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The disappearance of the third dimenson

Bob Niles“Aaaaannnd smile.” Click.

“What are you taking a picture of?” asks the wife.

“Well, if you must know, I’m taking a picture of a check to send into the bank.”

“Oh, and where did you get a check from? Did you see a picture of a job?”

“No,” I assured her, “I don’t go to those websites. The bank now only needs a picture of my paycheck. So, I’m sending in a selfie of me and my check. It’s just like me being there, but with one less dimension. Apparently the sense of depth, which a piece of paper is short on anyway, is no longer a requirement at the bank.”Sketch 2014-02-27 19_53_47

“Their lack of a sense of depth in the first place is the only reason they let you open an account there, honey. Now how about I get a picture of you cutting the grass? Because it, unlike this conversation, has a lot of depth!”

Height, width and depth define our three-dimensional world. And depth is the least favorite dimension in this digital age. It’s the lack of depth that makes our lives easier. We do a lot of our shopping with only two dimensions on our I- (me, you, someone else’s) Pad. We see heights and width on the screen and, if we’re interested in something, we  choose “Description” and we read about it in depth.

I no longer hold books, magazines, catalogs and newspapers in my hands but view them on an illuminated flat screen.

I never lose the dice for my Monopoly game under the couch anymore now that I have an app for it. And it’s the apps that have killed depth! Games, cookbooks, maps, CDs and other third-dimensional items are now all flat and wide and lacking in depth.

I don’t play outdoor games with the grandkids anymore. If I run around in the three-dimensional world, I could possibly break a hip. They sit on my lap and play with the iPad. I can’t remember the last time I played Angry Birds using real birds.

Television and commercials make us think we’re not healthy if we have depth. When you turn sideways, you’re barely supposed to cast a shadow. TV stars and models are dying at an alarming rate falling through the drain grates!

Having that third dimension just makes things heavy. My height and width are okay, but if I turn sideways to experience my depth, I look like a mama kangaroo with all the kids home!

Great works of literature, on my computer, once heavy because of depth created by many pages, now weigh the same as my favorite Scooby-Doo comic.

In heavy industry workers no longer climb up ladders and walk for miles to physically examine temperatures, pressures, input and output on gauges. They now sit in front of a bank of flat screens like Homer Simpson and maintain safety levels.

The only way to experience the third dimension nowadays is to pay big bucks at a movie theater and wear magical glasses to see a motion picture about some fantasy.

“What’s that honey? You’ll show me depth?” She’s yelling something from upstairs. Something about placing her shoe up some ???side if I don’t start cutting the grass. Well, I’d  better get started then.

Excuse me while I remove a bit more depth from my three-D world.

— Bob Niles

Bob Niles, who answers to Robert, Bobby, Dad, Grandpa, Unit No.2 (his Dad could never remember all the children’s names), honey and super hero, is new to writing but not to storytelling. “I like to make people laugh and to think, with a secret desire make them dance and send me untraceable $100 bills in the mail,” says the happily married, retired father and grandpa from Richmond in British Columbia, Canada. He blogs here.

The stories we tell

Suzanne Braun Levine(This piece by Suzanne Braun Levine, the first editor of Ms. magazine, first appeared in the Huffington Post on March 6. Reposted by permission of the author. Suzanne Braun Levine is part of an all-star faculty at the 2014 Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop.)

Back in 1972, when I signed on at Ms. magazine, our mission was to document the history women were making every day. Early detractors, like newsman Harry Reasoner, dismissed those efforts by pronouncing the material too sparse to sustain a magazine for more than a few issues. But Ms. kept on filling its pages. It became the place to find out about women athletes, women scientists and executives as well as the brave rebels who were speaking truth to power — women who went unremarked in the rest of the media.

Also unremarked were women whose accomplishments had been lost to history, because no matter how awe-inspiring a woman’s story would have been if she were a man, it was rarely deemed worth including in the record of human accomplishments; if it had been suggested back in the 70s, the phrase “women’s history” would have been considered an oxymoron.

