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In response to my recent Road Trip! post, several people mentioned snacks – a couple offered specifics; others were more general.

But it made me realize that I am Very Eager to discuss Road Trip! snacks. 

When I was a kid, my dad would buy rolls of Necco Wafers and hand them around. We had to take the wafer we were offered, so there was always the immense danger of getting the licorice flavored one. He was also a big fan of Planters Heat Peanuts. My mom, I seem to remember, perhaps incorrectly, enjoyed things like Chex Mix. 

For me, a Road Trip! is all about the chips. Aside from tortilla chips (which I eat occasionally), I hardly ever buy chips. This is because I LOVE chips and will eat an entire bag in one sitting. So chips are a real treat for me, and that’s my go-to snack for Road Trips. My favorites are Barbecue LaysMiss Vickie’s Jalapeno, and Doritos Salsa Verde, the latter being a variety I don’t see in gas stations that often anymore. 

I have also recently become… well, obsessed isn’t the right word for it. Infatuated with? Yes. I have recently become infatuated with Skinnypop, despite the irritating name. My daughter got me into it; I think parents often buy individual bags of Skinnypop for birthday party snacks, and maybe they offer Skinnypop as one of the snacks at school; I’m not quite sure about anything that goes on in my kid’s life when I’m not around. Anyway, she liked Skinnypop first and asked for it enough that I ended up trying it. Now we buy it by the giant package at Costco. I love it. Don’t get me wrong – I would much prefer a giant bowl of freshly popped popcorn drenched – drenched – in butter, but Skinnypop is really quite delicious. So I might consider adding it to my Road Trip! snack repertoire.

While I am much more interested in salty things than in sweet things, sometimes the best chaser for a bag of spicy chips is a bag of Twizzler Nibs. Or maybe a Milky Way Midnight bar. 

And I rarely ever drink soda these days, but I do love a nice frosty bottle of Diet Mountain Dew. 

I may or may not indulge in my traditional Road Trip! snacks on this particular Road Trip!. They are not, as you might have already intuited, keto friendly. But my husband has already decided that he is NOT sticking to keto while we are on our trip, and that makes it much harder for me to stick to it. 

If I stick to it, though, I will survive by eating copious amounts of Zero Sugar York Peppermint Patties and Zero Sugar Reese’s Miniature Cups which Swistle has been recommending for a long time and I just recently tried. They are SO GOOD and do not taste like keto food; they taste like treats.

(I have yet to find keto chips I like. I tried the Quest Chili Lime chips, which were WONDERFULLY crunchy and had a nice chili lime flavor. But the chili lime flavor, though strong, was not strong enough to disguise the flavor of the chips themselves which I find to be oddly bitter.)

Speaking of my husband: I feel like I should KNOW what kind of Road Trip! snacks are his favorite. But I… have no idea. Maybe he doesn’t have one or two repeat snacks that he always eats? Maybe he goes for a wide variety? Maybe I am so hyperfocused on my own snacking that I become completely oblivious to those around me? I am not sure. Honestly, I don’t even know what I would buy for him if he sent me into the gas station with instructions to pick him out a snack. Some.. Sun Chips? That seems like the wrong answer. 

My daughter LOVES snacks and LOVES treats, so you know she is going to have many, many requests. If I were to choose something for her, I’d probably pick a trifecta of Cheetos or Cheez-Its, something weird (like a plunger shaped lollipop that you dip into a toilet bowl filled with sugar – yes, this is something she purchased with her own money recently), and something sweet. She likes most (all???) sweets, so I’m not even sure what I would choose for her, but I think she would probably like it.

Now, I have been speaking mainly of gas station treats. But Road Trips! are an opportunity to eat fun fast food, too. If you like fast food. I don’t particularly care for it, I have to say. So usually I vote for Arby’s so I can at least order curly fries. When I was a kid, Subway was our fast food stop of choice, and I do enjoy a six inch Spicy Italian sub on whole wheat with no cheese, plenty of spicy mustard. I don’t know if I would enjoy it quite as much now. But I suppose we will have a chance to find out! 

So now it is your turn! Tell me, in detail, your FAVORITE Road Trip! snacks – sweet, savory, and any other category. 

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I am in the thick of it right now, and it’s not even very thick – people are in much thicker situations, and dealing just fine, and here I am flailing around. So I am feeling stressed and also irritated with myself for being stressed over so little. It really doesn’t take much. 

