Sadie is Even More Adorable than All That

Of course as soon as I posted, I thought of a few more things and she did a few more things and now I’ve got to get them down.

1. We’re doing a thing where we sign and say “I love you” together. One of us usually initiates it but sometimes she does, and she makes the cutest little “love” gesture and has even started saying the word “love,” and then is extremely exuberant about the “you,” stabbing her finger at you like she’s fencing and drawing out the word “you” like a victory cry.

2. We went to the UPS store and she kept getting upset at the door. It took me a while but I finally realized that she was upset that people kept leaving without properly interacting with her or saying goodbye. She was very pleased when one man did.

3. A few months ago, we took the girls to a Chicago Wolves (minor league hockey) game. I don’t think anyone in the whole arena was having as good a time as Sadie. The crowd, the music, the excitement, the popcorn – it was all exactly her wheelhouse. Plus the family behind us was quite enchanted with her and interacted with her a lot, even letting her play with their foam hockey puck. She even seemed invested in the game.

4. She also went wild when we took her to mini-golf a couple of weeks ago. Balls, first of all, are wildly exciting to her. Watching all the action was greatly engaging. She loved swinging her club around. I did have to take her down to the practice green because Dad, Jason, Zoe, and Otis couldn’t really play with her running around the green and getting in the way of their balls and clubs. She loved the practice green. Then when we rejoined them, she was wildly enthusiastic about every aspect of the game and the grounds. I mean, “wildly enthusiastic” is sort of her default setting, but this was especially exciting for her.

5. She also loves performances of any kind, to the point where she needs to be taken out of them. At Zoe’s 4th grade Shabbat service, she kept running in front of the bimah and shouting “Ta-da!” at the congregation. At Zoe’s recent school play, Sadie expressed her amazement and excitement for all of the goings-on that I had to take her in the hall, because parents were glaring at me. She gets so dramatic, holding her hands to her face Kevin Arnold-style, with great big gasps, and then pointing and shouting, like, “Can you believe it, Mama?! There are people! On that stage! They sing and talk and dance! Oh my goodness I’ve never seen anything like it!!!”

6. We went to Target on Mother’s Day because what is a day without Target? (We also went to Stephanie Izard’s Little Goat Diner and I had a beer shake, which you would think would be too weird but it was very tasty.) Sadie went wild for the big rubber balls. Our whole trip ended up revolving around which rubber ball she wanted (orange), and walking the ball through through the aisles shouting “Ball! Ball! Mama! Ball!” She got it home and displayed similar enthusiasm, although she mainly likes carrying it, as opposed to bouncing or throwing or catching it.

7. A few months ago, we took her to the Shedd Aquarium. For those of you who are not Chicagoans, I must tell you, I am not normally wild for aquariums. I mean, sure, they’re fine and pretty and whatever. But they’re usually fish swimming around in a tank. But this aquarium is mega-cool. And they have belugas, which is basically enough for me. And a lot of the displays have things that are at Sadie eye-level. Boy, did Sadie love that. Absolute and total astonishment at all of the fish. And then she liked splashing in the touch-the-plastic-starfish section, but she did not like her hand being all wet, so she kept sticking her hand in, and then wiping it on my scarf. It was, as you might imagine, adorable.

8. Have I mentioned how much she loves our friend Otis? She loves our friend Otis so much. Any time Otis is around, Sadie wants to play with him. She laughs and smiles and smacks his face and has the absolute best time with him.

Okay, I think that’s it. For now. She’s a pile of adorable and it’s hard to keep up.

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In Other News, Sadie is Adorable

I used to do a lot of this for Zoe (my now nine-year-old, for those of you who don’t know me, which I think is some of you now?), making blog posts of all the ridiculously cute things she did. I haven’t done it for Sadie yet (my one-and-a-half-year-old), because I usually post that stuff to Facebook, but I thought I’d do it here, too, for posterity’s sake.

So what is the adorable little smish up to?

