Mask on? Mask off?

I just went to the grocery store this weekend. On the door it says, “If you HAVEN’T been vaccinated, we RECOMMEND a mask”. But when you enter the store there’s a sign that says, “Don’t forget your mask!” – just like that. With a friendly exclamation point. You could also take the exclamation mark as an order, but I’m assuming best intent here.

Almost everyone in the store had a mask on. A few didn’t. Even the workers were a mixed bag. Some had it on, some didn’t. I ended up putting it on. Then I was in the pickle aisle and no one had it on, so I took it off. Then I went to the diary aisle and everyone had it on, so I put it back on. I’m losing my mind.

I liked it when we were all doing the same thing. Wearing masks or not wearing masks. This weird middle time is not good for me.

Now this post isn’t for those that believe there’s no virus or that this is a global hoax. No, bless your hearts, you can keep going about your day.

This is for those people like me. I know it’s real. I followed all the rules. I made a pod. Wore the mask. I tried to be as safe as possible. But when restaurants opened up slowly last year – we went. First only outdoor, but then slowly indoor. When stores opened – we went. When vaccines came out, we got it.

We have close friends that have lost family to Covid. I’m not diminishing the severity of what we just went through – but I’m also desperately wanting it to be over.

Isn’t it possible for me to completely believe in the science of it and also want to wear lipstick again? I’m just so done with it.

If there was a scale from 1-10, 1 being the folks who thought it was a hoax, and 10 being the people who washed their delivered groceries in the garage until last week – I’m a solid 6. Maybe a 5.5. My family was careful for sure. But not the most careful, if you know what I mean.

At the beginning of the month we had a family wedding where there were literally people called “mask police”. Worst job since Norton on the Honeymooners. They would follow you around and if you were not sitting – you needed your mask on. Fair enough. My entire family was fully vaccinated at that point but I did what they asked. No big deal.

Compare that to a week ago when many of the restaurants near us dropped the capacity rules. My husband and I did our all time favorite thing. We had dinner at the bar. They still had those plastic shields up, but it was great. I want more of that.

I want no masks. I want parties. I want to go to Shoprite without hyperventilating and figuring out which aisle I’m allowed to walk into. But I want everyone to do it together. Impossible?

I thought it would be easier. I thought I’d be ok with the “you do you” approach. But it’s causing me anxiety.

You know who I like? Airports. I like airports. They have a rule. Everyone needs a mask. Done and done.

You know who I also like? All the places we went to this past weekend on the Jersey shore. They had no signs at all. No one wore a mask. Not even the servers. So we didn’t either. And we were not sorry.

I like wearing a mask on a plane or a train. I don’t like wearing a mask almost anywhere else.

I cannot be the only one. Mask haters when fully vaccinated unite!

Happy maskless Monday. Maybe.

oil and vinegar

May 12, 1996 was a Sunday. Mother’s Day.

It was also the day that my husband and I eloped.

Today is our 25th anniversary. Our silver jubilee!

Last night at 10:40pm my husband of a quarter of a century said,” what do people do for their 25th anniversary? A party or something?”

He’s all mine ladies. Has been for multiple lifetimes according to some. Let me explain.

Because I like to throw money away, I go to a lot of psychics and readers. One of these readers told me that Joe and I have been married before. Many times. During many lives.

Really? Us? I loved hearing it and yet instantly doubted it.

“That’s so funny because really we are like oil and water” I said,” very different”

The reader took both my hands (this was way before Covid) and looked me dead in the eyes.

“Oil and water? No no, that’s not right. You are oil and vinegar. You emulsified. Transformed. You are perfect together” she said.

I cried ofcourse. And gave her a big tip. All these years I walked around thinking we were oil and water. Never mixing. Two different to combine. She turned it upside down. Or maybe she right sided it. She may have been a total hoax, I’ll never know. I didn’t go back to her again. I was afraid the magic moment would never happen twice.

So today, to celebrate this union of salad dressing, I thought I’d share some moments from our 25 years. These pictures doesn’t show the fights and pain and anger and sorrow – which are in between these happy moments.

It’s been good and bad and better and worse. It’s been everything you can probably imagine and everything you’ll never know. Thanks for letting me share.

How it started…

90s dorm room fashion! Denim on Denim
He went to an empty classroom and surprised me with this. I walked out of my class to go to the next one and he was there, waiting to show this to me. Creepy and cute
So many questions with this one. 1) Why did we feel the need to take a pic in front of Walmart? 2) We brought a camera to Walmart? 3) Who the heck took the pick?

We graduate and elope!

