Life is work.


Every time I think I have a handle on this new life, it slips out of my grasp.

The last couple of months I have been getting a little cocky. Feeling like nothing was getting me down and I was managing so well. I got through the holidays without procrastinating on my Christmas cards or forgetting a gift. I was looking forward to my spring art classes with new lessons and an eager attitude. I was averaging 15,000 steps a day on my Fitbit. I even started a new writing class, determined that 2016 was the year of getting published. I was on top of the world.

Then, things started falling apart. I’m not sure what happened, but I am fairly certain that full hours were snatched from my days. I couldn’t seem to sleep enough or get even half of my “list” done on any given day. My pile of bills started mounting into a tower in the office. Laundry seemed to never leave the heap on the chair in our bedroom. The kitchen sink was always full. Every room of our house had a reminder that I was losing a battle.

What do I do when I’m overwhelmed and feeling nuts? I pretend. If anyone asks – “I’m doing great!”. I walk around with a big smile and hope that conversations don’t get too deep so that I’m not forced to reveal anything. The last thing I really want to do is to talk about feeling that I’m losing my grip. I’m Jesse – I’ve got this.

Of corse there are hints. I don’t return phone calls, I drink more than I should, I avoid anything involving intimate conversation. I can easily disguise my mood from most people, but my close friends and family usually pick up on the signals. Dan has been asking “You okay?” so much that I started feeling kinda bad for him.

Time for a change.

This week, I’ve been avoiding the vino, tackling the laundry, sorting through the pile on my desk and searching for whatever it is that’s gotten me out of sync. It’s going pretty well, but have you ever noticed that laundry and bills are never really done?



One of the things I do to keep myself on task is I write with a friend every Thursday morning. She and I have been devoted for two years to our Thursday morning ritual of meeting online, selecting a topic and diving in to a 30 minute “flash” writing session. Once we’re done, we exchange our work and then catch up on our lives. She and I have become quite close, although we’ve never met in person (we met while taking an online writing course two years ago). I think sometimes those anonymous relationships allow us to be more honest. She knows almost as many of my secrets as Jack does.

Yesterday morning she asked if there was anything on my mind. “Keeping up with change” was the subject I came up with. It was easier to suggest than, “I think that life is swallowing me.” She and I each poured our coffee and told each other that we’d be back in 30.

The beginning of this piece is what I got through. I’m always amazed how writing can help me better understand what I’m feeling. Once I find the words, my mood always seems to improve. Now, I just need to sort through what put me into the sour mood so I can avoid it happening again.

The “C” word (college) keeps coming up and it’s certainly not helping, but I don’t think that’s all of it. I think I’m just feeling overwhelmed with normal, every day, I’m a grown-up shit. I won’t play the ALD card here.

Just because you have BIG crap going on doesn’t mean that the SMALL crap doesn’t bother you too.

My writing friend has a great way with words. She ended her note to me with “Life is work, and boy does that work take time.”


Love, Jess

First Twitter, now this

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It’s adorable. I keep finding my almost 50-year-old husband sitting at the computer yelling, “You’re not gonna believe who I just found!”

Dan has taken up social media. Perhaps it’s his version of a mid-life crisis. I’m not complaining — It’s way cheaper than a new car and much nicer (for me) than a young girlfriend. It started with Twitter a couple of months ago. He swears that it’s just for “real time news”, but he seems much more in the know about celebrity gossip these days. Then, over the weekend he asked me to help set him up on “The Facebook”.

I thought he was kidding. Dan’s not just been one of those people who didn’t care about “The Facebook”, he resented it. Dan’s old school. A vinyl guy who thinks that the written word (on paper, in ink) is somehow superior. He’s still offended by losing the extra space after a period and HATES that his daughter doesn’t use punctuation to complete a text message.

But, I was curious enough to see what Dan was planning, that I set up a page and showed him the basics. He dove right in. Within a couple of minutes, I could hear him from the other room – giddy as he found old friends. The sweetest thing I’ve ever heard. He poured through his friend’s pages searching for familiar names. He went from, “I’m just looking for some particular people.” to “Did you know how many people are on this thing?”

