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Five years ago two days from now, I failed miserably at making this recipe in a tiny, hot kitchen above a vintage shop in Brookline, after spending about two hours insistently steaming, cooling and scraping a very annoying pumpkin instead of just using a $1 can.


My muffins came out sad and dense and wet, and on my way to work there was a guy asking for change on the median, so I gave him a sack of about a half dozen. I left a comment on the recipe post, have not made them since, and will never substitute the real deal for canned pumpkin ever again.

Apparently, 45 minutes later, my very good friend (and maid of honor) Heather commented on the same blog post, except I didn’t realize that until just now because it was a month before we met. *dun*dun*DUNNNNN*


Fate is luck, I guess.

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I attended the latter half of grammar school at  St. Casimir’s, a not-very-prestigious Catholic school that was so poor that (as far as I can tell) it was run almost entirely on the take of a weekly bingo night at St. Hedwig’s. And as you might have already guessed, the first time I heard about Hedwig and the Angry Inch, I got a good chuckle at the expense of my old alma mater.

Anyhow, one of the ways the school saved money was by having teams of four 6th graders do the dishes at lunch time. We rotated through weekly and were forced to sacrifice our half hour lunchtime recess to scrape plates, soak silverware, fill the dishwasher and put them away, like some kind of fucking orphanage. My mother was not thrilled with this arrangement, and was even decidedly vocal on the subject at home, but she wished us to have a private education and this was the best she and my father could afford. So every few weeks I was on dish detail, but then the health inspector came through on my off week, and the lunch ladies sent up the kids scheduled that week to trade them for the best dishwashers that week so the kitchen would pass inspection.

As it turned out, I was a crack Dish Rinser, so I was sent down with the other future bus boys. And that day I came home beaming and boasting about what a great sink operator I was. My mom listens, has a short quiet think and says to me “Well listen, if you want to go to recess instead of doing dishes, here’s what you do: just don’t do a very good job of the dishes.”

I paused, which did not happen often to Little Aleta. “But . . . I’m really good at doing dishes.”

“Yes, but wouldn’t you rather have recess?”

“I mean, yeah, but otherwise who is going to do a good job of the dishes?”

I (obviously) did not get it and was so good at a shit job that I got to do it all the time. Lucky me.

The school also saved money by having their 8th graders monitor the other grades on both recesses, because you know, teachers need breaks more than 13-year-olds, so two years later I was monitoring the 7th grade. Having 7th grader duty was kind of a treat because they were more or less my age, so I basically got to hang out with them AND be in charge. Rock star for an 8th grader. But after a small, rather bland act of rebellion, my teacher decided that I was not going to be monitoring at all any more because of the discord I had sown with my charges. So instead I had to stay in the empty 8th grade classroom all by myself at recesses as a punishment.

This time I came home, dejected, and explained to my mother what happened, all the while cringing at her inevitable condemnation of my misbehavior.  She blinks and says, “So you don’t have to monitor any more? That’s great, now you don’t have to!”

“But! I’m in trouble!”

“I mean, I guess, except you got what you wanted. Is that the only punishment?”

“Well yeah, but…”


A few weeks later that same teacher, probably just then realizing what an idiotic punishment that is, started having me correct my classmates’ homework. She would correct mine and then I would use it as the key to grade everybody else’s.

This time I came home groaning. “Ugh, now I have to correct papers.”

“You know what you do, if you don’t want to correct papers…?”


I recalled this tale to my mom in a phone call the other night, and she said, laughing, “Well, you’re just such a perfectionist that you couldn’t imagine doing a bad job of anything!”

And that, there, was the moment of realization. Finally. I’m . . . a perfectionist? I mean, I knew I was an overachiever, but perfectionist?? I prefer to look a little messy, my car always needs to be vacuumed, and I don’t even understand why one would bother to make their bed, so this came as quite a surprise. But as it turns out, I am as much a perfectionist as ever, and now that I actually realize that I’ve been seeing my life through a different lens. Instead of feeling guilty for all the things I don’t get to because I have to do everything I actually get to exactly right, maybe I can just send that care package even though the box isn’t quite full, and that way I will have time to pick up some pastries rather than making them, but at least I brought something to the party instead of skipping it because I was out all night filling up a box.

Just gotta remember to slow down a little bit, breathe a little more, not read that email a fourth time before sending it just to make sure I didn’t reference the wrong person. Nothing wrong with doing a job right, but not every job requires the same level of energy.



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large format picture

I have worked as a paid model on exactly two occasions for a boudoir photography class held at Austin Art Institute, and in one such session, the most glamourous picture anyone has ever (and probably will ever) take of me was created. It looks like this and was taken by Tea Eiland, who is fabulously talented…

…wouldn’t you say?

I cannot stress enough how very disingenuous of me this photograph is. I am not nearly so milky-skinned, nor have I such a refined air. In fact in color, this outfit was clownish–fluorescent red and blue and orange makeup. But this photograph here is the one that I envision showing some grandkids and saying “you know, your old memere wasn’t always an old biddy!”

One day I was visiting with my pal April and she interrupts me to say “Oh oh! I almost forgot I have to tell you! So I was at the Art Institute the other day, and I come around the corner, and there is this larger-than-life photograph in black and white. And suddenly it clicks that it’s you! There is this giant photograph of you on display as a final project!”

H-what? There is a giant picture of me. I mean, if there was ever a photograph of me that I would want blown up, that would be the one. However. It is a weird, but flattering, but weird thought. I am flattered, endlessly, that anybody I met once thought enough of a visual representation that was even a suggestion of what I look like to make it LARGE. If it had come up before, I would have described myself as a small photos kinda gal. “I look best in a locket,” I might say. And the value of the art has nothing to do with my contribution, I just sat there and tried not to smirk, and besides, it doesn’t really even look like me anyway. The true beauty is Tea’s fabulous eye and generous photoshoppery.

But it is still a picture of me, and that’s still weird to a girl raised in a household very disparaging of vanity. But because I know this exists, I wonder what will ever become of that giant picture of me. In the near term, it would remain in the possession of the photographer, but eventually . . . what? Will it be discarded in a move? Might somebody purchase a giant picture of me, and if so, what would they do with it?

The answer would appear to be “nobody really wants a giant picture of me,” because Tea posted on Facebook that she would be giving away her large prints to the models in them. Which means! I will soon be in possession of the giant picture of me. Which was very exciting for the first few minutes until I realized that there is nowhere to put a giant picture of anyone that isn’t a little weird, particularly if it is one of the hostess. Maybe if we had a mansion or some shit, I could put that thing in the foyer, but we don’t, so our options are limited. I could put it above the couch, but I can only imagine how I would feel if I walked into somebody’s house and the first thing I saw was this huge picture of the bitch, and it is not how I want somebody to feel about me.

Usually I relegate stuff I feel obligated to put out in the bathroom, but that’s probably the worst place for obvious reasons. Similarly, the guest room is straight out, and ugh, who wants to eat in the dining room while I watch them from two different angles? This is even WORSE than my Scary Clown painting, because at least that can go in the entry way or in the context of our weird stuff collection. This leaves only the master bedroom, and Dano did not have to think twice to say that would be way too weird.

Verily, no albatross has hung so heavy as That Giant Picture of Me.