Tag Archives: blog


19 Mar


A few weeks ago, I got hacked.

Not cyber-hacked. (That was my mother. She started tweeting out messages about Beyoncé’s weight gain…which made sense to me because my mom is in the one-percent of people who really are not Beyoncé fans. But even still – that would have been way harsh.)

I mean “hacked” like Hacksaw Ridge hacked. (No. Just kidding. I don’t. That’s way too aggressive an analogy for what I’m about to describe. I just wanted to sound cinema-fluent and current.)

About a month ago, I went to the dermatological surgeon for a “brief,” “routine” procedure.

“You have a weird mole,” my dermatologist told me. “It’s probably nothing! It’s probably less than nothing! In fact, it’s probably not even there! This has probably all been a dream!”

She’s a nice dermatologist, and she has really nice shoes. But she was dead wrong about this one.

One biopsy later and BOOM: you have “problematic skin cells.” Not cancerous, or even pre-cancerous cells – just “problematic” ones.

The way I see it, problematic cells are like problematic children: if left unattended, they may grow up to be problematic adults – people who don’t recycle, or who start bar fights, or who only talk to their parents when they need money (to be bailed out of jail).

If you remove problematic cells, then you’re at a much lower risk for developing pre-cancer, or cancer. (I’m not suggesting we kill off problematic children. I’m suggesting we nip them in the bud, with a firm talking to, or a good, thorough PowerPoint on recycling.)

As I understood it, I was going to this dermatological surgeon to remove a few “problematic cells.”


I showed up to the doctor five minutes late, but chipper. It was the Friday of a long weekend! I was home for the weekend! My parents were taking me to Papa Razzi, where the breadsticks are firm and the focaccia bread is moist. So I’d be a few cells fewer…what’s the big deal? What could go wrong?

Would you like to know what the surgeon said to me, as soon as I walked into the “operating room”?

“I’m really sorry about this,” he said. “It’s not going to be pretty.”

What wasn’t going to be pretty?

“It’s a tough area to heal. You’re probably going to have a pretty big scar. Again, I’m sorry.”

The surgeon was preemptively apologizing to me. Save an oral surgery procedure and one rogue colonoscopy, I don’t have much experience with surgery (*knock on wood*). But I knew this was not a good opening line.

I was nervous, and he could tell. As he numbed my leg, I tried to answer his questions about my life and my studies. I tried to tell myself that scars build character and besides, wouldn’t I rather have a scar over “problematic” cells?

The male nurse came in to assist. He was cute. I noticed. My toenails were unpolished and kind of gross-looking. I worried he’d noticed. He probably had.

I’ll spare you the details of this procedure, but let me say this: I am NOT a fan of surgery. I nearly passed out, peed, barfed, and cried, all at the same time. I think the doctor could tell I was about to up and run, because he started asking me if I watched…WAIT FOR IT… The Bachelor.

I must’ve lit up like a Christmas tree, because he looked like he’d struck gold. We talked about this season. I pretended I was too good to “fall into the trap” of the show. (I crossed my fingers underneath my butt because of course I’m not too good to “fall into the trap” – I jump in, every season, head first!)

When all was said and done, they mandated me not to exercise for two weeks (no problem, gentlemen) and to clean my stitches. HA! You think I’m taking that bandage off? Think again!

The day after my “surgery,” my grandmother showed up at my house with a present. Not a stuffed animal, or some soup, but…a “leg condom.”

What is a leg condom? Why does my grandmother have a leg condom? Who coined the term, “leg condom”?

These are all very good questions.

A “leg condom” is a big, plastic stocking that you wear over your leg when you cannot wet it in the shower. It cuts off your circulation with a big rubber-band and makes it impossible to wash from the knee-down. It also creates a safety hazard in the shower because it is very slippery against a porcelain tub.

My grandmother has a leg condom because she, too, had a skin procedure that mandated she keep the area dry.

The term “leg condom” was invented by my grandmother. It was the topic of conversation at at least two family dinner parties that I can recall. And now, it had re-entered my life with a vengeance.

After a long explanation about leg condom usage, and a lot of weird looks from my poor father, we had a cup of tea and my grandmother was on her way.

I received several texts that day, asking how the “L.C.” had worked out in the shower, and if everything had stayed dry. These texts were sent under the assumption that I am someone who showers over a long-weekend. Am I? You’ll never know; a lady never reveals her bi-weekend shower rituals.

Two weeks passed quickly, and I again found myself at my dermatological surgeon’s office. I waited 45-minutes for him to take a snip to my stitches and say, “Looks great! All done!” Couldn’t I have done this myself? I have scissors. I know how to congratulate myself. I’d make a fabulous dermatological surgeon.

I told the doctor that I was to leave on a trip to Guatemala the following morning. He told me to be careful and to avoid any intense activity.

I said, lightheartedly, “Ok, but, it’s not like the scar is going to split open, right?”

“That’s exactly what might happen,” he said, before patting me on the shoulder and walking out.

I panicked to my mother. I told her I’d never be able to pose for leg photographs again. I worried about my leg modeling career. I worried about my potential marathon career. I feared I’d never have an article written about me, titled, “Leg Model Wins Marathon.” I also worried I’d do something rash on my trip to Guatemala, like sky diving or bungee jumping, which would cause my leg to explode and me to be evacuated in a dramatic helicopter scene.


And so, we reach the present-day. Guatemala has come and gone, and while I thought my scar would be my biggest health concern during the trip, it was not. Nothing split open or necessitated medical evacuation.

There were, however, some *other* medical issues.

There’s nothing like a little Dengue Fever to distract yourself from an overreaction to a minor skin procedure and its scar.

Did I actually contract Dengue Fever? Of course not. Did I convince myself I had? Of course.

What our group learned in Guatemala is that one day, you’ll feel fine – you’ll sip strawberry daiquiris and eat side lettuce and wonder why Guatemala gets such a bad rap for its food safety because my God, this food is delicious!

The next day, you’ll feel like an army of trolls is trying to make its way out of your insides. You’ll run five minutes down a lakeside trail to use a nearby public restroom because both toilets in the house where you’re staying will be clogged.

You’ll walk back to the house, feeling “off,” but convinced there’s nothing a little oatmeal and some fresh air won’t solve.

You’ll spend your day in the sun, riding on boats between villages, trying to not act sick. You may even eat an entire Hawaiian pizza, just to prove to yourself how totally not sick you feel.

Then, you’ll get home, and you’ll get in bed with a fever. You’ll ache and feel cold and then hot. You’ll notice a petit bug bite on your cheek. You’ll remember that one time your friend was sick with Dengue Fever. You’ll wonder if Guatemala has a Dengue risk. Because you’ll – unfortunately – have Wi-Fi, you’ll Google such questions, and will discover that yes, Guatemala is, in fact, a Dengue country. What harm could a little Dengue research do to a feverish young woman? Much. Much harm.

You’ll read the symptoms for Dengue and decide that you, too, have been stricken by the D. You’ll text your mom and make her panic. You’ll tell your roommate that the incubation period for Dengue is “three to 15 days,” and that you’ll surely be bedridden for the remainder of the trip. She’ll walk in on you wearing a dramatic mosquito net as a veil, and will laugh openly in your face. You’ll consider what to eat for your last supper. You’ll ask her to bring you back a full fish meal, with cake for dessert, from the group dinner you’ll miss. She’ll do so, kindly, and you won’t touch a bit because you, of course, have the Dengue.

The next morning, much to your surprise, you’ll wake up feeling totally fine. You won’t have a fever. You won’t even have a stomach ache. You’ll smell like someone who sweat through a mosquito net all night, but other than that, you’ll be back to normal.

And so, here is my recommendation: if something, such as a big leg scar, makes you feel at-risk and slightly uncomfortable, simply convince yourself you have a far worse issue plaguing you. Act as dramatic as possible and get everyone around you to worry. Do not consider alternative causes for your discomfort. Let your imagination run wild.

That, my friends, is what I call, “getting some perspective.”







Resting Bitch Tonsils

8 Jul



This is not how I like to begin public conversations. Actually, this is not how I like to begin any conversation. Especially one that takes place at 8:30AM. On a petite shuttle bus.

I am not a fan of phone conversations. Which is odd, because I love talking, and I love my phone…so you’d think the combination would be equivalent to a cookie pizza, or a puppy who can turn into a stress-free turtle, on those days when you just don’t feel like cleaning up piss and going for walks.

But no. Phone conversations are annoying and cumbersome. Why can’t we just text? (The title of my romantic memoir. Or, rather, someone’s romantic memoir about me.) Why can’t I just tell my secretary to make the call? (He’s been on vacation for nearly 23 years, but I’m confident he’ll show up at some point, tanned and ready for work.)

When someone calls me, I feel panicked, like, oh my God, the last time someone called me was before THE WAHR, what could this possibly be about??

