I’m trying to cut down

Last week was garbage week, and I asked my husband if he noticed the garbage wasn’t quite as full as usual.

“Yeah, I was wondering about that.”

“I’m … making an effort to create less trash!”

I’m trying to use — to throw away — less plastic.

There are some easy changes to make, some that take a little more planning, but I’m making progress.

But I’ve done this before, and I forgotten how much plastic people just hand to you without asking.

Plastic knives with your cream cheese.

Plastic cups to go.

Yes, straws in your water. I don’t need a straw for water, but anyone who needs one should get one.

I forgot it’s so emotionally exhausting to be given something over and over that you want to have less of.


This week I’m tracking my time in half hour increments and also reading a book about giving up the idea of productivity.

She had to be pretty productive in order to write this popular book, right? While also adding in time to sit quietly in nature, because that’s part of writing a book, too.

Better put that on my list.

The 5th of July

We were pretty chill on the 4th. When you have little kids you can’t exactly skip a holiday altogether, so we went to the park in the morning, got ice cream in the afternoon, and had hot dogs for dinner. (I had a gardenburger.)

There were pop-its. The toddler woke up at 5:45 and didn’t nap, so we didn’t even try to see any fireworks in the neighborhood. It was great family time for a Thursday.

The next day, I ran a few errands. “How was your fourth?” a couple people asked.

“Well,” I said each time, “We didn’t feel too excited to celebrate this year.”

Each person relaxed a bit, then tensed. Like I was a safe person to talk to, but they’d just remembered the world wasn’t that safe in general.

“Yeah,” they both said, strangers to me and to each other. “A lot of people felt that way.”

Oh stop (don’t stop)

I was chatting with a new acquaintance over the weekend, and mentioned my two kids.

“You have kids?”

“Yep, two boys, two and five.”

“Oh, you look too young to have kids!”

“I’m 39.”

“You wear it well, my dear”

This isn’t even a good anecdote. I’m just bragging because I do not get comments like this very often.

Maybe she’s nearsighted too.

Shy until the lights hit

I’ve always described myself as a “shy ham.” I’ll be anxious about talking to someone I don’t know very well while waiting for my karaoke song, and then I’ll go perform the HELL out of that song.

Not sing the hell out it. I’m only a passable singer. But I commit to the bit.

This weekend, volunteering at a conference, I was kind of shy about going up and chatting with people. Not super shy, but not exactly outgoing, either.

But when it was time for the volunteers to go on the stage, I went to the CENTER of that stage. In the front. Well, I thought. Someone’s gotta do it.

At the after party, we watched some Bollywood dancing. “Are there any first-timers here? Come on stage.”

It did not take me long.

I didn’t go to the front because I did not know what the hell I was doing, but I was in the second row, performing the HELL out of a Bollywood dance that I’d just tried for the first time.

Are you a sniffer too?

I was trying to get my two-year-old to smell some of the basil plants for sale outside the grocery store when a dude walked up, stood in the middle of the driving lane for the parking lot, and asked, “Are you a sniffer, too?”

I probably made some polite noncommittal noise.

“I’m from California, and when you walked down the street there, it was like, nothing. Here, when you walk down the street, it almost stinks with all the flowers!”

“Oh, yeah!” I agree, pushing the stroller along its way.

I wonder what part of California he’s from.

Maybe the valley.

My raspberry

I took the toddler raspberry picking this morning, at a little family farm alarmingly close to the train tracks.

It took him a few minutes to get the gist of it — to figure out how to grasp and pull, and to only choose dark red raspberries, not green ones — but he figured it out eventually. He also liked taking the berries I picked and putting them in our container by himself.

“This one issa ready,” he’d say, picking his way down the line, choosing berries of varying redness.

We didn’t spend too much time there. I don’t have time to process a million raspberries within a day or two anyway, so we got maybe a few pints’ worth for $2. After we paid, the toddler insisted on pulling a raspberry out of the bucket. “My raspberry,” he said with authority, taking a gentle taste without actually biting it.

He hasn’t eaten one yet, but he’s very protective of his raspberry.


It was “D.B Cooper Night” at the Portland Pickles game, but it doesn’t make much of a difference when you go with two little kids. You mostly go back and forth, getting pizza and hot dogs, then while they’re eating you leave them with one adult to go get beers, then you go play catch behind the berm — don’t let your two-year-old get beaned with a baseball from another kid — then you watch the game for a few minutes, and wave your folding chair in the air when the Pickles score, and then it’s ice cream time, which takes some attention and “cleanup licks,” which your five-year-old will still require from time to time if you’re lucky. Then, ice cream done, it’s the eighth inning and past bedtime, so you roll down the hill before you load back into the car.

I think the Pickles won.

Time may change me

In sixth grade, we spent a week at Outdoor School. I’d grown up camping, so I was in my element, as much as any insecure 12-year-old can be. We stayed in cabins with teenage counselors, spent all day outside, drew pictures about the water cycle, and took time to really notice lichen.

To be clear—I did then, and still do, enjoy taking time to really notice lichen.

One night, a big group of us were in a cabin before bed. One of the male counselors gave us a challenge: if we could think of something that didn’t change, he would cut off one of his dreadlocks.

The lesson here, of course, was that everything changes. He’d never had to cut off a dreadlock, despite posing this question to many groups of kids. (Maybe he was adult staff, not a high schooler? Sixth grade was a long time ago.)

Some kids tried to stump him, to no avail. Then my friend Kim raised her hand.

“Your social security number.”

He tried a few arguments, but Kim, short, smart, bubbly, shot them all down. Finally, he had to concede. “Should we get some scissors?” someone asked.

In answer, the counselor gravely pulled out a large knife and walked out of the room.

This drama a strong effect on the children from the suburbs.

He returned with a dreadlock in hand. Kim took it happily.

I think she kept it for a while.


I started the first day of a couch to 5k program this morning. Running, or jogging, anyway, seems like a reasonable thing to take up. Going to the gym is expensive and takes so much time, but you can just step out your door and start running, right? My running shoes are probably 15 years old, but I’m not going to buy new ones until I’ve finished this lousy program. Maybe I’ll give it a month to see how much I hate it.

I have never had a good attitude about cardio.

So I walked for 90 seconds, ran for 60 seconds, mostly in grass in the park near my house because I’m 39 and one has to think of their joints, you know. On my way out, swallows started to swoop, flying in circles close to the ground. They started flying around me. They’d come up behind me so close, I was worried I’d kick one without seeing it. I watched them for a while, workout done, marking their patterns.

Swallows, I don’t like this any more than you do.