Kissing the single life goodbye at Hershey tonight with Bruce

Tonight marks my 39th Bruce Springsteen show.

I actually bought tickets to numbers 39 and 40 during the most recent onsale, then the fiancé and I decided that we couldn’t miss that much school and gave the Hershey Park tickets to my parents.

Then a bit of a family emergency struck and we realized we weren’t going to make it to the Mohegan Sun show, and my parents, knowing what Bruce has meant to me, offered us the Hershey tickets back. The fiancé now couldn’t make it on a weeknight, so it’s me and my dad making the drive tonight.

Which I think serves as a great bookend to a certain era of my life.

My journey with Bruce shows began eleven years ago in Richmond on the Rising tour. My brother had suggested that we get my dad Bruce tickets for Father’s Day the year before, but we never managed to get our acts together on that. And his birthday was in February, so the following year, I found excessively over-priced secondary market tickets (I didn’t know any better yet!) for behind the stage in Richmond. My brother couldn’t go, my mother didn’t want to on a school night, and so dad and I went alone.

I was still in school. We left after my last class of the day, driving down in my father’s car, joking that as we arrived in his BMW convertible, I looked like his midlife crisis wife or girlfriend, not his daughter. We listened to a compilation of songs I had put together based on recent setlists and I remember my father joking that we were passing “the part of town where when you hit a red light you don’t stop.” And I asked him what song he most wanted to hear that night. He named “For You,” which we knew was a long shot.

I was in one of many rough patches that year.  I had fallen out with my entire crew when my best friend of the last six years and I stopped talking. It was that relationship, not a boyfriend, that inspired Beyond the Palace a few years later. That’s the one relationship in my life that left a permanent scar. And even now, it aches to remember that loss. It was necessary to cut each other loose, but I was lost after that for a very long time.

But something in me clicked that night when the lights went down. For the first time, I felt something that fed that “hunger you can’t resist” that Bruce sings about. I know the people who haven’t felt that are shaking their heads at me, but the ones who have are nodding. And I know they’re out there because I’ve met them over the last eleven years. I’ve made some amazing friends because I discovered that there were other people who felt the same loneliness that I was engulfed in and who felt it lessened with each show. They are the rabid fans who can pick themselves out in the videos, who were there when I danced on stage in Charlottesville, who read Beyond the Palace and who wanted desperately for me to be Laura, not understanding that the reason they connected with the book wasn’t because I was Laura, but because I was Ben.

At first, it was me and my dad because it was our thing. My brother had annual ski trips with him, but the concerts were mine. My Uncle Mike joined us from time to time and started being my date to shows dad couldn’t make it to. He was the “real fan” in the family, with more than 200 shows under his belt, and I remember his friends quizzing me on lyrics and classic shows on the drive up to Shea Stadium in 2003 before deeming me worthy of the ticket my uncle shared with me. I treasure the memories of my shows with him as much as those with my dad. It created a bond between us that is unshakeable, and he is responsible for some of my favorite concert memories and a few key scenes in Beyond the Palace as well. And he claims that it’s in his will that I inherit his Bruce collection, because I’ll appreciate it more than my cousins could.

Uncle Mike in his “Born to Run” shirt, holding me as a baby

In 2008, I was in another of those impossibly rough patches. I was drowning at school, and it was just months after we lost my Uncle Jules, to whom Beyond the Palace is dedicated. He gave me a typewriter when I was eight years old and told me I should be a writer. And losing him hit the whole family with the destructive force of a hurricane. I did a double header of shows that August, going back to Richmond with some friends and then skipping the first day back at school for teachers to go to Hershey Park with my dad. And as was now our tradition, we picked the song we most wanted to hear. We had luck with “For You” at that first show, and even “Santa Ana” in 2005, which will be the song my dad and I will dance to at my wedding, as the “giants of science” line has always reminded me of him. But that night was my 20th show, dad’s 10th, and somehow we hadn’t seen “Jungleland” yet. And at the opening notes that night, I began to cry. It was one of the most cathartic moments of my life. It was the first time in a long time that I could believe things would again be okay. And my dad put his arm around me without saying a word; without needing to, because he understood.

As this most recent tour began, for the first time since March 6, 2003, I don’t feel that deep-seated need to be at as many shows as possible. Maybe I’ve grown up a bit. Maybe it’s because I finally have found that connection that Bruce has always said the characters in his songs are seeking.

Or maybe it’s just been too long since my last show and I’ll come home tonight and cry because my Mohegan Sun tickets are gone. I’ve warned the fiancé that that is a distinct possibility.

