So, two weeks ago today, on August 19, 2018 at approximately 10:30 p.m., after 14 ½ hours of swimming, biking, and running, 30 +/- weeks of training, a calf strain, upper hamstring pull, menopause, cardiologist exam, root canal, Botox, and a couple good years of psychotherapy, I became an IRONMAN!Ironman

Yes, me. Little old me is now among the .01% of the population who has finished an IRONMAN! (***WARNING*** IRONMAN will now and forever be written in ALL CAPS as it is SUCH A BIG DEAL! If ALL CAPS offends you, well, that’s just too damn bad. I’m an IRONMAN now and I do what I want.)

And, for the record, I do not want or need the gender specific, #MeToo, Trump-era, P-word revisionist corruption of my hard-earned IRONMAN title. Yes, as far as I can tell, I am a woman. I am a 53 year-old woman who just completed her first IRONMAN. I passed one hell of a lot of men out there on that field and in our race there were a mere 600 +/- women to 2,200 +/- men. The event is called IRONMAN. A husband and wife team made it up back in the seventies. I understand man in this context to be the universal term for hu-MAN. With a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run, I am a f’ing IRONMAN! That’s what it should be called: F’ING IRONMAN! “MARCIA FROM LAKEVILLE – YOU ARE A F’ING IRONMAN!”

That I am an IRONMAN at all is still a bit of a shock to me. When I think of the entire distance as one thing, I just can’t make sense of it, never mind that I traveled it. The IRONMAN motto is: Anything is Possible. I truly believe this, by the way. Well, maybe not Wingardium LeviOsa or stuff like that, but I do believe that a person can make a decision to do something and do it. It’s all about the want to. (And they are growing meat in petri dishes now, so that’s kind of like magic.) I wanted to do an IRONMAN so I did it. Yes, a number Whammies popped up along the way: injuries, fear, drive, money, time, doubt, bodily function logistics, guilt, but I found a way through them all because I wanted to be an IRONMAN.

First off, I have a most excellent group of friends with whom I train and who keep me sane so I would recommend finding one of those before you head out on the pursuit of IRONMAN. Running 3+ hours alone is okay, especially if you have The Greatest Showman soundtrack on your phone, but running 3+ hours with your friends is infinitely better. Of course, since I’m too slow to keep up with my most excellent friends, I ended up doing the bulk of my run training alone, so you really don’t need to listen to me on this point. But I can say from actual experience that biking 6+ hours with friends is far better and infinitely safer than the going it alone.

With all of this biking and running, the IRONMAN In-Training learns a lot of things about human behavior. For example, lots of people drink Fireball and tiny bottles of Sutter Home wine. And lots of people throw their Fireball nips and tiny bottles of Sutter Home wine out of the windows of their cars. (This can be the only logical explanation, because in all of my hours of biking and running out on the streets of southeastern Massachusetts – we are talking hundreds of miles here – never once did I witness an actual person standing on the side of the road doing shots of Fireball or hosting tiny bottle of wine tastings.) People also smoke a lot of pot. Even at 5:30 in the morning, cars, trucks, SUVs, would whizz by me reeking of weed. Ergo, lots of people go to work stoned.

Another striking thing about humans, at least in the general vicinity of where I train, is that they hate people on bicycles. They HATE us and they readily, without the slightest provocation, commit all kinds of hate crimes against us. I have been given the finger, sworn at, honked at, yelled at, revved at, swerved at, called the B-word and the C-word – all of this and I’m a lady! None of these people give a crap whether I am an IRONMAN or an IRONWOMAN. To them I am just an IRONASSHOLE. Some of my fellow IRONMANs (IRONMANs? IRONMEN? What is the proper plural form of IRONMAN?) In-Training have been run off the road by these bike haters. And the bike haters are an equal opportunity, diverse group of folks. Men, women, children, teens, pot smokers, Fireball, and tiny wine drinkers; they come in all sexes, shapes, races, sizes, creeds, and colors, but they all stand together in their utter, unabashed loathing for the IRONMAN In-Training. So, train together everyone. If nothing else, you’ll have a witness at the attempted murder trial.

We chose the Mont-Tremblant, Quebec venue for our first IRONMAN attempt because of the favorable exchange rate we’d get when we bought all of our IRONMAN swag. Just kidding, we chose Mont-Tremblant because a training friend described it as luxurious. Yes, you heard that right, luxurious. This is a word my Partner-In-Tri, Tracy, loves saying, a lot. Tracy is 20 years my junior and a far more accomplished triathlete than me. She is also a far more reasoned, responsible and better overall human being than I am. Tracy is like Spock whereas I am like Kirk. She’s super cool, calm, deliberate, and always looks put together. I am excitable, somewhat brash, disorganized, and I sweat a lot.

