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dry, with a twist

I’m a very poor drinker. For years my friends have teased me about my low alcohol tolerance, just because I can’t hang with the Big Gulp size containers of wine and spirits that they are wont to consume. If my friends sound like huge lushes, it’s because most of them are.

If I drink too fast, I turn red, because I got the Asian Flush gene from my dad’s side of the family. It’s not great for photos when your face looks like a throbbing penis. Also, if I drink too fast, I fall asleep. Like, at the table. And I generally don’t like to drink liquids, including water. For this reason, drinking beer to me feels like being stretched on a rack, which I’ve tried to explain politely to my friend Patrick at his annual beer dinner, which involves seven courses of the stuff. The last time I tried to decline a beer at his dinner, Patrick pushed my glass of thick brown beer towards me and said something along the lines of, “Drink it, or you don’t get any food.” That’s what it felt like, anyway. Since I’m here, I’m just going to out myself: Patrick, your beer dinner challenges me, but I love you anyway. I’m glad that’s off my chest.

So drinking: not my thing. But if you read this blog with any regularity, you know I’m all about improving myself. If I could train myself to compost and wear Spanx, couldn’t I train myself to be a better drinker? I wanted to be able to have a full glass of wine at dinner, for a change. Maybe even after a pre-dinner cocktail. To kick off my training, I started drinking sake at every opportunity. Sake is a great drink because, at least for me, the buzz comes on slowly and levels off nicely. More importantly, sake doesn’t make me fall asleep and it doesn’t make me talk really loudly, which is another unfortunate side effect to my drinking. After three months of sake drinking, I felt ready to move onto cocktails.

SD

about halfway to margaritaville

Ah, cocktails. I knew so little about them that it was scary. What I did know was this: I wanted to know what it felt like to look forward to a Happy Hour for something other than the discount sliders. And I wanted a signature drink. Something I could rely on in the face of intimidating cocktail menus, a drink that said something about me and my choices. Tom likes to order a scotch, neat, except in summer, when he sucks down more mojitos than you might see during a season of Jersey Shore. I wanted Tom’s confidence and certainty in his beverage. But where to start?

Out at dinner with friends during a weekend away, I perused the drink menu and landed on a dirty martini. Right then and there, I decided that the martini would be my drink. I liked the shape of the glass and the martinis I’d had before had all tasted refreshing. I was also pretty certain that most bars served them. When I ordered my cocktail, Linds snickered. I tamped down my annoyance and doubled down on my will to finish this drink.

When the waitress brought the martini, it was so cloudy that I couldn’t see through the glass. It also had more olives in it than I thought appropriate for a food item that wasn’t pizza. And the taste!! It took all my muscle control to stop my mouth from forming a rictus of pain when I took my first sip. I didn’t want my friends to see that I found this drink revolting. How could this be my signature drink if I couldn’t actually drink it? Get your shit together, I told myself. It’s just pickle juice. You LIKE pickle juice, when it squirts out of a pickle. I finished most of the martini, and wished I could spike my glass onto the floor in victory. My martini training was solidly underway.

The next week, I decided to take my new self, my martini self, out for a spin. I wouldn’t bother with the drink menu, and instead, I’d order my martini as if I’d ordered one for years. “A martini, please,” I told the waiter. And then, it all went terribly wrong.

“Gin or Vodka?,” the waiter asked. Gin or vodka? I shot the waiter a silent, beseeching look, a look that said, “Please just decide for me–these people think I’ve done this before.” The waiter either didn’t understand my expression or decided that humiliating me was worth the sacrifice of a huge tip. “Vodka. I like vodka,” I said, stupidly. “And what KIND of vodka, Miss?” I started to panic in earnest. By this time, friends from the other end of the table were looking down at me, because I was slowing down their own drink orders. I couldn’t order Absolut, could I? Stoli-something. What was the something?!? I searched my brain for vodka ads I’d seen in Vogue and US Weekly. Sean Combs had a vodka, but mercifully, I couldn’t remember the name. Svedka–I had seen an ad for that. But the ad had featured a robot, hadn’t it??—that probably wasn’t a serious vodka. I felt that I was on the verge of tears.