Taking a page from Swistle’s book and buying pretty flowers so at least there’s something bright in my day.
  • Obviously, at the top of the frets list is the awfulness going on in Ukraine. The thought of people losing their homes, their loved ones, their lives… the thought of cities being devasted and bombed… the thought of babies and cancer patients huddled in basements and subway tunnels… it is all so awful. And then there is the underlying threat of a giant nuclear-weapon wielding toddler getting bored or angry and throwing a temper tantrum that results in nuclear destruction. Of course, there is other extremely upsetting stuff going on here in the US and around the world at the same time. The media coverage feels absolutely gleeful, there is so much bad stuff to go around. I am avoiding as much of the news as I can, which is, of course, a very privileged option. But it’s all horrible, whether you try to ignore it or not.
  • Did I mention that I stayed home today with a sick kiddo? (It’s not Covid.) I would have stayed home anyway, but being at home hits differently when there is a child at home with you. In totally unrelated news, her school went mask-optional last week. Carla was elated about the option to stop masking, and so she stopped masking. My husband and I supported this for several reasons, but it really came down to the fact that she is nearly nine and we literally cannot force her to wear a mask. Once she’s at school, all bets are off. Anyway, some of those virulent little bugs that have been waiting around for two years to get a crack at some delicious elementary schoolers jumped right on board. Right on in there. It took one week for this to happen. 
  • We are still wearing masks in public, even though cases are very low in my area right now. However, my husband and I did go to a restaurant for my birthday. We did not wear masks in the restaurant. (Although I put mine on to visit the restroom.) It feels a little odd to pick and choose this way. No masks at school, no masks at a restaurant. But I will throw on a mask to go to the grocery store or the post office. I don’t know. It all feels very strange. 
  • Dinners this week? Ha. I have not thought about a single dinner beyond tonight. No one will starve. I have some broccoli and some lettuce and some green beans to make as sides. We are having tacos for dinner tonight, even though the thought of tacos makes me queasy. That’s as far as I’ve gotten. 
  • Speaking of taco queasiness, I am doing Keto again. Sigh. This is Week Six, which seems like a good point at which to share it with you. Leave it to Keto to make my favorite food in all the world unappealing. It’s just that I’ve eaten so very much taco meat in the past six weeks. Piles and piles of it. Turns out I really need shells to enjoy the taco experience. I will try not to talk about it a whole lot, although I have found a few products and a few modifications that have made it better, this time around. If you are interested, maybe I will write a post about them. I mean, I may write a post about it anyway, no promises, but I will put something Keto-related in the headline so you can skip it if you are so inclined. 
  • I made up a big batch of Costco salmon last night, which was DELICIOUS, but then I realized that I may be eating too much salmon, and looked it up and INDEED I am eating like 50 times the recommended salmon amount, so now what? I don’t want to let the salmon go bad. Plus it is delicious. How quickly does mercury poisoning set it, anyway?
  • I did a yoga workout today and Adriene said something about how I needed to clear the desk of my mind. Well. My desk and my mind are pretty aligned, I’d say. (I did not get a lot out of today’s session.)
I have to be honest, it’s looked worse.
  • Things that are stressing me out, on the opposite end of the nuclear-warfare spectrum:
    • We are going on a trip. I have all the usual pre-trip stresses, like making packing lists and checking that the plane schedule is the same, and trying to figure out how to remain clothed in the days leading up to the trip without needing to do extra laundry. Plus, the pandemic-era pre-trip stresses, like wondering whether our flights will be canceled or our rental car will be there when we arrive or whether we will all contract Covid in the airport on the way to or from our destination. 
    • I have a meeting with a new potential client. I am excited but nervous. We are meeting in person, which is adding to the nerves. As is typical of my stress about situations like this, I am hyper-focused on WHAT DO I WEAR. I have nothing to wear, nothing at all. 
    • I volunteered for a school project, because I wanted to be more involved at school. And it is turning out to be MUCH more involved than I ever imagined. I mean, this is a thing that happens yearly. There should be clearly defined policies and procedures that I can follow. And yet it is a situation where I feel like I am in a dark room and I can only shine my flashlight on one thing at a time, and even then I can’t get a really good sense of the layout of the furniture or what things I’m missing. It is also taking A LOT OF TIME. 
    • A friend – who is heading up a different school project – asked me many months ago if I would help with a small aspect of her project. I said yes. But now I am concerned that I will be too busy with my project to devote enough time/attention to hers, but it’s also too late to back out.
    • My in-laws are coming to visit. I am so happy and relieved that my mother-in-law has completed chemotherapy. She and my father-in-law are coming up for some post-chemo doctors’ appointments and tests. It will be great to see them, but it is never un-stressful to have guests. 
    • I am on the docket for jury duty. I only had to report for one day each of the last two times I was called for jury duty. The odds are not in my favor for skipping out on it again, are they. 
    • When am I supposed to WRITE, which is supposedly my main priority? 

  • Something that is not stressing me out, but is still requiring time and energy, and, okay, a little stress, is that Girl Scout Cookies arrived. The part I hate the most, aside from asking people to spend money, is the collecting of the money. What if Carla or I make a mistake? What if we under- or overcharge someone? We already had one incident where a neighbor said that a box of cookies was missing – but in fact she had written on the form that she wanted to donate a box. So we are already on the hook for that box of cookies. It is only $5, and paying $5 is worth more than insisting the neighbor pay it. But I hate stuff like that! 
The floor of my office right now.
  • Carla and I ran some errands today. Her fever was gone (which means she can return to school tomorrow), and we mainly stayed in the car. We did go into the pharmacy, where we encountered a man with a giant bloodhound. Carla, of course, wanted to pet the dog and he, of course, wanted very much to be petted by Carla. Also, he had a very long, twisty Biblical name which I thought was absolutely spectacular for a bloodhound. Why the dog was in the pharmacy is a mystery (he wasn’t wearing a vest that indicated he is a helper dog), but it was a fun encounter nonetheless.
  • Another fun sight: I ran into the post office to drop off a StitchFix return, and on the way in I saw a man carrying a Netflix DVD to return!!!! What a blast from the past! I desperately want to know this man and his life. 
  • I bought a carton of strawberries yesterday. Listen, I KNOW that strawberries are Not Good in March. This is not strawberry season. But they were so lovely and plump and red, and I just couldn’t resist them. I haven’t opened the carton yet, so they are currently Schrödinger’s Strawberries, and could very well be juicy and delicious. 

How are you, Internet? What’s cluttering the desk of YOUR mind?

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It snowed last night! Our first Real Snow of the season! Woo hoo! So I’m feeling chatty.

I suppose this is just a regular old Friday randomosity, dressed up in slightly different clothes.

Being a Parent Sometimes Means Forcing Your Kid to Go to School Crying

Hoo boy we had a rough start to the day. Poor Carla woke up on the WRONG side of the bed. And, oh, how I empathize. That feeling of dozens of little angry crabs, skittering all over your skin and clamping their tiny sharp claws into your brain, is so familiar to me, and I have dealt with it hundreds of times over the years and STILL don’t know how to get through it without snapping at my husband and/or feeling wounded by any tiny slight and/or wanting nothing more than to climb back into bed and start over. But for Carla, it’s still a new experience. She just doesn’t GET cranky, and so it’s been a long time since she’s felt this way and she hasn’t yet figured out how to cope.

I tried to be empathetic – validating her feelings, lots of hugs, keeping my own frustration in check (we left the house TWENTY MINUTES LATE) – but matter-of-fact. Being cranky happens, and it feels rotten, and nonetheless we all have to go on with life and do the things we have to do. I tried to suggest some strategies for getting past the yucky feelings. (I tried not to sigh too loudly when she rejected them all.) And then I dropped her off at school, even though she was tearful and upset, and I am hoping hoping hoping that her day only goes up from here.

Okay, despite my anxiety about being That Mom, I sent an email to her teacher just to check on her. (Not sure what I will DO, if her teacher says she is still crying… go get her? That seems like both the Wrong Lesson and the Right Thing to Do.)

Cleaning Before the Cleaner Arrives, Helpful or Ridiculous?

One of the reasons Carla was cranky (I think) is because I gave her a Hard Choice this morning. She was supposed to tidy her bedroom and her bathroom last night, in preparation for the housecleaner. I reminded her twice. I asked her whether she’d done it, and she said yes. But then, well after she was asleep for the night, I had to go into her bathroom for something and discovered that she had NOT tidied the bathroom. The opposite, in fact: sodden Barbies lying facedown on the bath mat, a full Barbie swimming pool in the tub, toy catalog on the counter, hair ties and rocks (yes, rocks) on the floor, pajamas wadded up in the corner. I know that some people who have housecleaners believe that the housecleaner can handle stuff like this. And I’m sure our very capable housecleaner could. But it is my view that time spent tidying – especially tidying away toys and things whose homes you may not be aware of – takes precious time away from the CLEANING. For me, the value of the housecleaning is in the scrubbing of the toilet and the scouring of the bathtub and the mopping of the floor. Some people in our house may disagree but I FIRMLY AGREE with myself on this point. So Carla’s bathroom door has been shut tight and the housecleaner has been instructed to stay out, and Carla will be getting some hands-on experience with what I mean by TIDYING vs CLEANING because she will be doing both.

