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Posts Tagged ‘randomosity’

For some reason, I woke up at 1:27 this morning and could NOT fall asleep. I don’t recall dwelling on anything specific, or being worried or anxious about anything, I just couldn’t sleep. 

This was good (????) because I heard Carla get up at 4:00 and then I heard her sweet little voice call out, “Hello?” (Does she do this on nights when I’m not awake? Breaks my heart a little to think of that.) I went into her room and she was in tears because her leg was hurting so! much! I rubbed her leg for awhile and then she tearfully informed me that it wasn’t helping, so I gave her Tylenol and offered an ice pack. She declined the ice pack because the pain was in her entire leg, not in one specific spot. 

Poor kiddo. My diagnosis is growing pains (after shooing some very unpleasant frets about blood clots – why does my brain hate me?). Did you ever have growing pains? I remember getting them, that awful deep ache in both legs. The medical sites say that the pain is largely muscular, and that doctors don’t think growing hurts – despite the fact that the pains occur largely in growing children and tend to stop when the children stop growing. But whatever, nameless heartless overly literal doctors. 

Carla agreed to try some stretches, so I led her through a few knee bends and some downward dog. She had to show me child’s pose and cobra as well, even though I doubt those did anything for her pain and she ran through her “flow” at such lightning speed I don’t see how it could have been at all relaxing. At 4:37 she was still Wide Awake. I suggested she try one of my getting-to-sleep strategies (I have taught her getting-to-sleep strategies multiple times, but she never remembers them and has, until last night, mainly refused to try them), which was retracing the steps of a favorite walk. I suggested she think about going over to our neighbor-with-a-puppy’s house, and think about each step she takes to get there in as great detail as possible. She closed her eyes and was quite still for awhile. At 4:52 I whispered that I was going back to bed, and she told me that she was at the point in the walk where she was putting on her shoes. Great. 

“If I’m not asleep by 5:30, can I come get you?” she asked. She was so pathetic, and her leg still hurt. Against my better judgment, I said, “Do you want to come sleep in my room?”

Surprisingly, she declined. (Actually, what she said was, “I don’t think that would have any effect” which was a very surprising sentence to hear from a sleepy nine-year-old.)

I went back to bed and lay there, awake, waiting for her to come get me. (She never did!) I finally fell asleep shortly after my husband’s alarm went off at 6:00, only to have a nightmare that my mother-in-law, who is supposed to arrive next weekend, had instead arrived today. It was extremely stressful, as though the worst possible thing would be for my mother-in-law to show up when I had some clutter in the kitchen or had not yet washed her bed linens. She would be fine and cheerful about the whole thing, honestly. But in the dream, it was A HORROR.

Somehow Carla and I made it out the door to school, and then I went for a four-mile walk with a friend I haven’t seen in weeks, which was a very good second start to the day. Then I went to Trader Joe’s and then to the library, where I picked up my copy of The Accomplice, on hold after Birchie spoke so highly of it. (I know literally nothing about it, except that Birchie recommended it. It’s quite fun to dive into a book that you know nothing about, except when your husband asks you what it’s about and then screws his face up into perplexed concern when you say you don’t know.) 

But when I got home, things took A Turn: I had six emails from my bank, all saying in their typical panicked way, “You recently made a large transaction” followed immediately by “Card Alert – Review This Transaction.” The bank does this – sends two apprehensive emails – for every transaction, and I have learned not to get terribly stressed. But this time, I had NOT made any transactions, especially not with the M*** Store in Washington State. 

The thing is, I had also not made any transactions with the M*** Store in the first week of November, when two charges of $.99 each hit my account. After scrutinizing both my memory and my account at the M*** Store (from which I cannot recall ever having purchased anything, although perhaps I did once a million years ago since I do have an account), I called my bank and they cancelled my card and sent me a new one.

So the card that was charged today was a BRAND NEW CARD. And I know for a fact that I have only used it at two places, one that rhymes with GayGal and the other that rhymes with Glamazon. 

I have cancelled this brand new card – and disputed the three charges of $.99, $.99, and $9.99 respectively – and I guess now I wait for the new card. Hopefully the holiday gifts that I charged to it this weekend will go through. SIGH AND ARGH. And also, HOW? How is someone accessing my card? How did they get it so soon after I cancelled the previous one? Why are they so hell bent on buying things from the M*** Store?!? My husband suggested that the fraudster had put some sort of recurring charge on my previous card, and that the card company automatically updated the number once I got the new one. So I have talked with my bank about THAT. I hope we communicated clearly about the possibility, but honestly I’m not sure. Fortunately, it is my personal account and has only a little bit of money in there, and fortunately I check my email way too frequently, so I caught the unauthorized charges early both times. But it sure is ANNOYING.

On to dinners.

December starts this week, people! It’s happening! 

We have three measly weeks left of school until a two-week winter break. Three weeks of all the activities. One week of my mother-in-law visiting. One call week. We’re going to POWER THROUGH.

Dinners for the Week of November 28-December 4

  • Mulligatawny Soup: Per my mother’s suggestion, I am going to make this with leftover turkey instead of chicken. Even if I don’t like the result (I hate turkey), my husband will eat it.
  • Spicy Chickpea Bowls: I have some chicken breasts I can chop up for my husband. I do need to whip up a batch of the ginger garlic sauce that this recipe calls for, which is a pain. But it is SO NICE to have a bag full of ginger-garlic sauce cubes in my freezer, and they last quite a while. 
  • Slow Cooker Lemon Garlic Chicken with Steamed Broccoli: We haven’t had this in a very long time and it’s good and it’s a slow cooker meal. Enough said.

I am also going to make another batch of butternut squash soup because it is easy and delicious and I am in a Soup Mood. Plus, Trader Joe’s had a lot of very nice looking, pre-cubed butternut squash at a very good price. 

Trader Joe’s also had a big container of cubed sweet potatoes, which I bought on a whim… but now I don’t know what to do with them! Roast them? But then… do what with them? I have tried roasted sweet potatoes on salad before and I do not care for it. What would YOU do with a huge container of cubed sweet potatoes? (I am not adding them to my butternut squash soup – I prefer my soup to be pure.) 

Also: I forgot to buy iceberg lettuce until the last possible second. (This was at the other grocery store I went to, specifically to buy bell peppers for the chickpea bowls. I cannot eat the chickpea bowls without bell peppers. And Trader Joe’s peppers were all soft and wrinkly. Ew. I need a nice crisp, unwrinkled pepper.) All my stuff (more than just bell peppers, I’M SORRY I HAVE A PROBLEM) was already on the belt; there was a woman behind me in line. I did the thing where I speed-walked over to the produce section and grabbed the first head of lettuce I saw so I could get back without anyone feeling like I was abusing the checkout section. But then I put the lettuce down, because it was very light, and grabbed another. ALSO very light, but now I was panicking, imagining the woman in line behind me tapping her foot and sighing in my general direction. I should have just put it down and survived ONE SINGLE WEEK without iceberg lettuce (I have baby spinach! I have green leaf lettuce!) but I didn’t; I ran back to the checkout line and paid for my groceries and only then did I discover that my very small head of iceberg, which will probably turn out to be three or four outer leaves and nothing else, was THREE DOLLARS AND FIFTY CENTS. That is ridiculous. That is a ridiculous price for a giant heavy head of iceberg! That is a ridiculous price for a plastic clamshell of pre-washed, pre-cut gourmet lettuces! Ridiculous! And yet I paid it! Maybe this is why I am a target of fraud; clearly I am not all that careful with my money. SIGH.

This is my present and my future, folks. Screeching in disbelief about the absurd pricing of lettuce.

Okay. That was a much complainy-er post than I intended, but there you have it. It’s a post-holiday Monday, after all.

It seems as though I am doing NaBloPoMo this month, which is 30 blog posts in 30 days. (Will I make it??? Only time will tell.) Details at San’s blog here.

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We had our first snowfall of the season over the weekend! It started with some big, fat, gently falling snowflakes on Saturday and then by Sunday it was wet, heavy, drenching snow. While I miss the beauty of the fall — especially the gorgeous yellow tree in my backyard neighbor’s yard that leans over our hedges into our yard — the trees had long since lost their leaves anyway, so I am pretty pleased with this introduction to winter.

Since I am not doing Dinners This Week, this week (I did a double last week), I thought I would post some updates about random things.