Eventually, my friend Chris saw my distress and intervened, by ordering his own drink while I sat there sputtering. “A Ketel One, dry, with a twist.” I looked at him with gratitude, and told the waiter, “I want that too.” The waiter smirked and sidled away. When my drink came, it was perfect. Bright and clear, with no real taste to muddy the food that would follow. And most importantly, it looked to be only about four ounces in volume. By that point in my training, I felt reasonably sure that I could handle four ounces.

Last night at my mom’s birthday dinner, I ordered another martini. Before the waitress could even ask how I wanted it, I said it just like I’d watched Chris say it. “A Ketel One, dry, with a twist.” The waitress gave me a reassessing glance. That’s right, my eyes told her—this wasn’t my first time on the merry-go-round. It was, in fact, my third. So suck on that, my eyes said. Then she carded me.

Doesn’t get much better than that.

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drowning in legos

Growing up, my brother had a blue plastic box that was filled with Legos. It was the size of a small shoebox, and it had stickers on the outside and a handle, and he carried it around everywhere.

My kids have approximately eighty times the amount of Legos my brother had. I don’t know how it happened. Insidiously, over time. You buy a set or two, you have a birthday party and you receive ten sets, Grandma sends some through the mail. I don’t know. I just don’t know. I think about it a lot. How did we get here?

My older kid covets Legos, but then, once procured and built, could care less about them. Tate, however, really digs on Legos, most especially the people figures, which he calls “my guys.” He wants to take his guys everywhere, at really inopportune times.

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At New Year’s, we were late for a family party in Vancouver and I hustled to get him ready. “My guys! I need my guuuuuuys!,” he screamed. Increasingly with Tate, I understand why governments negotiate with terrorists. At that moment, I gave in, because giving in was less painful than listening to Tate sob for an hour while I munched on a handful of Advil. I ran to the play room, dumped out a box of Legos onto the floor, raked through them with my fingers, and picked out four figures, all missing heads or arms. I threw them into a tin lunchbox and ran back to the door.

As I hurriedly pulled on my shoes, Tate opened the lunchbox, and eyed the contents. And then he put on his angry face, which makes my heart clench up in terror. “I want Kendo Kai!!” Kendo Kai? Sounded like a Ninjago figure, but I couldn’t be sure. The only Lego figures I can consistently tell apart from any of the others are the R2-D2 figure and the Batman figure, who helpfully wears a bat mask. More crucially, I had a better chance of running into Christian Bale right there in my entryway than I did of picking out Kendo Kai from the metric ton of Legos in the playroom. I exhaled an impatient breath. “Tate, we’re late. You have one minute to pick your Legos, and then we have to go.” Tate strolled to the playroom, picked through the Legos, and made a selection for his lunchbox, a process that took approximately three hours. We finally made it back to the entryway, and put on his shoes. When he stood up, his lunchbox opened over the heating register and all the pieces fell through the grate. And that’s when the real screaming began.

Legos cause a lot of drama in my house. For instance, the three panicked hours on Christmas Eve when Tom and I drove around Portland in separate cars trying to find a Ninjago set for Tate. Annoyingly, the only thing I could think in my panic was that, being 3, Tate wasn’t even close to being in the recommended age range for the Ninjago sets. At this rate, he’d be stealing scotch from Tom’s cabinet when he turned 8. What kind of crap parents were we? But all the anxiety faded when Tom texted to say that he’d located a Ninjago set at Barnes & Noble. Anyway, all the drama was worth it, for this moment, on Christmas morning.

The Ninjago incident was nothing compared to the Falcon debacle. When the Millennium Falcon came in the mail from Grandma Johnson, Tom took one look at the box and put it on top of his bookshelf. “WTF, it has 1254 pieces. I’m waiting for Matt,” he told me. Tom’s brother-in-law Matt is the kind of guy who wears shorts year-round and knows how to de-bone a chicken in 12 seconds. He is McGyver. This year he glued on a cabinet door in my kitchen, fixed a broken doorknob, sharpened all my knives, and pounded my misshapen mixing bowl back into round with a wooden spoon. Anyway, when Uncle Matt arrived a week later for the holidays, he and Tom began the process of building the Falcon. It took about six hours, on and off, to complete. The finished product was a beaut.

