It’s impossible to open those damn produce bags!
How to stay (relatively) sane during #covid crisis.
Click link below for fun!
When your life has been a sitcom since you were 15 years old, it’s hard to discern the dumbest thing you’ve ever done. But alas, I think I can safely say that today, I have definitely mastered the art of the idiocy.
Black Friday. Ha! That’s funnier than you’d think. Just wait. I decided to brave the crowds and hit the discount store, Ross that is. That’s my discount store of choice. I bought a bunch of thrilling Chanukah presents for my family; colored boxer briefs, v-neck undershirts, socks, and a special something for my own sweet self. Exotic charcoal bath salts from South Africa. They were only $5.99. I thought about buying all five of the packages so that when I absolutely loved them, I wouldn’t have to run to every Ross around looking to replenish my stash. But then something resembling reason seized me and encouraged me to try one and then come back tomorrow for the remainder should they be as purifying, detoxifying and energizing as the package asserted they would be.
Now I am a woman who loves my bath time. I loved to soak back in Arizona no matter what the weather outside. But here in Seattle, I am cold…all the time. I spend at least 20 minutes a day in my tub. As a mom of two teenage boys, It is often the only peaceful, healing, alone time I have. So I was flying high imagining my charcoal immersion. I followed the directions carefully, slowly scattering several handfuls of the precious black nuggets under the running water. The water turned ominously black. “What fun!” I thought. I turned on my mini heater, plumped up a dry towel and stepped into the dark sea.
It didn’t feel at all unusual. It actually didn’t feel special in any way. It was just dark and maybe a bit oily. I soaked for a good 20 minutes until my heat quota was filled. The water had greyed a bit and I noticed a thick black ring all around the tub. As I emptied the water, I realized that the ring was a consistent layer of smokey residue from the top of the tub to the bottom. It had seeped into the whirlpool jets and around the drain and faucet. I started to panic imagining how I would ever get the tub clean.
I grabbed a container of clorox wipes and started scrubbing as I sat in the draining water. It wouldn’t come off. Then I noticed that I too was covered in black charcoal. Black, gooey charcoal that didn’t wipe off. It was then that I realized, “Oh, Lucy, you’ve done it again!”
It took an hour in the shower to get most of the dirt off my body. The tub was even worse. I scrubbed, soaked it in bleach and finally bribed my 17 year old son, Levi, to take his turn at scouring. Two days later, the tub is fairly clean. But I don’t think it will ever be the same.
I reread the package claiming every health benefit imaginable. Then I saw a tiny disclaimer that was barely discernible at the back bottom of the box. It read, “Charcoal may leave a slight residue that is easily wiped away.” “Easily wiped away?” I muttered. “Yeah, if you’re sexy P&G icon, Mr. Clean!”
As I rethink this episode of my personal maternal sitcom, I wonder what would actually possess someone to buy a package of black carbon, ash and traces of volatile chemicals, convince themselves that it would be healthfully cleansing, soak in it and then wonder why they were covered in a thick, semi-permanent layer of residue. Haven’t come up with an answer yet. But maybe we’ll unveil that in the follow up episode next week.
It’s cold! It’s finally cold outside! Open up the windows! Swing open the French doors! Rattlesnakes be damned! I feel invincible. I can actually breathe again. I needed a sweatshirt this morning to walk with the dogs. Nothing can bring me down.
I love the desert in fall. I love the desert in winter. I love the desert until about April. And then I don’t. Then it turns into a hellish furnace that sucks the life out of me, my family and everything around us. Let’s be honest, April, May, June, July, August, September…that’s six whole months. When I first moved here, people systematically perpetuated the three month conspiracy theory. It went something like this, “Oh, you’ll love living here. The weather is perfect 9 months of the year. Then it gets a little hot. But you get used to it. Besides, it’s a dry heat.” OK, let’s look at this fabrication. No matter how you slice it, it gets unbearably hot in April and stays over 100 degrees well into October. Unless my math is frightfully mistaken, that only leaves 50% of the year where people can reasonably function outdoors.
So why does everyone lie about this? Why not just be honest and tell newcomers, “Here’s the thing, you’ll probably want to kill yourself by the time July rolls around. That’s totally normal. Everyone feels that way. But try to hang in there. October isn’t all that far off.” I would have been much better prepared to face the fiery reality if someone somewhere had told me what to expect.
It’s just like pregnancy. Nobody tells you that you’re gonna have unbearable acid reflux for 9 months, projectile vomit in the car on your way to prenatal yoga, and think seriously about downing an entire bottle of Vicodin at least three times a day to put yourself out of your misery. Instead, books like “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” describe pregnancy’s healthy glow and emotional euphoria. Come on. Wouldn’t it be better to fess up to the ugly reality awaiting expectant mommies than to set them up for failure by making them feel isolated, detached and forsaken?