  • The State of the Ceiling: The plaster expert is gone – after four days in my house instead of the originally-stated two – for good. (I am a little concerned for him, because he told me a lengthy story about how one of his other clients is sexually harassing him. It was a story that I listened to with a Very Serious face, and at the end, I told him, “I am so sorry you are being harassed.” at which point it became clear that he was telling the story in the hopes that I would think it was funny? “I guess I know what it’s like to be a woman now! Har har!” he said, and I nodded very seriously and said, “That must be an eye-opening perspective, although what an awful way to attain it.” He went back to work.) Despite his tendency to talk too much, and about subjects that made me slightly uncomfortable, he did a wonderful job on the ceiling. Here’s a little before and after for you. I’m sorry it isn’t more exciting.
Perhaps I could have made more of an effort to take these photos from the same angle.
  • Vaccines: My husband and Carla are now both boosted! (They each already got their flu shots several weeks ago.) Despite all plans to the contrary, I forgot Carla’s vaccine card at home. SIGH. What IS it with me doing that??? Her doctor gave me a little sticker to put on her card at home, so it worked out okay and I remain the only one in the universe in our family who has three vaccine cards. Carla had a very mild fever and some arm pain after her vaccine. My husband felt pretty crummy the day after his; the same thing I went through, with the skin sensitivity and the aching and the general yuckiness. No fever though. And now we are all boosted! (As are my parents, who are visiting us VERY SOON!!!! Hooray!)
  • The State of My Feet: I continue to struggle with plantar fasciitis. I got a third injection a few months ago that, like the other injections, did nothing. I continue to dabble with things that are supposed to help: wearing my brace, icing my feet, doing stretches, rolling a ball beneath my feet, trying to pick up a washcloth in the shower with my toes (they are incapable of doing this). I have purchased foot insoles and special socks. I bought a new pair of shoes. I have even tried just Powering Through, and walking even though my feet ache. Nothing is helping. No wonder; what I have trouble with is trying a variety of things that a variety of people have suggested, and doing it inconsistently and haphazardly. What I need is A Real Plan. I can follow A Plan! But I need a medical professional to tell me The Plan so I can initiate it. However, I don’t think I can go back to the podiatrist. He seems… overly invested in the injections. The person who referred me to him claims he is a miracle worker, and that he worked with her extensively to fix her own plantar fasciitis, but he hasn’t been quite as attentive to me. He just says, “Let’s try another shot.” I want him – or some other foot expert – to say, “This is what you do. Do these specific exercises in this order, daily for 15 minutes. Wear this brace every day for two hours. Buy this specific pair of shoes and wear this specific insert.” Not, “Oh, well, let’s check back in two weeks and maybe you need another injection.” Speaking of needles: a (different) friend who formerly had plantar fasciitis said that acupuncture had cured her, so I have an appointment with her acupuncturist later this month. My husband is being very supportive. I told him I am excited to try it, and he said he is excited for me. I said, “Do you think it will work?” and he said, “No.” Sigh. We’ll see.
  • Treadmill Desk: My husband bought me a treadmill desk for my birthday waaaaay back in February and I loved it. But then my plantar fasciitis kept getting worse and worse, and I stopped using it. I have every intention of getting back into the habit. Maybe when my feet are in less constant agony. (There will come a time when they are in less constant agony, yes?)
  • The State of My Skin: I read every single comment with great interest. So many great ideas, so much comforting commiseration. My best guess is that, as many readers suggested, the skin thing is a result of age and/or hormones. Which means I probably just need to tough it out. I have definitely had Skin Stuff before, usually precipitated by trying a new skincare product. But it didn’t seem to linger quite as lengthily as this most recent issue. Anyway, the action I took was to put all my faith in NGS’s comment. She said, “I have terrible eczema and I use Neutrogena wipes to clean my skin every night and don’t worry about the environmental cost because any time I’ve changed it, my skin has gone insane.” So I went back to my old, environmentally detrimental cleansing process. My skin has responded quite well. It is no longer unbearably itchy, and the only remaining problem area is a rough rectangular patch of redness between my eyebrows. This does not mean I am going to give up on trying to find a skincare routine that doesn’t involve disposable wipes. I am going to try again – looking to your comments for ideas. But for now, this has been helping to alleviate my misery.
  • Calcium: I still worry about Carla’s calcium intake, and the variety of foods she eats in general. Especially in this busy season of our lives, the majority of her diet seems to be chicken nuggets, peas, and rice, interspersed with tacos and the occasional filet of salmon. I know this isn’t the worst combination of foods, and she is still growing and thriving, but… I would like to expand her diet to include other things. She ate a bowl of snow for breakfast yesterday, but that’s not what I mean by “other things.” One of the issues, it seems, is that Carla doesn’t have a great grasp on which foods include which nutrients. Like… she’ll indicate that she thinks white rice has protein in it, or that eggs contain calcium. I’ve tried correcting her in the moment and talking to her more generally about which foods fit into which nutrient group (and I wrote some lists on our whiteboard of which foods, in which nutrient categories, would be good for breakfast), but it’s not sticking. It might be useful to find some book resources, but I’m having a hard time finding anything that doesn’t seem too young. I’ve ordered Are You What You Eat? from our library, and I might order Good Enough to Eat by Lizzy Rockwell from Amazon. We’ll see if they are useful. 
Why is it that I can never take a photo with the proper proportions so that it looks straight?!?!?!

Are there any topics I’ve raised in the past that you are burning for me to revisit? (LOL.) If there’s something I brought up awhile ago and you’re curious about the resolution, let me know in the comments or on my Ask Me Anything form and I will post about it.

It seems as though I am doing NaBloPoMo this month, which is 30 blog posts in 30 days. (Will I make it??? Only time will tell.) Details at San’s blog here.

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I woke up crying this morning, the dream I’d been immersed in was so awful. It involved my husband being horrible to me, which is not in any way true to life, and yet which felt so incredibly real in the dream I am carrying it with me into the day. Stupid dreams and their stupid tendency to hang like a fog of despair around my head.rea Let’s try some Randomosity to see if we can shake the bad feelings loose.

  • For me, bad dreams come from stress, I think; I am stressed about the upcoming volunteer event I am chairing. Back when I worked full time, I had stress dreams much more frequently. And the stress took really horrific and violent forms in the dreams – car chases, people running after me, gun violence, driving off high bridges, gruesome death. My brain is a super fun place. So I suppose it’s an improvement, that now my dreams have turned toward making me feel like my husband no longer loves me? I don’t know. Neither type of dream is enjoyable, and they always stick with me. I feel shaky and sullen and hurt. I’m sure my husband wondered why I was being kind of cold to him this morning. I know it’s a dream, and yet it was so REAL, I cannot help but feel a little unkindly toward Waking World Husband. 
  • Perhaps even worse – or, at least, terrible in their own way – are dreams that involve casual acquaintances. Especially when they are of an erotic nature. There is nothing more embarrassing than seeing a coworker/friend’s spouse/boss/teacher in person after they have graced your dreams. 
  • Why must our brains DO this to us?! I have read some theories that dreams are our brains trying to make sense of the day. But why must they do so in the way that they do? Why can’t they translate stresses and worries and encounters into soothing images that float in gentle rhythm to the calming sounds of babbling brooks and soft harp music?
  • Speaking of music and dreams, I have “Only in Dreams” by Weezer stuck in my head. There are far worse songs to have stuck in one’s head. I love that song, and the entire album from which it comes. Probably one of my favorite albums of all time, the Blue Album. 
  • My husband was playing Weezer songs this weekend. I was sitting on the couch, reading an Agatha Christie novel on my Kindle, and he was sitting next to me, idly scrolling through Weezer songs on his phone and picking them out on his guitar. It was quite pleasant, that gentle serenade of some of my favorite songs. 
  • When I was growing up, and learning how to play the piano, I was very skeptical when my mother said she liked listening to me practice. But now that my husband is teaching himself guitar, and Carla is learning both guitar and clarinet, I have discovered that she wasn’t lying. Even when they make mistakes, even when they play certain measures over and over to get them right, I really enjoy the sound of the two of them practicing. I thought I would HATE the squawk of a poorly played clarinet, but there is much less squawking than I anticipated, and it has a really pleasant sound. Especially, perhaps, when Carla is practicing upstairs and the products of her work are floating down to me through a closed door and a stairwell. 
  • Stephany posted a link to an Ask Me Anything form the other day, and so I blatantly copied it. If you have any burning questions for me, fill out the form and I would love to try to answer them. 
  • Copying Stephany’s idea was not only a chance to engage in a little light plagiarism, but also an opportunity for me to learn a new skill. I had no idea you could use Google to create forms! Best of all, it was very easy (that is, unless you are unable to USE the form, in which case I am a hopeless Luddite). I think I forget that it’s often fun, if a little scary, to try new things. 
  • The desire to keep myself sharp and engaged by trying new things is part of the reason that I volunteered for this event in the first place. This is my second time doing it, and it will be my last. The juice, as they say, isn’t worth the squeeze. The squeeze being the stress and the resulting bad dreams. 
  • Sometimes I contemplate volunteering elsewhere. My paying work is fairly minimal and easy to manage, so I feel as though I could devote more regular time to a volunteer position. But it is so hard to find The Right Thing. Probably what it is, is that I’m scared. Do you volunteer for anything, or have you volunteered for anything in the past? I would love to know about your experiences. 
  • It’s only the second day of November, but I feel like I’m already putting in a covert effort to be part of NaBloPoMo (see San’s post if you want to learn more or join). I have every expectation of failing spectacularly; November just isn’t my month. But it’s fun to read everyone’s posts and to try, even a little, to join in. 
  • NGS is doing NaBloPoMo, but she is also doing a daily noun challenge with her good friend, and I think that’s so fun. I can’t wait to see how she addresses each noun on her list. I imagine that if I run into a post block this month, I may sneak on over to her blog to find that day’s noun and join in. 
  • How do you decide when and what to post? Some of the bloggers I read have an editorial calendar. Some seem to post regular features. I have always been what they refer to in the writing world as a “pantser.” I just… write. Posts either occur to me, or I have a compulsion to sit down and blather a bunch of nonsense into the ether, or I am curious to discuss a certain topic. But there’s really no rhyme or reason about anything I write. I write to write. To get things off my chest. To distract myself from stress. I suppose the only “regular” feature is my weekly (sometimes) Dinners This Week post, but even that falls off a cliff now and again.

