TB12 diet. Eat like a goat.

The face of someone who eats avocado ice cream.

I woke up this morning thinking about Tom Brady.

Not in THAT way.

I was thinking about the TB12 diet for which I forked out $78 dollars to fork up plants for 3 nights.

The diet was doomed from the start. The box arrived marked perishable and somehow was left at the very edge of our property amidst the traffic of elementary schoolers. A kind neighbor friend left her car idling to bring the box all the way to our door and was attacked by the school parking people. The normal parent patrol has stepped up their game and now call Denver Public School police to help with parking.

So my well meaning friend made it halfway up the path and deposited the box, rushing back to her offending car.

After I wrestled the large box through my small door (not a euphemism) I took a moment to contemplate the tag line. “Eat like a Goat.” Now I don’t want to get started on the debate over whether or not Tom Brady is the Greatest of All Time. Instead I want to remind you of how a goat eats. A goat eats everything and the tin can it came in. The goat would be just as excited about the box as the vegetables within. Frankly Tom himself might enjoy the box as long as it is brightened up by the fresh zip of persimmons. Cardboard is not so far from crispy turnip cake.

 

Somehow I had not read the fine print on the diet. Despite months of the pretense of a no-carb diet TB12 was decidedly carb-ful. Sadly these carbs did NOT include potatoes. Here are some other things TB12 does not include: Nightshades (which include tomatoes), dairy (which includes cheese), gluten (which includes french bread) or meat (which includes bacon.)

But here were were and as it is the closet I will ever get to Tommy I decided to give it a try. The packaging was copious. The goat would have been happy. It included three meals for 2. So sorry boys, you will have to suffer through pepperoni pizza. We decided to start with the Ramen bowl with nutty brown rice noodles (cause no gluten) and savory sweet tamari (no soy.) Plus many veggies.

TB12 diet Ramen bowl
I’m sure this is super easy for you to read. Maybe you will made as many mistakes as I did

Despite being clearly written and including full colored glossy pictures I struggled to follow the instructions. I don’t like instructions.

MISO MASTER: Preheat oven to 450°F. In a medium saucepan combine the miso paste, coconut cloud, tamari, and 3 cups water. Bring broth to a boil over medium-high heat and whisk to break up the miso paste. Reduce heat to low and let broth gently simmer until you are ready to build the ramen bowls. Step one went well. Except I forgot to whisk the miso paste so it was a little clumpy. That is small potatoes (mmmm potatoes). I might not be a miso master but I am clearly a miso apprentice.

STEP 2 ROAST THE BROCCOLINI Place a medium pot of water over high heat. Rinse and dry the broccolini, and trim a half inch off of the stem. Transfer broccolini to a baking sheet and toss with 1 tbsp sesame oil, 1 tsp vegetable oil, and a pinch of salt. Roast in the oven until the florets are somewhat charred and stems are bright green and tender, about 5 to 8 minutes. Once roasted, immediately sprinkle with hemp seeds (bold). Step two asked me to roast the broccolini with sesame oil, vegetable oil and salt. Alternatively you can put them in completely dry and have them stick to the pan and emerge with no flavor. Your choice.

STEP 3 MIS EN PLACE Rinse and dry the watermelon radish and amaranth greens. Thinly slice the watermelon radish into rounds. Rough chop the amaranth greens and stems. Peel and mince the ginger. Slice the scallion. In a small bowl combine the tahini, reserved 1 tsp sesame oil, and nori blend. Add a pinch of salt and stir with a fork to combine. involved knife skills. I love my knife. I love rough chopping and mincing, I love thin slicing. I don’t love rinsing so I skipped that step. Rinse and dry the watermelon radish and amaranth greens. Thinly slice the watermelon radish into rounds. Rough chop the amaranth greens and stems. Peel and mince the ginger. Slice the scallion. In a small bowl combine the tahini, reserved 1 tsp sesame oil, and nori blend. Add a pinch of salt and stir with a fork to combine. It says combine. See that. Combine. So maybe I put the nori and tahini and oil into the vegetables when they didn’t belong. So if you are keeping track in step two I skipped the wet ingredients and in step three I added them. You know what’s not that tasty? Watermelon radish COOKED in tahini. Whoops.

See that tahini? It was NOT supposed to be combined

STEP 4 COOK THE  PASTA Once the water is boiling (What water? Did they expect me to just have water going?), add the brown rice noodles and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and gently separate noodles with a fork and cook until al dente, an additional 3 to 5 minutes. Strain noodles and run under cool water to stop them from cooking It told me to cook the pasta. In fact it was the title of the whole step. They weren’t so bold as to call me a pasta master and they were prescient about this. Remember step one when I *almost* got the miso coconut broth correct? Well it wasn’t too late to ruin that. Most of you cook pasta in water.In fact the first line mentions water. But it never told me how much or where so I guess I pretended it wasn’t relevant. However I DID have a hot liquid on the stove.  Why not cook the pasta in the miso broth. It makes sense to me. The pasta will end up in the broth. Why that extra water step? Dunno. But Steve said I needed to use water. He is no fun.

