I’m going to just come right out and say it. Everybody needs to take it down a god damn notch with the cauliflower. I mean, sweet and sour Jesus, this has gotten out of control. Growing up in northern New York in the early 1980s, if my mother had told me that one day people would try to convince me that mashed up and flattened out steamed cauliflower would be an acceptable base for a pizza, I would’ve packed up my Pound Puppies and run away from home to join the circus. Ain’t nobody messing around with cauliflower at the circus, I’ll tell you that much right now.
Full disclosure, Michelle Obama’s Cauliflower Mac & Cheese recipe is one of my favorites. And I’ll sit right down and eat an entire head of roasted cauliflower in one sitting. Don’t you think I won’t. I’ll give you and your cauliflower ricing comrades kudos on roasted cauliflower until the cauliflower cows come home, but don’t be comin’ up in here with your cauliflower brownies and thinking that I’m going to let you sit on my couch and watch Fixer Upper with me. UH UH. Not happening.
Ok, I’m sorry for what I said about riced cauliflower. I take it back. I’ve made Tasty’s Cauliflower Fried Rice recipe a few times, and, it’s really good. I was fine with that, but YOU HAVE CROSSED A LINE with your Cauliflower Eggs Benedict. Benedict Arnold or whoever Eggs Benedict was named after is probably rolling over in his yolk-soaked grave right now.
I know you’ll have me believe that carbs are the enemy. I understand that you want me to think that potatoes and flour are for heathens and mole people. But, let me tell you something. If you DARE show up to my house warming brunch with Cauliflower Everything Bagels, I will literally fist fight you in front of the quiches and then I’ll call your mother AND your grandmother and I will tell them what you’ve done. If you can live with disappointing your Mee-Maw like that after she worked her fingers to the bone knitting mittens for you that you probably lost at a frat party in college, well then that’s on you, Allison.
And then you’re going to post on Facebook that Cauliflower Nachos are better than old school nachos? ARE YOU WOMAN ENOUGH TO COME OVER HERE AND SAY THAT TO MY FACE? Yea. I didn’t think so.
I’m all for eating healthy and trying to sneak in some veggies into recipes here and there so my kids won’t notice, but for the love of all that’s decent on this great green earth, some things are sacred. And if you think I’m going to let you desecrate my turn to host book club with a Cauliflower Cheesecake, you’re obviously not the person I thought you were.
When I was in high school I had a boyfriend who nicknamed my boobs Will and Denise. His parents had a cottage on the St. Lawrence River and their neighbors had 2 dogs by those names, so… that was that. I’m telling you this because 2 weeks ago I took Will and Denise for their very first mammogram. Now that I’m 40, that’s just one of the super enjoyable things I get to do along with having my cervix scraped with a wire brush once a year. 40 is rad. Get psyched 30 somethings!
I made my mammogram appointment for a Monday, because who doesn’t love to start their week in excruciating pain? I KNOW I DO! I made sure to give Will and Denise a good scrub before I went. I even made sure I plucked their nipple hairs because I’m a friggin’ lady and I wanted my mammaries looking their best for the big day.
I checked in to the radiology office and a few minutes later, the young woman who was about to smash my front muffins into crepes called me into the room. She told me to take my top and bra off and put on a paper gown. She asked if I was wearing deodorant which I thought was weird considering my armpits (both currently unnamed) live directly next door to Will and Denise. Of course I’d slathered on my men’s Speed Stick this morning. Did she want to borrow a swipe off my trusty purse deodorant? She did not. She asked me to use a wet wipe in the changing room to clean my pits so I didn’t junk up her expensive boob-crunching machine.
She showed me how she was going to use her torture device on me and then she helped me pose for Will and Denise’s first pictures. She gingerly placed Will on a thick, clear plate and said we’d start with the front facing photos. Then she grabbed a second plate called a paddle from above and JACKED THAT SHIT DOWN with 23 lbs. of pressure until Will looked like a freshly made corn tortilla. It was more painful than I thought it would be which was awesome because it was about to get worse. She VERY STERNLY instructed me to hold my breath and NOT MOVE while her chompy booby monster bit down on me. Not going to lie. It hurt. A lot.
We ran through both of Will and Denise’s front facing pictures without a problem, I mean, as long as don’t consider having two deflated footballs for boobs a problem. Then it was time to kick things up a notch with the side boob pics.
For the side boob pics you should be able to contort your body into an infinity symbol like an earthworm. This is so you can stand at the proper angle to get all the right parts of the boob on the plate. This was no problem because I’ve actually got LOADS AND LOADS of side boob. Just another one of the fun gifts that the Lord hath bestowed upon me. Denise was first. We propped her up on the plate and the tech lowered the paddle of doom down on her with around 28 lbs. of pressure. I held my breath, stood still and waited for the machine to kick in. That’s when I heard a GA-GUNK. The camera in the machine didn’t rotate like it had been doing before. I looked over and the tech was staring at her laptop with a crunched up forehead. She told me to take another breath and then hold it so she could try again, ALL THE WHILE, MY POOR DENISE WAS BEING PULVERIZED LIKE A PUMPKIN IN THE BACK OF A GARBAGE TRUCK THE MORNING AFTER HALLOWEEN!
