The Importance of Being Alive

I was in the middle of doing a sit up when Dan asked me how I was doing after getting dumped last week. I’d actually been waiting to tell my friend about this romantic development until it felt a little more legit. My friend Dan is a lot of things — hunting advocate, sworn enemy to sugar, an occasional handyman when things are falling apart in my house — but he’s also skeptical of men and their intentions. He’s also often right, which can be maddening.

So, I didn’t really want to hear anything negative about this new dude. I was trying to use my own BS monitor to assess the situation without letting anyone else color my opinion. 

But then the new dude straight up dumped me while my dumb dog was snuggling in his lap, and I reported the situation to Dan the next time I saw him.

“It’s gotta be tough,” he said as I lifted my upper body off the ground to touch my right toe with my right hand in midair. “Now you’re never going to want to date.”

I sat up on my purple yoga mat and wrapped my arms around my knees and told him that in fact, thanks to Adam Driver, I was feeling quite the opposite.

“You’re not really going to understand this because you’re not a Broadway dork,” I told him, “but I watched the movie Marriage Story last night and Adam Driver sings a song from the musical Company at the end and it killed me but also reminded me what life is all about.”

The song, “Being Alive,” comes at the end of both the movie and the Sondheim show when the main characters come to realize that it’s the messiness of life, the complications of being in relationships, that means we’re alive. It’s not just standing on the sidelines and making sure we’re never going to get hurt, but getting in there and playing the game, whether we win or lose.

My therapist, Jennifer, had told me as much when I reported a few weeks earlier that I’d started dating someone. I’d told her there were some red flags, some things he’d said that were troubling. “What if he’s just a douche like all the guys around here?” I asked, pointing out that lots of dudes where I live are successful and have the giant egos to match their bank accounts, which confuses them into thinking they can behave badly. 

But Jen wasn’t having it. She told me that was like saying all women were gold diggers and that I needed to stop standing on the sidelines wringing my hands. She reminded me of a story I told a few years ago onstage about finding the courage to jump off a cliff with my young daughters at a quarry one hot summer day in Vermont. 

How we’d sat on our picnic blankets eating lunch and watched people get to the edge and jump, and it looked so easy. But when we got up there and I looked down at the cold water below, I panicked.

A few months earlier I’d told my husband of 17 years I wanted a divorce and that was a giant leap off a cliff of indecision I’d been standing on for a long time. It was terrifying but also propelled my life in a healthier direction. 

In the end, the girls and I counted to 3 and leapt off the ledge of the quarry and plunged into the icy green water below. The bracing temperature and thrill of flying through the air propelled us back to the surface where we floated on our backs for a bit and caught our breath. It had been scary, but worth it.

“What do you have to lose?” Jen asked. “Jump.”

So I did. And for a few weeks, I felt pretty alive. And it was nice, despite the outcome.

Then Adam Driver started to sing at the end of Marriage Story and I immediately knew the song, because I’d seen the show when it was revived on Broadway in 2006. By then, I understood the complexities of marriage and relationships — topics dealt with in the play with lyrics only Sondheim could write. And I remember sitting in the darkened theater listening to the words of the final song, “Being Alive,” which acknowledge how annoying relationships can be — partners can be needy and hold us too close, hurt us too deep — but also, remind us of being alive. 

“But alone,

Is alone,

Not alive.”

“Are you fucking kidding me?” I said to myself when Driver started to sing, my eyes starting to water. I’d been sitting on my couch feeling sorry for myself, when I impulsively started the movie two hours earlier. “You’re going to starting singing THIS song?”

But it was a gift. As was the whirlwind relationship. Because it reminded me that what I most want out of this life was to live it. 

And not alone. 

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Who’s Your Favorite?

I read in the Skimm this week that the actor Steve Carrell told Ellen he had a favorite child and I was like, “Wow, good for him.”

Unlike Carrell, I do not have a favorite kid. Much like my extensive shoe collection, each child is perfect under certain conditions. Whether I need practical or pretty or something that just gets the job done, I always have just the right footwear for the occasion. As such, having an extensive selection of children has had its advantages as well.

But my children would wholeheartedly disagree. The oldest three are convinced the baby is the apple of my eye. The older two also suspect their younger sister, the third child, also might be at the top of the family totem pole, because she’s weird like me. The oldest child might also think he’s got a special place in my heart, as my first baby, which leaves Child #2 – our very own Jan Brady – resigned to her supposed lower station in life.

“I know I’m nobody’s favorite,” she’ll say, in that, “I got a rock,” Charlie Brown voice of hers.

The truth is, when I need a shopping or wine drinking partner — not to mention makeup advice — she’s my go-to girl. There’s also no one who can build a fire like that woman. So I don’t know what she’s talking about.

Also, none of this angst actually applies to the fourth child. He is fully confident that my obsession with him, I’ve learned to appreciate grizzly teenagers, guarantees his top spot amongst his older siblings.

Growing up, it was clear that of the eight of us siblings, I was not my mother’s favorite child. That was obviously a younger brother who got to sit next to her in the front seat of our station wagon and accompanied our mom on her weekly Saturday food shopping expeditions while the rest of us were stuck at home watching sports with our father. Woe to the child of the 1970s trapped at home with one TV, 4 siblings and ABCs “Wide World of Sports” as your only viewing option.

Even a couple of years ago, my mother and two of my sisters went to see a concert around Christmastime and stayed overnight in a hotel and when I heard about it, I was like, “Wait. I like music.” Some how I still hadn’t made it to the top of the invite list and even at 50, it hurt.

So I’m aware of what it’s like to feel left out. How it presses those old childhood wounds. Even if you are being crazy and not applying the Four Agreements, DON’T TAKE THINGS PERSONALLY, commandment (so simple and yet … ).

That’s the trouble with having a ton of kids. On the one hand, there’s always someone standing by to be your playmate and on the other, you really need to include everyone to avoid hurt feelings, which complicates everything.

A few years ago, I was at a little shop that had great greeting cards (I LOVE sending cards) and bought four that said, “I’m glad we don’t have to say out loud that you’re the favorite,” and mailed each one off to a child. And they were all pleased with themselves until a few months later when, over dinner one night, they pieced together that each sibling received the card as well.

Even now, it’s a sore subject, evidenced by my older daughter just calling me a “dick” in a text when I asked her to remind me what the card said.

Luckily, I don’t anticipate a “Sophie’s Choice” situation any time soon in my life. I can’t imagine having to chose one child over another. It would be like saying, “Amy, you can only have your Birkenstocks or your Hokas, but not both.”

That would truly be a tragedy.

A Public Service Announcement

On Sunday morning, I woke up with a pain in my side, right where my ribs would be if I had ribs (am convinced I was born without them). After a little poking, I determined it wasn’t coming from the inside, as if I’d done too many sit ups or was presenting with appendicitis. It was more of an external pain, like I’d been bruised although how I would have bumped the area kind of under my right boob is beyond me.

