Screaming Into My Pillow’s comprehensive guide to comfortable pants

I think we really need to talk about something.  It is a long overdue conversation.  We need to talk about pants.  There are more serious things going on in the world, I agree. But I have a lot of feelings and thoughts about pants, and I think we need to get some of these things out in the open.

Pants.  Ah, pants.  Those belly pinching leg prisons.  Pants are not my friend.  And yet, they are so necessary for warmth, coverage, and the health of our society.  I mean, I wouldn’t want to live in a world where people walked around with no pants.  Please do not make any such inference.

But, seriously–how many of us spend the better part of our days thinking about how uncomfortable and frustrating our pants are?  Most of the time they are tight in all the wrong places, even though you thought they fit perfectly when you tried them on in the store dressing room with the flattering lights and the mirrors that made you look two sizes smaller than you really are.  Sometimes they stretch out and sag in the butt or the knees by midday, and you spend the rest of the afternoon hiking them up to avoid a plumber-bummer situation. Quite commonly, they start out feeling fine in the morning, but then by the afternoon it becomes clear that your pants either have room for your body or your lunch, but not both.

Is it me, or have dress pants become so complicated?  Some of them have a zipper, a series of buttons, and then two or three hooks over top of the buttons.  And what’s up with that clear button that you have to fasten on the inside before you move on to the outside buttons?  Is it a modern day chastity belt? Is it some kind of backup plan to hold your pants up in case the three outer hooks and two outer buttons experience some kind of equipment failure? I personally have left that particular button undone many a time and I did not suffer any noticeable consequences.  In addition to the fact that it leaves a semi-permanent button imprint on my belly, it just seems superfluous.  And it’s very labor intensive, especially if you are striving to maintain proper hydration.  I went through this really embarrassing phase where I kept leaving my fly down at work, because by the time I fastened the inside button, two outside buttons, and three hooks, I had forgotten all about the zipper.  I just felt like I was done at that point.

My current job affords me the opportunity to wear scrubs every day if I want to.  If I want to?  Well, let me think about this for a second.  I can either wear dress pants that require hemming, dry cleaning, high heeled shoes, and a 4 minute re-fastening procedure every time I go to the bathroom, or I can wear pants that are basically work pajamas.  Not a hard decision.

On the positive side, I think one of the best things that has happened to pants is the mainstreaming of the legging.  Leggings are everywhere.  They are taking over!  You can get them in colors and patterns.  You can dress them up or down.  You can wear them with a dress or a sweater or a blouse, with flats or boots or slip-on sneakers.  When I was a kid, leggings were for dance class or worn as an extra layer under your “real” pants in frigid weather.  No more!  I know some would argue from various directions that leggings aren’t pants.  These are not my people.

However, I do believe that one should follow certain guidelines in order to successfully wear LAP (leggings as pants).  If you are over the age of 13, wear a long top.  Please make sure it covers your crotch and preferably most of your booty.  I don’t have a problem with people who think they have a nice butt trying to show it off, but sometimes you just don’t really know what’s going on back there.  You can’t see what the rest of us see.  We don’t want to see your panty lines or the pattern on your underwear.  We most certainly do not want to see your camel toe.  These are relatively easy guidelines to follow, given the fact that tunics and long, flowy tops are all the rage.  Please follow them, for the sake of your fellow citizens who have to walk behind you in the grocery store.   If you are indeed going to the gym, you may disregard the guidelines about wearing a long top and covering your butt.  However, continue to avoid camel-toe at all costs.  P.S.–mom and dad, if you’re reading this, DO NOT GOOGLE camel toe.  Trust me.

