Category Archives: Love

Because who doesn’t want aluminum for a gift?

Well, well, well. I never thought it’d come but here it finally is. At the end of this month, my husband and I will be celebrating our ninth wedding anniversary!

…yay…!…?

Yeah. I know. Not that exciting.

I mean, ten years, yeah, of course. That’s a huge deal. You made it an entire decade. It’s the…copper anniversary? Bronze, maybe?

Holy crap. I just looked it up. It’s the tin or aluminum anniversary. Also, I stole a glance at the ninth year gift. It’s willow or pottery. I mean…what? Who made these rules? (Because my guess is it was either an extremely practical woman or an extremely clever man).

“Thanks for putting up with my farts for ten years, honey. Here’s some tuna.”

“Aw, the dolphin-safe kind. Just what I always wanted. Thanks, darling!”

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Anyway, where was I? Ah, yes…

But nine years? Eh. At nine years your anniversary plans are likely squished in-between giving your kids lice treatment because there was another outbreak at preschool and a meeting with Todd, your semi-dodgy accountant but he’s the only one you can afford.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for marriage and am personally very happy my husband and I are still going strong. (I don’t want to brag or anything, but I am not the easiest person to live with).

It’s just that after nine years of building a life together, the building part is mostly done and now it’s just a whole lot of maintenance. Maintenance that sucks up all your time and energy and money. Especially when you throw children and careers and pets into the mix.

Take, for example, this very moment right here. I am attempting to type this sentence with a two-year-old squirming on my lap while my husband texts me about his crazy morning at work and I text back “Crap! We need band-aids and juice boxes. Can you get them after work?” And then my 2-year-old almost breaks my laptop and I yell at her and she starts crying and the dog starts barking and my husband texts me back he has a late meeting but will as soon as it is done.

That is what nine years looks like.

Nine years is spending 27 minutes trying to figure out who can take which kid to their dentist appointment.

Nine years is silently and mutually agreeing to ignore the awful noise the dishwasher makes every time it’s turned on because there is no money in the budget currently to fix it.

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Nine years is yelling at each other in strained voices about the ridiculously high vet bill and then 30 seconds later, in a perfectly calm voice, bringing up which cake you should get for your son’s birthday as though nothing had happened. Because sulking is only for couples with the luxury of free time.  

Nine years is “hey, come look at this…should I go to the doctor?”

Nine years is constantly forgetting to kiss each other goodbye but always remembering to get extra pickles for them when ordering take out.

Nine years is a horror movie and two bottles of wine on Valentine’s Day.

Nine years is mostly communicating via memes when apart.

Nine years is a truly impressive Tupperware collection.

Nine years is “I did your laundry. It’s in a giant pile on the bed.”

Nine years is a truly comfortable silence. Interrupted by a truly impressive fart.

Nine years is realizing all that sugary sweet marriage advice you got at your wedding was useless. Never go to bed angry (um, then we’d never sleep). Never keep secrets from each other (those secret stashes of fancy chocolate are the reason my family is still alive some days). Would you rather be right or married? (I’m never wrong so it’s a moot point, Aunt Carol).  

And, if you’re very lucky, nine years is wanting to do all this god-awful mundane business of living– the bills, the cleaning, the obligations, the never-ending youth soccer games, the grocery shopping, the novella-length kindergarten registration packets– with no one else but them.

I love you, Ryan. And I can’t wait to clean out the kids’ closets this weekend with you.

Which reminds me…

Get some wine at the store too.

 

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Jon Snow isn’t the only one who knows nothing

My oldest child is about to turn 5-years-old.

But don’t worry. This isn’t going to be “that” article. You know, the one where the parent is shocked, absolutely SHOCKED, to discover their child continues to age according to the rules of linear time.

I have to be honest. I’ve never experienced that phenomenon where I blinked and my baby suddenly wasn’t a baby anymore. The only thing that happens when I blink is my eyeballs get moistened so that I can more clearly see my children standing in front of me loudly demanding a hundred different things.

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So no, this birthday is not coming as a surprise to me. My son looks like he’s five. He talks like he’s five. And he acts ALL kinds of five.

“Momma, can I have a cookie for breakfast?”

“No.”

“Why?”