Internal panic makes my voice sound like a stereo that once experienced an *accidental* strawberry sauce bath: “Hello?” I hear myself whisper. (I have nodes on my vocal chords, so sometimes, I try to speak and literally NO sound comes out.) I clear my throat. “HELLO??” I accidentally SHOUT, in my clear, nodes-free teacher voice.

Static. A pause.

“He-” I begin again, only to be interrupted by the person on the other end.

The conversation continues much like this–with ample starts and stops, and a lot of whisper yelling–until one of us decides to say, “Ok, great, I’ll text you the info to confirm. Thanks!”

You’ll TEXT ME the info?? Why couldn’t you have TEXTED me this entire conversation? You’ve raised my cortisol levels for no significant reason, and now I’m more likely to gain weight over the course of my lifetime. Also, my nodes are acting up. I haven’t prepared them for this. Will YOU be paying for my surgery? I want Adele’s doctor. And I want Adele to be there. SHE NEEDS TO BE THERE.

Anyway. This is why I don’t like phone conversations. Unless they’re with Adele.

On this particular morning, I had to make a phone call pertaining to tonsillitis, which I thought had been cured after ten days of drinking, while on antibiotics. But apparently, I was mistaken. All of my symptoms had returned with a vengeance.

Since I am a working woman, and a mid-day doctor’s appointment means a serious disruption to my work-life balance, I decided it necessary to call the office right after opening, so as to secure an appointment time that would convenience me.

The office opens at 8AM. I make the transition from train to office shuttle bus at approximately 8:25. I arrive at the bus stop at 8:30, which leaves me five minutes to occupy myself with extracurricular pursuits. Usually, I just lean against a wall and do my anti-Resting Bitch Face exercises (these include repeatedly raising and lowering the corners of my mouth, while thinking of peaceful things, like beaches and tax returns.) I’m pretty sure these exercises will result in even more wrinkles, but my mom says the resting state of my face isn’t very “pleasant looking,” so I’ve added “Anti-RBF” exercises to my long list of self-improvements.

This morning, however, people would have to deal with my natural grimaces because I had a health-related call to make!

I dialed the doctor’s office, where I was received by a pleasant, no doubt RBF-free operator, who told me to press buttons until Sandra was done with her breakfast sandwich and free to take my call.

I waited. And I waited. I wondered if her breakfast sandwich had bacon, because that would make it greasier and might mean she’d have to wash her hands after eating.

I continued to wait, until I saw my shuttle bus arrive. Shit.

I had two options: either hang up in a panic and call back later, or risk the humiliation of a public phone call.

How much do people really listen to other people’s phone calls, anyway? Sure, I know all about the birthday party that Wendy from Acton is throwing for her son this weekend, and how her mother is very concerned that ordering pizza might “send the wrong idea” to neighbors, and how Wendy will need to discuss things with her husband before making any decisions, and that her husband’s name is Robert, and that Robert has “a lot going on this week…”

But I only know all of that because the man sitting next to Wendy on the train yesterday burped into my ear, which caught my attention and inspired me to pay closer attention to my surroundings.

How much do people really listen when there’s no one there to burp?

I decided to continue with the call.

I boarded the shuttle, which was a lot quieter than usual. Where was the hum of the AC? Why wasn’t at least ONE of these six or seven people talking?

“Hello,” a human voice said on the other end of my phone call.


“Hi,” I whispered. (My nodes were particularly active this morning, and I also didn’t want to display all of my dirty laundry for these shuttle people. I was already wearing a shirt that I’d found in my dirty laundry, so no need to beat a dead horse.)

“I, uh, had a bout of tonsillitis two weeks ago and it went away with medication but now…”

“What was that? You had what?”

“Tonsillitis,” I said, slightly louder.

“Name?” Sandra asked, like she was taking my order at a 1960s diner and was tired of serving food on roller skates.


“Date of birth?”

What was this woman going to ask next?? My social security number? My underwear size?? Why I’d said “No, not today,” when that cashier at Marshall’s asked if I wanted to donate a dollar to The Jimmy Fund last week??

I told her my birthday.

“Ok, so what are your symptoms?” Sandra asked.

“My throat is still really sore and I’m having some…phlegm,” I nearly whispered.

“What? I’m sorry, I’m having trouble hearing you.”

There was still not a SOUL talking on this bus, besides me. Even the driver’s intercom had shut off. He was probably airing my conversation to the other bus drivers for their early morning amusement.

“Phlegm,” I said, at a perfectly normal volume.

“Could you repeat that?”


I felt the nodes parting like the red sea. Oh no. There was going to be a flood.


Whoop, there it was.

The man behind me shifted uncomfortably in his seat. I heard another man clear his throat. (Oh no he did NOT just appropriate my issue! There is only room for ONE phlegm monster on this petite shuttle bus, and that monster is ME.)

“Okay, the doctor can see you tomorrow, mid-day,” Sandra said.

“What’s the latest time she has?” I asked. I had already put an arrow on my back, why not annoy one more person in the process?

“That is the only time she has. Shall I put you down for tomorrow?”


I hung up the phone. I felt eyes on me. Oh, that’s real nice, guys, way to single out the “sick girl.”

I tried to distract myself with texting, but then I felt something happening to my body.

A sneeze. A freaking flawlessly comically-timed sneeze.

I tried to hold it in by holding my breath and tensing my body, but then realized this wasn’t a fart; this was a totally different animal all together.

As the oxygen began to drain from my body, I felt my resistances weaken, and out popped a loud sneeze. Not a gross one (I am a LADY) but a nice, loud one.

None of the windows of this tiny ass shuttle bus were open, and I’d just infested the incubator.

When we finally arrived at the office, I scurried off the shuttle, as if to say, “Don’t worry, guys, you can still live life to the fullest, even if you get tonsillitis!”

I’m not sure they noticed my efforts to be positive and upbeat. But on the plus side, all of my apologetic positivity meant a lot of raising and lowering of the corners of my mouth.

Tonsillitis and public humiliation: the best cures for Resting Bitch Face.





Spider Blob Mascara (and Other Employment Concerns)

27 Jun

ink blot pic

Everyone knows that a person’s brain is composed of several parts, but that a person’s mind has only two: the front, and the back.

Similarly, everyone knows that the two most important considerations on the first day of a new job are (in this order): 1. What you are going to bring for lunch and snacks, and 2. Your new job, new you look.

These two considerations exist in the front. Anything else – like transportation details – is relegated to the back, next to memories of that time you locked your baby sister outside of a hotel room, naked, and that text message from your landlord, telling you your rent is seven weeks late.

With a highly compartmentalized mind like this, it can be difficult to leave margins for error. You might have 0.5 margins, like a naughty student who’s trying to elongate a paper. Or, if you’re super into color-coded Tupperware and ballpoint pens and “calendars,” you might leave one-inch margins for error.

You might also be an abstract artist, who doesn’t believe in setting margins, and who would prefer to finger paint on walls. That is OK.

But, as an abstract painter who began her FIFTH internship last week, let me usher you this warning: on your first day of work, you will get finger paint on your clothes, in your hair, and a little bit in your mouth.

On my first day of work, I woke up at 6:30AM without hitting snooze. I cleansed myself – physically and emotionally – and then got dressed.

I applied my mascara, only to step away from the mirror and realize that one set of eyelashes looked like a spider, and the other looked like the prongs of a fork. Thinking I could do better, I attempted to touch up my work, only to poke myself directly in the eyeball. (Ladies, can we just agree that on normal days, where we have nothing to do but return books to the library and buy a sandwich, our mascara looks FLAWLESS. But then, when we actually have important things to do, like start new jobs and meet the Queen, we develop rare shaking disorders and poor eyesight, and our eyelashes come out looking like those ink blot designs that therapists use to assess kids who suck on their shirt collars and play with poo.)

Still, not all was lost. I was on time! I had a homemade latte! I had remembered to put on shoes! I was like one of those moms whom people ask, “Dina, how do you do it?” Except I’m not a mom and my name isn’t Dina and if anyone asked me that, I’d ask them why they hadn’t asked the same question to ______, my dedicated husband and life partner, with whom I share equally any and all child rearing responsibilities. (I’m going to be a real picnic at neighborhood potlucks!)

I got to the train station on time for my 7:30AM train. I’ve always driven to work, so I was a bit nervous to be a public transport “commuter.” What do commuters wear? What do commuters eat? Do we feel united under the bond of public transportation? Would there be commuter ice cream socials and book groups? Or, would we silently stare at each other and wonder why we’d never called one of those 1-800 numbers that offer “high-paying” jobs where you can “work from home” in your “pajamas”? (Turns out, commuters do the latter. There are no ice cream socials. Or book clubs. None to which I’m invited, at least.)

I texted my friend, Lindsey, to see if she would also be taking the train to work.

Oh, happy day, she was!

We stood on the platform and chatted in hushed whispers because nobody else seemed to be talking.

We waited for five minutes. Then ten. Then twelve. Then fifteen.

“Wow, the train has been on time literally every other day that I’ve taken it,” said Lindsey.

