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  1. I went to Home Goods and all I got was this lousy f’ing fruit basket

    March 6, 2016 by admin


    “Get your coats on kids! We’re going to Home Goods!”

    I say this to my two youngest children with as much unbridled enthusiasm as possible, because I really want to go to Home Goods. We’re going to peel through the Dunkin’ Donuts drive thru for munchkins, and then I am going to coast into Home Goods on a coffee high and shop the shit out of the storage section. I am ready to change my life.

    Bins. Bins. Hooks and shelves and bins. And baskets. Lots of freaking baskets. I want it all. When we bust out the double doors, our cart full of plastic and engineered wood and rattan – give me all the f’ing rattan you have – I know that our lives will never be the same. I just feel it way down deep in that twisted place in my heart, the part of me that truly understands that the perfect hook rail will make be a better person. In fact, I will be a better mother for spending $200 on things to put all my shit in and hang it on.

    And so when the automatic doors slide open, and I look out into the sea of colored glass and throw pillows, mass produced art, and things – all sorts of wonderful things – to put on my shelves, a wave of optimism washes over me. A fake seashell display calls my name. My son points to a giant wooden buddha up ahead and laughs. And I know we’ve already won. But up ahead in the distance, my mecca, the storage aisle, beckons. It is there I will find my salvation.

    I take out my list, eager to check off all of the items that will transform my home from the frumpy mess it is to the exalted shrine of order it was meant to be. I scour each shelf with a sense of excitement. I can’t wait to buy buy buy. Buy more things to put my other things in. I touch each organizational item with a sense of wonder. The anticipation builds. The possibilities are endless!

    It doesn’t matter that I was here in this very place two days ago. It feels like an eternity. I see things I didn’t see before. Laundry baskets with French words stenciled on them. L’Hotel Des Grandes Laundry. (Oh. MyGODI’ll feel so f’ing European when I am washing shit stains out of my kids’ underwear!) Wire baskets with mini chalkboards, so I can write down what’s inside. So I’ll know what’s inside! The people that think of these things just know. They. just. know. It’s like they can see into my soul.

    I’m loading everything into my cart. My baby is covered in a heap of canvas life force. I’m barking at my 4-year-old to grab anything and everything with mail dividers. The power of clean compels you!

    On the way to the cashier, sweaty, breathless, I begin to take a second look at my bounty. Passing by a wall of inspirational word art, the objects in my cart begin to shape shift before my eyes. The canvas seems senseless. A stack of mini acrylic boxes seems radical. No. That won’t quite work. $29.99? That’s outrageous. Rubbed bronze? What was I thinking?

    And all the promise with which we entered that big box of retail hope is fading. I see that I haven’t checked off a single thing on my list. No organized canned goods. No row of neatly hung princess dresses. No visually stimulating laundry center. Two and a half hours from the moment those double doors opened and my kids and I walked brazen into those florescent lights, I walk to the cashier and hang my head in shame. But not before my eyes desperately scan the shelves lining the check out line for an item that might redeem this trip. A journal with a floral cover, perhaps? NO! A scented candle? I bought three last week. A set of crystal drawer pulls? There must be something, SOMETHING I can do with those! A cheese knife in the shape of a mermaid? No! No! No! As I near the head of the line, I turn and look at the shelves, hoping my eyes will catch something I’ve missed. But there’s nothing.

    “I remember you from the other day,” the cashier says.

    I don’t ask her, out of all the (mostly) women that come to Home Goods searching for order, why she remembers me.

    Instead I smile, and silently hand her my purchases:



    A wire basket with chalk board. So I can write down what’s inside!

    And this.


    A picture frame. Isn’t it ironic?

    Until next time, Home Goods. Until next week.