I lay under the covers and pressed down on the spot where I felt the discomfort and rubbed my hand along my torso under my shirt. Nothing seemed out of place.

Eventually, I had to go to the bathroom and when I was finished, walked over to the super sonic magnifying makeup mirror on the counter and lifted my shirt up.

I almost fainted.

There, on my super white torso, was the dark spot of a tick burrowed into my flesh surrounded by a ring of reddened skin.

To complicate matters, my boob totally obscured the tick from view and required me to put on reading glasses and use the magnifying mirror to pull the tick out of me with tweezers. Oh, did I mention my shaky hands? So when I finally did get the tweezers around the bug and pulled, I kind of did it on an angle and could see the dark head still lodged inside me as I yanked the body away.

As this is all happening in my bathroom, the cat and the dog are pacing in the bedroom wondering when I’m going to stop carrying on in front of the mirror and go downstairs to feed them. I alternated between trying to dig the rest of the tick out of my torso and having to go lie down on my bed in my underwear to compose myself and finally decided to get into the shower to try to open things up and release the bug’s remains that way and slammed the bathroom door in the cat’s face.

When I went to a walk in clinic the next day to try to get on antibiotics, I lifted up my shirt to show the nurse practitioner the scene of the crime and told her how I’d worked hard to dig the whole tick out of me. “I can see that,” she said, examining the scabbed and reddened skin I’d picked at for 15 minutes with a tweezer before every last bit of bug was out of me.

On Saturday, I’d taken my goldendoodle for an early hike through the woods to get him some exercise before the predicted rain came on Sunday. We marched up and down hills and over trails covered in yellowed leaves and I listened to my latest self help audiobook and we stopped to admire the sun shining on the river. I wore a vest over my long sleeved tshirt and Old Navy leggings and thought I’d been smart to put a hat on right before we headed out the door.

I came home and ate lunch and ran some errands and later, sat on my couch in the same hiking clothes to read (Lady in the Lake, which I am loving) and even nodded off for a bit. I was staying in that night so it wasn’t until later that I changed into yet another athleisure-type outfit and—am sorry to report—never showered before bed.

After the whole tick discovery on Sunday morning, I had plans to meet my older daughter in Manhattan for brunch and to see a show we’d been hot to see, so there really wasn’t any time to address the implications of having been the host of a very tiny bug for a day.

So on Monday, I brought the critter to our county’s Mosquito Commission to have it identified and handed over the Ziploc sandwich bag to a woman who did not seem even remotely freaked out by my story (unlike just about anyone else to whom I’d relayed my sordid tale over the previous 24 hours). She very calmly handed me a number of brochures and papers about the types of ticks we have here in this part of New Jersey and told me that they’re especially rampant in September and October. Who knew?

The emailed report that arrived early this morning from the county research scientist did not come as any surprise, since I’d been scouring the internet to try to identify my attacker and intuit the possibility that I might have been infected with Lyme Disease. The bad news is that it was, as I suspected, a teeny tiny female deer tick. The good news is that it was “flat” in appearance, which indicates it had not really started to feed. A tick generally needs at least 24 hours of feeding to pass along any diseases.

So, what have I learned? Great question.

  1. It turns out, I am not above getting bitten by a tick. I was kinda under the impression all that tick talk was a lot of hype and if I wore a baseball cap, I’d be fine. This is also how I used to feel about concussions until I got one and then my son.
  2. Those fuckers are small. The one on me was the size of a sesame seed and I’m wondering A: how the heck did it make its way under my shirt? That must have been one hell of a journey and B: how would you even be able to find one before it’s too late if it attached to your scalp under all your hair?
  3. Bug spray (like Deet) and hats are now mandatory for walks in the woods.
  4. Upon returning home, one needs to remove clothes, check for ticks and shower and not wallow in hiking apparel.

I now need to go pick my tick up from the Mosquito Commission to send it to a lab to be tested and in four week, go get a blood test of my own. In the meantime, I’ll be on the lookout for symptoms that might be signs that I’ve got Lyme, which is really a bullet I hope I’ll dodge. I’ve seen so many friends struggle over the years with diagnoses, symptoms and treatment of Lyme and dread having to walk that same, frustrating path.

Fingers crossed.

The silver lining of all this is that it finally inspired me to write a little diddy like this again. I’d been going through a dry spell. And the little critter has also given me an idea for an even bigger writing piece, so there’s that. When I see her later today, floating in a little plastic container filled with alcohol, the first thing I’m going to say to her is: “Fuck off, you should have found one of the grillion hairy deers lurking in the woods to latch onto instead of me.” But then, I’ll have to thank her for the inspiration, because a writer never knows when it’s going to come and in what form the muse will appear. Even if it comes burrowed–ass up–in her side.

The trick is to recognize it when you see it.

Thanks, girl. I owe you one.


Things I Suddenly Care About

Things I Suddenly Care About:

  1. High school sports.
  2. Chrissy Teigen.
  3. Stretching.
  4. Habits (both the good and bad variety).
  5. Yo-Yo Ma’s Bach’s cello suites.
  6. Acceptance.
  7. Mascara.
  8. Poetry.
  9. My upper arms.
  10. The meaning of life.

Got anything to add? Feel free in the comments below. If you want to stay in the loop, sign up over there to the right for my weekly newsletter for a roundup of things I do and don’t care about. You can also follow me on Facebook and Instagram. Gucci. (That was for my kids to see if they actually read this stuff).

Friday Faves: Grab Bag Edition

This week’s assortment of things I love run the gamut from happy, to sad, to life-changing. This also seems to be the rhythm of my life, where every day I’m not sure into which emotional basket to dump my state of mind. Some mornings I wake up and pour all the rainbows and unicorns in my head into my Everything is Awesome container, while the following morning, I’ve got to scrape out the dark, sticky goo of despair into the All is Lost bucket. I really wish I was the kind of person who could be a little less extreme. How I long to be even-keeled.

Here’s what I love:


The trailer for the 8th and final season is everything. I have been committed to Game of Thrones since Episode 1 and cannot wait for the season premiere next month. In the meantime, watching it reminded me that I couldn’t remember one thing that happened last season (was that, like, 2 years ago?), so my daughter and I started re-watching last night and were reminded Daenerys Targaryen’s badassness. #shallwebegin?#cansomeonegivemeadragonplease?


Better Things

I think I’ve referenced the season premiere of my current favorite show about 20 times in conversations this week, and I know, already posted the trailer the other day. But I love creator/director/writer/star Pamela Adlon’s HONESTY about being a 50-something year old woman. How our bodies change seemingly overnight. It’s like a science experiment but it’s happening right there, in your mirror. I feel sorry for women who are so freaked out by it. It’s just life (she says fanning herself through gritted teeth). I already watched the first episode twice (once with each of my 2 daughters) and can’t tell you how lovely and real it is.