Okay, so I also gave the microwave a quick swipe (there was a Ham Incident the other day, which I mostly took care of at the time, but exploded ham bits are surprisingly evasive) and wiped down the stove top (I haven’t even MADE anything on the stove lately, WHY was it so FILTHY?) before our housecleaner arrived because I don’t want her to think we are total pigs.

Stepping Out on Your True Love: Will It Rekindle the Fire, or Cause the Relationship to Implode?

The thing I REALLY wanted to discuss with you, before all the morning’s crankiness and associated anxieties derailed me, is that I have had a Startling Revelation. I think I am growing weary of my one true love: tea.

I hope you took that paragraph break to allow the magnitude of this revelation to sink in. Because it has taken me a few weeks to come around to this understanding. Historically, I LOVE tea. Double Bergamot Earl Grey has been my faithful and delicious companion every weekday since I discovered it, with splurge days on the weekends when I drink my fancy Uncle Grey imported from Canada. Before that, I drank regular Earl Grey or English Breakfast. I can’t remember exactly when I started drinking tea, but I know that it has at LEAST been for eight years (one of my fondest memories from Carla’s first year of life is that my husband made me tea every single morning and brought it to me while I pumped), and probably for several years before that.

But these past few weeks, I’ve had waning enthusiasm for my tea. It doesn’t taste quite as good, I find myself dragging when I need to prepare it, I end up gulping it down to get it over with instead of savoring it. It’s just not giving me the joy that a warm morning cuppa should give a person.

I don’t think I can switch to other teas. I don’t really like most teas – the fruity kinds, no thank you. Rooibos and Chai are okay on occasion but not every day. I like green tea, but it doesn’t have the same comfort factor that Earl Grey does. Matcha is wonderful, but it requires so much milk and frothing and so on to make it the way I like it.

So NOW WHAT.

Today, I asked my husband to make a little extra coffee and so I am drinking that. It is… not good. It is too bitter, even with two packets of Sweet’n Low and my normal glug of half-and-half. When I am not drinking it, the inside of my mouth tastes metallic and sour, and I’m sure my breath is a delight. I made sure to eat a high-protein breakfast before I drank it, but I still feel like it’s making me jittery and a little queasy. How do people drink this every day?

I used to drink coffee. When I was eight, my mom brought home these beautiful bowls from France and she would make me café-au-lait for breakfast. When I went to her office after school, I would help myself to coffee and powdered creamer and many, many packets of sugar in the break room. During my first summer job during college, I would live for the few minutes when I could step away from filing and pour scalding coffee into a paper cup and doctor it until it was creamy and sweet. At some point in my life, I was a fan of Pumpkin Spice Lattes. So I have gone through multiple coffee drinking periods in the course of my life.

But I can’t say I ever really liked coffee. When I left it behind a decade or so ago, I intended never to return. Still, I don’t really want to get back into it, now. It would require too much sugar, for one thing. Too much half-and-half. Too much… amped-up quease. (I feel like the non-word “quease” evokes the feeling much better than the word-word “queasiness.”)

But what else IS there? I need a warm cup of something in the mornings! (PLEASE don’t say warm milk. Hork.)

Maybe I will drink coffee for a few days and then see if I have a newfound appreciation for tea. Or maybe I will find myself sucked into the coffee cult that has thoroughly brainwashed my husband and Lorelai Gilmore and so many others (maybe even you?).

Edited to add: It took me many hours to finish this post; distractions abound! So this is Future Me reporting back to you on today’s coffee sitch: I have still not finished my cup of coffee; my mug is still one-third full and the liquid is cold and my head feels powered by hummingbird wings and my stomach is a-sail on choppy seas. This is not a promising beginning.

A Strange and Unfamiliar Dilemma Arises!

This is not an actual problem.

We ordered our holiday cards on Sunday and they arrived ON WEDNESDAY. People, it is STILL NOVEMBER. This has NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE. I am absolutely delighted. (We ordered through Mpix.com – it was a great experience, through and through. The cards look great, even if adding a photo to a card and printing it didn’t make the awkward way I am holding my arm in said photo look any less awkward.)

But now I am facing a quandary: when do I send the cards? Part of me wants to send them NOW, get them off my desk (my office has become Holiday Storage Central, and is full of boxes that I can’t bear myself to throw away and gifts for people), and perhaps achieve the ever-elusive status of being someone’s First Holiday Card of the Season. (Our First Holiday Card of the Season usually arrives from one of the few high school friends I continue to talk to as an adult. I am anticipating it any day now.)

But the other part of me is resisting this. I don’t know why. Maybe because I am a firmly Wait Until After Thanksgiving holiday celebrant? Maybe because I don’t want to be first? Perhaps people will toss the card because it’s so early, or perhaps I am uncomfortable with the idea of MY awkwardly posed arm being on someone’s wall or mantel all alone for days or weeks? I don’t know. It seems too early!

Then again, Hanukkah is early this year, and begins the weekend after Thanksgiving. Part of the reason we send holiday cards instead of Christmas cards is because so many of our card recipients are Jewish. It would be nice for the holiday card to arrive DURING the holidays, rather than after them. (Although I doubt that any of our Jewish card recipients care all that much; Hanukkah isn’t really that big a deal, and they are likely inured to the tradition of getting “holiday” cards during Christmastime.)

All this to say: I am sort of leaning toward sending them out on December first. That puts them arriving solidly in December, and hopefully before Hanukkah ends.

You Can Bet I Filled Out the Customer Survey, and I Filled It Out GOOD

Yesterday saw me flitting about from store to store, running errands. It’s been a LONG time since I’ve done something so carefree. I was looking for three specific things: 1. Candles for the menorah, which I did not find. 2. Ideas for a “giant crate filled with crafting supplies,” which was the top item on Carla’s letter to Santa. 3. A tiny, not-terribly-expensive salt and pepper shaker set that I can use when my parents are here; I did not find this, either. I did manage to spend a lot more money than my lack of success would imply.

Oh! Brief deviation from the topic, which I haven’t even GOTTEN to yet: I thought it was so fascinating to see how differently stores are handling the pandemic. Many stores had signs on their entrances, but I don’t think any of them were the same. “Masks required” said one, with a sentence below in smaller print citing CDC recommendations. “Masks recommended for unvaccinated individuals” said another. “Masks optional” said a third, which is similar to the second, but conveys a very different vibe.

One of the stores I visited was Target. I haven’t been in Target in a long while, partly because I haven’t needed anything from Target in a long time and partly because I love, with my whole heart, the option to order my items online and have someone deliver them to my car. CURBSIDE 4EVA.