You can’t see the tahini but it is sticky. You can see that the broccolini is long. (Not a euphemism)

STEP FIVE ALL THINGS GREEN Place a medium skillet over medium-high heat and add 2 tsp vegetable oil. Once the oil is hot, add the ginger and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the amaranth greens and stems and cook, stirring frequently, until just wilted, about 30 seconds. Season with salt and remove from heat. Chop the charred broccolini into 2 inch pieces. First of all I am now worried that Tommy might be red/green colorblind. Because watermelon radish? Not green. But back to the cooking. If one had already added tahini to the red/green mixture one might have a sticky mess whilst wilting the amaranth greens. I said might. Also- the broccolini chopping? The knife section was totally over. Two inch pieces/ huge long stalks?

Samesies.

 

hemp seeds for TB12 dietSTEP 6 BUILD YOUR BOWLS Divide brown rice noodles between deep bowls. Top with coconut miso broth, charred broccolini, gingered amaranth greens, scallion, and watermelon radish. Drizzle with nori tahini sauce and serve with chili garlic sauce for an added kick. OK. So maybe the tahini sauce has reduced a bit in the pan but we are totally cooking now. Or maybe we are done cooking. Steve pulls out our giant serving bowls. And we build them. I almost expect there to be an allen wrench. Just like building furniture from IKEA at the very end there is an extra piece. Everything has been done and yet the hemp seeds stare up at me accusingly. If this thing doesn’t taste right it is because of these seeds. So I do what is obvious and sprinkle them on top of the bowls. Just like a cherry on a sundae. Just. Like. A Sundae.

I think it is possible the goat would have eaten the cutting board before the nutty ramen.

So this is what made it to our table. While Steve and I were working on all things red/green Oliver was toasting pizza. And Leo was making himself a board dinner. Neither of them skipped any steps…but then again neither of them were dealing with nori-tahini-hemp.

Quick quiz: which of these three dishes had leftovers?

The prize for getting 100% on the quiz is a crispy turnip cake.

 

 

 

Eleven Signs You have Nailed this Parenting Thing

We worry about teaching our kids resiliency, kindness and how to eat a balanced meal. We are focused on the wrong things. If your kid can’t make a penis joke you have more parenting to do.
1. You kids understand penis humor

Me: “I like a firm banana.”

11 year old: giggle.

9 year old: “what’s funny? Wait…are you talking about penises?”

11 year old: “Why yes, yes she is”

9 year old: “Thought so.”

2. Your kids express a feeling of cosmic emptiness.  

11 yo: “You know what’s depressing? ”

Me: “That supergirl is a re-run?”

11 yo: (ignoring my guess) “Most of an atom is made up of wasted space. And we are made up of atoms. So we are mostly wasted space. ”

3. Your kids are mature beyond their years.

Setting:  Jungle Garden feeding flamingos some years back

Me: “I wonder what age you will be when you don’t want to come here.”

10yo: “No age, there will never be an age where I am not happy here.”

Me: “I’m glad you feel that way, but I have to imagine that at 16 you won’t really want to do much of anything.”

9 yo chimes in: “Are you saying I am 16?”

 

4. Your kids know how to handle bad hair days.

Me: “Do kids ever mention your hair when you go to school like this?”

11yo: “Sure, I just tell them it is bed head. Then if they ask again I tell them I already gave them an explanation and its not going to change.”

Somehow my 11 year old has gone to the Bill Belichick school of interviewing.

5. Your kids believe in justice for all.

9 yo (a little bit gleeful): “What would happen if there was no law against stealing?”

me: “What do you think? How would you stop people from stealing your things?”

10 yo: “Civil agreement.”

9yo: (even more gleeful) “Guns and knives!”

6. Your kids can manage screentime.

Me: “The average boy spends 12 hours a week on screentime.”

10yo: “I am no average boy.”

The fact that he says this while using the computer as a mirror to fix his hair is not lost on me.

 

 

7. Your kids’ jokes are actually funny.

Me: “Have we ever watched the movie Groundhog Day together?

10 yo: “Yeah…like every day.”

8. Your kids take an interest in sports.

While watching my beloved Patriots play there is an impressive tackle.

9yo: “Why are they trying to kill that person?”

Me: “They aren’t they are just trying to stop him.”

9yo: “Stop him from breathing?”

 

9. Your kids teach you not to interrupt.

9yo: “You will never be your best.

Me: “That isn’t very uplifting.

9yo: (rolling his eyes at me as he continues to make his point) “Because once you reach your best there is immediately a new best that you can be.”

10. Your kids understand nutrition.

9 yo: “The french fries are the protagonist in my meal. The ketchup is the antagonist.”

I didn’t document that particular meal because it was in fact comprised of only french fries and ketchup (a vegetable.)

This picture features another wholesome combination..and the appreciation my son felt for his supper.

 

 

 

11.Your kids can make penis jokes.

10 yo: “Florida is America’s penis…which explains why it is always so damp.”

9yo: “You are Florida.”

10yo: “You are right. I am hot.”

 

Because I have nailed this parenting thing I knew not to include an actual picture of a penis in this post.


Wondering how I managed to remember all of these quotes? Using Notabli. Check it out.

Also…my top two parenting books.

How to grow a grown up

How to talk so your kids will listen…and listen so your kids will talk.


	

Love and Death. Another reason to loathe Valentine’s day

Roses are red, violets are blue. I hate Valentine’s day, how about you?

Some of us are alone as highlighted by Hallmark. Some of us are together and plasticize our partnership with cheap candy and forced flowers. Some of us recycle flimsy cards from our classmates.

And some of us celebrate our father’s death.