This is when I knew. This is when I knew that the emotional and physical cleansing, the latte, and the shoes had all just been too-good-to-be-true distractions from the blatant omen that was my spider blot mascara job.

We boarded the train and arrived at the station, thirty minutes late.

I told myself it was no big deal because when people give 9AM as start times, they really just mean 9AM and some minutes, right? Like when people say they’re “twenty plus ten” because it sounds better than thirty…right? RIGHT??

Besides, the shuttle from North Station to my Seaport office would only take a few minutes, and it was conveniently the same shuttle as Lindsey’s!

“Ma’am, I don’t know what building you’re looking for, but you can’t get there from here,” said the shuttle director.

“But, I, I have instructions telling me to take a shuttle and…I…well, it’s all written here…um…”

“Ma’am, you can take the number four bus, which picks up across the street in two minutes.”

And just like that, I was ripped away from Lindsey and was running across the street for the Number Four bus which was about to…

Nope. The Number Four bus would not arrive for another twenty minutes.

During that time, I would feel a giant WHACK against the back of my leg, and would wonder if I had just been bitch slapped by the tail of a T-Rex…only to realize that I’d been smacked by the cane of a blind man (who knew exactly where he was going…)

I finally boarded the bus, only to pay $3 for a $2.10 bus ticket, and to stand in the doorway of the bus for several seconds, stupidly waiting for the floods of change that I was owed from a machine that does not give change.

You have to spend money to make money, right?

The kind bus driver told me where he thought I should dismount, but of course acted like he’d never heard of the address I’d said, and like it was something I’d made up off the top of my head, perhaps inspired by a game of Monopoly I’d played last night.

I wandered along the road, frantically turning my GPS left, right, and upside down, hoping the building would just magically call, “Sophie, I’m over here! Follow the yellow brick road!” (Knowing me, the road would be yellow due to piss, and I’d have to change my shoes, afterward.)

I wandered into a building that I thought might be the right one, only to realize I’d entered a high-stress emergency situation, featuring an older man who couldn’t breathe, and several concerned receptionists.

“Um, hi,” I said, to the one receptionist who didn’t seem directly involved in the situation. “Um, could you tell me where building number twenty-one is located?”


“Just follow that road out there to the end of the building,” the receptionist replied.

“Oh, so it’s in the same building as this?” I asked.


“Yes,” she said. “It’s the same building.”

“Okay,” I said, “But is there an entrance that’s open, because I saw a lot of construction and I wasn’t sure if…”

“INCOMING,” yelled the emergency responders, as they wheeled a giant stretcher into the lobby.”

“Yes,” replied the receptionist, “you’ll see the entrance, it’s all the way down and to the left.”

“Okay, thanks,” I said, as I tried to maneuver around the stretcher and the people pulling out oxygen masks, without seeming like that girl who asks for directions and then leaves a suffocating older man in the lobby of a hotel…

After walking past several construction workers and appealing looking food stations that had me wondering if it was too soon to take an “early lunch,” I found the entrance!

I was late. But, all of the time I’d spent waiting had allowed me the opportunity to fix my eyelashes. And, I opened my calendar to find that lunch had been scheduled by my boss!

And just like that, poof! My front-mind was cleared and ready to be filled with more important concerns and ruminations, like whether or not my dog feels loved or if I’ll one day be a commuter who commutes in sneakers and then changes at the office.

Welcome to the rat race.





Two Turkeys, One Swine, and a Duck

29 Nov

turkey eat-ham.png

It’s the day before Thanksgiving 2010. I’m sitting in my “American Rebels and Romantics” literature class and it hits me: a fever. Aches, chills, hot and cold, all at the same time. Luckily, I’m wearing two North Face fleece sweatshirts because this was the height of the “Mountain Man Meets Suburban Woman” fashion trend. We all showed up to school looking like we were expecting to “weather the elements,” eat a Cliff bar or two, and then take a nice nap in our polartec sleeping bags.

I go to take my Pre-Calc test and numbers and formulas are whizzing through my head. This must be how Einstein felt on the regular, I think to myself. Feverish with a passion for CALCULATIONS.

(It was the best grade I ever got on a Pre-Calc test. I think we can thank the fever.)

When I got home that afternoon and told my mom I wasn’t feeling well, I threw my entire house into a state of panicked delirium.

“SHE COULD HAVE SWINE FLU, MIKE,” my mom yelled. “We need to keep her isolated!!”

Yes, this was the height of le Swine. Everyone was on high alert.

“Did you hear that Rosie got…swine flu?!” the town’s mothers were whispering, as if Rosie were pregnant and dating a teacher, all at the same time.

My sister has severe asthma, so my family was – understandably – on high alert.

And so, they forced me to wear a mask and gloves and to stay in my room like some kind of walking contagion. (My mom will be mortified that I’m recounting this story. Onward.)

And so I sat, in my room, like a shorthaired, brunette princess. This was my Sleeping Beauty story.

My uncle stopped by that night and brought me a little stuffed animal. I waved to him sadly at my window, in a scene fit to be a Lifetime movie trailer.

I thought Thanksgiving was going to hell in a hand basket.


No one was keeping me up there. In fact, I think everyone had forgotten by that point and was eating pizza and watching the latest Twilight movie. But melodrama is my thing.

The next morning, I awoke and felt…completely normal. My fever was gone, my appetite was back, and I felt like myself again. Whatever mutant illness had attempted to enter my body the day before had clearly been scared off by my incessant whaling tantrum.

“She’s fucking nuts, I’m outta here!” it probably said. Kind of like the Mucinex commercial.

And so, I rejoined my family – sans gloves and mask – and we celebrated Thanksgiving as normal. And by “normal,” I mean that every time my parents asked me to “please pass the___,” I responded with, “WAIT, HANG ON, let me put on my gloves.”

Fast forward to Thanksgiving 2015 and I’m in bed, with a fever.

The day before, I was waiting to try to register for a French Pilates course (which luckily was at capacity), when a familiar yet unfailingly uncomfortable feeling hit me: aches, chills, hot and cold, all at the same time. (Plus the kind of stomach pain that you just know will lead to that scene from Bridesmaids.)

Oh shit, I thought. I think I’m getting sick. It must have been the duck I ate for lunch.

What do people do when they feel themselves getting sick? I’m not sure. I decided it was necessary to run – not walk – to the nearest produce market and buy clementines and oranges. There’s NEVER a bad time for citrus. The fruit man looked at the glassy-eyed, sweating and shivering girl in his store and definitely thought he was selling to someone in the heat of drug withdrawals.

When I had my fruit fix, I ran home and jumped in bed.

Because I’m an adult (kind of) and living in France, there is no parental supervision to force me to wear a mask and gloves. There is just me, myself, and I. (Plus my kind roommate, who bought me Powerade, and the other really nice people here who check in on me.)

The most gratifying part of getting sick is being able to whine and complain about it. Because when you’re sick – especially on a holiday – it’s like you’re the ONLY person to have EVER been sick in the history of the WORLD. No sickness has EVER been worse than the one you’re experiencing:

Why is this happening to me?? I love Thanksgiving more than literally ANYONE ELSE on this planet. This is SO unfair! Is this happening because I accidentally tripped that six-year-old last week so as to avoid stepping in dog shit? Or, is it because of that one time I lied about being sick in high school so I wouldn’t have to go to chorus dress rehearsal? The universe is SO unkind. I’m swearing off reading horoscopes for at least the foreseeable future. The universe doesn’t deserve my business!  

When you don’t want to drive your roommate insane, there is no one to whom you can bitch and moan. That’s when hallucinations come in handy.

Is that a fly on my wall? No, it’s a stain. It kind of looks like John Cena’s head:

john cena head

*John Cena’s head then starts talking.*

Omg you’re so funny, John Cena’s head, hahaha you kill me! Omg STOP, you’re crazy! You’re so bad! I loved you in Trainwreck!

Then comes the realization that maybe you should see someone. No, not John Cena. A real “someone,” like a doctor. Just to make sure it was, in fact, the duck you ate at that quaint little “Shop local, Eat Local, Smoke a Local Cigarette and then Don’t Wash Your Hands Before Cooking,” café.

And so, that is how I ended up in the one American doctor’s office in my town.

Dr. H, as we shall call him, wears suspenders and trendy glasses. He moved From the U.S. to France many years ago, and so kind of speaks English like a Disney cartoon character – with a mildly British accent. He said he recognized my slight “Massachusetts accent” and was thrilled to meet me, another American.

(Is speaking French with a slight “Massachusetts accent” more prestigious than speaking with a slight American accent? How is that detectable? I mean sure, I can ramble on about baked beans and tea parties for hours, but that’s more a question of content than sound…)

Dr. H took 30 seconds to examine me, told me that “life is beautiful,” wrote me three prescriptions (without really telling me if anything was actually ailing me), told me to eat a lot of “quince paste, boiled thyme, cooked cheese, and toast,” and then asked me to talk about my life in Boston.

