What the F have I been doing?

Screen Shot 2019-04-24 at 2.38.44 PMI mean…its a fair question.

Screen Shot 2019-04-24 at 2.35.57 PM.pngI have been dieting again. Keto this time. Same diet new name. In my twenties it was Atkins. A few years ago it was low carb. Now it is Keto. All three involve me melting cheese on a plate and eating it with a fork, drinking heavy cream, and consuming lots of red meat. It could be called the cow diet but then the pigs and chickens would be unfairly left out. Bacon. Eggs.

It sounds horrendously unhealthy. And yet…I have lost 45 pounds. I have stuck to the low carb plan since late July with a pretty baguette length break during our trip to France.

Other than dieting I have been busy with everyone’s third favorite subject. Volunteering at Middle School. Hey Denver join us for a lightly Star Wars themed Gala on May 4th.

Wait, while I’m talking to you Denver…check this out.

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It is my new project. I have a partner which makes it less lonely and more collaborative than this navel gazing blog. We are also looking for contributors. I am going to make you click through to learn more.

And hey Vermont: the Palmers are coming at you very very soon.

And hey other readers: sorry I have taken a sabbatical from writing about sex and parenting. Now that I have semi-retired is there anyone out there who wants to write about used underwear?

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One tiny tip for tackling mental illness

There is something about starting your day (particularly your Monday) fumbling with a plastic pill bottle.

Or four.

One morning I walked into the bathroom and looked at the pill bottles lined up like soldiers going to war. Instead of being on my side, battling mental illness and hormonal imbalance the army seemed to be working against me. With each turn of the cap I was taunted by miserable messages.

Healthy people don’t need pills.

You are not healthy.

It is your fault you are not healthy.

I started every day thinking these things. The sun could be pouring through the bathroom skylight (and often was- it is Denver after all), my son could have woken me with a snuggle and still these condemning thoughts persisted above or below my consciousness. You are not well. It is your fault. Welcome to your day.

I noticed that I was holding my breath as I rushed though my routine so that I could get out of the bathroom away from the judgmental pills. I would brush my teeth with vigor, slap on sunscreen, stab myself with deodorant and gulp down the pills so quickly that they often became chalky lumps in my throat.

I decided to toss the pill bottles.

Not the pills. I needed them. But the bottles.

I stole one of the IKEA spice canisters from Steve’s masterpiece and poured all four pills together. I took time to notice the blue and brown and white and think that they looked like the very best local eggs.

I  threw the bottles into the sap bucket that we use as a bathroom trash can with a satisfying clunk as each hit the bottom of the bucket.

Now each morning I carefully pick through the pills lining them up on the counter and take them one at a time sipping water from a mug my friend made that coordinates with the color of the pills. It felt a little ridiculous. Yet it made a big impact. This slight aesthetic change brought on a big mental shift. I was taking charge, I was taking care of myself.

I was not just a patient but a person.The pills were put in their place. It wasn’t their judgment after all.



If you want to make your life a little better go ahead and visit Jeremy online (or if you are super lucky in Waterbury) we enjoy his pottery in every room of our house. But none more than my bathroom.

Have you made any small changes to make daily struggles easier. Is their anything that you do to make yourself more of a person than a patient?


Eating for the Ages. More years = more pounds


In a town that had more jews than gentiles levels of Judaism were carefully parsed. Would you skip school only for high holy days or for all holidays? Do you go to Sunday school or Hebrew school? Would your Bat Mitvah be more about the torah or the hora?

I termed myself a culinary jew. Very little temple, missed school as a nod to religion not to practice religion. But I was all in on the eating. There were the delicious things like the latkas and matzoh ball soup. Then there were the questionable things like gefilte fish. There is no second example needed. That fish (or ground pressed combo of fish in pickle jelly) really can hold its own. I ate them all. On that one horrible day when we couldn’t eat (like, the holiest day of the year) all I thought about were the holes in the bagels. Where they went. Why we couldn’t have them the way dunkin’ donuts let us have the donut holes. I was a decade before Einsteins. Now bagels are in airports everywhere.

Speaking of bagels when you are Jewish bagels have no calories. It is incredible. It is also incredibly not true. What was true was the existence of a  Jewish Bakery directly on my walk home from the T that I rode from highschool.  It had hallah or challah or challa ( its the food version of the Channukah problem) for shabbat. It had humentaschen (it never ends with the spelling confusion) for Purim. It had loaves of rye with perfectly chewy crusts and pillow soft insides for every other day of the year. “I am like rye bread.” I used to tell myself as I walked to my house from they bakery which was halfway home from the school train. “Not all people like me but the ones that do are passionate about me. Also I have a hard outside and soft inside.” It was a meta experience untwisting the red wire twist tie and reaching in to grab a slice to eat as I passed by gardens. It was weird to eat myself but delicious too.


