Friday, May 31, 2013

Yes, Virginia, there IS a passport for that!

This week’s wonder is prescient for me, too, but not because of the lottery. I adore my job and just yesterday told Wicked M that I plan to retire from it (also at about age 80 like G Love speculates may be her fate) … but, to put it mildly, work has been extremely difficult lately. I won’t go into details here, but if you want a long, sad, boring-to-anyone-but-me story about all of it, call me.

Anyway. Until this moment, I hadn’t considered what I might do instead.

I’d have to do something, because I am a sloth. When left entirely to my own devices with no plans and no tasks that must be accomplished, I will vegetate like a champ. I might mix it up a little and read instead of just watching TV, but I will still be sitting down and moving very little apart from my eyes and hands (turning pages or pushing buttons on the remote). That’s my natural state. It doesn’t occur to me to randomly go for a hike or ride my bike somewhere or even take a drive to explore. Well, I’ll actually explore the kitchen and wander around in a little circle for a minute or two if there’s nothing worth eating, but then it’s right back to the couch.

So I’d want to travel, especially if The Boy also got to be work-free and we could venture afield together. We have a goal of wanting to camp in (or as close as one can get to) every single US National Park, of which there are 59. While we have visited a few more, we have camped in only three (we’ll have bagged #4 about a month from now). So that would take up a nice chunk of time, especially considering that there’s one as far away as Guam. And especially considering quite a few of them are in Alaska, which means timing is everything. And extra-especially considering I’d have to make it home for some proper in-my-own-bed sleep in between each trip. The entire enterprise would take a couple of years but would be so very worth it.

That’s what I’d do, fearless readers: sleep on the cold, hard ground inside a nylon dome after spending the day tramping up and down and around and through and under and over. Because it would be, as my little sister Kat would say, “stinkin’ beautiful.”

Thursday, May 30, 2013

I've Already Won

Like Super Jane, I often dream of hitting a lottery jackpot.  I think we all do.  You hear about these huge amounts of money and you let your mind wander to a place that you know is just a distant dream.

I used to have a job that required I visit an office and wear actual work clothes.  In those days, I would have dreamed of quitting my job via an email that basically said, "See ya later, losers!"  I would run off with Superman and we would live in a beautiful beach house.  We would spend our days on the beach and drinking beers with the locals at night.  We would eat delicious seafood and soak up the sun.  We would travel the world and do all of the things we are not able to do because we are tied down to jobs and paying bills and basically working our lives away.

These days my dreams are a little different.  I no longer have a job that allows me to leave at 5:00 and leave the work behind.  The job I have now is a 24/7 job that never ends.  My dream now a little hazel eyed boy who I would lay down my life for.  Now my dream would be that the lottery jackpot would mean that Superman would no longer have to travel for work in order to provide for us.  The three of us would buy a house for ourselves on the beach and a house on the beach for my parents.  We would spend our days on the beach and watch the sun set at night.  We would eat delicious seafood and soak up the sun.  We would travel the world and show that little boy all of the possibilities that the world holds.  We would be able to send him to whatever school he wants.

So what would I do?  It sounds like I would drink a lot of alcohol, travel a lot and live on the beach.  Big dreams, for sure.  However, that is just how I like them.  Big dreams pay off in a big way.  I may not have won the financial lottery yet, but I have won the lottery in every other way.  So, for now, I am good.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

"We being with breaking news..."

It's funny that G Love would decide on this wonder for the week.  A few of my coworkers and I were discussing this exact topic just a few weeks ago.  There are a group of about 25 of us that each contribute $2 when the Lotto jackpot gets high.  Our designated ticket buyer will purchase, and subsequently scan, 25 tickets at a local gas station.  All participants then receive an email which includes the date and location she purchased the tickets, as well as the scanned images of the tickets.

Unfortunately, we've never won.

Okay, I take that back.  I guess technically, we have one, but the most we've ever won was $4.  Our ticket buyer reinvested our $4 to purchase more tickets, but none have been winners thus far.