In what will go down in history as one of the most heroic attempts to converse through the desire to shit oneself, I told Dr. H about my hometown, my friends, my family, BU, and what I’m doing in France. He told me he’s an “outdoors” person who enjoys a beer and pizza on a Friday night. (This statement confirmed his heritage. I then confirmed the truth of this statement by checking out his Match.com profile.)

When I checked my phone later that evening, there was a voicemail waiting for me from Dr. H, wishing me a Happy Thanksgiving. My parents thought this was weird. I then told them about John Cena’s head and they decided it might be best if I have a “doctor friend” close by.

Even when ill and in a different country, it’s nice to know there are people there for you. Let’s all be each other’s John Cena.

Supergoose Para Uno

24 Aug

Drinking alone and traveling alone – do they go hand-in-hand?

The other week, my flight out of Seattle was delayed by three hours…which meant my connection was obsolete…which meant I needed to find a new flight…which meant I couldn’t leave Seattle until 1am…which meant I had six hours to kill in the airport.

Killing six hours in an airport would have seemed really fun when I was ten. At age ten, my idea of fun was spending time alone at home, watching shows like “Jerry Springer” and “Dawson’s Creek,” and eating copious amounts of hot chocolate powder mixed with milk (a fat kid’s paradise). Given these riveting interests of mine, time spent in an airport would have been a dream!

By now, the thrill of solitary existence has worn off. (But not the thrills of daytime television or hot cocoa powder.) Today, the thrill has been replaced with a fear of “me-time.”

Sure, I’ll spend time alone when I’m driving to and from work, or when I’m using the bathroom, or when my dog’s barking drives me into a closet.

But besides these instances, I’d much prefer to be with people.

So that’s why these six hours were so daunting.

I looked at the vast expanse of the terminal and wondered what I was supposed to do. What did Tom Hanks do in The Terminal? I vaguely remembered a scene in which he brushed his teeth in the restroom and then tried to apply for jobs around the airport. Did my teeth need brushing? Should I also apply for a brief part-time job? Was anyone looking to hire a bedraggled youth with no retail experience but a passion for buying last-minute nick knacks before flying? (If anyone is looking to fill this description, I’m out of the airport, but I’m still open to the job.)

I looked around to get a sense of what other solo travelers were doing. One woman was in the midst of a heated conversation, and was yelling into her phone, “I don’t know who you think you are, but you will NOT be getting my computer information. Who gave you this number? Why are you calling me?”

I’m not sure what constitutes “computer information” (and I’m not sure this woman did, either), but the situation seemed very intense.

There was an attractive guy sitting on the bench across from me, bouncing a little rubber ball and looking playful yet mysterious. I wondered if I looked mysterious…Did people notice me and wonder where I was going and what I was doing?

(Soon after wondering this, someone almost accidentally sat down on top of me. So no, it did not appear that people were noticing me.)

It occurred to me that maybe I should get a bite to eat. Is it weird to eat alone? I thought back to those first few days (months) of college when I would eat lunch alone because I was “swamped with work” (AKA swamped with being a friendless loser).

Maybe I should try to befriend a dinner companion in the airport?

I looked to the woman yelling about her computer and decided she’d probably think I was some sort of hacker. I looked to the mysterious ball bouncer and realized he was gathering his bags and proceeding to his flight.

No, don’t go, I thought. You were my best friend in this airport! We were about to have such a great dinner together! We were going to share a few appetizers and enjoy a few cocktails, and I was going to reach for my wallet but you were going to volunteer to pay and then we were going to be tragically separated, but then I was going to happen to be visiting Missouri and you were going to be in a coffee shop and we were going to reunite and it was going to be magical! You just didn’t know all of this yet!

He was gone.

And I was alone again.

All right, I thought. You can do this.

I started wandering around the airport, looking for a place that would welcome a loner with open arms.

There was a bar called “Togetherness”; an Italian restaurant called “For La Famiglia”; a French bistro called “Tout Le Monde”; a snack shop called “Sharing Size Snacks”; and an American diner called “Full Table.”

I briefly considered chasing after mysterious ball bouncer and begging him to hang out with me.

But then I spotted the perfect little Mexican restaurant: “Fiesta Para Uno.”

Just kidding. I spotted a restaurant that I’m pretty sure was called “Airport Food.” It was just a normal restaurant, but there was a guy sitting alone inside, so I decided that would have to be good enough.

I wheeled my suitcase into the restaurant and plopped myself down at a table.

There was a Seahawks game happening that night, and so people were hunkered down at the bar, wearing Seahawks gear and watching the game intently.

Potential friends??

I felt as if my dad – devoted Boston fan that he is – would somehow find out if I joined these people in watching the game and would change the locks to our house, so I reverted to focusing my attention on the menu.

What do loners drink? What do they eat? All of the “sharing size” options were not options, obviously. No wings or nachos for me! (Being alone is actually probably a great way to stay slim.)

I decided it was appropriate for me to engage in a little bit of solo drinking. It had been a long day and I was tired and my back hurt and…never mind, I don’t have to justify this. I wanted booze.

I ordered a Supergoose beer, which is a Seattle brew whose bottle features a picture of a mongoose wearing a cape. It is also seven percent alcohol content.

If it’s good enough for the mongoose, it’s good enough for me.

“What size do you want?” the waitress asked.

“Um, what sizes do you have?”

“Small,” she said, and created about a two-inch gap between her hand and the table, “and large,” she said, as she measured about a six-inch gap between her hand and the table.

A two-inch tall beer or a six-inch tall beer?? Obviously I’m taking the six-inch, don’t be ridiculous!

I also ordered a Hawaiian quesadilla for one.

When the waitress brought my beer to the table, I swear at least ten people in that lame restaurant spun their heads around, as if to say, “Why is she giving that six-year-old child a half yard of goose beer? STOP IT, STOP IT NOW, YOU’RE GOING TO KILL HER!”

I was just as shocked by the size of the beer as they were, seeing how its height was more of a distant multiple of six inches than six inches. I tried to look responsible and totally in control of my decisions. (An image which I’m sure I replaced with, “look, Ma, it’s my first beer!” after I opened Snapchat and proceeded to send pictures of the beer to all of my friends.)

That beer was potent, let me tell you. It could grow hair on a pre-pubescent boy’s chest. That’s what I was dealing with.

Slowly, being alone started to seem like less of an imposition and more of a fun, exciting way to spend six hours!

Wow, I have so many thoughts! When else can I just sit alone and think all of my amazing thoughts? You know what would be a great invention? A dog collar that holds dog treats. That way, you wouldn’t have to hold the treats in your hands and get that smelly bacon scent all over you. This could revolutionize the canine paraphernalia industry. Maybe I should become an entrepreneur. Is that a French word? It must be. Hot damn, I could go for a croissant right now. I wonder if they sell those here? Wow, look at that guy at the bar. He looks like James Franco’s lesser-known brother. Actually, James Franco does have a lesser-known brother, so maybe that’s a mean thing to say. I would hate to be the lesser-known sibling in a trio of siblings. Shit, maybe I am the lesser-known sibling…how does one determine such things? Should I make a Facebook status about this? No, on second thought, I think I’ll just take a selfie and Instagram it and write, “#Airport #travel #beer #alone #TBT #JK #FBF #BFF #wheninRome #notinRome #FOMO #YOLO #yaaaassss.

Needless to say, things went downhill after the canine paraphernalia epiphany.

You know what’s less fun than being alone? *Accidentally* getting drunk alone.

And that’s how I ended up wandering through the terminals, walking from one store to another, looking for chocolate and caramel popcorn (not hot cocoa powder, but they would do). The hallmarks of solo traveling.

Because if you’re going to Supergoose, you need to be prepared.


Business or Pleasure?

16 Aug

Following directions.

It’s not that important, right? Left, right, up, down, “No parking,” “Sophie, please don’t grab my food with your hands,” “Seriously, this steak is mine,” “No, you can’t have my autographed poster of Miss Piggy” etc. etc. Do they really matter? Are they really that important? Can’t we all just do whatever we want, whenever we want?

Apparently, some people subscribe to this reasoning.

The other week, I went to the French consulate in Boston to apply for a visa because I will be moving there for six months in the fall.

The amount of time and dedication I put into preparing my application materials was probably more intense and involved than the amount of time and dedication I will put into preparing for childbirth.

Mostly because storks these days are super efficient, so I assume there will be very little to do on my end.

But also because NOTHING gets me more rattled than paperwork. (Except for rodents in my living space and when people pronounce “espresso” like “expresso” and Meryl Streep-related insults and the smell of a moldy house on a rainy day and when I jump out of the ocean and my towel is full of sand and when I have to enter/exit parking garages and can’t figure out how to pay for my ticket and when they don’t have skim milk as an option at coffee stations and when they look at you like you’re deranged if you ask for skim milk and when people cough and the wind from their cough touches my skin.)

Filling out paperwork necessitates two skills that I seriously lack: neat handwriting and attention to detail.