 

This weekend I went to a memorial celebration of a man who died way way before his time. He was a rebel and a Patriots lover. He was a polarizing figure and a phenomenal father. He made me think of my dad which is particularly difficult this time of year.

So I re-represent to you this post.

Seventeen years ago today my father died.

He has been gone for almost half of my life. Functionally it is more than that, as he has not met my husband or my children, seen where I lived, experienced things I have created and dismantled.

Thinking of him has gone from every painful minute to daily to weekly to monthly. I talk about his preference for a certain candy bar when shopping with the boys, but it is fact more than his essence. Like a memory triggered by a picture the story conforms to the the boundaries of the information in front of me, the story is about as alive and vital as the candy bar in its wrapper.

I wonder too, how much my memory of him is shaped by exactly that…memory. I revisit the same stories wearing a path in the sand. The other tales are somewhere over the next dune…hazy, inexact, blending in with the landscape.

Our relationship is like a first love perfectly preserved in the golden memory of youth. He died when I was 24, and he is not around to participate in the monotony of daily life. He was present for the transformative moments of coming of age from girl to young adult, and then gone to be romanticized.

It feels disloyal to have him fade in places and sharpen in others. Yet it is inevitable.  I look into the faces of my boys and seek him there. I see him it in a leg cross, and the crook of a finger. When Leo asks if we can build a rock garden in our back yard it is as if he is sitting at the table in front of me.

I seek the double helix in my children and remember how much my father loved spirals and fractals. Patterns of nature. His art was supposed to elicit questions of what is natural and what is manmade. I realize there is 50% of those same spirals in me. Nature and nurture both, just like his art.  I see him in the face looking up at me instead of the one I looked up to.

When I sit at the coffee shop going on too long about the disappearance of sweat pants  it turns into a performance rather than a conversation. This is how our family dinners went. He picked a topic and worked himself up to a frenzy. I feel his righteous wrath running through me. I see the slightly charmed/slightly alarmed faces of my friends me as I rant about pants and I feel like him. As the years go on I become more of a homebody…for the last 7 years of his life he didn’t leave our house.  Leaving some of the irritating details of life to Steve, like bills and cooking has echoes of his relationship with my mother. When I examine the surface of the bark of a tree, following the folds down to the root system instead of up to the leaves I have images of him, large calloused fingers outstretched to stroke the bark with characteristic gentleness. Relentless sports talk was his soundtrack, and is now mine. First to help keep him with me, now because he still teaches me in his death.

Mostly though he is alive in shadows and echoes instead of his huge brash technicolor self. A man who didn’t wear socks, who would trace my face with his sculptors fingers, understanding my features as planes of a whole instead of disparate parts to analyze in a mirror. Seated at the head of a table challenging everyone around him, eating white rice. Leaving to pee before every single dinner, although each second of the day outside of this one was his own to manage.  His time was too magical to interrupt.

Maybe he knew it would be short.

Happy Valentines day to my first Valentine.

And yours whomever and wherever they may be.

[Tweet theme=”basic-white”]Roses are red, violets are blue. I hate Valentine’s day, how about you? @annawritesstuff[/Tweet]

 

 

 

 

Superbowl, Superpill Depression, and Defense

My love for the Patriots and my mental illness have been with me for about the same length of time. They are not causal, but transitive. They both blossomed at the time of my father’s terminal diagnosis. For better and for worse I have been living with them since my early 20s.

Last night I suffered through the eighth Superbowl of my fandom and my eightieth battle with the pharmacy. I handled neither with grace.  As our first ranked offense was held to zero points I looked at Steve and lamented. “There is only one way a season can end well and so many ways that it can end badly.” Some teams and fans can celebrate small successes, the exact philosophy I am trying to embrace in life. But just like real life I struggle with it here. The Patriots only have one possible success, and that involves putting many fingerprints on a shiny silver trophy. It is depressing.

Boy sleeps through superbowlBy the time my team was down 25-3 ( the largest Superbowl comeback in history was from 10 points down) I was numb. That is not true. Leo was numb. He was asleep. I was trying to lull my mind into a calm place. I figured distraction was the best tactic and so I turned my head to the computer which was showing a slideshow of family photos. That was pretty good. I watched my small tow headed boys frolic in the waves and climb into cardboard boxes as my team had a another three and out on the field. Before Leo was asleep he was trying to learn the game so I got to teach him about fumble recoveries (Good for Atlanta) and pick sixes (also a falcon feat.) It was easier to watch pictures of Steve teaching the kids to cook. Eventually a picture of our bathroom appeared on the screen and I remembered the worry that had been wiped out by what was happening on the football field.

Yet again I was running out of Viibryd.

It is a boring story. It was supposed to have a dull ending. I was running out of pills. I ordered more pills (a year of refills were still on my script) from Aetna online paid them $750 dollars for three months (this is one way our system is broken) and got the confirmation that my order would be processed in 1-2 days. That was on 1/24. Today was 2/6. Steve suggested I take a walk to the front door to see if I had missed the package of pills.

I hadn’t. I now had to deal with this imminent defeat.

Starting with the website I spent 2 minutes panicking that I couldn’t remember the proper username password combo, but I got in without being locked out and found that my order was on hold.  I clicked through for the reason. None given. It instructed me to call the help line. Before I went through that entertainment I figured I would check the payment method (still current) and then the balance on the Health Savings account card that the pharmacy drew fund from. Actually I was getting more worked up than numb so Steve checked the balance. It was fine.

