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 [...]

Four little numbers and big changes

Thirteen years ago, I led my son Adam into elementary school to register him for Kindergarten. I remember filling out the paperwork and noting that he would be part of the Class of 2020. At the time, it seemed like a made-up number – a year so far away that it wasn’t quite real. I didn’t think about it much because I was focused on other worries first-time parents have when they send their kid to Kindergarten: Would he like it? Would the other kids like him? Would he be safe? Would the teachers realize that this kid is my whole world and protect him accordingly? Would he miss me? I worked through the answers to those questions during the [...]

Crash diet for the closet

If you’re not ready to plunge into the traditional New Year’s “get in shape” resolution, I’ve got an idea for how to wade into it (or any big project you’ve been dreading.) Put one of your closets on a diet. I knew exactly which closet in our house most needed an overhaul, so I reluctantly tackled it last week. It had become so bloated with “stuff” over the past few years that I’d stopped opening the closet door. I internally cringed every time I walked by it, knowing that a horror show of clutter had claimed the space. It was like a giant junk drawer, only for things that are too big to fit in a drawer. Do you have [...]

Loss during the most wonderful time of the year

Sometimes hard things happen during what’s supposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year.” About a month ago, it happened to us. As reported in an earlier column, our house is a mishmash of three generations. More than a year ago, my parents moved into an in-law’s apartment we built onto the back of our house. We range in age from 13 to 82. When my folks moved in, they brought their dog, Boots, which only added more four-legged happiness to a home already full of dog toys and one judgmental cat. Boots was a small mixed-breed rescue – solid black with white feet (hence the name) – and his hobbies were eating meals, eating snacks, and sleeping [...]

Ice, ice, baby

If I could type this column while wearing fur-lined gloves, I’d do it. I’m guessing the result would be so riddled with typos that my editors would think I’d suffered a stroke. Instead, I type with what feels like chunks of ice attached to my wrists. Winter is a tough time of year for those of us who have perpetually cold hands. My hands – and feet – have been cold for as long as I remember. I’m guessing I have maybe one or two blood vessels running into my hands and feet, and even those seem to be on vacation at least half the time. I asked Dr. Google about this problem, and he tossed out a long list [...]

Morning without Mom

I’m still trying to decide how I feel about what happened this morning. On one hand, it was amazing and wonderful. On the other? Surprising and a little bit sad. Here’s how it went down: At 6:30 a.m., I hit the snooze button once. I don’t remember hitting it again but clearly, I did – at least a few times. When I finally surfaced from a coma-like sleep, I glanced at the clock and panicked. It was 7:35 a.m. and the house was completely quiet, which meant my three kids (ages 17, 15 and 12) were definitely going to be late for school. I scrambled out of bed and was just about to sprint down the hallway to wake them [...]

The great chase through dreamland

Have you ever woken up in the morning remembering snippets of a dream that make you wonder what’s wrong with your brain? Would a normal brain dream something as bizarre as this, you wonder? I had a dream last week that felt so alarmingly real that I woke up and instantly scanned the bedroom, certain that the creature in the dream had somehow followed me back to the real world. As far as I know, it didn’t. But I’m still looking over my shoulder, just in case. As with most dreams, the details got fuzzy after I woke up. And that’s too bad because I’d love to know the backstory on how the dream got started. But the only vivid [...]

Truth in trivia

I’m a self-proclaimed nerd. Always have been. And one of the things most of us nerds have in common is a love of trivia. But trivia is not just frivolous facts. There’s plenty of truth in trivia – valuable lessons to be learned. This week I revisited a fun little trivia book by author David Hoffman that has been sitting on my bookshelf for years. It’s called “I Never Knew That,” and I’ve pulled three examples from it to illustrate this point. Truth: The fuel to keep going sometimes comes from unlikely sources. Have you ever driven with the “low fuel” indicator light on for a little too long? Then you realize you might not have enough left to make [...]

A mother with a secret past…

I’m a rule follower. Always have been. I’m that person who – upon counting items in her shopping cart – sees that there are 16 items and promptly leaves the “15 Items or Less” lane. My mattresses still have those annoying “do not remove” tags. So last weekend my three kids were shocked to learn that, years before they came along, their mother was once evicted from her apartment for breaking the rules. Tossed out on my keister for willfully violating the rental agreement. They wanted to hear more about this chapter in my reckless youth, so here it is: I’d just graduated from college and was living in a one-bedroom apartment on the second floor of a small complex. [...]