Category Archives: Slightly off topic…

Wake Me Up When The Election’s Over

Trick or treat!

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 me in 1982. I could only wear it for so long.

Try as I might, I’ve found that it’s almost impossible to disengage from this topic. I take my child out trick-or-treating only to find the streets filled with children dressed in Donald Trump costumes. These costumes serve as natural conversation starters, and I slowly back away, drowning out the voices by noisily crunching my peanut M&Ms.

I return home to neutral ground, but the television is on. The news channels are obviously running the loop of sound bites, slurs and commentary so I switch to the innocuous Cartoon Network. Tom and Jerry are battling it out, each setting up rakes on the lawn for the other to trip over. It starts to remind me of something.

I head out into the world with great caution because even small talk seems to be littered with conversational land mines. I tell someone that I’ve recently started going to a step aerobics class at the YMCA. There’s something comical and nostalgic about step aerobics. Unless you’re actually doing it, it makes you smile. The conversation is going pretty well, and I decide to talk about nothing but step aerobics for the next five days. But soon we start talking about the 1980’s and exercise crazes and leg warmers and, finally, Jane Fonda. Red alert, this just got political.

I quickly change the subject to the weather. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and there’s nothing more desperate than talking about the weather. It’s like the last, weak weapon in your arsenal against awkward silence. So I dive in with bland commentary on what a beautiful fall we’re having. The person agrees, and we seem to have reached some sort of accord until, like an idiot, I add that it’s warmer than it was last year at this time. Before the words “global warming” form on her lips, I dash into a coffee shop and take cover in the bathroom.

So yesterday when I was skulking down the street with my head down, I ran into a man I know who’s a scientist. I immediately tried to cross the street to safety. I mean scientists are the worst. They’re all over the big topics and are always coming up with bad news about nice things like the environment and coffee. But I like this man, so I stopped. To my horror, he started telling me about a new study on sleep. The familiar election month panic set in again, my ears closing up against more terrible news. I like sleep more than the environment and coffee combined.

He went on to say that this study is about the myriad ways sleep is good for you. Not only is it great that I like to sleep, he tells me, but it’s also perfectly natural that I wake up in the middle of the night every night. There was really nothing to argue about, no position to take. Who doesn’t like a good night’s sleep? I’d finally arrived at neutral ground, and this conversation was probably the most relaxing ten minutes I’ve had in months. So I’m going to get under the covers until this thing’s over. I recommend you do the same.

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

Newsflash: Things Could Be Worse

  People seem to really like to talk about the good old days. Remember when kids played outside and could shake your hand because they weren’t playing Angry Birds? I remember those days too, but here’s what I also remember about growing up in the 70’s: driving down the freeway, inhaling that first morning puff… Continue Reading

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