I cuss every time we lose.  Because, seriously, who doesn't want to hit the big jackpot?  And it {almost} always happens to groups of people who pool their money, right?  And the winners {almost} always purchase their tickets from a grocery store or gas station that has a "Lottery Jackpot Sounding Name," right?  Can't you just hear the news headline now?  "We begin with breaking news.  A group of 25 University employees hit the Lotto last night.  They purchased the winning ticket at the Dinner Bell on the south side of town."  Doesn't that TOTALLY have a ring to it? 

Of course, each time we pool our $2, we dream about not coming into work the following day.  Some of us are kinder and say we would stay and give our two weeks notice.  Others of us aren't so kind and vow to call in the very next day to quit.  I like to think that I fall into the latter group, but I know my conscience would get me.  No doubt, I would come in the day after we hit the jackpot and give my two weeks then.  'Cause I'm nice like that.

But, I tell you what, once my two weeks were up, I'd be outta there and I would never look back!  (I just need to add here that my neighbors really did hit the lottery about 1.5 years ago.  He hit it with a group of coworkers, so if he can then I can too, right?  Or do you think my odds severely diminished because what are the chances that neighbors would both hit?  Am I thinking too much about this?)  After hitting the lotto, I would start living a life free of time and financial constraints.

During the school year, I would volunteer at my girls' elementary school.  I would go in a couple of times a week to staple worksheets or cut out construction paper apples or hang artwork in the hall.  I would do all of that stuff that teachers don't have time to do and I would love every minute of it.  I would work there in the mornings and then eat lunch with my girls.  After that, I would run errands or do whatever needed to be done before heading home to make dinner.

On the days I didn't volunteer at the school, I would either volunteer at another organization (like the local pet rescue or food pantry) or simply take those days to focus on myself.  I would love to attend a yoga class or maybe a gardening class.  (My neighbor who won the lottery?  She quit her job and took up cooking classes!)  Yes, I would have the freedom (both in time and in finances) to do those sorts of activities.

Summers would be especially sweet because I would have my girls with me all the time.  They are at such a fun age (10 years and 8 years); an age where you can really do stuff with them.  We would have the time to hike the parks together, visit ice cream parlors, pick strawberries, tend a garden, spend hours attending the activities at the local library.  Just thinking about it all makes me positively happy and yet positively miserable.  Happy that it's a possibility, but miserable in the fact that it most likely won't come true.

But, I'll keep wishing.  And I'll keep making the commute.  I'll keep putting my hours in in order to receive my monthly paycheck.  I'll keep on keepin' on.  But, it won't stop me from dreaming.

I Wonder What I'd Do if I Didn't Have a Job . . .

Hello all!  As the other Wonders will know - because I have been talking of it incessantly - I just finished my first trial as a brand new baby lawyer.  That was yesterday, and it consumed my life briefly, but now it is over and I can do my Wondering duties once more - albeit a day or two late.

I thought about how much work that trial took, and how I would have preferred gardening or picnicking or swimming or doing any summer type activity on Memorial Day, instead of kicking it in my freezing cold office with my space heater kicked on, reading over medical records I've read fifty times already.  And then I wondered - what would I do with my time if I didn't have a job that takes most of my time and energy, and small children who gobble up the rest?  (And Wicked M - you may have stepped out of the office for a while to raise super baby, but you don't need to tell me that this is a time in life when you get to do very little for yourself.  If you didn't have the hard constant work of managing and maintaining him - doing it solo most of the time - what would you do?)

This is a wonder in which I often indulge - mostly when the kids have done my head in and I think about being a retired empty nester.  When I'm sixty (seventy?  eighty?  will I ever retire?) I will be very sad and miss my darling boys, but I will also be able to do some things I really want to do - like take long bike rides and hikes, read a book for an hour with a glass of iced tea and NO INTERRUPTIONS, go to movies, plan and plant and tend to and harvest a large and lovely garden.  We want to winter in the south, and then spend summers at a small vacation home in Santa Fe.  We want to travel for months at a time, renting villas in Italy or France and writing short stories.  These are all things I would love.  But there is one thing that the husband and I have been planning on for years - since Jake was a swimming little tadpole in my tummy - and we are still looking forward to it.  And that project - one which requires both retirement and self-sufficient children before I can begin to think of doing it - is to hike the Pacific Crest Trail.

