Category Archives: Pop Culture

This is my face.

My son has spent approximately 1,277 days on this Earth. My daughter, roughly 455. Counting the ones I took today, I have exactly 18 billion photos of them.

Oops. Sorry. 18 billion and one. They just did the cutest thing, you guys.

And they look amazing in every single one of these photos, even including the newborn “Benjamin Button” ones.

(No, YOU’RE bias).

By contrast, I have been alive on this planet for about 13,200 days. Thanks to the invention of the selfie, there are now probably 18 billion photos of me floating around too. The only difference is, I like seven of them. Actually, more like six (in that one photo, my eyes are doing that weird thing).

Yes, I know. Female hates how she looks in photos! Shocker!

This revelation is right up there with me admitting my feet are always cold and that I don’t understand the appeal of “Entourage.” But I bring this up for a very good reason. Because I have recently come to terms with some vital facts and it has made a huge difference.

I’m 36. This is my face. I need to get over it.

Now, if those three above sentences don’t seem like a revelation to you, congratulations, you are likely a man or a well-adjusted, confident woman. However, if you’ve ever taken 100 almost identical photos of yourself and then agonized for hour and a half about which one to post and then spent another 33 minutes trying out different Instagram filters to find the one that thins out your face the most, then you understand how huge this is.

I have wasted so much of my life either trying to micromanage every single photo I appear in or avoiding cameras all together. Because all I saw in every photo of me was every flaw a single human body could possibly house. Too fat in this one. Nose all wonky in this one. Too pale. Stomach rolls. Greasy hair. No makeup. Arm flab. Dumb smile. Double chin. Triple chin. Everywhere a chin, chin. Crow’s feet (or, in some lighting, the whole damn crow). Forehead pimple. Bad posture. Crooked teeth.

I can go on…

Dark circles under my eyes. Cellulite. Sausage fingers. Flat hair. Dull hair. Frizzy hair. Freckles. Acne. Acne scars. Thin lips. Fat thighs. That weird flub that hangs out around the side of your bra.

Yeah. It’s exhausting hating how you look in photos. Especially in this social media era where photos are taken and shared roughly every 2.3 seconds.

And so, I decided to just let go. Let it all go. Let go of the iron grip I was using to try to hold onto the face that got shared in public. BECAUSE TECHNICALLY IT’S ALL THE SAME FACE.

This is my face. This is my body. And in every photo, that is how I look at that particular moment.

Guys. GUYS. The freedom that comes with this revelation…you guys…such a weight has been lifted.

I’m now more than willing to let my husband take a picture of me playing with the kids when I’m in my pajamas and sporting my best Swamp Witch hair. Because I want to remember that moment. And because, yes, some days I look like a Swamp Witch.

Now when a parent wants a photo of me, I don’t say “how about later, when I look better?” I shut up and pose.   

And now when my friends whip out that cell phone, I smile and BOOM. That’s it. Done. No more “let me see it” followed immediately by “let’s take another one” followed by “let me see it” followed by “let’s take another one” followed by “let me see it” followed by nothing because we are dead because we got caught in this stupid loop and couldn’t get out because no matter how many photos we took, we magically never ended up looking like Angelina Jolie.

(Which is so dumb. Because even if we did look like Angelina Jolie, we still can’t afford Angelina Jolie’s stylist, meaning we still wouldn’t look like Angelina Jolie.)

Of course, every road that leads to brilliant revelations like this one are full of potholes. I mean, do I still want people to only post photos of me where I look good? Of course. I’m still embarrassingly vain. But now, if they don’t, it no longer bothers me because it’s more important to me to be part of the picture. To be part of that memory. To have people in my life that want to take a photo with me at all, than it is to look great in it.

Oh god…guys…is this…is this what being well-adjusted feels like?

 

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Boogers: A love story

There are a lot of mysteries in this world we have yet to solve. Why do we all accept kale as food when clearly it’s gross? Why do we all remember it as Berenstein Bears and not Berenstain Bears? Why do we all hate Anne Hathaway and her stupid face so much?

And then there’s black holes and stuff.

But while there are a million think pieces on Anne’s dumb horse face and our collective desire to punch it, I have yet to see professional, or even armchair, intellectuals address a much more important mystery, even though it is an issue that affects millions of households across this great nation of ours.

Yes, as common as it is, the blight of chronic toddler nose picking remains one of our last great taboos (and this is in a society that has made Irritable Bowel Syndrome a household name). So much so that even all those “Well, actually” guys who know everything about everything (but especially about whatever current topic you are discussing) are quiet on the issue. Star Wars? Feminism? The history of craft beer brewing? They’re basically experts. Yet bring up boogers? Nada. A resounding silence. Nothing except for the faint, squishy sound of a tiny, chubby finger shoved up a tiny nostril.