This is probably vegan

My freshman year college roommate was Anna Moore Lappe, the daughter of Frances, who wrote Diet for A Small Planet. This was the very first time I experienced eating as a political act. I had always though vegetarianism was virtuous in a “somehow it is our moral imperative not to walk around with an upper butt” sort of way but I didn’t know I could save the planet by eating kale. This was years before kale had a PR machine. I was shocked. But not changed. So the full result of my food education at the hands of the other Anna was a new type of guilt as I loaded my plate at the “Ratty.” Killing myself and my earth with each bite of burger and fries.

Although we have all heard of the freshman 15 no one told me about the four year 50. The rate at which I gained weight was alarming. The only break in my progress towards fat was the summer of my freshman year when I went to excavate on an archaeological dig in Israel. Latkes! I thought. Brisket! I imagined. Hummus? I compromised. But no. In the Kibbutz dining hall there seemed only to be tomatoes and cucumbers. I know this couldn’t have been true. But it seemed that way. Cucumbers are a hard no. Those of you who feel neutral about cucumbers (most of the world I have learned) can’t understand. “They are like water.” You argue with arched eyebrows. “No, they are like…I don’t know what they are like because their proximity to innocuous things like lettuce make me compost my whole plate (this of course was before composting but I couldn’t even get myself to type “throw away” because, you know, I am a composting queen). So no cucumbers. And no eggplant. How can something be both impossible to chew and slimy? It seems at odds with itself. And I am at odds with it. So I settled on tomatoes. They also had disgusting slimy centers but I found the outsides with a little salt were OK. So low fat cottage cheese and tomatoes were my meals. After a while I stopped thinking about food because I was so hungry I couldn’t think about anything at all. But between the digging and the walk to the site and the walk from the tent to the “there is no dining in here hall” I dropped 15 pounds.

When I returned to college Sophomore year I walked the streets of Providence at a quick clip never losing my breath. I navigated from my new dorm to the athletic center alone, limbs still brown from the Israeli sun planning to exercise. Behind me I heard voices. “That looks like Anna, but it can’t be, she is way too thin.” That was enough to bring me back to my reality. There would be no gym. My arms, , muscled from excavation would return to their doughy state (mmm rye bread) and my weight would continue to climb to the point that I lied about my weight on my drivers license.


When I left college I was ready to drop some weight. Like most people who are overweight I ALREADY understood nutrition, portion size and the equation: “calories in -calories out better equal a negative number or you will be an even fatter ass.”  None of that “simple” stuff worked for me. According to Slate magazine 97% of dieters gain back all the weight they loss (and then some for me).  So I would not diet. Fuck the D word. I would never speak of it again. Instead I would change my eating habits for life.

So I melted cheese on a plate and ate steak with butter sauce and had no fruits at all. I bought little strips from the drug store to measure my urine and make sure I stayed in the magical state of “ketosis.” The fact that those strips existed because ketosis is pathological in diabetes and needs to be avoided was not important to me. I was losing weight and eating as much brie as I wanted.

Until I realized I couldn’t chew anything on this fucking diet. Or whatever word can replace diet.

There was no crunch. OK. Almonds are crunchy. I crunched my way through so many days of 10 almonds a day that I think the almond growers owe me money for the crown I had to buy last year. This was before I knew about the gallon of water that it takes to grow an almond and had to give them up. My teeth thank me. Pecans are good too. Though not as crack-y. Take that as you will.

In addition to losing 30 lbs I gained an endless exhausting topic of conversation. Conversation is a kind way to put it because it was really a ceaseless monologue. I exhaust myself just thinking about it. Its possible some of my weight loss was from calories burned moving my mouth talking about a diet free of carbohydrates.


  1. Join your staff for staff meal. This is a must. You are part of the team. The fact that staff meal was often hotel pans of mystery material covered in melted cheese was secondary. Solidarity wins everytime.
  2. If you have close friends in the restaurant send them free food. Then say yes when they ask you to join them. Since the food is free it is not stealing when you have a taste. Plus, solidarity.
  3. Have your manager meal. Take a booth in the back. Order the hearts of palm and tomato salad. Enjoy it. Maybe add on some fries. The staff can then pop by the back and pop in some fries before heading to wash their hands. It is a mitvah really. Solidarity.


Just add wildflowers.

I think back to how much more wonderful my life would have been if I had embraced veganism in 1991.I would have owned a vegan restaurant or no restaurant at all  I would be able to unironically wear Tivas as I scrambled up a mountain with my babies slung to my back. In reality slings baffled me. The Baby was twisted. Or the Baby was about the fall out. Or I pinned my right arm into submission. I was brought to tears by the sling which seemed an important symbol of Vermont motherhood. Steve gently replaced the sling with the Baby Bjorn. This thing had plastic in it. It was like formula instead of breast milk. But it kept the baby safe and my hands free so I tried not to judge myself which was possible except when I went to the farmer’s market.

