Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Wisconsin 101: Hook 'em and show 'em

So I was coming back from getting a split-shot latte, the $3.50 size, which gives me enough for two days' worth of coffee - I know - you coffee purists are sneezing coffee through your noses right now in horror at the idea of drinking day-old coffee, but when you mix it with a lot of milk, you don't notice so much and anyhow my palate she is not so refined - and I saw a guy wearing a "Texas" jacket.

Photo: So, so true.

That is not a common sight up here. Up here, everyone wears sweatshirts and, I imagine, t-shirts, although a t-shirt would be invisible to me as it is necessary to wear at least three layers, even when you are indoors, with a "W" on them.

Well, not everyone. Not me. Don't care. I live here and don't begrudge anyone their loyalties, but I did not go to school here and don't care how the teams do. I do care about the academic reputations of the schools here because it affects my property value, but other than that, whatever.

Anyhow. I was walking back with my coffee and listening to a podcast. It's a good three-minute walk to the coffee place and if I have to go alone, then I don't want the walking time to be wasted, so I listen to the podcast I have downloaded for the gym.

But I don't want to hold the mp3 player in one hand and the coffee in the other because then how do I open the doors?

So I stick the mp3 player in my bra. It makes a little bulge, but not many folks look at my bosom anyhow and do I care? No. I am already married. Not in the market. I want to look good, but I don't have to look that good. SH and I have gotten very sloppy around each other. We need to get better about that. Actually, I do need to look good at work - I need to impress anyone else who might want to hire me.

I digress. I am carrying my coffee and listening to this podcast in which they are talking about the blood moon that happened last night and I see an older man wearing a burnt-orange jacket that says "TEXAS" on it.

I stop. Smile. Ask, "Hey! Are you a Texan?"

He starts to answer. I can't hear him because I am listening to a podcast. I need to turn it off.

I fumble with my mp3 player. Which is in my bra. I am reaching through the opening of my V-neck sweater into my bra in front of a total stranger.

His eyes widen.

I look up. See his eyes. He looks wary.

I laugh. "I'm not trying to flash you! I am getting my mp3 player out."

Because every woman keeps an mp3 player in her bosom. I reach the player. Pull it out. Turn it off.

He explains that he was going to go to Texas but then got married instead. "But my kids went there," he said.

"I went there for grad school," I explained.  I hook 'em.

"That's what I was going to do!"

"I never see anyone with Texas stuff here!" I tell him. "You made my day!" I smile.

He hugs me.

He nods toward my mp3 player, now dangling from my non-coffee hand. "And I thought you were going to make mine," he laughs.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Wisconsin 101: The only good thing about winter is that it's easy to hide the body


OK. Do you guys remember that I threw up after taking two vicodin after having my oral surgery and my first thought, after "I really need to clean better under the rim of the toilet" was, "Dang. I wish I had eaten more because if I was going to throw up anyhow, I might as well have had ice cream and brownies and Nutella and cheese and butter?"

It made me think, "Perhaps vomiting is the solution to my loosening skin problem."

My friend Julie said, after I told her that even though my weight is about what it was in high school but the fat seems more jiggly, that of course the fat is more jiggly. As we age, we "lose the natural Spanx in our skin." Julie's words. I have never worn Spanx because 1. I hate pain and 2. I hate paying a lot for pain.

Great. So I can not eat all the things I want to eat and I can go to the gym five times a week and I am still going to get flabby, jiggly fat and skin?

What's the point of the self denial and the work if it doesn't make me look the way I want to?

So I was all, "Maybe I should become bulimic."

I can't be anorexic because if my blood sugar drops too much, I get a headache. This makes dieting hard because I have to pick between eating and taking prescription painkillers. Besides, I hate dieting. But I hate having more flesh on my body than can fit into the clothes I already own.

But bulimia - maybe that's an option. Not all the time. I don't like throwing up. But it could be effective. The occasional bulimic. That could be me. Just worth a pound or two a month.