She fired the machine again. Nothing. I thought “OH MY GOD I LIVE HERE NOW! WITH MY TIT IN THIS MAMMOGRAM MACHINE! I’LL HAVE TO HAVE MY MAIL FORWARDED. THEY’RE GOING TO HAVE TO SERVE ME MY MEALS HERE.” The tech ran from behind the machine and yells, “The machine is malfunctioning! Can you get out of it?!”
I wasn’t prepared for her to ask me this question since mammography isn’t my area of expertise, oh and, MY FREAKING LEFT BREAST BEING MASHED INTO A FLESHY PULP RIGHT BEFORE HER EYES! No I couldn’t get out of it!!!! Not if I wanted to walk out of that office with all the boobs I walked in with!!! She tried to push me back off the machine, but Denise, being attached to my body and all, would not be torn from the machine’s powerful grasp. I should’ve left all of that nipple hair on her. She probably would’ve slid out of there lickety split! Luckily, the tech was able to pry the plate and the paddle apart with her hands and poor Denise flopped off the machine and away from its angry clutches.
I know people who would’ve had heads rolling in that office for the machine malfunction, but I was just grateful that I was able to leave that day with all of my pieces and parts still attached. The tech apologized up and down and we actually both had a good laugh about it. I had to go back later that afternoon to have my side boob pics retaken and I’m happy to say it was without incident.
Thankfully my mammogram results were normal. As hilariously terrifying as my experience was, I promise you it was very quick. I urge all of you to suck it up and get your girls checked every year because there’s absolutely nothing funny about rolling the dice on your health.
This is me in a dress I have no business wearing. It’s not the first time I’ve worn it and it won’t be the last time. I know it’s not flattering but I don’t want you to say, “OMG, YOU LOOK GREAT!” I don’t want you to say, “GOOD FOR YOU!” I want you to know why I’m wearing a dress I have no business wearing.
I took this picture two days ago. I was one and a half proseccos deep during a girl’s weekend with my best friend and we were on our way to a nice dinner. Someone could say that I look a little pregnant in it, because of, you know, that part sticking out in the front. I do look a little pregnant. That’s fine. Once upon a time I grew two babies in that part sticking out in the front, but I assure you, now it’s just where I keep my cheeseburgers and sauvignon blanc.
I bought this dress for a trip my husband and I took in July. When I tried it on I knew the dress wasn’t made for my 5’2″ body, 160 lb. body, but I felt great in it. I don’t know why. I just did. I’m not known to wear form-fitting clothes. At all. But I wanted it, so I bought it. And I was proud of myself for it.
The truth is, I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been, other than when I was pregnant. Another truth is that I’ve always struggled with my weight and if you’ve ever struggled with your weight, you know it’s not a physical struggle. It’s about how you see yourself and how you speak to yourself in your mind. After 40 years of telling myself I have no business wearing things I want to wear, I’ve decided to change the subject. I’ve decided to start being kind to myself.
I’m a work from home mom. I make my own schedule. I could spend 2 hours a day at the gym if I wanted to. I could run from here to Manhattan and back if I set my mind to it. The thing is, my mind is elsewhere. Right now I’m in the business of keeping my shit together. I’m in the business of raising loving children. I’m in the business of maintaining healthy friendships. I’m in the business of having a happy marriage.
For 40 years I’ve stood in the mirror and compared how I look to how I THINK I should look. And it’s exhausting. Now, in an ugly world where I have so many other, more important things to worry about, I’m hitting that red decline button when the self-doubt calls start pouring it. I don’t want to do it anymore. I want to be in the business of loving myself. It’s as simple as that.
I’m not saying I’m giving up. I’ll still try to get healthy, here and there. I’m just taking a break from beating myself up. I’m muting the negative things I say to myself, because as it turns out, I care way more about my own comments than anyone else’s.
So here’s the thing. If I can put on a dress I have no business wearing to go out with my husband or to go to a fancy dinner at a nice restaurant with my best friend because it makes me feel good, you can too. And if I’m putting this picture on my Facebook page for 15,000 people to see, well then you can certainly wear a dress you have no business wearing to a BBQ this weekend. If the hard part is talking yourself into it, tell yourself life’s too short to worry about things you have no business wearing.
When I was laid off from my publishing job in Manhattan in 2010, I was ready for a change. The soul-crushing daily 3 hour round trip commute from Long Island to the city, usually with a passed out fat guy’s elbow jammed into my boob, took up too much time away from my family. I was prepared to find a job closer to home but as the gods would have it, I didn’t go back to work outside of my house. Now, 6 and a half years later, I realize I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
I started my career in magazine publishing before I finished college. I’d had a 6-credit internship at UsWeekly to close out my writing degree and 3 weeks into it, they hired me. I worked for Wenner Media, who also publishes Rolling Stone and Men’s Journal, for the better part of the next 11 years. I loved my job, but that commute was a killer, to say the least. The day I was laid off, I was shocked and elated.