“Lost Women” was launched in the third issue and became one of our most popular features. Month after month, it answered such questions as: Why were there no women composers? Not because women didn’t have the creative genius, but because the women who did were “lost.”  (In 1975 Ms. even organized a concert of music by women that we had retrieved.) And why, you may ask, were there no women in the major orchestras (except the angelic harpist)? Not because there were no accomplished musicians, but because their skills were not tested. As soon as auditions were held with the candidates behind a curtain, the balance began to shift. But it was decades, until 2007, before Marin Alsop made history as the first woman conductor of a major American orchestra, the Baltimore Symphony.

Ms. magazine

Ms. magazine

“The truth will set you free,” Gloria Steinem has said, “but first it will piss you off.” There was plenty of truth-telling in Ms. and plenty of pissed-off housewives, factory workers, teachers, political helpmates (those tireless volunteers who got men elected but were never considered potential candidates — even by themselves)  who stood up to unfair treatment.

To me the greatest fighter of all was “battling” Bella Abzug whose big mouth and even bigger heart embodied the courage and chutzpah it took to speak truth to power. I got to know her words very well years later when Mary Thom, a former Ms. colleague, and I put together an oral history of her life. For a generation of women raised on regular admonitions to keep their voices down, Bella’s became a test of fortitude for all of us. Gloria Steinem recalls being appalled at first and then inspired by her courage to speak out loud and clear. The women who worked for her had a harder time. When Mary and I asked one what happened when Bella yelled at her, she replied, “I didn’t get my period for two months!”

Today, we have a grip on our history, but that means there are more, not less, stories to tell. MAKERS — a co-production of AOL and PBS — is an ambitious documentary composed of interviews with the change-makers of recent history, many of whom I worked alongside of — like Robin Morgan, Letty Cottin Pogrebin, Gloria Steinem, Marlo Thomas, Alice Walker — and others of whom are the next generation of activists that I have encouraged and been inspired by — Amy Richards, Shelby Knox, Courtney E. Martin.

What is even more exciting is that the project reflects our ongoing history by adding new MAKERS to the narrative on a regular basis. I am proud and honored to be the newest one and the first of Women’s History Month. Producer Dyllan McGee is clear about her mission. “Maybe in the next 50 years declaring yourself a ‘feminist’ will be gratuitous because everybody will be on board with gender equality and we’ll be living it.” But, she emphasizes, we are not there yet.

Recently, my path has crossed with another MAKER — the pioneering movie executive, Sherry Lansing. We are on the Board of  Encore. org, an organization that is building the next social justice movement — to combat ageism. As the population shifts toward what used to be called “retirement age” and has a longer life expectancy, it is essential to take note of the talent, energy, experience and commitment we bring to our work and community. It is time, as the founder Marc Freedman puts it, to liberate “the most underutilized civic resource” and promote the notion of “second acts for the greater good.”

We old movement types just never stop.

Another case in point. In 2005, Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda and Robin Morgan founded the Women’s Media Center to monitor and enrich the current means of recording our history.  Just recently the WMC released its latest report on “The Status of Women in the U.S. Media.” While noting barriers broken by women like Jill Abramson, executive editor of The New York Times, the 2014 report offers such distressing findings as:

• Newsroom women staffers continued to hover at 36 percent, a figure largely unchanged since 1999.

• At the nation’s three most prestigious newspapers and four newspaper syndicates, male opinion page writers outnumbered women 4-to-1.

• White men continued to dominate the ranks of Sunday morning news talk show guests, except on a single MSNBC show with a black female host.

During the 17 years I edited Ms. I learned how to identify our history-in-the-making: if one woman is experiencing something, there are surely countless others who have been keeping quiet, convinced that they are either the only ones — or simply insane. After I moved on to other forms of storytelling, I kept on listening to women, including myself; so when I began to experience weird behavior — going on an Outward Bound trip at 50, talking back to condescending sales people — I was sure there were others in the same boat, and I set about trying to understand what was going on with the women of my generation in our 50s and 60s. As we share the discoveries we make about an unprecedented stage of life — a second adulthood as it has been called — we are living a new chapter in women’s history.

I wrote four books about life after 50, but I am now beginning to think about life after our 50th high school reunion. Women I talk to are finding that our 70s definitely “feel different from our 50s and 60s,” but we have yet to chart this latest stretch of unknown territory, unknown since no generation before us has entered it with such energy, confidence and well being.

