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.30 Day Sex Challenge for Parents.

DAY 1: Entice your partner by dressing in lingerie and performing a striptease. Don’t smile too much — mysteriousness is sexy. Also, when you smile, your partner can see the mouthguard you wear every night to protect your teeth from stress-induced grinding. DAY 2: Find a new place…

.Book Thursday.

My great friend Ursula (movie-night soon!) recommended “The Enchanted April” by Elizabeth von Arnim and I have to say that it was a delightful little story that I highly recommend. What the book is all about: Four women, previously unknown to one another, leave a…

.The Alien from Planet Uranus…*

*which is a gas planet. Ur-anus, gas planet! Get it? Funny!

The other day I was out for a walk in the evening and saw this little tiny blue alien sitting close to the freshly plowed field. “What the hell,” I thought. The little creature cried and explained, “I am from planet Uranus. I am so sad because I didn’t get the promotion I applied for and now I have to stay at this portal here on Earth and work from here!” “Oh no, I said, this is so sad. Can you explain how your boss made this decision about who gets promoted? Go on, explain what you did wrong!” The tiny blue alien continued and said, “So management on spaceship Urania says that, …..

I don’t smile enough.

I smile too much.

I don’t kiss ass.

I am abrasive. For example, that time when I asked for a promotion. It was awkward and I made everyone on the management team uncomfortable.

I don’t speak up.

I never shut up and ask too many questions.

I am sloppy. Like when I sent that space email with one typo. Alien boss said I needed to proofread my work.

I am too focused on details.

I don’t focus enough on details.

The alien boss needed to promote females even though I was qualified and exactly who they needed for the position.

I am not experienced enough. Oh, wait, I am 4000 years old! Well, I look young. Maybe if I was more mature, like if I was married or had at least two kids (why don’t you have more kids, by the way? Alien boss is a little curious), then they could envision me as being a supervisor on sector 1 at Uranus.

I do have kids! And am a single parent for crying out loud! Well, the management is concerned about my ability to balance everything, and I look tired all the time, ask for days off because my alien children are sick, and I feel guilty asking the boss to leave, so they just promote someone who does not have kids but has red lipstick, claw polish, hosts the best Friday-after-work-parties inviting everyone even from Mars, who’s a great female alien and “simple and easy” to talk to.

I am too argumentative. For example, right now I am upset that I didn’t get a promotion, and I am asking for concrete examples of what I can do better. Alien management doesn’t want to get into the nitty-gritty. I should just trust my judgment and wait for the next promotion round when “my time comes”.

I am a pushover. When X7R2 came back 15 minutes late from his break (a recurring problem) I should have just told him to be on time instead of telling management that I thought it was inappropriate. Leaders handle their own problems, my alien boss told me.

I am not a team player. If I would just wait a few thousand years, there would be some great opportunities here for me. They need me in my current role right now.

I am not good at promoting myself. What do they even want? I f***ing DESIGNED and BUILT this spaceship myself dammit! It is over there in the field by the way. Still fully functioning because I knoooooow how to start AND land on different planets.

Then he fell silent and cried a bit. When aliens from Uranus cry, tiny stars appear at the corner of their eyes. I hugged him and said, “Look, at least you are on ‘the rooster already for upcoming promotions’. Maybe your time will come. Just wait and keep applying and if you won’t get the promotion that is fine too. Just be true to yourself so you can always look in your space mirror!”

.Book Thursday.

Every season, there are those books everyone starts buzzing about: Gone Girl! The Goldfinch! Fifty Shades of Grey. They explode all over your social media feeds and populate the front tables at your local bookstore. (And eventually, they turn into movies.) So, just in time…

.How to Go to the Bathroom while Wearing a Jumpsuit. *

*Because it is all fun and games until you are in a bathroom stall. You step inside the bathroom and shut the door. You lock the door. Get a good look at yourself in the dim lighting. You look great. Remember this because you’re about…

.Book Thursday.

