Better Off Without Him?

My dear friend Julie wants to marry Louis, our nearly house-trained Yorkie-Poo puppy. A lot of people might think it’s offbeat and even disturbing that Julie imagines matrimony with a small, furry dog, who, charming though he may be, has certain disgusting habits, like snacking on my nephew’s dirty diapers. Mostly, I’m used to the […]

Believe It or Not

Back in the seventies, when I was tender and impressionable, my mom used to chat with her houseplants. “It helps them grow,” she’d explain to me as I followed her around from one beaded macramé hanger to the next. “They don’t understand the words, but they can tell you’re talking to them. They like the […]

When the Party’s Over

When you get to a certain age, you realize it’s time to prioritize your to-do list. Not to discount her enthusiasm, but I think Ms. Routson exaggerated in my fifth-grade yearbook when she wrote, “Teacher, writer, astronaut, president—you can do it all!” The truth is, the moon and the White House are not the only […]

Seeking Escape, Seeking Answers

When I was in the throes of young motherhood, raising three little kids and editing a parenting magazine from home, I signed up for a bunch of email groups for moms. I wanted to tune into what parents were talking about and arguing about. I wanted to know which issues packed the most punch among […]

Judith Guest: Ordinary Person

Renowned author Judith Guest talks about “the terror of chance,” taking what you want, and falling in love with your characters. I can vividly recall my first reading of Judith Guest’s Ordinary People twenty years ago, in the bleak midwinter of my sophomore year of high school. When the book’s main character—the mortally depressed teenager, […]

The Hollow Victory

Labor Day weekend marked the end of Wack the Iraq, a boardwalk game in the seaside town of Wildwood, New Jersey. (Its inventors must have assumed that customers untroubled by the game’s objective would also be unlikely to bristle at the gross grammatical insult of its name.) The game involved players shooting paintballs at live […]

Road Trip to Myself

It won’t be long now. September’s weight presses in on my teacher bones, and there’s only one way to stave it off and prepare for the shock of going back to school: Take a road trip of several thousand miles with five kids. So here we are in Mackinaw City, Michigan, where sturdy-looking Midwestern families […]

Keeping It Together

In a sweet little house several miles south of mine, a girl named Esmé keeps a box on her dresser. In the box is a collection of necklaces—a painted chime ball, Thor’s hammer, a polished unity stone, and her favorite, a sterling angel. These are all trinkets I’ve given her over the years that I’ve […]

The Good Book

Finally, I’ve discovered Shannon Olson, local author of the novel/memoirs Welcome to My Planet and Children of God Go Bowling, and I’m in love. I am in love because she’s hilarious, because meeting her and hearing her read her work inspired me to write about ugly, touchy subjects in my last column (which always scares […]

Can Anything Good Come of This?

I’m getting married this fall, I hope, if we can manage—between three jobs and six kids—to plan a wedding celebration. We wanted to wait until the dust from our previous marriages and divorces had settled. Then one day I woke up and realized that the “dust” might never “settle.” What’s more, the fallout from divorce […]