But how do you order the cotton candy?

My quasi-cousin Kore and I met up at an impossibly chic taqueria on Sunday and I’m still puzzled how the Minivan Mafia let me get away with this one, how I didn’t get fined (yet?) for wearing Not Nearly Enough Black, and how it appeared I was the only one whose skull was completely blown to bits over this cotton candy novelty served apres dinner.

This cotton candy? Arrived in a big bountiful arrangement. The same big bouquet shape you’re used to seeing at the fair. Only it was placed on tables around us like a fetching centerpiece. Now, I’m not so daft and irrelevant that I’m unaware that cotton candy for growns is a HUGE thing in foodie places like Vegas, etc. I mean I might own some mom jeans but I know my way around a Sephora counter and I know that contouring is a thing I need and a boy brow is a thing I shouldn’t attempt at home. I am current in most of the ways that matter. But the cotton candy was a surprise at this urbane eatery what with its neo-gothic stained glass windows and wrought-iron sectionings.

Here’s the rub. We couldn’t figure out how to order it. It wasn’t on the menu. Maybe there was a secret password or you had to know a guy, a cottony confectionary kind of guy to order. Kore and I aren’t delicate lilacs afraid to assert ourselves or ask difficult questions like FLOOFER SUGAR, WE CAN HAZ SOME? But! Hark! Just as we asked for the check, a bloom of blue cotton candy was placed in our midst. Unbidden but definitely not unwanted. We pulled at wads and tasted an unexpected fruity flavor. This was not your sad clown cotton candy in a bag that you begged your dad to get you at the Ice Capades mostly because everyone else had some. Kore was the first to make the discovery: this cotton candy was sprinkled in Pop Rocks. For the love of Screech and Lisa Turtle, what a pair. Delicious and frivolous. Suddenly our table with a couple of cackling hens was transformed into the table that was having the most fun party for two, and I totally hope it made everyone who didn’t yet know the cotton candy secret insanely jealous.

I’ve thought about that cotton candy in the days since and I realize it’s less about the spectacle of it, and more about the moment that it arrived. You guys, I swear I heard windchimes when they set it down in front of us. Kore and I had been fine to wrap up our meal without ever solving the mystery of the cotton candy, perhaps investigating further on another cotton candy research junket (as one does). But then the restaurant said, Oh. No. Don’t leave yet. You haven’t tried this blue treat of ours. Your stay here isn’t complete until we set a bouquet of sugary goodness before you.

Even though the Pop Rocks as sprinkles was a new concept for me, I have sat at this table before. The one where I’ve been given the enviable thing without having to ask for it. The one where I’m sitting with someone who accepts me and yet challenges me to pass on the baloney when it comes around. The table where I didn’t make the reservation, where I probably didn’t even abide by the dress code of the place, but was treated kindly. And given the dessert chaser.

I keep returning to the moment, because it was all so fresh for me: the reward no one deserves but which the restauranteur wants its patrons to have; the feasting eyes from other tables; the wondering, the menu scoping. I am going to be spending some more time in this moment where we realize we are getting something we very much wanted and didn’t know how to ask for, and being glad and present for when someone who just wants to delight in our delight says, Oh, why. Here you go.


I think this is the magic we don’t have nearly enough of in our world, and for which we should strive to create more for the people we love and others we may not even know. Because these are the moments where our expectations are suspended and our childish hopes met. Show me the folks who are mad about that. Then sprinkle them with a generous portion of Pop Rocks and see what happens.

From the messy middle of the mid-winter muddling through

The temptation in writing about hard things is to wait until they have passed, until we are on the other side, our feet firmly on the shore as we peer back out at the choppy waters and sigh, so glad we’re not still treading water and trying like the dickens to avoid a shark attack.

Where we get it twisted is not in the writing of it, but in the presenting of it. As far back as high school, I remember our brilliant creative writing teacher Mrs. Sheridan (swoon, we all loved her so) explaining that it’s fine to write through the pain, but if we want to present it as the truest thing, as the thing about which we are most confident, we need some distance.

It’s not that writing about it while we’re in the messy middle of it is wrong. It’s not that we’re unreliable narrators. It’s just that our vision is limited. We’re myopic. We’re nose pressed to the glass of the hard thing on display. We’re smelling the fresh flowers at the funeral parlor. But what a thing we’ll have to write about in a year when they’re dried and shriveled. We’ll smell the fresh in our sense memory but we’ll also have a story to tell about the bouquet that looked like it had been caramelized in a cast iron skillet.