Downloading old pictures is where he is now. He started with a few family photos, but then he stumbled on some old albums. Now he’s reliving his youth, one photo at a time. Wilton days, Block Island shenanigans and college. Many of the images are not oriented properly and I did tell him that maybe he should make some albums so that he avoided taking up news feeds. “But WHO wouldn’t want to see this stuff?”

I felt like his mom yesterday when I sat down at the computer and found that his Facebook page was opened. It was like that day when I accidentally found that Anna left her iPhone at home (It’s not snooping, just checking). I looked at all the old photos – so many great memories, but there were a few pictures that made me pause. I gave Dan a call and suggested that some of the images might be a little inappropriate for a broad audience, “Dan, if you wouldn’t want Jack and Anna to see it, it’s shouldn’t be on Facebook.”

I’ve used a similar line with Anna, “If you wouldn’t want your grandparents to see it . . . “. It hasn’t always worked with Anna and I wasn’t convinced it worked for Dan, so I found myself doing a little “editing”.

When Dan got home yesterday he told me that he heard what I was saying and that there were a few pictures we was going to take down. I quickly confessed that I had already taken care of it and promised not to do it again, “Unless you start making bad choices.”

WHEN did I become this wife? If I’m not careful, he’s gonna unfriend me.


Love, Jess

A dead iPhone and a new goal


Thanks to a dead iPhone, I finally have my goals set for 2016.

I only read books in the summer. I need to be in a folding chair, with sand between my toes, sun on my shoulders and the sound of the ocean in the background. I’ve tried to read at home in front of the fire, but I instantly fall asleep. And reading in bed doesn’t work for me either. The bed is for other activities — like television.

Of course I read a ton of blogs and magazines, and I never let my need for sand hold me back from the latest bestseller. When I’m not on the beach, I listen to audiobooks as I walk. It gets me and the dogs out of the house, puts steps on my fitbit, and lets me get lost in a good story. It also allows me to avoid too much thinking. I like to leave wandering thoughts for when I sit down with my journal or this blog.

This morning something horrible happened while I was out on my walk. Two miles from home, my iPhone died. I stopped in place, staring at the screen and didn’t know what to do. I thought about calling Dan to pick me up, but my iPhone WAS DEAD! Two miles takes me about 40 minutes. 40 minutes to think. I took a deep breath and decided I would take the opportunity to think about my goals for 2016.

The usual suspects came easily to mind. More walking, less drinking, getting published (my fingers have been crossed for so long that it hurts), less carryout, more kale. This list took me less then a minute. 39 minutes to think a little deeper.

It took a while, but I think the walk allowed me to come up with something. Here it is – my goal for 2016 – SLOW TIME.

I’ve spent most of my life looking forward. Looking forward to the weekend, to the next vacation, to the next paycheck. I would like to start living more in the moment. Appreciating every slow Tuesday and every quick conversation and every little hug — especially from my kids.

When Jack and Anna were babies, I felt so buried in sore boobs and laundry that I loved hearing from older woman who told me that “the years would fly by”. That sounded pretty good to me. I fantasized about the day that I could throw away the pacifiers and rid of the baby gates. Once that day arrived, I looked forward to the first day of preschool and watching the kids learn to read. That day came and went and  I was already gearing up to lose the carseats and start planning adventurous family trips.

Life, of course, didn’t follow the path exactly as expected. It wound around and filled with experiences. Not all were welcome, but I proud of where we are. Now, I find that I’m on the other side of the “years flying by” equation and I’m worried that it’s all going too fast.

I’ve got two teenage children with very different futures, but they are both speeding towards adulthood. Jack’s cord may stay closer to home, but even he will find some sort of independence. My days of raising little (big) kids is numbered.

My goal for 2016 is to learn how to slow the momentum. I think I can do this by learning to breath and taking time to appreciate more. Probably not every moment, but all the moments that don’t include poop or sassy teenage chatter (although if Jack wants to give me some sassy teenage chatter, that’s okay).

Love, Jess