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Once built, the only thing Tate wanted to do is play with that Millennium Falcon. To open the flaps at the top, to put his guys in it, to take his guys out of it. But having expended considerable energy on its creation, Tom wasn’t about to let Tate touch the Falcon. Instead, he put it up in our bedroom, out of easy reach. Every morning for three days, Tate would come upstairs at the crack of dawn and try to touch the Falcon. And Tom would gently swat his hand away and tell him that the Legos—the Legos were not for playing. It sounds heartless, but if you’ve ever built a large Lego set, maybe you can sympathize. The Falcon was built layer by layer, with hundreds of pieces you can’t even see comprising the framework. It looked to be virtually impossible to reconstruct once taken apart. What drove Tom was not cruelty, but fear.

On the fourth day, I woke up late, to an ominous silence. I blinked my eyes to adjust to the dim light in our bedroom, and made out a fuzzy shape at the foot of our bed. I put on my glasses and realized it was Tate, standing with a gray roof flap from the Falcon in his hand. Oh shit oh shit oh shit. How long had he been in our room while we’d been sleeping?? I jumped out of bed and ran to the sitting room to assess the damage before Tom woke up.

In the next room, Tate and I both stared at the Falcon, now missing half of its top and much of its battle gear. Tate looked freaked out, as if he’d sleepwalked to the kitchen and woken up to find himself eating a package of uncooked bacon. I wanted to repair the damage and protect Tate from Tom’s wrath, but where to begin? To me, even in its finished form, the Falcon had looked unfinished. Now, I had no idea what parts were complete and which had had pieces torn off of them by Tate. “Buddy,” I whispered to Tate as I began sticking random Lego pieces onto the Falcon, “it’s not looking good for you.” Tate whimpered.

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When Tom eventually lurched into the room, he grabbed his hair in two handfuls and gave a silent scream. Then he took the Falcon and hid it, in the closet in his man room, where it sits to this day, giving joy to no boy or girl.

This morning, Tate asked if I wanted to play with his “pod racers.” I looked at the toy in his hand, and did a double take. I recognized those gray pieces: the roof flaps from the Falcon. And as I looked at his charming little creation, I remembered that this—spontaneous creativity—was why we put up with all the Legos. I gave Tate a snug and threw a mental fist bump to the Lego gods in appreciation.

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early bird special

The older I get, the more I appreciate having friends who can hang with me while I party like a geriatric. I’m tired. My feet hurt. Increasingly, late dinners and parties feel like work. At around 10:00 PM, no matter where I am, my internal clock starts screaming that I should be heading back towards my house.

Kate Moss once said, famously, that nothing tastes as good as skinny feels. Not to disagree with such a preeminent authority on food, but in my experience, lots of things taste better than skinny feels, like, for starters, buffalo wings and popcorn shrimp. Kate inspired me to come up with my own personal motto, and here it is: Nothing tastes as good as my bed feels at 9:00 PM. Not quite the same ring, but it works. I’m going to get it engraved on some jewelry.

Last year we went to the Crab Feed at my athletic club with our friends Chris and Lauren. We ate like pigs and swore we’d be back a year later. Tonight, the four of us feasted again, this time, with Kathryn and Erskine. I arrived at 5:30 PM to find Chris at our table, alone, in the middle of a dimly lit room full of older couples. Game on.

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“Crab Feed” is a bit of a misnomer, as they also have prime rib, which I enjoy primarily as a vehicle for horseradish. We took off our rings and piled our plates high. I hit the crab three times. Then I hit the dessert bar. During dinner, I looked around at my friends, and felt a sense of warmth. I understood these people, and they understood me. What could be better, than to be understood? Then I looked around and noticed a table of three couples in their sixties, enjoying the same dinner. Five of the six were wearing red sweaters. That would be us some day. The thought, disturbingly, filled me with comfort.

lauren

lauren and tom discuss mah jongg

I ate so much that by the end of dinner I had to lean backwards in order to breathe. When I got home and took my pants off, my body immediately expanded, like when Pillsbury crescent rolls expand after you break the seal on the canister. My jeans sighed in relief, and then crumpled to the floor, having given heroic service.

Crab Feed 2014. It’s on the calendar.

