The Year I Decided to Be Okay With My Weirdo Self

It’s my birthday month, so that means in addition to demanding a chocolate cake that I will refuse to share, it’s time for my annual “This Year I’m Going to Change” existential crisis. Every year I imagine a magical version of myself with none of my…let’s call them “quirks” instead of  “neuroses,” shall we?

This mythical Jessie doesn’t panic at the thought of traveling alone. She is strong and independent! Nor does she have a meltdown when her plans change unexpectedly. She is breezy and easy-going! She’s certainly not crying in the corner, hating herself because her brain feels like a swarm of bees. She’s fine! It’s allllll fine.

Clearly the face of someone who’s JUST FINE, THANK YOU.

But I regret to inform you (me?) that we will be skipping the existential crisis portion of the birthday ritual this year.  

Why? There are many reasons.

Too tired.

Too old.

Too busy.

All true! Except maybe the “too busy” part. I’m terrible at a lot of things, but relaxing is NOT one of them.  

This is 90% of my life and I will not apologize for it.

But there are many, many things wrong with me and while I don’t exactly LOVE these qualities, I’m finally at the age where I can accept this is just how I am:

anxiety out the wazoo

Ah, the most popular millstone around everyone’s neck: anxiety! Who isn’t anxious, right? It took me way too long to figure out what having anxiety actually meant. Somehow it never added up that my odd little things were…you know, diagnosable. I just thought I was a weirdo.

Let me give you an example: I overthink everything. Like, to the point where I can take the smallest event—like carrying a slightly-too-full cup of hot coffee— and psych myself out so much that I literally cannot do it. I get so worried about spilling the hot coffee and burning myself that my hand will start shaking and I physically cannot carry it.

That’s insane! I am insane.

And going to any sort of social function sends my brain into panic mode:  “Should we eat before we go or will there be food? Will there be alcohol? What kind of monsters don’t serve alcohol?!  Will we be standing or sitting? Because then I’ll know whether to wear heels or flats. What should I wear? Will I be overdressed if I wear a dress? Will I be underdressed if I wear jeans? What’s the parking situation? It better not be on the street because I hate parallel parking. Unless I get there early and can just slide in. But I don’t want to be too early…”  

My brain never stops, folks. It. Never. Stops.

awkward but not in a cute way

This is not Hollywood’s idea of awkward, people. Let’s just get that straight. I’m not the quirky yet beautiful heroine adorably tripping and falling while somehow managing to look glowy and perfect.

oh, dear me, how embarrassing. [sips champagne]

I’m just…like, I don’t know what to do with my body. Do I let my arms hang? Do I put them on my hips? If I meet a person, when is it appropriate to hug and when should you just wave? Or is waving stupid? Do I shake hands? Do people still shake hands? And don’t get me started on high fives and fist bumps. I want to find the bro (you just know it was a bro) who started the high five/fist bump genre and throw him in the Pit of Despair à la The Princess Bride.

And my awkwardness isn’t limited to body movements. Because while I am folksy when meeting new people, I am NOT a smooth conversationalist.

Allow me to explain. Folksiness gets me through a conversation with the cashier at the grocery store. Because that is a very short interaction with a defined beginning and end. It is over when my groceries are bagged and I can walk away. No pressure, therefore I’m cool as all get-out.

I’ve got more get-out than you could possibly handle.

However. Put me in, say, a room full of coworkers for a long meeting where I end up sitting next to someone I don’t know: disaster. What do I talk about? We’re stuck in this room for 2 hours. He works in a completely different department and I don’t even know his job title, because I’m a writer and I don’t know what other jobs are. I just assume it’s all accounting?? What do other people do? I have no idea! My mind will literally go blank. I know people say that but I’m not exaggerating: all thoughts, intelligence, quips, memories, etc. are GONE. It’s like looking at a blank TV screen only it’s my brain. Then I panic and say something only a completely brain-dead person would say, like “This room holds a lot of chairs.” WHAT? That’s not a thing! Meanwhile I want to die and so does he and why can’t all humans come equipped with a cyanide tooth like in the movies?

So jealous!

super self-consciousness is my superpower

To the surprise of no one reading this memoir of a truly disastrous human being, I sometimes (frequently) feel self-conscious, a term I will use instead of “shy” because that is a ridiculous way to describe a grown-ass adult. Say the phrase, “Aww, she’s just shy!” and do you picture a middle-aged woman nervously speaking in front of other adults?

OF COURSE NOT. You picture an adorable 4-year-old who doesn’t want to go onstage for her preschool Christmas pageant.

Jerry Seinfeld once joked that “according to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”

I’m here to verify that this is not a joke, because I would literally drop dead on the spot if I had to give a eulogy. Just shove aside whoever is in the coffin so I can join ’em.

I hate speaking in front of people. It doesn’t even have to be a large group. I don’t even have to be speaking! Just seeing heads swivel in my direction and all attention focused on me is cause for a heart attack. Take the awkwardness scenario from earlier and magnify it about 93736 times. If my awkwardness was a person, it would be the size of the Incredible Hulk.


