Half-Blood Prince


A few years ago, Dave and I wandered into an Off-Broadway theater to see whatever show had last-minute student tickets. It happened to be a play starring Alan Rickman and Jerry O’Connell about some complicated student/teacher relationship and personal growth. It wasn’t great, and the other actors were distractingly strange. But I got to see Alan Rickman live on stage and that was amazing.

We didn’t rush out with the crowd after the show finished. I always try to avoid running out of a theatre, since I’m anxious in crowds and lines make me nervous. By the time we made our way out the doors, we saw a few people loitering outside. I wondered whether someone had slipped on the ice or if there was a wild animal performing circus acts. Since both of those things peaked my interest, I went to take a look. It was neither. People were waiting for autographs with Alan, Jerry, and the rest of the cast. At that moment, I decided I needed to meet Snape. There was nothing more important. Also, I was told it’d be about four more minutes and I thought that’d be ok.

First, I met Jerry O’Connell, because there I was and I didn’t want to be rude. He was polite and had a nice smile. The best part about meeting Jerry was a couple teenagers nearby yelling, “Hey! It’s Kangaroo Jack!” It flustered him a bit, since clearly he was trying to leave behind his kangaroo wrangling days. I don’t blame him. I couldn’t even remember his name when writing this—I had to google Kangaroo Jack.

Then Snape walked through the door. Immediately, my heart contracted and expanded. I know my heart does that all the time, since it pumps my blood. This was different. I felt like he looked right at me as soon as he came out, though I’m sure he didn’t. He spoke with me and Dave, asking us how we liked the play. I can’t remember what I said or what anyone else around me was doing. This is what I do remember. Alan was exactly how I’d hoped he would be. His voice was the voice of Snape, so I saw Snape in his every move. He was calm and serious. He wasn’t overly friendly, which I appreciated—because we were strangers and because Snape would never smile needlessly. We spoke for a few moments and on he went. It was perfect.

Yesterday, when I found out Alan Rickman had died, I thought about that moment and the feeling I had when I shook Snape’s hand and his deep, complicated voice filled my heart.

Body Shop


You know what’s terrible? When you stumble across an article claiming to expose the pre-photoshopped images of celebrities and the stars look just as gorgeous and amazing as they do after the changes. That is not going to make any of us regular people feel better. I would just like to live my life believing Jennifer Lopez looks that way because of a computer. The only way a computer could make me look that good is if I photoshop myself out and JLo in. Entirely. From head to toe.

Not Quite Sure


For the most part, I’m good with the concept that I’m clueless about nearly everything. Just think of all the things there are to know. There’s no way I can build a computer or speak Chinese. And I was taught you don’t need to fake it when you’re uncertain. If I asked my mom a question for which she didn’t have the answer, she wouldn’t make something up to quell my interest. She’d say, “I don’t know. Let’s look it up when we get home.” I mean, we never actually looked it up, because we had more important things to do, but the sentiment was there.

Still though, I have moments when I am absolutely sure of something. My brain is like a whirring fan and it can convince me that, because it’s always buzzing, I’ve landed on the right side of a question. But sometimes, lots of times, I’m smacked upside the head with the truth.

Like at the one-night sleepover session of a week-long day camp I attended as a kid. The counselors had set up a bunch of tents and the girls thought it would be super fun to have a seance. I was extra cool back then, so it didn’t really matter if the girls liked me. Just kidding, I was not cool at all and it was my final chance of the week to become an insider. I joined in, even though I thought it was nonsense. They went around the circle and asked who we should try to reach. I, in an overzealous effort to engage, made a suggestion—Celine Dion. Everyone loved her (“It’s All Coming Back To Me” was topping the charts around then) and I’d recently heard about her death on the radio. Everyone agreed she would be the perfect person to contact. Spoiler—we didn’t make a connection. Not even a fluttering flashlight. The girls were very disappointed. Then the wind rustled and we all got scared and went to bed.

It wasn’t until the next day that I realized it was Selena who had died, not Celine Dion. I’ve always blamed myself for our wasted adolescent magic. And it was all because I was sure of the babble my brain had created—both about the wrong dead girl and about my crucial need to connect with these strangers. Plus everyone turned into lizards.

Winter Weight


People usually have one of two opinions regarding this unseasonably warm winter. Either they’re happy about avoiding hat hair or sad about the melting Arctic ice. I’m here to add a new perspective to this very important conversation.

Our squirrels are getting fat. They’re so confused by the lack of cold, they just keep running around grassy parks and eating our pizza crusts. I can identify with the desire to keep on snacking, but it’s getting serious. Take a look around. The next squirrel you see will probably be just a little too chunky. Or more than a little. We’re gonna have to stage an intervention or create some kind of weight watchers for squirrels program. Squirrels don’t seem prone to commitment, so we should get the fees upfront.


Ms. Independent-ish


I’m an independent woman. I like spending time alone and I won’t waste my limited emotional energy on people I don’t think are wonderful. I’m a feminist and I take care of business and I work hard to make things happen. Every day I do super grown-up things like eat vegetables and read books. Beyonce would be proud of me.

My fiercely independent self has been living all on my own for the last week. Dave has been in Istanbul having fun and learning how to be a better financial executive. I’ve been doing ok with the big picture stuff (in that I am still alive and functioning and being awesome), but I’ve run into a few tenuous situations. Really, I’ve been narrowly escaping death all week. It turns out, Dave’s a pretty important part of my life (and survival).