Thank you to my mother, for giving up your ticket to let me go with dad tonight. It’s my last show that I’ll attend with him while I still bear his last name. And while I’m sure there are more shows in our future, there’s something magical to me in getting to go to this show with him.

And Bruce, if you’re reading (hey, a girl can dream, right?), the song I want to hear most is “Sandy.” It’s what my parents will walk me down the aisle to next month as I begin this next chapter of my life.

Thank you everyone who has been a part of this ride, and I can’t wait to start the next stage, where I can introduce you to my new husband at shows!  And I’ll see you all further on up the road.

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Life lesson from my mom: Jewish women cannot vacuum. And apparently she’s right.

My mother, all-knowing fount of wisdom that she is, has long maintained that Jewish women cannot vacuum.

Now, I’ve always believed that her hypothesis was somewhat along the lines of my hypothesis that Jews do not go to Walmart. In theory, I’m sure some Jews have been to Walmart before, but because I don’t want to go to Walmart ever in my life, I use that as my rationale for not going. My mother has no intention of vacuuming, so I assumed she says that she can’t to avoid it.

But I, on a poor, pitiful teacher’s salary, cannot afford a housekeeper. And my mother, for no reason that I can understand other than sheer meanness, refuses to pay for hers to come clean my house.

So from time to time, I find myself required to break her dictum against our people using that particular household instrument and actually use a device that sucks the dirt off of my carpet. (Which only came after what basically boiled down to my losing a giant game of “Not It!” against the boyfriend to determine who had to vacuum. We’re very mature at Casa De Goodman.)

So, being adaptable, I dusted off the vacuum, brought it into the bedroom, plugged it in, and pushed the power button.


At which point absolutely nothing happened.

Well, that’s not exactly true. The power on that entire wall went out. Both sides. Meaning I no longer had cable, internet, power to either the bedroom or living room tv, my laptop, or any of my other entertainment providing devices. Not good.

But I’ve lived in my apartment for seven-and-a-half years now. I’ve had power issues before with only two resulting fires and one near-death electrocution incident. So I consider myself quite the expert at finding the fuse box and flipping the circuit breakers. But no breakers had tripped. I tried flipping them all anyway. Which meant I had a trembling dog perched on top of my head because Rosie is terrified whenever the power goes out and starts shaking uncontrollably. Then she either needs to find the highest ground she can (ie the top of my head) or hide behind the toilet. Apparently those are the two safest spots to be in an electrical emergency.

But it didn’t fix the problem.

Meaning it was time to call in the pro—my dad. I called him and began explaining the problem, but he cut me off before I could finish. “Wait,” he said. “I thought Jewish women couldn’t vacuum.” 

I sighed and continued, pretending I couldn’t hear my mother in the background yelling, “See? Jewish women CAN’T vacuum! Look what happens when we try!”

“Flip the circuit breakers,” he advised. I told him I had already done that. “Well, then you’re f*****.”

Thanks dad. Really. Thank you. And thank you for then leaving the country for Mexico instead of coming over to help with the problem. Particle astrophysics conference my ass. I think you went on vacation to avoid rewiring my house!

But I digress.

And unfortunately, because my father and I have a good relationship, I don’t have daddy issues. So instead of finding a guy just like my dad, meaning a physicist, the boyfriend is an English nerd like me. And apparently so are my building’s maintenance guys because after doing the exact same thing I’d already done (flipping the circuit breakers), and some head scratching, they told me to call an electrician.

Which, I suppose, is better than what I expected them to do, which was put a giant hole in my wall trying to fix the wiring. I was one-hundred percent convinced I would come home from school on Tuesday to find a gaping vortex in the drywall and no sign of Rosie except the scraping sound of her little gremlin feet inside the walls and a creepy voice saying, “Carol Ann, go into the light!”

So okay, I called the electrician that my maintenance guys recommended. Three days, multiple phone calls and voicemails later, he still hasn’t called me back. My current theory is that he too went to Mexico to avoid fixing my wiring, or else is stuck in someone else’s wall vortex.


But the more pressing issue was that I hadn’t gotten to watch Mad Men from Sunday night yet. And the clock was ticking! If I didn’t watch it soon, I was going to go insane and start killing people.

Not to mention the fact that the maintenance guys made it worse and cut the power to my entire bedroom, so I was stuck without cable, internet, OR lights.

The boyfriend didn’t seem to care. Having spent three years living in his aunt’s cabin in District 12, he’s used to surviving without power or television. And without those basic necessities, I began to realize that Katniss doesn’t volunteer as tribute to save her sister. Oh no. She volunteers for the chance to get the hell out of the boonies and be able to freaking watch Mad Men like a normal person!

