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#microblogmondays - "It was a Dark & Eery Night..."

So the other night our lights went out. My husband ran to the front door to see if there was a storm coming or if there were other lights on in the neighborhood. I ran in the opposite direction to the calendar magnet on the refrigerator, mumbling all the way: "It's not the seventeenth yet is it? It better not be. I only have until the seventeenth." My husband-turned-meteorologist, using his high-tech meteorological system (squinting up into the sky and down the block) confirmed that there was no apparent storm coming and that the neighborhood was indeed... to use his technical term... dark.  I'm probably the only one in the development to breathe a deep sigh of relief. It wasn't a non-payment issue. This outage was legit. The problem apparently was... and I'm relying solely on good old-fashioned rumor and innuendo because nobody ever tells you anything... ice on the power lines. There was snow a few days before so then it froze and the weight of the ice brought down the power lines... or... some schmuck got up on a ladder drunk and instead of cutting a branch in his front lawn, he cut off the heat for twenty thousand people... either way. Where we used to live, all the power lines were underground so we never had this debacle but here they're above ground so we always have this debacle. My theory is: The power lines have been here since the ancient Greeks ruled North Carolina and needed to light up the coliseum for the Rolling Stones concerts. From then on, the power lines have held landmark status and it is forbidden by law for them to be removed or altered in any way. You'd think going to sleep would be the easiest thing in these situations because it's so dark. For me, it's the worst part. I always lie there and think about Rhoda who was in this situation on an episode of the Mary Tyler Moore Show. She told Mary: "I was lying there in bed and I was all nice and warm and then I remembered that that's exactly how you feel right before you freeze to death."

And it was cold. This is what I have my mother's fur coat for. I'm not comfortable wearing a fur coat, but I'm not comfortable giving away my mother's coat, so I compromise: I save it for this one special occasion: Every time the lights go out, I throw it over my blanket at night.

As usual, as I shivered, my husband lying next to me gallantly suggested a place where I could put my hands to keep them warm. I politely declined. I've noticed that when it's freezing, while a woman's tendency is to throw more layers of clothes on our bodies, men feel nudity, as usual, is the answer. I'm buried under sweaters, coats, cloth napkins... looking like I got drunk at a party and passed out in the cloak room... and he's there next to me trying to peel me out of the rubble. Through his chattering teeth, my husband, who got his physics degree from watching The Big Bang Theory waxed poetic about friction, body heat, and "I guarantee you, the warmest place in this whole house is... right... there... no, a little lower. "

I decided to unembalm my lifeless body from the wreckage and venture into the living room en route to the kitchen carrying the only thing with working batteries: A Darth Vader lantern meant for trick-or-treating. I'm glad it was dark. Nobody was able to peer into the window and see me doing my version of a low budget horror movie: Little House on the Prairie meets the Blair Witch Project.

I was on a mission. True, ice cream could probably last pretty long in the freezer, but I couldn't take that chance. True, cottage cheese in the warm refrigerator probably has a much higher mortality rate. True, eating ice cream would only make me colder, but we all have to make sacrifices in these situations. I had images of them finding my frozen carcass three days later, sitting up in bed, eyes wide open, an eager look on my face and my rigamortised hand still wrapped around the spoon. At first, they might think I was covered in blood but with closer inspection realized it was just chocolate syrup poorly aimed in the dark.

#MicroblogMondays "Oh Why Do I Even Bother?"

You probably know there was a snowstorm the other day. It wasn't here but it may as well have been. My sister, my older sister, called me with that frantic, frenetic tone in her voice that I know oh so well. It's the voice she's used for the last forty years to convey: "I'm really concerned for you whether you want me to be or not." "I heard the weather's really bad there." She said.

"Just a dusting of snow. Maybe a little freezing rain."

She said: "No I'm not kidding. It's all over the news. It's really bad there."

I said: "No I'm not kidding. It may be all over the news but it's not all over my driveway or my car or my lawn or my neighbor's lawn. There's nothing here."

"Will you just look at the news?!"

"Why do I have to look at the news? I'm looking out my window."

"Your governor's just declared a state of emergency."

"I didn't vote for him. The day he took office this place became a State of emergency."

"They showed over-turned tractor trailers and power lines down all over the place. The news guy is thigh deep in a snow drift."

"The cute guy from channel 2? Does he look like he's stuck there? What are the cross streets? I just have to grab my coat and my lipstick!"

"Listen to me!! Have you gone shopping? Are you prepared?"

"Yeah, I went shopping yesterday. I got yogurt, raisins, and coconut water... I'm prepared to lose 8 pounds... even if it kills me."

#MicroblogMondays "I Am Woman... Hear Me Roar"

My sixth grade teacher was Ms. Martin. Not "Miss" Martin or "Mrs." Martin. She happily corrected people frequently. I've never been too OCD about people referring to me as "chick" or "broad" or calling me "Sweetie". But lately... Is it just me or is the world separating women from men more? Or maybe I'm watching too much TV. I was watching ABC news the other night. David Muir said: "Female jewel thief"... He couldn't have just said: "jewel thief"? I think when we saw the video that followed, since the crook was wearing what looked more like a tank top than a hunting jacket, and she looked directly into the video surveillance cameras without her face or hair being covered, most people would have figured out she was a she. It's also always irked me that On Jeopardy! there's that pesky: "Notable Women" category... Are we such a novelty? Like: "Notable Reptiles" I don't remember ever seeing a "Notable Men" category. And then, to add insult to injury in the "Notable Women" category, the answers are always the same: "Who is... Florence Nightingale? Who is... Harriet Tubman? Who is...Amelia Earhart?" There are only five questions in the category. You can't come up with five new ones every time you have the category? Like someone... anyone we didn't read a biography and do a report on in third grade? I know some African American people who aren't too happy with the "Notable Blacks or African American" categories. (What do you do with Condoleezza Rice? She works for two categories.)  I know I wouldn't be happy with: "Famous Jews". We're not so few and far between. You could fill most of the category with just actors from The Big Bang Theory.