About a year before my layoff, I’d started making custom photo mats for friends as wedding and baby shower gifts. Nine days after I was laid off I opened my Etsy shop, KJ Frames, and I’ve been home, alone, making frames in my basement office, ever since.
Before we get too far, I need to clarify that I AM NOT COMPLAINING. I’M EXPLAINING. This is MY experience. I’m not saying everyone’s experience is the same. In fact, well-adjusted individuals might find their experience to be the exact opposite of mine. I know many of you would switch places with me in a heartbeat and, while I have my struggles, I know how lucky I am.
NO ONE CARES HOW I LOOK
Yea, this is amazing. I don’t have to jump out of bed and into the shower. I don’t really have to look presentable at all. The moms at the bus stop don’t care how I look and I can tell you from experience that the employees at Michael’s, Staples and Stop & Shop sure as shit don’t GAF. I’m living la vida leggings. The problem here is that if you start to go too long without caring about your personal appearance, you basically revert back to being a college student in a dorm again. If I want to go to Taco Bell in my pajamas at 3 pm for a Meximelt, I’mma go. And is that really how adults behave? Is it, you guys?
I love her. We vibe. She’s always there for me. All day, everyday. Keeping my food cold and delicious, just as she promised when we brought her home from P.C. Richard. We spend A LOT of time together each day. This is great for someone who has healthy eating habits, but that’s not me. NOT. ME. All of my dirty little food secrets are safe with her. This means that in the past 6 years, because I can’t control myself, I’ve gained around 20 lbs. Could I do something about this? SURE. Do I want to? NOT LOOKING THAT WAY.
That’s right. Another vice. Lock me up. I like to imbibe. This was no problem when I was a respectable member of society, but now my life as a shut-in allows me to have a higher frequency of nights in with the ladies. Being my own boss means I make my own work schedule and since my only other real responsibilities involve getting my kids out the door in the morning, there will be wine. Oh yes. There will be wine. Add that to my eating issues, tack on about 10 more lbs. and order those leggings in the next size up.
I’M THE BOSS
Sure, I own my own business. It allows maximum flexibility and supplemental income, both of which are AMAZING. The problem is that I’m my own IT person, printer repairman and accountant now. I’m unqualified in all of these areas of expertise, which makes my job more interesting. Add to this the fact that I used to work in a bustling office with rock stars and celebrities waltzing through all the time while I got to enjoy being part of a team and my own personal success. Now I work alone in a tiny basement office wearing a Hannibal Lecter mask, dodging spiders and talking to myself. BIG DIFFERENCE.
FROM RICHES TO RAGS
I went from being the breadwinner to feeling like a financial drain on our family. Yes my business brings in extra income, but I’m no Joy Mangano. There are no Miracle Mop patents being applied for here. Obviously, what’s my husband’s is OURS but it weighs on me that I’m not contributing like I used to. Not that we were ever rolling in it, but the occasional lunch time visit to Anthropologie for a bag or a sweater has been replaced by scouring the clearance rack at T.J. Maxx. (No offense T.J. Maxx. I love you super hard.)
TIME IS ON MY SIDE
The number one thing I’ve gained, and really all that matters, is time. Time with my kids. Time with my husband. Time to create and decide what my next career will be. Time to be braless and eat peanut butter from the jar with Hershey’s syrup. Being able to make my kids their lunches and having time to get them on the bus every day. Being able to spend time in their classrooms. Having time to make dinner and shuttle kids to piano and soccer and lacrosse without roping other families in or having to pay a sitter to help. Knowing that time like this is not afforded to everyone, I do know its value even though I look like Zach Galifinakis waking up in the first Hangover movie each day.
Now that I’ve lived on both sides of the working mom/stay at home mom fence, I’ve learned that there’s a trade off either way. Your ability to be a good mom isn’t determined by your decision to work or your decision to stay home. The only thing that really matters is that your kids are safe and loved and your wine refrigerator is stocked.
Big fan of food here, guys. Big fan. YUGE. I believe in a 60/30/10 ratio when it comes to balancing my diet. 30% Healthy, 10% Alcohol and 60% Whatever The Frick Else I Want. What I love even more than eating is when some of the categories collide. For example, wine and vodka started out as grapes and potatoes, allowing me to categorize them under the Healthy AND Alcohol umbrellas. Voila! Look at that. Everybody’s happy. The same goes for this insane Boozy Bailey’s cake because not only is it “in season” thanks to St. Patrick’s day, but you get to have your cake and alcohol too. SO. UHH. YEA.
