On buying a pee stick or three at the Dollar Store

I parked next to the Dollar Store in the less-densely packed parking area because I like 90 degree angles and the other spots had those 45 degree angled spots that you need a protractor in order to fit properly. Don’t look at me like that.

In the process, I learned that the shady area next to the Dollar Store is also the official make-out spot of my municipality.

Ironic since that’s the kind of trouble that probably got me into this mess.

Ohhh ho ho ho. I kid.

C’mon. A Dollar Store parking lot? We are more caviar than that.

We are Publix kind of people.

Anyway. Of course I was going to the Dollar Store to buy the pregnancy test because even though there are goalies in place, you can never be too sure. You would think someone who cares so much about 90 degree angles would probably have spreadsheets of her menstrual cycle (stop gagging and grow up or I’ll put you in a binder full of women) but I work in a place among some 650 uteri. Every month is a new adventure with new ovarian tales to tell. Also, it is well-documented that you can still get a false positive if you are one of the very lucky, which I am.


I later regaled my husband with this, the evidence of heavy petting in cars outside the store that sells the oft-desired Wet n’ Wild nail polish and syrupy bottles marked simply Cola. He wanted to know who the kids were. Really? Stay classy, hubs.

When I found myself in the aisle where the dollar preggo tests usually are (it’s almost like I’ve done this before, I know!), they were all cleared out. Because I was determined not to be like Blossom Russo buying maxi pads for the first time, I decided to ask a stock clerk if they were all out of pee sticks. That required me to say aloud the words, “Are you all out of pregnancy tests?” Ugh. Hand me some orange Tic Tacs and call me Juno. I should mention the stock clerk was wearing a scraggly beard costume, basically from the neck up with some festive head-boppers. Exactly the kind of person who just knows where everything is.

She said, “Oh, they’re at the front.”

Which to me means they are behind lock and key and you need a front desk clerk to retrieve them.

So I ask the cashier if she can help me with pregnancy tests. She wanders over to a regular ol’ shelf with all manner of impulse buys. Because you know sometimes you’re just in line buying nail polish and you think, Oh, it’d be good if I pick up some lip balm if my lips get chapped and a pregnancy test or four in case I get knocked up. Love being spontaneous! Living dangerously in the Dollar Store!!!


She hooked me up with three tests. One to try first, one just to be sure (because for the price of a dollar, science can only get you so far. If you want an insurance policy on whether or not one test will tell you whether you have a womb squatter or not, you have to pay the big bucks). I tossed in one extra so I wouldn’t have to go through this ordeal again. Like, next month.

The front cashier was also in costume, wearing pink spangles from head to toe. She explained it was in support of her auntie who had passed away from cancer. So now she knew something about me and I knew something about her. The transaction was already taking place with no dollars even exchanged! Ah, poetry of life.

As she was bagging up my items another family was approaching the cashier so Pink Spangles said, super on the down-low, “Did you need anything else besides WHAT I HELPED YOU FIND?”


Ummmm. I don’t know what she wanted me to say. How about a can opener, and while you’re at it, maybe some Botox and is this also the place where I can vote early and often?

Speaking of votes, the results of the pregnancy test were negative but the outlook is positive for keeping my supply of tests well-stocked.


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Imagine. Getting married. Without a hashtag. #thehorror

I don’t even remember the exact date other than that it was the beginning of the Red Sox clinching the division in 2004, coming back heroically from many a loss. This was probably why my dad had spilled the beans–that man is just manic about baseball.

My old man spilled the beans so I knew it was coming, and that bummed me right out.

I was bummed for my love who had moved heaven and earth to make it back from San Francisco to Boston to arrange for The Shaky Clinking Drink Talk with the old man. And the phonecall to the mom. And he’d done it all being so coy, but loose lips sank the surprise ship.

So there we were, probably talking about the Red Sox or about to watch “Pimp My Ride” in real time as one does on a Satuday night in 2004. He in pajama pants, cooking pierogies in his kitchen, which smelled always of onions and laundry.

He didn’t even ask me. He just told me that he wanted to marry me. A declarative statement. Much like “I do.” He didn’t have a ring so he pulled some string from his pocket and tied it around my ring finger.