Spring is around the corner, my darlings. I love everything about spring. The days are longer, more sun, warmer, more time spent outside, and long sunset evenings with friends and family. And of course, time spent with good books. So, determined to get excited about some spring readings, I rolled up my sleeves and researched some titles for you. I asked book editor friends which ones were getting crazy buzz and scoured the reviews. Here are five I’m loving, and please tell me what’s stacked on your night table in the comments below….

The Girls by Emma Cline
Last night, I climbed in bed and cracked open this book. Ten minutes later, I had broken out in a cold sweat. Cline’s debut novel — which has already been snatched up for a film version — is set in a hippie commune in 1969 and is loosely based on the Charles Manson murders that took place that summer. A 14-year-old girl, Evie, falls in with the wrong crowd and joins a community in Marin County, California, that’s presided over by a charismatic, volatile leader. Beautifully written and terrifying.

LaRose by Louise Erdrich
This book has a heartbreaking premise: While deer-hunting in North Dakota, Landreaux Iron accidentally shoots and kills his neighbor’s five-year-old son. Guilt-ridden and tormented by grief, Iron and his wife decide to give their own young son, LaRose, to the boy’s parents. “Our son will be your son now,” he tells them, acting on a tribal principle from his Ojibwe heritage. The saga that follows is beautifully told by the bestselling author Lousie Erdrich, who herself is part Ojibwe (and won the 2012 National Book Award for The Round House). It is painfully sad at times, but you can’t put it down.

Maestra by L.S. Hilton
When an author’s very first book immediately hits the New York Times bestseller list, you know there’s something remarkable about it. In this case, it’s… the sex. The New York Post said Maestra “makes ’50 Shades’ look like the Bible.” The psychological thriller follows Judith Rashleigh, a young assistant in London’s art world who’s fired (and then goes on the run through France and Italy) after she uncovers a conspiracy. If you liked The Talented Mr. Ripley, you’ll love this. I tore through it in a few days, and Stella and ten of her friends bought copies for their book club. Hot!

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld
An updated Pride and Prejudice, Eligible tackles all the big themes found in Jane Austen’s 1813 novel — manners, gender, romantic relationships and family dynamics — through a funny, modern lens. Here, “Liz” is as a writer and Jane is a yoga instructor, while “Chip” Bingley is a doctor freshly sprung from an appearance on a reality T.V. show. And so on and so forth. I thought the dialogue was a little forced, but Lexi and Caroline are enthralled. (Have you read it? I’d love to hear your thoughts.)

Eleven Hours by Pamela Erens
It may be hard to envision an entire novel about a woman experiencing labor, but Pamela Erens’s new book makes those eleven hours extremely compelling. The protagonist, Lore, arrives at a hospital in New York to have her baby mysteriously alone. Her Haitian delivery nurse, Franckline, who is newly pregnant herself (although no one else knows), quickly morphs from a stranger to her closest ally, supporting her unflinchingly through her dreamy then harrowing experience. Erens weaves the broader stories of both women in and out of Lore’s suspenseful birth experience, drawing connections between them that are surprising and intimate. Bottom line: Women are heroes.


The next two on my list:

Modern Lovers by Emma Straub
Emma Straub’s book Modern Lovers is the entertaining story of a group of college friends and former bandmates, who are now living in Brooklyn. As they approach fifty, they’re nurturing their careers, examining their marriages and rediscovering themselves while their own kids get ready for college (and starting sleeping together). Straub has such a funny, perceptive writing style, you feel like you’re close friends with them all.

The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota
Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, The Year of the Runaways captures the difficult plights of four young immigrants (three men and a woman) who arrive in the U.K. from India in 2003 without documentation, seeking better opportunities and income. The book is divided into four novella-length chapters, which depict the daily struggles of each character, and it feels especially timely right now with the refuge crisis in Europe.

Thoughts? What are you reading right now?

.33 Things that are EASIER With a Penis.

1. Peeing standing up. 2. Swinging it around like a helicopter. 3. Reaching things from the top shelf. 4. Wearing the same pair of pants to work all week. 5. Giving a presentation without being interrupted. 6. Getting a promotion. 7. Getting offered a salary…

.Book Thursday.