1. A lot of this second-time-around parenting – especially given the age gap – is remembering where and what Zoe was doing around this age, and comparing. So Sadie has fewer words than Zoe did at this age, which I’m assuming is fine. She certainly has a lot of ways of expressing herself and getting her message across, and she seems to understand things we say to her just fine. So what words does she have? Well, her first was “hi,” followed by “hey” and “hello!” Which is really not surprising given her general personality. She is a very social baby. And she has since added “ba-bye!” She also says “no” (and nods her head for yes), various body parts like “head,” “hair,” “ear,” “eye,” “nose,” and “toes.” She can also identify her cheeks, her chin, and her shoulders. She kind of gets her belly, her butt, and her vulva mixed up. But she loves the Belly Button song! She has a lot of prepositions, like “on,” “down,” and “out.” She says “this” and “that”. She identifies dogs with “Woof!” She says “wait, wait,” with her little hand up. “Whee” is the swing. And she makes the little hand gesture and says “C’mere.” She’s got “Mama”, “Dada”, Zoe thinks she’s hearing an “Oh-ee,” and she has said “Ah Kay” for Aunt Kate. Generally speaking, “Mama” is not necessarily me, but “person whose attention I’m trying to get.” She’s also got “more” and something that sounds sort of like “water” which applies to any drink. And Zoe taught her to say “art” when they’re coloring on the easel. We’ve heard “door,” “house,” “doll,” “ball,” and maybe even “baby”. There’s “yay” and “ta-da”, although she hasn’t used those much in a while, preferring to express those sentiments with clapping and general one-syllable, emphatic exclamations. Oh, and of course there’s “mine.” “Mine” is a very important concept.

2. Sadie and Zoe have their little routines together. One is where Zoe goes, “Are you giving me attitude?” and Sadie shakes her hips and goes “Ti-tu!” and then Zoe goes “That’s hi-LAR-ious!” with her hands going above her head and then down, and Sadie goes, “Hi-LAAAR” with the same hand gesture as her sister. And this morning they were doing a thing where they were both going, “Di-doo” over and over again while stomping and shaking their hips. Then they had to do their usual Zoe-going-to-school routine, in which they have to give each other kisses with the door open, then through the screen door, then say “Ba-bye!”, then kiss each other a few more times, either through the glass or with the door open, and then even when I have to command Zoe to get a move on because the bus will be here, Sadie likes to stay by the door waving “ba-bye!” a few more times.

3. She and our cleaning ladies are having an enormous love affair. Sadie gets so excited when they come over, and they just about lose their minds over her. Then they give Sadie cleaning clothes and Swiffer dusters – she knows; if they don’t give them to her right away, or they forget to spray her cleaning cloths, she will remind them – and she cleans alongside them. This week, the lead lady, Erica, was also sort of kissing/tickling her shoulder, and she kept giggling and shrugging away but then, if Erica stopped, she’d point to her shoulder and make a sound to indicate that Erica should keep going.

4. She likes going into the dark upstairs bathroom and then popping out and saying “Hello!”

5. She likes popping out of anywhere and saying “Hello!”

6. She also loves clapping. Clapping goes with any good thing and she will look at you and nod as if to say, “You clap, too.”

7. Her favorite thing to do is those little Mommy & Me classes. We go to our library’s story time, and up until last week we were doing a jBaby Tots & Tunes Shabbat program. She loves the songs, she loves the activities, and she LOOOOOOOVES the dancing. Her moves – especially her extreme hip shakes – get admiration from the crowd. Who can all see her, because in any group, she moves directly to the center of the circle.

8. She’s into books of all kinds. She likes taking grown-up books – one for me, one for her, and “reading” them together.  Her favorite kid’s book to have read to her right now is In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak, which is, as a piece of writing, truly and deeply weird. But it’s kind of fun to say, which was, I think, his point in writing it. And she also likes Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst, which I quite enjoy reading out loud, so that’s fun. Her favorite board books have been the Joyce Wan ones, with their adorable illustrations, and I Love You, Stinky Face, which is kind of what Runaway Bunny would be without the creepy factor, and Sandra Boynton’s Blue Hat, Green Hat. 

9. She loves to “get cozy”. She loves to snuggle up on a pillow or some other surface and have someone put a blanket on her. Then she likes to snuggle into that blanket and make this super-smug, pleased face. It’s pretty cute.

10. Have I mentioned her curls and her big blue eyes and her sweet little cheeks and her adorable baby self? Because she’s so cute.

11. She imitates just about anything Zoe does. Today, Zoe was lying on the floor crying because she just had her first truly deep “I’m sad because I finished the book I was reading” moment (such a special moment!) so Sadie lay next to her and cried, too. Then I stood up so Sadie indicated that I should get on the floor with them (“Down! C’mere! Down!” While patting the floor beside her.) So we all cried on the floor until we were laughing.

12. She has friends all over the place. The people who work at The Fresh Market by our house. The waitstaff at our local Egg Harbor Cafe. She was beloved by our Chicago Sinai family and she’s already making herself a part of the Or Shalom family.

13. She likes fist bumps as a method of making friends. But if she gives one fist bump, she must give many fist bumps. Everyone in the immediate vicinity must give a fist bump.

14. She also loves to “cheers” with drinks. Which is adorable until she’s doing so vigorously with the nice wine glasses and the purple grape juice over your cousin’s white tablecloth at your family’s Passover seder. Then it’s nerve-wracking. But also cute.

