I’m Lindsey. I’m Disgusting…

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I share earbuds with total strangers at the gym. OK I really “borrow” them from the lost and found when I forget my own. But then I started to worry: Can I get herpes from this? Because I’m convinced I’m going to get an STD at my gym. Not because my gym is dirty. In fact, it’s super clean and almost spa-like. It’s more about karma and the fact that I can’t believe I avoided them in college (no matter what you might have heard, no kidding, there was quite the nasty rumor going around, and I know who started it, you know who you are).

On a particular day when my post-workout euphoria shifted into post-workout paranoia, I Googled “can you get herpes from sharing earbuds?” It showed up on not one, but several no-fly, fear-mongering listicles including:

According to BuzzFeed, my nasty habit can result in “infections, boils, or pustules.” Ew, ew, and/or ew. So no more shared headphones. If I forget my own, I’ll have to sing out loud to myself (sorry, elliptical neighbors). But onto the quite literally burning question: Can you get an STD at the gym? 

The first story that popped up in my research from the New York Times told of a potentially deadly staph infection you can possibly pick up on the mats. Of course, my eyes skipped over that at first and went straight to New HPV Warnings: You Can Get It at the Gym. Now, you can’t believe everything you read on the interwebs, but since I discovered this story on a lesser known site, I have read similar findings from what I consider trusted media outlets. It’s enough to give me yet another reason to avoid spin classes. And short shorts.

Also, when I started to type “Can I get an STD at …” into my search window, the following searches tried to automatically fill in my blank:

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So there goes all those foam parties I had on the books.

I Will Make You Feel Better About Yourself

I’m that friend. If you’ve gained 10 pounds, rest assured I’ve gained 20 (I really have). If you got a parking ticket, there’s a warrant out for my arrest for dodging traffic court. If you gave your child Mountain Dew in a baby bottle, well, that’s on you. That’s just plain wrong.

So it was no surprise when I received this text from a dear friend that I was able to cheer her up:

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To which I replied:

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And then I shared with my old friend the amazing capacity my new friend has for, well, me. This is a text within a text. Try to keep up:

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The girls’ night I had was with three women I’ve become friends with in the past couple of years. Those of you in your 30s and older know what I mean when I say it’s not easy making friends past a certain age.

  1. It’s simply more difficult to get to know people when you’re not shoved into social microcosms such as high school or college. It takes so much more time to get to know other women, and then you have to figure out which ones won’t be horribly offended by your borderline alcoholism and awkward blurts.
  2. Once you find other women you click with, you have to find the time to “date” them. Add kids into the mix and the time you have to meet up and go out with just friends is limited and precious.
  3. If you are lucky enough to find good friends in your 30s, you will want to keep them. A good way to do this is to not throw up on their furniture in the middle of the night. But if you are as fortunate as I am, that friend will not only be forgiving, but empathetic. At least this time.

I’m a 38-year-old mother of two. My career peaked at 24. A month ago I found myself spot-treating the skidmarks out of my husband’s mankini (which he owns purely for humor), wondering what happened to my life. About a week later, I puked on my friend’s pull-out bed. I truly feel things can only go up from here. In the meantime, at least my bottoms can serve to buoy my friends’ lowest moments up toward the surface (isn’t that how it works? I got a “C” in oceanography and physics). It’s not the purpose I was aiming for, but anything for a friend.

This Is Not Toothpaste

unnamed-3This is not a travel tube of toothpaste. It looks like one though, especially when you aren’t wearing your contact lenses and it’s sitting right next to the sink. Luckily I figured this out before something tragic happened. I can’t say the same for the time I mistook pepper spray for a lighter. I had been planning a romantic evening and was trying to light the candles with what I thought was a fancy lighter I found in one of our three junk drawers. Instead of coming home to a candlelit dinner, Dave came home to me coughing, crying, spitting and puking on the couch. It was awesome.

What this is, is tattoo aftercare ointment. For the tattoo Dave got unbeknownst to me while I was in Palm Springs with my college girlfriends. “So, I got a tattoo,” he tells me after the kids are in bed. At least he waited until the kids were in bed. This is not the first time I’ve come home from a trip to learn of new ink on my husband. The last time he made the announcement in front of fly fishing houseguests I’d just met and our then five-year-old son. So you know, at least he told me in private.

“Is my lower lip trembling uncontrollably?” I asked him after a long silence. SO much running through my head. Trying not to say things I can’t take back.

“Um, yes.”

“Do I need a drink before I see it?” I ask.

“It’s not that bad,” he reasoned, as if you can rationalize an unplanned tattoo in Florida. (For some reason it seems all the worse to me that he had it done in Florida.)

I felt my body relax a notch or two and asked to see it. I SO needed a drink first. Maybe seven.

