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.

I’m a poet, you just didn’t know it

Goodbye Christmas lights and holiday sights.

Goodbye cookie baking and prime rib making.

Goodbye gift buying and bow-tying.

Goodbye White Russians for lunch, I really loved you a bunch.

Goodbye to my Santa mask, which was really up to the task, It made people smile and kept me safe all the while.

New Year’s Eve was so fun, I love a good Cosmo clearly. Thank goodness for our pod, I love them all dearly.

Resolutions were made and good wishes shared. We brought in the new year with people that cared.

So here we are in the new year, and it’s not that great so far, I fear

But I’m still thankful and full of hope, see sometimes it comes in handy to be a silly dope

So let’s keep our friends close and our naysayers at bay, and make sure you do something good for someone else today.

Things will get better, they always do, but even without the news, it’s easy to be blue.

So thank you Netflix, Hulu and HBO Max too, Bridgeton and Cobra Kai will help get me through.

So I’m sending you love and hugs Covid style, I hope this little ditty helped make you smile 😊

Vacation me

I’m off work for a few days, and it’s magic!

This week… from Christmas to New Years is amazing. A black hole of nothingness.

Why didn’t anyone tell me how great this was??

Vacation me is such a gem. She’s relaxed, and happy and almost light hearted! Almost.

I mean this isn’t my first time off this year. I took a week in July but that was different. Other people were working and I was still checking emails. Still working from the side of my vacation.

But this week. This magical week. No emails, no missed meetings, no nothing.

Listen – in general I’m not saving lives at work. What I do day to day in no way impacts the world. It should be no surprise that me not doing the work is totally inconsequential. It’s a non-event. And I couldn’t be happier.

Vacation me is mellow. Most likely because vacation me day drinks, but who’s judging?

No alarms. No schedules. Thanks to Covid no plans at all.

In the past I’d have to figure out how to visit family and friends – but not this year. Nope. Vacation me and pandemic me are a perfect match.

Am I cooking big family meals? Nope! I’m saving restaurants by not cooking and only ordering in. You’re welcome!

Am I schlepping to my relatives houses and dragging my kids along? Nope! I’m saving lives by not seeing anyone, including my own kids. Kidding.

Vacation me is so funny. Not a care in the world. Well that’s a lie, but you know what I mean.

I hope you’re taking time off. I hope your heart is getting lighter. I hope you are letting go of all the crap 2020 laid on us. It’s not easy, I know. Do what I do. Take a deep, slow breath and exhale it all out.

Vacation me has all the answers.

Vacation me thinks all will be well.

Let’s go with that. Xoxo

Winter whine

I’ve been off work for a few glorious days. I hope you’re taking some time for yourself too. It’s been great.

I started rewatching a lot of videos from my favorite self-helpie stars. Gary V, Simon Sinek, Brene Brown and even a little Tony Robins for old times sake. I’ve been desperate for positivity and optimism. My new favorite is Tabitha Brown (that’s yo bizzzness).

I love reading and watching their pithy, no nonsense advice. I can feel myself getting smarter and more zen by the minute. It’s great. Check them out if you haven’t already.

But this isn’t an appreciation post. This is a complaint.

Yes… I spent vacation getting enlightened and I’ve got some issues. Ok just one issue.

Each of them has a quote or a video or an article on why you shouldn’t expect things from others. The basic lesson is that the reason you’re (I’m) let down is because of the expectations set for those around us. Stop doing it they say. You’ll be happier they say. You’ll find it easier to get along with people.

Well duh.

Sooooo I’m not supposed to expect anything from you? Or you? Or me?

Fuuuuuucccckkk that.

Excuse my French.

Here’s the thing. I expect a lot from myself. I expect kindness, and patience, and tolerance, forgiveness, and so much more. I expect shit from myself. I am not allowed just to be my sloth-like, bitter self. No sir. You deserve better from me. And I know it!

So why oh why can’t I expect shit from you??

I don’t want to go around wanting nothing from people. That’s what I was taught growing up. It was MY job to make things right. It was MY job to make sure people felt good. And I was up for the task. I worked hard at all my expectations. I did done good.

