High Falutin

You know you’re not a candidate for hard core drugs when a puff of Mary Jane causes you to see Sebastian from the Little Mermaid riding through the room in his seashell chariot. I tend to experience an uncomfortable sensation of circling through time – my own time, not like real history – but time, nonetheless. I’ve also been known to eat an entire pot of goat cheese pasta, right from the stove. With the serving spoon. I don’t think my friends or family would describe my baked brain as smarter (or functional), but I present this poem to share with the world some of my deepest, most profound thinking. These words were written many moons ago – before kids or marriage – during an especially upsetting episode of time travel. We were watching that nonsensical Charlie Sheen interview – which I had seen previously and knew to be insane. But it suddenly all made sense to me – Charlie Sheen was speaking truth. And that’s when I panicked. I sensed that those around me weren’t taking me seriously. I also knew in my heart that the thoughts I was having were as close to TRUTH as I’d ever come. So I grabbed paper and pen to preserve my insight, to document the clarity I was sure I had grasped…

Only vaguely have a concept of the future

Going back in forth in time

Seeing myself, my seat and my time from various perspectives

My thoughts keep getting erased

Where am I?

Hearing voices

Know one [sic] has experienced this – why doesn’t anyone feel it – I know this is different


Knowing when/how to act w/o my brain—Jessie w/o Jessie

Many me’s in me

Am I functioning?

Understand crazy

In and out of time

How long is it taking?

Most important thoughts

Not wanting to be put to death w/ Alzheimer’s—lucidity of time

Cookies—small, hard cakes

My Mother, the Hoarder

I think most of us can admit to guilt-watching TLC’s Hoarders show, probably on multiple occasions. It wasn’t until I saw this wonderful window into an extremely relatable mental disorder that I was even aware my mother’s penchant for re-using pieces of tinfoil and old takeout containers could be something other than penny-pinching. Look – there’s nothing wrong with saving a good, sturdy soup container from your Thai delivery. But when you have multiple drawers of said containers that jam-shut every-other time you close them, I think we can agree there’s a better way. And it took my years – until just recently – to recognize that perhaps I am not overly wasteful as my mother would have me believe, when I put packing materials in the recycling bin, but that SHE is the one with the underlying syndrome. Maybe her basement powder room filled-to-the-brim with bubble wrap and packing popcorn is just a tad excessive. That at the end of the season it is okay for me to throw out the holiday cards we received and so lovingly displayed. That perhaps my mother will, someday, take up mosaics and that therefore holding onto the broken pieces of pottery and will be useful, but that she probably won’t and if she does she could most likely afford to purchase the craft materials at that point. Unfortunately for me, my mother has been swayed by my constant nagging and has begun the process of cleaning out her basement. This means that once a week I receive a very-well packaged box of my things that she no longer wants to store. The problem is, SOMEONE has to hoard because it is indeed essential to hold onto all my old history tests and English papers. And while I never much cared for sports or put any effort into these team endeavors, how can I throw out my “best effort” trophies? So as my mom declutters her basement, mine becomes more pathological each week…Y’all, I think I have come to realize that my mother loves me TOO much. It’s hard for me to admit, but maybe the dozens of binders she keeps of our old AIM chats from college are a bit over-the-top? Could her excessive love have been a disservice to my ability to function as an adult? Is it her fault that I resent my quotidien domestic duties and believe I am destined for greater things than butt-wiping 3 kids? The good news is, if I ever do become the influencer I’m meant to be, my mom has a perfectly-preserved archive of my life.

Executive Mal-functioning

I have this stack of planners, calendars and journals on my bedside table whose sole purpose is to shame and nag me. The pile continues to grow every time I spot one too beautiful NOT to buy at the Paper Source, or each time I open Instagram to feel bad about my parenting/body/wardrobe and am told by their advertising gods that if I buy this new kind of planner AND enroll in their online course in this very specific type of journaling, I too will end up the kind of parent I want to be with the body and wardrobe I’m meant to have. For the most part these planners remain empty and my life remains unchanged, except for the guilt, which grows as this stack becomes ever-more unstable. Really, how hard would it be to write just one line a day about my life, especially since setting aside these few minutes is apparently the key to happiness and gratitude. And what kind of mother can’t be bothered to write down the exact place and time of her child’s first word/step/lost tooth? As my self-esteem slips away with these memories, I find myself ever-more invested in my abusive relationship with these books. And tomorrow I’m confident everything will change when the mailman delivers the journal I found 2 nights ago which I know will be the answer…

Why can’t I keep any plants alive? It makes no sense that a person in charge of keeping 3 little humans alive should fail so consistently when it comes to flora. Even succulents and orchids, which supposedly need very little upkeep, enter my home to die. I so want to have one of those houses filled with green life and perfumed flowers, to be a person who revels in that new bud. But I am coming to terms with the fact that truly, basil bought from the store does the same job as the fresh stuff my neighbor gathers from her garden. And really, who ever has enough pesto when they attempt to make it themself?…

