Adventures of a MathBrat

Random Things I Find Energy To Blog About

My Birthday and The Grandson I May Never Meet

I try not to blog dark. This one might go there. If you are easily angered, you might not want to read this. I would feel awful if I found out my words caused somebody to have a bad day. But I really need to get this out, so…

The day after my Northampton outing I crashed hard. I did way too many stressful things over my Spring Break (both good and bad), and Northampton was filled with so much happy. What must come up must also come down, and that is what happened to me. I came down hard.

I think I forgot to take my thyroid medicine that day (Saturday), so that could also have something to do with it, but Saturday was a wash of staying home and trying not to let the depression pull me any further down than absolutely necessary.

I baked a pie, which helped some. And now I think I remember blogging about this before, so I’ll fast forward to Sunday, my birthday. I think I already blogged that my husband planned a thing at our restaurant that day, and I was pretty bummed about that. So I won’t repeat that, and I’ll move on.

My #TheBloggessTribe friends encouraged me to go to the thing at our restaurant. There were several seats open during the 3pm seating, and my only plans were to grade papers and go to church. A friend texted me to wish me a happy birthday, and in our conversing back and forth, we landed on going to the 3pm seating and to church after. My church meets at 5pm, so the timing could not have been more perfect. It was like it was meant to be.

I started the day slow. Washed my hair, showered, etc., but at a leisurely pace. I finally ended up in my classroom some time after noon. I graded papers and did some other things to get my head back in the game so I could go back to work today (Monday) without the normal panic attack I get when going back after a long break. I did not accomplish much work, but I did get my head space back to school mode, and it worked to stave off the normal anxiety I worried I’d experience yet again.

I met my friend at our restaurant for the special maple tasting menu event. She repeatedly said she felt like the Queen of Sheba throughout the entire time. It helped me to appreciate how spoiled I am in some regards that this event did not feel special to me other than getting to spend time with her. We finished just in time to head out to church.

The church service was great, and she really enjoyed getting to meet everyone. She goes to a church in her town that meets in the morning like normal people do. She enjoyed my quirky group of “we go to church in the evening, because we can, and who wants to wake up early on a Sunday” people.

After church, we went our separate ways, and I headed home to await the phone calls from my adult children I had previously had to tell to call back later, because they called at the exact moments I was leaving one thing to drive to the other.

Here is where if you are easily angered, you should just hang up on my blog now. I thought about not expressing this, to anyone, but I really want to get it out, and not many people read this, so it feels like a safe space to vent.

My son was involved with a girl 7-ish years ago. He was 20, and she was 19. Last summer we found out she had a son with him she never told him about! This boy was 6 when my son found out about him. When I heard the news, I couldn’t help but cry. On my darkest days, cries usually don’t escape, because my body goes to anger instead. But this one had me crying for quite awhile before the anger set in. We missed out on so much!

I tried to tell myself to let go of what we lost and embrace what we have. I still try to tell myself that, but my son was robbed of something so incredibly precious. It is hard to forgive.

DNA tests were done. There is zero doubt. When I saw his baby photo, all doubt was removed for me. In fact, seeing the photo is what caused my tears. After testing was complete, my son got his son every other week for an entire week at a time. Life circumstances happened, and my son had to move back to South Dakota. They agreed he’d get his son over the summer.

When my son called me for my birthday yesterday, we asked each other questions about all kinds of things. I brought up a time in the summer we could plan to meet at his sister’s house, and we’d finally get to meet his son. This is when he told me he doesn’t think he’ll get his son over the summer. Of course I asked why.

My son proceeded to lay out for me everything going on. Idaho (where his son is) will never allow an out-of-state parent have custody unless the in-state parent is deemed unfit. (I learned this when I divorced my Idaho husband. He was drunk driving with my kids in the car and was still not deemed unfit. I was without my tweens for six of the longest months of my life!) He also doesn’t want to fight for his parenting rights, and here is why:

The man who thought he was the father for those first 6 years and the girl are in a custody battle for their child (my gson’s younger half-brother). Apparently this man’s family is well off and spoils my gson. (Their money is why she lied and said he was the father and never told my son.) If my son fights for custody of his son, it complicates the girl’s custody battle with the man who thought he was the father and is the father of the younger one. This would rob my son’s son of all this other family has to offer him. My son doesn’t want to take that away from him. My son doesn’t think he has enough to offer to make it worth fighting. He sees himself as less than the dad who isn’t the dad but thought he was the dad. The girl turns out to be an opportunist and the only reason she ever told my son was because she needed a place to stay while sorting out details with her ex.

There are a bunch more details I can’t remember and probably more than that he doesn’t know or isn’t telling me, but I am super sad and angry on my son’s behalf and on mine to have to see my son go through this. I tried to tell him he has something to offer no amount of money could provide. He is the dad. I reminded him of how little his dad could provide for him but that he wouldn’t have wanted to be raised by anybody else. I’m not sure he got it. I think he thinks he’s making a necessary sacrifice here, and my heart is breaking for him and for all of us who won’t get to know his adorable mini-me!

Add to that how much they bonded during the time they did have together, and the whole thing just sucks toe jam!

Meanwhile I am feeling helpless and heartbroken, and all I want to do is force everything to be right and just and to get him back all that time he lost and to bash the girl’s head on a pole until she can learn to choose right over wrong. **I would never behave violently, but my thought life has her learning her lesson!**

As you can imagine, this phone call did nothing to put me in a better place. I was glad to get to hear from my son whom I don’t hear from that often (especially since he is currently dating somebody I really wish he wasn’t), but I wish he had happier news to share. I wish the world would stop crapping on him. And I wish he’d choose better women. They say boys choose women like their mom, but he’s really not, and if these girls are how he perceives me, I am heartbroken all over again for a whole other reason!

Thankfully, an hour or two after this call, my gson (daughter’s son) called me on FaceTime. We had a great visit just before I had to go to bed, so I at least got to fall asleep with a smile on my face and a warm heart. And going back to work today went well. I slept without anxiety about it last night and am right back into the groove.

This is my best attempt at a happy ending to this blog even though the bad parts remain unresolved.

Oh. And I tried kava last night! It is disgusting! It is supposed to be super helpful with anxiety, and I spent $$ on it, so I am going to keep trying, but yuck!

A Day in Northampton

A friend and I planned a girls’ day out on the last Friday of my Spring Break. She had to take a personal day off of work, so we planned it well in advance. Planning far ahead is usually a recipe for me canceling because of the anxiety that builds, but I think I had enough other stuff going on to distract me from that. The morning of, I was a little panicky, but I was still recovering from the “hug” incident and giving back my silver beetle the day before. Here are some highlights of the outing.

Because we live in different towns, we decided to meet at a park and ride and then take my car. I got there first, and my husband texted me needing me to call our car insurance people so he could pick up the SUV he is leasing. I was still on car speakerphone with the insurance lady when my friend arrived. The insurance lady was super slow and condescending. It was an annoying experience, and I felt awkward I had invited my friend into my car but still hadn’t greeted her yet, because I was still talking to the insurance lady.