I wish I could take credit for this masterful confection but I can’t. The first time I made sweet, sweet mouth love to this dessert was at my friend Kelly’s house. Not only is she one of my favorite smartasses on the planet, she’s also a majestic queen of coffee roasting, an award-winning cookie baker, a garden planting phenom and a generous “inn keeper” who lets the hubs and I “pen da night” at her place when we over imbibe on date night in the quaint upstate town of Sackets Harbor. A true delight this one is. Thanks Kelly!
This recipe is obviously phenomenal for St. Patrick’s Day. I actually used Molly’s Irish Cream when I baked for this post. I KNOW, I KNOW. It’s called BAILEY’S CAKE but, for the record, Molly’s is just as good and it’s cheaper so feel free to use any irish cream you like. I made this last weekend with pumpkin spice flavored Molly’s and it was LEGEN (wait for it) DARY.
This dessert’s also great for a fun brunch, just please PLEASE be sure to clearly label it Not Safe For Children because nobody likes a party that ends with CPS knocking on the door. Am I right?
You can really play around with this cake and use any creamy liqueur and fun accent you want. I’ve been considering trying a version with Rum Chata (if you don’t know what this is, find out ASAP) and raisins instead of Bailey’s and chocolate chips. But for now…we gonna’ keep it old school. Here’s what you need:
BOOZY BAILEY’S CAKE
1 yellow cake mix
2 small packages of instant vanilla pudding
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 and 1/2 cups Bailey’s or Molly’s (or any irish cream you like.)
1/2 bag MINI bittersweet chocolate chips (Full size chocolate chips sink to the bottom! No bueno, my friends.)
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
3/4 cup Bailey’s
Preheat your oven to 350. Combine cake mix, pudding mixes, eggs, oil and 1 & 1/2 cups Bailey’s. Mix well. Once the batter is mixed, stir in the mini chocolate chips.
Pour into an ungreased 9 x 13 cake pan and bake for 40 mins.
While your cake’s baking, whisk together 2 cups confectioner’s sugar and 3/4 cup Bailey’s for the glaze. Set aside.
When your cake has cooled for about 15-20 minutes, pierce the top all over with a toothpick so the glaze can get in there and do its thing, then cover the cake in glaze. There’s a lot of glaze, but I promise it will all soak in. I tip the pan back and forth to make sure the glaze settles evenly as it’s cooling.
Once your cake is completely cool, dust with a healthy dose of confectioner’s sugar and cut into 1 in. by 1 in. squares.
DISCLAIMER: This cake is dangerous. The bite sized pieces are for a reason so proceed with caution. There may have been one time that I didn’t eat dinner and then had “some wine” and way too many pieces of this cake found their way into me. It ended with me in a middle of the night shower and a carpet cleaning the next day. YA FEELIN’ ME LADIES?
If you decide to get jiggy with it and make this Boozy Bailey’s Cake, I’d love to see pics or hear what you think! Feel free to tag me or hit me up on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Sláinte!
My freshman year in college, I wrote an essay about boobs for an English class. My mom’s boobs and my best friend’s boobs actually, because they were at opposite ends of the boob spectrum. Twenty two years later, I’m starting to really put the ma’am in mammaries and I find myself wistfully reflecting on that paper and the boobs I had when I wrote it.
It was fall, 1996. I was a B cup and considered myself #BLESSED to be on the B team because my mother had been riding the bench on the A team her whole life. She’d shamelessly asked Santa for boobs for Christmas each year for as long as I can remember. Mama wanted big ones. BAD. Then, there was my best friend who’d had a breast reduction about 6 months before I wrote the essay. She was comin’ in hot with DDs prior to her surgery at age 17 and she HATED them. When we’d get ready to go out in high school, she’d look in the mirror and ask, “Am I going to offend anyone if I wear this shirt?” I never knew what she meant by that but my mother’s head would pop out of whatever room she was in and yell, “Any time you’re ready to get rid of them, you know where to find me!”
At the time I didn’t fully grasp their misery. I loved them both and couldn’t understand how they could be so unhappy with their bodies, however, their spots in the breast brigade made me appreciate that I was somewhere in between. My Bs got the job done and I wasn’t in a place of longing on either side. But now, less than 3 months away from turning 40, I’ve gained a husband, 2 kids and about 40 lbs since I wrote that essay. My lovable little Bs are a thing of the past and I’ve got 2 big, breast friends in unexpectedly low places. Thanks to Father Time, attempts at breastfeeding, running, weight gain & loss and working from home (which lends itself beautifully to NOT wearing a bra), these days I look like a four-armed octopus when I unleash the beasts.
Now that there’s more of me to love, I’m constantly in awe of what gravity can do to your body. I mean, you know you’ve entered a new era of self discovery you walk up the stairs and your boobs bounce off your knees. My ladies are so droopy now, if my nipples were hands, I could tie my own shoes with them. God, think of how much more I’d get done each day. I could scramble eggs and butter the toast at the same time. I’d be able to shave a ton of time off making the kid’s sandwiches each morning and showering and folding laundry would be a snap. Maybe hands for nipples is the way to go!