We are beginning the process of telling the truth about this decade. We seem to be on a new path — shedding things, people, expectations and zeroing in on what really makes life worth living. Jane Fonda put it beautifully in a recent blog on her web site: “Maybe because I’m older my heart is wider open, like a net that wants to catch all the things that matter.”  Another story to tell.

— Suzanne Braun Levine

Suzanne Braun Levine is a writer, editor and nationally recognized authority on women, families and media. She was the first editor of Ms. magazine (1972-1988), and the first woman editor of the prestigious Columbia Journalism Review. She reports on the ongoing changes in women’s lives in her books, on television, radio, at lectures and on her website. She’s the author of four books, including You Gotta Have Girlfriends — A Post-Fifty Posse Is Good For Your Health. Watch her interview on

Scared out of bed

My childhood was regularly haunted by screams in the night of, “Spiders!  Spiders everywhere!”Hillary Ibero

If that won’t give you arachnophobia, I don’t know what will.

I never could resist mummifying myself from the neck down and scanning  the dark ceiling anxiously as I waited for Dad’s gruff reply to my mother,  “There aren’t any spiders! You’re dreaming again. Go back to sleep.”

Mom always took it well. “They’re going to kill us, but fine…fine!”

My sweet mom had night terrors. These differ from nightmares in an  important way. During a nightmare you’re likely to cry out with your eyes  closed, startling yourself awake. During a night terror you’re likely to cry  out, eyes wide open, before you kill someone, startling them awake, in self defense. Or so you say.

Dad’s strategy was to throw his body across Mom’s at that first suspicious  movement or sound, locking her in an embrace of iron. This was an  important preventative measure because my mother had been known to run full speed through a dark room full of furniture, to brutally wring the cotton out of bath towels and to search for convenient weapons to use against gnomes.

Dad may not have had a choice, but I voluntarily put myself in the crosshairs of Mom’s bad dreams on steroids when I was 14 or so. She had spent a whole day in her room with a migraine. It was a double whammy; she was ill and had been sleeping heavily. Nevertheless, I crept in to say a quick goodnight to my (daytime) saint-like mother, ignoring Dad’s warning to leave her alone. As I entered the room, Mom sat bolt upright in bed. Her large brown eyes were wide in the dim light from the hall and they fixed on me like motion sensing lasers. I halted.

“Hi, Mama,” I said cautiously. “I just wanted to say goodnight.”

I took a step closer but was arrested by her strange query, “Hillary, what do you have in your mouth?”

“Uh, nothing, Mama. I don’t have anything in my mouth.”

“Yes, you do. Come here.”

Fear gripped me. My mom was obviously reliving some incident from my childhood when I used to chew on raw hot dogs as pacifiers and shove half a banana in my mouth at a time, prompting my parents to chant, “Small bites, chew them well!” until I entered adolescence and acquired some manners.

“Mom, I don’t have anything in my mouth!” I cried, attempting to be firm.

“Hillary, come here. Get that out of your mouth right now!”

“What, Mama? What do you mean? All I have is my tongue,” I uttered pathetically. “See…”

As she started to rise from the bed, I quickly pulled my tongue back in and wondered whether I could learn to swallow without it. Back to the wall, I must have managed to squeak out a weak, “Help!” because Dad suddenly appeared and jumped between us.

“Hillary, I told you not to disturb her!” he cried, locking her in his arms. “Now, get out of here now!”

I would never again disturb my mother’s slumber without backup.

However, as I said, Dad didn’t have a choice. Thank heavens he always reacted in time. Except one time he didn’t.

Mom claims she woke up and saw a little man on Dad’s side of the bed. Another menacing gnome, dammit! He was coming toward her and she didn’t have a weapon at hand. She promptly flipped up the mattress to create a defensive barrier.

When he hit the wall and floor, Dad joined the party. The first thing he saw was his wife coming around the bed toward him with that otherworldly gleam in her eye. His yells of bewilderment, outrage and terror didn’t succeed in snapping her out of it, but his consequent mad dash past her did.

We kids were awakened, not by cries in the night, but by an argument in the living room. We wandered out to find Dad sitting imperiously on the arm of the sofa, head back, arms folded, shaking his head adamantly and saying, “Nope. Uh-uh. I am not going back to that bed with you.

Mom, half giggling, cajoled, “Honey, you know I don’t know what I’m doing. Come back to bed. It won’t happen again.”