Well, today writing has done the trick. The dream sadness has lifted. The sun is shining, the world is covered with a layer of leaves, and I have work to do. I hope you have a wonderful day, Internet. Thank you for reading, and in doing so, dispelling the stress.

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A bunch of random little things have been collecting in my brain, so let’s get them out of my head and into some bullets. 

  • Inspired by NGS, I am wearing a scarf today. It’s one of my favorites – and something I “inherited” from my husband’s grandmother, who was stylish until her final day. I don’t know that I am quite pulling it off the way NGS does, but sometimes you have to fake it til you make it.
  • I just spent… well, far too long trying to photograph myself in the scarf without getting my face in there. That leads to some very unappealing angles, so you’ll just have to picture whatever it is you think I look like with a royal blue scarf tied untidily around my neck.
Here it is, on my bed and not on my person.
  • Carla has begun keeping a list of license plate numbers when we drive around. I do not know why, except that I think she finds them interesting? I didn’t know she was doing this until the other day when she asked to read them to me. “Sure,” I said, figuring that she’d copied down interesting personalized plates, like U R L8 or GZUS LRD. No. She read me off a series of letters and numbers. RDP 7791. SST 9494. JTI 0138. You get the idea. Then last night she asked me if she could read them to me again, and – not wanting to express any less enthusiasm than her newfound interest deserves – I said, “Why don’t you read me the ones you’ve written down since last time?” She was amenable to this plan, and read each series of letters and numbers off with gravitas. I am not quite sure how to respond, or how she expects me to respond, so I tried to say things like, “Oh wow, that’s a good one.” or “Nice! You don’t see X very often!” 
  • If it is not clear, I find Carla’s license plate obsession as adorable as I do perplexing. 
  • We are (maybe?) getting the dinner situation under control. It works like this: I make a “real” dinner Tuesdays and Thursdays. Maybe Saturdays and Sundays, too, who knows. But Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, we all kind of fend for ourselves. For me, this means making a big batch of soup on Sunday or Monday and eating it all week. Or a pot of black beans, and then making tacos for myself. My husband asked me to buy him ham and bread, for sandwiches. We’ll see if this works better than me trying to cram a crockpot meal in every other day. 
I may make this enchilada soup next week. It’s such a perfect fall soup.
  • (Things have been different since we have visitors. I have been making more Real Dinners for us to eat together, although our guests seem a little flummoxed by how varied our eating schedule is.)
  • Speaking of food (which I always am), the Guinness beef stew I made this week was SO GOOD. First of all the recipe includes instructions for how to make it in the slow cooker, so I did that. But… those instructions basically say throw all the ingredients together in the slow cook and I did not do that. I seared the meat and cooked the onions/garlic as well, before adding those things to my crockpot. I don’t know if the flavors would be the same without, but maybe I’ll try it next time because I really hate searing meat. It takes forever and my arms, stove, and floor get speckled with hot oil. The recipe calls for carrots and potatoes. I used baby potatoes and I didn’t chop ANY of them (which may have been a mistake, but oh well). My husband also requested parsnips, so I added a couple of those. And since he was getting parsnips, I also added a container of quartered mushrooms, for me. Then I think I panic-poured a cup or two of chicken stock into the crockpot, in addition to the quart of beef stock, because I was afraid I had over-veggied. My only complaint was that it lacked salt: I poured in a big glug of soy sauce toward the end, and then I had to salt and pepper my bowl of stew. But no one else felt it was under-salted, so maybe it was a Me Thing. The leftovers were better than the initial night. This is a keeper.
  • Also, I made a green bean dish to go with tacos one night, for our family member who is pre-diabetic. It was a HUGE hit. Not with me; there is an entire tomato in it. Not Carla; the veggies were cooked, and she is a raw veggie purist. But everyone else loved it. Bonus: it was extremely easy to make. So it will definitely be something I make again.
  • Our guests are staying until next Friday, when their local airport reopens, which is conveniently the day that our next set of guests arrives. (So far, it seems like the hurricane spared their home, which is extremely fortunate. They were so smart to leave when they did.)
  • Carla just walked into the kitchen and said, “WHAT are you doing?” Um, making breakfast? “No, I mean, WHY are you wearing a SCARF?” I can wear a scarf. It’s a perfectly normal accessory. “But it’s so BLUE. And it doesn’t go with the navy.” (I am wearing dark jeans.) Oh, who knew the critical eye would develop so early! 
  • Do you want to see the cute little challah Carla made? She did all the work – rolling out the separate strands, braiding the strands together, figuring out how to stuff it into a six-inch cheesecake pan I have. It was light and delicious and super adorable, even though we clearly used a much-too-small pan for it.
  • Despite the fact that I have lost my list, I have been chipping away at it. I’ve even made some of the phone calls on the list, which I hope you know by now is A Feat. But the problem with phone calls is that sometimes that’s not the end of the task. One call I made was to our bank, which is just… the most frustrating bank in the WHOLE WORLD. And I left a measured (I hope) but irritated message on the guy’s voicemail, and then he called me back at the exact moment I was in another call, so I couldn’t answer. He left no message at all, so I guess I have to call him back. ARGH. 
  • Speaking of phone calls: I had a very perplexing set – yes, set – of phone calls with Dairy Queen. My husband wants an ice cream cake this year – or, at least, that was one of two cake options he offered me and it was the one I didn’t have to make, and you know that cake baking is one of my love languages, so I think this is a good indication of the current stress/busyness level around here. So I asked Siri to call Dairy Queen while I was driving from the grocery story to pick up Carla from an activity. The person who answered was unintelligible, so I asked, “Is this is Dairy Queen on street and street?” and she said, “Nah.” So I hung up and looked up the number for the DQ I wanted (when I was parked), and oh look, it is the same number I just called. So I called back. Same person answered, still unintelligibly. Did Google simply have the number wrong? Had the DQ closed without my knowledge? “I am trying to call Dairy Queen?” I said hopefully. “This is Dairy Queen.” Phew. “Oh good, I would like to order an ice cream cake.” The person asked if I could hold on for a moment. Sure. I sat on hold for 56 seconds, and then the call disconnected. I called back. “I am just trying to order an ice cream cake!” Another brief hold, and then finally I was able to place the order. Then the person said, “What time do you want to pick it up?” I said sometime in the morning? Eight o’clock? “Oh, you can’t do that.” Oh, okay. Nine? Ten? What time do you open? “We don’t open until eleven o’clock.” Okay great, eleven o’clock it is. “You can’t do that.” WHAT TIME SHOULD I COME GET THE CAKE. “Well, we open at eleven but the cake won’t be ready until one.” Great. See you at one. 

  • I rarely go to Target these days because it so unpleasant inside (the latest time was no different; they clearly do not have enough staff to fold/tidy the clothing areas or to work more than one register at a time), but there was additional unpleasantness awaiting me in the parking lot! (Confidential to Nicole: LOOK AWAY.)
Someone left their cart not just in a parking space, not just in a parking space RIGHT NEXT TO a cart return, but also touching my car. No damage except to my sense of humanity’s capacity for good.
  • Did I tell you about the bees? We have a nest of bees in/on our chimney. Currently, so far, the nest seems to be on the outside of the chimney, but I can hear them buzzing while I am inside, which is Very Worrisome. Also, they are technically yellowjackets. And also also I want them to GO AWAY.
  • I have been in sort of a fiction lull lately. I am in the middle of a book, but I’m not loving it. I’m not disliking it, either, but it doesn’t pull me. I have been reading some non-fiction lately though. Most recently, I’ve been enjoying The Family Firm by Emily Oster. (Thanks to Lisa for mentioning it in my post about extracurriculars!) Oster just seems so soothing and balanced and her advice seems to great. The book is about making decisions for your family (when to give your kid a cell phone? is this extracurricular worth pursuing? etc.) the way a company would make business decisions, and I really like it. It makes me want to go back ten years and have some of these conversations with my husband BEFORE we had Carla. But I guess sometimes you plan ahead and sometimes you just muddle through, and we’ve really been doing a lot of muddling in the realm of parenting choices. Anyway, I am finding it really eye-opening and I hope I can remember to apply some of her advice to future major decisions. 
Every surface of my bedroom features similar piles of books.

  • Fall is upon us, and the trees around here are very very slowly beginning to don their autumn finery. We’ve had a ton of rain (though no hurricanes, for which I am thankful) but today we have sunshine, and I think we’re supposed to have sun all weekend. I hope we can spend some of it outside! Carla would be happy just sticking around our neighborhood; one of the neighbors has a new puppy! 

  • Related: OCTOBER BEGINS TOMORROW!
  • Have you gotten your flu shot yet? I haven’t, but I want to. Carla has a doctor’s appointment today and I’m going to see if they can sneak a flu shot in as well. She will not be pleased, but it sounds like we’re in for a nasty flu season and I want our family to be as protected as possible.

That’s all I’ve got today, Internet. I need to go make yet another phone call. I hope you and your loved ones are safe and dry, and that you have a happy weekend ahead of you.