“Cookies are unhealthy. Now eat this equally unhealthy Pop-Tart slathered in icing and hush.”

“But I want a cookie. Why can’t I have a cookie?”

(repeat for 45 minutes or until I start hurling Pop-Tarts like ninja stars at everyone in the family)

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This lack of surprise at the aging process could also be because I am the lucky (or cursed, depending on your view of children) parent who stays at home with my kids. So I get a front row seat to their growth on a daily basis. Both the giant leaps forward (the first day he left the house without his beloved security blanket, Woobie) and the tiny baby steps toward independence (the first day he buttered his own toast with approximately half a tub of butter). In fact, if anything, I am too present for my children considering that at any given moment I can give you detailed descriptions of both of their most recent bowel movements. (Oh, how them babies love showing me their poopies.)

Not that his upcoming birthday is completely free of angst, of course. As it just so happens, his birthday coincides with the fifth anniversary of my becoming a parent. Which leads us to the very puzzling question of: How is it possible I’ve been doing this for five years…and I still know nothing?

I mean, sure, both my kids are still alive. I have at least mastered the bare minimum parental requirements. But motherhood is continually throwing me curveballs and not only do I not know how to hit them, I can’t even find the friggin’ bat because it is likely buried under my kids’ ever-growing militia of stuffed animals.

My daughter’s hair is ALWAYS tangled. Half the time my house is out of soap and band-aids. My son is obsessed with zombies because I gave him a very vivid description one tired night when he asked me what they were. And there is never anything in the house they are willing to eat because they forgot to tell me they now hate all their favorite foods.

Even the positive moments have a caveat. Just the other day my son told me that when he grows up he wants to be strong like his Momma. Aww. Sweet, right? Except then he added “Yeah, and when I’m all grown up like you then I can drink Diet Coke and wine.”

Positive role modeling. Nailed it.  

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Shouldn’t I be better at this by now?

Take the whole purse thing. I know plenty of those moms who always have whatever you could possibly need inside their purse. And whenever I marvel at the fact that they had an extra set of gloves, cough drops, a healthy snack AND portable Merlot in there, they always respond, “well, I’m a mom.”

Yeah, well, I’m a mom too and yesterday we were outside and my son’s nose started dripping snot and he asked me for a tissue and I had absolutely nothing resembling a tissue on my person and so I shoved my sleeve in his face and said “use this.”

Plus, I NEVER remember to bring my flask to school functions. Like some kind of noob.

Sigh.  

Then again, I’m holding out hope that most of us parents are faking it. Right? Guys? None of us know what we are doing? Anyone? No? Hello?

Eh.

Regardless, on my son’s birthday, when we are busy celebrating his existence, I’m going to take a little moment to also celebrate that despite it all, my children seem happy. And that no matter how many times I mess up, they still somehow love me.

And that, God willing, I will have many, many, many more birthdays to celebrate with them even though I forgot to pick up the stupid cake from the bakery.

 

           

 

Honest Christmas Letter

Greetings, friends and family and people I barely know anymore but still have your addresses saved so what the hell!

I hope this year has been good to you (she types like she hasn’t stalked over half of you on social media late at night with a glass of wine in her hand…definitely-not-creepy haha!).

It’s been a wonderful year here at the Brandon-Huddle household. At least I think it has. If I’m being completely honest, I can’t remember what it was like before the Vague Plague swept through our house, reducing all of us to coughing, feverish, snotty shells of our former selves. You know, that mysterious illness that hits one family member and then passes through all the rest until the first one finally gets better right as the last one is coming down with it, thus passing it back onto the first one, on and on and on until none of you can remember what it is like to breathe through one nostril anymore, let alone two. It has no name but is somewhere in-between a cold and the flu. Unless, of course, the man of the house gets it, in which case it is a Very Serious Case of Almost Certain Death.

But although our collective health is currently drowning in a tsunami of snot, everything else is a fantastic mixed bag of tragicomedy.

Ryan is working hard as usual. Some would say too hard. And by some I mean me. Awkward haha! Because I reach a certain point in the evening where I simply cannot “mom” for one more minute. But at least he’s smart enough to know that if he walks through that door past six he is to have a bottle of wine tucked under his arm for me. Maybe also a cheeseburger. And a taco.

