Archive for the ‘Chief Complaint’ Category

The Pre-K year, for us, has been The Year of Play Dates. We maybe do one or two a month, but that’s a 53,008% increase over previous years, so I’ve been devoting a LOT of energy to them.

Does everyone find playdates unbearably awkward? Well, I do. My personality – introvert, people-pleaser, awkward in general – is just not suited for focused encounters with other parents and children I may or may not know.

This is not to say I don’t want to do playdates with my child! I do! I want her to have friends. I want her to build the kind of social skills that playdates seem suited for. I want to get along with other parents. Hell, I want to make new friends.

Some of the issue, maybe, is that playdates are relatively new to me. For the first three years of Carla’s life, my husband and I both worked full time outside of the home. So playdates on weekdays were a no-go. And because we spent so much time away from Carla during the week, we typically spent weekends together, just the three of us. If we had anything resembling a playdate, it was a get together with our friends and their similarly-aged children.

But this year, we’ve had many. And by “we,” I mean me and Carla because my husband obviously still works full time outside the home. I cannot tell you how anxious these stupid playdates make me. Well, I’m going to try, I guess, considering I’m writing a post about the topic. Let’s see if I can break down the awkwardness into a few categories.

Initiating a Playdate

I don’t really know how to go about arranging a playdate. I mean, it seems pretty obvious, right? But I am shy and I am deeply afraid that the other parent won’t want to hang out a) with me or b) with my kid. There’s been a little bit of the old, “Oh, we should do a playdate!” kind of thing that never results in anything. And that kind of thing totally feeds my own self-consciousness/despair. When, in fact, the other parent could be feeling just as awkward/nervous as I am and/or could just be BUSY with LIFE as people tend to be. Also, the phone works two ways, Me.

Previous to this year – last year, Carla and I went on a whopping three playdates, two with the same friend – the other parent and I would suggest the playdate. But now, Carla and her friends have figured things out. And they seem to be scheduling playdates at school, without their chauffeurs in attendance to record the details. Once, Carla’s friend’s mom came up to me and said, “Carla said she wanted to do a playdate with my child. Let’s get together!” and then, miracle of miracles, we actually did end up getting the kids together. That’s my ideal, right there. A sort of mutual mention that results in an actual playdate.

But that ideal was a one-time thing. Usually, Carla comes home ALL THE TIME saying she wants to have a playdate with so-and-so and I get overwhelmed. Do I pick up the phone and call them up? What about the moms who have additional small children – will they even be interested in getting/able to get together? And what if I’ve never said more than hello to the parent at drop off? Some of the other parents seem to get their kids together all the time, but it also seems like those parents are friends. Would they welcome a suggested playdate from me and my child? Would they recoil in disgust? WHO’S TO KNOW?

The Playdate Location

This fills me with dread, too. First of all, who suggests where the playdate should take place? It’s the playdate initiator, right? That makes sense to me but… it hasn’t always worked out that way. Anyway, when I suggest a place for the playdate, I am always at a loss. I have gradually come to be okay with having Carla’s friends over to our house (listen, I’m an introvert and having people in my space is always nerve wracking), but… is that too forward? Is it too boring? Should I be presenting an option that’s super stimulating, like a trampoline park or a museum? And, if I DO suggest something like the latter, who pays? Am I supposed to pay for everyone because I suggested it? I am HAPPY to do that, but I don’t know what the protocol is! Summers are easier, at least, because you can just go to a nice, free, stimulating playground. But it is NOT summer and summer feels a million years away and I need to know what to do now.

I do love having playdates at other people’s homes, though. I love to see other people’s houses, and how they decorate, and the level of neatness they have (it is SO refreshing to see some clutter). But then there’s the awkwardness/stress of my child not eating anything they offer, or possibly breaking something, or bothering the dog, or whatever. And I always feel super self-conscious: how should I sit, what should I wear, do I trail after my kid or sit here like I expect to be entertained. Blah blah blah.

What to Do on the Playdate

So far, my playdate experience has been that the kids run off and play, and the other parent and I stay pretty much in one location and chat, intervening with the kids in case of an argument/injury/extended silence. Is that the expectation, universally? I mean, it is pretty ideal for friendship building. But what if you aren’t interested in/meant to be friends? Carla has a friend who is darling and wonderful and whose parent is someone I think is lovely and very nice, but we just aren’t clicking the way friends do, you know? It’s all small talk, and I find it exhausting. The PARENT is wonderful and does a marvelous job of keeping the conversation going, but I find it so terribly draining to be “on” with a person that I don’t feel 100% comfortable around. (This is the introvert thing again, I fear. If you are an extrovert, you may be furrowing your brow right now, trying to understand why ninety minutes of chatting leaves me feeling like I’ve just completed a biathlon.) I suppose I could just tell the other parent they could leave their kid with me but… that fills me with new layers of terror. And do I need to feed people? So far, when we’ve had playdates at my house, I’ve tried to have some kid-friendly snacks on hand and then I’ve offered the other parent coffee or tea. But is food expected? I certainly don’t expect it, when we go to other people’s homes. But that’s because Carla and I are both super picky, so eating at other people’s homes is additionally fraught with anxiety.

