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How to Organize The Sh*t Out Of Your House

For those of us who crave a well-organized home, there’s no shortage of inspiration out there. From Pinterest to the container aisle at Target, the world around us is constantly dropping hints that it’s time to get our shit together. You might be wondering, who has time for all that between the demands of work and family? The answer is…you! Just do what I did. Whether you’re a regular ‘Marie Kondo’ or the cautionary tale from an episode of Hoarders, you too can achieve a clutter-free home in just 10 easy steps.

1. Quit your job and purge everything having to do with it. Files, PowerPoint print-outs, business cards, calendars, doodled-on staff meeting notes. As Elsa would say: Let it go, let it go. Let it all fucking go.

2. Reorganize any generic work-related materials that might be usable in your future job. Pens, folders, and profession-specific accoutrements can all be sorted into appropriate receptacles. Inkless pens and broken hanging file-holders, be damned. Any box that bats fly …
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Fashion Wills and Won'ts of 2020

Like most people, I want to feel good about what I’m wearing. I like a great pair of jeans, a nice-fitting top, and a comfortable dress that makes me looks like I’m trying. I’m not entirely tone-deaf when it comes to what’s in-style, but I’m not always listening either. My college roommates described me as someone who would wear sequins with sweat pants--and that hasn’t really changed. I'm 40 now, so I wear a lot of black-on-black to feel skinny, hide stains, and avoid having to make things match. But in my heart, I’m still just an overgrown toddler in red rain boots and an Elsa costume, insisting to the world that this IS appropriate for the family’s holiday photo.
My idea of what looks good is not necessarily on-trend and I don’t fall for what’s new without years of convincing. I’d rather be that grandma who comes to every family gathering feeling kick-ass in the same pair of peach polyester slacks, than force something fashionable and end up like a Labrador in a cone collar, try…

The Farmer

I am a farmer
But I’ve been other things
A listener, a learner
A talker, a teacher
A follower
But now I’m a farmer
I’ve been up before the sun
I’ve emptied the udders and drawn the last drop
I’ve cleared the weeds as they willfully appear
And manipulated the sunlight in your favor
I’ve molded knowledge and instinct into palatable pellets to fertilize your growth
I’ve propped you up and trimmed you back
But you’re still wilder than the wildest whim of my imagination
And taller than the tall tale this would have seemed like years ago
I never saw myself as a farmer before I became one
And you’ve grown much faster than anticipated
In spite of my failings and fears
Or the fact that I planted you with unseen seeds in soil once thought infertile
We’ve grown together
You, into something that’s never been before
Me, into something that I couldn’t be without you
I’ve tended you and talked to you
Assuming that you hear me
Knowing often that you don’t
Your tallest tendrils now defy the shade

Physical Education

In a family of five siblings, my middle sister Liz was the only natural athlete. She played soccer from the time she was three, but that never caught on as a family-wide pastime. Soccer required entirely too much running for the rest of us. As a group, we were more inclined toward sports where we could stand fairly still and swat a projectile at someone from a safe distance. We liked badminton, which I played using a “finger-gun”-style grip that was completely impractical for most racket-based sports. We also attempted volleyball on occasion, mostly because we already had the net set up for badminton. We figured we could just as easily fail at maintaining a volley with a ball as we could with a shuttlecock.

Had the five of us buckled down on our fundamentals, we would’ve made a mean little basketball team. In an alternate universe, I could picture us roaming around the local parks, challenging people to pick-up games like a low-rent spin-off of the Globetrotters. Unfortunately, we we…

The House I Grew Up In

My grandfather built the house I grew up in during the 1940s. He transported a farmhouse from somewhere in the eastern part of the state and built onto it with a generous nod to Gone With The Wind. He added tall white columns, forming a stately portico over a slate patio, and ample wings extending from the original structure to the right and left sides. From the outside, it looked like Tara. From the inside, it was like Frankenstein’s monster, both awesome and awkward in an extravagantly cobbled-together way. Parts of the house seemed carefully planned for aesthetic effect, while other areas embraced function and dysfunction over form. It was both intriguing and disturbing, but ultimately endearing, like no other place I’ve lived since.

Downstairs, there were custom-made amenities, like built-in bookcases, a glass chandelier, mantled fireplaces in the living and dining areas, a wood-paneled study, and an alcove in the foyer for a wall-mounted phone. There were also personalized eccen…

Small Bites

Every Christmas, my best friend from elementary school would visit her grandmother in Queens. Grannie O had an equally elderly roommate named Kathleen, who wasn’t nearly as lucid and often struggled during meals. One night at dinner with the family, Kathleen started choking on a bit of holiday roast, initiating a wave of panic across the table. Meanwhile, Grannie was completely unfazed and calmly continued eating, having apparently seen this life-threatening dog-and-pony show a time or two to no tragic end. After someone finally succeeded in assisting Kathleen, willing her to live another day and sparing her fellow diners the PTSD of her pot-roast induced asphyxiation, Grannie O nonchalantly chastised her friend. “I take small bites, ” she said, with all the haughty superiority of a woman whose table manners were surpassed only by her quantity of original teeth.

After sharing that story years later with my husband, “I take small bites” became a shared euphemism for any situation wher…

Top 20 Attractions On Your First Disney Cruise

Before you embark on your first magical cruise, here’s a list of things to look forward to during the experience of a lifetime:
1. Tripping over thresholds in your stateroom. Signs are posted everywhere reminding you to watch your step, but you can still expect to fall into or out of the bathroom at least twice a day.

2. Exiting your stateroom single-file. With all the beds deployed, your space comfortably sleeps four. The rest of the time, you’ll be shifting yourselves around like Tetris pieces trying to locate everybody’s shoes. When you’re ready to leave, the whole family better line up at the door like it’s time for recess or it’s #bottleneck in Stateroom 6164.

3. Mainlining soft-serve ice cream. It’s free on the pool deck all day, so why not test the boundaries of your body’s ability to tolerate lactose with a IV-drip of chocolate/vanilla swirl? It’s not like you’re sharing a shitter, after all. Oh wait...

4. Being thankful those kids aren’t yours. Whether it’s the screaming four-ye…