To which Dad’s only answer was, “Humph!”

It took her all night to win him back.

And he’s by her side to this day, protecting the world (and her) from a gentle, saintly, lovely woman who on one night every month or so turns into The Incredible Hulk…the one who is afraid of spiders.

-Hillary Ibarra

Hillary has had several humor pieces published on Aiming Low and She has dreams of playing the banjo, living in Jane Austen’s childhood home and writing for more than spam artists and fifty loyal readers but can’t seem to find them in the laundry. She is the mysterious blogger at No Pens, Pencils, Knives or Scissors. In her spare time she likes to threaten to sell her children to the zoo, and their little dog, too.

Take your lunch
or I will gut you like a fish

Alison GrambsThey say the secret to a happy marriage is communication.

Well, tonight I am communicating with my husband through a note I have taped to the medicine chest in our bathroom.  It reads:

Take your lunch or I will gut you like a fish.

Now, you saps out there might assume I left this note as secret code for, “Meet me tonight in our bedroom. I’ll be wrapped in cellophane dipped in honey.”

But you’d be wrong.

For when I wrote, “Take your lunch or I will gut you like a fish,” I meant exactly that. “Take your lunch or I will gut you like a fish.

My only regret is not placing a comma in between the words lunch and “or.  Such a sloppy grammatical error will undoubtedly incline my alma mater to rescind my degree.  But other than that, this note reads precisely as I intended.

Why would I leave such a note for my sweet husband?

Because in the hour Tommy spends preparing for his day — burdened by no responsibilities other than getting himself clean and dressed — this otherwise brilliant man demonstrates the mental capacity of a turnip.

You see, in an effort to help him eat better, and reduce our expenses, I’ve kindly agreed to prepare homemade lunches for Tommy. Mind you, with no children of our own (at least none that I know of) I’m not much of a domestic. So, such a task is challenging for me. And yet, I do it.

These lunches are tasty.  Carefully engineered to meet Tommy’s finicky needs, containing at least one half of one third of one of the six major food groups.  They are prepared with love, despite my own exhaustion from working night and day writing the next Mediocre American Novel.  Through fogged contact lenses and intermittent yawns, I stumble around our kitchen each night like a crystal meth addict who’s used up her last stash, banging into countertops and fumbling over the stove — all so I can make my husband lunch. I even include real silverware with the meals, so Tommy’s tender mouth doesn’t have to chew on plastic, and hand-drawn maps so he can locate the special treats I’ve hidden at the bottom of his favorite R2-D2 lunch box.

How does my husband repay me for my efforts?

By forgetting to take his lunch. Every friggin’ day.

Are you cheating on my lunches with Wok n Roll?” I text him after going into the fridge the next morning only to see R2-D2 staring back at me.

Its not you, its me, Tommy assures me, launching into some concocted defense about how he gets ‘confused’ in the morning, and ‘cant find the kitchen.

But you had no trouble finding the computer to go on e-Bay and purchase a replica of Princess Leia in her slave bikini…” I argue back.

It is usually at this point in the conversation that Tommy claims he’s suddenly caught on fire and has to shut off his phone.

But tonight?  The madness stops.

Dear Husband: I may have sworn, under oath, to love you. But nowhere in my vows did I swear not to eviscerate you.  Read the fine print, pal. It’s “until death do us part.” So, when you head out tomorrow morning, ready to take on the world, do yourself a favor and remember to take the lunch I made for you with such love.

… Or I will gut you like a fish.

— Alison Grambs

Alison Grambs is the author of The Man Translator: Your Essential Guide To ManlandThe Smart Girl’s Guide To Getting Even (Citadel Press) and four children’s joke books (Sterling Publishing). A former staff comedy writer and event producer at the Friars Club in New York, her writing has appeared in MAD Magazine, The New York Times, The Huffington Post,, and The Daily News.  Her humor blog is She is presently working on a long novel that uses the word ‘the’ in it frequently, and a short one-woman show that doesn’t use the word ‘the’ once.

OMG — feels like a teen spirit

Alisa SchindlerThe phone rings. I immediately recognized the number of one of Tyler’s friends. Not really wanting to, I pick up.

An extremely bored but familiar voice says, “Hey.”

“Hey,” I respond back and wait, but that was all I was getting.