I have never known what it’s like to have any concept of where I am in space. Honestly, if you gave me $1 million I could not tell you which direction is north (to be continued)…

Silver Linings

I’m tired of hearing myself complain. There must have been a time in my life when surviving until bedtime wasn’t my daily goal. Mentally healthy people are always preaching things like “smile more” (the most annoying) and “think positive.” Well, I’m a glass-half-empty kind of gal, but it can’t hurt to try, right? So here goes…

This pandemic hasn’t been all bad. My lungs feel stronger, having learned to make do with 50% less oxygen they receive through my mask. My eyes have adapted to the 75% visibility they get without the glasses I can’t wear since my mask fogs them up. But best of all, I spend much less time grooming that I once did. Who needs to wax or bleach their mustache when it never sees the light of day of the eyes of the public? I’m embracing my Frida-look, and I’m not going to lie, stroking my newly-accepted facial hair is very soothing. I never have to worry about having food in my teeth, a concern that once plagued a majority of my social interactions. Nowadays the only physical attribute of mine for people to focus on (on those rare occasions I am close enough to another adult for them to notice) are my thick eyebrows. Luckily for me my eyebrows just happen to be my very best quality, and the one and only part of my body on which I have ever received compliments from strangers. Masks serve another useful purpose – changing diapers has become much less loathsome. If my youngest isn’t potty-trained by the end of this mess, I will store all the masks we’ve acquired by the changing table…

My family has been forced to seek out new outdoor amusement, and we have been exploring far more trails that we would have otherwise. This is most enjoyable the 1st 30 seconds of fresh air we breathe in after we step out of the car, before we cover up our faces and before the 2-yr-old inevitably falls into a puddle, gets covered in mud and refuses to move on. But, on another positive note – we have become very strong having to carry her 40 lbs up hills and over uneven terrain. And we have become expert in bribing children with candy in exchange for exercise…

This pandemic has also helped absolve me some of the guilt I used to feel plopping my kids in front of the TV. My proudest pandemic parenting moment was when my 2-yr-old sat through an entire movie for the first time. It took a lot of hard work, but I can now say she’s an expert TV-watcher…

And hey – masks may contribute to chin acne, but who would ever know?


I like massages more than anyone I know. They are a requirement in my marriage, and without them I’m not sure my husband would ever get laid. But often I come out of professional massages more stressed than when I laid down on the table. You see, I like deep tissue massages – to me there’s no point to pay someone to pet me. My kids do that for free. Constantly. The contact never ends. So when the masseuse has limp hands even after I’ve checked the “deep tissue” box and written a polite, but forceful annotation reinforcing my proclivity for pain, I’m propelled into a terribly unrelaxed state in which I am both cursing my decision to try this hole-in-the-wall spa but also perpetually hopeful that the massage will improve. “Maybe she’s just warming up,” I’ll convince myself as I begin the process of waiting in anticipation which I’m pretty sure is the exact opposite of the “mindfulness” I should be trying to cultivate. “Just do it!” I’ll think. “Speak up! Tell her you’d like a bit more pressure.” By this point I’m usually so worked up that I begin to worry if I’m sweating too much, so I also have to will her to turn down the heated bed. This in turn propels me into a deep state of body shame: how does my body measure up to her other clients? Is she repelled by my arm flab? Is she annoyed there is so much of me to rub or is it easier with more to squeeze? And how much time do I have left before I hear those 3 dreaded words, “Thank you, Jessie”? But inevitably the massage always ends and I’ll drink the cucumber water, smiling, unsatisfied, but tipping the masseuse nonetheless…

You know that feeling at the end of a yoga practice during chavasana when you should be meditating but really you keep peeking open your eyes to see where the instructor is so you can will her to pick you for the “hands-on assist,” and when she chooses the skinny yogi to your right who clearly didn’t have to work as hard to complete the class, you say “fuck it,” and pack up your mat and leave early? Yeah, me neither…

Though my feet currently look 50 years beyond their age, I have rather enjoyed avoiding my typical pedicure anxiety during this pandemic. It’s been nice never having a reason to shave my legs. No one has passive-aggressively shamed me about picking my toenails and making their job more difficult. And I haven’t had to worry that I might contract HIV via unclean pedicure tools.

