It’s not jeans weather yet, but it will be

Jeans too tight? Lay on your bed, yank ’em on, suck in your gut, and button them. If you can stand up (and that’s a big “if”), go directly for the Gas-X. You’re gonna need it.

It’s not jeans weather yet, but it will be. With the heat we’re having, anything heavier than shorts might not be necessary until November, but eventually jean season is going to arrive and, as I promised myself in June when I popped out of the last pair that fit, I’m going to be ready.

God, I miss Tostitos

A month ago I gave up Tostitos, resumed drinking three or four liters of water a day, and started speed walking again. I returned to lifting weights and doing sit-ups, too, and frankly, I thought I’d see more improvement by now. But no. My muffin top and bulging belly refuse to depart my person, and this does not bode well for the Hollisters I have to, have to, have to! fit in by the fall, whenever it arrives.

Time to get creative…and cheat

As it’s now early August, it’s not looking too promising that I’ll keep the promise I made to myself and so, rather than break that promise, grab a bag of Tostitos and have a pity party, I decided I’d try to cheat the system, if not my scale.

This morning I threw my favorite jeans in the wash and, when they were done, I put them on. (One at a time, of course. Two or three at once and I’d have died of suffocation and possibly hypothermia.) I walked around, squatted, did lunges, yanked at the waistband, squatted some more, and stared at myself in the mirror. “This could work,” I thought. “I must post to my blog of my brilliance!”

But first I needed an image to go with my post

Sure, I could have taken a photo of myself in my aforementioned freshly washed Hollisters, but why frighten people? Instead I went to Google, clicked on “images,” and typed the words “wearing wet jeans.”

BAM! Hundreds upon hundreds of sites dedicated to helping people squeeze their butts into their favorite jeans popped up. It was quite the blow to my brilliance; my trick was taken! I was so disappointed, I nearly called my mother. In fact, I still might. But not before sharing the details of my discoveries.

There’s four methods to this madness

  • The bathtub method – Squeeze into your jeans and get in the tub. If they’re really tight, like mine are, you might have to sort of roll in, on your side, so be careful. There’s no sense drowning in pursuit of the perfect fit. Soak your jeans. Then get out, towel off, and stretch those suckers.
  • The spray method – Squeeze into your jeans, lie down on your bed and button them (ouch!). Then use a spray bottle filled with warm water to soak the waistband. Wear the jeans until they dry or rescuers arrive to help you stand up.
  • The hanger method – Soak the waistband then stretch it from one side of a wooden hanger to the other. It needs to be nice and taut so if it isn’t, go get a bigger hanger.
  • The put-in-a-panel method – This is where you take your jeans to the tailor and have a panel put in the waistband to expand it. I don’t particularly care for this method as desperately trying to squeeze into my too tight jeans is something I prefer to do alone with my shame and sharing that shame with someone else is too traumatic.

The moral of the story?

Be careful what you go Googling for. You might find your brilliant idea’s been taken, your jeans still don’t fit, and your favorite crappy snack goes great with your morning coffee.  

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Truth: perfect is the enemy of good

Sometime ago when I was telling my friend Laura about how painfully slow my writing days can be because I fuss over every single sentence, she said, “You know, Susan, perfect is the enemy of good.” I was very impressed. What a fabulous, accurate statement, I thought. Why can’t I ever come up with a quote like that?

Then I discovered she stole it from Voltaire.

I wasn’t too disappointed Laura hadn’t come up with it on her own because she’s one of those brainy types who’s actually read Voltaire so she came by it honestly. Not me . If I discovered that quote you can bet I did so on Facebook or Pinterest or some other non-smartypants site.

It’s true though: Perfect is the enemy of good.

If I could tap out 500-1000 good words a day, I’d be in great shape. But no. I fuss and play with and torture myself over every single solitary word in a sentence to the point that I never, ever end up with enough sentences to show for the writing time I set aside.

Procrastination and distraction are formidable foes as well.

When I write, I start with all good intentions. I open a new Word document, stare at the empty whiteness, and flee immediately to the safety of the Lifestyle section on MSN.com. Of course, I need to read the “Top 25 Ways to Look Younger” before I write a word. I’m 57 and if one of those ways is cut off your head and replace it with Meghan Markle’s, I’m in. And then of course there’s “Best Hair Growth Treatments.” Another must-read. Every single day I wonder if I should let my pixie grow out or keep it short. Which will make me look younger? Ah, maybe the answer’s in that Top 25 feature.