When I got off the phone, I gave my friend a little Rory stand for her desk. (Rory is the “star” of Jenny Lawson’s, “Furiously Happy.”) My friend’s boss is a real jerk and makes her life miserable. I thought a happy Rory on her desk ready to give her high fives whenever she wants might add at least a little cheer to her work days. She gave me a copy of “You are Here.” She told me how excited she was when she saw it and that she just had to get it for me for my birthday (which is today, but we added our celebration to our girls’ day), but then I had told her in another conversation I had bought it for myself, and she was bummed. I’m so glad she didn’t change her mind and not give it to me! This is one book I wouldn’t mind owning several copies of! I couldn’t decide what color to make the itchy sweater, but now I get TWO shots at it! I am so happy about this!! 🙂

After our gift exchange, we headed up to Mass. I am TERRIBLE with geography and anything related to using spacial intelligence (it is my lowest intelligence according to learning style tests I had to take when learning to become an educator), so we had her navigate while I drove. It was SO much less stressful than using regular GPS and driving in a town I am unfamiliar with. And it was raining. We had great conversations on the way up, and then we started our journey at the cutest hippy coffee shop ever. This is where I got to drink the yummiest soy cappuccino ever. Why are all the awesome things always too far from home to add to daily life?

After this, we went walking around what I am assuming is downtown Northampton. There are so many cool stores there, and my friend knows all of them. Here are some things I found during our adventure:


I saw this at a store named Kestrel. This seemed like a super chill version of Rory (even if he is riding a buffalo instead of a cat)

After Kestrel came Pinch. I pretty much just wanted to take the entire store home with me.

The cat was trying to nap, so I resisted the urge to pet him. I told him it was nice to meet him and took his photo and then left him alone. The crow? I am still wanting that crow!! He’s $74, though! He is available on Pinch’s website, but I just can’t spend $74 on him, even if he is super awesome.

Also at Pinch I found these plates. I first saw the super fancy otter. He called me over to meet his family. I don’t know who the artist is of all these portrait plates, but I think he or she would be super awesome to hang out with.


They also had this. I was really curious and amused.


I wonder if this guide to troubled birds could be used on troubled humans…



We went to a chocolate store that ended up being really disappointing, and then we went to Faces. This store had so much stuff in it! But it was kind of perfumey, so we didn’t stay too long. One of the things that really caught my attention here was their sock display. It was cheery and creepy and wonderful and weird all at the same time.

After shopping we went to Bela for lunch. I was super excited to try this place, because the chef has a perfume allergy similar to mine, and she does not allow customers in who are wearing perfume. I wish we could have that policy at our restaurant. Northampton is far more populated and is full of hippies and fun people that would really fit with our restaurant. Where we live? Not so much. So we can’t afford to tell anyone “no perfume” and expect a positive response.

Lunch at Bela was awesome. The service was really sweet, and the vibe was healthy and chill. Everything on the menu was vegetarian with several vegan options. My friend picked up the check as a bday gift to me. This was a great thing in more ways than one, because it turns out Bela is cash only, and I was without cash.

After lunch we went to Hungry Ghost Bakery. Oh Em Gee! If you ever get a chance to go here, you must! The smell of warm bread in my car for the rest of the day had me wanting to rip open my bags and devour it, covering myself and my new car in glorious bread crumbs! I showed restraint and waited until I got home, but yum! This place is amazing!

Last but not least was the co-op. I wish I had a store like this in my town. Northamptom’s vibe and offerings reminded me a lot of Portland, OR but more pretentious even though everyone is dressed all hippy-ish. Anyway, the co-op was amazing, and I was able to buy dinner ingredients and was also inspired to bake a pie with the rhubarb and berries they had there. A customer had dropped a bottle of tea tree oil, and the place smelled of melaleuca to add to the already amazing ambience of this place. It was awesome!

By this time, we had been out and about for almost seven hours! I don’t really understand how it went so fast. I know drive time added to the day, but yeah. Seven hours. It was time to head back so I could get home and decompress and she could get to her yoga class. We had more great conversation on the way back to her car and then went our separate ways.

It really was an amazing day. Of course, the next morning I woke up feeling like I’d cry all day. I guess what goes up must come down. This is exactly why I fear happy moments. Every time I’m happy, the sad comes back to balance things out. But my sad is heavier than my happy. It’s like sad rules the teeter totter (see saw…. whatever you call the plank balanced over a fulcrum) of my emotional balance. And if I sneak some happy in, the sad gets mad and reminds me who is boss.

I have no regrets, though. I spent yesterday decompressing and even baked that pie!


More Spring Break Fun

I thought I planned only a few things on my Spring Break so I could handle it. It’s turning out to be too much. I only had three days planned to be out with lots of home days in-between them, but today I have a big outing planned after having to give my VW back yesterday, and maybe those are too close together.

I told you about the clean air salon Tuesday. While down in that town an hour away from home, we also went out to lunch at a lovely Italian restaurant near my favorite beach. We ate way too much! I was completely drunk on risotto and tiramisu when we walked across the street to my favorite book store. My husband was the same plus espresso. We went a little nuts and spent way too much money! (If you are ever in Madison, CT, you must check out R.J. Julia Booksellers. They are awesome!)

After a couple of hours of shopping, browsing, reading, touching all the books, before checking out, I reviewed my selection and put two books back. I still ended up coming home with seven books! One of them has almost 1100 pages and is currently taking over my down time. I also ended up with a pair of socks my husband found with math formulas all over them. I love that he knows how much I geek out over that kind of thing. 🙂 My husband bought six books, but his cost even more than mine. Thankfully, those were for the restaurant, so the expense can be written off, but we still spent WAY too much money! (Never go to your favorite book store inebriated on Italian food and dessert.)

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I’m excited for each book, though, so I am not truly remorseful over this shopping spree. The sugar detox book will hopefully help me get my sugar back in check. I divorced Ben and Jerry last summer and was off of sweets for several months. Slowly many sweets have crept back in, and I am starting to gain back some of the weight I worked so hard to shed. Add to that how much the sugar messes with my ability to do my job, and I really need to kick it to the curb!

The computer science of human decisions book looks truly fascinating! I am a very mathy person who tends to make quite poor decisions, because I am far too emotionally driven. This is another book I hope will inspire changes I want to make in how I live my life. The bake sales book will probably just sit on my shelf looking pretty, but I couldn’t resist the title and had to have it.

The book with the cat on the front? I am super excited to read this! The woman in the story suffers loss, and I generally do not read books where people lose loved ones nor where people fall in love (this eliminates so many books), but she ends up meeting a talking cat! I’d like to think if my husband dies, a talking cat will come into my life to fill the void. I may not be reading this book for awhile, though, because I picked up “Infinite Jest” and can’t put it down, and the size of the latter tells me it is probably going to take an eternity to get through. “Infinite Jest” is so far super intriguing, though, so maybe only half of an eternity.

“Grain Brain” might work well with the sugar detox book to help me get my brain functioning better again. I used to have an IQ of 157. This is not a joke. When I got sick, I could feel my intelligence and speed of figuring things out slipping away. I’ve also lost my ability to keep a train of thought without writing things down. I can no longer win at Chess, because I forget my strategy and next move while waiting for the other person to take a turn. When teaching calculus, if my notes are not great, I run the risk of forgetting what I am doing and just staring at the work on my board, unable to answer student questions about it. This last thing has only happened twice, but you can imagine the fear and humiliation that come from that. I have been keeping much much better notes.