While we are on the subject of the gym, let’s discuss the athleisure trend. Athleisure is a way that we can wear sweats around the town and still look presentable–super cute, even.  Your old ripped sweats with the hole in the butt from college say to the world “I just rolled out of bed because I was up all night with my vomiting child who now needs Pedialyte, so here I am in the grocery store at 6 AM.”  And by all means, if you were up with your vomiting child all night and have to go out for Pedialyte, wear those crappy sweats.  Or if you’re going to Walmart on a random Tuesday. Same/same.  In comparison, your sporty space-dye joggers and fun long sleeved hoodie with those thumbhole thingies that look adorable but are such a pain for people who wash their hands a lot say, “I can be cute AND comfortable, and now I’m going to Target.”

While athleisure is both comfortable and cute, and LAP are a huge leap forward for womankind, nothing beats pajama pants.  I like to go right from my scrubs/work pajamas to my sleep pajamas, while strategically avoiding any weeknight activities that may require me to wear anything nicer that a pair of sporty joggers.  I mean, after I have worked all day, there is no greater reward than changing into my jammies and some soft, fuzzy socks.  I get very grumpy when this reward gets delayed by things like band concerts, parent-teacher conferences, dance class, or any number of pajama pant delaying activities.

Alright, let’s talk about jeans.  Jeans have come a long way since the pair of Buffalo jeans I had in ninth grade with the leather button fly and pleats.  And thank the Lord that the low-rise trend appears to have mostly run its course.  It seems that the people who make denim have recently gotten the memo from women that we want to look like we’re wearing jeans, without feeling like we’re wearing jeans.  Because let’s face it, jeans are not very comfortable unless they’re doctored up with all kinds of stretchy fabrics.  I’m not talking about 98% cotton and 2% spandex.  If this is the best your jeans can do, they are underperforming in the comfort arena.  Especially once skinny jeans came on the scene, this sort of fabric scenario became completely inadequate.  You need to look for words on the label like elastane, modal, and sometimes even words that are completely made up but someone trademarked them to make them look legit.  A good pair of very stretchy jeggings can take you to many a social outing feeling stylish and relatively comfortable until such time that you can politely excuse yourself and sneak home to get in your pajamas.

I realize that I have just thrown a lot of information at you.   I am very invested in helping all of us be more comfortable and avoiding constrictive waistbands.  So for your convenience, I have summarized my thoughts into this helpful flowchart below.


Microsoft Word - pants infographic.docx

That is all for today.  Until next time:  Stay comfortable, my friends.


All the books I read in my sweats in 2017

Welcome to the second annual installment of “all the books I read in my sweats” (and pajamas, and sometimes yoga pants) in 2017, in the exact order in which I read them of course. Because why would you bother making a list if you didn’t put things in order?

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings–Maya Angelou ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

It’s a classic for a reason.  If you haven’t read it, you should.  This was my first foray into Maya Angelou, and I will definitely put her other works on my “to-read” list for the future.





Falling Upward:  A spirituality for the two halves of life–Richard Rohr ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I really loved, and really needed, this book at this particular phase in my life.  Richard Rohr is a Franciscan priest at the Center for Action and Contemplation in New Mexico.  I call him my favorite monk, but I’m not sure that he’s really a monk.  But I call him my favorite monk, so there. I now subscribe to his daily emails and have stalked out most of his public speaking appearances on YouTube and all of the podcasts I can find.  He is a wise teacher and I am a total groupie.  I might need an intervention.  Anyhow, this is a book about spiritual development, if that is something you’re interested in (which I am!).  There is a lot of wisdom in this book.  I just bought my own copy and plan to read it again.

The Nightingale–Kristin Hannah⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I really liked this one, as did most of the people I know of who read it.  I have not been a big fan of Kristin Hannah in the past because I find some of her other books a little cheesy, especially the romance parts.  Eeew…romance.  Anyhow, this one had lots of tragedy to balance out the romance.  I’m all about tragedy.  The themes in this book are very similar to Sarah’s Key, which is a fantastic book as well.  In fact, at the end of the book Kristin Hannah acknowledges Tatiana De Rosnay, the author of Sarah’s Key, for helping her with her research for the book.  This is a nice long one if you’re looking for something to sink your teeth into (with a little cheese on top). This book had five-star potential, but I subtracted one star due to the cheese.


