Life, in General

What to read when hope flickers

“Sometimes I can hear my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living.” — Jonathan Safran Foer Years after reading this book, this quote has stuck with me. It’s not what the author intended, but I feel like it describes my personality, the way I take on other people’s emotions like they’re my own. When people I care about are sad, or afraid, or hurt, or upset, I feel it. Another person’s grief can stick with me for days, clinging to my stomach and making my vision go out of focus as I imagine what they’re going through. A friend’s fear can raise the hairs on my arms and neck, make the panic well up in my throat. A loved one’s hurt feels like a punch in the chest, sudden and breathless. It’s probably not healthy. But it’s who I am. A few weeks ago, my…

My new top 8 favorite podcasts

Earlier this year, I wrote a post with my top 8 favorite podcasts. I stand by every one of those and still enjoy listening to the ones that continue on. But since writing that blog, I’ve received dozens of recommendations and now I rarely do anything without headphones on. Seriously — walking, cooking, biking, sitting on the train — you name it, I do it with a podcast in my ears. I remember once hearing that the most highly effective people regularly listened to educational audiobooks. Podcasts weren’t around when that study was done, but I’m willing to bet that they count as well. Listening to podcasts, at least the ones I like, stimulates and engages your brain. It exposes you to new ways of thinking and inspiring ideas, as well as information that previously may have only been in a more “boring” format. If you haven’t yet made it into the podcast…

Hello puppy, goodbye free time

One of the most uncool things a new pet owner can do is go up to someone who has an actual child and say, “Man, this parenting thing is rough, isn’t it?” The look of absolutely unimpressed-ness you get is something to behold. But after a week of being one of the main two humans for our new dog, London, I can say this: I didn’t think it was possible to have less free time than I already did. Don’t get me wrong. I have free time. I think we all pretty much do. It’s just that once he finally runs himself out of his crazy puppy energy after we get home from work, I am so shot that I’m ready to crawl into his crate with him myself. When I asked fellow writer Allison Tait how she got any writing done with a puppy, and she said “Oh, that puppy phase is AWFUL.…

My 2016 survival guide

Never has a year required a survival guide more than the year 2016. People are going nutbag crazy this year — people you and I used to think were pretty stable. Fear has us gripped in its cold, greasy fingers like never before, and it’s making us do terrible things. Maybe you feel like I do, that too many people have died this year. Cancer. Bombs. Neglect. Guns. Terrorists. Police. Soldiers. Cars. Injections. Thousands of people have lost their lives and thousands of us have taken to the streets and the comment section to protest until our lungs and fingertips are raw. We were Paris. We were Nice. We were Istanbul. Some of us were even Baghdad. Our avatars became country flags and rainbow flags while others used cats or innocent selfies to avoid making a statement that might offend. We admired politicians and yelled at politicians and accused politicians of politicizing things that are…

I don’t know how to wait until I’m older

I’ve never really been able to listen when people tell me to wait until I’m older. Ever since I was a kid, I have always been in the position of being young for whatever it was I was doing. I wrote my first “novel” when I was 12. (The book was about 20,000 words and entitled The Disappearing Posessions. I didn’t realize until after I finished it that I had misspelled possessions, which made me want to die of shame. I also didn’t know about Find & Replace so I set about changing EVERY INSTANCE OF IT IN THE WHOLE BOOK, but anyway I’m not bitter.) I started college studies when I was 16. You can do that in Minnesota, start college/university in your last two years of high school for free. Let me tell you, I did not fully appreciate how incredible that was, but my future loan-paying self sure did. The…

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