Amy’s Week in Review (Nov. 4-10)


Check out more of artist Sandra Lippmann’s work, which she graciously let me use here, on Instagram #100circles.

It was quite the week, as many of you already know, over here in the Land of Amy.

If you have been able to dodge my relentless social media crowing, you might have missed that my blog had a brief little, tiny kind of mention on The New York Times’s parenting blog “Motherlode.”

I know, right?

I like wake up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and remember it and am just so happy.

So, anyway, as of this writing, I am frantically trying to cross things off my to-do list so I can get on a ferry this afternoon and join my college friends for a long weekend of fun.

I will try to take copious notes and photos and share details upon my return and warn that some editing might be required to protect the innocent.

I lived through college in the 80s with these people. I know what they are capable of.

While your waiting for me to dish on that, perhaps I can interest you in perusing some of the other things that have been on my mind over the last week.


Early in the week, I bemoaned how little time my kids would spend in school this month.

DSC04220November is the Cruelest Month for Moms

Anyone who agrees with T.S. Eliot’s assessment that “April is the cruelest month” has obviously never spent time trying to be a mom in New Jersey during November.

This week alone, my fifth grader has three days off. Three days. I didn’t even know about one of them until this weekend. (READ MORE … )


Later in the week, I had the whole NYTimes thing and hallucinated. One having nothing to do with the other.

Screen Shot 2013-11-06 at 8.43.00 AMThat Time I Got Mentioned by the New York Times

Yesterday was one of those days that showed just how far your emotions could swing over the course of a 24-hour period, aided and abetted by hallucinatory gases.

I shall explain. (READ MORE … )



At the end of the week, I got a bee in my bonnet and cut off my hair. Again. Kind of like another girl I know.

IMG_1960Jen and I Get a Haircut

By now we all know that I am no Jennifer Aniston. This important piece of information came courtesy of my 10-year-old-son recently who, upon learning that Jen was just a couple of years younger than his withering mother, suggested I consider following her “tips.”

Thanks for pointing that out, guy. It’s not like I don’t own a mirror or anything. (READ MORE … )


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Jen and I Get a Haircut

DSC_0005By now we all know that I am no Jennifer Aniston. This important piece of information came courtesy of my 10-year-old-son recently who, upon learning that Jen was just a couple of years younger than his withering mother, suggested I consider following her “tips.”

Thanks for pointing that out, guy. It’s not like I don’t own a mirror or anything.

And that’s okay, usually I’m pretty good with just being Amy.

Sure, I’d like Jen’s legs, abs and income to buy some of the cute stuff she wears, but I’ve come to terms with having to work with what the good lord gave me and a bank account limited by the care and keeping of four children.

So while I inherited a short torso, healthy thighs and problematic skin (or, as my girlfriend likes to call it, “Cheap Irish Skin”), I did walk away from the genetic melting pot with thin ankles and good hair.

And this is where I could give Jen a run for her money.

For a number of years, I sported very long, layered hair in varying degrees of blonde (eg: I just keep getting blonder), similar to Jen’s.  I really liked it a lot and dedicated a significant amount of time, money and energy to its care and keeping.

But then, one day early this year, I chopped it all off.

I just woke up one morning and was grossed out by all that hair.

I walked into the place where I get my hair cut like two or three times a year armed with a couple of photos and told the owner what I wanted.

Okay, we need to back up right here because I really need to set the stage for this.

I only get my hair cut a couple of times a year because it’s outrageously expensive. And while I’m happy to share with you most things about me, I am too embarrassed to tell you how much I spend per cut. It’s shocking.

It’s especially shocking because, if you didn’t know any better, you’d assume the salon was just another Korean nail place tucked into a New Jersey strip mall. It’s flanked by a Dunkin’ Donuts and dry cleaner and inside it’s pretty nondescript.

The owner is a tiny Korean woman who could best be described as an anime character crossed with maybe one of the sexy locals one of the officers would fall in love with from time to time on M*A*S*H. She’s got her long hair piled up on the top of her head and I’ve seen her wear a skirt made of fur in like February and teeter around in impossibly high heels.

But she’s also all business and is literally a one-woman operation. She usually has an assistant on hand to do the hair washing and combing, but the owner does all of the cutting and blow drying and moves women through as if on an assembly line.

It’s not unusual to walk in on a Saturday afternoon and find the waiting area filled and a line of women sitting in a queue with wet hair wrapped in towels, waiting to get combed out and moved towards the main chair.

Henry Ford had nothing on this woman.

It’s a very strange experience, really something out of Seinfeld, and you’d never imagine you’d fork over $50 for this service – much less lots, lots more – until she performs her magic on your hair. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to her cutting method but she zips the scissors here and there and pulls out her big, double-barrelled hairdryer and blows your hair dry like no one ever has before. It’s bouncy and chic and you could never replicate it at home. It’s just sexy.

IMG_1960So when I went in that day to lop off like eight-inches of hair, the normally non-plussed owner was like, “Whoa.” She even had to walk away down the hall and come back. And by then, she had a plan.

It was the first time I ever got a drastic hair cut that I didn’t regret. I must have been really just ready for it.