Sigh. Clearly, I get easily worked up over this issue. Because this one hits close to home.

My son, my beautiful, baby boy, is a nose picker.

It started out with just the occasional experimental nasal expedition. But now? Pffft. He’s gotta have a hit every 20 minutes or so.

What the hell is up there that is so goddamn important?

I mean, there has to be a reason. It must be something. Something must be worth all those nosebleeds. Something must be worth the endless punishments he’s given every time that finger finds its way back to its adopted home.

Is it nature? Some biological instinct? Although I can’t imagine what survival skill is represented by this habit. Unless, perhaps it’s a leftover part of our lizard brain from our caveman days? Maybe boogers were an all-organic pigment for cave drawings? Or a natural glue for the busy caveman on the go?

My own personal pride makes me doubt that it’s the other side of the coin, that it’s nurture. I pick my nose in secret. Like a lady.

It could have a nutritional aspect to it, I suppose. His body is probably screaming out for something with protein since all he’ll eat these days is cheese crackers and chocolate-covered raisins. Do boogers have protein? Either way, it’s gotta be healthier than the “cheese” (and I use that term oh-so-loosely) holding those crackers together.

Maybe the compulsion is psychological in nature. A distraction? A coping mechanism? Digging into his nose is a physical manifestation of digging into his psyche? He did watch a rather stressful “Sesame Street” episode the other day.

Is it a scientific experiment? Seeing if it’s possible to touch his brain? There are days he goes past the second knuckle. He’s gotta be somewhat close.

Maybe he is quite literally digging for gold. Are boogers kid currency? Has anyone investigated the seedy underworld of the kiddie black market? Two boogers in exchange for a gram of uncut Nerd candies? Three for a pack of candy cigarettes (are those even legal anymore)? An ounce of mucus mixed with blood for a used fidget spinner?

WHY DO CHILDREN DO THIS?

And more importantly, how do I get mine to stop?

Ugh. Truly, this is so frustrating. It’s enough to make me want to punch someone. Where’s Anne Hathaway when you need her?

The Summer of Aprill!

This summer, you guys. This is the summer. The summer I will think back on when I’m old in rosy, golden, Instagram hues. Full of sunsets and ice cream on the porch and ridiculous neon-colored cocktails. My husband and I, still somewhat youthful and virile, our two children still small enough to be enchanted with bubbles and sprinklers; all of us just grabbing this summer by its humid balls and not letting go until mid-September.

The summer of adventure!

The summer of picnics!

The summer of books!

The summer of road trips!

The summer of the sandwich because it is too bloody hot to cook!

Oh yes. This summer, you guys. I want each day to end with dirty faces and even dirtier feet, piles of wet clothes and towels on the floor, and then for someone else to clean it all up.

(Well, two out of three ain’t bad).

We even have an almost real vacation planned. Three whole days in a tiny lakeside cottage in New Hampshire. In which the contents of our cooler will consist of only grillable meat and booze. Because it’s the summer of coolers full of grillable meat and booze!

Sigh. It’s going to be perfect.

Except.

Because of course there is an “except.” You wouldn’t be reading this if there wasn’t an “except.” No one wants to hear about how happy people are. Myself included. Gross.

So…

Except for one very important detail. And it’s the same detail pretty much every summer. That torturous, barbaric act of beauty known as having to shave on a regular basis. Legs, underarms, lady parts; not to mention, a few other new and fun areas because I am now in my mid-30’s and hair follicles are just springing up willy-nilly like a surprise birthday party from Hell.

And I just. can’t. anymore.

Oh sure, having to de-hair my entire body roughly every other day for four months straight might seem like a small thing in regards to the Big Picture. I mean, there are people out there with Real Problems. But when you are expected to be completely smooth and hairless and yet have a body where your shins are sporting a 5 o’clock shadow no matter how thorough you are in the shower, it tends to put a damper on the season.

See, I am one of those lucky women who is naturally *insert bad Eastern European accent here* hairy like Russian bear. It’s dark. It’s thick. It regrows at an almost illegal speed. I would survive well in the Siberian wilderness.

I have to use men’s razors, y’all. And only then because using a weed whacker seems ill-advised. And not just any men’s razors. The kind with, like, six blades and descriptive words like “turbo” and “titanium” and “also works for sad, hairy ladies.”

And every sunshiney morning, it’s the same thing. Dragging my stubbly ass into the shower. Standing there dejectedly as the hot water rains down. Looking at my titanium turbo double-edge sad hairy lady men’s razor and sighing dramatically. Internally debating whether I can make it one more day without shaving or will stories of local Sasquatch sightings start popping up on the local news. Knowing deep down I have to shave. Again. Then alternating between crying and launching into an angry internal feminist rant about archaic beauty rituals meant to keep women in their place.

