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Showing posts from November, 2019

Green Therapy Is the New Black Friday

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At the risk of sounding like Calvin's dad, it sure feels good to walk off the turkey with a brisk nature hike. Woodlands, parks, and waterfronts are peaceful on Black Friday, when everyone else is playing bumper cars on the icy roads, bludgeoning each other with Nintendo Switches, or crouching indoors behind a screen to troll for great deals on the mountains of junk that sometimes keel over and crush people in Amazon warehouses.

If your weather outside is frightful, however, you may wish to stay inside until the latest storm passes. I recommend building a fire in case the power goes out--and if it doesn't, switch on your best reading light and curl up nearby with a stack of library books. I'm all stocked up with some marvelous finds of my own.


I also have a few other entertainment recommendations for the start of cuffing season. It has now been a nice, round 20 years since the prophetic music video for "Sleep Now in the Fire" by Rage Against the Machine. Pogo l…

Gathering the Family: Where We Live Is Everything

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It's an old house, but it's new to them. It's a small house for the street, but it feels big to us. And most importantly, it's close to my house in the beautiful neighborhood where I chose to start my own family, a better neighborhood than any I've ever lived in before. Welcome to my parents' American dream house.


A good human habitat isn't just about the house itself but about location and environment. My parents now have the best neighbor of all: nature. The backyard leads to a forested park. You can see the river from the master bedroom and family room windows. Wild turkeys and herds of deer hang out in the yard. Possums gobble up the ticks, birds sing in the branches, and foxes occasionally appear. Living under trees and near flowing water is so good for humans (like other animals) that walking through natural areas is prescribed as medical treatment in some countries. And in others, spending time in nature is like, well, breathing air.


I'm loving …

The Sevens: When a New Decade Dawns

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Every time I reach an age ending in seven, I feel big changes coming. My Sevens arrive near the end of the last year of the decade, and looking back, I've gone through major life transitions--or initiated them--around each of those auspicious birthdays. This year is no exception.

When I turned seven on the cusp of the 1990s, I had my first experience bonding with a Very Special Teacher. You know those teachers. The ones with Fred Rogers energy, the ones you don't just like but love, the ones that feel like parents or counselors, the ones who know just what to say to truly make you feel valued, safe, and capable. I hadn't had much luck bonding with teachers in preschool or kindergarten (which I repeated), but here's to Mrs. McNeil in first grade. Everything about school changed for me because of you.

When I turned 17 right before Y2K, I experienced my biggest heartbreaks back-to-back. One was an ordinary breakup with a high school boyfriend. It was my first "serio…

Blackout Wednesday in the 'Burbs

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It's almost time for the Midwest suburbs' drunkest day of the year! Not New Year's Eve. Not St. Patrick's Day. Not the 4th of July. No, not even MSU vs. U of M game day. It's Drunksgiving! Also known as Blackout Wednesday. Each year, I look forward to it with all the enthusiasm that Wednesday Addams had for Thanksgiving.



That's not genuine moral outrage, by the way. I mean, it's a glorious, satisfying, iconic performance of moral outrage. But think about it. We love the character of Wednesday Addams for being a coldblooded mercenary, a sharp and glamorous mascot for all the nihilism of Gen X, who--Hey, speaking of Gen X, are they going to be at Thanksgiving? Did anyone remember to invite them? In the traditional Boomer vs. Millennial showdown over our feast of greed and gluttony, will Gen X sit back and spectate, forgotten as usual, or will they carry a torch for the sickest burn and use it as a diversion to escape social obligation, like our goth princess …

We're All Gonna Die, So.

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Happy All Saints, All Souls, Samhain, Day of the Dead, Diwali, or other festival of mortality! We're all gonna die, so let's love it up while we're together.

This year, my family kicked off the season of sweet sorrow by dressing as the three best members of the Addams Family to trick-or-treat at a local park. It's a good thing we took that opportunity for a Halloween "dress rehearsal," because it turned out to be the only chance we had to put on our mysterious and spooky drag this year. Our poor little Wednesday caught the public school pukes two Tuesdays in a row, held out through the next one, and succumbed to a third bout on the morning of Halloween. Sometimes, you spend all month grooming your Gomez mustache (pictured above left) or your Morticia nails (one of which I bent backwards but was able to save--oh, the beautiful agony) and then trick-or-treating is canceled anyway. C'est la vie. We shall carve a pumpkin and roast its seeds for our departed …