Flight of the SpiderWoman


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When my boys were little they used to ask me, “Mom, if you could pick, what superpower would you want?” I always said, “flying” because I knew that they would get it. What little boy didn’t want to fly? I also said “flying” because some of my favorite dreams from childhood involved me tripping near the basement stairs but instead of falling, I floated safely to the bottom. My mother was always in the basement of my dreams, doing what else? Laundry.

What I really wanted to say to my little boys was, “I want a superpower that hasn’t been invented. One that picks up all the toys when I’m sleeping, can predict when one of you kids is about to push the other or get a splinter, a superpower that can remind me to bring all the coupons to the grocery store since I spent an hour and a half cutting them out and organizing the in an envelope by isle.”

I never got those powers. If I didn’t pick up the toys or remember the coupons there was twice as much work to do the next day and it was more expensive. I am not nostalgic for that time. (Is it obvious?)

I continue to develop as a mother (I think of it as a life-long exercise in patience) and would ask for different things now. A week ago I got my chance.

To reduce stress and fit in my jeans, I like to ride my bike. Last Sunday I was on a long bike ride, The Flattest Century in the East, with a friend. At the second rest stop, around mile 50, my friend suggested we sit in the grass and stretch our legs. I grabbed a handful of grapes and sat down. Seconds later I said, “Wendy, I think something just bit me.” I hopped up and we finished the 102 miles, ate dinner together and once I got home I went right to bed.

Two days later enormous welts appeared on the back of my right thigh. The doctor said, “You’ve been bitten, many times, by a spider.” He winced when he said it. He also looked at me funny. When I got home, completely bandaged up and loaded with antibiotics, I pulled my bike shorts out of the laundry basket. There was a hole right where the biggest bite was. I presume my attacker bit me, climbed into my shorts, and attempted to eat the rest of my leg for dinner.

For the last several days I have been going outside in the dark to water my flowers and carrying around a towel to sit on. The spider bites are weeping. I’m wearing shorts rolled up to my hip bone. It’s a look I don’t recommend. After all this, I am waiting for my superpowers to show up. Spiderman was bitten and he got a cool suit and web shooters.

I don’t want practical things anymore. Like Spiderman, I want magic. I want the summer not to turn to fall, I want my boys and I to always be close, I want my parents to be healthy and for anyone with an illness to be cured. I want to remember for myself what I always tell my boys, that we can do anything. I want to laugh out loud with the wonder of being alive and if I happen to do this walking down the street, I want other people to laugh too- not wonder who the crazy woman is. I want people to stop being caught up in things that don’t matter. I could probably be more kind.

After I checked my bike shorts that day, I went in my bedroom, took off my bandages and looked at my leg. Reflected in the mirror was my bum, which was wearing a pair of black lace underwear. I laughed out loud and my laugh went out the window, ricocheted off the house across the street and flew throughout the neighborhood. My underwear looked like a giant spiderweb.

In the Future: A Note to Myself for When Amazing Things Happen


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Late yesterday, after a somewhat arduous day of not writing, I opened my email. There was a message from someone I didn’t know. It began:

“I hope this email finds you well. I’m writing with what I hope is exciting news. Your story from the Boston StorySLAM “Fools” (4/7/15) has been selected for the next round of Moth Podcast episodes (this is the one you told about baking cakes).”

This is a story I wrote, a true one from my life. In April I drove an hour to Boston to tell it to a room full of slightly inebriated strangers. I didn’t win the competition that night, but all the stories are recorded and are listened to later by Moth editors.

And they liked mine. Loved,” actually.

And just like that, all was right with the world. I forgot about my neighbor who recently put in a pool and spent the afternoon mere soaking feet from my writing room having a party with her friends. They were so loud that I didn’t write a word but instead silently fumed and tried to read.

Just like that I forgot how tired I was, forgot that I had to clean the bathrooms, brush the dog, turn off the outside light so the bugs didn’t collect in the nightly cobwebs so I’d have to sweep them down. I forgot about the eleven emails I was already supposed to have sent.