May 12, 1996, East Hampton NY
This is where our honeymoon pic should be. But because we eloped so quickly the first trip my new husband took was with his best friend to London and Amsterdam. Every new marriage should start with a trip apart. Not
This was a year later. Our honeymoon trip to Bermuda. I look at this pic and only see my healthy, shiny hair. I have issues.

This next set of pics is called – BABIES HAVING BABIES (on purpose)

Kera in my big belly, our NYC railroad apartment
Sure! Stand in the middle of Lexington Ave in NYC with a newborn in your hand. Totally safe. You’re in good hands baby girl!
Jack in my big belly, Fishkill, NY

Since it’s my Jubilee (said like Elaine says fiancé on Seinfeld), I’m going to be indulgent and keep sharing…

Joe told us he was taking us to tour Martha’s Vineyard. In reality we toured all the spots they filmed the movie Jaws. I was less than pleased.
Brussels for the day. We took the metro from Paris. Everyone spoke English.
Ugly sweater contest that I won but my neighbor stole the votes (I know what you did Jeff!)
I now like a beach thanks to this man. I also like an umbrella, a visor, and SPF 100.
One of my favorite pictures. Nothing makes him happier than a belly full of steak. I think I had creamed spinach that night. Thanks for nothing Peter Lugers.

The years, the months, the hours. I remember every minute of it, and yet it’s a blur! From the missteps we made, to the mountains we moved together, I’m so happy we went for it.

Love you Joseph.

RIP Small Talk

So the last post was about unwanted conversations and maybe this is part 2? Or a prequel? It’s connected for sure.

I don’t know what’s going on but I’m finding myself much less willing to chit chat.

I’ve never loved small talk but lately I have no use for it.

Last week I joined a call early and found myself alone with someone I barely know at work. She started the usual weather convo and I just couldn’t do it.

I asked her how she survived Covid. Did she get sick? Did she know anyone that did? Does she live alone?

Let’s just say she was surprised by the direction of the conversation. I think her response was,” yeah it’s ok” before someone else joined and she was put out of her misery.

Maybe it’s because last year brought me all the feels. Sadness. Anger. Stillness. Joy. How am I expected to come out of a Global Pandemic and a social justice juggernaut unaffected?

I can’t talk to you about weather! We were just in a fox hole making banana bread to avoid the news. Don’t you have PTSD when you look at puzzles like I do? We’ve changed together haven’t we?

I want to know more about you. And faster.

Did you spend last year alone? Or where you trapped with your family?

Did you think it was a hoax? Or did you wash delivered groceries in the garage with gloves on?

Did you get a pet or a therapist or both? I need to know.

Are you like me, feeling optimistic and ready to party? Or are you still cautious and taking it slow?

I sound like a lot. Maybe I’m the unwanted conversation now.

I don’t want to sound cheesy and say that I’m appreciating things more and enjoying things more – but I kinda am.

I still don’t want to hear an Uber driver tell me his deepest darkest racist thoughts. But I do want to get to know my people more.

And by my people I mean the ones in my life. For whatever reason. Work. Friendship. Family. I’m done with small talk. That’s PC to me. Pre-Covid.

Some of you won’t notice a change at all – because we’ve always gone deep. But others I admit I can do better with.

I have always been a pretty forthcoming person. I’m a bad liar so I avoid it most of the time, which is a good thing. But I’m also bad about bringing up tough stuff. I have a habit of keeping things “light”. I want to change that up a bit. I mean there will still be time for vapid, silly rabbit holes about Bravo shows and I’ll never let go of Tik Tok – but it’s time for balance, I think.

I hereby pledge to not ask surface, generic questions. I promise to listen – really listen – not just think of a response as you’re talking. I promise to ask more things about you and talk less about me. And I promise not to take you for granted. Not for a minute. I’ve missed our time together and if we get it back – I’m using it better.

Don’t be scared. It sounds intense but it won’t be. It’ll just be Big Talk. Deep Talk. Fun Talk. Sad Talk. Real Housewives Talk. Anything but Small Talk.

Are you in?

9 years older and none the wiser

I can’t believe this blog is 9 years old. I don’t feel a day over 2.

I highly recommend writing a blog. It’s super fun. You get to pretend people want to hear what’s on your mind. You get to spout off the nonsense that’s rattling in your head.

Most days I have nothing to write about. Other days there’s so much to say.

I have a dozen posts in drafts that never saw the light of day. Mostly because they were awful. You’re welcome.

So 9 years went by. I took breaks. Long ones. But I’ll still celebrate the milestone. Besides my kids I haven’t grown anything for 9 years.

