? When Janet and I hiked through the rain forest to visit with another volunteer's community and were immediately offered banana chicha (a beverage made by masticating bananas, spitting them into a vessel, and waiting for it to ferment)? Remember that priest at Eric's site who used to take us night swimming at hot springs and turned out to have two secret families?

The remember-whens all swirled together with who-we-are-nows.

People are married, have kids, have jobs with huge responsibilities, coach football, grow crops, make soap, run an Airbnb in the Galapagos...  
Hello, Carissa!
Oh, hi, Pearl!
We're all older but still so much the same, in the best possible way.
Aww, Ralph and Juan Carlos!
When we went out in a group to drink, eat, dance, we were kind of like a swarm of bees. You know how they're all individual entities, but together, they have a particular energy, and they hum? Our hums were uproarious laughter, and our product, rather than honey, was inanity and chaos. And we were having such a good time together you could see the energy shift around us.
No, nobody else was doing this. But they wanted to!
We danced so ridiculously to 80s songs in a non-dancing bar that people actually joined in. Or looked like they wanted to, but were afraid of being judged.

Carissa and Rich and Alex and Pearl had rented a charming house, and the last night, a bunch of us crashed in the living room. I was the only one short enough to fit on the couch. I knew from Peace Corps days that it was bound to be a snorey, if brief, night.
To sleep, perchance to dream..
I tiptoed out in the morning, giving these guys a little kiss on the head, in the same way I kiss my kids. Everyone else was still asleep but Carissa, who'd made coffee, bless her.

I  left Austin exhausted, with no voice, and my body 98% nachos and Titos. My face was sore from laughing, and my heart was full to bursting.
Cheeks hurt!
I meant what I said. It always comes down to love.
And also maybe try to choose the one that no flies have walked on.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

I need this reminder, boy howdy do I, and maybe some of you might as well

If you've been with me for a while, you've seen this before. If not, and you have have crazy in your life, these are very useful.

(If you do not, congratulations and file these away just in case.)

Also: If you don't know me, you should know that I use crazy liberally and not necessarily pejoratively, and I apply the term to myself as well. But I make a strong distinction between those of us who know we have problems and seek help for them, and the crazies who walk around believing they're fine, even superior, and wreaking havoc.

Below are my dear friend Mark Bennett's rules. Clicking the title below will take you to his post.

10 Practical Rules for Dealing with the Borderline Personality

I get to deal with a whole lot of crazy at work. The following rules are applicable to lots of flavors of crazy, but I've had a heavy dose of borderline personalities lately. So here are my ten rules for dealing with borderline personalities and other crazy people:
  1. If you don't have to deal with a crazy person, don't.
  2. You can't outsmart crazy. You also can't fix crazy. (You could outcrazy it, but that makes you crazy too.)
  3. When you get in a contest of wills with a crazy person, you've already lost.
  4. The crazy person doesn't have as much to lose as you.
  5. Your desired outcome is to get away from the crazy person.
  6. You have no idea what the crazy person's desired outcome is.
  7. The crazy person sees anything you have done as justification for what she's about to do.
  8. Anything nice you do for the crazy person, she will use as ammunition later.
  9. The crazy person sees any outcome as vindication.
  10. When you start caring what the crazy person thinks, you're joining her in her craziness.

Monday, November 02, 2015

How to become number one in a hot party show

Image credit: CDC
I feel the need to mention that if you are bothered by the scatological, or have never had a parasite or talked about your fecal matter as casually as saying, "Please pass the salt," then this post may not be for you.

So. You've been warned.

Jordan somehow developed Giardia.

I knew it. When the doctor called and said she was shocked, and that she'd learned something from the whole experience, I felt vindicated. Because I knew it!

See, I had Giardia in Peace Corps. It was 20 years ago, but I recognized it. If you yourself have never had the misfortune, I will tell you that there is this particular malodorous flatulence that accompanies it. I say particular and not particularly, because it's specific.

Yes. So my son began farting and I was like, I know those farts!

