Reasonable Insanity 

Anyone who knows me probably knows I have a dog. Anyone who knows me more than ten minutes knows my dog goes to daycare.

I’ll pause while that sinks in and the inevitable questions spring to mind. I’m guessing, “Why?! How often? How much does that cost you? Don’t you think it’s a waste?”

I’ll go ahead and address this, once and for all, so everyone understands the insanity behind it.

Let’s start with WHY. Well, we live in an 800sq foot third floor apartment with no yard, and I work an average of ten hours a day, five to six days a week. That’s 50-60 hours of alone time for Oreo in one room with no stimulation. Dogs are pack animals by nature, they thrive in company. A lonely dog is an antisocial dog, and that leads to a dog who snaps at other animals, and sometimes people. I’m not suggesting everyone who leaves their dog alone every day has an aggressive dog, but I’ve had dogs all my life and I can assure you that the ones who spent the least time in company were the crankiest of the lot. 

Next! HOW OFTEN AND HOW MUCH? Well, we average four to five days a week in daycare right now. He doesn’t go on weekends because we are only gone for a couple of hours at a time, and he doesn’t go on my days off for the same reason. How much is that? Rude, but everyone asks me and somehow thinks it’s fine. I don’t ask how much you drop on your kid’s daycare, or your yoga classes, or your makeup addiction. But that’s okay, I’ll tell you. We average $400-$500 a month. Yep, it really is that much. I know, right? We should all open a daycare for dogs. 

And finally; ISN’T THAT A WASTE? This brings me to what is more important to me than anything. I have a responsibility to take care of my dog like he takes care of me. When Tony brought Oreo home for me, I was going through a pretty rough period in my life. Oreo gave me something positive to focus on, and he gave and still gives unconditional love and comfort. A dog is always happy to see you, and always willing to play. I feel like it would be selfish of me to keep him to make myself happy, while not caring as much about his happiness. He is the brightest spot in my day every day, why would I not give him the best possible life I can manage? 

So yes, it is crazy but I am happy to send my dog to daycare for as long as I can financially manage it. He deserves to experience as much joy as I can provide him, because that’s what he brings us. 

Goodnight, sweet heart

Last Wednesday, in the wee hours of the morning, our family lost its matriarch, my grandmother. It still seems somewhat unreal, as we all grapple to come to terms with it and the family gradually works our way home to say goodbye. 

As I sit alone in LAX waiting for my flight, I can’t help but think of our Sha-Sha and how to describe what a special soul she was. She was truly a remarkable woman, a remarkable human being, and we were all the better for having known her.

There are so many stories I could share. I could talk about how, at more than 90 years of age, she still raised a dubious eyebrow at the cane her doctors handed her. Instead, would take my husband’s arm and whisper, “I’ll just hold on to you. That way I don’t look like a crotchety old woman, and you’ll look good with me on your arm!” 

I could tell you how, in her 70s, she still hopped in a bus or a taxi every week and traveled across town to keep her ailing sister in law company, playing bridge and watching Countdown and poking and prodding at Marie to put on something nice, for goodness’ sake, and go out to lunch.

Or I could tell you how she weathered the death of two husbands, all of her brothers, her dearest friends and, eventually, her son. She did this with an unwavering faith in God’s plan for her, a quiet reassurance that all pain can be borne with God by her side. 

She raised 7 children alone, in an era where women were expected to defer to the wisdom of a man in all things. More than that, she raised children that were all successful and strong. Doctors, scientists, teachers and parents themselves. She didn’t always approve of their choices, she didn’t always agree with their values, but she stood behind every one of them and shared in their joys and their sorrows equally.

She was a wonderful grandmother. Loving and warm, funny and quirky. She adored all of us, and knew the hopes and dreams of each one completely. You could find her, more often than not, absorbed in the excited ramblings of a seven year old girl who had another idea for a book. Or cleaning the skinned knees of a little boy before a kiss and a cuddle that fixed all ills. Or crooning a lullaby to a sleeping baby in her arms. She was the kind of person who always had more love to give, more time to talk and more attention to give. 

Don’t get me wrong; my grandma was not your sweet little old lady with candies in her purse. She was a force of nature. She had a flair for the dramatic, which served her well in her singing career and her later years when she acted in amateur theater. She was meticulous about her appearance, always making sure her nails were polished to perfection and often accessorizing with a jaunty scarf and brooch. She loved to tell me that she could have married again as a young woman after her first husband died, but she rejected several proposals in favor of independence. 

I still hear her voice in my head when I slouch, telling me in no uncertain terms, “stand up straight, Nemmy! Shoulders back, walk proud like a lady!” 

I see her in myself. I see her in my cousins, in my siblings, in my mother and her siblings. She put beauty out into the universe and maybe that’s why she always seemed so beautiful. She was an artist and a singer, who filled the world with color and laughter and joy. 