The “A Really Good Day” book? It’s about a woman who figures out how to dose herself with the proper amount of LSD to get through life! I flipped it open and gave it the one page test and immediately put it into my basket.

When I came home from the book store, there was an amazon box on my porch! With two books inside of it! lol. One of them is a book I am hoping will help me divorce cheese, another food warring with my body as I try to reduce inflammation.

If my body would cooperate and just let me take drugs for my issues, I wouldn’t have to work so hard on my diet and lifestyle, but noooooo….. My body hates everything!

So, anyway, back to this whole Spring Break thing… After the book store, we could not do anymore, so we skipped the beach and made it back home slightly before rush hour. There was heavy traffic but nothing like if we had spent another half an hour down there. I spent the next day not leaving the  house. I did some cleaning and unpacking and a lot of reading and watching “Judge Judy” and a whole lot of twitter. #TheBloggessTribe on twitter is proving to be a very important part of my life. They have gotten me through some pretty high-anxiety moments, and I like to try to pay that back by offering the same.

Thursday (yesterday) was the day I had to give back my TDI. Even though I was super prepared, I was full of anxiety. Two days before the appointment, I was convinced the dealership lost or damaged it while storing it for me and that I’d find myself in a complicated legal battle. I couldn’t sleep because of this impending doom. When I got to the dealership, Maria was there, and everything felt a little bit better. The appointment ended up going very easily, and Maria ended up selling my husband an SUV while I was waiting for the guy to get information out of the vehicle. She is really good!


Good-bye TDI. You were a fun car, and I will miss you!

So while Maria was talking to my husband, I went to wish the service guy farewell. He has always been really fantastic and I made sure to give him all the credit for me considering a purchase at this dealership after what went wrong with the first purchase. Maria told me the service guy (whose name I’ll leave out of this) had put in his two weeks’ notice because of anxiety making it hard to work and needing to have more time with his SO. I wanted to say good-bye, because I think he’s great, and I’ve appreciated him a lot.

This is when the humiliation happened! This is probably why I am feeling too exhausted for the fun girls’ day I have planned in a few hours. This is why I found myself hiding in a lounge chair in the corner of the waiting room tweeting my tribe while my husband was doing paperwork for his new SUV. I misread the situation and embarrassed us both, and I can’t decide if knowing he too has anxiety helps me with this or makes it worse…

I told him Maria had shared with me he is leaving, and I asked him if this meant good things for him. He looked me in the eyes with pain and like he wanted to say so much more, but he said he is going on a sabbatical and considering a different industry because customers like me are too far and few between and most people do not show any appreciation at all. I inserted that most people are grumpy, and he vehemently agreed. I asked him if he read my google review (where I gushed on him and Maria but mostly on him) and he smiled and perked up and said, “yes!” He put his arms wide in the air, and I misread this to think he was offering a hug, so I went in and hugged him to be polite. It was super awkward, and the second it was over, we both just quickly rushed in opposite directions without even closing our conversation! In hindsight, I realize his wide arms were more like taking a bow or posturing like a super hero, but yeah.

I was already full of anxiety over giving the car back and now this weird hug thing happened! After tweeting in a corner for awhile I felt like I could survive, but there were moments where I felt like I was going to just start crying, and I am not really a person who cries. Maybe once a year I cry? Not nearly enough. I have this angry self defense system that wards off tears with rage. But here I was feeling like I’d cry because I embarrassed myself. What happened to my ability to laugh at myself? I need that back!

Eventually, I felt okay enough to go make small talk and have it be less awkward. I showed him and his coworkers the VW bag my daughter crocheted for me. Now that I think about it, that was probably weird. Oh well. I’m still trying to recover from the hug. I don’t have brain space to ruminate over my show-and-tell.

The bag is super cool, though! It is fully lined, soft and squishy and amazing. It is a VW Bus in my favorite colors. The lighting of my photos make the dark purple seem black, but it s a gorgeous dark plum color that I am infatuated with. The license plate on the back is calculus for, “derive vw” which sounds a lot like “drive vw” which I’d get on real vanity plates for my real car if I didn’t think it was a waste of money and if I thought people would actually get it, but most of the time if I talk calculus, I get head nods or people fleeing from me mid-conversation.

I’m still pretty exhausted from that experience, and today I am driving up to Massachusetts with a good friend for girls’ day. She is far more adventurous than I am and has tons of spoons, and our agenda is quite ambitious. I really want to be able to be energetic and fun for her today. She does so much for me, and I feel like I am often a downer or at very least a wet blanket. I wish yesterday hadn’t happened to interfere with my ability to get out the door today and go somewhere I’ve never been. I’m going to make myself do it, and I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow. But right now, I see how much it’s raining out. I feel how drained I am. I worry about what traffic and roads will be like in the heavy rain in this town where I am so unfamiliar. And I hope through all of that, I can somehow be fun. Fun and maybe not hug any strangers who are not really trying for hugs.

For somebody who hates ever leaving the house, I have sure been leaving the house a lot lately!





I Went to a Clean Air Salon

My body hates most things. It especially hates man-made chemical compounds used in cleaning products and personal hygiene products. One of the top offenders on the list of chemical aggravators is usually listed in ingredients as “fragrance.” Given the right combination of synthetic fragrance and other chemicals (such as the combination in hand sanitizer – yes that awful scent is intentional – and window cleaner), and I could be dealing with a migraine after just a moment of exposure. Other symptoms are brain fog, difficulty breathing, and other miserable reactions, but the migraine is always the hardest to get rid of. Granted, asthmatic reactions are never fun, but they are generally much more short-lived than the migraine headaches seeking to rob me of life.

Imagine dealing with these sensitivities or allergies or whatever they are and trying to do anything in public. The other day my husband talked me into going to Bed Bath and Beyond for a lamp. BIG mistake! I barely made it into the entrance of that store before the headache hit. I cannot watch movies in movie theaters, eat out on a Friday or Saturday night, brunch on Sunday mornings, or enjoy anything in a shopping mall anywhere near any of the stores that spray their clothes to smell like teenage boys trying to get girls. I also cannot get my hair done in a salon. Well, that last one recently changed.

I wish I could remember how I found this place. I am sure it was through google searching for organic salons or maybe organic hair care products. My hair was so much more beautiful back when I could wear the synthetic products on it, but I cannot have that stuff on my head, so close to my face, or even in the house, really, so I have to make due with all natural products. There is a lot to be said for shea butter and coconut oil, but my hair really did look a whole lot better when I could use Paul Mitchell and TiGi products. Sigh.

Anyway, in my searching I found a salon in Guilford, CT called Everlastings. The owner of this salon, Arlene Bouley, suffered from lymphoma, and in her battle and becoming educated on her condition, she learned how toxic the chemicals she was using every day as a cosmetologist were. She sought to create a hair and make up salon and spa using natural products and to educate people on how harmful many of the products they are currently using are to their bodies and their environment.