Several recommendations later, I placed calls to about six electricians, and the one who called back first and was able to come to my house that afternoon won. He fixed the problem with ease (making me wonder, what the hell am I paying such an exorbitant condo fee for if my maintenance guys can’t figure out something so simple that, had they not scared me about touching the wiring, I could have done myself?), and at minimal cost.

But we had to move some furniture to get to the outlets.

Which is when we found the mouse poop.

Ah, the joys of owning a condo.

But at least I got to watch Mad Men, so all is right with the world.

And I was able to say definitively to the boyfriend, with an abundant amount of evidence and an electrician’s bill to prove it, that Jewish women cannot vacuum, and it is therefore now his job when we clean the apartment.

Which, in the end, was worth the hassle.

But not the mouse poop. Be warned little mousie, I’m investing all of my resources into the war on mouse terror that I’m now launching and I’m far more efficient than the US at destroying terrorist cells in my land!

Game on.

What’s Valentine’s Day all about? Ripping out your heart, zombie-style, of course!

It’s Valentine’s Day.

Again.

But I have an awesome boyfriend this year! Suck it, single people! This is the best day of my life!


No, not really. THIS was the best day of my life.

Sigh (of happiness).

But I know you don’t read this blog to hear how much better my life is than yours, (which let’s face it, prior to THIS, it wasn’t. Now it is. Unequivocally. Sorry.) so I’ll go back to being the Grinch Who Stole Valentine’s Day just for you, my loyal readers, who love the snark.

To be fair, my boyfriend is a former tree-hugging hippie who used to live in the mountains, have a beard, and grow his own vegetables. In fact, if you put some aviators on him in his old pictures, he might have been the Unabomber. Minus that whole letter bomb thing.

But the point is that he doesn’t like the idea of a commercialized holiday like Valentine’s Day, so we celebrated yesterday, which was our four-month anniversary. So unless he pulls a Kaiser Soze-style trick today and surprises me with flowers/candy/a giant teddy bear/other random crap that Hallmark tells me I need even though I don’t, I, as usual, have nothing to celebrate today.

Meaning it’s time to trash the hell out of the holiday.

So who was this mysterious St. Valentine and why do we have to celebrate him? As always, when I don’t know the answer to a question, I follow six simple steps to ensure that I arrive at the correct answer.

Step 1: Ask my dad. He knows all. He’s like the Oracle at Delphi, except he explains things in cryptic physics terms instead of cryptic riddles. So you’re more likely to wind up making something explode, less likely to commit patricide and incest, then gouge your eyes out when you ask him a question.

Step 2: Ask Siri. Why? Because my phone is always in my hand and it’s easier than typing a question into Google. Duh.

Step 3: Ask my grandma. She doesn’t usually know the answers, but she’ll always lie and make up a good story, which is usually more interesting than the real version anyway.

Step 4: Bang my head against the wall because my grandma’s answer made ZERO sense and she guilt-tripped me about something I didn’t even know existed.

Step 5: Take some Advil from steps 3 and 4.

And finally, Step 6: Go to Wikipedia.

My findings?

Step 1: “Dad, what’s the meaning of Valentine’s Day?”

“[Profanity deleted for sake of keeping my teaching job. But I’ll tell you it went on for exactly 18.5 minutes (the exact missing time in the Nixon tapes—coincidence?) and involved many different and creative uses for certain parts of the human anatomy and a goat.] Is that today? Your mother’s going to [expletive deleted] murder me!”

“Dad, I already got you a card and sent mom flowers from you*, calm down. I just want to know why we celebrate Valentine’s Day.”

*Artistic license.  I tried to send you flowers mom.  I did.  But dad went on some crazy rant about how if they wouldn’t be there by 3, I couldn’t send them.  And because I have no control over when flowers are delivered on the busiest flower day of the year, I was told not to do it.  I’m sorry.  Please don’t hurt me.

“Oh. Because billions of years ago, all the matter in the universe was tightly compacted into a really small space until it finally all exploded in what we call the Big Bang…”

This conversation lasted for 97 hours and at that point, we hadn’t even made it to the dinosaurs dying yet. It was time to ask Siri.

FAIL. And apparently Siri doesn’t understand sarcasm. Or else she was being nasty back when I sarcastically thanked her. What a [expletive deleted].

Okay, time for Step 3. Call Grandma.

Me: “Grandma, why do we celebrate Valentine’s Day?”

My Grandma: “I made you cabbage soup.”

Me: “Um thanks. I don’t really like cabbage soup though. But that’s not why I’m calling—”

My Grandma: “What do you mean you don’t like cabbage soup? You’ve never had my cabbage soup! You had it off the back of a truck once!”