What I Know About Technology: Well I Can Spell It

I hate to walk myself right into a stereotype. The one in question: Women and technology. The truth is: Technology freaks me out. I was always pretty good at following directions (building things... not at work... I just felt compelled to clear that up) but tech support can't win with me. If they start off by being condescending and talking to me like they're reading me a Dr. Seuss book, I get indignant: "Good Afternoon, my name's Warren. Mrs. Fox, do you see that box? Left-click on that box, Mrs. Fox. Did you find that box, Mrs. Fox?"

The repartee usually continues cordially:

"Yes, I found the box." said Mrs. Fox. "I'm not a total moron" She said to Warren.

But the fact is: I need them to talk to me like I'm a moron. Because I am a technology moron.

If I have a major issue like my website is down, I call Julia. I hate to tell people she's like a "virtual assistant" because it sounds like she's imaginary. What she is is this incredibly helpful, supportive person who takes pity on my neurotic soul. I'm in the U.S. and she's in Canada. When the wind is swirling off the Atlantic Ocean, you can hear my shrill cries up and down the Eastern seaboard: "Juuuuuuliaaaa!"  (It's a higher pitched version of Fred Flintstone banging on his front door: "Wiiiiilmaaaa!") Who knows how many professional hockey games I've disrupted along the route. And that says a lot. Do you have any idea how hard it is to hear anything at a pro hockey game?

Part of my difficulty, is that when I have a problem, my go-to thing is to freak out first and ask questions later.

I'm fine when everything goes smoothly. I know how to get onto all of my favorite websites and maneuver around my blog with confidence but heaven forbid something goes awry. It takes the littlest thing to throw me. I go from my version of normal to Tasmania in mere seconds. "My password to get into my online banking isn't working. Oh my gosh. I know it's the right password. I use it all the time. I wrote it down somewhere. Where did I write it? I thought it was smart not to have the computer remember my banking password. But now I don't remember it either. How can I have all of my other passwords written down and not that one? It makes no sense! Is this it? I can't read my handwriting. Oh my gosh is it an "l" or a "1"? I hate when they make me use weird numbers and symbols that I never use... I usually just type it automatically and it works. Let me just try not to think and start typing. This can't be happening! Now I'll never be able to open my account. Who do I call? I don't even know who to call. Maybe my login's wrong... I don't get it. Did they lock me out for some reason? Did they close my account? Great, now I'm going to have to go there. The branch over here's only open until three. I'm not even dressed. I don't have any clean pants. So now I have to dig out some pants from the laundry. I'll have to go to the branch all the way down there. What if I have to wait and I'm not back in time for the Deepak Chopra online meditation I signed up for? What if they tell me somebody hacked my account and now I can't use it? How am I going to pay for anything? I need my ATM card to work. I'll tell them they'll just have to reactivate my account. I can't live without a bank account while they take months to investigate who stole my identity. I have to prove to them that I'm me. I'd better bring my social security card, my driver's license, my marriage license, my birth certificate, and a recent bill. Why is it all on me? Why doesn't the other person have to prove they're me? By now, she probably has a fake ID with my name on it, and is driving around Malaysia in a Ferrari with six Gucci purses filled with the eighty-two dollars she got out of my bank account. It'll take me years to ... Oh... I had the caps lock on. Oh, okay, there it goes. I'm in."

The Great Wedding of 2016

This New Year's Eve, my husband and I stumbled upon a pop-up wedding chapel. I've avoided marking holidays with romantic milestones my whole life figuring that if the romance ever goes bye-bye, I'll have to dread that holiday for the rest of my life. And I would undoubtedly carry it too far. "I knew I shouldn't have gotten engaged on Arbor Day! Now I can't walk in the park in April anymore! There are trees everywhere!!" (And yes, I did just look up when Arbor Day was... or if it even still was.) So, there, in the middle of the New Year's Eve festivities was this pop-up chapel. Immediately I said to my husband: "Wanna do it?" To which he responded: "Wanna?" I knew I'd better seize the moment, the second I saw it. If I'd waited for him to suggest it, we would have already strolled a mile down the road and had to walk back. We signed in and waited our turn on line behind a dozen other couples. I was disappointed to see there weren't any same-sex couples in front of us. I was dying to see if someone in the audience would be so steadfast in their beliefs, they'd even walk out of a fake wedding. The woman working there handed out gum machine rings from a baggie to everyone on the line for us to use and keep. I thought: "Wow, this would've been great for my real wedding: One-stop bridal shopping: They lent me a veil, a bouquet, and they have a jeweler on the premises." (Though the veil did make me a little nervous. As one blushing bride finished with it, they swiftly transferred it from her head to the next one's and so on down the line. I had visions of the local newspaper's first headline of the year: "New Year's Eve Brings Love and Lice".) So there I was looking lovely in jeans and my NY Mets bridal sweatshirt that I'd spilled fruit punch on earlier because that's what I typically do... And, oh, did I mention that we had been walking through intermittent showers for the better part of the day? So, what really brought all of us to this indoor pop-up wedding chapel? True love or inclement weather?

I held my groom's hand as we waited our turn. His palms were sweaty. His eyes were shifting up and down, left and right... You know when you go for an eye exam and the doctor tells you to follow his finger? Like that. I'm thinking: "Great... Things are worse than I thought. He's considering bolting out of here. What could be more depressing than being left at the altar of a mock wedding on New Year's Eve?... You're right: Being left at the altar of a real wedding on New Year's Eve.

It actually was a very nice ceremony. At least the vows were in English. The last one we had, they were in Hebrew. I haven't a clue what I agreed to. At the end of the New Year's Eve one, we even got a marriage license with our names and the date and everything. Granted, it looks less like a marriage license and more like something you get for participating in the spelling bee... like a certificate of achievement. But you know what? We've been married twelve years. Damn it, we deserve a certificate of achievement.

#MicroBlogMondays: I've Read Some Bad Reviews Before but...

