Have you seen the new Star Wars? No spoilers, I just want to talk about Rey’s skin in that movie. There are so many closeups of her lovely face, and I swear to god she does not have a single pore. Her skin is like a smooth dewy expanse of fresh-from-the-fridge butter. One of those expensive extra delicious butters with a weird IKEA-sounding name. Meanwhile every time we zoom in on Kylo Ren the very best you could say is that his face has a lot going on.

This is what I keep thinking when I peer in my light-up makeup mirror lately: wow, there’s definitely . . . a lot going on. Wrinkles, sure, but also all sorts of spots and moles and broken blood vessels and an ever-deepening Angry Canyon between my eyebrows. I don’t even bother with foundation any more, it feels like trying to spackle over a particularly enthusiastic wallpaper design.

It’s a bit of a bitch, this mid-forties business. I keep being startled by random things, like the fact that Disintegration, which I have always snootily thought of as The Cure’s crappy “new” album, came out in 1989. Or the way the young bagging clerk asks if I need help out to the car and, like, I can tell that he means it? And get this: I am older than Selena Gomez’s actual mother, which, look, I have no idea how I know that but it is DISTURBING. The kids recently asked me which president was in office when I was born and I had to think about it for a while and finally realized it was Nixon. Nixon! Or how about how if I sit cross-legged on the couch for a movie I need like four days to recover from the knee trauma? When did that start happening?

Also: perimenopause, which the text editing program I’m using to type this does not recognize as a real word. OH, IT’S REAL ALL RIGHT, MOTHERFUCKER.

Anyway. What can a person do but deal with all the aging that comes their way, right? Better than the alternative. It’s just — dude, there’s a lot going on.


For all the twinkle-light-festooned festiveness going on this time of year, I feel like the December doldrums have arrived as predictably on my doorstep as the Amazon-box-ferrying UPS guy.

Maybe it’s the fact that it’s pitch black at 4:37 PM, or the freezing valley inversion weather we get in the winter where the cold and fog settles in for weeks at a time and you can’t remember what it’s like to pet the cat without sending a dramatic Tesla coil lightning arc into the air. Or maybe it’s the influx of sweet treats which are irresistible to me thanks to a complicated neural jangle of nostalgia/sentimentality/raging sucrose addiction and mostly serve to send me into an endless loop of delight and regret. Or maybe it’s the aspirational nature of all the holiday trappings: the creeping sense of comparison that you know goes against the entire point of everything and yet here you are, hitting “personalize” on that pretty Minted card, and marveling at how the tasteful perfectly-lit placement family image looks about a thousand times better than your badly framed cameraphone crap and why didn’t you get a single decent picture of all four of you this year, WHY?

Well, and there’s been a little … *gestures inadequately with wiggling fingers* going on. A little, I don’t know, questioning of purpose. My volunteering has been kind of going off the rails lately, lots of showing up to do a thing and no one needs me for the thing but they forgot to inform me about their lack of a need for the thing, so there’s mostly frustration and a sense of not being super valued that department. I used to love to help in the kids’ schools but this year it just hasn’t panned out, the middle school doesn’t utilize parents the way the elementary school does, and Dylan’s teacher hasn’t taken me up on my offers. John works from home now (did I mention this? His department was shut down at the start of the summer, and although they gave him an offer to relocate we did not want to move back to Seattle, so his side gig business is now the all-in gig) and so I am not at all needed, parent-boots-on-the-ground-wise, in the way I once was, and it makes me feel pretty strongly that it’s time for something else, but … well, what? I scour the job listings and am reminded that I am unqualified for a great number of things and weirdly over-qualified for a small number of other things and I live in a college town with a ton of competition for an extremely limited number of relevant positions. I sit down to try and write and the environment isn’t quite right, the words won’t come, I’m overwhelmed by the scariness of sucking at the one thing I’m supposed to be good at. The kids are about to be home for over two weeks and there is a sort of Edvard Munch scream going on in my head in anticipation of the noise and chaos taking up all the air in my increasingly tiny world.

I feel like a plug looking for an outlet, I guess. My self-critical nature makes me doubt how much juice I actually have to give, but I know it’s not nothing. December, with all its bustle and jolly espresso cup designs, has felt like one mostly-nothing day stacked upon another.


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