Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Tonight I found this photo hiding in a box of memories, one that contains relics of years gone. But I want to share it with you, my soul sister, for I have not told you in quite a while that I have long relished your gift to me.

We don't speak as often as we once did, but I think our paths intersect enough now to know that we still carry the connection that once wove our lives rather closely. I don't need to hear your voice each week to recognize that you are always there for me. You were my confidante, and I yours. Of course, my life has changed since those days, that span when I deeply needed you to help me find the way through sadness and change.

You held me as I cried, wondering if my life would ever materialize as I had envisioned.

You listened for hours and offered sage advice.

You nurtured me, my sister, through literature and music. (I still own the case of Ray Lynch cassette that I bought at the tchotchke shop in New Haven; I played it until it became a plastic carcass of wrinkled tape. Ray Lynch comforted me on bumpy roads, just as your calming and understanding voice did.)

You have walked on a path of fire, lighted by many sources, covered with many shards that would have fallen weaker women. But you have always held your own, carried your shoulders high. You are one of the reasons that I can paddle strongly along a swift current.

The ability to maneuver the current is what make us so sensible, so driven, so determined to find happiness, contentment, to find peace.

I found it here. And I've found it since. Even though my life is not perfect, I, like you, will keep paddling along as I continue my search.

words left unsaid

words left
of coffee and tea
in bed
no sugar
to sweeten
these conversations
left unsaid
for they are my own
my thoughts
stuck between stardust melody
and failed expectations
of engaging dialogue
gone silent

these words
shall remain
only in my mind,
shall remain
words left unsaid.

A man can be happy with any woman, as long as he does not love her. ~~ Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Me: "What's up with white shorts these days? They're all see-through. I had to buy nude thongs. Who wears nude thongs?"

Her: "I totally agree. But I can never wear white shorts again. Having an ass tattoo has become the bane of my fashion existence."


Confidence should never be underrated, especially when you have the confidence to simply be yourself, no matter what everyone else thinks.

I recall a time, many years ago in a former era of my existence, when I owned a bicycle with a baby seat on the back. Annie had long outgrown it, and I simply didn't feel the need to remove it. Why? Who knows.

But I realized that Max, my loyal West Highland Terrier, could fit in the seat rather comfortably. All I had to do was say, "Sit." He'd sit and then I'd pull the harness over his soft-coated chest and strap him in. (This was sans helmet, of course, but I don't think it's reason enough to notify PETA.) So several times a week, we'd head out for a few miles. He seemed to love it.

Yes, it was quite the sight. Yes, I was the sole person riding around town with a dog on my bike. Yes, I got a lot of looks.

And, I'd hear later, comments from the neighbors--but never to my face. But it didn't matter. It was me.

My friends know that I can never boast about being the most mature person, nor the smartest. I've made many foolish mistakes in my life, some that brought on a lot of pain to myself and to others.

But in it all, I don't think I've strayed far in the quest to be myself, to do what makes sense to me.

For example, take this guy that I videotaped at Downtown Disney:

A street band was performing some Latin American number, and this fellow just felt the tunes. He danced for about 5 minutes, prompting people to stop and watch. Granted, his eclectic nature could easily captivate one's eye. Heck, the outfit alone attracted fireflies.

But then throw in the shaking hips with his the bow-legged bossa nova and you were hooked.

A few Southern boys behind me chortled, commented on "what a weirdo" the dancer was. I turned, looked at their protruding bellies and triple chins and responded: "Well, at least dancing keeps him in shape and he's not afraid to have fun."

They shrugged. I don't think they'll ever get it.

Sometimes we do things that define us, no matter what others may think. We face the criticism, the questioning, the stares, the eye rolls. But it takes confidence to stay on the course of remaining steadfast on our journey.

Even if it means getting an ass tattoo and giving up the right to wear see-through white shorts.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Return

Things you did. Things you never did. Things you dreamed. After a long time they run together. -- Richard Ford

I confess that I have avoided visiting DC at all costs since 1999, otherwise known as The Big Collapse. That, of course, took place on Aug. 28 to be precise, the day after my newsroom colleagues threw a wonderful going-away party for me, complete with a faux yet highly credible front page announcing my move to just outside the Beltway. I recall the weather forecast in the corner: DC: Sunny and bright; Allentown: Cloudy and dark. On the morning of Aug. 28, after the party and post-party at Cannon's, you awoke crying, saying you were afraid to marry, afraid to be responsible, afraid of a house with a picket fence, afraid to pluck me from my home and move me, afraid that becoming a foreign correspondent would never materialize when I wanted to plant roots.