I may not be a sommelier or professional perfumer, but I do have a skill, if I may say so myself.

I was kind of reluctant to take him to the doctor just on the basis of his flatulence, but his annual physical was approaching, so timing was perfect. When the doctor asked if I had any concerns I told her about his vile gas, and how I'd like to have stool samples done.

She looked at Jordan for confirmation, and so I said, "Right? You've been having terrible farts?"

And he nodded and said, "Oh, yeah."

She questioned doing so without diarrhea, stomach pain, etc. But I continued to express concern and certainty, and she sent us home with three little vials of liquid and instructions.

"What are we going to do with those, Mama?"

"We're going to put your poop in them."


So I explained how we were going to put some wax paper on the toilet seat and then I would take it off and scoop little pieces of his poop into each of the vials until I got to the red line.

I was afraid he'd be freaked out. Au contraire. He was pretty psyched.

Had I ever done this before? He wanted to know. As if one might need special skills. I assured him I had. When? How? He wanted details. I mentioned a dog with worms. He was super impressed.

I went through the instructions with him.

So the moment of truth arrived, and as luck would have it, we were at home. We could do it right now, today!

"Mama. You're not allowed to poop directly into the container."

"You're right." (Although I'd kind of like to see you try.)

"We're going to use wax paper."


What I hadn't counted on was the interest this would generate. India was not about to be left out. So there I was, following instructions, scooping various particles of poop with tiny little spoons, with an audience. I was kind of surprised Betty didn't join us.

Jordan, still enthroned, said authoritatively, "You're not filling it past the red line, are you?"

"No, honey."

"Only to the red line."

"Only to the red line."

Then India, "Mama? Can I try?"

"No, sweetheard. It's better if Mama does it."

"Why is that bottle red?"

Instructions from one side, questions from another. When all I wanted to do was scoop the feces into the little containers as quickly as possible, wash my hands, and get out of the stinky bathroom.

Seemingly impervious, they wanted to converse. What are the people going to do with the poo-poo? How was I going to take it to the doctor? Was I going to put it in my pocket? And why didn't India get to poop in little bottles? No fair that only Jordan got to!

And once again I found myself saying, "It's true. Nothing is fair. Maybe one day we can scoop your poop into little bottles as well."

Are you kidding me with this shit?

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Fair is fowl and fowl is fair

You know I generally prefer the nature through a window.

But on Sunday morning last weekend in New Jersey, I got up and went for a run. It really was spectacularly beautiful.

When I used to run a lot, I'd make running mixes and listen to the same ones over and over. The repetition was soothing, really, because when I run I'm usually so in my head processing things, that what I'm listening to is often secondary

But now I run very rarely and no longer walk to work, and as such, haven't made a playlist in years.

Instead, I go to the Bootie mashup blog and download the free monthly top ten albums.

The artwork does not resonate with me, but I love the mixes. Most of them are fast, combine old and new music, and are so fun. I just cannot pass up the combinations of  Carly Rae Jepson and Nine Inch Nails or Miley Cyrus and the Village People.

So there I was, running with Bootie in the early morning. The weather was perfect, slightly cool and misty. The leaves further north of here have turned so many brilliant colors. I passed charming old stone houses and red barns on stone foundations.

These were neighborhoods, some farms, and for the most part without sidewalks. Only a couple cars passed me, and gave me wide berth. But just in case, I ran just off the road, on the grass.

I pulled out my phone to take pictures. Look how charming!

And then I saw them. A gaggle of geese. Enough to take a grown man down.
I made a little "Aaaah!" sound. And then clapped my had over my mouth, because what if geese take that kind of noise as provocation?

Then I thought, "My goose is cooked!" And had myself a nervous little self-congratulatory giggle.
I tried to remember what you do in case of goose attack. Did I even know?

Stop, drop, and roll is for fire. With a bear, you bang pots and pans. With a rabid raccoon, you hope to hell you have a crowbar. And I know from all the recent shark attacks that you're supposed to punch it in the nose and go for its eyes.

But geese?