**On a wholly unrelated note, please be sure to visit next week as I document my three day juice cleanse.

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so uncool

Trying to save money always leads me to bad places. Like my hair dryer, for example. About three years ago, my Conair died. The lady at Trade Secret showed me the options, which all cost over $100.

$100? My Conair had cost something like $14.99. Seeing my hesitation, the salesperson paused. “I have a really good dryer that’s been marked down to $25,” she said. “But it’s a weird color.” Who cares what my hair dryer looks like, I thought. And that’s how I ended up with my Ed Hardy hair dryer.

It’s a hell of a dryer. My mom tried to take it to Korea until I reminded her of the voltage issue. Still, it’s ugly and racially offensive and I have to hide it when guests use my bathroom, and all that leads me to wonder if the savings of $75 was worth it, in the long run.

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I thought of my hair dryer this week as I bought my new skis. The guy helping me at the ski shop, who I should probably refer to as “T,” was about 25 and totally adorable. He reminded me of my high school boyfriend, who skipped a lot of school to go snowboarding, and once wrote me a love letter in which he referred to me throughout as his “Angle.” He wasn’t an academic, but he knew his gear, and I felt similarly trusting of T.

When I told T my budget, he looked depressed. But then he lit up. “Actually, I have a ski that would be great.” He took me over to a pair of white Dynastars. “I’ve skied this twin-tip, it’s awesome and has great control,” he said. “It’s on closeout, because of the design on it.” I looked closer. Ah. No wonder. There was a pink kiss mark on the design. So cheesy. And worse, the kiss made the skis look even more like girl skis, which they clearly were, because they were white. The skis also had an unfortunate label that said “Trouble Maker.” I’m not a trouble maker. In fact, the thought of making trouble of any kind stresses me out.

But the skis had been marked down to $199, including bindings. Less than my last pair of jeans. Tom would be so proud that I’d saved money. “Pretty bad,” I said, smiling at T. “But I can live with it for the price.”

T shook his head. “No, that’s not the bad part.” He rotated the skis to show the bottoms, which look like this.

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My God. I couldn’t believe you could put a picture like that on sporting equipment. I fought the urge to throw my coat over the skis. I couldn’t buy them. I would be ridiculous. But $199! Almost the same price as a season rental. “You aren’t just saying they’re good skis to get rid of them, right?”, I asked. T shook his head. I asked that question because I couldn’t ask the one I really wanted to ask, which was “You aren’t just saying they’re good skis because you’re high, right?” It seemed wrong given that he was at work and all.

I looked around at all the normal skis that didn’t have naked women on them, and nibbled nervously at my fingernails. It was so unfair. You shouldn’t feel like you have to sell your soul in order to save a little money.

In the end, I bought them. I told myself they could be ironic. But the buyer’s remorse started almost as soon as I left the store. I remembered that I’m 35, which makes me about five years too old to buy something uncool and pass it off as ironic. I am exactly old enough, however, that someone looking at me in those skis might think that I actually thought the skis were cool. After sleeping on it, I panicked afresh when I called T the next morning to ask him a question about my boots, and he didn’t even remember me at first, which leads me to the conclusion that he was in fact totally stoned when he sold me those skis.

Whatever. I saved money. I have that to cling to. Also, Tom really likes my skis, and keeps asking to look at them again. When Finn saw them, he stared at them wide-eyed and then laughed for a full minute, in a way that made me realize I would be the ridicule, not only of adults, but of children.

At least I saved some money.

master of the cleanse

It’s January and Tom’s cleansing, which means the whole family is suffering. The last time we did a cleanse, I participated but only made it six days, while Tom lost a ton of weight after three weeks of eating like a hamster. This year, I tried to cleanse but either my heart’s not in it or my willpower has declined even further than last year, because here’s how my first three days went:

Day 1: green smoothie for breakfast, green smoothie for lunch, half of large pizza and twelve pieces of toffee for dinner

Day 2: green smoothie for breakfast, green smoothie for lunch, Korean BBQ for second lunch (I’m conditioned to eat when my mom cooks), penne with vodka sauce for dinner

Day 3: green smoothie for breakfast, green smoothie for lunch, Chipotle salad for dinner (Yes!! I had a salad for dinner!!), pot of rice and two fried eggs for second dinner

I don’t weigh myself anymore, but my pants aren’t fitting any looser, which tells me that my body prefers to have its calories spread more equitably over three meals, instead of in one huge gut bomb at dinner. The problem is that when I eat the one solid meal that I’m allowed at lunchtime, I become such a ravenous bitch in the evening that no one in my family wants to talk to me, or even look in my direction. That’s if I even make it home. Because when you’re that hungry and the only thing waiting for you at home is your kids and your manorexic husband and a cold, liquid dinner—honestly, why go home?