I had no choice left but to call.

I loathe the phone.

I loathe the Aetna help line.

I loathe losing the Superbowl.

I worked my way through their recorded line giving birthdates and last names “I didn’t quite catch that.” The robotic voice said. “Neither did Edelman” I told her as our clutch receiver failed to clutch the ball. “I didn’t quite catch that.” She told me again. Edelman seemed to be on the same page as he dropped another pass. Meanwhile Oliver thinks I am having a conversation with him and he is encouraging me. “It’s OK if we aren’t good in the first half….its the second half that matters.” He is sweet but I am busy working myself up into anger. Football is an emotional game, as is depression.

Chris Hogan bug eyesNow the recording is asking me for a prescription number which is totally reasonable but the info is on the phone. Which is on my face. “She wants a prescription number” I say to Steve, my eyes as wide as Chris Hogan’s the Patriots  bug eyed receiver that we got from the Bills. This is impossible. So I resort to plan B. “Representative.” I say. “Do you want to speak to a representative?” She asks. There is hope! “Representative” I repeat with an uplifted tone. “What?” asks Oliver. “I didn’t quite get that. Do you wish to speak to a representative?” “Yes!” I cry out. “What?” Asks Oliver. “Look” says Steve as the Patriots hold the Falcons to a three and out. “I can’t look, it is only because I am not looking that they are doing well.” I explain. “What are you talking about?” asks my reasonable kid. “Excuse me Ma’am can you tell me your date of birth?” Asks my representative. “Look” Steve nudges me again.

I can’t look.

We go through the mumbo jumbo where once again I don’t have the prescription number. This dude is a step better than the robot though and he can access the info without it now that I have promised him my first (sweet and logical) born. “I see. You don’t have prior authorization.” That is IT. I have done this 4 times. I think. “I have done this 4 times” I shout. Six eyes look at me. They don’t know the pressure I am up against. The amount of time and training I have put into this. The Patriots are on their drive for five world championships and I am on my drive for five physician’s authorization. This must be how Brady feels when he is down 28-3 in the Superbowl I think. This must be how Anna feels when she struggles to refill her Viibryd prescription I am sure Brady is thinking.

Superbowl tackling dummies“I’m sorry ma-am.” The representative who has no culpability for my problems responds. “Look” Steve is once again directing my attention to the screen where I am still averting my eyes. The team needs me not to look. “I’m sorry” I say to my representative. “I am a huge Patriots fan. And they are losing.”  “Excuse me,” he says in his well trained voice. He is not so different from the robotic voice earlier I think. The image of the weird tackling robots come to mind. The ones that the Falcons love to practice on as they bob and weave away from them. It has made them good tacklers. But on the screen they are missing the tackles. I imagine my representative on the field. I am not a good tackler. But I will try. The game is not over yet. Then he reveals himself as a human, not a tackling machine. “Would you be willing to tell me the score?” As I allow my eyes to see the screen the score changes. It is 28-20. The Patriots have the ball. “How much time?” He asks me. “3:41” I tell him. “That is plenty of time.” He reassures me.

I begin my bargaining. I will go without my pills for a week. I will go through the shakes and vomiting of detox. I will miss my meetings. I will let my kids fend for themselves. All if the Patriots win the game. I don’t know which higher power is authorized to make this deal. Neither does my representative. He representative is searching my history. He sees that in fact I did have a prior authorization but it has expired. Right now I don’t care that much. “When?” I ask, because he has a job to do. “8/13/16.” He tells me. “So Aetna didn’t notify me then, OR when I paid them money last week.” “You just weren’t going to send the pills and I had to figure it out?” “I can get a senior manager ma’am but she won’t be able to authorize an override without prior authorization.” I am silent. I am watching my team. “What’s the score?” He asks. And there it is. 28-26. All we need is a 2 point conversion to force the first Overtime in Superbowl history.

There it is. Our 91 yard TD drive ends with a two point conversion. On the phone my representative is doing is own conversing. “So you will get the authorization tomorrow and then we will mail out the prescription on Wednesday.” That will leave me several days without pills. But it was the deal that I made so I will deal.

Because of the ridiculously unfair sudden death Overtime rules the coin toss is lucky to determine the superbowl. We call heads. This is a sign. I am dealing with medication for my head. It will obviously be heads.

“Heads”

We are clicking now. We know we have this. I watch through my fingers so I don’t jinx it. In my ear the representative continues. “After you receive the pills you should call back and see when the authorization runs out. You can mark it in your calendar.”

I won’t need to. It will run out right about the time Brady plays in his eighth Superbowl.

Bill Belichick let's party Superbowl

 

We are no Stepford Family

For many years I lived in Shelburbia. Now I live in Hilltop. On the surface there is a certain blond sheen to both of these communities. Where Vermont has wholesome apple picking and farmers markets and hikes Hilltop has ubering to hip eateries strolling to bespoke coffee shops and taking Fridays off to ski in powder. In both communities these activities can be done in high end yoga pants. There just might be a bit more Botox in Colorado. There are very few people in either neighborhood that actually live the stereotype of the community as a whole. Any one person has a story, and interests and fears that change him/her from a caricature to a flesh and blood person with a heart. If you stick to the surface though you can make sweeping generalizations.