Color WOW Spray

COLOR WOW Dream Coat Supernatural Spray Slays Humidity and Prevents Frizz

I bought this after seeing a video while scrolling through Instagram of Hoda Kotb raving about this hair product, which I know is pathetic and just what the man wants us to do, but what can I say? Hoda could sell me goat cheese (Note: I hate goat cheese). I don’t know about you, but after about 15 years of heavy duty coloring, my hair ain’t what it was. It can be puffy and frizzy, especially when it’s humid out. So you spray this stuff on and blow your hair dry with a brush (read the directions) and it lives up to its name: WOW. Can’t wait to try it if it ever gets warmer than 35 degrees here in New Jersey.

Leaving Neverland

Okay, here is the very sad part of my recommendations this week, but I cannot recommend this 4-hour HBO doc enough (plus the hour-long Oprah follow up). I worried at first I’d feel like a voyeur, looking for all the unsavory bits and pieces of these 2 men’s relationships with Michael Jackson. But Oprah says it best when she interviews them, “This has nothing to do with Michael Jackson.” The sexual abuse of children is rampant and we need to know what it looks like, how it happens and how its perpetrators gain their victims’ silence. You will leave Neverland with all of your questions answered, including what he did to them. Also, and this part is staggering, ONE IN SIX MEN HAS BEEN SEXUALLY ASSAULTED OR ABUSED. I think that’s why it’s so important to watch and talk about, to help lift the shame from them. Honestly, I can’t stop thinking (and talking) about it. Also, THE WORLD NEEDS OPRAH BACK.

Mary Oliver’s Dog Songs

Let’s leave each other on a happier note this Friday. To all my dog lovers, here’s something that is one of my most favorite fave:

If You Are Holding This Book

You may not agree, you may not care, but

if you are holding this book you should know

that of all the sights I love in the world —

and there are plenty — very near the top of

the list is this one: dogs without leashes.

Finny Doodle sans leash, pretending to be a good boy.


The Perils of Growing Older

Even as I squeezed the paste onto my toothbrush, I could tell something was weird. It came out much quicker and thinner than usual, curling onto the bristles in a pleasing twirl — like frosting being piped onto the top of a cake.

I’d rushed into the bathroom to both brush my teeth and throw a tissue away and once there, quickly paused at the sink to get the tooth brushing going before I went the additional two feet to toss the tissue into the trash can under the counter. So, I’m noticing that the toothpaste doesn’t seem right even as I’m lifting it up to my mouth, and as I begin to brush the outside of my teeth, it dawns on me what I had done.

One of the things nobody tells you is that when you turn 50 it’s like an internal timer goes off — akin to, say, a Butterball turkey and somewhere on my back there’s a little round plastic doohickey that popped up two years ago— and your body starts to feel the half century’s worth of shit you’ve been doing to it. All the running up and down hills through the woods and along the hard sidewalks of your town before dawn. Burpees, jumping jacks and lunging across a fitness studio holding 10-pound weights in each hand. Your resistance to hydration and preferring beverages containing caffeine and alcohol over the prescribed 100 ounces of water each day. All those high heels you toddled around in for 30-some-odd years at cocktail parties and dinners out with other couples and later, for a few summers after your divorce, to dance to songs on crowded dance floors that reminded you of younger days.

It’s like how, when I had my first baby 26 years ago, I had no idea how sore my bottom would be after the delivery. That I’d have a latex glove filled with ice tucked between my legs for the first few days and that I’d be introduced to something called the sitz bath. Or that taking my first poop post-partum would be such an important hurdle. So many things about parenthood have come as similar surprises over the years.

Even with Google readily available nowadays, I’m still surprised about changes to my 50-something body. I cracked up watching Pamela Adlon in the season 3 premiere of Better Things trying on clothes in her closet.

“Really?” she says, squeezing into a pair of white jeans and grabbing the muffin top hanging over the waistband, “How did this happen?” The actress told Terry Gross in an interview I’d listened to earlier in the week, “I decided that it would be a very generous thing for me to kind of illustrate it in my show, so everybody doesn’t feel so alone.”

To all my lady friends hurtling through the end of your 40s towards 50, take note. And take comfort.

And then there’s how my aging body feels, which is to say, “not great.” My feet in particular act like they are way older than 52. The arthritis in my big toes is making it hard for them to bend, so now they are completely unwilling to conform to a curved high heel. I had surgery on my left foot two years ago thinking I’d recover and be back teetering around in my favorite heels, but alas, that is not the case. Honestly, I can’t even wear some flat boots I used to wear all the time, because they are just too hard on my aching toes.

To manage these new aches and pains, I’ve loaded up on various over-the-counter analgesics: Motrin and Aleve, a CBD rub that smells like lemongrass that a girlfriend dropped off a few weeks ago when my back was particularly tweaky. I’ve also got some roll on thing that I rub on my feet sometimes at night. But my favorite pain relief in the last month is Icy Hot, which I rub on whatever part of my body hurts: neck, lower back, feet. Yes, it smells like … old people and clings to my pajamas and bed sheets. But after you’ve rubbed it on whatever ails you, an icy feeling begins to mask the pain and it’s very pleasing.

You need to be careful during the application process that you wash your hands really well when you’re finished rubbing the Icy Hot on yourself. It’s the same type of precaution you need to use when working with jalepenos. I found this out the hard way a few years ago when I finished seeding one to add to a meal and immediately rubbed both my eye and my mouth with my spicy fingers, which were then on fire the rest of the night.

I sat on the toilet the other night to rub the Icy Hot across my aching lower back, and then figured while I was there I should do my business as well and then wiped myself accordingly. As I was wiping I was starting to think, “I should not be doing this,” but alas, it was too late. I went to bed that night feeling very tingly down there, which was not entirely unpleasant.

You also need to be careful how you store your tube of Icy Hot, which is what I discovered last week. You should really put it back in the closet in the basket along with all your other old-lady pain remedies, and you definitely should not leave it on your bathroom counter next to your tube of toothpaste, which — when both left lying upside down with just the backs of the tubes facing up — can look exactly alike.

Had I been a little less distracted rushing into the bathroom the other night, I would have immediately realized that what I was squeezing onto my toothbrush did not look or feel like Crest. But my brain was about 3 seconds behind. All of the pieces were clicking into place in my brain as I was lifting the toothbrush up to my mouth. I stared at my reflection in the mirror in horror as I realized I was brushing my teeth with Icy Hot and dropped the toothbrush into the sink and began furiously rinsing my mouth out with water.

