Tag Archive | humor

The Do’s and Don’ts of Crying in Public

Sometimes I cry, and sometimes I’m in public when the urge strikes.  I’ve learned a lot from crying out in the big wide world, and because I’m a giver, I made a primer.


These are my tips for the fine art of losing your shit in front of strangers.  Pass them along.

1. Do walk a few blocks away from your office. The only thing worse than avoiding strangers who might try to console you on the sidewalk is running into your co-workers who will be full of questions. It will be awkward if you have to lie and say, “Gram’s in hospice” or “I’m pregnant” because you don’t want them to know that the boss who just offered them the corner office by the good copier just offered you a free subscription to Monster.com.

2. Do bring your phone. You don’t have to call anyone. You don’t even need a charged battery. You really just need a phone case. When the urge to keen strikes, hold the phone case up to your ear and wail like it’s the day the music died. Strangers who see you weeping into a cell phone (case) will give you wide berth on the sidewalk. This prop is especially useful for people who like to scream when they cry. It’s much better to scream into your phone (case), “But what’s it all for? I gave them the best years of my life!” than to risk having shop owners trying to eject you from the premises.

3. Do get your brows waxed. This is good for when you’re on the verge of a big cry, but can’t get it out. Head over to a local nail salon. As a non-English-speaking Vietnamese woman named Tammi plucks your brows, the pain will trigger a flood of tears. Tammi will feel terrible, but explain, “It’s not your fault. It’s just that I gave them the best years of my life, and also? You’re tweezing the skin off my forehead.” Later if you have to explain why you are sobbing on the corner of LaSalle and Lake Street, you can point to your eyebrows. “Just got plucked. Hurts like a mother fucker.”

4. Do lean. The best public crying posture is to face a brick building, raise your arms above your head as if you are being frisked by an officer of the law, and let your salty tears drench the dirty city sidewalk. This stance allows you to avoid eye contact and also stretch your deltoids.

5. Do bring Kleenex. Humanity is generally a caring lot. People are going to offer you crumb-dusted tissues pulled from the bottom of their NPR tote bags. Unless you want to blow your nose into a tissue of unknown provenance, you should have your own. If you see someone reaching into her in her bag, or God forbid, into his trouser pocket to hand you a hanky, then wave your travel-size package of tissues and assure them, “I’m good. Thanks.”

6. Don’t compete with panhandlers. If you are public crying in a large urban city, be respectful of the people who are working and living on the streets. Don’t encroach on a homeless person’s turf or the turf of those who are advocating for the poor. This gets tricky during the holidays, a prime season for taking emotions to the streets, because you can’t ever cry in front of Target because SALVATION ARMY.

7. Don’t cry in an Ann Taylor Loft dressing room. You don’t want a twenty-something shop girl stopping by every three seconds to check on you, asking if you want to open an Ann Taylor Loft credit card in order to save extra 10% today. A better retail option for losing your shit is H&M because the music is so loud no one would hear you even if you were bludgeoned to death with a spiked bat.

8. Don’t duck into the foyer of a capital assessment management office building. The security guards tend to be skittish about full-grown women convulsing in spasms of grief. They tend to want to keep the business of mentally falling into shambles far away from the business of making billions of dollars for capital asset managers.

9. Don’t wander over by your therapist’s building, hoping you’ll catch him coming or going. If you “happen” to bump into him, he may charge you for his time, or, if he’s the nervous sort, he may file charges against you. Better to wander anonymously. Perhaps stroll by the local movie house so if you spot someone (say, Tom from accounting who was recently promoted to VP, Business Development), you can tell him you just saw a double feature, Terms of Endearment and Steele Magnolias.


