Riley is my movie buddy. He likes watching movies as much as I do, which is to say a lot more than Dylan or John does. (Well, to be accurate, Dylan and John both enjoy seeing movies, but it has to be a movie they actually want to see, as opposed to Riley and I who will pretty much happily watch any flaming piece of hot cinematic garbage Hollywood can come up with.) One of our local theaters has those reclining chairs and lets you pick out your seats ahead of time, plus reasonable matinee prices; the two of us have gone there so many times we have an entire routine that involves hitting up the candy-dispensing machine on the way in and mocking the Bitcoin kiosk on the way out (WHO BUYS CRYTPOCURRENCY FROM A WEIRD ATM IN AN MOSTLY-ABANDONED MALL).

My favorite part of our moviegoing ritual — aside from the crafty expression he gets when he asks if I’ve got room in my purse to sneak in a Diet Coke, and the way he steadfastly refuses to refer to this practice as smuggling — is how we watch the previews together. We sit quietly during each trailer, then as soon as the credits roll we wordlessly extend an arm and pass judgement Gladiator-style: thumbs up, or thumbs down.

We are usually in agreement, with the exception of horror films (I am pro, he is deeply con). If a movie has Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, it’s an automatic thumbs up no matter how terrible it looks. If there is action, it’s a thumbs up, unless it looks like the overly-complicated political/spy type of action. Sappy romances, boring-looking period pieces, and painful slapstick comedies generally get a thumbs down; movies where we can’t quite decide get a sideways thumb and dual shrugs. For any trailer that’s instantly compelling — there is a giant monster in the first scene, say, or Deadpool makes an appearance — we lean forward and whisper, “I’M IN.”

It’s such a simple, small thing, you know? Just this little routine we do when we go to the movies. But this is a tricky age, full of emotional minefields and rolled eyeballs and this feeling that a puzzle that once fit together easily is now full of mismatched pieces and I don’t know where I’m supposed to help (or how) and where I’m supposed to butt out.

We get to leave it all outside, when we sit together in that darkened theater, and all that matters right then is the experience we’re enjoying together. It’s hard to accurately say how much that means to me.


For those who commented on the last post: I really, really enjoyed hearing from you and getting a tiny peek into your life. Thank you for that. Thank you, also, for the things you shared that made me stop and think, or nod in recognition, or want to cheer on your behalf.

I hope you don’t mind if I re-share just a few:

I’m learning that I need to stop comparing myself to everyone else and just focus on what I need to do for me and mine and what makes ME happy. It’s really helped me to be more focused and lifted a huge burden off my shoulders.

I kind of feel like this is a critical key to happiness and I wish it wasn’t such a massive eternal struggle for me. I try to work on not being so insanely worried about what other people think of me or how I stack up in comparison, but it’s a bit like willing myself to morph into a person who isn’t afraid of heights or spiders — this irrational way of thinking feels fundamentally hardwired into who I am. This person’s comment reminds me, though, that we are all capable of change, and good things are worth pursuing.

Sometimes I am sad and overwhelmed and then feel guilty for feeling that way because, come on, I have a home and clean water and love and I’m safe, so what reason do I have to be sad?

Right? Gosh, there’s nothing like feeling overwhelmed and having a hard time, then beating yourself up for having a hard time because somewhere someone is having a harder time. Or being unhappy about something you don’t like about yourself then beating yourself up because we’re supposed to treat ourselves with kindness and not liking certain things is giving in to toxic societal pressures. (See also: every thought cycle in my head re: weight, body image, diet, etc.)

It seems like there’s a delicate mental line to navigate between acknowledging and honoring struggles in a non-self-hatred-based way vs undermining or devaluing your own feelings which in turn makes everything feel even worse. WHY ALL THIS SHIT SO COMPLICATED.

My greatest wish is to, one day, hit a season of life where I can just sit down for a single hot minute and read something that doesn’t discuss parenting theories.

This is from a mom with two littles and a newborn, and it swept me right back to that early-years stage of being completely immersed in parenthood, and Helpful Articles would be like “Don’t forget to make time for Mom!” and I’d think, ARE YOU KIDDING I’M IN THE DEEP SECTION HERE AND I CAN’T EVEN FIND THE POOL LADDER.

I know you know this is temporary, friend, and when you get a second to breathe I recommend Samantha Irby’s book of essays, Meaty, which is 1) pretty much on the opposite side of the scale from parenting books, and 2) even more outrageous and hysterical and crass and searingly honest than her book We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, and that’s saying something.

I’m trying to find a way to be informed, but not lose my mind with the horrifying state of things in this country.

God, yes. I unplugged from certain things that were consistently making me crazy: I stopped watching national news, I do not do the Twitters, I pared down my Facebook feed (which in some cases meant unfollowing people I care about but found their particular flavor of activism too exhausting/alienating), I try to find some sort of bias-balance in my media consumption. But it is a huge challenge. YUGE, even.

If I don’t stop moving, unless it is to sleep, I am doing ok. I’m exhausted.

I am positive I am not as busy as this commenter but I feel this feel. It’s like the tiredness comes from within sometimes, and it’s not always about anything physical. It’s easier to keep moving, keep doing stuff, than sit down and have it wash over you.

Aging is hard at times and it seems like the older you get, the more frantic the search for meaning gets.

This is the first time I have seen someone articulate this specific feeling I have had about getting older, usually I see upbeat platitudes about how age brings wisdom and you find all this great perspective and Everything Just Makes Sense Now. I feel like being middle-aged is like having spent all these years thinking of what’s next, and suddenly you’re like … “Wait, is this it?”

After 15 grueling years (living in a bad marriage, my beloved job morphing into a nightmare, battling a life-threatening illness against all odds – and winning!, losing many, many loved ones to death) I am living my dream. I am so very thankful I managed to live long enough to experience this kind of happiness! It was never even on the periphery in my younger years.

I. LOVE. THIS. Reinvention, in all its forms, has become something I admire and aspire to every day.

Some days I feel talked over, undermined, unimportant; other days I feel lucky to have such a fun, beautiful, dynamic, modern family right here in front of me.  Same exact life, just a different perspective.


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