What will the 10th year bring?? More cooking posts? More skincare posts? More deep, intelligent thoughts about Oprah and bread? Yes. All of it.

Why don’t you write a blog? I’m telling you it’s easy. You can do it. I’ll read it. I’ll be your first follower.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for commenting. Thank you for all the texts and notes about the posts I’ve written. I love doing it.

Lookout for the WMEP Podcast coming soon… JK JK

Don’t try to buy milk at a hardware store

Isn’t that a great line? It’s not mine.

Heard it yesterday from a not-that-old wise woman in my life.

It fits so much of what I struggle with sometimes. All the time.

Why am I buying milk (or milk substitute in my case) from the hardware store?

It’s not the store’s fault. The store has told me very clearly what they sell. Hammers, nails, tools etc. Why do I keep walking in expecting other things?

I’m not really talking about milk. Or hardware stores. But you knew that.

I’m talking about people, I’m talking about jobs, about relationships, and situations. I’m talking about my day to day shock and awe when someone or something turns out exactly as advertised. No surprises.

I’m an optimist, I think. Actually I’m a wanna be optimist. I want to believe that everything has a best intention and that if it goes South, well, that is not the norm.

Back in 1991 I fell in love with a dude who is most certainly not an optimist. He’s suspicious. Of everything. And everyone. All the time. He expects things to go South…daily. Forget milk. This is the guy who thinks the hardware store isn’t even a hardware store. I believe it comes from his upbringing. I wonder if we surveyed all the people who grew up in New York City or any city, we’d find similar traits. Last week a can opener went missing and he was convinced it was “stolen”. By who? Why? Where? Can’t find a screwdriver? Probably stolen.

In the last few decades we’ve rubbed off on each other. He’s become surprisingly upbeat. He’s opened up to being very social and outgoing. The person who would dread dinners and plans with people, now loves them. He’s rubbed off on me too. I’m a bit more skeptical and cautious. Not a bad thing.

I grew up in a bubble. The bubble was made up of carbs and sitcoms. When I left that bubble I went to the movies. Not to see gritty dramas about life in the mean streets, no no no. I went to go see every cheesy teen flick that came out. This was before rotten tomatoes started ruining my good time. I saw tons of rotten movies. Loved every minute.

So the part of my brain that should have developed some hard lessons about life and people and reality basically played 80’s theme songs in a loop. Vapid but happy.

Junior and senior year of high school were different. Different people. Different experiences. Carbs and sitcoms replaced by… well… other things.

Those are the years I started my slow and steady stockpile of expectations. A long list of demands from the universe and everyone in it. I wanted. I deserved. I demanded.

Sometimes it worked. Most times it didn’t. But I kept it up.

Those lists of demands only grew when I had kids. Oh boy did they grow.

Once they came I couldn’t imagine anyone not being completely taken with them. Who wouldn’t want to spend all their time with my angels?? Turns out…lots of people. Not everyone is cut out to show the amount of love and attention you expect people to shower your kids with. Most are capable of the minimum. But I didn’t get that. I loved the people who loved my kids. End of story. It was a simple equation for me. If you didn’t make time for them, there was no time for you.

It was harsh. Too harsh. I didn’t know that those people, the ones who never checked in on my kids, the ones who treated them like side props, I didn’t know that that was the best they could do. They didn’t know they had to do more. No one ever told them. They had no milk. If that’s what I needed, I had to look elsewhere. Didn’t mean they were bad people. It just meant they had different things to offer me.

Oh the hours of mental torture I could have saved myself if I just let it go! I’m not saying be a pushover. It’s good to have expectations of people and situations- I have LOTS of expectations. And standards. I still have a very high level that I need people, places and things to meet. But not all people. Not all things. It’s freeing to realize that my level of demands and expectations has a wall. It cannot and will not always be met.

Maybe that job won’t ever realize your worth? Maybe you’ll have to leave. Maybe that partner you have will never want to travel to Africa, go with a friend instead. Maybe we can’t expect it all in one place or thing or person. It’s frustrating. I want the all-in-one model. The Target, the Wal-Mart model. But there are no all-in-one people. No all-in-one jobs. There is no all-in-one life.

This is not revolutionary thinking. You’ve heard this all before. But I always need a reminder when I find myself slipping, being angry.

I have to take a moment and think. I have to make sure. Make sure I’m walking down the right aisle. Make sure I’m in the right store. Sometimes I am. When I’m not – I leave. There are other options.

Thank you Kathy ❤️

Diet tips…Vol.1

First have a healthy, balanced dinner.

