What’s better than…

…the warm smile on a Korean man’s face
—the cocoon of a bar blasting 90s Manchester England rock, one hour alone to write, while it rains outside
…making your daughter laugh so hard she gets an expression of shock first
…making your mother lose control of her body over one of yourjokes
…being interviewed about your children on “Where were you on 9/11”
…a bag of chips you don’t have to share with anyone
…a conversation with a friend when you’re really meshing
…a book that has you so in its grips you blow off meetings
…eating cake (like butter cream frosting, professional vanilla)
…tea, coffee, all those beverages I like when I’m thinking or unwinding….
…reaching a freaking goal!!!!
…pasta with red sauce when you really need it (with fresh shredded parm).
…staring at the sky, looking up at the trees (I have been observed doing this even inside, staring upward as if I can see nature through the tiled ceiling)
…being able to walk (seriously, I thank legs all the time for still walking)
…being part of a web of family, both living and dead
…looking younger than your age
…Greek yogurt with peanut butter, a banana, chocolate chips

I may add to this list…

spiritual texts

You know what is sad? I recently read an interview with some writer and they commented on how they use “Spiritual texts” as inspiration, I didn’t think of the Bible or The Tibetan Book of the Dead. I totally thought they were talking about texts they get on their phone.

I’m dead. My 21st century twerp brain is alive and well.

Video Killed the Radio Star

I have to cancel after-hours work event to attend the Wonder Twins’ fifth grade talent show where they’re going to perform revised lyrics of Video Killed the Radio Star (Spotify killed the video star, I believe it’s now called.) And in part, because the work obligation wasn’t a huge deal (an event sponsored by my former employer), I did it. But I’m having a weird brain glitch about the whole thing. I’m so trained to put work above everything else, after years of hearing implications that moms don’t work as hard in the professional setting. I’m finding a better balance with they hybrid world — I can attend events at night but be around during the next day so I get to see the kids.

The work environment is changing in general. I’ve supervised two younger colleagues who both asked to work remotely for two to six months, in order to be able to travel. I didn’t get angry at the request, which I think someone of my generation might. It makes me think though. I was talking to a friend recently who bemoans the lack of socialization among co-workers. I understand this because we have both made great friends through work, but like I said, things are changing. These young people wouldn’t support full-time in-person work because they don’t know a world where it’s required. I keep hearing how they think working in an office is a waste of time, that they get more work done at home. They don’t want their job for social reasons, and they’re getting those needs answered outside of the job. It’s interesting, because I’ve also heard that if you have a good group of work friends, you’re more tethered to the job, when jumping from position to position actually translates into more promotions and higher salaries.

I don’t have a point. Just pondering. Really, I’m a dinosaur in this era, I’m of the old-school mindset of working yourself into the ground, but that doesn’t really work well for me. Just makes me stressed out and sick. I do not particularly wish to see this fifth grade show — I’ve seen a lot lately, so I imagine it will be more of the same, but it’s really important to Wonder Twins so that I come, so I will. And really it absolutely outranks an event with a former employer, but it took a moment for my brain to make that decision, even when I genuinely hated that former employer. I’ve just been valued and placed value in myself for being professional all these years — always showing up, always working hard, never calling in sick.

And although I momentarily kind of eyerolled at this stupid push-pull of work versus family obligations, I also wonder at how these things, like events from my children, shape my life course in a good way. I would go to that event full of socially awkward exchanges to what? Network? Smile at people I dislike? Dude, I have been brain-washed.


By some strange twist of fate (namely, my search for activities that enrich and create fun, not just work), I went dancing on a local places early 80s night. I was absolutely exhausted but managed to convince a Zip Code Friend to accompany me so it had to happen. (I couldn’t ask friends who lived farther as I planned to dance for 45 minutes then leave.) The crowd was mostly my age — quite a number of white-haired gentlemen, some young trans couples, one black guy, two Asian people (I’m in that head count). But also, good for the people my age for staying up later than 9 pm!

I was so happy I went. I stayed longer than I thought. I danced like crud. It’s gone. I used to be able to move well on a dance floor but it’s just like my Spanish, my piano and my ability to shop a clearance rack at Loehmann’s — these are skills I have not practiced in ages and although I always thoughts I could pick up where I left off, that’s no longer true. I’m aging, baby! I swayed like a zombie, in my 9-t0-5 exhaustion and swollen knees state.

Still, it was cool. Funny to listen to music that I’ve been listening to for 30, 40 years, and see that I’m still here, still alive. I’m so different than that high school person who started with The Cure, etc., but I still remember her too.

rush hour

Why, when the kids are older now and like fully potty trained, do some days feel like I’m on a stockbroker on a trading floor? I was working from home and had an online meeting when the kids came home from school. The Wonder Twins proceeded to get into a loud argument. Wonder Twin Girl kept waving to me and trying to make eye contact, while I was presenting. Then she got ticked when I wouldn’t look at her and then lay on my feet. I was so stressed out! It’s that push-pull between work and home life that happens work from home. Husband always shakes his head when I complain. “How do you not remember this happens when you work from home.” Apparently this happens a lot, as in all the time.