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I was ALL ready to go for a nice long healthful walk this morning but then I got home from camp dropoff and my foot was already screaming at me, simply from a) driving and b) walking from the car to the door of the house. So I have scrapped the exercise idea and am typing nonsense to you instead. 

  • I cannot find SkinnyPop snack bags anywhere. And by “anywhere” I mean at Target or at the grocery store that offers curbside pickup. I suppose I could go to Costco, but going to Costco is a Whole Thing and I like to put it off as long as possible. 
  • Every few months, my face decides to FREAK THE FREAK OUT and today is that day. Yesterday, it broke out into dozens of little itchy pimply bits, so before I went to bed I washed it really well and then applied a thick layer of Eucerin. Then – and I think this was a mistake, although it’s hard to tell because I have experienced this same Face Freak Out many times and I don’t think I always do this step – I applied some benzoyl peroxide via Q-tip to the afflicted areas. Then I went to sleep. When I woke up, my cheeks and forehead were bright sunburn red and everything was tight and itchy. I washed my face again, applied another thick layer of Eucerin, and now I just have to wait it out. I wonder why it does this? It’s regular enough that I don’t worry (so much) that my face is going to stay this way forever. But it’s irregular enough that I never know what’s going to provoke it. I am washing all my sheets and pillowcases today, though, just in case that helps. 
  • My husband and I are (finally) watching the latest season of Stranger ThingsWe watched a recap of the series before we started the first episode, and seeing all the seasons condensed into key moments like that made me laugh. The series is SO RIDICULOUS. It sounds absolutely bonker balls. And yet it is so good! I love the characters and I love to hate on their TERRIBLE hair. The danger is palpable and so intense. The acting is pretty great. I love it. This season is VERY intense though.
  • One of my favorite parts of watching the show is the closed captions. My husband and I have reached that glorious stage of life during which we really PREFER to watch shows/movies with the captions on. But for Stranger Things in particular, the captions for the musical choices bring me great joy. “Intense synth music” it will say, in parentheses. “Eerie stinger.” The adjectives give me life. “Curious synth music” or – my favorite – “inquisitive synth music.” How do I get the job of the person who writes these captions?
  • After an episode of Stranger Things – or anything that’s intense/scary – I need to have a little mental palate cleanser. Lately, I am watching an episode of Seinfeld. I have been making my way through the whole series over the past year or so, and I’m finally at Season 9. As with most TV shows from the 90s, there are a lot of storylines that are completely cringeworthy now. But so much of it is still so, so funny. And I am constantly reminded that Julia Louis-Dreyfus is one of the great comedic actors of our time. Plus, there are countless guest stars: Aunt Becky! Lorelai Gilmore! Sarah Silverman! Luke Danes! Charlotte York! 
  • I cleaned out my Contacts list on my phone. So many names of people I haven’t talked to in years – a few I haven’t talked to in a decade. A couple of people who are no longer with us; I deleted the entry for my husband’s grandmother, but not the one for my friend. A couple of restaurants from which I used to order takeout when I traveled for a job I left in 2012. Contact info for colleagues from that job and for the job I left in 2016. The number for the psychologist I saw several years ago. Details for various car services in various cities. Phone numbers for several old babysitters. The address and number for the dear woman who took care of Carla in the infant room of her first daycare. The numbers for both daycares she attended. Names and numbers of mothers of some of Carla’s former friends. And so many many names that I no longer recognize AT ALL. Kind of makes me wonder how many phones have me listed as a contact… and how many of those phones’ owners remember me.
  • The reason I started cleaning out my Contacts List is because I was hunting for a specific number. We have a tree in our yard that is starting to overtake our driveway. The bottommost branches scrape against my husband’s car when he pulls into the garage. I think it’s time to call in a tree expert. And we HAD such a tree expert come in and remove from branches from the defunct telephone wire a couple of years ago… but for the life of me I cannot remember what his name is! There are a couple of candidates in my phone – local numbers with names I don’t recognize. But did Past Me add any helpful notes about who these people were or why I have their numbers? No, she did not. Future Me is changing her ways, though, mark my words! We did have a separate tree service come out and trim the giant oak in our backyard, so I could call them… but it took FOREVER to schedule them to come out, and I don’t particularly want to wait forever. They did do a good job, though. And seemed very knowledgeable and professional.
  • I am still thinking about the poor cashier at the party supply place. I went in before Carla’s birthday party to order a couple of balloon centerpieces. The place was fairly busy – two people waiting for their balloon orders to be fulfilled, a man in front of me in line, a handful of other people wandering the aisles. But the poor cashier was FRAZZLED. He was doing everything at five times the appropriate speed – like when I asked for a specific balloon, he dashed over to the balloon card catalog and fumbled through the cards trying to find the right balloon, then dropped the balloon on the floor. Then he asked me what other colors I wanted for the centerpiece and I told him, and he swooped over to the area where the centerpiece balloons are kept, but then he grabbed only three instead of four, and had to swoop back to get the fourth, and then he dropped one of those. When he was writing my receipt, his writing was nearly illegible and his hand seemed almost shaky. And then he forgot to give me my credit card back. And then he dropped the pen, and couldn’t get the credit card receipt out of the machine. I felt SO BAD for him. And it wasn’t like there was a big line of people forming behind me. And no one was yelling or tapping their foot impatiently. One woman did come up to him and ask if there were any staff members on the floor, and then asked him where she could find the party games, and he told her. So it seemed busy but not frantic, you know? Maybe this guy was brand new at his job, and nervous because of that? Or maybe he had too much coffee that morning? Or maybe he’d already been yelled at by his boss for being too slow? I don’t know what the deal was, but I felt terrible for him because I know that feeling. I wish there was something I could have done. I wanted to say, “No hurry, I’m not in a rush.” But that seemed condescending, or like it would call attention to his distress. In fact, I couldn’t think of anything that I could say that would soothe him, so I tried to just speak in a low, calm voice and smile in a mild and unhurried way. If he were Carla, I would have suggested that he stop and take a few deep breaths, but I resisted the urge. 
  • I made a new type of pizza sauce yesterday. It’s quite good, so I want to record the recipe somewhere (although this may be a poor place to put it) for future consultation. I put a 28-oz can of tomato puree, 1/4 cup of olive oil, and 12 large leaves of fresh basil into the blender and blended them up. Then I added 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of minced garlic to a small pot and heated them gently until the other stuff was done blending. Then I added the contents of the blender to the pot and added approximately 1/3 teaspoon of dried oregano and about 5 shakes of cayenne and stirred everything together. I heated everything through until it started to boil, then I turned the heat off. It was really quite good.
  • A while back, Wordle “reset” and ended my winning streak. It’s not like I have that impressive a streak (although I have yet to miss a single word) (because I consult my husband if I get stuck and he is AMAZING) (there have been a couple of days when I somehow forgot to do the Wordle though, which I hope we can all agree is not the same as getting one wrong), but I like seeing how many Wordles I’ve completed and how many days it’s been since I last forgot to play. (72 days, before Wordle stopped keeping track.) Now I still get the satisfaction of playing, and it still shows the breakdown of how many times I’ve gotten the answer in 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 guesses (0, 5, 19, 62, 27, and 13, respectively) but it no longer says how many times I’ve played. I am not a fan of this development.
  • Okay, I contacted the tree service that took care of our oak. Partly because they are a known entity, and partly because I can EMAIL them instead of calling. Why don’t more companies offer this option?

What’s new with you today?

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I have a deadline but am going through my usual pre-writing ritual of not being able to focus on my assignment AT ALL. The best thing, when that happens, is to lean into it. Completely ignore the work, and do something else. Probably I should attack the literal mountain of clean laundry I have been avoiding for two weeks now. I just keep… washing clothes and then heaping them on the guest bed and not folding them. Carla and I have both worn some things we would normally avoid simply because it is impossible to find something in Mount Laundry. It is at a very dire point indeed, and also my family owns way too much clothing.

While I discover which Important Task I am willing to procrastinate more, I will write a blog post.

A Thing I Am Dreading: I am scheduled for jury duty soon, and I have known about it for months (and delayed it twice), and at this point I just need to get it over with. Jury duty would be so interesting, I think, if I didn’t have to worry about Carla logistics. Once this current project is done, I have a break from paying work, and the idea of listening to a real, live legal proceeding sounds kind of cool. Not to mention all the people watching I could do while I wait to be called! But even though I have arranged before- and after-school care for Carla, I am still stressed out. The court is in the middle of the city, and I have to drive on the freeway during rush hour, both ways, and it’s far enough away that I am stressed I will be late dropping Carla off or picking her up. My husband will try to help where he can, of course, but his work schedule is too unpredictable for me to count on him. The last time I did jury duty, I remember being SO stressed about the exact same things. I was there for an entire day before I got called into a courtroom to be screened for that case’s jury. I can’t remember exactly what happened – maybe they filled the jury before they got to me? – but I was sent home at the end of the day and didn’t have to come back. Here’s hoping something similar happens this time, too! [Semi-Related Tangent: When I searched my blog to see if I had already whined about jury duty (I had, right here), I came across this post and wow, I can really work up a good froth about bureaucratic BS, can’t I?]