What If the Playdate Goes Sour?

And then there’s the other worry, that the kids won’t get along, or that something bad will happen. My daughter’s teacher gave me a Hot Playdate Tip, which I now pass along to you: groups of three are a bad idea. If you have three kids (at least, Pre-K-age kids), one of them will inevitably end up feeling left out. Okay, so as long as I’m the playdate initiator, that’s easy enough to control for (and egads I have enough trouble working up the nerve for a one-on-one playdate, let alone a playdate involving more kids!). But what if your kids start fighting? Or are bored? Or want to do completely separate things? How do you salvage a) the playdate and b) the potential for future playdates? Do you just throw in the towel? Write it off as normal kid behavior? WHAT DO YOU DO?

How Do You Get the Playdate to End?

You know how most birthday parties are about two hours? I tend to go by the Birthday Party Rule for playdate length, too. Carla has a playdate threshold of about ninety minutes. Sometimes she’s good for two hours. Other times, she’s done after an hour. And I can tell she’s done because she starts wanting to be alone and there is an increased level of pouting/irritability. Fine; she knows her boundaries, and so do I. But how do you communicate that to another parent, whose children may have no limit to how long they can be together? I have usually just said from the beginning, “Carla’s good for an hour or two but not much longer than that.” And when I am in control of the planning, I try to say things like, “We’ll meet you at this indoor park for an hour and a half and then we’ll split for lunch.” Or whatever. But sometimes the other parent wants to extend it! Or they’ll invite us for an open-ended playdate! Ack! We had one of those open-ended jobbers at our house recently, and I was able to close it out with my need to prepare dinner. But it can be tricky! Especially if the kids are getting along really well (as was the case at my house recently). (Although, believe me, “getting along really well” can transform into “the world is ending tears” in a matter of moments.) And, okay, sometimes it’s really just ME who needs the playdate to end. I guess this is a lesson for me to always have something to do immediately after the playdate, whether it’s going to the grocery store or making dinner or whatever.

How Often Do You Do Playdates?

I really think two playdates a month is my limit. But I think other parents and their kids are getting together once or twice A WEEK.

Okay, I am back after taking some deep, restorative breaths; the thought of two playdates a week made me a little dizzy. I think that’s my answer right there: two playdates a month. Sorry, Carla.


I do wish I could put less pressure on the whole situation. It’s a playdate, for goodness sakes. The way, for me, to make playdates the most palatable and least stressful is to have them out in the world. My preference is for going to parks in the summer (although, as I noted above: NOT CURRENTLY SUMMER DAMMIT). That way, you can be outside in the fresh air. No one has to cook (although I do bring enough snacks for everyone). No one has to clean. You can take breaks from chatting to push your kid on the swing or the merry go round or the teeter-totter. It’s free. The kids get worn out pretty quickly, so it’s easy to not spend seven hours together. If I could do a playground playdate every time, AND if I could get over my crippling dread of initiating the damn things, they might not be so bad.

I am holding out hope that the awkwardness will fade with time. Either that or Carla will develop a deep and lasting friendship with a mom who turns out to be my Friend Soulmate.


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You know those tasks that you do every day and some days you do it without a thought and other days you do it while grumbling quietly and other days you hate yourself and your life and you would prefer to abandon your spouse and children and live life in a yurt on a remote island than remove ONE MORE TIME the daily mass of hair from the shower drain? Well, I have reached the latter stage with changing the toilet paper rolls, which seem to ALL THREE need changing simultaneously, only by me, and at an alarming rate of turnover.

Of course, my irritation is on the level of hair strands burrowing in a drain, which is a near infinite distance from the level of My House Just Got Leveled By A Hurricane or My Backyard Is Burning And Has Been Since July or My Country May Or May Not Be In The Imminent Path of Nuclear Disaster. But rather than spend $1,000 on all the gas masks and emergency rations that are in my Amazon cart at the moment, I am turning my thoughts instead to the minutiae of life’s drain-hair-nest of irritations in hopes that it distracts me from The End Times for a while longer.

Something that is high on my list of unimportant-in-the-grand-scheme-of-things irritations lately is my eye doctor. Not him, per se. But his office and their apparent COMPLETE INCOMPETENCE with submitting charges to my insurance company. (Let’s acknowledge all the inherent privileges in this source of exasperation: access to health care, access to eye doctor, access to funds to pay for the services in case my insurance company denies the claims, house standing in a hurricane-free area, backyard absent of fire and smoke, etc.)

My eye doctor – whom I’ve seen for nearly a decade, and therefore do not want to leave, not so much out of loyalty as out of desire not to meet a new person – just joined a larger practice. He used to be part of the University Health System for which my husband also works. Now, he works for a practice called, confusingly, University Ophthalmologists. This is important to my plight.