Go to Rehab With Your Matching Doll: The Services American Girl Doll Should (But Doesn’t) Offer

There’s a famous doll store near my house. *cough* American Girl Doll Store *cough* Tourists come in droves with their wide-eyed little daughters to this mecca on the Magnificent Mile. I’ve witnessed countless weary (wealthy) parents struggling under the weight of the signature red bags, while trying to hail cabs so they can collapse back at their hotels. The store is supposed to be a place where a little girl can have “real” experiences”—modeled, one supposes, on the “real experiences” she’ll have when she’s older. Tea parties. Hair salons. Ear piercings. You know, big stuff that a girl should practice and be exposed to before adulthood.




What about all the services the American Girl Doll Store is ignoring? The brand should recognize the untapped potential of the experiences they’re ignoring. And it’s too bad. There’s major bank to be made if they would think outside of the jewelry box.


How about these:


  • Go to rehab with your doll! Right? Think of how many young girls will grow up to struggle with substance abuse. It’s not a joke. Have you read Jennifer Weiner’s newest book All Fall Down? The mom’s a pill popper of the highest order. Let’s prepare our daughters. Let’s get the American Girl people to offer rehab (think group therapy sessions ($150), AA meetings ($100), anger management classes ($130)) for our daughters and their dolls. They can always get their ears pierced afterwards.
  • Botox and Lipo services! Ya’ll, let’s get real. Our cherub-faced little girls are going to grow up and want this no matter how many Dove commercials they see. It would be wrong to not prepare them to celebrate and honor these future milestones by letting them “practice” getting the fat sucked out of them ($500) or having bovine whatever-Botox-is pumped into them ($250).
  • Divorce court proceedings! I probably don’t even have to sell this to you. Half of all marriages end in divorce, right? Think about it: more girls will get divorced than get their ears pierced. Let’s give our girls some real life practice standing before a family court judge to argue that she should have more alimony ($120) or full custody ($120) or that the Judge should ignore her extramarital affairs because her Baby Daddy cheated first ($200). These are real life situations just waiting for our daughters. AmIright?
  • Unemployment office visit! In this economy, it would be wrong not to expose our daughters to this slice of bureaucratic life. She and her doll could fill out paperwork, then languish in a waiting room for over an hour before being informed that she’s not yet eligible because she filled out her paperwork incorrectly ($300). This office could be set up next door to a fake DMV, where a young girl and her matching doll can stand in line for hours only to be told that her proof of insurance is expired so she’ll have to come back tomorrow ($100).



All I’m saying is that they could make a mint, while giving our daughters some “real life” experiences. Sure blow outs and fake eyelashes make for great memories, but 12-step meetings and family court have their charms as well. Shouldn’t we share those with our precious little ones?


Hey, Graduates, Do Something Cool

Go forth, Graduates, and do something cool.  Do something no one else has ever done. Do something that adds to the goodness of this ragged old world of ours.  Surely you can think of something to do that no one else has done.


Close up of a graduation cap and a certificate with a ribbon

You can’t split the atom, because I’m pretty sure that’s been done.  Plus, I think you need a license and a PhD in physics, graduate students, and a laboratory.

But don’t be discouraged because there are things you can do without more schooling or a license from the state.

How about this:

Explain to the world what the lyrics to Some Nights by Fun. mean.  Because nobody understands that shit. What does it mean to have lips building a castle? I have no idea.  Go figure it out and report back.  Come back to me and “jack my style” (after you explain what that means).

See? It’s easy.

Pick something good.

Teach the world how to tell the difference between Keira Knightley and Natalie Portman.  Pick a video that’s gone viral and trace how something as stupid as a contrived video of kids telling their mothers they don’t suck went around the globe 80 times.

Add to the rich bounty of scholarship and journalism and entertainment, the stuff that makes this country great.

Aim high, trust your gut, reach for the stars.  Then sit down and do a video log that explains why children insist on sleeping in on the one day you have to wake them up and race to the airport.  Give me a good explanation about why Kathie Lee Gifford is a thing or why it’s so fucking impossible for a juice box straw to stay attached to the damn box.  Then invent the glue that will make that straw stay the fuck put.

Don’t just hide in your parents’ basement waiting for the economy to bounce back.  Make an app.  Create one that can tell the future– like what’s the exact date that my children will learn how to actually look for something they lost instead of wandering, glossy-eyed and unfocused, in a damn circle claiming, “I can’t find it!”