A Thing I Need to Buy: Carla is doing a school project on Eleanor Roosevelt and will need this month an Eleanor Roosevelt costume. Does Eleanor Roosevelt have a Signature Look? Not so far as I can tell! Mainly dark, severe-looking clothing, furs, long strands of pearls, a wide variety of hats. I am… not having much luck finding anything in a child’s size. I think I can cobble a few items together (maybe this WW2 dress? (Which… why is that a costume???) And this fur shawl? And this hat?) but it’s not an insignificant cost when you add everything up, plus Carla says that the hat NEEDS FEATHERS. I feel like maybe we could put together something from things we own, although Carla would prefer to use this as a Buying Opportunity, but I am afraid that the few things that we have that are even adjacent to looking like they are from the right era won’t look Eleanor Roosevelty enough. Surely most parents aren’t going to buy a full-on costume (like one of the moms I know is doing) and are going to slap something together at the last minute, right? The whole thing is making me grouchy. You don’t happen to have an Eleanor Roosevelt costume lying around in your closet, do you?

A Thing I Recently Made: My husband and I ate this balsamic chicken and mushrooms dish last night. (I made a half portion and used goat cheese instead of feta.) It was a little bit of a hassle because the recipe required that I brown the chicken and mushrooms before putting them into the casserole dish. However, it was quite delicious and just 5 net carbs per serving. I did feel a little weird not having anything else to go along with it. I’d planned to do a side salad but it just didn’t happen. (“Is this… all?” my husband asked when I plated it alongside a big empty slice of plate.) But it was yummy and very filling. Definitely something I will make again. 

A Thing That Went Well: I had a work meeting this week, and five minutes before it started a bunch of workmen started unloading a big digging machine into my yard. They are doing some sort of work for the city, I think, and I panicked. My office is on the front of the house and I don’t have any other Zoom-appropriate backgrounds in my home. So I ran outside in my bare feet and begged the workers to delay until the end of my meeting. AND THEY DID. The meeting went really well and it was very quiet and once it was done I went back outside and thanked the workers. They got started and I was VERY GLAD I’d asked them to wait. You’d think all the rain we’ve been having would have made the ground nice and soft, but it sounded like they were clanging metal directly against rock the entire time. 

A Thing I Have Been Thinking About: For some reason, I recently found myself reading a couple of old blog posts I wrote right around the time of Carla’s birth. And I realized I have never posted her birth story. Now that it’s almost nine years later, it’s too late, right? Or maybe it isn’t? I don’t know. Now that I have some (a lot) of distance from it, her birth seems like not that big of a deal. But at the time it was so traumatic to me, and dredged up so many intense and complicated feelings that I couldn’t even THINK of it – for years! – without crying. I am pretty sure I’m past that now. I have more perspective. Time really does heal. But it might be fun to have a record of that time, even if the record is being made now, from memory? I don’t know. We’ll see. 

What influential dead person would you dress up as, for a third grade social studies project?

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Listen, I endured the drab wet drag of April purely because of the promise of May flowers and May has brought NOTHING BUT RAIN so far. Okay, also, I had no choice. But mainly the May flowers thing. Today, in particular, has been miserable. A persistent seething mist that is somehow much more dismal and spirit-breaking than actual rain, and everything is so water-logged and sloppy, and there’s no relief in sight. The weather mirrors, in so many ways, the news. 

So I am in the mood for some good ol’ mental diversionary tactics. Join me for some randomosity, will you?

I went back to the grocery store today. My husband has a work meeting tonight which I am using as a handy excuse to buy some prepared food that I merely have to heat rather than making an actual meal. I don’t love going to the grocery store multiple times in one week, but doing so meant that I could check out the produce situation on a mid-Wednesday rather than first thing Monday. The produce section was fully-stocked (asparagus! broccoli! iceberg lettuce aplenty!), so I feel fairly confident that the bare spots from Monday were a simple matter of timing rather than supply chain issues or shortages. 

Going to the grocery store today also meant that I could collect photographic evidence of the artisan baby iceberg lettuces. What do you think the other customers think, when I pulled out my phone and began taking baby-iceberg glamour shots?

I don’t know if you can see it on that sign, but these are “personal sized iceberg lettuce about the size of a softball!” A softball-sized lettuce is not worth $1.50, even if you claim it is “artisan.” Which… how? Doesn’t “artisan” mean crafted or made by hand??? Man, these marketers are really working hard for their money.

Here is the baby lettuce next to the actual heads of iceberg. There is no way that two baby lettuces equal one regular one. No way.

The tonic aisle was still full of holes, although I was able to get a bottle of diet tonic. My gin will be delighted. 

Speaking of gin: I bought this particular bottle because of a grocery store loophole. The grocery store in question is not my regular place. It’s a bigger, less nice supermarket that has a liquor store tacked onto one side. It’s very close to Carla’s school, so sometimes I pop in there if I need something quickly. The big problem with this grocery store is that it is chronically understaffed. This has always been an issue, and you can imagine that it has become even more significant with the staffing shortages that everyone is facing right now. I don’t think I’ve ever seen more than two cash registers in operation at a time. And there are self-checkouts, but the lines at those are always enormous. This store has a loophole, though. Which is that you can buy groceries (as long as you don’t need any produce to be weighed) in the attached liquor store. Carla and I were there very late, because I’d been busy with the volunteer event I was chairing, and the lines were soooo long, and we only had a few items (including a frozen pizza for me because I can handle a twelve-hour day of volunteering but I cannot handle anything more complicated than heating up a frozen pizza on top of that), so I grabbed a bottle of gin and we paid in twenty seconds. The cashier, bless her, asked for my ID, and I said, “You need my ID? Can’t you see the many decades of exhaustion etched on my face?” and then Carla said to the cashier, “Do you also sell ginantonic?” and perhaps I need to reserve my gin-and-tonic hours for after she goes to bed. 

I had a Very Stressful dream last night. I was supposed to read a poem at a friend’s wedding. When I showed up – wearing the navy dress that all the bridesmaids were wearing – my friend was aghast; I was supposed to be wearing a DIFFERENT navy dress! I wondered if I had time to run home and change into the dress I bought and did not wear for Passover, but in the dream logic, I didn’t make any effort to figure out how much time I did or did not have. Instead, I spent the remainder of the VERY LENGTHY dream trying in vain to find the poem I was supposed to read in my email or online. At some point, I turned the dress I was wearing inside out, so at least it was a different color than the bridesmaids’, but the bride refused to talk to me. What the hell is this dream trying to tell me? What particular stress am I manifesting?

It feels like people all around me are getting Covid. A friend yesterday told me her husband tested positive; her kid tested positive this morning. A second friend’s husband tested positive today. This is not a new phenomenon, but it hasn’t happened in a while. I am not a fan. 

I have a credit card that I don’t use very often, and when I went to use it recently I discovered it had expired. Except that I had never received a replacement. So I went online and checked to make sure no one was running up charges (not yet at least) and then emailed the company, saying, “Hi, my card expired, but I never got a new one.” The response I got was, “Hey! Our records show we sent you a card in December. If you have not received your new card, let us know by calling us!” Um. Did you READ my previous email? In which I said that I never got my new card? Sigh. So much for dealing with this issue quickly and easily via email. Now I have to CALL SOMEONE.  

In other mildly unsettling credit card news, my husband recently got an email that he’d been approved for the credit card he’d signed up for! A card that he had NOT signed up for. He was able to cancel the card, but marveled at the fact that the person who had tried to steal his identity for nefarious credit-card obtaining purposes had used his email address. Why? Then yesterday we got the card itself in the mail. It was sent to our actual address. What? What is wrong with this identity thief? Is this some identity theft testing process? A credit card company that tries to get you to accept their card by pretending you signed up for it? Very odd indeed. 

Usually at this time of year, I find myself feeling pre-resentful and grumpy about Mother’s DayThis year I am feeling very at peace with whatever happens. I haven’t made any plans for myself, nor asked for anything, and I am not grumpy one whit. I mean, there’s still time to feel resentful and grumpy, but I’m enjoying the absolute not-caring that I feel at this moment. It’s very freeing. 

Here is a random photo of blue skies and flowering trees which is the OPPOSITE of what it looks like outside right now.

Someone made a Serious Error several years ago that resulted in the Tooth Fairy leaving personalized notes to my daughter each time she loses a tooth. Because of this really thoughtless oversight on someone’s part, my daughter has been corresponding with the Tooth Fairy – asking questions, requesting fairy dust, wanting to know the Tooth Fairy’s name. And then today, I made a Serious Error by saying, before I had fully awakened, that the Muffin Fairy had left an extra blueberry muffin on my daughter’s breakfast plate. She latched onto that wording immediately. I told her that I was the Muffin Fairy and that there was no real Muffin Fairy and she squinted at me and said, “If you are the Muffin Fairy,” – which again I had literally just invented five seconds ago – “then are you the Tooth Fairy, too?” 

I try very hard to never lie to my child. And by that I mean never lie to her face while still trying to preserve the magical fabrications that I remember bringing so much joy to my own childhood. So I adopted an expression of exaggerated skepticism and said, “Why would you think that? Do I look like a fairy?” and her squint deepened and I said, “And what would I do with teeth? And how would I possibly go around to the houses of everyone who lost a tooth?” And she said, “No, silly, you wouldn’t go to everyone’s house. Only your own kid.” And then I went into the pantry and changed the subject. But a few minutes later, she directed me to write something on a piece of paper so she could compare it to the Tooth Fairy’s handwriting. WHO, may I ask, overlooked the fact that she has been keeping her correspondence with the Tooth Fairy?

