Luck Has Nothing to do With It

When I’m chatting with ladies who don’t know me all that well, who are only acquaintances, sometimes the topic of household duties comes up.

Oh, I’m so tired of cooking! Say, what are your favorite recipes to make for your family?

Internally, my eyes roll back in their sockets before I respond.

Actually…my husband cooks in our house.

And then I brace myself for the two-pronged response that I almost always get:

First is SHOCK: Whoa! What?!

Second is: Wow, you’re so lucky! I wish my husband would do that!

I have so many issues with this. First of all, just because I’m female and I’m a wife and a mom does not mean that I like to cook, or that I cook at all. That bias is still present for me, hence the jolt of weird guilt that goes through me when I end up confessing shirking my domestic womanly duties.

Second of all, luck has nothing to do with this arrangement. I chose a dude who doesn’t adhere to rigid gender roles, just like me. I find that attractive in a partner. Also, the way we negotiate the household duties is based on practicality and it’s on a fluid, ongoing basis. We do what we’re good at, what we like, and what works better for our family. Why the frick should I cook simply because I’m female? Doesn’t make any horsesense to me.

Third, it makes me so mad that it’s flippin 2020 and we’re still having these conversations. And the pandemic is only making things worse, as I saw a headline recently that reported several million American women left the workforce since March. As for me, I didn’t leave it, but it sure as heck delayed my entry back into it. Because, while other countries have social/government run safety nets, the United States has women.

I recently saw the interview Melinda Gates did with Dave Letterman on his Netflix show. In it, she said that when her oldest kid was in preschool, her husband Bill and her decided that he would drive their kid to school two days a week. That’s how they negotiated the household duties that would work for their family. As the school year went on, Melinda noticed that more and more dads were also driving their kids. When she spoke to the other moms, they said that once they saw Bill driving his daughter, they went home and told their husbands that if Bill fucking Gates could drive his kid to school, those husbands could, too.

And so. If my husband can cook dinner like a boss, yours can too. Let’s show each other that gender roles are bogus and all they do is hold us back, men and women both.

Luck has nothing to do with it.

Day 14


Welcome to the Jungle

Today is Day 13 and I feel greeeaaattt. (If anyone else remembers and loves this commercial as much as I do – you are my people.)

So far, I haven’t been progressing through the Whole30 prescribed schedule, but I’ve more or less been experiencing it in broad strokes.

I felt the hangover and on and off for a week I felt some yucky bloating, but the last 2.5 days it’s mostly given way to TIGER BLOOD.

I actually feel almost manic, which, for me, is alllllmost to the point of uncomfortable. I have more energy and I feel more alert. It also feels like my body and brain are buzzing and I’m having a flight of thoughts (not quite racing). When I feel manic like that, like I’ve drank a pot of coffee, it ironically makes me want to nap. That said, I am definitely enjoying the lack of sluggishness!

In addition, not last night but the three nights prior, I’ve been having incredibly intense dreams. They haven’t been scary nightmares, but they’ve all had dystopian/survival themes with extremely vivid sensations and detail. The kind where I’ve woken up and my body was still rigid and my heart was racing, and each time I’d have no trouble getting back to sleep and having yet another death-defying sequence. In one dream, my family was preparing for some kind of disaster and so I was rushing around with my kids making all these arrangements, packing up and getting ready to leave. In the most intense one, my husband and I were staying in this castle/mansion high on an ocean cliff that felt like Scotland. We had about 15 minutes warning for a tsunami. We were located on the highest ground as far as we could see and we had no time to go anywhere, so we sheltered in place. We closed all the doors in an effort to create as many barriers as possible. I felt the air pressure change and heard the loudest roar ever and then all at once the entire room was full of water. I woke up heart pounding. Crazy!

I’ve also really been enjoying my new ritual of making my breakfast every morning, new for me since I don’t normally cook. Pouring the olive oil in the pan. The click of the gas stove. Cracking the eggs. Shaking the salt and pepper. Scooping the avocado. Washing the blueberries. Glooping the almond butter. (I totally get that this sounds like I’ve gone off the deep end and drunk the Whole30 koolaid (not compliant)). The downside is that all this takes more time in the mornings (and non-tiger-blood me is not a morning person), but I am enjoying this new way in which I take care of myself.

As I move through this process, I’m starting to think about which habits I’d like to keep, and to what extent. I’ll for sure add some stuff back in, depending on the results of how certain food groups make me feel, but I definitely want to continue to go easier on the carbs and cook myself some egg deliciousness more often. I’ve gotten great at making the perfect over-medium fried egg!




