Archive | October 2012

Massage This, Kiddo

This morning the kids and I dropped Jeff off for a massage.  On the way home, the following conversation took place:

Sadie: Why is Daddy getting a massage?

Me: Because massages feel great on your muscles.

Sadie: But why is he getting a massage?

Me: Well, Daddy works very hard and sometimes he forgets to relax his muscles while he’s working, so the massage will help him relax his muscles.

Sadie: Daddy works hard in his office.

Me: Yep.

Sadie: You don’t work.

Me: I am not sure I agree with that.

Sadie:  No, you don’t work.

Me:  I don’t work in an office like Daddy.  That’s true.

Sadie: You don’t work at all, so you can’t have a massage.

Me: Just because I don’t work in an office doesn’t mean I don’t get a massage.   First of all, working by being a mom and teaching a writing class is working.  Second, anyone can get a massage because it is a good way to be nice your body.

Sadie: No, you can’t get one because you don’t work.

Me: M’kay.

Sadie: Mommy, why are you making that face? Are you in a bad mood?

Me: Me? No? That’s just my face.  My normal, non-working, I-don’t-deserve-a-massage face.


Thank You, Carmelita

Dear Carmelita,

This thank you note is almost six years late, and I apologize for the delay.  You may not remember me, but I will never forget our time together that Sunday afternoon in the bathroom.  Sometimes I wonder if there was ever such a scene in the bathroom of the Ritz Carlton.

In case you forgot who I am, I will remind you of the blood.  There was so much blood.  It was all over my skirt.  As I barreled through the door, I caught a glimpse of your face in the mirror; you had just washed your hands.  Your smile turned to concern when you saw me unfurl what I had been trying to hide as I sped through the dining room: my skirt was stained dark red.

You could have easily walked out as soon as you dried your hands.

But you stayed.  Do you remember handing me those white towels? We both dabbed at my skirt using the sides that didn’t bear the fancy “RC” monogram.

“Make it go away, make it go away,” I pleaded to God as you quietly worked with me at the sink.

I made a joke that the Ritz probably didn’t have many patrons whose menstrual blood ended up all over those marble sinks.  You smiled at my feeble humor.

Back at my table, my boyfriend Marc was eating eggs Benedict with his mother who had opted to remain entombed in her real-fur coat.  I was terrified of her and not just because her name was carved in stone at the entrance of civic buildings all over Chicago because of her “significant contributions.”  It was our first meeting, and I knew that she and Marc had been locked in a nasty stalemate over the family fortune for months.  She was angry with Marc, so how could she possibly like me?

And there was the small matter of how Marc and I met.  I didn’t know if she knew.  How was I, Christie O. Tate (named after a certain savior of the Christian world), going to explain that Marc and I met on J-Date, a dating website for Jewish singles?

Thankfully, the topic never arose.

But, it had been going well enough.  I talked about my job clerking for a famous judge without mentioning his liberal politics.  I didn’t know much about rich people, but I assumed they were Republican.  Right before the blood started, Marc’s mom and I generated some almost-warmth when the subject turned to books, and I told her about my latest read about the politics of the Supreme Court.  I mentally thanked God I had taken a brief reprieve from chick lit.

You and I worked so quickly.  Thanks to your help, I somehow stopped shaking with panic and rage that my body had betrayed me so furiously.  I wasn’t supposed to get my period for another four days, and back then, before my babies and nursing, my uterus operated like Mussolini’s trains: always on schedule.

Maybe the stress of having to act the part of a young woman befitting a hedge fund manager with a sizable family fortune brought on my “Are You There, God, It’s Me, Margaret?” moment.

When I was presentable again, you patted my arm and told me to smile. “Everything will be ok.”  That’s what you said.

And you were right.

