Monday, October 26, 2009


After a lovely weekend, I came out of my house this morning, ready to go to pilates and deal with the aftermath of my bad food choices, to find I had a flat. Now, I know what you are saying. Uh-oh, this is going to be a rant about the fuckshow that was the flat tire/tire change/buying new tires at Costco. And no, in fact, it will not. I calmly came back in, called AAA, then after the change, went to get new tires, which were installed quickly and efficiently while I shopped at Anthropologie. And now, here I am, with a change in plans that undid my schedule for the day. And yet I am smiling. SMILING.  

I know this doesn't sound like me at all. I know this, because I had a true, honest to goodness epiphany a few weeks ago. And it was this: I am a Very Intense Person. A V.I.P. I didn't realize it. I didn't realize I was an intense type-A. I was watching Small deal with some friend politics and listening to her sadness, her frustration, her anger--I got a gooooooood look at what I actually must look like to everyone else. And what I saw made me realize that as an adult, I should be saying Oh Well a lot more often. There is a freedom that comes with age, which is the realization that you are not everyone's cup of tea, and I delight in that particular thing. But what I do to myself is something else entirely. I am JUST realizing that I can't bend the world to my will, no matter how hard I try. And I have to say, that is a pretty sucky realization to have, no matter how necessary it is. 

Being of the mother of three vastly different children with incredibly different needs, my skill at micromanaging, organizing and advocating has been both necessary and highly successful. I am no shrinking violet (you can laugh here) and being the loudmouth has been an integral part of my parenting. With children, you ARE in charge, whether you choose to act that way or not, and the Type-A is helpful if you are trying to juggle. But a few years back, when the crew was younger, I realized there was so much I had to let go, things that mattered to me that I could not manage. The housecleaning had to stop carrying such a big connection to my success as a stay at home mom, I could not keep up with everything and not be anxious all the frigging time. That was the biggest one, because having a tidy house makes me feel calm in general, and accepting that it was going to look the way most houses with three disgusting children looks, was not a comfortable one for me. Not volunteering in the classroom anymore. Not caring if my children were well dressed, as long as they were clean.  Never, ever worrying about what was petrifying under the minivan seats. Always, ALWAYS being on time. And trying to force my children to always listen to me and always do what I say. And as I let each one of these go, I felt both nausea and relief, and neither have ever completely gone away. But I have let them go, I have. I can't make the children neat. I can't make the Dell repair guy come on time, if at all. And most importantly, I can't make my children do what I want every single time.  I can hope, but not expect. And I should know that by now.

Now, I have mentioned this epiphany to several friends, all of whom looked at me blankly and then started laughing. My thinking I was somewhat mellow is the source of mirth amongst those who say they love me.  But for clarification,  I am now substituting "passionate" for "intense". Intense sounds overly serious and rigid to me, a person who can't go to sleep without flossing her teeth. Passionate sounds more full of life and more devil-may-care, more spontaneous and celebratory. Passionate makes music and stays up late making trouble. Passionate loves with her whole heart. That's what I'm going for. So watch out, my dear friends, because I may french kiss you on sight just to make a point. My forties are about passion, not flossing. Well, maybe flossing, too. Maybe a little flossing. 

Monday, October 19, 2009

Dear Sugar Snow

I am putting on my pretentious beret and my air of self-importance to answer some of the questions loyal Sugar Snow readers have sent me. And one thing to note--the weirdness in the typeface on the last answer is some weirdness of this blogging site. There is no particular significance to it. Try as I might, I couldn't fix it. Oh, well.

Dear Sugar Snow, You often write about aging and your fight against it. What is the most current weapon in your beauty arsenal? N.G., San Francisco, CA

Well, N.G., this is one of my favorite issues since I am decaying on a daily basis. And right now, I am all about ERADICATING and ERASING signs of aging. There are many products out there that promise to Decrease the troughs and furrows (and notice the pun on "crease"! Those smug advertising bastards!) but I have decided that that is the pussy way of dealing with it. I literally want to remove any signs that I am past my most dewy, and I will use violence to do so. My most recent tool is StriVectin, which promises to cure my incipient turkey neck. Whether or not it is ACTUALLY working or I NEED it to work is not clear,  but thus far I am very pleased with the current deturkification of my throat and smoothening of my decolletage. One of many weapons, though, N.G., and always on the hunt for more.