15. Sometimes she holds my face and mashes her nose against my nose and gives me the sweetest kisses.

16. She likes for people to sit down next to her, say, on the staircase, and then lean back and relax. Or lie down with her on the floor, then go to sleep, then pop heads up together like we’re startled, then lay back down. She also likes to pretend to drink or eat (or actually drink or eat) and then say, “Ah!” with a big grin.

17. She likes making her stuffed animals and toys eat.

18. She’s actually a pretty good eater and even likes broccoli.

19. She had a thing for a while about hugging the newel posts in the stairwell on her way downstairs every morning. It seems gone now but it was cute while it lasted.

20. I particularly love it when she sits on my lap and places my arms around hers. That’s my favorite.

21. She got a Moana beach towel, which she picked out at Target (Well, she wanted any number of Moana things, but I figured we could use another towel.). When we brought it home, she insisted on us draping it around her like a cloak. She indicated that she wanted this by pointing to her shoulders and saying, “On!”

That’s all I’ve got for now – not because it’s all there is, because she is full-time cuteness – but because I am tired. See y’all later.

NaNoWriMo Part One

I’m doing NaNoWriMo – National Novel-Writing Month – this year. My main motivation is that the writing group of which I am a part is having a competition with our sister chapter and I can’t resist a competition. But I’m also in a sort of good position this year in that I am putting aside my first attempt at a full-length manuscript for now, and I am at the beginning of two different projects, and for at least one of them I can probably at least get the bare bones down of one them in the next month. So go me!

As part of my secretarial duties, I wrote a little this-is-how-you-sign-up walkthrough as I signed up. I’m going to post it here so that it’s accessible and so that anyone who isn’t in my group can see it, and I’m going keep updating my progress here as well.

So here’s what I wrote:

Hello again, ladies! (The again is because I had just e-mailed this group the meeting minutes from last night, so this was their second e-mail from me in an hour.) I promised last night that I would sign up for NaNoWriMo today so I could tell you all how to do it. It’s my first time, too, so let’s see how this goes.
1) Go to the website: National Novel Writing Month
2) There is a convenient Learn More section to the right. There you will find that NaNo offers all kinds of support to people who want to write a novel – retreats, library resources, classroom materials for young writers, regional organizations, etc. How and whether you use these resources is up to you.
You will find that you are to “announce your novel,” then update your progress (self-report) on the site regularly, and then, on November 20, you can start submitting, or validating it.
3) Hit the Sign Up button. You will then be asked to create a user name (Mine is RLRicki), enter a valid e-mail address, and create a password. And they want to know what time zone you’re in, a question that confused me for a minute because I am dumb sometimes. I almost told them I lived in Central America.
4) An e-mail will be sent to that valid e-mail address you listed. They warn you that it might go to your spam box. Mine didn’t.
5) You click the link in the e-mail and then you hit Sign In! (You might want to hit the Remember Me button too if you, like me, can’t remember your passwords for anything even if you use the same ones all the time. I seriously have had to reset my Facebook password about six times this week because my husband updated our iOS and each time I re-signed in to Facebook on a different device, I forgot what password I used on another device and had to reset it. Then I immediately forgot it again.)
6) The next thing they want is your Home Region. If you want, you could lie, but I think they do this so that you can have the option of connecting with others in your area who are doing NaNo. I clicked USA:Illinois:Chicago.
7) Now you are on the How It Works page, which, if you’ve looked through the Learn More section, you’ve already seen. But now it’s time to actually do these things! So click on My Novel.
8) You are taken to a page that asks you to Announce Your New Novel and Tell Us About Yourself. I’m going to Tell Them About Myself first. I click on the first icon in that box – the first one on the line labeled “Participation Badges” – to set up my author profile. They want your location, age, birthday, hobbies, favorite novelling music, favorite books/authors, your website, a sponsorship website if you have one, occupation, and a bio. You can be as protective or as cavalier about privacy in this section as you like. I tend toward the cavalier.
Re: Sponsorship websites – if you like, you can set this up so that family members and friends can donate money based on what you write, like a walk-a-thon but with words. The money goes to their Young Writers Program and sponsored writers get prizes and goodies. I’m not doing it this year, because I just found out about it. But you can! It’s kind of a cool thing to do!
9) So, I saved that and I hit the tab that says, “My Novels.” Then I hit the Writing This Year? Enter Your Novel! link. If you’ve done NaNo before, you can also enter your prior novels, though to what end I’m not sure. Now it wants a title, a genre, a cover image if you’ve got one, a short synopsis, and an excerpt. I am working on two things right now that are in the very early stages. Both require a lot of research but one requires more so I’m going to use the one that requires less for NaNo. I’ve already written around 5,000 words, which is a no-no, but I came to the realization that they need to be re-written pretty drastically, so I’m going to assume that will be okay.
For my short synopsis, I used my Michael Hauge Story Concept Template sentence. You can find a version of it here:  Michael Hauge’s Story Concept Template (A version of the template, I mean, not of my synopsis.)
I am not putting in an excerpt. I mean, it’s all supposed to be new writing, right? And I’m not really sure I like what I have right now. So I’m just leaving it blank.
I think that’s it! I’m going to play around on the page a little bit. I want to see if I can figure out how we can all be writing buddies with each other. I will keep posting when I get new information. Please e-mail me at raspberrylimericki@gmail.com if you want more tutorial help.
So, uh, now you all know. Go forth and be merry!