Every time someone asks why we picked Mont-Tremblant, Tracy tells the luxurious story. Now, luxurious might not be the first word that springs to mind when describing a race where a considerable number of people pee on their bikes in order to save themselves eight seconds on their total race time, but apparently all IRONMAN events are fully catered. What does that mean, you ask? Well, it means there are a whole bunch of people out on the course who do stuff for you. They take off your wetsuit, they rack your bike out on the course and at the end of the bike leg, they put sunscreen on you, they have your Special Needs bag ready for you when you arrive at the Aid Stations, they hand you food and drinks, they cheer you on, they play music and tell you, “You look great!” “Great pace!” “You got this!” In short, they make you feel like Michael Jackson when you actually feel like Tito. The volunteers of IRONMAN are like the sherpas of Mount Everest – without them, no one is summiting.

We arrived at our beautifully appointed, but somewhat cave-like (there is some kind of low wattage light bulb issue in Canada or maybe everybody has come to the universal conclusion that we all look better in mood lighting) Mont-Tremblant condo three days before the race so that we could make all the necessary adjustments to our new environment. Top of my list: the poop schedule. The importance of the poop schedule for the IRONMAN In-Training cannot be overstated. You. Have. Got. To. Nail. This. Down. Before. Race. Day. Period. On a typical long bike training day, we would plan to ride at 5:30 a.m. For this IRONMAN In-Training that means waking at 4:30 so as to allow the necessary amount of time for coffee, food, Facebook, and, drumroll please, pooping. There is just nothing worse than heading out on a long training day having that unmoved bowel hanging over your head. You must do everything in your power to compel the waste to evacuate your body before you put your seat in the saddle. This is especially important on race day. Poop issues are legendary in IRONMAN. When I was on the run course, I had the unfortunate luck of opening up a portajohn where someone had most certainly pooped themselves to death. All hopes for that IRONMAN title all over the interior of that portajohn. Don’t be that person. Move the mail before you hit the road.

There’s not much to say about the time leading up to race day. When you’re this close to IRONMAN you become kind of like the John Travolta character in “The Boy in the Plastic Bubble.” You can’t go hike the beautiful Mont-Tremblant mountains because you need fresh legs for race day. You can’t drink alcohol because you need a fresh liver for race day. You can’t go too far from the condo because you’re hydrating so much that you need to pee every 30 minutes or so. And, like the Boy in the Plastic Bubble, you long to be free, to swim, bike, run with abandon, but one false move, one pinky toe against the bedpost and GAME OVER! It’s a tense, boring time, fraught with anxiety, doubt, and Will Ferrell movies.

We woke up at 3 a.m. on race day. Again, there is much to do before you step over that timing mat and you need to be on the beach, self-seeded into your swim time by 6:00(ish) a.m. The race was scheduled to start at 7:00 a.m., but there is much pomp and circumstance to get through before the starting cannon. In this case, we heard “O Canada” sung by a too twangy Canadian country singer and we had two flyovers by the Royal Canadian Air Force. I do not know if two flyovers is the standard. I think we might’ve had two because of all the fog. There was so much fog that the IRONMAN people actually thought of canceling the swim! One minute there was no Top Gun jet, the next minute, it was there, popping out of the fog like Godzilla out of the sea. It scared the **it out of us, luckily I had taken care of business hours ago back at the condo.

SwimOn to the swim. Since the fog delayed our start by an hour, IRONMAN officials were all worried about getting everyone into the water by 8 a.m. That gave mere minutes to herd 2,800, primarily Type-A, people into the lake. The staggered start became more like a herd of Walkers on assault to Hill Top, and quickly escalated into the “Don’t Panic” scene from Airplane. Because of the fog people were swimming in all different directions and all over each other. People were being punched, kicked, legs pulled, heads dunked, goggles stripped – only the wetsuits kept folks from being intimately violated! It was a moist melee!! A freestyle free-for-all! A swimming sanatorium! At least that’s what I’ve heard. I had a lovely swim. Calm, peaceful, and most likely twice as long, since I stayed way on the outside near the swim perimeter and far from the floating fracas. Unlike Tracy, who later reported an assortment of assaults, I only received one kick to the nose. Otherwise, the swim was pure joy. As it was the shortest leg of my soon to be 14 ½ hour day, I was sad to see it end.

The bike course was like Mordor. Hot, hilly, scary, lonely, and most certainly designed to claim your life. And this is coming from someone who likes riding hills. I am a hill eater. I am a hill slayer. I need my own polka dot bike jersey because I’m such a hill monster. Or so I thought. Southeastern Massachusetts doesn’t know hills. I didn’t know hills. Now, I know hills. At one point on the Hills of Mordor I was traveling at four miles per hour. Four. F-O-U-R. I was in sissy gear, standing, pushing and pulling with every muscle in my body, my very soul consumed with aspiration of ascent – going four miles per hour. I can take care of my bathroom business at better than four miles per hour. But, I never walked my bike! Not even on lap two! I drove my weary body up those hills like Frodo to the fires of Mount Doom. The downhills were another story entirely. On the downhills I was more like Nathan Lane in The Birdcage. I had heard people reached speeds of up to 60 miles per hour on some of these downhills. Not me. I am a mother. People depend on me.Bike