Instead, I got a chill all through my body and turned to my husband Greg and told him the news. And he did that thing he sometimes still does that makes me think how he must have looked when he was ten and his parents told him he was getting a puppy. His eyebrows went up while he smiled and flexed his feet.  And I knew right away that I didn’t want to forget that feeling.

So I am writing this note to myself. How to feel when amazing things happen. There is only one rule: to not expect them, ever.  Because someday, I will have been a writer for 25 years or so, and get the news that a book of mine made some nice list, or I was requested to do a reading, and I don’t ever want to expect it. I don’t want to say, “Oh- again?” Like it was Trump running for president.

I don’t want to take the truly amazing things for granted. I can forget about annoying neighbors, Lysol disinfectant wipes, and supposedly ‘urgent’ emails.

And for at least an hour, I can dance in my yard in the dark, with the moths.

Organizing Strategies for the Manic


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It’s that time again.

You know it.

That special time of the year when you want to change everything: get a new job, a new haircut, move, and learn to speak decent french.

I don’t even speak indecent french. Although…there was that time I had some minor surgery on my leg and because I had three Valium, apparently spoke coherent, slightly indecent high school french to the surgeon.

After the surgery he said:

“Vous etes bizarre. Me aimer, je ai opere si bien sur votre jambe.”

Which I took for: “You’re stunning. I love operating on your leg.”

Luckily for all my doctors, my house tends to be where I put most of the manic energy. The desire to rearrange rooms and re-paint can lead to unfortunate hours spent on Pinterest when I should be reading Virginia Woolf’s diary for my graduate degree.

Which has lead to my current state of manic affairs: I am a neat freak and recently discovered that to get down and dirty with this writing thing I need a place to make a mess. I don’t like messes. They’re messy. They make me uneasy. They make me walk to the kitchen, eat chocolate chips from the baking jar, and with my mouth full vamp in the mirror as I pull my short blonde hair straight up in an attempt to look like Andy Warhol, but end up looking like David Bowie. You see my problem.

Also, my house is small. There are few options. My first one is a fantasy: Take over the lovely shed in the backyard. This is no problem for the delusional. My husband rolled his eyes at my suggestion, “Where would we put all the stuff?”

I then suggested a dumpster. Because, really- I need a lot of room to spread out. I’ve got notebooks, ten packs of index cards (fancy plot devices), and I need a big ass desk and lamp.

While I’m in there, might as well add a daybed, a rug, some roman shades on the two windows and maybe an electric kettle. If there is any room, an extra chair for a little french woman to come teach me the proper way to say: “No, I am not cooking dinner, this memoir will not write itself.”

Or, something like that.

Dear Santa,


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Dear Santa,

It’s been a while, I know. As thirty-five years have gone by since my last letter, you might think I had forgotten you. But I didn’t forget, I just got busy.

I was busy growing up. Somewhere between 1979 and 1990 I began to believe that you were just for children. That you were mostly mall laps, a fuzzy red and white outfit and a pom-pom hat on a float in a parade. I came to believe that as an adult, I had other uses for you. Instead of writing you letters and telling you I had been good, I brought you with me and my young children. You went with us on errands in the car, to the beach, the grocery store and to church. When I said, “Spencer, don’t hit Parker!” “Trevor, come here, I need to spray on this sunscreen,” or “Let Spencer push the cart this time,” and “All of you, sit still and look at the pictures in this Bible!” I said that last one in a whisper that sounded like a yell. I finished all of those sentences with “…or Santa won’t come.”  I used you, boldly, and at my discretion.

I stopped believing in the real you I think, because I thought I didn’t have to. Their father and I did everything. We earned the money to pay for the gifts, stayed up late at night putting together Bouncy Ball houses, lacrosse nets, and Optimus Prime Transformers. We baked and ate the cookies, sipped the milk (“you” left a note one year saying you were lactose intolerant and asked for Lactaid). One year “you” even went on the roof with a bunch of jingle bells from Michael’s craft store. You thumped and stomped on our old shingles so much I was afraid you would land in the attic. Trevor’s eyes were unblinking as he ran to me from his room. He had the thrill of his 5- year old life. He believed. No magical chubby guy fell down the chimney to help us.