Play dead? Make your arms big and flap and roar? I've only read about swans. When they try to drown you, you beat them with your kayak paddle and try to get the fuck  away from them.

They'll probably still drown you, but you do your best.

And were these attack geese, guarding the farm? Or just stopping through on their way to South Beach for the winter? The latter of course seemed safer, unless they felt provoked.

They didn't look particularly interested. But to be safe, I crossed the road and slowed my pace, avoiding eye contact but still slyly observing them. I figured this would seem nonthreatening.

I kept going for about 10 feet and then chickened out. I turned back, found another road, and continued on.

I encountered no other wildlife.

And then today, out of the blue, my friend Coleen, with whom I have had serious discussions about swans, gave me this helpful survival poster.

So glad I didn't know this last week.
Also: I don't really understand the inclusion of cats. Either they are cat haters or they just couldn't think of another scary animal. Why not hippo, raccoon, or Cape Buffalo?

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Past the scientific darkness, past the fireflies that float

If you could go back in time and tell your younger self anything, what would it be?

Sometimes, when I'm driving on a highway at night, I feel so peaceful. I turn off the music and it seems like the entire world is wide open, the possibilities are endless, and I could just go on forever.

The darkness feels like a protective blanket.

And then, then I get to a more rural area with no street lights and lots of trees and I check my gas gauge nervously all I can think about is that lunatic axe murderer loose in the woods and how I cannot wait to arrive at my well-lit destination.

What I'm saying is, I drove to New Jersey Friday evening.

Due to necessity, I started out at rush hour, and as such it took me eleventy kabillion hours to get there. However. I was alone. So they were pretty peaceful hours, no matter what was going on on 95.

Nobody was screaming "FROZEN!" "NO FROZEN! Taylor Swift!" "SNACKS! WE NEED SNACKS!" or picking at the other person in the back seat. Nobody was in the passenger seat to criticize my choice of 80s Italian pop music.

The car that I inherited from Nick's dadour "new" carhas a tape deck. I played a recently-unearthed mix tape made by a long-ago boyfriend, and thought about who I was at the age of 22.

I drove up for a weekend with two of my dearest friends. These are women with whom I spent so much time eleven, ten, nine years ago.

We lived near enough to run over at a moment's notice, and knew what was going on with one another each and every day. They were my closest heart people, the ones who listened to my dating dramas, and who gently offered hope and wine and solace, and who were surely relieved when I started this blog and had somewhere else to direct my angst.

We no longer live near each other, and as such, don't get together as much as we'd like. But heart people stay, and sometimes you are shocked by how well you know each other.

You remember the when of the when and maybe even what they were wearing that one time that particular thing happened.

And so, when I mentioned the exhaustion of motherhood and the tedium of marriage, and how I think it's just an inevitable by-product of stability and continuity, I laughed after one of them said, "Listen to yourself. Wouldn't you love to be able to reassure 10-years-ago Lisa that she was going to get married and have kids?"

God, yes.

In fact, I would love to reassure so many ages of Lisa that things would be OK.

To teenage Lisa, I would say: You are smart, and you have good ideas, and you should listen to your heart and mind rather than doing what authority figures tell you to do. Also, eat protein. Seriously.

To college Lisa: You weren't raised to think this, but happiness is an important goal. You're miserable. Drop out and do something else until you can figure out what path you'd like to be on.

To 30-year-old Lisa: Find a therapist. You don't think you need one, but oh, you do. It'll make you feel better.

To 35-year-old Lisa: Don't let guys' opinions of you dictate how you feel about yourself. They've got their own problems; your problem is you pick them. The right person is going to love you for you. And your therapist is right; you really will get married.

And PS at any age: Marriage isn't going to make you happy. You have to figure that shit out for yourself.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Because who doesn't love breasts and kidnapping and love curses and coming out?

If you are in DC and want a free evening of stories, I'm inviting you to the performance of our Story District storytelling class tomorrow night.

It's at 7:00 pm on October 21 at an art gallery, Studio 1469, in Columbia Heights.