Distraction. Procrastination. And trying to make Every. Single. Sentence. Perfect. Oh yes, I know how to do the writing thing. Or, more accurately, how to delay doing the writing thing.

One of these days I’m going to let go and let good happen. Progress, not perfection will be my mantra. And I promise to keep you posted on how I’m doing. As long as I don’t get distracted.  

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Losing Wendy

My pretty friend Wendy with her son Doug, on the left, and his friend Will.

She was a rugby mom like the rest of us, standing on the sidelines watching her son the same way we all watched our sons – hands over our eyes, fingers parted just enough to be able to see.

Rugby is so tough (as evidenced by the sport’s tagline: No helmets. No pads. Just balls.), that it’s nothing short of terrifying to watch the child you’ve spent your life protecting hit that pitch and the opposing team unprotected. Maybe it’s different for dads, but for moms, that fear bonds us. None of us knew Wendy (or each other) that well, but gathered there together (and occasionally hiding behind each other’s back when the fingers over the eyes thing wasn’t cutting it), we were friends. Friends united in pride for our sons (“Go Doug! Go Mikey!), fear they’d get hurt (“Who’s down? Is that Will? Cuyler?), and the delectable bloody Mary’s somebody’s boyfriend whipped up surreptitiously on the sidelines. We loved seeing each other during the season and relished our role as the Mount Saint Mary’s University Men’s Rugby moms.

And then she got sick.

Esophageal cancer.

At a match shortly after her diagnosis, Wendy turned to Coco, our blonde, beautiful, hysterically funny and fearless head rugby mom whose husband coached all our kids until, surprisingly and not so surprisingly, they each ended up playing for Mount St Mary’s and said,

All I want is to see Doug graduate.

Wendy and Doug walking the wintery grounds of Mount St, Mary’s.

She got sicker and we didn’t see her for a long while. A few of us tried to visit but, God bless her husband Steve, when he felt Wendy needed rest, no one was allowed in. I don’t blame him one bit; he knew we’d sneak in our bloody Mary bar and then God knows what kind of rugby mom mayhem would have ensued. So, we didn’t see her for what seemed like months and then, suddenly, one Saturday, she was there, at a match, not just cheering the boys on, but having made the most delicious Chinese food for them to enjoy (and us to sneak tastes of).

It was May of this year when Wendy went into the hospital for the last time. Her son Doug came home from the Mount. His best friend Will did too. Doug, Will, Coco, all of Wendy’s dearest friends, her husband Steve, their son Steven, converged in her hospital room. Steve wanted Wendy to rest. He wanted her to be done with the pain and to be ale to let go in peace without others around her crying, praying, and holding on. I wasn’t there, but I heard. Steve wanted Wendy to go unencumbered. Yet no one left her hospital room. At two o’clock on Friday afternoon, May third, I got a text from Coco.

Beautiful, loving, effervescent, petite-as-my-pinky but larger-than-life Wendy was gone.

My heart broke then, and it breaks now writing about it. We didn’t have to be best friends for me to love her. Wendy was light, and joy, and goodness, and she was so damn funny. She adored her sons and when she looked at Steve, you could see that despite all their years together, she was still smitten with him. She loved us rugby moms and we loved her. And she is gone. Taken by cancer too fast, too soon, too young.

I’ve experienced loss. Painful, heart wrenching, terrible loss. Loss that was expected, and loss that came out of the clear blue sky, and I still can’t believe that I’ll never see Wendy again. She’ll never again hide behind me on the sidelines, giggling and watching Doug through her fingers right up until the moment he’d catch that ball like his hands were made of glue and take off down the field for the try. You should’ve seen her then.

She’d go racing down the sideline with him, screaming her support, watching her baby score. I will never see her do that again and, far worse, neither will her husband and sons.

I just don’t get it. There are so may truly terrible people in this world that – forgive me – deserve truly terrible deaths.

But Wendy? Stu? My brother David? What could possibly be the reason for their lives to be cut short?

There is no reason. In some cosmic spot they rolled the dice and Wendy lost. Stu and David lost, too. Victims don’t get to sit at the table and place their bets. The game is going on someplace else without them.

How long before the cosmos plays the hand that determines my fate?  