Ah, the Vermont farmers market. It is the best and the worst.  On the upside there are whole cows and micro greens from one acre urban farms. There are trees to hug and pottery to buy and wildflowers to lie carefully across your woven basket. There are so many things to eat that aren’t vegetables. When people started farming empanadas I don’t know but I am not complaining. That said the farmers market is the Vermont version of the night club. Instead of bandage dresses and stilletos there are boyfriend jeans and flip flops. There is patagonia and burton hoodies.

Most of all there is the glow of fitness.  Thats the way to feed a Vermonter. Keep it as green as the green mountain state.

+ nothing.


When Oliver was very young he had a fiend who called Bananas “nana.” She loved them almost as much as her small stuffed toy also, efficiently, called Nana. Her mother used to portion out her bananas, each cut neatly in half making it seem much more appealing to me but not my son who refused the fruit as he did everything that was more than a simple carb. When we sat together sipping coffee (mine mostly on my shirt)  this mother was the one I measured myself against. She was the mom with healthy snacks and a laundry room so well organized that any random stranger could find band aids and stain sticks. When she prepared dinner for the children of the neighborhood she served local pizza which see snipped neatly with kitchen shears (?!) into perfect sized portions. The pizza was not the only thing on the plate. There were fruits and veggies and foods in colors other than cardboard.

The melamine plates that served up this kid friendly bounty were BPA free and funny.

After our first group lunch I went out and bought these plates for our house. When her family came to visit I carefully selected the “top banana” for her daughter. I’m not sure if she noticed. Over time my plates took on a horrible brownish black color. I tried to wash it off in the super hot dishwasher but it turned out that the sanitize setting on the dishwasher was the problem. She must have handwashed her kid plates to keep them looking good. This, like so many things, felt beyond my capabilities.

In those early years I was the fattest mom and my kid was the pickiest eater. They felt like opposite failings of the same coin. Today Leo eats everything but mostly berries and salmon and grilled chicken. He is a walking ten year old superfood billboard. I take no credit for this and neither does Steve, who with his midwestern plate featuring M E A T, P O T A T O E S , and, what is that? over there? a veggie? also shrugs his shoulders at Leo’s laudable eating. I tell myself that if I take no credit for Leo’s colorful fiber filled meals I can take no blame for Oliver’s box of crackers. But unless I am at my best parenting doesn’t work that way…and neither does my relationship with food. I accept the blame with ease and eschew the credit.

It is easier to eat potato chips off of the sweet pea plate than peas.


In the past year I have gone on and off of a low carb diet, I have followed the Always Hungry meal plan (aptly named), I have done 7 day juice fasts, and I have gone semi vegan with the TB12 diet.

Sometimes I just want some fucking bread. Maybe I should stick to the bagels. They have zero calories after all.


What about you? Anything revolutionizing your eating?



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?



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.




Mind Blowing Sex can be anti-climactic

It was 4:30 on a Thursday and Steve and I were shut in the bathroom to avoid the two and four legged beasts in our house. It wasn’t supposed to be intimate or life-changing. This was the check in kind of sex. The type that says “I remember you.” A quick release and a promise of more to come.

Instead I ended on the floor unable to see or stand. My mind blown.

screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-9-25-15-amThe pain in my head went way beyond childbirth. There was no number on the scale for what I felt. The clutching at the back of my neck radiated up to the crown of my head where clearly someone was stabbing me with a butcher knife. It didn’t take long for Steve to realize that this was agony not ecstasy.

Within three minutes the pain was completely gone. No side effects remained…I went through the list with the nurse on the phone no dizziness, no visual problems. I was expecting her to release me. To head down the stairs to the frantic dog and the warmly lit kitchen. Instead she sent me to the ER.

“It might be a stroke.” She told me. And suddenly that sounded right.

Last year Cards Against Humanity released a deck of cards around Hanukkah. Each card had a joke about jews. I carried one around in my wallet for a few weeks. “A headache that is definitely cancer.” I was a living punchline.

As we called friends to watch the kids and told them to make their own tacos I reassured myself. Even if it was a stroke I was not dead. As I walked to the car I began to see spots in my right eye. I reassured myself that it wasn’t an even quadrant of my visual field. My vision was poor in the best of times. But the evidence was mounting. I had had a stroke. I squeezed my fist to measure the relative strength in my hands. The right one seemed weaker. They both seemed weak, but the right one was weak-ER.

Steve was silent as he drove down Sixth Ave. The canopy of trees had lost their leaves and the giant houses were displaying their humongous lit wreaths. Before I moved to Denver I didn’t know that lit wreaths came in 30 foot diameters. But they do. And evidently they come in sets of two.

As the sky darkened the lights came into sharper focus and I tested my eyes squeezing one shut then the other. Were they the same? No. Certainly not.

