Black Friday: Hard pass

I’m not a Black Friday shopper. I’m a Black Friday sleeper. While the stores see black on the bottom line, the only black I see is the inside of my eyelids while I dream about which Thanksgiving leftovers to eat first. Tom and I did shop on Black Friday once. It was the first Thanksgiving after we got married, and we went to Tampa, Florida to spend the holiday with his parents. His mother had been through reconstructive surgery to have one of her feet rebuilt, so she was getting around slowly on a medical scooter – the kind where you kneel on it with one knee and push with the other leg. As we ate pumpkin pie, my fearless, [...]

Thunderstruck

It was a dark and stormy October night. Tom was out of town on business and the kids and I were home watching television. Suddenly we heard a loud crack while a bright white light flashed out from behind the flat screen television mounted on the living room wall. The television and half the lights in the house instantly went dark as the home security system started a high-pitched beeping. I jumped off the sofa, feeling my heart pound in my chest. Once I’d determined the kids weren’t hurt, I walked toward the window and stopped a few feet away, remembering that standing by the window during a lightning storm isn’t a great idea. Assuming the storm had thrown a [...]

Simon Says

Do you remember that old game kids played in elementary school? It’s called “Simon Says.” One person (who plays the role of Simon) stands in front of a row of kids and calls out commands like “Touch your ear” or “Take three steps forward.” The only rule was that you absolutely could not do any of those commands if they weren’t preceded by the phrase “Simon says,” as in “Simon says quack like a duck.” If Simon didn’t say “Simon says” and you started quacking like a duck anyway, then you’d be out of the game. Simon’s job was to try to make you move even when the command didn’t include that critical phrase. The last person still standing and [...]

Reunited and it feels so good

When the staff at my nearest Chick-fil-A started calling me by name, I knew I’d probably crossed the line from “frequent guest” into “tea addict” or “chicken stalker” status. Since I work from home, slaving away all day over a hot keyboard, I often use Chick-fil-A like my own personal kitchen – one that’s around the corner and down the street. It’s much better than my real kitchen because I’ve never once had to cook food in the Chick-fil-A kitchen, nor do they expect me to clean it up. You can see why it was so easy to fall in love, right? When Chick-fil-A launched a new smartphone app last June, my relationship with the restaurant went to a whole [...]

Out of place

It happened again. It started out as an occasional twinge of discomfort between my shoulder blades, just a little to the right of my spine. I felt it when I turned a certain way or looked over my shoulder to back out of the garage. After a day or so, the annoyance became more insistent, like a door-to-door salesman who won’t quit knocking. After hearing me grumble about it, Tom reminded me I still had a spa gift card I’d received for Christmas last year. So I scheduled an appointment, certain a massage therapist could work out the muscle spasm. As amazing as an hour on the massage table was, it only temporarily soothed that angry area of my back. [...]

Seeing the lite (brite)

I walked into a children’s museum recently and saw something that made me instantly happy. On one wall was a giant version of one of the best toys of all time – the Lite-Brite. I rushed over to pick up a giant plastic peg, put it into one of the round holes on the black wall, and watched it light up in a brilliant red. “Yes!” I said as I stood back to marvel at the sheer size of it. I was suddenly awash in every good childhood memory from the 1980s. The Lite-Brite was invented in the late 60s, and its simplicity was also its genius – a light bulb inside a plastic box with a grid on one [...]

Face of Adversity

Teenagers have it rough. Sometimes I tell our teenager that, even though I’m a couple decades past that phase of my life, I remember it well – especially the acne. Managing the riptides of hormones during those years was brutal, and it was even tougher when all that interior chaos bubbled to the surface and onto my face. Even when I did everything right – the face washings, the zit creams, the fervent prayers for clear skin – I still often woke up with a horrifying new friend on school picture day, a performance day, or any time I wanted to feel less self-conscious. At least I wasn’t alone. My friends and I struggled through it together, swapping tips about [...]

How to procrastinate in 3 easy yet excruciating steps

Let’s just call it what it is. You’re putting it off. Avoiding. Dodging. Hiding. Running. It has many names, but the most popular one – procrastination – makes it sound fancier than it deserves. A writer probably came up with the term because that’s the kind of thing we do when we’re avoiding the blank page. We find other things that need doing instead of the “it” that needs doing the most. We writers are so skilled at procrastination that we’ve turned it into something that sounds more like a dread disease – writer’s block. But writers certainly don’t have the market cornered on procrastination. There’s plenty to go around, and it doesn’t matter what the “it” is that you’re [...]

What’s for dinner?

There’s one question that haunts me. I can’t shake it. No matter how many times I answer, it comes back for more, more, more: “What’s for dinner?” Honestly? I have no idea. But that doesn’t keep everyone from asking. These kids and their growing appetites have made answering this question more pressing than ever. When the kids were between the ages of 3 and 7, we lived in the stage of questions. “Why are cars able to go so fast, Mom?” “Why do people call them cars? How did they get that name?” “Who gets to name things?” Tom and I felt like all we ever did was answer questions and then answer the questions triggered by the answers. But [...]

Life under construction

When I turn out of my neighborhood and get to the first stoplight, I have to choose. Turn left and I run smack into road construction. Traffic slows down and a man on the road crew holds up a sign telling me to stop. When he waves me through, I idle down the rough road crowded on both sides by orange barrels and tall mounds of red dirt. I steer around bumps in the road, and I wince when my tires hit breaks in the pavement. Turn right and it’s more of the same. Earth-moving machines putter along the long stretch of construction, kicking up a daily dust storm. I hold my breath as I squeeze past other drivers on [...]