But after all that I feel very comfortable saying that I expect shit from people. I just do. You don’t get a free pass. Ok, maybe you did for 20 odd years while I came to terms with the fact that I deserve what I give. All of it. And if I don’t get it? Well, bye girl. On to the next one.

This notion that we shouldn’t hold others to standards and aspirations is bonkers.

I’m not crazy. I know not everyone is thinking and acting like me. That’s fine. I’ll keep doing me. But I can limit the exposure I have to people who choose to not give a shit about me or the ones l love. I don’t have to eat their selfishness. I can bucket it. Give it the two or three minutes it deserves and move on.

There are people in my life that hold themselves to the same standards – sometimes higher! There are people in my life I aspire to be. That’s what I want.

I do not want to be complicit in this idea that I can’t demand the people around me be kind, and tolerant, and patient and demanding.

Why can’t we expect things from people? Why can’t we want to be treated and loved as we treat and love?

I’m no longer interested in passive, vapid relationships. I did that for a long time. Cause I’m nice. And I don’t want to hurt your feelings. And I’m a coward. Let’s be honest. I’m a chicken shit and I don’t like to make trouble.

But trouble is real. And if I’m real, I can admit that I expect things from you.

By the way, I’m not talking about birthday cards and phone calls. I’m horrible at both.

I have friends I don’t talk to often, some that I haven’t talked to in years. But they send a quick note if they hear things are bad.. or good. I get a text or an IM with a good wish. I try to do the same. Is it mandatory? No. Is it something I want in a friend? Yep.

I also have friends I talk to daily. My expectations of them are totally off the charts! Different than the folks I just text once a year. But I want them to hold me to a standard too. That’s how it should be.

What is this free-flowing, expect nothing relationship that’s so great for us? It’s a hoax. Doesn’t exist.

Everything isn’t easy. Everything isn’t a meme or a tweet. Real things require commitment. Require bending. It’s ok. It doesn’t mean you are losing or somehow inferior.

Expectations aren’t negative shackles – they are goal posts. There’s nothing wrong with wanting more, from people, from situations, and from yourself.

You’re not a delicate flower. And the people around you aren’t either.

I’m sorry Brene, and Simon and Gary. I love you all but I’m not buying the whole “expect nothing and never be disappointed” vibe.

I’d rather be disappointed than dead inside.

Be angry at the right people

I’m no therapist. I don’t even play one on TV. It’s also very likely that I actually need a therapist. But I do try to be self aware and aware of others. It doesn’t always work. There are many times I walk away from someone or a situation and I’m not proud. I try hard when I feel a sense of injustice or anger to take a moment to think through what’s happening.

In the past few weeks I’ve noticed a lot of angry interactions. I’m sure you have to. I’m not talking about road rage (which I don’t get, if you want to pass me – please pass me. I hope you win the invisible race you’re in with yourself). I’m talking about those small, bickering, biting conversations that happen at the customer service counter, or the register, or at the restaurant (when we were allowed in).

Here’s some scenarios I’m talking about:

You see your waitress running around trying to cover twice as many tables as usual and you’re upset you’re coffee wasn’t refilled. You qualified for a free turkey but never picked it up, now you want the store to make good – weeks later – even though the program expired. Or you’re on the phone with a customer representative in Taiwan or India trying to fix your cell phone charges and you’re having trouble with the language barrier.

You start slowly getting upset. You feel like you’re being ignored at the restaurant. You feel like the grocery store you spend hundreds of dollars in every week should treat you better. You are so frustrated that you have a problem and on top of everything you’re dealing with, now there are translation issues. So what do you do?

Do you say something snarky to the waitress when she finally comes to the table, or the cashier at the store, or do you blow-up on the representative on the phone? I know I’ve done all 3. I’m sure you have too.

Here’s the new game I try and play in my head. Every time a person in a situation frustrates me I think,” is this the person I should really be mad at?”

The answer, almost all of the time, is no. Now I’m not talking about “redirected” anger or some other clinical stuff I know nothing about. If you have daddy issues and you’re yelling at pedestrians, this post isn’t about you. I’m just talking about normal, everyday pissy behavior.