It was sort of pleasant and nostalgic to wander around Target for awhile. It wasn’t terribly busy, and I could see with my own eyes that they were, in fact, completely out of Carla’s size in fleece-lined leggings. (I don’t know why I keep buying them, because holes sprout in the knees practically immediately.) (I do know why: they are cheap.)

I narrowly avoided buying any of the cute Christmassy appetizer plates they had for $3 apiece. I am beginning to think that was a mistake.

I was not able to resist the miniature office supplies set, which will make its way into Carla’s stocking.

image from target.com

But when I checked out, I reconnected with one of my biggest peeves about Target. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve complained about it before. But my peeve has been so inflamed that I am going to complain about it again.

When you checkout, there is almost NO WAY to see whether you are being charged appropriately for each item. Long, long ago, so long ago that I am willing to admit it may be a figment of my wildest dreams, you could go up to the credit card reader, and it would show you what you were buying in real time, as the checker scanned your items. No more. Now, if you have even a small hope of glimpsing what the computer says you owe, you have to stand back at the conveyor belt – which makes it very awkward to fill your cart as the checker bags your items – and squint at the computer screen facing the checker. Facing the checker, not facing YOU. And the type is so small that you have very little hope of seeing the price of each item anyway. In larger type is the total of your purchase, but that requires instantaneous math, and I am not good at that in the best of times, less so when I am in public.

We all know that Target makes errors. It is OFTEN that an item will scan at a different price than is displayed on the shelf. And the placement of the computer makes it nearly impossible to know that this is happening.

Also, the only way to know the total you are about to pay is to listen carefully to the checker, who has to say it out loud to you. It does not even give a total on the card reader! This is madness!

HARUMPH.

I did get a customer survey in my email later that day, which I took great pleasure in filling out. Not that it will do a lick of good.

Suspected Shipping Snafu Turned Sweet Surprise!

A box from amazon arrived the other day, as is an all-too-frequent occurrence in these days leading up to the holidays. (I am trying to wean myself off of amazon, I AM, but it is difficult.)

The box was addressed to me; I was expecting some fleece-lined leggings I’d ordered for Carla, to replace her hole-y Target ones. So I opened it.

Inside was a smaller box, with a label that said “lidded casserole.”

This was something I had JUST THE DAY BEFORE put on a list of Christmas wishes that I had shared with my husband. My guess what that he had accidentally sent it to me because I am the intended recipient. So I sighed and put it back in the box, resolving to be So! Surprised! when it appeared under the tree on Christmas Day.

But when he came home, he swore he hadn’t ordered one for me.

Turns out it was a thank-you gift from his parents! When they were here, I’d mentioned that I was constantly on the lookout for a medium sized casserole dish… and my mother-in-law remembered and sent me TWO!

What a fun and thoughtful surprise!

That’s the note I’ll end on. Well, and this additional note, from Carla’s teacher, that she arrived to class her cheerful, happy self. PHEW.

Hope you have a lovely weekend, Internet!

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Are there people in your life who simply rub you the wrong way? Like, no matter what they do, their actions grate on you? And maybe it’s not so much that their actions grate, but that you are pre-expecting those things to irritate you, so you get advance annoyed? No no no. Let’s not talk about this; it’s steeping me further into agitation, the way scratching a mosquito bite just makes it itchier.

Sometimes I am so sick of being The Wife. Not A Wife; I love my husband and on the whole enjoy being married to him. But sometimes the Wifely Expectations make me so mad! And Wifely Expectations sounds much more salacious than what I’m alluding to. I’m talking about the thing where you wait until everyone else is served to take your own food, and then the food is cold. Or how when every spot on the couch is taken, except for the one in the middle, which is blocked in by the coffee table and four pairs of legs, no one notices and so you sit on the floor because asking everyone to move would require lots of standing up and picking up of plates and shuffling around. Or how you wake up earlier than everyone else to make sure the house is as clean and tidy as possible, even though it will be messy and crumb filled the next morning, and no one notices (although they would be sure to notice if things continued along the messy/crumb-y route). Or how when your mother-in-law (also The Wife) offers to clean up the kitchen, it is to help YOU out, not your husband because it is not his job to clean up the kitchen, it is the job of The Wife. Okay. Deep breaths. Let’s not go further down THIS path.

No Dinners This Week post, because my sister-in-law may or may not be arriving at some point today or tomorrow, and I am unable to commit to a meal that may or may not take her into account. Tonight we are having takeout from an Indian restaurant; we were ALL in the mood for it last night, but neither of the two options we could agree on were open. I still have ingredients for fajitas, short ribs with polenta, and pork with roasted vegetables that I’d planned on last week, so those should hopefully tide us over. Well. That topic is less – but not un- – fraught, but I have nothing more to say about it.

For multiple very boring and make-sense-only-to-me reasons, I have decided to make an effort to eat breakfast more consistently. And I am hoping that you will help me figure out the best breakfasts and the best breakfast times, because I am floundering around.

I will tell you, in advance, that it may seem futile to offer your own suggestions. It may seem like the kind of thing where someone asks for advice and then wrinkles their nose at everything you recommend. But I promise that I want your suggestions and breakfast insights, and that I am willing to TRY, even if the nose-wrinkling feels more natural.

I feel like sort of a breakfast newbie, so I want to collect data and go from there.

Breakfast Foods

For most of my life, I have not only avoided breakfast, but actively disliked it. I remember eating breakfast in elementary/middle school: usually Rice Krispies or a bowl of milk with a single brick of Shredded Wheat in it. Maybe Corn Pops if whomever had done the grocery shopping was feeling wild. Sometimes a toasted Eggo waffle. It was something to be endured, not something to enjoy, and I am very much an Eats for Enjoyment type, rather than the equally valid but mysterious-to-me Eats for Sustenance type.

When I was in high school, and responsible for driving myself, I did not eat breakfast, opting instead to drink a can of vending machine Coke when I got to my first period class. (I can’t imagine that school vending machines carry soda anymore, but mine did. We also had candy machines, and I ate a package of peanut butter M&Ms for lunch almost daily.)

After that, the breakfast timeline gets fuzzy… because I think I just stopped eating breakfast altogether. I am not particularly hungry when I wake up, and I dislike 95% of the options – eggs, oatmeal, and cereal being right up there with the breakfast things I despise the most. Granola bars, breakfast cookies, muffins, protein bars – none of those interest me in the least.

You might think I would be an ideal candidate for intermittent fasting, and I have tried that in the past, but I am not interested in doing it again at the moment (although that might change at some point; who knows).

During my brief flirtations with keto, I ate a hot dog every single morning, and it tasted both incredibly delicious and yet horrifically nauseating at the same time. Kind of how I imagine it would feel to be a vampire: disgusted by what you’re doing, but craving it with every cell of your being.