There are three major nation-crossing trails in the United States. The most famous is probably the Appalachian Trail - the newest, and least finished, is the Continental Divide trail.  But the one that captures both my husband's and my attention is the Pacific Crest Trail.  The PCT, established in 1968 and completed in 1993 (thank you, Wikipedia), is a 2,663 mile hike from Mexico to Canada, about a hundred miles inland from the Pacific coast.  It takes between 4 and 6 months to complete, and, as you can imagine, requires a huge amount of advance planning and training.  A friend of mine hiked this trail in one season with her boyfriend (now husband), and self-published her diary about the trip.  And after reading it, I just knew that thru-hiking this trail was something I had to do.

The Appalachian Trail beckons as well, but I've never been as interested in thru-hiking it because of the sameness.  I've read a number of books on this trail as well - the most famous being Bill Bryson's hilarious A Walk in the Woods.  From these, I get the impression that there is not much variety in the landscape of the AT.  I think thru-hiking the AT would be an almost monastic experience - an opportunity for self reflection that can only occur when each day the sun rises over a similar landscape, and you face virtually the same experience, hour for hour, that you went through the day before, and the day before that, and so on and so on.  This is not to say that there is no variety, excitement, or terrain change in the AT - but that large swaths of it mean that you spend months at a time looking at similar scenery.  I have the typical millenial short attention span, and this sounds like a recipe for depression for my particular brain.

The PCT, by contrast, has wildly different terrain from week to week.  There are climbs and descents, rugged deserts sometimes and enormous redwood forests other times.  It's less frequently traveled, but I get the impression it passes through more populated areas more often, which would soothe my anxieties about being alone and off the grid for so long.  (My anxieties surround my children needing me, more than my own needs.)  It just speaks to me, and to my husband as well.  To be honest, if I could put the rest of life on pause I would do this right now.  I think that my body is in the best shape it's ever been, and I thirst for California, my childhood home.

However, there is no such thing as "pause" except on the DVR.  Our children are young and I would never leave them for more than a week or so.  Our careers are also young.  Our money needs saving up.  Sadly, we will have to let our old bodies deteriorate over the next couple of decades before we could think of taking this project on.  We've even discussed the possibility that a hike like this, taken deep into our sixties, could cause enough stress on our joints and bones to shave a year off our life, or reduce our mobility at an earlier age than would otherwise happen.  (It could also, I think, make us healthier and less stressed, and add years to our lives!)  Nevertheless - I feel called to do this, pulled to it.  My body is strong now - I will work to keep it strong over the next twenty years.  I will take my calcium supplements.  I will nag my husband to eat his vegetables, so that he is also strong.  We will enjoy this season of our lives with our children, and enjoy the careers that we both love.  And when this season is over, and the children leave us, and the careers wind down, and the speed of our lives begins to slow, and we owe less of ourselves to others and have more time and energy to devote to ourselves . . .

Well, when that happens, I'll see ya on the trail.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Like Butter

Cupcakes, cakes, brownies...those are more my specialty in the kitchen.  I can bake the hell out of bread and desserts and breakfast delights.  I am sort of famous for my bruschetta recipe and I have quite the reputation for cookies.  Cooking, however, is always something I tend to see as a chore.  I try to make dinner an easy event around my house and I often use my crock pot to allow me to do as little work as possible during the actual dinner hour.

I love cookbooks and enjoy trying new recipes but with only two of us here most days of the week, I almost always stick with one of my go to recipes so that I will not feel like I am wasting food.  As I have gotten older, my palette has expanded.  I do like to try new things and this is quite a change for someone who almost always ordered the same three things off of any given menu!

My mom grew up on a farm and they used the freshest ingredients and recipes.  Those recipes became my childhood meals and I tend to follow my mom's style of cooking.  My mom may not use a lot of fancy spices, but she can cook like nobody's business!  If I could just master a couple of her famous meals, I would be happy.  The "spices" my mom used most often growing up were salt and butter.  Awwww, yeeeeeah.  I mean, anything made with salt and butter is bound to taste good, right?  Not everything she made were made to give us heart disease from an early age.  We had tons of fresh vegetables and we ate a mostly vegetarian diet for a long time.