We lie about everything! We tell people they look great when they look like crap. We swear up and down that we’re not angry when we’re literally fuming inside. We tell our kids that a big, jolly fat man is gonna come down the chimney on Christmas Eve and leave loads of presents for them. Why do we do this? Is reality truly that bleak?
What would life look like if we just started telling the truth?
“Sorry, Junior. No presents this Christmas. The economy’s in the toilet and we’re barely able to put food on the table. Now go do your homework.”
“You don’t really look fat in those jeans. But you do kind of resemble a sausage that’s been over-stuffed into too small of a skin. Maybe trousers would serve you better.”
“Wow, you must have spent a small fortune to decorate your house and make it look exactly the same as every other ‘contemporary’ Southwestern abode in the neighborhood. So much for individuality.”
I actually crave the opportunity to tell someone the truth. But no one wants to hear it. It’s too mean, too hurtful. We’re programmed to sugar-coat reality. Especially out here in the West. I remember when I first moved to California and everyone was so nice to me all the time. They’d promise me things to my face that would never come to fruition and say things behind my back that were completely opposed to what they’d sworn in a face to face encounter. I got into the habit of brazenly cutting people off mid compliment. “Look, I’m from Chicago,” I’d sneer, “Just tell me the truth.”
I’d like to tell you that I’m gonna go forth honestly from this point forward, that I’m gonna turn over a new leaf, that I’m committed to speak my mind, voice my inner truth, and stop perpetuating the falsehoods that abound. But I can’t. Because that would be…a lie.
I have what’s commonly known as “body dysmorphia.” Well, I don’t know how commonly known it actually is. It’s really called “Body Dysmorphic Disorder.” I looked it up. Here’s what it said, “Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is sometimes referred to as dysmorphic syndrome. It is a psychological disorder in which the affected person is excessively concerned about and preoccupied by a perceived defect in his or her body image.” Does this not apply to everyone?
But wait, there’s more:
“It is estimated that 1–2% of the world’s population meet all the diagnostic criteria for BDD” Is that all? I find that hard to believe!!! Every woman I know over 40 has this. Seriously, I’m not making light of this because I really do have it.
I am and always have been convinced that I am HUGE. I’m not joking. When I look in the mirror, I see a fat woman looking back at me. Now over the years, with a tremendous amount of drugs and counseling, I have come to understand that my perception of myself is not the same as reality. I also understand (although this part is harder for me to believe) that if I surveyed 100 people who knew me, few if any would describe me as portly.
This is a challenging disorder to cope with. Shopping, for instance, is impossible. I spend all this time picking out size 16 capris and extra large tank tops, and then I put them on and think “Wow, I look pretty hot.” Then I get home and my husband is like, “What were you thinking? You look like a small child who just raided her mommy’s closet.”
I know what you’re thinking; Freud could definitely interpret that into some kind of wistful maternal longing based on a lack of nurturing from my childhood. But I’m not gonna go there. Anyway, I usually try to take someone with me when I shop these days. It’s kind of like that great moment in “A Beautiful Mind” when Russel Crowe (who has these visual halucinations) asks one of his students if the man who just approached him to offer him a Nobel prize actually exists.
I’ve tried asking salespeople if the billowy blouse I’m unsure of is actually my size. But they’re so eager to sell anything that I’ve yet to meet someone who answers me honestly.
Over the years my husband has gently nudged me towards developing a more fitted wardrobe. I’ve been afflicted with BDD as long as I can remember. In fact, I recall wearing most of my 6’3” father’s clothing throughout much of high school years. I told everyone it was my ode to Annie Hall. But retrospectively I think I honestly believed those clothes were the only ones that I could squeeze my 5’8” scrawny frame into. It’s actually kind of sad when I think about it.
The other day I was talking to this friend of mine who has personality dysmorphia. She honestly sees herself as reliable, reflective, altruistic and uniquely sensitive. She is, in fact, a thoughtless, self-obsessed flake who spends her life ruminating over inane dramas that truly don’t even exist. I realized that body dysmorphia maybe isn’t all that bad. It’s kind of like that famous saying; “I cried because I had no shoes. Until I met a man who had no feet.” Wow, do you think he really had no feet? Or could he possibly have been suffering from BDD?
In any event, I should probably get a new friend.