  2. FML. A day at the beach.

    July 21, 2015 by admin


    Today’s beach excursion was brought to you by the Griswold’s. The breakdown:

    7:30am. It’s a gorgeous day. The morning is filled with such hope. Text husband: “Packing up for the beach!” Multiple smiley face emoticons.
    10:30am. Pull out of driveway. Hope is fading fast.
    10:31am. Pull back in to driveway to pick up recycling pile knocked over by minivan. Swear under my breath. Sort of.
    10:32am. Pull back out of driveway.
    10:33am. The kids ask about lunch.
    10:40am. Stop at Dunkin’ Donuts. Order coffee over 4 shouting kids. Concede to munchkins. Pull over to dole them out.
    10:45am. Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?
    10:50am. Pull onto the highway. Are we almost there?
    10:55am. Hope returns. No traffic.
    10:56am. Take sip of coffee. No sugar. Hope turns to anger.
    11:25am. Arrive at beach. Troll for nearby parking. Park 3/4 mile away.
    11:35am. Argue about who is carrying what. I end up with baby in hiking back pack, beach toys, cooler, bag with towels, beach umbrella. Six-year-old carries sun hat the baby has thrown on the ground. After a few feet, he stuffs it in one of my bags. We walk. I feel like a horse with no name. One of the kids has a blister. He wants the world to know.
    11:50am. Arrive on beach. Drop everything in the sand. Two kids ask for lunch. One has to go to the bathroom.
    11:55am. Open sunscreen. Kids scatter. Chase and slap it on.
    12:20pm. Sunscreen applied.
    12:25pm. Kids in water. Baby playing in sand. I sit down.
    12:30pm. Kids too far out. (Is that a shark fin?) Baby crawling away. Preschooler poops in swim diaper.
    12:45pm. Ahhhh. Nice. All kids digging in sand. Notice tide is coming in. Fast. Beach blanket gets soaked. Move all of our things up against the toes of two elderly women wearing giant straw hats.
    12:50pm. Screw it. Despite the fact that I’m wearing cotton shorts and my husband’s old hockey t-shirt, I go in the water with kids.
    1:05pm. Frantically check incoming tide every 30 seconds. Move things into elderly women’s laps.
    1:30pm. Give kids the 5-minute warning.
    1:40pm. Give kids 5-minute warning.
    1:55pm. Give kids 5-minute warning.
    2pm. Kids get out of water. They belly flop in sand. I tell them to rinse off. They ride the waves for 10 minutes while I pack everything up, give the death stare and whisper yell. Elderly women look on in horror. Repeat 3 times.
    2:30pm. Get ogled by less encumbered beachgoers as we make our way to the car at the top of a very. steep. hill. Cooler tips over. Everything spills out of bag. Two kids “are dying.”  But I’ve sweated out 10 pounds.
    2:50pm. Get back to car. Eat leftover munchkins when kids aren’t looking. Change 2 diapers. Buckle sand-covered kids in car.
    2:55pm. Text husband: “FML.”
    3pm. Drive off into the sunset. Tell kids we’re never going to the beach again.


    At least we didn’t get stuck under a truck.

  3. The messages she carries

    June 13, 2015 by admin


    “What makes you a good person?” I asked my 3.5-year-old daughter today. She was sitting on the floor next to me while I sumo wrestled her baby brother out of his dirty diaper.

    “I’m pretty,” she answered, and smiled that sweet little smile that melts my heart into a pile of mush.

    I smiled back at her. “That’s not what makes you a good person,” I said.

    Her smile disappeared. “You don’t think I’m beautiful?”

    “Of course I do, baby. But I think you’re beautiful on the inside too and that’s what really counts. You have a beautiful heart, and a beautiful soul.”


    “What’s a soul?” she asked.AriaDoctor

    “A soul is the person inside you.”

    For a second, I swear, she almost stopped breathing. “What other person?”

    “I mean, there’s not really another person inside you. But it’s who you are. It’s Aria.”

    “But good is pretty,” she said.

    “No. Good is being kind. And loving. And caring. And using your brain. And being strong. And being there for people. You are and do all of those things.”