Of course, the first people I see after are my kids who were basically like, “What the fuck did you do to yourself.”

Confidence boosters, they.

Naturally, I would see pictures of Jen from time to time in People and admire all her hair. But I had moved on.

And now, so it seems, has she.

Huffington Post

Huffington Post

Seems like Jen might be trying to be Amy, because last week she chopped all her hair off. It’s chin length and looked pretty chic in the blurry photos I saw of it online.

And just like that, I decided I needed to lop off whatever length I’ve started to grow over the last few months since my last cut (my ponytail was finally moving past the super-stubby stage).

And I love it. It’s short and chic and fits where I am right now.

Of course, after I am inspired by Jen and get all mine cut off, I read on HuffPo that her new do was the result of a Brazilian straightening gone wrong and she was kind of regretting it.

But I stand in solidarity with my hair sister. Because while I will never be Jennifer Ansiton in many respects, it seems hair could be the great equalizer. As long as no one looks down.







That Time I Got Mentioned by the New York Times

Screen Shot 2013-11-06 at 8.43.00 AMYesterday was one of those days that showed just how far your emotions could swing over the course of a 24-hour period, aided and abetted by hallucinatory gases.

I shall explain.

The first thing you need to know is that I try to get up every day around 5 a.m. to write. “Try” is the operative word here because sometimes, my only response to the piano sound trilling from my iPhone next to my head is to hit snooze. Like 10 times.

Once I’ve lumbered out of bed I need coffee. STAT. And then I get back under the covers with my laptop and get to work.

But not so fast. Before I can get to the writing – the real work – I’ve got to fritter away precious early-morning minutes checking Facebook, emails, Twitter and the daily statistics for the blog.

The stats don’t really dive too deep, but I can see things like how many page views I get each day and where some of the traffic is coming from – like did you get here through Facebook or Google. (It still cracks me up that at least once a day, some poor unwitting soul winds up here after Googling “Cheez-Its.”)

So yesterday, I check the site stats and notice #1, traffic was already pretty brisk for the start of the day and #2, most of it was coming from The New York Times.

Wait, what?

So I click on the link and am taken to the Times’s parenting blog, called “Motherlode,” which of course, I love because it’s smart and current and everything you’d think a parenting blog associated with The Grey Lady would and should be.

I scour the various articles and comments and don’t see any links to my blog, nothing indicating how people were ending up from there to here.

I repeated this fruitless effort throughout the day as I noticed more and more clicks on my site coming from “Motherlode,” but still couldn’t get a handle on why.

In the meantime, I had a conversation later that morning that reminded me that people do not change. Not really. Ever.

And it made me cry so hard and so long, I began to suspect that hormones were helping to enhance the melodrama of the event. Perimenopausal madness at its finest.

But it was one of those cries that leaves you exhausted. Emotionally spent. And with a blotchy face.

At lunchtime, I had an appointment to get my teeth cleaned, which I look forward to because it’s an opportunity to get completely stoned in the middle of the day under the supervision of medical experts. My teeth are so sensitive that I need the laughing gas even for a cleaning. To put it in perspective, I gave birth to two of my kids naturally. Not a problem. But don’t even try to come near my teeth without some type of sedative.

I might bite you.

Now, I don’t know how nitrous oxide works, if the technician turns a dial to a specific setting depending on how anxious you are or the dosage is based on your size. Maybe it’s just an “On” and “Off” button.

I also don’t know if that sweet, sweet air is affected by your emotional state. But I was really hallucinating as she scraped the plaque from my lower teeth and rattled on about the holidays.

Usually I can stay pretty connected to what’s going on in the room. Can follow the one-sided conversation coming from somewhere above my face.

But yesterday, all I could think about was how my whole body was vibrating, sitting there in the chair, and that the noise of a motor was filling my head and drowning out the chatter and the whir of the brush as it polished my teeth.

And then I’m confused because it’s no longer the hygienist who’s been cleaning my teeth for years but some random mom I know in town sitting there, shining my pearly whites.

“What is she doing here?” I wonder.

Then, in an instant, I’m being instructed to breathe through my nose. “It’s oxygen,” the hygienist tells me. And before I know it, she’s removing the mask, straightening my chair and telling me to have a nice day.

And I’m slightly concerned because just moments before, I couldn’t feel my face.

I am able to make my way home and once again, need to go through the whole check in routine – it’s obviously a compulsion – and continue to be confounded by that NYTimes traffic.

“Why am I not understanding how the Internet works?” I wonder.

I click over to “Motherlode” one more time, and whether it was because I really believed I’d actually find a clue this time or the magical powers of nitrous oxide unlocked a portion of my brain previously closed, I noticed a box on the site I hadn’t paid attention to earlier in the day.

And that’s when I saw it.


Screen Shot 2013-11-05 at 2.43.52 PM

Do you see me? I’m there with The Atlantic and CBS.


At first, I thought, “Well, maybe it’s some kind of ad or something. Like, it’s just coming up on my computer.” Sort of like that pair of Frye boots I looked at once on Zappos that now seem to follow me around the Internet.

But then my 16 year old walked in from school and was like, “What are you, stupid? Mom, it’s really there.”