Whole30 Day 3 Update

Knock on wood, buuuuut I’m seriously feeling a lot better than I thought I would at this point.

I expected to feel like complete shit by now, based on what the book says and based on what everyone else has said, and also based on the fact that I’m addicted to sugar and prone to headaches. It all says that day 3 is shitsville, but I feel…pretty good, actually.

Let me back up.

Day 1, got up early and had some eggs, fruit, and coffee and then headed out in the rain to walk four miles with some ladyfriends. During the last mile or so, I started to get this mildly dizzy headfeeling. It made me need to focus a little harder to maintain balance and it reminded me of a feeling I often had during my second pregnancy.

As that day continued, I developed a mild-to-moderate headache (my threshold is high, mind you, because I’ve been getting migraines for years now), continued to feel dizzy-ish and foggy, and a feeling that I like to call “fragile” (the lightheaded pregnancy feeling). In the afternoon, I sat down to read and started to feel really low energy and sleepy…so I took a nap. Man, I felt out of it. I got kinda freaked out because I was worried that this was the beginning of feeling like hell for goodness knows how long.

I had a good helping of protein with dinner and felt much better afterward, but my headache returned and stayed overnight. I woke up several times and was still able to get back to sleep, but still felt generally out of it and yucky.

Day 2 I felt much better. My headache went away (I was shocked)! My body promptly decided to void itself of all waste products. And I do mean ALL. Afterward, I felt so light I could fly. I had some twinges of dizzy-ish-ness, but not anything to worry about. I had more energy and didn’t require a nap. I actually also ate out for lunch that day and had a burger sans bun or ketchup (if you know me, you know I worship at the base of Mt. Ketchup) and had salad sans dressing.

Day 3, today, has been even better. I continue to be surprised. I still feel kinda tired, but honestly, I always feel kinda tired so it’s hard to figure out exactly what is the new diet and what is normal momlife.

So far, what I don’t find all that difficult is the willpower part. Neither my husband nor my kids are on this diet with me, so yesterday we all sat together while my husband had a beer and brioche buns on his burger, and my kids had grilled cheese sandwiches. Did that stuff look good? Sure. But was I dying on the inside not getting to eat it? Not really. This is where my stubbornness works in my favor – once I set my mind on a goal, no one ain’t gonna get me to mess it up, least of all myself. To be fair, I haven’t experienced any intense cravings yet. We’ll see if that’s in store for me later.

The following things are aspects I am finding tricky:

  1. Meal planning/cooking/prep

My husband does all this normally. He’s the cook, and so he plans the meals and grocery lists, I add a few things I want or need, and then I do the grocery shopping and get what’s on the list. My husband has been awesome so far in that he’s agreed to make me W30 compliant dinners that I help him plan for if he needs, and then I have to take care of all the other food I’m going to need. I’m not used to planning out meals. Usually, breakfast is cereal and lunch is whatever is lying around because I have kids to drop off or pick up and ain’t nobody got time for that. I’ve had to make a few extra trips to the grocery store (which I haaaate) to make sure I have things on hand that I need or want for breakfast and lunch. Planning ahead and coordinating with my husband are key so I don’t wake up in the morning to find he used all the eggs, for example.

2. Cooking (meat in particular)

I don’t like to cook. I just don’t have the patience for it and I’m not great at it. I don’t enjoy it. I’d rather be doing something else. No doubt, this has contributed to some yucky food habits. More specifically, I haaaate cooking meat. I loathe the feel of raw meat and it spikes my germyphobe-ness. I avoid it at all costs. Clearly, on Whole30 this is a roadblock, so my husband makes big dinners that I can have as leftovers for lunches the next day. If I absolutely have to, I can cook it, but so far I’ve been doing eggs and lunchmeat.

3. Snacking

I was raised in a household where snacking was often prohibited. You’ll ruin your dinner! I remember snacking being ok while watching sports, while going fishing, and while on vacation. Otherwise, not so much. When I was pregnant, I had to force myself to snack. There were a few times I got myself into trouble because I was in public and feeling lightheaded and shaky because I didn’t have enough in my system. On this diet, I’ve made myself a trail mix of sorts and I plan to carry it around with me everywhere, just in case.

4. Eating off my kids’ plates

Another value instilled in me growing up was to not waste food, ever. We don’t throw away food in my house unless it’s downright unsafe to eat, and even that is negotiable. So when my kid leaves a half-eaten sandwich, I’d either pop it into the fridge or into my mouth. There’s been a few times already when I caught myself about to pop some cereal from their bowl in my mouth, or reach to finish the last bit of their grilled cheese from yesterday. NOOOOPE.