    I’ve read the arguments from people that you shouldn’t tell a little girl she’s pretty, but I’ve never been one to refrain from telling my daughter she’s beautiful. Because she is. As is every daughter to her mother. But I’ve always been very careful to pair it with these other qualities. I don’t live under a rock. I know the over-importance our society places on physical beauty. So I tell her she’s smart, she’s kind, she’s caring and strong. Because she is all of these things too. I tell her that I love the way she draws everyone with a mohawk. That she’s a super fast runner. And she makes a great superhero.

    But it’s interesting – and a wee bit disconcerting – the message she carries with her. Pretty. Beautiful.


    Later this afternoon, we were shopping. And as we headed toward the exit, my cart loaded up with plastic bins for one of my organizing sprees, I asked her to push it open, a task she’s done many, many times. For one reason or the other, she refused. Then a man, not much older than me, approached us from behind and kindly said to her, “Come on, let’s push together.”

    Out of shyness, she buried her face in my leg. And so, laughing, the man pushed the door open himself.

    “Why push at all when you can have a guy do it for you, right?” he asked.

    I’m sure he meant no harm. And I’m all for letting men – or women, for that matter – open doors for me. But something about the way he said it got my ire up. So I chose not to politely laugh along. Instead, I ignored him and told my daughter, “Um. No. YOU can push the door open. You can do things on your own.”

    I know. It was SUCH a small thing. And, as my husband said, she’s only three. She doesn’t understand what the heck I’m talking about. But isn’t that kind of the point? If I don’t start teaching her these messages now – that she doesn’t need to rely on physical beauty to be good, that she is strong by her own right – what kind of woman will she grow up to be?


  4. Kitchen Hacks for the Un-Resourceful

    March 2, 2015 by admin

    I am not necessarily known for my resourcefulness in the kitchen. But I have a lot of lofty ideas. I look up recipes that require obscure ingredients and then I buy said ingredients.  For example, I might buy a whole bag of Chinese mallow. Then let it rot in the vegetable drawer of my fridge. Because I run out of time. Or energy. Or both.

    Just kidding. I’ve never bought Chinese mallow. I don’t even know what that is. Or if it’s technically edible. Or legal. But you get the idea.

    The point is, a lot of times I buy an ingredient for a specific meal – like a bunch of basil or scallions when I only need one leaf or bulb – but then never use the rest.

    But tonight, while looking up recipes I probably won’t make, I ran across these kitchen hacks in one of my favorite cookbooks: Cooking Light’s Dinnertime Survival Guide. (Because that’s usually the mode I am in: Survival. One strand of culinary-challenged DNA away from having my Mom of the Year status revoked). Anyway, I thought these hacks they might help someone else too. Maybe we can all save our moldy cheese and cold coffee together.

    Who am I kidding?

    I’ll never do any of this crap, but maybe you will.



  5. My Totally Lame (but Mostly Achievable) Parenting Resolutions for 2015

    January 9, 2015 by admin

    Ok. So there are a TON of articles floating around the Interwebs about New Year’s resolutions for parents. I’ll sum them up for you right here: Be more present. Act more patient. Don’t yell. Make more Pinterest crafts. Be a better wife/husband. Cook healthier meals. Keep a clean house. Set aside more “you” time. Stay off of: social media, your phone, your computer, your tablet and every other digital device. Say “yes” more. Be stern. Be kind. Be everything. To everybody.

    As a parent, I want to achieve some of these things too, but…I don’t see me staying the course. And failure, my friends, is not an option this year. So, I am instituting some of my own, more reasonable and achievable – albeit lame – series of New Year’s Resolutions. I may not win any Mom of the Year Award with any of these, but if I can stick to them, my life will no doubt become infinitely better than it was before. In 2015, I resolve to:

    1. Apply my age-defying eye cream.  Every. Damn. Day. 

    Husband says it’s a gimmick. I say I’ll never know if I don’t use as directed.