I could go on. And I have gone on for an unforgivably long time. Well, guess what. It’s my birthday and if I can’t narcissistically drone on about how I’m a special little snowflake, when else can I do it?

This year instead of vowing to change my entire personality, I’m going to try to learn to live with it. Let’s face it, if I haven’t changed in my 46 years on Earth it’s probably not going to happen.

Just don’t ask me to make a speech because I will haunt you after I drop dead, you murderer.

Happy Birthday to me. Stay weird, folks.

Ignoring Grief

One year ago today I lost my mom. 

There are a lot of books and articles on how to deal with grief. Of course, they don’t really help if you ignore all of them. My way of dealing with grief has been: shoving it wayyyy into the back of my mind and pretending I don’t hear it bellowing to be let out. I know it’s not healthy. I’ve seen Inside Out. I’m not an idiot. 

Although…am I? Because it took me almost a year to deal with it, despite some pretty epic meltdowns when grief has broken down the door and stormed to the front of my brain. 

I’ll give you an example. I work as a fashion copywriter and, as you probably know, Christmas is kind of a big deal for retail. Around this time (about seven months after mom passed), I had just started writing some sort of holly-jolly marketing email when I began crying. Hard.   

I hadn’t cried since the morning of my birthday, back in July. Although once you hit a certain age, birthdays are kind of a love-hate event, right? Because you don’t want to think about getting older, but also…cake. And presents. And birthday wishes on Facebook from coworkers you haven’t seen in 10 years even though they’re all “Miss your face!” 

Then where have you been the last five happy hours, MEREDITH?

Anyway, I cried on my birthday because it was the first one without my mom. She had always made a fuss over birthdays, probably because she grew up in a time and place where very little fuss was made, over anything. Ironically(?) she hated her own birthday, scowling at the numbers on the cake as if they were personally responsible for the aging process.

You smug bastards.

So crying on my birthday sucked, but at least it made sense. Crying while writing a marketing email? That made no sense. Yet there I was, gasping for breath with my fingers frozen over my laptop. It lasted about 15 minutes and I thought, Okay, that was weird but it’s over! Back to writing about fashion! 

Once again I started typing. And once again I started crying. 

I cried all day. All day.

I have never understood, before that moment, people who claimed they cried for “hours.” I was a little judgy about it, in fact. Like seriously? You cried for HOURS? How is that even possible?

I didn’t even cry after the funeral. One would assume that’s when I would finally “let go.” Nope. I went home, changed into comfy clothes, and poured myself a very large glass of wine. No tears. 

Speaking of funerals, I’d just like to pause for a second and vent a little on the funeral traditions in this country. I mean, we force the grieving family to get dressed up and stand in a crowded, stuffy room greeting mourners for two days straight. Then, even though by this point they look like actual zombies, we expect them to serve appetizers and make even more small talk. What is that?! Why is that?

“Can you believe this crazy weather? Only in Ohio! More meatballs, Uncle Mike?”

Anyway, back to my epic meltdown: it was like all the tears I had shoved down just exploded out of me like a grief volcano.  And you would think, after that disgusting display of emotion, I would be done, right? 

But grief isn’t like that. There’s no end date. Before my mom died I always thought grief was a thing that started off huge and then gradually disappeared with time.  Like one of those huge, under-the-skin zits. Right? The ones that are uber-painful every time you accidentally touch it yet you can’t stop touching it.  But then eventually it goes away, usually after a big date or event, so in all the pictures you look like a you have a third eye. Ugh, hormonal acne, WHY.

So I thought if I ignored my grief long enough, it would get the hint and slink away. 

I also thought “phases of grief” meant that Denial, Anger, Guilt, Depression and Acceptance would all arrive in order and while one would go to work, the others would politely wait their turn. 

Wrong. So very wrong. It’s a damn Lord of the Flies-esque scene of debauchery and mayhem, all of them clamoring for my attention. I just wanted them to go away.

hate crying. It’s the out-of-control-ness of it. There’s no way to hide if you’ve been crying…in fact, it’s worse if you try to hold it back. And I think a lot of working women experience this: the shame of crying. Because God forbid you get labeled “emotional.” 

You have FEELINGS? Interview over. 

Anyway, whenever a memory popped up or I started feeling teary, I shoved it down. My most-used phrase of the year was probably, “NopeNopeNopeNopeNopeNopeNope!” Not going to feel feelings! Running away now!

See you later, assholes!

Shocking revelation: running away doesn’t work.  

Over the holidays, my dad gave me a folder from their safety deposit box. It was full of old vaccine records, newspaper clippings, legal documents and other random papers my mother had deemed too important to throw away. 

Tucked in the middle of some very unimpressive grade cards, I found a letter: “A Mother’s Day Message to My Daughter.” 

“NopeNopeNopeNopeNopeNope!” I shoved the letter back in the folder. 

That letter lurked in my dresser drawer for months.  

Until one Sunday, our pastor preached on grief. How you can’t just ignore it. That it’s okay to feel grief months—even years—later. That you have to feel your feelings and let the grief just…come. In other words: you can’t ignore it.

