Things I have Learned

You don’t get to your 38th year without picking up some tips and tricks along the way. Let’s play…

Good Advice

how to play: in the examples below, there is some useful advice and some less useful advice. Read through the list, then decide which advice you’ll follow and which you’ll ignore. Then, imagine how the author may have gleaned the advice in the first place.

Example: If you’re eating something right now, put it down before reading the rest of this post. (Response: Ignore. You have a strong stomach and the internet hasn’t yet advanced to smell-o-vision. You’ll be fine.)

Got the hang of it? OK, let’s get started.

  • Towels are always an appropriate gift.
  • If you have a least-favorite household chore, talk to your housemates about trading chores. Some people actually like doing laundry!
  • It’s a good idea to give people something to do at a party. Food-based activities like making sushi, a self-serve chocolate fondue station, or complicated fruity drinks that guests make themselves, are fun. Non-food-based activities might be fun, too, I guess, but why not the chocolate fondue station? I don’t understand.
  • If there is a really disgusting mess, for instance if two pigeons built a nest on your porch and then one pigeon died in it, apparently of diarrhea, and half-melted into the nest and the other pigeon was so covered in sludge that it couldn’t fly, it is absolutely crucial that YOU be the person to clean up the entire mess, including deciding what to do with the half-dead pigeon. If you do this with a minimum of drama and complaining, and if the porch is sparkling clean when you’re finished, you will be a hero. If you are not the one to clean up the mess, you will find yourself indebted in a way that is difficult to repay.
  • A scattering of broken glass is a good way to keep pigeons off the porch. Also children and barefoot adults.
  • If while you are on a house hunting trip to Milan two pigeons find some glass-free space on the porch, build a nest, and lay an adorable little egg in it, DO NOT let anyone show it to your 2-year old daughter. Pigeons don’t have a normal fight-or-flight response once they’ve been habituated to human presence by a 2-year-old constantly opening the window and shouting hello.
  • If tells you that a normal pigeon gestation is 17-19 days and it’s been 17 days since the egg was laid, you should watch the nest closely for signs of life while using the time to negotiate clean-up responsibilities in the event of hatch failure.
  • If you’re going to pee in the shower (and you are. If you think you’re not, enjoy your youthful pelvic floor/prostate while you have it but don’t judge the rest of us,) do it with the water off. It’s the only way to avoid┬ástanding in a pool of your own urine.

I guess that’s all the advice I have right now. Here’s advice that I need:

  • What language should we be looking for in a new au pair if we want Frida to take advantage of the opportunity to learn Italian but Max’s therapists recommend that he not be exposed to a third language?
  • What should we serve to our guests at this Saturday’s going away party if we’re expecting between 10 and 100 people and have a total of 2 large cooking pots, neither of them huge? Chili, supplemented with supplies from the downstairs restaurant, and of course a chocolate fondue station?
  • How many embryos should I transfer at this morning’s reproductive assistance appointment if we’re shooting for no fewer and no more than one baby? Two? Sorry, did you say two? Two embryos? I couldn’t quite hear you but I think you said two. Funny, that’s what the doctor’s recommending.
  • How many pedicures/massages/facials should I schedule for myself in the last two weeks of the current excellent au pair’s time with us? None? Just a haircut and every errand I’ve been putting off for the last two years? Fine.


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