The Kind Worth Killing–Peter Swanson⭐️⭐️
This book was a real page-turner, but also I didn’t really like it.  Which is weird, I know.  Sometimes I will read a book like this and it is suspenseful enough to keep me reading, but the whole time I am also harshly critiquing it.  My major issue with this book is that the author seemed to give the reader almost too much information about what was going on in each character’s head, which kills some of the suspense.  The book is written from multiple points of view, and the author seems to just blurt out each character’s motives and internal dialogues.  Some of the twists and turns in the plot were a little lame and predictable. Just my $0.02.


The Underground Railroad–Colson Whitehead⭐️⭐️⭐️

I had high expectations of this book because of all the praise and attention it garnered, but it wasn’t my favorite.  In the context of the pre-civil war era, the author tells the story of Cora, a young black slave attempting to flee from slavery via the underground railroad, which is imaginatively contextualized in this book as an actual railroad.  I felt a little bogged down by this book for some reason.  I preferred The Invention of Wings (which I read a few years ago) which is set in the same time period with similar themes, and just blew me away.



Love Wins:  A book about heaven, hell, and the fate of every person who ever lived–Rob Bell⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This is a book that will challenge the way that you think about heaven, hell, and God.  Is heaven a literal place?  Is hell?  Isn’t it incongruent to think that God would give us never-ending grace and forgiveness in this life with unlimited chances to believe in Him, but as soon as our physical bodies cross over into death, those who didn’t believe burn in the fires of hell? Or that God’s grace is only available to humans during these finite moments that we live in our physical bodies on Earth, despite the fact that those of us who are from a faith tradition typically believe in an infinite God who is beyond what the human brain can comprehend?  I myself am doing some deconstruction of my faith and found this book to be a breath of fresh air, a new way of looking at things without throwing the baby out with the bathwater.  I will read this one again.  Rob Bell got a lot of flack for writing this book, with many calling him a heretic.  That makes me like him even more.


The Other Boleyn Girl–Philippa Gregory⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This is a historical fiction novel set in the era of King Henry XIII in the English Tudor Court.  This book was an excellent escape from everyday life.  It was scandalous without being too smutty.  When I first started reading I was a little put off with the treatment of women in that era, though I realize this is just a function of the time period.  Still–holy misogyny, Batman.  I read quite a bit of historical fiction but have never read anything set in this time period, and it was terribly fun to read.




Breath, Eyes, Memory–Edwidge Danticat ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

There were a lot of good things about this book that I really admired.  However, overall I felt that it is was missing something.  I was interested in reading it because the author is Haitian, and with my recent time in Haiti I have been wanting to read more and understand more about the culture, and was hoping to gain some of this unique perspective from Danticat.  I read that she started writing this book when she was 18 years old, and it was published when she was 25, which is just incredible.  So some of my issues with the book may have to do simply with the fact that she was not fully developed as an author at the time she wrote it.  I felt that it lacked a cohesive plot, and the pacing was perhaps a little too quick and left me wanting for a little more in the way of character development.  The story itself was pretty sad, so I wouldn’t recommend reading this if you are down in the dumps.  That said, I am interested in reading more of her work and, despite the drawbacks I just mentioned, I was engaged in the book.  It left me wanting to understand more about Haitian culture, and to read more from this unique author.


The Enneagram:  A Christian Perspective–Richard Rohr ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2
I love the Enneagram.  It is such a neat tool for self-discovery and personal growth.  Though the Enneagram sounds really “woo woo” and “out there” and “new age”, it’s not.  It is an ancient personality typing system which can be used to understand yourself and others better.  If you have ever taken a Myers-Briggs personality test and enjoyed learning more about yourself in that way, then you would probably enjoy this as well.  It is strangely accurate.  I’m a “one” on the Enneagram, by the way.  This book is written by my favorite monk, Richard Rohr, but it is not my favorite book on the Enneagram.  It is a little heavy and wordy.  If you are interested in learning more about the Enneagram, I suggest The Road Back to You by Suzanne Stabile and Ian Cron instead, which is easier to understand for beginners and gives an excellent overview of all the types (there is also a Road Back to You podcast, available on iTunes, which I enjoyed also; and Ian Cron has an additional podcast called Typology).  Of note, my husband started reading up on the Enneagram, since I have been talking about it for a whole year, and he is sold on it too.