A Conversation with My Brother on a Potential Trip to the Berkshires this Summer

So my brother Evan and I were talking about some potential Berkshires traveling for this summer. He kind of wants to go up with friends; I kind of want to go up with my dad; it’s unclear to us whether or not this is all going to happen together. 
Evan: you and dad joining in on this venture is not necessarily a bad thing, mind you. you guys know the area and the cool things to do better, i was just also looking forward to hanging out with friends
Me: Here’s what there is to do in the Berkshires, as best as I can tell –
1) Purchase wine and cheese at overpriced but delicious markets.
Evan: yesssss
Me: 2) Bring them to Tanglewood along with a deck of cards, a backgammon board, a book, and all of the crossword puzzles you can get your hands on. Also a blanket and some chairs and a shit-ton of bug spray.
3) Lie on the lawn at Tanglewood eating cheese and drinking wine and napping and expressing the intention, any moment now, of reading your book/playing backgammon.
4) Find the potty at Tanglewood.
5) Go home and having a glass of wine on your deck.
6) Walk to town for some delicious gourmet pizza, some homemade ice cream, and some tchotchkes.
Evan: this is all i could ask for and more
Me: 7) Go back home and having another glass of wine on your deck.
8) Go to sleep
9) Wake up early with EVERY INTENTION of taking a brisk, invigorating walk through some woods somewhere.
10) Get distracted by the pastries someone brought home from the delicious but overpriced market. Eat those while doing some crossword puzzles.
11) Have a glass of wine while plotting strategy regarding Tanglewood and parking.
Evan: im noticing a lot of wine involved
Me: Yes.
That is a theme at Tanglewood.
or, with Dad and Kay, gin and tonics.
But only in the home setting. We don’t bring G&Ts to Tanglewood.
Evan: can wine be replaced by seasonal microbrews?
Me: “Replaced”? No.
“Supplemented”? Yes.
Evan: (at same time) supplemented with?
oh perfect, same wavelength
well isnt that lovely
so what you’re saying is the berkshires is basically the closest humans have gotten to the garden of eden
Me: Yes.
Can I edit this conversation and put it up on my blog?
Evan: of course
Me: Thanks.
Evan: no problem. will this part be included?
cuz now i kinda want it to be
Me: . . . no.
Maybe.
Evan: but…but think of the meta!
Me: I am.
And I am considering it.
Evan: huzzah!

Ricki/Sophia 3

Dear Ricki/Sophia,

I’m the oldest of my ten cousins, and I’m the only one who didn’t marry in my twenties like a good girl. Usually, being single doesn’t bother me, even at a wedding, but I think that is about to change. My youngest cousin, Tabitha, is getting married in May, at which time I will be the only single cousin left. I won’t disclose our ages, but suffice it to say I held Tabitha when she was a baby. Even if I happen to be feeling good on the big day, I’m anticipating a lot of pitying looks and rude questions. What are your best tips for looking great, feeling fabulous and not giving a fuck?

Sincerely,
Spinsterliscious in Seattle 

Look great, feel fabulous, and do not give a fuck. Am I missing something?

Yeah, Sophia’s pretty much right here. Look, haters gonna hate, and rude people gonna rude. When you get pitying looks, ignore them. When you get rude questions, make big eyes at the person, say, “Wow,” like you cannot believe that this person could ask that rude a question, and then, if you don’t care about that person much, walk away, or if you do, change the subject. “Boy, the bride looked beautiful, huh?” “So, Kim Kardashian, right?” “Your shoes are fabulous; where did you get them?” Just as if they did not ask the incredibly rude question.

Yes, this is perfect. And do not for one moment allow yourself to feel as if you are being rude by changing the subject. You are being all things gracious and kind by ignoring their rudeness and carrying on a polite, appropriate, interesting conversation.

