Wednesday, February 7, 2018

A Tiny Whole Life Challenge Announcement

Hi there,

I just wanted to announce that I've done some much-needed blog house-cleaning and organized all the Whole Life Challenge Posts into a tidy little list in the margin. If you're viewing this on your phone, there may not be a margin -- you need to go to the bottom of a post and click on View Web Version. It's an imperfect system, I know. But if you're looking for reasons to drink more water, now you know where to find them.


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Oh, Shit

Warning: This post is largely about poop. If that’s a problem for you — if you’re someone who doesn’t want to read anything about poop, ever — just stop reading now. And if you and I are personal friends, and you keep reading anyway, please don’t email and say, “What were you thinking?!?”  Here’s what I’m thinking: someone made an emoji of poop. And then lots of other someones made key chains and thumb drives and coin carriers out of that emoji. There’s plenty of people who can have an above-board relationship with poop. Those are the people I’m talking to.

Earlier this week I came down with a relatively mild stomach virus. Mostly, I just had a low-grade fever and a headache. But my stomach felt “off” and I lost my appetite, so I haven’t eaten much in the past few days. Oatmeal with almond butter. Oatmeal without almond butter. Egg drop soup and fried rice. And two California Rolls.

This morning, my poop was pale.

This concerned me for a few reasons. One: I’m a hypochondriac. Two: In the spring, I was Skyping with an old friend and he shared that he was about to have an operation. He held a Sharpie Marker up to the camera to show me the color of the bowel movement he’d had that alerted him that something was wrong. He pointed to the gray half. “Somehow I knew that if your poop is gray, that’s very bad,” he confided. So he went to the doctor, and it was bad. I can’t remember what exactly he had, but it was some perfect storm of intestinal issues that required a multi-hour surgery (from which, I”m happy to report, he has recovered).

So after my pale poop, I googled something like, “what if my poop is light brown?”

I know that googling things like this is not a good idea for me, but that rarely stops me. I have doctors that have made me swear I wouldn’t ever google symptoms of anything, or watch “House,” or reruns of “ER” (which I loved), and most of the time I abide. But today I did not.

I will summarize my findings. Stools that are black and tar-like are not good at all. And red streaks are not good either unless you’ve had beets (which, for me, is never).

And the other “problem color” for poop is “clay.”


Who describes poop as “clay colored”?

Apparently clay is a big red-flag for liver and/or pancreas issues and since my father died of pancreatic cancer I quickly decided that the moment I stopped dodging that bullet was today.

What exact color is clay? Is it terra-cotta pot colored? Is it Sculpey before you put it in the oven colored? I was just at Jerry’s Art Supply store and even if you keep to the neutral tones, I assure you there is clay to be had in 40 different shades.

I’ve owned clay the color of this morning’s poop. I probably still have some in the art supplies cabinet from when my kids were young, along with the pipe cleaners and felt and 400,000 Crayola crayons that come in every color of the rainbow.

Would anyone say: Get to the doctor if your poop is the color of a pipe cleaner?


Here’s an idea: Pantone colors. Give the Problem Poop a name and number that is not subject to interpretation. You can use Benjamin Moore colors if that’s more accessible.

I was feeling so much better today until I started obsessing about Clay Poop. Since then, I’ve lost my appetite completely and my headache is coming back.

If you stuck with me to the end...thanks. I just really needed to get that out. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Weather Beaten

I got another essay in the New York Times!!!!

Here's the beginning:

“I don’t want you on the road in a snowstorm,” I told my 18-year-old son, Noah. It was Wednesday, two days before his scheduled departure, even before forecasts were dire.

“It’s fine,” he said. Translation: “If the bus leaves, I plan to be on it.”

Here's the link:

As always, thanks for reading!


Saturday, December 3, 2016

Commuter Train

Like me, the woman next to me is wearing earbuds, though she’s also reading a book. When the train lurches, she reaches her hand out and touches the metal handrail that we’re both standing beside, and I am repeatedly stricken by her perfect pink manicure. I don’t stand on the commuter train that often, so I’m taking my cues from her, perching on the short stairway of the double-decker train. It’s a good spot I’ve snagged: second step from the top, affording me the ability to look out the train window to my left, or take in all the other standees in what I like to think of as the train-car foyer to the right below.

The woman is close enough to me that, even with my music on, I’d be able to tell if she were talking. And she wasn’t. Not for the whole 40-minute trip. Until the very end.
“It’s an aphrodisiac,” she says. Not to me, but to the guy standing on the other side of her. He seems small, probably because he’s in the “foyer.” His slick black hair makes him look more Queens than Jersey – though admittedly, that distinction is often a fine one.