And yet, belief is a powerful thing. Like faith, it’s gotten me through a lot. I realize I had to choose to believe that I could possibly raise three sons coming from a family of women, survive an illness that has killed millions and three of my grandparents, and become the woman I wanted to be.  I believed, even if I didn’t know that’s what I was doing.

Yes, this is my Christmas wish list, but the things on it aren’t for me. They are things I want to give to my children. Trevor is in college and the twins are headed to high school soon. I don’t want them to stop believing in you. Because one day in the near future, they will leave their father and I and go out into the world, and it will happen: the inevitable disbelieving. To prepare them, I want to believe that I could pop this letter in the mail and have it land on your desk just as you were reaching for another envelope to open. You could read it and tell right away if I was naughty or nice and send me what I asked for.

My children are not boys anymore. They are nearly men. in their stockings this year will be a beard brush for one, cell phone cases for two others and under the tree, fewer gifts because what they want is expensive. No more Tinker Toys, Legos or Flash Gordon action figures. One of the 14-year olds asked for a leather coat.

If only all of us parents could write you letters and ask for the gifts our children already have, the ones within. If you could, this year- would you look down on all the parents of the world and see how hard we work for our children, how we want them to realize that everything they want is already inside them? That they, not Target hold the secret to their happiness?  Instead of Ipad’s, let our children unwrap their inner fire?

While we sleep on Christmas Eve, can you put Kindness in their stockings, Gratitude under the tree, Humility in the water they brush their teeth with, and as a special favor to me as the mother of sons, sew Chivalry onto the labels of their pajama pants?

I want to show my nearly grown boys that they should believe in magic, expect the fantastic, and that goodness can appear anywhere at anytime and not ask for anything in return. Please give them the ability to see the good in others not as something separate, but as an example of our commonality.

I know I want a lot, and I might not get it all.

But Santa, if anyone can make it happen, it’s you.

You did, after all, help me raise them.


Cannonball Run


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I hope my dress stays up.

I hide in the wings, about to go onstage and face 200 people.

Read stuff I wrote. Will they like it?


I am past hungry. To fit into the bright red, floor length, strapless gown, I have eaten mostly lettuce and handfuls of cherry tomatoes for a week. I would have eaten carrots, but I was afraid I would turn orange.

Does my skin have a Lycopene tinge?

I fantasize about chocolate.

I am squeezed, shoulder to shoulder with a partially plastered brick wall to my right and taught drapery cords on my left. Loose electrical wires are against the brick wall. They sway slightly with the movement of the dancers and performers backstage.

I have a vision of myself touching a crackling cord and being launched, cannonball-style out onto the stage before my cue.  Upon closer inspection I am relieved to see that the wire ends are wrapped with electrical tape.

Breathe more.

The hanger ribbons are sticking out the top of my dress. Quick! I hide them from view, sliding my right and left hands into my bodice.

Pull up the dress…again.

I wish I had a breath mint.

No one should know that I smell like tomatoes.

The stage, softly illuminated before, is now in blackout.

My cue.

Walk out, stand alone.

To a Spotlight. A Microphone.

The audience, I can see only their legs.

Row after row of legs.

Words. I wrote about words. About writing words. The weight of words.

Somehow the words come out of my mouth.

Beat Poet inspired, but me: Highbrow, Lowbrow.

I am calm.

How can I be calm? Don’t I remember how afraid of public speaking I used to be? How the memory of reading my third grade book report in Miss Bomba’s class still gives me chills?

There is a split. The girl I was is standing next to to the woman I am now.

I see her, that other person. That other me. She’s wearing knee highs and culottes.

She watches me on the stage. Giving myself to people.

She lets me.

By the second night of a three performance run, I am enjoying myself. We are enjoying ourselves. We look out to the audience, a lot. When the audience looks back, are they seeing the scared girl or the confident woman?