And then I remembered how much money I am spending on my teeth and how the stomach acid ruins your teeth and do I want to ruin my teeth?

No I do not.

So there I am - stuck again with constraints that limit my options. In grad school, in management science, you learn to graph problems. Actually, you graph the constraints and are left with a solution set.

http://home.ubalt.edu/ntsbarsh/opre640a/carpenter.gif

So your graph ends up looking something like the graph above. Each line is a constraint and the area inside the lines - the yellow area - is your range of possible solutions. And of course you want the best solution, but I am not going to get into all of that now.

When you start in management science, the professor makes you do the problems by hand. You have to remember that stuff from 8th grade where y = ax + b, which freaks out some people, even though you are supposed to have had calculus before entering the program and if you can do calculus, you for sure should be able to graph a line.

So my friend Melissa and I were in our management science class and people were asking the prof how to graph a line and she was patiently - although with an undertone of "You ARE all college graduates, correct?" to her voice - and Melissa and I turned to each other and mouthed, "We were ENGLISH majors and we know how to do this stuff!"

If I were graphing my problem - my flabby skin and pouchy stomach and chubby thighs that dimple when I do the plank in body pump so I try very hard not to look at them, I would have the constraints of not being able to let my blood sugar drop and not being willing to pay for plastic surgery and not liking to vomit and hating to exercise and liking to eat things with lots of calories in them, like brownies and Nutella and cheese and bacon, and I would come up with a solution set that would basically say, "You just need to accept that you are built to be strong on plow and to survive famine because girl you are never going to be thin and super toned and you will never have taut skin again."

And then I would have to add in the Shame Constraint of, "You have an at the gym who is bald and when you asked her why she is bald and didn't she have hair last week, she tells you that oh, yeah, her cancer has come back so she has started chemo again and she will have chemo once a month until her body can't take it any more and then perhaps there will be something else that works but until then she is going to exercise and stay strong because what else can you do? And then you think, Sheesh, if the worst of my problems is that I don't like my thighs or my belly or my bosom or my upper arms or my face or my hair, that's not so bad."

The Shame Constraint should obliterate all the other constraints and make me happy just to be healthy. But it doesn't. I still want to be thin.






http://home.ubalt.edu/ntsbarsh/opre640a/carpenter.gif
http://home.ubalt.edu/ntsbarsh/opre640a/partviii.htm#rCarpenterPr

Friday, April 25, 2014

Marriage 601, Lecture 145: Forest/trees/toothpicks

More or less the conversation SH and I had last night. I wanted to talk about the emotional impact of bigamy and some of the logistics and who SH would marry if he could add a second wife and would it mean that life would be easier for me or harder for me.

Me: So the premise of this book is that the man, a Stanford physician, has three wives.

SH: Three wives? How did he do that?

Me: With the approval of his first wife. She said she would never divorce him but that he could have affairs.

SH: But with the marriage license. Don't they check?

Me: I don't know. I thought they asked on our marriage license if either of us were married.* But three wives! Can you imagine?

SH: So he lied on his marriage license?

Me: I guess. And then he dies! And the wives meet each other!

SH: That's perjury, isn't it?






* And now I am remembering that not only did they check, but SH also had to show his divorce decree. Used husband, etc. But I married so late that my grandmothers' and mother's lack of desire for a divorced son in law was subsumed to their wish just to see me damn married already.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Marriage 601, Lecture 678: With God as my witness I thought turkeys could fly

You guys, I did something so unimaginably stupid that I almost don't want to tell you about it.

But I hate to let any good material go to waste.

Please don't think less of me. Please don't roll your eyes and think, "What a moron! How could she be such an idiot!" Because I can't answer that question. I was an idiot. I know. I operate on patterns and habit. I never lose my keys because I always keep them in the same place. The only time I have ever lost my keys, it was because there was a hole in the lining of the pocket of my purse where the keys reside and they had slipped into the lining.