And I couldn’t believe it. I mean, it was just a quick little mention. A link to a recent post and my blog name. The blog editor tagged a question to it, trying to generate some conversation.

Even so, it was beautiful.

Once I determined it was legit, I took to Facebook to share the great news.

And it was there that I found that validation that I was looking for earlier in the day.

It was there I felt the love.

So many people chimed in to say “Mazel Tov” in one way or another, it washed away the hurt from that morning.

My college son sent me a text laden with heart-filled emoticons – just what I love – and told me he was proud and happy for me. One good girlfriend called to say woohoo and another BFF came over to have a celebratory cocktail later in the day.

(Really, we’re always just looking for a good excuse to have a cocktail.)

And it was all just nice – to have everyone from my kids to high school friends to folks I’ve met through my work as a local reporter –psyched for my success, no matter how really minor it was.

And I know, it’s just Facebook and we could make a whole case that the site just provides an alternate and slightly misleading universe for many users.

But just give me this. Today. I really wanted the petting and kind words and maybe that’s why I do what I do. I’m needy.

But in the end, it was a good reminder that sometimes, you need to find a new well to drink from when the first one comes up dry.

Because that water tastes just as good.





It’s Hip to be Square

icon_510299I spent the first half of my life trying to be cool so it’s kind of interesting that I’ve become such a geek in mid-life.

And while I think my affinity for show tunes, talk radio, Hobbits and comic books had been ingrained at an early age, I spent a lot of time back in the day trying to temper such nerdy impulses with cigarettes and attitude.

But now I am too old and busy fighting about curfews and telling certain people to put on a sweatshirt to keep those appetites in check.

So when a friend asked me last week if I wanted to go with her to see a recording of the NPR game show “Ask Me Another” in Brooklyn, I was like, “Duh!”

Because that show, my friends, is the perfect storm of geekdom. It combines the amazingness of public radio – and shows like “This American Life,” “Fresh Air” and “Prairie Home Companion” – with the thrill of game shows.

It’s smart and funny, qualities I admire beyond compare.

Game shows were staples of my childhood, squeezed throughout the day on TV in between “Captain Kangaroo,” reruns of “Here’s Lucy” and “The Edge of Night.” I loved seeing all the crazy stuff women would pull out of their purses on “Let’s Make a Deal,” how handsome Chuck Woolery was on “Wheel of Fortune,” how sophisticated the celebs on “Password” seemed and the bawdiness of “Match Game” (Charles Nelson Reilly!).

For some reason, the game shows on TV today don’t seem to match the unpredictability or smartness of the old school shows. For that, you need to turn on the radio.

Which is something I do quite often, especially on the weekends when I can catch the latest episodes of “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me” and “Ask Me Another.” The former is an hour-long show featuring a revolving panel of semi-celebrity comedians (Paula Poundstone or Mo Rocca), regular-people contestants and a bigger celebrity du jour (last week was Steve Martin) to answer questions based on what was in the news that week and is taped before a live audience.

“Ask Me Another” brings in contestants for a fun series of word games, sometimes accompanied by song. There is a regular hostess and two side-kicks and all are seriously quick-witted and seem to be having lots of fun.

We made the weirdly-easy ride to the Bell House in Brooklyn Monday night to see this week’s show and cheer on my friend’s nephew who was a contestant. The venue was a pretty dive-ish, hipster spot a stone’s throw from the Gowanus Expressway and as the rest of the audience began to file in, I started to realize just how young the show’s demographic was.

That was confirmed later as we were seated in our aluminum folding chairs, enjoying a plastic cup of fancy ale, and the women seated in front of us got all jazzed when the celebrity for that night’s special Halloween show, author R.L. Stine, was introduced.

R.L. Stine playing along with Ofira Eisenberg on NPR's "Ask Me Another."

R.L. Stine playing along with Ofira Eisenberg on NPR’s “Ask Me Another.”

Stine, who goes by “Bob,” seemed like a very affable man and quite unlike whom you might imagine conjures books for children like “Say Cheese and Die,” and “The Haunted Mask.” That series of Goosebump books – and their frightening covers in particular – terrified my oldest when he started reading in the late 1990s and had to be banished from his room.

But the girls sitting in front of us, probably in their mid- to late-20s, were apparently huge fans and whispered ferociously among themselves and nodded every time a new book was mentioned.

We were a big room full of dorks, young and old, playing along with the contestants and enjoying a good double entendre and funny song lyrics.

But it’s hip to be a square now, all the cool kids are geeks. Isn’t that the cornerstone of, like, Brooklyn culture?

And I’m happy to have passed down my dork gene to my kids and enjoy when they choose to wave their weirdo flags. I love that one of them worked seriously with Legos well into high school and never says “no” to a round of Boggle. That another daughter reads everything she can get her hands on and can be heard at all hours howling at “Who’s Line is it Anyway?”. That same girl also crammed like who-know-how-may-years’ worth of “Dr. Who” episodes into her senior year of high school and is now the proud owner of a home-made TARDIS that actually lights up. And I loved that my oldest son read for pleasure for many years until he became, well, too cool not to. They’ve all played instruments — with varying degrees of success — and the boys in particular took to the saxophone.