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That my friends, is the surly monkey. A brainchild of Dave’s that serves as his magazine‘s mascot. It’s creative, it’s funny, but I don’t think it belongs permanently on his torso holding a fly rod and giving the finger. I reminded him that we have children who will see this when we go to the beach. And on Shirtless Sundays. Which isn’t a thing in our house, but now it never can be. Thanks Dave.

And I was just thinking about how cute it was that while Dave was in Florida and I was California, we were searching for a white Speedo for him at the same time. Because that’s what couples who’ve been together as long as we have do. We finish each other’s sentences, look up at the sky across the country and wish upon the same star, and simultaneously shop for mankinis.

It just goes to show you: Just when you think everything’s all hearts and white Speedos, a surly monkey has to come along and flip you off.

My Theme for 2017: Less is More

I’ve noticed a pattern in past new year’s resolutions: write more, exercise more, shower more. You see?

This year, as I stepped back to take a look at my proverbial plate, I thought to myself, why am I adding more? What could I take away from my life that would make it better?

  1. Facebook less. That’s not a typo, that’s “Facebook” as a verb. And that doesn’t mean I will be Instagramming more.
  2. Watch less TV. I’m currently in a bingewatching foggy hangover state from staying up way too late watching — don’t judge — season 2 of Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce.
  3. Shop online less. It’s not so much that I buy a lot online, rather I go from site to site adding items to carts. “Lindsey, did you forget something?” is a popular email in my inbox. It’s therapeutic, but so is cutting.

Looking at my resolutions, you will see a theme within a theme. We spend 70% of our lives in front of digital media. Yipes. Admittedly some of these “less” resolutions may imply more of something else, but hopefully that will be a healthy natural reaction in the right direction, and not a force against the fibers of my being and all I hold dear. (Note, I did not say “drink less”. I’m not a masochist.)

No Poop For You!

 

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Because I don’t work for a top ad firm or a top pharmaceutical company, I’m sharing my brilliant idea for a commercial with you. The scene: The “Soup Nazi” restaurant from the famous Seinfeld episode of the same name. Jason Alexander and Julia Louis-Dreyfus (in character as George and Elaine) are anxiously waiting their turns to order. George grabs his stomach. Something’s not right. He tells Elaine in so many words that he has a situation down there and needs to find a toilet immediately, but doesn’t want to anger the Soup Nazi or lose his place in line. Just then, they move up to order.

The Soup Nazi and George stare each other down. George is sweating bullets and clutching his stomach. The Soup Nazi reaches below the counter and grabs… Pepto Bismol [or other antidiarrheal medicine]. He thrusts it out over the counter at George and yells, “No poop for you!”

George grabs it graciously and takes it. The next scene shows George and Elaine comfortably enjoying their soup. The company’s logo comes up on the screen and you hear the Soup Nazi again, yelling “No poop for you!”

Would that stick with you or what? I admit the ending needs some work, but you get the idea. It plays to our nostalgic senses, it’s catchy, and becomes what I think would be a very shareable YouTube video. The hard part would be convincing Jason and Julia to sign on. And, you know, the fact that I’m pitching this to no one in particular from the comforts of my couch on a Thursday afternoon. So that’s what’s going on in my brain. What’s up with you?

Instant Pot Paralysis and Getting Out of My Side Dish Rut

I’m part of a large group of impulsive people who bought the Instant Pot a few weeks back when it was on super sale. I’d heard about all of its wonders, from yogurt making to 6-minute chicken, but I’d also seen the price tag. So when it was half-off, I didn’t hesitate. Now, it’s been sitting on my counter for three weeks, intimidating me with all of its buttons, bells, and whistles. It’s a pressure cooker, not a landmine, but I still can’t bring myself to use it for fear of blowing up my kitchen. So I continue to search for the perfect introductory Instant Pot recipe that speaks to me without saying my last rites.

A lot of the recipes I’ve found come from Skinnytaste. While I’m working up the courage to try her chicken taco chili in the pressure cooker, I did take a stab at the zucchini tots, which merely require a grater and good old-fashioned oven cooking. I can only steam veggies so many times, and all of my favorite frozen sides at Trader Joe’s come in servings of “about 3” which might as well read “not enough for your family, Lindsey.”

Gina describes this side as kid-friendly, which of course it is, but you don’t need kids to appreciate a good tot. When my super picky 2-year-old didn’t want hers, I was exasperated on the outside for show, “Fine, I guess I’ll have to eat them so they don’t go to waste,” and all Homer Simpson on the inside:

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Abbie doesn’t like pizza — yet — so I’m confident she’ll come around on these zucchini tots with time. For now, they are a hit with the rest of my household. I will say I should’ve added more breadcrumbs to my batch, but they were still delish. I’m no Beatrice Peltre, but this is how my tots turned out. No filter, no photography skills, no nothing:

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Hopefully my next food post will be about my adventures with the Instant Pot…and I won’t be typing it from the burn unit at the hospital.