It was also the morning of my bridal shower, six weeks shy of our nuptials. The wedding invitations sat stamped, ready to go. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), they would never to be sent.

And so the plans to relocate my child and my career 200 miles south stopped. Immediately. Dead in their tracks.

I returned the 1.18-carat set in platinum. I told my bridesmaids that I was sorry. I ended up in counseling to cure myself of self-pity, only to be told it would take a long time to work you out of my system. I tried. But then you changed your mind. Again. And again. And again.

Finally, I quit you.

That counselor earned her money, for it took me years.

I vowed to never return to DC or Fairfax County where we once shopped for overpriced townhouses. I did break that promise briefly when I decided to run the National Marathon in early 2008. Somehow I managed to get through the race without much thought of you, perhaps because my focus remained on my race. It also remained on a man who wasn't afraid of shaky ground, someone who knew that you remained an emotional virus and accepted that you remained omnipresent.

But whenever the idea of returning to DC without a strong purpose arose, I felt anxiety biting my ankles.

Well, business recently harked, and so we headed south again as part of a multi-purpose journey. The first leg: National Harbor, just across the river. Part of me needed to prove to myself that I could return there as a different woman, not the broken one, and certainly not the one who stood by your side when you received the call, drank the champagne, raised your fist in the air and earned bragging rights to say that you won a Pulitzer Prize.

Today, I am a changed woman, an appreciative one who knows that the time we shared was, indeed, a gift. You helped me become a stronger person, a better writer, a soul who tries to live without regrets as you always extolled.

And so I drove my girls through the city, and as always, traffic was a bear. I always feared the move anyway, knowing that I grow antsy in gridlock. As I cruised around the Jefferson Memorial, I thought of the hours that I sat in my Isuzu Trooper on 495 every Friday night to make the 3-hour trek. This time, however, I maneuvered through the bottleneck jams with ease, without anxiety.

Here's proof, as one of my girls took pictures as part of my drive-by tour of the monuments:

The three of us walked through the Museum of Natural History which became so familiar to you and me; but now my girls and I negotiated the crowds and marveled at the same carcasses from a decade ago. Of course, I thought of you---and there were no regrets.

The following week, after a long trek in other states, I pushed the pedal as I drove along Skyline Drive in the Blue Ridge through the Shenandoah. I reflected how you needed to find yourself, and it included this same drive on your way to self-discovery.

It took you a while, but you eventually did find yourself---elsewhere.

Without me. Without us. Without the white picket fence. Now, you share that with someone else.

And that, my friend, is fine. Truth be told, I have avoided any possible chance of bumping into you, bumping into awkward moments and memories that I always thought were best untouched, buried beneath a sea of time.

But after this trek, I realize that to avoid you is to avoid a signficant part of my life. It is a chapter that largely defines who I am today. And for that, I thank you.

Friday, June 22, 2012


She, who pushes

through the hurdles

of being her,

keeps fighting the tide

that never ceases.

A spider web,

delicate and fragile

She remains, yet capable

of bearing strengths

often unexpected.

I watch as you grow

from confused and anxious

to strong and sociable,

relentless to win

a swim event,

a new friend,

a boy's smile.

And I close my eyes

and wonder when life

won't always center

around your


She, who dodges

the hurdles

of being her sister,

keeps trying to construct

her own path.

A chrysanthemum,

resilient and perennial

she remains, yet sensitive

to the fact that her sister

is different.

She is younger yet

older, taking mother's

role through comfort

and persuasion,

Big shoes

she wears.

Tonight beneath the setting sun

you quietly ponder:

“When will I compete? When

is it my turn?”

It is your turn, Calliope,

little thinker,

it is time

for you to learn

that you don’t have to live in her


A Bibliophile's Confession

I’m wearing mom jeans, an oversized sweatshirt, and a pair of clunky white Reeboks that have seen better days. Bangs curl perfectly over my forehead and tortie horn rims conceal my eyes.