Here are some things that have gone down:

  1. Immediately needed my iPad and discovered it was dead. Spent 35 minutes looking for my charger, because I was under the impression these things charge themselves.
  2. Almost drove off the road while I was thinking too much about lonely tortoises.
  3. Was plagued by a gnat for four days. Followed it around every night in a way that didn’t look at all insane as it evaded my murderous plans.
  4. In an attempt to efficiently carry dishes to the sink, dropped a fork and stabbed a visible hole in my wood floor.
  5. Choked while drinking water. Thought for a while about how long it would take for someone to find my body.
  6. Slid off the couch because the cushion had fallen so far out of place it was no longer on the frame.
  7. Almost died in a dangerous gas-leak situation. There was no gas leak, but my anxiety about the circumstances gave me a heart attack.
  8. Slept wrapped in my blankets like a burrito because no one made the bed in over a week.
  9. Got out of bed with my alarm approximately zero times.
  10. Almost sliced my finger off trying to cut a sweet potato. Thankful no one was home to sharpen the knives.

So there a few things I’m not great at doing on my own. Even a self-reliant lady like myself needs someone to have her back. Beyonce has Jay Z and Jay Z has Beyonce. They also have at least a thousand employees. Luckily, my person will be returning home today. If I can make it to the airport without getting distracted by thoughts of elephants riding rollercoasters.

Literary Bore


As an uber nerd, an English major, and a writer, I’m supposed to be very well-read and literary. For the most part, I fit the bill. I’m in love with libraries and force Dave to frequent them in every new city we visit. I used to stay up all night when I was a kid, hiding my flashlight and book under my covers. I read great and not-so-great stuff every day.

Though I’ve enjoyed plenty of young adult fantasy novels and fancy schmancy classics, I’ve missed a lot of important ones. At this point in my life, however, I’m not really in the business of reading things just because I’m supposed to. So there’s no going back. I’m not reading The Sound and The Fury.

The problem is I have annoyingly smart friends and colleagues who want to talk to me about smart-people literature. Sometimes I just play along and nod, pretending like I know all about the nonsense words shooting out of their mouths. It’s not worth it to explain how I got bored reading the book that changed their lives. I’m really just being thoughtful and considerate in my lies by omission.

Here are just a few socially significant books I started and never finished (so stop talking to me about them, please):

  1. Moby Dick—I was interested in this book because Matilda read it with Ms. Honey after she adopted her, but I started it a little too early in life. I’m glad I never finished it, because I think you’re supposed to be on the side of the sailor, and I’m pretty sure I’d have cheered for the whale.
  2. Little Women—I couldn’t get into a story about a bunch of girls who were stuck at home, thinking about boys. I stopped reading when I got to a set of pages about the hairstyles each girl would wear to a party.
  3. Don Quixote—I started reading this one, but then I realized there are about a thousand parodies of this book, so what’s the point, really?
  4. The Origin of Species—I pick this up thinking it would add to my scientific knowledge. Once I read a few paragraphs, I remembered I already believe in evolution and don’t need to be convinced.
  5. For Whom the Bell Tolls—I know a lot of people are in love with Hemingway, but there was too much war talk and into the library donation pile it went.

So now the cat’s out of the bag. If it’s a classic novel written by an old guy, I probably didn’t get through it. You can stop slyly mentioning plot lines or throwing around quotes from the last two thirds of the book, because I don’t understand them. Move along, smarty pants.

Wake Up Call


A couple mornings ago, I was rudely awakened by the sound of pounding at my front door. If you think alarms are a terrible way to wake up (of course you do, because you’re human), do not replace that method with a really strong man knocking down your door.

Luckily, the guy wasn’t there to kill me, he was there to save me. My neighbor smelled a gas leak inside her condo and just outside our building. In a responsible and well-informed move, she called the city to alert them of the danger. The worker was worried that I also had a gas leak and came to my rescue by giving me a heart attack. I rolled out of bed and zombie walked over to the door. He informed my groggy brain about the situation and asked if he could come inside. I was wrapped in a Dr. Who Tardis blanket and mumbled ok. If he was a serial killer, I would definitely be dead right now.

Gas-guy ran in and out of my condo a dozen times with a tiny beeping box, waving it at the walls and inside my laundry closet. He pulled out my stove and waved the box around there. He said my heat was up too high and made me turn it off. I think it was throwing off the readings and also making him sweat. He told me my water heater was set at too high a temperature and moved the knob a bit (that didn’t impact the leak, he was just concerned about my utilities bill and dry skin). Gas-guy was here so long the battery in his truck died and he had to call a tow truck for a jump. It was a serious gas leak situation.

Because I am mature and also filled with anxiety, I asked him all the important questions one must ask in this kind of situation:

  1. Will I die in a fiery explosion? (Answer: No, the levels are not high enough. Yet.)
  2. My carbon monoxide detector didn’t alert me to this dangerous situation, so it’s useless and I should just throw it away, right? (Answer: Something about carbon monoxide only occurring when metals are burned. I didn’t understand any of it.)
  3. Are you really sure I won’t die in a fiery explosion? (Answer: You won’t, but it’s a good thing we’re here, because gas leaks only get worse.)

My new friend was very nice, but he told me the whole situation was a challenge. He couldn’t find the source, which did NOT ease my anxiety about the explosions. He finally decided it was outside our building. Another team came in the afternoon to fix those pipes and I’m assuming they did an acceptable job, because no one woke me up this morning. Literally no one. I was late for work. Thanks for having my back, gas-guy.