Did I tell you that Carla bought a jumpsuit? Is that the right word for it? We went to Carter’s the other day and she found this truly adorable one-piece pants outfit and immediately wanted it. I mean, I wanted it also, it was so chic and lovely. I would look terrible in it, especially considering it only came in child sizes. The problem with it was that it had a button at the back of the neck. A child’s jumpsuit. Had a button. At the back of the neck. I have never understood buttons on the back of children’s clothing EVER. But how – HOW, I ask you – does it make any iota of sense to have a button closure on the back of a CHILD’S JUMPSUIT? How is a CHILD supposed to navigate that when addressing normal and not-infrequent necessities of life presumably whilst at school?

She found a different jumpsuit, also cute, with NO BUTTONS ANYWHERE. She tried it on and demonstrated to me how she would remove it for bathroom break purposes. She wore it to school today and looked very adorable indeed. And by “adorable” I mean, of course, “stylish and grown-up” because Carla has reached an age where “cute” is now code for “babyish.” I cannot refer to her as “cute” anymore or she reacts with disgust.

Apparently I am now on a Carla Stories Kick. Yesterday, we had such a lovely time together after school. We have been looking for Jeff the Great Blue Heron every time we drive past his pond and have only seen him ONCE. So Carla asked if we could walk over to his pond after school. The rain stopped just for this purpose. It was so nice. We didn’t see Jeff, but we did see many Canada geese couples and their fluffy yellow babies. We also saw some goldfinches and some killdeer and some mallards, and Carla described at length how killdeer have a very distinctive call and asked me if I was aware that there was such a thing as a GREEN heron, and then talked a bit about an imaginary bird journal that she would like to keep. She held my hand while we crossed the street and then kept holding my hand and I just kept grinning at her and thinking, My God, I am so grateful for this child. It may sound mundane and silly and it was but it is also an afternoon I never, ever want to forget. 

This is not the most flattering angle of Jeff, but it is very difficult to photograph a subject as reluctant as he is. He is much more magnificent and graceful in person.

I may have zero sunshine but I did pick up some more May flowers for myself: a bunch of hot pink Gerber daisies to add to my yellow tulips from Monday.

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Nicole posted about her recent dental experiences the other day, and I don’t want to be a copycat in any way, but it must be dentistry season or something because I have a LOT of dental topics to cover. 

Over-Communicators: First, like Nicole, I get WAY too many communications from my dentist. They have an email newsletter (why?) and they send reminder texts and reminder emails and for a long time, they were sending “we have an appointment available!” texts that they have fortunately either discontinued or stopped sending to me in particular.  I don’t need to hear from my dentist this often. Does anyone?

For my recent appointment, I got a confirmation text at FIVE AM which was then immediately followed by a phone call. (And then the chime alerting me to a voicemail.) They also sent an email, but I don’t have email notifications enabled on my phone so it didn’t bother me immediately. Out of spite, I refused to confirm my appointment. That’ll show ‘em.

Listen. Because my husband is a physician, and is plagued by cancellations and no-shows, I know better than many how important it is for healthcare providers to remind patients about their appointment time. But three simultaneous notifications is a little aggressive, no? 

Routine Cleaning, Visit 1 of 3: I have been to the dentist three times in the past six weeks, which is really far too many times a person should need to go to the dentist. In my opinion. The first visit was for a routine cleaning. While I was there, I mentioned that I have been having pain in one of my molars. I live in absolute terror of needing another root canal – not because the root canal itself was so bad; it wasn’t, as I was knocked out, but because the cold test they do to confirm dead/dying root was the single most painful experience of my life so far. I am not eager to repeat it. 

The dentist said that the molar pain could be that the root needs canaling (I don’t know how to talk about dentistry)… or it could be that my gums are receding a little bit and exposing the nerve… or it could be the imperceptible beginning of a cavity… or it could be because I clench my teeth.

Since I get terrible headaches on the regular, we kind of settled on the teeth-clenching issue as being our first area of attack. (Well, plus I am once again using exclusively toothpaste for sensitive teeth, which does seem to be helping a bit.) The plan of attack seems to be getting a night guard. I am hopeful that the night guard will help prevent me from clenching my jaw while I sleep, and that this will keep the headaches at bay. 

The Old Night Guard: The fact is, I have had a “dental appliance” for over a decade that is supposed to solve the jaw clenching problem. But I used it only a few times when I got it, and have tried it a few times since only to shove it back into my drawer as quickly as possible. I hate it. It is small – maybe the size of… a pencil sharpener? an overlarge die? I am really struggling to come up with something the exact shape and size. Slightly smaller than one of those miniature boxes of Nerds? It attaches to my upper front teeth and keeps me from closing my teeth together. 

The first thing I hate about it is that it fits SO tightly. It’s slightly difficult to pop on, but it is far far worse to remove. I feel like the only way I will ever get it out of my mouth is to break my top front teeth in half. Releasing it in the morning is extremely stressful.

The second thing I hate about it is that it is small. I have a (possibly irrational) fear that I will swallow it or choke on it at night. The last time I used it – I think in a desperate attempt to stave off the last root canal; is this foreshadowing because I don’t like it – I woke up and couldn’t find it and was CERTAIN that I had swallowed it in the night. As my husband and the dentist pointed out, it fits so snugly on my teeth that there is no way it could have fallen off in the night. So I must have removed it myself while I was asleep. To that I say: it is so incredibly difficult to remove, there’s no way I did it while unconscious. But probably no one else removed it for me. In any event, I am no less fearful of swallowing the stupid thing while I sleep. So I don’t wear it and every time I complain to the dentist about jaw pain/headaches, he gives me an exasperated look and asks if I am wearing my appliance. 

New Favorite Dentist: A new dentist recently joined our practice. I was telling her all about my jaw clenching woes and my fear of the appliance I already own. She immediately won me over by saying, “Well, you definitely don’t want to worry about swallowing your night guard!” like it was a completely reasonable worry to have. And then she set me up to be fitted for a new, un-swallowable (and MUCH more comfortable) night guard. Also, I have never had a woman dentist before, and she seems cool and fun and I wish we could be best friends. 

Observation: I am noticing that I never refer to my male healthcare workers as cool and fun. Hmm. Hmmmmmm.

Best Filling Ever, Visit #2: Also during my routine cleaning appointment, the new dentist looked at a tooth that has had, for YEARS, a little divot in it. I am sure that the old dentist was keeping a close eye on it, and apparently something has recently changed to make it catch the attention of the new dentist. “You need a filling,” she said.

Yay. Good times.

When I went back for the filling, I was extremely nervous. I have mentioned before how much anxiety I get at the dentist, but mouth shots really fire up the ol’ anxiety engine. “How many shots will I need?” I asked. And she said, none, the filling was small enough she thought she could do it without numbing me at all. At which point I grew more nervous. I told her that I have a very low pain tolerance and that I was afraid it would hurt. She seemed to take this seriously, which I appreciated. She said she would be happy to numb me for the procedure, but that she thought the numbing shots would be much worse than the filling. So I tensed every single muscle in my body and prepared for the worst.

You guys. It took five seconds and was completely painless. Completely. Painless. She simply put some faux-enamel or whatever it is they use for fillings into the divot in my tooth, used some magical hardening tool to set it, and was done. Someone else sanded it down, and the whole ordeal was over. BEST FILLING EVER.

Of Doppelgangers and Flattery: The person who did both my filling and the subsequent scanning for my nightguard was new to me. Instead of my regular hygienist, or any of the three dentists in the practice, this person must have been… a dental technician? A hygienist? I have no idea. No one introduced me to her or told me her title or anything, and I guess that’s on me for just trustingly walking back to a reclining chair and opening my mouth for a stranger with a bunch of pokey tools at her disposal. 

She was very nice, despite the pokey tool availability. After the filling, she fitted me for the nightguard. To do so, she took a 3D scan of my upper teeth using a very odd machine about the size of an electric toothbrush. As she was scanning my teeth, she said that I look JUST like her friend’s daughter. It must have been quite a close resemblance, because she mentioned it several times, and then told me some details about the friend’s daughter as though that might remind me that I was indeed her twin or something. (I am being snarky, but truly I have no idea what to do in that kind of situation! How do you respond when someone insists that you look identical to someone you’ve never met? I have never had a doppelganger before!)

She asked me how old I am. I told her, in that awkward lisping way one does while someone else’s hands are in their mouth, that I am 41. She stopped scanning my teeth, stepped back, and removed her protective eyewear. “You’re kidding,” she said. “My friend’s daughter just turned 30.” I don’t generally think of myself as looking either younger or older than I am, but it was very pleasing to be mistaken for a 30-year-old youth. 