Sometimes, I will eat Greek yogurt with honey and granola, topped with raspberries or pomegranate seeds. I really only like this as a combination. Sometimes I will make a mango smoothie, but I admit to being a little weary of them lately. Yogurt by itself generally doesn’t do it for me – and it is very difficult to find my preferred yogurt, which is blended raspberry. Must be blended, none of that fruit on the bottom stuff for me no thank you.

On special occasions, I can handle a Big, Traditional Breakfast. You know. A frittata. A breakfast strata. Belgian waffles. Pancakes and bacon. French toast casserole. But those are special occasion breakfasts, not everyday breakfasts – at least, for me.

Once in a great while, I will make myself an omelet or scramble myself an egg. But this is very rare, because eggs typically make me queasy.

I am not ever going to eat a banana.

Today I ate a jar of honey-flavored Oui yogurt, which is delicious and not something I can gear myself up to pay for on a daily basis. ($1.59 per jar! And, yes, the jars are perfect for regenerating scallions on your windowsill, but I already have six of them.) I also had some fresh raspberries, leftover from my daughter’s breakfast this morning. (In addition to the raspberries, I made [“made”] her a chocolate-chocolate-chip muffin, which she used to LOVE and now refuses to eat because I accidentally let her see the package and now she knows it contains vegetables. Why do we teach children to read?)

Carbs are great. I love carbs. I love an English muffin with butter and raspberry jam. I love a toasted bagel with butter and salt. I love toast. But most days they seem too heavy to bother with. And they often seem, somehow, to start the day off on the wrong foot. They sit like a lump in my stomach, for one thing. But I also feel – perhaps imaginarily – that I get hungrier faster when I start out with carbs. Who knows. It could be the result of Big Keto, filling my newsfeed and my brain with the dangers of blood sugar spikes etc. etc. Or it could be a real phenomenon. Or maybe I crave a bagel on days when I am already hungrier and there’s nothing I can do to stop it.

Everything I read stresses the importance of PROTEIN! in the mornings. But I don’t really like protein, I guess is the issue. I already mentioned my aversion to eggs. I do love a slice of bacon, but microwave bacon is about as appealing as frying up bacon every day (i.e. not appealing). My morning keto hotdog would probably do a lot more harm than good, considering I am no longer doing keto. And I REFUSE to eat peanut butter, all due deference to those who love it.

I am also not opposed to eating lunch for breakfast. Many a time have I warmed up some leftover soup or tacos at nine in the morning. But then what am I supposed to eat for lunch? Problems, problems.

Breakfast Timing

Usually, I wake up, start my tea brewing, unload the dishwasher, and then drink my tea – all between approximately 6:30 and 7:15 in the morning.  Straight out of bed, I am almost never hungry. In fact, the idea of food makes me nauseated when I am still trying to wake up. (“Why are you staring at the floor, Mommy?” Carla asks me, as I space out, trying vainly to rejoin the realm of the living.)

But then I like to exercise right after I drop Carla off at school, which means that I am exercising on an empty stomach. (“The #1 Absolute Worst Thing You Can Do For Your Health!” according to several Instagram diet and exercise gurus I click on too often.) If perhaps I should be waking up earlier, then I need to find a different family, one that has fewer night owls.

Also, it is weird to eat breakfast without tea, but I rarely want a second mug of tea so early in the day. Hmmm. A paradox.

I have been experimenting with delaying my tea until after drop off, and drinking it with a little breakfast. This seems to work well: I am hungrier at that time, at least. But it does mean that I feel less inclined to exercise. Well. One thing at a time.

Breakfast… At All?

Okay, who knows. Maybe I am trying to force myself into a pattern that just doesn’t work for me. I acknowledge that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” could very well apply to only a portion of the population, and that I am an outlier. Maybe I really need to embrace my tremendous enthusiasm for lunch, and give up on breakfast all together. Maybe having reached a Breakfast Experimentation phase in my life is an indication that I have too much time on my hands.

But for now at least, the Breakfast Experimentation phase persists. And in my quest for reliable, enjoyable breakfast foods, I am really curious about what YOU eat for breakfast, and any other breakfast-related topics.

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I have a case of the grumps, and I can trace each grump directly to its source, and they are all very mundane and so silly that my inner critic is standing there with her hands on her hips and her head tilted condescendingly saying, “Perhaps you should be grateful that you aren’t an Afghan refugee instead of whining about your perfectly lovely life, ever think about that, hmmm?” Well. She can eat a bee. Sometimes the only way to escape a particularly irksome grump is to share it, so here we go.

  • I am living in filth. My lovely, creative, crafty daughter has crafted our house into a trash heap. (I trust that you will understand I mean “likes to make crafts” here rather than “deceitful and cunning.”) Her gorgeous brain is constantly coming up with things to make and build and decorate, and I love it. I do. I am astonished by the things she thinks up and astounded by how she can bring them to life with scraps of plastic and bits of cardboard and copious amount of glue. And yet despite my pride and delight in her crafty pursuits, I have begun to feel like I am living in an actual garbage dump. Carla has an entire designated craft cabinet in which to stow her materials, but the results of her work end up everywhere. Little tiny seashells made into crabs. Skewers turned into swingsets and chopsticks and the legs of little clay beings. Cardboard shelving units and apartment blocks. Toys wearing clothing made of paper and string. Purses made out of plastic and cloth and clay. Little bits of paper that now represent dog food, toilet paper rolls, confetti, Barbie workbooks. There is no place to PUT these creations, and of course each one is rare and precious, so we have designated a section of the dining room (which is never, ever used for dining) as the Craft Waiting Area. But do the crafts wait quietly in their area, until such time as Carla deems them ready for the great Outdoor Craft Storage Compartment? No they do not. They migrate. And, with them, creative detritus piles up. Sheets of foam that have been cut into jagged lace. Broken bits of pottery. Plastic baggies. Pencils. Scissors. Sequins. Stickers. Chunks of clay. Slabs of dried glue. Q-tips. Empty play-doh containers. Rocks. Fluffy rainbow pom poms. Barettes. Three sets of needle nose pliers. Pencils, markers, paintbrushes, and pens. Corners and slips and strips of paper. Plastic baggies filled with scraps of paper and broken crayons and tiny rubber bands and bits of yarn. IT IS A GARBAGE DUMP. And, have I mentioned, every single scrap of anything is PRECIOUS and USEFUL and NECESSARY. If ever I suggest moving any of these items into the trash, Carla collapses in tears of betrayal and shock.
This is a photo I took several weeks ago, and it isn’t anywhere near as bad as things were this morning. Picture this doubled.
More detailed look at all the bits and bobs. Note the scrap of masking tape on the wall, there for no reason at all.
  • My family and I continue to require sustenance. Dinner continues to seem like an alien concept. I continue to suffer from meal-amnesia. Since Monday, my family and I have eaten tacos three times: I went to the grocery store with literally only the single idea for a meal this week (tacos), hoping that the shelves would shove meal ideas at me (they did not) (except, I guess, in the case I am about to describe), and when I walked in, there was a display of everything a human could need to make fish tacos, so I bought those things and we ate fish tacos Monday, leftover fish tacos Wednesday, ground beef tacos Thursday, and, on Tuesday, the chicken shawarma that I had planned and purchased for the first week of October. Yes, the broccoli managed to survive that long in my crisper. I have absolutely NO IDEA what to make for dinner tonight. My in laws are back next week (for two weeks), and I doubt that they will be as amenable to Tacos Every Day as my husband and child are, and yet I have no ideas. Food is a mystery. And even though I have catalogued my own meal planning here for several years now, and have multitudes of recipes both in my online files and in the files in my kitchen… and despite having access to both dozens of cookbooks AND the internet, I have no ideas. None. If you were to press a recipe into my hands and say “Make this,” it would surely gradually dissolve into gas and float away on the air.  