After I recovered from the horror — and terrible taste in my mouth — I started to laugh like a crazy person and thought, “this would make a great blog post.” Plus, my mouth felt very fresh and tingly after I brushed my teeth 3 times with toothpaste.

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Pressing ‘Pause’ on Drinking

Last Friday night, my son’s high school football team won a nail biter of a game — with a touchdown in the last 10 seconds — and honestly, it was one of the most stressful nights of my life. It was one of those games that went back and forth, when at any moment either one of the teams appeared poised to win, and the first half alone seemed to last the equivalent of 1.5 games. We were all exhausted in the bleachers when it was over.

After we high-fived and celebrated the win in the stands, I started filing out with all the other parents and at least two said they were going to need a drink when they got home to settle their nerves after the crazy game.

“Ugh,” I said to one of the moms, “I picked a terrible week to give up booze.”

“Any reason for that?” she asked as we walked towards our cars in the parking lot. “Just too much fun this summer,” I told her, which was a roundabout way of saying that it felt like my alcohol boundaries needed to be tightened up after three months of drinking just about every day.

Okay, every day.

Raise your hand if you wrapped up the Labor Day weekend feeling like if someone accidentally pricked you with a pin, rose would come rushing out of the tiny hole. Or maybe pinot grigio, it that’s more your thing. Like you were a boozy hemophiliac unable to stop hemorrhaging vino.

I wrapped up the long holiday weekend, and unofficial end to summer, nursing a pounding headache after cocktails on the beach with my adult kids the day before, and decided to just stop drinking. That was 14 days ago. My goal is to stay dry for 21 days and then maybe, do it all over again. It feels good to wake up every morning and not hate myself.

The decision to take a break did not come out of the blue. I’d been thinking about pressing the pause button on drinking for a while. In fact, I do a lot of thinking about drinking in general. How much I had the night before. Whether I had any left in the house. How nice it would be if I could just have one drink with dinner. And most especially, how much I hated myself for drinking that last glass of (fill in the blank) the night before. It was taking up too much space in my brain and life is so much easier when it’s just eliminated from the stuff I really do need to think about every day.

I actually did take a break from booze two years ago. I turned 50 and decided to stop drinking for 100 days, and it was really hard. For one thing, August was a hard time of year to climb on the booze-free wagon. Not only did I have to get through two Bruce Springsteen concerts that summer and a tailgate for a Penn State football game in the fall, but Trump’s election in November required every ounce of willpower I could muster not to start guzzling wine right out of the bottle.

When I took that break from booze in the fall of 2016, I spent a lot of time thinking about my drinking — examining it from every angle — and reading books written by women who came to the conclusion that alcohol had become problematic (like, blacking out and waking up in bed in a stranger’s hotel room and almost killing your friends’ two kids). I wrote about it in my journal. I talked about it with my best friend and, of course, with Jennifer My Therapist. And according to the journal I kept around then, every day was hard. Each day I felt like I was being deprived of something I deserved, and often compensated with a bowl of ice cream or something chocolately from Trader Joe’s. It was not the thinnest time of my life.

I turned 50 on a Saturday and five days later, stopped drinking. Weirdly, I don’t even write about it in my journal that day. The following day I report in my journal that it was “not impossible,” and that waking up “sans remorse” was “lovely.” Then I go on to observe that after my trip later that day to drive my daughter back to college — an 8-hour ride round trip — I would probably feel like I “deserved” a glass of wine.

“I just need to get through the day,” I conclude.

And that’s how I kind of go about the entire 100 Day Experiment, which I must confess only lasted 90 days for me. I just pushed through each day and was relieved when my head hit the pillow each night that I’d made it through another day to mark off on my calendar.

My breaking point came when my 20yo daughter came home from college the weekend before Thanksgiving and she and her friend were having a glass of wine in the kitchen, and I was like, “Fuck it,” and poured one for myself and effectively fell with a thud off the wagon.

“I just couldn’t take in any more,” I’d write the next day in my journal. Then I pretty much resumed drinking most days and slipping into the same old patterns of indulging and then regretting my decisions.

I read something recently in a newsletter I love, about why it’s so hard to put “Future You” in front of “Present You,” which is pretty much the story of my life. I am constantly acting against my own best self-interest. I am so good and thoughtful to “Present Amy” — I give her pretty much anything she wants — whereas “Future Amy” goes through life cursing the all the stuff Present Amy did and did not do. Future Amy spends a lot of time scrambling to make up for the other one’s lack of foresight.

For example: Present Amy NEEDS that last glass of red wine when she gets home from a night of drinking many other glasses of red wine, and then Future Amy must suffer through a day pretending she’s fine while her brain feels like it’s melting and about the slip out her left ear. Also, nothing really productive happens after that mandatory nightcap. It’s one unproductive day that blends into years of other unproductive days.

And that’s how we got to this new round of sobriety. I turned 52 in August and was finally tired of not getting anything done. Or what I really mean, is not living the life I want to be living. As in: if I got hit by a truck tomorrow, I’d be pretty mad about all the things I’d yet to do with my life. All the things that were going to happen “someday.” You turn 52 and start to see there’s only so many some days left.

Out of the blue, my bestie sent me the link to a 21-Day Challenge to give up alcohol and it was like all roads were pointing to sobriety. If not for health reasons, then at the very least, to start getting the work done (check out another podcast they do on “grey area” drinking).

So, um, now you know. I’m kind of in this weird place where I know booze can be the devil, but I can’t imagine a life without it. (This is where Jennifer the Therapist asks me if I’d feel the same way about a life without marshmallows.) I’m heading to Quebec with my dad and stepmother and daughter in October, and I really want to have cocktails while we’re away. In fact, I’m planning on it.

Because that is normal. Last night, it was lovely watching the Emmys with a bottle of water nearby and not a bottle of wine, which would have probably been the case had I still been doing my usual routine. And then this morning, I would have been filled with self loathing. And my sleep has been amazing. The best it’s been in ages. So good it’s hard to wake up in the morning, which is weird for me.

I also don’t have a lot of social engagements on my calendar, which seems to have helped. Two weekends ago, my 15yo went to his dad’s and the others were off doing their things, and I found myself blissfully alone and spent the weekend organizing my life and reading and writing. I told friends I felt so rejuvenated that it was as if I’d been away at a retreat.

We had our block party last Saturday night, and it was fun to see all the little kids zipping across the cordoned-off street and running through the yards as the sky grew dark, marked only by the glow-in-the-dark necklaces they’d draped themselves in, wrapped around little ankles and pushed down on tiny heads like colorful halos. They discovered the swing we have hanging from a tree by our driveway and the whole night, a procession of children stood or sat on the wooden seat, as friends and siblings pushed and spun them around.