Yes. And if they persist, you can say, “Why are you asking?” And then stare at them and let the silence just sit there. Fight the nice-girl urge to smooth. They’re being rude and inappropriate; it’s they’re job to smooth.

Darling, you have nine nincompoop cousins who have chained themselves into the bonds of matrimony. You alone have escaped these shackles. What on God’s green earth would give them cause to pity you?

Sophia!

What?

We’re married!

Well, that was your decision.

Wow, Sophia. So, Spinsterliscious, do you have an ally at the wedding? Are you invited with a plus one? Bring your coolest friend, male or female. Do you have someone in your family who gets you and would never pity you for being fabulous? Hang with them during the wedding and have a good time. And stop calling yourself a spinster. Or not a sufficiently “good girl.”

Who wants to be a good girl? My alter ego is good and what good has it done her?

Wow, Sophia. Just wow.

Ricki/Sophia 2

And we’re back!

Dear Ricki/Sophia,

I just moved back to Chicago after seven years in sunny Florida. It was hard saying goodbye to a job I loved, great friends, and lots of fun clubs and community groups I was a part of. But opportunity knocked and I was ready for a new adventure, so I decided to give it a chance. Well, it’s been almost a year now and I couldn’t be more miserable. My new job turned out to be a total bust: I work long hours and I can never seem to get ahead. I have no friends left in town except my parents, who I’ve been living with while I save up enough money for my own place. I thought Chicago might be a great place to find the man of my dreams, but between my long commute and my lack of energy, all I want to do at the end of the day is curl up with a jar of peanut butter and the remote. Even my parents go out more than I do (which they don’t hesitate to point out)! And all that laying around and eating have made me pimply and fat. Who’d want me now? What can I do to get out of this rut?

Yours,

Regressing in Rolling Meadows

I do not know how it is that women do not understand this basic fact of men, but please, hear me: Being pimply and fat will not stop a man from wanting to have sex with you. Most of them will not notice that you are fatter and pimplier than you would like to be. BUT! Believing that men don’t want to have sex with you will stop a man from wanting to have sex with you, nearly every time. (Except for those horrible men who make a business of preying on insecure women, telling themselves that they are very clever indeed, when really, deep down, they do not believe that a woman who liked herself would ever like them. Which is true. And they are absolute shit in the sack; please do not bother with them.)

self-five

(It’s a self-five because Sophia lives in my imagination so we share a set of hands.) (Also, I’ve never inserted a .gif into a post before. I have a feeling this might be addictive.)

You have a bunch of small problems and they are snowballing into one big one in your head and that’s making you miserable and depressed. That doesn’t make you a horrible person; it makes you a totally normal person. But it’s what’s happening and it’s hard to recognize when it’s happening to you so I’m here to tell you that that’s what’s happening.

So, first things first, take care of you. I would start small. I would make a little schedule for myself. On Mondays, allow yourself to curl up with the peanut better and the remote. On Tuesdays you are required to go immediately to the gym after work, even if you feel draggy and tired. Join a yoga class or a class with some fun, exciting element like belly dancing or rock climbing, and just go no matter what else is happening. Take a totally different route to the gym than you do to go home, even if they are close to each other, so you can’t “accidentally” or unconsciously drive home. I’m not saying this because being fat is awful and you must get skinny immediately; I’m saying this because working out makes you feel better. Endorphins, energy, the sense that you did something good for yourself, simply not being home when your irritating parents are all, “We and have awesome concert tickets tonight and then after we’re going out for drinks, what’s your lazy ass doing?”, these are all good things. On Wednesdays, maybe a little more peanut butter and remote time, but before you sit down, go through your local paper or meetup.com and write down three new things you could maybe get interested in trying. Thursday, either back to the gym or to some other outside the house thing. Friday, do more research on those three things, then back to peanut butter. What the hell, put a few dark chocolate chips on there; it’s Friday!

And then Saturday find yourself a delicious man – not your dream man, honestly, darling, just someone attractive – and go back to his place. Or, if he also has a less-than-ideal living situation, go find someplace terribly naughty to park. 

Sophia thinks casual sex is the solution to everything.

I have nothing against formal sex. Wear ermine and pearls if you like; they make me feel divine!

We don’t have any ermine.

That’s what you think. 

Next, the big things. (1) Are you in therapy? Because it sounds like this whole situation – the big expectations you had going in, the letdown of those expectations, the feelings of helplessness surrounding the situation you’re in – has got you pretty down and a little immobilized and maybe seeing a therapist would help.