Though the address is 1469 Harvard Street, directions say you enter through the back, on the 15th Street alley. Which makes it sound sort of like you're finding an unmarked door and doing the special knock and slipping the doorman cash so you can come in an drink bathtub gin.

(Apparently it's confusing enough that they made a funny little YouTube video showing you how to get there.)

In reality, you can come in for free and drink whatever you want, as it's BYO.

There are 10 of us who will be telling stories. I didn't know any of these people before the class began five weeks ago. In the process of  delving deep for story creation, we've become friends. These people are interesting, smart, and hilarious.

Story topics include: breasts; coming out; exorcism; kidnapping; a love curse; travel; war; and much, much more. Some have poignant moments, but way more laugh-out-loud ones.

There is something for pretty much everyone. Unless you're not not a laugh-out-louder. If so, this isn't for you. But it's for everyone else.

I'm nervous and excited and I plan to have a great time!

Bring a friend, a drink, a snack and come join us tomorrow night!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Pretty hate machine

You'd never know she liked it.
It seems harsh and mean and wrong to say three-year-olds are assholes.

So I'll say this. My three-year-old is an asshole.

I know. I know. This, too, shall pass. And the days are long but the years are short. And I should cherish every moment, because you don't get them back.

But my holy hell is she hard right now.

India has long alternated between utterly charming and downright wretched. But lately the charming appears less and less frequently, at least at home, and with me.

She now spends the bulk of her time refusing to get dressed, whining about being cold, but not willing to put anything on, complaining about hunger but unwilling to eat, tormenting her brother, and just being all around pissed off at everything. And talking every single minute.

It's not like she says she's cold and then lets it go. "I'm coldy! I'm coldy! I'M COLD! MAMA I'M COLD! I'M COOOOOOOLD!"

You can spend your time proffering solutions, but this helps not one bit. Even repeating what she says so she feels heard doesn't help. "You're cold."


She's often better when it's just the two of us. But not necessarily. And she still whines, growls, and  talks nonstop. Preferably while wrapped around my neck.

I offered her toast and she said, "You KNOW I don't like bread!"

She sneered and then licked the honey off the toast.

And this is what she now says, "You KNOW I don't like..."


Oh, right. Since she stopped liking anything.

I'm going to start offering her raw meat on a long stick.

If you take her arm or start to pick her up when she's refusing to leave somewhere, she'll yell, "YOU'RE HURTING ME! YOU'RE HURTING ME!"

Are you kidding me with this?

And she'll make up these arbitrary rules that Jordan believes. He'll come crying about something and I'll tell him she doesn't get to make the rules.

Yesterday I heard Jordan repeatedly pleading, "Stop it, India!"

I walked in to find India bent over with her butt in the air, instructing her brother to smell her butt. He was begging her to put her butt down, and she refused. I've gotta say, I was impressed with her ability to hold a pose.

But he was very upset. So I told him he's never obligated to smell India's butt, no matter what she says.

I said, "If anyone ever tells you to smell their butt and you don't want to, you should just leave."

Really, I'd give this advice to anyone.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


I have never been a tidy human being. Never.

You may know the story of the rapist breaking into Maude's and my apartment and the police being shocked at the state of things.

My dad used to tell me that I'd never get married if a man saw how messy my room was. He used this repeatedly, and while I worried from a young age about being marriageable, still I didn't clean up my room.

Fortunately, I have some other good qualities. But the lack of tidiness makes Nick nutso.

So I've started reading that Marie Kondo learn how to tidy and change your life book that everyone has been talking about.

Since I'm in need of help, and people rave about this book, I figured, why not. It will improve my house and my relationship with my husband, and if reccommedations are to be believed, may ultimately change my life.

Although one woman said in her testimonial that Kondo taught her what she didn't need in her life and she divorced her husband.


I'm not very far in, but I am going to read it, and I am going to attempt it.

Because every once in a while, I get on a tidying kick, but it never lasts, and the chaos returns. Which is what Kondo says happens until you learn to tidy.

This past spring, for the first time ever, I bought a number of those giant Tupperware boxes for winter clothing.