Although most nights seem like the perfect night for a cocktail, the warm evening beckoned for some kind of icy drink, as did the prospect of standing awkwardly in the street with veritable strangers. I envied the beers I watched a few of my neighbors drink. Instead, I made a fancy lime seltzer with a splash of (diet) cranberry juice, and contented myself with meeting all the young families who have recently moved to our neighborhood and laughing when the sisters up the street rolled up to the block party in their pink Barbie Escalade. Talk about jealous.

Had I been drinking, I would have definitely found a partner (or two) to try to keep the fun going long after the little ones had been taken home and put to bed. I would have easily polished off the majority of a bottle of rose and the next day, would have felt pretty terrible driving my 15yo to lacrosse practice 40 minutes away. Instead, I helped clean up all the desserts and was in bed and reading by 10:00. On a Saturday.

But I’ll tell you what, there’s nothing better than waking up on a Sunday morning and — aside from all the usual 52yo aches and pains — feeling like a champ. Future Amy was happy, for once, with what Present Amy had chosen to do the night before. A first.

Do you find alcohol to be the same slippery slope that I’ve been trying to navigate? I have a feeling that I’m not alone. Feel free to share in the comments below.

On Letting Your Kid Drive Half-Way Across the Country. Alone.

This spring, on the cusp of her 21st birthday, my younger daughter flew from New Jersey to Minneapolis, rented a U-Haul and stretched a little further west—driving a few hours into North Dakota. Then, over the course of the next four days, she worked her way back east, making her last stop along the coast of New Hampshire and then hopping on a bus the next day to Boston and finally, flying home to Newark.

Since her return, my heart has slowly made its way out of my throat and back down into my chest where it belongs.

While my third child was somewhere in Indiana dipping her toes in Lake Michigan, and visiting the National Buffalo Museum in Jamestown, ND, I spent most of the week she was away refreshing her location on my iPhone, ensuring she was alive by watching the icon I use for her on my phone — a picture of a cartoonish bear I took at Target that reminded me of her — move across the country.

For a while one afternoon, the icon seemed to stall somewhere in the middle of Wisconsin on my phone, indicating where she had been 14 minutes earlier — then 15 — but wouldn’t update to where she was at that moment. I had resolved not to call or text while she was driving her rig — I didn’t want to distract her or let her feel the wind from my hovering beating hard over her curly head from 1,000 miles away — but was overpowered by the mental image I had of her pinned beneath an 18-wheeler.

“HE-L-L-O!” she answered happily when I called, in her best Oprah-like voice, and told me she had pulled over to take a walk through a nature reserve she’d read about the night before. She wanted to stretch her legs a bit before resuming her journey to Kalamazoo for the night. “There’s, like, zero reception here,” she told me, explaining why her location wasn’t updating on my phone.

A few minutes later, she sent me a video from the top of a gorge, which panned down to a waterfall spilling into the stream far below, and then spun around to show me the sun-dappled woods behind her. It was picturesque and serene and a little too deserted for my liking. IMG_3379

While I was happy to hear she wasn’t in a fiery heap on the side of the interstate, I was also concerned that she was about to end up shackled in the back of a serial killer’s van, destined to become the sleeve of his skin suit. “Please text me as soon as you get back in the U-Haul,” I told her, “and lock the doors!”. A little while later, she sent a picture of the truck, parked in a deserted looking lot, which is exactly the kind of scene a location scout would pick for a movie about a young woman’s abduction on her journey across America.

I said a silent prayer to Sacagawea, whose image was plastered across the side of the U-Haul, to help keep my daughter safe as she rolled through the Upper Midwest towards New Hampshire, like Lewis and Clark making their way to the Pacific, except with podcasts and Spotify.

It had all the makings of a great story: my daughter, just home from a semester in Italy, was dead broke and had the opportunity to make a nice chunk of change, while touring her own country for a few days. Even though she’d spent the previous four months exploring Europe — taking a bike tour through Munich and traveling from Florence to Greece on a 30-hour journey akin to Odysseus’, minus the Cyclops — a road trip seemed like a well-timed adventure before beginning her summer internship at a big resort in Pennsylvania. And for a girl from New Jersey, anything west of Pittsburgh seemed pretty exotic

The opportunity to go on this 8-hour-a-day-odyssesy through the upper half of the country and make some money came from right next door. Our neighbor, Liz, is a bookkeeper and one of her clients had asked whether her college-aged son would be interested in the job. When he couldn’t, Liz immediately thought of my daughter and texted me with all the details.

In a nutshell, a New Hampshire-based marketing firm (Liz’s client) was looking to make an impression on some big corporations by hiring someone to hand-deliver to their marketing execs end tables with company logos, crafted by some artisans in North Dakota. The job was to pick up the tables from the workshop and travel back east, making two deliveries (Minneapolis and Ann Arbor), and then transporting the rest of the furniture to New Hampshire, all expenses paid plus a nice check at the end.

What could go wrong?

I was nervous at first, but everything checked out and in the many years that I have known Liz, she has never done anything remotely reckless. She recently spearheaded a campaign in town to encourage more kids to walk and bike to school, and wears a reflective vest when she goes on her early morning runs. I was confident she wasn’t setting my daughter up to be a drug mule.

“She might want to check what’s inside those table legs,” said my friend Dan — who’d worked a dozen years as a prison guard before becoming a personal trainer, and has witnessed horrible things on both ends of the economic spectrum. “It’s just the way I think,” he said, shrugging his shoulders.

Around the same time, a good friend was sending her husband to fetch their daughter (my girl’s BF) from college in St. Louis and drive her back to New Jersey in their car, which she’d had for the year. “You better tell her to be careful,” my friend said when I told her of my own daughter’s wacky caper.

And that’s when panic set in.

Truth be told, I am not prone to smothering tendencies as a parent. In fact, sometimes I can be a little too hands off. I keep forgetting to check my 15yo’s grades from last marking period online and still don’t know whether I need to call to check if a parent is home, every time he goes over to a friend’s house. It just seems so aggressive.

I do enjoy some casual stalking though, insisting that all the kids — even ones who don’t live with me anymore — share their locations with me on their iPhones (okay, not the 25yo boy, who thinks all of us stalking each other is weird). 

Aside from the solo aspect of the journey, I was also worried about all of that driving. I get sick when the kids are on long-distance drives, like the 8-hour haul the older two kids had to their college in Virginia. And I hate when any of my kids are flying and insist they text the minute the plane’s wheels hit the tarmac. But I also don’t want my children spending their lives standing still.

If I was going to be completely honest, I think what concerned me the most about the journey — besides all the driving and traveling by herself — was whether other people would think I was an irresponsible parent for allowing her to go.

I didn’t want anyone to think that I was a bad mom. 