And to that point, I guess this post should really be about not getting angry at all. We should be preaching peace on earth and forgiveness, etc. Which is right – and I’m into it. But I’m also into getting yourself worked up sometimes. It’s ok. It’s good for you.

I didn’t grow up thinking that. No, we had a very quiet, let-the-anger-simmer-underneath house. Not a lot of yelling. But don’t worry – what we lacked in shouting, we made up for in passive aggressive dinners.

Maybe many of you grew up in yelling houses. Where there were big, loud fights all the time. Maybe that’s better? Who knows. Or maybe there’s a happy middle. Not the underground buried anger – but also not the hot volcano of doom. A medium, appropriate amount of rage for every situation. I dunno.

This has been a trying year for many reasons. The least we can do is forgive ourselves for losing our shit every once in a while. I’m just asking you to direct it at the right people.

If the restaurant isn’t staffed right, that’s the manager or owners fault. If you don’t want to complain to them – you should pick another place to eat. The grocery store cashier has rules he/she was told to follow. You arguing at the register is a waste of time. And for gods sakes don’t go to customer service. They can’t help you change the system Norma Rae, calm down! Ask for a store manager and move aside so the rest of us can pay and get out.

And then there’s my all time favorite. If you are upset at the 20 year old call center rep, in some third world country, who is probably working 15 hours a day for 1% of minimum wage in this country and considers the job a blessing – you are angry at the wrong person! This young man or woman didn’t steal a job from anyone. They were given a golden ticket to get out of poverty in their country by a corporation that did not want to pay a living wage in the US. Find the CEO of that company, probably playing golf in Florida or Arizona, and be upset with them. Or at the very least, just ask to speak to the most senior person they can get you to.

I sound like I’m a cool cucumber all the time. Lie! Not true. I’ve been so mean to phone reps they’ve hung up on me. And what did that get me? Nada. Nothing.

I know people who ask for a manager are now called Karen’s. I fully own up to being a Karen sometimes. And I also know most people, like my family, would rather eat nails than make a fuss anywhere. But sometimes you have to, and it’s ok. It’s ok to be want something fixed. It’s ok to want things done the right way. That shouldn’t make you a Karen. But the how and who matter.

Thank the waitress who is overwhelmed. Thank the cashier who bagged your groceries. Be kind to people trying to make a small living. If they are annoyed, if they are iterated, it’s because they are in this with you. Not against you.

Now go get your free turkey Karen, you earned it.

2011 in 2020

Way back in 1995, we were gifted a very special ornament from a Pier One collection called Li Bien. These are hand painted from the inside (which is what li bien means in Chinese, from the inside) and each one has the year on it.

This started a tradition. Our first tradition ever.

And a collection. Every year since then we are gifted another one. Sometimes two. I love them. I have dreams of my kids taking them to their homes. And the packaging! For me it’s all about the packaging. These little beauties come in a velvet box.

This year, since we’re all trapped at home together, the kids and my husband helped me decorate the tree. A job that usually takes me 2 hours was done in 15 minutes. Mostly because the crew wanted it over and done with. Still counts as family time right?

As we were unpacking the ornaments, I was telling the kids – for the millionith time – about how much these mean to me etc. I was also telling my 17 year old son who is all arms and legs to be gentle, delicate. As I said this, I went and dropped an ornament. A Le Bien ornament. 2011 to be exact.

I was devastated. I wanted to throw-up.

I know there are bigger things to be upset about. I tried to pretend it was ok. My husband, who is usually one to make a big joke out of a mistake like that, stayed silent. He knew.

I took a deep breath and shook it off. It’s just our ONLY yearly tradition. No biggie. It’s just the ONE thing we have that connects us to family through time and space. It’s fine.

Cut to last night. When my husband brought in this little gem.

He went on Ebay, found the old ornament, and got it for me.

And I cried.

When people ask me how it’s possible that I married someone I met at 19 and never looked back – it’s because of this story. And a hundred others like it.

He knows me, from the inside.

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