I am not late (as long as SH is not involved) because I plan appropriately. I anticipate the worst thing happening and develop contingency plans and run my life accordingly. Being married to a procrastinator who always assumes the best case scenario has caused me no end of stress and a few almost-missed airplanes. I call SH "Typhoid SH" in honor of his ability to cause stress in the people around him.

I usually don't do dumb things. Wait. I usually don't do dumb things that have really bad consequences. I usually do dumb things that are easy to fix, like pour my cornbread batter into the hot cast iron pan and forget to mix the bacon grease in it, but I remember a minute after I put the pan in the oven and pull it back out and give it a quick stir and voila! bacon grease evenly distributed throughout the batter.

I usually don't do disastrously dumb things.

But I did.

Last week, SH was out of town and it was supposed to be a spa weekend for me - no shower, no late bedtime, just me, my Grape-Nuts cereal for supper, and the last season of Foyle's War and season one of Call the Midwife

[When did TV get so good? TV was crummy for years! Years! I haven't owned a TV for years, then I married SH and he had a TV, but we cancelled the cable three years ago because why would we pay $80 a month not to watch TV, but in the past year or two, there has been an explosion of really good shows and I have turned into a sloth.]

I was also going to cook while SH was gone so I wouldn't have to deal with the stress of his being all "Wooo!" about a kitchen actually being used. His idea of a harmonious life is for dishes and knives and cutting boards never to leave their storage area but for homemade food to magically appear. I have informed him that food does not just come and good food requires preparation, but he doesn't quite believe me, maybe because he grew up with Bad Food with a mother who never made cookies from scratch and so he doesn't know what a kitchen is really supposed to look like.

I had the red peppers chopped to go into the goat cheese tart. Then my next door neighbor, who is moving, who owns a pickup, said that yes she would take me to get the shelves I had seen set out on the sidewalk a few blocks away. I had seen them while I was out running in the morning and as I was inspecting them, the owner of the house emerged and told me to take them, they were free. As SH has the habit of accumulating things in the basement - because there is room! he says - but just stacking box upon box of things like wine, I thought I could at least create a semblance of order out of the chaos with the shelves.

Kristy came over and said we could go now. I didn't want to leave the peppers out because Laverne likes food of any kind, except onions, and nothing is safe. Usually, I put food in the microwave to hide it from her, but I already had the crust and the filling in the microwave and there wasn't room.

So I stuck it in the oven.

You see where this is going, don't you? It's like you are at a horror movie, watching in disbelief as the woman in high heels runs up the stairs to get away from the bad guy. You want to yell, "NOOOOOOOOOOO! DON'T GO UP THE STAIRS! DON'T DO IT!"

And to me, you want to yell, "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! DON'T PUT THE CUTTING BOARD IN THE OVEN!"

But I did. The board with the chopped peppers and the knife.

We went to get the shelves but we were too late - someone else was driving off with them. I couldn't be mad at Kristy for taking so long to be able to take me because it was a favor. But I didn't get the shelves.

I got home. It was already 1:00. I had to pick SH up at the airport at 4. I thought perhaps I should bathe before retrieving him.

I turned the oven on to heat and then jumped into the shower.

I emerged from the bathroom ten minutes later, walked into the kitchen, and smelled something odd. Plastic. Hot plastic.

Then I looked at the oven.

There is sight you never want to see inside your house and that sight is flames.

Here is what I have learned: a plastic cutting board will melt but the pile of chopped peppers on top of the board will drip to the bottom of the oven and catch on fire.

I froze, a reaction I wish I had not had because it is probably not a good idea not to act in the face of fire. But I also did not want to open the oven and feed the flames with new oxygen. And I did not want to spray the flames with the fire extinguisher because I thought that would make one big ol' mess.

So I thought, "How stupid could you be?"

Then I thought, "What if I just turn off the oven?"

Then I thought again, "You are an idiot."

Then I turned off the oven and waited, not breathing.

The flames stopped. The smell did not.

I waited a few more minutes. No more flames.

I opened the oven.

You know that Dali painting of the clocks melting over the trees?