Dear Sugar Snow, You never write about politics, and I wonder why you are so reluctant to share your political leanings?  P.D., Portland, ME

My darling P.D., it is true that I avoid talking about politics. My general feeling is that no one gives a shit what my opinion is about striking farmers in France that throw CARROTS at government buildings. And if I had an opinion on that, it would be that the group of farmers in Avignon that did that are giant wusses compared to the farmers that burned hay bales on the Champs d'Elysses, and may as well have sauteed up their weapons with a little butter and some cumin. By and large, I try to stay out of public discussions that degenerate into someone being called a troglodyte and a mouth-breather.  I have a cadre of  libertarian Ayn Rand followers who read me religiously and I do not want to alienate them, just as I do not want to anger the leftie pinkos, because I would have no friends. But I do feel very strongly about one thing: there is a deep desire on the part of a certain minority group to indoctrinate our youth in a particularly heinous way, and we must unite and fight.  I want a Strong America! Thus, I advocate that we teach the Australian people a lesson and keep UGG boots OUT of our country. They may be warm, but they are ugly, and aren't we ugly enough?  I know it is politically correct to embrace all styles and colors, but I CANNOT stay silent any longer. Go Back To The Outback, UGG. We don't need your kind here.

Dear Sugar Snow,  Being a famous singer, you must be recognized on the streets of Boston and beyond on a regular basis. How do you stay so humble? B.K., Chicago, IL

Thank you, B.K., for that lovely compliment. I try very hard, and I am thrilled that the humility comes through in my writing. The truth is, though, that I'm not humble. At all. It's just too much work. I recognize my gifts and would be foolish to pretend that they aren't exceptional. I can't go to Whole Foods to pick up my dairy free sorbet bars without people buying overpriced gladioli and thrusting them into my arms. I try to avoid the eyes of all the parents at my childrens' elementary school, because they SO want to be acknowledged by me, and the demands on my time for appearances are endless.  But what I have learned from all this fame is that appearances matter, and if you SEEM humble, it doesn't matter if you ARE humble. So I do stop and sign autographs wherever I go, and patiently pose for pictures. Inside, though, I am rejoicing at my superiority. And laughing at you.

Dear Sugar Snow,  Your writing is full of anger and sarcasm. Are you really as angry and sarcastic in real life? W.G., Delray Beach, FL

W.G, that is a good question. Blogs are only half truths, really, because if you ACTUALLY wrote what you wanted to write, no one would speak to you ever again. I have enough sense to keep it PG-13 on the blog. While for some, blogging is therapeutic, and lets that bottled emotion out, for me, it is a mere dribble from my vast ocean of snarkery. I am actually MORE angry and MORE sarcastic in real life.  I have passed down all my expletives to my children, just as my father did with me. My children may not know what a "fucking douchebag" is, exactly, but they definitely know that Mom will try to run one down on 128 if she is cut off.

Anything YOU want to know? I'm happy to answer questions, especially ones I ask myself and attribute to other people.  Happy Monday!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Less is MORE

So the Heavenly Bed really is heavenly. This is a Westin Hotel thing, this Heavenly Bed, and this weekend I tested this purported heavenliness. King size, with a billion pillows of  all bizarre shapes and sizes, those duvets and feather beds and complicated arrangements of sheets and blankets that adds up to a giant, delicious, high threadcount sleeping bag--yes, I was in my heaven. And I didn't have to share. At 1 a.m. on Friday night, I had a cold Diet Coke, a large bag of M&M's and a stack of magazines, as happy as can be. Until I opened More. 

The tagline on More magazine is "Celebrating What's Next", and the concept is this is a magazine for those unfortunates (like me) over 40.  Never mind the celebrities on the cover, devoid of any and all actual signs of aging--no claw marks between the brows, no turkey neck, no lines anywhere. And the incredible irony of the quote that is attributed to 53 year old Sela Ward on the cover: The biggest gift of age is not being afraid anymore. Sela Ward is, I'm sure, a lovely woman who would look utterly unrecognizable from this wax museum piece on the cover of More, if I happened to run into her at the car wash. But hey, that's Hollywood, and fear of aging and photoshop are standard. I don't even really look at those pictures, though LZ did point out the huge amount of de-turkefying of the neck they did on this photo, and since she and I are engaged in intense StriVecting to address this heinous sign of age (read her brant here:, she was more in tune to that particular absence than I. 