The Art of Racing in the Rain–Garth Stein ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Just the sweetest, most touching book to read.  Written from Enzo’s point of view–a wise, funny, and beautiful dog who tells the story of his family’s love, loss, and rebuilding.  You will fall in love with Enzo.  One of my favorites this year.






Unbroken–Laura Hillenbrand ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This book recounts the true story of Louis Zamperini, a running prodigy turned WWII pilot whose plane went down, leaving him and his com padres stranded in the middle of the ocean. This book is, in a word, stunning.  The story is rich, interesting, and well-paced.  The writing is gorgeous.  There is a good reason that this book is a bestseller-turned-major motion picture.  Highly recommended!




What is the Bible:  How an ancient library of poems, letters, and stories can transform the way you think and feel about everything–Rob Bell ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Another illuminating read from Rob Bell.  He offers a fresh perspective on the Bible, discussing how we can look at it as true without holding tightly to some of the strictly literal interpretations that we are used to hearing in Christian circles.  It’s on my Kindle, and I plan to read it again.





Little Bee–Chris Cleave ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This excellent book is about a Nigerian refugee, Little Bee, whose life tragically intersects with Sarah, an English woman with a troubled marriage.  It was sad, tragic, hopeful, tender, all of it.  I loved it.






Present Over Perfect–Shauna Neiquist ⭐️⭐️⭐️ and 1/2

For this one, I picked up the audio book format, which I sometimes do if we have a long car trip or I need to spice up my commute.  I enjoyed hearing about this author’s personal journey for a less harried, more peaceful life, letting go of the “hustle” and need to prove and please.  She is warm and relatable, but the book was a little on the long side for me, with some of the material becoming repetitive after a while.  It was a good listen, though I’m not sure if I would have had the patience to get all the way through it in tradidional book form.



Bird by Bird: Some thoughts on writing and on life–Anne Lamott⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Anne Lamott is so awesome.  In all of her books, she manages to show up as her neurotic, darkly humorous, borderline suicidal, imperfect self in the most endearing way.  She is wickedly funny and profoundly wise.  This book is a collection of her insights related to her writing process (spoiler: she approaches writing with all of those same neuroses and imperfections, and uses them instead of fighting them), weaved in with her insights about life.  I laughed out loud, a lot, while reading this book.  Even if you are not a writer, there is a wealth of wisdom to be mined from this book.



In a Dark, Dark Wood–Ruth Ware ⭐️
Meh.  This was another one of those books that sets itself up to be a suspenseful psychological thriller but lacked the depth necessary for me to wholeheartedly recommend it.  Fluffy beach-read at best.  I would put this in the same category as The kind worth killing, discussed earlier.





The Sound of Gravel–Ruth Wariner ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💥💥💥💥💥💥💥
This book is a riveting memoir about the author’s childhood and coming-of-age in a polygamist cult.  This book blew me away.  I can’t stop thinking about it.  I don’t want to tell you anything else about it because I don’t want to spoil the unfolding.  What I will say is that it is beautifully written, brave, surreal, and reads more like fiction than a memoir.  In fact, most of the time I wished that it was fiction, as no one should have to endure the pain that Ms. Wariner courageously recounts.  This book is my pick of the year!