She hasn’t said a word to this guy the whole trip. She hasn’t glanced in his direction. Does she even know him?

He says something and then she says something and I can’t hear enough of any of it for my liking, but I’m sure the topic is aphrodisiacal in nature.

I pull out one of my earbuds, half of “Uncle John’s Band” now dangling at my chest.

“Who is this man?” I want to say. “What aphrodisiac?”

I am very good at eavesdropping, but now the woman’s back is to me and I can pick up nothing. I pull out my second earbud. They’re voices are too low. The train pulls into the station and they walk onto the platform.

I cannot bear the thought of going through my day not knowing whether they know each other. I cannot comprehend the possibility that they don’t, but the commuter train is a world, the way a dance floor is a world, and the dog park is a world, and I want to understand the culture of this world in a way that right now feels extremely urgent.

I catch up and ride behind them up the escalator (we’re three in a row), trialing them like Harriet the Spy for the 30 seconds it takes for the two to fall into a comfortable step beside each other and for me to become satisfied that he was not a stranger.

Phone calls on a park bench, waiting for the light to change, talking to the butcher, on line at the bank. Are we all always listening to each other? Or is it just me?

Friday, June 10, 2016

Seven Words I Cannot Say... (NYT Piece!)

This morning I said to my 16-year-old (a.k.a. SIXTEEN), "Do you want to read my essay? It's running in the New York Times today!!!"
HIM: Is that the one I read the other day?
ME: Yes!!!
HIM: Did you change anything?
ME: No. But it's in the Times!!!
HIM: In the actual paper?
ME: Well, no. It's online.
HIM: Mom. I read it already.

In case you're even slightly more interested than SIXTEEN, here it is: (!!!!)

The Seven Words I Cannot Say (Around My Children)

As always, thank you so much for reading.


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Good Egg in Full Grown People

One of the reasons I don't post much here anymore is that you cannot publish something that's been published anywhere else -- even on your own little blog. And there are some pieces that I just want to be out in the world in a slightly bigger way. The essay I'm linking here is one of those, and I'm really delighted to have it up on Full Grown People.

It's called The Good Egg, and it's a story about a boy who egged my house. (More or less.)

As always, I'd be honored to have you read it.


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Date Book Change - Another Whole Life Challenge Parable

Last month I changed my schedule book. I’ve never been able to use my phone or google calendar for scheduling – I need to write things down and see them in my own handwriting in order to know where I need to be and when.

I’ve been using the same Filofax system since maybe 1990. It’s in a brown leather case and the page spread shows an entire week at a time. (I need to see the whole week at once!) But, the pages are not that big, and as a result, the days themselves don’t have much room. And Saturday and Sunday are jammed together to occupy the same space that Monday through Friday each get on their own.

In July, once I started working more regularly, I needed more room to write things in (and I work on the weekends, so that minuscule amount of space just wasn’t cutting it). So I went to Staples, a store that, to me, holds the same kind of life-changing promise that other women find in a shoe store, and I found a scheduling calendar that seemed perfect. More space on each day, and Sat and Sun are treated like every other day of the week. Plus it’s light and attractive, and it started in June. An 18-month calendar that runs from June to the following December. This was huge – I could start my transition immediately.

It was a lot of work to transcribe the initial few weeks of meetings from my Filofax into my new planner, and as I did, I noticed something: Wednesday was not in the same place visually as it had been before. It used to sit on the bottom left, now it was on the top right. I suspected this was going to screw with my head, and it did. I couldn’t keep track of what was Wednesday and Thursday at a glance, so after trying the new book for two weeks, I went back to my old, familiar, too-small, inadequate planner. The one that I’d outgrown and that no longer served me at all.

I thought maybe it would somehow rise to the occasion, but it didn’t.

So in September, I tried the new book again. I still don’t like that it has Wednesday in an unfamiliar spot. And when I say I don’t like it, I mean I really cannot get used to it. But everything else about it rocks. Every single day I notice how much better my life is just from this crazy little calendar. And for now, I’m just writing WEDNESDAY in red to remind myself where it is -- I’m pretty sure after a few more weeks I’ll forget I was ever vexed by it.

Or I won’t. But I’ve committed to the new system…and this I know: it’s not going to get any better simply because I’m focusing on how much I don’t like where Wednesday is.

I know this new calendar is not perfect, but it’s so much better for me than my Filofax (sorry, Baby…we had a good run), so I'm going to figure out a way to make it work.

If this seems like another Whole Life Challenge metaphor, that’s because it is.