I barely register the applause. It’s the giving I was after, not the thanking.

Later, the scared me and the confident me share handfuls of chocolate chips. They’re her favorite.

Besides, I’m all out of vegetables.


This is How it Feels


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It’s November, which means I’ve done it, I am doing it: surviving my first Autumn with my oldest son away at college.

I know you are thinking: What’s the big deal? And you know, I am completely aware that it shouldn’t be.

It should be a celebration: we have an extra bed in the house, a lot more food and no one playing Xbox at 1 am. But it makes me think of all the other things I know.

Like, how it felt to get pregnant right after a miscarriage and a few months later hear the doctor can say “Wow, this kid’s got a big head, are you doing your Kegels?” And practice them at stop lights.

How it felt to discover I was having a boy, coming from a family of women.

How I began seeing myself as a wise, pregnant-aware sage, preparing for the inevitable, knowing that my boy was going to grow up, get married and spend holidays with his wife’s relatives. Because that’s how it always works in my family.

How blissful it felt to have my 9 month old- 3 year old, 5 year old-son reach out to be held, lay his head on my shoulder and fall asleep playing with my hair.

How hard it was to hear my 15 year old son say: “Just stay in the car, I’ll come find you- DON’T come onto the field,” as he bolted for lacrosse practice. How I sat there in the car searching for tissues in the glove box and finding only maps from the pre-GPS dark ages, and a three year old Wet-Nap.

I know how shock resonates. How it began with his 16th birthday, walking out of his bedroom each morning in a cloud of Axe Body Spray, noticeably taller. I know about ordering sneakers from the Nike factory in China because no store stocks a size 14. How it felt to realize I was living in a household of not boys, but MEN and was totally inept.

To whom will I pass down my Julia Child impersonation? My liquid eyeliner application skills?

I know how it felt to send my husband into the boy’s bedroom to give him the REAL TALK, not the pseudo-talk I gave him when he was 6, the one that when I was finished espousing bee pollination, he immediately asked to watch Scooby-Doo.

How it felt, this time- when my husband came out of our teenage boy’s bedroom an hour later relating: “Well, I told him everything.” And I’d said, “What do you mean?” Only to hear, “Well, the whole deal- you know, everything sex related like oral and anal…”

I know how it feels to realize nothing will be the same, life is careening out of control, that there is no more Thomas the Train, no more Lion King no more snuggling with Goodnight Moon that culminated in a primal scream from my uterus, vibrating my Fallopian tubes:

“WHAT??! Are you crazy?”

And hear: “You told me to tell him everything..”

Followed immediately by my husband pouring himself a glass of whiskey.

I know how it felt to have my 16 year old avoid my eyes for a month because he thought his mother was a sexual deviant, and not just the woman in the mini van crying into a dried up Wet-Nap.

I know how it was to be home alone with my seventeen year old son on a Sunday afternoon, and have him announce that he was making me dinner. How we ate while watching PBS and he didn’t complain, but laughed during Doc Martin.  How touching and quietly tragic it was for me to be handed a Warm Brownie in a Mug that he’d learned in Foods class. How eating cold ice cream and hot brownie mirrored my emotions.

I know how it was to watch the boy I reminded every day to be punctual, responsible, kind, and disciplined, walk across a stage and receive his high school diploma on a blue skied, high UV alert, June day- just a few months ago. How it felt to know he was so happy to be leaving us soon.

I know how it felt, relaxing into my Adirondack chair in the backyard after the graduation party, everyone gone- but the experience not finished. Chinese paper lanterns swinging on the dogwoods behind me, finally having a piece of cake, because it was supposed to be a celebration and felt more like someone died.

Then, how it felt to deliver our boy to college. Ready to learn, to party, to grow, to become. How unready his father and I were.

How it felt for a couple weeks, things quiet at home, until my cell phone became very busy. Text messages, not daily- no, but very often and sometimes with 11pm phone calls, catching up and ending with something unexpected.

