Needless Things

  • Multitasking: Seems unnecessary when we have so much time
  • Clocks: We live in the moment. Does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care ?
  • The News: Unless you absolutely thrive on worst case scenario speculation
  • Marathon Training: All races cancelled or postponed indefinitely. But hey, we can still run.
  • Restaurant Reservations: We’ve surrendered to curbside takeout. And, baking.
  • Vacations: For obvious reasons.
  • “Safe Travels” Greetings: See above.
  • Business Suits and Jimmy Choos: lululemon and Nike expecting a record profit this quarter.
  • Petsitting: We shelter in place, work from home, stay at home. Walking our own dogs. Cancel vacations.
  • Date books: Empty squares on a calendar. There. Is. Nothing. Happening.

prince charming

18 years today,
that long ago trip to City Hall in black tights, plaid skirt, a turtleneck—
not how you’d picture a wedding. My second
was the storybook one that lacked the storybook ending:
a harpist, ivy-covered trellis, golf course stretching
beyond the immediacy of “I do’s” on a Saturday afternoon (was it Saturday?)
green and rolling and lush like me
full of pre-ceremony Chardonnay, my hair
in an elaborate French twist. The dress
pure and white and
simple, showcasing chubby arms with unformed muscles
yet to be carved as they are now from twenty-one years of diligence and delight.

Third time’s the charm, I say and this brings wonder. There were
2 before:
2 husbands
2 weddings
2 failures
1 death—

And then,
1 miracle. Eighteen years is a record
a PR, we’d say, as runners, racing through life seeking the right path—
Mr. Right, found like a lost cat returned. I never put up
a poster

or want ad, it just
happened one day
in a charmless meeting hall. The man in Adidas
preaching sobriety to newcomers.
And when I asked, are you a fellow runner? he half-smiled—
never imagining the course
our lives would take.

Book ‘Em

I come from a family of book readers and writers. My mother often read the dictionary for fun. We had seven: American Heritage, Oxford, Webster’s. You get the idea.

“Daddy always told us to look it up if we didn’t know how to spell a word,” my mother said last week, my grandfather suddenly cast as my father in the tangled branches of her Alzheimer’s family tree. “In that book with all the words.”

As an only child, books served as surrogate siblings. My childhood was filled with an eclectic mix of books, from Nancy Drew to Narnia, Little Women, Little House, and edgier titles as I approached adolescence:  Harriet the Spy, The Tunnel of Hugsy Goode, The Stand. The books are still in my childhood home, relegated to a distant corner of the attic.

This summer, as we readied my father’s house to be sold and I waded through the stacks and shelves and boxes of his books — 3,000-plus dusty, stinky, moldy hardbacks unwanted by anyone but him — I was motivated to declutter my own collection. Like newspapers and postage stamps, books felt like relics of half-dead generations.

Kondo inspired, I pruned the shelves. Weeded through overgrown piles of books on nightstands and coffee tables. And kept the ones that bring me joy.

As for the rest? They’re not far away. “They’ll be happy in their new home!” the librarian chirped, as I unloaded the boxes of my past life on the metal library cart. “Thank you for thinking of us!”

In keeping with my primary intention this year, I am creating more space in my life, in the figurative sense of being open and present and this literal tidying up, creating a wide-open yin to the musty mothball clutter of my parents’ homes.

And I have not lost my passion to read.