    2. Take a shower every morning. 

    If you have early risers like I do, either you get up at the butt crack of dawn to take a shower. Or, after you’ve had your first cup of coffee and nervous breakdown, and you send off whomever is of school age, you sit the rest of them in front of the big magic box while you pull yourself together and clean up your act. Generally I shower every day, but not always in the morning. Why? 1) because I don’t like butt cracks and 2) I like to pretend that I don’t use TV as a babysitter. Sometimes, showers happen right before husband arrives home from work to show that I do indeed have some self-respect. Other times, 5 minutes before I need to pick up the boys from the bus stop so the driver doesn’t think I’m a total loser. But a shower in the morning – now THAT is a game changer. It not only provides some motivation to not be a total slug, it also stops the UPS guy from cringing when he delivers my jumbo box of Pampers Sensitive Baby Wipes from Amazon.

    3. Have fewer PJ days. 

    Having the occasional pajama day is great, but we’ve been having WAY too many around here. So many, in fact, that when I ask my children to put on daytime clothes, they look at me incredulously and ask “Why? WHY!?” Why indeed, I say. But it’s time to show that we too conform to societal norms.

    4. Not to cry over spilled milk. 

    Literally. I cry (or yell) when my children spill milk. Or anything else for that matter. My husband is famous for telling this story from when we first started dating about how he spilled a glass of water on the rug in my apartment and I went into panic mode, racing into the kitchen like I was on fire and returning with a cloth to start sopping up his mess. He claims to this day that I even yelled, “Water on the rug!” as if I was screaming “Fire in the hole” to a line of marines. And still, he married me. Lucky guy.

    5. Keep my kitchen island clear of things which do not belong on a kitchen island so we may actually use it for its intended purpose. 


    No one can sit here.

    6. Serve frozen chicken only once per week. 


    7. Stop lamenting my advanced maternal age. 

    I can no longer say I’ll turn 40 someday. It’s happening. This year. I have four children: ages 9, 5, 3 and 6 months, and there are times, usually when I am applying my age-defying eye cream, that I torture myself by calculating what my age will be at certain stages of my children’s lives. Sure, I’ll only be 48 when my oldest graduates high school. But for my youngest? I’ll be f’ing 57 years old. That’s way more than halfway to dead, people. These are usually the times when I turn to my husband and ask: What the hell have we done? Then I look at the young, innocent faces of my beautiful children and think, we better get that Last Will and Testament notarized. But I have to stop this. Have to. Forty is the new 20, right? In that case, I’ll only be 38 when my youngest graduates high school. Sweet!

    8. Stop lying to my kids

    Oh I’ll still lie about the big things: like Santa Claus and the overall quality of their artwork. But it’s the little lies that really count. Like when we all sit down in the dining room for lunch and they ask why I have potato chips and they have carrot sticks. “I ate my carrot sticks just now in the kitchen.” Lie. Or when I tell them they’ll get sick from a bite of my chocolate protein bar because it is specially formulated for adults. Lie. Or when I tell my three-year-old that no, you absolutely can’t watch Doc McStuffins – AGAIN – because she, her big freakin’ book of booboos, and cast of freak toy friends are on vacation. Bold. faced. lie. It’s got to stop.

    9. Buy myself something. Anything.

    A pair of underwear. A tube of mascara. A jar of body glide so I’ll start running again. The bar is low here. But no, a stock pot from the local discount home goods store doesn’t count. Even if it is stainless steel.

    10. Drink more. 

    I’m not talking about water. Wine. Yummmm. Alcohol. Delicious. More beer! I haven’t imbibed much since the baby was born almost 7 months ago. This needs to happen.

    11. Wash my kitchen floor once a month. 

    This would be a huge improvement. HUGE.