IG and Booze

You know, I didn’t drink much when I was younger. In college, I was too self-conscious as I turned bright red every time I had some booze. It was truly during motherhood that I began to drink more regularly. Once the twins were born, it was difficult to go out and socialize, and so having a drink while doing dishes and making dinner just helped with relaxing. I have gone through periods where I drink more heavily and other times where I drink more lightly. Sometimes, drinking was the perfect answers, sometimes, not so much. I do remember one particular night after my dad was diagnosed with cancer, my friend Joslyn and I went out and drank and laughed and had an outrageously good time — that was quite helpful as we greeted some grim days with dad’s illness.

And I’m not interested in cutting drinking out, but yes, on cutting back. If you ever heard of the book “Quit Like a Woman,” the author argues that there’s no point in exploring whether you’re an alcoholic or not — because just by the very fact that you drink alcohol, you are already have an issue because alcohol is a poison. She also discusses how alcohol is a tool of the patriarchy — designed to keep us contented with our lot. I think there is some truth to that. I mean, people drink when they’re bored, when they’re uncomfortable, when they’re going through transition, or whatever. Sometimes, the reasons are more ordinary, but the discomfort is productive — it urges you on to explore why am I uncomfortable? Is it time change? Is it, as that writer says, helping me accept something I shouldn’t? Of course, there’s an argument that there has always been mind-altering items in society and in history, and that’s all well and good. I don’t really need to get academic about it and I’m not necessarily that interested in the history, but I will admit that I do sometimes drink to cope with stress and to keep going through a very rigorous, demanding workload at work and home.

In that same way, I think Instagram has become a drug, a numbing device. I scroll through countless videos of babies and Pedro Pascal until I look up and god OH MY GOD THAT WAS AN HOUR! It’s not even TV. (I remember in the 1990s this woman said she wasted so much time because she would go home and watch TV every night after work instead of working on her painting. What would she think of phone life and social media?)

Anyway, my only conclusion is IG and booze in moderation is for the best. (As another aside, my mother and the US General Surgeon both speak a great deal of the potential harm social media might inflict on the kids. There is probably some truth to it. Shoot, it’s not that mentally healthy for adults. But is there too much fuss here too? I suddenly remember yesterday how there was a lot of hoopla /media when I was growing up about how Metallica and Dungeons & Dragons inspired teen suicide. I mean, sounded like a good theory since I had zero knowledge of either subjects. I was only in my thirties or forties when I played D & D for the first and only time with my then-employer’s IT department, which included a lisping D & D master who invested a great deal of time for our set up. We played in the cafeteria and my friend Zeynep snapped a pic. HA HA HA)

kids’ reading

My daughter reads obsessively, gobbling up multiple series in a week. She’s the type of reader that causes Husband to say “stop reading. Put the book down. Do something else.”

She’s never going to hear that from me! First of all, reading is among the greatest loves of my life! I am thoroughly delighted by her reading habit. And shoot, having a child spending hours reading is vastly preferable to a child who spends hours playing video games or watching videos on social media. (Ahem, Husband.) (But on another note, it is terribly, terribly depressing to be in the apartment for hours and the kids don’t even pick up their head from a screen. I can break up the habit but it requires…interacting. Sigh.)

The boys read “Big Nate” (this graphic novel where the main character wipes out, gets wedgies etc.) over and over again, despite the fact that they have surpassed this reading level YEARS ago. But Wonder Boy Twin’s teacher said the same thing happens to her boy and she doesn’t think it’s a sign of regression per se, but comfort reading.

So Okay, introducing Big Nate, the Agatha Christie of childhood.

“The Book of Delights”

First Son: Ross Gay? Is that his real name?
Me: Yes. He’s a former classmate of mine from grad school.
First Son: What is grad school.
Me: It’s the school you can go to after college if you want.
First Son: Oh.
Me: This book is pretty big, this guy is successful.
First Son: Are you jealous?
Me: I think I would have been, like a year ago, but not anymore.

The “Book of Delights” is a delight, a salve in these trying times. The author notes simple pleasures of being alive and sometimes when life is unbearable and overwhelming, it’s helpful to keep your focus on the small and everyday. It is a lovely book. That has won heaps of praise feels irrelevant. Its help is intimate and personal, so the fact that has garnered a global recognition has nothing to do with my experience of the book. I recommend it.

comforting words from old white men on suffering

It ain’t easy but here are some comforting quotes I’ve heard lately.

“Tragedy plus time equals comedy.” — Lenny Bruce

“You know, when I look back of periods of my life that were so incredibly painful, I now see them as periods of tremendous growth.” — Ethan Hawke.

And a freebie quote from my friend Becca

“No one cares as much as you do.” –“Alexa Rose, Schitt’s Creek”

Hamlet’s father’s ghost

Part of my recent stress is due to one of my mother’s recent decisions that has led to a whole world of trouble. I’ve been sad about it, furious, and then I thought of that scene in Hamlet, when Hamlet’s dad’s ghost comes by. Hamlet is laying into his mom, who married the uncle very soon after dad’s death, like suspiciously immediately, but she’s shocked by his accusation, which is when Hamlet’s dad sneaks in and says, “Ease up, son. She’s innocent. Look at her, she has no idea what you’re talking about” or some such nonsense.

I thought of it during this recent trouble with my mother. I dream of my father whispering me to give her a break, that she’s innocent, and that I have to take care of her. It makes me take note and it eases whatever anger I have towards mom. I think of dad often during various times, but particularly when I’m called to take care of her. It’s funny because he was the one we were all looking after, but prior to being ill, he looked after all of us and now that he’s gone, that’s the spirit that visits. That is how I remember him.