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I’ve tracked it on my calendar for years. It’s always about 28-30 days, give or take a few. Still every month, the same events seem to surprise me: around day 23 or so I wonder why I feel so bloated? and why as the days of this week pass I seem to be more and more disgusted by the sight of my body in the mirror when only a few days ago I wasn’t so much? I have to force myself to move, take a brisk walk, go to yoga. On the last day of this week, around day 26 or 27, I cry for an entire day (or more) without understanding why I’m crying? Ultimately I get a throbbing headache, dehydrated from all the crying (note to self: drink more water) and then the intense craving for sugar hits. I’m convinced I need marshmallows, ice cream, chocolate sauce and gummy bears. Sometimes I think about eating them all together in one big bowl. If it’s bad enough I actually drive to a store in the dark and get them just to silence it (yes, even though I know better. I’ve read everything about how that’s exactly what I should not eat at this time). I take two Aleve and go to bed.

In the morning I wake up wet, soaked in blood. I hold myself to avoid dripping on my way to the bathroom where there are no feminine products left from the previous month. I sit on the toilet and clean up as much as I can while I contemplate what do to next. Calling out to my kids for help at 5am seems dramatic. Instead I think about whether or not there are any tampons hiding out from last month? I hold myself, with toilet paper this time, and go to the closets to search. I search all my bags and pockets. If I’m lucky I find one lonely one in a jacket and if I’m not so lucky, I make a pad out of paper towel (grateful at least I have that) and hope for the best.

I dress, make sure my homemade pad is secure and not too obvious. I head to Walgreen’s and buy one box of O.B.s, thankful I’m not out camping in the woods or that I don’t live in a remote village without such luxuries. While I’m in line, I consider the possibility of renewing my Costco membership so I can at least buy a bigger box for $10 or perhaps start shopping on-line with monthly deliveries? I decide to get right on that…but I never do. As Dr. Phil might say, something about this routine obviously works for me.

Then the cramps start, but at least I respond well to Aleve (somehow I manage to keep that on hand) and I also don’t hate seeing myself in the mirror anymore. In fact I wonder why I even thought I did? Was that the same me? I go back to laughing again and craving things like raw kale salad and protein and yoga until it all starts again with the cycle of the moon.



Unless it’s a Bible, I love when someone wants to share a favorite book with me. Today it was a neighbor I don’t know very well who ran to get me the book Sideways by Rex Pickett. We’d been talking in his driveway about my recent weekend in wine country—how I pitched a tent with a bunch of people at our friend’s vineyard…a winery in the making. When I admitted to him how little I knew about wine, he insisted on running into his house to grab the book for me. How sweet of him, right? When he handed it to me though he was almost reluctant, like he suddenly had second thoughts. He looked at me more closely and said in a questioning voice “I think you’re old enough for the content” . I laughed and reassured him, although I hadn’t seen the movie yet, I was pretty sure I could handle the book’s content, whatever it is. Oh I can’t wait to find out what on earth I’m old enough to read!

Final Note to Rip Van Winkle

Listen here Rippie. For years I tried to wake you up to tend to matters on the farm, but instead you chose to ignore me and my cries. You ran away to the mountains, drank your drink and fell asleep in a forest hollow for years and years. Finally awakened by the loud echos of the judge’s stamp, I imagine you’re a bit shocked by what you found. Your musket rotted and your beard grew grey and long.  Nobody recognizes you in town, do they? Not even our children who are all grown up now.  Your friends have moved away or were killed in the war. I hope you find someone to take you in. I already died once in your sleep and that was enough for me.

Baby Face

I apologize in advance to my friends and relatives who may think this is TMI and my friends and contemporaries who will find this hilariously embarrassing (not that I’m posting it but that it has taken me this long… please god don’t tell me you guys have been whispering behind my back) but today I finally succumbed to an upper lip wax. I know right?

I’d never had one before. I was like, well, if I can’t see the “mustache” hair probably nobody else can? Apparently I have bad eye sight. The amazingly skilled woman who does my eyebrows (she has 34 years experience… in LA…with the stars.. she’ll remind me if I give her the chance. Impressive right? Whatever. She is very good at what she does though…OK… first flashback to anyone who has been reading my FB posts for years who remembers my sudden and embarrassing realization that I had, for like my entire life, been sporting “depression” brows which was what they were calling untamed brows during the economic downturn– it was hip then to let your brows go natural because nobody could afford to get them waxed– and I’ve been seeing her ever since– because I so don’t need depression anything on me if it can be removed!), she, Kim, suggested I get my lips “cleaned up”. Omg! Say no more, OK?! I had no idea my lips needed cleaning up. So I said sure of course. Please do.

