Friday, February 28, 2020

A Time I Quit

I recently quit drinking coffee.
A favorite coffee mug, gift from my husband.

It took me months. I did it slowly to avoid withdrawal symptoms: hangover-like headache, fatigue, mental fogginess, the strong drive to kill the people around me.

Following advice I had read in a magazine article, I slowly worked my way down, one step at a time, from venti to grande to tall, from two a day to one, then made with three-quarters caffeinated, one quarter decaf, then half and half (I discovered you can order this at a coffee bar), then to one-quarter caffeinated, three-quarters decaf, then finally to all decaf.

My husband pronounced this whole process “bonkers.” “Hush,” I said.

I was doing this because of an upcoming trip. Long flights. Jet lag. I didn’t know if there would be coffee where we were going. I didn’t want to miss out on anything, and I didn’t want to be a grumpy travel companion. Plus, I figured, if I ever needed a boost, I could administer a jolt of caffeine to my decaffeinated self and it would have an effect.

This all worked. I had no withdrawal symptoms, though my husband declared my last coffee order, “One small nonfat decaf latte,” to be the saddest one he’d ever heard. I was suddenly able to bound out of bed, into the shower, into clothes, and out the door early in the morning, something that seemed crazy to me before. I didn’t miss out on anything, and I was, I hope, a cheerful travel companion.

But before I even felt the need, I was drinking coffee on the trip. They did, indeed, have it there. They even had an espresso machine. And we were able to introduce the bartender to the concept of iced latte.

And so, I'm back where I started.

Friday, November 15, 2019


It was late and I was on Amazon.

I have no clue about fashion. I wear t-shirts with sayings on them (often hand-me-downs from my  kids) and hoodies.

Oh, and I have a zippered garment bag of my “normal-person disguises,” clothes I wear when I am not allowed to dress like an 8-year-old boy. The garment bag is necessary to protect them from dust.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I realized this past weekend that I dress (sort of, in a distorted way) like a Texan woman. Go to a mall in Houston and you will see clothes bedazzled with rhinestones, topped off with marabou feathers, in tiger and zebra prints. And no, you are not in the little girls’ section (I checked), you are in the section meant for adult women.

I went to visit my son at college in Oregon. Arriving for the parents’ tour, wearing my rainbow-colored sneakers and my bright purple down jacket (for Texans, cold weather is novel and fun), I realized that all the other parents were wearing expensive hiking gear in earth tones. Oops.

Place has a definite effect on your clothes. I remember, when our kids were small and we lived in New York City, we went to Disney World in Florida. My husband and I laughed when we got back to the city. People at Disney World wore pastel colors, were super-friendly and also, sorry to say, fat; people back in Manhattan were skinny and wore scowls and black.

Also, in New York, I remember seeing an elderly woman on the bus, wearing her coat, just so, accented by a pretty pin. I thought, I hope I dress like her when I’m old … but that’s not looking likely. At the rate I'm going, I’ll probably be the little old lady in the bedazzled baseball cap.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Now, I Want A Kitchen Garden

The Self of My To-Do List

If I were the self depicted in my to-do lists, I’d have already done a morning yoga class rather than be sitting here at mid-day in thermal-underwear pajamas, my husband’s cast-off flannel, tartan-plaid robe and fuzzy slippers with pom poms.

My dog would be well-trained and well-behaved, wouldn’t pee in excitement when people came over, wouldn’t pull like a maniac on his leash, wouldn’t bark and growl at passing small children and strollers. He’d be an agility dog and a therapy dog.

I’d have taught myself French long ago and be fluent in it.

Ditto Spanish.

Also guitar.

And piano.

I’d do triathlons, be able to do all the poses of yoga and weigh quite a bit less.

My house would be organized. At the very least, I’d change all the burned-out lightbulbs I’ve been ignoring. And my closets would be so organized, like the ones in magazines, that they’d look like little shrines.