    12. Exercise twice a month. 

    As long as I eat…nothing, this should help me achieve my fitness goals. Bonus resolution: I will not post the details of my workouts on social media.


    13. Make tons of evening dentist appointments. 

    Sometimes it’s more pleasant to have my teeth scraped with a sharp, metal instrument than deal with bedtime.

    14. Throw away the Play Station.

    Honest. I think that’s all it would take. Just one little follow through on one of my big. empty. threats. In 2015, I am going to give away all their stuff to little kids that clean up and take care of their things. Or, I really will leave them home alone if they refuse to put on their shoes. Or throw out the Play Station if they keep bickering. Or make them take an ice cold shower if they don’t leave hot water for anyone else. Or put them in the dark basement send them to bed with no dinner eat all their candy make them sit in a naked timeout. Wow. I am really f’ing mean. (Note to self: I can resolve to be nicer in 2016.)

    15. Make fewer trips to Target. 

    I love to buy bins and baskets and then put stuff in them. Mostly kids crap that I don’t want them to use anymore but crap I don’t want to throw away either. I am like a moth to the fire in the storage section at Target. So I just can’t go.

    16. Cook the food that I buy or buy the food that I cook

    Two nights ago, I put a package of frozen, thin-sliced turkey cutlets in the refrigerator to thaw. They are still there. And every time I open the refrigerator, I look at them and think “WTF am I going to do with thin-sliced turkey cutlets?” Kids aren’t going to eat those. In two more days, I will throw them away.

    17. (Step 1) Write things down on my calendar. (Step 2) Look at calendar to see what I’ve written down. 

    Step 2 is new for 2015 and will hopefully help me improve my attendance record.

    18. Finish painting our kitchen. 

    We started in 2004.

    19. Find the cause of my husband’s snoring. 

    Then, eliminate it.

    20. Sleep through the night at least once a week. 

    I haven’t slept in 9 years. And when you have 4 kids, someone is always awake. Please let 2015 be the year of sleep. Sleep will make me a kinder, gentler more normal person.

  6. A picture’s worth a thousand words – and this one says, “The shit’s about to hit the fan.”

    October 23, 2014 by admin

    Look closely at this picture, and it pretty much tells you everything you need to know about this weekend’s Christmas Tree tagging adventure. First, there’s never a dull moment around here. Second, the Griswold’s have nothing on us. Nothing.

    This is what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown: waiting for the shit to hit the fan.

    Because among the dozen or so photographs I have on my phone of all of us smiling and posing in front of a picturesque field of evergreens, is this little beauty. And this little beauty tells the real story.


    See in this photograph, one of my sons is smiling, the joy and excitement of the upcoming holiday season almost too much to keep inside. (A Christmas tree! A Christmas tree! I haven’t even worn my Batman costume yet and we’re tagging our Christmas tree!) Nevermind that I pulled him away from a brawl with his brother and demanded through  clenched teeth that he smile and stand still for just one damn second so I can document how much fun we’re having. He’s doing it.  But then over there on the left, do you see?  Do you see my other son, the one who’s wearing the look of an ape about to attack? If he looks like he’s about to whack the smiling son upside the head, spit in his ear, plant his face into the pines or sucker punch him with a balsam branch, that’s because he is.

    These boys. They are always at each other. Always. And it can be – and usually is – so. freaking. exhausting. Stop hitting. Stop throwing your brother to the ground. Stop calling him names. Stop tripping him. Stop tackling him. Stop making annoying noises in his ear. Stop. Stop. Stop! Sometimes, just sometimes, and only in the darkest recesses of my mind, I wish I could do this:


    I know. I know. That’s disgusting. Abhorrent. But Jesus, come on! I really don’t wish to cut off my son’s arms or carve out their mouths. But I do wish sometimes that I could make them obey, follow me around like a couple of mindless little yes men. Yes, mom. We’ll listen. Yes, we’ll behave. Yes. We’ll do whatever it is you want us to do. Yes. Yes. Yes.