It’s not like I hadn’t heard that particular piece of advice before. But for some reason, on that day, I actually listened. My grief poked its head out, but instead of shoving it back in, I let it out. It was the guest I never invited, but I finally let it stay. 

(So many metaphors, you guys. It’s unbearable, I’m really sorry. Blame it on the grief.)

 It took a few weeks, but one day I sat down and finally read the letter. 

Weirdly, after all that, I didn’t cry. So anti-climactic, right? I had prepared myself! I took a dramatic deep breath before I read it and everything! 

But at least I was willing to cry. Instead of getting angry with my emotions, I was finally open to feeling them.  

P.S. You guys, this is basically the plot of Inside Out. I’m clearly the sad blue girl voiced by Phyllis from The Office. I’m so sorry for wasting your time. Go watch (or rewatch) Inside Out, because it’s wayyyyy better than this. 

Me, my glasses & my mom, circa 1991.

How I Missed 18 Years of Pop Music

When I was 12 years old, my mother threw away a cassette tape of George Michael’s leather-jacketed masterpiece, Faith.

The tape did not, in fact, belong to me. It belonged to a friend. I foolishly left it on my dresser and once my mother saw “I Want Your Sex,” it was all over but the screaming (mine). She not only threw it away, she pulled the ribbon apart with such savagery that no amount of pencil twirling would fix it.

It was a massacre.

In our house, we weren’t allowed to listen to secular music. For the non-religious, that means Music of the World, or That Which Shall Not Be Played Lest We Burn in Hell. In other words, normal music.

We did have an approved list of secular music that was deemed appropriate, for reasons that were never fully explained. The Approved Secular Music List, in no particular order:

  • Neil Diamond
  • Alabama
  • The Carpenters
  • John Denver
  • U2 (I think my mom has a weird crush on Bono)
  • Chicago
  • Oldies (50s, 60s & 70s)
  • Big Band
  • Movie soundtracks (subject to scrutiny—Grease didn’t make the cut)

So while my peers were listening to Madonna, Cyndi Lauper and Guns & Roses, I was stuck with the above list or —shudder—80s Christian rock. If you don’t know what that sounds like, imagine 80s rock, then strip away all the cool stuff and add super-cheesy lyrics about loving Jesus.

It’s the musical equivalent of whatever this is.

To be clear, I have no problem with the sentiment of loving Jesus, it was the musical execution I objected to.­­ I just found it painful and embarrassing to listen to songs that sounded like love songs but were not. At all.

It was almost impossible to even sneak a listen to normal music because my parents (especially my mother) had a highly tuned ear for shenanigans. Any time my radio dial turned to our local Top 40s station, she would suddenly pop around the corner like a disapproving Jack-in-the Box.

So where did that leave me? An 80s and 90s adolescent who had no idea who Boy George and Kurt Cobain were but could sing the entire Music Man soundtrack.

But looking back with the blurry vision of my adult self (I’m too chicken for LASIK), that restriction sort of…freed me?

Because once I turned 18, I joined the once-great enterprise of Columbia Record Club and bought about 50 CDs for a penny (or whatever honeypot they used to lure music fans into their sticky web of Too Good to Be True). But unlike 99% of members, I actually came back and purchased full-price CDs every month until…they went out of business, I guess??*

If you listen closely, you can still hear Debi in Accounting chortling with glee.

This was the 90-iest time of the entire decade and I wanted it all: TLC. Nirvana. Jewel. Paula Cole. Sarah McLaughlin. Live. Offspring. Green Day. Beck. Bjork. Alanis Morisette.  Salt-N-Pepa. Blues Travelers. Mazzy Star. Rusted Root. Dave Matthews Band. Weezer. Tori Amos. Toni Braxton.

I bought countless CDs, from every genre.

So when people dismiss certain genres or musicians with a sneer worthy of Elvis Presley (whom my mother also disliked), I can’t understand it. Or when people hate an artist just because they’re mainstream.

And it’s not because I’m an old grouch, shaking my fist about kids today and whatnot. I mean, I am. But my bafflement comes from 18 years of being left out of everything mainstream. Of everyone talking about New Kids on the Block when I’d only kind of heard one of their songs. Slumber parties were a nightmare. Do you know how hard it is to fake-sing lyrics in a roomful of 11-year old girls?

As if tween girls singing “Pour Some Sugar on Me” isn’t awkward enough.

However, being forced to listen to her parents’ favorite music doesn’t mean she can’t learn to appreciate it.

Because (twist!), I love musicals. I love oldies music. Neil Diamond’s “Forever in Blue Jeans” is one of my favorite songs. Chicago is one of the greatest bands of all time. Anyone who’s ever heard Karen Carpenter’s rich contralto vocals must admit her voice is like a cozy blanket for your ears. And it’s kind of cool (?) that I’m one of the few Gen X-ers who can sing a Skeeter Davis song in its entirety.

While I’m still bitter about missing the popular music of my childhood, I have to admit my expanded musical tastes would never have happened otherwise.