Brain on Fire–Susannah Cahalan ⭐️⭐️⭐️
This memoir that had the unfair disadvantage of being read by me after The Sound of Gravel.  Just like a mother tries not to compare her children, I tried not to compare this memoir to my previously stated favorite.  But I did, I can’t help it.  Anyway, this one is a real-life medical mystery, recounting the author’s experience with a rare neurological diagnosis.  If you like the TV show House, I predict you will enjoy this book.  I felt a little lukewarm about it, for reasons that are not entirely clear to me.




Mothers and other strangers–Gina Sorell ⭐️⭐️

I almost liked this book, which was confusing for me.  I found the beginning of the book hard to get into, but by the middle I was starting to get invested in the main character, Elsie, as she struggled through her grief after the death of her mother, a selfish narcissist who was largely absent for most of Elsie’s youth.  All this fantastic character development, the plot started to thicken and –then she meets her long lost aunt in the last chapter, who gives her all the answers she needed for closure.  It felt anti-climactic, almost a lazy way to end it.



Of Mess and Moxie–Jen Hatmaker ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Oh man, why can’t Jen Hatmaker be my friend in real life?  I loved this spunky, honest, and hilarious book of short essays on everything:  parenting, faith, childhood memories, failure, grace, girlfriends, Netflix binges, dreams, doldrums, and all the messy parts of life.  My favorite chapter was the one on exercise–it had me laughing out loud!




Finding God in the Waves–Mike McHargue ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

god in the wavesThis is a really compelling, really honest memoir by Mike McHargue, also known as “Science Mike”.  Born and raised in a Southern Baptist evangelical church, he describes his crisis of faith brought on after he studied the Bible through the eyes of a scientist.  Not surprisingly, his questions were not well received by his church, his Christian friends, or his family, nor was the fact that he lived as a “closet atheist” for two years.  He describes his journey, along with an encounter with God that lead him to put some of the pieces of his faith back together, with science as the glue.  I enjoyed it.  His scientific insights were enlightening and his honesty was refreshing.


Looking through my list for this year, I notice that my reading was a little light on fiction, which is something I would like to read more of in 2018.  Talk to me.  What were your favorites this year?  I want to know your hits and misses this year, of any genre.  Let’s build our repertoire for 2018!

All Aboard the Hot Mess Express

I got the best mug for Christmas this year.

Normally I am staunchly opposed to the gifting of mugs, on account of the fact that my husband used to be a teacher, and the yearly influx of mugs was just overwhelming.  Mugs with snowmen on them, mugs filled with candy, insulated travel mugs, mugs reading “#1 teacher”, personalized mugs…. So. Many. Mugs. The first year when he was just starting out we happily accepted all of the mugs like the dirt-poor, just out of college, living in an apartment the size of a shoe box twenty two year olds we were.  But by his tenth year teaching?  Let’s just say, mugs made me cry.  (Just do the math—if you get an average of 6-8 mugs a year times 10 years teaching = WHERE DO I PUT ALL THE MUGS???)

But I digress.  I got this mug here from the white elephant gift exchange we had at work.

The mug reads “All Aboard the Hot Mess Express”


Isn’t it awesome?  I saw it and I just knew we were meant for each other.

This was one of those gift exchanges where you could either take a new present from the pile, or steal from someone else.  I stole this one from Eileen who, when I approached her and said “I will take that, thank you very much”, replied “Yeah, I figured”.

Wait, what?  She figured that I would take the “hot mess” mug?  I don’t know what that means.

Maybe she knows about that time that I went to work wearing two different high heeled boots, one black and one brown.  I mean, they looked quite similar in style, and the heel was almost the same height.  I thought I was just a little off balance from fatigue, quite honestly.  I had a three month old baby and a two year old at the time that I had to drop off at the sitter before work, so I think maybe I get a pass on this one.  I decided to deal with the faux pas by just addressing the elephant in the room right at the outset.  The whole day, I just walked into each exam room and said, “Hi! I’m Tracy, one of the nurse practitioners.  I’m wearing two different shoes today because getting dressed is hard for me.  What brings you in today?”  Also during this very fragile and sleepless time in my life I showed up at the gym (multiple times) with my shirt on either inside out, backward, or both.  Add to that the time I worked about 4 hours–a half day!– with my sweater on inside out before a medical assistant kindly said, “Hey, I’m not sure if you know this, but your sweater is inside out”.  You’re not sure if I know?  Do people wear their sweaters inside out on purpose? 