Night Guard Fitting, Last Appointment (for Now):  Once the scan was turned into a 3D model of my upper teeth, I had to return once more to the dentist. This time, the dentist had to fit the night guard to my bite. At first, she said it was very important that my bite be even, otherwise wearing the guard could cause me pain. So she put that weird dark paper (Google tells me it is called “articulating paper”) in between my night guard and my bottom teeth and had me bite down on all sides, then she would use a special tool to grind away the parts that were uneven. She did this for thirty minutes, grinding the night guard down, blowing all the dust off of it, reinserting it into my mouth, asking me if it felt even, having me bite down on the articulating paper, removing the guard, grinding some more. I began to get the sense that she was growing weary of the repetition. “Is it getting better?” she’d ask, of the evenness of my bite. I started telling her it was getting a bit better, even though it didn’t seem better to me. Eventually, I asked her what would happen if it was uneven. “Well, you might have some pain,” she said. “You can always bring it back in and we can adjust it later.” So the next time she inserted the night guard, I told her it was great. 

Was this a bad move? Maybe! But I hate things like that! I want the thing to be correct, to work correctly. The dentist presumably wants the thing to work correctly too. But it was taking SO LONG to get it right. And even though the dentist never said so in so many words, I could tell she was getting antsy, which made me want to move things along. Plus, I started doubting my own perceptions. Maybe this was exactly how it was supposed to feel! Maybe my bite is weird to begin with! But now maybe the night guard is not going to work as well as it could??? And then I will have to go back, a FOURTH time, to get it recalibrated? UGH.

Carla, Future Animal Dentist: Carla, lucky spring breaker that she is, came with me to the night guard fitting appointment. She was very interested in every single thing the dentist did, and asked five million questions (including quizzing the dental assistant about why she wanted to work with teeth and asking if they used a 3D printer to make my night guard), and the dentist seemed to love her inquisitiveness. She answered every question and even showed Carla how to work the various little tools on her tray – the grinder thing, the air blowy thing, the water sprayer thing. She kept asking Carla if she wanted to be a dentist, and Carla – ever agreeable – said yes! Of course! A dentist! even though she has never once expressed interest in dentistry in her life. 

Then, as is Carla’s way, she said, “Maybe I could be a dentist for animals!” The dentist and the dental assistant and I kind of laughed gently at this, although for all I know maybe there ARE dentists for your pets, and Carla went on: “Yes! I will be an animal dentist! And I will make night guards for cats and dogs and horses!” 

Personalization: The dentist sent me home with my not-too-ill-fitting night guard in a little box. She gave the box to Carla to carry and told her that she could decorate it for me. Which Carla did.  

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Wow, do I hate the time change. It should have kicked in already, right? Instead, I still feel like I’m sleeping less and yet also sleeping late and it’s making me very grumpy indeed. You’d think I would be THRILLED at the news that the U.S. is planning to put an end to the time change. Instead, I’m apprehensive. What new inconveniences will NO time change insert into our lives? What can I say. I am bitterly opposed to change, even if said change means changing the time change. Better the devil I know, I guess. 

It has come to my attention that I may have forgotten to update you on a few small things here and there. Things that make literally no difference to your day-to-day well-being. And yet, for completeness, I am going to give some updates. At least, on the things that I remember I need to update you on. Perhaps, if there is something you have been eagerly awaiting an update on, or a Burning Question you have for me, you will mention it in the comments, and I will answer it. 

First of all, let’s talk cake. As you know, I did indeed order my own cake from a fancy artisan bakery for my birthday. It was only $35 (I had thought it would be in the $70 range, so $35 seemed like a bargain), and my interactions with the baker/proprietor were 100% via email (which made me love her even more). Carla and my husband happened to be with me when we went to pick up the cake, and Carla was aghast that I was going to see the cake before the appointed candles and singing time. I think this is because I always hide her cake from her until I bring it out with the candles glowing and her family off-keying “Happy Birthday” while she waits at the table. We didn’t do candles or singing for my birthday, which is fine. The cake was GORGEOUS. A sea of lemon curd, ringed by a crown of raspberries. Here, let me show you:

A THING OF BEAUTY

I want to stop there, because it was beautiful, and the lemon curd and raspberries were perfection. But I am sure you are wondering “How did it TASTE?” and there I start feeling a little discomfort. Because I want to tell you that it was perfection… but it was… well, it was almond cake, for starters, when I had requested vanilla. And the buttercream – which was applied in the exact right amount!! – was vanilla as well, when I had requested cream cheese. The layers were separated by both lemon curd and raspberry jam, which was a little odd, but I’d said I wanted lemon curd and if there were raspberries involved, I wouldn’t be mad about it, so she interpreted that in her own way. It was fine! My husband, who likes cake much more than I do, assured me it was a Very Good Cake. And I don’t want to be ungrateful! It was lovely! But it was not what I asked for. Oh well. It was still quite fun and I don’t regret ordering my own cake, or ordering it from this particular bakery. And it is infinitely better to not-love a cake when that cake was baked by someone other than your beloved husband. Edited to add: Okay, I am coming back here to say that it was much more than fine. It was a beautiful, well-made, gourmet cake. It was not exactly to my tastes, but that’s more on me than on the pastry chef who made it for me.

Dinners continue to mystify me lately. I continue to load up my cart with khaki pants and sensible cardigans. I have some pork chops, some tilapia filets, and some beef I can use for stroganoff or stir fry. I also bought a package of chicken, intending to maybe give chicken a go again. We’ll see. But even with all these perfectly serviceable foods in my fridge, I am baffled by what to make. It is currently 5:15 pm and I have NO IDEA what to make for dinner. UPDATE: We are getting takeout from the Lebanese place that does spicy cauliflower. We had tacos last night, and that seems to be the only meal that has ever existed. (Obviously, I could do stroganoff or stir fry, but those things seem much too complicated to implement NOW.) Tell me what you’re having for dinners this week, even though it is somehow already dinnertime on a Wednesday. I could surely use the inspiration.

Speaking of dinner, I have been returning to the stir-fry sauce suggestions post frequently, for ideas. So far, I have only tried yum-yum sauce (per several suggestions) and it was wonderful and rich and perfect with the shrimp I made. My husband also dug a jar of gochujang sauce out of the depths of a cabinet, and I used that on a stir fry one night. It was… okay. Good mainly for its novelty. I think I made a roasted gochujang chicken once many years ago, and the sauce was better in that capacity than it was on stir fry. I will be working my way through the rest of the suggestions, as they are all appealing. Well. Except for the peanut butter suggestions, because I do not care for peanut butter. But I still appreciate your suggesting them as options!!! My husband, for whom peanut butter is a Desert Island Food, would love them!

I can’t remember if I told you this already, so forgive me if I have: Mornings continue to be awful, but we have instituted a new system of rewards and consequences that may or may not be helping. A little. Carla gets a set amount of screen time on the weekends – two hours per day. So we are now tying her morning timeliness to screen time. For every minute past the appointed Leave The House Moment, her screen time is reduced by five minutes. For every minute she is early, she gets two minutes of additional screen time. This worked terribly the first week (she lost nearly all her screen time), and then much better the next week, and less well the next week. In advance of Spring Break, we have sort of relaxed the rules… but I am eager to pick it back up again after Spring Break ends. The best part about it is that I feel less involved in getting out the door, if that makes sense? Obviously, I still want to be on time! But having this system makes the whole thing feel kind of out of my hands, which relieves some of the stress of pushing and pushing and pushing. I don’t know. Ask me later if it’s helping my overall Morning Mood. It’s still too early to tell. 

In the same post linked above, I mentioned that I was fretting over what to do for my parents’ fiftieth wedding anniversary. A couple of people mentioned family photos and that idea kind of knocked me over as The Perfect Thing. But there were so many obstacles to get through to figure out if that were the right gift, or even doable! First, feasibility: we are celebrating the anniversary in a very remote location, so I didn’t know if photographers would be available. Turns out there are MANY photographers in the area, but most specialize in weddings. And that meant $$$. So the next obstacle was cost. I made several requests-for-quotes via online forms, and heard back from one photographer. And then I had to have a phone call with her, which you know I love. She was very nice and her pricing was absolutely reasonable. But then I felt I needed to get buy-in from my parents. Because what if they already had events scheduled for their anniversary weekend? Or what if the idea of dressing up and getting photos taken sounded horrible to them? I was very reluctant to “spoil” the gift – but I decided removing the element of surprise was far preferable to showing up with an expensive photographer and be faced with a group of reluctant subjects. My mother seemed very pleased by the idea, so I booked the photographer. And voila! Gift handled!

Speaking of gifts: I recently learned that my mother’s beloved clay focaccia pan? pot? dish? died a sad untimely death, and she is on the lookout for another one. I would love to get her one, as her birthday is coming up. But I have no idea what the original was like. The only specific I managed to extract from her was that it was CLAY, not cast iron. I have no idea if it was round or square or rectangular or what. And google is NOT helping me out here. A terra cotta cazuela looks like a good candidate, maybe… although I guess I was always under the impression that focaccia was Italian and not Spanish, so a cazuela is perhaps not the most authentic vessel. Or maybe a bread cloche would be better? I am really hoping that you know exactly the thing I need to buy for my mother’s focaccia making purposes. 