But don’t tell my parents that.

*Apparently Columbia Records didn’t go out of business until 2009. Props for long outstaying their welcome, like an elderly aunt who can’t read social cues.

Some Thoughts About NYC

Previously published on A Writer Who Fashions, May 12, 2019. Some updates have been made. 

I know y’all have been hitting that refresh button every 30 seconds in anticipation of this moment. Well, hold on to your mouth-flapper, folks, ’cause it’s about to DROP.


Where’s my freaking trophy because I have achieved professional packing status with this trip. I actually did the thing that magazine articles have been telling me to do for years: I packed only what I needed and made multiple outfits from only a few items.

Pictured: Anna Wintour’s slow nod of approval.

I can feel your disbelief from here. “Whaaaaat?!” you screech while spitting coffee at your computer screen. “Are you telling me,” you continue, uncaring of the comical amount of liquid dribbling down your shirt, “that you didn’t overpack this time? You didn’t close your suitcase by sitting on it and bouncing up and down as it hilariously strains against its outlandish girth?”

No, my friends. Not this time.

What I had to get past was the idea that I needed a completely unique outfit for every day of my trip. That I, for some reason, might need those weird-colored shoes that I never wear, just in case Vacation Jessie would suddenly be gasping to wear salmon sandals that MATCH NOTHING I OWN. (Drunk-shopping is not a joke, friends.)

In fact, I made an actual list of what outfits I would wear each day, and stuck to it as if deviating even slightly would cause my suitcase to explode. Like the movie Speed, only with even more sexual tension.

So hot.


For the record, we had a blast. Now that the boys are older, we don’t get to hang out with them as much as we’d like.

So spending time as a family was much needed. And NYC was definitely cool. A vibrant, buzzing atmosphere of diversity and culture. And the occasional helpful subway crackhead. (True story. We were about to get on the wrong train and a suspiciously cheerful gentleman pointed us in the right direction. Thank you, kind sir! Please enjoy an extra hit on us.)

But it was also exhausting and expensive. There’s so much to see and as anyone who has ever traveled with a group knows, it’s impossible to do everything everyone wants to do. And it’s been so long since we’ve been on vacation as a family I somehow forgot that my husband is not exactly a “go-go-go” kind of traveler. He’s more “I’m on vacation so I’m going to move infuriatingly slow” whereas I’m “we paid all this money to be here so quit dicking around and LET’S GOOOOOO,” so there were some moments. 

“Hahahaha, isn’t it funny how I’m choking you?”


When the boat pulled up next to the ole gal, I just started thinking of my German grandpa, who emigrated when he was only a little tyke. I imagined my great-grandparents holding him, all excited and nervous about starting over in the land of opportunity. It legit got me choked up. The boat was filled with tourists from all over the world and watching them eagerly take pictures made me realize how iconic she is, and not just to Americans.

Photo by Lukas Kloeppel from Pexels. (All my photos contained European tourists.)

There are so many more stories I could tell:

How I accidentally ordered sushi but it ended up being my favorite meal in NYC. (Courtesy of the rooftop restaurant at Sanctuary Hotel).

How our first night there my husband went to a little shop to get snacks and a guy pulled a knife on the shop owner (who was unimpressed, but only because it turns out they were friends and the guy was messing with him and/or gullible tourists like my husband).

How the boys let themselves be caught by one of those flyer-flapping dudes and Eric and I mocked them mercilessly for blocks. (“You made eye contact?! Rookie mistake!”)

But I’ve rambled on way too long, so until next time… here’s a tightly cropped shot of us at the Empire State Building because there were approximately 894789 other people all waiting to stand in this exact spot. 


Winter is here and I’m not ready

Once again, a new season is upon us and I’m woefully unprepared. Despite the fashion world flagrantly displaying itself before my dazzled eyes on a daily basis, I have yet to purchase the items essential to my survival this winter.

For example, how can I properly winter without:

A Belted Camel Coat Brimming With Groovy 70s Vibes

I’m still stewing over the fact that this Helmut Lang coat was on sale at Rue La La and all I needed to do was shell out $500 (regular price $1,295) and it could have been mine. My mouse actually hovered over the “Add to Cart” button for a good 30 seconds before I came back to my senses and realized I had to buy stupid things like electricity and Christmas gifts for my loved ones. Damn them.

Screen Shot 2018-12-28 at 1.57.35 PM
Sorry for the blurry image. It’s how it looks through my tears. (Photo credit: Pinterest, Rue La La.)


Louis Vuitton Sunglasses That Rock So Hard I Want To Cry

Look at them. WHY AREN’T THEY ON MY FACE RIGHT NOW? The only thing that keeps me from buying them (other than the $665 price tag) is the sad realization that while they look good on the lithe model with the perfectly symmetrical features, most sunglasses are too wide for my undersized face. But that’ll be cold comfort when the winter sun blinds me in my unprotected eyeballs.

