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 [...]

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 [...]