When the Word “Holidays” Stresses You Out

You know what my idea of a holiday is? A normal day. Laundry, hanging with my kids, and, by 9:30 pm, watching a murder mystery with my husband while I eat raisin bran. Even better: doing all that in slippers. Normal days are easy. On a normal day, I have a routine. I know what’s […]

Social Justice Is Awkward

I wanna be Anne Lamott. And NOT JUST because she’s a kick-ass writer. No: I covet her social-justice-beatnik-political leftist-protesting mojo. Lamott grew up with parents heavily invested in social justice. Her father volunteered at prisons, her mother marched in protests. This crap comes naturally to her. JEALOUS. When Lamott had her own kid, one of her first acts […]

Memory and the Miracle of Love

Do you ever worry you are not creating enough good memories with the people you love? I do: I wonder if my time with my kids is rich enough, or special enough. Wonder if I am intentional enough in cultivating friendships and sustaining bonds with my husband. And yet, sometimes, I think we worry too […]

How I Went from Stinginess to Simplicity

The other day, my husband caught me darning my underwear. The pair had a hole near my hip. They’re a few years old, so I had thought about tossing them, but pulled out my needle and thread instead. This frugality runs in my blood. My mom grew up poor, her mother was a child of […]

I Failed to Become the Perfect Spouse

  The last night of my honeymoon, almost fifteen years ago, I set an alarm to wake us up for our first day back at work—and started to cry. “Our honeymoon is over,” I wailed. “Things have been so great so far, but this has been the easy part. What will happen when things get […]

I’m Ready to Lighten the Heck Up

My first time in any serious therapy, my counselor told me I was depressed. I laughed. It was kind of high-pitched, as if someone had twisted a treble knob too tight. “I’m not depressed,” I tittered. “I’m the happiest person I know! I’m happy all the time!” Thinking back to my cockeyed optimism, I wince, […]

The Biggest Hindrance to Creativity Isn’t Time

Before I had kids, I got a master’s degree in creative writing at San Diego State. I had quit my job as a technical writer not long before, and my husband earned enough that I didn’t need to work. So throughout my degree program, I had all day to write. You would think having that much time […]

Have I Repented too Much?

The book I use for daily prayer, The Divine Hours, includes a lot of confessions, like this classic: Almighty God, my heavenly Father: I have sinned against you, through my own fault, in thought, and word, and deed, and in what I have left undone. I wince almost every time I read this prayer. It’s […]

When “Career” Is a Messy, Beautiful Chaos

When I was twenty, I got a Rotary scholarship to go study literature at the University of Buenos Aires for a year. At the time, I only knew was that UBA was a public university with an excellent reputation. Later, I’d encounter its chaos: professors who chain-smoked without ashtrays in class, roving political party members soliciting […]