Imagine a red plastic cutting board melting over the oven racks and dripping onto the oven floor.

I should have taken a photo but I was not in my right mind.

The knife. The handle of my Cooks Illustrated recommended Victorinox had melted a bit. The blade looked OK.

I left the oven door open, changed into my sweatpants and a t-shirt, and spent the next two hours peeling red plastic off the oven racks and the floor of the oven.

The oven has never been cleaner.

I have never felt like more of an idiot.

I thought, I will just order a new knife and SH will never notice, because honestly, who wants to explain to her spouse a mistake of that idiocy? I would lose a lot of moral high ground.

But I couldn't get the smell of the plastic out of the house.

So I had to tell him.

His comment was that would never happen to him because he is very careful and I responded that of course it would never happen to him because it takes him so long to do any one task, he would never get to something like this.  He said that he is deliberate and careful and I said you are slow and maddening and never get anything done and if it weren't for me, we would eat Ramen noodles all the time on a plate that someone - SH  - had taken five minutes and half the water in Lake Michigan to wash.

And then he said whatever, I don't care about the cutting board and you're the one who uses the knife.

But I still felt like an idiot. And I still do.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Marriage 601, Lecture 721: Won't get fooled again

SH: Want to iron some shirts for me?

Me: No thank you.

SH: I asked you a little while ago but thought maybe you might have changed your mind since then.

Me: Nope. I am consistent in my lack of interest in ironing your clothes.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Marriage 601, Lecture 231: No white before Memorial Day

SH: I have several clothing rules I hope never to violate.

Me: Um-hmmm. [I am reading my book and am not very interested in hearing clothing philosophy from a man who freaks out if I wear his Rice sweatshirt - "Because it's SPECIAL!*" and - and whose closet consists of almost nothing but blue shirts. Plus I want to read my book. "Big Girl Panties," if you want to know. Total brain candy and fun and a nice break from the book about Americans who have been wrongly convicted of capital crimes.]

SH: I don't ever wear plain white shirts.

Me: Um-hmm. [Because it is very important for me to know this.]

SH: I don't like them. Unless it's a tuxedo shirt. That doesn't count as a plain white shirt.

[No, I don't get it either. A tuxedo shirt is a white shirt - perhaps not as plain as a buttondown, but fits the category of white, which in SH's taxonomy, seems to be the more egregious fashion violation. However, I do not understand his taxonomies at all - so many forbidden foods for so many reasons but not really a logical structure to the scheme. No peanut butter because of the texture, but tendon and tripe are OK?]

Me: Um-hmm.

SH: And no plain-colored ties. They are incredibly popular but I hate them.

Me: OK. Whatever.







* Although he has a certain point about the sweatshirt. My claim is that I, too, went to this college so I have the right to wear the sweatshirt. His point is that most Rice paraphernalia is so unattractive - they cannot seem to get a nice typeface - that a nice-looking sweatshirt is a rarity to be treasured.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Marriage 601, Lecture 875: For worse and worse

SH: You're not doing it right.

Me: What do you mean?

SH: I'm sick. You're supposed to be sympathetic.

Me: I am sympathetic.

SH: You're not acting sympathetic.

Me: What is "acting" sympathetic?

SH: Doing whatever I want.

Me: Which is?

SH: Making me soup.

Me: There is posole in the freezer.

SH: That's not soup! It's all chicken and hominy! It has CHUNKS!

Me: What else?

SH: You're supposed to comfort me, not watch a movie in the basement.

Me: I did pat you  on the head and say "poor bunny" and I sang "soft kitty" to you.

SH: You're not doing it right.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Marriage 601, Lecture 765: Man sick is different from woman sick

Let's evaluate two scenarios, shall we?

Scenario 1
A woman has her gums sliced open and a piece of tissue from the roof of her mouth sewn into the gum. Both the roof of her mouth and her gums are sutured. She is not sedated during this procedure, although she did take two valium.

Valium does nothing for her.

The dentist did give her Novocain.