When she was little, I used to refer to my third child as “The Boss” because, even at a young age, she was someone who liked to take charge — or at the very least — stand up to her older two siblings. They’d lounge around on beanbag chairs in our basement when they were little, watching Barney and Thomas the Tank Engine videos that ran on a loop, while I pried little scraps of American cheese off the floor upstairs after lunch. One afternoon  my oldest came up crying and holding his cheek, sobbing something about his baby sister, who was probably around 2 at the time. Apparently, tired of being harassed by her oldest brother, The Boss had gotten up off her pink beanbag chair and bit him in the face. And he never bothered her again.

I knew in my heart that my girl, that Boss, could handle a 2,000-mile drive across the country. That she was up to the challenge. But the reaction I got as I told peopleexcitedly at first about the trip, had me questioning whether I should have even told my kid about the job in the first place.

What no one ever tells you when your children are young, when they’re offering advice about whether they should sleep on their back or their side or if you should worry when one bites her brother in the face, is that it never ends. What you never find out until it’s too late, is that you will worry about your child until you take your last breath.

And I think the only way to manage that crushing reality, is to recognize that for the most part, they’ve got it. It might not always go to way you’d like it to go, or the way you try to manipulate outcomes (“Hello, my name is Amy, and I can be a master manipulator.”) but they usually figure it out. I’ve watched a million times as I’ve tried to play the role of the puppeteer that they do what’s best for them when I drop (or, okay, they cut) the strings.

They pick the right colleges and get full-time jobs with 401ks. And if they don’t, it’s valuable information for them to use in the future.

Maybe in the end, it all just comes down to faith.

So, while my inner voice told me it would all be fine, I ratcheted up my hovering, lest anyone think I didn’t care about my daughter. And then I started to lose faith. I stopped listening to my inner voice.

As soon as she drove away in the Uber for her flight to Minneapolis, I became pretty focused on her whereabouts. I immediately started stalking the hell out of her on my phone, which I think charmed her at first and then quickly became very irritating.

Aside from the stalking, I also spent much of the week serving as her travel agent, combing the internet to book rooms and find places for her to eat. And while I tried to find the “best” places for her to go, she really just wanted to get something to eat and lie down.

She ended up at the Mall of America after a long day of driving from North Dakota one day (“I’m so overwhelmed,” she texted when she got inside. “Why didn’t you ever bring us here on vacation?”), and I tracked her location inside the megamall. I could see on my laptop where she was, and tried to guide her to good places for dinner like she was Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible and I was trying to help her find an escape route. I had all of these amazing ideas (I thought) and eventually, she stopped texting and later told me she rode a rollercoaster and grabbed some hibachi at Benihana.

She did her own research each night in her hotel room, which took her to see a giant pink elephant in Wisconsin and ate what she said were “the most amazing” beef tacos (“It’s rated the #1 restaurant in DeForest,” she texted.). One morning, she messaged asking, “Should I go see a forest or the world’s largest six-pack of beer?” which led her for that deserted walk around the woods of Pewits Nest, alongside a stream called Skillet’s Creek in Devil’s Lake State Park in Wisconsin. A place from which I thought she’d surely never escape. 

For a while one afternoon as she approached Chicago, I tried to find places for her to park the U-Haul so she could go visit that giant bean, but in the end, we determined no parking garage could accommodate her rig and that she’d come off looking like aterrorist. Instead, she pulled off at Indiana Dunes State Park and stood in the clear shallow water of Lake Michigan before spending the night in Kalamazoo.

Along the way, she stopped for lunch in Cleveland one day with her roommate from freshman year (even though I was dying for her to go to Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor), and another day had breakfast with one of her best pals who lives in Harrisburg, PA. She stopped for the night to stay at her apartment in State College, PA, to see friends and pick up bedding and stuff for her summer internship at Hershey Park.

Finally, she arrived around 8 p.m. in Portsmouth, NH after a long day of driving from State College, where she finally met the man she’d been driving across the country for who took her to get something to eat before she collapsed at a Hilton Garden Inn for the night. The next morning, she took a bus to Boston and flew home, where she promptly ate some leftover quiche in the frig, snuggled our dog and watched the royal wedding, which had happened earlier that day. 

A week later she packed up our old GMC and drove back to Pennsylvania to start her internship and we joked that the three-hour trip would feel like nothing after her midwestern odyssey.

After a day of orientation, she worked her first 8-4:30 day in housekeeping and when I asked how it went, she told me her feet were killing her.

She was on her way back to the apartment she shared with five other interns and was going to shower and change to meet friends for an early dinner, and then had to run to Wal-Mart to by an all-black sneaker to wear to work the next day.

“Well, how do you feel?” I asked as she pulled into her apartment complex and was about to get out of the car.

“I feel like a legit grown up,” she told me.

And I couldn’t have agreed more.

Do you sometimes lose your faith? Me too. Sign up to get all my latest posts delivered straight to your inbox and we can commiserate. I promise I’ll try not to tell you what to do.


Birthdays Can Be Hard When You’re Single

I turned 52 in the back of an Uber last month, crammed alongside my three adult kids on our way home from sweating on a crowded dance floor as we sang and danced to one of my favorite bands late into a Sunday night.

We jumped up and down to the opening chords of Tom Petty’s “American Girl,” shouting the OH YEAHs and ALL RIGHTs while pumping our hands in the air. Later, I saw that my oldest son had posted a video of me on Instagram, dramatically singing every word to “Born to Run,” my 24yo daughter looking on with a big smile, as I pressed my hand to my heart and swore to die with Wendy on the street tonight in an everlasting kiss.


I like to elbow my way up to the front of the dance floor, especially after a few vodka clubs, so I dragged the kids with me so we could watch the band up close. Later, we agreed we were slightly deaf from being so close to the stacks of speakers and wailing saxophone player.

I’m not sure what we talked about after we tumbled into the Uber car to go home. Initially, my older daughter was pissed because the rest of us were kinda wandering around deaf and tipsy outside the bar and having a hard time following directions. Eventually, she herded us into the car she had called and at some point during the half hour journey home, the clock struck midnight and the kids started wishing me a happy birthday.

And even though I really love my birthday, I mostly remember feeling relieved that I’d done the obligatory celebration and that it was almost over.

Here’s the thing about birthdays and holidays when you are single: they are hard.

I mean, maybe they’re hard for folks in relationships, too, but for some reason, I don’t remember it that way. Of course, holidays were always stressful, regardless of my relationship status. Every November I’d be sitting on my therapist’s couch complaining about how some of my family members would show up empty-handed to Thanksgiving or sometimes, just not show up at all.

But back when I was married, I mostly remember my husband doing all of the heavy lifting around my birthday. He was always good for getting tickets for us to see a show I wanted to see, or planning a gathering with friends. He loved a reason to celebrate.