Me: “Huh?”

Steps 4 and 5. And a glass of wine. Because that conversation actually happened. And I still have no idea what she was talking about because I’m 100 percent positive that I’ve never eaten cabbage soup off the back of a truck. And I don’t think that has anything to do with Valentine’s Day either.

On to Step 6. My old standby. Wikipedia. Which as we all know, is NEVER, EVER wrong. Or getting back together with Taylor Swift apparently.

According to Wikipedia, we celebrate Valentine’s Day because this dude, named Valentine (duh) was performing marriages illegally in the year 269 AD. So the Romans came to kill him, but he, in true romantic fashion, beat them to it. He cut his own heart out (which is pretty hardcore if you ask me. I mean, it’s one thing to use that weirdo chant from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and pull it out with magic, but CUTTING your own heart out takes real effort), wrote a nice little note to his girlfriend, signed it “From your Valentine,” and mailed the note and his heart to her, Van Gogh-style. Then the Romans came and slaughtered his zombie ass, as they should have, because anyone walking around AFTER cutting his own heart out NEEDS to be killed before he eats your brains. Duh again.

So unlike that ungrateful chick who got Van Gogh’s cut off ear, Valentine’s girlfriend thought this was sweet and romantic and wonderful and made all of her friends super jealous of the fact that HER zombie boyfriend loved her enough to cut out his own heart and mail it to her. Her friends then held out on sex until their boyfriends did the same the following year, and a tradition was born.

However, zombies weren’t popular until about two years ago, so Hallmark stepped in and started this paper heart nonsense.

Then the flower, candy, and teddy bear industries got involved to suck the life out of men’s wallets worldwide.

It’s what’s known in the industry as a perfect storm.

But this year, THIS YEAR, zombies are in style! They’re more popular than vampires! (Take that you sparkly Twilight [expletive deleteds]!) So men, use this to your advantage! Don’t buy in to the Hallmark nature of the holiday! If you love your woman, take some bath salts, go all zombie, and cut out your REAL heart to send to your girlfriend!

And the best part of this plan? It’ll work even on years when Valentine’s Day falls on Saturdays because the postal service will still deliver packages but not regular mail.

Everybody wins.

Until the zombies overtake us all.

Hmm. Maybe the Hallmark version isn’t so bad.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone.

It’s the End of the World as We Know It–And I Feel Like Looting!

According to an ancient Mayan prophecy, the world is ending one week from today.

I am here today to tell you that this is absolutely, unequivocally true.

How do I know?

Duh, I’m psychic, I know everything.

No, I won’t help you pick winning lottery numbers.

And I’m not really THAT psychic. Even though Madam Marie’s granddaughter told me that I am.

I’m relying on cold, hard facts this time.

Fact #1: The Mayans said it’s happening. Clearly a civilization that disappeared over a thousand years ago was AWESOME at predicting the future.

The best theory out there about their disappearance was that they were kidnapped by aliens. It’s true. Google it. Of course, the Wikipedia page on the Mayans says that they never disappeared, they just left their main cities due to a drought and were assimilated into other local cultures, but that’s Wikipedia. Everyone knows that ANYONE can edit Wikipedia. Even the aliens that abducted the Mayans.

 
But the Mayans clearly knew that was coming because they disappeared without a trace, implying that they knew it was coming and had time to pack. See? If they say the world is ending, it’s ending.

Fact #2: There’s a movie about it. It’s called 2012. I mean, I didn’t see it, because the premise of the movie is that neutrinos are heating the Earth’s core and ending the world, and my dad is one of the world’s leading neutrino physicists and that premise was the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard in my life because that’s NOT what neutrinos are or what they do.

  Like literally. My dad was one of the head scientists who discovered that neutrinos have mass. He’d know if they were heating the Earth’s core. And he’d tell me. Because he’s my daddy.

 But the fact that there’s a movie about it means it’s happening. Clearly.

Fact #3: It’ll be 2015 in just over two years and hoverboard technology isn’t close. We’ve just created a paradox in the space-time continuum big enough to destroy the whole universe. And the world is part of the universe. So it’s ending too.

Fact #4: The Redskins aren’t terrible this year. We have RGIII. We beat the Giants, the Eagles, AND the Cowboys. And even after RGIII got injured in the last game, we STILL won. If this isn’t a sign of an impending apocalypse, I don’t know what is.

See? Indisputable evidence that that world will be ending in exactly one week.

So what should you do?

