Shortly after Category-5 Hurricane Irma destroyed the first Caribbean islands, President Trump commented: “It looks like it could be something that will be not good, believe me, not good.” Duh, thanks Donald! For a second, I thought you were Madame Irma. She’s a French fortune-teller, by the way, in case you were thinking of making a career change Michelle wrote about last week.
This past week, I welcomed my students back to campus for a new semester, and as always, I got to know them a little by asking their majors (which is not unlike asking “what’s your sign?” in the dating world). I like to spend a few moments chatting about their fields of study, but whenever someone proudly proclaims they’re interested in something like 17th century French philosophy, well, it’s harder to muster enthusiasm. It’s a bit like feeling cornered at Thanksgiving dinner while a young relative proudly introduces me to a new boyfriend who’s got dark, mysterious, brooding eyes but no common sense or 401k to speak of. I can only grimace politely and think: what are you going to do with that?
After the Women’s March that happened in hundreds of cities across the globe, the number one criticism came in the form of a single word: Why? And sure, on the surface, we’ve never had it better. Women today have the choice about whether to work, get married, or have children. It’s just the tip of the iceberg, though. And climate change is not a hoax; Antarctica’s ice sheets are melting. Fast. And so are our rights to our so-called choices, apparently. But it’s true: we are no longer forced to stay in the kitchen, donning aprons and smiles, to bake pot roasts and soufflés all day if that’s not our cup of tea. (That’s still fine if it is!) We’ve come so far and we have so many freedoms now. What’s the point of complaining?
Winter has arrived, which means many of us who may be experiencing a distinct chill in the air these days are most likely wishing it were possible to move to the Caribbean, Australia, or perhaps even Venus right now. But what people may not realize is that there are so many reasons to embrace winter. In fact, since it’s my fourth favorite season, and I’ve spent more than a few winters here, I’m more than qualified to discuss the joys of winter that you might have otherwise overlooked. It’s never too late to get started because from where I’m standing, it’s clear that winter is only beginning.
I look at all things on the bright and sunny side as if I’ve been fed with Maui Jim ad campaigns and the Coué method over the last twenty or thirty years. I was about to say “on the bright and shiny side,” but considering the dreadful untidiness of my house, I thought again. But even then, the awesomist part of my optimism takes over, noting that this vividly-living party-of-six-sheltering house has more important rules to follow than being clean. If you ask me why and how I’m an optimist, I’ll tell you honestly that I don’t know exactly. One day, when the worldwide news became too much of a burden, I cancelled my cable subscription. When the weather froze me to the bones, I moved to the Caribbean. Life is too short to get hung up over issues and tinker with them. Every problem has a solution and there are better things to procrastinate about.
The best thing about Christmas is the songs. I wait all year to hear the traditional ones (who else loves belting out “O Holy Night” in their car?), the classics (it’s not Christmas unless you’ve gone on a “Sleigh Ride” at least 46 times), and even the contemporary ones. But the latter category is often why Christmas songs are the worst part about Christmas too. For every amazing contemporary Christmas song, there are always going to be pop stars who think for some inexplicable reason that getting festive means getting sexy. I’m looking at you, Lady Gaga, and your “Christmas Tree.”
I was at the theater the other night with my husband to attend a hilarious adaptation of Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus by John Gray. According to Gray, men and women are so different in the way they talk, act and express their feelings that it is tantamount to saying that they’re from different planets. It made me realize just how amazing and even improbable it is that so many couples are actually able to live together at all.
To make his point, the stand-up comedian engaged with the crowd about how women and men respectively talked with their peers in a much more natural way based on their common language. And he was right: compared to a sexual relationship, friendship is so easy, carefree and headache-free. Okay, maybe not the headache-free part.
“Girls’ night, 7:00 at the Parrot bar. See y’all tonight.”
My favorite kind of texts to send or receive. Forget RSVP; it’s totally extraneous. Save for a nuclear cataclysm, the response goes without saying, because a night out with the girls is a promise of time worthily spent with laughter, tears, in and out of tune singing, suave or fail dancing, wine and raw vegetables and crackers. And by the end of the night, you might find yourself miserably sitting on the edge of the sidewalk, swaying back and forth with your head between your knees while your girlfriends either hold your hair back or shoot photos and make fun of how you look like shit. Vomit bags on demand. (Yes, your girls are THAT nice.) Chance of hangover: high.
I used to have a memory that everyone else relied on. Want to know what you were doing five years ago today? If I was there, I’ll know. Can’t remember the name of your first grade teacher? If I was in your class (or just the same school) I can tell you. It’s always been part of my identity: The Girl Who Remembered Everything. But a couple days ago, I realized that my talent might be on the wane.
I was done teaching classes for the weekend and wholly focused on escaping to the parking lot. So the student was practically on top of me before I realized that she’d been desperately trying to get my attention. “How ARE you?” she asked excitedly.
“I’m good,” I replied, frantically searching my brain for her name, the semester she might have been in my class, anything. She didn’t even look familiar to me.
She threw her arms around me unexpectedly, and I found my nose pressed awkwardly into her armpit, as she was a good six inches taller than me. “I wanted to thank you so much for all of your help, especially about the advice on how to get an internship,” she continued. “I’ll never forget it.”
Right. And I once believed that I’d never forget any of my students’ names.
In the spirit of this time of year, where people put on costumes and pretend to be what they are not, I decided to make believe I could cook as well. But instead of simply disguising myself as a baker, I took it one step further and thought I’d create some homemade Halloween treats.
I normally don’t make anything. This includes costumes, decorations, jack o’ lanterns, candy bags for my kids to pass out to their classes, and yes, baked treats. So Halloween (and holidays in general) is already a nerve-wracking time of year for me, as I usually have to figure out how to get around all of this creativity and still produce the necessary magic for my children.
It’s that time of year to put away the swimming suits and the sailboats to focus once again on that most highly anticipated tradition that defines the fall season. No, not gutting pumpkins or deer; I’m actually talking about the quintessentially American fall ritual: football.
I mean, of course, college football, since I live in a pro football wasteland.
I’m a night owl. Ergo, I’m a coffee person. I’m the kind of person who hits the Snooze button about five times in the morning, procrastinating to the most impossible limit. I’m the kind of person who wears sunglasses straight of out bed in a foolish attempt to appear like a being of undisputed human origin, thereby sparing their kids from subsequent horrible night terrors. I’m the kind of person whom you don’t talk to (and you don’t wanna try) before they’ve had several double espressos. I’ve been proudly labeled a coffee purist from the time I was 16. No cream, no sugar. Coffee’s got to be black or it’s not happening. No such thing as shades of black. I thought Kofi Annan was a new brand when first I first heard the name. Sort of an obsession, really.
I’m an excellent driver. Really. I’ve been driving for 21 years and I’ve never gotten into an accident. With another car, I mean. I won’t count rocks or trees if you don’t. But even though I’m great behind the wheel, I’m admittedly a bit clueless when it comes to anything more complicated than an oil change. And it does get a bit complicated trying to aim the car over the pit.
To illustrate my point: I was trying to think of the word “pit” and had this conversation just now with my husband:
Me: What do you call the hole that I drive over —
Me: No, you didn’t let me finish. The hole that I drive over at the instant oil change place.
Kyle: You’re not going to pretend to your readers that you actually do that yourself, are you?
So with that in mind, it was no surprise that one day when I heard a thump as I was driving, I wasn’t quite sure what was going on. I quickly went over the possibilities in my head. Rock? Maybe. Pothole? Never. Squirrel? Gross. When in doubt, my motto is to keep going and pretend it never happened. So I happily did that for exactly ten more feet until KER-WHUMP.