Write a book about a werewolf who time travels with a bow and arrow.  Then write the sequel.  Invent a pet that doesn’t shit. Or have hair.  Knit a blanket that will cover the hole in the ozone layer.  Outline a plan for peace in the Middle East.  Clean the Great Barrier Reef.  Clean your room, your fingernails.

It’s your life.  Do something grand.  Start today.  The future awaits you.




The Facts About The 5K I Won

See that?  It’s a trophy.  I Instagrammed it– Valencia filter– because I care.

A champion's trophy.

A champion’s trophy.


I care because it’s my trophy.  I won it.  And I won it by running my middle-aged bee-hind off in a 5K race.  I was the first woman to cross the finish line.  Because most of my readers are American, they’ll want to know my time.  We care about that stuff– we want hard numbers, figures, metrics, facts, the exact location of that downed airliner.  I get it.  It hardly counts if I can’t produce the numbers, right?


I ran the race in 26:08:47 minutes.  And because your calculator is hidden in some annoying place on your phone, I’ll do the quick math for you– my pace was 8:44 per mile.

I should probably stop here.  Press “publish” and let the glory stand for itself.  No doubt I’ve already gone too far.  I’m bungee-jumping and I just passed the first look-out point.  I’m still hurtling downward, waiting for that safety rope to catch and pull me up with a jerk of my neck.  It hasn’t yet.

So more:

I’ve never won a race in my life.  In second grade field day I almost beat Melissa Zimmel in the 50-yard dash, but she elbowed me viciously at 35 yards, and I went home empty-handed, while she had a third-place ribbon pinned to her stupid pink Izod shirt. Bitch.  Two weeks later she tried to cheat by copying my spelling test.  I laughed inside when she spelled desks as “deskes” to earn herself a 94, six points below my perfect 100.

The race in question, though, the one that I WON, was a small affair, I admit.  Four dads who seemed to sprint the whole time beat me.  They, like me, ditched their children to worship the gods of speed and endurance.  We let our spouses handle the pesky work of keeping our children off the course and out of traffic.

There were other women in the race, I swear.  That they were either orthodox Jewish women running in long skirts or benevolent do-gooders shepherding a gaggle of earnest Girls-On-The-Run participants (most of whom had never run more than six yards) is none of your business.  There was one teacher huffing it, but I passed her when I sailed over her oxygen tank like a stag escaping a hunter’ rifle in hot pursuit.

Someone had to be the first woman across the line.  Someone had to enlist her husband to custom-build a trophy case to house the golden, stubby statue that I now call my own.  Someone had to pose for victory photos, seek endorsements from local businesses and offer to headline next year’s charity ball.

There are more facts that are still obscured to you, dear readers.  Facts about the weather, the wind’s velocity, the post-race swag, and the course measurement.  It’s possible you deserve those facts and I should serve them up like I did my times.  Maybe I’ve only served you the mashed potatoes, but you richly deserve your roast beef and fresh peas.

But perhaps I’ve said too much already.

I Smell A Diet Tip

I’ve got a diet tip.  It’s hard core.  You’ve gotta be serious about shedding unwanted weight, though.

Lots of people lie about diet tips because they want your money.  Not me.  You can trust me, I drive a mini-van.

It’s not about stocking your fridge full of kale, chia or whatever bullshit faddish thing everyone is yapping about on bona fide health blogs.  You’re welcome to do that, but honestly it’s beside the point.

It’s also not about having a buff and gruff personal trainer who will lift your leg so high over your head his face will be in your crotch, and you’ll be all  is this good for my marriage?  But if you’ve got a kettle bell coming from Amazon Prime or just bought a treadmill on eBay, that’s cool.

Again, beside the point.

If you want to just cut the heart out of your appetite and win the calorie roulette game, get yourself a small animal.  Any one will do: mouse, rat, hamster, ferret.  If feral cats are your thing, go for it.  Just the other night, I saw a raccoon as big as a kindergartener with giantism.  If you can catch one of those, you’re golden.

