how to neglect your blog for two years

Step 1:  Get really busy. Bake a batch of vegan cupcakes at the cocktail lounge you own and sell all of them in under two hours. Bake a second batch immediately and sell all of those before you leave for the night. After that, bake every day for the rest of your life to keep the vegans happy.

Step 2: Start serving brunch at the cocktail lounge and make the food really, really good so you can’t ever have a day off.

Step 3: Get tired of all the drunks and of staying up until 3am every night, and close the cocktail lounge permanently even though it is an extremely popular place and everyone will hate you for it.

Step 4: Five days after you close, find out your wife has breast cancer.

Step 5: Spend a year at your wife’s side while she is in cancer treatment.

Step 6: As if cancer wasn’t enough, open a brand new restaurant with your wife while she is smack in the middle of her treatment.

Step 7: Congratulations! You have successfully neglected your blog, your friends, and everything else.



barefoot clean

I’ve been catering liquor like a moron thanks to wedding season, so I haven’t had time to write much. But I did attend a couple of competitive storytelling events (ala The Moth) in Ithaca recently. Here’s a video of me telling the crazy story of what happened when we first opened the Lounge and I tried to pawn my housecleaning off on someone else, who had some, um, unique ideas about what to wear when he cleaned.

how to turn washing the windows into a month-long project

The dog is always ready to leave a snout print on my clean window.


1.  Wake up, and check your To Do list. Decide to wash all the windows in the house, with Windex, because you were born with a genetic pre-disposition to Windex based on the habits of your mother and her mother before her. Nothing else will do but Windex and paper towels. Anyone who thinks vinegar and newspaper actually clean windows has not followed such a vinegar-newspaper cleaning with Windex and discovered black ink all over their paper towels (not to mention the black smudges on your white window frames). Meditate on the superiority of your wise choices.

2.  Clean two windows. Notice the eggshell-hued Roman blinds are stained with cat spit and fly juice.

3.  Take down the Roman blinds. Attempt to dismantle them so you can put them in the washing machine, get tangled up, and accidentally rip them.

4.  Decide that the stains wouldn’t have come out in the wash anyway. Reuse the Roman blinds by throwing them on top of the invasive lemon balm that has taken over your garden like an army of shiny green leaves, and vow to suffocate its hidden tentacles of evil.

5.  Notice the other weeds in the garden. Yank a few of them out of the ground. Give up. They’re just going to grow back anyway.

6.  Return to your Windex and the windows, and as you kneel on the couch to reach the top of the third window, realize the taupe couch cover is disgusting, having been half-shredded and drooled on by the nineteen-year-old cat who died last year. Choose to change the couch cover since you smartly purchased a spare at IKEA a decade ago in hopeful anticipation of the cat’s death.

7. Hunt for an hour for the strange tool that fits into the bolts on the bottom of your IKEA couch. Finally find the tool taped to the bottom of the couch.( You think you’re so smart, don’t you?)

8.  Spend an hour and a half on your back on the floor dismantling the IKEA couch since the only way to change the cover is to break down the couch into eighteen pieces. Put the new cover on. Spend another hour and a half hour on your back on the floor putting the couch back together again.

9.  Pull a muscle in your shoulder as you get up off the floor. Take three Advil. Conclude that you ought to wash them down with wine to facilitate the relaxation of your injured muscle.

10.  Open a bottle of wine with your girlfriend and plop yourselves down on your brand-spanking-new-looking couch.

11.  Sip wine, and take note that you have no curtains in the living room anymore since you ripped down the Roman blinds and threw them in your garden. Engage in a philosophical discussion regarding the potential shades and textures of new curtains.

12. Observe the exposed, chipped window trim.

13. Conclude you need to paint the trim before you hang new curtains. Recognize if you paint the trim, you really should patch and paint the abused walls, too, which have been defiled with one too many waffling nails. Engage in a philosophical discussion with regarding the potential shades of paint for the walls.

14.  Point out all the wall repairs that your girlfriend needs to do before you paint.

15.  Ponder that you might splash on the new couch cover while you paint. Consider moving furniture out of the room before painting. Declare you should wax and polish the floor if you’ve gone to the trouble to remove all the furniture.

16.  Open a second bottle of wine.

17.  Make a list of everything you must buy from Target and Home Depot.

18.  If you’re going to have to leave the house, think about what else you need while you’re out. Make a list of all the other house-related projects that need to be completed, including refinishing the old kitchen cabinets and replacing the bathroom shower curtain.