Also, I’ve been reading food labels like crazy. Here’s a few surprises I’ve come across, both good and bad. To be safe, I just assume that every freaking thing has sugar in it. Dear lord, it’s disgusting. A while back I watched Katie Couric’s documentary on the sugar industry, and I highly recommend it. My rant is this: I have a major sweet tooth, but I’d much rather save it for the good stuff, like ice cream. cake. the occasional soda. I DO NOT want sugar in things I usually eat all day, every day like bread, peanut butter, tomato sauce, cereal, granola bars (which are really candy bars), lunchmeat, etc. YUCK. We’ve had to work hard to find certain products with no sugar added or the least amount possible, even before Whole30.

Good W30 surprise

  • the salsa we usually buy is compliant! I just assumed it must have sugar, but huzzah!

Bad W30 surprises:

  • my freaking gum has soy in it. I can’t even have gum as a stand in for a desserty taste in my mouth. Sigh.
  • most prepackaged lunchmeat has added sugar?! It’s MEAT, why does it need to be sweet? I also never knew bacon had sugar in it. Or beef jerky. I guess I just need to go kill the animal myself. Yeesh.

Ok, I’m done for now. I’m just so glad this isn’t as hard as I thought…so far…knock on wood.

Wish me luck (and continued willpower)!


The One With All The Thanksgivings

This is the first year that my husband and I are hosting Thanksgiving.

I mean, there was one year where we had it just the two of us, in Boston, after we had just moved in together for the first time. That was…way back in 2006. It was kinda cute, because we didn’t have a dining table of any kind, so we ate sitting on the floor on opposite sides of our Ikea coffee table.

I don’t entirely remember what we did for all the food…we only cooked a portion of turkey, not a whole bird. I do remember feeling a little sad that we weren’t with our families, but also cozy, quiet, and comfortable being with my most loved one. No drama. No fuss. Just us.

Fast forward to now, when I was the one who decided to host and invite family over, and I am also the one who doesn’t cook. Ha! Hilarity will ensue! Let’s get a reality TV show camera crew in here.

My husband is a good cook, but I am a better planner. And I’m told that cooking for Thanksgiving, in the crazy all-out way that Americans choose to celebrate a holiday supposed to be centered around gratitude, is largely about planning. I’m optimistic that our dynamic Thanksgiving duo will be able to put on a fairly chill, simple-but-yummy holiday meal.

We’ll cut corners where we want. Like, we’ll cook some turkey parts again and forgo a whole bird. Ain’t nobody got time for that. I’m gonna bake the pie cuz I likes to bake. My mom is gonna make her famous potato casserole. Yum!

Our Thanksgiving will also have to include some kid-friendly backups, like turkey-shaped pb&js or something, because the last time I checked, my kids only eat the rolls anyway. Kids are so weird. STUFFING IS AMAZING, YOU GUYS! FOR THE LOVE, JUST TRY IT!

A side note about Thanksgiving, which I alluded to above. Only Americans could take a holiday supposed to be about appreciating things you have and surviving the winter by creating excess, by exercising gluttony. I picture the fat disgusting dudes from The Oatmeal cartoons saying something like, “Shit, James! We didn’t starve or die from the measles this winter! I’m so happy to be alive! Let’s celebrate the way our forefathers would want us to – by eating everything in sight and bringing on early onset diabetes. ‘Merica.” And then they high-five each other.

It just makes more sense to me that, in order to truly know and show gratitude for something, you’d need to know what it’s like to be without it. Maybe one of these days I’ll put my money where my mouth is and actually fast for Thanksgiving evening. Perhaps having control over the meal this year – and simplifying it – is one baby step closer to that goal.

And, having said that, perhaps my kids have the right idea by just eating the rolls.


Maybe Spring Will Come Early

About every 6 months or so I find myself rewatching Eat, Pray, Love.

It’s a story that really speaks to me.  It’s about a woman traveling physically, but also emotionally and spiritually, to find herself.  To reinvent herself.  To heal herself.  I find that message incredibly inspiring and hopeful.  So I watch it when I feel myself needing an extra injection of hope.  The book is better, of course, but I am a slow reader and I need the injection to be quick and effective.

I recently watched it again.