    But that’s not real life. The above photo of my two sons, however, is.

    Life is not perfect. It’s flawed. And yet we still try and capture the moment as if it was all unicorns and rainbows. So we can post our picture-perfect escapades on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and get just the right photo for our holiday cards.  That is also exhausting. And disingenuous. And so boring.

    So instead of deleting the memories which may not be so idyllic, I’m going to keep them. Because the scenes of us all smiling and posing in front of a field of evergreens – while much more presentable and acceptable – don’t tell the whole story. They don’t tell our story. Yes, of course, there were moments of family harmony, but many of them came after the clenched-teeth experiences of parenthood. And I don’t want to forget those either.

  7. Why I feel like a crappy parent #3,716

    August 27, 2014 by admin


    Yesterday, my five-year-old lost his first tooth. It had been loose for weeks. But yesterday, somewhere between eating Orange Leaf frozen yogurt for lunch and later, Goldfish crackers for a snack, it was gone. I know what you’re thinking about my food choices right now and that’s your prerogative, but it’s not the point.

    The point is my five-year-old was practically crapping his pants with joy that the tooth fairy would come, as she had so many times for his older 9-year-old brother.

    I am responsible for Tooth Fairy duty, a noble job. Only, it seems that I am not very good at it. I could blame it on the newborn, who doesn’t sleep and induces extreme exhaustion, but that wouldn’t explain this little episode, in which the “Tooth Fairy” forgot for not one, but two nights in a row, to put something under my oldest child’s pillow.

    So when I hear the heavy footsteps of my 9-year-old climbing down from the top bunk, then the light clicking on and the scolding voice, “Moooommmmm, Colin didn’t  get anything,” my heart simply sank.

    Half asleep, Colin sleep-yells from under his covers, “The tooth fairy didn’t come!”

    F*ck. F*ck F*ck F*ck.

    In my defense, last night I did buy a pack of Pokemon cards, the coveted item my son had hoped the Tooth Fairy would bring, and this morning, in a moment of desperation, I thought maybe I would sneak them under my pillow and yell from my room that the Tooth Fairy had made a mistake, his present was under MY pillow.

    But then, what type of self-respecting Tooth Fairy would fly in, see a couple of sleeping adults, and think to herself, “Yes, this must be the place.” At least not one that services an area so far north of the Mason-Dixon line.

    My only saving grace was that my son had swallowed his tooth and, because I wasn’t here to supervise, had not written a note explaining his predicament. I assured him this morning that if he writes a note today, the Tooth Fairy will surely come tonight. But really, isn’t that a little anti-climactic? Isn’t that like Santa Claus bringing presents after all the post-holiday sales have started? Like the Easter Bunny leaving rotten eggs?

    Husband thinks I am being too dramatic about the whole situation, but these are the types of things that pull at my heartstrings.

    This morning, I am the world’s crappiest parent.

  8. Waiting for #4

    June 19, 2014 by admin



    In just 5 days, I’ll give birth to my fourth baby. So close, and yet it seems so far away.

    With each subsequent child, there’s been less time to think about the next, new, tiny human being that will soon become part of the everyday fabric of our lives. Less time to worry about the what-ifs. (What if breastfeeding doesn’t work out again? What if the baby has colic or (insert the name of some illness or disease first-time parents might worry about incessantly) What if we are mistaken for Walking Dead extras because this baby has no room of his own and must bunk up with us indefinitely and we aren’t. sleeping. at. all.) Less time to think about creating the perfect nursery or buying the perfect going-home outfit or even making sure you have the barest essentials at home. That reminds me, this kid really needs some diapers.

    Less time for everything.