My daughter and I watched Turning Red together. While I am glad to have watched it, I can’t say that I LIKED it. Not true of Carla, who has since watched it an additional four times and has been playing 4*Town songs constantly on our Echo. I liked some of it. I liked that it was a movie that touches on the physical and emotional changes kids go through during puberty. (Although I did get a little caught up in trying to make “turning into a red panda” completely analogous with puberty/menstruation, which it is NOT.) I liked that it explored the complexities of mother/daughter relationships, although those parts made me cry. I liked that it showcased the importance of friendship. I liked the diversity of the characters, in race and body shape. And I liked the message that it’s okay to be yourself, even if that self isn’t exactly what your parents want you to be. But there were parts I didn’t love, also. I didn’t love that the main character (Mei Lee) lies and defies her parents… or that the message “be yourself” seems to condone both of those things, as well as other things like physical violence and disrespect. I didn’t love that the changes Mei Lee goes through are referred to as “upsetting” by the mother. (I mean, I get we’re talking about a girl who is literally changing into a red panda, which would be upsetting… but it read to me as though the parents found puberty/menstruation to be upsetting, which seems like the wrong message.) I was mad that Mei Lee’s mother was so heedless of her daughter’s privacy and private inner life. I didn’t love that Mei Lee (and, later, her mother) are so unwilling to be honest about their feelings that they end up lying to their mothers in ways that make things so much worse. And I found it just plain confusing that Mei Lee is fine with being herself, but literally ALL of the other women in her family go through with a special ceremony to suppress their own selves. Kind of a mixed message. Then again, perhaps I am expecting WAY too much out of what is simply a cartoon for children. No movie is perfect, and there is no reason THIS movie should be held to an unreasonable standard. It has plenty of commendable aspects, and my kid likes it. And it sure beats Puppy Dog Pals or The Suite Life of Zak and Cody.  Have you watched it? What did you think?

What are you watching, TV-wise, these days? My husband and I just started watching Severance on AppleTV. It is kind of like Office Space meets Black Mirror and I am hooked. In the universe of the show, a company called Lumon severs its employees’ minds in two. (This is a big controversial thing, in the show’s universe.) While outside the office, you are a normal person except that you have no memories of what goes on while you are in the office. While at the office, your mind is only aware of what goes on in the office; your outside life doesn’t exist. The main character’s best work friend leaves the company due to mysterious circumstances, and the main character tries to put things together both inside and outside of the office… without knowing what his other “half” is doing. It has some dark humor and some very dark moments and some very poignant commentary on grief and some extremely thought-provoking ideas about autonomy, and then there is the mystery of this company and what it does and why. The whole thing is totally captivating. 

What’s new with you?

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continue to feel like a planet whirling so fast it is about to spin off its axis. The frigid vacuum of space sounds pretty pleasant right about now. I wouldn’t be able to breathe, but it would be so quiet

I had a meeting this morning about the school project I am working on. My project partner and I are so lucky a) to have each other (well. I am lucky to have her. Remains to be seen whether I will be useful for anything but flailing.) and b) that the previous head of this project has made herself available to us for questions and coaching. But today’s meeting was… well, let’s say it is A LARGE PART of why I am spinning so fast. It seemed like we would ask a question about how best to execute Task A. And we’d talk through it and get to the end, and then an unrelated topic would insinuate itself into the conversation briefly, and then, BAM, by the way, Unrelated Topic is actually crucial and you need to do it BEFORE you can execute Task A. Like, you’re digging away at this nice deep hole, and then when you get to the bottom, someone yells, “WAIT! You were supposed to dig to the left of this hole first!” So you go back and dig the new hole, but the dirt you displace from the new hole crumbles and fills up the hole you already dug, which you are now going to have to dig again, but in a slightly different way.

Funsies. 

Speaking of meetings! I met with my potential client yesterday. And by “client” I mean one organization, but multiple people. As I mentioned in my previous fret about this encounter, I had no idea what to wear. Not only have I had very very few business encounters since I left full-time work SIX YEARS AGO OMG, but I have also put on quite a lot of weight since then, rendering any very old, out-of-style business wear wholly unwearable. I have this beautiful cream silk blouse that I have kept all these years, so I tried it on, but my boobs kept trying to make a break for it. I figured that boob wrangling would add a layer of stress I didn’t need to my meeting, so I scrapped that idea.

I was to meet the client(s) for coffee, and my Fashionable Friend told me that I could wear jeans and a blouse or a nice sweater for that type of meeting. (Do you have a Fashionable Friend? She is very nice to have around. For lots of regular-friendshippy reasons, but also because she always knows the right answer to style questions.) So I found a nice top and a blazer and wore those with dark jeans and heels. It was the right call: the clients were wearing a range from jeans/leggings to dresses, so I felt nicely in the middle. And I was comfortable, and my boobs behaved themselves. 

The meeting itself was very nice. The organization is one I am familiar with and I love its mission and product. And the people were friendly and smart and totally the type of people I would want to be friends with. It was a little intimidating, being in a room with multiple people, unmasked. But the strangeness of that faded quickly. The single drink option during the meeting was coffee. Which, as you may recall, I do not drink. I am SURE I could have asked for some water, but by the time I had the opportunity, it would have been A Big Pain, so I just went with the coffee option. I AM BREEZY. By the way, not only was it coffee, it was black coffee, which I have never even tasted. And WOWZA did it ever go straight to my head! For a few deeply uncomfortable minutes, I felt sure I would throw up or pass out, which is surely not the best first impression to make upon potential clientele. You will be pleased to learn (as I was) that I neither vomited nor swooned, and made it through, hopefully leaving them with the feeling that I am friendly and competent and not a weird socially awkward mole who hasn’t been around people in two years. 

I am getting more and more excited about our upcoming travel. But oh Mylanta there is SO MUCH LAUNDRY. I wish people would just stop wearing clothing so that I can get allllllll the laundry done and folded. Then we can set aside the things we want to pack for the trip, and make do with whatever remains. 

Also, my husband – who is legitimately WILDY busy at work, and never gets home before seven anymore – did a couple loads of laundry over the weekend. I discovered today that he had left the clean clothes in the laundry basket. A, I appreciate that he did some laundry; that is awesome. And B, I am constantly leaving laundry in the basket, or on top of the guest room bed, sometimes for many many days. But it still made me feel betrayed and petulant. 

Speaking of betrayed and petulant: Poor deprived Carla wailed at me today that she has no clothes!!!! and I never do any laundry!!!! and look at her overflowing laundry basket!!!!! The same child who has an entire closet full of dresses, and an entire drawer full of jeans and corduroys that she begged me to buy for her at the beginning of the school year. 

What did she end up wearing? Leggings and a t-shirt. And because it is still chilly here, I dredged up a sweater for her to throw on top. 

WHERE are all her sweaters, I wonder? Perhaps in the overflowing laundry bin, which I must once again put through the wash. I did notice that the bottom drawer of her dresser doesn’t close all the way, and it seems to be because there are some shirts that have fallen back behind the drawer, into the empty space of the dresser. But I cannot for the life of me get to them! The dresser is bolted to the wall and the bottom of the dresser doesn’t have enough room for me stick even a pair of kitchen tongs under. I guess the shirts will stay there until we move someday? Or perhaps we will have to figure out how to take the drawer off its track? But who knows how many shirts and sweaters are hiding back there! 

I am stressing about the keeping-keto portion of our vacation. Part of me wants to just give it up and eat as though I am on vacation… but part of me is deeply reluctant to cede the small amount of ground I have gained. Fortunately, most restaurants (YES, we will be eating in restaurants!!! Ahhhhh!!!!) offer things like steak or salmon. I will simply have to resist things like mashed potatoes and baked potatoes and French fries and desserts. Sounds doable, if not fun, but I suspect my resolve may crumble when everyone else around me is eating something delicious that I “can’t” have. My biggest hurdle, I think, will be hamburgers. I LOVE a hamburger, and I LOVE a nice buttery toasty bun, and I LOVE ketchup, none of which are keto-friendly. Well. We’ll see how it goes. 

Speaking of keto, I have ZERO IDEA what we will eat for dinner this week. It seems wholly unfair to have to keep planning and preparing meals when I am already planning and preparing for a trip. Maybe we will do a stir fry, using one of the MANY delicious ideas you suggested on this post? Maybe a pizza night? Maybe… a salad? I feel like I have some veggies I want to use up before we leave. Some sort of… roasted veggies smorgasbord? 

This period of Too Much Too Much Ahhhhhhh! has served as a valuable reminder to me of just how critical my daily workout it. I am not winning any ab competitions or even doing any sort of visible toning (perhaps there is a LOT of tone beneath the fat and skin; hard to say), but working out is almost the only thing that makes me feel tethered to reality. Sweating for a half hour, grunting my way through a bunch of awful squats, hefting weights over my head, focusing only on the directions/encouragement of the coach while I grind out another rep – whatever it is, it helps my thoughts slow their frantic dash around my brain. (And I know I have recommended her before, but I just adore Lindsey of Nourish Move Love. She is extremely kind and supportive and offers tons of modifications if you don’t have weights/don’t want to bend your knees so deeply/don’t own a booty band. And she does all the exercises with you, panting and groaning over the tough parts, which makes it all seem doable.)

I am going to leave you with some flowers. As per Swistle, I did not wait until my previous flowers had perished to replace them. Instead, I bought a new bouquet and added it to the original group. Carla requested white tulips, so white tulips it is. 

Last week’s batch are definitely looking a little faded and saggy. But you know what? They have their own beauty despite their age. And they are still standing

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