From an article posted on the Everlastings website “…the atmosphere at Everlastings is like a typical beauty salon’s parallel universe, where, rather than being slammed by caustic chemical vapors, there is the soothing fragrance of natural, essential oils; instead of the pounding beat of pop music, there is blessed silence; and a soft and simple interior replaces overdone, trendy décor.” 

Guilford is an hour drive from me, and large parts of it are heavy traffic. To go after work on a work day would be stressful driving in both directions. Saturdays are usually not that ambitious for me. I need a lot of down time to recover from the work week before and to store up for the work week ahead. (The fatigue that comes with fibromyalgia is not the easiest thing to manage, and I have found I need to not be too ambitious on the weekends if I want to have a somewhat decent week ahead.) I decided to schedule my appointment during an upcoming Spring Break. And then I waited for that day to arrive.

Normally, as a planned day like this approaches, I end up growing closer and closer to cancelling it and then staying home. This most likely would have happened if I had scheduled on a normal Saturday. I scheduled this on the Tuesday of my break, expecting I would have gotten plenty of down time by then to gear up for the drive and the social interactions. I was also worried I may have built this place up too much in my head during the month’s wait between setting the appointment and the day of. I was worried about the drive, and the parking, and that I’d be expecting a miracle and walking away sad. I even worried that she’d discover head lice on me and send me away empty-handed. (Isn’t anxiety fun?) Meanwhile, my hair was continuing to break off and fall out at rapid speed. It was becoming stringier and stringier.

My hair used to be super thick and gorgeous. It was usually the first thing people would notice about me. After losing my thyroid, I have lost a lot of my hair. I don’t have bald spots, but I am shedding way too fast. Add to this it is becoming more and more fragile, and clumps are starting to break off. I can no longer wear it down to my bra strap, because too much is falling out or breaking off, and the hair that makes it to that length is just not enough to look okay. The texture is also becoming very fine and fuzzy. None of this matters as far as the point of my adventure (finding a salon where I can breathe and not have to wash my hair the second I get home and spend the rest of the day with a migraine anyway), but it played a big role in all of the hope and expectations that flooded my brain as I awaited my appointment. I kept trying to tell myself to stop expecting a miracle and to be more realistic….that it was just a hair cut but at a place that wouldn’t make me sick…. no more… no less. But my brain doesn’t really listen to me, so…

The night before my appointment, I studied the google maps. My wallet was full of the cash I had been saving here and there during the weeks leading up to the big day. I planned what I’d wear, what time I’d shower in order for my hair to dry in time, which smoothie I would drink, and so on. My anxiety gets in the way of a lot of things, but it also helps me to be extra prepared for things as well (remember my 6-minute DMV visit?).

On the morning of, I left thirty minutes before the maps said I needed to, because I wanted to leave room for traffic issues and then the very real potential of me driving around in circles trying to find its parking area and door. My husband came with me. I had planned out way ahead of time other things I’d want to do while down there so that all the effort and time of driving could be used on more than a haircut. One of my favorite beaches is down there, but I did not have beach energy. We were going to do the salon, then lunch, then our favorite book store. I had also planned on a market near there, but we spent too much time, money, and spoons on lunch and books for that to happen. (Confused by “spoons?” Find “The Spoon Theory” on

Traffic went well, and the gal who booked my appointment did a great job of telling me how to find their parking. I ended up the entire budgeted thirty minutes early. That didn’t seem to matter to those in the salon. Nobody was annoyed by me showing up so far outside my appointment window. We were immediately greeted with warm smiles and welcomes.

The salon is beautiful. There is a massage room, a boutique, a wig room, and three or four stations for cutting, coloring, perming, etc. All of this is done with natural products, so there is none of that toxic smell in the air. They also do make up, nails, and a host of other spa services there.

The consultation was amazing. I said the phrase many hair dressers hate (“I really don’t know what I want. I’m hoping you have ideas.”) She was giddy when I said it! I had started by telling her lengths I am comfortable and uncomfortable with, but when it came to the style part of it, I was hoping she’d have an idea, and she smiled and was so excited to say, “I do!” She told me she knew the second I walked in the door what haircut I needed. I easily put my trust in her. There really wasn’t much risk, considering how much I hated my hair at this point, and as long as she didn’t go shorter than where I showed her, everything would be fine. She sent me with her assistant for my scalp treatment.

A haircut with Arlene automatically comes with a scalp treatment. Boy was I in need! My scalp had become super dry over the winter. My fatigue and tendinitis join forces to make washing my hair an enormous chore, so I really only wash it once per week. Apparently this practice has contributed greatly to the problems I am having with my hair. Arlene told my husband he should wash my hair for me so that I can wash it every other day. I don’t see him obliging, but I can add that to my life and figure out what to exchange for it.

Once the cut started, it seemed like I blinked, and she was done. She didn’t rush or anything. She was just that good. Shawn was baffled until I compared for him his speed at cooking at our restaurant vs. the speed of our Chef d’Cuisine. Shawn has been cooking for 38 years and can whip out amazing dishes in what seems like the blink of an eye. Our Chef d’Cuisine makes food that tastes equally amazing, but he needs more than a blink to do it. Arlene has been cutting hair for 38 years. She made it seem like nothing. And every hair on my head did exactly what she told it to. And I loved it! It looked fuller, healthier, stronger, and as if she had performed the miracle I had been hoping for! I couldn’t even believe it.

So now, not only have I found a salon that will send me home without a migraine, a salon where I can breathe freely without fear of a coughing fit, but I have also found somebody who can make my hair look pretty again. Granted, it is still thinner and finer and falling out and breaking, but she made it look like none of that is happening. I was pretty much, “take all my money!” as I was buying her hair products and booking my next appointment.

I forgot to mention I remember reading somewhere about the products she has made for her salon. I am foggy on the details, but I think her husband is a chemist and her close friend is an ayurvedic something or aromatherapist….? The part I remember is Arlene’s products are made naturally and organically by them. I was tired of my health food store hair care products and loaded up here. (Meanwhile, Arlene was swooning over my new car, because she loves quirky as much as I do.)

This post is already way too long, so I will wait and write about my post-haircut adventures while still in Guilford (and Madison) in a later post. I’ll include a before and after photo below, but to be fair, the “before” photo was also before coffee, before a shower, before makeup, etc. If you look closely at the lower half of my hair, you can see how thinned out and straggly it is. Well maybe you can. I definitely can. It used to be probably six to eight times as thick! But yeah, that photo was pretty much “before” everything that day. And the “after” photo was immediately after an amazing Italian lunch and a belly full of tiramisu, so not only does it have make-up and coffee, it also has lots of risotto and tiramisu. I am not trying to use trick photography or anything. It’s just how the day played out…



We moved residences at the end of last month. This was my 13th move as an adult with furniture. I lost count of all the moves before that, but since I didn’t really have to move a household myself, I don’t need to count them.

This one was the most stressful.

I don’t know why it was the most anxiety-ridden move. We only moved two miles away. We’ve had much scarier moves.