I don’t want anyone to recognize me, for the guilt feels tremendously weighty.

It’s my turn, and I stand.

“Hi, everyone,” I softly voice and throw in a trifling wave. “My name is Denise, and I—(focus intently here so your stutter doesn’t return)—I—I am addicted to b—b—b—buying b—b—books.”

“Hi, Denise,” they nod; a few smile.

"I just blew a hundred and fifty-one bucks and I could've easily doubled that."

These bibliophiles—the same ones who sit in Barnes and Noble for hours with a cup of tea and four sugars (or, more likely, a bottle of tap water from home) and pore through a stack of books they’ll never buy—get me. A bookstore is a brothel for our brains, our being.

However, I cannot live with the knowledge that someone else could potentially buy a book that I’ve already read, so I can never join the free-loading clique. I wouldn't want to ruin the sanctity of a book for someone else. Please understand, I like my books pure, untainted, with virginal pages waiting to be deflowered by my hungry mind alone.

No, I don’t want to go the library. You never know where someone read that novel. No, I won’t buy them for the Kindle. I’m tactile, thankyouverymuch. I like to touch things. No, I don’t want to borrow them from my friends because I might, indeed, drop a morsel of dark chocolate between two pages and then leave a future reader to wonder what the hell I was thinking, eating while borrowing someone else’s book.

Is there something wrong with this? Maybe.

But this is not my worst transgression, so I can live with it.

And so when I finished the first two books on my summer reading list—The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht and Committed: A Love Story by Elizabeth Gilbert—by the first day of summer, I knew I had to get my fix.

Neither of those two satisfied the jonesing that I get when I find a book full of what my former writing coach dubbed “gold coins.” Those moments of cerebral satisfaction that feed your creative soul.

Admittedly, Tiger’s Wife provided a rather interesting narrative, and her writing included moments that were simply grand. Still, as much as I enjoy folklore, the prose just meandered on and on, and of course the main character offered me little personal connection. Committed is not EPL, which I simply treasured. But with her follow-up novel, Gilbert seems rather dogmatic in her sobering look at what makes marriage work and not work. I never got to a higher ground on this journey of hers. And so with those two, I found there to be more gold in Gatsby’s tie.

So off to B&N I went with a tattered piece of lined paper as I searched for eight books to complete my summer reading goal of ten.

Unfortunately, not everything was in its place, and if you know me the slightest bit, I have trouble finding objects in a store. I almost walked out after only finding one on my own. Fortunately, a really hip chick who had the same one-side-shaved ‘do that I sported in college was working the help desk. She looked at my list of titles and led me around in sweet joy in a sing-song chirp.

“You’re going to love this! Oh, and you're going to looooove this one, too! Ha! And this!”

In the end, I came away with seven. One still has to be ordered.

And so in this order, I shall read:

1: The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes. I have very high hopes for this book.

2: The Buddha Walks into a Bar—A Guide to Life for a New Generation by Lodro Rinzler. This was recommended by my Buddhist friend who keeps trying to get me to go to yoga class. Perhaps once I can figure out how to ashtanga without bottom wind propulsion.

3: When the Emperor was Divine by Juliet Otsuka. This comes from my boss, who steered me from Buddha in the Attic.

4: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith Disclosure: this is a risky bet. I avoid all books relating to wizards, werewolves, and vampires, but who can resist a tall man with a beard?

5: Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier. I loved Pearl Earring, and Diane assured me that this is a keeper.

6: Home by Toni Morrison. Um, it's Toni Morrison. Need I say more?

7: Canada by Richard Ford. I have yet to know a Pulitzer Prize winner whose writing didn't earn my utmost respect. And Ford's won high praises.

Yes, my fix was a tad pricey. And yes, I could’ve borrowed several titles and saved a few ducats and bought those white Oakleys. But in the end, I have no regrets, for literature is a component that completes me.


“There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.” Joseph Brodsky

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Jesus drives.