(2) How soon can you realistically move out of your parents’ house and to someplace that is closer to work? Get an idea in your head of how much money you’d like to have saved and then do everything in your power to get to that number as quickly as possible. Long commutes can suck the everliving life out of you and so can asshole parents. and rest assured, your parents are being assholes. “We’re going out; how come you’re not, loser?!” is not what parents say. It’s what Regina George says.

tumblr_mnksldboXR1reeivdo1_500

Yeah, this .gif thing is going to be fun.

Also, is this the house you grew up in? Even without asshole parents, living where you did when you were a kid can increase your feelings of stagnation and helplessness. GTFO.

(3) The job. You didn’t go into much detail so I don’t know exactly what’s going on with the job. You’ve only been there a year and you called it a “new adventure” so maybe give yourself a little break on the learning curve if it’s relatively new stuff for you? Maybe one of those off-the-couch nights could be seeking some form of professional development? What’s your boss like? Can you talk to him/her about practical, concrete ways to improve your performance? Does your boss think you’re underperforming (“can’t get ahead”) or is it just you? Sometimes – and God knows, I do this, like, way too much – we can let ourselves think, “I did not perform this particular task well, therefore I suck, therefore I should just bury my head in shame and hope no one notices while I chew myself out on the inside for sucking so much,” and that’s not productive or helpful. But you can instead think, “I did not perform this task well, therefore there must be better ways to approach this task. I wonder how I can find them?” and then you can go find them and learn new things and master them and it’s awesome!

I teach Sunday School and sometimes have to teach kids from 4th – 8th grade to read Hebrew. And because the place that I teach is what it is, kids tend to come into the classroom with widely varying levels of already knowing this stuff. So the kids who barely remember that Hebrew goes right to left and not left to right watch the kids in their grade who already know pretty much all the letters and vowels and go, “I must be so stupid and dumb and I hate Hebrew and I hope we can just get this over with,” and sometimes it takes a great deal of work for me to convince them that it’s okay not to already know stuff. No one is born with the Aleph Bet in their head. The kids who already know this stuff just learned it before, that’s all.

My point is, with the job, is there stuff you can treat like it’s just a skill set you haven’t learned yet, and then go about finding ways to learn it, either with the help of your boss/colleagues or on your own?

Or is it simply not the job for you at all? I think you should give it a full calendar year, but if it’s not, it’s not, and that’s okay. Maybe spend one or two of your nights a week doing some serious thinking about what it is you like about the job, what it is you liked about your old job, and what you want from your next job. Then start looking for the next job.

(4) Friends. Friends are everywhere. I think there’s something of a problem in letting us all come of age in college, where finding friends is the easiest thing ever and people get super tight super fast and it feels like family because you’re all at the exact same stage of your life, living on top of each other, with more free time than you even had before or will again, and so many ways to fill it that allow you to meet even more friends. And then we all graduate and move and shit, and find out that making friends as a grown-up is way harder. And it is. And it’s not going to feel like college. But it’s not impossible. Is there no one in your new work place you like and would want to get to know? Ask them for coffee! Ask them if they know any way to conquer the tasks that are difficult for you. Ask them if they know of any fun thing to do this weekend and then ask if they want to do that thing with you. When you’re not at work, get out of the house! You said you were part of lots of clubs and community groups in Florida; find some of those to join! I know you say your long hours are leaving you wiped but, (a) sometimes having fun stuff to look forward to doing is more energizing than knowing you’re going back to your house to be assholed at by your parents, and (b) caffeine exists in numerous delicious forms. Go join shit. Then find the cool people at the places you just joined and say, “Hey, I’m wiped from my long day. Want to get some coffee?” Or, “Holy shit I just had an awful week at work. Know any good wine bars?” What about people you grew up around? Are any of them still in the area/cool? Would you want to hang out with any of them? Give them a Facebook nudge and see what happens.

(5) Dudes. Look, I am not saying that the man of your dreams is not going to happen. But he is sure as hell not going to pop up on your couch holding an extra spoon. So, yeah, you have to leave the house. But also, you’re not going to find him if you start by thinking, “Are you the man of my dreams?” Because then it will always look like, “No.” Because you will be comparing him to this nebulous, glowing image in your head of what a dream man is and no man is nebulous and glowing.

I really like to cook, and my husband really likes it when I cook. But sometimes he’ll be like, “Hey, this restaurant makes a really great thing! Can you make the really great thing just like this restaurant makes?” And I hate when he does that because I’m never going to match the restaurant thing, and, worse, I’m never going to match his memory of the restaurant thing, which is better than even the restaurant thing itself. No man can match the dream in your head.

And you have to get to know the man before you know whether or not he is dreamy. I know, I know, gut-level attraction is important, but, as much as I hate to agree with Patti Stanger on anything, most women don’t know if their guts are attracted until the dude has his tongue in her mouth.