But it’s not entirely his fault. You gotta make a living, right? Kids are expensive. And he’s really good at what he does. Plus, during those brief twelve minutes we have together in-between the kids going down and us passing out on the couch after watching the opening credits of “Sabrina” on Netflix, we are reminded how much we love each other as we grunt and stare vacant-eyed into the other’s rapidly aging face.

As for myself, I completed a half marathon this year, which has been a dream of mine ever since my friend Emily texted me “wanna do a half-marathon?” and I drunkenly texted back “hellz yesh!” The race was awful. Just truly awful. Why do people like to do this? What is wrong with them?

But the point remains that I did it. Which I now tell anyone standing within earshot.

I’ve also been keeping up with my writing. I’m even trying my hand at writing a book. Which means I rapidly swing from “I can do this, I can totally do this” to “I’m an idiot. What is a plot? Whet r werds?” on a daily basis. I definitely think I need new hobbies.

This has also been a big year for our oldest, Riker, who started preschool this year. He loves it. Now. In the first few weeks there was some atomic-level leg clinging during drop-off but now he can’t stop talking about school. At least I think he’s talking about school. His stories aren’t always coherent. They pretty much start somewhere at the ¾ mark and then jump backward toward the middle with a brief glance at the beginning while the ending has apparently escaped through some window, never to be heard of again.  

Allow me to share his latest. It’s so cute. I think…?

“So then Ethan is a bad guy, but a friendly bad guy, and we chased the ghosts on the swings and Mrs. Ferris says, but Momma, it’s always important to share, and remember, Momma, when you first get to the classroom, we have to do our arrival jobs so we walk quietly and carefully to our cubby and put away our things and then sometimes Elena hugs me too hard and I don’t like it but that’s ok and now I’m a big boy, not a baby, which is why the vampires were hiding in the closet.”

Speaking of babies, our baby isn’t a baby anymore. Mae turned 2 in July. She is just turning out to be a fantastic little person, albeit one who drinks what has to be an unhealthy amount of bath water. We are a bit nervous about her arch-villain tendencies but, as they say, raise the children you have, not the children you want. Even if they scare you a bit.

And last, but certainly not least, is our dog Buffy. He’s 13 now! Can you believe it? I certainly can but then again I am constantly reminded thanks to his old man dog farts, which are numerous and aromatic, to put it politely. But the vet says he is in great shape and super healthy and only charged us $600 to tell us that.

All in all, we realize how lucky we are with our beautiful little family and a roof that only leaks sometimes over our heads. Although if anyone is wondering what to get us for Christmas, a nap would just be fantastic.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

 

I know how this ends.

Despite the fact that I’ve pretty much made a career out of complaining, I must confess that lately things have been going well. My preschooler is slowly realizing that preschool won’t kill him. My 2-year-old has yet to burn down the house or train the dog to do her nefarious bidding. My husband and I are going strong, united in love and mutual exhaustion.

Financially we started from the bottom and now we’re here, the stage where we can afford name brand mustard again. My self-esteem is at an all-time medium. And I’m even able to carve out time for my hobbies, like running and pretending to write while really just eating snacks and daydreaming about which snacks I’ll eat next.  

Yes, despite the mountain of stress that comes from modern living and trying to balance work and raising a family, life is pretty good currently.

Which is why, naturally, I keep waiting for something bad to happen.

Look, I know how this plays out. I’ve seen how this movie goes, how this TV episode is scripted. If an unhealthy amount of binge-watching TV has taught me anything, it is that happiness is suspect. Your life will ruined if you are too content.

So, when I step outside myself and look down at my happy little family, doing our happy little thing, I can’t help but wait for the ominous music to start.

Observe, if you will, this montage of tender moments: The mom singing the little girl to sleep. The older son giggling as he’s tossed into the air. A goofy dance party in pajamas. The parents throwing up a cheers with glasses of wine after the children have finally gone to bed.

You know who else sees this montage? The serial killer watching menacingly from the window. And as I go into the kitchen to get more wine, HE SLASHES MY THROAT.

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Crazy, you say? Far-fetched? Eh, you’re probably right. It’s actually much more likely that I’m hanging out at the playground with my mom friends and suddenly there is a natural disaster.