For some unknown reason, I'm pretty secure within myself until I find a product or service that I don't like, then I go running to online reviews to confirm my self-worth. I know I hated the product but I can't say it out loud until an online stranger in the shadows tells me she hated it too: "See? I was right. Jenny B didn't like it either!" "And Fuzzy Navel only gave it one star!" Well, a couple of weeks ago,  my husband and I were food shopping and decided, out of nowhere, to try these frozen lactose free, gluten-free, luscious desserts.  I chose a chocolate peanut butter flavor. He picked caramel. I took the plunge first that very same night and gave it a whirl. The flavor could have been called: "Mocha almond" or "Strawberry Truffle" or "Turnip & Spinach" because it tasted like nothing. I mean nothing... I should have suspected something was up in the store when I saw that the brand had "Zero" in its name. They didn't even have the decency to include that disappointing taste when you think it's chocolate and it turns out to be carob. I basically paid four bucks for a pint of ice (times two, if the caramel was the same.) So online I went. I have never seen such venom as what came out of these people who commented. "If anyone anywhere ever buys this product, you are an idiot and I will hunt you down!!"... "I should have just eaten the container. At least maybe that would have tasted like something!"... "The people who make this crap should be tied up and forced to eat each and every 'flavor'...twice!" Two weeks after the purchase, after I'd read every single review aloud to my husband, his frozen delight is still sitting unopened in the freezer. "What's the matter, Honey?" I asked him. "Afraid of a little 'ice cream'?" (Look for it on Craig's List.)

It's all his fault. I should never have followed him to the lactose gluten-free section. I have no issues with either lactose or gluten. He claims the same but then again... he's never slept next to himself.

#MicroblogMondays: I Can Do Without Malls

I know it sounds very un-woman-like, but I'm not a shopper. So, therefore, it stands to reason, I'm not really a mall person. And, never, during the entire year am I ever less of a mall person than right about now. I promise you, if you ever see me in a mall, it won't be between Thanksgiving and mid-January. Yes, at least mid-January. After everybody's done commemorating the sacred days of the birth of their Lord and Savior and the miracle of Hanukkah by driving around a mall parking lot for forty minutes looking for a spot so they can run in and buy or return some crappola, we then celebrate the great leader of peace and unity, Martin Luther King Jr. by pushing each other out of the way to get twenty percent off a coffee maker. No can do. And then there's the food court to contend with. And, trust me, if I wanted to, I could handle myself at the food court. My sister and I mastered the food court back in our teens when sprawling food courts were invented. Back then, when it was so crowded that there were no seats, we didn't mind eating our pizza slices while leaning on the garbage can. Nowadays, if the food court was that jammed, I would opt for our Plan B that she and I would enlist when either our meal was too big for the garbage can or some other teenagers had beaten us to the coveted spot... "The Hover": Find people whose food looked two-thirds eaten and stand practically on top of them, looking pathetic, carrying our trays, trying to will them to get up (call it mental coercion) ... Nowadays, I just as soon avoid the whole scene altogether... Although I'm sure "The Hover" method would probably bring results even faster now than then. It takes less to look pathetic now than when I was seventeen.

#MicroBlogMondays -Infertile Holidays at Walgreen's

So if you're going through infertility, you probably feel a little left out right about now. When you're trying to get pregnant, it feels like the whole world revolves around kids... and then here come the holidays when it's all tossed in your face just a little bit more- in the malls, on TV, and with the relatives. And if you're somebody who's struggling to get pregnant, and you don't celebrate Christmas, this week you're probably feeling doubly screwed or at least, extremely left out. I, as usual, ran out of Hanukkah candles towards  the end of the holiday this year. (God may have made one night's worth of oil burn for eight nights for the ancient Jews, but I've never had any such miracle.) So, I headed into my neighborhood Walgreen's and asked an employee if she had any Hanukkah stuff, to which she replied and I quote: "Well I know last year we had a 'mariah' up." Yeah, that made me feel good.

And you know that being Jewish and being a writer and being a Jewish writer, the word "menorah" was sitting there, just on the other side of my forehead, kicking at the back of my eyeball, desperate to get out and explode all over the employee's smock and, in fact, the entire "Seasonal" aisle. I chose instead to shove it back and way down, probably planting the seed of something hideous that will have to be surgically removed in twenty years, once it's full-grown to the size and texture of a tennis ball. At that moment, I will look up at the surgeon with my one in-tact eye and say:

"Oh will you look at that? So that's where 'menorah' from Hanukkah 2015 went."

 

Being Infertile is like Being Jewish--- Kinda

Going through infertility is like being Jewish. No, I didn't "cut" and forget to "paste" something in the middle of that sentence. Not only do I say that this bold, insane-sounding sentence is accurate, but, having been both infertile & Jewish I'd have to say: It's most accurate now... during the holidays.

Everything on TV... Everything in the malls... Everything everywhere centers around kids... and Christmas.

And most of all: Social interactions are awkward for both groups this time of year.

For those struggling to conceive, relatives come up to you and want to know why you don't have any kids yet. Granted, relatives generally don't come up to Jewish people and ask why we're not Christian yet... but acquaintances, co-workers, neighbors all want to know... every year... if we've bought our Christmas tree yet. Of course, explaining why you have no kids is a lot more depressing and stressful than explaining why you have no Christmas tree, but it's still pretty damn awkward... and in both cases, there's no way to win.

Here are acquaintances or relatives whom you haven't seen in months at a holiday gathering, making conversation. "No kids yet?" "Don't you want to have kids?" It starts as small talk and plunges everyone into a sucky scenario that gets way too personal way too fast. I always liked to give a completely non-committal, non-response and then switch the subject onto them like: "We're fine... Are you still working at the tire company? I've always thought that sounded really interesting."

It's a lot simpler and "pleasant" than deciding on the spot to entrust this person with your most private affairs only to have them snap you in their selfie and post on Instagram: "Me and Infertile Friend!"

Even though it's obviously a lot more painful to answer the "infertility" question... Look at the dismal choices in answering the "Christmas tree" question. I've been Jewish my whole life. Please tell me if there's any way out of this.

"Did you get your Christmas tree yet?"

"I'm not Christian."

You'd think that would suffice but it doesn't. Many do get where I'm going with this, but it's alarming how many people don't seem to realize that there are any other religious options besides devil-worshipper. They apparently think I mean I was born a Christian but lost my way.

So then, sometimes I've answered thusly:

Did you get your Christmas tree yet?

No, I'm Jewish.

Luckily, most people will say. "Oh, okay. Happy Hanukkah then" and let me go on with my life in peace but occasionally the response will be:

"Oh I'm sorry. I didn't know." To which I always feel like saying: "I didn't just tell you I had a stroke. You really don't really need to apologize."