I find that I do not use a lot of spices in my cooking.  Sure, if a recipe calls for one or two, I toss them in.  On my own, I tend to use salt and pepper the most.  Garlic is a major player as well.  I also love cilantro and basil.  Cayenne pepper is also a favorite in my house.  I toss bay leaves into my homemade marinara sauce.  I would like to give a shout out to garlic salt (what, what!) and Lawry's Seasoned Salt (hey, hey!).  Those two things make life very easy and tasty!  Also...butter.

Not a lot of spice in my kitchen

Oh boy.  I hate to admit it, but I'm really out of my element on this topic.  I cook a nutritious meal for my family {nearly} every night, but the meals I choose are basic and don't have a lot of fanfare.  I keep my dishes easy and use only recipes that require a minimum number of ingredients.  I have been known NOT to make dishes simply because the number of ingredients required exceed my maximum -- which is about 5 or so.

Spaghetti noodles are covered with a pound of ground beef and sauce from the jar.  No added seasonings.

Tacos include a pound of ground beef and a packet of seasoning.

Strips of raw chicken are covered with Bisquick and baked to golden perfection.

Chicken pot pie is created with ready-to-bake pie crusts, chicken, and frozen mixed veggies.

See?  This is the excitement level of my cooking.  Spaghetti, tacos, chicken strips, chicken pot pie.  All of my dishes are surprisingly delicious, but admittedly, they are neither exotic nor complicated.  Heck, I don't even add salt to any recipe that calls for it!

If pressed to select one spice, however, I guess it would be garlic.  (Honestly, does that count as a spice?  I'm not sure that it does now that I type that out.)  And, in keeping things simple around my kitchen, I admit that it's not even fresh garlic.  In fact, I've never in my life purchased a garlic clove.  I watched my friend work a garlic clove once in my kitchen when she was making homemade guacamole.  Sadly, that's the only time my kitchen counter has entertained a garlic clove.  When I do add garlic to a dish, I will sprinkle a little garlic salt or dried garlic from the McCormick's container.

Folks, I'm a boring cook.  An efficient and surprisingly delicious cook, but a boring cook, nonetheless.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Curry. Not Tim.

I am a cook.  Not a chef, not really a baker - never will be any kind of fancy nuthin' in the kitchen.  But I am a cook, and I've been cooking daily long enough to have reached a sort of "Next Level."  By that I don't mean so much that what I make is amazing.  What I mean is that I now have a general understanding of various (admittedly Americanized) genres of food.  Like - you want a Mexican?  Pick a protein (black beans, chicken, shrimp), slice some vegetables in long strips (green peppers, onions), use cumin and oregano for spice, heat it up and put it in some sort of tortilla (roll it up for a burrito, roll it up smother in sauce and bake for enchilada, lay out flat and layer with filling for a quesadilla, etc.)  If you want Italian, it's basil and oregano, some sort of tomatoes and garlic, a pasta, and a filler (zucchini for us, usually).  For Asian, cut some vegetables into thin slices, make rice, throw soy and hoisin in a wok and heat it all up, voila.

These are the basic themes, and I can perform them in infinite varieties, but after my fifty seventh cumin-and-oregano-meal I began to tire of these basics, and my inability to go beyond them.  Yes, I have stores in my cupboard and can make a number of delicious dishes without a recipe - but only very basic stuff.  Yes, I can switch it up enough to keep the interest of the family who eats the food - but I myself began to get bored cooking these things.

So.  I have decided to move up a level, and try some new stuff.  And my latest fetish is for very simple vegetable curries.  And people - can I just tell you that "curry" is, like, a single word in American English.  But I think for Asian peoples, they must have dozens of words for curry - like the proverbial Eskimos and snow.  Because when you send your husband out with a grocery list that says "curry" on it - well, you just never know what you're going to get.  There is curry paste, which comes in little pots - some green, some red (probably some other colors, too).  You've got your curry powder, which most of us probably have in our spice cupboard but rarely use except maybe in a chicken salad when you're getting fancy.  There are curry bars - kind of like a chocolate bar, and you break off a piece and that's your serving (it dissolves in hot oil and coats your vegetables and whatnot).  There are also pre-made curry simmer sauces which come in korma, roganjosh, masala, vindaloo, madras.  Each of these have different variations depending on the regions from which they come.  Recipes involving curry tend to also include turmeric, ginger, basil, coconut milk, peanut or sesame oil, and lots of stuff that I cannot rattle off the top of my head which is kind of the point.