There was also a period of time about a year ago when I spent at least two weeks mismatching my pants and tops.  I had two pairs of pants in the same style, one black and one navy.  Despite the fact that I have no history of color blindness, I would get to  work and notice that I had on the navy pants instead of the black pants with my black shoes, or vice versa.  This sort of thing went on for almost two weeks, despite my efforts to carefully check the color of my pants before heading out the door.  I finally gave up and declared, “THAT’S IT!  I WILL NO LONGER WEAR PANTS.”  I wore skirts and dresses exclusively for about a month after that.  Pants can suck it.

Then there was the time I was eating an apple in my car.  It was an Empire apple.  They are so yummy, aren’t they?  New York State’s finest.  Anyhow, after eating the apple in my car, I parked and went around to a few places to do some errands.  I went to at least three places–a few quick in-and-outs at some stores, the bank, etc.  At my last stop, I was chatting with this nice lady who was helping me out at the counter.  I conversed with her for at least 3 full minutes before she said, “I just need to tell you–you have a little sticker on your chin.”  I reached my hand up to my chin and, sure enough, there was the little oval produce sticker, stuck to my chin, from the apple I ate one hour and three errands ago.  I don’t eat apples anymore.

ALSO, there was this time at work when I had to do a trach tube change on one of our medically fragile kids.  Her mom was, legitimately, a real stickler about germs, because one of the easiest places for a medically fragile kid to get sick is in a doctor’s office or a hospital (unfortunate, but true!)  So she watched everyone wash their hands and made sure everything was tip-top.  We set up the drape and got the supplies all ready, and we were just about to change the trach tube when the mom said, “What’s that on the drape?”  Strangely, a large chocolate chip, one of those oversized ones, was sitting on the drape overlying the patient’s chest.  “It looks like a chocolate chip”, said my very wise and observant physician colleague.  “That is so weird,” I said, “how did that get there?”  We all looked at one another, completely confused and befuddled at this unexplainable phenomenon, as mysterious as a crop circle.  The chocolate chip didn’t seem to be too much of an infectious threat (since it was a clean procedure, not a sterile one) so we removed it and carried on.  When we got out of the room, I confessed to the doctor that my NP colleague kept a jar of chocolate chips in our office, and almost every day after lunch I grabbed a handful from the jar as a little treat.  Well, on this particular day, I was wearing an infinity scarf.  And….well, the chocolate chip kinda sorta fell out of my scarf while we were getting everything ready.  It must have dropped into my scarf when I tossed the chocolate into my mouth, and then fell out when I was getting the supplies ready.  We died.

There is more.  Oh, so much more.  But we will have to save some stories for another day.

So, yes Eileen, I stole the mug from you for a very good reason.  I have earned it.  I am the conductor of the Hot Mess Express.  All Aboard!  Choo choo!!


Cupcake shame

Let me tell you a little story about my childhood.

In order to fully appreciate this story, you have to understand a little about what six year-old Tracy was like.

Six year-old Tracy was the new kid at St. Joseph’s Catholic School that year.  I had knee socks and pig-tails and really hairy legs because my dad is Indian, so I can’t help it, OK?  I was the kid whose hand would shoot up in the air immediately after the teacher asked a question, my fingers waving and twitching, my bottom halfway off the seat, levitating  from the energy of knowing the exact right answer before anyone else.  Often the teacher didn’t call on me, which was weird, because while I was waving my hand in the air I would say things like “ooh ooh ooohhh, meeeee” to let her know I would make it worth her while.  I don’t know what her problem was.  Anyhow, I also had a major sweet tooth, which has carried over into my adulthood and has also been genetically passed down to my daughter.** As an adult, I have been known to eat fudge for dinner. Being able to eat fudge for dinner has turned out to be one of the only good things about being an adult so far.