19.  Remember that washing the windows was already on your To Do list, and that you need more Windex.

20.  Proclaim you will finish washing the windows first thing tomorrow morning.

21.  Finish your wine, and settle in for a nap on the couch. It’s been a long day, and you need to rest up for all of your projects in the coming month.

perspective and the red pen

Despite our pleadings, Jack’s red pen showed up everywhere.

Warning! The following G-rated post contains nostalgia, self-reflection, and a gross lack of sarcasm, drinking, and swearing. Read at your own risk. 

When I was in college, one of my favorite classes – besides those in my major – was a drawing class. Actually, every class besides those in my major was one of my favorites. My major was social work, with depressing coursework including Economics, Social Welfare, Statistics, Grief and Loss, Discrimination, and Policy Analysis. What was I thinking?

Like many college students, I was a change-the-world-through-organized-protests kind of gal. But I secretly found the most joy in the art class that I took when I was a sophomore. And truthfully, I learned the most about life in that class:

I learned that it’s all about perspective.

I learned that while some mistakes can be erased, others can’t.

I learned that sometimes it’s okay to stare at naked people.

I learned to keep spillable liquids (like coffee!) away from my work station.

I learned that there is no ‘right way’ to do something.

I learned that an intentional (or unintentional) smudge can cover up obvious flaws.

I learned that I love the feeling of a pen in my hand.

I learned to be open to feedback.

I learned that nothing is ever perfect, and that’s okay.

My drawing professor, Jack, was in his 60’s. He smoked a pipe in class, and carried a red pen in his shirt pocket. We’d sit at our desks, bent over our notebooks, furiously scribbling, drawing, erasing, shading, painting, on a quest to capture the vase, body, tree, sky, idea on paper. Just when one of us thought we completed something absolutely perfect, Jack would walk up behind that person, reach over his or her shoulder, and draw large red lines across the landscape masterpiece to demonstrate the accurate vanishing point, or paint a red, alternate eyebrow on the face of the beautiful portrait.

We would be devastated. Some students would gasp, others would protest, many cried. One young man yelled obscenities at Jack, left with his notebook and never returned.

Jack was a man of few words. He’d raise his eyebrows and, pipe bobbing between his teeth, he would say, “Whatever you do, don’t get attached.”

And, “If you drew it once, you can draw it again. And if you can’t, well, then the first one was just a lucky accident.”

And, “Your next drawing should be even better.”

My favorite memory of Jack is the day he sat on a stool in the middle of the room, struck ‘The Thinker’ pose with his chin on his hand, and said, “Draw me.”  A few minutes later when he looked at our sketches, he leaned over my desk and muttered, “I sure as hell hope that’s not what I look like.”

He was right. My portrait of him was utterly terrible; it looked like his face was melting. We both laughed, and I loved him fiercely for his honesty.

When I pass my writing into the hands of an editor now, I expect a red pen. I expect I have something to learn from them, something to change, something to write again, something better to strive toward. I try not to be attached to my words (though I always am).

And at some point, I accept that I need to stop writing, re-writing, and re-writing again, and to hand my work over to someone I trust with a fresh perspective. I need to let go. I will never be perfect, and that’s okay. Bring on the red pen.

give the gift of hives

This holiday season is brought to you by Hives®.

Ask your doctor about Hives®. Hives® are not for everyone. If you have had mental health problems, you should avoid Hives®. Side effects of Hives® include extreme agitation and suicidal ideation. Garlic, dairy, cookies, pie, caramel, cappuccinos, and anything else that tastes good may increase the effects of Hives®. Do not get Hives® unless you can tolerate a constant tickling sensation that increases to the point of torture when you think about it or when someone touches you. Hives® may drive you to drink excess wine, to drop your pants to show the raised red lumps on your thighs to family members, and to curse everyone around you silently as they eat garlic, dairy, cookies, pie, caramel and cappuccinos in front of you.

Hives®: the holiday gift that keeps on giving.

are you an apple or a pear?

My butt, back when jeans fit like jeans instead of like hell.

THERE’S A NEW TREND IN JEAN SIZING that has women running, not walking, away from the stores. I believe the fashion concept started with a brand that shall remain respectfully unnamed, but it if you re-arrange the letters, it spells EVIL.

A number of clothing companies recently started offering jeans based on body type. Now, we girls know how different our shapes are from each other, so this concept sounds promising. Before you buy body-type jeans, you can take a Curve Quiz or get measured by a teenage girl who almost seems to care. The names of the styles, such as Ultra Curvy, are sweet and innocent. The photographs on store websites show flattering, slimming fits on smiling young models. But the mirror in the dressing room reveals that the true nature of these denim confines is to humiliate the average woman.