My journey into the land of curry began with a coconut curry shrimp soup that I got from here.  When I saw how easy it was, I decided to delve a little deeper.  I went into foodgawker, typed curry in the search box, and away I went.  (foodgawker collects recipes from all over the web, and allows you to search by ingredients.  When you find what you like, click on the picture and it will lead you to the site where the recipe is - kind of like pinterest, if you're familiar.)  What I particularly love is trying different kinds of noodles - udon, glass noodles, even fettuccine sometimes. I've also learned to cut vegetables into batons.  This is my new favorite trick.  Little batons of zucchini, batons of bell pepper, batons of carrot.  The curry is awesome, but the batons and the glass noodles helped get me out of a rut.

So there you have it.  My latest and greatest fave spice.  Because it's forcing me out of my oregano hidey hole, and opening me up to a whole new and fascinating world of cooking new fun stuff.  And it makes cooking less of a drag and more of a creative venture - just about my only creative outlet these days..  Ah.  I love it.  Ya'll are welcome to stop by for a curry any time.

Monday, May 20, 2013

That's for Remembrance

Spices aren’t really my thing. I’m not a wunderkind in the kitchen any way you look at it, and I’m definitely not too adventuresome when it comes to things like curry, allspice, cumin, paprika, white pepper, or cardamom. But set me loose with some previously leafy, plant-based add-ins and I’m a madwoman. Basil, chives, oregano, tarragon, mint … I’m so going to Scarborough fair, y’all!

My favorite feeling-fancy frou-frou for food is rosemary. Rosemary is all-powerful. Sweet, savory, woody, delicate … and a major player in three of my go-to recipes. Full disclosure: I didn’t invent any of these recipes on my own. And one of them I can’t really call a “recipe” because I’ve never attempted to concoct it on my own—I’ve just ordered it more than once. But they’ll make your mouth water all the same and I’m going to keep this short so I can go make or order one of the three very soon.

  • Garlic-rosemary shrimp: this is, hands down, the most fantastic, sophisticated, showstopper of a dinner I’ve ever made (which I acknowledge isn’t saying much). Tasty shrimpies are covered in a light, heavenly bread crumb/garlic powder/pepper/fresh-chopped rosemary powder and oven-baked ‘til they’re juicy and crunchy and the color of fresh wheat. Serve those bad boys layered over creamy cannellini beans with pressed garlic and a splash of chicken broth  that sit steaming on a bed of fresh baby spinach and people (well, people I know) will think you know your way around a Cuisinart.
  • Rosemary and pine nut sugar cookies: a plain ol’ sugar cookie is hard to beat, especially when it’s nice and crisp, but this is my favorite gourmet version of the classic. When you roast pine nuts yourself you feel wise and capable despite the time it took, so I recommend it whenever feasible. And adding something that is usually put in lamb or turkey dishes to your dessert is thrilling—it seems so avant-garde and naughty! A perfectly cream-colored sugar cookie studded with brown and green flecks, dunked in milk until that exquisite moment right before the sodden bit breaks off and floats to the bottom of the glass is a true crowd-pleaser. So is the rich, buttery taste of sugar mixing with bracing rosemary.
  • Black Diamond: I’m not going to try to describe this to you. Someone else does a much better job. Let me just say that I promise to take you out for one and also promise not to grab the sprig right out of your glass and gnaw on it. Unless you leave it unattended.
I’m certainly not trying to poo-poo other plants, especially not cilantro (which I often claim I would eat on anything, even cereal), but rosemary is the queen of all herbs. Her name means “dew of the sea” and her flowers are often purple, for crying out loud: my love for this culinary diva was preordained.

Without which herb/spice/seasoning would your Top Chef dreams wither? What sundry gets you as jazzed as Julia Child?

Thursday, May 16, 2013


Back in February, I posted this.  Since I've already discussed the worry that plagues me when it comes to my girls, I'll let you take a sneak peak into my brain and discover the worries that are swirling around in there at this very moment.