And some people will ask me what I do celebrate, which is nice. And sometimes I'll be asked to explain Hanukkah to them, which is nice and rarely... but sometimes... after I've relayed the whole story of Hanukkah and its traditions someone will come back with:

"So did you get your Christmas tree yet?"

The best answer I've found at this point is: "Not Yet".

And the best answer I've found to:

"Why don't you have kids yet?" is, frankly, the truth:

"It's none of your f...... business."

I swear to you: If you can just bring yourself to say it in your own head while you're smiling at them and then walk away without answering... you'll feel great... and it works like a charm.

 

Thanks for stopping by my Laughing IS Conceivable blog.

*Also this week, check out my little  #MicroBlogMondays post: "Relatives... They're All Relative" @  http://laughingisconceivable.com/?p=5726

** And if you'd like to buy, see reviews or read chapter previews of my eBook: Laughing IS Conceivable: One Woman's Extremely Funny Peek into the Extremely Unfunny World of Infertility, click that book cover icon up there on the left for Kindle users or visit my mini-site: http://licthebook.com for Kindle, Kobo, and Nook.

The eBook is also available in Spanish (La Risa ES Concebible) on Amazon @ http://www.amazon.com/dp/B018Y136Y8 & Amazon.mx, Amazon.es, and Amazon.br.  

Relatives--- They're all Relative

Microblog_MondaysYears ago, I had a boyfriend whose family was Methodist. He told me that none of them really got  along with each other. I braced myself for the holidays with them. There was not enough bracing in the world for what I witnessed:  Nothing... There was no yelling. There was no throwing. Everybody was cordial to each other... Polite... Friendly even. "Happy Holidays". "How've you been?" I'm like: "What the hell is this? You promised me three generations of hate. I've been ruder to strangers with expired coupons on the check-out line." All I could hear in my own head was: "Dorothy, you're not in the Land of the Jews anymore."

When Jewish people go to a family gathering big or small, public or private, there are certain unwritten rules we've all learned to follow over the millennia:

  1. Anything... Even innocent holiday greetings... can easily be turned into an argument.
  2. There's no such thing as a rhetorical question.

"Happy Holidays"

"Yeah, if you don't get drunk and make a fool of yourself like you did at the baseball game that we got thrown out of in July, I'll have a happy holiday."

"How've You Been?"

"How've I been? Miserable, that's how I've been. I went back to the same doctor eight times and he still can't find what's wrong. He took me off the one pill that was working and put me on something else. Now look at the rash I got... And, let me tell you: It's not just on my arm."

Holiday Hustle & Bustle, Fast Food, & My Last Nerve

When infertility counselors worry about those dealing with infertility during the holidays, their main concern is how we'll react to family asking a bunch of personal questions or seeing a lot of small children running around. I think just as big an issue is: Holiday shopping can get on your last nerve. Family during the holidays can get on your last nerve. Infertility can get on your last nerve. And the hormones you're taking make you feel like everything's on your last nerve. How many fricken last nerves do we have?! There are noises and crowds and pushing. And have you noticed that at this time of year, even the fast food drive-thru lines are longer? We're all hustling and bustling to comfort ourselves with comfort food (that usually makes your stomach uncomfortable twenty minutes later.)

We all know that the express line for any fast food joint is the one inside the restaurant. I'm probably as lazy as the next person, but there's yet to be a hamburger, chicken sandwich, or taco invented that I'm willing to be the thirtieth vehicle in the drive-thru for. Even if I ever considered it, the fact that I drive an old car whose automatic windows haven't worked since 2008, makes the whole drive-thru experience even less tempting.

As I drive up to the intercom, it's a process. Forget the fact that I'm a New Yorker living in North Carolina and have to mentally translate what the employee is saying from southern to northern before I answer  and then have to wait for them to translate my answer back into southern in their own head:

"Will y'all be wantin' some saaawce?"

(southern to northern translation):

"Do you guys want any sauce?" (Or the Brooklyn dialect: "Juguys wawnt any sawce?")

But, because of my window situation, I also have to take off my seat belt, unlock my door, crack it open and yell my responses around it.

Then when I roll forward to the window, I have to do the whole ritual all over again-- except the seat belt which is still undone-- while handing over my debit card in exchange for bags of food and cardboard cup holders... and then check my order and re-click my seatbelt before driving off.

The response by the eight cars behind me is very different in the two areas of the country. If I were back home, I would be experiencing what true New Yorkers call "multi-tasking": People beeping their horns, slapping the outside of their car doors through the open window in frustration, and yelling in my general direction:

"What's the hold-up, you stupid bastard?"

Then, as each driver takes a turn alerting the one behind them to the fact that I'm a female, they'd all amend their remarks to:

"What's the hold-up, you stupid bitch?"

Then the entire angry mob would strike up a camaraderie in their mutual hatred for me and yell  back and forth to each other:

"What's she doin' up there?!"

"Her credit card's probably no good!"

"Is she the idiot or is it the one workin' at the window?!"

In the South, there's none of that. I'm not sure exactly why. Either the slower pace has made people  oblivious to the fact that my transaction is taking way longer than it should, or church has taught them patience and not to stress dumb stuff, or they're mumbling to themselves but wouldn't dare yell it out, or they can hear that I'm not from here and are content in knowing that I'm one of the few in the line who's unarmed.

And so I avoid it all: The two strands of side-by-side drive thru lanes, each with twenty-nine cars in it, the person taking your order at the menu who's simultaneously taking someone else's money at the window; Berlitz school of south/north translation through a closed window or around an ajar door through an intercom; the disgruntled customer behind me turning the drive-thru into a drive-by...

I park what's left of my car and summon up enough energy to get out, walk into the place and  be greeted by the one employee who hasn't a thing to do: The only one in the whole place not handling the drive-thru. "Welcome... May I take your order?"... And my last nerve remains intact... For now anyway.

(If you'd like to read my eBook or would like to read reviews or chapter previews or give it as a gift, click the book icon on the left for Amazon: or http://amazon.com/dp/B007g9X19A . It's also available on Kobo and Nook and on Amazon en Español: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B018Y136Y8 )

No Grilled Cheese for Thanksgiving Please!