When it was time to get off of the bike, I rejoiced. 112 miles is really far and one’s body begins to object. I read somewhere that when competing in an IRONMAN one “gets comfortable being uncomfortable.” No truer words have been written. The Hills of Mordor in the rearview mirror I was looking forward to the run. As an IRONMAN In-Training various injuries sabotaged my run training, but I knew if I ran my heart rate and stopped as needed, I could go the distance. The trick to all of this endurance stuff is, quite simply, just keep going forward. It is also wise to learn how to pace oneself, but if that becomes too complicated, just remember start slow, finish strong. I came out of the bike transition running a nine minute mile. This is just plain silly. For me, this is Ludicrous Speed. There is no way I can sustain a nine minute mile for 26.2 miles, no way, no how. You have to keep your heart rate in the aerobic zone so your body has an endless supply of fuel to burn and you can keep moving forward. Run too fast, and you run out of fuel. Run out of fuel, stop moving forward. Sacrifice your pace in order to sustain your effort. Of course, running a 10:30/11 minute mile doesn’t exactly qualify as running and can be a little embarrassing. Coming out of transition, everyone blowing by me and me shuffling along like a Geisha who’s late for work, I felt a wee bit humiliated. But, it’s IRONMAN, so, get comfortable being uncomfortable. And, I had also read, that most of these people would be walking by the end and I would be passing them.

Eating, or fueling, as it’s called in these elite endurance circles, is vital to success out on the IRONMAN trail. The guy at the bike store told me that the sole purpose of the IRONMAN bike leg is for fueling. Eat, eat, eat, and drink, drink, drink. I don’t remember the fuel to effort calculation, but basically you need an ish ton of food and liquid to keep moving forward over the course of 14 ½ +/-hours. The typical IRONMAN In-Training learns to eat liquid food, like the spacefood John Glenn was ingesting back in the 1960s. The liquid food Tracy and I like to ingest is called Gu. Yes, Gu. Sounds like goo. Gu comes in all kinds of flavors, birthday cake, salted caramel, wild berry, and, best of all, french toast. There are also Gu waffles which are quite yummy and a welcome respite from all the mush. But after 12ish hours out biking and running, Gus tend to make you sick. It becomes almost impossible to choke back one more helping of french toast Gu and you end up feeling like Paul Newman with the eggs in Cool Hand Luke. At one point along the run, I took a bite of a chocolate waffle and just threw it in the trash. I could not ingest one more Gu product. I was the ridiculously fat dinner patron in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life on the verge of explosion. Just the thought of Gus was enough to make me want to barf. On top of that you have to drink. A lot. And you can’t just drink water, because you could die of lack of salt problems, so it is recommended that you drink Gatorade or some other kind of sports drink with electrolytes. I drank Gatorade and ate Gus all day long. One Gu per every 30 minutes on the bike and on the run. My bike time was a little over seven hours and my run time five and a half . That’s 20+ Gus (I gave up eating them after a while) total. Plus the occasional half a banana, orange slice, potato chip and God only knows how many gallons of Gatorade. After a while your mouth just turns putrid and gets hairy. I would’ve given anything for a toothbrush out on the course.

RunEventually, as darkness set in hard (I truly could not see one foot in front of me on some parts of the run course), I stopped ingesting Gus, and the high school band stopped playing, the prophecy of starting slow to finish strong came true. Suddenly I was the only person running! And I felt amazing! Way back in my early IRONMAN In-Training days, I had watched a video about the importance of Mile 18. Apparently, Mile 18 is the bonking spot or the spot where the body rebels and stops moving forward. The guy in the video was quite adamant that the swim feeds the bike and the bike feeds the run and it all feeds Mile 18. So, of course, all day I’m living in fear of Mile 18. Even at mile 17.98 – feeling great, holding my pace, walking the aid stations as advised, no cramps – I kept worrying about Mile 18. Would my body just shut down? Would I suddenly cramp up and crumple? Would I just spontaneously combust? Well, the only thing that died at Mile 18 was my watch and after that, since I was in the clear, I picked up the pace and finished strong. I don’t know what my pace was at the end, but I know it was better than 10:30 or 11. I’d say somewhere between 9:30 and 10. I even had enough gusto to sprint through finisher chute in the village and high five all kinds of people. I still can’t believe how good I felt at the finish. I think I might’ve had a touch of IRONMANIA, but after moving forward for 14 ½ hours, what the hell.

One piece of advice I did not follow and I sure should have, was to take a motion sickness pill after the race. Finishing IRONMAN is kind of like getting off of a boat after a long day out on the water. Your body still thinks it’s moving, so you can get woozy. I felt great until about two hours post-race at the restaurant staring down a beer, burger and fries. Two sips of that beer, one nibble of that burger and that was it for me. I never barfed, but my worst imaginings of Mile 18 had arrived. So, remember your motion sickness pills if you are looking to become an IRONMAN. It is not a common occurrence, but it is not fun should it hit.