At the hospital we went through the endless check in procedure and I reassured myself that I was clearly not emergent. At least judging by the attitude of the staff. My blood pressure was 157 over 101. “Very high” the med tech told me matter of factly. I thanked her for the update and my sarcasm seemed to be broken as well because she told me I was very welcome.

Steve tried to distract me with the text string he was having with Oliver.

“We have arrived at the hospital and mama is feeling good.”


“Sheryl will be there around 7.”


“Remember to take the dog out.”


“We are in a room expecting the doctor.”

wait for it….


Leo on the other hand is filling my screen with stings of emojis and heart beats. Pledges of “I love you.” And inquiries into my health. I am reminded of their differences. I am thinking about how much, stoic or emotional, both boys need their Mama.

I am pledging to eat only lettuce. I am committing to walking 16 miles a day. I am wondering how much my weight is factoring into my fear and also my fate.

The doctor finally makes it into the room after we have made it through a nursing shift change.

He comes in and perches on the side of my bed. For the 7th time I describe the headache. Its intensity. Its short lived time frame. I explain my potentially psychosomatic vision problems.

“What were you doing when the headache started?”

I am sure it is in the notes. I have told this story to everyone, including the wrinkled raisin woman in the wheelchair who didn’t speak english.

“I was having sex.”

“Ah.” he says. “This is called coital cephalalgia.” “Sometimes it is nothing. Sometimes it causes a brain bleed with an increase in blood pressure.” “I don’t think I can let you leave here without a cat scan.”

Instead of staying in the moment I have leapt ahead. “What if it is a brain bleed?” “What then?” Somehow he is willing to travel to the future with me. As Steve tells me to take it one step at a time the MD is happy to engage me.

“We go in through your vascular system and just zap it.” I channel Oliver. “OK.”

He orders the cat scan, tells us it will be 90 minutes for the radiologist to read it and he will be back to confer afterwards.

Outside of our sliding door I hear someone ask him. “Is the stroke alert?”

“Yes.” He answers.

I squeeze my eyes and my hands one at a time, waiting for paralysis to set in on my right side.

I refuse the wheelchair when the transport team comes to walk me down the hall to the cat scan machine. It is a huge donut in a room mercifully free of florescent lights. My escort seems put off by the number of people in the room.

“Do you have time to squeeze in a quick head?” He asks them.

I want to ask if he likes being able to squeeze in a quick head but the humor doesn’t seem to reach my lips. Another sign of a stroke, clearly.

Five minutes later I am walking (maybe with a little lilt?) back to room ten.

For the first time I swing my legs onto the bed. I am giving in. I am no longer a mama and a wife and a woman who makes inappropriate sexual jokes to strangers. I am a patient. I am a stroke victim. I am someone whose brain is not healthy enough for sex.

We wait. We text the boys.

“OK” Oliver tells us about our updated ETA.

Things must be OK there. I tell Steve.

The third nurse of the day slides into the room between the scratchy curtain and the edge of the door.

“Cat scan looks good.” He tells us.

All set.

And there it is.

No doctor, no radiologist. No admonishments about my weight or advice about our sex life. I am no longer a patient. I am back to being me. I wonder why it is one or the other. But not for long…because as we walk out of the hospital hand in hand I say to Steve:

“That was anti-climactic.”

“In more ways than one.” He responds.

My hands feel strong. My eyes are equal and reactive. My walk is straight.

Most importantly my ability to laugh at poor sexual humor is intact.





The shallow end

shallow woman with great hair“I still can’t wear mascara” she tells her friend. She is in tailored pants, a fitted T shirt hugging her curves with toned tan arms holding her 1/2 caf skinny latte. She has chunky jewelry, brand named sandals and professionally colored blond hair. “You look great.” her friend tells her, truthfully. “People are going to look at me and be like, what is up with her.” I guess because of the mascara. I am listening to her and wondering ‘what is up with her.’

My ginger peach tea is ready at the drinks bar and I stumble out between the tables to get it.

Passing the steel and wood standing work space (outlets, outlets) another 40 something pair of women have their heads close together. “I want to just smell it.” says the one wearing Lululemon with an invisible elastic holding back loose dark curls. “I know. Isn’t it incredible.” Unlike certain CEOs these women are ‘leaning in’ over a gourmet pop tart. “It’s my daily sin. I would NEVER tell my kids about it.” They laugh, sharing a moment of how unbelievable it would be to let their kids know that they eat baked goods. EVERY DAY. At least one of them does.

I wonder for the 10,000th time how we got here. How we worry about mascara and carbs. How we pass on the messages to our kids, while hiding our own “sins.” Why we spend time and money erasing lines and dark spots, poking at sagging skin, smoothing creams and potions on our faces, buying six pairs of white jeans until we find one that lifts our ass just right. Maybe we won’t be able to sit comfortably in those jeans, or stand comfortable in those shoes. But look at our legs. Don’t they look long and lean? Media. Social expectations.