“Do you want to speak with Tyler?” I prompt.

“Uh, yeah.”

Uh, fabulous.

Rolling my eyes (I am years away from them getting stuck there), I yell, “Phone! Tyler!” but there is no response.

Tyler is a very focused boy, and I happen to know that he is watching an extremely important episode of “Sponge Bob.”  “Tyleeeeer!!! PHONE!”

That did it. Something penetrated. My shaggy-haired boy slides in. “What?” He asks, clueless.

“Here.” I hand him the phone. Instantly, my son becomes animated. I listen in fascination to him planning some complicated play date. Uh, I mean, hang out. At 10, it’s a hang out. My bad.

Tyler finishes his conversation, which consists of a bunch of “yeahs” and “okays,” then reports to me.

“Okay, I’m waiting for Jack and then I’m going to Rick’s. We’re going…” The phone interrupts and Tyler immediately answers.

“Oh hi, Luc.”

He instinctively walks into the other room for privacy, where some heavy negotiations are in play.

After a few minutes, he returns. “Okay, Jack is going to Luc’s, so I’m going…”

The phone rings again. I’m guessing there has been a breakdown in the talks.

“Hold on.” He grabs for it and then runs into the other room.

In one minute, he’s back. “Okay, this is what’s going to happen. Because Jack talked to Luc first, now we’re both going to Luc’s.”

This is what’s going to happen? Who is this kid?

Unbelievably, the phone rings again. I don’t even look at it. “For you?” Tyler smiles sheepishly and disappears.  The negotiations resume.

When he returns, it appears there has been a settlement. “Okay, so Jack is coming here and we’re walking to Luc’s.  Rick’s out of the picture because Jay called him, but didn’t call Luc and they don’t want to hang out with so many people because Brian was already going there. It’s okay, because when Rick and Brian are together sometimes it gets, you know, anyway, so we’re just going to Luc’s.”

I’m speechless and exhausted, but have enough strength to raise a brow.

He gets it immediately. “Is that okay?”

“That’s fine.”

He smiles his goofy, boyish smile. I am wildly in love. He is still so much my baby and so solidly boy, and the next stage stands knocking at the door.

“Mom! Jack’s here! Can we go?”

I follow to where his friend waits. They exchange a very cool and manly, “Hey.”

I stand at the screen, watching them go. They start off walking. By the second house away, they are arm in arm, skipping for the half block to Luc’s. Then, there’s some pushing. Tyler’s friend is on the ground. Wait. He’s up. They’re arm in arm again, a skipping to Luc’s house they go.

My heart skips with them. My first real pre-teen moment. Sigh. I was on the verge of serious sappiness, when the phone interrupts my thoughts. It has begun.

— Alisa Schindler

Alisa Schindler is freelance writer who chronicles the sweet and bittersweet of life in the suburbs on her highly entertaining blog Her essays have been featured on and as well as in the book, Life Well Blogged. She is a member of “Yeah Write,” an online community for writers, where she has won the Jury Prize multiple times in the group’s weekly essay writing contest.  She has just completed her first novel that she feels comfortable showing to someone other than her mother.

The 7 deadly sins of menopause

Marcia DoyleWe all have them. The secret sins that keep us awake at night and tap us on the shoulder during the day while we try to go about our business. The sins that we would prefer our friends and neighbors never see. For some, this means dancing the salsa naked with a Hoover Upright (Hey! I didn’t say that was me!). For others, it’s sticking their face in a bag of mini, cheese-flavored rice cakes at 2:00a.m. (Okay, maybe that was me).

I’m not Catholic and I’m pretty sure you’re not a priest, but I’m sitting in a confessional booth right now about to spill the goods on Menopausal Mama’s seven deadly sins.

ENVY:  I live near a park and a jogging trail. I see women of all ages out there, rollerblading, jogging and biking. Certain ones catch my eye—the PERFECT ones, who look like they just rolled off the Barbie shelf at Target. Pink sweats with the Juicy label across their firm, little butts, and a matching tank top stretched tight across breasts that aren’t jiggling like jello cups in a truck when they jog. THOSE are the women I envy. Their pre-baby bodies are free of stretch marks resembling the NYC subway system. They are blessed with perky boobs on the high beam setting aimed at the stars instead of their kneecaps. It makes me long for my youth and a certain pink bikini I once owned.

