A lifetime of racing against the to-do list

Me in my meadow

I’ve spent my life trying to get it all done. I have to-do lists everywhere, scrawled on the backs of receipts, in files on my computer, on the pages of countless legal pads. I have a planner where I write lists for each day, for the week, and for the year. If I don’t have a backlog of chores, I make lists of leisure activities. I am unmoored without a list.


Deep practice: Writing outside my comfort zone


Writing has always come easy to me.

That’s why I made my career in it. I’ve never been one to push myself past my natural comfort zone.

When I was growing up, one of our family’s most strongly held beliefs was that each of us is born with certain talents. You stick with what you’re good at, and try desperately to avoid the humiliation of attempting what you’re bad at.


Survival guide for the Trump era


I guess this is actually happening, this inauguration thing. Really, I have to give this guy credit. He shook me out of my delusions and made me understand how fragile it all is (and has always been) — this nation, this democracy. Yet, even as it feels like my country, and maybe the whole world, is crumbling around me, I have to get up out of bed and live each day. So here is how I plan to survive, and not lose myself, in the age of Trump.


Straddling two worlds: A new era of parenting


There is a picture of Amelia on the fridge. Her with a shy smile and a shaggy haircut, her face round and chubby. It’s mounted on a rectangle of pink foam, covered in heart stickers placed messily by a 5-year-old hand. It’s been hanging there since the day she brought it home from kindergarten, just another piece of the detritus of childhood. But the other night, I caught a glimpse of it in the dimly lit kitchen, and I realized, that magnet is now a historical document. Its heart stickers are coming unstuck, the photo is smudged with … who knows what. And that little girl is gone, gone.




Writing doesn’t have to be so complicated.

It can just be me, lying here on a hammock beside the water, surrounded by sailboats. The sound of fish jumping. Clouds floating lazily across a blue sky. It can be this longleaf pine towering above me, tall and gangly, full of pine cones that threaten to drop on my head. This vine crawling up the trunk, circling round and round, its orange flowers lit up by the sun.