So now I’m a F’ING IRONMAN. But I am here only with the help, support, love, and friendship of so many. The list is impossible to make since this road began way back, years ago, on the Rabbit Road in Munchkinland. Little did my husband know, when he bought me that Trek road bike, that he was creating an IRONMONSTER. I would, however, like to thank a few people specific to the IRONMAN day, people along the course whose presence mattered. Gilda, your company on the bike course was wonderful! Thank you. Ron, thank you for all the kind words about my hill climbing. To the lady out on the bike course who told me my number was upside down, my age number that is! “You must be 35 not 53.” The woman out in the swim who poked her head up, laughing, and said, “This is fun, right?” To the guy in the white onesie walking and farting on the run course. Thanks for the laugh and the extra motivation to pass you. Thank you to the aid station crew on my final leg through the village near the end who was playing my jam, Try Everything. I never thought I’d be dancing on the IRONMAN course. The people yelling my number, 927, after I came out of the portajohn at one of the bike course aid stations and the guy who explained that I had a toilet paper tail flapping in the breeze behind me. It was roughly three feet long! Quite spectacular. The spectators and volunteers: you are the heart and soul of the day. Thank you. My parents, both gone now, who never stopped playing and gave me the best example of how growing older does not mean growing old. My husband who sherpaed the hell out of that IRONMAN and who would’ve definitely held my hair back had I actually puked in the restaurant. And my dear Spock, Tracy, without whom I never would’ve have embarked on this IRONROAD in the first place. On to the tattoo parlor!

I would say that if you’re even toying with the idea of IRONMAN you should go for it. Much to teach, IRONMAN has. IRONMAN teaches patience, restraint, resolve, mindfulness, humility, discipline, and pride. You test yourself, pass, and grow. You test yourself, fail, and grow more. And it’s one hell of a lot of fun.IMG_4790

So, if IRONMAN is in your future, find a great group of training friends, the kind that don’t take themselves too seriously – none of you is going to win, after all – get a tri-bike, you just can’t keep up on a road bike and you’ll exhaust yourself trying, find some kind of liquid food you can tolerate, and remember those motion sickness pills. But, above all else, bring your want to because if you have that, anything is, indeed, possible.





Jif Wars

JifSo, my thoughtful, kind, loving husband texts me the other day asking if there’s anything I want at the grocery store. He does things like this. As I said, he is thoughtful, loving, and kind.

I tell him, why yes, in fact, there is something I want at the store. I would like some Jif peanut butter and some bananas. I’m trying to spice up my otherwise monotonous lunch break. I am one of those people who will eat the same, exact lunch every day for 180 days.

Yes, 180 days. In my real life, my Clark Kent life, I am a teacher. Clark Kent likes the same lunch every day. Clark Kent has twenty minutes to throw something down his gullet, so delighting the palate is of little concern. Clark does not exist in the summer, hence there is no lunch in the summer. In the summer, I do not eat lunch. I do not need to. I live off my super powers.

But I digress. I want to incorporate a peanut butter and banana sandwich into my lunch routine and by the time my kind, loving husband returns home I am as excited about this sandwich as The Tea Party was about John Boehner resigning the speakership.

And then I see the Skippy.

I’m crying, Boehner-like, on the inside and I ask my wonderful husband:

“What’s this?”

“Peanut butter,” he replies, pulling me close and kissing me.

“Didn’t I say Jif?” I ask, smiling, still smiling, my glittering lunch dreams turning to dust on the island butcher block.

My husband coaches the Mock Trial team at his school. Yes, he’s a teacher too, but he teaches at a private school where they have four-course, gourmet lunches free for teachers and students that do their homework and keep their butts safely stowed out of sight in their pants.

He is using his Mock Lawyer voice now as he tells me that I did not specify the exact peanut butter brand in my request. Thankfully, I know a thing or two about lawyering and, since my husband and I do not speak to each other much, I produce and submit the textual evidence wherein I specified the product brand Jif by name.

Somehow my dear, sweet, otherwise intelligent husband cannot understand what the big deal is.

Mind you, I have lived with this man every day for over a year now.

“I don’t like Skippy.”

“Peanut butter is peanut butter.”

“No it’s not. Skippy sucks.”

“They taste exactly the same.”

“No they don’t. Choosy mothers choose Jif.”

“You’re not going to eat it?”


At this point I wouldn’t eat that Skippy peanut butter if I had just spent the winter on the Donner pass.

What can I say? I like what I like. Otherwise I would’ve texted in the generic.

I think my problem (and now my husband’s problem), is I am an only child. I grew up in the contented splendor of my own quiet kingdom where everything, or so it seemed anyway, was either for me, about me, or mine. And we ate Jif peanut butter.