Luckily, I’m married to a guy who’s still going through puberty and is just happy to see some boobs when he can, regardless of wear and tear. He tells me he accepts my aging shapes, even if he’s just being polite. Talking to my friends, I know their husbands are on “TEAM HEY, A BOOB’S A BOOB” too and that gives me hope for their half of humanity. I mean, if the tables were turned, consider what could happen to them. Imagine if their ding dongs changed course around age 40 and started pointing north at all times? Wait. Actually, now that I think about it…
I’m trying to go easy on myself but we’re quick forget that our bodies are machines built for function. They’re designed to take infinitely tiny sperm molecules and churn them into a little something known as HUMAN LIFE. I think that commands a certain level of respect whether or not the machine needs a new set of headlights. I’ve read so many great posts about how women need to love the battle scars that living leaves behind. They say we should wear our stretch marks and our bumpy parts as badges of honor that celebrate our stories. We shouldn’t let a reflection in a mirror or in our minds take away from that.
When I get down on myself and want to go back to my old body, a change of perspective is in order. I’ll try to remember that those B cups were attached to a girl who’d never felt a labor pain or had her newborn baby, 10 seconds old, placed on her stomach. When I was cellulite free, I didn’t have an awesome man who wanted to binge on indian food and Netflix with me on Friday nights. When my thighs didn’t touch, I had time to go to the gym because my kids weren’t home waiting for me. When my belly was flat, I hadn’t seen my parents sing to and rock their grandkids to sleep.
I’m like everyone. I want to look and feel good about myself when I pass a mirror. I’m just saying it’s ok to allow ourselves a kinder inner monologue instead of wishing we could turn back time. Try to remember that you’re so much more than the sum of your body parts. Instead of seeing saggy boobs and saddle bags, try to see a body stretched by love and experience and make room in your mind and in your bra for the marks that time leaves behind.
First of all I would like to thank the girl scouts of America for finally taking a fucking credit card. Who the hell still carries around cash? Let alone a checkbook. All I have lingering in the bottom of my purse overnight bag is some stale goldfish and a few hot wheels and those tiny green vested ladies don’t take trades. I tried.
Anywho, it’s no secret eating your feelings is a thing. But eating girl scout cookies when tiny humans make you wanna rage against the machine is an even bigger thing. Here’s why:
For starters those things are basically ninja cookies. Picky eaters don’t even know they have sugar in them so an entire box of 1,000 calories energy units are yours to eat freely out in the wild. No hiding in closets required. Fa real though, my kid won’t touch a caramel delite because the anti-Christ sprinkled coconut on those bitches. Do you know what a…
Long before our girl Oprah was doing yoga in a black spandex onesie on her lawn, I was on Weight Watchers. I loved it because I was on a diet but I could still have junk food. I was like a CIA operative when it came to finding sweet, guilt-free treats that I could fit into my daily points. Until one day when my skills backfired. Literally. Like, fire came out of my backside.
It was a gorgeous, sunny, summer Friday and I was scheduled to head home from my publishing job in Manhattan at 1:00. I’d been good on my diet all week so I decided to hit up Duane Reade on the way to work to do some WW friendly intel in the candy aisle. I spotted a small bag of Jelly Belly Sugar-Free SOURS and flipped over the bag to check out the calories. It was 200 calories for the bag, which came to 3 or 4 points at the time. “Sweet!” I thought, “and sour.” CHA-CHING.
I got to the office, settled in and immediately inhaled my bag of jelly beans. (Yes, at 9:30 am. Take your judgement elsewhere.) They were awesome. I felt like I really had my you-know-what together. A little while later, I grabbed the empty bag to take a closer look at the nutrition info so I could enter it into my WW account. That’s when I noticed it. This very small (IMO) red box on the back of the bag.
“WARNING: CONSUMPTION MAY CAUSE STOMACH DISCOMFORT AND/OR LAXATIVE EFFECT. INDIVIDUAL TOLERANCE WILL VARY; WE SUGGEST STARTING WITH 8 BEANS OR LESS.”
Uhhhhhhhhh, I’m sorry. What was that? Was that 8 beans or less? I ask you, have you ever eaten 8 jelly beans? OR LESS? In fact, turn to the person next to you and ask them the same. If you’re on a train or a public bus or an airplane reading this, stand up and ask everyone around you. Has anyone in the history of humankind EVER eaten 8 jelly beans as a single serving? Because I ate 70 jelly beans. Yes, that’s right. 70. Roughly ten times their suggested serving.
I should’ve read the package more thoroughly, but a WARNING on the back of a bag of candy was not something I thought to look for. And quite frankly, if they’re being honest, they should call the candy ASS BULLETS and the disclaimer should read “PACK A BAG FOR YOUR INTENSTINES BECAUSE THEY’LL BE LEAVING YOU SHORTLY”. And laxative effect?? I googled the jelly beans and read, to my horror, account after account of people who, like me, had mistakenly eaten the whole bag. The sugar alcohol they use in place of real sugar is no bueno on the old insides. I looked at the empty bag. OMG. WHAT HAD I DONE?