One scary move was from Idaho to South Dakota. I was running away from home and had pretty much lost my mind. I was in a full blown detachment from reality, because I was finally fleeing a 17-year long abusive relationship. I shut down on this one and did not allow myself to feel the panic of it. I only looked at the rose-colored garden ahead. Of course, this led to a depressive state like I had never experienced before, but eventually, I got through it.

During my South Dakota years, we moved several times within the same town. We used movers for most of them. This turned out to be a very good thing when my husband came down with Legionnaire’s Disease just in time for one of our moves.

Another scary move was from South Dakota to New York. We were moving to a state we had never even visited, had no jobs, knew nobody, and could only take what we could fit into our compact cars! Somehow I was at peace during this move as well. Moo wasn’t a super fan of three days in the car and two nights in hotels, but she persevered.

From New York came Connecticut. This was another move to a place we had never visited and knew nobody. But, this time I had a job lined up, and a UHaul. That helped. Shawn was still in school for the first several months, so I was pretty much living alone from August through March. I would go get him on long weekends and holidays, but otherwise, I had the place to myself. I didn’t think I could ever live alone, but I really grew during that time and developed a sense of independence I had never had before. (I was 40 years old!)

We moved from that place to another a couple of miles away, but that was anxiety-free. It was during summer vacation, and we were allowed to move over a two-week period. It was so much less overwhelming than other moves.

This most recent move? It should have been a piece of cake, but I spent all of it panicked. One problem with it was it was during the school year. We had to make it happen in a weekend. The problem with that was the 1st of the month happened on a weekend, so we needed to make it happen on the 25th. This did not prove to be easy. We looked into hiring movers, but they quoted us almost a thousand dollars! We reached out to our church, and they stepped up.


Moo just before the move

With my fibromyalgia, bursitis, tendonitis, and anxiety, and the fact my husband and I were bickering over every detail, we decided it’d be best if I let him deal with the move and I deal with the cleaning. I took Moo to my classroom to keep her out of the way, and I graded papers while Hubs and our church friends moved all of our stuff. He texted me when they finished, and a friend and I went to clean. It took us FOUR hours to clean a three bedroom apartment! I did not realize how dirty our place was until I looked at it through the eyes of a landlord considering whether or not to return our deposit.


Moo “helping” me grade papers in my classroom


Moo checking my classroom’s fire escape


Of course, the place we moved into needs a good cleaning, but I am still worn out almost a month later from cleaning the other place! We are still unpacking boxes, but it is becoming home.

Our first night here, the next door neighbors threw a very loud party late into the night. I texted my landlord about it (he was the landlord of the first place we had in CT, and we like him a lot), and he assured me he believed this to be a rare event, as those people have lived there for several years with no complaints. We did see birthday balloons and figured perhaps that was true. It just wasn’t how we envisioned our first night at our new place.


Moo in one of the new bedrooms


Moo claiming my yoga space


Moo looking for her new bird friend









So far, other than the “welcoming” party, we are very happy with the move. I miss the pond, and I miss MawMaw (neighbor lady who would plant flowers in our yard, just because), but I do not miss having somebody live above me; I do not miss having to park my car outside; and I do not miss having to share one bathroom.

(Dear anyone considering marriage: get two bathrooms! Imagine descending into a hot bath to soak away the day’s troubles and your spouse comes running into the bathroom with a Taco Bell emergency! Just get two bathrooms! Trust me on this!)

So yeah. We moved. I am starting to breathe again. I might post a video at some point, because the place turned out to be super cool for our price range. It even has brick walls on one side of the interior. It also has real wood floors! Real wood! Not that laminate stuff. And, we have a small deck, so once I purchase some pet gates to keep Moo from squeezing through the fence to our neighbors’ decks, she can get some outside time! Woot!

My New Car

Two years ago, I bought a new VW Beetle that was a TDI (aka diesel). A month after purchasing it, a huge scandal went down, and long story short: my vehicle was recalled.


My TDI (friend’s kid with me)

The recall process took a long time. I had hoped they would come up with a fix, so that was the option I chose. I would receive a free fix and a settlement. However, they were not able to come up with a fix, so I get a settlement. Ultimately, once all the dollars and cents were counted, I ended up getting paid about $2k to drive my diesel for two years! Can you even believe it? Who ever walks away from a new car purchase having gotten paid?

I was a bit disappointed, though, because I loved my car. 2017 Beetles are not available in standard transmissions, so I have to get used to driving an automatic. It is a scary and weird feeling when my car starts moving the second I take my foot off the break. My other car would only move when I told it to. This one wants to move all the time!

But anyway….

I wanted a hashtag pink Beetle, but those were limited edition, and I was about a month too late. sigh! So I ended up getting a Dune. I made sure it had all the bells and whistles of my diesel, but I also got a backup camera, because the convertibles have a terrible blind spot when the top is up.


My new Dune on a rainy day (I really need to take some photos with its top down in the sun!)

My sales lady, Maria, was a spitfire! I loved her so much! She has been selling cars for 32 years after having moved here from Italy. Anything I wanted, she got me. I had brought my TDI in for a service the day I saw her about the Dune, and she asked me if they gave me a loaner. They had not, and I was having a hard time planning my work commute the next morning. Hubby and I had landed on me waking him up for a ride, but it was going to be a hassle trying to coordinate our schedules. I didn’t want the VW service guy to give me a ride, because I am allergic to cologne. I didn’t tell Maria any of this. I didn’t have to.

The second Maria found out we didn’t have a loaner, she picked up her phone and called service and told them to give me a loaner. I could not hear the other side of the conversation, but Maria hung up on the person, smiled at me, and told me she would be right back, whispering, “I’ve got to go kick some….” Two minutes later, I heard Maria calling my name down the hall, and she was standing there with loaner keys and paperwork for me to fill out.

Maria also let me choose gifts from their merchandise area. I chose a silly flower for the vase and a keychain. I can’t see me walking around in a VW hat or shirt.

When I went to pick up my TDI from its service, I went over to see Maria to update her on my return date status (the day I am to return the TDI) and ask about a service credit getting transferred toward my purchase. Maria was out on a test drive, so I ended up talking to her sales manager. This was the end of March, and my return date is 4/20. He told me I’d have to buy the car by the end of March and that I could not store one of my two Beetles there until my return date. I smiled and nodded and waited to talk to Maria.

Maria told me I could definitely wait to buy my Dune on 4/20 but asked if I’d consider 3/31 so she could make a sales goal. She said she talked to the general manager, and he agreed they could store my TDI until my appointment. I did not need to have two cars insured, registered, etc. for three weeks. Since I was able to drop the insurance (my insurance agent assured me if anything happens to my car while in VW’s care, it is VW’s responsibility), I went ahead and went for it.

So now I am driving my Dune around town loving it, even though I miss my TDI. Hopefully the appointment on 4/20 goes well.

Why Is it Easier to Get a New Passport Than it Is to Renew a Driver’s License?

I have so many things to blog about: a recent move, the Pi Day assembly, my aging cat, and more. Fatigue is far too often in my way. I finally have some energy to blog today, and since I finally closed the chapter on the drama that was renewing my driver’s license, here you go…

Last month, I took a personal day off from work to deal with our move (unpacking, cleaning, recuperating, etc.). The day was NOT going as productively as I planned, so I decided to get something else done. I decided to renew my driver’s license. Sure, I was a month early, but I’d have it out of the way on a day I didn’t have to worry about time, so why not?