No, the celebrities are the least of it. I already expect to be made to feel inferior for looking human at age 43. But I was supremely irritated at the gushy layout of the Infinity Dress by Donna Karan and it's attached pictures. For $995, you get a sleeveless black tube of matte jersey with two super long skinny black sash type things growing out from the armpits and the OPPORTUNITY to turn this into 7 different dresses by performing knots only a Boy Scout could master and gymnastics not seen since the 1976 Olympic Games.  Literally, manage to twist those two long tentacles around your neck in just the right way, without asphyxiating yourself, and Dress Number 1 is the black sausage casing with accompanying noose. The challenge of Dress Number 6, should you choose to accept it, is to create the Empire Waist version,  which, contrary to how the pictures look, is NOT the Bandeau Dress, Dress Number 3, or that would be only 6 looks and up the price per dress from $142.14 to $165.83. Leaving the appendages to hang does not even count as a dress, and More cheats by adding a cream colored tank, so technically one DRESS is now a SKIRT (Dress Number 7). The actual visual of all this versatility isn't available for your perusal at the More site, unfortunately, but the Oprah site ( has upped the ante by 1. adding jewelry accoutrement for the belt and 2. dress styles More does not have, thus lowering your price per dress. And should you have issues with flabby arms, which the 12 year old model in the More photos doesn't have, you can buy a long sleeve version for only $1095. And personally, I believe that hiding the chicken wings is worth an additional $14.86 per dress, but I may be in the minority there. 

I, personally, do not have much call for this many little black dresses, because restaurants that serve chicken fingers do not have a dress code,  and I certainly don't live in fear of wearing the same one twice (at Friendly's) and being shunned for it. But this is the apparel version of The Container Store Myth: Buy this and it will make your life EASIER. This dress will, in reality, make getting dressed a stressful, contorted agony, with the added value of the guilt over spending all that money and being unable to find  a way to make ONE STYLE flattering. Loser. Most of us are simply hoping for a dress that doesn't accentuate our back fat and zips without breath holding. In other words, a dress that FITS. One. One really good one. 

And THEN, as if a lineless Sela Ward and being intimidated by an expensive straightjacket isn't annoying enough , there is a feature that actually tells you you are WRONG. WRONG WRONG WRONG. In the area called More Style: Fashion for Grown Ups, it says:

Is Your Closet TOO YOUNG?  This More reader has been dressing like a high school student her entire adult life, but thanks to Tim Gunn she got the wardrobe reinvention she needed. Turn the page for her fantastic makeover

The capital letters and italics are THEIRS, not MINE. Tim Gunn is the hilarious straight (ahem) man on Project Runway, and he is given the task here of correcting the fashion wrongs of the hapless shlubettes that apparently comprise More's readership.  The results of this fantastic makeover are at the top of the page here. Now, I grant you that this 55 year old woman dresses in a way that I would not, but she works in advertising, which places a premium on creativity and originality. I have pondered the question many times of what dressing in age-appropriate fashion is, and realize that by anyone's criteria, I would be utterly inappropriate. And so fucking be it. This woman has made it this far in the advertising field dressing like HERSELF, and now he is turning her into one of The Ladies Who Lunch. Or a Stepford Wife. There is nothing at all interesting about her any longer, nothing to make her stand out from everyone else. So my feeling is this: as long as your skin is basically covered and everything fits, wear whatever the fuck you want. Unless this woman is going to get fired over her leggings, she shouldn't change a thing. Because it is HER. So fucking be it.