I looked at the clock. 11:00 am. I was taking a 1:30 train home and would be safely at home by 3:00 p.m. I hated going #2 at work. The thought of taking a smash (<- my husband’s term) next to a co-worker and then pulling up a chair next to them at a meeting was too much for me. I briefly considered trying to throw up the jelly beans to save myself a nail biter situation, but that’s not my style. I love food too much to part with it in that manner. And my husband and I eat Taco Bell regularly, so I figured if my insides could handle their refried beans, some sugar-free jelly frijoles wouldn’t be too much of an issue. Right?
One o’clock rolled around and there’d been no action. I finished at the office and peaced out, optimistic that I was going to survive this shitstorm. I hopped on the Long Island Railroad and texted my husband (teacher, off for the summer) to pick me up about 10 minutes from our house. As the train pulled out of Penn Station, I felt my first gurgle. My plan was to take deep breaths, focus on the music in my headphones and not dwell on the fact that Rosemary’s Baby was brewing inside me. This worked for the first 30 minutes and then, about halfway home my stomach started cramping and making pop & whoosh sounds. With 40 minutes to go, I sat very still and accepted the fact that it had begun. I had to elevate my poop status to the emergency level – CODE BROWN.
I tried to remain calm but as the minutes passed it began to sound like an airplane toilet was flushing in my stomach. And then it happened. I downloaded, if you will. The brown hellhound had climbed the steps and was at my back door. I WAS TOUCHING CLOTH. This is when the feverish, desperate, soul-igniting, buttcheek clenching began. I clamped those babies shut so tight, the jaws of life couldn’t have pried them open. It was my only hope. All I could think was, “I’M GOING TO EXPLODE POOP THE TRAIN.” The LIRR bathrooms are no place for an episode like this. NO PLACE. I would need to be able to sit and grip and touch and maybe sob as the demon exited my body, so I wiggled and shifted in my seat with each new snap & swirl I felt. I was sweating jelly bullets.
I don’t remember the last 15 minutes of that train ride. I think I left my body. My husband was getting the play by play via text so he was prepped. All I remember after I hit the danger zone was pulling into the station and very gingerly doing a waddle down the stairs where I saw him revving the engine of our Jeep like we’d just robbed a diarrhea bank and he was waiting for me to make our getaway. He knew what was at stake here and basically pulled away as I opened the car door and fell in. I was at CODE BROWN DEF CON. There was no time for safety. There was only speed. We were like Shitsky & Hutch.
We got home, I ran inside and, you guys…I made it. I made it in time. I will spare you the particulars but you should know that I expelled things from my body that day that had probably been there since junior high, maybe even elementary school. I was sweaty and light-headed and I felt like I would pass out, but I didn’t. I made it. I believe that’s the closest I’ve ever been to meeting God. I leaned against the cold bathroom wall and I talked to Him. “OMG THANK YOU GOD. THANK YOU GOD IF YOU’RE REAL. THANK YOU FOR NOT LETTING ME BLOW OUT MY JEANS ON THE LONG ISLAND RAILROAD. THANK YOU FOR NOT LETTING ME DIARRHEA GREG’S JEEP. THANK YOU FOR THE EXQUISITE SPHINCTER AND BUTTCHEEK STRENGTH WHICH I PROBABLY GET FROM MY DAD’S SIDE. AMEN.”
I still love me some sweets, but since that day, I keep my eye out for warning labels. I tell any of my friends who are getting colonoscopies that they should eat these jelly beans instead of drinking that awful stuff the doctors make you drink to cleanse your colon. These taste a lot better and I can guarantee they’ll leave your colon sparkling clean.
I’m warning you. It’s a true story and it’s pretty gross.
I’d pretty much blocked out this entire incident until a friend asked for some info about my gym, including a question about the pool. And then I remembered. That pool. That goddamn pool.
It brought me right back to Spring 2010. My son was about 5 weeks old and I joined the local Gold’s Gym to train for a half marathon I’d signed up for that fall. I figured it’d be a great way to burn off the 40 lbs I put on while pregnant. It was a new gym, close to home, with daycare. Sign me up.
Not an avid swimmer, I had no real intention of ever using that goddamn pool. I could swim as a means to NOT DROWN but there was no actual technique or grace involved. Regardless, a couple of weeks into my membership and still on maternity leave from my publishing job in Manhattan, I decided to ditch the treadmill and shake up my routine by hitting the pool.
IMPORTANT TO KNOW:
FIRST. Still being a young, hip, previously slender 32-year-old mom, I only had bikinis. There were no one-piece racerback style Speedos in the swimwear drawer of my dresser.
SECOND. I’d just had a baby. My body was snowsuit ready, not swimsuit ready.
