Getting Lost is Our Family Tradition

There have been so many roads not taken, or mistaken, or taken wrongly—also highways, freeways, even hallways. Born without a sense of direction, like everyone else in my family, I turn left when I should turn right, can't tell the difference between east and west, and have been known to panic in hotel hallways. When J.R.R. Tolkien wrote, "Not all those who wander are lost," he was not talking about the Clark family. We wander, all right, and we are lost....more

Heartbreak Has No Expiration Date

The first time I had my heart broken was in 1980. The last time was yesterday. I've been sitting here trying to decide if they feel any different. They kind of don't. I was 15 when I finally succumbed to Jeff's charms. One night at the grocery store, my mom and I were in the meat section. Do you remember how they'd divide the kinds of meat, and inexplicably decorated those dividers with something that looked like plastic parsley?...more

My Life Isn't What I Thought it Would Be. It's Better. 

If someone had told me when I was a peace-loving, bead-wearing hippie chick that as a middle-aged woman I would be married to a Republican, watch not only CNN but Fox News and frequent a bar at a Disabled American Veterans facility, I would have called that person batshit crazy. I was a free-spirited, liberal girl out to change the world. I could never sleep with someone who owned a gun and voted for Nixon. But life doesn't always turn out as we imagined....more

I Regret Ignoring My Instincts

Here's the thing about instincts. They are right, 100 percent of the time. I've known it forever, but I really learned it six weeks ago. We rent out a small yellow cottage in the next town. It has a green door and white trim. It is adorable. The rooms are immaculate with new carpet and fresh paint. It shines. Best of all, it requires very little to stay that way. I know if I lived there, I'd be proud of it. Who wouldn't? I am still recovering from who wouldn't....more
I'm so sorry for what you went through with your renters. Unfortunately, I've been there as ...more

I Saved Men to Give Them a Reason to Love Me 

Steve and I walked along the boardwalk, stopping at an outdoor café for mimosas. We breezed through the typically awkward first-date conversations. He was charming. Smart. Funny. Handsome. And, at eight years my senior, he even owned his own company. The perfect catch, I mused. Credit: Pixaby...more

I'm Turning Into My Mother and Couldn't Be Happier About It

I was probably in my early 40s the first time I caught a glimpse of my mother as I walked by the pier mirror in my foyer. I didn't shudder like I would have if I'd been in my 20s or 30s. Still, my reflection startled me. I'd always been told I resembled my father. This new revelation felt otherworldly, like some alien had begun inhabiting my body. Weirder still, at times I liked it. Sort of. Not long after, I noticed Mom's doppelganger had entrenched itself even deeper....more
Aw, sweet story! It's always the GOOD parts of your mom you want to mirror, while leaving the ...more

Embracing Being the Oldest One in the Room

Everyone's back in school. Me too. Three semesters a year, I look at a new class of students in my creative writing class: eager faces yearning to discover the secrets of publishing. I write this quote on the board from W. Somerset Maugham: "There are three rules of writing. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are." It always gets a laugh—even though most of my students don't know who Maugham was....more

The Life Lesson I Couldn't Learn at Home

We hadn't yet learned how to write in cursive, so my best friend Lisa and I carefully printed our words with a No. 2 pencil. We took turns writing down the sentences. "Dear Miss Hanley," we wrote, "you like Kathleen better than you like us. That isn't fair." Miss Hanley was our second-grade teacher. She was in her 20s, with short, dark, curly hair and lively hazel eyes. Her laugh was infectious. It was her first year teaching in our public school in the northeast Bronx....more

My Quest for Inner Peace

You know that feeling of inner peace, where you're calm and centered, and you know that even if something dreadful happens in the world, you're strong on the inside? I don't. In fact, even the word "centered," when it's not referring to, say, where the flowers should be on the table, makes me sort of tense....more

Menopause and Margaritas are Better With Friends

The first Thursday of every month for the past 25 years, my four college girlfriends and I have gotten together over pitchers of margaritas to talk about marital struggles, problems with children, you name it. Yet there was one subject we seemed to shy away from. Then, on one of these occasions, I could feel sweat literally dripping from my brow as we toasted the last of our kids going off to college. I don't think my college sisters noticed, but I knew it was time to admit that I was going through "the change."...more
A margarita would really hit the spot about now.more