So when Jason Nelson stood up at the front of the classroom and said, “If anyone can tell me what this word spells, I will give you my cupcake”, my ears perked up.  Cupcake?  Spelling?  Two of my favorite things.  

Then he proceeded to spell the word:

A………..S…………S. *  

Never one to shy away from a challenge, I got to work sounding it out, just like the purple two-headed monster on Sesame Street taught me.  “A” made a sound like “apple”–I silently repeated the sound “a–a–a” in my head.  On to the next letter….I had to hurry!  I couldn’t let someone else win that cupcake!  It looked homemade too!  Luckily the letter “S” had recently been the letter of the day on Sesame Street, so I was well studied.  I silently made a hissing “s” sound in my head, and then quickly but efficiently started to scootch the two sounds together, sounding it out ever so carefully.




ASS!! ASS!! ASS!!  I jumped to my feet and exclaimed the word with great enthusiasm.  And the room went silent.  All eyes were on me, as I beamed from ear to ear and strutted up front to receive my cupcake.

But the temperature in the room had changed.  My classmates were staring at me, mouths agape, as I peeled the paper wrapper off the bottom of Jason Nelson’s cupcake.  It didn’t take too long to figure out that they were more shocked than awed, except I had no idea what I had done wrong.  All I knew was that I felt suddenly ashamed, which totally ruined the spontaneous spelling bee for me, not to mention putting a damper on my cupcake enjoyment.

I don’t remember how I learned the truth about my faux-pas.  And I’m sad to say it wasn’t my first experience with food shame, nor was it my last.  However, I have been able to do the psychological work necessary to push past this painful memory and boldly eat cupcakes without fear.  And sometimes I eat fudge for dinner.


*Where on earth were the teachers while this was happening, you ask?  It was 1981, we ate lunch in our classrooms because our school did not have a cafeteria, and there was one teacher who would make periodic rounds to all of the 1st-3rd grade classrooms while the other teachers smoked cigarettes in the teacher’s lounge, which meant that a bunch of 1st graders spent much of their 30 minute lunch unsupervised.  Ahhhh—the 80’s.  

**This is my daughter.  She inherited my sweet tooth but thankfully lives her life completely unencumbered, with ZERO cupcake shame.

Uterus on Wheels

I have a love-hate relationship with my minivan.

It’s mostly love.  Ninety percent love.  OK, eighty-five percent.  I remember being in my 20’s and scoffing at the 30- and 40-somethings around me who had embraced the minivan stage of life, and thinking, “I will NEVER be that person.  There is no way I will ever drive a minivan.  Ever”  And yet, here I am, rocking my 2011 Honda Odyssey.  Black, because that makes it look sexy.  Power doors, so that they can magically open with the light touch of a button on my key fob, fascinating and delighting my children time and time again.

My two work BFF’s and I used to have matching Honda minivans, parked side-by-side in our parking lot at work, announcing to the world our position in life without a word. My one friend coined the term “Uterus on Wheels” (UOW) when referring to her minivan, which is the most sad yet accurate description I have heard yet.  She once threatened to hang a set of truck nuts from her bumper to balance out the estrogen that seems to ooze from every crevice.  Instead she traded her UOW for a sporty little BMW.   Mid-life crisis if you ask me, and unwise at this time when storage and function simply must take precedence over vanity.

I was recently at my local Honda dealership for a service appointment, and while I was there one of the salesmen was trying to talk me into buying a new car.
“What are you driving now?”, he asked me.
“A Honda Odyssey”, I replied.
“You got kids?  Married?” he inquired, and this is where I gave him the side-eye.  I mean, does he know a lot of single gals without a partner and a gaggle of kids who drive around in minivans for giggles?

