My Garden is Nicer Than Yours. And I Have the Name Badge to Prove It.

Yesterday was the annual Garden Walk in our fair cities, where gardening is a religion.  The Garden Walk is an event where you pay lots of money to walk through other people's gardens that are much nicer than yours will ever be.  Like many religious ceremonies which purport to inspire you to transcend your human flaws and encourage you to be a better person, this one shows you examples of what you should aspire to be, highlights your sins (envy, sloth, greed), and leaves you feeling grovelly and inadequate.  To combat this,...more

Hehehehe, I don't usually do garden tours for the exact reasons you first mentioned, but I would ...more

Spanx: It's Over

This post is about humiliation (mine), and I'm sharing it on behalf of women who are tired of the mythology of Spanx.  (By Spanx, I include the plethora of other slimming garments, included, but certainly not limited to: "no waistband" pantyhose, anything with the word "muffin top" in the name, caffeine infused pantyhose, spandex items that "smooth" your belly, your ass, your thighs, and your back fat.  And betrayal of all betrayals, the Dr....more

I hear ya on the Spanx! I think it's time we embrace and learn to love ourselves. more

Vaginas are Cool--I'm Glad I Have One

Vaginas Are Cool: I’m Glad I Have One Not to worry, my friends, I'm not lowering its standards or discretion (sentence to follow completely contradicts this statement).  I had my annual trip to the gynecologist this week, and I got to see my favorite nurse practitioner.  Everything was fine–I love her–but at the end of the visit, she gave me a bunch of samples of some kind of cream that women find beneficial “as they get older.”  Okay, I have a 5-year-old.  I’m young!  I’m hip!  Fine, yes, I have teenager...more

Please Stop Calling the Royal Wedding a Fairy Tale

Like the wedding of Charles and Diana, William and Catherine’s wedding has been referred to, over and over again, as a “fairy tale.”  Most of us are guilty of using commonly repeated words or phrases, such as fairy tales, without really thinking about what they mean.  But just a short mental reconnaissance through our beloved childhood “fairy tales” reminds us that every story from this genre worth its salt features a scary villain:  the nasty wolf dressed as the trusted grandmother; the evil stepmother; the bitter old crone who pu...more

Away We Go!

I am sorry excited to report that next week is Spring Break here in our part of Illinois, and unfortunately happily for us that means Family Vacation!  This year's debate on where to go was particularly fraught with disagreement lively, partly because support for a real "family vacation" was what my siblings and I received from my parents for Christmas this year.  ...more

Well I can, but I'm not happy about it.


I absolutely understand needing ...more

Halfway There and Filled With Gratitude

Yesterday marked the halfway point of my "Radical Lent: a Poetic Approach to 40 Days in the Wilderness" Project.  As it is a project, and as I often remind my students of the importance of "early deliverables" that give you a chance to step back and ask yourself how things are going, I've decided to do that today. ...more

The (Real) Secret to Happiness

Sometimes complete strangers say things that can change your whole life.  That is not what this post is about, though.  This post is about something that happened to me several years ago on a flight from Newark to Chicago, where I was sitting next to an older Asian man who, out of nowhere, turned to me and asked, “Do you want to know the secret to being happy?”  As I happened to be wondering exactly that thing at exactly that moment, I said yes, I would indeed like to know the secret to being happy.  I can still see him, silhouetted by that white above-the-clou...more

The Case for Running Backwards

There was a lady in our old neighborhood who used to walk up and down the sidewalks backwards.  Sometimes she carried what appeared to be two gallon jugs of drinking water, one in each hand.  She was very thin, made all her own clothes, and had a very complex relationship with her health.  She was extremely concerned about air quality, for example, and yet was married to a man who smoked so much that not only his teeth but both of his hands were yellow from nicotine.  I hated seeing her, not because she was so odd, but because I recognized her as a fellow neurotic. ...more

Arguing--Fun for the Whole Family!

When our friends Markus and Almut had their third child, we asked him how it was to go from being a family of four to a family a five.  He's a Classics Scholar—insightful, deliberate, a little quirky with a pleasing neurotic edge.  "Well, it's less…monolithic," he said, making the shape of a column with his hands.  "Four is just so tight.  With five, there's more movement.  It's more dynamic."  Then a bewildered look crossed his face.  "Sometimes," he said slowly, "I try to keep them all in my head at the same time and I can't."...more

The Antidote to Exhaustion

"'Tell me about exhaustion,' I said.  He looked at me with an acute, searching, compassionate ferocity for the briefest of moments, as if trying to sum up the entirety of the situation and without missing a beat, as if he had been waiting all along, to say a life-changing thing to me.  'You know that the antidote to exhaustion is not necessarily rest?'  'What is it, then?' ...more