This time of year is hard for me because the holidays are over, my birthday is over, and I am ready for winter to be OVER.  Every spring, I feel myself reawaken with increased energy, hope, possibility.  And I just can’t wait for the spring, so I suppose watching the movie was my way of trying to tide myself over.

One aspect of the storyline is comparing Americans to Europeans in certain ways.  An Italian gentleman says that Americans know entertainment, but they don’t know pleasure.  Then he explains an Italian concept he calls the pleasure of doing nothing.  The main character then interprets this in her own way and makes a simple meal (boiled egg, asparagus, pasta, etc.) and eats it on the floor while reading the paper and wearing a lovely nighty.  In my own attempt to stretch the power of this movie as far as it will go, I made my own pleasure of doing nothing meal.  I rarely cook, so this was special and made me feel domestic and feminine.

At the risk of rambling, this movie also brings up a lot for me.  They talk about weddings.  Love.  Faith.  Travel.  Life.  Food.  I suppose each one of those could be its own post.

Lately, I’ve felt a growing urge to create and write, but I have all these half-posts in my head.  Today I sat down and just forced myself to start writing the first half in hopes that the second half would just manifest itself, as has happened in the past.  And as you can read, that didn’t happen today.  But I’m about to hit Publish because at this point I just want to put something out there.

Maybe this will get the juices flowing.  Maybe I’ll write more about Eat, Pray, Love.  Maybe spring will come early.

Wordless Wednesday: Domestic Goddess


Usually, I loathe cooking on days that end in Y.

nanopoblano2015lightUpdate: So, I realize this post is supposed to be wordless, but I just was reminded by WordPress that today is my blogiversary!  I’ve been blogging for 4 whole freaking years.  Pass the limoncello!

Puerto Rico – La comida (y las bebidas adultos)

Welcome to a series of posts on my trip to Puerto Rico: Isla del Encanto!  And by encanto, they mean haunted by mosquitoes and rabid mongoose (mongeese?), but I’ll save that for my post on animals.

For today: comida.  For food is the first thing I start to think of when I travel to another country unincorporated territory of the United States.  When I travel, I take pictures of the stuff on my plate I am about to consume, especially if it looks pretty.  Friends and family make fun of me for this (and you know who you are), but I have finally emerged triumphant, because I have found a realm where not only is taking and sharing pictures of food acceptable, it’s encouraged.  So thank you, blogging world.  May your mouth water along with mine.

For the most part, the food I encountered on my trip was a combination of American, Spanish, and Mexican/Central American.  Mmm-mm.

Day 1 – San Juan

We had some amazing tapas at Hotel El Convento, but since I also imbibed a certain quantity of sangria along with my meal, my camera was sadly (but, in hindsight, appropriately) neglected.  It was delicious.  I remember shrimp of some kind.

Day 2 – San Juan

For brunch (translated, brunch in MelissaSpeak means I am so fucking hungry because we have now officially missed breakfast) I had this delicious waffle at Cafe Berlin just next door to our hotel.  Strawberries and bananas drizzled with creamy nuetella.  It was promptly devoured.

Remember how I look when I am hungry/tired?

Melissa the Attack Marmot

Imagine that eating this:

Oh, sweet, sweet Hazelnut Heaven.

For dinner that night, Brian made it a priority to go find some local food off the beaten path.  That basically means we got lost in a rather sketchy neighborhood.

Getting lost was worth it, though, for we found Jibaritos.  We attempted to order in Spanish, and as per usual, the response was met with a smile and rather perfect English.  I ordered a plantain pork tamale with Mexican rice and a salad.  Brian ordered monfongo (mashed plantain) and beef in a creole sauce.  All was very good, and if you ever have the chance to try some monfongo, I highly recommend it.

Day 3 – Arecibo

We had to get going a bit early to grab the rental car so we could go see the largest radio telescope in the world (nerdgasm!!), but first we needed bellies filled with fat and sugar.  We walked down the street to a bakery and cafe where they spoke minimal English, which I took as another chance to embarrass myself, so I dove in headfirst.  After pointing and grunting, we got ourselves some pastries, sweetbread, and coffee and headed back to the hotel to stuff our faces.  On the way back, we saw some real live streetwalkers taking really hilarious walks of shamelessness!  Too bad I didn’t have my camera with me.

We ate on the breezy 6th floor balcony overlooking Old San Juan.

After Arecibo, we were led on a wildly entertaining drive through the twisting country roads to the village of Lares, where a friend of a coworker of mine (whom we had just met up with that day) introduced us to the most exotic flavors of ice cream I had ever encountered.  Corn, Sweet Corn, Plantains, Sweet Plantains, Garlic, Rice, etc.