They’re activities that foster creativity and intellectual curiosity, something we could all use more of.

Because in the end, being a nerd is much smarter, and healthier, than smoking cigarettes and much less expensive, too.

I just wish it didn’t take me so long to figure that out.

My Hurricane Sandy Story

IMG_4059The PTSD kicked in earlier this month, when the weather around here started to cool down but not enough to warrant switching the heat on in the house.

On a few of those days, sitting in my chilly kitchen mid-morning working – before the afternoon sun warmed up the front of the house – I’d flash back to those few weeks last year when the sun was the only thing we had to rely on to heat the house.

Or brighten it, for that matter.

When Hurricane Sandy blew threw this part of the Jersey Shore one scary night a year ago tomorrow, she took a lot things with her like heat and electricity, and all those modern conveniences I had come to rely on like morning coffee, the Internet and hot showers.

She also took with her my sense that I didn’t need anyone. That I could handle anything thrown my way.

And while I fared so much better than many people in my small town – families whose homes were ravaged by floodwater that surged through their bedrooms and kitchens, destroying every last slipper, cookbook and photo album – the storm was still traumatizing.

For the second time since my old husband moved out of our house five years ago, I felt incredibly alone. It quickly became clear that no one would be checking in on how the kids and I were doing, no one would be offering us a place to stay and get warm.

It was every man for himself, so to speak.

We had a giant maple tree slice through our back yard as the storm really started to kick in that terrifying night. The tree, which had stood just on the other side of the chainlink fence in my neighbor’s yard, had been a source of irritation, dropping some piece of detrius or another into my yard – and the nearby pool in particular – for years. So it was fitting, really, that the one tree to come crashing down would be that annoying one, and while it missed the corner of my house by about one or two feet, it did manage to slash through the pool cover and crush everything in its path.


So on top of caring for the two children I had at home at the time and working 24/7 as a reporter covering the storm and its aftermath locally, I also had to contend with getting that thing out of my backyard and figuring out who was going to pay for it.

And it was cold. Motherfucker, it was cold. And dark.

I’d be okay in the earlier parts of the day but when the sun would start to set in late afternoon, and shadows would fall in the bathrooms and kitchen, I’d freak out knowing it was only a matter of time that the kids and I would be left, sitting in the dark surrounded by our hodgepodge assortment of candles and flashlights.

And there is only so much Yahtzee one can play.


We’d trudge upstairs by 9 those nights and retire separately to our bedrooms, slipping under piles of blankets wearing layers of socks and sweatpants to keep warm.

We even had a generator, briefly. A friend in town had a truckload shipped up from somewhere down south to distribute gratis to those in need, but it was old and needed to be revved up to start like a lawn mower. It was the only time in my life I wished I had experience mowing a lawn so I would have understood the motion required to get that thing going – and how to operate the choke, for that matter. Instead, the two kids and I stood outside trying to get it to start and when our neighbor came over to lend a hand and got it started for us, its noise and fumes filled our garage even though it stood on the walkway outside. I wasn’t in the mood for CO2 poisoning on top of everything else.

While later, I would hear stories of how some neighborhoods banded together and made lemonade out of the situation, pooling resources and commiserating together over bottles of wine, it was pretty lonely over in my neck of the woods.

The only person who seemed pretty happy during those first few days was my then-9 year old who spent the time running relatively unchecked through the neighborhood with his friends, released from the bonds of school and homework. As the fourth child, he’s used to fending for himself – over the years he’s taught himself not only how to tie his own shoes buy how to ride a bike. He came inside one day to rest for a moment and I really got a good look at him, how he’d added a warmer layer to his go-to soccer ensemble and sported a knit cap on his head. As he sat on the couch pouring over some newly-discovered catalog, I noticed how his knees were covered with cuts, scrapes and dirt.

I understood then I was witnessing a Lord of the Flies transformation firsthand. It was only a matter of time before he’d be carrying around a conch shell and mounting a head on a stake.

So needless to say, when I heard that my mom got her heat and power back about six days into the ordeal, I immediately invited myself to stay there. I packed the kids off to their dad’s – who had also gotten his heat and power back – and relocated about a half hour south.

And from there, it got pretty good. Once I was under her roof, my mom took pretty good care of me, serving some type of hot cereal each morning and even halving my blueberries and setting it all out in pretty cups and bowls.  She was good company and once her cable was restored, we liked to sit and watch Nashville together.

I’d make the drive north each day to check out what was going on around town for work and make sure my cat hadn’t frozen into a block of ice. And when it seemed the kitty – who had survived near-starvation, some kind of burning that singed the whiskers off her face, and who know what else before we found her – had had enough, my favorite cat-lady friend came over and stuffed her in a carrier and I boarded her at the local vet.

And that’s my hurricane story. I stayed at my mom’s for about a week until my own power was restored and the kids and I could move back in. I’ve slowly had repairs made to my deck and replaced the gas grill smashed by the tree. But there’s still a portion of crushed fencing that needs to be replaced and I just haven’t had the extra time, money or energy to get that job done.