And now, one of my favorite topics: books. What are you reading these days? There is no shortage of amazing books right now and I am here for it. Both fiction and nonfiction, from hilarious to poignant, here’s what I have been reading… Save Me…

Does Mr. Perfect Exist?*

*We all know that nothing and nobody is perfect, but it is still worth a shot, right?

The other day I had a conversation with a friend at work whose daughter dates the “perfect man who has everything a perfect man should perfectly have”. She elaborated: “He is always there for the kids, plays with them, cleans, cooks, brings home flowers, takes her out to dinner, opera, theater, movies, he is a gentleman, you name it! There is actually nothing he doesn’t do for her!” So this made me think. Does a human, male being like this exist? Is this even real? Let’s swing the magic wand and create a somewhat Mr. Perfect, shall we?

He listens when you speak, he appears to understand his privilege and complex power dynamics, and he’s never once lectured you about a Star Wars or James Bond movie or worse, forces you to watch all of them. Though not necessarily a common occurrence, coming across a seemingly perfect man, either socially or in the workplace, can be a very overwhelming experience.

Maybe he’s the only man who doesn’t talk about sports at the start of every meeting—completely oblivious to who might be left out of the conversation. Or maybe you met him on a dating app, and he actually asked you a question about yourself. At first, you might have thought, “Wow, he sees me as a fully realized human being and he has a nice haircut. This is too good to be true.” It’s probably not too good to be true. It’s just too good to be entirely his doing.

To keep the scales of universal justice aligned, credit must be given where credit is due. So, before you get caught up in how he appreciates dogs and talks openly about going to therapy, ask yourself, “Is he really an emotionally evolved self-aware incarnation of soft masculinity come to Earth fully formed? Or am I just looking at the end result of years and years of tedious, thankless, burnout-inducing toil performed by the long line of women he’s dated?”

Discerning the truth can be surprisingly tricky. Especially because the part of you that’s dying to meet a man who would eat his shirt before saying, “Bridges of Madison County has some pretty interesting points…” will want to believe that this man walked out of the womb reading actual books and wearing no thin gold chain or gold necklace. In reality, it’s far more likely that a very patient woman (me) carefully worked quotes from Murakami into casual conversation with him for years (and bought him that chain – no gold though)

Keeping these things in mind will help you maintain a level head when getting involved with such a man. Because you can’t just go dissolving into a puddle whenever he validates your feelings or puts on a Fiona Apple album. Remember, if he invites you into his home, it is your duty to keep an eye out for signs left by those who have gone before you. Does he have clean sheets and more than one pillow? It’s plausible he acquired those on his own. Any bedding item made of linen? Now would be an appropriate time to thank those who have paved the way for your comfort. They likely fielded questions like, “What’s wrong with the sheets I’ve had since forever?” or “Why do we need pillowcases anyway?”

Next, take a peek in the bathroom. If there’s evidence that he owns moisturizer, maybe it’s him. If he’s one of the 14 percent of men using a daily sunscreen, maybe it’s Allie, Katie, or Michelle, his three latest exes. Quietly thank them for working to protect his face for you both.

Scan his bookshelf. Cormac McCarthy? Vonnegut? War books? Murakami? Those are probably him. Anything written by a woman? Literally any woman at all—it doesn’t even have to be Virginia Woolf. If you find one, it’s probably a gift from one of the exes, and it’s probably Pride and Prejudice. Give them a round of internal applause for their service, and give him partial credit if the spine is cracked.

Now, this is not to say that you shouldn’t enjoy these men who are doing their best to do and say the right things. After all, someone worked very hard to turn that man who skateboards and plays guitar into a man who skateboards, plays guitar, and respects women’s bodily autonomy. So if you meet a perfect man—a living, breathing embodiment of the female gaze—by all means, appreciate him for it. But before you get too impressed, just take a minute to remember the woman who explained the female gaze to him in the first place.

.Book Thursday.

What books have you read lately? I’ve just finished one book and even though it was 832 looong pages it was totally worth it… After seeing endless glowing reviews (“It’s not hyperbole to call this novel a masterwork — if anything that word is simply…

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