Monthly Archives: December 2017

Hey 2017 — Later, As in, Later Much

2017 should not let the door hit it in the ass on the way out. I think most people feel this way. The world feels depleted right now.

A friend of mine posted this fun cover on her Facebook page recently, and I admit to watching it with something close to obsession. It’s a little hit of joy each time.

The last week of each year, I hunker down and reflect on the past year. Here are some random thoughts:

  • I didn’t knit enough.
  • I baked more than enough cookies.
  • The nice thing about being the age I am is how much more I respect myself and my boundaries. “No” is a complete sentence and one I owe it to myself to say as needed. I gave love as freely as I could to the wonderful family and friends in my life who took that and held it dear.
  • I have writing ideas now, which for the longest time I yearned for. Now I just yearn for time, and, when I have that, skill.
  • Professionally it’s been a wonderful year, although I still crave quiet and regularity in the process. Soon enough. Soon enough.
  • This year I co-wrote and produced a short film (you can see the trailer below). Never has such a steep learning curve been so much fun. I know for sure that when you work with quality people, work doesn’t feel like a burden.
  • I read 53 books this year – I’m probably going to add one or two more by year’s end. Many were significant and important. My favorites were a slim volume called Heating and Cooling by Beth Ann Fennelly and Circadian by Chelsey Clammer. Both are literary rides that challenged and delighted me.
  • I read a lot of nonfiction. I am cycling back to fiction now, for no reason other than I want to.
  • I have a deep affection for John Oliver. I have an equally deep and entirely different affection for Gumball.
  • Have you seen this Ted Talk with Joshua Prager?
  • Indecent, one PBS’s Great Performances, should be required viewing. I am haunted by its truth and its form and its beauty weeks later. Unfortunately it does not seem to be available on the PBS website any longer, but if you can catch it on demand or indeed live, please do so!
  • My husband and I are in the middle of The Zookeeper’s Wife (I fall asleep during almost every movie we watch at home, no matter how great the film.) It, too, should be a reminder to any fool who forgets that Nazis are the bad guys.
  • My writing had an acceptance rate of about 20%, which is pretty great. I am proud of all the publications which honored me by including my work, especially the second Multiples Illuminated anthology and The Sun magazine’s Readers Write section.
  • One of the highlights of my year (and a true bucket list item) was being part of the Chicago Listen to Your Mother show. When I was submitting and auditioning, I was told that being cast would be life-altering. And indeed it was.


2018 holds promise. I am attending the Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop this spring, another bucket list item. My film will be screened publicly. There are some announcements I cannot yet make, but you know that I will return and spill the beans here.

I’m going to start working on a book. Terrifying, that. But it’s time.

And I will continue to enjoy my friends and family, all of whom have wrapped their arms around me this year as needed and have honored me by trusting me with their hearts and experiences as well.

I wish you all a happy remaining 2017 and a joyful, peaceful 2018. I’ll see you here soon!

In the immortal words of Colonel Potter —


When Children Break Your Heart


Two days ago we said goodbye to our dog, George. You can read about how ill he’s been here, if you wish.

I won’t go into details of his final days. Or his eleven years. Not now. I’ve been writing between tears, though, trying to capture every detail, every memory, every feeling. That’s been both cathartic and awful. But I need to put it to paper. For someday.

I know that this almost unbearable grief means that we loved George and he loved us. Uncomplicated. Pure. Utterly fuzzy.

It’s been a shit year, personally and politically, but this dog has, as always, been a constant. His moods. His needs. His sweet face. His ability to absorb a hug, sigh, and then put his head back down as if to say, “It’s all going to be ok. Now please let me nap.”

The last 48 hours have clarified how much this dog has woven himself into our hearts, our lives, and our routines.

After dropping the kids off at school today, I put my purse on the counter next to this.


I’d been doing so well, too. Looks a little like a heart, doesn’t it?

Right after George passed away, the twins were processing, each in their own way. They wrote a little eulogy on the whiteboard we keep in the play area. I didn’t get a picture before they wiped it away in grief but it said, “George. Born July 4, 2006. Died December 19, 2017. Rest in peace and fuzz.”

My daughter spent a part of her day on Tuesday making a card for her brother.

In case you can’t read Kindergarten, it says “Hope you feel better Logan*. I love you.” That green blob on the left is the dog, and the blue lines with pink dots are his angel wings. Written in the angel wings are “Miss You.”

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how children break your heart. With their goodness and their grief — I can’t take the credit for the first, and I cannot do much to alleviate the second, but I am grateful for these three little people.

And for a dog who filled these last eleven years with simple love.


*The fact that she spelled it “Login” is the greatest thing ever.

Loaf Pans, Sweet Aromas, and Metaphors in Winter

This morning I’m making pumpkin bread, ostensibly for my son who’s home with a cold, but mostly because I want to fill the house with the aroma of ginger, cloves, and nutmeg. Comfort. Care. Sweet.

Of late, the home has smelled of sick dog and not-so-homemade meals. The smells of exhaustion.

The pumpkin bread recipe has different baking times for different loaf pan sizes. 8×4 or 9×5.

My loaf pan, browned from years of lightly greasing and flouring, is 8.5×4.5

No joke.

Not quite here, not quite there. Close enough.

That’s how I feel these days, in this place, at this time. Maybe, in many ways, I always have.

It’s a not-entirely-comfortable feeling. No one wants to feel out-of-place.

No, that’s not right.

Out-of-step. I feel slightly out-of-step. Slightly mis-sized. Needing a little finagling to mingle with the other, uh, loaf pans. A different shelf or a little twisting here and there.

On my counter right now is a beautiful, perfectly baked, aromatic loaf of pumpkin bread. Due to the irregular size, it needed more observing, more tending, more awareness than other loaves…more wiggle room and patience than allowed for in the suggested time ranges. It took more than the 52-57 minutes. It took adjusting the oven. It took years of experience to know by sight and smell when it was close to done, and by the quality of crumb on the toothpick that it was.

There’s a lesson there that I choose to apply to myself on these days when the light is fleeting and the year fades into promises for the future. On these days when we hear no and why and you’ve got to be kidding me, on the days when self-care — the soulful kind, not the chocolate kind — is needed, on the days when the fight for rights and beliefs and humanity seems ever needy and urgent…on these days it’s ok to find the metaphor wherever we can.

Even if the metaphor is that there will always be crumbs.