Before the surgery, she got up, had a conference call with Mexico, ran three miles, went to the library to pick up a DVD, made the bed, washed the dishes, and did some work email.

At 10:15, her husband drove her to the dentist.

At 12:20, when the procedure was finished, she took the bus home. Not a big deal, as valium has no apparent impact on her.

She got home, did more dishes, made herself a bowl of yogurt and strawberries, which was hard to eat because you know, the Novocain.

She had a conference call with Brazil.

She took a vicodin.

She answered more emails and worked on a white paper. She prepared her breakfast and lunch for the next day at work, prepared her clothes, put away some winter clothes, and folded some laundry.

She took another vicodin three hours after the first one because she wanted to be sure to stay ahead of the pain. She continued to work. After an hour, she felt nauseated. Two minutes later, she ran to the bathroom and threw up her yogurt and strawberries and the piece of goat cheese tart she had later in the afternoon.

As she was vomiting, she thought, Hmmm, I really need to clean this toilet around the hinges. So after she flushed a few times and brushed her teeth and rinsed out her mouth, she got out the toilet cleaner and cleaned the toilet. She also wiped down the sink while she was at it.

Then she returned to work. She still felt nauseated, but what is one to do? One must work and one must get things done.

Scenario 2
A man flies to California for the weekend to see friends and collect wine. His wife does not begrudge him the trip. She is happy for him to see his friends because it makes him happy. He stays up way too late every night, including the night before the trip, because he has been known to be a slight procrastinator. But no worries. He is who he is.

He returns on Sunday. On Tuesday, he starts to sniffle. Then he starts to complain. He is getting a cold! How can this happen!

He whines. He had a flu shot! How could this happen! Oh no! Oh no! HE DOES NOT HAVE TIME TO BE SICK!

He sits on the bed with his computer, next to his wife who has had parts of her body cut out that day and who has thrown up and has little red dots around her eyes because when she throws up, she breaks blood vessels in her face.

He asks the wife to get him some tissues. She does. She returns to bed with her book.

He asks her to peel him some tangerines.

He asks her to warm some goat cheese tart.

He tells her he wants sympathy.

She tells him that she has managed to go through everything she experienced today without whining and without asking for sympathy or help.

He tells her that colds are worse for men.

Friday, April 11, 2014

The working life: What to do with the legs in Wisconsin in April, the cruelest month?

The pantyhose dilemma strikes again. My friends in the south roll their eyes. Nobody wears hose anymore! they tell me.

If I lived in a place where there was no snow, I would not be wearing hose, either.

But here, it is not a fashion statement. It is a survival statement. That is, I like to wear dresses and skirts to work but I don't like to be cold.

But CF what are you doing in Wisconsin if you don't like to be cold?

Ah. Good question. I am here because SH tricked me and now I am stuck. Stuuuuuuck. I love my SH - don't get me wrong - just because I tease at him here doesn't mean I don't think he is a total hottie and my true love - but I have to admit that the very thin silver lining to the cloud of his death would be that I could move away from here, which I would do in about two seconds, once I had figured out a way to get the cats south.

But SH is alive, which is good, and I am here and I must deal with the as-is world instead of the to-be world that SH is always rhapsodizing about. And the as-is world includes cold and snow.

I discovered fleece-lined tights earlier this year. They are not pretty. They are black and they are warm and that is their big selling point. But they are still not warm enough to walk to the bus stop in seven below with a wind chill making it even colder, which is why I wore sweatpants over the fleece-lined tights and then removed them once I got to work. One day, I wore the sweatpants under a dress that I bought at consignment - a fitted dress with fur cuffs and neck. It is a very fitted dress and when I stepped up to the bus I heard a noise and knew it was the dress tearing in the back because the addition of fleece-lined tights and sweatpants to the bulk that is already me was just an inch too much.

It has been over three months of black fleece-lined tights. I am tired of having black legs. I am tired of having fleece-lined legs. Adding bulk to a body is not a strategy for looking good, at least  not for me, as I have plenty of my own bulk thank you very much.