Which is why I painstakingly went through MULTIPLE COPIES of all of the forms I needed, and asked anyone in my family who would listen if “this ‘A’ looks slightly crooked” or if “that ‘T’ looks more like a lowercase ‘l’ with a roof over its head than a ‘T’.”

Many hours and scores of trees later, I’d finished my paperwork and had packaged it up in a tightly wrapped, waterproof Ziploc bag. (I’d also managed to drive all of my family members to their rooms, so they wouldn’t have to listen to my questions any longer.)

The consulate’s instructions were very specific: make an appointment, get there on time, and do NOT forget any of your application materials.

I acted like I was about to enter into battle…or take the SATs.

I set my alarm early enough so I’d have ample time to get ready. I ate a protein-filled breakfast. (Major life events are wonderful excuses to shove your face with “protein-laden” goodies). I reviewed my materials. I was ready.

I got to the consulate fifteen minutes early and was pleased to realize I had plenty of time to use the bathroom.

The bathroom was locked.

Good, I thought. No time for distractions.

The security guard at the front of the office checked me off the list, and I proceeded to the waiting room.

Every other time I’ve needed a visa, I’d been traveling through a school or a program, and so I’d never actually gone to the consulate. I thought I’d be marched to a solitary confinement chamber and forced to undergo a rigorous interview with lots of intense questions, like “What are your intentions with our country?” and “How many shrooms had you ingested before you posed for this heinous visa application photo??”

But no. When I entered the office, I was surprised to find about twelve other people waiting for their appointments, and absolutely no line or sense of order.

I sat down to a nice looking girl and her dad. She was nineteen and bubbly and full of life (bleh…just kidding…) and was preparing to study abroad. Comparatively, I felt like I was one step removed from playing bocce at the old age home.

We chatted for a while to pass the time.

And then, out of nowhere, came a disgruntled businessman, named Mr. Chen.

Mr. Chen marched into the waiting room and didn’t think to inquire about the process or the order of operations. Instead, he walked right up to the counter and shoved his materials at the poor employee.

“Sir,” said the woman behind the desk, “You’re missing a few key things. I cannot accept your materials until you have all parts of the application.”

“WHAT,” said Mr. Chen. “I’m just trying to build a business overseas! Why do I need materials?”

(Oh, just trying to build a business?? We thought you said, “just trying to smuggle a eucalyptus”! Okay, our bad, you definitely don’t need a complete visa application for business creation overseas. That’s no biggie.)

“Mr. Chen, I need photos of you that aren’t blurry,” the woman explained.

(What’s wrong with these? What, you won’t accept this Instagram photo I took of myself doing a gargoyle keg stand in Key Largo last year?)

“I also need your latest pay stub as proof of your employment,” she elaborated.

“I don’t have a pay stub,” Mr. Chen yelled. “I’m not going to France to sightsee! I’m building a business opportunity!”

(A businessman without a pay stub: the best kind of businessman.)

“I understand what you’re saying Mr. Chen, but you’ll need to return to the Consulate with a complete application.”

“WHAT?! I need to RETURN? Can’t I just send my secretary?”

(Sure, if your secretary has the same identification and fingerprints as you, go ahead.)

“No, I’m sorry, you’ll need to return in person.”

“If I have to return in person, then I just won’t go to France to pursue this business opportunity! I just won’t go!”

(Okay, sounds good?)

“Let me speak with the consular!” Mr. Chen demanded.

At this point, a French man emerged from behind the glass and managed to calm Mr. Chen down a bit. It was agreed that he could send via email his pay stub and photos and send his secretary the following week to pick up the visa.

(Six months later, a headline reads: “Man found wandering the streets of Paris, carrying only what appeared to be a Valencia-filtered selfie of himself doing a keg stand, and a miscellaneous pay stub for $0.00. When questioned, the man yelled, ‘I AM HERE FOR BUSINESS, NOT PLEASURE,’ and then scurried away.”)

On the other side of the waiting room stood a young man, wearing silk pants and an American Flag t-shirt. He’d walked in during Mr. Chen’s rant, and had been pacing for several minutes.

“What, there’s some kinda wait in here?” he inquired.

“Yes, we’ve all been waiting,” explained the girl next to me.

The man looked really disgruntled, and then proceeded to mumble – I think – about his failings as a musical artist. (Or, I guess he could have been some kind of stage performer, like a ventriloquist or a stripper. Unclear.)

“Shiiiitttt, man, I’ve got a show to do! I haven’t performed in months! Shiiit, you know?”

No, actually, we didn’t.

At this point, the woman in the corner – who was juggling a newborn and a five-year old – allowed her older daughter to grab a lollipop from the consulate’s candy bowl.

Piano Man perked up. (I see you, Piano Man.)

“Yo,” he asked the girl, “are there any more pops in there?”

She shook her head.

“You sure? Like, there aren’t any more?”

(The Spanish Inquisition of lollipops had begun.)

She shook her head. And then, in the most badass, defiant move of all time, she threw her lollipop into the garbage.

Piano man looked like someone had spilled syrup all over his keys. (Or all over his dummy, if we’re going with the ventriloquist theory.)

“I might have to go into the trash for that,” he considered, aloud. At which point, the girl’s mom called her over to her lap.

Piano Man clearly hadn’t protein-fueled for his visit, and was hangry enough to consider dumpster diving at the consulate.

Not surprisingly, Piano Man had also forgotten some key aspects to his application (like his PASSPORT) and so ended up leaving the office prematurely.

When it was my turn to approach the bench, the woman looked at me like she was afraid that I, too, would yell about business opportunities and missed musical/ventriloquist/erotic dance performances.

Not to toot my own horn, but I totally NAILED my paperwork. She stamped my forms and told me I could return to pick up my visa the following week. (A deadline about which I totally forgot, so hopefully they’re holding my visa for me!)

It was such a change of pace for me – getting somewhere on time, having all of my belongings organized, experiencing a relatively seamless administrative experience…is this how normal people function??

I thought I had turned over a new leaf!

Until I reached the parking garage…and wandered around, lost, for several minutes, wondering how I could pay and then – when I finally had paid – driving down the up ramp instead of up, wondering if I would ever, ever figure out how to exit.

When one door opens, another…stays closed.

Laughing in Public

31 Jul

Laughing in public.

Have you ever noticed that some people cannot stand public displays of laughter?

I don’t mean laughs that sound like Chihuahuas are being stuffed into cannoli shells or laughs like Melvin – who has a “deviated septum” – expels from the cubicle next to yours while reading Star Wars blogs…

I’m just talking about people laughing because something is funny and it makes them want to laugh. And so they do!

Over the weekend, my family was on the boat home from Nantucket, and my sister and I were sitting outside on the poop deck. (I’m not actually sure if where we were sitting would be classified as the “poop deck,” but we were on the deck of the boat and some kid shat himself and everything smelled like poop, so I think it still applies.)

We were having a normal conversation about a childhood friend of mine who once dared me to Google the word “penis” because I told her I’d never really seen, like seen seen one (she told me I could look at her brother’s for $.50 but that seemed weird to me and a little bit expensive) so I Googled “penis” and then her computer got some kind of porno virus and we tried to tell her parents that her brother had accidentally deviated from the “Wiggles” homepage and had clicked on a porno site, but he was three and barely had use of his opposable thumbs so they didn’t buy it, and I wasn’t invited back for a long time.

The story had us in hysterics, mostly because it was at this same playdate that my friend’s sister made out with the wall for five minutes and forced me and my sister and my friend to “watch and take notes for areas of improvement.” It was a weird, highly experimental playdate.

Anyway, we were laughing very hard. So hard, that we couldn’t bother to censor or speak quietly words like “penis,” or “porno” or…THE WIGGLES.

And so, the older woman sitting in front of us – who, up until that point in time, had seemed like a pleasant sort – turned around in her seat, glared at us, stood up, and blatantly moved to a different part of the poop deck. (She actually moved to a section that was downwind from us, and from the kid who’d shat himself, so she really didn’t do herself any favors.)

Cecelia and I erupted into even more hysterics once we realized we’d driven away an old woman who didn’t want to hear about accidental encounters with pornography.


The second laughter-related encounter we had was with Cecelia’s spirit animal.

There was a five-year-old girl wandering the poop deck for the duration of the boat ride. She was one of those precocious kids who walks up to random strangers and engages in hours of endless conversation.

Let’s call her Annie.

When Cecelia saw Annie, she announced, “Oh my God, that girl is my spirit animal!”

(To be clear, Annie was a girl and not an animal.)

Annie had limited social skills and was wearing lots of mismatched prints. Her haircut looked vaguely boyish and unwashed, and she was speaking very loudly and emphatically.

Yes, there was definitely a resemblance.

We probably wouldn’t have even noticed Annie, had she not gone up – unsolicited – to a nice looking woman and announced, “I have a younger brother and he’s always up my bum!”

To be honest, it was really the word “bum” that got me laughing because it’s such a dainty, British-sounding word and yet it really packs a punch.