It happens every year. The first cool breeze wafts through the air and with it comes the smell of panic from infertile people everywhere. Everyone-- Infertiles and Fertiles alike-- anticipates the holidays... Everybody thinks: Family! Food! Traditions! But  Infertile folk also think: Interrogations! Thanksgiving is upon us and all those struggling mightily to conceive here in the U.S. hold their collective breath. Thanksgiving makes many of us tooooo full. Too full of parades, football, dog shows, turkey and... most of all....too full of chatter. And inevitably, among that chatter, somewhere between the opening kick-off and Tupperwaring next week's lunches, people feel compelled to start talking about kids: Kids who are running around the living room like lunatics because they're still high on Halloween fun-size candies. Kids spoon-flicking stuffing across the table who make you consider reconsidering "this whole 'baby' thing." Kids ditching cranberry sauce under the table whether or not there's a pet on the premises, because someone decided to break from family tradition and use a recipe instead of a can opener. And so while half the people are bragging about their kids to you and the other half are fantasizing about relocating the kids' table to the un-heated garage,  there always has to be one yutz who will look at you and bring all other conversations to an abrupt and screeching halt with one simple phrase: "Speaking of kids... "

Oh Geez... and they're off.

"Aren't you trying?" (wink wink to the husband)

"You shouldn't be waiting so long. I mean, you know it's harder to get pregnant as you get older." (Knowing glare at the wife)

"How long have you guys been married? Oh, we had three kids by the time we were married that long."

And while you're being grilled like a cheese sandwich, you'd think you'd at least gain some sympathy, if not actual support, from those at the table who had been grilled in holidays past: Uncle Dave who was taken   out of a National League ballpark and ended up either incapacitated or incarcerated. Nobody would say which. Or cousin Sue who's brought three different boyfriends to the last three Thanksgivings. (I once made the error of saying "Warren looks different." To which she replied: "It's a different Warren.") But no. It's every cheddar and gruyere for himself.

And then the fricken infertility poker game starts with everybody trying to raise the ante... A family twist on the true meaning of Cutthroat Kitchen. It's only your life. Why not turn it into a game show?

"I have a friend who had twins at 40."

"I have a neighbor who had triplets at 42."

"I read about this woman in India who had quadruplets at 51."

Luckily most of the time, you don't have to respond or even speak at all. These Thanksgiving think tanks are usually running on empty from the start and quickly head out to the Sea of Stupidity.

"Whatever happened to the Octomom?"

"John Travolta's wife had a baby at 61 or was it 49?"

"Isn't he married to Kelly Clarkson?"

Yeah, there you go. See? That didn't take long at all. And this year we have someone unexpected in our corner who hasn't been present at previous Thanksgivings. If somehow the chatter gets diverted back to us, all we have to say to instantly deflect it away again is: "Hey, did you guys hear what Donald Trump said today?"

*If you'd like to take a look at my ebook, it is available on Kindle (click on photo icon on left) as well as Kobo and Nook. Also, please visit my posts at Fertility Authority including: "Real Housewives of Infertilityville": https://www.fertilityauthority.com/blogger/lori-shandle-fox/2012/11/07/infertilityvillea-holiday

One Holiday Job I'd Have to Pass On...

There are all kinds of holiday deals available these days, but for some, cheap, cheaper and cheapest are still not good enough. And if you can't beg or borrow, stealing is always a viable option. Years ago, my cousin did the old "underwear switching" scheme at the mall that girls used to do in high school: You know, you try on undergarments in the fitting room and you put on theirs and walk out and leave your ratty ones in the store. Of course I can't blame "peer pressure" in my cousin's case since she was forty-two at the time. She got busted too. Oh, please. Even I know all those stores have women sitting on the other side of the fitting room mirrors or up in some back room watching you. I usually wave to them when I first enter the fitting room and before I leave. It's interesting. I'm disgusted at guys who put cameras in places so they can watch women undressing, but feel sorry for women who get paid to do it. I'm always thinking: I try on things in dressing rooms and sometimes I'm so appalled just looking at myself in the mirror, I want to shriek in terror. Who knows what unspeakable horrors she's witnessed during the course of her career?

I would think "fitting room security" would be ranked way up there on the "professions with the highest suicide rate" list. Looking all day at the unwashed and unshaven. All of those body parts flailing around and wrestling with clothing that they have no business getting acquainted with. Boobs over here, thrown over there. Front fat becoming back fat. Back fat becoming side boob blob. Size 14 thighs  torturing size 8 jeans. Size 8 thighs torturing size 4 jeans. Zippers east and west with the Amazon of blubber flowing out in between. I'm sure nothing would be more attractive to any woman... gay, straight...any woman... than looking at me looking like I shoved an over-yeasted bread dough in my pants and now it was rising... everywhere. Over the top of the front, the top of the back, through the button hole: A moment ago, on the hanger, the button hole was wrapped contently around its friend, the button. Now they're estranged: A traumatizing day trip away from each other... I'm baking a healthy, happy, loaf in there to be sure.

You'd think the dressing room attendants would be team players and run interference.

"I'm sorry, Honey. Security has requested you not try that on."

Not that there are dressing room attendants anymore. Remember those people who gave you a number so they knew that you'd brought out the same items you'd brought in instead of wearing them home under your own clothes?

I could never do that security job. Especially if I wasn't well out of the customer's earshot. I would have to comment. I would absolutely have to. Sometimes to myself...: "Why does she think that's a good style for her? This is doomed from the start. What did I expect? Look what she came in wearing. Ugh... I knew I should've called in sick today."

And then, of course, sometimes I'd have to comment...to them... from my side of the camera: "That's just offensive. Take it off! Take it off now! Never mind who said that! It's the voice of good taste. Take it off now!!"

"This is your conscience speaking. You're not twenty and you're not Demi Moore. Do not... I repeat...Do not try that one on!"

"Ugh, I know you're stealing that bra. Throw some clothes over it and just get out of here. I just can't relive this in court. Please just get dressed. Faster... Faster."

Maybe that's the way to cure perverts. Let's try some therapy. Let's see what happens when he doesn't get to pick whom he watches or what he gets to see. "Okay, you skank. You want to watch women undress? Here you go. Sit right there and don't look away. No no. I said: 'Don't look away.'  What's the matter? I thought you loved to see women in their underwear. Well, here's your chance. We'll be back next week...after the Black Friday sales, the Door Buster sales and the BOGO sales are over."