That depends. If you’re planning to survive the apocalypse, you should probably stock up on all the apocalypse essentials: shotguns, bottled water, Leonardo DiCaprio dvds, a generator (to run whatever you’re going to watch the dvds on), non-perishable food items, and a zombie-English dictionary.

And, most importantly, Will Smith.  Because if Hollywood has taught us anything, it’s that no matter what the cause of the end of the world, Will Smith can not only survive it, he can also save the fractured remnants of society.

But if you’re willing to throw in the towel and embrace the end of the world, as I am (I don’t do well with zombies. And the only bottled water that my boyfriend will drink costs like $15 for a six pack. Seriously? It’s water. It comes out of the tap AND the sky for free. That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of it my life. Yet another sign that the world is ending: people will spend that much money on WATER. Bring on the apocalypse please, I’m done), your preparations can be a lot more fun.

For example, you know the Ten Days of Repentance in Judaism, when you’re supposed to go around apologizing for all the wrongs that you’ve done to people? I plan to spend the next seven doing the opposite: I’m going to go around telling people EXACTLY what I think of them. I mean, the world is ending, there won’t be any consequences. And I have a few people who I’ve been holding back on for YEARS. This will be awesome. Unless you’re one of the people who has wronged me. In which case I’m about to use the present that I got my father for Hanukkah to tell you what an [expletive deleted] [expletive deleted] [expletive deleted] [expletive deleted] you are.

And all that dieting and exercising I’ve been doing this year? To hell with that! You can’t undo a year’s worth of effort in one week, so I’m eating whatever I want this week.

A whole pizza? Sure! Eighty-seven cookies? Why not! As long as my jeans still fit on Friday when the world ends, it’s all good.

Time to max out those credit cards too. There’s no way you’ll have to pay that debt off, so buy whatever you want. It’s your America folks!

What’s the only thing more fun than spending money you don’t have? That’s right! It’s looting! Go crazy! Take what you want! Why yes, I WOULD like to help myself to a Maserati! Thank you for asking. Oh, it was yours? That’s a shame, it’s mine now. And the beauty of this plan is that when EVERYONE starts looting, the cops will be too busy to do much about it. So yeah, a few unlucky souls might get caught and spend their last week locked up, but in this case, the odds are ever in your favor.

Then it’s time to mess with peoples’ heads. Because really, that’s my primary joy in life anyway as a teacher. All you really need to do it this time is a good pair of wire cutters. Grab those suckers and start cutting any wires you see. Power? Gone. Cable and internet? Gone. Phones? No one uses a landline anyway, that won’t really do anything. But if you can knock down a cell tower, you’ll terrify EVERYONE. And without the ability to check Twitter to see what’s happening, everyone will descend into mass panic and you can laugh at them for the last few minutes before the world actually ends.

Goodbye world, it’s been fun.

Unless of course, the Mayans were somehow wrong, and you follow this advice, in which case my lawyer would like me to publicly state that I am not responsible for anything that happens to you as a result of your own actions.

Happy looting!

Everything I know about cars, I learned from Springsteen songs. Help!

I know absolutely nothing about cars.

Okay, I guess that isn’t true, strictly speaking. I know how to drive them. I know that they run on gasoline. I know Bruce Springsteen likes to sing about them (even though he admits he doesn’t know that much about them either).  And I know that the second anything stops working in mine, I need to call my dad ASAP.

That is the full extent of my knowledge of cars.

I have no idea what goes on under the hood of my car. When I open it, it looks like an super-complicated game of Mousetrap, with lots of random doohickeys that make it run. But honestly, as far as I know, there could be little gnomes running on a hamster wheel who are REALLY the reason why my car goes when I push the gas pedal.

So when my “check engine” light came on last week, I did what any rational person would do.

I became convinced that my car was going to explode and began dictating a will to Siri. That’s legally binding, right?

Turns out, I just didn’t tighten the gas cap well enough the last time I filled my car up and apparently THAT causes a “check engine” light. But even once my father reassured me that no, my car was NOT going to explode (actually, his exact words were that it PROBABLY wouldn’t explode, which was somewhat less than reassuring), I still had to bring it to the dealership for them to reset the “check engine” light.

Luckily, I befriended the service manager at Toyota years ago, so that was a painless procedure. Until he reminded me that I need to get my car serviced before I drive it to Brooklyn to see the Gaslight Anthem in a couple of weeks. And unfortunately, it’s almost at 90,000 miles, which means that I needed to get the timing belt replaced.