Why? Because that is when I found out I could not satisfy Connecticut DMV with my documents!

Here is how it went down:

I walked into AAA where they do driver’s license renewals (incredibly thankful for this option, cuz our DMV is miles away and takes the entire day to get through). There, I anxiously (in the bad way) awaited my turn.

These types of endeavors trigger my anxiety, because I am always certain I am going to be missing the one piece of paper that sends me home having wasted my time in line and leaving me without a new license or whatever.

After I think maybe half an hour in line, it was my turn. I went to the lady, all smiles, and handed her my old driver’s license. She informed me they are switching to enhanced driver’s licenses and that I would need a list of documents. Since we had JUST moved, and I was super afraid of important papers getting lost, ALL of my important papers were in my purse. She asked for birth certificate, Bam! I pulled it out and gave it to her. Social Security card, Bam! Two pieces of mail with current address, Bam! (I had changed my address with my car insurance and renter’s insurance and had received mail from both of them on moving day!) Marriage certificate, Bam! Divorce from first husband certificate, Bam! Marriage certificate to first husband? Doesn’t exist. sigh!

My heart sank. I had looked into this once before, because I wanted to see if I could get the thing where I could pass through TSA with less hassle to make my trips to see my gson less anxiety-inducing. Idaho (where my first marriage took place) flat out told me there is nothing certified they can give me.

You see, my first husband was a pot-head and a drunk. I was young and insecure and had zero self-esteem along with plenty of anxiety. The thought of planning a wedding and doing the paperwork and all that was too overwhelming for me, and he was too “him” to step up. We weren’t even capable of going to a justice of the peace.

He told me that Idaho had common law marriage, so I looked into it. We both really wanted to have a baby way more than a wedding anyway. I could be put on his medical insurance if we were married. We learned there were several ways to be considered married through Idaho’s common law.

It was not like the whole “live together for six months” thing you might hear of in some states (if common law is even a thing anymore). This was back in 1989. Anyway, we could do things like buy property together, file income taxes together, or simply introduce myself to people with his last name. We did the income tax thing. I was surprised at how easy it was. The Idaho DMV required documents and would accept medical records. I used his last name with the doctors, and I even had it hyphenated for awhile, so that made proving the transition quite a bit easier. I can’t remember how Social Security was satisfied, but I think it was through my taxes and driver’s license. Sounds silly, but by Idaho common law, this made us married.

Seventeen years later, when I couldn’t take another day with him, I filed for divorce. My attorney looked into it to see if we needed a “real” divorce, because by then, Idaho did not have common law anymore. I had hoped for an easier way out, but in the eyes of Idaho, we were married, and we had to do a full-on divorce. I had the option at that time to go back to my maiden name, but I chose to keep his name, because my kids had his name. In hindsight, this was a stupid decision (not as stupid as the decision to marry him in the first place, but still stupid). At one point during the seventeen years, I had dropped the hyphenation to save effort. Thus, our divorce papers only showed me with his name and not the name on my birth certificate.

Fast forward to last month, and I have no certified document to prove going from my maiden name to my first husband’s name, so all the certified documents after that are useless. I can prove through income tax returns, medical records, previous driver’s licenses, etc. Heck, I was only in here to RENEW my driver’s license without making ANY changes! My children’s certified birth certificates have my name on there with maiden and married name hyphenated (they were born during the time I was hyphenating), but even those will not satisfy the DMV for these new enhanced driver’s licenses!

The gal made it seem like if I could not prove my first name change with a piece of certified paper that does not exist and cannot be made to exist by an unwilling Idaho governing agency, I would become illegal after my birthday! You can imagine what this did to me trying to talk myself down from anxiety about being there in the first place! My DMV nightmares were coming true! This sent me into a downward spiral, and it haunted me and hung over me for weeks.

I contacted a friend who is an attorney in none of the states I had name changes in, but I thought she might have good ideas. She was just as shocked as I was I couldn’t renew my license with the same name they issued it in the first place. She suggested a name affidavit or seeing if I could amend my divorce to show my maiden name on it. She asked me if all my name changes had gone through Social Security, and they had.

This got me thinking. I studied the list of acceptable documents and noticed that a passport could be used instead of a birth certificate. So, if I could get a passport with my current name, I wouldn’t need to prove my first nor subsequent name changes. But, I seemed to think I would need to prove those to get a passport. After all, this is why I had previously contacted Idaho about helping me prove that name change in the first place! But, there was room for confusion here, because when I was looking into a passport it was because I was looking into that TSA quick thing, so I checked again, focussing solely on getting a passport.

From what I could tell, I had the necessary items for a passport: birth certificate, driver’s license, and money. (I can’t remember if they asked for mail or not, but I had that too!) I found an office near here that accepts appointments and does the photographing at the same time. This seemed much less anxiety-inducing than going to the post office and hoping first come first served would work out even though my work hours would put me there fifteen minutes before closing!

I was able to get an appointment and nervously went in. I had prayed all day at work. I was so nervous! I just knew I’d get in there and they’d also demand this non-existant document from Idaho.

Thankfully, I was completely wrong! They were friendly and professional and quickly got me in and out. They were satisfied with my documents, and I paid an extra fee to have my passport expedited. (Remember, my personal day was about four weeks before my license would expire.)

I nervously awaited updates on my passport. I just knew at some point I’d receive a piece of mail denying me, and that I’d have to become an illegal citizen and no longer be able to fly to see my gson. Every day there wasn’t an update available online was another day I was convinced this wasn’t going to work. Then one day, the update said it was in the final stages.

I googled the heck out of what that statement meant. From what I could tell, it meant they were printing and mailing my card! Could it be? Would I have a passport? And, more importantly, after jumping through all these passport hoops, would it satisfy the DMV so I could renew my driver’s license?

My passport came last week! I couldn’t even believe it! I am 47 years old and finally have my first passport! Other than the battle with anxiety and all the brain crap I had going on, it was remarkably easy to get the passport. I can see this in hindsight. I walked in, gave them my birth certificate and driver’s license (and maybe some mail?), got my picture taken, threw money at them, and left. The wait for expedited service was less than three weeks.

Last night, I decided today would be the day I tried again to get my license renewed. I have until 4/23, and I also have this next week off of work for Spring Break, but I really wanted to put this behind me and have this chapter closed so I could breathe again. This morning, I got up, made myself somewhat presentable, tweeted to my #TheBloggessTribe friends (who can relate to my anxiety issues) and sat down with my papers.

I read through the sheet of required documents again and again. I gathered into one spot of my purse what I believed I needed, and I kept all of the other documents in the other side of my purse “just in case.” I checked, double-checked, triple-checked, etc. to make sure the ones I wanted were still there and didn’t fly out of my bag or something when I wasn’t looking. (I am not OCD like I was when I was younger, but this moment was reminiscent of that.) I finally made it to my car to head out.