Yes, I took a picture of a magazine ad. The Party Square sunglasses, $665 at Louis Vuitton


Cropped Cable Knit Sweater For Those Ab-Showing Winter Days

You know what I love about winter? How you can wear something as unsexy-sounding as a cable knit sweater but still rock some abs. Plus, for extra warmth the sleeves are long enough to cover your hands, so does it really matter that you were forced to do crunches in December when every other self-respecting person is eating chocolate chip cookies? But the sweater! It’s cozy, yet seductive in its coziness. And it could be all mine for a mere $420. One could say that’s a lot for what’s basically a half-sweater but I prefer to think of it as half-fabulous, which is kind of my brand.

Screen Shot 2018-12-27 at 6.28.19 PM
This particular sweater from Acne Studios is no longer available, but you can find a similar style from Shopbop for the aforementioned $420. (Photo credit: @sabinasocol on Instagram.)


Gray Over-The-Knee Boots So Buttery Soft They Should Be Served With Warm Biscuits

Have you ever seen a more delicious pair of boots? I maintain that you have not. Gray boots have been on my “Why don’t I have this already?” list for years and I think it’s about time I crossed it off.  I’ve always been drawn to gray as my go-to neutral. Gray is a folksy sort of neutral, which suits me down to my Midwestern, corn-fed soul.

Screen Shot 2018-12-28 at 1.01.15 PM
Will my meat-and-potato thighs be up to the challenge? TBD. (Photo credit: The Tieland Boot, $798 at Stuart Weitzman.)


A Chunky Turquoise Ring That Distracts From My Parchment-Like Chapped Hands 

Bonus: Lotion That Isn’t a Pleasant-Smelling Lie

I like my jewelry like my chicken soup: chunky. And turquoise is my favorite color/stone and therefore must be on my hand at all times. My dry, patchy, chapped, farmer-man hand. Seriously, can someone get me some lotion? And some chicken soup, while you’re at it.


To those doubters who believe turquoise is only for summer: Behold! (Photo credit: Etsy.)


What are your winter musts? Or do you just burrow under the covers until spring?

Driving With No Sense of Direction: The Jessie Pingle Story

Can we all just give each other multiple praise hands emojis and be glad we live in a world with GPS? Because GPS finally cured what lots of young people (okay, just me) had back in the day: Driving With No Sense of Direction Syndrome™

There were no cell phones or Google Maps or Waze when I was a 20-something lass accidentally driving through bad neighborhoods. You know what we had? A folded-up map that all dads made us put in the glovebox that a) was totally useless because maybe 2% of people can actually read a map b) even if I could read a map, I was terrified to unfold it because everyone knows it is physically impossible to refold a map.

Like this, but with paper and a lot more swearing.

Let me tell you just how bad life with Driving With No Sense of Direction Syndrome™ could get in those dark days before GPS.

It was St. Patrick’s Day sometime in the 90s. My boyfriend was a monster but he looked like a normal human so my stupidity is excused. We were going out with his friend and his friend’s sister (who was also a monster but masqueraded as a Hooter’s waitress). We went to a bar in Columbus that to this day I refer to as “that place where I threw up in a leprechaun hat.”

After everyone was completely wasted, we all piled in a car to go to the next bar and get completely wasted. (I’m sorry to tell you that drinking and driving features heavily in this story.) I looked around blearily and realized that Monster Boyfriend was not in the car. I tried to tell the monster sister to turn around but it was like the Quaalude scene in Wolf of Wall Street. In my head I was talking normally but in reality it was just slow-motion and hilarious nonsense.

Pretty spot-on, actually.

The friend was on the verge of passing out but through some sort of drunken telepathy I managed to convey the seriousness of the situation. He convinced his monster sister to take us to his car and we would go back to the bar and retrieve Monster Boyfriend.

Somehow, I ended up driving because apparently “passed out” is a higher level of drunk than “threw up in a leprechaun hat.”  I then got behind the wheel (bad idea) and drove around an unfamiliar city (even worse idea) to try and find the bar.

You guys. It was awful. My Driving With No Sense of Direction Syndrome™ was even further impaired from the mass amounts of alcohol coursing through my veins and I’ve never tried so hard to sober up in my entire life. I think I knew the name of the bar, and maybe remembered the street name. Meanwhile his friend was passed out in the backseat and it was basically like driving around with a dead body. It took hours… even though in hindsight I’m pretty sure the bar was only twenty minutes away. I had to stop at multiple gas stations to ask for directions. Because GPS had not been invented yet. Also because I was drunk and kept forgetting what they said but mostly the GPS thing.

By the time we found the bar, the place was deserted and the manager was ready to call the cops because (surprise, surprise), Monster Boyfriend did not take kindly to being deserted by his girlfriend and friends and had not been shy about expressing it.

Exactly this.

I’m just going to skip over the screaming fight that ensued and bring us to the part where we started the long drive home. I drove perfectly… right up to moment I was pulled over five minutes from home. I felt quite sober at this point but I’m guessing a sobriety test would have said differently.

“Her blood alcohol level is too high but her dance skills are off the charts.”