We adored her, we adore her still, and we are all better for having known her. I feel lost without her, but I know she would want us to be happy that she is with her beloved son again and with God. So we all make our way back, to gather and mourn. To comfort and celebrate this vibrant, glorious woman that anchored generations of family together in love. 

And as I bid her a final farewell, I’ll hear her voice in my head singing an old, comforting bedtime song. 

Goodnight, sweetheart, well, it’s time to go,

Goodnight, sweetheart, well, it’s time to go,

I hate to leave you, but I really must say,

So goodnight, sweetheart, goodnight.”

Hello 2017

New year, new post. Heyyyy! I’m not really a “resolutions” type person, but there are several things I’m trying to gain momentum on. Sometimes it’s good to pick a Go Moment, and the near year always works nicely for that. So, here we go! 

1. Now that my work schedule is (hopefully!) going to settle down again, I’m really going to do my best to set aside a couple of hours a week to write more. 

2. This is the year I fix my hair for GOOD, people! I am determined to find a suitable hairstyle that works for my level of abject laziness.

3. I started cardio-kickboxing in December, and it’s a lot of fun, so I plan to continue working towards my lucrative future career as the next Rhonda Rousey. Or at least gain some kind of muscle mass, my arms are like chubby little sausages.

4. I think I will bake more cookies. Counter-intuitive to my last resolution, yes. But DELICIOUS. 


5.Spend more time out of the apartment. Tony and I get pretty lazy to do anything on our days off, but we shouldn’t waste our lives watching House reruns. So this year I want to make a real effort to do more stuff.

Check back in two weeks, where you will probably find me buried under a mountain of candy wrappers, on season 3 of Friends, with spaghetti arms. Ha. 

Just kidding. 

Happy New Year, everyone! 

Words with Meaning

There is a lot more focus nowadays, or so it seems, on the power of words. It’s not okay to say something silly is “gay” or “retarded”, and people are even called out for describing themselves as “totally OCD” or “really depressed” when what they actually mean is that they like to wear matching socks and they are feeling a little sad about the Kardashian episode they just watched. 

This is a good thing, because words and expressions have a profound impact on the people around us, whether or not they are personally affected by what you say. Even if they don’t suffer from a mental illness, even if they are not homosexual, the things you say shape how people perceive you and that can influence friendships, jobs, family interactions and the level of trust in a relationship. I’m guilty of using charged phrases like this, and I’m actively working to change the way I express myself because I don’t want to be that person. 

Nobody is perfect, and saying you have never unintentionally offended another human with the words you use is silly. Words change all the time, it’s just a matter of being aware of it and changing along with them to use different ways to describe your feelings and situations.

So, on that note, let me add something to the list of things that I feel personally offended by. Maybe it’s trivial, maybe I’m over-sensitive, but it makes me both frustrated and upset to hear so it’s worth standing up and saying it.

“I get such bad anxiety attacks when I’m watching that show!” 

Nope. You don’t.

“Oh I have anxiety same as you, but I still like to drive.”

Nope. Not the same.

“I totally had a panic attack when I realized I left my phone at home.”

Nope. I don’t think you did.

I get it; anxiety is a pretty subjective state of mind, and it’s not something I can unequivocally say someone *doesn’t* experience. Everyone experiences some level of anxiety at one stage or another. 

But there is a huge difference between being nervous about driving an unknown route, and ACTUALLY HAVING AN ANXIETY ATTACK. The latter involves physiological symptoms that are severe enough to impact your ability to function. The former is being able to identify your worry, quantify its ability to affect you, and decide that you’re still okay to get in your car and go to work.

I paid $100 to go to work last week because I PHYSICALLY COULD NOT DRIVE THERE. If you think that’s ridiculous, if you don’t “get” that, if your private opinion is that I’m exaggerating the distance/traffic/fear/whatever…. then congratulations, you don’t suffer from an anxiety disorder. Please stop using that word to describe yourself.

It trivializes other people’s experiences when you try to “compare” yourself to them. Someone telling me “oh don’t worry I get super bad anxiety about that too” doesn’t make me feel better. It makes me feel FRUSTRATED. I don’t need you to empathize, I don’t need you to measure my weakness against yours, and I don’t need suggestions on how to “get over it.” That’s not what’s going on here. That’s not what I’m asking you for. I’m probably only sharing with you because my anxiety is about to have a direct impact on my interaction with you, and I am making you aware of it.

So next time someone talks to you about their anxiety, please just know that it isn’t easy to admit that kind of weakness and there’s probably a good reason you’re hearing about it. Don’t offer an opinion, just try to listen and really hear what that person is telling you. Be sympathetic, but don’t try to fix them. Be understanding, but not “the same”. 

And next time you have the urge to describe a moment in your life as an anxiety attack, take a second to evaluate what happened and what the outcome was, and decide if that’s the best way to explain what just happened. 

If it is, I’m sorry that happened to you, I hope you are able to work through what’s going on, and I’m a call/email/message away if you would like to talk about it. 

If it’s not, try to find better words. I would appreciate it. 