Minivan of Dreams

These days, we are stuck at home a lot, watching the clock, waiting for that glorious time of day after the tornado of bedtime when we can pretend for 10 or 15 min that all the kids are in bed and won’t bother us again until morning. Before someone needs water. Or their tag itches them. Or they just need to inform us that they don’t like the pj’s they chose and are therefore changing. But for the other 10 waking hours, there is only so much UNO one can play, only so many Legos to step on, only so many times you can threaten to take away screen time before, heaven forbid, you must follow through. So these days we spend a lot of time in the car, driving around aimlessly, trying to pretend we don’t hear the screaming and yelling coming from the back. Because, you see, thanks to modern science and the AAP recommendations, all of our children are strapped down in a 5-point harness, unable to do too much physical damage to their surroundings. I used to curse these safety laws – wrangling 3 kids under 5 into carseats seemingly designed for trips to the moon instead of Safeway always ended up in sweat and tears. But these days I’m grateful for the extra time it takes to get my 3 little animals in the car. At least it brings us that much closer to binging on cold mac-n-cheese, soggy broccoli and Swedish fish in front of the Great British Bake Off at the end of the day…

I think there are two kinds of moms: those who have their shit together and are too hip to ever drive a minivan, and those who now exclusively wear elastic-waisted pants and are too tired to care about anything besides putting the most amount of space between themselves and their children when braving the car. I think you can guess which type of mother I am. I have friends who drive oh-so-cool Yukons, and those whose children must not shed as many crumbs as mine do because they allow them inside their fancy SUVs. But guys, my Honda Odyssey IS a luxury vehicle. I mean, sliding doors AND seats! A fancy rearview mirror that allows me to see every fight happening, even in the 3rd row. Sadly, my money-conscious husband convinced me we didn’t need the built-in vacuum, because why couldn’t we just bring the dust-buster to the car when it needed to be cleaned. Listening to him about this is one of my biggest regrets. Perhaps if we did have the built-in vacuum, I would be one of the moms with their shit together.

Worry Checklist – a Day in the Life

•Am I failing my children?
•Will my 6-yr-old ever learn to ride a bike?
•Why won’t 6-yr-old wipe his own butt? Is it a fine or gross motor problem? Does he need OT? Is he just lazy? Does he need regular therapy?
•Should I register for Weight Watchers? Will my therapist be disappointed in my? Does intuitive eating mean eat all the things all the time?
•Why am I so tired all the time? Is it normal to love naps this much? Am I lazy? How can I sneak in a nap so that my pandemic-WFH-husband doesn’t know and wonder why I’m making HIM get up with the kids in the morning? If I nap right now will the nanny judge me for paying her so I can sleep?
•Does my 4-yr-old have some sort of sensory disorder? Is that why he’s obsessed w/ wearing pj’s? Or has my own pandemic-chic-loungewear-look ruined him for life?
•What’s going to happen when I have to wear clothes again but can’t fit my pandemic belly into my wardrobe?
•Did I permanently ruin my child’s self-esteem when he found that pile of his art in the trash? Does he believe me that it was the cleaners even though they haven’t been here for a week?
•Does the UPS man judge me for receiving so many Amazon packages?
•Shit – did I miss my alarm signaling camp registration has opened? Will my kids return to school in the fall left out and behind in whatever skills one is supposed to learn at camp? Worse – will I have to spend time with them this summer?
•Should I pop a Xanax? I probably should – or did I finish those? Maybe I still have some Ativan…
•Am I a drug addict? I did skip that extra Advil yesterday for that headache that miraculously went away when my husband finally came down for the evening and took the kids. So no – not a drug addict. Maybe just a drug admirer.
•How can I get out of book club w/o admitting it’s the 5th book in a row I haven’t read – but really, there’s way too much Grey’s to catch up on.
•If I tell everyone I have a migraine will they believe me? Is this the excuse I used last month?
•I really should go to the doctor about these headaches, but they’ll make me get on the scale, and I don’t want to know…
•You know what? I won’t do WW again. I’ll try Noom. Instagram hasn’t led me astray in the past.
•Except that time I received the box full of cheap Chinese clothes I couldn’t return.

Potty Party

Take it from someone with intimate knowledge, her skin IS that soft, her eyes are that sparkly, and her hair really is that thin. I’ve had the honor of meeting Queen Meryl on several occasions. Like me, Meryl is a Vassar alum and one evening at a Board of Trustees dinner that I happened to be invited to, we came as close as two women can get. Meryl arrived during cocktail hour, donning a distinguished red marching band suit. But after making this initial appearance, the Queen was M.I.A. Before dinner I went to use the bathroom – a very small room with one tiny stall, which was occupied. Peeking through the crack in the door – as one does – I caught a glimmer of something red. Could it be? After some time there was movement. The sound of someone struggling with the lock. A familiar voice echoed in that small chamber: “Oh dear!” And suddenly, bursting through the door, Meryl fell onto me. “Sorry!” she exclaimed. “That’s okay!” I gawked, trying to act cool as I entered the stall, happier than I’ve ever been that I didn’t need to poop. I listened to the sounds of a goddess washing her hands. And when I sat down, THE TOILET SEAT WAS STILL WARM! Some people have bosom buddies, but Meryl and I – we are bottom buddies…