But no worries, people! Because this was 20 years ago and I was in my prime. Even after throwing up in a leprechaun hat I had enough va-va-voom left over to bat my eyes and solemnly assure the sweet, innocent highway patrolman that yes, I would be very careful driving, because “there are a lot of crazy people out tonight.”

Monster Boyfriend was grimly silent during this exchange but after the kindly officer tipped his hat and skipped off whistling into the night, his friend woke up long enough to mumble, “Way to go, Jessie,” before he passed out again.

It was the worst night of my life up to that point, and still ranks somewhere in the Top 10 twenty-some years later. And it could have all been avoided had GPS been invented…wait. Is that even true? I think the situation actually came about because we all drank too much. Even if GPS had been invented I was still a drunken idiot.

Time travel… GPS…. leprechaun hats… THIS MATH MAKES NO SENSE.

Wow, this was a real waste of time. Sorry, everyone. Just be grateful you’re born in a time when Driving With No Sense of Direction Syndrome™ has finally been eradicated. Also, don’t drink and drive. That’s why Uber was invented.

Uber: You probably won’t get assaulted!™

Summer is almost here and I’m not ready

One of the downsides of my job as a fashion copywriter is that I’m forced to constantly look at magazines, blogs and do comparison shopping all in the name of research. I know. The horror. But it IS a problem, because then I see every new thing that comes out on the market and 100% of the time it is something that I must have, like yesterday. Did I also mention that I use shopping as therapy and I relate all too well to the cringe-worthy protagonist in Confessions of a Shopaholic?  

All that to say that summer is one of my three favorite seasons and it’s coming up fast. And I am woefully low on:


When you’re shaped like a beloved Thanksgiving-themed decorative fruit, shopping is difficult enough without throwing in “Oh hey, one-pieces are back from the Baywatch-shaped hole they’ve been hiding in for the past 20 years.” How did this happen? Why are they back? And how can I get one immediately? IF I can find one that will fit my long skinny upper body and my bulbous lower body, that is.

NSFW: Behold, me in all my naked glory.



Shut up. Body jewelry is back and you’re just going to have to deal with it, society. I remember back in the day, I owned not one, but several belly bracelets. And just because that was twenty years ago when I was dreamily listening to Sarah McLaughlin while drinking Zima in my dorm room does not mean I can’t adorn my still-pretty-alright body with some sparkle. It’s not like I’m some 41-year old woman who still wears crop tops. Oh wait…


Except I’m exactly the kind of 41-year old woman who wears crop tops! And why not? Do I force myself to go to the gym 4 days a week only to not wear crop tops, like some kind of not-crop-top-wearing idiot? Summer was made for crop tops and I love that they are still a thing. Especially since now they have matching crop top-and-skirt sets all over Pinterest that are freaking adorable and I need all of them. But only if I can wear it surrounded by flowers on a cobblestone street with messy yet perfectly done hair while drinking out of a pineapple. Obviously.

Okay, I made up the pineapple but the rest is SPOT ON. (Photo credit: Pinterest, Chanel Bags & Cigarette Drags) 


I have always been obsessed with luxe luggage and by “always” I mean since I spotted a fabulous Gucci luggage set in a UK Vogue about six years ago. Gliding through the airport in my just-right traveling outfit, with my perfectly matched luggage is almost as good as the vacation itself.

Except my fantasies of airport chic come from the Mad Men era, before 9/11 turned us all into shoeless animals forced into X-ray machines, all while being groped by the airport equivalent of mall security. To add insult to injury, my neatly packed luggage ends up looking like someone searched it using a giant Kitchen Aid mixer. (Note: Just kidding, TSA. You guys are the best!)

But seriously, I need these ASAP. (Photo credit: Pinterest, Henri Bendel)



Why don’t I already have a pair of white jeans? White jeans are quintessential summer. They look so fresh and breezy, yet when I squeeze myself into a pair, one or both of the following things happen:

  1. As with most denim, they fit super-snug in the butt and thighs, yet gap in the waistband. (See above, re: gourd-shaped body.)
  2. They are basically made of white tissue paper and show literally every bump, even ones I didn’t know were there. Oh, I got razor burn this morning? Good to know. Thanks, white devil.


Sadly, this is only a small part of my list but I didn’t want to overburden you all with too many fabulous things. Because then you’d know what it’s like to be in my head and I wouldn’t do that to you.

You know what else I need? SLIDES. They’re flip-flop’s fancy out-of-town cousin! (Photo credit: Urban Outfitters Striped Bow Pool Slide, $24)

P.S. Let me know in the comments what lovely things are on your summer must-have list! I promise I won’t steal your ideas.

P.P.S I will totally steal your ideas.



My Dairy-Free(ish) Life

Recently I said goodbye to a very good friend of mine. Or should I say, a “dairy” good friend of mine.

Wait, come back! Sorry. I’m so sorry. I haven’t written a blog post in a while, you guys.

So anyway, I gave up dairy. This is A Big Deal. Like, bigger than a Hollywood producer giving up his sex dungeon.

