Still There

I've had many summers that felt like little jewelboxes of time, sweet and slow - the one we spent living in temporary housing while we waited for our daughter to be born comes to mind - but there was one that was wonderful in a completely different way than all the others.

It was the summer after Kendrick and I moved from our tiny Hell's Kitchen place to our slightly-less-tiny Upper East Side apartment. The summer that I quit my office job, and started writing for a living (well, that was the plan, in any case). The summer that we were working out how to be married and wondering how in the world we were going to pay our rent and trying to figure out what we wanted to be when we grew up...but it was so exciting. The sheer possibility of it all. We were children standing on the edge of adulthood, thinking about jumping.

We had a little crew that summer. Stephen and Dave, of course - we had rooftop cocktails with them most nights, Lucy whizzing in circles around us while we watched the setting sun light up all that silver paint. Francesca was living in the city then, just a few blocks away, and a few of Kendrick's other friends from college lived at various points along the 6 line. We'd all go out to terrible bars and drink terrible drinks and stay up far too late, because we were still so young, and it still felt like bad choices were a life imperative.



When I left my seven-day retreat - seven days with no access to phones or computers, no music, no books, nothing to do but look myself straight in the eye and see what, if anything, I might find - I didn't go home; not right away. Part of the commitment I made when I signed up for the retreat was to spend the two days following my departure somewhere quiet, all by myself. The hope was that I'd be able to use this time to figure out how to take what I'd learned into my *real* life: the earsplittingly loud, endlessly busy one filled with responsibilities and distractions and triggers and proposals that need to be written and homework that needs to be finished and meals that need to be cooked.

So I booked two nights in an Airbnb in a town called Occidental. I'd never been before; never even heard of it. I found it because I did a quick search for inexpensive places to stay in Napa, and picked one that sat next to a little pond, and had a hammock strung up between two apple trees that I thought looked like a place I might like to nap.

I expected to feel frantic during those first couple of days on the "outside," as it were - panicked by the number of emails I'd missed; desperate to find out what had happened to everything from my kids to the news cycle while I'd been gone. But on the morning of my last day at the retreat I was handed back my phone...and I didn't want it, to the point where I felt full-on physical revulsion.


In Which I Subdue An Aggressive Dog…With My Rebecca Minkoff Purse

Me, as drawn by Jacqueline Bisset for Carrying On

Well THAT was a morning.

So you know how I've been having all these Big Life Realizations lately? One of them is that I need to refocus this site to be less about *me* - essentially because I've started to realize that I want to be peaceful, and happy. Which means having less drama in my life. But which also, alas, leaves me with fewer stories to tell.


I Fell For One Of Those Scam Phone Calls, And Here’s What I Learned


There are some - many? - things about which I am a touch head-in-the-clouds, but identity theft is not one of them. I mean, I was the victim of a major hacking just a few years ago. My entire purse was stolen in 2015, and my car was broken into earlier this year, resulting in the theft of all of the personal information I had compiled in anticipation of a trip to the passport office (yes, like all of it).

As a result of these incidents, I am a password ninja, am on a first-name basis with the peeps at Experian, have an FBI agent's personal number in my contacts list, and pay a truly unconscionable amount of money to Lifelock every month so that my social security number (and my kids' numbers) don't get used for any nefarious purposes.


In Which I Go Full Digital Detox

As of tomorrow, I will be doing a thing that I have not done in a solid decade: I will be going offline. Not for a day here and a day there - that, I've done, albeit with much reluctance and even then only because of catastrophic cell phone service. Nope, this time it's for more than a week.

And I won't even be able to break rank and load up Instagram in a moment of weakness, because the place where I'm going requires you to turn in all electronics upon arrival. 

About that place: it's in Northern California, in the woods, but I'm not going to say exactly where I'm going - largely because the place emphasizes anonymity and such, but also because it feels like a good idea on a personal level. I learned about it in the wake of this wildly melodramatic moment, when a couple of people - wholly independently - reached out to me to suggest giving it a try. During that not-so-long-ago time, I found myself in a place where I knew I needed help, and finally realized that the methods I'd been using to cope were really just that: things that were helping me "get by." They weren't helping me get better.

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