What Kim neglected to tell me is it hurts like a motherf*****– even more than the bikini area which we won’t discuss here but perhaps at some point. So, yeah, I’m here to tell you I LOVE the upper lip waxing, despite the pain. I don’t think there’s any going back. I’m a total baby face. I’d post a photo, but that would be a little too weird. I can’t say why writing about it seems normal and showing a photo feels weird to me but it does.

Anyway, I was there (at the spa) with my sister as a belated birthday gift to her. She is wiser than I am perhaps and simply relaxed for a “rejuvenating facial”. Maybe she’ll be inspired to do the waxing next year? Not that I can actually see the need for it…but it does feel kinda good afterwards.

Turn that Box Off and Go Outside!


It drives me completely insane that my kids’ screen time increases exponentially during the summer months. Sometimes I think they forget we live in northern California in walking distance to the ocean. I had to beg for the Slip-n-Slide in Detroit while they, these lucky kids, can ride their bikes to the ocean! The PACIFIC OCEAN! Yet still, for some crazy reason, the temptations of the screen seem stronger than the pull of the tide.

I’ve never liked “the box” as my mom used to call it. I can still hear her telling my brother and sister, who both liked it more than I did, “Turn that box off and go outside!”.  As a side note, our house was robbed quite a few times growing up (I know. I’m in therapy). I remember my parents being very upset about all the losses, except the television. When it was stolen, they didn’t replace it for months. I wonder now if maybe my mom orchestrated it and although I know she did not, I understand why she might’ve.

Ever since my children were very young, I’ve threatened them that their brains will turn to mush if they spend too much time in front of a screen, any screen, no matter how tiny and innocent it may seem. For a long time I think they actually believed me. But today, when i finally got their attention after several failed attempts, “Hello? you guys! Hello? HEY. YOU TWO! My beautiful children staring at the screen! Yeah. You two. It’s time to turn it off. Your brains are going to turn to mush” my son responded calmly, “No, mom, brains can’t turn to mush. I researched it a long time ago. They go unresponsive.” LOL! “EXACTLY! Mush = Unresponsive. Now turn it off. Go find something else to do…and may I suggest something that involves a little sunshine and fresh air? Maybe ride your bikes to the beach?”


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My kids and I were in DC for spring break riding the Metro when we were diverted to a stop before ours due to a broken escalator. If you’ve been to the Bethesda Metro stop you know a broken escalator closes it. It was rush hour and people wanted to get home which meant there were lots of people, tired and frankly a little smelly. Along with everyone else in our situation, we piled in a complimentary shuttle bus at Friendship Heights.  The fact that you have no choice but to lift your arm up to reach the handles, only made matters worse in the smell department, though everyone was pretty kind about it. I got the feeling this wasn’t the first time this had happened. I suppose we could’ve walked home a few miles but we’d already put in lots at the museums plus this was just part of seeing the sights.

By the time the kids and I got on the bus, all the available seats were taken and we stood pressed against a very large woman in a maroon color track suit who was sitting on a matching electric scooter. Is it okay for me to admit, even though I was raised better than this, sometimes it’s impossible for me not to stare? I actually think some people, including this woman, dare me not to. Anyway, she had a pretty face and her energy was confident. She seemed kind but not apologetic by any stretch, even though she was taking up at least two full rows of seats by the time they were folded up to accommodate her. Her scooter had the word “Pride” written in cursive across the front, which seemed perfect somehow.

The woman’s bottom spilled over the seat and her thighs hid the rest of her legs. All you could see below her thighs were her relatively small shoes which had shiny silver buckles. In the metal basket in the front of her pride there was a crumpled McDonald’s bag and half drunk milkshake with sweat beads dripping down the side of the cup. It explained the french fry smell I was experiencing.

If I weren’t standing so close to her, literally about to sit on her lap, it might’ve been easier to look away but instead, I found myself totally captivated. I wondered why she was on the scooter? Was it a medical reason or a choice? I tried to imagine what her name might be and I tried out a few in my own head… queen names mostly like Regina and Kandiss.

Maybe if she weren’t wearing her hair in an elaborate braided crown of a bun (the same size as her head) I wouldn’t have been so curious about her hair and if she weren’t wearing a gold necklace with a giant snake pendant that looked like it was slithering down between her very large breasts, I wouldn’t have been so drawn to stare at her breasts. And her super long nails painted the same maroon color as her track suit and her scooter with large diamonds set in each nail, meant of course I’d look at her hands. Everything about this woman made it impossible for me not to stare.

Feeling guilty for looking at her — though honestly not judging so much as very curious– but not sure where else to look as there was nothing even remotely as interesting as she was, I decided to focus my attention on her “Pride”. There were two settings: slow (I assume it meant slow as it was simply a picture of a turtle) and on the other end was fast (again, I assume so, as it was a picture of a rabbit) and there were circles that increased in an arc from turtle to rabbit. I assume she could speed up or slow down simply by turning the knob. I had to wonder, by the time they loaded her and her Pride and all the rest of us, if she couldn’t have simply put that thing on “rabbit” mode and made it home faster than the rest of us in this shuttle bus that hadn’t even started to move?