My husband was devastated when we first took the plunge into minivan-land.  We were both 32 at the time, with a 2 year-old and another on the way.  The day we picked it up and drove off the lot, he appeared humbled and ashamed, his manhood challenged.  Would he be strong enough to drive a UOW?  Could he withstand this assault on his testosterone levels?  He started calling it the “family mobile”, and I told my 2-year old that our new van was a “cool car”.  He repeated the phrase “cool car” in his cute little toddler voice which always intoned upward at the end of every phrase, so that each time he said it, it sounded like a question.  “Cool car?  Cool car?”  Allllll the way home, we rode in our cool car (?), our toddler repeating his mantra from the back seat as if to convince us both that if you say it enough, it must be true.

But my new van WAS cool, especially with my pregnant belly and a toddler in arms.   I no longer had to bend over and strain my back as I once did in my 4-door sedan to buckle my little one into his car seat.  Loading up the trunk after my weekly grocery haul was a breeze, and we had room for all the toddler and baby paraphernalia on our road trips to see family.

My kids are bigger now, but the UOW is still working overtime.  My husband has since bought a Toyota Tacoma for him to drive, likely an effort to recover his manhood.  He looks really cool in it, but guess what?  It still doesn’t haul as much stuff as my uterus.  Anytime he has to haul a big load, the uterus gets it done.  Road trips are always a job for the UOW, which easily accommodates all of the suitcases, coolers, bikes, toys, and people that we need to bring with us.  The man-mobile just can’t manage quite as much.  There may be a metaphor in there.

All that said, my UOW is not without its faults.  Her turning radius–not so good.  I had an angry man in a little compact sedan flip me off the other week when I underestimated the breadth of my turn while coming out of a school parking lot onto a narrow side street, causing him to have to hit the brakes.  Never mind that he was barreling down a side street adjacent to a school about 30 miles over the speed limit. Jerk. Move out of the way, dude–my uterus is coming at you!  Your compact sedan must yield in my wake!

Parking can be a challenge. It’s kind of like trying to wiggle into a pair of skinny jeans one size too small. On a good day if you come at it from the right angle, it’s possible.  But it’s uncomfortable, and sometimes once you get in, you can’t get out.  Then you have to open the door a tiny crack, suck in, and scootch out, praying that the person beside you won’t leave an angry note on your windshield.  And parallel parking?  Fuggeddaboutit.  Just don’t.

She’s looking a little beat up these days, my UOW.  She is bearing the scars of life with a young family.  In this way, I feel like we understand each other.  She has some exterior scratches, and the other day she had an unfortunate encounter with a deer.  She tries to be pretty, but it’s really an uphill battle for her, what with the constant stream of Goldfish crackers getting ground into her upholstery and the dead bugs freckling her front-side.  Her windows hide secret messages and pictures that can only be seen from the inside when the glass fogs up.  We could probably survive at least 2 days after an apocalypse in there between the snack remnants that have fallen between the seat cracks and the half-empty water bottles camping out in all of the cup-holders.   No one cares about washing the UOW consistently, though sometimes she is the recipient of a homespun car wash in the driveway, with kids in bathing suits who only manage to get her streaky-clean at best, and even with that her upper third goes completely untouched. I don’t think the UOW cares, nor do I, since we both know it is just a matter of time before the rain comes to wash away the soapy streaks.  She is the embodiment of functionality.  And I love her, streaks and all.

The other day, hubby said that we probably won’t need our UOW much longer, now that the kids are getting older.  He proposed getting a bigger truck for him, and downsizing my car.  “But, what about all the high-school friends I will have to shuttle to and fro?  And the family road trips?  What about college move-in days??”  He’s clearly not thinking this through all the way to the end.  We’re not ready for a vehicular hysterectomy quite yet, in my opinion.

So in the meantime, I shall drive my uterus proudly through town, racking up the miles and the memories, angering hurried men in compact sedans and inciting jeers from twenty year-olds who look upon my streaky, bug-speckled van and say, “I will never drive a minivan.”