When I was young, I read Glamour, and that was the Version of Me that I tried to become. Then I started reading Allure, or Vogue, or W, and futilely tried to be that version. But Sela Ward is wrong. The biggest gift of age is not the lack of fear, but simply not giving a shit anymore. Not dressing for anyone else, not attempting to impress anyone else, being your own damn self and being ok with it. Saying Fuck it, this is ME. I may commit the faux pas of wearing the same little black dress for years, and I may dress like my 13 year old neighbor, but this is me. And so, on Friday night, at 1 a.m., with my hand in a large bag of M&M's, I threw More onto the floor and opened Us. And it was Heavenly.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

An Extra Pissy Tuesday Rant

Meet Gwen Thompson, the newest American Girl doll by Mattel. She’s homeless. Her back story contains a deadbeat dad, a strained single mom, and a life literally rooted on the streets. Gwen sleeps in a car, according to the book accompanying the doll. Yet 4-year-olds will be begging their parents to add the blond-haired, brown-eyed doll to their collection. The American Girl website tags her as soft and huggable, in an embroidered lace dress and pink headband - adornments that might be denied to young girls living out of shelters. The toymaker claims that the doll promotes awareness of a real-life social issue. But at $95 apiece? Parents should think twice about spoiling their children with this overpriced doll. A better lesson might be a donation to a charity that helps homeless children, unlike the make-believe Gwen.

This was in the editorial section of yesterday's Boston Globe. And I have to admit, that when I read it, I laughed. Now, I was suffering from occasional bouts of hilarity throughout yesterday anyway, brought about my the information that my ex won the Nobel Prize, which seemed unreal and weird in and of itself. And then, this marvelous piece of comedy above. I thought, This cannot POSSIBLY be real. It is just too..what? Ridiculous? Ironic? Dumb? Yes to all of the above. But the Globe has a notorious no-hilarity policy on the editorial page (actually, aside from Christopher Muther, it is unfunny all around) and thus I decided to check out the American Girl website and then blog on and on about the political incorrectness and all-around yuckiness of this doll. And I found...nothing.

Oh, the doll is there, although you have to really look for her. She is not amongst the Historical Characters dolls, like the newest shtetl darling, Rebecca Rubin. She is not listed with the Just Like You dolls, the dolls you design in your own image, because what child would design a $95 doll to be HOMELESS, just like they are?  So aside from the Bitty Baby and Bitty Twins, and Chrissa, Girl of the Year, Gwen was AWOL. So I searched her name. It turns out that Gwen is a friend of The Girl of the Year, and is connected that way. When you click on Gwen, whittling down from the Chrissa Starter Collection ($178) to the Chrissa and Gwen Friend Collection ($175) and finally to the Gwen Doll and Paperback ($75 with optional hairbrush for an additional $7), there is nothing but a description of the swag you get when you buy this doll. Nowhere on the American Girl site is ANY information, at least that I could find, describing the deadbeat dad and the homelessness. The only reference is in the reviews, where mothers who have purchased these overpriced Children of the Corn try to justify themselves and dismiss the "controversy".

Not for nothing, people, but these dolls are ugly. I was a doll girl (yes, it is true, non-believers) and this is NOT a doll I would look at as a cuddly, lovey thing who would bear the brunt of my childhood anger with a glassy-eyed smile. THIS is a Doll bought by doting grandparents, that sits on a stand, a Doll that gets a new outfit, book or pet llama (as is the case with Chrissa) every Christmas. So I don't understand the cult of The American Girl Doll anyway, just on looks alone. It is a monstrous business, with a Bistro where you can dine with your Doll, and a salon where your Doll can get her hair STYLED, she can be PAMPERED and have her EARS PIERCED. But ok, as ridiculous as this is, and it definitely is, people can choose to spend their money anywhere they please. Want to take your doll out for a festive meal? As long as I don't have to be there, it's fine with me.

BUT. Please. This is just TACKY. Paying $95 for a HOMELESS doll? I may fall pretty far to the left on most social issues, and I am all for learning about other cultures and whatnot, but really, this is a marketing opportunity disguised as social awareness. This is the very, very ugly side of political correctness. This pristine and homely doll is going to teach privileged suburban children about homelessness? Really? REALLY?? 