After the eye doctor joined this new practice, my husband and I each went for our yearly eye exam. (I actually had several additional appointments, but that’s another story and I’d rather not fret about my steady march toward sightless doom at this time.) We got a bill several months later.

The bill says clearly, “If there is an asterisk next to the thing we are charging you for, we have submitted a claim to your insurance for that thing.”

The bill had zero asterisks, and it looked as though – unsurprisingly – none of the items had been covered at all by our insurance, despite the fact that our insurance covers yearly eye exams in full.

Since the bill said we had to pay by X date or face a collections agency, I called the number for the billing office.

The woman who answered – let’s call her Doris – said she could help me. I told her it didn’t look like our appointments had been submitted to insurance. She asked me what our insurance carrier was, and I told her. Recognizing the carrier, she asked, “Is your husband employed by University Health System?” and I confirmed that he is.

That’s when her brain shut down tight like a toddler throwing herself on the floor in prone, immovable refusal to wear the perfectly reasonable pants she already agreed to wear. Doris said, “Well, if you have the employee insurance, we don’t take it. We aren’t PART of the University Health System. We’re separate. Even though our name is University Ophthalmologists, we are NOT part of the University Health System. We are out of network to that insurance because we are not part of the University Health System.” She repeated this information several times and in a variety of ways, lest I misunderstand what she was saying.

When she finally ran through all possible variations on “we are not part of the University Health System,” I brought out my trump card (which no longer sounds as pleasantly triumphant as it should) and told her that we had in fact emailed our insurance company prior to our appointments to make sure that our eye doctor was still an in-network provider. The insurance company had responded that he was indeed an in-network provider.

Doris was still on toddler tantrum mode and this information did not sink in.

At some point she paused long enough for me to finally ask the question I had been intending to ask from the beginning, which was, “Did you actually even TRY to submit the claim to our insurance company? Because the bill says you did not. No asterisks.”

That got through somehow – her brain toddler must have spotted a soothing My Little Pony or something – and she said, no, it didn’t look like they had submitted the claim. So she would do that. BUT MARK HER WORDS, she said, it wouldn’t make any difference because they were out-of-network for my insurance company, not part of University Health, yada yada, the sound of my blood pressure drowned out her words at that point.

Internet, we have since received at least a dozen bills. Some of the claims have been submitted to our insurance. Some have been PARTIALLY COVERED.

One bill showed that part of my routine annual exam was covered… but my husband’s was not. Same exact service. Same exact insurance. So I had to call again. And Doris answered again. And we went through the SAME EXACT RIGAMOROLE.

Perhaps you are well aware how maddening it is to tell someone a fact and have them completely ignore that fact as they steamroll right over you with their own agenda. She was so completely caught up in this “we are not part of the University Health System” thing that she could not see that my insurance WAS IN FACT COVERING THINGS. Nor could she take a breath and look at the identical appointments my husband and I had, and note that there was no earthly reason for our insurance to make a payment on MINE and not on HIS.

The call ended with me asking, again, for her to re-submit the claim (which, again, had NO ASTERISK on their own form which said clearly that an asterisk means it has been submitted and ipso facto LACK OF ASTERISK means it has NOT been submitted). And again, we got a bill with incomplete asteriskage and mismatched claims information. Exhausting.

I am seriously considering leaving my eye doctor because of this! It is not worth going through this every couple of weeks! I never want to speak to Doris again!

And listen, I can empathize with Doris. I can. She probably has to talk to a billion people a day, many of whom are probably confused/enraged by the fact that University Ophthalmologists is not part of the University Health System and therefore doesn’t accept their insurance. That would be confusing and enraging! And so she probably has to shut off the part of her brain that listens so she won’t be bombarded by insults and profanity from angry, frustrated clients. And probably there is a limited number of variations on how insurance companies respond to claims so she likely thinks she’s seen it all. And maybe she’s worked there for fifty years and HAS seen most things and has a good grasp of her job and what can and cannot be done. She’s probably a very efficient, hard-working woman who maybe has too many things on her plate and might be a wee bit exasperated by all these patients the new doctor is bringing into the practice with their associated ignorance about what the word “University” means when it’s part of a practice name. Maybe she hates her job and goes home each night and cries. I try to think of all these things every time I speak to her, with limited effect on my blood pressure.

When the most recent bill arrived, I waited as long as I could. Then I gritted my teeth and geared up to deal with Doris. But! Lovely, reasonable, fresh-voiced Heather answered the phone! Heather, who trotted out the same “we are not in-network for University Health System insurance” line, but then listened as I pointed out that a) our insurance told us our eye doctor is in-network and b) our insurance had been covering some of the claims. And then she agreed that it was odd! And that she would look into it!

I have no doubt that I will be back on the phone with Doris in a couple of weeks, because insurance matters take YEARS to untangle. (Surely I’ve complained here in the past about the insurance company that had “University of City, Name Memorial Hospital” on their list of in-network providers, but the hospital itself put simply “Name Memorial Hospital” on the claims it submitted, so the insurance denied them all? That was a fun one to deal with.) (No.) But maybe, knowing Heather is around, I won’t have to leave my eye doctor altogether?

