This Is My Brain without Diet Coke

brain copyI was in New York last week to attend a conference and, while there, I didn’t have a single Diet Coke. I drank a lot of water and a lot of other things but no Diet Coke and I didn’t realize it until I was at the airport to return home. So, I immediately bought a Diet Coke because it’s important to give yourself what you forgot you wanted. I also bought some pretzels because one night several nights before, I was sitting in a bar with friends and said, “Wow. I really wish I had some pretzels.” There were no pretzels to be had then but, at the airport, there were and though I didn’t want them, I was so impressed with my memory and my ability to delay gratification that I bought them to go with the Diet Coke I felt obligated to have. This is how you do self-care.

I sat down with my Diet Coke and pretzels and ate and drank like it was my duty to American capitalism and I had an epiphany–Diet Coke tastes like chemicals and eating pretzel bites is like eating bread rocks. I did finish the pretzels because I have a fear of being trapped on a plane while hungry and being forced to root around in the seat pocket for a stray bag of peanuts or a slightly fuzzy M&M but I could not drink the Diet Coke and I took this as a sign that it was time for me to give up Diet Coke.

This is my journey and my internal thoughts along the way…

Day 1

6:00 am: Today is the day! I am giving up Diet Coke! This is so exciting. I am going to finish this coffee and then go running and then I am going to write 229 blog posts!

10:30 am: I smell like sweat and I’m too tired to walk to the shower. Why am I so tired? Can I go to bed now? I will shower…I will…soon…

12:30 pm: I have showered and I am clean and now I get to have lunch! After lunch I will write 112 posts because I need to be realistic and I haven’t written anything yet.

12:45 pm: This is the saddest lunch ever. A sandwich and chips and no Diet Coke. Sad. I am sad. Everything is sad. This dining room table is sad. Why am I so sad?

1:00 pm: I am thirsty. I now understand how people lost in the desert feel except that I am in my house and it’s not hot and there isn’t any sand here. Why am I so thirsty? I had coffee and…I haven’t had anything to drink but coffee. I don’t understand how to make the thirst go away.

2:00 pm: WATER! I need to drink water! But I hate water because it has no taste. It’s like air. Actually, it is air except for those hydrogen molecules but does hydrogen have a taste? NO IT DOES NOT. I will drink water. I will drink a big glass of water because I know that this is what human bodies need to survive but I will resent it.

8:00 pm: Yay! I get to meet a friend for appetizers!

Galit: I’ll have a Diet Coke.

Vikki: I’lll have…water.

Galit: Just water?

Vikki: I gave up Diet Coke. I want to order onion rings but I don’t think I can eat onion rings and drink water. You have to have a Diet Coke with onion rings…and french fries…and popcorn. You can’t eat any of those things with water!

Galit: I know! Get a club soda with lime!

Vikki: That’s a great idea!

11:00 pm: Club soda is amazing! I will drink it all the time! Life is good!

Day 2

All day: This is ridiculous. I don’t even drink that much Diet Coke. This shouldn’t be this hard. How many do I usually have a day? One? I’m sure I’ve never had more than one ever. I would remember if I drank a lot of it, right? Unless I have Diet Coke related dementia then I wouldn’t remember it. That’s not funny. No, I am sure I have never had more than one a day, maybe no more than one every couple of days! Drinking one every once in awhile is no big deal. I could do that. I could cut back to that…I mean go back to that previous pattern of drinking no more than one every once in awhile. Why should I deny myself? Because I know it’s bad for me and my friends think it’s poison. Fine. I won’t have any. I will drink this club soda with lime and then, on my way to get Zeca at camp, I will get coffee. Are you happy, brain?

Day 3

Morning: I never drank Diet Coke in the morning so why am I even thinking about it right now?

Afternoon: This is stupid…worse than the time I went vegan just because I was bored.

That’s it so far. I’ve only made it three days and have lost a tiny bit of my will to live but I’m sure I’ll rally! I have to rally. Seriously. Someone help me rally.


Free-for-all Friday!

Hello people of computerland! I have some exciting things to share with you! I have been a busy little be…ing lately and want to share some things in case you missed them. If you have already seen all this and are grumbling slightly that I am a total bi…son for repeating myself, then I am so very sorry! Avert your eyes!

1. The 2015 season of Listen To Your Mother is now live on YouTube! You can see all the shows from all the cities! Of course, I’m particularly attached to the Twin Cities show so I’m embedding that one right here for you to watch at your leisure (pronounced léjur because I’m fancy).