Then walk to the kitchen, pass a pizza pie your 17 year old with a metabolic rate of a cheetah ordered as a snack and keep walking.

Loop around, go back into the kitchen once he’s done and spy the box.

Because being wasteful is bad, decide to not throw out the leftover slice. But since you’re also literally trying to walk your ass off, only cut off a small piece. Go back to watching tv.

Loop around. And again.

And again.

Calories consumed in small pieces don’t count. It’s a law.

When finished delete your 17 year olds door dash account to show him who’s boss and project your anger and guilt.

Here’s the tale visually

Vol. 2 coming soon… how to eat a donut in 29 bites.

I had a dream

No. Not that kind of dream. I wish I was having important, philosophical dreams of social justice and reform.

My dream was that I cleaned the kitchen. That’s right. Even in my dreams I’m cleaning the kitchen. I emptied the dishwasher. I wiped the counters. I swept the floor.

It’s not enough that this is what I do a hundred times a day in real life. Now I’m cleaning the kitchen in my dreams.

What is going on? I don’t usually remember my dreams. I’m a pretty deep sleeper. Well.. obviously not deep. Heavy sleeper.

I need to think sexier thoughts going to bed. This is just sad. I even had my favorite all-purpose solution bottle. The homemade one my husband gave me that says, Neha’s allpurpose solution. That was in my dream. It’s Mr. Clean blue concentrate with water. Color should be light light blue. You’re welcome.

I have been spending a lot of time on my favorite Instagram page, gocleanco. Maybe that’s it. Do you follow them? You should you filthy animal.

No worries. I’ll just spend the day asking the internet why I’m dreaming about what I’ll be doing all day anyway. The internet will know why. Worse case I’ll go to TikTok.

Happy Sunday. Hope you dreamt about Brad Pitt or finding a cure for cancer. Don’t worry about me. Maybe tonight I’ll clean the toilet in my dreams. I’m fine. Send help.

TikTok’d

Every night, I leave my husband downstairs to watch the news and head upstairs to bed. But I’m not really going to sleep. I’m going upstairs to be alone and dive deep into my TikTok hole. And I love it.

Have you done it? Isn’t it great? Synchronized dancing? Quick cooking recipes? This is the place for me. I’m sure my algorithm is totally different than yours – sometimes people tell me about some crazy video they saw, not me. My TikTok videos are a mash up of what they think a 10 year girl and her grandmother would like to see. It’s all cleaning hacks and babies dancing.

No matter what your algorithm- the one thing on everyone’s channel is the famous TikTok Feta Pasta! It’s all the rage. It all started in 2018 when a Finnish blogger posted this recipe. It didn’t catch on until this year when another Finnish blogger reposted – and all of Finland went mad over it. They ran out of feta cheese! They ran out. I mean, aren’t you glad we live in America? We may run out of toilet paper, but not cheese. Never cheese. Or wine.

Anyway – back to it.

Soon the recipe was all over TikTok. Every other video was someone making it. And because I’m easily influenced, I had to make it too.

The premise is so simple: Toss a block of feta, tomatoes and a bunch of olive oil together in a pan and throw it in the oven until softened, before mixing it all together with pasta and fresh basil (I subbed dried oregano because I didn’t have basil). I also added in garlic… well because garlic.

In the oven it goes – 375 degrees for 45 min or so. Couldn’t be easier.

Once out you mash it all together and combine with your pasta.

And… drum roll please…

It was ok. It was meh.

It was fine. I ate it. Mine came out a bit dry, so I ended up adding a dash of heavy cream. That helped. I also added a good bit of salt and pepper. That helped. And then crushed red pepper. Again it helped.

I’m really glad I added the garlic. Maybe I used the wrong feta? Maybe the Finnish feta is creamier?

Or maybe these TikTokers have never had good pasta. Or they’ve never combined pasta with cheese. Even Snoop Dog’s Mac and Cheese is better than this – I’ve tried it!

Whatever the case, I didn’t feel the euphoric high they seem to get from this dish.

I really wanted to love it. I wanted to be a cool kid. As always – not so much.

Quarantine Quiet

It’s been a very busy and exciting few weeks. So much traveling and so much entertaining! Just kidding. No real traveling. And the only person I consistently entertain is myself. But it has been busy. Let me catch you up.

4 weeks ago I was going around saying things like, “gee I’m never alone” or “what’s it like to be alone?” and “I don’t think I’ve been alone since last March”. Well as the universe does, it heard me and gave me exactly what I wanted. Immediately.