I have a diet too. I call it a food revolution with my boys so they don’t think of it as restrictive. I am cutting way back on carbs. No sinful Popsters for me. Despite my efforts to frame my eating habits as a positive for myself and my kids (more energy, stable blood sugar, less stomach pain) we all call the days with fries and pies a “cheat” day. I am a cheater when I eat food off of the list. A big, fat, cheater.

My motivation for the food revolution is primarily for health reasons. But despite my clog wearing, cut off jean sporting, make up free appearance there is vanity in my decision to diet as well. Or at least the hope to re-claim vanity. Perhaps I have turned my low fashion life into my signature because I don’t have a real shot at shining. The closest I come to polish is my Polish background. I imagine myself 40 pounds lighter. Then perhaps I will wear mascara and blow dry my hair.

Across the coffee shop I see two women embracing. I know one of them. She is gorgeous and also grounded. She is engaged in her work, juggles kids, and always has a smile. She is an excellent example of someone who seems to ride the roller coaster of expectations without puking over the edge. As they hug her friend holds her at arms length and tells her “you look adorable.” “I’ve had this forever” she replies, pulling her dress out at the skirt to look at the pattern. As she turns to me I see that even she is wearing mascara.

Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 8.43.42 AMNext to me I tune back in to the original pair of women. Slowly the words filter in. They are talking about funerals and failed surgeries. They are talking of lost loves and grieving children. They are talking about a young woman who has lost a battle and the family shattered behind them. The one with the bare eyes says she has been asked to give a eulogy. All of a sudden “I still can’t wear mascara” seems less like a symptom of pink eye the virus and more like the result of pink eyes from crying.

Once again the tiniest tidbit of conversation has sent me spiraling in the wrong direction. “People are going to wonder what is up with me” was not a statement about appearance. It was about grief, and the most fundamental of human realities. These past 15 minutes as I looked around the coffee shop at blond bob after blond bob I was judging simply on appearance. Which is exactly the practice that perpetuates the problem.

It is what is inside the skin that is the story.

Do you have a story about re-thinking a snap judgement? How do you make sure you concentrate on the book not the cover?


Always Hungry- new tricks to fill up.

I am going to resist starting this post out with a dick joke. Sort of. I have returned from Las Vegas and my very first blogging conference. I arrived home with full arms, heart and belly. In so many ways I was not hungry. A new feeling for me.

When I left I was nervous that I would feel lonely. Most of the conferences I have attended are a bit like high school flashbacks where you walk slowly into a ballroom waiting to bawl, holding your breakfast tray wondering which of these women who already have friends are going to pay as much attention to you as their pastries. Here the answer was all of them. It wasn’t just the welcoming women that made me feel like I was surrounded by family. It was my literal family too.

Thursday afternoon I ate a fish taco by the pool and thought about how much my boys would enjoy a swim. Both to reach out and to rub it in I sent the a picture of the turquoise water. Steve responded by booking tickets to Vegas. Five hours later I was sharing a bed with Leo feeling not at all alone.

The sponsors provided a ridiculous amount of shwag.

Never hungry at Bam
This is one 20th of the goodies. Please note the fun dip and vodka are mia.

My favorite, obviously, was the Tito’s vodka (they know me!) which is not pictured here because it didn’t make it to day two of the conference. Vibrant Nation, Cabot, John Hancock, Chicos, domain.me, and many more decided that this particular group of bloggers created enough of a media storm to get in front of us and get their products into our hands.

More important than the speakers and the sponsors were the writers themselves. I would tell you all about my new tribe, but Carol already did. On the first night I met Heather who lives twenty minutes from me and writes at twiddlingmythumbs.com. Despite being a new-ish blogger she garnered my “fuck your husband post” 3,000+ hits by sharing it to the ridiculously funny Mommy drinks Wine and Swears facebook page. In addition to the thousands of hits, hundreds of twitter followers, and suitcase full of goodies I returned with 10 extra pounds. Sadly these pounds were not in my suitcase.

Hiking in Las Vegas
Filling themselves with something other than food.

While my family hiked canyons and scaled sphinxes I sat on my butt and ate. Pastries, donuts, pasta, potato chips, fries, and so so so many desserts. The resort had these tiny ball of sugar which were gold and silver leafed. Despite my love of savory food this bit of bling made the difference. Here is a dessert that I had for lunch. When I got on the scale it shouldn’t have surprised me that I was at my all time high. Unlike the last time I focused on being fat I did not find myself sinking under the weight of my weight.

Before I left Steve and I had made a plan. Today is our first day of phase 1 of eating plan from “Always Hungry.” For two weeks we will follow the recipes eating 50% fat, 25% protein and 25% carbs. Despite those odd numbers our shopping cart was FILLED with veggies. Breakfast today was meal one.

