Sunday, September 26, 2010

Murder, She Wrote

There’s nothing like being awake at three in the morning with your newborn, except, of course, being awake a three-thirty in the morning when the newborn is back asleep you’re staring at the clock.

It was in those moments that I decided to focus my mind on something useful, like how to knock off the old headmistress of a private girls’ school using nothing but prescription medication.

Yes, I’m talking about a good old fashioned murder, the kind you read about in books. And, that is what I decided to do—the book part, not the actual murder.

For the setting, I used my beloved town of Pennington, New Jersey. For the details on medication, I befriended a pharmacist (decidedly one not in my hometown.) And, in the few lucid moments I had before lights-out, I turned to the mounting number of books I’d accumulated on my nightstand ; books that drew a few questions from my patient but slightly suspicious husband: Deadly Doses—a writer’s guide to poisons; Amateur Detectives—a writer’s guide to how private citizens solve criminal cases; and the book that tells you exactly what does happen when a person is struck by lightning and how safe it is (or is not) to handle cyanide: Murder and Mayhem by D.P. Lyle, M.D..

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Happiness: Are We There Yet?

I sat in the backseat of a Volvo, feeling a bit like a kid heading to prom, as two longtime friends from college navigated the one way streets in the West End of DC. We had spent the morning in the bridal suite of another college friend and in our blue bridesmaids’ dresses and made-up faces, sat in sharp contrast to the casual Washingtonians strolling the streets on this beautiful September morning.


“Wow,” my one friend said, looking at the scene near a Starbucks. It was staged, as most, with a bike, dog, and smoker, positioned out front.

“It’s the most important day of (the bride’s) life, and these people are just going about life as usual.”

“If this is the most important day,” my other friend said, “then the rest of her life is going to suck.”

Sunday, September 12, 2010

When Yellow and Blue No Longer Make Green: Saying Good-bye to Ziploc

As I type this, I’ve got 712 Ziploc bags stashed in a closet that are never going to see the light of day. No, I wasn’t considering a Mary Louise Parker-style sideline business; these bags have been forsaken for an entirely different reason:  the clear knowledge that when it comes to packing lunch, “yellow and blue” no longer make green.

Green, as in environmentally friendly green.

I don’t have the perspective to call this a tipping point, but, in my house, the age of the Ziploc is officially over.

It’s been a great forty year reign for them, and thanks to the particularities of airport security, I have a feeling there’ll always be a market for the bags, but woe is the mother who sends her kid off to school with a free-range turkey and cheese sandwich packed in one.

That’s a no-no, a bit like sending three dozen chocolate and glazed munchkins from Dunkin' Donuts in for snack time. I’ve never done that. But, believe me, everyone knows the name of the mother who did. There are some things you just can’t live down, especially in preschool.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Earth, Mother

In 1985, shortly after my family moved from a suburb of Washington, DC, to the capital of the Lone Star State, my mom and dad took a trip to the Texas coast, just miles from the city of Corpus Christi.

My mother had grown up in Wisconsin and each winter her father had driven her from the snowy Midwest to the beaches of warm, sunny Florida, a place she thought of as, “paradise.”

But, as she looked out at the sands of this beach on South Padre Island, and at the waves from the Gulf of Mexico lapping onto the shore, she saw empty milk jugs, egg cartons, and florescent light bulbs.

It was a mess.

Instead of thinking she was in paradise, my mother sat down and cried.