I have no idea what any of that means. All I know is was going to cost me something like $1,100. Which is ELEVEN Springsteen shows! (Okay, not really. It’s three plus Ticketmaster charges. But in a perfect world, it’d be ELEVEN shows that I now can’t go to! Although in a perfect world, I’d be at ALL of the Bruce shows with no timing belt issues. I’d also be stick skinny, married to Leonardo DiCaprio, a world-famous author, and I’d have a shoe collection that would make Imelda Marcos’ look sparse. Clearly the world is not perfect.)

So, I cried a little, but agreed. Because I can’t afford a new car right now. And I DO love my car.

And in fact, I love my car more than ever now, because while it was in the shop, I drove my brother’s old Jeep.

Back in 1999 when my brother got the Jeep (from my uncle—it was already four years old then), he thought it was the hottest car on the planet. He pimped out the stereo system and you could literally hear him coming from about a mile away. Seriously. It was better than a LoJack.

Fast forward to Wednesday when my dad gave me the keys.

“We need to discuss a few things about driving it,” he said.

A few things turned out to be a lot more than I expected. For example there are warning lights on for parts of a car that I’ve never heard of. I don’t know what a rear cooling sensor is, nor do I know what it does or why it’s “bad.” Does it have tattoos and piercings? Does it need to go to the time out corner? And is it ACTUALLY okay to ignore it like my dad says it is?

The key fob works, he explained, but only if you’re trying to lock or unlock the rear passenger side door. It’s useless on all other doors.

The brakes are “slow,” he told me, “so leave about double the stopping distance you’d normally need.”

Air conditioning? Hah. That died years ago.

Planning to drive anyone else? Not a good idea. There used to be seats in the back, but they’re long gone.

Need to open the back hatch? Watch out because It doesn’t stay up. But there’s a pole in the back of the jeep that dad told me he uses to prop the hatch open with.

As he walked me through the basics of driving this relic of my brother’s adolescence, my eyes wandered to the spare tire holder, which looked oddly misshapen. “What’s wrong with the spare?”

“There is no spare. There are jumper cables and motor oil in there.”

“What happens if I get a flat tire?”

My dad just looked at me like I was an idiot. “Don’t get a flat tire.”

Needless to say, I was a little concerned by the time I got into the driver’s seat. Which wasn’t helped by the fact that I started the car, released the emergency brake, put it in drive, pressed the gas pedal and—nothing happened.

My dad knocked on the window and I rolled it down (THAT actually worked without me breaking out the 80s-style hand crank). “You have to put it in reverse for a second to go forward because the brakes lock up.” Silly me, I should have thought of that.

So, taking my life in my hands, I put it in reverse, then back into drive, and it mercifully lurched forward.

“This isn’t so bad,” I thought as I pulled away. It’s MUCH higher than my car and I DO like feeling tall.

That feeling of contentment lasted until I got it up to 30 miles per hour, at which point the car began to sound eerily like the Loch Ness Monster giving birth to a rabid elephant.

I quickly called my dad. “Is it supposed to sound like this?” I shouted over the car’s hideous cries of agony.

“Yup,” my dad said. “It’s fine.”

At which point, I realized that one of two things was going on. 1) My dad hates me and this was all part of a plan to kill me while making it look like an accident because there was NO WAY that this car was going to get me to and from school and the gym while mine was in the shop, or 2) the car ALWAYS sounded like that and we just couldn’t ever hear it over my brother’s subwoofers and ghetto fabulous music.

Right now, I’m leaning toward option 2, as the car DID safely get me where I needed to go. My hearing hasn’t quite recovered, but I’m pretty sure that old Nessie is either going to have that rabid elephant baby soon or else finally reach the end of her days. Nothing can make a noise like that for that long and live.

And my timing belt was replaced, so I’m back in my car with a new-found respect for the gnomes that keep it running so smoothly.

I’m poor. But I’m back in a hot car that actually works like a car is supposed to. Whatever that means.

And as my dad pointed out, if I ever DO want to run over that goose that stalks me in the mornings, I’m free to borrow the Jeep any time.

All workouts and no soda make Sara a cranky (but skinny!) girl…

It’s official. I’ve become one of THOSE people.

You know the people I mean. The ones who exercise with freakishly religious zeal. The ones who ONLY fill their shopping carts at the grocery store with organic fruits and veggies. The people who can, without needing to do any quick math, tell you IMMEDIATELY how many calories they’ve consumed so far today, as well as what their total daily caloric intake will be.

Yes.  I have become a skinny health nut.

I didn’t become one of THOSE people because I wanted to feel morally superior to the people who don’t work out, buy processed foods, and don’t know their daily calorie intake at this exact second—although don’t get me wrong, I DO feel superior to all of you who aren’t like that.  Massively so.  All of THOSE people do.  You were right about that.  We judge you. 