Also, why wouldn’t Annie just say, “He’s really annoying,” or “He’s a pain”? Clearly, someone had taught her that “He’s up my bum” is an expression meaning “He’s really annoying.” I imagine this person to be a British nanny or a really proper fellow kindergartener…the kind who also has a lisp and who wears Sperry’s and who fits perfectly inside of lockers.

Anywho, Annie was chatting a mile a minute about her brother and her bum, and we could see her chatter taking a toll on this poor woman.

When Annie finally left, the woman’s husband came to protect her from the possibility of future encounters, and the look of relief on this woman’s face was so apparent, you would have thought her husband saved her from a man-eating Chinchilla or the urine stream of an angry homeless man.

But oh no, Annie was NOT through with this tirade. No, she returned to harass the woman, and when she did, she brought with her a stuffed animal.

At this point, Cecelia and I had recruited our cousin, Jake, to join us in watching this dramatic scene unfold.

Annie made the woman pet her stuffed animal, which, to be frank, looked like it had fallen into a pile of dung. But hey, to each his own.

The three of us were laughing uncontrollably. It was like penis porno on steroids.

At this point, there were only a few people out on the poop deck – us, Annie and her dung creature, the victimized couple, and the frigid older woman.

I want to make clear that we weren’t blatantly laughing at Annie. In fact, I went to great lengths to make it look like we were laughing at a passage from Aziz Ansari’s new book, which I am currently reading and which is hilarious.

So, this is how I am certain that the frigid older woman’s disdain was for the sound of our laughter, and not its subject.

Again, she turned her head, glared, and then proceeded to exit the poop deck entirely.

I can assure you that neither myself, nor Cecelia, nor Jake laughs in any bizarre or really disturbing way.

Sure, I’ve been known to snort, but those instances are few-and-far between, and I’m usually able to blame them on my seasonal allergies.

So why was this woman so perturbed? Why do people get so annoyed by laughter?

My parents often tell my sisters and me to stop laughing, or to laugh more quietly. Usually they tell us this on long family car rides, during which we do Robert De Niro impressions and belt One Direction tracks and throw snacks all over the car…so maybe I understand where they’re coming from.

But I’ve also experienced disdainful looks from fellow park-goers, subway-riders, restaurant-eaters etc. etc. These are public, open spaces!

I hate to say it, but it does seem like those people with the biggest aversions to public laughter are on the older side of the spectrum.

In the olden days, was laughter considered a private, “inside” activity, like having sex or trying on really tight leather pants and playing air guitar? Did people have special rooms in their homes designated for laughter?

Or maybe there are more people than we realize who once tried their hand at stand-up comedy and failed miserably? And maybe hearing laughter provokes episodes of PTSD from that time they made a joke about forks and someone in the audience insulted their mother, and so they have to flee the scene before they lash out?

OR, perhaps some people are “laughter intolerant”? I imagine this disorder to have similar side effects to gluten intolerance, like explosive diarrhea and the propensity to become a celebrity fad. Soon, there will be laughter-free versions of all products, like magazines and books and movies.

(These are just a few theories I have. They are scientifically and research-based, so feel free to cite me in medical publications.)

I wanted to ask the frigid poop deck woman all of these questions and more, but I’d lost sight of her. (I’m really hoping we didn’t drive her to jump off the boat.)

I’ll probably never understand what drove frigid poop deck woman away that day. Nor will I ever understand how laughter can annoy or offend anyone. (Within reason, of course. If your dumb laughter interferes with my ability to hear dialogue on The Bachelorette I WILL throw a kumquat at your head.)

So, instead of dwelling over people’s dirty looks and rude repositioning, I think I’ll take a page out of Annie’s book and pass my dung animals from one stranger to the next!

And by that I mean I’ll laugh and talk and joke freely with abandon, until the law or the unfortunate onset of L.I. (Laughter Intolerance) prohibits me from doing so.


Pants of the Past: A #TBT Edition

9 Jul

One thing that I think is exponentially valuable is staying in touch with your past.

A great philosopher and fledgling poet once said, “To forget the past is to make murky the waters of your future.”

Alright, alright, I said that. Just now. Quietly. To myself. And to no one else. Now people are looking.

Feel free to quote me!

(Also, what does “fledgling” mean? Because it sounds like some kind of baby aquatic animal but I don’t want to assume anything because I’ve accused things of being baby aquatic animals in the past and it has never ended well.)

Reflecting on your past is important because it reminds you of what’s worked well for you in the past, and also prevents you from making the same mistakes over and over (see “fledgling”).

The importance of this duality is why I am a big fan of apps that let you travel back in time.

Every morning – after I drink my coffee and read my horoscope and wonder what it would be like to be a “morning exerciser” and stare at my fridge, hoping a pancake will fly into my mouth, and ask my mom if my outfit is too “harlot-in-training esque for the workplace” and accidentally bump the front of my sister’s car with the back of my car – I open my Timehop app and prepare to reacquaint myself with the past.

Some days, the past is really warm and friendly, like Diane Keaton in a movie about older people falling in love (a favorite genre of mine).

Other days, the past is a cruel, dark tunnel that mocks me and makes me question why I haven’t been assigned a permanent life coach all these years…

It’s always kind of thrilling, wondering what Timehop has in store for the day. What was I doing a year ago? Two years? Eight years?

Was I exploring ancient ruins?

Or meeting my idol, Judy Blume?

Was I discovering a new species of plant?

Or planting a tree in a lovely community garden?

Or, was I riding a camel through the deserts and wondering from whence my next sip of water would come?

Often times, I forget that Timehop is not a life experience generator, and is merely a way to record actual life experiences. So, I guess there’s always a bit of a “come down” with Timehop…that moment when your realize that two years ago, you weren’t meeting Judy Blume, but were playing The Sims for four hours while listening to your parents yell, “Is this really how you want to spend your Christmas Eve??”

Yesterday morning, as I wiped the crust from my eyes (not an obscene amount of crust, just the normal amount), I grabbed my phone and prepared to travel through time.

Oh goody, I thought! What treasures and troves will I find today? 

No treasures. No troves.

Unless you count khaki material as a “treasure” and a gangly pre-pubescent body as a “trove.”

It turns out that eight years ago, I was in China. Which is pretty cool!

It also turns out that eight years ago, a pair of pink Old Navy trousers were also in China.

Somehow, the two of us met. And it was a doomed love from the start:

pink pants1

There we are, in all of our glory! This photo was taken during the early stages of our relationship – I can tell because my face looks jet lagged. (But then again, anyone’s face would get tired of bearing that much eyebrow weight…)

My first thought upon seeing this photo was that if I ever have a daughter and if I ever see her wearing calf-grazing pants at the age of twelve, I will send her to bed without dessert. (Just kidding, that is cruel. If anything, I’ll give her two desserts because she’s clearly crying for help and in need of emotional support.)

My second observation was that several of my comrades in the photo are also wearing calf-grazing pants.

Hmm perhaps it was calf-grazing pant day? I rationalized.

Or, perhaps my pants were in fact full length, but were covered by flesh-colored tube socks? A much better fashion statement.

Willing to look past – what I assumed to be – a singular breach of calf-grazing etiquette, I scrolled down to the next Timehop photo:

pink pants 2

What’s this?? Oh look! THEY’RE BACK.




Judging from how the other girls are dressed, it looks like I was pretty underdressed for the weather. While “beach to middle aged office environment” is a style that does have a time and a place, it’s best when paired with an adequate spring coat.

Also, please note that these photos were not taken in the same day. No, no. Everyone else has managed to pull together a new, different outfit. I, on the other hand, have always been of the mindset, “If it’s ugly and ill-fitting the first time, try again!”

So that’s clearly what I did. In the second photo, it does appear that I went with a lower cut white t-shirt – a risqué look.

True to form, though, my “effortless” hoodie returns in the second photo! From my body posture, it doesn’t look like the hoodie is particularly warm. (Or maybe I was just trying to replicate an advertisement for The Breakfast Club.)

Not fashionable, nor functional. That’s how I like all of my apparel.

Wait, wait, WAIT. What is that dangling from my arm in the second photo? Shall we zoom in?

fanny pack

The picture quality isn’t great, but if you squint your eyes, you can make out the outline of a…FANNY PACK.

To answer your questions in a streamlined, orderly way:

  1. Yes, that is a fanny pack.
  2. Yes, I did choose to wear the fanny pack like a purse and not like a fanny pack, so as to fit in with my age mates.
  3. No, it did not occur to me to bring a purse instead of a fanny pack. I was convinced that a fanny pack worn like a purse was the only way to travel.
  4. Yes, people asked me why I carried my fanny pack that way. I told them I was warding off future back problems.
  5. No, it didn’t work. I still have back problems.
  6. Yes, said pack did have many compartments. There was even one where I could store my FILM camera.
  7. Yes, I pretended my camera was digital because I didn’t want to seem “uncool.” Apparently, film cameras do way more damage than FANNY PACKS.

At the age of twelve, I had managed to accomplish the “I’m just going to run a few errands!” look that suburban 40-somethings take years to perfect. I was way ahead of my time.