“I love you, Mom.”

Yes, this is how it feels.



Back to the Barre





Perhaps it’s best to start with a letter. Dear Ballet, It’s been a long time. Too long.

Isn’t that what friends say to each other after a stretch of time and distance? But what to say to a friend after a twenty-seven year absence?

I was standing in brand-spanking new petal pink canvas ballet slippers. Hands on the barre, facing a mirror: my old friend. I’ve spent a lot of years away from this. I steel myself before class to be able to lift my eyes from my feet and confront the image of a grown woman. To try and recognize inside her the movements of my younger self, just a girl, really. To ask questions like parted friends would: What have you been up to? Where have you been? How have you lived?

I’ve lived.

Before I left ballet at 18 for college and boys I could feel my body in ways I haven’t since. Throughout high-school, ballet was the only way I felt alive. The only way I felt like myself as everyone else around me grew more adult than I was prepared to be. Ballet obviously, was magic.

Was it the pianist, an older lady in smart camel colored slacks and white blouse always un-tucked yet encouraged to sophistication by the cobalt blue scarf knotted loosely at her neck? Or was it Madame Binda, French aristocratic profile, long black wrap skirt, black tights and slippers holding her toy poodle as she swept around the room, kohl-rimmed eyes missing nothing? “Commencer, s’il vous plait!”

Which of these commanded my body to obey, recall plies, grand battements and hold attitudes with a faint smile that belied the concentration of the teeth?

In the mirror now is a reflection of years since. Years that I studied and completed college, birthed, fed and held children and through it started running through life faster and faster. The pace of it all: work, children, marriage,house, yard. Go, go go.

I went.

But something changed, something I noticed only recently. The more I hit the GO button, the slower I seemed to move. Perhaps it was time to go back, my body said. Go back to slow movements, practice, discipline. Feel music and muscle again.

I laughed when I put on the slippers. So much time has gone by, how will I recognize her? We are so changed now, the girl and the woman.

But a funny thing happened.

The girl told the woman the steps and the woman responded with the experience only time can give.

They danced.


Confessions of a Makeup Addict


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“I came out of the womb waving a red lipstick.” -Rose McGowan

I love make-up. I love everything about it. I love the product names from my youth: Airspun, Moisture Whip, Kissing Potion. The packaging: crisp boxes gift wrapped in cellophane, the little molded clear plastic caps protecting new lipsticks and most of all, the promises.

I’ve been known to wander the aisles of my drugstore with no particular purpose and leave with $78.53 in new promises. I just say no to the plastic bag from the cashier and slip my new foundationeyelinerlipglossbronzer into my purse and mentally, my wish has been granted and I am already transformed.

I can trace the groundwork for the attraction. My parents moved my sister and me to Virginia where knowing no one, I decided I could turn myself into a new, better, OLDER looking version of myself. So, there I was in 1983, 14 years old and sitting in the front seat of the school bus, directly behind the driver. While all the cool kids sat in the back, smoking pot, I used the twenty minute drive to slip a hand into my LeSportSac and pull out the magic: Maybelline Great Lash mascara. I used the mirror over the bus driver’s head to sweep my lashes. Appraising myself, I would smile with achievement. I looked older. Since all the windows were closed, I was also a little high. When weeks later, on two separate incidents- grown men flashed me, I was shocked. But secretly impressed. Wow, this stuff really works!

It seemed to me that makeup was connected to power and I soon got another example to prove it.

My mom became a Mary Kay consultant. Makeup, which had been taboo for me, was suddenly OK. No more stabbing myself in the eye when the bus hit a pothole. I was shocked and thrilled to discover that I was not just sanctioned to wear make up, but also recruited.  My mother practiced her sales pitch on my little sister and I. Our living room was being visited by the UPS man (for whom I would prepare by spraying myself with Babe perfume) and weekly would deposit carton after carton containing pale pink boxes of things I had never heard of: foundation, toner and my all time favorite: palettes of eye shadow. The eye shadow required mixing with a few drops of water and had to be applied to foundation laden eyelids with a little brush. The brush was a work of art. When you twisted the stem, the brush disappeared inside.

