Out of stock

I am beginning to suspect that Giant Eagle is using my Advantage Card to track my purchases and systematically eliminate all the things I buy on a regular basis.

First, it was just little things, things that could be chalked up to coincidence. Maybe they just stopped making Sweet BBQ Sun Chips? I mean, I guess it makes sense that I might have been the only person buying chicken jerky? Even though it’s delicious and way better for you than regular jerky, but whatever, I digress, it does sound sort of gross when you think about it.

But more and more, I find that the items that I needed to survive everyday life were disappearing off shelves. Oscar Mayer turkey bacon– gone. Stonyfield Farms blueberry yogurt– never to be seen again. My grocery store now sells no less than sixty varieties of nut butter, including powdered, cocoa pretzel, and bacon (which is probably pretty good, TBH), but you will never again be able to purchase prepared chicken or shelled pistachio nuts. (And yes, I know I can just man up and shell my own pistachios and prepare my own chicken, but THIS IS AMERICA AND I SHOULDN’T HAVE TO.)

At first, I tried to adjust. Fine, no more Oscar Mayer turkey bacon? I will eat this equally acceptable Jennie-O turkey bacon. I suppose this coconut creamer is an adequate replacement for my Almond Joy creamer. (It’s not.) But then Giant Eagle fought back, and eliminated those things, too.

The worst is when they take away something that my children like, because it’s really not possible to explain to a five-year-old that she’s never again going to taste the delectable goodness of FarmRich pepperoni pizza bites (and God help you if you attempt to replace them with Tostino’s Pizza Rolls, because she will KNOW, and her wrath will be fierce). Occasionally, I’ll find my old food comrades in another store, and when I do, I return home with a cart full of it, hoarding it like the apocalypse is at hand. I will most likely die almost immediately at the hands of zombies, but by God, I will do so with a jar of Mid’s meat sauce clutched against my chest.

I wonder if I could use this to my advantage. If I buy nothing but mayonnaise for the next few months, will they take all the mayonnaise off the shelves? Can I buy out the stock of the olive bar and get that shut down, too? I don’t really know what I’d do with gallons of mayonnaise and olives– probably barf uncontrollably until they’re removed from the premises– but there must be some benefit to this misfortune. And an antipasto-free shopping experience just might be worth it.


I almost had it all

Today, I almost managed to pull off a fully successful day of parenting.

I was totally killing it, too. I took the girls to the mall, thinking we would just hit the play place and maybe ride the train. There turned out to be a kids’ festival going on, but instead of panicking and screaming “MALL’S CLOSED!” while covering Addie’s eyes and backing slowly out through the men’s section of Dillard’s, I decided to be brave and face the whole thing head on.

The girls had their nails done at a spa’s booth, made masquerade masks at the library’s booth, and spent five minutes vigorously kicking each other in the backs of their knees at the karate booth. And somehow, when I told the girls we had to move on, they listened to me. It was as if I had been imbued with the magical power that I thought only superior mothers possessed, mothers whose children didn’t tend to fall to the ground, writhing in agony, whenever they’re told they can no longer linger in front of the prize wheel for the local minor league baseball team.

We even got shanghaied into an impromptu photo shoot with a professional photographer, for which my children decided to dress like Christina Aguilera circa the Dirrrty years:


They looked like tiny pimps, but they were adorable tiny pimps, so I decided to buy the photo. In order to do so, I had to go to the photographer’s studio, which was located in that shitty corridor of the mall that only has, like, an eyebrow threading place and a hippie store with the word Jakarta in its name. I got there, and the photographer had live bunnies on site for photo shoots, and I almost left right then and there, knowing my children would be unable to resist the allure of live bunnies and would likely squeeze them to death like Lenny in Of Mice and Men. But lo, somehow, my new motherhood magic persisted, and when I told them to leave the bunnies alone, they simply walked away from the bunnies without convulsing with rage at my terrible abuse.

So I decided to press my luck and take the girls to the library afterward, knowing they were tired and high on free shit. Rosie fell asleep halfway there, so we stopped at the gas station and CVS to let her sleep a little longer, and Addie did not insist on getting out of the car to “help me pump gas,” which really just means “wander the gas station grounds waiting to be kidnapped”. What is this witchcraft, I thought to myself as Rosie dozed and Addie played quietly and happily in the back seat.

