Life Hack: Office In Your Lap!

New England decided to have a summer, so I’ve been punted out of the dining room, where my desk lives, because the fuse won’t tolerate an air conditioner PLUS any electronics. And I tired of the rivulets of sweat dripping down my face as I tried to write. I’m all for paying sweat equity for my craft, but not quite so literally.

So, I’ve taken over a space on the family couch in our living room, where one of the air conditioners lives.

Over the years, I have tried using a number of lap desks. And they all sucked. The biggest problem is that my huge computer doesn’t even fit on most of them. And even when it does, there’s never room for a mousepad, and I prefer using a mouse. Also, a lot of lap desks are a solid piece of wood or quasi-wood, and/or they have a pad filled with foam/microbeads to make it comfy for your lap. So, there is no circulation under the computer, which, in my experience, tends to turn it into an inferno of hotness.

A few summers ago, I “made” my own lap desk. I’m using a spare Ikea shelf  from the Gorm shelving unit  I bought in 2009. I paid $14.99 for two of these. I used one in the unit, and I kept the other as a spare. There are 4 1/2 inch slats, which helps with air circulation. It’s real wood. It’s huge. And if my lap starts to hurt, I put a pillow under it.

Note: It also makes a damn fine dinner tray for breakfast in bed!

Envy my cheapness! Here's my hi-tech computer desk!

Envy my cheapness! Here’s my hi-tech computer desk!


Happy 101st Birthday, Nana

So. Confession. And this would make my grandmother’s sweet fuzzy gray head spin ’round in circles. But… I might be a bit of a pagan. I’m not sure yet; the jury is still out. I think most of the flavors of institutionalized religion are not for me. Christianity might be the most problematic for me, personally, because I think it puts that whole concept of being kind and good to others on a reward system. That reward being Heaven. And anyone who has raised kids knows that dangling rewards for being good and kind to others? That only works up until about age 5.

As a matter of fact, the only time I consider being a Christian and believing in a place like Heaven is when I think about my grandmother. Because she would be running the place.

She would be de-cluttering the waiting room. Ironing the curtains. Polishing the gates. She would be serving root beer floats with real damn vanilla ice cream. The stuff with the flecks of vanilla beans in it. Nana’s Root Beer Heavenly Floats would be served in tall glasses whose only purpose in existence would be to serve as root beer float glasses. Each float would be a work of art, featuring a sublime foam-to-soda ratio, and would, of course, be served with the perfect bendy straw.

Happy Birthday, Virginia Reynolds Marston (1913-2010)

We Are Stardust

me by window

A few months ago, I watched a 2007 Ted Talk by Ken Robinson called Do Schools Kill Creativity, which is fantastic, and you should all go see it if you haven’t already. And in that way that often happens when people with intense focus surf the Internet, I started watching everything with Ken Robinson in the title.

I quickly became a Ken Robinson fan. So, I picked up one of his books, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything. It’s a book about discovering your passion, that sacred ember that burns deep inside each of us and compels us, inspires us, and fuels–or I should say CAN FUEL–our lives. If we let it. Robinson calls it the Element. The book is filled with stories of others who have found their element and followed the path it illuminated. People like Mick Fleetwood, Richard Feynman, Paul McCartney, Aaron Sorkin,  and Helen Pilcher,

I know I’m damn lucky. I found my element at a young age. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was 11 years old. Since lazy summers in the dining room of our little house in Pensacola, Florida, when I’d surround myself with pens and paper, and our family’s 5 dogs, and work on news scripts for my radio station, W-D-O-G. When the stories were perfected, I’d read them on a dead channel on my dad’s CB radio. I did this for hours on end. I had tapped into something almost spiritual, and I knew it.

Throughout school, I excelled in my English classes and penned short stories in my spare time. Horrible short stories with twisted endings. The annals of Crab Island, where children were poisoned by hermit crabs and washed out to sea. And fantastic fictional interviews with the rock stars whose songs blasted from my radio. In one, Jon Bon Jovi admitted to having a hopeless crush on a slender, long-haired freckled girl living in the panhandle. Who could it be? This journalist would never tell. I worked on the school newspaper in high school, The Tiger’s Tale. Eventually, I decided to pursue a career in writing, and my pragmatic self figured the best way to do that was to get Pell grants and student loans, and earn a degree in Journalism!