  • My husband is giving me guff about holiday cards. It is no secret, either here or in my marriage, that holiday cards are MY FAVORITE PART OF THE HOLIDAYS. I love to send them, I love to receive them. I love them. I thought this was well-established. I thought that my husband, who doesn’t give a goat’s beard about any of it, had nonetheless fallen in line. AND YET. I requested that we go somewhere pretty this weekend to take a family photo for holiday cards, and he grumbled that he doesn’t WANT to do holiday cards. They are stupid and a waste of time and money. While he is entitled to his own grumps, of course, I am feeling CRANKY AND STUBBORN. This is My Thing. Why is he objecting? It will take an hour, maybe, to find a spot and take a serviceable photo. I will do the card-options-narrowing-down work, and offer him a few to choose from. I will send them out. It is not a big drain on him, time-wise. Money-wise, sure, it’s not super expensive. But it’s not going to break the bank. Why can’t he just bend to my will? Why can’t he just fall in line? WHY????? (We have taken exactly two (2) photos of the three of us since summer of 2020. Neither is holiday card worthy, you will just have to trust me. And I would slap a bunch of photos from throughout the year on a card and call it a day in a frosty second, but my husband always, always hates those kinds of cards when I mock them up, and despite the fact that he is making the whole thing harder than it needs to be, he and I still feel he gets a say in a card representing/featuring him that goes to all our friends and family.)

  • Our health insurance is being downgraded. Oh, excuse me: “improved” and “enhanced.” I get that my husband’s company is a business, and they need to find ways to keep costs down, blah blah blah. And I get that I am very fortunate to have access to health insurance at all, and the means to pay for it. But I am still DEEPLY ANNOYED. Mainly because my husband’s hospital system is trying to spin it as a benefit when it clearly is NOT. They sent out this piece of direct mail giving us a heads-up about one of the changes to the insurance plan, which is that they are going to now “leverage” the hospital system’s own pharmacy system. Isn’t that great?!?! Aren’t we so happy?!?! They alluded to benefits from this change: We are now going to “get the best medication outcomes.” What the fluff does that mean? We will now have the “convenience” of using hospital pharmacies (NOT convenient, unless you are at one of the FOUR ON-SITE PHARMACIES in a 100-mile radius) or mail-order (NOT convenient if you have a necessary daily medication that happens to be a controlled substance and may not be available via mail order). And we will have “one card” for pharmacy and medical insurance coverage. Wowee, what a benefit! (Eye roll.) I suppose they do also allude to lower costs. There is also a black box notifying us that we need to stock up on medications so that the switch to the new plan doesn’t affect our prescriptions. Is this even possible with the medications we have? WHO KNOWS. And then it says to go to the website of the new company for more details. But the website does not have ANY USEFUL DETAILS for non-members. This does not feel like they are “expanding and enhancing” my healthcare benefits, that’s for sure.

  • We still have not completed my gallery wall dream. I have been saying for years that I want to have a gallery wall of photos/paintings in our living room. And my husband keeps jumping on and off board. The artwork and empty frames that I had chosen for the gallery wall have been pushed up against the dining room wall (see above) for months and months now, and I think I may have to admit defeat. It is not going to happen in this house. My husband has no interest in helping me plan, but I will need his help to execute the whole thing, and I just don’t know if I can summon enough umph to see it through. So I am summoning grump instead.

To help counteract the Grumps, I will share two goods:

  • The other day I went to a Work Event. I was very anxious about a) being around a bunch of people at a restaurant and b) feeling self-conscious about all the weight I’ve gained since I last saw these people and c) worrying that my much-increased social anxiety would make me panicky and weird. I went out and bought an entire new outfit; I haven’t had to don Office Wear regularly since 2016, and I have since been hard at work “expanding and enhancing” my size, so I had nothing remotely appropriate to wear. I got a pair of black dress pants and a burgundy sweater at Talbots (for 30% off! plus 10% off for joining their rewards program! plus $10 off for joining their mobile mailing list!), which helped tremendously. I felt like I looked put together and appropriate, and like someone who would be totally competent at doing freelance work in the future. But, even better, the event was GREAT. It was outdoors, everyone was vaccinated, and I hadn’t seen most of the attendees in five years. People gave me hugs and seemed genuinely excited to see me and we had comfortable, easy conversations and the whole thing was super, super lovely.

  • I have hacked away at some of the trash heap. Just now, I got a surge of Living In Garbage-related energy and tackled both the Dining Room Trash Heap and Carla’s craft cabinet, and threw a LOT of stuff away, but also organized everything. It doesn’t look good, but it looks significantly better, and now feel much less Strangled By Junk. Hopefully I can persuade Carla that I kept most of her things and simply organized them all in a way that looks like I threw most of it in the trash (I did throw a lot of things in the trash – but really, WHO NEEDS ten plastic baggies filled with tiny bits of paper and string and the cottony ends of Q-tips? The garbage bin, is who.) I need to take a similar approach to her desk in her bedroom, and then we’ll really be rocking and rolling.
At least it is all contained to the giant slab of cardboard now. If I move the artwork and frames down to the basement, it will look even better.

Tell me your grumps, if you’ve got em.

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My husband and I have a general plan to look for a new house sometime in the next couple of years. The thing is, there’s no REAL reason to leave this house. It’s a good size for three people (even if it feels MUCH too small for all our stuff), it’s got everything we need (three bedrooms, two office spaces, a laundry room, a non-creepy basement), it’s close to Carla’s school and my husband’s offices, and, most important, it’s in a lovely neighborhood with lovely neighbors who all have dogs and who are all extremely generous with their time (and their dogs’ time). 

And yet sometimes we do dream about finding The Perfect House, the one with allllllll the things we love about our current house and all the things that would make it so much better. (Recognizing, of course, that owning a home at all is a privilege and having enough space for our small family is a luxury that many, many people do not have.)