    The past few weeks, my world has been filled with the end-of-school madness that occurs every June. The mad dash for teacher gifts and volunteering for this or that, or feeling guilty when I can’t. Of making sure my oldest has clean pajamas for pajama day, a hat for hat day and is signed up for the adequate number of weeks of summer camp once school ends. Of making sure my middle guy doesn’t feel left out. Of making sure my youngest knows she’s still my baby even though someone is coming to supplant her. Of trying to let my husband know how much I appreciate him pulling double duty when he gets home from work. Of trying to squeeze in some last minute freelance work and making progress on my manuscript and ridding our home of extraneous things because it improves my feng shui and makes me less grouchy (usually). Of trying to counteract my back pain and heartburn with a body pillow and Zantac. Of life.

    Let’s face it, the more people in your family, the busier life gets.

    But this is not a bad thing. And I don’t mean to make it seem like I am not excited for this new little person to arrive and become part of our family. But it’s not like the birth of your first child, when you’d have the time to daydream about how life was going to be so much fuller.  Or the second, when you’re giddy with anticipation over a sibling for your first-born. Or even the third, when you ponder with keen curiosity how the dynamics of your little family might change.

    No, the 4th is just different.

    It’s like date night with your spouse. You’re psyched it’s going to happen. But you also know exactly how the evening will proceed. You’ll make reservations and dress up. Wear heels, maybe. You’ll have a pre-dinner drink. Eat. Order dessert. A couple more drinks. Talk and laugh. Yawn. And by 10pm, the novelty has worn off and next thing you know you’re complaining about how loud it is, how tired you are and how you wish you were home watching a movie together in your PJ’s, but you agree to stay out at least a half-hour more so the baby-sitter doesn’t think you’re a couple of total lame-o’s.

    It’s like that.

    And I’m ok with it. Because I know that as soon as the nurse puts that baby in my arms, I’ll look down at him – at his perfect little face and the familiar button nose that graces the faces of his three siblings – and, even though I’ve been here three times before, it’ll suddenly feel new again.

    I’ll wait patiently for my three kids to come visit their new brother and revel in their reactions to his tininess. I’ll hug them all as if I haven’t seen them in weeks and remark how big they look even though it’s only been hours since I’ve seen them last. They’ll take turns holding the baby, walking down the hall to get some italian ice from the snack room and ask me a thousand times to tell them how the baby got out of my belly. And then? Then we’ll begin the swift but sweet transition to a family of six. And there you have it.

    Everything will be familiar and new, weird and wonderful all at once.

    Life will stand still for a few days. But then it will go on, slightly altered, but not drastically different. Soon, we’ll be rushing off to karate class and hockey practice. To music class and playdates. But in between the big things – stolen moments in the middle of the night or early morning – I’ll realize, little by little, just how profoundly this new baby has changed our lives, how he’s changed me. And yes, while life will go on, it’ll be infinitely better.

  9. To Get to the Good Stuff, You’ve Got to Write Sh*T

    June 3, 2014 by admin




    Photo by Betsy Devany Macleod

    As I was packing up the last of my things, my friend, the organizer of the retreat and owner of the beautiful beachfront property at which it was held (not to mention a published author), asked me if I wanted to read my first couple of pages in front of the group.

    I did want to, but for some reason – I don’t know if it was pregnancy hormones or sheer nerves – I was terrified. As I read, my voice was shaky and I was on the brink of tears. I was out of breath. But I got through it and received a positive reaction from the group. It made me want to keep pushing on with my story.

    This weekend was the first time I’d been on a writer’s retreat, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to do. My writing life is usually filled with distractions and procrastinations. I’ll just start the laundry. Or do up some dishes. Sweep the floor. Organize the soups in my pantry by alphabetical order. It’s either early morning and my kids are up early and need something. No, usually everything. Or, it’s late at night and I am dozing off in front of my glowing screen. I can never seem to get any momentum.

    So when I arrived on Friday evening, I was trying to visualize how I could get the most out of the weekend. Would the guilt of being away from my husband and kids kick in? Would I be distracted by the beach and sound of the glorious waves crashing against the shore? Would I sit there in front of my computer screen not knowing what to do next with my characters?

