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Founder: Heart.Soul.Pen.® for women writers & the Women’s Writing Den. Essays: @NYTimes @WashPo @LATimes @BuzzFeed. Author: “Restless in L.A.”

“I need a bigger pot,” I told the checkout lady at Armstrong’s. She looked at me and said, “Who knew?” and we laughed. It is nice to have interpersonal interactions with strangers. For nearly a year, I didn’t go anywhere or see anyone. It was like the world was populated by only my Zoom friends and the Amazon delivery person. I was happy to chat about succulents and potting soil with the checkout lady at Armstrong’s.

Today, I interacted with several strangers. I went to Baskin Robbins to pick up a chocolate-chip ice cream cake for my youngest’s 16th birthday…

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

I was braced for a month praying praying praying that my son would come through this strange ordeal of illness. And he did. In one month, he got sick and then seriously ill and then admitted to the hospital and subjected to painful, invasive tests and then removed from the hospital and then put on new treatment and then he recovered. All without a confirmed diagnosis.

It is hard to relax into knowing he is okay when we don’t know for sure what happened. But he is okay. He is eating cereal and going out with friends and taking walks…


Yesterday, I napped the entire day. I laid around in my pajamas and I walked from the kitchen where I ate an egg made for me by my husband, back to my bed where I napped, and then outside where I sat in the sun and listened to a woodpecker and airplanes and the neighbor watering his lawn. Then I got back into bed and watched one episode of Season Four of Sherlock on Netflix.

Later, I wandered into the kitchen again. My husband had made stir-fry for dinner so I ate chicken and asparagus and mushrooms diced with onions…


When my son was in the second grade, he got typhus. He had 104 fevers every day for nearly ten days. No one knew what was wrong with him. After multiple trips to Children’s Hospital, I was getting desperate.

I started searching the Internet and drawing on my public health background — could it be malaria? West Nile Virus? “I think he has dengue fever,” I told my husband. I was matching symptoms to geography. We lived in Los Angeles and we had recently traveled to Mexico. Did he get infected with something before we left or while we were…


My 18-year-old son has been sick with Fever of Unknown Origin (FUO). They say you are only as happy as your least happy kid. You are only as okay as your least okay kid, too. I keep thinking that, just as this strange fever swept in, it will sweep out, that the winds of change and pollen and mystery bacteria and viral secrets will blow in the opposite direction of my house, out through the chimney like a reverse Mary Poppins. My son will wake up and the fever will be gone.

They say that’s how FUO works. You get…

Today marks eight years since my father died. He died on the Ides of March, 2013. Today marks nine months since my mom died. Today, I feel like an orphan. Merriam Webster defines orphan as, “A child deprived by death of both parents.” Merriam Webster defines child as, “A son or daughter at any age.” I am a daughter. I have no living parents. I am an orphan. My age doesn’t change that.

When I think about growing up on Deershadow Lane in 1970s Ohio, it seems hard to believe my parents are both gone. My dad mowed the lawn…

This weekend, I went to the mountains with my family. I love being in the mountains but I hate going on car rides that last more than two hours. Every time I complain about this, my husband tries to brainstorm why I hate road trips so much.

My husband grew up hitting the open road in a full-sized, stick-shift van. His family skied, hiked, camped and drove to national parks across the West. I’ve heard stories about cows and gear and dude ranches and skids, and other lively tales of the van. My family did not go on family vacations.

Special thanks to my plant shaman mama, Carrie K., who has inspired my gardening journey.

Something strange is happening: I’ve been “gardening.”

For me, this is very bizarre, unheard of really. I am not a plant person. I have never been. I have never kept a single plant alive in my life and yet, I am doing it. It has now been one week and one day and the succulents I replanted are still living.

Not only that, but I apparently helped save the houseplant I bought for my newly redesigned TV room that my husband said he was going to care for but didn’t. The houseplant was on its deathbed, stooped over with brown…

Photo by Helen Cramer on Unsplash

The pandemic makes me bored at night. I get sick of being online and consider doing things I have never done before, like going into the kitchen and putting a copper kettle on the stove and making myself some real writer tea. The problem is I don’t have a copper kettle and I don’t like tea.

Last night, my thoughts were swirling but I couldn’t get a hand on them. I felt like one of those pudding cups you buy in a four-pack at Ralph’s, the kind you devour but small piles of pudding remain in the corners. It’s hard…

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