Behind the mask

Okay, I’m just going to say it. I wear a mask. My whole family does. I hope we can still be friends. For some people, mask wearing has become a political thing. But for most of us, it’s just a safety thing. A kindness thing. A respect-for-others thing. Regardless of how some might feel about the global pandemic, we can all agree that we want people to keep their respiratory droplets to themselves, right? I’ve never once left my house thinking, “I hope I’m able to suck in the random respiratory droplets of strangers! Woo-hoo!” Mask-wearing is a beefed-up version of “cover your cough,” which mothers and grandmothers have been teaching for generations. A mask may be more of a [...]

Pandemic potholes on the road of love

The pandemic along with the need to spend so much time at home has been hard on relationships. For many couples, what began as loveable “quirks” have suddenly morphed into reasons you may have to kill somebody. Thankfully, Tom and I have both worked from home for two years now, so it wasn’t a big transition for us. But even couples who are usually two peas in a pod need some alone time when life’s ordinary escapes disappear. The situation reminded me of a column I once wrote nearly a decade ago about lawmakers in Mexico City who considered making marriage licenses temporary, with terms as short as two years. If the happy couple was no longer happy when the [...]

A corny competitor is born

I am bad at sports. Always have been. While other people bemoan the loss of sports during this pandemic, I haven’t missed it. I understand the thrill of watching a close game, but I’ve never had that competitive spirit that drives so many athletes. When I was in middle school, the coach of the girls’ basketball team noticed I had a decent three-point shot. I could stand around in the gym with friends and sink quite a few from beyond the line. After she put me on the team, however, she and I both realized I wasn’t cut out for the actual game. I was a shooter, not a player. I didn’t want other players to get in my face [...]

Murder hornets with the worst timing

Everyone has their limit, right? I nearly found mine last Sunday when I checked the day’s headlines shortly after climbing out of bed. During a quick scroll through the coronavirus headlines in The New York Times, this one flew straight out of my smartphone’s screen: “Murder Hornets in the U.S.” If you are the kind of person who can breeze by a headline about something called “murder hornets,” you’re much stronger (and smarter) than I am. I couldn’t click that thing fast enough. It turns out that murder hornets not only exist, they have found their way from Asia to the state of Washington (which was also the location for the coronavirus’ first big outbreak in America. I think the [...]

Two sweet sixteen birthdays, 30 years apart

Dear Jack, this month will be different than I’d hoped – especially for you. Celebrating your 16th birthday is supposed to come with this wave of newfound freedom, a chance to get behind the wheel of your own life more than you ever have before. When I turned 16, I remember how I strutted out to the driveway and climbed into the used car my parents had given me. For the first time, I was about to drive myself to school. Just me. All by myself. No nervous mother in the passenger’s seat sucking all the air out of the car every time I turned a corner. I wouldn’t have admitted it to my mother, but I remember how nervous [...]

Hairy dreams

Last night I had a dream about getting a haircut. In the dream, I donned my protective mask and went to a store to buy a box of do-it-yourself hair color – something I’ve never been daring enough to try before. While I was there, my hairstylist saw me shopping and spotted the box of hair color in my hand. Then she wrestled it away from me, insisting she’d cut my hair and color it for me since it might go terribly wrong if I did it myself. I was thrilled to be back in professional hands, and the dream ended with a stylish cut and a sunny blonde color. Then I woke up and discovered that my hair is [...]

Small, controllable tasks

Today I ran across three words that might be one of the best things people like me can do during a time like this. When I say “people like me,” I mean people who are anxious. Anxious about what, you ask? Well, nearly everything. As I’ve said before in previous columns, I come from a long line of championship worriers. Give me any situation and, within minutes, my brain can conjure up the worst-case scenario of that situation. It’s not a skill I’m proud of, and it has cost me far too many hours of sleep over the years. Worst-case scenario syndrome creates worry lines that no amount of anti-aging cream can remedy. But I know I’m not alone. There [...]

Sit. Stay. At Home

Our two dogs are blissfully unaware of how horrible the news is these days. I’m glad they don’t know. We need them to be happy right now because they are co-captains of our “Quarantine Cheer Up Crew.” Human reactions to staying have ranged from mild inconvenience to depression. But dogs see things differently. Charlie the Beagle and Cooper the Corgi think their current circumstances are ideal. When they need to go to the backyard for a potty break? There’s always someone here to take them. Need a game of fetch with a slobbery tennis ball? There are at least 5 humans with decent throwing arms. Want a belly rub? Just roll right over and take your pick of people willing [...]

Counting on Easter during Pandemic days

This morning the kids went back to school – the digital kind. But we shortened the regular morning routine. They insisted they didn’t need to get up as early as usual, since the commute to school is as quick as rolling over to start a laptop. Between sessions in the Google Classroom, they meander in and out of the kitchen, grabbing snacks and grumbling when I force them to wash their hands again. Then they disappear for a while to a quieter room to do math or read a book so they can write a report. The dogs trot along behind them, happy to have extra humans in the house all day. Tom and I, who are accustomed to working [...]

When things get ugly

It’s getting ugly over here – literally. An irregular showering schedule is one of the unexpected side effects of staying at home to wait out the coronavirus. My crew of five looks, well, a little off. Although our hands have never been cleaner, the rest of our bodies? Not so much. Bed head is the new standard look around here, and our three teenagers don’t even bother brushing it most days. They tell me they’re brushing their teeth, though, and I can only hope that’s true. It’s a good thing those fabric hair scrunchies are back in fashion because I’ve been wearing one daily. Does it match my outfit? Um… what outfit? My outfit has been a series of pajama [...]