You know what, American Girl? If you want to use this terrible and very real problem as a way to line your coffers, donate a large portion of the profits to an actual homeless shelter. Where ACTUAL homeless children live. But don't hide it. Put Gwen's homeless story, loser dad and living in the car prominently on your site. You can't have it both ways. Embrace your incredibly bad taste and do something about it.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Monday Morning Slap in the Face

It is 7:55, and I am sitting at my desk, fuming. I had envisioned writing  a clever little piece about celebrating my birthday and all the attending hoopla, but that has been shot to hell by the sound of stomping feet and slamming doors over my head. Ah, the delightful routine that is called Getting Ready for School. Did I mention it is 7:59? And school starts at 8:00? 

Every fucking morning. I am going out of my mind. The Husband and I are at our wits' end dealing with this particular form of torture. And our torturer is short, and cute, and seven years old. She is in league with the devil himself. This is Small, ladies and gentlemen, Small only in name. She has the unique ability to ruin my mood before I have one, the power to overturn an entire household with her fury inducing ways. It is now 8:09, and she is FINALLY the fuck out of the house. I am watching her walk to school with The Husband, in the clothes she had to choose, the sneakers she had to find, and that distinctly Small sour look on her face.

And she does all this by refusing to get up.

That is a gross understatement, really, because that is not all she does. She has brought in the fine arts of whining and disagreeing as well, but it starts pretty much the same way every day. The wake up process starts an hour before school starts. The house is not (or is it ever) quiet, of course, with Medium singing his Guns n Roses and picking out his rock t-shirt du jour, and me cursing and wrestling with Large's abundant hair.  The dogs bark at every dog walking by, The Husband has left the radio on downstairs, and my ubiquitous space heater for my feet is humming in my office. And so the robotic repetitions of "GET UP" begin. Small, it's 7:15. Small, it's 7:20. Small it's 7:22! GET UP! Large gets on the bus, Medium flees to school to meet his friends and avoid the drama he knows is coming. So it is US vs HER. Alone.

By around 7:30, when my blood pressure has already started to make it's climb, the whining begins. That is always the first sign of life, that she has acknowledged that there is an expectation that she is going to get out of bed, get some clothes on and go to school. But the whine--god, the WHINE--makes me want to bypass the gun and manually push the bullet into my skull. It sounds like Charlie Brown's teacher in a higher pitch and equally incoherent-wawawawaWAAAAAAAAAAAA. 

"What are you wearing?"




"Oh, my god, WHAT???"  until I lose it totally, throw some clothes at her, which she then refuses to wear, and I start in on my morning speech. We can't go through this every day, Small. Every day! I am starting out my days in a very bad mood, and you are late. EVERY DAY! I know you don't like to wake up in the morning, but you HAVE TO. That's IT. There is no CHOICE. And we can't do this every day!"

And we do it EVERY DAY.

So, yes, eventually, she agrees to put something on, I brush her hair while she whines, and sometimes brush her teeth unless she deigns to do it herself. Eventually, she gets out the door for her death march to school. And she invariably turns into a ray of sunshine for her teachers and friends, while I am at home six cans deep by 8:30. 

Now, I know there are many of you reading this and saying that there is too much negotiation, (which is what my mother says,) that therein lies the problem. And, no doubt, there is. Every year of her life,a billion times a year,  when she had enraged me yet again, I would say to myself, "She is 2 (or 3 or 5 or 7) years old! Why am I having this DISCUSSION with her?"And it made me feel outwitted again. And made me feel like a bad parent. And made me cry. But fundamentally, this is Small. She has always done things her way and had a mind of her own. She cut her own hair and refused to admit it even after we found the scissors. AND THE HAIR. She wore a tuxedo as a flower girl (which indicated, to my mother, that she was going to be a lesbian), and a shirt and tie to Large's bar mitzvah. Her goal is to be in the X Games and she plays the drums and the bass. She is bright, clever, independent and misses nothing. There are so many things to love about her, and I do. When she is not making me wish for my own death. 

Yes, she is EXACTLY like me, snarky readers. And maybe it is karma, both for being the child that I was and for being the teacher that judged other parents with children I labeled as "spoiled". Blah blah blah. The universe's big fucking jokes aren't helping me get this child off to school in the morning. I need a PLAN, people, a PLAN that WORKS. A certain friend recommended Wake 'n Bake, and while I dismissed it, it is starting to sound like an option. Wouldn't this fall into the category of medicinal use?