    I have this really bad habit of self-editing while I am writing. I’ll write a sentence over 5, 10, 15 times before I can move on. It’s got to be perfect. This method hasn’t worked my whole life, but still I find myself doing it. I know it stymies creativity and halts any progress, but I can never seem to break the cycle. And yet, I always think back to what one of my college writing professors once said. “You’ve got to write shit to get to the good stuff.”

    So, here was my plan. Write shit. Write anything. Just keep writing and don’t think about the perfect sentence or the household tasks that would be waiting for me on Sunday afternoon or the kids or my husband or the un-alphabetized soups in my pantry. Just keep those fingers moving over the keyboard and get some f’ing words on the screen, shit or not.

    Saturday morning I woke up at 5am, laid out some fruit and breakfast bread for my fellow writers and got to work. I opened up my paltry manuscript and instead of reading over what I’d already written, I just set my fingers upon those keys and started punching. Sitting on the couch with my (very swollen, pregnant) feet up, the scene of milky white waves cresting just outside the door, I just started moving my fingers. As if writing was a physical task, not a mental one. My only goal was to keep up the sound of clicking keys. Surprisingly, I found that it was working. After a couple of hours, there was a few pages of actual words on my screen. No, not just words. While they may not have been Pulitzer Prize-winning (yet 😉 ), they were leading me to other places, places that I could never seem to get to because I was always worried about creating perfection right from the get-go.

    Once the other writers began rising from sleep and opening their computers, I was worried that there would be a lull in my progress. We’d talk about how we’d slept or chat casually about our projects over coffee, or be generally distracted by just being around each other in a communal writing room. But….it was just the opposite. I found that being in a room of writers, keys clicking away, I was motivated. I didn’t want to talk. I wanted to write. We all did. Hours would go by without conversation. One of us would get up and move from the couch to the table and begin clicking away again. Another would get up, make a quick snack, and then get back to it. A few of us went for a walk on the beach, returned to the house energized and refreshed, and began work again. It went on like this all day, until it was time to get ready for dinner out. The only crappy thing about dinner was that, being over 8 months pregnant, I could not partake in the wine. Other than that, it was a time to decompress from a full day of work, chat and look out into the dark sea right outside the window.

    The next day went much the same, rising early and punching at the keys with abandon. Only, my thoughts started to turn towards packing up and heading home, thoughts that both saddened and excited me. I was missing my family. BUT, I was also thoroughly enjoying making progress on my story, something I hoped would become my first novel. And I was enjoying the beach and the quiet and the lack of responsibility save racking up a computer full of words.

    Early that afternoon, I began winding down. I shut down my computer and began the dreaded process of packing up my things to head home. Let me make an important distinction here. I was excited to see my husband and my kids – it had felt like an eternity since I left the house for the beach – but I just didn’t want to stop writing.

    And I won’t.

    Now that the first annual Sandy Feet Writer’s Retreat is over, I’ll keep that momentum going. I’ll use the inspiration I received from my fellow writers –  some old friends and some new friends I hope to stay in touch with – and keep up my progress at home. I may not have the ocean waves crashing right outside my window, or the luxury of writing without any other distractions for days at a time, but what I do have is progress. And, living in Newburyport, I can’t say there’s a lack of inspirational places to escape to and put pen to paper.

    When I was done packing, and opened my computer again to read my pages aloud, breathless and my voice quivering with nerves, I realized something. First, I’d be horrible on a book tour. Second, while writer’s retreats are a luxury I’d definitely like to indulge in more often (hint, hint, husband), I don’t need one to do this thing. All I need is me, my computer and the sound of clicking keys to drown out all the distractions of daily life.

    Until next year, Sandy Feet.

  10. Take THAT, Crappy New England Weather

    May 17, 2014 by admin

    I’m going to have the best f’ing day ever.