I’ve been trying to write through my winter depression this year, rather than wait for it to pass. It’s a seasonal depression, and one I treat with light therapy and a low dose of anti-depressant, along with talk therapy and a high dose of aerobic exercise and binge reading of sadpants memoirs and inhaling Hershey’s kisses by the bagful. I wish I could say that writing through the heaviness has been leavening. But I still feel as though I wake up most days with an elephant squatting on my chest. I still feel like making a salad is possibly tantamount to climbing K2. I still want want to be hugged and for nothing to be expected of me from anyone. I am still depressed and trying to fight through it. Writing does not help to change this or cure this, but it does change my awareness of how I am coping.

Just yesterday, for example, I realized that it’s not that I become a different person, per se, that I’m inhabited by a depressed monster of a different color. I’m not unrecognizable. I’m still there. It’s that it takes so much effort to pretend that the depression isn’t also there. I still think my kids are funny and their Big Chungus memes are still ridiculous. Sometimes my face just winces instead of the easy laughter flowing out. So I wish sometimes to just go join a different body. One that doesn’t have the elephant sitting on it.

I think about the line in the song “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” where they resign, “We’ll have to muddle through somehow…” and I’ve always genuinely wondered what the somehow actually looks like, and how they’d carry on until the fates allow for a reunion. Those aren’t the songs that get written, though. It is the blog post that gets written by ya girl and right now I’m muddling through. I’m grateful for a husband who truly understands, two Voxer chatgroups that make me feel heard, two beautiful kids that see my penchant for sweatpants and forgetfulness and love me anyway, and Bill Cunningham’s Fashion Climbing on loan from the library.

Holla from the messy middle.

The Overflowing Port-a-Potties at National Parks are stressing me out

I was only three paragraphs into an article about the senatorial stalemate over the government shutdown and I was already stressed. My latent fear that we are all very near the edge of a cliff surges every time I read about the Oval Office Occupant. So cavalier, so crass; the news is never good. The mere mention of how the port-a-potties in Nat’l Parks are overflowing due to the lack of government staffing was too much. The metaphor of our crap piling high in forced neglect. This latest surge of fearfulness felt more like magma than simply a fizzy anxiety bubbling to the surface.

I suppose this is because I failed to choose a word for the year. This is likely my penance for not pressing my ear to the Universe more closely, asking her to whisper me my January mantra. Everyone else is so evolved! So zen and able to cope. I’m already a fail potato and it’s only January 6.

The more I thought about how one man’s job was affecting me, how I was allowing it to leverage power over my mental peace, the more resentful I became. I was letting the man with the orange pallor—whom I’ve never met—take something that wasn’t his. Therein I found my resolution, perhaps not one for the full year but at least until the frenzied feeling is no longer palpable. Because frenzied feelings that compel us to enact change are productive. But this one was incapacitating and that is not good for anyone.

Ergo, I resolve to tear a page out of my therapist husband’s playbook. This man, knocking on 40’s door, has the abs of a functionally fit college man. We hate him. We adore him. But we realize his physique is not by accident or genetic overblessing. I once asked him how he stays motivated to get up every day at o’dark thirty to complete a workout at a gym for which he doesn’t pay and for which no hired trainer is present. He said that because of the nature of his job, where he listens and contains the stories of adolescents dealing with trauma and grief and addiction, that, in order to be the best in showing up for them, he has to first show up for himself. And he does so at the gym.

So in this year, my 38th on this planet, I am showing up for myself in the following ways, so that I can further show the frenzied feelings compelled by Presidential Dysfunction that they have no power over me:
- Journaling briefly each day
- Doing the SheReadsTruth study on the Book of Luke as often as possible
- Plotting out my workout schedule each week so that I know when I am going to classes, when I am letting my walk with the dog suffice for the workout du jour

I am fully aware that this is such a White Overprivileged Lady thing to write, like, really? You are combatting injustice by putting on your yoga pants? But I’d like to believe that by showing up for myself and having a plan about where my energy will be spent, I will better be able to stand down the inequities that surface as well as more shrewdly allocate my time and resources toward resistance, because I’m already in command of them.

I’d love to hear how you are allocating your time and energy with intention and how it may make you a better activist in doing so.

Yours in not being a fail potato,