At the library, Rosie awoke happy and smiling, and played by herself while Addie used the computer. She didn’t pull any books off the shelves, or make prolonged eye contact with anyone (a particular habit of hers that tends to freak people out after 30 seconds or so), and I was able to actually sit on the couch in the children’s section and read a book for myself. It was done! I had mastered parenthood!

Until Rosie walked up to me and, not breaking eye contact, stuck her hand into the back of her pants, pulled out a wad of poop, and wiped it right on my pants.

“That’s right, motherfucker,” she seemed to say. “I still own you.”

In praise of jeggings

Like most women, I have faced a number of existential crises surrounding pants.

I feel like things must have been so much simpler back when women stuck strictly to dresses. Dresses are a woman’s secret weapon—if you buy the right one, you look fancy as fuck, but you feel like you’re wearing pajamas. “This old thing?” you say, coquettishly swishing the flared skirt of your beautiful cotton dress. “I am literally as comfortable as if I were wearing my old Plucky Duck Tiny Toons t-shirt from sixth grade that I still sleep in sometimes, but thanks! Also, don’t judge me for owning and wearing a Plucky Duck t-shirt.”

But dresses require shaved legs, and sometimes that just seems like an insurmountable task. And on those days, I must turn to my old nemesis: pants.

More specifically, jeans. Jeans are just such dicks about everything. One day, they’re loose and elephantine, making your butt look saggy and partially detached. The next day, those exact same jeans might inexplicably attempt to sever you in half. Jeans have no idea what they’re doing, and they are terrible at keeping you fully corralled in place. You might adjust a muffin top only to find several minutes later that three inches of your crack are exposed.

I much prefer leggings, with their forgiving elastic waistbands and butt-lifting technology, but I’m fairly positive that Obama made an amendment to the constitution banning women over the age of 35 from wearing leggings as pants, so I mostly limit my legging time to around the house or to the grocery store, where I already feel judged about the contents of my cart, so why not just go all-in?

I can’t wear leggings to work, but my jeans have gone feral and are attempting to constrict me to death so they can slowly digest me. I know there’s no shame in buying a bigger pants size (although this doesn’t really comfort me when I’m simultaneously crying and jamming cookies into my mouth three at a time), so I head to Old Navy, determined to find a pair of jeans that doesn’t want to murder me. And suddenly, I have found them:


The respectability of jeans, with the comfort of leggings. I put them on in the dressing room and it’s like wearing your favorite pair of lounge pants, except when you look down, you’re wearing jeans and not pink polyester fabric covered in monkey faces. I feel like I could do the splits in these pants and not be restricted at all, which is amazing, because I can’t come anywhere close to doing the splits, but THAT’S HOW INSPIRING THESE JEGGINGS ARE.

They only had one pair in my size, so of course I bought it, and I’m wearing my jeggings right now. I didn’t even pretend to anyone at work today that they were real jeans—I spent a good chunk of the morning approaching women I barely even knew and forcing them to watch me pull the elastic waist of the jeggings away from my body, yelling THEY’RE JEGGINGS!

I think people were impressed.

Between the jeggings, leggings and dresses, I now essentially have the wardrobe of a five-year-old, but I am not ashamed. You might be laughing at my buttonless, zipperless existence, but with my elastic waistband, I’ll have more breathing room to laugh even harder as your jeans attempt to kill you.

Plus, I’ll be able to eat more cookies. So I think that’s a win.

Trend setter

I have always wanted to start a trend. Ideally, it would have been a catchphrase. Like, I’d like to have been the first person to ever say the phrase “shit show.” Sadly, I am not that creative with my swearing, but I have done my best to make that one popular.

But if you know me in person, you’ll know that, in general, I am not exactly one to inspire a rabid following. The only fashion I ever rocked before anyone else was the long belted sweater, but even then, I don’t think I styled it properly:

fifth grade

Maybe it would have caught on 20 years sooner if I hadn’t paired it with a shirt I stole from a Mennonite and a gigantic denim purse filled with books of Herman comics, because what fifth-grader doesn’t enjoy a good one-panel comic aimed at geriatric men?

In general, I just don’t care that much about clothes—I understand that, for the good of everyone involved, I can’t just go naked, so I put on whatever outfit most adequately covers my junk. I generally don’t buy into the latest fashions (exception: I recently discovered yoga pants, and am now hard at work on my doctoral thesis on how to wear them to every social event for the rest of my life, including funerals and baptisms), and I am not particularly adventurous when it comes to patterns or styles—I own approximately seven navy blue and white striped nautical sweaters, and I will not be dissuaded from buying another if it presents itself and costs under $30 (another major deciding factor in my wardrobe choices).