We were engaged. Engaged in a relationship that we were committing to for all the evers and evers. There were outward symbols of this inner commitment. But we had no rings (yet), no engagement photos in a landscape that evoked pastoral romance at the golden hour. There would be no bachelorette/bachelor parties with limos and a Snapchat reel. No Pinterest-inspired wish lists or official hashtags copyrighted for the occasion.

pastoral romance

There was just a monthly plane ticket to visit our pastor and do the hard work of premarital counseling. Me with my paragraph answers because I was evidently trying to get an A in premarital counseling and Loverpants with his one word answers because he’s just more evolved, I suppose.

Had Pinterest and hashtags been a thing some twelve years ago, I promise you I would have been all over it. Puns and planning tools, oh my. I’m just glad for my sake they weren’t on the radar.


The trappings of wedding planning have long been about excess and show and tell in the First World. They masquerade as expressions of etiquette but the reality of having the resources for chair bows and gold-foiled favors smacks of elitism.

And none will guarantee a happy, healthy marriage.

I rejoice with the many couples who are getting married in the next many seasons. I hyperventilate at the gorgeous photos and I fully participate in the hashtag propagation. But the careful curation of images and scripts are almost an ironic prelude to the mess that is uniting one’s life with another’s for all times. I can only speak to my own marriage, obviously, but my seflishness has a way of betraying the consuming gazing at my groom that you’ll see in my wedding album.

first look

Marriage is a surrender, marriage is leaning in to the disagreements rather than pretending everything is phenomenally breathtaking beset with an Instagram filter. The day to day of marriage is not bathroom baskets; it is searching for the errant cap on the toothpaste your partner does not hold as a priority. Hashtag cliche.

To the newly engaged and soon-to-be weddeds, I simply offer this: let the time you spend coining a clever hashtag for your big day be a lovely exercise in creativity and compromise. Because, whoodoggies. You’re gonna need a lot of it for the long haul.

Hashtag Honeymoon won’t last forever. Hashtag And that’s a good thing. Hashtag So grateful. Hashtag I’d marry this guy all over again. Hashtag seriously seriously seriously blessed.

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In which I talk about the book

I have not talked much about the book, the book that I wrote, that an agent represents, for which a book deal has been drafted but not signed.

Nearly a year has passed since I have seen the draft of the book deal. Since that time, I’ve been waiting to sign something. I’m dying to John Hancock the heck out of a book deal. But after all these months of uncertainty, I don’t know if the book will ever be published because I don’t know the terms of the negotiations between publisher and agent.  I worked hard for a long time on the book and I hawked it at every conference and waited for a long time for Very Important Publishing People to notice my book sitting alone at the cafeteria and to invite it over to their table.

When I got the book offer, I finally felt like I had found my table in the cafeteria and that there would be outstanding conversations and mediocre Jell-o on trays for all times.

Then, the VIPPs at my table went over to other tables to have other conversations about the book. I wasn’t involved in those conversations which seemed to volley back and forth over weeks that turned into months.

I surrendered my expectations and there was freedom in that.

But then I sort of stopped caring about the book deal and the Jell-o. People stopped dropping by my table in the proverbial cafeteria to ask about the book. I stopped asking about the book. I picked up my backpack and went back to class.

In recent days, I started to feel very convicted about my surrender which had turned into apathy. Langston Hughes was all up in my head with notions of a dream deferred. Would my plump li’l grape of a manuscript start drying out like a raisin in the sun? Why read all this Brene Brown if I’m not going to Dare Greatly or Rise Strong but instead reject vulnerability in favor of taking a nap on this book project, indefinitely.

So much of the joy in writing had been processing of my experiences in marrying cross-culturally. I was filled with hope that the accounts would somehow help other couples walking a similar path. I fought for my marriage and I am still fighting the temptation that is ever-present in marriage to kick back into cruise control. Why was I not fighting for this book?

While writing this post, my agent e-mailed me to let me know that the publisher will be going over the legal beagle notes and other things about which I have no authority or expertise. I shall be too busy slurping Jell-O and dreaming of one day signing a book deal, like for reals, y’all.


A little talisman from one of my favorite authors Amber C. Haines whose inscription on her book Wild in the Hollow is much cherished and encourages my heart whenever I happen upon it.

Amber HainesAmber Haines

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