January 30, 2006
Nail Envy

I have found the manicure that I want on the hands of Nicole Kidman.

If my nails became strong and my cuticles would behave and my polish looked so lovely, things would be right in my world. I am just that easy.

I may have found the ticket, an affordable one no less, in Sally Hansen’s Nail Growth Miracle. It won a Glamour Reader’s Choice Glammy Award, is an Allure Editor’s Choice, and someone online said her thin, bendable nails are now so hard that she hurt her tooth trying to bite them.

I’m also trying to remember to moisturize my raggedy cuticles every night. L’Occitane’s 100% Pure Shea Butter is supposed to be good for rough feet, hands, elbows, knees, even hair. It’s retrieved directly from the fruit of the African shea tree and I’m banking on it’s fabulous abilities.

With nice nails it will be so wonderful, like a good hair day when you can relax and be your most charming self. I'm on my way.

January 23, 2006
Wedding Faces

At a luau on our honeymoon, we met another young newlywed couple also from northern California. It became quickly evident to us that their marriage was not going to make it. The guy was just too much of a jerk. She seemed all right and I remember surreptitiously moving my eyes to her as we hung out with them, to gauge her reaction at her groom’s antics. That was almost thirteen years ago, and I believe surely they must be long over.

On weekends I usually scan the wedding and engagement announcements and the accompanying photos. What are the couples’ stories? Which ones are going to make it? Brooke and Gil from San Mateo who both went to UC Davis? Dana and Jason who were married in an outdoor ceremony in Lake Tahoe? Caroline and Eric who welcomed guests from as far away as Dubai, Singapore, Germany and the United Kingdom? Will they successfully juggle their demanding careers as they go forward in marriage (she’s a third year resident in pediatric medicine and he’s an attorney with a Harvard law degree)?

I wish them well, honestly. It would be nice if all of them enjoy long and happy lives together. Statistically though, some won’t.

In the novel The Pursuit of Alice Thrift, Alice comes up with the clever idea of revisiting these couples featured in the papers a year or five or ten later. What would the story be then? Alice says, “I’d enjoy that on a Sunday morning—scanning the wedding announcements stenciled with updates: NOT SPEAKING, DIVORCED, SEPARATED, ANNULLED, CHEATING ON HIM WITH THE POOL-MAINTENANCE GUY, GAVE BIRTH FIVE MONTHS LATER, IN COUNSELING, CAME OUT OF THE CLOSET—any number of interesting developments that reveal the truth about bride and grooms.”

Sometimes I think it’s a lottery, really. Who will get lucky and find the right person to spend their whole life with? To the faces in the newspaper, I say: Be kind to each other. Best wishes and good luck.

January 16, 2006
If You Ever Want To Bring Someone a Meal

The best meal of the ones that neighbors brought to our house following the birth of our daughter years ago was a pork tenderloin, cous cous, and a spring salad mix with avocado, tomatoes, pecans and thinly sliced red pepper that’s one of my favorites to this day. The salad dressing, called Jamaica Mistake, is now a staple of mine and others I’ve shared it with. The worst aspect of the team dinner dropoffs was returning empty pans and containers, since I was usually up all night with Miss Colic Baby and couldn’t guarantee a time of day that the cleaned utensils could be picked up or brought back their owners. It’s a wonderful thing when friends or neighbors organize to take care of you though and I did manage to deliver, on stroller walks when I managed to get out of the house, thank you notes with little chocolates to everyone who extended their kindness.

A death in the family is another time when people rally around and provide sustenance for those in shock and sadness. According to recent online group discussion—just so you know—it’s not the best idea to bring a grieving family lasagna. It’s everyone’s “go to” meal under such circumstances. The recipients end up with lasagna for dinner too many times. A deli tray is also not ideal, apparently. While a meat and cheese platter may seem nice, it doesn’t compare to homemade food and it can’t get popped into the freezer, among other comments.