Wendy, I’m so sorry we never got to know each other beyond the rugby sidelines, but I want you to know that I loved you. All the Mount St. Mary’s University Men’s Rugby moms loved you. This fall, when we’re watching the boys through our fingers, you’ll be in our hearts (which, frankly, might be a safer place to watch from) and thinking of you.

And Wendy, you have my word:

When your baby gets the ball and he’s flying down the field to score, we’ll be running along the sidelines with him, screaming your support.

For someone so petite, Wendy (center, in the yellow cap, her husband Steve is on the left), was larger than life.
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When Valerie Monroe calls me

Sometimes I give in to this fantasy about when Valerie Monroe calls me. Ms. Monroe, for those of you who don’t know, is the Beauty Editor at O The Oprah Magazine. When she likes a product, its sales skyrocket. When she loves a product, its developers can go buy themselves rockets, and yachts, entire islands, and whatever else their little hearts desire. She knows what the beautiful people – celebrities, socialites, and scores of Instagram influencers – use and trust to maintain their beautiful people beautifulness because she asks them.

And one of these days, when I’m famous for my words and renowned for my unyielding gorgeousness, she is going to ask me, too.

I’m ready, Ms. Monroe. I think about my response when I’m between deadlines, have photographic evidence that my both my sons are safe and sound, my workout and laundry are done for the day, I’ve spoken with my mom, my dad, and my boyfriend (and confirmed as best I can that my dad and my boyfriend are not currently in cahoots), the plants are watered, dishes are put away, my bed’s made, and I’m between books. This is also known as When Susan Has Too Much Time on Her Hands.

I imagine the scenario unfolding this way.

My phone rings and I say, “Ms. Monroe, it’s so lovely of you to call! I can’t tell you how flattered I am!”

To which she responds, “Please, call me Val.”

Val! I can call her Val! We are so on our way to being BFF’s!

“Val,” I say, with all the confidence of someone who just talked Kim Kardashian in off the ledge over the flack for her Kimono line, “what can I do for you?”

“Well Susan,” she responds, “you can give me the answer to the question women the world over are clamoring for: What is your secret to staying so young and beautiful?”

I pause for a moment. One can’t come across as too eager in these situations. It’s just not what Beautiful People do. Furthermore, it’s not what pretend Beautiful People who just received an imaginary Beautiful People club membership card do. It would be heartbreaking to have that sucker rescinded.

“Val,” I say, “you’re so sweet. I am neither young nor beautiful, and I really don’t have a beauty secret.”

“But there must be something,” she insists, “some particular product you love, trust, wouldn’t be caught dead without!”

“Well you know, Val,” I say conspiratorially,”there is one item I use everyday, sometimes several times a day. In fact, I use it so frequently I keep extras all over the place. In my desk, my bag, the car, the kitchen. Actually I have dozens in the kitchen. I’d be lost without it.”

“Susan!” she exclaims. “The women of the world are waiting! What is this item?”

“It’s my Plackers Micro Mint Dental Floss Pick!”

“Get out!” she responds and I flash on Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Elaine on Seinfeld giving Jerry or George one of her character’s trademark, over-the-top shoves. I love that show. Should I ask if she’s a fan? I mean, who doesn’t love Elaine? I should ask. I’m going to ask. But no! That’s not what Beautiful People do. Stay the course, Suzy, I tell myself. Stay calm, cool, collected. It’s too soon to lose that imaginary card!

I take a deep, Beautiful People breath and respond.

“You know, Val,” I offer. ” I’m 57, and if I so much as look at my refrigerator I get food stuck between my teeth.”

“Stop!’ she says, elongating the word so it sounds like stahhhhhp which thrills me because it’s exactly how my besties and I banter back and forth and that can only mean one thing: she likes me. She really likes me! Oh my God. I feel faint. I’ve made a fabulous new friend, and I’ve given the women of the world a beauty product that actually works and it’s under ten bucks!

Dear God, I’m such a good person.

“Susan,” she says, ” I can’t wait to share this with our readers. Dental floss picks are going to be flying off the shelves! It’s been delightful talking with you and, at the risk of overstepping my bounds, I just want to say that I love your books.”

She loves my books! And my dental picks! This fantasy can’t get any better! Unless of course she actually calls. I’m ready. My response is planned. My phone is charged. And of course I’ve flossed.

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