I imagine a group of stylish New York City elite sitting around a board room table at a major advertising company. They are wearing power suits, not waist-pinching jeans, and snickering while they poo-poo potential lost revenue for the company due to negative customer reaction to body-conforming jeans. Tears of laughter roll down their faces as they hold their stomachs and shout out sugar-coated names for torturous jean styles – Hint of Hips! Vivacious Hourglass! Kinda Tiny!

We all know the real true names for the three women’s body shapes: Apples, Pears, and Bananas. For centuries, these three fruits have bravely represented our mother’s shapes and their mothers before them. A little honesty in the jean names could quell confusion and offer a sense of relief: who would try to squish an Apple into a pair of Bananas?

If the fruit comparison is too blunt, then the jean companies could at least get more accurate and re-name Ultra Curvy to Big Butt. They also could develop a much-needed style called Reduced Muffin Top, and dub the tiny straight-legged demons You Need To Eat Some Pasta, Kid. Then we would all be saved the angst of trying on yet another pair of jeans that we can’t button or pull up past our knees. A sign should also be placed on all ultra low-rise and skinny jeans racks that reads, Danger: Do Not Wear These If You Are Over Age 40, including an arrow pointing This Way to Long Frumpy Skirts.

Men are lucky. They don’t have to deal with the ever-changing availability of frequently ill-fitting jeans. They can always pull on a pair of reliable Levis 501 Blues, around since – no fooling – the year 1890. I can’t imagine men being sucked into buying styles named to reflect their body shapes: Prosperous Midriff (Beer Belly), Spacious Finale (Saggy Behind), or Manly Low-Rise (Plumber Butt).

I don’t want to get sucked in either. But I wore the only good pair of jeans I own on a blackberry picking excursion earlier this summer, and now they look like I took a tumble with a stressed-out porcupine. So it’s off to the mall, preferably with a girlfriend so we can go out for a martini afterwards to soothe our dressing room anxiety.

And as long as I can avoid elastic-waist jeans (Midlife Comfort) for one more year, we’ll call it a success.

-Amelia Sauter


IN THEIR RECENT INTRODUCTION OF VIDEO CHAT, Facebook developers are barking up the wrong technology. They seem to be operating on the assumption that I want to chat with people. What they don’t realize is that Facebook, contrary to its name, is actually about avoiding people.

The whole point of Facebook is that we don’t have to talk to anyone. An awkward guy and his awkward friend created this interface so they could stare at people without having to speak to them. Of my 592 Facebook friends, only three have my phone number. I don’t know what I’d say if that girl from high school whose last name I don’t remember wanted to video chat. We used to have a lot of fun drawing cartoons in Miss Leister’s class, and we shared a mutual distaste for high school chemistry, but I doubt we have anything in common now. Using brief status updates and the ‘like’ button, I can collect and share basic facts with hazy apparitions from my past while avoiding time-consuming formalities such as, “How are you?” and “How many kids have you popped out?” and “Is your brother still robbing mini-marts?”

And what about those people whose status updates I’ve hidden because they drive me crazy? I’m guessing their chats would consist entirely of sharing news links, discussing Farmville, and reciting cut-out lines like, “If you appreciate your husband, copy and paste this as your status.” I imagine these people are as one-dimensional as their one-liners: “I have so much mucous in my nose today,” or, “I totally hate traffic jams!” A video chat with one of them might be short, but it will definitely be awkward.

Chatting on command is annoying enough. But video chatting? Hang on, I have to put on a bra so I don’t get in trouble for indecent Facebook content, change my stained shirt, brush my hair, and dab some cover-up on those dark circles under my eyes. Geez. I might as well leave the house if I have to do the full grooming it requires for people to see me.

The developers brag that while you video chat, you can multi-task and use other Facebook features simultaneously. Personally, I don’t want people to know what else I’m doing while I peruse Facebook. I eat potato chips, get out of my seat every thirty seconds, yell at the cat, and roll my eyes at things I’m reading. I also slouch, a habit I’ve worked hard at keeping out of the public eye. Even more unattractive is the sumo ponytail I pull on to the top of my head when I’m at my desk.

I suppose Facebook video chat is geared toward a younger generation, those whose eyes aren’t puffy in the morning and who like to call their best friends to discuss what outfit to wear to the mall. If Facebook really wanted to be useful to my generation, video chat would have an integrated auto-makeover so the image projected to friends smoothed wrinkles and shed pounds.

Or better yet, instead of video chat, Facebook could develop a multi-tasking feature that cleans my house, mows the lawn, and picks up the dog poop. That would buy me more time to sit on my butt in front of the computer, eating junk food and stealthily reading the banal status updates of the awkward people I haven’t seen in twenty years.

-Amelia Sauter