THIRD. I’m Sicilian. And not the tall, thin gorgeous type of Italians and Sicilians you see in the Lavazza commercials. I’m 5’2″ with hair in unfortunate places. Usually a die-hard fan of the brazilian wax, the 3rd degree episiotomy to my you-know-what had prevented me from rushing right back to my waxer. That being said, my BIKINI AREA could’ve survived a northern New York winter WITHOUT a snowsuit. Ya got me, ladies?
On the day of The Incident I grabbed a few-sizes-too-small black bikini from my drawer and headed for the gym. After a little cardio, I hit the locker room to get changed. I felt pretty ridiculous smooshed into my two-piece. I looked like a tightly trussed turkey on Thanksgiving morning. But I thought, “I’ve got to start somewhere, it’s 11 am on a Tuesday and who the hell’s going to see me anyway?” I looked in the mirror, sucked it up and sucked it in. I had the eye of the tiger.
I walked into the pool area and signed in. There were two young girls working as lifeguards that morning. I looked at them in their tiny black and gold swimsuits with their tight butts and perky boobs, and thought, “Awesome. I’m going to look just like that after I do about 25,000 laps in this pool. So let’s get to it.” I took off my towel, tried to nonchalantly cover my furry bits and scampered into the pool.
The few people who were swimming had on swimsuits, swim caps and goggles that actual swimmers would wear to a lap pool. Not intimidated, I began my weird doggy paddle-whatever stroke. It was fine. My muscles were burning. I was breathing heavy. I was moving from one end of the pool to the other. And the lifeguards hadn’t jumped in to save me, so I figured it was going well. To help pass the time, I envisioned myself in appropriate swimwear, really getting into it. Maybe I’d do this every day and get ripped. Maybe I had real swimming chops, and I’d become some mom swimmer phenom and make it to the Olympics. Why not? People go under the knife for surgery and wake up with British accents. I could give birth and become a competitive swimming sensation. Crazier shit has happened.
After a half hour, I decided to call it a day and got out of the pool. I felt great. As I dried off, I felt comfortable enough to begin chatting with the two young lifeguards at the table whose bodies hadn’t yet been ravaged by childbirth. I was friendly and witty, making jokes. HARDY HAR HAR. I wasn’t sweating over any body shame because I knew that soon I’d be on the cover of Sports Illustrated accepting a gold medal for the 200 mm Butterfly in Seychelles or wherever, and I’d probably be the wallpaper on these girls’ iPhones. It was all good. I told the girls I’d see them the next day, grabbed my stuff and headed back to the locker room…where I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror.
Forget about my unorthodox swimming technique. Forget about my tightly trussed midsection. Forget about my bikini area that looked like Bradley Cooper in American Hustle. Forget about all of those things.
Let’s talk about boogers. There are basically three types. The small, crusty boogers that your friends might refer to as a “cliffhanger” or “a bat in your cave” if you’re my friend Suelyn who grew up in Pennsylvania. Those could get blown out of your nose without you ever even knowing they were there. Then, you have your more garden variety boogers that require a tissue. You should probably leave the room to take care of them. You know, get in there a little. THEN, there are boogers that co-starred with J. Lo and Ice Cube in the movie ANACONDA. The kind that look like they made a 12-day pilgrimage from behind the temporal lobe of your brain, through your sinus cavity, and finally made their way out into the light of day with a stick and bindle and a ratty side dog named Bobo.
That’s the kind of booger that was strung across my face. The last kind. It was clinging from my right nostril almost to my right ear, hanging there like a nightmarish Happy Birthday banner. I FROZE, remembering all the HARDY HARS and YUKKITY YUKS from 60 seconds ago, when I thought I was charming the Under Armour shorts off those girls. WITH A SNOT SLUG ON MY FACE. I quickly gathered myself, grabbed 32 rolls of paper towel and got to work slaying the beast.
At first, I was mortified. Obviously. Then, I felt bad that those poor girls had to witness my nasal exorcism. They probably marched right into their boss’s office and quit their jobs, demanding workers’ comp for PTSD. But then, my humiliation turned to rage that they didn’t give me a heads up. I know I looked like Slimer took a flyby ectoplasmic crap on my face, but come on people! If you see something, ya gotta say something! Help a girl out! At that moment I vowed I would never let any booger on the face of a friend, foe or stranger go unmentioned.
I still go to the same Gold’s Gym, but to this day, I haven’t been back in that pool. I’ve stepped up my swimwear game and I see my waxer on the reg, and though I’m sure those girls are long gone by now — I’ll never go in there again. That pool haunts me like a watery poltergeist. A special place in Hell for people who let you walk away from a conversation with a gummy worm hanging off your face.
Remember when your mother used to say “OH MY GOD! If you say MOM again, I’m changing my name!” Well, now you know why and you feel awful about it too, don’t you? That whole, One Day I Hope You Have A Kid Who Acts Like You curse must be the real deal because the barrage of “MOMs” I get hit with each morning before 9:20 a.m. is enough to put any sane person into a mental institution.
My husband leaves for work around 6:40 each morning. He comes over to give me a kiss or pat me on the butt before he takes off. Sometimes we have this conversation:
Him: “Bye, babe”
Me: “NO. Where are you going?!”