POSSIBLY FILLED WITH SHARKS.

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Then, on the slim chance that my kids and I are the main stars and thus the only ones to make it out alive from the shark tsunami, one of them is likely to get kidnapped on our walk home when I bend down to tie what is left of my shoe. And I know exactly who did it too. It was the quiet neighbor who lost her baby years ago and was driven mad by the loss and now wants TO RAISE MY CHILD AS HERS.

Of course I’ll be devastated but soon it won’t even matter because as a lone female jogger who only has the time to run either super early in the morning or late at night, there is a 104 percent chance I will be murdered and my body found by some wayward youths skipping school. Wayward youths who immediately call the police, who then stand over my dead body saying fake science stuff while looking at my corpse over the rim of their wicked cool sunglasses. And then 43 minutes later we all find out that it wasn’t the first suspect who killed me but the third person they suspected.

Wait. No, you’re right. That’s silly. It’s much more likely that a bunch of vampires did me in. Or a Satanic cult.  

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Sometimes I even look over at my husband suspiciously. He’s so loving. So patient. So forgiving of all my faults. Because, and here comes the shocking ending, HE WAS THE SERIAL KILLER LOOKING AT US FROM THE WINDOW ALL ALONG. Any day now I know I’m going to stumble upon his collection of severed heads in some long neglected corner of our house.

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(Although I’m pretty sure if he IS a serial killer, he is one of those serial killers who only kills other serial killers. So we can probably still make this marriage work).

(Unless he does slash my throat in the kitchen because it turns out I have a split personality and UNKNOWN TO ME, MY OTHER PERSONALITY IS A SERIAL KILLER.)

Ridiculous? Sure. I know it is. Of course I know it is. Yet I still can’t help feeling I am somehow undeserving of all this happiness. Life doesn’t work this way. Not according to my TV. I am dangerously close to having pretty much all I’ve ever wanted. And, I mean, who gets everything they ever wanted?

Murder victims on crime dramas, that’s who. They’re all perfectly happy until, you know, they’re dead.

Which is why I find myself looking lovingly down at my wedding ring and then I immediately look up, panicked, waiting for the inevitable phone call telling me my entire family has died in a suspicious car crash.

I guess I’ll just have to take solace in the fact that the tragedy is likely to turn me into a heroic vigilante, hellbent on avenging their deaths.

Or, you know, maybe I could turn the TV off every once in awhile and just enjoy my life.

 

 

Dating your spouse & other unfair adult things

For a 10-year-old who used to fantasize about going on elaborate dates with Jonathan Taylor Thomas to an almost excessive degree, I grew up to be a not very romantic adult. Take Valentine’s Day, for instance. I’ve never been a big fan. I don’t like a holiday dictating when I should shave my legs.

Or Sweetest Day, for that matter. What is this thing? Valentine’s Day 2: Buy Harder?

Not that I think there’s anything wrong with romance, per se. I’m just more a believer in spontaneous romance. The unexpected slow dance in the living room. The bouquet of flowers on a random Monday. The “I’m bringing pizza home for dinner!” text.

Followed by the “And beer!” text.

Which probably explains my whole “thing” about date night.

See, kids, when a man and a woman love each other very much, they spend a boatload on tulle and fancy almonds so they can get married. And then they do a special hug, which results in children and never being able to pee alone again. And, after awhile, although the man and the woman still love each other, they kind of forget they are actual human beings and not just cogs in a butt wiping factory.

Which is why date night was invented.

If you talk to most parents, they will say that hiring a babysitter and going out for an evening is vitally important to your relationship so that you and your partner can reconnect and remember that at one point you could carry on an entire conversation that didn’t involve the words “poop” or “smear” or “we’ll probably have to move, that smell is never coming out.” And I’m not here to argue that. I agree with date nights in theory.

It’s just in the execution that it’s flawed.

When you have kids, especially young kids, it doesn’t matter if you want to go out or not. It doesn’t matter if you’re exhausted or not in the mood or already had big plans to eat an entire cheesecake while watching “Cougar Town” once the kids were asleep. You simply force yourself to go out if and when some idiot agrees to watch your adorable, ridiculous children (who just invented a game where you chase them around with a flashlight for six hours straight).