Now before you go thinking that I was Veruca Salt in the chocolate factory, all spoiled and demanding with the stamping foot, I wasn’t. I might have been spoiled, but I was really quite pleasant about it. I didn’t demand things or pitch a fit or throw myself on the floor in the toy department at Grant’s. I didn’t have to. Things just came to me, like magic.

I had my own room with a canopy bed and pink shag carpet, a groovy bike with Hi-Rise handlebars and a flaming banana seat, and Barbie’s three-foot, three-story Townhouse with working elevator. I’m pretty sure my mom was reliving her, let’s say, less abundant childhood vicariously through me. My mom didn’t say I love you, she bought it and gave it to you.

I had a lot of stuff, what I didn’t have were siblings. I never had to wait for my brother to get out of the shower. I never had to share my clothes with my sister. I never had to plot the death of my sibling so I could ensure my parents’ undivided affections. I was A New Hope Luke Skywalker, solitary and slightly bored on Tatooine, ignorant of the ways of The Compromise.

But The Compromise was out there – like The Force. And like The Force, The Compromise was everywhere and in everything and I grew tall without an Obi Wan or Yoda to teach me its ways.

And there was that jar of Skippy. That jar of Skippy was Vader, in all of his dark-side splendor, right there on the butcher block island, testing me, baiting me, trying to lure me to the dark-side where I would give in, give up, renounce my allegiance to Jif and in so doing deny my history, my make up, my very soul!

I had to turn away.

A couple of days later, a jar of Jif appeared, like magic, on the kitchen island.

Seems one of us is learning the ways of The Compromise.

Now if I can only get him to stop eating off my plate.



GravityThe last time I wrote at length in this space I was unmarried, both of my kids were still in high school, and my mother was alive. Oh, and I wasn’t 50! As David Bowie so eloquently put it: “. . .turn and face the strange, ch-ch-changes!”

I am not the first person to experience the untethered, anchorless feeling of losing the last of one’s parents, or of the unfinished, phantom-limb sensation of the Empty Nest, or the sternum cracking, joyful chorus of a more perfect love, but I find that I am in a place that begs its expression – a kind of through-the-looking-glass place where nothing is familiar, yet everything is, a place where I should know where I am and I do, but I don’t – a world where nothing has changed and yet everything has.

I’m not a stranger to loss. My father died suddenly when I was 16. His death was more shocking to me than Donald Trump leading in the polls. And when he died everything died with him. It was like the Auden poem from Four Weddings and a Funeral:

“The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.”

My mother’s death was not sudden, but it was shocking in its own sneaky way. I was with her when she breathed her last and that was that. No fanfare, no soul rising up out of her body or brilliant white light or choir of angels. Nothing. She simply breathed her last and ceased to be. Suddenly the end was Here. Not near, but Here. In a moment, an instant, the riot of life that for 83 years was my mother ended – just like that.

I thought I was prepared for her to die. I thought I was ready. There’s a James Michener quote Reese Witherspoon’s character cites in that movie Wild: “We are never prepared for what we expect.” And so it was when my mother died.

I knew when I received the call that morning at work. I knew when I got to the emergency room. I knew when the doctor laid out the odds. I knew as I watched her disappear over those endless days and nights and I really knew when one morning, before she lost her voice, she asked me not to leave her. But, all along I still thought I was ready.

I had imagined my life without my mom many times. Typical teenage fantasies of escaping her tyranny and angst filled adult ruminations on wills and wishes. My mother drove me nuts and I drove her crazy. We loved each other and wanted to kill each other. We needed each other and resented each other. We were, for most of my life, everything to one another. And now she’s gone and I’m trying to find my way without the sun, the tides, without air. I am Sandra Bullock and I am Off Structure!

And as if that’s not enough acclimatizing, my kids are gone too! No, they’re not dead, just off in college. Now it’s just me and my new husband at home alone. Well, not entirely alone. We have our dog, our cat and now my mother’s undocumented devil dog Domino. Like I said, nothing makes any sense.

It’s a strange sensation when the people who define you – I’m a daughter, I’m a mother – go. I find myself suddenly finding myself again and I’m finding that I’d rather stay lost. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all bad this open-ended time. I can go to the gym before work, write this blog, finish up publishing my novel. And I most certainly do not miss packing everyone’s lunch at five in the morning, but I haven’t had time to hear myself think since Jerry Garcia was alive and now all I can hear is myself thinking and it’s driving me crazy.

So now, instead of a mother or chidren, I have a therapist. My own personal Anne Sullivan. She’s turning me into a Buddhist and so far so good. I’ve been meditating which is comically ironic since meditating is all about being with yourself and that’s the very thing that’s making me lose my mind. And, on top of that, it’s really fucking hard. Apparently this is a journey, a long journey. A Frodo and the One Ring kind of journey, except at the end I won’t be able to extinguish my crazy in the fires of Mount Doom, I’ll just learn to live with it. Seems rather anticlimactic.