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Well, the world seems about ready to spin off its axis entirely and every time I even so much as glance at the news I start hyperventilating, so let’s talk about MORE FRIVOLOUS STUFF.

At some point last spring, I decided I wanted to Mix It Up a little bit with my hair. For me, a person who avoids change at all costs, this meant asking my hair stylist to add a little red to my normal brown hair dye.

I think I was picturing something like Anna Kendrick’s hair… Dark, but with a reddish tinge…

(Photos, clockwise from Anna, from myhaircolors.net, pinterest.com, and ouchpress.com)

I liked the result okay. But it wasn’t anything like ANY of the above photos. It felt so BROWN. More like… Young Rory Gilmore. Or… Jennifer Garner without highlights. But… Less shiny.

(Photos, left to right, from worldhairextensions.com and allwomenstalk.com)

So I went back to her a few months later and told her that I wanted to change things up AGAIN.

“What was wrong with the last color?” she wanted to know. She was non-accusatory, not hurt in the least; she just wanted to know what the issue was so she could help avoid similar issues.

“It was just too… brown,” was all I could come up with. But she nodded like I’d been extremely explicit and detailed with my criticism and presented me a few alternatives.

She did so by putting together a little board of hair samples. A literal curl of hair in four different colors that I could choose from. The far left was my hair color of last fall. The far right was Really Red. The two center options were somewhere in the middle.

But here’s the kicker. She recommended one of the options. I can’t remember which, all I can remember is that she compared it to Hair of Last Fall and said something like, “This will go much better with your skin tone than what we used to do.”

I trust her and so we went with the option she’d recommended.

You see where this is going, no?

I do not like my current hair color. It’s fine. It’s not bad or anything. It’s closer, I guess, to Anna Kendrick Brownish Red. But it’s lighter than I like my hair to be, and it’s still too brown, and it’s different enough from my natural hair color (mouse brown interlaced with grey) that you can REALLY see the difference now that it’s growing out.

When my husband – who, bless his heart, doesn’t notice these things – not only agreed with my assessment that it was very clear my hair was in need of a color-update, but also said he’d noticed without my pointing it out, I made a hair appointment immediately.

But now I am fretting. I mean, it’s MILD fretting. Nothing on the level of School Stress or What If Writing a Book Is a Huge Waste of Everyone’s Time Worry. But I like to wring every last bit of anxiety out of every possible situation so here we go.

What I really want is to go back to my hair stylist and say, “Let’s go back to how it was last fall.”

Simple enough… Except that she has already expressed a preference for NOW vs. THEN.

It’s like when your friend breaks up with that kind of boring dude she’s been with for five years, and when she finally does it, you can’t help but say, “Oh, I’m so glad you aren’t with him anymore! He really wasn’t bringing out your inner sparkle!” And then a few months later she decides to get back together with him.

Only I’M the one who is getting back together with the dull boyfriend, you know? And my hair stylist is the one who has to reunite us.

I would almost rather find a NEW hair stylist. But it’s so hard to find a good one, and I really do like her, and she does do a good job, and I really like the way she cuts my hair. Plus, my husband goes to her, too. So if I quit, it seems like he would have to quit, too, just for the sake of awkwardness and I’m too tired to worry about any of this.

My husband helpfully discussed this with me (although I doubt he will engage in deeper or additional conversations on the topic) and agreed that a) my former darker hair color worked just fine with my skin tone and b) it was totally reasonable for me to have a different opinion from my hair stylist and c) I could very reasonably ask her to change the color back and all would be well.

But YOU understand my fretting, don’t you?

What if she does it, but clenches her teeth the whole time, so certain is she in the life-altering mistake I am making?

What if she does it, and then it turns out she is RIGHT and my skin tone is Totally Wrong for dark brown and I HATE IT?

What if I can’t think of any other disastrous outcomes?

In any event, I want to go from Reddish Brown to Dark, Glossy, Gorgeous Brown and completely avoid Just Plain Brown at all costs.

Maybe what I do is pretend that I am NOT going back to my old hair color… and ask for a NEW hair color?

Something like one of these?

(Photos, left to right, from pinterest.com, hairboutique.com, hairstyles123.com, and pinterest.com)


I could totally go in and say, “I want my hair to be a bit darker for fall. Let’s change it to Katie Holmes brown please.” And then see what happens.

Perhaps I will even bring her this photo as an example!

Hair dark brown 1

What do you think?


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I am really worked up about shampoo right now.

You might call me a Shampoo Loyalist. I used Pantene for pretty much my entire life (I mean, except for the portion during which my mother, presumably, washed my hair. I have no memory of this.) but then in the early aughts my hair stylist went on some rant about how Pantene was the WORST thing you could put on your hair and said some things about animal testing and I did zero research or fact checking but immediately stopped using it. (I loved him. Loved. Him. I miss him to this day.)