I was hooked.

I convinced my mom to pay me $30 per UPS delivery to open all the boxes, apply her gold embossed label and stack them on the matching pale pink shelving unit in her closet. I went with her on “complimentary facial” parties. I set up the little personal mirrors on the hostess’s dining room table and helped demonstrate to the guests the “upward sweeping motion of application.” I slathered on more face cream than Joan Crawford. It was glamorous. But more than that, I saw women sigh with satisfaction as they welcomed their newly transformed selves. I imagined my parents, sister and I driving around in a pink Cadillac, the sign of a truly successful Mary Kay Image Consultant.

While make-up didn’t get my family a pink Cadillac, it did get me a lot of other things: dates, jobs, an exciting interview with Barbizon Modeling in New Haven (I was pretty enough to pay for classes, not pretty enough to get signed) into college, married and a ten year career as an entrepreneur. Of course lipstick and blush didn’t GET me those things. I got them. Make up gave me the confidence to do it.

It seems that lately, as a woman over 40, I have noticed all kinds of little signs that I need to change, yet again. This time perhaps, from a heavy make-up user to one on probation. Last week my photo was taken in a group. Beforehand, in front of the mirror I thought I looked pretty good: short funky hair, a gorgeous print blouse, aquamarine stilletos and the cherry on top: red lipstick. When I saw the photo I thought, Who’s the old lady, squinting into the sun with neon lips? OH. NO. That’s ME.

It was a startling revelation. How do I go for less is more and retain the confidence, the transformation from the girl, no- woman without a face, to the NEW ME? Someone who is still taking chances, in fact has just recently thrown it all on the line, closing a successful business to go in a new direction, to be a Successful Writer of all things? Don’t I need new lipstick for that?!

In retaliation, I went naked. No mascara, no powder, no eyeliner. It was only one day, but it had results. I realized I looked OK with a little lip gloss and a good night’s sleep.

But I LOVE color. I need it to breathe. My face may have new lines where foundation likes to gather, but SOMEWHERE on my personal landscape I had to find the possibility of transformation, a sign to myself that I will be successful and someday make some money.

So, today I took stock of my body and ended with my feet. I appraised them resting on the coffee table. They looked positively pre-pubescent! I drove quickly (SPF 60 lavishly applied) to the drug store. I found just what I was looking for in nail polish: a deep gloss burgundy.

The name? Rich as Rubies.

It cost $3.99


Teens VS. Toddlers


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At a picnic recently, someone handed me a baby. While I held it, they did that slanty head thing and said “Awwww..don’t you miss it?” I looked at the baby, who was pretty cute actually. Warm and heavy in my arms. I handed the baby to the mother and said “Not at all.” I laughed when I said it, so she wouldn’t think I hated her baby. But afterwards I made right for the cocktail table. Just to stop the baby-recall shakes.

That new mother was probably expecting me to say, “Oh yes, I remember when my boys were young. It was just the BEST time.”

But I couldn’t bring myself to lie. A good portion of the time I remember thinking I was in a sinking boat where there was just me, three children under five, one diaper and and empty can of Isomil. There’s a whole block of time, lets call it a decade, that if it wasn’t for photos I wouldn’t remember much at all. Especially once the twins came.

I bought into the magazine-inducing delusion that my life as a young mother should be idyllic. That I could have perfect children who shared in the sandbox, ate the whole birthday cupcake and not just the top and slept through the night. The reality was that taking a trip to buy formula was like a mini-vacation, sometimes my kids ate sand and if the cupcake liners didn’t come off cleanly, they cried.

Thank God there was no Pinterest or Facebook. There was no pressure to make my own birthday banner out of outgrown onesies or feed my baby a vegan diet. Or name my baby Vegan. I only had Martha Stewart Living and learned how to make my own dirt.