So don’t start with, “Are you the man of my dreams?” Start with, “Are you a man I might enjoy a cup of coffee with?” If yes, “Are you a man I might enjoy dinner with?” And then keep going.

But I wouldn’t even start here because I think you’ve got to get yourself in a healthy headspace before taking dating seriously. I mean, when choosing gym classes and community groups and whatnot, maybe keep half a mind toward dudes you might meet there. Like, maybe make only one thing a thing only girls would do. Don’t do a belly-dancing class AND a knitting circle AND a Jane Austen book club and then not have any time left for dudes. (I mean, I’m sure there are dudes who take yoga and/or knit and/or like Jane Austen. But in terms of numbers? Not so much.) But start by making yourself feel better about your life. Get yourself on a path toward what you want your life to look like. Then, if no dude has presented himself to you, start actively looking for dudes.

In the meantime, some delightful casual sex couldn’t possibly hurt.

I’m not saying “Turn down nookie.” I’m just saying, “Don’t make pursuit of nookie a significant goal right now.” Actually, I’m not saying that either. I’m saying, “Don’t make pursuit of the man of your dreams a significant goal right now.” Nookie is fine.

“Nookie” is always fine.

Ricki/Sophia Reboot

So here’s what’s going on. A long time ago I had an alter ego named Sophia. She’s sort of my id. And she even has an origin story! I had an English teacher my junior year who called me Rachel all year, except one day she called me Sophia. Then she looked at me and said, “You’re not Sophia; you’re Rachel!” So the following year I had a different English teacher who heard me telling this story, and speculated that Sophia was my evil twin. Specifically, my evil Italian twin, whereas Rachel was my nice Jewish girl. (My mother is 100% Italian and my father is 100% Jewish and so I do, actually, have Italian and Jewish halves.) (Also, the English teacher making this comment is himself Italian. I grew up in Jersey, people.)

Anyway, Sophia was going to offer advice with me and I did a couple of columns like that and then I think I erased Sophia from my blog. I was going to set her up with her own but I . . . kind of never got around to it.

And yet my – and her – advice is needed! So here goes!

Dear Ricki/Sophia,

Help! I have a big decision to make. About a decade ago, I got my dream job and moved to a small town in the Midwest. I love what I do, and I have a lot of friends here, but there’s just one problem. There are NO eligible men here! I’m not exactly afraid to be on my own for a little while, and I love the independence of the single life, but to be honest, I haven’t been with a man since I moved here (and the few that have applied for the job could not handle the workload, if you know what I mean). Now I’ve been offered a less-prestigious job, for less money, but in a big city with lots of man potential. Is it silly to sacrifice my career just for sex?

Yours,
Celibate in Cedar Rapids

Darling, I do know exactly what you mean. Of course it is not silly. Sex is never silly. Well, sex is often silly, and delightfully so, but it is never silly to do anything in order to have sex.

Yeah, maybe that’s true for figments of my imagination, Sophia. But let’s back up a step. You say “eligible men” in sentence two, but then in your question you ask about “just for sex.” And those are two very different questions.

Ah! I am lucky I am not alone here; I did not catch that. Yes, I must agree, I find it absurd to believe that there are no men capable of delighting your body in Cedar Rapids. I confess, I do not know what a Cedar Rapids is, but, darling, the world is positively full of men with working penises and a significant percentage of them have some vague idea of what to do with a woman’s body. But if you are looking for something more than simply a person to fulfill your sexual desires, then the question is more complicated.

And you’re not great with complication, Sophia.

I beg your pardon?

Outside the bedroom.

There are many things one can do outside the bedroom.

You know what I mean!

Look, if by “eligible,” you mean, “a man I might want to get married to,” and marriage is important to you, then no, it’s not silly. I’d take some serious time to consider if you’ve truly looked at all of your marriageable options where you are, but if you really think you need to move to find a husband, and you want a husband, then, yeah, do it.

If your career is important to you, too, though, also consider the new job and the old job. You say the old job was your “dream job” ten years ago. Is it still? You say the new one is less prestigious and makes less money. Are those crucial characteristics to you in a job? Does this new job offer something, besides a well of new men, that is attractive to you? If so, then I’d say this is an unqualified yes. Change jobs, change living situations, go on with your bad self. If not, is there a possibility of holding out in Cedar Rapids for a little while longer? Maybe looking into dudes you would not marry but might have fun with in the interim and still look for new jobs in new locations that would offer fulfillment?

Darling, do keep in mind, men are simply crawling all over this planet. There are literally billions of them. In big cities and small, in little tiny towns and on vast swaths of farmland. I do not know how to go about choosing a man for marrying, but for pleasure? Just find one that makes your skin tingle and go for it!