GLUTTONY:  This is the reason I no longer own the aforementioned pink bikini. I am a wine hoarder and a Nutella crack head. I am also selfish when it comes to Chinese take-out. Don’t touch my egg roll or lay a finger on my chicken chow mein. To prevent anyone else from stealing my leftovers from the fridge, I cleverly disguise my food in a covered jar marked “URINE SAMPLE.” It keeps my thieving teenager away from my stash while I’m busy Googling Nutella rehab centers.

PRIDE:  This is something easily lost when you’re driving an old minivan with missing hubcaps and a broken door handle, which is why you’ll NEVER see me behind the wheel of the mommy mobile that seizes up at every stop light in town. My husband has inherited that hemorrhoid on wheels because he happens to know car CPR. My own pride is seriously challenged every day at the gym when I look in the mirror and see body parts wiggling and waving back at me in an unnatural way. But if you ask me about my kids or my granddaughter, I’ll whip out my cell phone faster than you can say moo shu pork and force you to watch a terminally long slide show of every phase in their lives, starting with their ultrasound images all the way to their college graduation ceremonies.

LUST:  When you’re menopausal, the mind says, “Yes” but the body says, “Oh, hell no!” So you learn to lust after other things, like a beef burrito the size of a Chihuahua. Or Ben and Jerry’s Triple Caramel Chunk ice cream and a good bottle of Dom Perignon. A trip to Tahiti would be nice too, but at this rate I’ll never be able to fit back into that pink bikini again.

ANGER:  Think Jack Nicholson in The Shining. Anthony Hopkins in Silence Of The Lambs. This is what I become when my son misses the school bus at 6:30 a.m. My head has also been known to spin like I’m in the throes of an exorcism when I send The Hubs to the hardware store for a socket set and he returns with a water-spraying fan or a singing can opener. What’s next, a toilet plunger that chants, “I think I can, I think I can”?

SLOTH:  When I think sloth, the first image that comes to mind is Jabba the Hutt. No, I do not resemble a bloated, slug-like alien, nor do I eat fleshy, aquatic creatures with slimy legs. But I do like having minions (a.k.a. children) around to take out the trash, wash the dinner dishes and fold the laundry before all the socks play hide-and-seek or join to find their missing partners.

GREED:  While most people associate greed with money and power, neither of those things appeals to me. I’m greedy when it comes to sleep. Those evil, menopausal twins Hot Flash and Fatigue have joined forces with their mischievous cousin Insomnia to deprive me of a solid, seven hours of slumber. My bladder is never one to miss a party either, so she’s right up there playing checkers with her cohorts at all hours of the night. If there’s such a thing as reincarnation, I want to come back as a bear so I can hibernate for a few months in a cave and bite the head off the first person who wakes me.

There should be an 8th deadly sin as well, called INSANITY. When my body thermostat mimics the mercury levels of an Arizona desert during the month of July, or I suddenly find myself trolling the girdle aisle at Wal-Mart, I’m bound to feel a little crazy. To combat the bipolar symptoms of my fluctuating hormones, I’ve discovered that the road to happiness is paved with Prozac, chocolate and maybe a side trip to Tahiti with a pink bikini in my suitcase.

— Marcia Kester Doyle

Marcia Kester Doyle is the author of the humorous blog “Menopausal Mother,” where she muses on the good, the bad and the ugly side of menopausal mayhem. She is a staff writer for In The Powder Room and and a contributing writer for What the Flicka. Her work recently captured first place in VoiceBoks Top Hilarious Parent Bloggers 2014, and her first book will be released in the spring through Blue Lobster Publishing. Marcia’s work has appeared on Scary Mommy, Mamapedia, Bloggy Moms, Messy Mom’s Radio, The Woven Press, the Life Well Blogged series and was voted Top 25 in the Circle Of Mom’s Contest 2013.

Stars! They’re just like us!

Abby HeugelAnyone who has “accidentally” flipped through an US Weekly magazine (as I did while waiting to get my hair did the other day) knows there is more important information on the back of a shampoo bottle than there is in that publication.

One of the most ridiculous things is the “Stars: They’re Just Like Us!” segment. For the uninitiated, this is where they feature photos of celebrities doing things like breathing, eating, drinking out of straws and carrying adopted children named after obscure fruits found in Ethiopian villages.