I arrived at AAA 8 minutes before they were due to open. I was fourth in line outside the door. A twitter friend was encouraging me, and I was replying. Before I knew it, the door opened mid-tweet. I carried my half-tweet with me to finish in the inside line, but there were four people ready to take care of us, so even though I was fourth, I wasn’t. I handed the gal my documents and finished my tweet while she was entering stuff. I was so distracted by writing my message, I didn’t have time to nervously fret at her looking at her screen like I normally would. As I was reading my friend’s reply, the gal handed me back my papers and showed me where to sit.

I didn’t even get a number, because I ended up being first! Even though I was fourth outside, I was so overly prepared for this, I was able to get through the initial person the fastest.

I took my seat to continue my twitter conversation, but they called me up to the next window. I gave her my documents, and she verified some stuff. She also took lots of my money. Something hilarious happened with the employees and had us laughing just in time for my photo! She told me to sit down again while it printed. Then she called number 2 which is when I realized I didn’t even get a number. I got to be “Karin” instead of “Number 1.” I wouldn’t have minded being Number 1, but getting to be Karin when everyone else was a number was pretty cool!

I sat down to tweet some more, but then she called my name, and I was holding my new license in my hand! I checked the clock when I was walking out, and it was 9:06! I was in and out in under 6 minutes!!! AND, thanks to my twitter friend, I didn’t spend ANY of it nervous or fretting or taking way too much like I always do in my fit of DMV anxiety! It was truly amazing.

This blog was supposed to be about how ridiculous it is that getting a first-time passport was way easier than renewing my driver’s license, but really I think it is about how our friends can talk us off the ledge. What normally would have been a very nervous, stressful experience for me wasn’t, because a tribe member was available to sufficiently distract me.

If you struggle with depression or anxiety to any degree, I highly recommend joining twitter and following the hashtag: #TheBloggessTribe

We are a group of people who were all helped by Jenny Lawson’s hilarious books written to help us realize we are not alone. We don’t have to hide the crap that happens in our brains.

But yeah, why was it so much easier for me to get a first-time passport than it was to renew my driver’s license?

Pi Day + Snow Day = Pajama Day

It is no secret I was very angry with the blizzard that came along and interrupted Pi Day! (There is a travel ban throughout the entire state.) I have spent since August coordinating this year’s Pi Off, and the snow made me have to bump it up a week. That might not seem like a big deal to the “normal” person, but I am not normal, and I am super cranky with Jack Frost right now!


Moo “helping” me pack…


I tried looking at the positive side. I mean, what better way to spend the day than hanging out with my cat, Moo, while wearing pajamas all day? Our fridge had plenty of ingredients in it to keep us fed. I didn’t lose any money from my paycheck for getting to hang out at home all day. And, this gave me an extra day to pack. (Oh yeah, I haven’t blogged about this yet, but we are moving!)


Random things from this year’s Pi Day:

Google Doodle ignored the day once again.

pi dayWhole Foods sent me this with a note at the bottom indicating it is good 3/14/17 only and that there are no rainchecks. (I wonder if I can talk them into creating something called a “snowcheck.”) Or did they do this simply because they knew about the blizzard and sending this email to me would cause me to go into a tizzy?

I emailed Whole Foods with my snowcheck idea. They don’t monitor emails at the address given to me, so I called their customer care line. That’s right, Pi Day (and the invention of snowchecks) is so important to me, I decided to talk to a real, live human about it!

3/19: I have been busy moving and procrastinating and not wanting to do anything, so now I will try to close this blog I started four days ago out….

Whole Foods called me back. The person called me “Marilynn” (instead of Karin) and said she called the Santa Fe store in Cirio (??) to tell them I would be coming in to take advantage of the offer. Um….??? How does Glastonbury store in Connecticut sound like Santa Fe and Cirio? Also, does Santa Fe have blizzards that create a travel ban for the entire state? Because that is what I told her about Connecticut. Sigh! This is why I do not like to talk to real, live humans.17309971_1469552469756223_9222184250765835251_o

On Pi Day I also baked a Pi! It was super delicious. It was pretty much just bread dough, olive oil, and garlic, but the garlic roasted as the loaf baked, and mmmmmm!!! My husband went pretty crazy over this thing. It didn’t even need butter or marinara or anything. It was just amazing.

That’s pretty much all I can remember of Pi Day now that it’s 3/19 and a whole other lot of stuff has happened. We found out we can’t afford movers, because they think it will take six hours to move a 2 bedroom apartment’s stuff to another place only 2 miles away. So we are recruiting humans from our real life to help us, and I am trying not to hyperventilate. Oh, and all that Pi Off stuff I planned? That is happening this Tuesday. Wednesday is a long day of professional development after already teaching from 8:30-1:00. And we move on Saturday (forecast: rain).

It is going to be an interesting week!


Cavatappi and Nooch with Hot Sauce Croutons


I bought Thug Kitchen’s “Thug 101: Fast as F@ck!” cookbook (Their Official Site is Here) , and I decided to try the cover recipe, cuz the photo had me drooling. Below is what I did, how I did it, and the way in which my husband and I both felt about the endeavor.

First of all, I did not do all of the prep work ahead of time, and I really wish I had. So make sure all your ingredients are prepped before you start! Also, get a big pot of salted water boiling for your pasta!

I began by making the hot sauce croutons. The recipe calls for the hot sauce of your choice and almond milk. The recommended hot sauce is Franks, and after having tasted this dish completed, I would have to agree. Unfortunately, I was out of Franks. I used gochujang, because it was all I had. This turned out yummy, but Franks would have completed the dish in a much more suitable way! Gochujang is a bit sweet and has a little too much sesame oil for the flavors of the dish as a whole. But anyway…

To make the croutons, I took some bread we already had, cut it up, tossed it in olive oil, and threw it into a sauté pan. I tossed it around for awhile on medium heat until it was toasted. Then I threw the sauce/milk mixture in and called them good. (I used organic soy milk, because I did not have any almond milk.)

**Please keep in mind these photos were from my phone, while cooking, no filter…the colors really are not the same, but they will give you an idea as to the process**

Once I finished the bread cubes, I began on the sauce. This is when I realized I should probably also be boiling the water to cook the pasta. Once I got the water started, I began peeling potatoes. (This is really why prep should have been done ahead of time!) Make sure to rinse the potatoes before peeling. Once they are peeled and cubed, you don’t want to rinse them. You want every bit of starch you can get for your nooch sauce!IMG_4181

I sautéed some yellow onion and then threw in the potatoes and carrots with some veggie broth and salt. Then I braised them for 15 minutes until soft. (“Braise” means to pretty much let it lightly bubble with a lid keeping in all the steam.)

Once this was finished cooking, it went into the blender with some nooch (nutritional yeast), more veggie broth, olive oil, and I can’t remember what else (see the actual list of ingredients below). It blended into smooth gooeyness in like 15 seconds!!

While I was doing this, the pasta was cooking. I pulled one out to test it and let it cool for a couple of seconds. I didn’t stop to think about the water inside of the pasta, and I went to take a bite to test it. This is where I burned my lip! Thus, there are not many more photos for you, because at that point, everything became urgent!