The glossy neighborhood magazine “Hilltop Sundial” keeps things real with a “Family of the Month.” I know most of these families and enjoy reading the feature. Real people put the best spin on their lives. I found this month’s article between “Hilltop ladies try a neighborhood spa party” (Which in fact was a directive not a description.) and the monthly favorite “Whats cooking in Hilltop?” Valentine’s red velvet cookie sandwiches, natch. (To be fair, which generally makes things less funny, this issue also described Hilltop Juniors helping the community and a great article on Bono written by a fifth grader.) Reading the upbeat answers of my friends the I can’t help but rewrite the interview with the answers my family would have given.

Pets: Skreechee. Cat. The double ee’s are not a typo THAT IS HOW IT IS SPELLED. The youngest Palmer will never forgive you if you get it wrong. Skreechee enjoys long walks through the neighborhood and biting the hand that feeds her. She is a fair cat though…she will bite hands that don’t feed her also. On the upside she will fetch small felt owls for hours. As long as it is between 1am-4am.

Where are you from?:  Well we moved here from Vermont but VT would never claim us because we are not five generations deep. So we are a people without a place.

How long have you lived in Hilltop?: 19 months. Like some mothers of toddlers we will never stop counting in months because it shows how much we CARE.

Profession (s): Electrical Engineer and Program Manager Aerospace and Defense Business Unit and Government Programs GLOBALFOUNDRIES, formerly International Business Machines (IBM, PMP, MBA, ETC) & IDK. (Steve, Anna)

Favorite Activities/ Hobbies: Steve: Hockey, Golf, Old Man Football League, Brewing beer. Anna: watching TV in Bed. Oliver: Watching people open packages of Pokemon cards on Youtube. Leo: Getting banned from Minecraft servers for hacking things so he can fly.

Favorite Play area/Park/Hangout: Steve: Big bear ice rink, anyplace I can be in the sunshine!, Anna: My room, Oliver: the playground across the street where I can scream so loudly that my mother can hear me in her room. Leo: my mother’s room.

Favorite Restaurants: Steve: Tag burger bar, Anna: KFC (I’ve finally learned that using the word chicken is off-brand, and possibly illegal.) Oliver: Cherry Cricket. Leo: I won’t go to restaurants. None of them are my favorite because I hate them all.

Favorite Vacation Spot: Steve: Aruba- fresh fruit, clear water and sunshine! Anna: my bed. Oliver: Back to Vermont…but I wish that weren’t a vacation. Leo: I don’t like to go on vacation. Wait, will there be wifi there? Is there wifi on the plane? Can we take out hotspot in the uber to the airport? If yes then I don’t care.

Favorite Sports Teams: Steve: Any team I play for, The Detroit Red Wings, The Detroit Tigers. Anna: New England Patriots. It is a serious situation. Oliver: What’s the one with the orange? Leo: Colorado Rockies! They are the only thing I leave the house for…plus last year I bought a plastic helmet and I have been bringing it back for popcorn ever since. I love to beat the system. I want to be buried with that thing.

Favorite Family dinner: Steve: Homecooked, around our dining room table, with no potty talk. It has yet to happen but each day is a new day. Anna: Anything we eat in bed while engaging in potty talk. Oliver: Anthonys pizza. Its almost as good as Marcos. Not that anything in Colorado is as good as anything in Vermont. Leo: Salmon. Why did you cook salmon? I’m not hungry. Pushes three apple cores a tomato stem, 6 cheestick wrappers, the butt of a pepperoni a sharp knife and a cutting board into his sock drawer.

Family Traditions: Making poop jokes at the dinner table.

Kids? What activities are they involved with? Oliver is on the DI team on Thursdays. Leo takes tennis on Thursdays. The timing is not a coincidence. Nor is the length of this answer.

How are you involved in the community?: Steve: Plays in sports leagues, coaches DI. Anna: I picked up Skreechee’s poop from the playground. I also yell at people whose dogs poop on our lawn. Boys: They get things out trees in the playground. That purple balloon, that plastic back, those shoes. Wait…that was Steve.

What do you do to relax: Make poop jokes in bed.

What is your favorite part about living in your neighborhood?: Steve: It is quiet but close to everything. Anna:There are so many dogs. So there is a lot of material. Oliver: I love the playground…but there are even better playgrounds in Vermont. Leo: It has wifi.

Don’t you want to hang out with us? You and Steve could have a beer, watch some hockey or PLAY some hockey, maybe hear some live music. Or you could talk about Vermont with Oliver, or watch Leo play Minecraft. I might be busy upstairs.

So Shiny. So happy.
So Shiny. So happy.

Arm-y of one

See its a little toothy. Used without permission. Take me down NFL.
See its a little toothy. Used without permission. Take me down NFL.

I am the rare Patriots fanatic that doesn’t love Tom Brady.

I find his toothy model smile more like a smirk. I interpret his head down on the sideline to be sulking, rather than studying the video of the previous play. His insular life is on view yet I judge him for protecting his privacy.

His teammates love him. The members of the Pikes Peak Pats fan club adore him. The Facebook group New England Patriots Nation to a man (and woman) would blow him given the chance.

I know my team would not be where it is without the chip on his shoulder than saps away my sympathy. I know he was drafted in the 24th round, co-parents across the country and has to juggle an impossible schedule with his super model (soon to be ex?) wife. But he has always seemed to me as smarmy as he is arm-y. (QB reference, not military.) I love me some Gronk with his lumphead enthusiasm. Some Edelman whose bar mitzvah I attended at a preseason game almost a decade ago. Whichever tiny third down running back they have squirting impossibly though whatever tiny hole the average Offensive line has managed to open. Tom Brady and his TB12 brand seems both defensive and self-righteous. He seemingly mocked injured players by accusing them of improper stretching and inadequate ingestion of avocado ice cream.