To be fair, we were only allowed to bring a couple of pairs of pants, which is *probably* – but by no means *definitely* – why I was so fond of the pink pants.

There was one other pair of pants that I think is worth mentioning:

zip pants

What you see here is a pair of relaxed fitting “zipper” pants – the sporty kind that has removable parts. You know, in case you have an awesome calf tattoo that you want to spontaneously brag about to coworkers. It’s so simple! You just rip off your pant leg and BOOM, office show and tell.

I remember buying those pants and thinking they were a very wise travel investment. Waterproof and dirt colored – très chic and très multi-purpose.

BUT NOT TO WORRY. THE HOODIE DIDN’T GO ANYWHERE! (And neither did The Breakfast Club grimace.)

So what do we take away from this adventure into the past?

The only person that can wear the pants in your life is YOU.

So please, choose wisely.

You can quote me on that.


What were you doing eight years ago? Comment below!

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You Have Short Teeth

25 Jun


Constructive criticism is the worst thing to have ever been invented.

Seriously. There are so many rude, insulting things that you can say to a person, so long as you categorize them under the umbrella of “constructive criticism.”

“Rhonda, I think you’d run faster if your legs weren’t covered in so much grotesque, mammoth-like hair.”

“Deb, if you put effort into your appearance, you might look like a young Tim Allen.”

“Stu, the way you play the trombone has me wishing I’d been born with artichokes for ears…may I suggest some more practice?”

Leg hair insults, B level celebrity-inspired facial insults, and musical insults…all “perfectly acceptable” if packaged as constructive criticism.

If you can’t tell, I HATE criticism. Of any kind.

You think I laugh too loudly?? How about a foghorn to your ear?

You don’t like the way I chew? Well I don’t like the way you don’t chew.

You think I have poor taste in music? WELL…yes. Broadway show tunes and deep track Alanis Morrisette songs are not for everyone.

If I could choose between unlimited praise and one golden nugget of constructive criticism, which do you think I’d choose? Exactly. I’d flush that little nugget right down the toilet and put on sunglasses to shield myself from the blinding praise.

The source of the criticism doesn’t really matter. The Queen of England could tell me that I’d benefit exponentially from eating more English crumpets, and – instead of being amazed that the Queen deigned to talk to me, or interested in picking her brain for a crumpet recipe – I’d be irrevocably hurt and damaged by the fact that she took issue with my eating habits.

Yesterday, I learned that my distaste for criticism even extends to the medical fields.

Yes. The dentist hurt my feelings.

I’ve written before about my long-term relationship with my pediatric dentist. Ew, you pervs, not the dentist himself. I meant the establishment. Although I’m not going to not say that my pediatric dentist didn’t have a little sumpin’ sumpin’. (Cavities. Those are what he didn’t have.)

Anyway, going to my pediatric dentist started to get weird. I would walk in, all twenty years of me, and moms would stare at me like I was the office harlot. My dentist would ask me how high school was going and sometimes I’d stoop so low as to tell him I was “really loving biology.” It was bad.

So, this week, I decided it was time to make the shift. I got the number of a big girl dentist, and I made an appointment.

Let me preface this story by saying that I was unaware I had booked an appointment for a full scale cleaning. When I called last week about a tooth that was giving me trouble, I’d somehow also managed to arrange a full appointment. (How you could mess up a simple scheduling task like that is very unclear.)

At the pediatric dentist, they make you brush your teeth before the cleaning. Probably because kids are gross and will lie to you about having brushed their teeth, when really they just stuck a dry toothbrush in there and then proceeded to “accidentally” swallow a frog and wash it down with Kool-Aid. You never know what kind of amphibian activity you’ll find in a kid’s mouth…

Having just come from work, I expected the secretary would point me in the direction of the “brush up station.” When she didn’t, I asked her if I could brush up, since I hadn’t had time to do so, beforehand. She looked at me like I’d just told her I hadn’t brushed my teeth that day, and had actually been using mayonnaise as toothpaste for the last twenty-one years.

“I think you’ll be fine,” she said, confusedly.


My new dental practice is run by a South Korean family. The two dentists are married, and the hygienist is their daughter. She wears braces and is very nice. (She’s not 14. She’s 25. I see how that could be confusing.) We bonded over the little things, like how we both love the color purple and were worried it would rain that day. Things were off to a good start.

But then came the X-rays. I never knew myself to be particularly afraid of radioactivity, but it turns out, I am not a fan.

Every time she shoved the thing in my mouth that is responsible for the image capturing (a technical description of the process), I would wince and accidentally knock it out of position. At first, this was amusing to her.

Ha, look at this adult woman wincing like she’s taking tiny cream pies to her eyeballs, she was (probably) thinking.

But then, I could sense her growing dissatisfaction.

“You need to stay still,” she said, in a harsher tone.

I felt nervous, and wished there was someone there to offer me a copy of Highlights magazine and a sugar-free lollipop.

When we finished the X-rays, the hygienist took a long, hard look at them.

“You have short teeth,” she said.

Huh. I wondered if she meant they were short, relative to a vampire’s? Or if she meant “short” as in grumpy…like, “your teeth are being short with me, tell them to cut it out!”

“Is that bad?” I asked.

She explained to me that if I were a big, tall man, the roots of my teeth would be very long, and my teeth would be very stable. But, since neither of those things is the case, my teeth are not long, nor stable.

Huh. She hadn’t really answered my question.

“So…is something bad going to happen to my teeth? Do I need to do anything?”

“I’m sorry, there’s nothing we can do. It’s nature.”

Wonderful. So here I am, with all thirty-two of my “short teeth,” thinking that these little shits are going to be the end of me. Death by short teeth. Unique, but not at all compelling.

“You never had braces, right?” she asked.

Actually, my short teeth and I had engaged in FOUR YEARS of brace-wearing. FOUR YEARS. And, even after I’d had my braces removed, I continued to wear my retainer ALL DAY, EVERY DAY, well into my junior year of high school:


(This is a photo of me, with my friend Alison, and my retainer, in France. Can you imagine someone sitting at a café in France, poised to eat a crepe, but first having to remove her retainer and put it in its case…at a café table…in France…)

I couldn’t believe that it wasn’t immediately obvious that I’d had extensive dental work. Although I suppose these are the results you get when your orthodontist was a toupee-wearing Star Wars enthusiast that only communicated via Star Wars metaphors…

After questioning my orthodontic history, it came time for the hygienist to find the source of my discomfort.

“Does it hurt here?” she asked.





“Ow, ow, yes that’s it!”

“Oh, so it hurts when I do this?” she asked, as she vigorously tapped against the sore spot with a metal tool, like she was communicating via Morse code.

“Yes, yes it does.”

“So, let me be clear, this spot, this one right here, where I’m tapping, the one right here, is painful?”

No, actually! You cured it! Thanks SO much for that vigorous tooth massage.

“Yes. That is the spot.”

“Ah ha!” she exclaimed. “I solved it!”

“What? What is the problem?” I asked.

“You have receding gums.”

I was reminded of the poster of “Dental Anomalies” I’d seen in the office’s lobby, upon which “receding gums” was listed as number four.

The hygienist explained to me that I’d been brushing my teeth too “vigorously” and had damaged my gums to the point of no return.

“Wait, so even if I fix my brushing technique, my gums won’t ever go back to normal and I’ll always be in discomfort?”

“Yes,” she said. “It’s like a bad restaurant – once it’s bad, you never go back!”

My damaged gums are the Chili’s of teeth.

I knew that brushing with a chainsaw was probably a bad idea, but it was such a time effective technique! This is what I get for trying to save a minute or two.

“You’ll just have to avoid hot and cold foods and beverages,” she said.

Good to know. So now, when I go shopping at Whole Foods, I’ll head straight to the “lukewarm food” aisle. I think it’s between the Chia seeds section and the hemp nightgown section.

“Okay,” I said.

Like a fool, I thought that my short, damaged teeth had received all the criticism they were going to receive that day.

But then, it came to the hygienist’s attention that, in addition to being fun size, my teeth are also very thin.

I can’t say I hate the idea of having thin, petite teeth. It’s probably the only time I’ll ever be warned about having something that’s “too thin” on my body. It’s very French of me, isn’t it? Waif-like teeth are all the rage in Europe.

“You’re going to need to stop using whitening toothpaste,” she said. “It’s like rubbing sand on your teeth.”

For the last four years, I’d been spending hundreds of dollars on a certain brand of whitening toothpaste, when I could have been using bottled sand from the reservoir near my house. These are the little things that a pediatric dentist will just neglect to tell you. (That, and also that the tooth-cleaning wand isn’t actually called a “Winnie the Poo Stick.”)

By the time the dentist finally arrived, I was fully aware of my shortcomings.

To re-cap, my teeth are:

  1. Short
  2. Weak
  3. Short and weak
  4. Crooked
  5. Thin

She took one look at my X-rays, and then said, “You never had braces, right?”