Always Hungry breakfastThis morning I am motivated by the women I spent the weekend with, the man I spend my life with, and me. The path to feeling full seems navigable. I am ready to give it a go. In eight weeks I hope that I can practice child’s pose and feel repose instead of my belly. I want to walk uphill without it feeling like I am carrying Sisyphus’ rock. I know that hunger comes from more than an empty belly.

I will not always be hungry. I feel ready to feel full of something other than food.


I can’t quite get my arms around it- what fat feels like


Anna Rosenblum Palmer full body
I will stop taking shots at my full body shot.

My 25th High School Reunion looms.

1991 was the last time I loved my body unequivocally. Despite my Doc Martins I walked the halls with a light step. I let vintage silver charms dip into my perky cleavage. I could hike in Cat Rock Park with my smoker friends, and even if I had taken a drag I wouldn’t have dragged ass back uphill to campus with unde-roxygenated lungs. The only time in high school that I carried an extra 65 pounds was during winter camping trips. Then I could sit at the end of the day and wriggle out of that onerous back pack returning to the way I was without extra baggage.

Now it is time to return to the scene.

Despite the likely heat of summer I will not wear shorts. If I do my legs will reveal their strange triangular shape which now finish in thick rather than graceful ankles. I will likely wear a dress with tights to stop the worst of the chafing, but instead of my trying hard to be alternativeDoc Martins I will probably look at Frye boots and finally decide on decades old Dansko Clogs. The sound of my steps will echo up the stairs as I push my wide ass backwards to create a center of gravity that works for my mass. I won’t be able to hear that though as the blood rushes around my head to quickly redden my face from the exertion. The same stairs that I bounded up from school bookstore to dining room will just about be the death of me. It is likely that I will rest at the landing to slow my breathing.

When I reach the main level with its plate glass looking out at the quad my classmates might already be there. Who am I kidding. I will be the first, chatting uncomfortably with a fundraiser who was not on campus when I was there. At least I won’t have to hug her. I will rudely look over her shoulder, seeking a familiar face. My graduating class had 45 students so to varying degrees I knew all of them. When the first arrives it is likely we will embrace. When that happens I will hold myself slightly apart. I worry both about my feelings of claustrophobia and the sinking squishy self that will be in full frontal contact with my old friend. I will pat her back quickly to try to model how I want her to touch me. I don’t want her nimble fingers to feel the flesh that mounds around my bra.

The clogs will help with the worst of it but after a small slice of time I will shift from left foot to right trying to ease the pain of too much self on my feet. My left hip will throb and as I reach to massage it I will dig my fingers deep into my upper butt to reach the tight muscle below. It does what it can the muscle, but it is tired. Just like I am. When I realize that there won’t be a place to sit until after cocktail hour I  remind myself to draw strength from my core and reach the crown of my head to the sky. I spread my toes and feel the earth under my clogged feet. This momentary redirection will work. I will feel my spine stretching and the space that I take up will be conscious and strong. As quickly as this confidence comes it will leave me. As I am brushing a strand of hair out of my face I will realize that it is stuck in my neck fold and I am slumping again, feeling the rolls of skin on skin…sin on sin.

That last bit is the worst of it. Not the vanity. Not even way my weight exacerbates my health problems. But the self loathing. What does it mean that I can’t lose weight? That I carry around my failures in fat cells?

All of this is the way my outside effects my inside. To my husband there is nothing more false than those paragraphs. He loves me. My body and skin, my softness, my lower butt and upper butt. He can’t get enough of me. Yet this is not enough. When I am at my lowest and I talk like this to my friends they respond with denial. You are NOT obese. My son says the same thing. You are NOT fat, mama. Even my 9 year old knows how the world feels. He loves me+ fat is horrible = I can’t be fat. Being smart and appealing and fat are not mutually exclusive. Yet with the exception of Adele and Melissa McCarthy they are. So my friends think that means I can’t be fat. And I think it means I can’t be appealing.

I read the blogs, I watch the videos. I try to internalize the self love that every sized women sing about. I am both inspired by and jealous of the women who are truly comfortable in their own skin. Which includes whatever adipose might lurk beneath it.  But for me the bottom line is that I hate my bottom. I worry about how my curves effect my breathing at night, my mood, my joints  and my blood pressure. I worry that each time I change my eating and lose weight only to rebound with more it makes me hold more tightly to the idea that I am a failure. As I teach my kids how much is possible I am face to fat face with the seeming impossibility of making any sort of lasting change.

I have been in therapy. I have looked to the East with herbs and accupuncture. I have practiced yoga. I have joined weight loss studies. I have spent years eschewing the idea of diets and others carefully chewing my food. I have embraced new eating habits to temporary success and longer distress. I have engaged in loving kindness meditation and Western medication. I have read about Awareness and focused on the power of Now. I have grown my own food. I have read ridiculous numbers of studies on protein and fat and carbohydrates. I have logged my eating on apps and in diaries. I have examined my priorities.