I don’t know if it was my ill-timed period or the too-soon step of meeting his mother, but Marc broke up with me a few weeks later.  Thinking of that brunch makes me laugh as I remember myself, the daughter of a mobile home salesman, trying to clean up like Eliza Doolittle, only to leave a bloody smudge on my chair and a giant mess in the sink.  I also think of you and feel the years of regret that I didn’t thank you more properly.

I hope the Ritz appreciates what a compassionate and capable employee you are.

Thank you, Carmelita.

Hooking up with Yeah Write, the weekly challenge grid.  It’s for bloggers who write, and writers who blog.  Click on the link and check it out. I do it for the community, the feedback and because I don’t know how to stop doing things, but that’s another story.  Check it out.

Frailty, Thy Name Is Woman (At the Whole Foods Salad Bar)

I am by no means a Whole Foods hater. I don’t always feel comfortable or “in my element” there, but I recognize there is some mighty tasty food there.  In fact the one nearest my house is as big as the Millenium Falcon, complete with a bath crystals bar, a spice bar, an amazing fish counter, and a coffee bar where “local talent” plays to crowds of people eating behind lap top screens.

They also have a half-acre salad bar.  Anything I can conjure up to eat, I can find in this section.  And this is the section that is my undoing.  How I could take the most delicious array of healthy food and make something gross (and expensive) to cart away in my brown recyclable container is beyond me.  But I do.

It starts out innocently: I see the kale-avocado salad in the prepared section, so I spoon a bit of it in my brown container made of recycled paper.  “Kale is good for you, and I’m not going to cook so better get it here.”  As I make my way down the bar, that “I won’t make it at home” logic spawns a box of food as diverse as Shoyu tofu, lentil-apricot salad, pulled smoked turkey, and marinated mushrooms.  Individually, I am sure each one of these tastes delicious.  In the melange I concoct? The word that comes to mind is “inedible”.

Yesterday was no different.  I saw the gorgeous vegan seaweed salad.  Then, I saw the tofu scramble, followed by maple-glazed carrots, and quinoa with pearl onions and raisins.  I couldn’t help myself.  I got extra-screwed because they had the Sunday brunch menu out– so I added some berry-stuffed French toast and cheddar biscuits.  My new idea was to pick a salad dressing that would “pull it altogether.” Show of hands who thinks that salad dressing exists?  Maybe if I had gone a little easier on the jicama or had a few less roasted garlic cloves.

Looks pretty good right? At least, it looks totally healthy.  But the smell? The taste? Dear Lord, it could kill baby pandas.

Looks pretty good right? At least, it looks totally healthy. But the smell? The taste? Dear Lord, it could kill baby pandas. Also, below what you can see are 2 more layers of selections, ensuring that each and every bite totally sucked.

Maybe.  But I doubt it.

Now, it’s like a challenge.  Can I edit my choices like they always tell hideously dressed people on What Not To Wear?  What Whole Foods needs to add is the foodie version of those guys from Queer Eye For the Straight Guy standing at the end of the salad bar to caution those of us who are “over zealous” about adding food to our container.

There must be a way to do this without abandoning the salad bar and opting for the delicious chicken tacos (like my family does).

A normal meal that I refuse to order.

A normal meal that I refuse to order.

I gave up on Netflix, and in the anger stage of my break-up with Ann Taylor Loft, but Whole Foods? I am going to stick it out.  I am going to find way to sup from its sumptuous salad bar without making a mockery of its choices.  And when I do, you better believe I am going to be all over Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and this blog.

So, stay tuned and give me any tips you have about navigating those rows of silver trays teeming with deliciousness that I cannot resist.

Suck In Your Hamm

Happy weekend! I don’t know about you, but every Saturday I have a split second where I get excited and think, “Tomorrow is Mad Men!” Then, I remember that Mad Men is on hiatus for another 760 months.

And I feel my internal happiness balloon deflate.

But I did come across a picture of the cast filming for the next season, which means in the not-t00-distant future, my balloon will stay inflated like Bob Dole in Cialis.