Then came deflategate.

It feels ubiquitous, I’m shocked wordpress doesn’t recognize it as a word. (Then again wordpress doesn’t recognize wordpress as a word either. WordPress. (Ah, it just required proper respect as a proper noun.)

Deflategate. (still not a word)

Nobody knows what happened to Tom’s balls on the game field. They might have been a tad low in the AFC championship game but they sure as shit showed up in court this week in all of their glory.

After a few missteps in the early days of the scandal when Tom seemed unable to grasp the lengths to which the NFL would go to tarnish his reputation using no proof and following no rules Tom settled down and kept his mouth shut as he spent 7 months being degraded and treated unfairly. He kept his head down in his playbook and his arms open to his teammates if not his new media detractors. He seemed aware that both his behavior and his level of participation would impact many players after him. Sure he was looking out for himself and his own legacy, but he was also clearly working in the interest of the NFL Players Association. When he did speak through his representatives he stressed that this was not his fight alone.

The bullshit that was the NFL accusation, investigation, decision and appeal are behind him. The judge found in his favor this morning.

So Tom will be under center next week. Where he is at his best. Another Superbowl banner will be raised as he continues his football legacy. He will do so with an additional chip on his shoulder, an increased focus on his game, and one new fan, who has found appreciation for him as a man, rather than just an arm.

Post post script:

Despite word that the Patriots organization send the entire first string offense home instead of having high paid bench warmers for the fourth pre season game I was annoyed at Brady. Perhaps it was a decision from higher up, but I thought he should be there for his team on fake game day, even if it took the media spotlight away from the gridiron warriors who were on the bubble. It echoed Commissioner Goodell’s choice earlier in the day to skip the season opener next week in Foxboro. He wanted to keep the conversation focused on football rather than footballs. Sounds good, but he probably just didn’t have the balls to show. Brady should have been there. We saw Gronk, Edelman, Amendola and more make the choice to stay and cheer on their teamates. Brady should have been beside them.

 

My balls

For years Leo has annotated our Apples to Apples cards. Instead of beachballs the smudged marker now reads “MYballs”

He uses it like a punchline the way my preadolescent self tagged “in bed” to the end of each fortune cookie slip. It never fails to amuse him, and generally the rest of us as well.

“Oh dear” exclaims his older brother and Leo looks at him through slitted eyes. Too soft, he seems to say. “My balls” he corrects and they run off together, small problem averted for the time being.

I am trying to focus on the state of the union. Turning the page as Obama advises. Closing loopholes for the companies with lobbyists. Making higher education possible.

Instead I am thinking about Bill Belichick’s balls.

Leo would be proud but I am as deflated as they are.

I listened to the fans call in to the sports talk radio excited to turn their own page on the other Patriots cheating scandal. Spygate was in the past, and a Superbowl victory would prove to our detractors that we could win on football alone.

BB has used loopholes, I imagined legal loopholes, to give his team every advantage. His use of eligible and ineligible receivers (legal but confusing) is a recent example of studying the rules and use slight variations to give his team a formation that would leave the defense on tilt. Our coaches level of preparation, attention to details, and mantra turned tag line of “do your job” has appeals to me. He is combing the very rule book that I eschew.  He has the ream run crisp routes through the corners I cut,  His staff is studying angles of sunlight and how it will impact receivers perception while I just see the weather.

It is mindfulness wrapped in football. Live each moment, don’t look beyond this play. Or evidently this psi.

It sucks that they cheat. Most of the country already discounts their success. Although the game they got caught on was a blowout the week before that was not. I stood in the stands screaming and stomping as they came back from two 14 point deficits.  I celebrated what brought them back: their tenacity, their positivity, their teamwork.

Their balls.

I sketched out the problem. Oliver’s brow furrowed. His interest in rule books is legendary, he is so exacting it is almost not fun to play a game with him. He was silent as I told them of my disappointment. Leo was not.

“My balls.” When I didn’t roll my eyes with mock disapproval he broke it down for me. “You know, instead of the Patriots balls, MY balls.”

I get it Leo. But I don’t.

My balls.

 

 

Anna Rosenblum Palmer: A football story

Dear Fred, Paul, Andy, Kevin, and that other guy:

Andy asked me to call in after I donated to his Marathon Fund. I decided to write instead because I don’t think my story will make for good radio. Still I felt compelled to share it because there are probably lots of others like me.

My father, a sculptor always had a studio in our house. The after school soundtrack of my life was whichever two yahoos he was listening to on sports radio yelling at each other. It was AM in those days, and his reception in his large steel girded building was poor despite purchasing every antenna boosting mechanism on the market.

Their voices were alternately tinny and bellowing with burst of static for extra annoyance. Yet over time they became soothing. He tolerated the red sox talk, but loved the Celtics and most of all the Patriots. This was in the late seventies and early eighties, before Refrigerator Perry and our almost burying of the bears. He loved a scrappy underdog and this was an entire team of them.

I liked the green of the Celtics. My second garde journals were filled with love letters to Nate Archibalnd and musing over whether or not Chris Ford had a perm. (Merited and merited, even with hindsight being what it is.)