We crammed all of our coats and scarves and boots and duvets and what-have-you into the boxes. We have a little bit of the basement as storage space, so we had somewhere to put them.

I was opposed to mothballs, but Nick pointed out that we didn't only have to worry about moths; we also had to worry about rodents looking for a nice nesting place.


Mothballs, he said, were the only solution.

So we mothballed the boxes and stacked them in our storage space.

It's been delightfully warm, or warmy-coldy, as Jordan likes to say, in the morning and then warm in the afternoon. But last week it was suddenly more coldy than warmy. So on the weekend we pulled out our coats and boots.

Oh. My. Hell.

We set all of it out in the sunshine and wind for two days. The horrible did not dissipate. I've still got stuff outside.

But! The smell comes in the windows! And every time the kids walk out there they hold their noses and do a cringey dance and say, "Yucky! Yucky!"

I've now washed the washable stuff twice. Still smells wretched.

This, people. This so far is what my brief foray into organization has wrought.

Marie Kondo, take me away!

Saturday, October 03, 2015

To Dad, who would be 79 today

Dear Dad,

Today you would be 79. More than six years of events have gone by since you died.

When I think in these terms, I find the passage of time extraordinary.

I mean, I know time goes and we're all getting older, but I fixate so much on my kids, who are so excited about their ages. And they're still in the single digits.

They're hilarious, high energy, creative, mischievous. They love their Nana with all their hearts. I often find them all crammed into a big chair together, reading or watching Paw Patrol. I wish they also had these moments with you.
You would get so much joy out of them. Perhaps you do. India and Jordan both insist there are ghosts upstairs. Our house has great energy, and so I tell them if so, they're happy ghosts.

I believe that energy sticks around, in whatever form, and so maybe.

Since you died I've formed nice relationships with your brother Jack's kids Connie and Mike. I don't see Connie, although we are in touch. Mike is in DC occasionally for work, and so we get to see him. Not often, but it is so great when we do, and he and I email. We talk about you.

Mike favors you, and at a glance, he could be a younger you. His son Travis has joined the Air Force, and I know he's so proud of both his kids. He sent me this picture of the three generations.
He has the same Jordan sense of humor, and he says Connie does as well. Mom sent Mike your dummies, and one of them rides around with him in his truck.
I love this for so many reasons. Family connections feel really good.

You know I have your sense of humor, and I feel this was a big gift from you. And I'm still dearest friends with Maude, and I feel that our friendship was also your gift, Lou's and yours.

Maude is still struggling with Lou's death, and we both hope you are hanging out being ridiculous and laughing really hard. 

As I dig more and more into my part of our story, I am able to forgive you and forgive myself. I feel disloyal when I think of you in anger. But the truth is, you can't have deep relationships without any anger. More and more, though, I remember joy.

I still come across sticky notes that you left me. I saved them, you know. I have the one about remembering to put my wedding dress in the car. Another, on a folder, saying not to sign except in front of a notary.

But I so wish I had saved at least one of your voicemails. Now I do. I have tons of voicemails on my phone, just in case I need to hear a voice again.

Now I talk about suicide as if it is a normal conversation topic. I know it still shocks people. But almost 100% of them have lost someone in their lives that way.

Sometimes I still have to fight the what-ifs. And pull my mind out of the should-have-knowns. But mostly, I have made peace with it.

When friends are struggling with new grief, I say that it will eventually hurt less. It doesn't go away, but with time, it no longer crushes the breath out of you.

Time is the longest distance between two places, but what are you going to do?

It's been over six years. You would be 79 today. I love you and I miss you. Happy birthday.



Friday, October 02, 2015

Cargo bike love: Xtracycle

This is my new crush and main mode of child transportation: my Xtracycle Edgerunner 10e.
It is basically magic.

I mean, I know it's engineering. And maybe some pixie dust.

For years Nick had tried to convince me to get a bike, and for years I wasn't interested. I walking and running, and can walk to the kids' schools, grocery stores, everything. We have a jogging stroller. And a car for big grocery shopping.