1.  The associate director in my office is leaving.  I have not worked one day at this joint without her.  She's been with me for 10.5 years and soon she'll be gone.  She has been like a big sister to me and has been my mentor since Day 1.  I worry how I'll do without her.  And I worry about who will take her place.

2.  My car is a beater.  I'm fine with it looking the way it does, but I worry about it breaking down on me.  I don't worry so much that I'll be stuck on the side of the road; rather, I worry about having to purchase a new vehicle.  We haven't had a car payment in 5+ years, so the thought of actually having one makes me queasy.

3.  I worry about retirement.  I know this sounds so stupid considering I'm only 35.  I have years of work ahead of me, but I think about retirement constantly.  Honestly, I'm probably a bit obsessed with it.  I run different scenarios in my head and research exactly how much money I'll need in order to live comfortably after I stop working.  I pop numbers into Retirement Calculators every month or so to make sure I'm on track.

4.  My sister and I both live in Indiana and my parents live out in Missouri.  For years, they have discussed moving back to Indiana in order to be closer to the granddaughters (and my sister and me, of course).  It all seemed like an awesome idea, but now I worry that maybe it isn't the best thing for them.  Don't get me wrong.  I want them closer.  But, I worry about their happiness being so far from the friends and life they've created in Missouri.  They would have to start all over again in Indiana.  I don't want them to move and then be totally miserable.

5.  Back when we purchased our home in 2011, the home inspection man said that we would want to watch and make sure termites didn't set up shop in the back of our home.  The front of our house is brick and the back is wood.  He found a few spots in the back where the soil was close to the wood (or something like that).  Anyway, we haven't sprayed for termites and Jas assures me that we're fine.  But for the past 2 years, I've had this nagging dread that we'll get termites.  Sadly, I think about this daily.  Daily, people. 

I worry constantly.  And if I'm not worrying about something, I worry that there's something happening that I should worry about that I'm not.  It's a crazy, vicious cycle.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I Get It Honest

No one can worry like a mother, right?  And my mother is the queen of them all.  When I fly anywhere, she worries that my plane will fall out of the sky.  When I drive to see her in Nashville, she worries that my car will be totaled in a terrible accident.  When she hears a sniffle over the phone, she asks me about my "cold" and how it's doing for the subsequent three months.  When I rented an apartment, she worried that I didn't own a home, and when I bought a house, she worried that I would become trapped and maybe I should rent.  And don't even get started on the dating days.

I am a mother myself, and grappling with my own worry about my preshuss snowflakes is definitely one of the hardest parts of the job.  The funny thing is, the bulk of my worrying time (much like my mother's) is spent worrying about highly unlikely, catastrophic disasters.  I suppose the more mundane, more likely worries are too hard to draw close, and so I push them away by occupying myself with ridiculous notions of danger.

I worry that they will electrocute themselves in the bath.  Every time I draw a bath, I check the whole room for plugged in electronics.

I worry that they will stop breathing when they sleep.  Each morning when I go upstairs to wake them, I wince a bit until I see their chests move up and down, up and down.

I worry that they will pull knives down off the kitchen counter onto themselves.  This happened to Jake one time - before I knew he was tall enough to reach the counters, suddenly there he was feeling overhead and grasping the edge of a cutting board.  A large kitchen knife slid down the board toward his face, and only my lightning fast mom reflexes saved him from getting a heavy, sharp point in his little bald baby head.  That ruined me forever after, and four years later I still push knives off the cutting board and to the back of the counter.

Speaking of eyes, I worry that they will trip while holding a fork and poke out an eye.  I worry that they will fall off their chair while eating dinner and put a fork in an eye.  I worry that they will just be playing around at dinner (as they often do) and carelessly put a fork in an eye.  The integrity of their beautiful, wee little eyes keeps me up nights.

I worry that they will fall down the stairs.  Cubby has fallen down the stairs, top to bottom - he talks about that fall a lot, even though it happened last summer when he was only one year old.  Apparently when children fall down stairs, they bounce right back.  Nevertheless, I worry.