We never went to a game. In addition to being an artist my father was a bit of a shut in, made stronger in his later life. Also coming to a head was his lack of tolerance with the way basketball as a professional sport. Its paydays began to upset him, and when Larry Bird was over so was his superfandom. Which left the pats.

When I went away to college it was in RI. This made my fanatacism easy. Even in a school of liberal humanitarians there were enough of us that wanted to watch grown men put on costumes and throw their bodies around with abandon. (Actually, put that way I wonder if the game had a dual draw.)

In any case the only way I could get my father to talk to me on the phone was about the pats, so I subscribed to the Globe and kept up our patter.

I moved for a year after college to Brookline and walking by the Harvard Square news stand I spied Patriots Football weekly. This and Direct TV got me through the next 5 years. I moved to Vermont in 1996 and learned that Vermont evidently didn’t consider itself to be part of New England. Some lifetime ago the Giants had trained in the Champlain Valley and every single good old boy who should have been a Patriots fan rooted for the wrong red and blue. The disloyalty shocked me. The bar arguments entertained me.

I subscribed to PFW even though it often arrived after the game had been played. I checked on the success rate of the penny and laughed at the reporters. I was preccient after the fact.

The first superbowl run of my clear memory came that first year in Vermont and I am pleased to tell you that even the networks covered it. I am not pleased with the outcome. My father had become friends with Kraft’s ex business partner and the guy chartered a plane from logan and got him seats in the box with the governor. That game was played in New Orleans, my father’s home town. A huge storm kept the game grounded and my dad kept his streak of biggest fan never to attend a game alive.

My father died Valentine’s day 2000.

My continued and growing obsession with the patriots has a lot to do with keeping our connection alive. But once you know something it is hard not to appreciate it. And so I do. I think my father would have loved the Patriots running out of that tunnel as one, instead of man by man. It was the team that he admired, not each player. Although he did love Randy Moss’ freakish athleticism and I wish he could have seen him in ’07.

I don’t know when I first heard PFW in progress, but it was long long ago. I subscribed to the paper for many years and now pay for the PFW weekly app on two devices. I would pay more if you needed it. I have never missed a minute of a podcast. Some live and some later. My husband can tell which one of you is talking, because when he is out late at hockey you guys are always going at each other through my phone when he returns. He did not grow up with sports talk, or in a loud house, so he cannot understand how I love to hear you yell over each other. When you all get going I like to guess who is going to have the final thread of the conversation. Mostly Andy, sometimes Fred just cuts you all off with an ALLL RIGHT.

In countless, literally countless hours of listening I have only disliked one sound that came from your show. The Asian gong noise that Kevin plays. This is totally not because of political correctness (to see how politically correct I am just read this post I wrote about how women should bleep their husbands more) but because it is a lazy joke. Andy teasing about plane parts in yards, jokes about junk, all OK. Just lose the gong. And congrats on avoiding the llamas. What a bleepshow that would have been.

Like Paul Perrillo I was Bledsoe loyalist, I looked past the cleft chin of Brady and rooted for Drew to be reinstated. I grieved for a bit but had made the transition by ring two. Hurry up Paul, the Brady era is waning and it will be really tough not to appreciate him until it is over.

Before this particular run ends my own will. I am moving to Denver, living outside of New England for the first time in my life (assuming you count Vermont as New England which for the record I DO, meet the PATRIOTS you crazy geographically challenged group). I am following Welker and now Talib. But unlike those two I will NEVER don an orange Jersey, unless I lose some sort of bet.

Forever a Patriot fan.

Thank you guys for making it possible for me to move away. As you know you have solidified an international community of Pats fans. I will bring you with me. And when I finally get off the freaking list I will move back. Because, what could be better than that? Wait, I know…real time play by play from Paul and Andy while Fred blogs, so I can sit at the game and have two devices running, one eye on the game with you guys yelling in my ear.

Next generation of party talk

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 11.27.21 AMLeo asks me for the rundown of our superbowl party.

Both because we used to host huge all inclusive events at the old house, and because theoretically he wants everyone to come over until they actually arrive and he has to share his stuff he seems surprised that Zoe isn’t coming. He asks three times. Is Zoe coming? Not this time. Why not? Um…she wasn’t invited. Why not? This is a party of friends we met through Dada’s work…and a few neighborhood families. I am listing Steve’s work friends, folks we used to see frequently that due to the transition from 20s to 30s all moved further from town and started having babies and met other grown ups to hang out with, that we only see twice a year now. The natural evolution of friendships.

As I list them I start with adults and move onto their kids and am impressed by Leo’s recall. When I name the oldest child in a family he goes on to list the sibling(s) and add some sort of detail. After a few families he is stumped by a childless couple.

“I can’t remember their kids?” He asks as a question.

“They don’t have kids.” I answer.

“Are they sad?”

“I really don’t think so.” I tell him.

“Do they not like kids?”

“They certainly seem to like kids.”

“Were they just too overwhelmed with other things to have kids?”

“Not that I know of, I think this is a choice many people make, but you don’t know them because most of our friends are from your school, which by definition means they have kids.”

We both pause. Then I offer this.

“You could ask them what factors went into their decision if you like.”

“I really don’t think that is appropriate for me to ask them.” The seven year old tells me.

“You are probably right. And certainly not at a party.”