Which is why my husband and I went on a date night last week when my mom was visiting from out of town. The last thing we wanted to do was reconnect. We wanted dual naps while an IV dripped vodka into our veins. But what did we do? We went out because, hey, we had bagged us an idiot.

Now, I don’t know how your date nights usually go, but ours usually follows the same script. The conversation always starts off awkward.

Me: Hey.

Him: Hey.

Then we actually look at each other and it gets even worse.

Me: Have you always had that much white in your beard?

Him: When’s the last time you brushed your hair?

Then we spend a few minutes venting.

Me: If your daughter takes her diaper off one more time, we’re not paying for her college.

Him: He keeps headbutting my crotch. I know I can’t do it back to him but, seriously, just one time and he’d probably stop.

Then it gets lame:

Me: God, I’m so tired.

Him: So tired.

Real lame.

Me: I mean, just so tired.

Him: How long have we been gone?

Me (checks watch): 12 minutes.

And then we remember that alcohol exists.

Me: I’ll take a bottle of Merlot.

Bartender: To share?

Me: Hahahaha

Him: What is the closest thing I can pour into my mouth? I’ll take three.

Bartender: Uh…

Which quickly leads to things like:

Me: I am going to finish my novel this year. I’ll write nights, weekends, whatever it taks.

Him: Yes, you need to. I’ve always thought so. You’re talented even if you don’t think so.

Me: Well, so are you! Look at all you’ve accomplished so far. All you do for us, it’s just…

Him: Well, I couldn’t do it without you by my side. *cheers*

And later:

Me: I LOVE YOU SO #$%@*&^ MUCH.

Him: YOU ARE MY EVERYTHING! AM I TALKING TOO LOUD?

Me: NO, NOT AT ALL.

And that is ultimately why we drag our exhausted, bedraggled asses out on date night. Even if we don’t want to. Because in the end it is necessary. Because it works. Because before all of us there was a we. A we with hopes and dreams and passions and unique personalities and a much higher tolerance for alcohol.

And sometimes we forget.

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Everything is cold & dead & stupid & I hate it

I’ve been sitting in this coffee shop for exactly 46 minutes now. And yes, I see you over there, Annoying Hovering Couple, with that dual stink eye you’ve been giving me for the last 17 of these 46 minutes in the hopes I might feel pressured to hurry up and finish my business here so you can have my table.

But the joke is on you. Because I can’t think of anything to write and so will probably die here at this table. So take that croissant you pronounced in the uppity French manner and shove it.

Ugh. Sorry. I’m just in a foul mood. Is there anything worse than January? Well, yes. I mean, torture is pretty high up there. Human trafficking. War. Extreme drought. Animal cruelty. That gross YouTube guy. Culottes. People who put raisins in chicken salad.

But January comes in at least a solid 770 on the list of Worst Things.

It’s cold. Everything is dead. There’s only one major holiday and you spend it hungover.

The bills are starting to roll in from Christmas. Nothing fits because of those ten (fine, 12) pounds you gained over the holidays. Everyone keeps bragging about how they’ve already done their taxes while you’re over here like, it’s not even May yet. And then they correct you and tell you they’re due in April but you don’t care because you got a mad case of Seasonal Affective Disorder and everything is stupid and dumb and ugly and stupid and I hate it.  

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And there are still two months of winter left to go.

Ugh.

I know. I know. First world problems and all that. I’m trying to see the bright side. I really am. I even flirted with the idea of giving that Danish idea of hygge a whirl. Because lighting a candle and wearing a big floofy sweater will solve everything. But then everyone on the Internet kept arguing about how to actually pronounce hygge and I got annoyed and started drinking copious amounts of wine while randomly yelling out “I’m doing Hoo-GAH!” until my husband made me go to bed.

Honestly, it wouldn’t be that bad if I could just curl up in bed with seven blankets and read a good book. Which I would read for all of five minutes until finally giving up the facade and just binge-watching all the seasons of “Arrested Development” for the third time on my laptop.   

But I can’t. Because I made the seemingly well-thought out decision to have children.  

Don’t get me wrong. Having children is great.

In the summer.

When you can go places and do things.

But in the winter? Before they’re old enough for school? Having children is inhumane.