When you leave the plush confines of pediatrics, you lose the major perks, like temporary tattoos and cookie dough flavored fluoride.

But, you gain the gifts of perspective and constructive criticism. And those are the gifts that keep on giving.

Just kidding. I still hate criticism.

So, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll go invest in a nice set of wooden dentures – functional, and great as a Halloween accessory!

Good luck criticizing those!


5 Feb

My family wants to disown me. So, if anyone is looking for a slightly spastic, occasionally high-strung, messy yet loveable baked goods enthusiast with a coffee addiction to add to your family, please hit me up. My “fowry” (dowry for family adoption) is half a loaf of cranberry nut bread and the ill-fitting wrist strap of a Fitbit. Let’s start the bidding at $.50.

Seriously, though, after yesterday, I think that all of my family members will conveniently have “out of state business” to attend to on my birthday.

Yesterday, I attended the Patriots Super Bowl victory parade.

No, no, I didn’t just attend the parade…I OWNED the parade. I owned it like an adult person owns a KitchenAid mixer. I PAID FOR THAT SHIT IN CASH.

Sorry, I’m excitable right now.

Anyway, yesterday I went to the parade. After waking up late from a slumber during which my earplugs kept falling to the ground and I thought I heard a mouse like, seventeen times, I hurried to put together a “parade-appropriate” ensemble – my athletic and warm yoga pants, my Tom Brady t-shirt, my aviator sunglasses, and my green head wrap (for those days when a regular old hat will kill the hipster vibe that you’ve been trying to create since fall of 2011).

When Emalie and I met up with Leanne for some pre-parade Dunkin Donuts, she said I looked like a “winter Kardashian.” Rough start.

As we made our way to the beginning of the parade route, I was surprised by how few people there were. Sure, there was your token man yelling about hash browns and beer to a friend. And yes, there were people giving out free hats that said “Verizon” on the front and had the “NFL” symbol in teeny tiny embroidered letters on the far left corner of the hat…

But everything seemed relatively calm…too calm…

(I should have known the indications of a record-breaking day.)

When the parade finally started, my hands were numb, I’d accumulated two items of desk-cluttering swag, and my phone was at 12% battery.

But I was in the front row. And I was ready.

Being the experienced sports fanatic celebrity chaser that I am, I know that it is important to take multiple photos of anyone and everyone that looks like they could possibly be someone of importance…which is why I used nearly all of my 12% battery to photograph the “Practice Squad” that was riding in the first Duck Boat of the parade…

Little did I know, Tom Brady was just around the corner and I only had about 6% left to document him. Wait, make that 5%.

Unfortunately, Tom decided that he was bored with our side of the street, and so decided to readjust his position RIGHT AS I WAS POISED TO TAKE MY FINAL PHOTOGRAPH OF THE PARADE.

Unbeknownst to Tom, I’d been wearing my jacket OPEN for the last HOUR so as to show off my shirt in the 20 degree weather. (Because I’m sure he would have noticed my shirt had he decided to stand on the correct side of the boat.)

After the entire parade passed us, Leanne and I decided that a bunch of photos (mostly on her end) and one or two “I think he looked at me but also I’m not sure” anecdotes would NOT be enough to fulfill our parade dreams.

And so, we took off running and chasing the parade. Slowly at first, then faster, until we were openly dodging and weaving around unsuspecting old folk and babies.

I felt like I was Leonardo DiCaprio in that scene where he’s running to board the Titanic on time. Only instead of running to board a boat and fall in love and then freeze, I was running to catch another look at Tom and to step-up my Fitbit mileage for the day (and also to freeze, but in a much more *low-key* kind of way than poor Leo’s).

Finally, we’d covered so much ground that we were back at the center of the parade!

And that’s when I realized that people were shedding their clothes. No, not just the woman who decided to flash Blount and an entire crowd of youths…but others were also, in a more appropriate, “I’m wearing ten layers, let me remove one” kind of way.

People were shedding their clothes because Rob Gronkowski was signing t-shirts from his Duck Boat.

Without giving it a moment’s thought, I threw my coat and bag at Leanne and ripped off my t-shirt.

“Leanne,” I said, breathlessly, “I want to get this signed!”

We pushed past two lines of people until we were neck-and-neck with Gronk’s boat.

“It’s too risky!” she replied. “Someone will steal it when he throws it into the crowd.”

Ready to give up on our mission and get a Dunkin hot cocoa, I turned to continue walking. (Dunkin hot cocoa vs. a signed t-shirt…six of one, half dozen of the other.)

And then, before I could even register what was going on, Leanne grabbed my shirt and flung it into the air.

I’m pretty sure I blacked out (soberly) for the rest of this experience. Everything seemed to be happening in slow motion, and there was a weird ringing in my ears. (Possibly damage from the earplugs I’d worn to bed, but there wasn’t time to consider that as a possibility!)

The next thing I knew, Gronk was holding my greyish blue shirt and was writing on it!


That’s right. Athlete she is, Leanne had managed to chuck my shirt at Gronk during the one three-second lull in the action.

And then, Gronk threw it back. He raised his arm, gave a goofy look to the crowd, and chucked my shirt into the abyss.

“NOOOOO” I screamed, as my head – still moving in slow motion (it’s not just for films, guys) – turned to see the shirt disappear.

What happened next was perhaps the most epic display of panic and adrenaline to ever manifest itself in a single human being.

I leapt – like a puma that had a baby with a kangaroo and then got a 5 Hour Energy spokesmanship gig – over three rows of people, all the while screaming, “THAT’S MY SHIRT. THAT’S MY SHIRT. WHERE IS MY SHIRT? THAT’S MY SHIRT!!!”

When my feet finally touched ground, I found the man who was holding my shirt! Yes, a kind, older man was gripping it and showing it proudly to his wife.

Still replicating the behavior of a Dance Mom whose kid just made it to Nationals, I patted this kind sir on the arm and said, “EXCUSE ME, THAT’S MY SHIRT!!! SHIRT. THAT. MINE. IT. SHIRT. THAT. MINE. SORRY. PLEASE SHIRT. FOR ME. IT.”

I had completely lost touch with reality – as well as the English language – and had entered a world where shirts signed by Gronk are as valuable as four person tables at a trendy NYC café.

I’m surprised that the three hairs on this poor man’s head weren’t blown backward by the wind and spittle that comprised my intense discourse.

Kind sir said, “Oh, ha, okay! No problem!” and gave me my shirt. It was that easy.

(But, for the purposes of “Irish Storytelling,” as my grandmother calls it, I will be telling people that I “wrangled the shirt from an elderly man.” How that adds positive elements to the story, I’m not really sure…but the word “wrangled” does sound exciting and rather animalistic, doesn’t it?)

Shirt in hand, Leanne and I proceeded to scream and squeal and jump and then perform a synchronized dance to “Uptown Funk,” which was playing over the loudspeakers. Apparently, signage-induced excitement can teach a girl how to dance.

When I finally got my phone working again, I excitedly texted – or “fexted,” as we call “family texting” – my family to tell them the good news.

The responses I received were *lacking in supportive aspects.* (That’s alternative preschool talk for REALLY RUDE.)



Dad: Is she kidding?

Lydia: I think she is.

Mom: No one knows.



Dad: Looks like a chicken with ink on its feet ran across you.

Dad: #yougotGronked

Me: I wrangled the shirt from an old man after Gronk signed it and threw it into the crowd!

Dad: Looks like the old man had black ink in his fingernails. #liarliarpantsonfire

Lydia: Fake.


Cecelia: I’m genuinely livid if this is true.



Lydia: Dad, go find some connections and plan a meet and greet with one of the players. This is all your fault!

Mom: You didn’t ask to go, Lyd. How would you have gotten there? You’re not being fair. Sophie, that’s so exciting. Well done!


Ah, Mom. Always the voice of reason.

You see, though?? My fears of being disowned are completely legitimate.

There is absolutely no truth to the accusation that I thought “football” to be a “French pastry.” There’s no way the French would agree to having any type of American word attached to their pastries.

I should admit, though, that it’s true I am not the biggest football fan.

Actually, that’s not true. What’s true is that I am the biggest football fan when there is a Super Bowl and when my team is playing and when we win and I get to be in the first row of the parade.

NO ONE can deny that I am obsessed with celebrities. And this was a parade full of celebrities!

So, while two weeks ago, had you asked me what “Gronk” was, I may have responded with, “a rare form of Gangrene,” I am currently hip to the football scene.

And now I have Gronk’s shirt.

No, no. Now I have my shirt that says Tom Brady’s name on it, and that is signed by Gronk.

And now my shirt’s fibers are mingled with Gronk’s DNA (and some nachos that I spilled on the shirt during the Super Bowl).

And now Gronk’s DNA is resting on my DNA.

So basically we are married.

It pays to be a SupahFan!


Ps. I should note that, despite all her complaining and resentment, Lydia and I are on good terms because she later sent me a text suggesting that I “Write a blog post about my day and make sure to include all of her biting text message comments.” Which I did.

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