 Hotlines and Helplines
Anxiety and Depression Assn of America

Honeymoon Period 

It’s a funny thing; in seven years of marriage, with yearly international trips to Ireland and passports full of stamps, myself and Tony had never actually taken a vacation together. Between visiting my family, and limited vacations days with his job, we just kept putting it off as an unimportant added expense. 

This year I decided, quite suddenly one day, that it was important and that it needed to happen and so…. we finally went on our honeymoon to Costa Rica. Well, okay, it was just a regular vacation. But it bore all the hallmarks of a good honeymoon! Drinking cocktails at a wetbar in the pool? Check! Sunset yacht ride on the ocean? Check! Sharing gelato while strolling on a promenade? Che… well no, I don’t share gelato. Come on. 

I learned some interesting things as well. For example, I learned that Costa Rica gleans all its energy from completely renewable resources. I learned that mosquitoes laugh in the face of insect repellent. I learned that facing your fear of heights and walking across a hanging bridge will NOT conquer your fear of heights. All very useful stuff. 

Costa Ricans are a very laid back bunch, evidenced in their frequent use of the expression “pura vida!”. Everything is relaxed, everyone is cruising, don’t worry about those crocodiles in the water and don’t spend too much time fretting over that gigantic bar tab. Life is for having fun, and enjoying yourself! 

I tried to embrace that philosophy on my return to the United States, and not stress too much as we hurtle towards the craziness of the holidays and the even-more-craziness of our nation’s immediate future. 

After all, I can’t stop the crocodiles from swimming around the boat, so I might as well just sit back and enjoy the view, and trust in the current to take us back to shore. 

I have worked with Donald Trump 

In my not so distant professional past, I have had the unfortunate luck to work with, not The Donald, but A Donald

I’m sure plenty of women know what I’m talking about. A guy in management who would describe himself as “old school” or “a man’s man”. A guy who thinks commie liberals are ruining society by objecting to sex jokes and talking about equal pay all the time. A guy who says women belong in the kitchen because they are too emotional to make business decisions.

My Donald, similar to the better known one, also made sexist remarks all the time. He would ask why I had gained so much weight, and what my husband thought of it. He would ask coworkers what their favorite kind of underwear was. He would sit there and casually eye a woman up and down while she was forced to try and carry on a professional conversation.

I could say I’m voting for Hillary because of her policies, because she has experience in government, because she is an educated, erudite person. And it’s true, in large part, that is why. 

However, part of me – the part that endured years of penis jokes and rude remarks about my clothing and having to work twice as hard for half the reward – that part is standing up to Donalds everywhere. That part of me is casting a vote for feminism, and a vote for equality, and saying it’s not okay that someone like that is allowed to be in a position of power. It’s not okay that someone like him can call a woman a pig, and court racists and bigots, and still be taken seriously. 

I would urge every woman who has ever had to suffer the company of a Donald to recall how that felt, and come November go out and stand up for women everywhere who are sick of living in a society where misogyny is just a part of life. 

I Can’t Believe I Even Have An Opinion…. 

This started as a pithy status update and somehow morphed into an actual “opinion” that I decided merits a blog update. So either I really care deeply about Brangelina, or I am working waaaaay too much to have any social life anymore. 

Let’s not question it too much, and instead I’ll dive right in and grace you all with my fascinating outlook on celebrity culture and feminism.

The majority of comments and articles and memes I’ve seen relating to the news of Brad Pitt getting served by his wife can be summarized thusly;

What a happy day that Jen has her revenge, Angelina gets what she deserves and Brad is back on the market! 

Goddamn it, ladies. Can we get a little girl power around here? We preach about feminism, we celebrate the first female US presidential nominee, we have constant dialogues on issues like date rape and violence against women and gender wage gaps and discrimination….. And then this?? Am I really seeing hordes of women cackling with glee over the dissolution of another woman’s marriage? Am I really supposed to believe feminism allows for comments like “the Jennifer Aniston memes are almost worth the broken family” and “happy Jennifer Aniston day!”? 

How laughable that everyone is deciding who is Team Jen (because Angelina’s a whore) and who is Team Angelina (because Jen is pathetic), and this has been going on for over a decade. That’s okay, ladies. You all keep fighting over which one of you gets Brad in your fantasy, I’ll be over here not calling another woman a slut just because she had the temerity to fall in love with a guy, or label another woman as a loser because she couldn’t keep her claws in her man when a hotter chick showed up. 

Maybe instead of celebrating the break up of a family, you can all turn off TMZ and watch a couple minutes of We Will Rise, a documentary about Michelle Obama’s Let Girls Learn initiative. Learn how girls and women are making a difference in the world by being supportive and holding each other up and spurring each other on. 

Jennifer Aniston seems like she got over that break up a long time ago, maybe it’s time the rest of us move on too. 

 Let Girls Learn

 “We need to reshape our own perception of how we view ourselves. We have to step up as women and take the lead.”—Beyoncé