The brave, middle-aged starfish

Instructor: “Now, wrap the fabric around your wrists and then pull yourself upside down to do the inverted starfish.” Me (inside my head): “Wait… what? Is she serious right now?” I glanced around and saw the feet of nine other people go up in the air. Apparently, she was serious. This was happening. I didn’t want to be the only fraidy cat in the class, so I took a deep breath and pulled. Suddenly I was upside down, hanging only by my wrists, with my head suspended a few feet off the floor. I was torn between two thoughts – “Yay, I did it!” and “This could go so very wrong.” Before I describe what happened next, I should explain [...]

Letter to the college freshmen

Dear College Freshmen, I won’t try to sugarcoat it. Your freshman year sucked. It wasn’t at all what your older friends, the movies or even your parents told you it would be. It was… underwhelming, at best. I know this because my oldest son is one of you. On a recent weekend visit home, he said that, so far, college feels like a weird continuation of high school. He didn’t say this next part out loud, but I got the distinct vibe that, on the inside, he and millions of other college freshmen are wondering, “Is this really all there is?” College was supposed to be this amazing launch into a new, exciting, adventurous phase of life, right? Except yours [...]

Vaccinated, and it feels so good

Tom: “Is it just me, or does this feel a little like Christmas Eve?” Gwen: “It really does. I guess it makes sense. We’ve been waiting a whole year.” Tom: “It’s weird how excited I am about this.” Gwen: “Me, too. I can hardly wait for tomorrow morning. I’d turn a cartwheel right now if I wasn’t afraid of breaking something and missing the appointment.” And this, my friends, is the kind of conversation that happens in 2021 – when you’re about to go to sleep at night and wake up on Vaccination Day. It’s the most wonderful time of the year. I’d felt a similar joy in early February when our state began offering vaccinations to people over 70, [...]

In love with a big Mac

Our family has grown by 50 furry pounds. His name is Mac, and we’re all in love. We hadn’t planned on adding another dog to the family, but some things are meant to be before we realize it. A few months ago, we explored the possibility of finding a service dog for our 14-year-old daughter, who was diagnosed with epilepsy early last year. Service dogs can be trained to respond to seizures, get help, and soothe jagged nerves once the episode is over. But not every dog is cut out for the job. It takes a special temperament along with an ability to learn and perform his duties. So, I talked to a non-profit organization in Indianapolis that specializes in [...]

Birthday cake with a side of sea slugs

I had a birthday this month, and The New York Times gave me a wonderful present. On the day I turned a year older (which in Covid times equals roughly eleven years), the newspaper published a story so gross, so weird and yet so oddly fascinating that I’ve been talking about it ever since. Tom can’t figure out why this particular story riveted me the way it did, but I bet many of you will feel the same way. I’ll paraphrase the most important points relayed by writer Annie Roth who published the story earlier this month, complete with video footage that’s sure to make you say “Ew!” Here’s what happened: One day a research scientist walked into her lab [...]

You’re only as old as your texting speed

Yesterday I watched my 14-year-old daughter text her best friend, and I realized something. Generally speaking, a person’s age is a direct correlation of their texting speed. Like my daughter, I text my friends often, too. And I’ve been using a smartphone a lot longer than my kids. But somehow, her texting speed is easily ten times that of my own. Her fingers move at warp speed. My fingers move at the speed of a rusty bicycle. It’s embarrassing. Unlike some, I’ve never mastered the two-handed method of smartphone typing. Give me a traditional computer keyboard, and I’m practically a Lamborghini, thanks to all the practice I’ve had typing essays these past 20 years. But there’s something about the smartphone’s [...]

Ducks and hand towels

Last night I opened a bathroom drawer to reach in for a clean hand towel. There wasn’t one there. I sighed and shuffled toward the laundry basket in the next room, where the folded towels had been sitting in procrastination purgatory for at least two days – clean but not yet put away. I grabbed a towel, headed back to the bathroom and heard a voice in my head say, “One of these days I’m really going to get it together.” Somehow, this made me feel better – optimistic that once I reached that elusive “someday,” my proverbial ducks would be lined up in an organized row, each one carrying a clean, folded hand towel. Just for the sake of [...]

Short dog, deep snow, real problems

Today we’re having a snow day. In a stroke of lucky timing, the snow fell on President’s Day, which means we’re off work for the day and the kids have a day off from school, too. I’ve been at my desk looking out the windows at a cul-de-sac full of fluffy white. Last night, I let Cooper the Corgi out into the front yard for his bedtime potty break. At that time, the snow was less than half of a Corgi leg deep, which meant it was less than two inches. It was a healthy dusting, but the tallest blades of grass were still poking through. This morning, however, was different. When I opened the door, Cooper and I blinked [...]

Leaning into the light

In my mind, I’m sitting on a sandy white beach. I’m lounging in one of those fancy cabanas the size of a full-size bed, bordered by white curtains fluttering in the coastal breeze. I tilt my face up to the sun, letting it soak in through my pores. I imagine it filling me with soft, golden sunlight. I can almost feel the warmth. And that’s no easy feat in frigid February. This mental beach vacation has become an almost daily trip the past few months. With the pandemic making a real vacation impossible, the voyage in my mind is as close as I can get. But at least the light is real. To combat a serious case of the winter [...]

Behind the closed door

Once upon a time, a long time ago, a guy came to my tiny apartment. I was 24 years old and on my fourth date with someone I’d met on a blind date. At the time, he was not my boyfriend. We were still in that oh-so-fragile “getting to know you” stage – the point at which any little thing could send the love train careening off the tracks. I’d invited him over for a home-cooked meal, which meant I’d made the one chicken dish I knew how to prepare. But there was no need for him to know that information just yet. A few minutes before he rang my doorbell, I scurried around the apartment straightening things and making [...]