When you have a smoothie for dinner, you become keenly aware of how many hours there are between dinner and bedtime. Last time around, I’d have my dinner smoothie, watch a little TV and drool at all the Taco Bell commercials—for the record, I had the idea to make taco shells out of Doritos like 15 years ago—then go to bed at 7:50 to prevent myself from eating two packages of ramen noodles, raw.

Before you say that a cleanse isn’t about losing weight, here’s how I feel about that: anyone who says they aren’t doing a cleanse at least partly for weight loss is either an idiot or a liar. I mean, cleaning your digestive tract is nice and all, but you can’t see clean bowels from the outside. Why suffer that kind of deprivation if you aren’t going to see some discernable change? The reality is that no one wants to say they want to lose weight, because then people start thinking that you think you’re fat, which makes them start thinking that you might be fat. Anyway, I think it would be super refreshing if someone answered “because I want my belly spooge to stay tucked into my pants” when asked why they are cleansing.

Tom is a huge optimist, which means that it only takes about three days of cleanse before he starts feeling and acting like Deepak Chopra. Seven days of cleanse and he starts walking around the house without a shirt on. After a couple weeks, he ascends to a higher plane where he treats food as if it completely optional to his existence. He’ll sit at the table nursing a mug of hot lemon water and observe you eating your meal as if you are a giant pig rooting around in a trough of table scraps. If you’re cleansing, don’t do this to others, because it’s highly annoying and makes them feel like punching your smug, emaciated little face.

If you’re cleansing, good luck. I envy you your willpower and spotless intestines.

criss cross applesauce

People always act like it’s so great when one parent is at home with the kids. But listen, it depends on the parent. I have friends who stay home with their kids and are always posting pics of them doing fun crafty activities. If I stayed home with my kids, they’d end up watching TV like 12 hours a day and eating mountains of Hot Pockets.

But I still have to amuse them on weekends. And when it’s rainy outside, as it often is in Portland, it can get really ugly. That’s why I like to cook with them. They fight over who gets to stir and who gets to lick the spoon, but better that than them “playing ninja,” which as far as I can tell, involves Tate kicking Finn, and Finn putting Tate into a retaliatory headlock.

The thing about cooking, of course, is that it always seems to take so long when you need it to go quickly, and to go so quickly when you need it to go slow. When I bake with the boys, I’m so desperate to prevent flour from flying all over my kitchen that I end up speeding through it. And then I’ve burned no time off the clock at all.

That’s why I’m so glad that Finn is old enough to cut with a knife. Cutting stuff takes a long time. Even better, Finn loves nothing more than cutting things with a knife, and would do it for hours if I let him. A block of tofu can eat up fifteen minutes, if you plan it right and make a math game out of it. A bowl of strawberries—maybe 30 minutes (you have to cut off the tops, and then halve the berries).

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But tofu and strawberries is kids’ stuff compared to cutting apples for homemade applesauce. First of all, apples have a nice, satisfying consistency for cutting. They aren’t too hard, like carrots, or too wet, like citrus. Secondly, you need a shitload of apples for applesauce. I cored and sliced the apples and passed them to Finn, who cut each slice into thirds and then tossed them into the slow cooker. It took him 45 minutes to fill the slow cooker.

He did eat enough apples during the cutting process that he blew chunks at a Blazers game later that night, but I don’t like to think about that. Instead, I choose to think about this: 45 minutes is two episodes of Jake and the Neverland Pirates. And at the end of it, we had jars of rich, sweet applesauce, made without an ounce of added sugar. Sometimes I have this parenting thing so dialed that I think that I should have had ten kids.