2. Some of you may not know that I am now blogging for the Star Tribune right here in the Twin Cities! Today, I wrote about how setting things on fire makes me feel closer to my own childhood! Not really. It’s a more thoughtful piece than that. Here is a little teaser:

Thomas C. Wolfe wrote, “You can’t go home again.” I think of this quote often when I latch onto certain memories of my childhood. A watermelon-flavored Jolly Rancher has never tasted as sweet as it did when I was 8 years old, sitting on the dock with my feet dangling in the lake. The singing of cicadas is not as constant and as comforting as it was during those hot summer days in Kansas when I was just a kid, running through fields of dry grass with my friends. And the fourth of July has not been the same since I moved to Minnesota, leaving behind those languid days sitting in the shade, unraveling Black Cats into a metal Folgers can.

You can find the rest of it at the Star Tribune…Summer memories: Trying to recreate my childhood with my children

3. Next week, I am headed to New York for BlogHer15 where I’ll be speaking on a panel about LGBT storytelling. I am passionate about storytelling and could talk about queer things all the livelong day so I’m looking forward to the conversation. (Are you singing I’ve Been Working on the Railroad now?) Before I left for Kansas City for the 4th of July, I did a podcast with the other panelists (Terésa Dowell-Vest and Mona Darling) and Michelle A. Dowell-Vest of A Gurlz Guide. You can check that out here!

4. Did you watch the Women’s World Cup? Wasn’t it amazing? Did you see Abby Wambach making out with a fan in celebration after? With fans like that, who needs girlfriends/partners/wives? Spoiler Alert: It wasn’t a fan. I wrote about that for VillageQ this week. Here’s an excerpt:

After the match, Abby Wambach ran to the stands and kissed her wife, Sarah Huffman. I sat watching with my family, and my son said, “I didn’t know Abby Wambach was a lesbian!” just as the announcer said, “Abby Wambach is celebrating with a fan.” While I am sure that Sarah Huffman is one of Abby Wambach’s biggest fans, she is also her wife. Furthermore, have you ever seen a professional athlete run to the stands and make out with a random? No. Because it doesn’t happen.

I also do some ranting about the media’s use of the term “gal pals.” You can read it for yourself right here.

5. I feel like I should have a #5 that involves a link to something I’ve written or produced but I don’t have another thing. So, I will tell you a story instead. When we were in Kansas City, we went to the Schlitterbahn Water Park and went down the world’s tallest water slide. We climbed 264 stairs so that we could plummet from a height greater than that of Niagra Falls. Fortunately, we were strapped into a boat and not a barrel. I can report that it was very high and the entire structure seemed to sway in the wind. I can also report that we survived (obviously) though our heads bounced around like pinballs and we all had stiff necks the next day. Family fun! Would I do it again? Nope. But the water park was awesome and I could have spent the entire day going around and around on the river rapids. How’s that for #5?


And now…I am going to drink some water and pretend that summer is not heating up in Minnesota. Have a great weekend!




My Life in Hairstyles: A Tragicomedy in Many Parts

Little known fact: I am vain. I wasn’t always this way but, at some point after coming out, I figured out what to do with my dull, lifeless hair and it changed the way I saw myself. I found my confidence and power in cutting off all my hair. I was going to make a Samson and Delilah reference here because I knew that story had something to do with hair but I am not good with Bible things because I was all about the macaroni art in Bible school and not at all about the Bible learning part. I also drank the Kool-aid but literally, not metaphorically. So, I had to look the story up and it is the opposite of my situation so there goes my lesbian Samson comparison.

The point is that I have come to love my hair. If you’ve ever talked to me for any length of time, chances are I have talked about my hair. So today, I am sharing my life in hairstyles, the journey from awful to awesome.

Our story begins in 1970…


Certified Toddler Mechanic

I was a bald baby so it is not surprising that at the age of two, this is all the hair I had. Please note the jaunty flip of my hair which suggests that I was separated at birth from Hermey the Elf and Nancy of Midlife Mixtape.


Family…in more ways than one…

Once my hair began to grow, I left behind my life as a mechanic and joined the pageant circuit.


Reich (second from right)

I was four when this picture was taken and, sadly, I did not take home the title of Little Miss Sun-N-Surf. My sister blamed it on the black shoes but I think my pale skin and unremarkable hair did me no favors. My hair remained long and straight until I turned five and my sister left home. My sister is 14 years older than me and she always took care of my hair–shampooing and conditioning and brushing it like I was her living My Little Pony. About a week after she left home, my mother took me to her hairdresser and this happened:


Rick rack is whack

I cannot explain the crooked bangs or the stray hairs above my left eye. My mother was appropriately horrified by this cut and allowed my hair to return to pageant length and it remained that way until high school when I entered the Era of Perms.

In 8th grade, my stepmother talked me into a cut and perm as seen in this rare picture from that period.


I’m the one on the right

I know…that’s not really a picture of me but my hair looked just like that only it was brown. Of all the perms I had, I regret that one the most which is probably why there are no clear pictures of me during that time. I spent a couple of years growing out that perm before getting the one that would define my life from 1985 through 1989.