This season... Affects me

I was going to call this post: "I Fall for Fall" but I couldn't live with myself if I had, not to mention I would feel like I was writing a Kohl's commercial instead of a blog. ("Fall for Fall! Girls tights-- 30% off!") I never appreciated autumn until I'd graduated everything. All fall meant to me before then was another grueling school year was about to begin. I held my breath for a couple of weeks until the Jewish holidays would toss me a reprieve where I would trade a few unbearable days at school for a few unbearable days at synagogue. I did okay in school but I was definitely one of those people who was waiting for all sixteen years to just be over so I could start my life already. So much for living in the present moment.

Once I graduated college, I realized I had this clearly unnatural, insatiable appetite for foliage. I visually vacuum up every leaf. For weeks every year at this time, I drive well below school zone speed limits, prowling around neighborhoods near and far, stalking every tree in case it decides to turn colors.  The best I can describe my emotional state while doing this, is to say it's probably how Stephen King would feel if he tried his hand at poetry. There's likely some place in each town I roam where I'm supposed to register so they can track my movements.

And it's not just the foliage. Of course I watch all of the Charlie Brown holiday specials-- even the "B" side ones that ride the coat tails of the classic episodes. (Granted, I usually end up nodding off several times during these "bonus" episodes. It typically goes like this: "Our forefathers zzzzzzzzzzz. Pilgrims zzzzzzzz. Miles Standizzzzzzzzz")

My husband just doesn't understand why I absolutely must watch each cartoon in its proper order when it's on TV. His favorite holiday tradition is telling me every year:

"You really don't have to see it when they put it on you know. We have the DVDs." Have you ever heard such insanity?

If it were left up to him, we would watch the Halloween special in March and the Thanksgiving special in July. How could I be with a man who doesn't know right from wrong?

He begrudgingly watches the Thanksgiving special with me. I also force him to partake in the delectable Charlie Brown Thanksgiving feast I've prepared to eat during the showing: Buttered toast, jelly beans, ice cream sundaes, popcorn and pretzel sticks. It's the least he can do after I've slaved for hours over a hot toaster, dumping snacks onto paper plates.

And my peculiarities don't stop with the Peanuts gang. Whenever I walk down the block, I wave to the trick-or-treater my neighbor has on display on her lawn. And naturally, I also go trick-or-treating. Sometimes I wear a costume. Sometimes I don't. Either way, it's equally ridiculous for different reasons.

My husband accompanies me, all decked out in his best "spouse who'd rather be anywhere in the world but here" costume. While I skip up to each door swinging my oversized pumpkin pail, my husband waits at the curb: The perfect compromise between "close enough to watch the spectacle unfold" and "far enough to avoid public humiliation by association." (Oh sure, but he has no problem sticking his hand in my bucket to take out my goodies as we walk... Let me rephrase that.)

My husband is the epitome of a supportive spouse. One who goes along when his head says: "I really don't want to do this" because his heart says: "How would I explain that my wife got killed because she strolled into a crack house alone at midnight in search of 'just one more piece of candy?'"

5 Things You Never Say to an Artist

While working on my next eBook in the series, tentatively titled:  Laughing IS Conceivable: Even When You're at a Dead-End Job, I'm forced to think about all of the dead-end jobs I've had. They are aplenty. There are a lot of very good reasons why during a person's professional life, they've had a dead-end job here and there: You need extra money. You take something while actively searching for something better. But when you've had, as I've had, count 'em... twenty-three dead-end jobs... there's something very wrong with you. If you've read my blog before, you know that I tend to exaggerate. Twenty-three dead- end jobs. Really Lori? Yes. This time I have documentation.

Often normal people take a job that sounds promising and then find out they were told a lot of BS about the job's potential during the interview process and, damn, it turns out to be a dead-end job.  Normal people don't set out to find a job with no future. I, however, do. In fact, the deader the end, the more I like it. And there's an explanation for this besides a simple case of masochism.

From the time I was very little, I knew I was some sort of a... for lack of a better term...an artist. I went from writing cookbooks when I was seven (okay, copying  cookbooks and calling them my own), to writing a novel,  to writing poetry, taking drama classes, singing, stand-up comedy...

And as I'm sure you're aware, people in the arts will often take whatever job we can to support our habit. The job itself doesn't make any difference. They're all pretty much interchangeable: Whatever will buy us paints or get us home early enough to perform in the theater at night or allow us time away to travel for a gig.

The hardest lesson I've had to learn and am still working on is: People who don't understand why "you're so smart" and "so good at so many things" and "you did well in school" and yet you're subjecting yourself to nowhere jobs... never will. It's nobody's fault. Artists are just not wired the same.

My family never got it. I see shows like "So You Think You Can Dance?" where parents have given up careers, sold their house and moved across the country to support their kid's dream. I can hear my father's voice if I'd ever even suggested such a thing: "Yeah, you gotta case. Could you move over? I'm trying to watch the game."

So while it may be impossible for regular people to relate to why we are what we are, I'd like to leave you with some phrases that many of my relatives have oft-used and ones I'd like you, for your own well-being, to avoid: Trust me when I say: Our artistic energy can twist into hostility in a flash.

1) Don't ever refer to an artist's endeavors as "a nice hobby". What am I collecting snow globes here?

2) "You can always go back to it." This means, I think, that you can go to college, get a degree in something that matters not to you, so you have a career doing something you hate just a little bit more with each passing year, so that when you're old and frail and drinking heavily and resenting everyone around you for ruining your life, you can go back to doing what you knew at twelve, you should be doing. Can't argue with that.

3) "If that's what you want to be". I'm going to take a leap and say that being an artist is like being gay. (You can even be both at the same time.) You may or may not want to be either or like being either. Certainly nobody sets out to be either. And both artists and gay people, in being true to themselves, often upset the apple carts around them because it's more convenient for people around them if they were neither. Oh well.

4) "At least you're making ends meet" When singers can't sing and dancers can't dance, what they hear is: "True, you sold your soul to the devil but at least now you have money for rent."

5) "You should have something to fall back on" so that if this life you've been sent here by the Universe to do to enrich humanity doesn't work out, at least you'll know Excel.