I tried a taste of the Ajo (garlic), because hey- I love garlic on one hand and I love ice cream on the other, so as Joey on Friends would say, put your hands together.  And it was gross.  I almost died.

I went with Sweet Corn and Cherry and I was not disappointed!


Day 4 – El Yunque

This day the plan was to hike to the top of a mountain in the tropical rainforest (which we did with gusto…until I got tired and cranky), so we went to get some sandwiches to pack with us for eating on the trail.  We went to a little corner market run by locals.  Now these weren’t just any locals, they were morbidly obese locals.  Like, so obese that all three of them sat on rolly chairs and wheeled themselves around the store in order to do their jobs.  This should have been a red flag for us, but we needed us some sandwiches, so we ordered some in Spanish and went on our way.

It took us a while to drive into the rainforest, and we stopped at the visitor’s center before getting to the trailhead.  By that time, we sat down to eat our sandwiches before beginning the hike.  I tried so hard to choke down what turned out to be hot, melted plastic cheese logs because I needed my strength for this hike (and because I just hate wasting food), but I just couldn’t.  I am sorry, Puerto Ricans, but these are NOT sandwiches.

sorry this is so blurry but I was shaking from all the diabetes.

Now I know exactly how those store owners got to be so friggin obese.

After successfully sumitting the mountain, we went in search of a highly recommended local food joint, which, you guessed it, required that we walk through a really sketchy ‘hood after dark.  Maybe the danger is supposed to make the food taste better once you get there.  I had rice and beans with shrimp in creole sauce.

Against our better judgement, we decided to stop for ice cream on the way back.  To emphasize just how sketch this neighborhood was, we had to be buzzed in AND out of this little shop by the lone woman (who was very sweet) running the joint.  Let me tell you, this ice cream was worth the danger, like whoa.  I don’t have a picture of it for two reasons: one, it was still so hot and humid out that it began to melt immediately, and two, I was too busy running my cute butt out of the danger zone.

Day 5 – to Vieques

We flew to the small island of Vieques on this day and the very helping front desk lady at our hotel asked us what kind of food we’d be looking for, and we said paella, bitch.  Well, the lady was so nice that she dismissed being called a bitch and told us that it just so happened to be paella night at Bellybuttons in town, sweetness!

It was sooo delicious, and we had an awesome talk with the cook about his travels as a poor college student through Southern California.

and that’s a strawberry daiquiri there. it helps fend off the mosquitoes.

Day 6 – Our 9th Anniversary

The concrete, open air hotel we were staying at supplied us with a kitchen fully stocked with breakfast makings each morning – thank heaven for fresh fruit, bread, and eggs!  We made a feast of fresh Puerto Rican coffee, slices of nectarine, and french toast with the leftover cooked egg.  My mouth is watering as I remember eating this.

om nom nom

For our anniversary dinner, we went to the very posh Blue Horizon and I treated myself to a (very punchy) rum punch.

I also got the most melt-in-your-mouth seabass ever.  I ordered the ill-tempered variety with friggin laser beams attached to their heads, but the waiter just looked at me funny and then confiscated my punch.  Arse.

I believe that every creature deserves a warm meal.

Day 7 – more Vieques

After a long day at the beach, we came back to the hotel and Brian made us a scrumptious afternoon tea complete with milk and honey, toast and jam. I made sure to stick out my little pinky.

That night for dinner I was craving something fried, and so I got chicken strippy-things (I forget what the Puerto Ricans called them, but they were essentially chicken strips).

Day 8 – more Vieques beach

We pigged out this day because swimming in the ocean and getting slammed into Mother Earth by crashing waves works up an appetite.  Behold: deluxe nachos and Brian got a huge burger.

I ordered a Coke, but was served a Pepsi because the entire island was out of Coke (no joke).  I wonder how often shortages like that happen…?

Day 9 – last full day of vacation

More delicious breakfast cooked by us!  I became obsessed with jugo de pina on this trip.  Sooo sweet and refreshing!

I forgot to take a picture before I ate it.

We waited forever for this shrimp pizza for dinner at Lazy Jack’s.  At least they give you fair warning.

Day 10 – travel day

I will wrap up this post with the only picture I took of the magnificent mango we were given every morning!

Out of respect, I didn’t take a picture of its namesake, the magnificent mango poo.  You’re welcome.

Stay tuned for more exciting stories from our Puerto Rican adventure!