And I know firsthand how fortunate I am. That it’s just fencing and a pool cover that needed to be replaced. As a reporter, I’ve had the opportunity to witness just how devastating the aftermath of the storm could be. I’ve spoken with homeowners who weren’t just uprooted for a week or two, but remain, one year later, out of their homes. And I’ve seen what it’s like when some have stayed in their homes, that look as if they’re living in a war-torn Eastern European country and not a middle-class suburb of New Jersey. They have to deal with insurance companies and and flood maps and the government and that is truly traumatic.

What I mostly learned about myself during those two weeks after Hurricane Sandy struck was that being alone is not always so great. That it would have been nice to have someone else help shoulder the burden the storm brought. Someone to help empty out the bags of thawed Lean Cuisine boxes, ice cream containers and chicken nuggets from the freezer. Someone to sit with by the fire each night and warm up next to under all those blankets at the end of each cold, dark day.

Because being independent is one thing but being alone, I learned, is something very different.










On Being Catholic: The Mystery of Faith

DSC_0037My 10-year-old son had a play date after school the other day and when the friend’s mom came to pick him up, she asked if we were in a rush to get my guy to CCD.

“A lot of kids seem to go on Tuesdays,” she said.

“Um, we’re taking a break from being Catholic right now,” I told her, and she laughed at my joke, but I still feel really guilty about the whole thing.

It must be the Catholic in me.

I went to a tiny Catholic grammar school – where prayer was a standard part of the day, you went to confession monthly and students always stood when a nun entered the classroom and recited (in sing-song voices), “Good morning/afternoon, Sister _______.”

We celebrated All Saints Day – not Halloween – each year with an all-star parade of saints. My classmates dressed as their heavenly namesakes while I, named not for a biblical sufferer but for a character on a soap opera my mom watched, dressed in the white robes of your standard, run-of-the-mill angel. Oh, to be a Theresa or a Mary.

We wore grey plaid jumpers over short-sleeved, white blouses with Peter Pan collars and didn’t think twice about running around the parking lot out back during recess (no grassy fields for us, no sir, we were told it was our cross to bear) during cold winter months with our bare legs exposed.

Compared to how Christ suffered, you knew you had little to complain about.

I grew up loving the Crowning of Mary each May, the smell of incense that filled the tiny church next to our school as the altar boy waved the lantern during mass and of course, I always looked forward to the cock crowing as we sat on the church’s wooden pews enduring the endless stations of the cross during Lent, trying to suppress yawns and then briefly uncontrollable laughter. Who knew the Bible could be so dirty?

While there were many things I was not sure of during that time – when my parents’ divorce turned my small world upside down – going to Catholic school provided many things I could bank on, like the 10 Commandments and the Holy Spirit. You knew they weren’t going anywhere.

We knew the seven deadly sins by heart, along with the beatitudes and the Act of Contrition and believed, inside and out, that Jesus had died for our sins.

Next to that, the other thing we knew – beyond a shadow of a doubt – was that CCD Kids were heathens.

They were the kids who went to the public school in town who would use our classrooms after school a few days a week for their religious education classes. We’d return the next day to find the insides of our desks in disarray and trash on the floor. Any time something turned up broken or not working, we’d know whom to blame.

“CCD Kids,” we’d mutter.

Many years later, I found myself the parent of not one but three CCD Kids. Kids who couldn’t tell me a single commandment or holy day of obligation if their lives depended on it, and who would ask me, on numerous occasions, as we waited on line to receive communion, “What do I say again?”

Really? How hard is it to remember, “Amen”?

I probably spent over a dozen years shuttling those three kids back and forth to their weekly religious education classes and then dragging them, kicking and screaming, to mass each Sunday (or to the quicker Saturday night 5-o’clocker if we could swing it). I would make sure to sit in between troublemakers and was not above giving a good pinch if someone was having impulse control issues or a hairy eyeball to someone who thought they’d take it easy and sit when it was time to kneel.

And what was the result of this herculean effort? Well, of course three confirmed soldiers of Christ who can now go on to receive the sacrament of marriage in the church while the flame of the Holy Spirit burns within them.

I also have three kids who really don’t know the first thing about their faith, which might have a lot more to do with the lack of instruction on the home front than what they were taught by all the good souls who volunteered each week at CCD.

Basically, they’re heathens.

miss-trunchbullSo last year, after missing the deadline to sign Kid #4 up for CCD and lacking the energy to suck up to the fairly frightening woman who runs the religious education program for our parish (think the terrifying headmistress in Matilda), I just did nothing.

And the same thing happened this year.

I struggle with the Catholic Church: The failure to address sexual abuse, the politics, and the fact that women are not able to become priests or hold any positions of power. That last one gets me the most. It’s bullshit.

Because as much as I really liked all of the church’s rules and regulations when I was young, as a grown up I see that those rules do more to exclude than include.

It’s been a while since I had been to mass and when I attended the funeral of a good friend’s mom a few weeks ago, I opted out of receiving communion.

It was the first time, since I received First Holy Communion in first grade (1973 for those who are counting), that I attended Mass and did not take part receiving the Body of Christ. It just didn’t feel right.