Having teenagers is fantastic. I think children should come into the world this way. The doctor could slide up to you in line at Starbucks and say, “Congratulations! Your new son is outside bringing the car around. He wants a Grande to go. Here, sign this paper that says you will spend all your money on ITUNES.” No diapers. No colic. Sign me up.

Recently, Spencer and Parker and I were looking at some of their baby photos. Parker said to me, “What if you forgot which one I was, and I’m really Spencer?” I laughed (a little too loudly) and said “Eat your spaghetti.”

But that probably happened.

All three

Into The Woods


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Do you remember when I said I was going to hide in my son’s dorm room? (Never Say Goodbye) That I couldn’t possibly let him go to college by himself?

Well, I’m going. But not with him. I’m going back to college by myself.

Now, first you should know that I went to college already. Although it was lacking in one very important way: I lived at home with my parents and sister, not in a dorm. I feel like I missed something, a right of passage that is necessary to grow up properly. It’s also how I feel about not having gone to my prom and the decision to have C-sections instead of natural childbirth. I feel as though I have not had an AUTHENTIC experience.

They were prudent choices at the time. I thought I was so smart. Why the hell would I go through the pain of passing a butterball turkey through my cervix if I could be completely numb? I realize now that in doing so I was rendered ill-equipped to handle a screaming infant. I believe this is because of the numbing followed with a morphine chaser. After natural childbirth a screaming baby is a walk in the park.

Like I said, I missed out.

So, college. I’m going to graduate school. In Vermont. Remember that classic joke? How do you tell the difference between the men and women in Vermont? You can’t, they all wear flannel.
No. That’s not right. That joke is about Maine. My good friend Kathy is from Maine and she is dresses flannel-free. Although she’s from Camden, so that explains that. But they really do wear a lot of flannel and plaid up there. If you want to see some, go to Sunday brunch at the Samoset resort. The entire town turns up in this elegant resort wearing their plaid flannel pajamas. They’re still there at dinnertime.

Because brunch in Maine means “all day”.

But Vermont. So really I don’t know anything about it. Just the classic maple syrup and very green state stuff. I live in Connecticut which technically is lumped together with Vermont in “New England” but I don’t feel we are in the same family. Vermont is more like Connecticut’s distant cousin who doesn’t shave anything and eats moose for breakfast.

But I may be stereotyping. Maybe they shave their heads.

The only thing I knew to do to prepare me for graduate school in Vermont was to read the Vermont Country Store Catalogue. I highly recommend picking one up. My mother has a copy and I found myself drawn to its cover of comforting plaid, weird food items and rocking chair cushions. My 67-year-old mother handed me the catalogue while sipping tea and wearing a robe that is frighteningly similar, complete with eyelet ruffles, to one found on page 43 and said, “They also have marital aids.” Then it became interesting. I looked on every page but couldn’t find any.

“Maybe they took them out. People probably complained” she said.

I immediately looked at The Vermont Country Store online. They sure have them there. I found one that was particularly interesting. It’s called the BonBon. “Better than chocolate.” Which is really quite amazing.

Then I had questions. First, where do I get a sample?
And then: Why would they take them out of the paper catalogue?

If I was living in the woods in the snow for nine months of the year with no internet and someone took away my ability to purchase marital aids, that would be bad. Maybe that’s why they have bears. To eat the editors of Vermont Country Store Catalogue.

Now that I think about it, maybe this is a horrible idea. They have bears there. Big ones. I could be out, walking on a nature path, feeling all graduate-degree-esque, reading Wordsworth and be tackled by a black bear. Then it would all be over. I’m not prepared for bears. I’m prepared for knowing instinctively that Anthropologie is having a sale before the email comes and for negotiating old people traffic on Sundays like Danica Patrick.

Another thing. I refuse to wear Birkenstocks or tie dye anything. I like stilettos and no tie dye. I’m allergic. Both of them together puts me into anaphylactic shock. I have an epi-pen for it.

Come to think of it. I’m making a note to call the doctor for more epi pens.

Maybe I can use them on the bears.


Photo Courtesy Janelle McCulloch’s Library of Design