It has been three months of black bulky legs and we are in April and it is no longer winter. It is time to get out of winter clothes.

But it is still cold here.

Bare legs are not an option.

I don't want black legs any more.

So I went to TJMaxx to find some plain old regular pantyhose. The pantyhose section is very small these days. There used to be dozens of packages from many brands. Now there are like seven packages and the hose have sparkles in them.

I do not need nor do I want little gold sparklies in my pantyhose. I am not four years old and I am not a stripper. I am not a hooker. No sparklies.

I went to Walgreen's. Oh man.

Walgreen's is where you go for your cheap, tacky hose and for your $18 hose.

I am not spending $18 on pantyhose. Who can afford that kind of money for an item you wear once, maybe twice if you are lucky? That is four in beer units and five and a half in latte units.

Then I went online, to eBay, my retailer of choice.

Did you know there is a market for used pantyhose?

I shudder.

Even the brand-new hose were not what I wanted.

Back to TJMaxx. They had restocked. No sparklies. My size. The color was called "barely there."

Apparently, "barely there" is five shades darker than my not too fair skin. It was hard to tell in the light at TJMaxx, which is not known for its high-end merchandising.

I wore the barely theres today, walked into the ladies', looked at myself in the mirror, and discovered that it looked like my legs had been trapped in a tanning machine while the rest of me stayed in the shade with 100 SPF slathered on me.

Back to TJMaxx with the remaining five pairs, all unopened.

And back to the laundry room to wash my one single pair of pantyhose that matches my skin color. They have a run in them, but if anyone notices, I look down, gasp, and say, "Oh crap! That must have just happened!"

Praying for warm weather soon so I can have bare legs.





Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Marriage 601, Lecture 721: My boss became a millionaire and all I got was this lousy mug, or, How did I marry a hoarder?

Me: We need to throw that coffee cup away.

SH: What? No! Why?

Me: Because it leaks. That crack down the side has finally opened. I don't think it can be fixed.

SH: No!

Me: But it's useless!

SH: I want to keep it.

Me: Why?

SH: Because it's a souvenir from when I worked at [Silicon Valley startup #2,641 that didn't make any of its employees rich]

Me: Ah. That's a good reason.

He can put it with his employee manual from when he worked at Apple over 20 years ago, the phone bills from 1997 when he was still married to his ex, and those expired coupons for Culver's.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Marriage 601, Lecture 732: Fred and Ginger

Me: Today, this guy at the gym told me I look good in orange.

SH: He was hitting on you!

Me: Yep. I still got it.

SH: I guess you do.

Me: He had already asked if I would be his ballroom dance partner.

SH: But they don't have dance at the Y at lunch.

Me: No. In the evenings. I had told him that my husband hates dancing and won't take classes with me.

SH: Wait. He asked you to be his dance partner at night?

Me: Yes. So? That's how dancing works.

SH: But you can't do that!

Me: Of course I can. You have a nighttime wife. I can have a nighttime husband.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Marriage 601, Lecture 756: The List

SH: Why did you watch a movie about Christmas when it's April?

Me: Because it has Idris Elba in it.

SH: What, is he on your list?

Me: Yes.

SH: You think he's a hottie?

Me: Yes.

SH: So if he shows up at the front door?

Me: He would be there with Kate Winslet. So it works out for both of us.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Chats du jour: Will winter never end?

It only took Laverne a minute to decide she didn't want to be outside after all.







PS This series of photos is from February.

PPS But it still feels like winter.



Tuesday, April 01, 2014

BIO A three-hour tour

Marsha, who runs the BIO thingy, wrote this:

You're going on a cruise (or any vacation, but a cruise kinda limits choices if you leave something at home),

What 10 items you cannot leave home without.

And, yes, one of them should be an outfit, or all 10 of them can be outfits.


