Published Essays

The rules of the game

At the edge of town, we have a stubborn red traffic light that refuses to turn green, especially on Sunday mornings. This is when I chaperone a car full of neophytes to their driver’s education class. Part of me wants to wait hours, if not days, for the traffic light to turn green because it’s the law. The other part of me wants to unleash an inner rebel that craves some action. She wants to simultaneously run the red light and yell obscenities while watching it fade away in the rearview mirror.

Wisdom my graduate will learn from someone else

We were young, naïve backpackers about to embark on a trek through Europe with no plan, no money, and no return ticket home. We told our parents our goal was to spend a year abroad. We made it three months, and I can now concede — 25 years later — part of that was because we ignored their guidance. We came home with wisdom that was best given on the road by someone other than our parents, and it couldn’t have come to us any other way.

Why I finally said goodbye to my best friend

Beer introduced itself to me in high school and hitched a ride with me when I went away to college. We became sloppy roommates and our intimacy peaked over party kegs, a toilet bowl, and pints of ice cream. One day, beer introduced me to tequila, and I fell hard. We were passionate with one another, and our nights often ended in great sex and a better story the next day. We hooked up only occasionally because our love for one another was so intense.

Should you take a road trip with your parents?

As a risk-taker, I agreed to go on a road trip to Mexico … with my parents. A better daughter would have said yes without reservation, but I’m the kind of child that weighs the pros and cons with this type of family togetherness. I accepted the challenge, and included my daughter, knowing we would strengthen our family’s bond and simultaneously fray the delicate tapestry we’ve stitched together over the years. I put my trust in the ride.

Advocacy for the transgender few does not take rights away from the many

Some individuals claim the LGBTQIA+ population is sinful, harmful, and broken. A local school district disagrees and developed a plan to support their LGBTQIA+ students from further ostracism, demonization, and ignorance against a backdrop of survey results and national statistics indicating this population is at a dramatically increased risk for depression and suicide compared to their peers. These are the facts.

Do I hang onto Halloween when I’m the only one?

I’m in the garage looking for the bin labeled Halloween when I’m told, “It’s way too soon to bring out the skeletons and spider webs.” I try to defend my enthusiasm for the ghoulish tchotchkes that have been buried away for a year, but my youngest child walks out before I can respond. With sweat dripping down my back because the sun still suffocates this time of year, I wonder when everyone in my family turned into such autumnal killjoys.

Are we doomed to have only good vocabulary?

When I hear a fancy word I don’t know, I open my phone and type it into a page titled, “Words to learn and try out in casual conversation without sounding like an idiot.” Then I slip the phone back into my pocket before anyone notices what I’m doing. I’m not erudite or anything, but I simply love the idea of elevated vocabulary. Unfortunately, my overuse of words like, “awesome” and the ubiquitous “motherf%#er” betray my lofty ambitions.

Don’t tell my kids that birth order doesn’t matter.

Statistical studies debunked Alfred Adler’s theory about the supposed birth-order characteristics of children years ago. I don’t care. In my home, the kids will tell you Adler was legit. My oldest is convinced we’re the strictest with her, having to pave the way for others. The middle child, afraid to be overlooked, is loud and boisterous. The baby doesn’t say much at all because he doesn’t have to say much at all. He uses facial gestures instead.
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