in early december i got an email from my girlfriend in la with the subject line, “have you heard about this coat?” she attached an article from the strategist that detailed the popularity of the orolay amazon coat among moms at pick up on the upper west side. it was sold out, of course, because it is the coziest, most comfortable, best priced coat in the world. i stalked amazon until it came back on offer and it was well worth the wait. i LOVE my amazon coat! it has tons of pockets that are straight up and down so that stuff doesn’t slip out of them AND they all have zippers, just in case you are carrying around something super special. the hood is lined with fuzzy, warm stuff and the inside is a bright, cheery orange. you can get it in black, navy and army green (putty too, but that colorway is not nice.) i was so delighted with my coat that i planned all my christmas travel outfits around it (no dresses, just boots and jeans because the amazon coat is too casual for a party dress.) i had to wear it on the plane because it is too bulky to put in a suitcase, but i pulled that snuggly hood up and had the best airplane nap of all time, despite the fact that i was sitting between my two children. the hood also seems to be noise cancelling. so i thoroughly enjoyed the holidays with my amazon coat and then my life became a series of shit fuck events that snowballed into my nearly falling completely apart… but praise jesus, i had my amazon coat. i just crawled into that coat and added my pizzeria pom pom hat and i have hardly taken them off (even indoors) for the last three weeks. because overlaying all of these horrendous events has been planning my son’s bar mitzvah. i am so PROUD of my son for his dedication and earnest commitment to learning, but planning a bar mitzvah (especially for a shiksa mama) is no small endeavor and despite all of my hyper-organized lists and spreadsheets, i still felt desperately behind three weeks out. following are the events that sent me diving into the safety of my amazon coat:
(1) my daughter, lucy, wrenched her knee during her first ski lesson of the season. she is a pretty natural skier and has always been physically fearless, if even a bit reckless - running full steam ahead, while looking backwards, for example. this is a girl who has already had stitches ON HER FACE, twice! i have the plastic surgeon’s mobile stored in my phone because she likes to have her accidents after hours. unfortunately, on her last run of the day, her skis crossed and she fell. the next day, we barely left the sofa because we were so busy icing, elevating, wrapping, unwrapping, bracing, unbracing and medicating miss lu. usually, i like the forced respite of a sick child. not that i enjoy their pain, but the fact that appointments need to be cancelled and life put on hold to just take a beat, snuggle up and recover. usually, i love days that revolve around the sofa. but this day, i had about forty-one million errands to run for theo’s bar mitzvah. this day, i couldn’t really afford to cancel everything so in between ices, i snuck upstairs, had a big cry and sent out an SOS to the big gun, my mother, who came from california two days later armed with a big box of see’s scotchmallows, which can solve most everything. mom’s arrival was a HUGE relief as theo had loads of meetings and study sessions with the rabbi, the cantor and his tutor and lucy was not easy to schlep around. further, lucy is a pretty demanding patient. she couldn’t get upstairs to her room and insisted that we facetime as i held the ipad up to her dresser so she could pick out her clothes. i feel like i am pretty well qualified to put together outfits for her, given the fact that i worked as a wardrobe stylist for many years. she did NOT agree and i think it might be easier to be mariah carey’s personal assistant, than lucy chasnow’s nurse. in the end, it seems that she only sprained her knee, rather than tore her ACL, but she’s needed a lot of extra looking after.
(2) i took my new car in for a final part change from a big smash up in the fall, that was meant to be completed in half an hour, only to be told that they found about seventy-five more things wrong with it and would need to keep it much longer. i WAS given a rental, but i am not a car person and swapping cars is disorienting for me. i have trouble finding my radio stations, i don’t know how to work the heaters or set up the blue tooth and i get frustrated attempting to move the seats around. ironically, i only got a new car so that i wouldn’t have to deal with car problems and now i have been back and forth to the repair shop with the new car as often as i used to go with the old car.
(3) the day after my mother arrived, it started RAINING in my dining room. really raining… i could have taken a shower (well… not me, but probably gywneth paltrow, who is always talking about conserving water.) i immediately called patrick, who can fix or build anything, for an assessment. we assumed it was from one of the bathrooms upstairs, but after patrick did some enclyclopedia brown worthy sleuthing, it turned out the leak was actually coming from the radiant heat. a huge chunk of the ceiling in my dining/living room had to be cut out, as well as a big rectangle in my bedroom wall. despite loads of plastic tenting (i kept waiting for E.T. to come staggering out) my house felt like a snow globe, there was so much white dust. i had another pretty significant cry, but patrick wasn’t flapped as his wife might be even cleaner than me.
(4) we had several blizzards in january and it was generally about 30 degrees outside. even after patrick turned the water back on (and the radiant heat) it was only about 60 degrees in my house and there was no hot water. i do not like to be cold… my first husband thinks i keep the heat at a level on par with bangladesh, so sixty degrees was FREEZING for me. it turns out that the water heater had a corroded part and was not working either - a completely separate issue from the ceiling leak. i had a big dilemma on day two of the no heat because i also like to be clean. so i had to take a very cold, brief shower that i did not enjoy.
(5) theo and his dad went to the tailor to pick up his suit a week before the bar mitzvah and somehow the pants had been cut off just below the knees… they were like cullotes. unless you are lebron james, this is a tough look to pull off. first husband had to spend hours on the phone with j.crew tracking down another pair of the same trousers and getting them fedexed out so the tailor would have time to fix them before the big day. this goof also meant two extra trips to the tailor’s and we did not really have space left in our schedule for extra appointments.
so how does a compulsive, systematic, possibly neurotic mama deal with this kind of stress? well, i bundled myself up in my amazon coat and i CLEANED. first i cleaned in anticipation of the dust storm in my house. i went through EVERY single cupboard and drawer, upstairs and downstairs. i made a few discoveries… i found the long lost egg slicer, which was very exciting. i also learned that we are low on toothbrushes and paste, but NOT floss. we have tons of that because i HATE flossing, which is gross i know and pretty surprising given how clean i am. but i have very strong teeth that never get cavities no matter how much candy i eat, so that has given me a false sense of security…. i typically just floss for the two weeks leading up to my dentist appointments and maybe for two weeks after.
and then i cleaned after the dust storm. i had my brand new bar socks with sticky grips that i got for christmas from my sister-in-law and i scaled the bookshelves and counters like spider-man, reaching all kinds of dirty corners and crevices. i also made my children clean… i had my kids on their hands and knees scrubbing and scraping random bits of plaster off the floor. they were troopers about this… i think they knew i was tottering on the edge and it was best for them to just go along with it, but they did both start singing “chim chiminey, chim chiminey, chim chim cheree” from mary poppins. even in my unhinged state, i found this hilarious.
and in between blizzards, i cleaned the backyard. hank is very private about going potty… he won’t do it on a walk, he waits until he gets home and goes behind the lilac bushes. on the one hand, i appreciate that he is so gentlemanly about his business and i never have to roam the neighborhood holding a hot bag of poop. but on the other hand, there was a LOT of poop to clean up in my yard. personally, i prefer my toilets flushed and i imagine hank does not like his business visible either. so i picked up EIGHT bags (not just eight poops, mind you… MANY poops in each bag!) from behind the bushes lining my yard… i was literally doing “shit work,” which goes to show how much i love my hank. but i was doing it in the safety of my amazon coat, which has become as important and therapeutic to me as linus’ blanket. and that is how i survived the three weeks leading up to theo’s bar mitzvah.
* theo did an amazing job and the actual bar mitzvah went very smoothly… praise moses!
to read more about compulsive cleaning click here