I can’t even remember the point of this story now … except I was struck by the fact that in a thorough debrief with my children when we finally got off the bus, they hadn’t really noticed her and furthermore, they thought it was totally rude I had. “Mom, it’s impolite to stare”. Of course they’re right. I’m so glad someone is raising these two kids to be good people. In fact it fills me with pride. I, on the other hand, am going straight to hell since I can’t seem to help staring at certain things or people, soaking in every detail…especially when I feel like I’m being dared not to.

The Salt Shooter

Sometimes things happen to me that leave me wondering if I’m the one who is crazy and every one else is normal. But this time, my friend was with me, which meant I wasn’t alone in wondering if I was losing it.

So what happened is the woman behind us in line was holding a gun, pointing it up in the air, pretending to shoot it. Her movements were jittery. She seemed nervous with shifty eyes. My friend whispered to me, “It’s fake. Look at the orange cap”.  I found that reassuring even though it was pretty obvious it was one of those big nerf gun blasters.

At this particular cafe, there’s a really loud fan that blows when the door is open—I’m guessing to keep the flies out—and the counter is right there when you walk in. So if there are more than like two people in line, the door ends up open with the fan on. It’s not the best layout.  And, so, the woman with the nerf gun was behind us propping the door open making the fan blow loud warm air at us. The odd thing was nobody else seemed to notice anything amiss.  It was as if the fan, with it’s loud warm air, was making the whole scene disappear for everyone except my friend and me. We kept looking at each other while also keeping an eye on the woman with the gun in case she did anything crazier than stand there aiming her gun in the air.  Then, out of the blue she asked us “What am I supposed to do next?” like she forgot her script and she rambled something about shooting salt. I stood there kind of frozen like did I just hear something about shooting salt? Whereas my friend, who was thinking much faster, said with authority, “You’re supposed to hand that to me next!” and she reached for the gun. I was shocked to watch how easily my friend did that and how fast the woman responded. I mean, she just handed it over to her. Frankly she seemed almost relieved to be done with it. My friend continued to hold it muzzle down, with one eye on the woman, looking a bit like she’d just taken the nerf gun from one of her boys who was now on a “time out” for shooting her other boy in the face. Her expression was of thorough disappointment, not fear. I just stood there wondering what am I supposed to do next?

Eventually, the woman shifted her attention outside and my friend leaned over, discretely placing the nerf gun (as discretely as possible given its size) behind the register and quietly but firmly told the cashier to keep it back there, as there was “someone mentally unstable trying to shoot salt with it”.

The crazy thing was the barista’s blase attitude “Oh. That’s our salt shooter,” he said. “Excuse me?” my friend asked. We didn’t know if he meant the girl or the gun was their salt shooter… but he clarified “We use it for salt”. “That thing?” my friend asked. “Yeah,” he said, “it’s a salt shooter”. “Well, she’s not okay. You might call 911 if she comes back in” my friend explained, still genuinely concerned for her health. “OK” he said, shrugging his shoulders. By now we were fully aware, he was on the same thing as our salt shooter. Bemused, we left the cafe with coffees in hand, wondering if maybe we were the crazy ones?

Home Sweet Home

10687003_10205181771214795_4253426716890030084_nWhen I travel home from Detroit I usually spend some time fantasizing about what it would be like to move back there and live in a bigger house with a garage, a garage that could actually fit a car. Maybe this house would even have a basement and a second bathroom? I imagine what it would feel like to afford more stuff…stuff like, I don’t know, new furniture.

I fantasize about quitting my job and becoming an artist. I’d maybe live in Cass Corridor (which, by the way, is way cooler than it was when I went to Cass Tech in the 80’s) and dabble in some urban farming like the hipsters do. I’d ride my bike around town and bring homegrown organic mixed lettuces to a stand at the Eastern Market.  I stare at the clouds outside the airplane window and ponder the big question of why I try to raise children as a single mom somewhere so expensive as the Bay Area when I could live somewhere affordable, like Detroit?

But then as I approach the SFO tarmac, as we glide in just above the water, I remember this is the rugged path that my heart followed all the way from Michigan 25 years ago and this is my home now.  It’s true I don’t have much room or savings, but I love my simple life on the northern coast of California.

Recently I came across a list for simplifying…ideas for “eschewing chaos for peace and spending your time doing what’s important to you”.  It really resonates with me. Maybe some of you will find it interesting if not helpful. Simplifying is a lifelong process I’m in the middle of…and just to clarify, I don’t agree with having a wardrobe of all solids that match each other unless you are a park service ranger. It’s just too boring. But the other things, they seem worth thinking about if not striving for– especially spending more time with people you love.

Here it is…

short list:
1. identify what’s most important to you
2. eliminate everything else
longer list:
simple living manifesto