Every morning, there they are, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and not caring that you got drunk practicing hygge the night before. Eager and ready to do things no matter how crappy it is outside. Happy and healthy and impatient for you to throw out a bunch of creative and imaginative and educational crap that their spongy little brains can soak up.

All of which I am happy to do.

In the summer.

And most of the early fall.

But all I want to do right now is hibernate in my blanket fort.

Sigh. Luckily, my love for my children is slightly stronger than my hatred of January. Which is why I took down the “No Kids Allowed” sign outside my fort. And why I will suck it up and smile and throw out a bunch of creative and imaginative and educational crap for their spongy little brains to soak up inside our fort.

Because I am a good mom.

And also because I’m trying to distract them from the fact that I am clinging to their tiny little furnace bodies for warmth.

 

Fun mind games you can play at home

No matter how strong your relationship is, there will come a time when your love is put to the test. And this moment will come when you least expect it. It could be next Tuesday. Or a Saturday two months from now. But it will happen. And it will happen right before dinner time. And it will go down just like this:

MAN: What do you want to eat?

WOMAN: Oh, I don’t care. Whatever you want.

MAN: Pizza?

WOMAN: Except that.

MAN: Burgers?

WOMAN: Or that.

MAN: Sigh. Chinese?

WOMAN: Nah.

MAN: What. Do. You. Want. To. Eat?

WOMAN: Whatever is fine.

MAN: *primal man scream*

WOMAN: Why are you freaking out? It’s just dinner. Pick something already.

MAN: Fine. Italian.

WOMAN: Ugh. We just had that three weeks ago.

MAN: *bangs head on steering wheel until unconscious*

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Why do women do this? More importantly, why do so many women do this? Did we all get together at a super secret meeting and decide to do this as punishment until the female-male wage gap is closed?

Ha Ha!

That’s none of your goddamn business.

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The point is, many, many females are guilty of this. I’m one of them. So, while I can’t speak for all women who do this, I can try to explain why I have done this.

See, this whole awful carousel ride from hell revolves around the fact that what I really want to eat is tacos. But YOU have to suggest it so that the calories don’t count. Because female logic. (This logic is also telling me that maybe you will suggest something better than tacos. But you won’t. Because what I really want is tacos).

Still with me? No? Alright, let me break it down for you. See, I can’t just SAY tacos. Because today I’ve already eaten scrambled eggs, sausage, THREE pieces of toast, a gyro, half a bag of peanut M&M’s, three chicken nuggets off my toddler’s plate, seven of his French fries, the rest of the peanut M&M’s, and a gigantic tub of Starbucks frappuccino that is basically caffeine-infused, semi-melted ice cream.

So, clearly, I can’t suggest tacos. Because I should eat a salad and run five miles instead. But I don’t want a salad and I don’t want to run five miles. I want tacos. But, again, I want YOU to suggest tacos and then I will reluctantly go along with it, much like a hostage forced into a cheesy, melty, crunchy corn shell prison they have to eat their way out of. That way none of the blame can fall on me. Because I’m already feeling like a Fatty McFatterson and society has told me since practically birth that the worst thing a white woman like me can be is fat.

And yes, I know I’m being ridiculous. Of course I’m being ridiculous. But why can’t YOU just hurry the hell up and suggest tacos already?

So, to sum up, what do I want to eat? Tacos. Which I will never, ever admit. Because regardless of my size, I will always feel guilty when it comes to food. Which is why I have to do a series of infuriating mental games in order to eat in peace. Which is why I will shoot down every single suggestion you make until you finally land upon tacos or we both of starvation.

And which is why, while you think asking “what do you want to eat?” is the simplest question in the world to answer, to me it’s loaded with deep, dark psychological land mines.

Which is why there are never any winners in this particular argument.

Of course, not ALL women do this. I’ve heard many wonderful tales of females who have refused to give into these ridiculous and impossible standards of the perfect body ideal and can eat food without guilt and self-loathing. And if you happen to find one of these ladies, one not hung up about food, hold onto her. HOLD ONTO HER AND NEVER LET HER GO. Buy her tacos and feed them to her like a servant feeding Cleopatra grapes.

And then send her over to my house so she can slap my face and tell me I’m beautiful and to knock it off with this body image bullshit.