And that’s about it right now. There’s no tidy way to end this subject. I do like being a part of something bigger than me that connects all of us. And I really like going to Mass, even though they keep screwing around with it (Note to Catholic Church: Please leave the “also with you’s”s alone but get rid of all that annoying singing of everything.).

I just don’t buy everything the Catholic Church is trying to sell. I know you’re supposed to just have faith in the whole thing but I don’t accept that God doesn’t love Jews and Muslims and Buddhists as much as he loves us Catholics.

But if anything gives me hope about remaining a Catholic and embracing my faith these days it’s our new Pope. What a guy. I’m so impressed by everything he says and does and think that Pope Francis really does embody goodness and love. The people seem more important to him than the rules.

And isn’t that what we really want in the end? To be united in our desire to be good people and love each other, regardless of our race, gender or sexual preferences? That’s the world I want to live in and the Church I want to belong to.



Blogger Love: 10 Liebster Award Questions

liebster_awardSo, here’s the really cool thing about this blog: Just when I thought the only people following it were all the moms living in my small town and my ex-husband, it turns out that at least one other blogger has started reading along. She’s Connie over at “I Suck as a Parent” and she has even gone so far as to nominate me for a Liebster Award, which she likens to the Grammys for bloggers, minus the red carpet.

And while there’s no one winner and it’s more like an ongoing shout out amongst bloggers, it’s pretty cool to be recognized by one of your own. And in a world where some bloggers are busy elbowing their way to the top of the heap, it’s nice to know that other bloggers are willing to share the spotlight with those new to the blogosphere.

But Connie frets about some of her parenting decisions and is a shoe hoarder and counts The Silver Palate as one of the most important books in her library, so how could we not really like each other? She even went to Greece this summer.

The deal is that we nominate our faves and ask them to answer 10 questions and those bloggers in turn make nominations and craft questions.

Herewith, answers to questions posed by I Suck as a Parent:

1.    Why did you start your blog?

While my first impulse is to joke and say I just really like talking about myself, I think I was drawn to blogging because I’ve always been good at telling stories that make people laugh – especially stories about my kids and being a mom. And writing is just something I can do, the way some people can add big numbers in their heads or easily slip into a side split (neither of which can be found in my bag of tricks). But with all that laundry I had to fold and butts that needed wiping, it took me about a decade to get it together and actually make the blog happen.

2. What is your favorite movie?

I love Hobbits and dinosaurs, crying (“Blind Side,” “Out of Africa”), sassy teenage girls (“Juno” “Easy A”) and kitchen porn (anything written or directed by Nancy Meyers but “Something’s Gotta Give” in particular). And the list would not be complete without some shirtless Gos flick (hello, “Crazy, Stupid Love”). Favorite? For purely sentimental reasons, I’d have to say the “Toy Story” trilogy. The movies share the arc of my oldest children’s childhood and the first movie was in heavy rotation on our VHS as my oldest sat and stared, inspired by Woody and terrified of Sid. He and Andy went to college the same year and as I watched the fictional character pack up the stuff of his childhood, it broke my heart that that part of the story had come to an end. Just like mine.

 3.    Where was your last, best vacation?

Blue sky. Hot sun. Salty water. Warm breeze. Crowing roosters. Roaming goats. Seaside villages. Ancient ruins. Pebbly beaches. Endless reading. Flapping sails. Cold beer. Strong coffee. Sweet pastries. Local tavernas. Good company. Lapping water. Starry sky. Greece 2013. Opa.

 4.    Who is your favorite author and why?

Oh, to pick just one is like trying to pick a favorite child. It’s the “Sophie’s Choice” of writing.

So off the top of my head and in no particular order, I need to read everything written by Junot Diaz, Cheryl Strayed, Anna Quindlen, Kelly Corrigan and Tina Fey.

And at the top of the list of favorites is my idol Nora Ephron, who always wove a strong and identifiable voice throughout all of her writing. Even when she wasn’t writing about herself, you could sense her there, among the words. It inspires my writing and encourages me to keep honing my own voice. And her belief that “everything is copy” has become my mantra. Much to others’ chagrin.

 5.    What is your most prized possession?

This was by far the most difficult question. But after running through a mental inventory of all that I physically own, and coming up short, I turned inward and decided that what has been critical throughout my life and has helped me out on numerous occasions is my undying sense of optimism. Without it, I might still be lying on floor somewhere in despair. But for some reason, I can pull it out of my back pocket and know that everything will work out. With it, I believe in my heart that life will always improve. And I hope I can leave a big dose of that optimism to all my children along with my extensive collection of wooden cats and beige sweaters when I check out some day.

6.    Cat or Dog?

Dogs because at least they (for the most part) poop outdoors. But don’t let me fool you: I’m kind of obsessed with our cat and am always commenting on the way she tucks her paws under her chin just-so or how cute and fat she is when she rolls around the TV room floor. It’s like having some weird raccoon living in our house, minus the rabies.