Bi-levels are no joke

When my daughter saw that picture, she said, “Oh my god, mama! You had a mullet!” I then spent approximately 15 minutes explaining that it was a bi-level. She insisted that a bi-level by any other name is still a mullet and now tells anyone who will listen that I once had a mullet before correcting herself and saying bi-level with accompanying air quotes. I am cutting her out of the will.

In the summer of 1989, after my sophomore year of college, I went to stay with my mother who lived in southern Missouri. Nothing good happens to hair in southern Missouri. The week before I returned to school, she suggested I go with her to her hair appointment, promising me lunch. It was a trap! And that’s how I ended up getting a spiral perm at a place called The Hairport.


Spiral Perm Makes Woman Jump from Plane

I had no idea how to take care of that perm but I can tell you now that you shouldn’t brush it like you are brushing down a horse.

The spiral perm was a turning point, however. Some of my friends from the rugby team took me to a salon to get my hair cut. Maybe they pitied me and my wrecked spiral perm. Maybe they were trying to make me gay. Either way, I got my hair cut and, for the first time in my life, I loved my hair.


Every kid hopes their parents will take them to Orlando…when they are 20…

Shortly after that picture was taken, I came out and then, as is required by the National Lesbian Charter, I got a flat top.


Every lesbian gets a haircut and a dog!

During that time, I got my hair cut at the Iowa Barber in downtown Grinnell. I’d walk into town and sit in the barbershop and wait my turn with all the old farmers. Fortunately, I realized quickly that I do not have a forehead that should be visible and settled into the hairstyle I would have for most of my 20’s.


I was very serious about outdoor concerts

I loved that style but, as I moved into my 30’s, I wanted something edgier, probably because I became a mom. In fact, I remember telling my stylist, “Do whatever you want but just don’t make me look like a suburban mom.”


I’m hip and cool and I don’t know how this baby fell on my chest

That style worked for me for a long time and was probably the hairstyle I kept the longest. About two years ago, I was ready for another change and started growing out my hair again. Some days I love it and some days it gets in my eyes and makes me want to go back to the Iowa Barber but this is me now.


Hermey the Elf retired and moved to Minnesota

The funniest thing about this picture is that my hair looks almost exactly the same as it did in the first picture. As the old saying goes, “You have to get a lot of perms before you find your style.” Yes, I appropriated that quote about kissing frogs but this is hair wisdom, people. Write it down.


This post is part of a blog hop started by Nancy of Midlife Mixtape. Check out the following blogs for more stories and pictures and hairstyles!

Ann’s Rants

Good Day Regular People


Midlife Mixtape

The Flying Chalupa


Is That a Turtle on Rihanna’s Butt?


This morning, I sat down at my desk for the first time in weeks. May is a blur. There was Mom2.0 and then Listen To Your Mother and then Luisa left for Portugal and school is ending so the kids have all the end of the year things. At some point, my desk became a mess. It was covered in scratch paper with notes and passwords and unopened copies of The Missouri Review (I was recently rejected there) and Minecraft coordinates (I’ve been meaning to leave a cake in the tree house of one of the new moms who joined our server) and a check I need to deposit and a thing of Tums and a stack of cassette tapes I still need to listen to and receipts to enter into a spreadsheet. The chaos of my desk has been daunting and the best way to deal with that was to avoid the desk. Obviously.

But today, I sat down and started cleaning my desk and then I looked at iTunes to research a post I’m writing for another site and things were going so well and then I found myself watching every Rihanna video ever made on YouTube. I was mesmerized by her green coat in Bitch Better Have My Money and spent more time than I should admit wishing that I could pull off such an outfit. Then, I eventually ran across Where Have You Been and became fascinated with Rihanna’s ass. Though I’m sure I’m not the first to make such a statement, I am probably the only one to wonder aloud (and on social media) if there was a turtle on her ass in the first part of the video. I watched it several times in order to determine if it’s a turtle or a tail or a strange armadillo-like bikini bottom. See for yourself and weigh in:

The more videos I watched and the more I talked about the videos I watched and the cleaner my desk became, the more I felt like writing! My brain was alive with the sound of music and images of green coats and turtles on butts! And that’s when I realized that this is my writing process. It’s messy and seems completely counterintuitive and counterproductive and every other kind of counter their is but it’s mine.

I’ve been writing in bed lately and it hasn’t been working. Bed is for things like Netflix and Candy Crush. Yes, that’s what lesbians do in bed in case anyone asks you. Clearly, my “process” requires that I sit at my desk and ponder music videos. It gets ye olde synapses firing. So, my turtle-free butt is in my chair and I am at my desk and I am ready to roll.