“Four out of five dentists recommend sugarless gum for their patients who chew gum.” Do you remember that slogan? Have you ever thought about that slogan, about the sheer inanity of that slogan? What does it mean? That one out of every five dentists recommend sugar-saturated Bubble Yum over the sugar-free alternative?
I don’t know about you, but I have never met a single dentist who advised me or my children to chomp on sugar-laden bubblegum. Not one. Yet 20 percent apparently were counseling patients to coat their teeth with sickeningly sweet, caloric, cavity-inducing chewing gum. Why is that?
Because in any study, any collection of information, any data sampling and analysis, there will be a shockingly high percentage of people, (often impressive, well-degreed people), who espouse a point of view that is not only patently untrue, but may actually border on the edge of absurdity.
Think about it. We know beyond the shadow of a doubt that there is no link between autism and immunizations. There have been countless, international, meta-analyses to prove this. Yet an entire subculture of parents is out there proliferating this hogwash and exposing their children to deadly diseases like polio, measles, and whooping cough. Why? Because celebrities like Jenny McCarthy insist that the evil medical industry is responsible for sickening her child with autism. (Not to worry though. She changed his diet and cured him!).
Never mind the facts. There will always be someone who will say something insane, unsound and idiotic about anything.
I have numerous friends who are currently on the HCG hormone diet. This diet allegedly resets your metabolism and you lose tons of weight in a mere three-week period. Here’s the catch: You are only allowed to ingest 500 calories a day for 21 days. This new diet craze, which incidentally first appeared in the 1940s, has been conclusively shown to be dangerous, even deadly, in several circumstances. But all it takes is some “expert” on television touting its benefits, and millions of people rush to the naturopath for a dose of the delightful diet aid.
To prove a point, Mark Haub, a professor of human nutrition at Kansas State University, put himself on a Twinkie diet. For two months, he only ate Hostess Twinkies, snack cakes and other equally junky munchies. He lost 27 pounds. His point? It doesn’t matter what you eat. Just eat less, burn more calories, and you’ll shed the extra weight.
But we want to believe in miracles. We want to uncover the truth that someone somewhere is conspiring to keep from us. The truth that will make us thin, cure our kids and ultimately set us free.
Keep this in mind: if there is even one licensed dentist in this country recommending sugar-filled Bazooka to their gum-chewing patients, you can pretty be pretty sure there are plenty of other people who will say something illogical, irrational and idiotic about almost anything.
My advice? Trust no one. Question everything. And never, ever underestimate the power of a Twinkie.
My two closest friends happen to be married to men whose names rhyme. It’s a weird coincidence that I didn’t really even notice until this morning in the car, when my 10-year-old son Levi, for no apparent reason, said, “It’s too bad you aren’t still married to Uncle Larry, mom. Because then there’d be Cathy and Barry, Helen and Jerry, and Debra and Larry. Wouldn’t that be funny?”
Besides the shocking randomness of this observation, I was struck with the realization that my 6-year-old son, also in the car, had never been told that his mother had in fact been married prior to wedding his father and that this might come as a rather profound shock to him. I paused for a moment to regroup.
“Thank you for sharing that,” I said with a forced sort of politeness. Then I addressed my youngest and as simply and directly as possible said, “Eli, did you know that when mommy lived in Chicago, many many years ago, mommy was actually married to Uncle Larry?” I suddenly understood why calling my ex “uncle” was probably as bad an idea as my current hubbie had argued.
“Do you remember Uncle Larry, honey?” I pushed onward.
“No,” he said, “Not really.”
Not sure how to proceed, I prayed for a sign from the parenting gods. Maybe I shouldn’t have told him. But he clearly heard what his brother had said. They say kids know everything, especially the stuff you avoid telling them. I had no choice. I had to say something. Of course I didn’t tell the older one until he was at least 8, and I only gave up the info when a gal pal innocently inquired about my first husband during an outing with our kids at Starbucks.
“Is Uncle Larry the chef guy, mommy?” my littlest inquired.
“Yes sweetie, he is. So you remember him?”
“Kind of, I guess.”
“You were married to him?”
“Just for a short time. When I was very, very young.”
“Do I have any brothers or sisters?”
“No, honey. Just your big brother, Levi.”
“Has Uncle Larry ever been on ‘Chopped?’ ”
“I don’t think so, love.”
“If he was, do you think he would win?”
“Hmmm…that’s a good question. I’m not sure. He’s a really great chef though. He might.”
“Mom, will you ever marry anybody else?”
“No, sweetheart. I’m done marrying people. Daddy’s the one I was looking for and now that I found him, I’m never going to marry anyone else.”
“Okay. Mom, can we stop at Dunkin’ Donuts for a cinnamon raisin twist on the way to school?”