No, I made this lifestyle change because I promised myself that I would be a size 4 by summer. And I’m actually almost there. I’ve got probably another 5-7 pounds left to go, with another two months of school left and a month-and-a-half until the pool opens.

3 days before I got on the exercise/healthy eating wagon
Me last week… see the difference???

Yay me!

But I’m also finding myself at that dreaded plateau, where those last 5-7 pounds don’t seem to want to budge.  I’ve tried reasoning with them, I’ve tried yelling at them, I’ve even tried offering them a trip to Disney World (hey, it would work if someone wanted to get rid of ME!).  But to no avail.  Clearly, drastic measures are necessary, so it was time to give up my last remaining dietary vice.

Yes, boys and girls, I’m talking about my diet soda addiction.

For years, I ignored all of the articles/tv shows/doctors/health experts/random busybodies (cough Angela cough) who said that any soda, even diet, is bad for you. Because I love me some Diet Coke. And it has zero calories! Nothing with zero calories can be bad for you! (And no, no one who speaks German could be evil either.)

Anyone who has ever tried to lose weight knows that CALORIES are the enemy, not the artificial sweeteners and other delicious, cancer-causing ingredients.

Right?  I mean, why would they put the word “diet” in the NAME of the product if it wasn’t going to help you lose weight?  Who would do something like that?

And I NEEDED my soda.

Because if you know me at all, you know that I don’t drink coffee. (And if you don’t know me, but still know that I don’t drink coffee, that’s really creepy and please stop stalking me!) But I’m an inveterate insomniac and have a day job that starts at what I believe should technically still be termed “The Middle of the Freaking Night for God’s Sake.” Literally. When I rule the world, that’s what 7:25am will be called.

So for years now (never mind how many!), I’ve relied on two (okay, three or four) cans of Coke Zero to get me through until the time when normal people start their days. You know. Noon.

For me, that was the perfect amount of caffeine to keep me functional, but NOT enough to cause further sleep problems.

But coffee drinkers don’t understand that, as I learned when I went to the Meadowlands to see Bruce Springsteen with my dad last week. I drove both ways, as it was my spring break and my dad had to work the next day, but after hitting a mysterious traffic jam on the New Jersey Turnpike that Google Maps claimed didn’t exist but that lasted for an hour, and with three hours left to drive at 1am, I realized I was going to need some kind of a stimulant to help keep me awake on the road.

So we stopped at the Walt Whitman rest stop to get me a Diet Coke.

Perfectly confident in my abilities to make it safely home with that 32oz soda next to me, I got back in the car. My dad called my mom to give her an estimate on when he would be home, and I spoke to her for a couple of minutes as well (a little bit about the concert, but mostly bragging about how healthily I had eaten that day.  My mom is the skinniest person on the planet, so she was proud). And when I went to take a sip of my delicious, life-prolonging, energy-giving Diet Coke, I got only ice.  And that horrible watered-down soda remnant crap that you get when your soda is gone but you try to drink it anyway.

While I had been on the phone, my dad drank the whole soda. And because he single-handedly keeps Starbucks in business and literally has pure coffee running through his veins instead of blood, the caffeine in my soda did nothing for him.  Thirty seconds later, he was asleep.

At which point, I decided to kill him and leave his body in the swamps of Jersey.

Because if I learned anything from The Sopranos, it’s that that’s a pretty common occurrence in New Jersey and shouldn’t really raise any eyebrows.

But I love my dad. So even though I spent the next hour of the drive plotting his demise in gory detail, I didn’t act on it. Instead, I drank half of my emergency 5 Hour Energy that I keep in the car for just such situations.

And I haven’t slept since.

So, because I’m pretty sure I’m still hopped up on the caffeine from a week and a half ago, I realized that the time had come to lay off of the soda entirely to help reach my weight loss goals.

(Plus, the soda habit was getting expensive. I need to save my money for the really important things, like clothes that actually fit now that I’ve lost weight and tickets for when Bruce comes back around in the fall!)

And I have to admit that in addition to cutting out all of the additives that were going to kill me, cutting caffeine out as well has left me feeling…

AWFUL! All of those experts who said I’d feel so much better, what the hell are they smoking? I mean, yes, I get to feel that sense of superiority over all of those coffee and soda addicts out there, but…

Actually…hmm….

Never mind. I feel great.

You just might want to stay out of my way if you happen to see me before noon for the next couple of weeks. I’m still a little grumpy in the mornings.

But bikini season, here I come!

My dad doesn’t want to fix my house anymore–time to get married!