Before draining the pasta, frozen peas are to be added for 30 seconds or so. I drained all of that and added the nooch sauce plus grated yellow squash.

This is what it looked like!


To serve, I topped it with the hot sauce croutons. This photo doesn’t do the color of the pasta justice, but here you go:


So yeah! I am definitely going to be making this again and again! The texture was so creamy and amazing. I wasn’t sure why I was adding the grated yellow squash until I reached the point of eating it. The grated squash did this thing where it would hang off the edges of the spoon dripping in sauce, making it seem like real, ooey, gooey, cheese!

My husband makes a plant-based mac and cheez at our restaurant, and he was asking me about the recipe, because this was even better than the one he already gets rave reviews over. YOU MUST TRY THIS!!!!

Things I would do differently: Make sure to use Franks. Make sure to prep all the ingredients before starting. Make doubly sure to not try testing the pasta in my mouth without proper cooling! Cut the recipe in half, cuz a pound of pasta with all of this other stuff in it is way too much for two people, and it didn’t taste nearly as good reheated.

Everything else I would do the same. This dish was mind-blowing!

List of ingredients:

For the Hot Sauce Croutons – 1Tbsp Olive oil, 2 Cups bread cubes, 3Tbsp hot sauce, 1Tbs unsweetened plain almond milk (soy worked fine for me)

For the Nooch Sauce: 1Tbsp olive oil for the onions and 1/4 cup olive oil for the blender, 1/4 cup chopped yellow onion or shallot, 4 cups cubed starchy potatoes, 1.5 cups cubed carrots (I did not peel them), 1 cup veggie broth for braising veggies and 1 cup veggie broth for the blender, 1 cups unsweetened plain almond milk (soy worked fine), 1/2 cup nooch, 2 Tbsp lemon juice (use fresh!!), 1Tbsp Bragg’s or tamari or soy sauce, 1/2tsp salt (we ended up needing a lot more salt than that, but our broth was low-sodium).

For the Rest: 1 pound pasta (cavatappi is my fave!), 2 cups frozen or fresh peas, 2 cups shredded yellow squash.


You Are a Tool, Alright!

Okay. So this guy came to speak at our school today. The premise of his speech was that we are all designed differently, and we should accept our design and go with it. (ie: if you are a hammer, be the best hammer you can be rather than trying to be a screwdriver) He said we are all tools, and in the hammer example, we will get much further functioning as the tool we were designed to be (whacking nails) than we will trying to do jobs we weren’t designed for (twisting out screws). I get what he was trying to say. I might even support it. That is if he hadn’t alienated me with his sexism.

I am not easily offended. Unless it’s something I’m easily offended about. But, what I mean to say is I am not a feminist. Well, that is until you try to stereotype genders. Okay. I don’t really know what I am, but I am going to tell you why this guy ticked me off and therefore lost me during what were possibly the good parts of his speech.

This happened ten hours ago, and I had an eventful day of work after, so I have surely forgotten much, but here goes…

This guy started off by introducing himself as a tool guy. Tim The Tool Man Taylor came to mind, but then I went back to paying attention again. He started to talk about his tools, called all of us tools, etc. Then he compared this to training for baseball. I can’t really remember the connection here. I was stuck on the fact he mocked the small tool bag his wife got him when they moved into their apartment. It has a really small hammer in it.

Anyway, back to baseball… He asked our students if there were any who played baseball. Several hands went up. He then asked who were pitchers. Less hands remained up. He was pointing to the pitchers and saying something, but when he pointed to a female students he said, “or softball.”

This really irked me! I know this girl very well. She pitches baseball (not softball). I am super offended on her behalf that he would do that to her in front of the entire student body. Well, he really just revealed his own ignorance, so whatever.

Much more of his speech happened over the next several minutes. My mind was in and out of paying attention. I saw him refer to a rubber mallet as a hammer. I heard him refer to a flat head screwdriver as a “regular” screwdriver. I pondered on what an incredible imposter he was to be calling himself a tool guy and making such mistakes. Then the straw that broke the camel’s back happened.

He said that even thought his toolboxes have been getting bigger (he did some kind of Russian doll thing to demonstrate the evolution of his tool bag…something about being responsible with our current “little” to later be ready for a lot) he was keeping his small apartment tool bag (the one with the really small hammer in it), because he was going to pass it down to his son. Now, he did not say this in an endearing “passing this down to my son” kind of way. He said he was giving it to his son by default of being his only son and that surely his daughters would have no interest in the tools. I was thinking, “EXCUSE ME!?!?!” I am so very sad for his daughters!

I cannot even begin to express how incredibly thankful I am my dad was not like this. My dad taught me how to use tools whether I wanted to learn or not. From as young as I can remember, I’ve used all the tools one would find in a tool box. I know the difference between a socket wrench and a ratchet wrench (omg you should have seen the kids when he said, “Maybe you’re a ratchet!”), between slip joint pliers and needle-nose pliers, and unlike him, I know the difference between a rubber mallet and a hammer, and I would never call a flat head screwdriver a “regular” screwdriver. I’ve also used all of the power tools. I have welded, soldered, sawed (table, circular, band, chain, hand), lathed, and so much more! My dad and I used to build ham radios, put up fences, create doghouses, and fix just about everything all around our home, barn, and property.

You might be thinking I am a Tom-Boy, but you would be dead wrong. I am a fashionista and always have been! I love make-up, shoes, handbags, scarves, etc. Up until I got sick and gained weight, I was very waif-like. In other words, back when I was doing all this stuff with my dad, I was a fashionista waif with long hair and far from any stereotype you want to put on me for enjoying working with tools. You know why? Because the stereotype is wrong!

Too many dads (like the guy who spoke at our school today) assume their daughters won’t be interested or perhaps capable. They are wrong!! The girliest of girls can love the empowerment that comes from knowing how to build and to fix things without needing to call some guy to come do it for them! Do you have any idea the satisfaction I had in assembling ALL of my children’s baby furniture and pretty much every single “some assembly required” item we ever bought them? This while at the same time as baking them goodies and sewing them clothing? I love knowing how to do many things! I love not needing to rely on somebody else to do them for me. I love that my daughter got to grow up watching me do these things while also learning to do them herself.

Dads, please teach your daughter “boy” stuff. It is NOT “boy” stuff. It is important stuff that girls are not only fully capable of learning but are also fully capable of enjoying. And, you will likely enjoy passing on this knowledge to them, knowing they will never stay romantically involved with some jerk just because she feels dependent on him. You can know she will be able to change her own darned tire if she gets a flat out somewhere she isn’t safe waiting for AAA. You can know YOU taught her something and didn’t leave it all up to her mom! Just like a boy can find satisfaction in learning to bake cookies or wash his own laundry, a girl can enjoy fixing a leaky faucet or mending a roof or putting in new windows on the house. And she can enjoy it without losing whatever her identity is whether it be girly-girl or not.

And Mr. Tool Guy? Please just stop talking. Unless you decide you want to use better words and that some of those words will be in teaching your daughters the joys of becoming self-sufficient in more realms than just the kitchen. Now excuse me, while I go find a way to stop despising you and those like you. ugh!!!