Category Archives: Slightly off topic…

Never Say Never

FullSizeRenderI’ve come to accept the fact that I should never say never. In fact, as I get older, it seems that every time I shun some activity with the words “I’d never,” I immediately go ahead and do it. Examples include getting my fourth grader his own phone, leaving my kids alone overnight and buying a Happy Meal. Also, dark nail polish and platform sneakers. To really drive my point home: moments ago I agreed to a gruesome volunteer job that I swore I would never do again. I’m probably days away from getting a face tattoo.

Among my major “nevers” is playing games on my phone. I’ve devoted hours to nevering this never: why are so many of my smart, tax-paying friends sending me requests to play Candy Crush in the middle of the day? I have things to do and friends to see. I’m a person who is looking to steal extra time, not to kill it. For sure, I’d never sit and play a game on my phone. The shame alone would do me in.

So I was going on about this “never” to my son earlier this summer and decided to illustrate my conviction by showing him that I don’t even have a single game app on my phone. To prove me wrong, he poked around until he found Solitaire. Solitaire? Is that still a thing? I tapped on the app and opened it by accident as I assured him that it probably came standard like the clock and the weather app. I mean it’s not like I would have … Wait, I have three aces up and that red seven goes on that black eight and if I could just uncover a red queen I swear I could win this thing.

Fast forward and this, my friends, is how I spent my summer vacation – tapping on that stack of cards, praying for an ace. I’ve gotten very little actual work done. I’ve prepared very few meals. The pile of stuff for The Salvation Army is still in my car. But I’ve worked out a complex strategy to beat a game that relies mostly on luck and comes with no prize.

I’m so ashamed. But not so ashamed that I’ve stopped playing. The thing I love about Solitaire is that it occupies your mind just the right amount. Alternating black and red cards in sequence isn’t very hard, but you do have to concentrate. It’s almost meditative, like staring at the flame of a candle. If your mind wanders over to the stack of dishes in your sink, you’re probably going to flip past the black king. Obviously, the stakes are high.

I’m hooked in such a way that I continue my game when my kids are talking to me. Staring at my phone while my children are sharing their thoughts is a major “never.” And yet here we are. Interestingly, this doesn’t bother them at all. They’re used to talking to people who are staring at their phones. In fact, I find that while I’m not staring them down with my too-interested gaze and overly enthusiastic follow up questions, they talk a little longer than they might have.

I know for a fact that I didn’t pay for the Solitaire app, because between each game I have to sit through an advertisement for Candy Crush. I wait patiently for the ad to finish, rolling my eyes at the icky sweet graphics. Everything about it is unappealing to me. So it’s probably just a matter of time.

Wake Me Up When The Election’s Over

We’re almost there, people. The election is just over the hump of the weekend, and the end is actually in sight. I tend to like a salacious and horrifying story, the inner-workings of human drama. But there’s no thrill in this election. It just feels prickly and uncomfortable, like the angora sweater my grandmother bought… Continue Reading

Local Woman Gets Angry in Person

The other day I was stopped at an intersection, looking both ways as I’ve been told to do, when the woman in the car behind me started honking repeatedly to encourage me to take the plunge. I wasn’t in the mood for a fiery death, so I waited for the traffic to clear in both… Continue Reading

High School Commencement Speech – First Draft

It’s kind of weird how Rye High School hasn’t asked me to deliver this year’s commencement address yet. I mean it’s a month away and these kinds of speeches don’t write themselves. I’m local, I’m verbose, the price is right. And heck, I’m going to be there anyway. Assuming they’ve been calling my landline or… Continue Reading

When It Comes to Neighbors, Be Lucky

As published in The Rye Record on February 5, 2016 When I was a new mom, we lived in an apartment on 57th Street across the hall from an elderly man who smelled like soup. I remember him because of the soup, and also because of the wisdom he passed along to me on the… Continue Reading

They’re not Thoughtless. They’re Astronauts.

It’s funny when your kids start driving and noticing how frequently the adults around them don’t obey the traffic laws. Look, Mom, that guy didn’t signal. Look, Mom, that lady ran the stop sign. Again, I need to fill them in. I explain to my kids that it’s because these people are just a bunch… Continue Reading

Why It’s Impossible to Write a Good College Admission Essay

As published in The Week on June 25, 2015 As the parent of a rising high school senior, I’ve been to my fair share of college information sessions lately. The admissions officer always concludes with the same set of comments about the application: namely, that the college essay must capture your true and authentic voice… Continue Reading

A Californian in Winter

As Published in The Rye Record on February 20, 2015 No matter how long we’re away and how pale we become, there are subtle ways to spot a Californian. We say freeway instead of highway, we wait in line rather than on line. Pop quiz: do you happen to know the date of the Academy… Continue Reading

Motion to Limit the Use of the Word “Amazing”

As Published in The Rye Record on November 21, 2014 Being a contestant on a reality TV show is an amazing journey. I know this because, when interviewed, each and every one of those contestants (win or lose) says what an amazing journey it’s been. I’ve never been on one of those shows, so I’m… Continue Reading

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