The last bike I could remember owning was my pink Huffy when I was a kid. About 15 years ago, I went home to Germany with with a boyfriend. He and I borrowed his parents' bikes to meet friends at a pub in the next village; we drank too much beer, and I wobbled into a ditch on the way home.

So, I was not a biker. I did not need a bike, thankyouverymuch.

This was before my friend Andrea lent me her Xtracycle for a week!

It was fantastic. When the week was over I missed it. I needed my own nownownow.

I headed straight over to Bicycle Space to check out cargo bikes.

I asked about Xtracycle and Yuba cargo bikes. And I wanted to discuss the regular bike versus one with e-assist (meaning an electric motor that assists with pedaling), and ready-made or retrofit. With motors you have the option to retrofit any bike, or to buy one built with it. Xtracycle's e-assist versions come with Bosch motors.

The staff didn't push at all, and they were also kind when I said that I really knew nothing about biking whatsoever except for my Xtracycle week.

These bikes are expensive, and big investments. I wanted to know that I'd get a lot of use out of it for a long time.

We ultimately determined that some version of an Xtracycle Edgerunner was the bike for us.

Once we made a final decision, we bought it from Bicycle Space. I've since stopped in about 54 times to buy kiddy bike bells (two, so we have no fighting) and ask questions and so forth. I'm waiting for my lights to arrive. They are super friendly and helpful--a nice store to have an ongoing relationship with.

The Xtracycle back wheel is smaller than the front, so your center of gravity is lower, giving more stability. Also, they're both able to climb up into it. No lifting.

Here's the deal. My son, Jordan, at over 60 lbs, is too heavy for Nick's bike seat. India, at 33-ish lbs, still fits. But this always engenders sibling rivalry because why does India get to ride with Daddy when Jordan has to ride his stinky scooter? It's not fair!


So, I pick the up India mid-day, and then she wants to come along when we pick up her brother. She's capable of walking to his school and back, but if he has his scooter, she wants to scoot too.

But she doesn't really know how. So whenever we go out with it, it actually means me bending over and pulling her the whole way. Or carrying her. And the scooter.

My alternative for pickup was bringing her in the jogging stroller. This resulted in jealousy. And me struggling to push both kids in the stroller, while balancing the scooter on top.

But with my new Xtracycle, I can carry both kids together!
They climb into the Hooptie and hold onto the rails. I was riding them home from school the other day and Jordan said, "This is the best day of my life!"

I can fill the side bags with backpacks and lunches and really, an extraordinary amount of stuff! I've even hauled Jordan's scooter with us!

I've only had it for a couple weeks. I'm still learning. My kids together weight just shy of 100 lbs, and I have to keep reminding them not to wiggle. Or fight.

I'm really cautious but getting bolder in traffic. Not that I'm not careful. I'm extremely careful.

But I went from being a not-biker to a biker with heavy and precious cargo. And on just about every road I've been on, someone is double-parked in the bike lane. Which means going out into the car lane to get around them.

We opted for e-assist, and we got the one with the Bosch motor already installed. There was a fuchsia one, but no motor. Motor version comes in black.

I chose practicality over fuchsia.

The bike is both long and heavy. The kids are big and only getting bigger. And when I borrowed Andrea's bike, we nearly fell over a couple times trying to get started on a hill, because I am just not strong enough to pedal all three of us.

The motor doesn't drive the bike for you. It just helps you when you're pedaling.

What I like to tell people is that you're still doing the work; you're just more awesome.

I use it as little as possible, because I want to be doing the work and feel awsome on my own. A couple friends have seen us going by and called me a bad-ass.

When we're going uphill and we start to slow down because I'm working really hard, my kids will say, "You can do it, Mama! You're doing a great job!"

They're happy, I'm happy, and it's terrific. I love all of it.

My bike is nicer and worth more than my first car by a long shot. I'd like to tell you my bike is perfect, and it's very close.

I guess I'd call it perfect if it were fuchsia.

And maybe cooked dinner once in a while.