But then I went through a Dark Time during which no shampoo seemed to really cut it for me. I don’t have too many requirements of a shampoo: I want it to clean my hair, smell pleasant, and make me look like Kate Middleton, which doesn’t seem like I’m asking too much. The Herbal Essences and Garnier Fructises of the world all ticked the “pleasant smell” box, but I think over time I’d get bored with them, or my hair would seem flat, or whatever, I sense you inching closer to the edge of your seat, in anticipation of what juicy detail I might share next, certainly not to leave the room. But I was sick of dating around. What I wanted was shampoo marriage material.

At some point, my mother-in-law left some of her fancy shampoo in the guest bathroom, and around the same time, my new hair stylist started trying to upsell me (in a non-annoying way, I swear) to a keratin treatment, which sounds MAGICAL and yet is way too expensive for my taste. And I discovered that lo! my mother-in-law’s hand-me-down shampoo leavings had the word “keratin” on the bottle. So I tried it out.

It was OGX Brazilian Keratin Therapy. And it had a pleasant suntan-lotiony smell and it did seem to make my hair less frizzy. And while it was more expensive than my previous dalliances, Target seemed to have good Buy-One-Get-One deals that made it less so.

OGX keratin

Photo from ogxbeauty.com

And THEN one magical day Target was out of the keratin therapy flavor? scent? type? of OGX, so I started looking at the other OGX offerings for an understudy. I read each bottle carefully, to determine whether I needed something for color-treated hair or dry hair or whatever and then – do you do this? – I sort of unobtrusively started unscrewing the caps and then sniffing each different color? blend? mixture? and trying not to get any wayward shampoo on my nose.

The one I fell in love with was Bamboo Fiber-Full (huh, I have been using this for possibly years and only just now realized it was FULL and not FILL). I love the way it smells. It leaves my hair feeling clean and light and fresh. Less Kate Middletonny than I would like, but no shampoo is perfect.

OGX bamboo

Photo from ogxbeauty.com

We had a happy relationship for a long time, Internet. And then Target stopped carrying it. Why, Target? WHY? Instead, my Target is all about this orchid varietal. Bah.

I started the shampoo search anew. The one shampoo I liked best was Garnier Fructis Full & Plush. But literally every time I used it – or even if I wasn’t washing my hair, and I just saw it, or glimpsed it from the corner of my eye – I would get so annoyed by the word “plush” that I would mutter and stew for… at least minutes. I mean, PLUSH? I feel like plush is a word that should apply only to velvet. Or maybe lips. Or, and I feel like this is a stretch, but I’m trying to be generous, a nice thick lawn. NOT HAIR. I don’t want to be reminded of a tufted velvet davenport every time I lather up. I just don’t.

Garnier Plush

Photo from garnierusa.com

At one point, I figured that the fixation I had on the word plush was probably a waste of time and energy and brain cells (why didn’t you figure this out a paragraph ago, you ask), so I cut it off at the source and went back to the Brazilian Keratin Therapy. Which I like. It’s fine. I could see us moving in together, buying a car, maybe getting a dog. But I’m not passionate about it, you know? Like, when I picture us together in our old age, I feel sort of resigned, rather than excited about all the trips we’ll take to Europe.

What I really want is the Bamboo Fiber-Full. Why are you keeping us apart, Target? WHY?

This story is not over!

I got the big, “value size” bottles of the Keratin shampoo some months ago. And at a certain point, the conditioner was really giving me trouble. The bottles are shaped in such a way that you can really only squeeze them from the middle, and the squeezed area was staying squeezed and I could not un-squeeze it. It was forming a tight little girdle in the middle of the bottle, which improved its Marilyn Monroe curves, but prevented me from getting all the conditioner from the bottom of the bottle into the top and out of the bottle. AND, because the OGX packaging people have never used shampoo in their lives, the tops of the bottles are ROUND, so you can’t stand them on their heads to use gravity as your buddy. (And you can’t remove the tops anyway; at least, I can’t. They are affixed to the bottles with superglue and manic rage.)

I can’t tell you what an ORDEAL it became, to shampoo my hair. I tried to force the bottle to stand on its head by surrounding it with other things – a bottle of body wash, the shampoo bottle, my husband’s shampoo – but that was only occasionally successful, and more often than not resulted in all of the aforementioned toiletries collapsing onto the floor and all over my stunned toesies.

So I would bang the bottle on my hand and bang it on the shower bench, then bend the entire bottle in half, trying to lever the conditioner to the exit point (I was surprised it didn’t split in half, but that would have made the conditioner too easily accessible). At the end, I had to do all of the above and then ALSO use both my hands to squeeze out a meager amount of conditioner onto my thigh, and then transfer the conditioner to my hair.

One should not have to endure such humiliations!

The shampoo held up much better, but as I reached the “value” section of the bottle, it too transformed into a torture device.

So, fine, when I had finally extracted as much shampoo and conditioner as was humanly possible from the bottles, I vowed never again to fall prey to the siren song of “value size” and I replenished my shower with regular-size bottles of Keratin shampoo.