 

Not a Happy Space Camper

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My son Jed is almost seven. He’s changing so much (growing, learning, all that great stuff). But perhaps one of the most exciting changes affecting our household right now is the evolution of our Family Movie Night selections. When you have a restricted social life (read: limited babysitter funds and an exhausting albeit adorable 2-year-old), Family Movie Night becomes the epicenter of your weekend plans.

After years of enduring “no people movies” (Jed would only watch animated ones for the longest time), every Halloween and Christmas special no matter the time of year, and the Pokemon catalog in its entirety, we are finally able to introduce him to the movies that we watched as kids: Flight of the Navigator, The Neverending Story, Cloak and Dagger, Goonies.

But my personal favorite is like the white whale of ’80s kid flicks: Space Camp. The 1986 “cosmic comedy adventure” has an all-star cast with Kate Capshaw, Tate Donovan, Joaquin Phoenix, Lea Thompson, Kelly Preston, and Larry B. Scott. It’s never on TV, be it cable or a streaming site. I finally found a video rental store in Asheville (yes, those still exist) that carried it, but the last person who rented it never returned it. And when I found out that a new copy of it costs more than $62 on Amazon, I have to say I couldn’t blame them.

I thought I found the answer to my problems with a foreign copy — foreign to another country, not to us — for less than $10. The reviews were good, it seemed legit. I had won. I had beaten the system. It even came on a day that our Internet went out like it was meant to be. I pushed the disc into the player and waited in anticipation for it to load, and then this popped up:

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I felt like my inner 7-year-old had been vacuumed out into space. SO disappointed. I’m pretty sure Jed was over it and happy to watch Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip. Again.

I’m not giving up though. There’s got to be a way to get a copy of this without spending $60+, right? All of its 30th anniversary nostalgic cinematic counterparts are new and used for less than $10. What makes Space Camp so special? Well, I know why it’s special, but you know what I mean…

If you have any leads, please share! Also please share your favorite movies from childhood that you’re introducing to your children. We’d love some more to add to our list!

5 Reasons Why Walmart’s Online Grocery Shopping is My New Everything

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I know, right? It’s so big. And boxy. But when you live in rural North Carolina, a trip to “the Walmart” is as much a part of your week as going to the post office… or the ABC Store. It may not be as white and shiny as Target, with its “affordable” lines of clothing from high-end designers. The lighting may be depressing, some of the clientele might be equally depressing, and you can’t find specialty items like hemp hearts…

Wait, I had a point. Oh yes. Their new online grocery shopping! If you like the idea of Walmart’s prices, but the idea of going into Walmart depresses the crap out of you or stresses you out to no end, this is the perfect solution. It has changed my life. Let me count the ways:

  1. It saves time. It takes some time to pick out my items online, but nowhere near as much time as it does to walk through the aisles at the store. Especially considering I usually have a kid or two in tow, which leads me to my second point.
  2. It saves my sanity. My 2-year-old daughter can Houdini her way out of any shopping cart seatbelt, so it’s no surprise that she won’t stand right beside me quietly while I compare prices on pasta. I can pick out my items from the comfort of my couch rather than picking up every item she pulls off the shelves as we go. This reason alone is enough to shop online.
  3. No impulse shopping. I admit it. I’m the one who walks by the displays right before checkout and has to have that Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo DVD for 4.99 (true story). And what’s that? Lip balm in a cute ball-shape container? Yes, please!
  4. Two words: Savings Catcher. This feature of the Walmart app finds out if an item you bought is being sold elsewhere for less and puts the difference on a gift card for you. So if you buy Silk Almond Milk at Walmart for $2.98, but it’s on sale at Harris Teeter for $2.50, the Savings Catcher will “catch” that and pocket the 0.48 for you. All you have to do is enter the TC# from each receipt into the app, and let it do the rest. It’s literally mindless and it adds up. This is something you can use whether you shop online or in-store, but I just discovered it and am pretty obsessed.
  5. It’s free! Yes, I know Publix has free online grocery shopping, too. But the closest Publix to my house is 45 minutes away and it’s not quite budget friendly enough to be the go-to store for my weekly basics.

I admit I was concerned about the produce, but I couldn’t have picked out a better bunch of bananas myself. All of this being said, the one thing that kills me is that I can’t use my own shopping bags. But I’m hanging onto the hope that following this whole hand sanitizer ban, the EPA will find that plastic bags are actually good for the planet. In the meantime, reusing and recycling alleviates my conscience enough (oh, the things you can make with plarn).

If you want to try it, use this link. You’ll save $10, and so will I.

 

 

I Should’ve Spent More Time on Facebook

…Said no one ever on their deathbed. But it was actually a friend’s Facebook post that served as a wakeup call to me that I was wasting away in one of my anxiety-induced future-planning panics and not being present.