And please don’t tell me the solution is to get waxed. I haven’t had my hair cut in 18 months and am sporting a full-on Amish look currently because I can’t get my life together enough to make an appointment at the salon. Plus, I had both my children via cesarean and am kind of done with having things brutally ripped from my body.

No, the only real solution here is to somehow convince society that letting women have body hair is ok. Because it should be. Because it’s ridiculous. Because I added it up. I roughly waste 74 hours of my summer doing this awful ritual and for what? It serves no real purpose. It’s not like I’m trying to win an Olympic gold medal in swimming.

I get why Michael Phelps has to shave his whole body. I don’t get why I have to. *grumpily crosses arms*

So, what do you say, society? Huh? Hairy women? All of us in our natural state! Let’s do this! Viva la revolucion!

Anyone? No? Hello? Sigh.

Fine.

*grabs scythe and heads back into the bathroom*

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.

 

 

The Life-Changing Magic of Giving Up

Oh, early spring. Isn’t it lovely? That magical time of year where you can kick the melting, dirty, gray snow out of your path with your new flip-flops while walking in an unrelenting downpour of freezing rain. Mmm…so life affirming.

Ugh. Oh, how I hate this time of year. So much. It’s dumb and the weather sucks and there are no good holidays unless you count St. Patrick’s Day, which I don’t anymore because I have small children who don’t understand the importance of day-drinking OR green beer OR making an idiot out of yourself.

For all these reasons, I should be hunkered down in a blanket fort binge-watching the world’s most depressing show, “The Killing,” on Netflix. Just biding my time during this bleak and desolate season until May when I can once again blind innocent bystanders with the glare coming off my pale calves.

But what am I doing instead? Making yet another half-hearted attempt at spring cleaning. Because I hate myself.

It never fails. Every year at this time I feel an overwhelming urge to get my house in order. To organize. To scale down. To have one of those minimalist living spaces where you don’t feel like if you fall you’ll be buried under a stack of Bust magazines from the early aughts and no one will ever find you and the last image you ever see is Margaret Cho smirking at you.

Or, barring all that, even just finally wiping off the blades of the ceiling fan that have literally started to bend under the weight of dust and dog hair and dead bug carcasses.

And yet, every year it ends the same way: My husband wrestling the matches out of my hand as I repeatedly scream “BURN IT! BURN IT ALL!”

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It always starts out great. I’m motivated. So motivated. Manic, almost. Because I will get everything done and I will do it all RIGHT NOW. So, I run around the house and [play the “Flight of the Bumblebee” in your head as you read this next part]…

Shove any and all clothes that no longer fit into trash bags for donation, regardless of whether anyone is still wearing them at the moment. That is until I get distracted and realize I need to…

Go through all the kitchen cabinets and finally throw out the canned goods lurking in the back that have been there since the Clinton administration, which I do until I remember I still need to…

Break down all the Amazon Prime boxes piled up in the attic that are leftover from Christmas, which I do until I realize I hate breaking down boxes so I move onto…

Finally cleaning out my gigantic make-up bag, where I will throw out exactly one red lipstick, which looks like the 27 other red lipsticks I own, before getting frustrated and…

Decide to organize my massive book collection, but actually I just sit on the floor and start reading each book I pull down but it doesn’t matter because…

The kids have by now woken up from their naps and so I go and retrieve the red lipstick I threw away from the trash can and put it back in my makeup bag because you never know when you need a 28th perfect red lipstick and…

I get the kids up and curse my messy, chaotic house.

Maybe I need a plan of attack. A tried-and-true cleaning and organizing method. I mean, I tried that crap where I held stuff to see if it brought me joy. Unfortunately I started in the kitchen by the wine rack. The good news is that every single bottle did indeed bring me joy. The bad news is that nothing else got done except an angry, error-and-typo-filled email sent to Amazon customer service about the canceling of the show “Good Girls Revolt.”

I’ve also thought about how I should probably start addressing this problem from a different front, stopping it before it gets to this point, maybe. Do one of those “don’t buy anything new for a year” crap that people always blog about.

Except there is the issue of my book hoarding. I have more books than I know what to do with and I can’t stop buying them and my husband is the worst kind of literary enabler.

Get a Kindle, you say? Well, I hope you die and burn in hell for all eternity, is my response to that.

Sorry. That was a bit harsh. I apologize. E-readers are a great invention. And who knows? Maybe I’ll break down and get a Kindle one day. The day they invent one that gives off that old book smell. And has actual turn-able pages. And is heavy. And is made of trees.

It’s not just me though. My husband loves collecting comic books and graphic novels. My toddler son has a fierce and unbreakable bond to every single toy he has ever gotten. Even that broken yellow crayon stub. DON’T YOU TOUCH THAT BROKEN YELLOW CRAYON STUB! Ever. It’s his most treasured possession. Well, that and the gigantic kitchen set he has never, ever used and takes up 35 percent of the real estate in his room.