There’s our Don Draper on a beach with his gorgeous second-wife, Megan.  Is it just me or is Don, as played by Jon Hamm, sucking his stomach in?  Also, it’s pretty clear that Megan, as played by Jessica Pare, is not.  (NOTE: Jon, that’s how I feel standing next to Jeff.)

Gender equality? Have we arrived? I know I feel one step closer.

Jon, I feel your pain. Jessica, I have no idea what your life is like, but I love that bikini.

Jon, I feel your pain. Jessica, I have no idea what your life is like, but I love that bikini. Photo credit: FameFlynet

What do you think?

Bang! Bang! Goes My Forehead

My bangs are deep into week 2 of Occupy My Forehead so I am coming out of denial.  I have bangs now, so I better buck up and look on the bright side.  And, anytime I need some help with the bright side, I turn to Uncle Google.

But first, I have to let you know that I discovered why I had to get bangs last week.  (My therapist is out of town, so I am therapizing myself.)  I wrote a blog post about being shunned in 5th grade by some mean girls.  I hadn’t thought about that awful year in so long, but once I wrote about it, I couldn’t shake loose from my inner 5th grader.  Wanna see what she looked like:

5th Grade School Picture (Weeks before the incident)

5th Grade School Picture (Weeks before the incident)

I don’t think the bangs had anything to do with that day in the cafeteria.  Maybe that lime green frock we bought at a border town on the Rio Grande wasn’t helping, though.

Hmmmm, now I can only see my inner-5th grader when I look at my face hair:

Most recent bang crop.

Most recent bang crop.

As previously mentioned, last time I got bangs, I was newly postpartum. They were very NOT cute and it spurred me to institute my cardinal rule of NO BANGS.  That time I could blame everything on sleep deprivation.  This time? I got nothing.  Back then, my discerning 4-month old wasn’t a big fan of my bangs:

Sadie recoils in horror from my bangs

Sadie recoils in horror from my bangs. 2009

But, Uncle Google assured me that PUH-LENTY of brunettes are rocking bangs up and down the red carpet.  I look to them for hair-spiration.  And I only die a little when I see how great their hair looks, while I am stuck with these 3-inch bangs for the foreseeable future.

Why couldn’t it look like this?

I totally don't look like this, but I do have a red tank top I wear to bed in summer.

I totally don’t look like this, but I do have a red tank top I wear to bed in summer.

Fine, I am not as adorbs as Zooey, but what about her cast mate CeCe? Could I pull her bang style off?

All I am missing is flawless mocha skin, a perfect smile and symmetrical lips.  Other than that, doppelganger, right?

All I am missing is flawless mocha skin, a perfect smile and symmetrical lips. Other than that, total doppelganger, right?

Ok, fine, the cast of New Girl is out of my league. What about some B-listers? Plenty of them are stylish in their own way.  For example:

Nope, this isn't me either.

Nope, this isn’t me either. But, I do sing way better than she does.  Amateur.

I was running out of hope that Uncle G would come through, so I was excited when I saw that Jennifer L. Hewitt was not a stranger to the bang:

How's this hairdo for yoga with the preschool moms? Is the updo too much?

How’s this hairdo for yoga with the preschool moms? Is the updo too much?

But, I know that nothing about my hair or my lifestyle has anything to do with Hollywood.

On the other hand, it’s not this bad:

This is hard to look at.

This is hard to look at. Peggy, from Mad Men, with really bad bangs. I can say that because I have them too.

Or this bad:

This is the bright side I was looking for! Thanks Uncle Google. (Image credit: http://s

This is the bright side I was looking for! Thanks Uncle Google.

So there are people out there with worse bangs than mine, and people with better bangs.  I can live with that.  And I am willing to relieve and grow through the bangs part of 5th grade as long as I don’t have to relive the ostracism.  Plus, I can (and do) wear a hat everyday now.

Anyone got any growing-out-bangs tips?