 7.    What is the most delicious food you have ever eaten?

Even when it’s bad, pizza is so damn good. I could eat it for every meal, every day. And while I’ve grilled pizza here at home and had fancy pies at restaurants sprinkled with arugula and shaved prosciutto, and eaten slices served at Hoboken pizzerias that are the size of a newborn baby (literally, Benny Tudino’s has a picture taped on the wall of a sleeping infant next to a slice and they were comparable in length), I’d be happy with the so-so pizza served right around the corner from me. Sprinkled with some parmesan and hot pepper flakes and folded in half … heaven. I would marry it if I could.

8. What is your favorite quote and by whom? 

“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.”
Nora Ephron

Here’s one thing I’ve learned over the last 47 years: You need to be the captain of your own ship. Because once you give away control of the wheel, man, you don’t know where you might end up. But when you take charge of your destiny, you have only yourself to credit or blame for the outcome and can course correct and change direction at will. You can practically feel the wind in your hair.

9. If you could meet anyone dead or alive, who would it be?

Straight up, Oprah.

Or, maybe Tina Fey. Hmmm … I love Amy Poehler, too.

And that new Pope is kind of cool.

I just asked my 16-year-old daughter what she thought I should say and she thought for a second and said, “I don’t know. Like, Beyonce?”

Really? Do I really seem like the kind of person who would most want to meet Beyonce?

I think I might need to start acting more serious around here.

10. What is your favorite post that you’ve written? (Please provide link!)

I had a really bad break up earlier this year. We’d been together for a while and had grown pretty close but in the end, I realized I wasn’t doing myself any favors clinging to such a one-sided relationship and had to say good-bye. But you know, I’m gonna miss that salty good-for-nothing. You can read all about it HERE.

I had lots of fun answering all the great questions posed by I Suck as a Parent and love that she recognized my blog and asked me to play along.

And in accordance to the Liebster law, I’d like to nominate the following bloggers:

And here are your questions:

  1. How did you pick your blog’s name?
  2. Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your 13-year-old self?
  3. What’s your favorite TV show?
  4. What are three things you cannot live without?
  5. Who is your favorite fictional character?
  6. What is your most prized possession?
  7. Describe yourself in three words.
  8. What is your guiltiest pleasure?
  9. What single quality do you most appreciate in people?
  10. What’s your favorite post that you’ve written? (Link, please!)

You can find more details on the Liebster Awards here and make sure you link out to everyone and share the blogger love.




When Scarlet Fever is Awesome

photo(58)Is it me, or is everybody sick right now?

I’ve spent the past week shuffling around my house, unshowered and wearing the same pair of grey sweatpants I’ve been rocking for days, and feeling lousy.

I’m at the tail end of it now, where I no longer feel like my eyes are about to cave in and can’t peel myself off the couch. Now I’m just working through a hacking cough that really seems to get going around 3 a.m. and sounds as if I’ve inhaled a pack of cigarettes.

Sadly, I am not a good sick person.

While I scoff at those who want to wallow in their own misery – you need to be spiking a fever over 100 for me to let you stay home from school or else I’m scooching you out the door – I’m a big, fat hypocrite. When I feel yucky, I really want you to feel sorry for me. I need you to feel my pain.

It all goes back to the scarlet fever.

When I was maybe six, I remember my siblings and I all came down with strep throat simultaneously. I guess there were about four of us around then, my three brothers and I. My mom, pregnant at the time with our sister, hauled us all to the pediatrician in our VW Beetle and one at a time, we had to lie facedown on the examination table and get a shot in the rear end. Back in the day, mothers didn’t have to fool around with two tablespoons of glutinous medications three times a day for seven days like some fucking chemist.

Back then your kid would get a shot in the ass and be her way to wellness.

I don’t remember getting my shot but I do recall how one of my brothers carried on about it. He became so hysterical that they had to bring in some additional medical personnel to hold his flailing body down. When it was over and he was released, I could see a gaping hole left in the paper that covered the exam table, torn open from all his crying and yelling.

So the shot did the trick for the boys, but after a few days I still hadn’t recovered and when my mom brought me back to the doctor, she was told the strep had advanced to scarlet fever.

Now this was something.

When you are one of many siblings, pretty much just a face in the crowd, you dream about something that will make you stand out. Something that says, “Hey, this one needs some special attention.”

Even if you can’t swallow.

And scarlet fever did the trick. I could sense that my needs were immediately elevated above the rest of the crowd, could hear in my mom’s voice as she updated my grandmother over the phone that I would require special treatment.

I wish I could remember what that special treatment looked like. If she set me up in her bed the way I arrange my children when they are sick, serving them their soup and sandwich on a special metal tray with legs I picked up at WalMart years ago.

Mostly I just remember getting to be alone with my mother and that she kept asking me how I felt. And that it was nice.

To this day, even though my seven siblings and I have given my mom all sorts of injuries and illnesses to address over the years, she will still pull the scarlet fever out of the bag of ills and hold it up as something to be remembered.

Sometimes we’ll be sitting around going through the list of the family’s notorious medical moments – like the time my brother fell out of a moving car or when my sister was struck right between the eyes by a neighbor swinging a golf club – and shake our heads at the gruesomeness of each case.

“Well, remember the time Amy had scarlet fever?” my mom will throw out.

I sure do. And it was great.