I chuckled. “Yes, sweetie, we can.”
And with that our conversation came to a close. Was I right to share the info at this still tender young age? I’m not certain. But once the cat was out of the proverbial bag, I felt like I had no choice in the matter.
The good news is, there are no more secrets to burden my motherly soul. I don’t have any LSD-laced skeletons in my closet or arrest records I need to expunge. I am pretty much what I appear to be. I think that’s good for kids. It can’t be easy to learn that your cherished mother was once a toothless carnie or a handsomely paid exotic dancer. Luckily, I only had to tarnish my maternal image with a failed first marriage. In the scheme of things, that’s not so terrible.
But how do you explain to your kids the mistakes and failures of your past? Do you sugar-coat them? Exaggerate them to scare your kids into submission? Brush them off as merely the foolishness of youth? It’s hard to know what’s right.
Personally, I believe that telling your kids the truth is essential. Okay, not including conversations about recreational drug usage, alcohol, premarital sex or cigarettes. But as far as almost everything else goes, honesty is…usually the best policy.
I am too honest. I really am. I’m the kind of person who corrects the cashier at Safeway when she charges me for cheap, ordinary Gala apples when in fact I’ve purchased exceedingly expensive Jazz apples.
I’ve always been this way. I can’t keep things I find on the sidewalk. I never cheated on a test in my life. And I actually feel compelled to return that extra nickel when the young man at Dunkin Donuts makes the wrong change from my $20. (Well, in my register-ringing teens, our pay got docked for every penny we fell short.)
But today I feel genuinely ripped off. And it’s all because of my insane honesty. I went to Trader Joe’s. (Yes, I’m obsessed about shopping there. I go there at least 5 times a week. But that’s another issue we can contemplate in the future.) Much to my delight, I remembered to bring in my reusable grocery bags. I normally end up running back to the car to retrieve them just as I’m entering the check-out lane.
As you probably know, Trader Joe’s offers a kind of incentive program for bringing in your own bags. Every time you use your own, you get to fill out a ticket for a chance to win a $25 gift certificate. I’ve been entering this weekly lottery for over a year. But much to my chagrin, I have never won. This seems odd to me. For someone who enters as often as I do, I was fairly certain that I would have been victorious by now. And for some reason, I really want to win this. It has taken me a great deal of energy and effort to consistently remember to bring in those dumb canvas bags, and now I want to be rewarded for it.
When they first started the program, they always gave me a ticket as I checked out. But, over time, they have become a bit chintzy with the tickets. I sometimes go weeks without being given one. I know that I could ask for one. But I’m kind of embarrassed about it. I don’t want to seem too needy or competitive. So I generally smile a little less brightly and just head out to the car disappointedly with my cadre of environmentally protective reusable bags.
But today, the gentleman ringing me up actually remembered to give me a ticket to fill out for the auction. My face lit up. I smiled and murmured some hopeful remark about it perhaps finally being my time for the big win. He affirmed my wishful philosophy by reminding me that somebody has to win. Why couldn’t it be me?
I bagged my groceries as he continued to ring up the items in my cart. That’s when I saw it. There was a second blank ticket just barely visible underneath a stack of brown paper bags. “OMG,” I thought. “I could fill that out too and then I’d for sure end up winning.” I unobtrusively palmed the extra ticket and secretly slid it over to me. When the cashier was distracted, I picked it up. (I had already dropped the first one in the little tin at the front door.)
We talked cheerfully and he helped me bag the remainder of my groceries. “Just fill it out and drop it in the tin,” I said to myself. But I couldn’t do it. What if I did actually win and it was under this kind of false pretense? How could I live with myself?
After I was bagged and payed for, I held up the bonus ticket and announced, “Hey, here’s an extra one. I just found it lying up here.” “Thanks,” he said as he collected the still blank ticket. And that was it. He didn’t thank me for my honesty. He didn’t say, “Listen, just go ahead and fill this one in too. It’ll give you better odds for winning this week.” Nothing like that. He just thanked me and stuck the ticket in the register.
I am now certain that that ticket was the winning ticket. I deserved that ticket. I bet I enter this drawing more often than anyone else in the valley. How come I never win? That’s just weird. I’m starting to think it’s all a ruse. Maybe they don’t actually pick a winner every week. Maybe they do it like once every four months or something. Whatever they’re doing, they are pissing me off and I’m one of their best customers.
If Trader Joe’s is going to reward people for protecting the environment, you’d think they’d also want to positively reenforce the kind of honesty I displayed this morning. I mean, being green is one thing. But without good, old-fashioned honesty, this planet is seriously doomed.