Friday night, my garbage disposal stopped working.

But I didn’t panic. Oh no. I very calmly did what any independent, self-reliant young woman with her own home would do.

I called my daddy and cried that I broke my house.

Sadly, this is not an uncommon occurrence in my life.

Call me melodramatic if you will, but I tend to rank anything broken around the house that I can’t fix on my own as catastrophic on the level of a Godzilla attack. And consequently, if I call my dad and just say “Hey dad, my garbage disposal isn’t working. Can you come take a look at it?” he’s not coming. But if I cry and tell him that I broke my house, I’ll usually get the help that I need.

Unfortunately, this has led to a bit of a boy-who-cried-wolf (or in my case, girl-who-cried-broken-house) dilemma. So when I told my dad that my house was broken, he sighed and asked what it was this time. And when I told him what the problem was, he tried to tell me how to fix it myself.

Meaning what I heard was something akin to Charlie Brown’s teacher talking. Seriously. He told me to try pushing the button on the bottom of the garbage disposal and I heard “whomp whomp whomp whomp whomp.”

But I’m making an attempt to be less helpless, so I decoded what he was saying and eventually ventured into the murky shadowland under my kitchen sink looking for this mysterious button that he spoke of.

And, feeling like Indiana Jones about to swipe that weird gold thing in Raiders of the Lost Ark (and equally expecting a giant bolder to chase me out of my kitchen after pushing the button), I pushed it.

And nothing happened.

Crap.

“It didn’t work, daddy.”

Another sigh. And some more whomping that equated to “check the fuse box.” Which I’m actually an expert at, because thanks to those lovely “hot girl problems” that I have, I blow fuses pretty regularly when I’m drying my hair. (And because I have the sense of humor of a 12-year-old boy, blowing fuses sounds really dirty and I’m giggling as I’m writing it. I also can’t say the word “penis” with a straight face.)

But no fuses had blown. And my dad’s next instruction, to stick an appropriately-sized allen wrench in the hole on the bottom of the garbage disposal and turn was so far outside of my home-repair abilities that I was forced to return to my initial assertion that my house was broken.

And for the first time in my life, my daddy seemed reluctant to come over and fix my broken house. Which led me to the only logical conclusion that I could draw from this scenario: it’s time for me to get married. Because there are just some tasks that I’m incapable of doing (or, more realistically, completely unwilling to do) on my own. Specifically, I mean anything more complicated than a burned out lightbulb.

I’m not going to lie and claim that I’m the poster child for feminism—if you’re a loyal Sara*ndipity reader, you’d know that’s not true anyway considering that I wrote a post on hot girl problems and one a while ago about my inability to jumpstart a car or change a tire. But I think it’s only fair that guys should have to deal with certain icky jobs around the house that I don’t want to do. Like anything dealing with plumbing. Or killing bugs.

The girls reading this are probably all nodding right now, while the guys are asking why that’s supposed to be fair.

Well, I’ll tell you. There are two main reasons.

Okay, I guess there are other reasons to get married as well. Like love and children and tax breaks and all that stuff. But for me, I think the main draw right now would be having someone to take care of all the things that I can’t (won’t) do.

For example, if there is anything wrong with the toilet, I’m not fixing it. I’m just not. A couple years ago, mine was running randomly, and my dad tried to walk me through the process of replacing that rubber floaty thingy in the tank to make it stop.

Three hours, some yelling (on my part), some crying (on both of our parts), and a minor apartment flood later, my dad came over and fixed my toilet. And to this day, I have no idea why I was incapable of doing that myself when it took him less than thirty seconds to do, nor do I have any idea what that rubber floaty thingy is called.

But it’s the kind of thing that, if I had a live-in man, could have been fixed quickly, with less yelling, crying, and flooding.

So, with no rational solution to the garbage disposal situation in sight (because I wasn’t going to pay someone to fix it. I’m broke from buying tickets to see Bruce four times in the same week on this upcoming tour), I started husband hunting.

Which did not go so well.

Apparently men these days are looking for a little more romance than, “Let’s get hitched so you can fix my garbage disposal and any other random crap that I manage to break around my house.” Who knew gender roles had done such a complete 180?

Luckily, my dad proved that he does love me and doesn’t want me to marry someone solely for plumbing skills, because he came over bright and early the next morning with a set of allen wrenches, and within approximately 2.6 seconds of walking in the front door, my garbage disposal was working like a champ again.

Which made me feel like a complete moron for not being able to fix it myself. But better to be a moron with a working garbage disposal and a daddy who loves me than a moron with a broken garbage disposal, right?

I’ll keep telling myself that.

And thanks dad.