I worry that they will lean against the baby gate, which we keep on the deck steps outside, and that it will suddenly give way and they will fall down those stairs and into the grass.  What occupies me about this particular scenario is the possibility for little fingers to become trapped in the little fencing bit of the gate and possibly get bent back or broken during the fall.

I worry that they will stop breathing while I'm driving and they're sitting behind me in the car seat.  I check them in the rearview mirror pretty regularly while I drive, always preparing, preparing myself for the worst.

I worry that when I am holding them in my arms while we walk around the second story of a mall, or an outdoor condo or hotel railing, or some sort of open air area, that I will suddenly fling them over the edge in a spastic, involuntary movement that sends them hurtling out into the open air.

I worry that they will be hit by flying debris flung from the back of a parade.  I worry that they will disappear into a crowd and won't be able to find me.  I worry that balconies will fall out from under them, or that railings will give way when they lean on them.  I worry that if they get too close to my office window on the 22nd floor, that it will suddenly pop out and a current of air will whisk them out and down, down, down, and I will have to jump out after them.

I worry that they will go over to a friend's house, and his parents will step out for a few moments, and he will pull out his dad's gun "just to show you."

I worry that a tiger will escape the zoo and pick them up in his enormous paws.  I worry that a rattlesnake will crawl up out of the wooded lot beside us and chase them down, fangs bared.  I worry that a spider will crawl into their beds at night, bite their little pudgy feet, leave them gangrenous, swollen, falling off.  I worry that they will catch leprosy, tuberculosis, pertussis, measles.  I worry every time they have a fever that in a few weeks I will be bereft, clutching a sodden tissue and saying "I thought it was just a fever!  I didn't know it was THE END!"

I worry that they will stop breathing while I am still breathing, and then I will have to learn to breathe air in a world in which they do not exist.  And so I fixate on the worries that are easiest to brush aside, and tell myself how foolish I am for thinking of them.  I laugh at my silliness, and think Of course they're safe.  Of course they are.  There are no tigers running rampant.  You have never met a single person who poked his eye out with a fork when he was a kid.  You have never spastically flung a solitary thing over a balcony in your life.  Be rational.

They are protectable.  I can protect them.  As long as I check for plugged in hairdryers, secure baby gates, kitchen knives, and vaccinations, they will be safe.  So I am vigilant.  I am careful.  I am watchful, thorough, swift.

And I am constantly - forever and ever from the minute I knew they were going to be born - worried.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Worried Silly

I worry about really laughable things. Don’t get me wrong: I worry about serious things, too, but it’s too frightening to type any of those worries out—I don’t want to actually face them. I’ll just lay out my innumerable inane worrisome thoughts in a grand gesture of denial and frivolity instead. Here they are, in no particular order.

Did I remember to put on deodorant this morning? I suddenly cannot remember. Will I have time to re-watch all my DVDs of “Arrested Development” before the new season comes out at the end of the month? If I don’t, will I feel left out when everybody I know has binge-watched it except me? Are my summer clothes going to fit when I finally get to pull them out of storage in June? Will any of the seniors’ feelings be hurt if I don’t go to Graduation? Or worse: what if nobody at all notices if I don’t go? What was that crazy noise my work computer made yesterday? Are ants going to infest my office? I’m pretty sure I drop a few crumbs of my breakfast Lärabar every now and then and we do have an ant problem in the building. How long is it going to take me tonight to figure out what to wear tomorrow so I can pack my bag for the gym before bed?  What books should I pick out to take on our July road trip so The Boy’s not bored when I read out loud to keep us both awake? Are we too old for the Matched trilogy? Are we too wimpy for the Millennium trilogy? If I have a piece of chocolate at 9:30P, will it keep me from being able to fall asleep at 10:15P? Or worse: what if I forget to have a piece of chocolate at all today? Are we ruining the carpet in the home office by not having a plastic mat thingie under the rolling desk chair? When am I ever going to find brown knee-high boots that are both cute and affordable? Are my legs simply too pale to wear shorts in public? Did I wait so long to make a haircut appointment that my stylist will be on vacation and I’ll have terrible hair when I visit Wicked M next month? If the orange juice smelled and looked fine, was it still OK to use in a recipe even though the “best by” date on the bottle was last week? What if nobody is reading this Wonder? Or worse: what if everybody is and they think I’m not funny?