My first mom friend was a former model. She was about 10 ft tall, with long, silky blond hair and a tiny waist. When my son was about 6 months old, she invited me to join her very hip birthday celebrations. It was the 1st time I’d gone out since having a baby, and I was feeling pretty good about myself and the ensemble I’d put together. But when I showed up at the club it was apparent that I was her only friend without long blond hair and a tiny waist. Several drinks later I had completely forgotten about our differences. I felt sexy rocking my curly brown bob on the dance floor and I went with the girls to pee together. As each girl pulled up their skirt, it dawned on me that under my sexy outfit I was wearing full-body Spanx. I watched each girl sit to pee, with thighs that barely expanded on the toilet seat. And when it was my turn, I hiked up my dress, pulled apart the crotch hole in the Spanx, and hoped to God my pee came out in an even stream

When NOT to call the Doctor

My kids have been hospitalized with bronchiolitis. We have taken an ambulance in the middle of the night with croup. They have had their head stitched up, multiple x-rays, and come close to choking on watermelon. But my most traumatic parenting experience by far happened on a warm, sunny day at the playground when my 1st kid, then around 1, decided to put a dirty, used band-aid from the sandbox in his mouth. Look – I was already apprehensive about the sandbox, the playground for that matter. Every snotty-nosed child touching the swings sent me digging through the diaper bag for the Xanax. Every squirrel, every bird had surely left diseased droppings in the sandbox. But I let my son play so he would not someday end up on the couch in a therapist’s office blaming me for his inevitable neuroses. But when my son opened his mouth to reveal that band-aid, securing a future of mental fitness for him no longer mattered. Who cares about potential head-shrinking when you face the certainty of HIV, hepatitis, or God (and Google) knows what else one might contract by eating a used band-aid. The nurse at our pediatrician – who I’m proud to say recognizes my voice – told me no, they couldn’t squeeze my son in for a rapid HIV test and gave me the same load of crap about building a healthy immune system that everyone insists on explaining to me when I ask them to use the Purell we keep by the front door. My son is now 6. The sandbox still gives me anxiety and I am not yet convinced that rapid blood test was not in order…

There are so many food-related rules to follow when you’re pregnant, and I was very careful. So when I accidentally sipped some O.J. that seemed fizzy and saw that it was not only unpasteurized but also past its expiration date, I immediately called my O.B. (then on speed dial) to repent my sin. When she didn’t return the call within the hour, I called again. When she FINALLY got back to me SHE seemed annoyed. The nerve! She explained that I should only contact the on-call doctor if I was having an emergency. Whatever happened to do no harm? If the life of my unborn fetus and spoiled orange juice doesn’t constitute an emergency, I’m not sure what does.

Dinner Struggles

Can you believe you have to feed your kids Every. Single. Day? You feed them dinner one night, and for some reason they want dinner again the next day. Dinner with my kids is so loathsome to me that I start having anxiety around 4 PM. What will I make for them? Will they eat it or will they throw it? Can I survive the onslaught of whining? Have they had any vegetables today? Do I really need to provide a vegetable? Is protein actually important to their growth? But none of these questions actually matter in the end because dinner is always a shit show that we simply must attempt to survive. Dinner is the time of the day when I get in the majority of my 10,000 steps. I’m not a mother. I’m not even a cook. I’m the personal servant to three tiny humans who refuse to say please, who throw themselves on the floor if heaven forbid I switch their plates and forget the 4-year-old is the one who can’t stand to look at blueberries. Thank goodness for hotdogs, without which there would be no meat that all three are satisfied with. But how many days a week can I serve hot dogs without risking child protective services showing up at my door? And would people judge me if they knew I let me kids put ketchup on EVERYTHING? Apparently, according to my 2-year-old, ketchup and cantaloupe is a real delicacy. I’m not going to sugar coat things: there have been multiple occasions that I am so overwhelmed with fetching milk and answering questions about how many more bites of broccoli it will take to earn dessert that I have mindlessly eaten the chewed-up and spit-out mac-n-cheese on the floor. And I’ll tell you something else. It was fucking delicious…

And I know I must work to pass on a healthy relationship with food, unlike the one I was taught, but the new recs to provide all parts of the meal (including dessert) at the same time so that they can figure out what their little bodies are dictating about their hunger is either bullshit or my kids have superhuman bodies that when left to their own devices can survive entirely on sugar…

Last Friday I was so tired and sick of the shenanigans that I heard myself say “Shabbat is a privilege and I’m taking it away.” I’m not sure God agrees.