Normal people probably don’t need a big commotion around their birthdays, but sadly, the Leo in me demands attention. She will settle for nothing less than a day in the spotlight filled with people celebrating her. 

Another driving force behind my birthday planning mania is that there’s also something super-depressing about having nothing to do on your birthday, especially in the age of social media. Your birthday needs to be all Insta-worthy to complement all those Facebook birthday messages (of which I’m always hoping to break 100 hbds).

Now that I’m divorced, the burden to plan and execute the kind of birthday extravaganza I need has fallen upon me. I now need to be a shameless birthday huckster and convince people to go along with it. And mostly, it’s been working.

The worst was turning 50.

While other people’s husbands I knew were organizing big parties or taking them away to Hawaii or Italy to celebrate the half-century mark, I was wondering just who I could convince to go to the movies with me, or maybe out to dinner. To make things worse, my 50th birthday fell on a Saturday, which added to the pressure to come up with something worthy of an entire weekend. It felt like I needed two-days’ worth of activities to live up to the hype.

But the problem with weekends, as any single person can tell you, is that your married friends are doing things with their husbands-slash-families. It’s hard for mothers and wives to get away on a Friday or Saturday night. When you are uncoupled, you’re more of a Monday-through-Thursday playmate.

Which left my four children to pick up their mother’s birthday mantel.

I ended up buying tickets for us to go see a matinée of the play “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” which was playing at the time on Broadway. Most of us had listened to the audiobook on our way down to my older daughter’s college graduation in Virginia a few months earlier, and we ended up talking about it all weekend — joking about the characters and trying to speak with British accents. It got to the point that we began to annoy anyone who hadn’t been in my car and listened to the book.

So I returned to New York, the city of my birth — 50 years later and this time, by bus — and my children complained about the melting heat as we walked along 41st Street and cursed my parents for having me in August (“What were they thinking?” the children moaned). But other than the excruciating weather, we had a lovely day out. The kids took me to brunch where we were served pitchers of mimosas and ate chicken paillard and the play reminded us why we had liked the book so much on that long drive in the spring.

Then it was my BF’s turn to share my 50th birthday burden, and she hosted a little gathering later that night with some of my favorite ladies where I received an alarming amount of wine and appreciated their group effort to make me feel loved and give me the attention I needed.

Another year quickly flew past, and I found myself still single and needing to come up with a plan for turning 51. Since the recipe the year before had worked so well, I decided to get us tickets to see another show and started stalking the Internet for cheap tickets to see “Dear Evan Hansen,” of which there are none. Finally, after a lot of agonizing and rationalizing — not to mention needing to see Ben Platt sing “Waving Through a Window” IRL — I broke down and bought the tickets for a matinée on my Sunday birthday that I’d had in a shopping cart for a week.

The next day, my oldest son found me in the kitchen and announced that he’d heard Ben Platt wasn’t going to be in the performance we were going to, and I went upstairs to my bedroom and cried. 

Eventually, my older daughter came up and sat on my bed and assured me that we were still going to have a great day together. That was all that mattered, she told me. I heard the logic in her reasoning and eventually dried my tears and went downstairs with lowered expectations, to match my new credit score.

We took the bus back into the city on my birthday and returned to the same restaurant we’d gone to the year before, and drank more mimosas and I had that delicious chicken again. I am a strong proponent of sticking with a formula that works.

And of course, I don’t need to tell you how phenomenal the show was, despite Ben Platt’s absence. I had a feeling the story would resonate for us, but didn’t realize how much until I heard my daughters crying on either side of me. Then, towards the end of the musical, my older daughter grabbed my hand when Evan Hansen’s mom sings:

“Your mom isn’t going anywhere

Your mom is staying right here

No matter what

I’ll be here”

Seriously. Who wouldn’t have paid money for that? Then later, after we returned home, my 15yo son came downstairs and announced he already knew every word to every song, and sometimes when we’re driving around, he’ll put one of them on and we’ll sing along. Ka-ching.

Then, and I swear the years are coming at me on an accelerated cycle where 365 days have been compressed into maybe 300, yet another birthday approached.

The nice thing now is that my kids just assumed we were doing something to celebrate 52 together. “What are we doing this year?” they started to ask in, like, June.

Since my credit cards cannot handle five tickets to see a Broadway show, I needed to think cheap. For the last few summers, I’ve headed south with a group of women I like to call my Little Mommies to a Jersey Shore summer staple, the Parker House, to dance on a Sunday night. It’s a a big white house two blocks from the ocean with a wraparound porch where you can sit and eat and a bar inside that’s pretty clubby on a Friday night in July and where anyone over 30 would look really out-of-place. But on Sundays, they have bands down in the basement tavern that play lots of Bruce and Tom Petty and the likes and it’s a blast being down there with a big posse pushing your way up front to dance the night away. It’s pretty joyful.

As my birthday fell on a Monday this year, getting a group together to head to the Parker House seemed like a good way to celebrate my birthday, and then I wouldn’t care what I ended up doing on the actual day of my birth. It also helped that three of my four kids are now 21 and that my baby was not the kind to feel left out.

I put an invitation out in text and email to all my groups of friends but, as it was August, folks were away or busy entertaining out-of-towners. In the end, two (Gold Star) Little Moms hauled themselves down to show their love and dance — and it was perfect. We met up with two of my sisters and a brother-in-law and later, my baby girl, who’d been making beds as an intern at the Hotel Hershey all summer, arrived after her shift to join the fun.

We tumbled out into the warm August night and my inner Leo was satisfied with the celebration.

Lately, my dad has taken to telling me that he is impressed with the relationship I have built with my kids (he’s also always telling me that I don’t want to die alone, which is his way of saying, “Start dating, already.”). He admires how the kids and I still go on vacations together and that they show up to celebrate my birthday. “You have a family,” he says, and it resonates since I struggle with my family of origin. Even though my divorce shattered the fantasy I clung to of creating some perfect family, I think I might have ended up with what I really needed instead.

Jennifer My Therapist often reminds me of this phenomenon. She’s impressed that my adult children actually want to pay to go on vacation with me. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a whole lot of dysfunction swirling around us — you should have seen the argument the kids had in Florence this spring that erupted over a pizza drizzled in pesto that should have been the real reason for tears, it was that good. One child stormed out of the tiny pizza place — where one little Italian man kept shoveling slices in and out of a giant oven, taking orders from a long line of customers — and I went out to reason with that kid and came back inside to talk to another kid, when all I really wanted to do was sit there with my glass or red wine and enjoy the magical pesto pizza I’d dreamt of eating for months.

But to our credit, I really think we’re all trying to figure it out. I think we all feel deep down that it’s worth trying to work through it all. When we are able to see past each other’s masks — through the hurt feelings and miscommunication — to see the person struggling inside. I think that’s what keeps us together. Pesto helps.