Alas! I am halfway through those bottles and the conditioner is already doing the waist-cinch thing!

My husband, bless him, forcibly un-cinched the conditioner by using his body weight to press the bottle short-side against the granite counter (he tried the wall first and the bottle dented the wall).


I was at the supermarket the other day – one I don’t normally shop – and I happened across the shampoo aisle, and lo and behold! My beloved Bamboo Fiber-Full was there on the shelf! I scooped it right up, for $6.29 a bottle (Target, you are costing me money and losing yourself money!) and brought it home and made a Discovery.

Both bottles contain 385 ml of shampoo/conditioner. But the Bamboo bottle is slightly thinner, but deeper while the Keratin bottle is slightly wider but shallower. Does that make ANY sense? The Keratin takes up less space back-to-front and more space side-to-side; the Bamboo takes up less space side-to-side and more space back-to-front.

Because the Keratin bottle is less deep (from front to back, not top to bottom, I am doing such a terrific job of explaining this, good thing you bailed back up at “this is about shampoo”), it’s harder to squeeze. And the cinching thing happens more easily. And showering becomes an episode of MacGuyver.

Worst of all? It looks like OGX is moving toward this style of bottle. Because alllllll the other bottles seem to be the impossible to use terrible flatter/shallower version.

In my shampoo cynicism, I am certain that OGX is going to transition to this type of bottle and then start putting less of the product inside. As in, it may be 385 ml now, but next thing you know it will be 300 ml.

I think I need to start scooping up all the Bamboo Fiber-Full I can find in the old bottle shape.

Or – whimper – I need to begin a new search for my next great shampoo.


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You would think that Target would be a little more lenient, considering that I cannot walk out of it without spending $100. I once spent $75, and felt TRIUMPHANT.

Anyway, I am annoyed. And it is such a LITTLE annoyance that I feel annoyed that I am annoyed. It’s like the “I’m rubber and you’re glue” of annoyances. Does that even make sense? Possibly not; chardonnay.

We had a coupon – FROM Target, which helpfully sends out little booklets of all the things you need and don’t with 25% off here, 15% off there – that was something off bananas. It was something like 20% off bananas. Which already is nothing, because Target bananas are something like $0.18 per. But we eat a lot of bananas around here, and by “we” I mean my daughter and husband because I will not touch a banana with a ten-foot pole. Unless I’m buying one at Target, apparently.

But we had the coupon; we needed bananas. Why not save a few cents, right? The coupon, if I remember correctly, said something like “20% off bananas.”

Wouldn’t you think that means ALL the bananas you choose to buy? If you buy ten bananas, that would be 20% off all ten. This was my assumption.

But no.

The computer – it wasn’t the checker; he rang up all my items and then fed my coupons into the system in a big batch at the end – chose ONE banana – a $0.19 banana – and took $0.04 off that banana. Resulting in a savings of – yes, math fans! — $0.04. Four. Cents.

Okay! So the FULL batch of bananas I purchased was $0.38. Total. For three bananas. I am aware that the math in this post may not be “accurate” per se. But! If the coupon had applied to ALL the bananas, as it should have, we would have saved EIGHT CENTS. That is double the amount we actually saved!

I recognize that I am annoyed by four cents! It is stupid! But it is NONETHELESS ALSO STUPID for Target to have prevented me from saving those four cents!

I think what’s really chapping my lips is that my LAST trip to Target was so awful. It was one of those afternoons where Carla was Losing It and yet I had a bunch of Must Haves on my list (toilet paper, for one; and half-n-half, which may not strike you as a staple but IS). And I was already irritated because Target has stopped carrying my favorite shampoo. And because the layout of the toiletries is so weird that I had to walk sixteen aisles with an older woman who was SCOURING the shampoo and soap aisles for body wash and Could Not Find It because the body wash section is sixteen aisles away. And because, as usual, my Target didn’t have enough cashiers to handle the number of shoppers ready to check out.

At the holidays, my Target was a CHAMP at dealing with this. They know how to do it. They had a point person sending shoppers to the appropriate checkout station. They had billions of checkers ready to check out the shoppers. They were On Top Of It.

But on a normal Wednesday afternoon? They had two checkers and the shoppers were backed up ten to fifteen deep I AM NOT EXAGGERATING and so Carla and I had to wait in a line forever. So by the time we got to the actual checker, Carla was dee oh enn ee DONE and I was right there with her.