Who knew that Jesus drove an SUV? Honestly, I always viewed him as a bicyclist----wearing sandals, of course, like your goofy Uncle Mike who meanders on the rusted coastie at the beach, cup of coffee in one hand and swerving in carefree style. No helmet, but definitely a basket for his newspaper. Jesus definitely gets the paper.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


I am a knife juggler in a circus of madness. At least four daggers spin wildly before my face, and I agilely grab the handles, trying to avoid sharp pain. Sometimes, however, my hand slips, and I am cut.

It’s become difficult as I try to balance them all, for they encircle everything else that otherwise remains stable in my life. No, my existence isn’t a total morass, but the waters have been muddied. I cannot control any of these spinning blades, yet they continue to slice me emotionally.

My life, it seems, continuously welcomes upheaval, as if I almost wear a bumper sticker on my forehead: “I heart turmoil.” Truly, I don’t. After all, as a kid, I wanted to be either an architect or a librarian. You can’t get any more vanilla than that, except perhaps engineer or IT nerd.

But the largest knife has been sharpening itself for years, and I’ve learned to dodge and weave its path through a cocktail of meditation and avoidance. Nietzsche said that one must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star. Well, I’ve given birth to a galaxy beneath a row of strobe lights.

This is why I need to rely on my resilience lately—to remember that I need to love life, not because I am used to living but because I am used to loving. I will own my dancing stars, continue with little regret, accept what I cannot change, pray that those who do can find comfort in their new existence.

And I shall follow Kendall’s latest mantra: "Keep calm and eat a cupcake."

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Father of Girls

A father of girls sleeps in the afternoon while his progeny traipse elsewhere. I see other fathers tossing balls in the backyard. Others ride bikes. Some simply walk the trail the encircles the community, sons and daughters by their pot-bellied side.

But this father, he sleeps. He deserves to.

This father awoke early today and left for the quiet solitude of the parkway, away from a house full of women. There he ran 10 very hilly miles in 1:06, which is pretty damn quick for most. Still, he said he cruised it, trying to hold back, while some fathers sat in front of plates of bacon or continued to sleep.

This father really never knew his own father, a man I will probably meet once -- as he lies in a casket amongst flowers we ordered.

So he had no mentor, no role model. Yet he has chosen to be the best father that he can be to these girls, and for that I have the utmost respect.

He doesn't view his children as dependents. He doesn't view them as baggage. He doesn't waste his life trying to please them or me or anyone else except himself. He faced challenges for much of his life was a challenge.

And that's why this father has never settled, has never looked for the easy path, has worked harder than any man I have known. And there have been quite a few...

So sleep, father of girls. You deserve to.

Saturday, June 16, 2012


today I saw you through the face of another


who did cannonballs

and ate cake,

who wore battle scars

from his fort in the woods,

with poison ivy dotting his arms,

and I felt the vacancy sign

silently sway

in the breezy front porch

of my own bare arms

that will never hold you.

as my autumn approaches

i wonder who you would have been,

and i picture the curious eyes


and smell the murky odor of nature

lingering in your tussled hair.

it is in other


that i can see you

and feel the deep pit of remorse

for days

not celebrated

with pop-up Hallmark cards

of Woody and Buzz

and watch you


toward the girls

and laugh as you make them shriek

with wanton


Margaret Thatcher is a Libra

One of the perks of my job is that I work down the hall from Andrew, a wonderful, intelligent, personable man whose expertise (besides meteorology) is astronomy. I turn to him for quick consultations on the stars and planets, of which I have long been fascinated in since I was a child. My alma mater had a tremendous planetarium that become a victim of budget cuts and needed classroom space.

However, my current district remains invested in the study of space, and so I have the honor of stopping in to Andrew's domed room a few times a week to look up at Ursa Major, should I so choose. I call him Mr. Astronomy. He calls me Ms. Journalism.

The funny thing, however, is that I sometimes confuse the word "astronomy" with "astrology," a science to which I don't necessarily subscribe. And on more than one occasion, I have referred to him as Mr. Astrology.

He doesn't like it.

And I can easily see why.

But like my mother, I have often talked about how people born on the same birthdate (or under the same sign) bear similar qualities that we may not necessarily see in someone else.