But there’s a difference between getting educated to write. And writing. I could go on about the hungry years after graduating with my B.S. from the University of Florida. Of being poor. Of my grad school days, paid 100% by student loans. About how William Blake might have saved my soul. About long, wine-soaked evenings with dear friends, opining on the poetics of dead writers. I could tell you about my dead-end career choices. My beautiful and amazing and distracting children. My dreams of someday earning a doctorate in literature. I have lots of stories about why I’m not a writer. I could tell you those. But all of this is just noise.

I’m a writer. Who isn’t writing.

W-D-O-G is still out there, looking for a clever wordsmith who has experience writing solid leads and tight, inverted-pyramid-style copy. And the dead CBS channel is MINE. It’s, and I own it. I might still be floating words out into dead space, like blowing bubbles in a Florida rainstorm, but in the immortal words of Joni Mitchell (but in the golden, sublime voice of David Crosby), I got to get back to the land that sets my soul free.

This post is dedicated to Amy Lea and Allen Holt, for backing me up. 

Missed Moments in Parenting

The culprit CAUGHT IN THE ACT of decorating the walls.

The culprit CAUGHT IN THE ACT of decorating the walls.

Vigilance is a word I think of a lot. I have to remain vigilant. I am, after all, responsible for 3 small humans. That doesn’t keep me from occasionally sneaking off into my bedroom with the stolen Halloween candy. Or taking a stealth shower while Dora the Explorer entertains the kids.

When I used to work from home, I would gate the kids in their room while they played happily with their toys. Sometimes I even did that when *gasp* I wasn’t working. Or when they were not playing happily in their room, but wailing inconsolably at the gate, waving dirty diapers at me while I ran off to grab a quick sandwich or cup of coffee.

Sometimes, being vigilant is something I fail at.


This, my friends, is how a toddler gets poop into a dryer. You thought I meant “indirectly” didn’t you?

Because keeping eyes on kids all day long isn’t easy. Let’s be honest. It gets tedious. Sometimes you have to make a respectful phone call without someone picking that moment to tell you about the poop they smeared all over the bathroom, or the booger on their finger. “Get it OFF! BOOGER!”

Yes, I know all the sweet little grandmothers at the park tell you to TREASURE every moment of it, and I know they’re mostly right, and I have made it my mantra to not miss the best moments, but there are moments I do not treasure. Washing peanut butter off the dog. Wiping poop off the wall, and the floor, and out of the dryer. Getting the mauve lipstick out of the living room carpet. Trying to erase the damage from a “love letter to Mom,” written in ballpoint pen on the sofa. Scrubbing off the sweet caricatures RockStar drew on the walls of our rental home, in red marker. I don’t treasure those moments, Grandma. I gotta admit.

We lovingly call these “missed moments” and, really, we wouldn’t MISS them if they didn’t happen. We laugh about them now. But when you walk in on a scene where a 64-ounce container of Cremora has somehow…exploded, spreading a layer of clumpy coffee creamer on to everything within a 15-foot radius of a beaming, evil, giggling toddler… well, let’s just say it’s funnier now.


Mom loves when I do art. But not when that art is on the new couch, apparently.

These are the moments we walk in on, in horror. These are the “missed moments” of our lives. When we weren’t being as vigilant as we should have been. These are also the moments I will always remember. I will possibly forget the way K smiled when I gave her daisies at her preschool graduation. The time L splashed in mud puddles and got delightfully soaked to the skin. The first time RockStar flew through the air like Superman.

Maybe that’s what Grandma is trying to tell us. Treasure every moment. Yeah, even the Cremora-encrusted, lipstick-smeared, poop-stained, peanuty-smelling dog moments.

Even these. NO. ESPECIALLY THESE. are unforgettable moments.

I shared this story because Tiffany asked. She writes for If you want to share your missed moments, check it out here.