Of course, I’d brought a pile of coupons with me, in the ever hopeful quest to spend under $100. And of course, I was super self-conscious of my coupons, because of the ninety people (okay, THAT is an exaggeration; it was maybe five) lined up behind me. And the coupons were being finicky. Like, even though the Target coupons usually say “one Target coupon and one manufacturer’s coupon per customer,” only the one was ringing up per item. And the checker was doing them in the order of the pile, not in order of amount saved. So if I had a manufacturer’s coupon for $1.50 off body wash, plus a $0.75 Target coupon, and she rang up the Target coupon first, I would miss out on the biggest savings. Oh GOURD this is the boringest post ever. I think I corrected her the one time I noticed it, but she could have done it more times because did I mention I was trying to prevent a WILD RACCOON from leaping out of the shopping cart? It’s difficult to keep an eye on the raccoon AND on the register simultaneously. Then there was a Target coupon for $1.00 off “three packs of Trident.” Well, I grabbed the very same three-pack of Trident pictured on the coupon, and the coupon didn’t ring up, and the checker said, “You needed to buy THREE” and threw the Trident that I bought ONLY BECAUSE I HAD THE COUPON into my bag. And I didn’t argue (raccoon).

This is where things went fuzzy. The raccoon went into overdrive on the Flinging Herself From the Cart activity. And the checker had to call someone else over to consult with her on one of my coupons — a coupon, if I am not misremembering, for contact lens solution that was so good it (the coupon) was the sole reason I was buying the contact lens solution, and would NOT buy it if the coupon didn’t work. (It was something like $8 off.) It wasn’t ringing up for some reason, and instead of just saying “SCRAP THE SOLUTION!” I said something that made the checker call for coupon reinforcements.

So there I was, sweaty from preventing my child’s self-inflicted diving-to-the-Target-floor death, and feeling more and more frantic as the line behind me piled up, the other shoppers doing that blank-faced weight-shifting that shows barely-concealed impatience and rage. And the checkers needed to for some reason give me a Target gift card (which seemed reasonable; they always have these promotions where if you buy three of something you get a $5 gift card), but then they were taking it back, and then giving it back, and the whole ordeal was taking SO LONG that I wanted to shove my cart into the rack of US Weeklys as a diversion and get the hell out of there.

And when I got home, my husband reviewed the receipt and found out that the checker had CHARGED ME for the $5 gift card.

So. Target. You are on my list.

Barney Stinson

Photo from EntertainmentWeekly.com


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Here it is, Friday, and I’m tired and cranky because my husband and I STILL have not adjusted to the time change, and I’m playing the age-old game of Should I Take Carla to the Doctor?

She seems FINE. She’s happy and energetic and eating in quantities that make me fear bare wrists and ankles are in our near future. But she is also… warm. Not feverish, but warm. (Not that I’d be able to tell if she were feverish; we have owned no fewer than SIX thermometers in her short life and not one of them has ever been accurate. We now have the instant-read kind that you stick in the ear and press a little button, and it’s always – ALWAYS – at least a degree or two high.) And she is also a little more snuggly than normal. And she woke up with some crust in her eyes. “Symptoms” which make me wonder whether she has an ear infection.

Carla has had many ear infections in her not-quite-four years. Not so many that she requires tubes. But enough that I think we may have been to her pediatrician once or twice for other things. Ever. (Not counting well visits, I guess.)

Her brand of ear infections doesn’t come with pain, though. I mean, thank GOODNESS, right? But it does make it a little difficult to evaluate. Sometimes – rarely – she’ll have a brief fever. Usually, she wakes up with crusty eyes. When she was really young, I would have to take her to the doctor just for that, since no respectable daycare was going to let her in looking like she had a severe case of pink eye. But it was always, always an ear infection.

Now that she’s older, the eye crust looks more like what my mom used to call “sleepy dirt” than Crazy Case of Conjunctivitis. So sometimes the only way we know she’s got an ear infection is that she cries out in the middle of the night. That has happened… twice, I think. And, now that she’s older, it seems that the doctors prefer not to medicate her. We used to get antibiotics every time; now the doctor shrugs and says, it’ll probably go away in a few days. Come back if not.

So if I have a not-in-pain child, who may or may not have an ear infection, and who will likely not even get antibiotics if she does have an ear infection, what’s the point in taking her in, right?


I am deathly afraid of missing something. And having her pediatrician scold me. (And also, you know, having her be sick. That’s really the most important thing, of course.)

Last fall, my family was sick pretty much straight through from mid November, but by early January my husband was finally on the upswing of his lengthy cold, and Carla was still sniffly and coughing but otherwise seemed fine. I was the only one who seemed to be getting actively worse, so I finally decided to go to the doctor. It was just after Christmas and I still had a house full of guests and I just Couldn’t Handle Things anymore, so off I went. I got my diagnosis and my antibiotics and went home.

The next week, Carla had the telltale eye crust that means she had an ear infection, so I took her to HER doctor. And while there, I told him that we’d all been sick a long time, blah de blah, she’d been coughing and having a runny nose for a while, and now I think she has an ear infection. Normal stuff, right?

Defensive Interlude: I mean, we’ve ALL had a cold right? And we ALL know that a doctor can do NOTHING for a cold, right? So we wait it out. Eventually, it gets better, and we congratulate ourselves on knowing that it was a cold and on not wasting a copay or our own time. OR it gets worse, in which case we DO go to the doctor and hopefully s/he can do something about it.