I'm not a pig... I'm a slob... Well Actually...

A few weeks back, I wrote about being a pig. I can say with certainty that it's not a self-esteem issue. I look at myself objectively and say: "Wow. You really are a pig." From eating food off the floor to using the spigot in the bathroom sink as a water fountain, the evidence speaks for itself. So when someone close to me witnesses one of these actions (and I freely do almost all of them in front of people) and they mumble "Pig", I really can't be offended. It's like calling me "short". What's there to dispute? I am. By just about anybody's standards. I realized after I wrote that post that being a slob isn't exactly the same as being a pig, and I'm both.

There are women who are low maintenance. I'm no maintenance (in the beauty and hygiene categories anyway.) I shower occasionally, brush my teeth regularly, and use deodorant every morning when I remember. Everything else I can justify doing seldom to never.

1) Shaving is seasonal. If my various growths can be covered up by long sleeves and pants, I'm fine. In the winter, it's my little extra layer of furry warmth. Even in the summer: If it's not long enough to flail in the wind and scare children at the beach, it's fine. Please. There are sights on the beach way more repulsive than my infrequently shaven parts. Besides, my hair is blondish. Too light for anyone to see in the sun.

2) Brushing my hair (on my head)- I have very thick, curly hair. Brushing would just take the curl out.

3) Ironing- It'll just smooth itself out eventually during the day as I'm wearing it. Besides, I walk so fast nobody will even see the wrinkles.

4) Stained clothes- It's probably just a water spot. It'll dry as the day goes on. Or my hair will cover it. (Some hair on some part of my body is bound to cover it.) Or it's the same color as my shirt so it will just blend in. Or I'll tie a sweater around it. Or I'll just tell everyone it happened on the way to work and it was too late to change. They don't have to know I put it on that way.

5) Heels- I can't wear them. I have high arches.

Here's the thing: Women are always willing to forego comfort and convenience for beauty and sexiness. Not me.  I used to be 5'3". Somewhere in the quicksand of life, I've lost nearly an inch. If the trend continues, next year I'll be a large hood ornament. The year after that, my husband will be carrying me on his key chain. The year after that, my niece will add me to her charm bracelet. I don't care. I will not wear heels. They're uncomfortable. All of them. I'm a sneaker girl all the way. Typically on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, since it's a day of mourning and repentance, you don't wear leather shoes to synagogue which would be like you're celebrating, so many of us wear sneakers. Sneakers with skirts and dresses? Count me in. That's my kind of religion. It may be a day of repentance but below the ankles I'm rejoicing. (I'm sure the tradition really started thousands of years ago when a Jewish woman was schlepping through the desert in heels on her way to temple: "Oh no. I can't do this. Haven't our people suffered enough?")

6) Skirts- If I'm not going to shave, I have to do the pantyhose ballet which requires at least three deep plies to get them up and on. Perhaps I can star in a new reality show: So you think you can put on pantyhose? No. I shan't. Okay. Jeans it is.

I'm sure I don't have to tell you that I don't bother with make-up either. So if you ever hear that I was stopped by a cop for putting on make-up while I was driving, you'll know it was a clear case of mistaken identity.

You know how some women primp until they get married and then slowly let themselves decline? I  met my husband at a party where I was wearing a sweat suit, no make-up and a pony-tail with a mind of its own. He can't possibly claim he wasn't forewarned.

(And if you liked the above, please check out my Laughing IS Conceivable eBooks about 1) infertility 2) Back-to School on Amazon, Kobo, and Nook at the links below.)

Amazon: http://amazon.com/dp/B014T2DEXE (Back-to-School)

http://amazon.com/dp/B007g9X19A or click book icon to the left (Infertility)

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/search?Query=Laughing+IS+Conceivable

Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/laughing+is+conceivable?fs=0&_requestid=243283

Party On... Preferably Without Me

I'm in the minority here I'm sure, but I find parties to be such a hassle. I don't mean just making parties. I think it's a hassle attending them. One reason is because everybody has their own party standards and ways of doing things. My husband and I went to a party in a park a few months ago. The invitation said 12pm for a barbecue. We parked at 11:45. We didn't know where this park even was, so we had headed out a little early in case we got lost and to give us time to find the correct picnic shelter. We were all over this park... twice. We're hiking. We're mountain climbing. We're scaling walls. We're cross-country skiing. We looked like the torn down, low-budget version of Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint in North by Northwest. I had horrifying flashes that in another minute I'd be schlepping this giant gift bag up Mount Rushmore.

Luckily, my Girl Scout survival skills kicked in. (See? it's not just a cookie cult... Although the only survival skill I remember from my stint in the Girl Scouts was to make sure I quit well before high school. I had no interest in traveling the entire uniform-wearing spectrum from cute to acceptable to absurd.)

I enlisted all of my senses to try to find this party. I couldn't hear anything. No loud music. No people gathering. Nothing sizzling on a grill. Only birds, insects, a gentle breeze in the woods. Nature. I didn't come here for nature. I came here for potato salad. I couldn't see anybody. I couldn't smell anything. I tried to follow the breeze to catch the gentle scent of barbecuing wafting through the leaves and ricocheting off the trees.  Nothing.

We finally found the shelter. Yep this was it. Shelter #2 across from the open field. Here we are. We're here. It's 12:20. Sorry we're late. Oh, is that parking lot right there where we were supposed to park? Hello? Is anybody home? We're hungry. We're tired. We're hungry still. I'd wished I'd brought them food. At this juncture, I would've reached into the gift bag, eaten their present, thrown the bag away and told them I forgot it in the car.

That's assuming someone would eventually show up. So where is everybody? Let me consult the invitation again. There it is: 12:00. Could the "2" maybe be a "4"? Definitely not. And the people are from Chicago and not in the Army, so I can't see why they'd be writing in military time.

Nothing. No people. No presents. No food. No music. No decorations. This couldn't be. I even touched the barbecue. Ice cold. Not a sound of anybody approaching in the distance. Nothing. Crickets... (Real crickets. It was a park.)

I've never heard of people who were making the party arriving fashionably late. The only hint that there was maybe going to even be a party anytime that day, was these two sweaty, disheveled, out of breath fools standing there with this dusty-ass gift bag.