One of my biggest wishes for a new house would be a real, honest-to-goodness mudroom. Right now, all we have is a tiny square between the garage and the kitchen.

It has a small closet (although the door no longer works) and that’s it. Our shoes and bags and coats are always spilling out of it. My husband stores his work satchel on the floor of the kitchen because it doesn’t fit in the entry space. My daughter’s backpack is usually on the floor as well. There’s no space for grocery bags or my purses or anything, really. So I would love a beautiful single-purpose mudroom. Maybe one that has those tall cubbies, with individual hooks for coats and cubbies for shoes. But my ideal mudroom would also have a closet or shelving for storing hats and mittens and sports gear, and it would have a hook for my purse and a hook for Carla’s backpack and another for my reusable grocery bags (which inevitably hang on the garage door knob until I return them to my car, falling off the knob and onto the floor several times per day). 

Another wish would be a separate space for Carla. If money were no object, I would want her to have a playroom and a separate craft room with a long table and lots of storage. Her bedroom is fairly small and she has WAY too many toys, and they spill into the dining room, living room, basement, kitchen. I am constantly bothering her to clean things up. Maybe if she had a designated room for her stuff, I could simply shut the door. 

In general, I don’t think I have overtly extravagant, MTV-Cribs-style wishes for my dream home. I don’t need a movie theatre. I don’t want a bowling alley. But I would like a swimming pool. Only since the pandemic began have I understood the value of having a pool. Before the pandemic, I would have said never in a million years. But now that we are home so much more often, and now that the preferred way of interacting with other humans is in small groups in outdoor spaces, I totally want a pool. In my ideal, make-believe world, the pool would be in an enclosed, heated space for year-round swimming but could be completely opened up for entertaining. 

While we’re dreaming, I would like a dedicated library. Happy sigh. A room with shelves and shelves and shelves of books… and some comfy, well-lit seating areas… heaven!

Oh, and it would be wonderful to have a separate space for guests. A real mother-in-law suite (or, why the hell not, mother-in-law outbuilding) with a small kitchen, a full bathroom, a bedroom, and a small sitting area. Our parents stay at a hotel when they visit, for a variety of reasons, and it would be lovely to be able to have a separate place for them to stay with us.

Of course, no house will ever be Completely Perfect. I doubt that any house at any price has the exact specifications I would want (not to mention what my husband and Carla would want) in m dream home. I think even if you designed and built your own house, it wouldn’t be perfect perfect. Some of the things that end up driving you nuts don’t reveal themselves until you have lived in a space for awhile. Sometimes you don’t realize just how much you want a big, beautiful mudroom until you find your entire family crammed into a tiny square, all trying to remove their muddy boots at one time.

I want to know the things you dream about, in your wildest house hunting dreams. And I also want to know the things you love – and hate – most about the place where you currently live. 

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Nicole posted last week about her favorite life-changing purchases, and I have been inspired to copy her. Here are some of the LIFE-CHANGING purchases I have made in the past year. Some of them may be familiar, because I have recommended them to you here before. Because they are LIFE CHANGING. (For details on one of my most enduring life-changing purchases, click here.)

Hanging Detangling Comb for ShowerThese come in all different colors, but the little curling tail that allows you to hang it over the towel bar in your shower is essential. This has been a GAME CHANGER for me. I comb through my hair when I apply conditioner, and then again after I’ve rinsed and applied smoothing serum or curling serum or whatever other thing I want to put in my hair. Keeping my hair detangled seemed SO MUCH EASIER now that I have added this one little thing to my regimen.

Hair Towel: Technically, my sister-in-law purchased this for me, but still. It is a LIFE-CHANGING item. Again, I think you can find your one true hair towel; I don’t necessarily think that this specific one is the best. Just get you a hair towel, of any type. Well, as long as it has a button to hold it in place. Gone are the days of wrapping my hair in a bulky towel, only to have it collapse on me. Gone are the days of needing two towels, one for my hair and one for my body. I love this hair towel. LOVE. IT.

 

 

Blow Dryer Brush: This is a pricy one, and once again, I don’t know that this particular brand is The Exact One you should get; this is the exact one I have, and I like it plenty. (I got mine at Nordstrom.) But being in possession of a tool that allows me to brush and dry AND straighten my hair with one hand has been transformative. For one thing, I don’t have to deal with a hair dryer and then a straightener. But, even better and more life-changing, I can now read while I dry my hair! I don’t have to look at myself in the mirror while I brush my hair, I have a hand free to turn the pages or scroll or whatever. It’s amazing. I love it.

Tula Cooling Eye Balm: I have already recommended this to you, but I am here once again to say that you NEED this in your life. I have been especially grateful for it this summer, when its cooling effect is a breath of fresh air when I’ve been stuck in a hot and steamy bathroom trying to get ready. And it wakes up my expression without any makeup, which I am sure would either melt off or sink into my eye wrinkles or both. It is magical. 

 

Vince Camuto Underpants: I am pretty sure Linda at All & Sundry recommended these. And lo, they are wonderful. I only have the three pairs but I think I will buy more because I paw through my underwear drawer looking for these ones first every single day. They are so comfortable and yet cute and not a million dollars.

Running Belt: I love this stupid thing so much. I wear it under my shirt whenever I go out walking (not running as the name implies). It has little pockets where I can stow my keys and phone and, before I was vaccinated, a mask. It’s less bulky than a fanny pack. Nothing jiggles. And it’s totally hands free. Game. Changer.

Fabric Resistance Bands: When I first began my resistance band journey (LOL), I bought the elastic bands. They were inexpensive, which was good when I had no idea whether I’d even use them. Turns out I like the added resistance quite a lot, but the elastic is no bueno. It twists and bunches and slips and I spend more time adjusting the bands than I do resisting them. But the FABRIC bands do not bunch or slip! They stay in place and make my workouts much less stressful.

Ninja Blender: I know for sure I have talked up this blender before in this space. It was a pandemic purchase, made when my husband and I determined that our old wedding-gift blender was incapable of blending ice well enough to make daiquiris. While we are no longer making weekly mixed drinks, I make near-daily smoothies and this blender is AMAZING. Party because it is just All Business when it comes to blending things. And partly because it comes with a separate smoothie-making apparatus, with its own blade and its own cup, so you don’t have a whole huge blender to clean every day. (Or, when you are in the middle of a pandemic, you can make a blender full of daiquiris for yourself and your spouse and a smoothie size virgin daiquiri for your child without worrying about cross contamination!) The smoothie cups even come with their own lids, so you can remove the blade, pop on the lid, and drink from the blender cup without dirtying another glass! LIFE CHANGING. I use the smoothie maker, as I said, almost daily and I am grateful for it every time I use it.