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Slow cooker applesauce

Apples (how many is going to depend on the size of your slow cooker). Mine’s a 7 quart and I used 8-10 large honeycrisps

Juice of one large lemon

1 cinnamon stick (about 3 inches is good), optional

Ground nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, ginger to taste

1. Core and divide each unpeeled apple into six or eight slices. An aside: is there any kitchen task worse than peeling apples?  No, there is not.  Have your kid lay each slice flat on his cutting board and cut it into thirds. Toss the apples into the slow cooker.

2. Add lemon juice and cinnamon stick. Cover and cook on low heat for 5-7 hours, or until soft enough to mash.

3. Remove cinnamon stick. Mash the apples, or blitz them for smoother texture. Stir in ground spices to taste. I used about a teaspoon of cinnamon and a half teaspoon each of nutmeg, ginger, and cloves.

4. Store in fridge up to a week, or give it away in jars. Or pack for your kid’s lunch with a container of greek yogurt and another container of granola.

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xbox nation

I haven’t been writing as frequently because, as I’ve mentioned in my last few posts, I’ve been busy surviving my kids’ winter break. They’re back in school now. The alternating bouts of ennui and frenzied activity that made up the past three weeks have died down into something more regular, more sane.

But before it disappeared completely, this winter break left something pungent in its wake. The afternoon of the roller-skating debacle, we drove home from the rink around 2:00 in the afternoon, with a car full of family and nothing to fill the time until the inevitable Chipotle run at 5:00. I looked over at Tom in the passenger’s seat, and saw desperation in his eyes equal to mine. “Let’s do it,” I said. “Let’s get the Xbox.”

We’d been arguing about getting a video game system for months. Tom grew up on a country road with few neighbors, and no game system at home. The way he describes it, it is an absolute miracle that he did not grow up to be an ax murderer given this deprivation. When he got to college, he apparently suffered severe sociological consequences when his frat brothers wouldn’t let him play video games. “They’d never let me play because they said I didn’t know how,” he’ll tell you, in a tragic and aggrieved tone that is totally at odds with the ridiculousness of the statement.

As silly as Tom’s fear-mongering was, it worked. I started to worry that if I never let my boys play video games, I would be inhibiting their social development.

So we got an Xbox Kinect. Waiting in line at GameStop, I tried not to touch any surfaces and watched as the cashier hollered at a woman standing in line. “Ma’am? You alright with your child playing ‘Call of Duty,’ rated M??” “You bet,” she hollered back, while cracking her gum. I clutched my Xbox tightly to my chest and promised myself that my kids would only play sports games, and that this was the only time I would ever need to be physically present inside a GameStop.

We bought a few games with the system, but really all anyone has been doing is playing FIFA 2013. The first time Tom played the game, he stood in front of the TV and stated without irony that the game was “the best thing that has ever happened to me.” I waited for him to look back at me with his sheepish grin, adding on the usual caveat (“except for you and the boys!”), but I waited in vain. He never looked back at me at all. Because I’d already lost him to FIFA.

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That first session, Tom and Cuz played for like 90 minutes and scored not a single goal between the two of them, even with several rounds of penalty kicks. A penalty kick is when you kick on the goal with no one in front of you but the goalie, who in this case, is not even a real goalie, but a computer generated figure that moves with all the grace and agility of Frankenstein.

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But they’re better now, because they play almost every night after the kids are in bed. They’ve taught Finn and even my Mom, although it’s unclear whether either Finn or my Mom know how to work the controllers. Last weekend, Finn played with his friend and neighbor Owen, and Owen beat him 8-1. “At least Finn got one goal,” I whispered to Cuz. “No,” Cuz whispered back, shaking her head. “Owen accidentally scored on himself.” I thought that simply buying the Xbox would be enough to assure my sons’ future social ascendancy. Watching Finn and Owen, I realized that I would now have to worry about my boys being good at video games. I stood up abruptly. “Owen, it’s time to go home,” I said.

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At least Finn is learning sportsmanship, even if he sucks at FIFA 2013. I overheard Cuz and Finn talking to one another in the car last week. “You’re not good at FIFA, Aunt Bora,” said Finn. “What are you even talking about? I scored on you the last game,” Cuz retorted.

“Yeah, but it was a cheap goal,” Finn muttered from the backseat.