This friend was one of the first moms I ever met in Asheville. We had our sons within days of each other. We went to story times together at the library. Her son’s first birthday party was my first kid’s birthday party. I was so blown away by the artistic talent she displayed on the invitation that it remained pinned on my bulletin board for several years. We still run into each other every now and then and have mutual friends. We are no longer what I would call friends, but acquaintances sounds so cold, and “cold” is not an adjective anyone would use to describe an interaction with “Sarah.”

We are the same age. We have boys the same age. And she was diagnosed with advanced, aggressive, incurable bile duct cancer. When I read these words that she found the courage to write and share, my heart rose into my throat, then sank to the pit of my stomach.

I started this post two weeks ago and yesterday found out that Sarah passed away. I’ve always empathized deeper than I probably should. In preschool, I sobbed when my friend Shannon (not a good friend) told me her grandmother (who I never met) died. I just couldn’t help but put myself in her shoes, imagining how Shannon must be feeling, and it hurt so much. So now, even knowing Sarah as briefly as I did, I’m overcome with sadness for her family and friends. And sad for her that as a mother, she didn’t get to see her child grow up.

I’m hugging my children a little more this week, spending a little more time on the back deck staring at the mountains and enjoying the outside sounds, spending a little less time on Airbnb planning my next escape.

Fuck a bucket list. I’m keeping a Fuck It list… a list of people, places and things that aren’t worth my time or energy. I may never make it to that women’s surfing/yoga retreat in Mexico, but when I find myself sweating the small stuff or reaching for that imaginary Xanax, I can take out my Fuck It List to remind myself that life is short, and can in the most tragic of situations, be even shorter. Will I wish that I traveled more? Maybe. But I know I won’t wish that I’d been scrolling more through Facebook to see friends on their beach vacations, kids all smocked clothes and smiles, while my own daughter stamps our walls because I’m too busy “liking” everyone else’s lives to notice. Facebook? Fuck it.

 

 

How to Pick Up a Babysitter

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Dave and I started dating in college, so I hadn’t been “out there” since before cell phones. Cell phones, people. I’ve had to bring my game out for friend dating, but what happens once you make friends is that you want to go out with them. Without kids.

If you don’t have parents in the area to watch your kids, or if you’ve decided the push/pull of passive-aggressiveness and guilt that comes with it isn’t worth it, you’ve got to find a babysitter.

Asking a friend for the name of their babysitter is like asking a serial killer where he keeps his victims. They’re not going to give that shit up without a fight — some things are too sacred. My mom still talks with contempt in her voice about how our neighbors stole our best babysitter from us, only to leave us with her less responsible sister, Julie, who would throw parties at our house while they were out. Julie would tell my sister and I we were playing hide and seek, and then never seek us. She bribed me with a giant stuffed Jokey Smurf. (I was four, and an easy target.)

So when my daughter’s preschool teacher introduced me to Sarah*, I didn’t waste any time. Here’s how I picked up my babysitter — and how you can, too — in 4 swift steps:

  1. Assess your surroundings. Where are you meeting her? I was meeting Sarah on the playground at my son’s elementary school where she works with the after school program. This tells me already that she has experience with kids. If I were meeting her in a bar, at 1am, I might be a tad more wary.
  2. Lay it all out there. This isn’t a potential new friend, so you don’t have to play it cool. Don’t be afraid to let her know how much you want her. But also let her know upfront what she’s in for. If she gets to your house to find out you have 3 dogs and she’s allergic to dogs, there goes your babysitter and your evening.
  3. Exchange contact info. Don’t put it off, saying, “Oh, I’m running late so I’ll get your number from X later.” Later will turn into never.
  4. Set a time to follow up. If you don’t have a specific date in mind for the first babysitting gig, tell her. That way she won’t wonder why she’s not hearing from you. If you do, go ahead and get it in both of your calendars. Really good babysitters are in super high demand — Abbie’s preschool teacher is booked with babysitting, dogsitting and housesitting jobs through the fall!

Now it’s up to you whether or not you want to talk money right away. For me, unless she says she charges $20 an hour for two kids, there’s not much she’s going to say that’s going to turn me off. We are REALLY in need of some nights out with and without friends, but DEFINITELY without kids. I’d rather lure her to the house first where there’s no turning back and then negotiate the rate. That being said, we also make sure to tip really well, especially the first few times, to make sure she knows how much we appreciate her and to gain her loyalty.

So we now have a great babysitter and I’m so excited I can’t stand it! It’s like how I felt when I found my first true friend after college, but the next level. I’m not sure what’s after this… I’m sure whatever it is will make me feel even older. Perhaps it will lead to a, “How I Found the Perfect Plastic Surgeon” post. But then you’d know I had work done, which of course I’d never do.

*I’ve changed the name of my sitter to protect her privacy and also to keep you from stealing her.