Through 20 years of effort I am a little fatter every year. 

With my aches and my sadness, with my judgement and my trudging steps I realize I have reached the final stage of grief. I have traveled through denial, anger and bargaining. I am ready for acceptance.I am laying down my sword. I don’t want to fight anymore. I can’t want to cut away a huge piece of myself and love myself at the same time.Even if I never lose a pound I am going to lighten my load.  I can let go of diets and tracking and eat for literal and figurative nourishment. I can see what my kids see. I can feel what Steve feels.

And I can hug my high school friends. I’m sure they will be feeling nostalgia, not back fat.

This Mouth Is On Fire

I grew up just a few miles from the first Trader Joe’s store that opened its door outside of the West. Yet I never stepped through them.

TJ’s goodies were all around during my young adulthood my friends were brand ambassadors before there was a term for it. If the store had offered services on Sundays many of them would have made their way into the hallowed rows of frozen delicacies.

Trader Joe’s opened in Vermont a month after I moved away, but my indoctrination came at the same time as my Vermont friend’s. I live a five minute walk from TJ’s even in the worst weather (even though Denver doesn’t have the worst weather (have I mentioned that before?)). My first few approaches had me walking the aisles as if it were a regular grocery store, expecting to balance my cart with fresh proteins and veggies. Go ahead, laugh.

Are you done?

Well I almost was. I took a long break from the Hawaiian-clad super helpers and drove to Whole Paychecks weekly to fork out cash. I basked in the self righteous feeling that comes from overpriced organic produce.  After complimenting a canape for the 17th time and having a friend proudly proclaim its provenance as Trader Joe’s I decided to go back.

Instead of shopping for meals I planned to hit the treats, snacks and specialty foods. I found that everyone had a favorite item.

A foodie friend recommended the tin of smoked trout. It is oily goodness that is great on a cracker with a bit of fruit. If you can’t finish the tin you are in trouble though because storage is a slimy bitch, and while you are wrestling it into whatever container you hope can contain it you will be swarmed by your cats. Unless you don’t have cats, in which case you will be swarmed by my cats who can sniff it out through time and space.

My friend on the Bernie campaign touts the tamales. I’m not sure if they have the candidate’s endorsement, but the freezer case certainly has variety. She says the sweet corn tamales are too sweet (its in the name sweetie) but the rest are great. I am intimidated by them because I don’t know whether the husk is a wrapper or an ingredient. She seems to be right about a lot of things though so maybe I’ll take on the tamale at some time in the future.

Cookie Butter. This stuff seems to be universally acclaimed. The name…cookie…butter… brings to mind a creamy slightly savory cookie dough. They got me with the ginger flavor though. I find it repulsive. Which is probably a good thing as I have watched friends dig into a tub with two fingers leaning over the sink to catch the spills, which never stay in the sink but end up in the sink hole of their cookie butter loving mouth.

My favorite is none of the above. Although I claim to be a savory snacker it is a sweet treat that tempts me at TJs. By tempts me you might imagine that when I am wandering the store for other healthy items I demurely add a candy bar or two to my reusable bag. This is not the case. What I do is gather 3/4 of the display into my greedy fist and bring the candy and only the candy to the check out.

Here it is.

See the small print?
See the small print?

Aren’t they beautiful? At least the ones I have left for other people to enjoy?

Look really closely. Not just at how happy the olde timey couple is…but at the fine print. “A popping sensation that will ignite your sense!” Ignite.That is the magic people. Whole people gather into rooms to see ignite slide shows. Rockets head to space after ignition. Artists strive to ignite their inner fire to create life changing work. And really it is all available in CHOCOLATE for ONE DOLLAR AND NINETY NINE CENTS. It would be a bargain at 10 times the cost. All I had to do was eat two squares of delicious subtly spiced and textured chocolate and for less than 25 cents I was able to USE ALL CAPITALS. WITHOUT IRONY. [Tweet theme=”basic-white”]THE EXCLAMATION POINT MAY EVEN WORK! LET ME TRY !!!! THEY DO !!!!!!!!!!!!![/Tweet]

What ignites you at Trader Joe’s? I know you all have a secret selection that just might change lives.

Magic Mountains- A dramatic story about breasts

A drama about breastsThey arrive on a Saturday. A regular leisurely morning. As you pull off your PJ top to change into your rainbow tank top and start your day you see them slightly swollen. When you poke them they feel really strange. So despite the 90 degree heat you add a t shirt and sweatshirt over your tank and keep your chin down on the stairs, rounding your shoulders, you still see them poking through.