Ah, long live Xbox.

ski hazard

I’m sitting in the lodge at Timberline, having dropped my kid off at ski school an hour ago. Now I’m waiting for him to actually leave the building so I can hit the buffet. I’ve already strolled by the ski school entrance 17 times to check on the ski schoolers, who are all corralled in front of a TV, which we have two of back at home. The check-in guy, who greeted me warmly at 8:45, told me he liked my Timbers zip-up at 8:55, and assured me that “we pee before we ski” at 9:15, now has his eyes trained on me as if I mean to steal a child that isn’t mine.

What the hell are they doing? This day is costing me like $40 an hour, if you factor in gas and the babysitter I’ve paid to sit at home with Tate. But breathe, I tell myself. This is a primo opportunity to work on my new year’s resolution of not rushing. I’m always rushing. I can’t finish one thing without being stressed about the next. I’m the kind of person who puts down her fork at lunch and asks what’s for dinner. So, less rushing in 2013. Less rushing for myself, less rushing of Tom, less rushing of (and on behalf of) my kids.

Then again, I can start on all that tomorrow. Why ask me to check my kid in at 8:45 if no one is intending to ski until 10:15? WHY? I left Portland at 7:15 to get here with 10 minutes to spare. As usual, my meticulous planning and perfect execution are being completely foiled by someone else’s low standards and rank incompetence. Whenever I complain about this type of thing to Linds, she says it’s because I’m so high-functioning. I brush her off, but I totally agree.

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I tell myself that it’s worth the aggravation to get Finn up on skis while he’s too young to know better. The older you get, the more you realize that the concept of skiing as a leisure activity is totally insane. When you’re young, you hear about people hitting trees and dying and you laugh with the brashness of youth and think, “no way is that happening to me.” When you get older, you start thinking about statistical odds and probabilities and realize that if Sonny Bono can die skiing, you are as likely a victim as any.

It’s important to learn early because when you’re young and you fall on skis, it’s not a big deal. You get all snowy and your skis fly off but they don’t weigh much, and it’s all very inconsequential. When you’re an adult and you fall on skis, things are totally different. The snow, which seemed so fluffy and happy when you were a kid, now seems hard, sharp, and cold. So hard, sharp, and cold, in fact, that you want to avoid falling so desperately that you ski tentatively and end up falling even more. Since you now create more velocity as an adult, when you fall, your skis snap off 30 feet up the hill from where you stop tumbling, so that you have to hike up in shame to retrieve your skis. This doesn’t happen to me often, of course. Only when I ski under a chair lift packed with cruel teenagers.

When you’re an adult, you stop making fun of ski helmets and start buying the ones with the most padding. You get muscle aches so distressing that you spend the next day worrying that you tore your ACL, wherever that is. The snow that seemed so fun when you were a child now creeps its way up your sleeves and down the back of your pants, melting down your crack and pooling in the crotch of your underwear.

When you’re older, in addition to the dangers faced by your own body, you also have the bodies of loved ones to worry about. Last year at Mt. Bachelor, Tom showed up 45 minutes late for a rendezvous at the bottom of the slope. After the first 25 minutes I hiked to Ski Patrol and had his name blaring from every PA system on the mountain. When he finally skied down to me, he had snowy formations hanging off his face and looked like he’d gotten down the mountain by rolling. And he was wild-eyed, like he’d been through something really traumatic. He basically looked exactly like this, except with ski clothes:

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Aware that he was 45 minutes late and in deep shit, Tom went for the nonchalant approach. “What’s up, babe?” I looked at him, said not a word, and erupted in tears. From anger, partly, but mostly from relief. Because for that last half hour or so, I truly thought he might be dead. And then I’d be stuck with the kids on vacation by myself.

So. Why ski at all? Because when it’s sunny and there’s fresh powder that isn’t too deep and you are carving turns and you can feel your toes and fingers and your underwear is dry, it’s lovely. Nothing better. Plus you can technically only get to apres-ski if you ski first. And apres-ski is my favorite thing in the world after Korean barbecue. The hot tub, the wine, the car heaters on full blast as you massage sensation back into your extremities. That feeling of warmth, of coziness, of feeling like you had a DAY–it’s worth whatever your miserable body paid to get there.

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finn at three, with dad