The captions of these paparazzi photos verify/explain the celebrity is breathing, eating, etc., since it would otherwise be unclear that this person is, in fact, a human doing shockingly mundane human things — just like us!

Lest you think I’m exaggerating, these are a few of the captions from that issue:

• They Indulge in Fast Food!

• They Strap on Shoes!

• They Eat Off Others’ Plates!

• They Use the ATM!

• They Write Names in the Sand!

• They Balance Cans!

I don’t know about you, but I would never have guessed that Jennifer Lawrence uses the ATM — just like me! Of course her balance is astronomically higher than mine, but still! She’s so normal!

To be fair, a lot of magazines make the assumption that we all live a charmed life. Food Network Magazine had a spotlight feature on a new cast member and her kitchen in the Hamptons.

She said, “People hear ‘the Hamptons’ and they think glitz and glamour, but it is really just farmland.” The article then goes on to suggest we pick up some of Katie’s finds for our own kitchen. Those include:

• French Bistro stools $674

• Rivera strop shade for a window $209

• Natural-edged bowl hand-carved from a single log $564

I would, but I just won $2 on a scratch-off lottery ticket and am busy trying to decide if I want to take it in one lump sum or a dime for the next 20 years.

Anyway, I might actually take interest in these features if they included things I could relate to a little bit more.

Stars! They’re Just Like Us! They:

Light incense, forget they lit incense and then freak out when they smell smoke five minutes later!

Say, “There’s fungus among us!” while picking out mushrooms at the store!

Excel in “Procrastibaking” — baking instead of doing a bunch of more important things instead!

Get up 10 minutes early in the morning so they have that extra time to stare mindlessly at the wall as they shower!

Can go from “nothing sounds good” to “why isn’t there more of this to shove in my face?” in mere seconds!

Get terrified when putting back a shirt without folding it and then making eye contact with the store worker!

Beat the crap out of a black bean with their spatula when they thought it was a spider!

Spend more time picking out broccoli at the store than picking out the clothes that they wear!

Will practically break their arms before making two trips into the house with the groceries!

True, it might not be as glamorous as sharing that they “Pull Their Hair Back On the Go!” but you can’t tell me they’ve never stood up and had a chickpea fall out of their bra.

Now that’s a headline that I’d like to see.

— Abby Heugel

Abby Heugel is a professional writer and editor of trade publications for employment, but a neurotic humor writer the rest of the time for enjoyment. She runs mental marathons in yoga pants and blogs her brilliant insights. She makes you feel normal. She’s the author of Abby Has Issues and Abby Still Has Issues.

How to buy a bathing suit without crying

Linda WolffBathing suit shopping isn’t for the faint of heart. It involves nudity, bad lighting and the awareness of your every flaw. But I’ve found a few tricks to making bathing suit shopping less painful.

Go to your nearest department store, I usually prefer Bloomingdale’s, a day (or two, at most) before you need the bathing suit. It is imperative that you’re slightly desperate and short on time. This helps with decision making.

Head straight to the restroom. You must pee. Any bloat can and will work against you. Then make your way to the cute dress and T-shirt section of the store. Choose a few T-shirts and some pretty flowy dresses that you know will fit. Maybe even a beaded number. Anything sparkly. The key is to divert attention to the task at hand.

Then, and only then, approach the bathing suit section. Pick out a few cover-ups or caftans. They’re a safe bet. As you head towards the bathing suits, move quickly and grab larger sizes than you think you’ll need. Asking the sales lady for a smaller size later will only boost your confidence. The reverse will bring nothing but tears.

Go to the dressing room and try everything on, except the bathing suits. Leave them for last. You will need some successes before you strip down to your skivvies in front of a three-way mirror under fluorescent lighting.

Once in the suit, give yourself a 15-second look-over (no more!) and decide. If at first glance it’s not that bad, buy it and never look back.

And that’s what I did today.  I opted for the sassy sailor one-piece.

— Linda Wolff

Linda Wolff writes the blog Carpool Goddess where she shares her adventures from carpool to empty nest. She no longer drives carpool, but that’s our little secret. Her work has appeared on The Huffington Post, Yahoo! Shine, Scary Mommy, Better After 50, Generation Fabulous and others. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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