 

Sparkling Watermelon Juice: This is a brand new life-changing item, as in I just learned about it last week! But this watermelon seltzer (Harry Styles voice) is SO DELICIOUS. And I cannot stand watermelon! I am guessing it would be excellent as part of a cocktail, but I have yet to experiment with it. Hie thee to your nearest Trader Joe’s and get some now. (Or apparently you can also order it via Amazon, but it is WAY less expensive in person at TJs.)

Phone Case with Card Holder: I have technically had this phone case since 2017, so it’s not a NEW purchase. But I did just order a new one (not the case’s fault; I am just a butteryfingered person who drops my phone constantly, and the case took one for the team. It did its job by protecting my phone, though.) so I feel like it counts. Anyway, this is A LIFE CHANGER TO END ALL LIFE CHANGERS. It completely ended my reliance on purses. I keep my ID and my credit card in the little sliding pocket, and then all I need to take anywhere is my phone! It fits snugly around the phone, so it’s not bulky at all. And it does keep the phone safe. If you tend to drop your phone a lot, the little sliding door will eventually give up, but who can fault it, really?

That’s a lot of life-changing for one year, no? What life-changing purchases have you made recently?

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If you recall, last summer I went through a shorts renaissance. That cannot be the word I mean, and yet that is the word I am sticking with. 

Anyway, I found a new pair of shorts this summer – after trying on many, many, MANY pairs. It fits my specific requirements: high rise, roomy leg openings, and free shipping. This year I also added “not too short” to my list of Shorts Musts, and these adhere to that criterion as well.

Madewell Relaxed Mid-Length Denim Shorts (image from nordstrom.com)

They are a leeeeetle too ripped for my taste, but not terribly so. They are very flattening (not to be confused with flattering, which they are not) in the buttular region, which takes a lot of doing when it comes to my particular rear. Fortunately, I have reached the phase of life where a) no one is looking at my rear and b) I don’t really care what anyone thinks about my rear anyway. Also, if, like me, you happen to have a thigh/hip to waist ratio that deviates from what American Fashion considers to be “normal,” they may be a leeeetle bit loose in the waist area. I have been addressing the issue with the other aspect of my Summer Uniform, which is a long, loose tank top.

I have this in white and grey:

Madewell Whisper Shout Cotton V-Neck Tank (image from nordstrom.com)

And this, in black and red:

Caslon Muscle Tank (image from nordstrom.com)

This is what I plan to wear every day this summer, unless it is cool, in which case I will wear the Caslon track-style linen pants I now own in green and grey, or unless something fancy is called for, in which case I will wear my scoop neck tiered flare dress from Ann Taylor. 

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Last night my husband read me an email about a potential job opportunity (this is A Perk [no] of marriage to a physician: getting dozens of recruitment postcards/emails daily touting all the wonderful! opportunities! in unnamed cities all over the country) in a city out west, and I remarked casually that I thought that’s where my high school ex-boyfriend lived. Then when I was getting ready for bed, I noticed that I was wearing a sweatshirt that once belonged to that same ex-boyfriend, and I figured this is where the Lifetime Movie of my alternate reality would start playing sleazy music and it would turn out that I had been having a steamy affair with my high school ex-boyfriend for years unbeknownst to my poor unsuspecting husband. Listen, Lifetime is as hard-up for content as we all are.

Do you have clothes that once belonged to an ex? Or… other things? I don’t know what those other things might be; all I have is this sweatshirt.

And I have it – and persist in wearing it twenty-odd years later – not because it has anything to do with the ex, but because it is the softest most comfortable sweatshirt ever made. (I used to think its unusual softness had something to do with his mom’s fabric softener; she used one of the liquid versions, like Downy or Snuggle, while my mother used fabric sheets. But considering the woman hasn’t run it through her ultra-specialized laundering process in more than two decades, I’m no longer certain.) 

There’s really nothing sordid about the sweatshirt. The ex and I didn’t come to some tragic end or anything.  We simply broke up when I went to another state for college, which meant that we ended the relationship on a no-fault note rather than going through the excruciating process of learning that we are absolutely not compatible in the long-term. I am glad that we broke up on friendly terms, but I am also glad that we broke up, full stop. (I feel duty bound to tell you – get the Lifetime people on standby – that I still exchange Christmas cards with the ex’s mother. She writes * Christmas letters * – nice long ones! – and so I get a mini-update on her and my ex AND his brother, with whom I was friends in high school. That’s the closest and only contact I have had with the ex since my husband and I saw him at his brother’s wedding back in the early 2000s.) 

I no longer remember if the ex gave me the sweatshirt, or loaned it to me, or whether I purloined it from his house or locker. But I do love it. It does have some sentimental value, because it has the name of my high school on it. (Not that my memories of high school are good, heavens no; if I think too hard about high school I sink into a quicksand of shame and despair.) But mainly it is just very comfortable. It’s thin enough to wear on a balmy evening when you wish you had more than a T-shirt on but aren’t ready for the heavy artillery (wool; turtlenecks). And somehow, no matter how old I get, it’s always the exact perfect size: just a little baggy. It’s a great sweatshirt. I own many, many sweatshirts and none has ever come close. A rat is going to build a nest in it now that I’ve extolled my love for it publicly.

The only other “borrowed” item I have is a sweatshirt from my best friend. We met in middle school. We haven’t lived in the same state since 1999, but I still consider her my best friend (spouses excluded). I was never a big fan of borrowing/lending clothing, but I loved to borrow her stuff. She has always been super fashionable, and she always had the chicest clothes, like stuff from the Gap and Banana Republic, when we had neither store even in our state. I don’t know how or why I came to be in possession of this particular sweatshirt of hers. I don’t wear it often – it’s kind of like the sweatpants of sweatshirts, which both does and does not make any sense at all, so I’m hoping you understand what I mean. Every time I wear it, unlike with the sweatshirt that once belonged to my ex, I think of my friend and smile. In that case, it’s the original owner that makes the sweatshirt precious, rather than the sweatshirt itself being great. 

My husband does not care in the least that I sill wear the ex-boyfriend’s sweatshirt. It is an interesting mind game to imagine how I might feel if my husband still wore a sweatshirt that once belonged to his high school ex. Even considering I went to lunch with my husband and TWO of his high-school ex girlfriends back in the years before we were engaged, I think I might be in favor of accidentally shrinking it in the wash. And yet I would be outraged – OUTRAGED – if my husband seemed the least touchy about my beloved sweatshirt (which once belonged to my ex). (That is a very different sentence indeed than saying “my beloved ex’s old sweatshirt.” Make sure you know what your adjectives are or could be modifying, people!) Fortunately, my husband is not going around wearing ex-girlfriends’ old clothes so I haven’t had to reveal what a dirty double standard bearer I am.

I don’t think anyone has any old clothing of mine, so no one is out there pining away for me or thinking of me fondly. At least not in a sartorial way.

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