PS: If you ask Uncle G to do a search on “man bangs,” be prepared for a pornographic onslaught that would make Bill Clinton blush.

Feces Ain’t No Perk

I’m not going to ask you to feel sorry for me, though I am not above seeking pity. But right now, I have plenty of self-pity to keep me comfort.  If, however, you want to put some money in my PayPal account, I won’t stop you.

But, pity? Nah.

Ok. Maybe a little.

Jeff’s out of town.  You know what that means, right? It should mean I am reading my Oprah magazines, sleeping in the middle of the bed, and eating ice cream for dinner.  There are few perks to having a husband who travels, and I milk those perks every single time Jeff boards a plane.

Unfortunately, the perks this week have been scant, unless you consider human fecal matter a treat.  If you do, this post may appeal to you, but generally my blog won’t be your cup of tea.

We’re only half-way through Jeff’s business trip and already I have had to unclog TWO toilets.   And that was before Sadie came home from school with diarrhea.  I am not a squeamish woman– I come from farm people (2 generations ago, but still).  I appreciate the foul and the profane. But, when Sadie shat in her Pull-Up during dinner, I can’t say I was waving a banner of celebration.

I hosed her down.  I prepared to soak her in the tub.  I stripped Simon so he could join her.

“Everyone in the bath!”  I endeavored to steer our little father-less ship back to calm waters.  There were splashes.  There were giggles of glee.  I checked my complexion in the mirror– it was rosy with triumph.

“Poop! Poop! Poop!”

God, I don’t know how many times Simon said that before I tore myself away from my reflection.  Maybe 50.  I turned to the tub where my progeny was soaking and saw no less than 5 turds floating in the water.

“For the love of–”

“Out! Everyone out of the tub!”

I got the kids out and shooed them away– “Go jump on the bed or play on-line poker.” For my part, I stared at those turds, gently floating in the bath water. I wasn’t sure what to do with them.

“I wish Jeff was here.”

I sent him a text, hoping his affable calmness would transmit to me through the phone.  Plus, I had to tell someone how awful it smelled in our house.

Outlaw Mama's comments in blue; Outlaw Daddy's comments in white.

Outlaw Mama’s comments in blue; Outlaw Daddy’s comments in white.

Let’s just say that his text didn’t add quite as much to the situation as I hoped it would.  While I applaud that he was willing to have a picture of the offending logs (that’s called being an involved parent, people), I was in no mood to Instagram Simon’s post-dinner poop.  Popsicles were a nice idea, but doesn’t he know that we eat Popsicles for dinner when he’s gone? I am not running a health farm here.

As I bleached the tub and played the role of a mom who knows how to clean stuff, I couldn’t help but think: “I can’t wait until I defecate in my pants and my children have to clean it up.”

I finally got everything sanitized-ish and back to normal (which ain’t that clean, if you must know).  You better believe that I did some on-line shopping that night– retail therapy, people.  Nights like this were how retail therapy was invented.

Keep your turds to yourself

Keep your turds to yourself

And from now on, Simon wears his diaper in the bath when he’s on my watch.

Does your spouse travel? Care to share your favorite perks of solo parenting?

Who Are These People In Starbucks?

Why didn’t y’all tell me about all the douchebags in Starbucks? It’s been about 8 weeks since I became a Starbucks regular (because I am an official WRITER), but every time, I ask myself why I ended up at the table next to the most distracting and mal-adjusted people in Chicago.

Seriously, every single time.