Now, take your animal and bury him somewhere in your car.  No fair just lifting up the floor mat.  Really wedge that critter in somewhere good.  Perhaps remove the glove compartment and shove it back there.

If you are sensitive, you can have someone else do the burying.  Better yet, you can just leave some Pirates Booty or Goldfish in your van, forget to shut the doors, and let Nature takes its course.  That was the method I used, but I know you– You are proactive. You want results.  You don’t want to wait for a family of rats to inhabit the car.  Have it your way; take life by the balls and shove a small marsupial in your chassis.

Did I mention you should do all of the above right before a polar vortex? Because plunging temperatures are going to sap the life force out of the animal and it will die quickly. (Don’t go all PETA on me; it’s nature. Don’t hate the player; hate the game.)

Here’s the magic of my diet: All you have to do is carry on with your life while there is a small animal decomposing in your car.  You will lose your appetite.  You will be unable to get that heinous smell out your nasal memory so when you step into a kitchen that has odors of any kind, you will be immediately transported to your car where and that smell.  Ohmygodthatsmell.

But you’ll get skinnier.  You will be so nauseated that you will pass up chances to eat Nilla Wafers with the Baby Jesus because that smell.  You may start to think that the rotten milk left out on a west Texas highway in August sounds like a vente cup of Heaven compared to the rat graveyard in your car.  This is normal.  Do NOT panic.  But if you do panic, don’t worry– you’re not going to emotionally eat over this because, that smell is now everywhere, even when you are ten miles away from your car and dousing yourself with Jo Malone’s Pear & Blackberry perfume.

If you’re serious about losing weight, try it.  Like me, you will find that your skinny jeans have a little more give, your thong more breathing room.

It really works.  You just have to commit murder.

So, who’s in?

Forget the First Tooth: These Are the New Milestones


As a parent, I love milestones.  First tooth.  First steps.  First day without diapers.  Marking those life moments is just part of what parents do.  Isn’t that what those baby books are all about?

Here’s my question: why do the big milestones stop after the first year? Have you ever tried to find a commemorative book to celebrate the major life moments after the first year?  Sure, it’s fun when your baby stops doing that awkward army crawl thing to actually take a few steps, but what about that moment when your kid learns a word you don’t know? Or when you understand that your kid has more social skills than you’ll ever have?

I live for those moments, and even if the makers of baby books don’t memorialize them, I’ma celebrate them here.  (Confidential to Hallmark: Call me. Let’s work up a business plan for baby books for toddlers and school-aged kids.)

Here are my top 5 milestones that no one else has ever mentioned:

  1. Siblings playing together.  The date was June 8, 2013.  The sun was gleaming through our kitchen window highlighting the crumbs on the floor, and Sadie and Simon started playing some game involving an empty water bottle, a skillet, and a Big Bird “action” figure.  I watched the clock — 5 and then 10 and then 15 minutes went by and they were still playing in their own little world.  They didn’t involve me or ask me to referee any squabbles. It’s as if I wasn’t there, and it was total bliss– like zero calorie free range chocolate covered Doritos bliss.  It lasted for 37 minutes.  To celebrate, I chopped an onion uninterrupted and then went pee pee solo.  It was a perfect milestone.
  2. First joke.  Any of us could be raising the next Seinfeld (without the horrible taste in clothes; see black jeans and white sneakers), so why not celebrate what might be the birth of your child’s comedic genius?  This milestone was one of my favorite: Sadie made a joke, and she knew it. And it was actually funny.  It was more shocking than that day I looked at her little belly and saw that her umbilical cord had fallen off.  The joke? I can’t remember, but trust me, she’s the next Tina Fey.
  3. Sartorial mastery.  What about the day your daughter learns that wearing a skirt with a dress is not the best use of clothing?  What about the day she looks at you and says, “Maybe I won’t change my clothes seven times before dinner? Maybe just three times.”  What about the first time your son lets you dress him in any old shirt and doesn’t clamor for something with Spiderman on it?  There are so many milestones around clothing that I need a whole separate book for this category.  But my all-time favorite milestone around clothing was when Sadie recognized Ann Taylor Loft from the highway.
  4. Music to my ears. I’ll admit it, I cried real tears during these two special moments.  In the span of one week, both of my kids hit musical milestones that are still hard to talk about without choking up.  On Monday, October 7, 2012 Sadie yelled, “I see Willie Nelson!” as we drove by a bus stop.  Was it really the Red Headed Stranger from Abbott, Texas? No, but it was his doppelgänger– a man with two gray braids and a red bandana was waiting for the bus.  It’s super hard not to brag about this.  Then, three days later, we were listening to my new Johnny Cash-Willie Nelson album and Simon proved he knew the difference between Johnny and Willie.  He summed up his opinion thusly: “Johnny is boring. I only like Willie.”  I pulled the car over and gave him a hug and a lollipop.
  5. Gratitude: Lots of parents, including myself, chafe at the lack of gratitude for the hours we put in to the hard work of raising kids.  Sure, I’ve taught my kids to say “please” and “thank you,” and roughly 15% of the time they actually do, but the evening that Sadie sat down at the dinner table and said, “Mom, thank you for this delicious dinner,” I almost fainted in my nachos.  I mean, you hope you raise a child that understands the value of a dinner consisting of grated cheese over tortilla chips, but it may take years to know if you have.  Again, I hate to brag, but I’m totally raising a little foodie who is not afraid to express praise and gratitude for my hard work (I mean, that cheese doesn’t melt itself and those chips don’t magically appear in a beautiful pinwheel pattern on a microwave-safe plate.)

What milestones are you celebrating?

School Picture Forms: I’ll Never Get Those 12 Hours Back

Pictures days of old... I look like a cross between a Roman Catholic Nun and some kid in a Stephen King movie.

Pictures days of old… I look like a cross between a Roman Catholic Nun and some kid in a Stephen King movie.


Ya’ll, despite the 500 blog posts that seem to indicate otherwise, I am smart. Really smart.  Not so smart that I’m “scary” or “genius” or Nobel Prizey, but smart enough to finish numero uno at law school.  And I refuse to apologize for bragging about that, because FUCK PLAYING SMALL ALL THE DAMN TIME.  Plus, it underscores the important point I am about to make.

Why, for the love of Kodachrome, are my children’s picture day forms so dang hard to understand?  My two-year-old son’s form was about six pages single-spaced.  At first I thought it was too heady to comprehend because I was ovulating.  Then there was the government shut-down, which affected my higher functioning.  Was my brain shrinking? Was I pregnant? Why oh why couldn’t I figure out whether I wanted the “Giggle” package or the “Grins” one?  (Seriously, is there anything lamer than picture-day puns?  Where was the “shits-and-giggles” mega-deal package?)

My daughter’s form wasn’t much better, but I muddled through.  Then, my husband threw a wrench into the works by suggesting we sign Sadie up for the “retake” day.  While it’s factually accurate that the initial picture looked nothing like Sadie, and could hardly be construed as a “good” picture, I was offended that he suggested we do “retakes.”  How millennial can you be? I have years of less-than-stellar school pictures that are part of the photo essay of my life.  Isn’t that the point of school pictures– they make you look hideous and provide an archival reminder of how bad your parents’ taste in youth fashion was?

When I logged on to sign up for “retakes,” I thought for a second I was applying for a mortgage, except that would be easier and less time-consuming than dealing with school pictures.  I am not sure I successfully signed up for the retakes because two different computers went down before I could complete the questions.

In the end, we’ll have the damn school pictures, even though we have no intention of displaying them anywhere because we literally have one thousand better pictures of both of the kids.  But you know, there’s something about a school picture.  I just had to have ’em, even though I’ll never get those 12 hours I spent filling out the forms back.