But on the upside, it seems to be working – a little. When you meditate you’re supposed to feel yourself grounding and being connected to the earth and every living thing in it. I can get there, sometimes, for maybe a nanosecond and then the devil dog barks and I’m off structure again. But for that instant, I remember what gravity feels like – what my mom’s perfume smells like, what my kids singing in the car sounds like – and suddenly, for a moment, it feels like everything is going to be okay, like I’m back on solid ground.


Out of Mothballs

11800103_150342288631618_8056253078256854643_nYes, that’s me and yes, I’m back. It’s been five long years since I’ve written this blog and now here I am, back again. I am back because I’m publishing my awesome novel, Beauty and Other Vices, on Amazon and in order for an awesome new writer to sell his or her awesome new book, one must shamelessly (but oh so awesomely) crow about one’s absolute awesomeness via every possible free media outlet. You will soon be awesomely sick of hearing from me.

So, where the hell have I been? I’ve been here, doing the usual stuff we all do, work, play, getting married, getting a masters degree, getting the kids out of high school, getting drunk, getting lucky, getting not so lucky . . .

In all honesty, I stopped blogging because coming up with new ideas every week is tough! And writing is tough! And being funny is tough! And Game of Thrones premiered on HBO!

I had an easy out, going back to school to get the government-mandated master’s degree, so I took it and then it was just another thing and another thing, and then five years had gone by and now I’m 50! So, I figure I’ll give it another crack and shamelessly self-promote my book and everyone will love it and buy it and a movie will be made and I can make a cameo appearance like Alfred Hitchcock or Peter Jackson and I can attend the Oscar Ceremonies where the Oscar will Go To Me for Most Awesome Screenplay and I can retire and write more awesome books and make more cameo appearances and have more Oscars Go To Me . . .

Ahhh – Livin’ the Grammatically Butchered Dream. (Remember when Cher balked at “the Oscar Goes To” and said, the more direct and correct, “the Winner Is?”)

So, tune in next week sports fans for more insightful and awesome musings about things of which I feel like writing, not the least of which will be my awesome book, Beauty and Other Vices!


Ode to summer

So, it had to happen. Summer had to end. Unfortunately, it’s just ending too soon.

I love summer. I love everything about it. Except Triple E. I hate Triple E. Triple E is the one thing I do not love about summer.

(A brief aside: for those of you fortunate enough not to live in southeastern Massachusetts, below sea and I.Q. level, Triple E is Eastern Equine Encephalitis, a mostly fatal virus transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. And even if you manage to survive, you are left in such a state that you pretty much probably wish you were dead.)

Triple E, in a word, sucks.

But I digress.

I love summer. I love the heat, the bare feet, the sleeping later than 5:30 a.m., the staying up past 10 p.m., the wearing of the bathing suit all day, the tanned skin, the birds in the morning, the peepers at night, the dripping watermelon, the beefy tomatoes, the sweet corn, the kids’ laughter outside…

But I think if I had summer all year long I’d be dead.

I Love summer.

I Love summer with a Vengeance.

I am to summer what Lance Armstrong is (or was) to the Tour de France. Unfortunately, I do not have the benefit of controlled substances so, I am, therefore, exhausted.

Every day in the summer I wake up and say, yes, I literally say this out loud: What are we going to do today?

It’s like I’m on that old game show, Beat the Clock, and I have to get in as much fun as possible before the autumnal equinox. I am that crazed contestant in that money wind machine, snatching at summer days like they’re one hundred dollar bills.

All I can think is, summer is short don’t waste it.


It’s like I was raised in the Great Summer Depression and had to go without July. Like every hour of summer is a shaving of soap and I must scrounge up every one I can get and work it into a good lather.

And this summer was tough. It didn’t rain once. All right, maybe once, but that was the day we went to laser tag until midnight.

Every day I woke up, secretly hoping, wishing for just one rainy day…rolled over and saw the sun. Half of me was happy, the other half resigned, but determined.

Must go on, must have fun, must go play beach volleyball.

I am to summer what Arnold Schwarzenegger is to Sarah Connor.

Now you know why there hasn’t been any words written in this space since May. The sun came out.

I am to summer what a gerbil is to his exercise wheel.

And, I have to be honest, I am ready to get off.

I’m ready for the cool nights, that clean snap in the air, the colored leaves, pumpkins and hardy mums. The new season of Survivor.

I know, I’m breaking the Cardinal Rule of Summer, wishing it away, but I need a break.

I need a vacation from my summer vacation.

It’s like I’ve been in Vegas for the past nine or so weeks, except instead of gambling and drinking I’ve been hiking, swimming, biking, camping, and barbecuing.

I am to summer what Wayne Newton is to Las Vegas and I have a summer hangover.

But, in the meantime, I have one day left.

And the sun is out…


A Rock and A Hard Place

So, it’s springtime and a not-so-young-anymore woman’s thoughts turn to flights of fancy and…yard work.