I’d have a kitchen garden. Also, I’d know all the names of the things growing in my yard and they’d all be flowering, which is good, because I’d also have a hive of bees. Well-behaved bees.

I’d have more dogs, all rescues, and they’d be well-behaved too.

I’d be wildly successful in some sort of creative field. I might be a little famous, in a beloved, low-key kind of way, and I’d have made gobs of money. I’d have a pied-à-terre in New York. (I have one picked out: a certain teeny-tiny room on the top floor, in the corner, of the Beacon Hotel). I’d also have a summer house at which I would, indeed, spend the entire summer.

Too bad my to-do list is complete fiction.

And P.S., I thought I was being so efficient this morning, but turns out it’s “fall back.”

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

I Can Hear That Whistle Blowing ...

Did you know you can take a cross-country passenger train out of Houston? It's called the Sunset Express.

Yeah, no one else knows either. 

But everybody should, so I wrote about it for The Buzz Magazines. You can see that article here.

Going by train takes longer, doesn't, if you get a sleeper, save you any money, and it generally doesn't arrive on time.

But it's really fun. :)

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Close Calls

I was walking.

I am such a caricature of myself: the doctor’s wife, in my yoga clothes, with my yoga mat slung behind me, in flip flops, clutching a latte … but I digress.

There was a lot of construction. On one side of the street, there was a fenced-off lot with a backhoe working and on the other side, a big truck was slowly backing into a driveway.

Since the sidewalk along the fence wasn’t closed, I was walking there.

The fence was about 8 feet tall. The heap of rubble behind it was much taller. It had been a brick building that morning. And it was shaking. The backhoe, which I couldn’t see, was working behind it.

It began to occur to me that, perhaps, I shouldn’t be there.

The construction worker directing the truck saw me and waved me to the other side of the street. “Just in case,” he said.

Of course, he was right.

(Also, that sidewalk should have been blocked off, hello.)

After I had walked on, I turned. As I watched, that pile of bricks tumbled over, flattening the fence and spilling all over the sidewalk.

Whew, a close call.

We all have them and have more of them, the older we get.

Once you become a certain age, it seems, doctors are always finding things that could be terrible. I continue to have doctors monitor me for possibly horrific things. In fact, I just got another all-clear after a week of worry.

Even with all these all-clears (thank God), I am left with residual fear. What about next time?

Because something will eventually get you, right?

How are we supposed to deal with that?

Yet, the bricks didn’t bother me … I am going to buy that construction worker a coffee, though.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Those Poor Children

Just wrote to my representatives about the children on the border, the ones the US government says it doesn't have to provide food and water and soap for (all while Trump charges the Secret Service, whose job it is to protect him and his family, rent at his properties). Disgusting.

Anyway, here's what I wrote:

I am writing to you today as one decent human being, one decent American, to another.

The migrant children, some as young as 5 months, having not only been ripped away from their families, but now being held without access to proper food, water, medical care, need to be taken care of.



Do not use them as a bargaining chip to get funding for any other thing, including immigration enforcement.

Do not use them to complain, as I have keep hearing politicians do, that it’s “the other side’s” fault or that the children’s parents broke the law. I don’t care if their father is Jeffrey Dahmer and their mother is Ted Bundy. Which, incidentally, these people are not. They are refugees. Maybe ones that fit our asylum requirements, maybe not. Maybe they are “only” economic refugees. Maybe they are fleeing climate change or violence. But they are people and they, particularly their children, now artificially orphaned by the Trump Administration’s cruel policies, are in distress.

We are Americans. We take care of children. We take care of people in distress. It is the decent thing to do and Americans are decent people. Those there, on the ground, including government workers, are trying, even coming in on their off hours to help. Other Americans are coming with donations of diapers and soap and toothbrushes and paste – only to be turned away.

Other countries take care of such influxes with refugee camps and invite in organizations like the Red Cross. Why aren’t we doing something like that?

We used to be a country that could handle things like this, would even help other countries.

Please do whatever you can to take care of these children. And do it without delay.

Thank you.