Even the baby is a budding hoarder. No one, regardless of age, needs that many empty water bottles to chew on.

And it’s for all these reasons that I always give up pretty much before I even get started.

Which is why I’m just going to go out and buy one of those stupid decorative signs that says “Please excuse the mess, the children are making memories” and hang it prominently somewhere and call it a day.

Season three of “The Killing” ain’t gonna to watch itself.

Wolverine vs. The Really Hyper Bunnies

Here’s a million dollar idea for all you budding entrepreneurial wanna-be types: Invent a self-defense class for parents of small children.

Now, to be clear, I don’t mean for situations where you need to protect your children. Pretty much every parent I know is capable of murdering someone with a rattle if they catch that person even looking at their babies wrong, let alone trying to kidnap them. Not to mention, catch us on a bad day and we may just hand our kids over with the parting words “Good luck. Don’t you dare bring them back before 7.”

No, I mean a class that will teach me how to protect myself FROM my children.

Ha! Ha! Funny, right? Except I’m dead serious. Every day with these kids is like Thunderdome. Especially with the older one. So, I need a way to disarm and subdue my 3-year-old toddler attacker but without hurting him. (Because gouging his eyes out with my keys seems a bit of an overreaction, especially since I’ll be the one footing the bill for his eye reconstruction surgery anyway).

To give you an idea of what I’m dealing with, here’s a brief rundown of his most basic fighting moves:

The Piggy Back Strangle Hold: When the victim is sitting on the floor, jump on their back (making sure your bony knees hit BOTH of their kidneys), wrap your skinny arms around their neck and cut off all air to their windpipe while giggling adorably.

The No More Siblings Head Butt: Wait until the victim is holding another child or has both hands full (say, with a giant mug of hot coffee in one and an expensive electronic device in the other), and then run at them full-force, banging your head right into the very place you came out of.

The Mosh Pit: At the end of a very long day (although very first thing in the morning will also work), hurl your entire 34-pound body with all your might at their body while they’re sitting on the couch. Do this over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. When they ask you to stop, just do it harder. It’s part of the game!

The Ol’ Innocent Hug Switcheroo: Putting on your best big-eyed cherub face, ask for a hug. Wait for them to tear up and say “of course, baby” and then bite down on whatever flesh you can get your tiny honey badger teeth on as soon as they embrace you.

The Hot Wheels Fast Ball Grenade: Ask for juice. When denied said juice, throw a Hot Wheel (or any heavy-ish toy with hard edges will do) directly at their face. (This one is particularly effective since it’s so unexpected. Give this kid a ball and ask him to throw it and suddenly he forgets how arms work. Put a metal car in his hands and watch him whip it at your forehead with deadly accuracy faster than you can say “I swear to God, if you throw that…”).

I also could benefit from some gentle yet firm ninja moves to protect myself from my tiny but freakishly strong 8-month-old daughter. I’m not saying she’s ever hit me so hard I cried, but…I cried.

On the plus side, she’ll probably never get kidnapped. Any potential abductor would immediately be laid low by a one-two combination of unexpected face smack followed by dead-on nasal head-butt.

So, if anyone out there reading this can teach me how to fight like Wolverine, but on a micro-scale (like if Wolverine was fighting some really hyper bunnies), I’d greatly appreciate it. Thanks in advance.

 

All I need now are the mom jeans

Hey, you know when you’re sitting around the breakfast table, or maybe it’s Thanksgiving dinner, and everyone is talking and having a good time and someone mentions that great new movie they just saw and suddenly your mom goes…

“Oh yeah, it stars that good-lookin’ fella; Peter Dunphy.”

And everyone laughs. Oh, poor, silly mom. It’s Patrick Dempsey. Geez.

Only the thing is, it’s no laughing matter. Celebrity Name Dyslexia is a real disease. And it affects millions of parents each year. I should know. My own mother has suffered from it for years.

And then, just the other day, this happened with my husband:

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Oh sure, I had a good chuckle at the expense of my husband. I mean, he’s older than me so it didn’t come as too much of a surprise that he would start suffering from CND waaaaay before I did. Besides, it was likely to never even affect me. I was too young. Too hip. I used to be on the entertainment beat for a newspaper, for crying out loud.

But then…then…(ragged breath)…this happened this morning:

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Celebrity Name Dyslexia is real, kids. And it’s horrifying. So, let’s all do our part to raise awareness about this terrible disease that cripples the street cred of parents all over the world. Let’s organize a 5K or a charity concert. Maybe we could even get someone famous to host. Like, say, Selena Gonzalez.

Or Liam Hemmingway.

Or Liam’s big brother, Thor.

Or that singer Della who has that hit song “Hey.”