And so the fact is that my mother, born October 26, sees parallels between herself and Hilary Clinton, also a Oct. 26 birthday. Both are strong willed, independent, fighters who never have feared going toe-to-toe with someone for standing up for social justice and equality. The fact that my mother has met Clinton twice probably solidifies her admiration for the Democrat leader even more.

Well, this week I watched Iron Lady, the Meryl Streep film that documents that rise of Margaret Thatcher, Britain's only prime minister who faced critics not only from her opposing parties, but from those within her ranks. I am hardly saying that I can draw any legitimate comparison to a woman who went to Oxford and rose through the ranks of the Conservative party, often to champion public schools, but I can truly relate to the conflicts and criticisms brought on by others.

I've dealt with too many condescending folks who questioned my ability to go to college, to be a successful writer, to push myself to limits that not many have taken.

Margaret Thatcher is a Libran.

According to one website, "a Libran female is total woman, complete with the charming manners and delightful elegance. She can also argue with the convincing male logic and beat you at any argument. However, the male side may come in front of you after sometime. Debate attracts her and she weighs both sides of the situation with total fairness. A Libra girl may start an argument alone and finish it alone, with your contribution being only some occasional comments. While she is arguing with you, she may smile every now and then.

Before you know it, you will feel captivated by her smile and charm. By this time, she would have won the argument as well as your heart. Of course, you won't mind that, since she convinces with such carefully balanced and logical arguments. A typical Libran female characteristics profile includes a constant need to be fair and balanced. The best part is that she presents her case in such a tactful way that you don't feel offended at all. At the same time, she is not stubborn and easily changes her mind if she finds your arguments more logical and convincing."

Yes, Thatcher is a Libran. And so am I. And so the Iron Lady and the Ironman share one more thread: Oct. 13.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Muscling Through

So here we are, waiting for the doctor at Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital. Again.

Coming here is always an unsettling adventure since Grace had a long-standing habit of vomiting in the car on the way here.

The culprit? Anxiety.

And thanks to anxiety, that's why we're here.

After years of discussion and inner turmoil, I caved in to the medical suggestion of medication. No parent wants to willingly submit to medicating their child. You spend hours trying to find way to prevent meltdowns, to encourage success, to breed confidence.

You opt for therapy, you opt for waiting, you opt for changes in diet. And for some children, that works.

But I don't live in that majority. (In fact, only a minority of my four seem to fall in the majority. That may seem illogical, but it is truly rather logical, if you knew my brood.) And to be honest, living with her has often proved to be difficult at times, and I'm sure it will continue to test my limits for the next several years.

Thus, I acquiesced and subscribed to Team Meds in April. Surprisingly, things seem better, as one can tell from the photo. No crying fits on the way to the hospital or in the hospital, fewer bouts of spontaneous crying, decreased protests of self-doubt.

I know there is a large contingency of parents who would greatly chastise my choice to join Team Meds, including some in the medical profession. But right now, this seems to work, even if it means taking it day by day.

It's all part of muscling through difficult times as we continue the journey of saving Grace.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Baby Bubbles

Someone said that I never take photos of the two of us. Here is proof that I do.

Told you so, Baby Bubbles.

Breakfast with the Beatles

Someone decided to redeem herself on Sunday morning.

She decided she would make coffee.

Then, she would prepare pancakes.

She'd wash and slice strawberries; she'd pick through the blueberries.

And she did.

For me. And for her.

With just a little help.

And she wanted to listen to the Beatles.

And so we did.

Girl time is often the best time.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

So big, yet so little

I still consider my youngest squirrels to be, well, young. And although they both remain in the ages of single digits, they secretly long to be "10" because it has two numbers. Oh my! How exciting, I know!

Keni has a deep love for Lady Gaga, and i wish I could dissuade her. Today she asked if I could buy her Victoria Justice concert tickets, and if not, she'd take a Gaga show.

I vainly tried to explain why Gaga was not a good choice.

But why?

She's too old.

But you're old.

Why, yes. Yes, I am. Thanks for the reminder, dear.

But you let me listen to the Beatles. And they're old.

Yes, they're not only old. They're dead.

And so it went.

She already knows a handful of Gaga songs. She tries to wiggle her way as best as her still uncoordinated 6-year-old body will allow her. And she'll wear her hair ala Gaga, if allowed.