Prior to heading out to dance on my birthday eve, my two older kids and I had a drink, and my oldest son took a sip of the margarita I had made and asked if he could give me his birthday card.

“Well, my birthday’s not until tomorrow,” I told him. “Why don’t you wait?”

“I can’t,” he said, handing me the grey envelope. He’s the kind of person who gets a bee in his bonnet and just can’t shake it. The card itself was pretty funny, with a cartoon of a little yellow duckling on the front asking its mom if she remembered all the times he had said mean things and did things she told him not to do. “Thanks for letting me live,” the little duck says at the end, and my son thanked me for letting him “live 25 years on this Earth,” in his note below.

“I love you more than you know,” he wrote, and although there have been times when I’ve really wanted to throttle my oldest kid, I know that deep inside he’s a mush. He’s like my very own M&M, sweet and gooey deep down, once you get beyond the hard outer shell.

Tucked inside the card were two pieces of paper folded together, and when I opened them up, saw that they were two tickets he’d purchased for a performance next month of the show “Mean Girls” on Broadway. 

This. Was. Unexpected.

“I got you two tickets, but I was hoping that you’d bring me,” he said, and I told him that sounded like a perfect date. My daughter joked that she should have given me her gift first, and we finished our cocktails and called an Uber to go out and dance.

Happy birthday to me.

It turns out, my inner Leo is hungry all-year-long! Please consider feeding her by signing up for my highly-erratic newsletter, which sends my latest post right to your inbox (who needs Facebook?). 


Waving Through a Window

This summer, there have been times that it’s felt like the whole universe has been conspiring to get me back here, to my dusty old blog. There have been some moments it’s felt as if the Blog Gods have grabbed me by the shoulders and given me a good shake before asking, “Amy, wtf are you doing?”

The truth is that I’ve felt stymied for a while–creatively, professionally, economically. I’ve reasoned that I should find places that pay money for my writing instead of giving it away for free here. But then I lack the motivation and chutzpah to pitch any of my work. I compare myself with other writers I read and admire and think that my writing could never measure up to what they produce so–it seems–effortlessly. If you looked at my Documents folder, you’d see dozens of unfinished essays, which is def a metaphor for my modus operandi.

Then there are all the other voices in my head. All of those mouthy bastards. Some of the internal monologues come through distinctly in my voice — the snipes of self-loathing and indecision — but there are other voices festering in there as well. Family members from whom I’m estranged. People I used to be married to. The mother of my good friend. A writing mentor.

I hear those voices and I cringe any time I read something that I’ve written. It’s like, “What am I thinking? Who cares? Will they care?”

Sometimes, all those voices seem to be standing in the way of me telling my story, which is all it really is, my take on things that happen in an ordinary life. But really, I’m starting to think it’s just me unable to get out of my own head.

Recently, I’ve gone back and read some of the things I’ve posted here over the last 5 years and am sometimes shocked that I went as far as I did in some pieces. That I shared as much as I did. But at the time, I had zero issues with occasional oversharing. It felt kind of cathartic.

I’d like to get back to that.

It’s what connected me to every person who’s read something of mine and said, “Me, too.” Not in a #metoo, Harvey Weinstein/Matt Lauer, kinda way, but more in the, “Totally,” vein. As in, “I totally get it.”

The kids and I got to go see “Dear Evan Hansen” last summer, which is something I highly suggest you refinance your house to do. It’s epic. Anyway, there’s a song the main character sings in the beginning, called “Waving Through a Window,” and it’s about how all any of us wants is to be seen. To be heard. To be loved. It’s what connects us all at our core. You can watch him perform it here to get a sense of just how moving the song can be (here I pause to watch for the 100th time).

When I first thought about writing personal essays, or maybe a bigger memoir, I felt hampered by the fact that my story was just so ordinary. My divorce, in the scheme of things, was pretty run-of-the-mill. I mean, we had some exciting moments, don’t get me wrong. But it wasn’t like my ex had a second family stashed somewhere in New Jersey or had gambled all our money away. We just didn’t get what we needed from each other, and no amount of couples therapy or red wine was ever going to fix that fact.

(Teachable moment: Kids, don’t get married when you’re 24.)

I remember saying this to a college friend early on in my separation, how my story was a dime-a-dozen. We were sitting around after dinner in her Brooklyn Heights apartment with friends, sipping grappa, which I was about to find out was not only very strong but could lead to blackouts. I told her what was holding me back and she shook her head and told me that my thinking was all wrong.

“People read to feel connected,” she told me. “They want to know that they’re not alone.”

Of course, it would be another few years before I put that logic to the test here on my blog, when I quickly found that both men and women, folks my age and way younger and older — some with kids and some without — would tell me they could see pieces of themselves in my stories. Snapshots from their own lives.

I was sitting around a long picnic table having dinner with friends this summer in Montauk, all the way out at the very end of Long Island, where glass box beach houses sit atop a bluff overlooking the Atlantic and there are long stretches of beach with more rocks than people, when one of the women in our group starting talking about my blog.

“You were so fucking brave,” she said of the things I wrote, and I felt kind of proud because this woman was no shrinking violet. I also noticed she’d been speaking in the past-tense.

Earlier in the summer, I met some women at a local bar that sits along the Shrewsbury River and offers a front row to a spectacular sunset most nights. It’s all pinks and purples stretched across the sky and slowly dipping into the water.

We stood in a circle with our drinks in clear plastic cups and someone that I knew introduced me to the gal she had come with. “I don’t want to come off as crazy,” this new girl quickly said, “but I love your blog. I even wrote you fan mail a few years ago.”

And this woman in neither divorced nor as old as I am. Just another human struggling on this planet to make sense of things.

Finally, just last night, I was at a mixer for my baby’s high school football team at a local bar where we stood outside on a deck and clung to our icy vodka drinks to help us not melt in the oppressive New Jersey heat. I ran into a gal I went to high school, with whose son is now in high school playing football, and she always has something nice to say about whatever crazy thing I’ve written here over the years.

“I’m not getting your posts any more,” she immediately told me. “Do I need to sign up again?”

I told her that no, I’d just been lame lately, and she said she missed reading my stuff.

“You’re in luck,” I told her, “because I am posting something tomorrow.”

You know how Oprah is all, “Pay attention to the whispers of the universe”? That eventually, the universe will start shouting at you if you don’t?

I’m pretty sure that’s what these most recent incidents were. The universe shaking me by the shoulders and telling me to write. Anything. Just write.

So, that’s what I’m going to do.

Are you waving through a window, too? I totally see you. Sign up to get my posts right in your inbox in the erratic fashion I’ve accepted, after 52 years, is just the way I operate. We can wave to each other (I’ll try to remember to comb my hair and put on a bra).