Shoes, in particular, I view as a necessary evil. I gave up even pretending to wear high heels while I was pregnant with Addie, and have plodded along proudly in flats and sneakers ever since. I would actually be one of those people who would join the barefoot movement if it were socially acceptable to stroll through Target with the scuzzy hooves of a caveperson.

Which is why I wasn’t expecting to cause such a stir with my new shoes today:


No fewer than three strangers and one homeless person (who is also a stranger, not like my own personal homeless person) have asked about them today, and at least one person claimed she was going to buy a pair. Which is both flattering and sort of annoying, because I think I really deserve to have the market cornered on fox shoes here, okay?

So who knows—maybe I just started a new trend! Maybe animal-print footwear is going to be all the rage in 2016. If it is, please print this blog post and show it to anyone who will listen, because I’m going to need to demand credit for this whole situation. Until it inevitably becomes over-exposed and passé, at which point I’m just going to quietly slip them into the back of my closet and return to my inconspicuous life of navy stripes and Hobbit feet.

Braving Beyond

When I woke up this morning, feeling the sharp ends of a thousand feathers poking directly into my cheek like some form of duck acupuncture (duckupuncture?) from my worn-out, cheap-to-begin-with down pillow, I got it in my head that I would not be able to sleep again until I had purchased a new pillow.

This happens to me sometimes. For instance, sometimes I will never be able to read another book until  I buy a Kindle cover emblazoned with the words “THUG LIFE” in fancy script, or pay another bill until I have a space-age four-color pen with ink that turns clear if you microwave it, because there have been so many situations in my life in which I found myself disappointed that microwaving my paperwork did nothing but set my journals on fire.

Point is, every once in a while, I cease to function until I buy some useless shit. I’m assuming this is a fairly common occurrence, and not a gateway to a hoarding problem so severe that cat skeletons are unearthed beneath the mounds of detritus.

So with the girls at Grandma’s, I set out to a place so exotic and outside my comfort zone that I very rarely allow myself to go there:

Bed, Bath and Beyond.

I don’t know the last time you personally went to a Bed, Bath and Beyond, but it is insanely overwhelming. I’m pretty sure some of the dazed-looking people I wandered past in search of the pillow department have been there since the location opened in the mid-9os, and have yet to extricate themselves.

And just to overload you even more, they have moved what must be considered the Beyond section right up front, so the minute you enter the store, your senses are assaulted– SMELL THIS EUCALYPTUS LINEN SPRAY! SMELL IT WHILE YOU SIT ON THIS GEL SEAT INSERT THAT IS SO KIND TO YOUR BUTTOCKS! AND WHILE YOU’RE SITTING, RUB THIS CHEESE GRATER ON YOUR FEET AND THEN INSPECT THE GROSS SHAVINGS! DO IT! DO IT NOW!

By the time I made it to the Bed section, I was in a daze, clutching some cloth placemats, a set of grapefruit wax melts, and a Matchbox-car sized cutting board that I don’t even remember picking up. And my jangled nerves were not soothed at all when I finally reached the pillow department:


Daunted, but grimly determined not to return home sans pillow, I set about the Sisyphean task of finding the right pillow for me:

  • Side sleeper
  • Medium firmness
  • Uses pillow in portrait orientation, wrapping arms around it like cuddling an armless torso
  • Mouth breather/on-again off-again drooler
  • Inexplicably heats up to 200 degrees in the middle of the night like a poorly designed oven

Surprisingly, I didn’t find any pillows whose labels expressly suited my needs, so I resorted to the age old tactic of resting my head on basically every pillow in the store, because the one thing I want more than a good night’s sleep is a raging case of lice. I’m sure I was probably freaking out the other, more experienced pillow purchasers, but at that point, I was lucky that I didn’t just give up and declare the pillow department my new bedroom.

I finally left with a pillow so fancy that it came in a foil-wrapped box, not unlike fine candies, but if fine candies were designed to offer optimum neck support. I immediately brought it home and suited it up in its new pillow case, and am anxiously counting down the hours until I can try it out. IT HAS A COOLING GEL INSERT, PEOPLE. That’s some Beyond shit right there!