3 week ago we got a call that a family member tested positive for Covid and we needed to go take care of them. It threw us into a tailspin. How do we do this? What do we do? Well, what we did is that I moved in with them for 10 days of quarantine. My job is fully mobile and all I needed was an internet line to make it work. So I packed a bag and within hours moved myself in to help out. Here’s what I learned:

  • PPE works. I wore two masks and a face shield and thoroughly washed my hands and surfaces. After 10 days of quarantine, we both left the house Covid free (2 tests to prove it)
  • Besides work calls and family check-in time, I was completely and utterly alone for 10 days. I had lots of interactions with my jailbird, but most of the time I had to keep my distance, so the conversations were short and quick.
  • I did miss my family. But it was an amazing respite for 10 days. Lots and lots and lots of alone time. I didn’t hate it.
  • My jailbird is as strong as an ox. It’s amazing how resilient we are as humans. He was luckily asymptomatic the whole time, but it’s hard to be trapped in a room (although a comfortable one). He did it like a pro. No complaints. No trying to breakout.
  • I went for long long long walks. I went in the morning. I went at night. I went if it rained. I went if it snowed. There was nothing else to do. And I loved it. Even though the path was small and I felt like a hamster spinning the wheel, it felt so good to be outside every day. I posted some of the pics from my walks below. There’s even one of me wearing my very sexy headlight. Not sexy maybe, more Blair Witch Project, but you get it.
  • Although I got points for taking care of someone like Florence Nightingale, it felt like a selfish indulgence. It was quiet and calm and peaceful.

Thank you universe for hitting me in the face with exactly what I asked for. What should I ask for next? A billion dollars??

Speaking of ox – it’s the Lunar New Year! The year of the ox. Strong, reliable, resilient. Like my jailbird.

2 weeks ago I came back home with a renewed sense of calm. I feel like I should rent that time out to people. It could be a new thing. I could call it Quarantine Quiet Time Spa! Without a deadly disease being a part of the experience, it would be perfect.

Last week went back to “normal”. Family, work, etc. I’m still walking. Let me say just a few words about the walks. The walks have been very impactful. The walks get me out of my head. They get me away from screens. They get me outside, in the very cold air. Sometimes I talk to people on my walks. Sometimes I listen to podcasts or Howard Stern. And because it’s me, never do I listen to music. I’m a weirdo. I know. I usually walk alone. Even when I walk with people I walk alone. I’m a slow walker. I’m also short and my stride is smaller. That’s my story.

Since Christmas Eve, I’ve walked atleast 10K steps a day. It’s what the kids would call a streak.

Who knows when it will end. I’m not worried about it. I’m worried about 1 million other things, but my walks and my time alone are not one of them.

Happy new year. Happy weekend.

That’s a selfie with a headlight- you’re welcome
This was when I went for a walk with family and they left me behind to be murdered

Date Night

Every Thursday night, my husband and I go out to dinner.

I don’t remember when or how it started. Our kids got older. Weekends were busy with family and friend stuff. But Thursday was a “free” day to sneak in a date night. Before Covid when I was still commuting, it was also the last day of my commute. Friday I worked from home and didn’t have the 5:30 am alarm (remember commuting? I kinda miss it. Just a little)

Sometimes we go fancy, but more times we keep it low key. I put on some make-up and he wears his dress crocs (yes).

Sometimes we go with other people, double date night!

Where we go depends on weather, mood, and our last good meal. We’ve been known to go to the same place for months if things go well. Sometimes we go locally, sometimes we go far. A lot of couples go out to try new places, try new food. That’s not a priority for us.

Before Covid our favorite way to have Thursday date night was to sit at the bar for dinner. Yes, we are those people.

Once or twice a year we make it an overnight and sneak into New York City. Treat ourselves to a hotel.

Unless we’re sick, the rule is you can’t miss it. Does it have to be magical? Hells no.

We’ve had plenty of good fights on date night. Lots of driving home in silence. But guess what? It’s fine. We can try again next week.

Sometimes we talk about work or kids or family. Sometimes we talk about money or vacations or bills. Most often we talk about the day. We keep it light. This isn’t the night to solve major problems or make big decisions.

When things started shutting down last March, our date nights came to an abrupt halt. We spent the next few months eating at home and sheltering in. Which was nice too. Then, in early summer, things started slowly opening up. We were back in business… kind of. But it was better than nothing.

This pic is one of our earliest dates. Look at those young, care-free kids with the good hair.

Here’s the years since…

Pre-masks!

Why does be make faces?? I dunno. That’s for another post.

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