Gangsta Blogger

WARNING: The following post contains an insane amount of profanity. Which I find very funny. Others, I know, are less amused by curse words. Please move forward accordingly.
A pal sent me a link the other day to a parody of a Google site and somehow, when you plug a search, in you get in return a gansta version of whatever you’re looking for. It’s named, appropriately enough, Gizoogle. Apparently it works best for news sites and blogs and so naturally, he googled his favorite mommy blogger and the results are hilarious.
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Top 4 Things I’m Way Too Old to Deal With

Artwork by Sandra Lippmann featured on A My Name is Amy.

My friend Sandy in very cool and lives in Brooklyn and paints amazing pieces like this one. Check out #100circles on Instagram to see more.

#1.  Summer Reading

With less than 24 hours until the first day of school this week, my soon-to-be-fifth-grader had yet to complete the second of two books that needed to be read and reported upon by the next day.  At that point, I was beyond tired of talking about it. And nagging about it. And yelling about it. And yet, there we were down to the wire.

I’m not saying I don’t think kids should have some work to do to keep everything they learned throughout the school year from spilling out of their ears and onto the sand during the long stretch of summer vacation. I just don’t want it to be my problem any more.

I was actually angling to adopt that strategy at first. A girlfriend was complaining to another friend and I on the beach in early August about her battle with her incoming high school senior to get his summer reading completed.

“You need to let it go,” advised our friend. “He’s a good student. You know he’ll get it done one way or another so why are you wasting your breath and making it your problem?”

“That’s good advice,” I chimed in. “Do you think I should lay off my 10-year-old and leave it up to him to finish his reading?”

“Um, he’s still a little young,” I was told. “He probably still needs you to stay on top of him.”


#2. Sleepovers

They have been the bane of my existence for about a dozen years and a childhood ritual I try to avoid like the plague. It means there will be a pile of pillows and blankets that will need to be put away the next day and a sofa bed requiring repair. My job as hostess will be to either produce some type of cooked breakfast or go out in my sweats to fetch bagels. I’ll be required to be the heavy at some point, too, lumbering down to the basement to turn off Cartoon Network and shush excited guests. And I’ll have to pretend to be nice and act like it’s all a lot of fun.

It’s a lot of work, and that’s if things go well.

Because when you go through the movie-watching negotiations, air mattress blowing, searching for every nightlight you own to light up the downstairs and ease jitters and then the guest decides he’d rather be home in his own bed, leaving your own child crying in his wake, there is absolutely nothing to be gained through the exhausting exercise. I want a return on my investment. Like, if I’m going to go through the whole sleepover rigamarole, I want the benefit of having created a buffer between myself and my child. Something to keep him busy for 8 or 10 hours. And not busy crying about his life.

#3.  My Period:

(DUDE WARNING: I know, you are sensitive to these issues. I know this girly mystery freaks you out. So, in the interest of honoring the two or three dudes who read my blog and your aversion to all-things menstrual, I’m going give you the heads up that too much period information is about to be shared and you should just skip down to #4. You’re welcome boys.)

I know that at 47, I still have a few years left of this thing and need to remain in the acceptance phase for a while longer. However, it’s been, I don’t know, well over 30 years of this monthly occurrence and I still can’t get a handle on it. It never comes when I think it’s coming and other times it shows up out of the blue. My symptoms change month to month and year over year and just when I think it’s starting to slow down, it comes on with a vengeance. And can I have just one month when I don’t have to throw out a pair of underwear or wash my sheets? I mean, what the hell? You’d think I’d be good at this by now but I’m not because I want it to go away.

#4.  Dealing with other people’s poop:

Recently, it became obvious that the toilet in my bathroom was starting to clog. It does this from time to time, requiring me to dig up the always-missing plunger and relieve it of its congestion. It wasn’t until I spent a week in Greece (not to mention on a small sailboat), where flushing ANY paper (forget feminine products) was strictly forbidden, that I realized that I use my toilet like a veritable trash can. Any time I blow my nose or take off eye makeup, the tissue goes straight into the toilet and not the garbage located about 3 centimeters away from it. I figured I was cutting down on the landfill, man.

At any rate, I guess I’d been wearing a lot of mascara because the toilet was definitely in need of relief, but that night I was running out to meet someone for a drink and figured I’d rather not get involved in latrine duty wearing my cute JCrew shorts and would deal with it upon my return. During the date, I get a text from a child frantically looking for the plunger. I can never remember where I’ve put that thing so told the kid to just leave it and I’d fix it when I got home. I thought it was nice this kid was trying to be such a team player and unclog my potty, until I returned home to fine that the urgent nature of the text was triggered by this child blithely pooping on top of the clog, and who, when relieved of any responsibility for the literal shit show, promptly went out with friends.

So there I was, 10:00 at night in my cute outfit, plunging a poopy potty and sending venomous texts to the pooper. I’ve spent years working with poop – first my younger siblings’ diapers (as the oldest of 8 kids), assorted pets (including the dog whose way of dealing with my ex-husband’s move out of the house was to just defecate daily on the TV room rug), and my own little babies’ up-the-back disasters. I’d really like to claim this time in my life as the poop-free era and institute a you-dropped-it-you-deal-with-it rule.

No shit.