Yeah, that’s where I’ve been oh these long weeks. Out in the yard. Working. No more sitting in the house. Blogging.

I had a pool put in last summer and, while I love my pool to the point of actual physical desire, I miss my back yard.

Once upon a time, I had this really great back yard. It was one of the main reasons I bought my house. The lawn was green and lush and quite picturesque. Just the kind of lawn that made you want to break out in cartwheels.

Now all I’m breaking out in is the sweats and back spasms.

You see, my formerly picturesque, green and lush back yard now more closely resembles the post-apocalyptic landscape beyond the Thunderdome.

Or the surface of the moon.

But with more rocks.

I never knew that there were this many rocks on Earth, never mind in my back yard. It’s like one of the ten plagues of Egypt. The Rock Plague.

And I could wander around back there for 40 years, picking up rocks and still not get them all.

The Taliban would love my back yard. They could stone all kinds of people back there and never run out of ammunition.

I told my son I would pay him twenty-five cents per rock that he picked up. He liked the idea until he discovered that picking up rocks was a lot like work. He quit after about 12 rocks.

So now, the rocks just sit there. Mocking me.

I cannot bring myself to pick up these rocks. It truly is like a plague. Or like plucking gray hair. You pick up one rock and ten more rocks appear in its place.

It’s just too disheartening, so my new strategy is to simply concentrate on the front yard, ignore the rock plague in the back yard and wait and see what grows back there.

Something will grow. It’s inevitable. There’s already quite a congregation of dandelions back there wagging their snowy afros at me.

Why is it always dandelions? And crab grass?

Nothing ever grows that you want to grow and if it does, it never grows where you want it to grow.

It’s like my yard is a middle-aged bald man. No grass grows where he wants it to, on his head. But random, unruly patches are sprouting all over his back, neck and shoulders. 

To tell the truth, even my front lawn is a mess. It looks great from a distance, but up close, it’s another matter entirely. Kind of like Cameron Dias.

And it’s a shame really because I used to have a beautiful lawn.

Back when I didn’t live there.

I remember when I first looked at my house. I was so impressed with the lawn. It was so thick, so green, so lush. It was obvious that the people who owned this house were lawn people.

You know those people, those lawn people. They are of a different breed, like bird people or reptile people.

You can always tell a reptile person’s house because they have that one window with that creepy, poltergeist light glowing out into the night. There are only two explanations for a light like that: some kind of cold blooded reptile pet or a grow operation.

Either way it’s a lifestyle.

Lawn people have a lifestyle. It’s sort of like a priest’s lifestyle.

Lawn people are completely committed to their lawn. Lawn people have sacrificed everything to their lawn. Lawn people never go away. Lawn people are always home. Lawn people get up early and work in the yard all day. Lawn people do not hire outsiders to tend to their lawn. Lawn people are well versed in the proper application of Scotts products and can recite passages from the directions on the back of the bag. Lawn people have big, shiny lawn tractors with all kinds of big, shiny attachments.

Lawn people use words like putter.  

Now there’s a word that is the exact opposite of onomatopoeia.

Putter around the yard. Puttering implies some level of pleasure. Some level of fun.

I don’t putter around my yard.

I work my ass off. I slave away. I get filthy dirty.

And I sweat a lot.

Puttering congers up images of flowery gardening gloves and rubber clogs and iced tea.

I got none of that.

I got rocks.

A whole lot of rocks.

Yup, I am Charlie Brown and it is Halloween and it is going to be a long night.


The Facial

So, I took my mom to get a facial for her birthday.

Mind you, I am not a facial type of girl. Neither is my mother. The apple doesn’t fall far, and all of that.

I have had one other facial in my life and my mother has never had one. It’s not that we’re Anti-Pampering or making some kind of political statement against micro-abrasion, we simply don’t like to be touched. And neither one of us is too keen on small talk.

I don’t want to know whose kids those are in the picture taped to the hairdresser’s mirror or what the hairdresser is doing this weekend and I don’t want any questions about my kids or my leisure time activities either. If I wanted to answer all these questions, I’d go on Oprah. Or get a therapist.

Oh, and, just for the record, don’t ask me about my kids’ sporting events while you’re checking my cervix for cancer either.  

So, anyway, upon hearing our evidently appalling admissions regarding our lack of facial experience, the facial ladies made faces at us. They made the kind of faces that encourage the kind of wrinkles that these kinds of facials are supposed to lessen the appearance of.

Needless to say, the facial ladies’ faces did little to boost our confidence or our self esteem.

And what is it with the white lab coats? They’re rubbing cream on our faces not testing us for HIV. Why the doctor theme? Everything in the place was white. It was like a Stanley Kubrick movie. I was already a nervous wreck anticipating all the touching and talking, I certainly didn’t need to start imaging big needles. Or Malcolm McDowell.