But the hope on to which I hold revealed itself last night as we sat in a diner where they were playing music. Four notes into the next song, both girls quickly responded: "The Beatles." They probably know at least 30 Beatles tunes, and that will pacify me for now. It has to.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The last day of 8

Today we celebrate. It marks the end of 8.

In hours, you'll turn 9. Will life be just as fine?

No one knows, child, for there is no easy answer.

All I can tell you is that you will grow from this, although this will truly shape who you are as a girl, as a teen, as a woman. Success will not come easy, but I will continue to advocate for you in all of my capacity as your mother, to help empower you as I've done for the past 8 years.

Not many people realize how much your extended family has invested and sacrificed to get you where you are today as you sit among the the traditional learners, those who can better adapt, better comprehend, better understand the purpose of the unwritten charge to which all subscribe -- or are expected to.

You do not fit into society's prescribed formula of average or above average. You exceed exceptionally in some areas that shock the professionals. Yet you struggle in some that the white coats expect.

The PDD-NOS label they've attached to you falls far below the ones we all hold:










Dog lover.

Cookie monster.

You are unique, little bird, and the challenges that you face teach everyone around you about life -- that life is never fair, that we encounter troubles that may stumble us. But we just need to pick up and move on.

And as you move on, I will be there to watch you flourish into the independent, intense, and enthusiastic individual that you are meant to be.

HB, Gigi.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Ode to a Downer

My friend Jerry blogs poems about people, real and not. A recent entry made me think of a shrew who spends a great deal of time vainly trying to make others miserable. She continues to fail in her valiant efforts as we all roll our eyes for her misguided feats of defeat.
I feel sorry for her because jealousy consumes her being.

I feel sorry for her, for shallowness defines her humanity.

I feel sorry for her, for she lives as a desperate saboteur.

I feel sorry for her, for she suffers a pernicious soul that exudes black rot.

I feel sorry for her because success—a product derived from education, professionalism, and talent—will never knock on her door.

I feel sorry for her, for she exists in a world of non-existence, one that centers on ordering sheet cakes, making copies, and answering phones.

I feel sorry for her, as she cannot appreciate a child.

I feel sorry for her, for country music gives her the answer to what’s wrong in her world.

I feel sorry for her, for bitterness and acrimony wilt the petals of the frayed broad.

I feel sorry for her, for her delusions and manipulations reveal a desperate loon.

Maybe peace will come someday for her. Maybe she will decide to not be a downer.

Sadly, dignity, acuity, and common sense will not.

It's time to move on, old girl. Just move on.

“Those who love you
 will behold you 
across ten thousand worlds of birth and dying.”


What can I say? Nothing like spending a Saturday morning with a few of my biddies! I never laugh so heartily, so healthy as when I'm with these two. I actually had to stop during our pre-race warm-up because I literally was peeing my pants -- and that was after I had already stopped in the bushes across from the cattle farm.

Life is good when you're surrounded by good people.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Social notworking

I've been rolling my eyes lately at social networking.

Yes, I have a graduate degree in technology. Oh, and yes, I have the equivalency of a second graduate degree in technology. Thus, I wholly support the ideology of teaching with an approach toward 21st century learning, focusing on collaboration, creativity, cooperation.

But I truly subscribe to the argument that social networking is hampering the interpersonal skills needed for healthy relationships and growth. Besides the obvious drama and horn-tooting, social networking consumes so much time that could otherwise be productive.

I've read enough research and conjecture that supports both sides, all of which makes me curious to see how this generation of digital natives will fare in the upcoming years. Already I see the communication and writing skills of students making a slow descent into an abysmal pit of poor dialogue and articulation.

Today, I just continued to shake my head at Facebook, which recommended a line-up of four "friends" for me--four people who clearly have no connection to one another, four people who will never be a part of my personal life.

The first is a student who wrongly slandered me. Enough said.

The second is someone who took advantage of people I love in numerous ways. Enough said.

The third is a person who committed a grave transgression against me. Enough said.

The fourth is Tyler, who can only continue to live through Facebook and memories. Enough said.

Only one of these four will ever be worthy of my time, and he's been gone for two years. That's how well Facebook knows me. If I could only click "dislike."