Me: “DON’T LEAVE ME HERE ALONE WITH THEM!”
My 9 year old daughter (sometimes known as The Girl One) is an early riser. She’s always up before my husband leaves. ALWAYS. My son (The Boy One) would sleep in a little if she’d let him but she likes everyone to partake in the splendour that is morn. When I hear their dad close the front door, it’s GAME ON.
The Girl One calls up from downstairs: “Mom. Mom. MOM! Mom come cook breakfast!” She can reach the bananas and I’ve seen her pour cereal and milk into a bowl before. She’s even used the toaster. Swear to God. But still, she wants MOM to do it. Fine.
Me: “BLERGGG. I’m coming!”
I head downstairs and into the fray. The breakfast bustle gets underway and I begin the morning countdown to bus time like Ted Allen on an episode of CHOPPED. “27 minutes left on the clock, guys! Don’t forget to pack your backpack! Homework, lunch, flute, permission slip! Let’s do this, people!”
So now, because I’ve prompted her (anywhere from 5-25 times), The Girl One is headed to the shower. This is only after she begs me to come into the bathroom to stay with her for the duration of her cleanse. I guess she becomes hysterically blind after she eats her waffle and can’t see me cleaning up breakfast, making lunches, packing up homework, feeding the cat and letting the dog in & out the back door every 48 seconds. I say I’ll be in when I’m finished doing X, Y and Z but as soon as the water turns on…
The Girl One: “Mom, come on. Mom. Mom come on. Mom, are you coming? Are you done yet? I can hear you outside the door. Mom. Mom?”
I KNOW YOU’RE ANNOYED JUST READING THIS AND SHE’S NOT EVEN YOUR KID.
I’m like the Muhammad Ali of moms when it comes to shower time. Somehow, I bob and weave my way out of this hornet’s nest each morning and I make my way to the basement to begin “selecting the children’s outfits”.
Let’s all stop for a moment and have a hearty chuckle at the concept of “selecting the children’s outfits”. It sounds so civilized when in fact, picking out clothes in my house each morning is like trying to disarm an explosive with the clock ticking down from 60 seconds. The pants that make too much noise? ARE YOU INSANE? The socks that feel weird? WHY TEMPT FATE? The shirt with the owl on it? HAVE WE FORGOTTEN LAST THURSDAY? One wrong move and your morning detonates. SHRAPNEL EVERYWHERE. No survivors.
While I’m in The Laundry Room Hurt Locker, The Boy One starts calling down from the living room. He hasn’t looked away from the TV in 30 minutes so he has no idea where I am and no intention of trying to find me. Why do that when he can just scream his goddamn head off for 10 minutes?
The Boy One: “Mom!”
The Boy One: “Maaaahhhh-aaaahhhmmmm!”
Me: “YEA! I’m downst-”
The Boy One: “MMMOOMMMM!”
Me: “OMG WHAT!?!?!?! I’M IN THE FREAKING BASEMENT!!!!!”
This is when I snap. The rapid-fire-without-a-chance-to-answer-“MOM” makes me levitate, and not in a cute Mary Poppins type way. I’m like Mary Poppins’ bitchy cousin who dropped out of high school to follow her boyfriend’s band across the country and then he slept with her best friend and now she has to work at the home for wayward children instead of working for a nice family and singing songs about sugar and crap.
We do this pretty much every day. By the time I get both of those animals to the bus I feel like a bull rider who couldn’t hold on for 8 seconds. But the crazy part is that even when I feel like a wild-eyed Mommy Dearest on the inside, I kiss those kids on their faces and look them in their beautiful eyes and tell them I love them. And I mean it. The morning’s transgressions already forgiven and forgotten. My kids must’ve pumped unconditional love to me through the umbilical cord because they’re the only ones who love me even remotely the same way. I don’t think I had that ability before they were born. It allows me to block out whatever ridiculous things they do so the love can bubble up and I can do the only job I really have to do, which is to love them.
After last week’s post, I received this text from a friend:
Apart from making me a little emotional, it reminded me of a conversation my sister-in-law and mother-in-law had once. My SIL was saying that her kids just make her nuts all the time and she was always feeling wound up and that she never remembered my MIL being like that when she was young. My MIL laughed and assured us that there were MANY times like that, but MY SIL didn’t remember them because overall, she had a happy childhood.
The loving, the laughing, the yelling, the kisses, the fighting, the worry, the hugs, the chaos, the parenting wins and losses. Those are the ingredients that make a family and every family has its’ own recipe. There are no hard and fast rules. A cake batter may have a few lumps in it, but even with a few lumps, a well-made cake is still pretty delicious. My kids may yell my name 74 times a morning but I just have to remember, that’s the exact number of “MOMs” it takes to make a morning in our house. Some mornings I may not handle it like Princess Diana, but if I end each morning and each night with a hug, a kiss and an “I Love You”, we might just get this cake baked after all.