All posts filed under: Stories

One Cookie at a Time: Carrying the Weight of My Anxiety

I’ve been anxious for most of my life. I can trace my anxiety back to age six, the year my parents officially separated. Back then, we called my dad an alcoholic. Now, we’d call him what he really was: bipolar, self-medicating with alcohol. I remember sitting on a blue velvet couch in our living room, as a police officer, a friend’s father , came to haul my dad away. Our dog insisted on getting into the squad car with him, so the officer took her too. Just moments before, dad had arrived at our house to find himself locked out due to his volatile behavior. Enraged, he smashed a window trying to get in and cut the phone line ensuring we couldn’t call for help. A retired cop himself, he knew all the tricks. Thanks to our neighbor whose phone line was not cut, that’s as far as he got before the cops arrived.  My father’s violent and erratic behavior continued, several days later, when he arrived at my elementary school, trying to convince my …

A Porch of One’s Own: The Perils and Pleasures of Building My Happy Place

For 20 years I dreamed of a place where I could just “be” at my house: feel the breeze, watch the trees, hear the birds, avoid the bugs. In my mind, this place would be shady (I’m allergic to the sun) and serene. I just wanted a quiet spot where I might read a good book, with a simple table where I might eat a tuna sandwich.  But each time I brought up the subject of constructing such an oasis with my husband, there was a more pressing project that bumped it down the line.  Sometimes, the house needed painting, or the barn burned down, or the pond had to be dredged. Granted, these were all valid and important, but they certainly weren’t transformative for me.  Then, a year or so ago, we had some room in my construction schedule. It was my turn, and we decided to build a screened-in porch. I’d already stopped working full time, and had generally deferred to my husband’s vision as far as expenditures went. But, going into the …

How to Date Your Crazy

I should have known we wouldn’t work out when I messaged him one of my favorite quotes from Alain de Botton. It’s from the On Being podcast “The True Hard Work of Love and Relationships.” In it de Botton says the question we should really be asking on first dates is: “How are you crazy? I’m crazy like this?” “I don’t get it,” he replied via WhatsApp. “How do you ask about crazy?” Of course he didn’t listen to the podcast to find out. I let it pass. He was sweet. He was cute. He was smart. He had his career together. I took this to mean he had his emotional life together too — all of it nicely bundled in a cultivated gift wrap and tied up with the sexy bow of an Australian accent.  We matched on Tinder two days before he moved from New York to Colorado, and when we couldn’t work out a meeting before he left, I figured he’d disappear. But he didn’t. A month after we connected, he flew …

I Wish I Could Forget My Memory Lapses

My friends and I have started to lose our memories. Not in a drastic, “Where do I live again?” type of way. Or even in a milder, “Ohhh, my bra goes on the inside of my shirt” type of way. We’ve just started to have a few memory  — lapses. Like when I was telling my friend Jane a story about an old job of mine, and it was making her laugh until I said, “So I asked my boss John… shit, what was his last name again?” and then we had to suffer through a two-minute lull while I looked up at the ceiling and she looked down at her fingernails before I finally huffed, “GAWD, never mind.” Jane didn’t care about this interruption, but I did because trying to remember that guy’s name totally wrecked the flow of my anecdote. And it’d been a good anecdote up until that point. Maybe one of my best. But what I’ve come to realize is that these pauses that happen when women of a certain age try to recall …

In Defense of Over-Holidaying

My husband grew up Jewish, and when we started dating, it fell to me to introduce him to Christmas as full-fledged participant, rather than exasperated outside witness. He couldn’t have chosen a better person to adopt Christmas with. With my cookie-making, casserole-baking, community-volunteering tendencies, I’ve been in bootcamp for Christmas mentorship my whole life. But even I was unprepared for how much more fun—how defiantly extra—Christmas could be with someone who’d never had it. On a frosty morning in December, my brand-new Christmas Jew and I were the first customers at the neighborhood tree stand. We struggled back to our studio apartment with a tree no less than five feet in diameter, coated it in lights and tinsel, and spent the day sitting on the couch, staring at it. We were just getting started. Reader, we roasted a Christmas goose. Have you ever tried roasting a goose? Don’t. We ate roasted chestnuts, also disgusting. We went to the Messiah, and my Jewish boyfriend stood up and bellowed “Haaaale-lujah!” with the best of them. We adopted Operation Santa kids, ice skated …