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 [...]

The age of isolation

Right now, introverts and homebodies all over the globe are feeling a little guilty. Over the years, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve thought to myself, “I just wish we had a few days off and we didn’t need to go anywhere or do anything or see anyone, and we could just catch our breath.” And now here we are – with more than a few days off, with nowhere to go and no one to see, as per the guidelines of the federal government. “Did I do this?” says the little voice in the back of my paranoid mind. Is this one of those “be careful what you wish for” moments gone horribly wrong? Ironically, this [...]

Mom and the magic beanstalk

read and watch a lot news coverage (sometimes too much), so I have a growing sense of unease that has me clutching my bottle of antibacterial soap extra tight lately. I’m considering making a holster for my precious Purell so I could have a bottle on each hip, ready for a quickdraw squirt at any moment. My three teenagers said the Purell paranoia holster probably wouldn’t be a cool look for me. But given our current circumstances, there’s no denying it would be useful. Besides, I gave up on being cool 18 years ago when I started driving a minivan and saying things like “Do you need to go potty?” The World Health Organization said the coronavirus is officially a [...]

Everyday joy

Last night I met my friend Shannon for dinner at a restaurant we’ve been to so often over the past 12 years that we probably know the menu better than the manager. We ordered two iced teas and then asked our server to tell us about the soup of the day. Waiter: “It’s steak soup today,” he said. In perfect unison, Shannon and I squealed and celebrated: “Woohoooo!” Me: “That’s our favorite! We’ll have two bowls.” Waiter: (Looking surprised by the sudden celebration.) “Um…okay.” (Walks away from table with crazy soup ladies.) Me: “Shannon, do you realize we both just woohoooed over a bowl of soup? I think this means we’re ancient now. We reacted to soup the way teenage [...]

The Great Debate

One day this week I watched a news recap of the presidential political debate. The news commentators called it “messy,” with a lot of chaos and yelling. Some faulted the debate moderators for an inability to reign in the candidates so intent on making their case, even if it meant ignoring debate rules. But I felt sorry for the moderators because I have three teenagers in the house. I know what it’s like when people desperate to prove themselves insist on getting the last word. Even some of the debate tactics used by presidential candidates looked like the ones I see on display by teenagers who eat in my kitchen. Here are a few of those “go-to” strategies, as witnessed [...]

The flu hangover

I have a hangover. A bad one. But it’s not the kind that follows a night with too many cocktails. It’s a flu hangover, and it’s nearly as ugly as the bug that triggered it. It started about a month ago. Our oldest son went to bed early on a Friday night, saying he was “tired.” I should’ve known at that moment that a contagious calamity was on the horizon. Normal 18-year-old boys don’t go to sleep early on a Friday night. He stayed in bed all weekend with what I thought was just a bad head cold. Then on Sunday, his younger brother went from fine and dandy at lunchtime to cold and achy by sundown. By the next [...]

Case of the mysterious ping

Recently I took a shower and stood under the stream of hot water trying to think up profound, writerly thoughts. But it was hard to concentrate because I kept hearing a faint yet high-pitched sound: PING! I stopped shampooing so I could listen closely. Silence. So I went back to washing, but there it was again. PING! PING! I cracked open the shower door and stuck my sudsy head out. No sounds. I retreated into the shower, wondering if I’d imagined it. PING! I turned off the water, suddenly concerned it might be the smoke alarm trying to warn me of impending doom. Nope. Definitely not the smoke alarm. PING! Just then Tom walked into the bathroom, so I called [...]

Life on repeat

There’s a framed saying at the top of our stairway that we see each time we reach the top step. In typewriter font, it reads “Wake up. Work hard. Have fun. Be kind. Repeat.” When I saw it at a home décor store a few years ago, I bought it because I liked how simple it was – a basic to-do list for how to live life. But my favorite part of the instruction is the last one – “repeat.” Maybe this makes me weird, but I love a good repeat. When Tom and I go out to eat, he already knows my order because I get the same thing nearly every time. I like to re-watch movies while folding [...]

Pressing pause on the world

About eight years ago, I wrote a column about how I almost never turn on the radio in the car anymore. Except for listening to the occasional podcast, I like it best when the car is quiet. The low hum of the road gives me time to think. When I wrote the essay, I didn’t expect that small detail to evoke a response from busy readers. But it did. People sent emails to say they, too, like a quiet ride to wherever they’re going. I was reminded of that old column today when I stumbled across a magazine article about something Uber did six months ago. The ride-sharing service put a button on their app that lets riders choose whether [...]

Fear of falling

A few weeks ago, a weird thing happened as I carried a bin of holiday decorations from our house to the storage closet. The cumbersome box blocked the view of my feet. But who needs to see her feet when walking around her own house, right? As it turns out, maybe I do. Because I missed a step leading onto our back porch. In a split second, I felt the panic of an imminent fall – like the moment you feel yourself hovering at the top of a roller coaster’s steepest hill. Then, just as quickly, I recovered my footing, narrowly averting a headlong dive onto the hard, slate tile of the back porch. I sat the big box down [...]