Here’s a brief recap of some of my favorite Starbucks characters from this week alone:

  1. Job interviews:  My favorite was when I sat next to a young woman trying to get a job as a pharmaceutical rep.  Don’t these fancy, BIG PHARM companies have offices? Why are they ruining my latte with their screening interviews?  The best part of the interview was when the interviewers (the blondest females I have ever seen, and I’m from Texas!!!) were wrapping up the meeting.  The older blonde with the fancy laminated badge asked, “Do you have any other questions for us?”  The young lady in her freshly pressed Ann Taylor suit did indeed have a question: “Where is a good place for waxing around here? She was totally serious, and I bet you good money she’s totally still unemployed.
  2. Homeless guy with raggedy yoga mat and movie recommendations: In another place and another time, it would be utterly flattering that a man calling himself “Mr. Eric Johnson” seems to be in love with me.  But, as a married woman, I am less enamored with the prospect of a residentially-challenged  man “coming on to me” while I am trying to grade student papers.  The old yoga mat is a nice touch, and every week he gives me move recommendations, all of which are “very fascist,” he tells me.  It’s the best when he sticks his hand out for me to shake it, and of course I do, but then I spend the next thirty minutes wondering when I can pull out hand sanitizer without looking like a total asshole.
  3. Plaintiff’s lawyer interviewing potential witness: It sure was fun to sit next to a plaintiff’s lawyer interviewing witnesses to see if any of them (like the plaintiff who is awaiting more surgery) had ever been burned by the office coffee machine.  I heard “third degree burns” and “skin graft” enough times to know that if I ever work in an office again, I am never going to offer to get coffee for anyone. Also, shouldn’t lawyers be in a private setting when interviewing witnesses?  Is confidentiality no longer a thing?
  4. Nanny interview: There’s lot of conversations I like overhearing, but a nanny interview is not on my top 100 list.  Especially not an interview where the mom spends more than half the interview trying to prove what a genius her 10-month-old daughter is. I always take Angel to the zoo in the UppaBaby stroller.  She loves the flamingos, but not because they are pink– because she is a genius.  The highlight of eavesdropping on this interview was when the nannidate* (I totally just made that word up and it’s fucking brilliant) asked, “Why did your other nanny leave?”  The mom mumbled something about the former nanny not being up to the challenge of caring for a future Mensa member and changed the subject quickly.  I bet you a Starbuck’s seasonal drink that the previous nanny gave that mom the finger and got a better job.
  5. Canoodlers: Students bring a lot of energy and vitality to our public spaces, and I am supportive of their contributions.  And, at first it was fun to watch co-eds French kiss before 9 AM, but it gets old, because if you recall, French kissing can be noisy.  Smack, Slurp, Suck.  (Plus, I am afraid that Mr. Eric Johnson will get ideas about what he could be doing with me in those booths by the windows.)
  6. Bitter job seeker reading I feel for the unemployed, I really do. It sucks to be stressed and desperate. But, slamming down your laptop and sighing as you read your email is a buzz kill for the rest of us.  I am sorry you are very important and it’s not going well, your little one-man show is distracting and bringing the collective vibe down.  Way down.
  7. Socialite with Louis Vuitton purse talking on bedazzled cell phone about upcoming trip to Italy to shop: God, I wish I was kidding.  Yes, I noticed her giant purse when she bonked me in the head as she shimmied over to a corner table.  Of course, I noticed her bejeweled iPhone case as she whipped it out of her skinny jeans and called her personal assistant.  It sounds outrageous, but I swear she was bossing someone around about “upgrading her flight to Milan.”  Maybe she was a rogue Kardashian, but she didn’t have those over-sized chocolate-colored eyes so probably not. I actually wanted to introduce her to the self-important guy who wears his blue tooth and acts like Starbucks is his personal board room as he paces around taking calls from underlings who do important things like “shipping crates” and “transferring stocks”.  Um, tone it down there, Mr. Christian Grey, let me introduce you to Chicago’s homegrown Kardashian.  Now both of you STFU.

Oh, one more! How about the misanthropic mommy blogger/writer who wears jeans from Costco and thinks it’s socially acceptable to camp out at Starbucks for hours judging people and writing blog posts about them?  She’s my favorite!

* Nannidate: TM/Copyright or whatever I should have on here to protect my rights to this word. I made it up; it’s brilliant; and now, I will call the Trademark Office and make it all official. Til then, get your own damn word.