When I first envisioned this birthday present, I had thought that my mother and I would be getting our facials together. You know side-by-side under a teak awning with an ocean breeze like one of those reward challenges on Survivor or those Cialis commercials with the bathtubs. Not that we would be voting each other off the island or enjoying any long-lasting pharmacological effects, but I had hoped that we’d at least be able to talk to each other and not to the facial lady.

This was not to be.

My mother and I were immediately separated and directed to our own white rooms.

In my room was a kind of dentist chair type looking reclining bed thing, covered with white blankets and sheets. To the left of the bed thing was more dentist inspired decor, the only discernable difference in the machinery being the size of the brushes on the hand-held electric equipment.

I have no idea what was inside my mother’s room because I never saw her again. Well, at least not until after she had been exfoliated.

Facial land is full of words like this: exfoliation, extraction, micro-abrasion. Like washing your face is such a big mystery.

Overall translation: exfoliation and micro-abrasion are in the same family and come from the Latin “washing your face with stuff that is NOT soap and has little bumps in it sometimes using an electric powered spin brush,” and extraction is from the Germanic “popping zits.”

So, I go into my own white room and my facial lady directs me to take my clothes off.

And here I was thinking I was getting a facial.

Oh, sorry, not all of my clothes. Just half of my clothes. I can leave my jeans on.

Well, this is good news.

And I am to put on this kind of tube-top towel dress/nightgown number and crawl into the reclining dentist chair bed.

As I am a rule-follower type of person, I immediately comply.

I decide would make a great prisoner of war.

Upon my facial lady’s return, I confess to her my trepidation on getting a facial. I, of course, do not disclose my aversion to the touching or the talking as I do not wish to offend her while I’m lying half naked in a dentist chair bed and she is but inches away from an electric brush the size of a drywall sander.

She pashaws my concerns and shines the big light in my face. I am overcome with a need to confess everything and then she asks me if I want her to “clean up my eyebrows” for a mere twenty dollars.

Well, in for a penny in for twenty bucks, I always say, so I give her the go ahead.

She explains that she is not using wax and then drips this really hot sticky liquid around my eyebrows and rips it off.

OW! I say.

Oh, you’ve given birth, she says.

Here comes the f’ing small talk, I think, but instead I say: yeah, but they didn’t come out of my eyebrow!

She doesn’t laugh and then she doesn’t wax my other eyebrow and rips some more hair out.

Then she explains how she’s going to trim my eyebrows. Apparently my eyebrows are in pretty rough shape.

“I’ll just trim down some of these Andy Rooneys.”

Andy Rooneys.

This is why I don’t pamper myself.

Later, over a shot of whiskey and a cigarette, I inspect my eyebrows. They look the same to me despite the half an hour she spent working on them.

So, from the eyebrows, it’s on to the actual facial.

After further inspecting my face under the big light, the facial lady informs me that I’m a little dehydrated and not particularly hairy.

I am immediately relieved that I will not have to undergo anymore not-waxing and since I’m a semi-fitness professional I equate dehydration with drinking water.

This is not the case in facial land.

I quickly learn that I had been doing it wrong all these years. Instead of drinking water, I should’ve been applying massive amounts of mango chutney to my face and steaming it until it reaches a slow boil. 

I swear that facial lady scraped that mango sauce off of my face with tortilla chips, but I’ll never know for sure.

That’s the thing about the facial, you have to keep your eyes closed the whole time. You have no idea what’s coming next. One minute you’re lying there, face to God, and the next you’re on the Kids’ Choice Awards, smothering under pounds of mysterious fruity smelling goo.

I can’t remember what came after the mango chutney, but it was cool and there was lots of it and she rubbed it all around my face like she was Patrick Swayze and my face was the blob of clay on the potter’s wheel.

It was a miracle. I had finally started to relax and actually started to enjoy this whole pampering thing.

And then she started smacking me around.


When I came out later I asked my mom if her facial lady had hit her.

She replied in the negative.  

I do not know what I did to so offend the facial lady, but whatever the reason, she smacked me around real good. She smacked me about the chin, round the mouth, and even gave me a couple shots to the throat.

I was Rocky Balboa and she was Clubber Lang. I wanted my mommy. I wanted Burgess Meredith.

What I really wanted to do was get up and smack her back or maybe give her a good Tropical Infusion Treatment, but my hands were secured in some kind of heated oven mitts and I couldn’t move. I just had to lie there and take it.

Never mind that if I had sat up, I would’ve gotten that almond sauce in my eye.

She must’ve knocked me out because the next thing I remember was the sounds of Gregorian chanting.

Gregorian chanting is not relaxing. Gregorian chanting is scary.

Lying there in my white room, all alone (facial lady had stepped out, probably to tape up her wrists and go another round) I kept seeing those creepy masked people in Eyes Wide Shut.

I had worked myself up into quite a little state of panic when facial lady returned cleaned me off and set me free.

But not after trying to sell me some expensive face cleaner that was NOT soap.

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August 2019
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