February foods

Brussels sprouts.

Who ever decided to pluck tiny cabbages and eat them?

Clearly, someone with a desperate stomach.

February marked my first dance--and probably my last--with brussels sprouts. Heck, I didn't even realize for the past 40-some years that brussels ended with an "s". Seriously. I always called them brussel sprouts. And no one corrected me. Probably because I never really discussed them since I've avoided them like I've avoided scallops (which by all means should be pronounced with a short a sound, quite unlike how Hot Tub Kathy pronounces them: "Scullups.")

I'm not sure what motivated me to to choose the sprouts, which old reliable (formerly known as wikipedia) describes as: "a cultivar of wild cabbage grown for its edible buds. The leafy green vegetables are typically 2.5–4 cm (0.98–1.6 in) in diameter and look like miniature cabbages." Wiki says that the total United States production is approximately 32,000 tons, with a value of $27 million.

That's a lot of cash for a cash crop that probably originated in ancient Rome, not Belgium.

Still, I figured this was a good time to try.

I paid about two bucks for a frozen bag of petite sprouts on Feb. 1 and procrastinated for nearly two weeks. Finally, on a day that I decided to do an all-out Sunday dinner, I threw a half-bag onto a pan and roasted them in olive oil and kosher salt. They looked pretty. They looked manageable. They looked like tiny buds of gastro-inconvenience.

Long-story-short: No one liked them. I managed to eat about six, hoping that they'd grown on me. Not quite. Kendall proudly boasted that she swallowed one, not bad for a 6-year-old who this month added mango smoothies, spicy turkey jerky, and garlic chicken to her new foods inventory.

Now I have a half-bag of brussels sprouts in the freezer. The next time someone needs a ice pack? I got it covered.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

New Year's Resolution Part 1

I dislike resolutions, so I simply promised myself that for this year I would try a new food--something that I've never tasted before--each month.

Granted, there are foods that I've tasted but haven't eaten. Liver, for example. I know my mother prepared it when I was a child. And I remember sitting at the glass-topped kitchen table, forcing this wiggly sliver of meat into my mouth. I nearly cried. I couldn't stomach it. I probably tried to feed it to the dogs who sat beneath the table and stared up at us in starry-eyed wonder. So since I've attempted liver, I cannot add it to the list.

So I've been pondering what 12 food items to add. And for the first one, I took the easy way out: cookie dough ice cream. I've never tried, never wanted to try it. The idea of eating cookie dough takes me back to the 70s, the era of liver and onions, when my mother told me it was dangerous to eat the cookie dough.

Thus, why would we eat it in ice cream?

The thought churned my stomach. It gives me gag reflex.

But earlier this month, I caved it.

Oh, I could've tried other flavors that I never tasted: coconut, bing cherry vanilla, Snickers, party cake, cotton candy. But I decided to live on the edge.

I decided to eat two bowls in order to draw a firm and fair conclusion: Cookie dough in ice cream is wholly unnecessary. In fact, it's more than that. It's truly inappropriate.

The chunks of dough do, indeed, taste like dough. And dough--like my mother said--is meant to be baked, not eaten. I liked the ice cream around it, buttery smooth with little chocolate chips. But eating cookie dough -- even if it's not real cookie dough -- is akin to putting a used wet Band-Aid in your mouth. You just don't do it. Ever.

I have a feeling that next month's specimen will be even less satisfying: brussel sprouts. I'm already getting the chills.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Jan. 15

Today marks the birthday of my nephew, who is a wonderful young man. And I think of happy I am for him, hoping he thrives successfully throughout a long life.

But the date also marks the anniversary of Tyler's death. It reminds me of how fragile we are, how some people can live a near eternity and abuse this privilege called life. They are bitter, selfish, egocentric. Or they take advantage of their families, their friends, their opportunities.

And then there's Tyler, who truly made his mark in such a short time as truly giving, spontaneous, selfless, gregarious.

Buddy, your sudden passing still haunts me. So many times I hear boys in the hallways, and I swear you are laughing. So many times I see a mop of curly locks, and I am reminded of we were robbed of you too quickly. You left many hearts broken, my 10th grade son.

Too sudden, my friend. Too sudden.