Well, Carla had a cold! Cough, runny nose! No fever! No pain! No loss of appetite! No personality changes! Nothing! The only way we even realized she had an ear infection is that she woke up one morning and her eyes were all pink and goopy. She’d also spent the previous day saying, “What?” a lot, which she does a lot normally, but it was an extra lot. So I was pretty confident: ear infection.

So: to recap: I didn’t take her to the doctor when I thought it was a cold, even though it was a lengthy cold, because I was pretty sure he would shrug and say, wait it out. But when she showed symptoms of an ear infection, which can be treated by antibiotics if necessary (although, as I mentioned earlier, as she’s gotten older, the antibiotics have been replaced by a prescription for wait it out), I took her to the doctor.

But he chided me! He said, “Six weeks is way too long for a child of this age to have a cough like that.” And he said her ear infection was SEVERE and BILATERAL and that she probably couldn’t hear a damn thing (the memory of his chiding may be more strongly worded than it was in real time) and wrote me a prescription and sent us on our way.

Well, I felt TERRIBLE. Really. I mean, what mother wants to put her child’s health at risk? What mother wants to misjudge a situation so badly that the doctor scolds you? NO MOTHER, is the answer.

Poor Carla. She had an ear infection for a whole month after that, because the first course of antibiotics didn’t work. (And even though I could TELL it wasn’t working, we still had to finish the entire ten days before the pediatrician could see me again. That is another huff-fest entirely.) She was having SUCH a hard time hearing, and I was panicking about her somehow suffering longterm hearing loss.

So I think it is perfectly reasonable that now I am feeling a little jumpy about missing something.

And yet I’m dithering.

I really, really dislike going to the doctor for nothing. And the two visits since the Great Ear Infection of 2017 have both been false alarms. (One: Her preschool had me pick her up because she was complaining of a stiff neck, which is code for We Think Your Child Has Meningitis; she did not have meningitis. Two: She and I both had a stomach bug a few weeks ago, and hers presented as belly pain and complete loss of appetite. I tried to give the child a bowl of ice cream for dinner, just to get SOME calories in her, and she refused it. So I took her to the doctor. There was nothing he could do; just wait it out.)

Okay, I am still glad I took her in, both false alarm times, a) because you don’t want to mess around with meningitis. And b) because my husband and I were both googling “toddler belly pain” and had become convinced that Carla had appendicitis. Sometimes it is totally worth a trip to the doctor and a copay to find out that your fears are unfounded. (With the latter, though, the pediatrician seemed a little… miffed as to why I’d brought her in. I DID call the nurse advice line in advance! The nurse was who clinched my decision to come in!)

And of course, to add to the whole issue is that it’s FRIDAY. She wasn’t sick enough to keep home from school, but that means I will have to do a quick eval when she gets home, and then hope there’s a spot at the pediatrician… OR wait and see whether she wakes up crying in the middle of the night, and then take her to urgent care.

But none of the above makes me DITHER any less. Especially when the illness in question is just another ear infection.


Hey, at least the urgent care doc is unlikely to chide me, right?



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I am sitting here embroiled in all the humiliation and frustration of an Unsatisfying Interaction… Only the Unsatisfying Interaction took places EONS ago, so all my eloquent speeches and clear, reasonable explanations are useless.

Why does the brain insist on doing this? There are DOZENS of times when I have a thousand other things to do/concentrate on/worry about/binge-watch on Netflix, but CANNOT FOCUS because I am busy replaying the events of the Unsatisfying Interaction on repeat.

I would list a few of them, just as examples, but I don’t want to because they will earworm their way back into my brain and next thing you know I’ll be calmly explaining myself or making the perfect (heretofore unsaid) retort or reacting in a totally uncharacteristic c’est la vie way that will erase the Interaction from my memory for good and I’ll have just replaced The Useless Mind Churn of the Moment for another.

WHY does the brain do this? I could try, I suppose, to make an argument FOR this functionality: perhaps the brain thinks that if I turn The Past over and around enough times, I can prevent the same thing from happening in The Future. Which makes some sense! But… in this case, I highly HIGHLY doubt that this Unsatisfying Interaction will repeat – or even come close to happening again. And it’s not like all this internal practice has helped me to now; I still have Unsatisfying Interactions; I still fumble and say the wrong thing and am obtuse when I mean to be clear and am gauche when I mean to be funny and am tearful when I mean to be strong; I still come away flustered and wanting a re-do. And I am STILL spending countless hours thinking and fretting and stressing over things that have already happened and therefore CANNOT CHANGE.

So I’m coming down firmly on the side of USELESS.

It’s like a hysterical jaw, just gnawing and gnawing and gnawing away at the past. But instead of easily crumbling like a cookie, or even gradually giving way like a rawhide bone or a piece of wood, The Past is a many faceted diamond, and at best (at BEST!) the jaw is chipping off microscopic shards of the memory, which, instead of disappearing, simply lodge themselves more deeply in the humiliation centers of my mind.

Anyway, if you spot me having a very earnest conversation with the air later, this is why.


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