There it is. Until he reminds me I DON’T think about the inappropriateness of that question. For me, almost everything is an open book. Depression, religion, politics, money. I appreciate wide open doors and to opportunity to think through things by talking about them.

At an age where many people are teaching their children to call grown ups by their last names I am encouraging my first grader to publicly question major life choices.

Removed a minute from our conversation I recognize the error in my judgement.

Luckily I have Steve, and evidently the kids, who somehow have learned a bit more about their place in the world than I have. It didn’t take Leo a minute to know that my suggestion was not alright.

I am telling this story to help myself learn from it. I get to choose what I share, and if I want to tell all I can and face the consequences. But raising my kids to think that every topic is on the table is not doing anyone a service, least of all them.

My style is barely filtered, and it has alienated me from many people and certainly cost me some opportunities. It has also created closer connections and sometimes opened a window for other people to talk about things too long shut away. This is my choice.

I very quickly stopped seeing my children as extensions of me in terms of their positive or negative sports performances, their interest in rule following, their choice of after school activity, their taste buds. My ego, I felt sure, is not in either their similarity to me, nor is it in some sort of general public perception of how a child should be.

That clarity of separateness does not seem to have extended to my impressions of how they will want to relate to other people in their worlds. The “kids say the darndest things” era is ending. I, for better and worse, have felt that everything was open to questioning and everyone was ready to be questioned. I also imagined that most people would appreciate this once they knew what was good for them. This concept of discretion seemed so old fashioned and unhelpful. Particularly in the arrogance(r) of my youth and young adulthood.

I’m not even sure I agree with myself anymore. That is a question for another time. What is clear to me today is that my kids should not be trained into blunt force honesty. They might choose it themselves from somewhere along the spectrum of discretion, or not.

In any case tomorrow’s party talk is better left in the area of minecraft and football, as Leo seems to know already.

Go Seahawks!

 

 

 

 

 

Forgiveness

On the morning after the Patriots loss an hour or so before I will talk with my kids about loving humanity, even when humans can be horrible I am thinking about forgiveness.

This might not be the best venue for this, because so many of you don’t know them, but I want to tell you about some friends of mine.

They are a late 30s married couple who have navigated some challenging times together. For years she was the primary earner, working as a lawyer while he stayed home with their daughter. This had the easily imaginable bumps for both of them but they came through it. Of all the husbands I have gotten to know he is the one that has most reminded me of Steve. KInd, good with kids, a little quiet.

After several years of trying they learned that she would likely not become pregnant again and the made the tough and generous decision to adopt an older child. He had significant social adjustments to make, and had some learning difficulties so the wife decided to leave her job and stay home while her husband rejoined the workforce.

It was tough, she felt lonely and often unsupported by her husband who was eager to get back to work and had a frighteningly beautiful boss that my friend tried not to freak out over. She was struggling with their son and her husband took the- it will work itself out position. Which it didn’t. When things got miserably bad she visited him at work he was incredibly dismissive in front of his beautiful and intimidating boss. She used to be the beautiful and intimidating boss, now she was the wife who was ushered out of the office, being made to feel ashamed that her worries about their son were unfounded.

In the meantime she had been stuck on a crappy school committee.  I saw her at lots of meetings becoming friends with one of the dads in her school who had gotten laid off. They bonded over having the job of lunch packer. They obviously had a good time together. As someone who has always had male friends I didn’t worry too much about it.

When her husband told her to shut down her relationship with this other guy she tried to talk about it, but her husband was shut down. There was no back and forth between them about this, as there hadn’t been about anything for 6 months or more. Nonetheless she decided to put her husbands irrational feelings above her own and went to this (newly single) guys house to tell him it was over.

When she did he kissed her. She pulled away and told him this wasn’t going to happen. After a half a second of kissing him back. Was this a mistake? YES. She knew it and felt horrible. So so horrible.

There was a school performance and the other man was there. Drunk. I watched her try to get away from him. Her husband intervened and PUNCHED the guy. This is her husband that hadn’t spoken a full sentence to her in weeks.

So she leaves crying and her husband, instead of talking begins yelling at her, accusing her of having an affair. She denies it. And taking into account his mental state decides not to tell him about the kiss.

At school drop off all of the fancy lululemon moms whisper about her and she tells them there is no gossip here, but she doesn’t quite believe it herself.

She is so alone. She doesn’t have many female friends, maybe not any because she has a big meddlesome family who takes up all of her free time. Her guy friend is part of the problem. She talks to her sister who is perpetually single and is reassuring.

She goes home, and in tears, tells her husband about the kiss. Explains that she ended the entire relationship which was never more than a flirtation at most, more like a friendship. Her husband leaves her. Decides to move out.

I am so pissed off at him. He has shut her out for so long, she had a small transgression which she navigated as well as possible, and he just leaves.

I learned that he was moving out on Tuesday, and I woke Steve to tell him about it. I realize I am angry at Steve because this other husband reminds me of him. I am almost yelling as I tell him that the marriage is ending and I blame the husband.

Steve is confused, bleary eyed, and propped up on his elbow. “We are talking about a TV show, right?”

Right. Yes, this is Joel and Julia from Parenthood, but they are my friends and I am pissed. He didn’t behave the way Steve/Joel should have. This Steve seems not so angry about the kiss. He murmers a few comforting words and go back to sleep.

I stew on. And wonder where forgiveness has gone.

12/100