This is tough because I hate being on a boat. I had enough of it in high school when I was in Sea Scouts. My dad also had a small sailboat at that time. The Sea Scouts boat was a 76' double-masted schooner and was a thing of beauty. Unfortunately, it sank years ago - it had a ferrocement hull and the cement cracked and water got into the underpinnings made of iron and as you know, unpainted iron and salt water do not mix so kerplunk.

I had a lot of being on a boat and to me, it's one of the most boring things I can think of because you are trapped with other people and I am an introvert and although I like other people, I want to be able to escape from them.

If you are on a boat and around other people, I am pretty sure it is considered rude to take out your book and read. Indeed, there was a letter to Miss Manners about this very issue recently in the Washington Post. Someone complained about her friend who whips out a book even if there is a group of them waiting for the opera to start.

I read that and thought, "Cool! I should totally take a book with me the next time SH and I go to the Milwaukee Rep!" Because is there any torture greater than waiting for something to happen when you have nothing to read?

People think it's rude. I think it's self preservation. One of the main reasons I like taking the bus to work is because I have all that extra time to read. I am confined (which I don't like) but cannot clean the bathroom or do my work so I can read without guilt.

However. Let's say that SH and I won a cruise. I would hope we would have won it with some of our friends, because having friends along would make it more bearable. But hear me, my friends! I will plan to be reading my book a lot of the time and not being social! If we could sit next to each other and read our books together, that would be like the best thing of all.

Wait. No. If we could sit next to each other and read our books while someone else brings us food and chocolate martinis and lattes. That would really be the best thing of all.

So SH and I and our friends are on a cruise where the ship is big enough that I can escape when I need to. What do I take?

1. Marsha said at least one outfit. You will definitely have to see what she writes about, because she does clothes. Me, not so much. I am happy if I make it through the day without toilet paper hanging off the back of my shoe.

But an outfit. If I knew nobody would see me, sweatpants and a t-shirt. If I have to appear in public and look nice, then my light wool red dress that wraps under the bodice and gives me an amazing shape.

The rest of the wardrobe would be jeans and t-shirts.

2. A hat and sunblock. There is a lovely woman at my gym. She is in her late 30s. Fabulous shape - super lean and fit and a six pack, even though she has had three children. Nice, nice woman.

I think she sits in a tanning bed. I want to tell her that she is doing it wrong - that she works out so hard and then bakes her skin to turn it into leather? What are you thinking? I want to yell. Do you know how awful your skin will look in ten years?

But these are not the kinds of things you tell acquaintances. You can say it to your best friends, but not someone you have seen naked but whose name you do not know.

3. My biteguard. Just because SH thinks it's so sexy.

4. Emergency food, just in case the ship's kitchen runs out. Don't laugh. You never know. I should probably take water, too.

5. Ziplock bags, just in case there is too much food and I want to take some home.

Oh like you wouldn't. Like you have never walked past the bowl of little Nutellas in the Delta lounge and slipped a few into your purse because you never know when you might need some chocolate hazelnut spread.

6-10. Books. Because if this is supposed to be fun and relaxing, I want to relax. I want to wallow in reading. I want to observe other lives and stories without the messiness of being in them.

UPDATE: Wait. I need more clothes. I need style advice from Marsha and Lisa and Tish.This is why I like having friends who know things: they can help me. I do not have natural style sense. My sister got all of that, along with the bosom gene. She got the hair, makeup, smile, being photogenic, and clothes genes. I got - hmm. What did I get? I got naturally straight hair, which Jen thinks is desirable, as she blows out her naturally curly hair that ten years ago, women were paying $200 for.

10a. If SH's parents were anywhere around - not that I would ever ever go on vacation with them - then I would have to reserve space for valium. I would undergo extra oral surgery just to get a few valium to keep with me under that condition. And vicodin. I would save some of my prescription painkillers from the surgery - grit through the pain of having my gums cut open - and use it if needed. Not that vicodin has ever done anything for me other than slightly relieve post-oral-surgery pain. It doesn't do anything for migraines and it doesn't make me feel all "woooooooooo." But it might distract me.