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 ❤️

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.

Mirror/Window

Soooooo I know I told you that I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts. I revert back and forth between informational ones and pure garbage. If I’m honest I still lean heavy on the garbage end. And I think I’ve decided that I’m an auditory learner. I’m never reading a book again! Just kidding. I just think it’s so much easier to retain what I’ve heard vs what I’ve read (also I can’t see anything anymore so there’s that). Anyway these podcasts are making me super interesting. I think I’m smarter too. I hardly ever use exclamation marks anymore! Are you rolling your eyes yet?

I heard one last week that has stuck with me. I think about it every day. It was about how people react to mistakes.

Mistakes. I make them. Everyday. Big ones. Small ones. Mean ones. Dopey ones. I’m a master mistake maker.

That doesn’t really bother me too much. Most of the time I know the intent was good. And I’ve been trying to do what I see many men do… just shrug it off. No apologies. No nothing. Just….oh yeah, that’s wrong. Oh well. Instead of sinking into the deep well of misery and self loathing which is my first instinct.

But the podcast wasn’t about mistakes. It was about how people, specifically leaders/parents/partners react to them.

When something goes wrong, where do you go first. The mirror or the window?

Are you drawn to the actions you created, the things you may have done to cause the error/fight/mistake/lapse in judgement – or do you immediately look to blame the outside world? Your partner, your child, your co-worker or colleague.

This isn’t rocket science. And those of you that are used to spending time thinking about deep things will probably think this is highly simplistic. But remember, I spent most of January still thinking about the Hilaria Baldwin scandal and whether or not I should get an eyeliner tattoo. I told you I lean garbage.

So this week I spent some time thinking about it. Spoiler alert, things went wrong this week. There were errors. F’ ups. Each time something happened I stopped and did the mirror/window approach. Another spoiler. I lean window! It seems that I think most of the things that go wrong in my life are the fault or actions of other people/things/situations. I’m really surprised by this in all seriousness.

In my mind I am very self-critical and hard on my actions. But in reality – I let myself off the hook pretty often. Like almost immediately. I’m like….oh that….I’m good. That’s that other moron’s fault. The storyline of my mistakes has me as the victim way too many times.

It’s a work in progress. I’m a work in progress.

Anyway just sharing. Today is Friday and it’s sunny. I’m going to go for a looooonnnngggg walk and listen to another podcast. Probably about Hilaria Baldwin or eyeliner tattoos.

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.

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