June One.

Hello, June. Hello, real life.

I wish I had better reasons for not writing anything lately. Not just here, but writing anything other than book reviews. But I have no reasons because I don’t even have the head space to think of reasons.

When I look back at 2015 and try to remember what it was about, I am sure that all I will remember about this time is that I sat in my car. I sat in my car or I drove a child somewhere in my car, and I tried to hold on to a thought for longer than five minutes. In 2015, I felt like I might never hold on to a thought for more than five minutes, ergo, I might never be able to write any fiction again. Or feign to work at writing any good fiction. (Because being a writer is mostly about looking off into space and thinking the same thought for a really long time, right?) In 2015, I had so many ideas, and they were all gone by the time I pulled into my driveway.

Yes, it’s fun, seeing each of my kids find a way through the world, and junior high (for the big one) has been something so alien to our entire family that it took all our combined willpower to get her through the first year. But while I’ve been able to dedicate myself to a strict schedule of waking up early so I can write my book reviews and not feel panicky about that (mostly), I am unable to dedicate myself to a strict schedule of creativity. Because creativity needs some freaking space, and my brain is mostly full of things like: 7:05, leave the house. 7:12, drop Henry at Grandma’s. 7:22, say goodbye to Addie before PE. 7:50, run to the restroom before class starts. 9:55 sneak out of class during the last five minutes so you can make it to the restroom again before all the kids are in the hall. 11:15, lock classroom door so you can eat without talking to 9th graders. 1:05, run to restroom again before the next class starts pounding on the door. 2:20 try to get to Henry before he’s the last lonely kid in the parking lot. Etcetera. And there’s a lot of me having to say “really?!?” to kids and shooting mean looks around.

This, too: I’ve been trying to lose weight since January. Succeeding, slowly. But I will maintain until I die that some part of my creativity comes from consuming doughnuts and ICEEs and pretzels and red licorice, and that carby/fun part of me is being brutally repressed for a little while longer.

Anyway. I’m home. It’s quiet, and I just finished the last review I need to write for three weeks. I’m having some minor surgery next week, so the break in work isn’t really a break, but not reading for work and not writing for work and not going to work–that feels a little bit like a guilty thing I’m doing just for myself. I’ll take it. I don’t really know what to expect this summer. We’ve purposely kept our schedule open since I don’t know how I’ll handle the surgery. Before you ask: It’s a hysterectomy. Not a secret, not major, and not life-threatening, just something I need to do so I can stop being in agony every month. I’m a little sad to say goodbye to some part of my body that gave me these awesome kids. And I’m a little sad that I’m not packing for some European adventure like I was last summer. But in addition to riding in my car, 2015 just needs to be about evicting my bum uterus. As soon as I do that I can get back on a plane.

For now I am just happy to be home with my (almost) eighth grader. Happy that all of the problems of the school year will fade over the next few weeks. I’m hopeful I find space enough to keep my thoughts, to turn them over and let them become something more than a passing idea.

We’ll see. If not, at least I get to lay by the pool and eat fresh tomatoes.

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The Peanut Butter War: Sweet, Sweet Surrender

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About three years ago, I took a stand for natural peanut butter. I put my foot down and decided that in my home, we were not going to consume hydrogenated oil-laden nut butters, nor were we going to eat anything that had added sugar. My poor, poor children. At least, my extended family thought so. They responded by gifting baskets of peanut butter (“the good kind,” they said, not the oil-on-top gritty hippie gruel I was peddling) to my husband and kids. And thus, 8 jars of sweetened, shelf-stable crack invaded my home. I still stand by 2012 Heather’s claims. We are never going to stop eating treats in this family, so the things we eat all the time (read: peanut butter) should be processed as little as possible. But once those jars were here, I couldn’t stop anyone from eating them.

Here’s the other thing. Did you notice that peanut butter is ALL ABOUT advertising the fact that it doesn’t have trans fats anymore? But it still needs to be shelf-stable and free of visible oil, right? (Heaven forbid a food product should spoil…) They just swapped the hydrogenated stuff for palm oil. Which isn’t better.

Sigh. Anyway.

I didn’t grow up liking peanut butter. My mom put it on both pieces of bread in a PB&J, which meant that I associated it with a sticky, dry mouth. Yick. I was late to the peanut butter game when I started buying natural peanut butters as an adult. I didn’t love PB like most people. I tolerated it. But the kids seemed to like PB (as most humans), so I bought it. I made seven million sandwiches. And I tried to hold the line for as long as possible.

Once those 8 jars were in our house, something happened to me, not just to the balance of peanut butter power . I gave in. The peanut butter you will allow is what will continue. Now the pendulum has swung completely in the opposite direction. Maybe because I’m cheap and I didn’t want to waste the 8 jars we received for Christmas… Maybe because Costco sells those two giant vats of Skippy… Maybe because with two kids, we go through the stuff faster than soap. But I stopped buying the good stuff. And then I started digging in.

Now I can’t stop. In what must be characteristic of my inner teen reasserting herself, I find that I am craving the stuff like a it’s keeping me alive. I am shoveling it into my mouth like it’s my job. Not the good stuff. Oh no. That wouldn’t bother me so much. I’m downing tablespoons of Jif.  SPOONFULS OF SKIPPY. Right out of the jar, like a hormonal, pimple-faced barbarian.

Great is my shame. I not only surrendered, I became a cheerleader for the other side. Every once in a while I try to eat a little scoop of almond butter, just to remind myself of who I used to be. I don’t even know myself anymore.