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Things I Choose To Worry About

I have never considered myself a big worrier.  I believe this is mostly because I never felt like I had to -- my mother worries enough for everyone in our family!  Worrying is not really in my nature but I do allow myself to worry about a select few things.  Here are those things and why.

My Parents - They are the single biggest reason Superman and I moved back to our motherland.  I wanted to be closer to them as they are getting older and I realized just how lucky I am that they are both still around.  They both give amazing advice, but the thing I missed most during the five years were the hugs.  Those reassuring touches.  I worry about my parents because they are in the mid-sixties and I have seen them both age a lot in the last ten years.  They are both retired now and are enjoying their well-deserved retirement.  I still worry about them.  I almost cannot put into words the things I worry about with them -- I just worry.

Superman - I worry about Superman traveling all the time.  I hate that he leaves in such early hours on Monday mornings and I worry about him being so far away for so many days a week.  I worry that he is too stressed about money since I do not work.  I worry that he feels like he is missing out because he is gone so often.  I worry that he feels like he comes into our world for three days a week and that he does not understand what being home is like.  I worry that sometimes he feels like I am not an interesting person anymore because all I talk about anymore is Superboy; I try to remain in touch with the outside world but sometimes it is difficult.  I worry that he needs a vacation.  I worry that he does not exercise.  I worry that he does not get enough sleep.

Superboy - I worry about all of the same things that most parents do.  It has been interesting to me the strange things that I worry about with Superboy.  I constantly worry about the temperature of his room. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it is true.  I worry that he will not make friends.  I worry that he will be picked on.  I worry about how he feels when I am short with him.  I worry that he will feel lonely.  I worry that he does not get enough sleep.  I worry that we will never figure out what side of his head to part his hair on.  I worry that he is having nightmares when he whimpers in his sleep.  I worry that he will get my sweet tooth and will never want to eat another vegetable in his life.  I worry that he will lose his baby teeth early and will have to have a bunch of teeth pulled to accommodate his tiny mouth (like I did).  I worry that he does not have enough play dates.  This list is endless.  I could really go on and on here.

Reading these lists back, it does appear that I worry far more than I thought I did.  However, the good news is that I do not sit around worrying often.  It will hurt me in a short burst and then it blows away with the wind.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Nom nom

I don't eat candy very often - aside from bursts of gorging at Halloween and Easter.  I'm more of a chocolate chip cookie gal - or ice cream - or gelato!  Mmmmmm, gelato.

However, when Easter time rolls around, I do indulge in my all time favorite candy.  (I - er - the Easter Bunny puts it in the kids' baskets, and it's the one thing I immediately pick out while they're not looking.)  And that is . . . starburst jellybeans!  

Regular Brach's jellybeans just don't cut it for me - blech.  And although I'll eat 'em, Starburst don't ring my bell either.  But for some reason, you put the Starburst flavor into the jellybean form, and I am in heaven.  I will eat them until I am sick.  I will eat them instead of a meal.

If you ever want to know the way to my heart - - - it's through a big old bag of Starburst jellybeans!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


If I have to pick my fave,
My number-one go-to treat,
The one I love above the rest,
The candy that can’t be beat …
It wouldn’t take me long at all
To lift a loud, long hymn
Extolling all the virtues of
The mighty M&M.

Plain are lovely, classic, sweet;
Peanut will long endure;
But peanut butter M&Ms
Prove a universal cure
For any ache of heart or head
Or growling of the tummy:
Peanut butter M&Ms
Are magical and yummy!

I love that the candy shell crunches so quickly,
So the PB and chocolate can’t hide.
It’s a self-contained sphere of perfection
That a Reese’s cup can’t quite provide
(M&Ms don’t stick to paper
Or look waxy when they’ve gotten old;

They don’t make you lick all your fingers
And you’d be hard-pressed to make them grow mold).

To honor just PB M&Ms
How has a statue not been erected?
They cheer you up no matter why
You’re suddenly feeling dejected.
So here’s to PB M&Ms,
The easiest way to find bliss!
I have the strongest inkling
That Heaven looks like this.