Business man in suit ready for meeting

I love cheese. LOVE IT. I probably spent more time with cheese than my own husband. I basically ate like a hobbit my entire life, with cheese for lunch (what’s a salad without blue, feta and cheddar cheese piled on top?), dinner (grilled cheese, pizza, mac n’ cheese, pizza, lasagna, pizza…) and snacks (basically anything covered in cheese). Don’t even get me started on second breakfast and elevenses.

My motto was, why talk when you can just eat cheese?

But the downside was I had stomach issues almost every day of my life. It seems obvious now that dairy was the culprit but since it took me 40 years to figure it out maybe it wasn’t that obvious. Because my stomach issues were very sporadic and took a different form each time.

Like a really inconvenient shapeshifter.

Sometimes I had horrible, blinding pain. To the point where I couldn’t get up, move or breathe without pain. Sometimes it was just an annoying stitch in my side. Sometimes I was bloated and/or felt overly full even though I didn’t eat that much. Sometimes I… well…

“Who puts a bathroom in the woods?!”

And it wasn’t like I could pinpoint exactly what caused which problem because sometimes after a nice cheesy gorge-fest I felt totally fine.

I remember once my husband and I were celebrating our 10 year anniversary in Sarasota (yes, we’re 75 years old) and ordered this amazinggggg pizza from a local pizza place and wolfed it down in one night. We were in mid-wolf when Eric says disapprovingly (with his mouth full, I’d like to point out), “You’re going to regret this tomorrow.” NO ONE ASKED YOU, SIR.

But I woke up feeling great, to the point where I felt confident enough to expose my non-bloaty stomach to the world (i.e. the elderly tourists of Sarasota).

Walter and Iris were very impressed.

It wasn’t until I experienced a months-long bout of stomach flu-ish symptoms this past summer that I finally decided to cut one major food group at a time to see what the hell was the matter with my stupid body. Dairy just happened to be first on the list. And it worked. All the stomach problems that I’ve dealt with my entire life are gone. And the solution, unfortunately, was the very thing I loved the most.

Oh, cruel irony! Wait, is that irony?

The only thing worse would be giving up wine. Because I am a middle-aged lady and we are legally bound as a group to love wine above all things.

I’m drunk right now!

I’ve learned to adapt to my dairy-free existence, though it was really frustrating at first. I never realized how much food contained dairy. Ramen noodles, for example. Ramen noodles.

It’s like I don’t even know who you are anymore.

And no more cream in my coffee, which meant no more lattes from Starbucks, which meant… Nooooooooo! No PSL?! WHY WOULD GOD ALLOW SUCH A THING?

But I’ve compromised with my delicate little flower of a stomach by switching to coffee with pumpkin spice flavoring and non-dairy creamer. I know, it’s not the same. But I can drink it and not be miserable and bloated afterward. (That’s what I’ll title my Starbucks review.)

I’ve also discovered that I can treat myself to pizza (or a cheese-centric equivalent) once every couple weeks just so I’m not completely deprived of my former beloved. Since I’m not engulfing mounds of cheese for every meal, my stomach barely even shrugs. I just can’t go back to my cheese-filled glory days where I sat like Henry the Eighth on a mountain of grilled cheese and nacho dip.


I know it’s the wrong king, people. All that matters is the joke landed, dammit. Right?

Moving on. So what have we learned today, kids?

Perhaps you stumbled upon this blog post in search of answers. (If so, I’m deeply sorry.) Maybe my repeated use of the word “cheese” caused this to pop up in your Google search whilst searching for cheese recipes. Mac ‘n cheese no longer doing it for you, hmm? Does 5-cheese pizza suddenly sound like not enough cheese? Have you tumbled into the dark, delicious rabbit hole that is “cheesy crock pot recipes?” I’ve been there, friend.

I guess if I had to impart wisdom to the masses it would be something like, “’Tis better to go without than to worship at the altar of cheese, for that road leads straight to the bathroom.”

Or something like that.


It’s good to be back, folks.


Water Into Wine: The Real Story

I’ve always found it interesting that the first recorded miracle Jesus ever did was change water into wine, aka the best miracle ever. I know, I know, the whole “raising people from the dead” thing gets more publicity. But if you ask me, changing water into wine puts him in the Wedding Guest Hall of Fame.

If you don’t know the story, allow me to enlighten you:

This was a wedding of a close friend or family member of the Jesus clan because not only was Jesus and posse invited, but Jesus’ mother was there as well. Everyone’s having a good time, the bride and groom cut the cake, everyone dances to the old-timey version of The Funky Chicken, the usual wedding stuff.

There’s always some douche who brings his own sitar. WE GET IT, MYRON. YOU’RE IN A BAND.

Then the unthinkable happens: they run out of booze. I think most people would agree that they would rather the bride run off with a Federal Express guy, à la Runaway Bride, than run out of alcohol. At least then the abandoned groom would have all that alcohol to console himself.

Okay, so they’re at this wedding and there’s nothing to drink other than water. A bunch of people who (most likely) can’t stand each other, forced to sit at a crammed table eating cold chicken and limp salad. And there’s nothing to drink.