But use a condom.

Ugh.

Yeah, well, figments of imagination don’t get STIs or pregnant. Real women do.

Yes, well, fine, then. Use a condom. And have fun!

What Would I Give?

I swear to God I don’t want to defend the Disney princesses as much as I do. I just can’t help myself. I especially get irritated by the “Ariel gives up her voice to land a man” narrative. Because she doesn’t. She gives up her voice to become human. She wanted to become human before she laid eyes on Eric. And she made the actual decision to become human when her father destroyed all her human stuff. And the notion that men don’t like women who talk, anyway, came from the villain. Who was lying to get Ariel to sign the contract; even the villain didn’t actually believe that noise. And she thought she was giving up her voice for three days, and then she’d get to be human, which is what she wanted her whole life.

If you don’t want something badly enough to give up your voice for three days, you don’t have a story-worthy goal.

In fact . . . I mean, it’s three days. Here’s a short list of things I want that I’d give up my voice for three days to get, and they’re not story-worthy goals.

  1. Reservations at Next.
  2. Fins. So I could be a mermaid.
  3. Prada shoes. Specifically, these Prada shoes.
  4. Or my mythical shoes.
  5. The perfect lip gloss.

Right?

What you’d give up your voice for three days to get?

 

 

Motivation

So, as I posted on Facebook, I am having to deal this week with the fact that my 60-year-old father is in significantly better shape than I am. This has been true for a while – at least since he started Weight Watchers last year and probably before that – but this week, I’ve been dealing with it more viscerally because, while he’s been here, we’ve worked out together. Yesterday we walked in the Botanic Gardens and today we biked. He can go further faster than me without getting as winded or red-faced or sweaty, and what I consider a good work-out, he considers “warm-up.”

But. I will not allow this to shame me. I will not allow this to sink me into a pit of despair and pasta bowls the size of my kitchen table. I will allow this to motivate me instead! In fact, we have struck a deal this morning, since we have always been a bit competitive. The next time I am in NJ, which will be in December, we will take a pair of side-by-side elliptical machines at his gym, and whoever can go the furthest in an hour (or maybe 90 minutes if I have REALLY been working out hard and that no longer seems ridiculously daunting to me) wins!

(Wins what? We didn’t discuss. The joy of winning has always been enough for either of us.)

And, to stay motivated, I might do a daily or weekly post on this blog. I actually started another blog in January which was meant to keep weekly track of my weight/size and daily track of my food intake and exercise, but I didn’t keep it up, because 1) that’s daunting, and 2) I didn’t even tell my limited audience of you guys about it so the motivational effects were pretty nil. I’m not going to be that intense about it here because how boring for y’all but I’ll try to do some form of update.

Parenting Philosophies

I saw this the other day and I started thinking about my parenting “philosophy.” I do try to “calm the fuck down” about most things. I also have read, you know, Alfie Kohn, and Becoming the Parent You Want to Be, and How to Talk so Kids Will Listen, and all those people, and I try, I really do, to parent the way I want to parent, a way I’ll feel proud of when she’s 16 or 21 or 30 or whatever.

I try to think long-term. I try not to focus on whether or not she’s learning her alphabet on schedule or jumping up and down on one foot on schedule (for those of you who are not parents – yes, that’s an actual thing). I try to focus on whether she’s developing a lifelong love of learning, and developing a body she’ll be able to use and enjoy using for her life. 

I try not to encourage in her personality traits that will make her childhood easy for me – such as obedience – and instead encourage her to feel what she’s feeling, do what she wants within reasonable limits, and question things, even me. 

I try not to say no unless I have to, and when I do, I try to give a reason. Not because she’s owed one, exactly, but because I am not trying to teach her “Do what your mother says”; I’m trying to teach her “Think about what you do before you do it; think about the consequences of your actions. Here’s how.”

Because I’m trying to let her do what she wants within reason, I am constantly monitoring her abilities, her feelings, her physical and emotional ability to handle things. And when she can’t handle things, I try to work with her, not just to comfort her, but to help her figure out how to handle things.

We didn’t exactly subscribe to all of attachment parenting’s doctrines, but I did breastfeed for 106 fucking weeks, and wear Zoe in a Baby Bjorn until she was absolutely too heavy, which, as many of you know, took a while, because she’s teeny. And she did share our bed until . . . oh, yesterday. 

I am trying to be the perfect authoritative balance between “I unilaterally restrict everything!” authoritarianism and “I unilaterally allow everything” permissivism. I try to allow her to have her feelings while also teaching her to be strong. I try to make her feel loved and looked after without helicoptering. 

I am fucking exhausted.