Well, it is both distressing and somewhat bolstering to know that I’m not the only one in an early-AM Doom Loop. I really loved Swistle’s comment: At least tomorrow I can think from my nest: here we are, all together.

(The same day I read that, I was driving through campus here in town and saw a student with a sweatshirt that read: At least we’re all under the same moon. I remember that very specifically because this girl and her hoodie and my associated thoughts of communal experiences gave me Hot Welling-Eyeball Feelings, and right afterwards I saw a man holding an old greying-muzzle dog like a baby, waiting to cross a busy road, and I found myself doing a little gasp-sob right out loud: *watery inhale* “Oh!” I mean, isn’t it something how the world can still just reach out and grab you by the heart.)


I’m currently snurfling my way through what feels like my millionth head cold in the last couple years. I used to feel like I had a fairly robust immune system but now if either one of my kids even emits a single cough I’m like GOD FUCKING DAMMIT because I know my future: whatever brief sickness they have, I will magnify and lengthen it. I get the Extended Remix version, feat. DJ 12DaysofMucus. My ability to fight off your basic rhinovirus has apparently departed along with my marketing appeal as a target demographic.


Riley just completed the early admission process for Dartmouth. (Wow, what a sentence to write here in my mommy blog.) This is his longest-shot school and I have Very Big Complicated Feelings about the possibility that he might get accepted. He should find out in a couple months and then the focus may change to other possibilities and other academic priorities.

Senior year, college applications, SATs, homecoming, prom. None of these things are experiences I can relate to. Maybe some of you don’t know this about me: I left school very early, my sophomore year. I got my GED but I missed out on pretty much all the classic high school moments, except maybe the general teen combo-plate feeling of ennui/crushing self-consciousness/superiority.

I don’t think this makes me a lesser parent, but it surely makes me a less knowledgable one at this stage. I really can’t offer much from my own experience in the way of useful advice or guidance. Then again, I’m not sure most teenagers are actually looking to hear about how their parents totally get it because they did a semi-similar thing 30+ years ago?


Dylan recently finished his first year playing football, as a sophomore. I’m crazy proud of him for coming in as a new player (I feel like most football kids have been training since kindergarten??) and putting in the hard work all season. Football is definitely a whole different beast than any other youth sport and the commitment and community involvement is ummm intense, but I think it was so good for him. Now if only I could manage to get my brain to understand anything about football aside from the basics (everyone wants the toy), because whether I’m watching his team or the NFL the same thing happens every time:

I start most of my mornings the same way I have for a good while now: vice-gripped by panicky waves of existential dread. Who needs an alarm when you can just baste in what feels like a full-blown personal crisis with no identifiable cause? (IMO anyone can trigger this experience simply by using the iPhone “Radar” alarm sound, which must have been invented specifically for inducing an aggressive amount of fight or flight upon awakening.)

I don’t know if this is a menopause thing or a midlife thing or a citizen of the world in 2023 thing but I tend to wake up very early with a hammering heartbeat and an overall sense of Forboding Doom. It’s rare that this feeling can actually be mapped back to anything in particular; like sometimes I might have an appointment or phone call to fret over but usually this is just free-association anxiety. Anxiety Open Mic night. What’s wrong? EVERYTHING!!

Sometimes I can unclench myself back to sleep or at least into a less-tooth-rattling state of semi-relaxation (thank you ASMR videos, which I have been piping into my head-holes for many years now), sometimes I’m driven right out of bed even though it’s, say, 5:30 AM.

Once the cortisol sends me lurching upright I get to confront my stiff, cranky body. I use a knee pillow in bed to keep my spine from crumbling out of alignment but my lower back still registers a LOT of complaints first thing. Same with my hamstrings, which are like Bazooka gum: as the day goes on things get easier/more malleable, but it’s damned hard going right out of the packaging.

At 5:30 AM my house is so quiet. It’s cool and dark outside and there’s no bustle to anything, it’s like a gently held breath. It would be the perfect time to be kind to my stressed-out, achy body with some easy stretches. Maybe some warm chamomile tea, some deep breathing, or even a 10-minute meditation to start the day with serenity and focus? Or how about just some peaceful time with a good book? Or just, like, a GLASS of WATER?

Here is what I do instead: stagger like the fucking Tin Man to my Keurig machine where I blast myself 10 ounces of low-quality BPA-laden caffeine (I then add my preferred amount of creamer, involving an upended Coffee-Mate which I pound like a Cherokee drum until there’s a Mt. Everest of dried corn syrup solids in my cup with splenda poured on top of that, because why have one bad habit when you can cluster several together into a die-early turducken of poor choices??), then I drag myself out to the couch where I jam my protesting self into a cross-legged seat (audio accompaniment: “Huuurrrnnggggh”) so I can more easily rest my phone in my lap and doom-scroll until the poop juice fully kicks in. The only thing that drives me out of my calcified criss-cross-applesauce-with-an-impending-knee-replacement position is full-on GI distress, which really adds a complex layer of weirdly boosted adrenaline to the whole shebang.

Anyway, I have no inspiring conclusion to this. I’m not writing from a place of, “And here’s the 10-step plan I rely on now, starting with guzzling warm lemon water first thing and then following with 55 grams of clean protein and a brisk walk to boost my circadian rhythms, I FEEL SO AMAZING!” There’s plenty of that on the Interwebs, how about this instead: “I know EXACTLY what I’m doing wrong, and I’m almost certainly going to do it all again tomorrow.”

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