At this point, Jesus’ mom (you may have heard of her—she’s not too well-known outside of Christmas but the Catholics love her) Mary realizes what happened and says to herself, “Wait a second, my kid is the son of God.”

“He can totally turn this party around!”

Mary elbows Jesus in the ribs. “There’s no wine,” she hisses.

Jesus, however, just shrugs it off. “So? Not my problem.”

Mary then does what any mother would do at this point: she ignores him and goes on with her plan like he agreed to it. She marches up to the servants—who are freaking out at this point, by the way. “They’re all going to turn on us!” There’s nothing worse than half-drunk wedding guests who were thwarted in their attempt to get full-on drunk on free booze. Those poor servants had already resigned themselves to their fate: Stabbed to death with empty wineglasses.

“Somehow, I always knew it would end this way…”

Anyway, Mary tells the servants, “See that man right there? That’s my son. He’s gonna get you some wine. Don’t listen to him if he says he’s not. Believe me, he will.” I’d like to think at some point she said, “Son of God or not, I’m still your mother.”

So Jesus, probably rolling his eyes, tells the servants to fill these six stone jars with water and take them to the master of ceremonies, which is apparently a thing people had at weddings back then. (For some reason, I picture him wearing a purple sash.) He tastes the water that is now miraculously wine, impressed that the groom saved the best wine for last.

So not only did Jesus turn freaking water into wine, he turned it into fancy-schmancy wine, the kind you usually serve first, while everyone’s sober. Then when everyone’s sloshed you give them bottom-shelf, gas station wine. That’s standard wedding procedure.

I’d love to have seen the groom’s facial expression at that moment. Because I bet he was in charge of picking up the wine. He was the groom, he had only ONE job to do, and what was the one thing that got screwed up? Exactly. Just like a man, he went to the liquor store, picked out a couple bottles and was like, “Eh, that’s good enough.”


I remember one year we had a ton of people coming to our house for a holiday dinner. And I told my husband to pick up rolls and he comes home with eight rolls. Eight rolls total. One sad, little bag of eight measly rolls. I looked at it, and then looked at him. “Is that all you got? You know we have like, 25 people coming over, right?” His face at that moment looked close to what this groom’s face probably was when he realized they were out of wine.

I’d also like to think that at some point the groom was looking frantically at all his half-drunk relatives lurching around shouting, “Who’s hiding the wine?” He’s freaking out, thinking they’ll turn on him at any moment (once they were done with the servants, of course). He buries his face in his hands, moaning, “Oh, Jesus. Jesus Christ, what am I going to do?”

Jesus smoothly appears behind him as if from nowhere. “Don’t worry, bro,” he says, clasping his hands on the startled groom’s shoulders.

“I got this.”

The Holiday of Existential Crises

New Year’s is annoying.

Not for the usual reasons: New Year’s Eve with its accompanying inflated cover charges, the strange urge to wear glitter, and those annoying “restricted menus” restaurants always throw at you. No, I don’t want garlic herb chicken with steamed vegetables, Chad. I know you have stuff to make cheeseburgers back there.

Don’t make me hurt you, Chad.

No, New Year’s is annoying because it makes you think. Holidays shouldn’t make you think. Holidays are supposed to be about drinking too much around  your family just so you can handle the alarming amount of toddler warfare. Holidays are about eating so much sausage that you start speaking German. That’s what the holidays are about.

But New Year’s messes with your head, man. You start questioning your very existence and every choice you’ve ever made. You realize everything’s pretty much the same as last year (and the year before, and the year before that). At least it probably is if you’re a person who is married and in her mid-to-late thirties. Okay, late thirties. OKAY, I’M TURNING 40 IN 7 MONTHS.

And I’m handling it JUST FINE.

Because when most of your big “life decisions” like kids and marriage are already done and over with, what’s left? Soon the boys will be graduated and on their own. (And by “on their own,”  I mean probably still living with us but not paying rent or doing anything useful around the house).

So once the boys are actually gone, then what are Eric and I to do? Just sit around still being young and super-hot? That gets boring, guys. Trust me.

So exhausting being us.

Should we buy a cabin in the woods? Not a horror movie cabin where I’d get stabbed in a horribly inventive way, but a pimped-out fancy cabin that has a hot tub and enormous windows that I never have to clean because we’re stupid rich. I’ll learn to make jam and decorate my house so country modern fabulous, Pinterest will explode out of sheer jealousy.


Or should we buy a place in the city? We could live in a cool historical building from the 1800’s but someone else fixed it up right before we moved in so it has brand-new plumbing and a really strong WiFi signal. Plus a sick balcony where we can light candles for sexy times but also has total privacy because you know everyone wants to check us out. We’re young and super-hot, remember?

Maybe we’ll travel and live in a new place every year. One year in NYC. One year in L.A. One year in… where else is there? Those are literally the only two places they ever show in movies and TV.

Anyway, New Year’s sucks. And, for the record,  I knew this before Jennifer Lawrence, because she could be my daughter, almost. Also, these plans of mine sound pretty pricey, so I better get back to writing my book. There’s a lot riding on this thing.

Yep. This is me.