If I Could Visit Myself in the Past…

If I could visit myself in the past, I’d have a few things to say. Things Past Me didn’t know. Things Past Me couldn’t tell.

If I could visit myself in the past, I’d tell myself, “Being Thin is not the goal. Being Not Fat isn’t either.” If I could visit myself in the past, I’d tell myself to eat food when I’m hungry. “Eat,” I’d say. “Love eating. Love YOU.” ...  read more

This Is Where All My Words Have Gone

I’m writing to you today because I’ve been neglecting this space, and I miss you, and I want to explain where my words have gone.

Once upon a time, I set out to write a nonfiction book about the myths I once believed and the truths that replaced them. Myths like we’re supposed to strive for balance. And we should put our best foot forward. And motherhood wouldn’t break and remake me. I had an agent from a big New York literary agency. I had publisher interest. And I spent the next seven years Not Writing the Book. Or rather, I wrote the proposal myriad times. Sample chapters. Comp titles. Outline. The entire shebang. But I never finalized it with my agent (who deserves a special award for long suffering) because…I don’t even know…it never felt right?  ...  read more

Henceforth, I shall answer all how-are-you queries using the FT Scale.

Yesterday was my COVID Isolation Anniversary. One year of lockdown. One year of paying attention to toilet paper supplies. One year of stasis and rapid change, of everything-stays-the-same and it’s-all-different. One year during which life has become infinitely more simple and relentlessly more complicated. One year.

Friends check in occasionally. And I check in occasionally with them. How are you? they ask, and I ask them, too, even though I have no answer because how do you access that kind of information? How do you peel those layers? How do you know which crayon color in the box of 64 accurately evokes the color of a heart? The color of a mind? The color of a soul? Which crayon color is frustration? Which crayon color is gratitude? Which crayon color is laying awake at night and staring down invisible monsters? Which crayon color is I Don’t Know What’s for Dinner? Which one is Liberty and Justice for All? Which one is I’m Tired of Isolation? Which one is I Don’t Want to Return to “Normal”? ...  read more

Adrienne the yoga teacher keeps telling me on the YouTube to move into positions “with ease.”

The COVID After Times are like becoming a mother. Never was there ever an experience so common, so universal, and so bewilderingly isolating. Everyone’s doing it. And everyone’s doing it alone. 

When I became a mother, I thought I was becoming part of a club. Part of a whole. Part of a unified conglomerate. So I was mystified when I felt disconnected, instead. Separate. Detached. As if I was forging a path through the jungle, unsure what dangers lurked around me, equipped with a malfunctioning compass that refused to point me toward the village. I knew one was out there. Somewhere. The elusive village where the other mothers laughed as their children played. Where there was sleep and respite because there was someone willing to hold the baby.  ...  read more

Lesson from a Foster Dog (You Is Such a Gud Human… Yes, You Is)

Daisy was the dumbest dog I’ve ever fostered. Bar none. Hands down. Dumb. Est.

Don’t get me wrong; Daisy was also Top 3 for Sweetest Foster Ever. Never did you ever meet a more darling rug. Her eyes and smile could light up a room. But a genius she was not.

We had Daisy for five months because the poor baby needed surgery, and in those five months she never learned to use the dog door. Other dogs showed her how. My kids demonstrated. We used treats and pets and consistent training. We bribed and cajoled. And nothing. She wasn’t afraid. This wasn’t one of the weird hang-ups foster dogs sometimes have. She’d happily go through the hole if we held the flap for her, and she’d sit next to it all day long, cheerfully watching the others go in and out, delighted whenever they reappeared. She was functionally a small child without object permanence; if the flap was down, the outside and anything in it ceased to exist. Every once in a while—SURPRISE!—a friend would pop through like a magic trick, and she’d look at me, astonished and thrilled, like did you see that?And every time, I’d say, “I did, Daisy!” matching her excitement because it was infectious.  ...  read more

Once upon a time there was a woman who lived during a pandemic, and she was tired.

Once upon a time, there was a woman who lived during a pandemic, and she had expectations about herself and who she was and how productive she ought to be, and isn’t that a funny thing?

Once upon a time there was a woman who lived before a pandemic, and she was in a river, metaphorically speaking, rushing along, pulled by the current of parenting and productivity and progress. The Before Times, she calls it now that she lives in the After Times. The Before Times with a social schedule and appointments and meetings and seeing whole faces at the grocery store. The Before Times, that rushing river, sweeping her through her days from alarm bells in the morning, running running running to What’s Next, usually late, blaming herself that Functional People seemed to be stronger swimmers, heads above water, accomplishing more than her, even while navigating the rapids.  ...  read more

Memories of Coup Attempts Gone By

There were two reasons school was canceled when I was in ninth grade—typhoons and coup attempts—and in the manner of privileged and oblivious youth everywhere, I was afraid of neither.

I was 13 when I left my parents for boarding school in the Philippines, making the four-day trip from Indonesia with two 15-year-old boys and another 13-year-old girl who never knew where she’d last seen her passport. In retrospect, it strikes me as wildly irresponsible and not a little crazy that our parents shooed us off with no adult supervision, crossing fingers we’d end up at our final destination, and, since I’ve become a parent myself I’ve asked them in a calm and measured tone, WHAT IN THE WORLD WERE YOU THINKING. Their answer? YES, IT WAS WILDLY IRRESPONSIBLE AND NOT A LITTLE CRAZY, Beth, but {{shrug}} everyone was doing it, so…  ...  read more