Not to make light of the topic of grieving families, but talking about so many yummy sounding meal ideas and recipes really made me hungry. Someone suggested Saucy Cocktail Meatballs with Cheesy Potato casserole, and to add a pan of brownies and maybe a vegetable dish. There was mention of Macaroni and Cheese “kicked up a notch with some nice cheese”—that being sharp white cheddar cheese and Gruyère. A Layered Salad that people rave about wanting to know what kind of dressing was on it (“I had to side step a lot to keep from saying just mayonnaise, sugar, and pepper,” the salad provider noted.) A Chicken/Artichoke/Olive Casserole. Soups and stews. Brownies, cookies or cake to round things out. I guess comfort food comforts even those of us who don’t really need comforting at the moment.

Here are some tips from those who have been there, either experiencing loss or helping someone getting through it: Entrees that can be frozen are good because a week or two later when all of the fresh food that’s been shared is gone, these items can be pulled out and heated up. Put the food in a disposable dish, or in one you don’t care about seeing again, and tape cooking and freezing directions on top. Paper plates, napkins or beverages are items are helpful for the family to have too. Waiting until the second week or later is also thoughtful, since by then many of the offerings are gone and the family would still appreciate it.

Let’s enjoy delicious food in good times and also share it with others who could use a hand.

P.S. I’d be glad to email recipes of the food mentioned herein if you’re interested.

January 09, 2006
I Have Discovered

…a way to get to a live person at my credit card company even though the phone # they give out gives you no options to do so.

…having a fire in the fireplace is worth doing more often (it only took us seven years of living here to do this).

…Frederic Fekkai hair products are worth the price, for me.

…K. does a lot more to help around here than I thought.

…important things need to be handled early in the day, or they lose out.

…a willingness, finally, to deal with my lower back discomfort including proper ergonomics at the computer

…it’s really true that children are just as happy playing with boxes as with any toy you could buy at the store.

…blogging weekly works best for me (there’s lots of other writing going on here too).

…there’s a window of time—I don't know exactly what it is, it just feels right—in which I can let go of a bad purchase and not worry about the wasted money anymore.

…ginger cookies at Andronico’s.

…I no longer have crushes on any celebrities.

…that it’s up to me.

January 02, 2006
The Decisive Element

Patience is not one of my strong suits. If the line is busy I’ll dial again two seconds later. When someone tells a rambling story or cannot get to her point soon enough, my head threatens to explode. Unfinished tasks make me crazy.

In the New Year, though, I’m going to mellow out. I’m going to become Assistant District Attorney Ron Carver from Law & Order: Criminal Intent. Even-tempered. Imperturbable.

Since watching re-runs of the show over the last week, I’m in awe of Carver (played by Courtney B. Vance). ADA Carver is no-nonsense, and a stickler for the crucial legal details. He makes witty remarks (“Your client's not insane... he's in love. Maybe it's hard to tell the two apart, but the law can.”). Even more interesting to me though is his demeanor. He is so freaking calm.

I remember nearly hyperventilating when given new, seemingly impossible deadlines at work. But Carver’s case can be falling apart before his eyes, and he’ll quietly and pointedly tell Goren and Ames that the arraignment is in less than two hours and they’d better get him additional evidence right now. Whatever happens though, he’ll handle it to his best ability without any rise in blood pressure or much facial movement.

The only other person I’ve come across like him is J.’s kindergarten teacher from last year. She would speak softly and diffuse any situation almost by magic. She never got ruffled by anything or any person, child or adult. Man, it was cool to behold. We parents were astonished at her powers and often discussed it outside the classroom.

How can I become more serene? What do I need to do?

Since the idiots of the world are not going away, nor will I be granted more than 24 hours per day, that leaves one option: Change my reaction. I don’t know how exactly, but I must become unvexable. I will say to myself (in a sing-songy tone), “You can’t bother me!” I will convince myself that I have plenty of time. I will slow down, calm down, channel Wayne Dyer.

As Goethe said, “"I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element… In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis is escalated or de-escalated.” That would apply to a personal crisis or situation, probably. I can de-escalate instead of escalate the stress level—my choice. So I am challenged to build up that muscle called patience. Can I put that in the exercise category of my resolutions?