Oh I get it. Wow, that's brilliant. Yeah, that must be it. We were invited to this guy's birthday party, but it's all a charade. It's, get this, really a surprise party for us... in July... Even though our anniversary's in October and our birthdays are in February. It's the only thing that makes sense... even though, let's face it, that made no sense. Even still, I crouched down and peeked under the picnic table benches. Not that I remembered any of these people being less than a foot wide.

Now it's 12:42. As we're debating our next move, "Do you feel like Denny's or IHOP?", we hear people on the horizon.  Here they come at a leisurely pace. With coolers and folded folding tables, paper tablecloths and balloons and streamers. What? You show up 42 minutes late and now you're going to unpack two aisles of Party City and start decorating?

Please just give me my potato salad and my goody bag and let me head back over the mountain so I can get to my car before sundown.

I'm a Pig. Everyone Agrees.

I'm a woman who lives by the eight second rule. To wit: Anything that was originally edible that I was intending to put into my mouth, will still go into my mouth as planned, regardless of whether or not it's fallen on the floor, under the couch, on my shirt, or into my running shoes, ten minutes after I ran a 5k in 90 degree heat. I was about to tell you that I draw the line at my own personal dirt inside my own house, but then I remembered once devouring a bagel that had tumbled out of the bag into the shopping center parking lot. I'm sure I wiped it off at the time, but that was purely for the benefit of witnesses.

Oddly enough, or maybe not, I'd written that last bit this morning and wouldn't you know it, this very same afternoon, my husband and I were walking in the mall food court en route to the restroom alcove, when a worker at one of the restaurants presented us with sesame chicken samples on toothpicks. We each chose one and headed with it toward our destination. A moment later, as I was entering the ladies' room, I turned around to see my husband several paces back. "Why'd you stop?" I yelled behind me, chomping on my chicken.

"I'm not going into the bathroom while I'm still eating." He responded, repulsion in his voice.

As I shrugged and continued on my way, he was not so far back that I couldn't hear him mumble: "Class act" at the back of my head.

When I got out of the restroom and rejoined him at the water fountain... (yes, I did wash my hands. I'm not totally un-evolved. Although, I did get bored with the blower and finished my hand drying on my jean shorts... Anyway) As we walked back into the mall, (taking another sesame chicken sample on the return trip... well, she offered...) I told my husband that I could add his "class act" remark to my pig post thereby transforming his rude comment into art. He said: "So glad I could help."

As you can imagine, my husband is not a pig. I tell him he's a neat-freak, but more likely he's normal and it's just my ploy to take the focus off how bad I really am. It's not that I'm ashamed of my behavior. I just don't want to hear it. The irony is: I suspect my husband married me for my lack of tidiness. He grew up in a house with a neat-freak and ran to me in rebellion. It probably sounded good to him on paper at the time. He had no idea how bad things could really get.

For one thing, I eat in bed. It could be popcorn. It could be meatloaf. I also spill stuff a lot. Ketchup, chocolate syrup. I probably should wear a lobster bib all the time and carry everything in toddler containers and Sippy cups. And if I feel raisin bran crumbs under me in the middle of the night, you and I both know where those flakes are going.

As my husband turns over in the bed trying to pretend those ugly scenes happening in the dark just a few feet away aren't happening, he's likely envisioning in his mind a partition that would keep my mess from literally spilling over onto his side... and wondering if he's the only spouse who suffers in silence or if there's enough demand to bring his invention to Shark Tank.

All You Can Eat... Digest THIS

Somebody asked a friend of mine years ago what's the first thing he'd like to hear as he entered the pearly gates. He responded: "This way to the buffet." Not me... I think of buffets as Archie Bunker did in the 1970's show All in the Family: "All you can throw-up for three bucks".

Except the places you go to now aren't three dollars. That's one of the 27 reasons I'm not a buffet person. If I pay $11.99, I feel pressured to eat at least $12 worth of food. It's hard to enjoy a meal when you're doing constant calculations in your head:

"That roll's about $1.50. I'll take a couple. Crap. I still have $9 to go. The spaghetti's $1.29 for a whole box so I'm not eating that. Oh good they've got shrimp and steak today. That should bring me over."

In NYC, they have buffets for take-out in the Korean delis. You pile each compartment in your Styrofoam container a foot high with hard boiled eggs, tomatoes, chicken breasts, whole oranges... Then you head to the cashier and they weigh it and you pay $52 for your lunch. That's fair. Everybody is a rookie only once. After that, if you ever go back,  it's because you just had dental work or have a hankering for apple sauce, bean sprouts, and a dollop of cotton candy if they have it.

Another thing that bothers me about buffets is they never feel clean to me. Not the plates, the silverware, the tables, the carpet. And I'm sure I don't have to spell out why I have disdain for anything named: "Sneeze Guard" protecting my dinner. Besides their name and apparent function, I have other issues with sneeze guards (ugh, I said it twice... No options in the thesaurus) One issue is: I have short arms. Buffets are not made for the short-armed. In order to scoop the stuff in the back row, I have to reach all the way in with my entire face pressed up against the sneeze guard. (ugh again) I look like I put on a stocking mask to rob the buffet.

And if we go around lunchtime on a Sunday, I'm usually flailing my arm blindly trying to grab the serving spoon back there because not only do I have the sneeze guard (and again) barrier, but there's usually a huge church hat blocking my view.

Then the place we go to has a chocolate waterfall or as I like to refer to it: "The Fountain of Brown Bacteria." If you want to be nicer, call it the "Fountain of Youth." Every kid in the place runs over to it, puts their who-knows-where-it's-been hand in the marshmallows, impales one on a skewer, and then plunges the whole thing wrist-deep into the fountain. And they usually have to make more than one attempt because half the time the skewer returns from the fountain marshmallow-less. It's the Bermuda Triangle of desserts. I always regret not having brought a can of Lysol to spray the fountain before I enter it. Sure, some "diners" at the restaurant could get deathly ill, but probably no more than usual.

Some people can argue that all restaurants, but I say more so buffets, are a leap of faith. If you are so skeeved by them that you're afraid to go, don't go. Otherwise do what I do: Shut up, enjoy your meal, & hope you wake up the next morning.