That afternoon sitting on the rocking chair on your father’s lap, you realize you are too old for this as he hugs you into him and his arm crosses you just so and you know it will never be quite the same. It is fifth grade and most snuggling is instantly over, you will balk at hugs for a while, almost for ever more, and squiggle out of offered embraces. You hate them.

Later that school year, planning for the school dance the cutest boy in the class is looking at your chest not into your eyes when he declares that you will dance together. Your belly tingles, he will hold you a lot closer than arms length and you will have a strange power over him for the next year. One that makes you uncomfortable but a little proud, and you try to twist it into a real connection rather than a physical appreciation and it is impossible because this is fifth grade anyways.

You almost like them in Junior High. They have been around for 30% of your life, and it seems imprudent not to acknowledge their advantage. You can attract the attention of the eighth graders and the girls hold their books to their chests and walk the halls in tight knots and you carry them under one arm, swinging freely, steps apart.

In French the boy behinds you starts calling you Bobes. At least thats how you tell yourself it is spelled. Your one friend reassures you, but you can tell from her hooded eyes that you both know what the nickname is. You become quiet in that class, for the first time ever. And you hide your quarterly report card with its first A-.

In high school they are twin assets. Mostly. They earn you a boyfriend at the new school. A photographer with brown hair and blue eyes. He and a few other guys are looking through the window into the dance studio as you and the girls you do not yet know stretch on the floor in your dance clothes. They cannot be judging you for your brain. They can’t see it through the glass.

After class they invite you to walk on the frozen pond and you fall, hitting your tail bone which will hurt for the next four years. Helping you up you realize how blue those eyes are and in that way you match his shallowness.

For the next 6 months you are even more outspoken, forcibly witty, a joiner. Showing him that he is dating a whole person. Not a rack. When he tells you he loves you, he doesn’t meet your eyes, and some echo of doubt is there. You ask him why you? Of anyone in the school why you and he laughs, not uncomfortably, and tells you you have the best body in the Sophmore class. This does not please you, and you are not surprised when he ends it a month later for the only girl with bigger boobs than you.

When they are still together at graduation you try to be magnanimous, you have moved on. Maybe he has too.

The first time you use them, really use them, is in tenth grade math class with the 23 year old teacher. You sit in the front row. As he paces the small basement classroom, more animated about math and card probabilities than you have ever seen anyone in your life you realize your V neck top is plunging too low, and your key chain necklace is dripping into your cleavage. You leave it there. You itch to adjust it, but literally sit on your hands, and watch his eyes. He is stumbling over the probabilities and ends up sitting down at his desk, changing his angle, but not his attention.

It is an unfair advantage you have over most men. An almost literal superpower. After a few months, when the math teacher is calling your house and your father reports him to the dean and you have to go in and repeat four times that he did nothing wrong then you regret it. It was your fault. It is your fault his passion for probabilities is dimmed, that he no longer chaperones the school camping trips.

They are no advantage during the summer in Israel excavating. You have to haul these hot and heavy things to and from the pits. It is the pits. It is hundreds of degrees and you sweat from places that you didn’t know had sweat glands. They are sticky and icky and no fun at all.

Then you are 24 and in the breast care center and having an ultra sound in a part of your that you didn’t think could be assessed that way. Your paper gown is thin and scratchy. The assistant medical student is about your age. The doctor tells him with excitement about this certain layer of connective tissue that supports the breasts “like a built in bra” until age 26 or so. She snaps on the light to illuminate Xray still on film fluttering on the light box. “No” she sighs disappointedly. “They must be too big.” Her finger traces the edge of your breast in the picture, it has failed her.

And possibly you, as you sit on the table waiting for her to stop teaching and start checking this lump that has been whispering fear for months. As you wait you think about these times, the way you have flaunted them, and you make a silent deal. You will keep them to yourself. You will get all new tops, you will strap them down. Anything if this lump is nothing.

The wand, the needle aspiration, the news.

Fine. Normal breast tissue. “Lumpy”, she declares, their second strike of the day. Maybe stay away from underwires she recommends and you look at her lovely midsized chest and decide you might hate her. In her white lab coat, body angled towards the medical student and away from her patient.

Then later, when they ache for another reason in pregnancy and finally do their actual job and grow the two fattest babies you love them again. This is why you have been dragging them around all these years.

Measured for a nursing bra the fitter declared you a 40 G. You joke that it is an apartment number, not a bra size. And although both measurements will go down over time you will never again think of them as a turn on. That one sentence has been their sentence.

After pulling and stretching and biting, and leaking and all the other manipulation at the hands of the small greedy tyrants they are not the same. They no longer point out, beacons towards the future, but look down a bit. Tired after their hard work.

You hoist them up, plumping and shaping, creating a reasonable facsimile of their former selves. But you are not that girl anymore. All three of you have matured.

Lumps and all.

my boobs


Second person experiment inspired by my favorite high school English teacher, who likes me for many things, but never my boobs.