A few things: November/December 2021

It’s December.

Go ahead, say that out loud and see if it sounds any better spoken than in your head.


Didn’t we just have December, like four months ago? (I even wrote about it, and offered a recipe for cheese grits and a video tutorial on making pretty candles using Oui yogurt jars. Where in the hell did I get all of that energy?!)

Well, anyway, here it is again. December.

And, at least for today (more on that in a bit) we’re back to the regular kind of programming in which I ask and answer questions like, “Can you use Murphy’s Oil Soap to clean cat shit from a pair of nice leather boots?” (Yes!) And, “Can you also use Murphy’s Oil Soap to clean the dog who rolled in cat shit in the alley behind your house?” (Also yes!) And, most importantly, “Are you completely insane if you buy yourself Christmas gifts of laundry supplies and cooking equipment?” (No! Don’t be silly….)

See? It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

Let’s jump in:


For anyone who was following along until November 1 and then dropped off until December 1, because following along with an insane, live, write-and-post-without-editing NaNoWriMo effort seemed uninteresting: WELCOME BACK!

For the few of you who have been reading along, sending kind and encouraging notes here and there: No, I did not get even close to 50,000 words within the 30 days. The total last night, at 11:59 PM, was 19, 573. (And yes, I will keep writing – and possibly posting – until I am finished with this project, because the whole story, through to the end, is clear in my head). (And also, yes, that word count means I’ve written more that has been posted here. I wrote past midnight on 11/30, and since I had promised we’d return to the usual routine on 12/1, I didn’t post chapter 16. Yet.)

How do I feel about not hitting 50,000? Hmmm. As expected? I did hope that I might get to the finish line. But I realized, pretty early on, what it would actually take to write 1667 words every single day and that I could not realistically get that done.

To be clear here, I pulled many, many classic procrastination/avoidance stunts in November. I started out with the “butt in chair; shitty first draft” mantra, but the first time I didn’t to 1667 words in a single day (that would be THE VERY FIRST DAY OF WRITING), I got a good reality slap in the face.

What did I learn? Well, for one thing, I learned how much I do enjoy writing. I get lost in time when I sit down to write, which is also what happens when I sit down to make art, and that feeling of being lost in time is really, really great.

And also: It’s really hard to get lost in time writing (or creating) with a constant stream of interruptions and other constraints. “What’s for dinner?” “When’s dinner?” “Can you help me for a minute?” “Have the dogs been out?” [Doorbell rings.] And those are just the evening interruptions.

So, in a nutshell, I accept that it is impossible, in the span of 30 days, to simultaneously run an organization, be present for my children, be present for myself, exercise, keep a fledgling side business alive, take care of daily necessities, and also write (and post) 1667 words (EVERY SINGLE DAY) without fail.

Can’t do it. (Meaning, I cannot do it.)

So, what can I do, relative to writing?

Well, in the time I have available, at present, I can write around 500 words, almost every single day. And, for now, that has to be good enough. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll jump back into the August-September-October daily routine, with updates from the shitty first draft dropped in here and there. Good?

Aside: I also had much more fun than I expected to have making the digital images to go with each post in the NaNoWriMo series.



My book group (that is not a book club) read John le Carré’s final novel, Silverview, and we had one of the most interesting discussions any of us could remember. (See: John le Carré’s Last Completed Novel Crowns a Career Attuned to Moral Ambivalence.) The gist of our discussion? This novel is like a sketch for a painting. The composition is clear; the intricate details aren’t yet there. As someone who generally prefers the pre-work sketches to the finished paintings, I loved this final output from a writer whose work I loved reading. Bonus: It’s a slim volume and not so overwhelmingly dense as some of his other works.

Other things I enjoyed enough to bookmark:

The Day I Got Old (Caitlin Flanagan, for The Atlantic)

Kim Scott Is Back with Another Incredible Framework for “Just Work”

Why Nation States Struggle with Social Care (Alison Gopnik for The New Statesman)

How Pickleball Won Over Everyone From Leonardo DiCaprio to Your Grandparents (Craig Coyne for Vanity Fair)

Three things I re-read recently, because of recent events (and yes, one of these links is to something I wrote and posted here, years ago):

When Schools Closed, Americans Turned to Their Usual Backup Plan: Mothers (Claire Cain Miller for The New York Times, November 2020)

Why Women Still Can’t Have It All (Anne Marie Slaughter for The Atlantic, July/August 2012) (Yes, 2012. We’re making no progress. None.)

A List from the Working Mother Battlefield (yours truly, on this very blog, October 2015) (We’re making no progress. But I have graduated from using the term “working mother.” So, maybe some progress?)


Have I been cooking? Well, no; not much. But I did make two things that were pretty good, and both of them came from the wonder Deb Perelman (Smitten Kitchen).

Fall Bliss Salad (greens topped with roasted butternut squash, pomegranate seeds, and nuts – it’s really, really good) (and no, I didn’t make it exactly as written)

Cranberry Pecan Bread (a great improvement from Jane Brody’s cranberry bread of the late 80s/early 90s)

Repeat, but still good: Skillet Chicken Potpie (NYT Cooking)


The Dropout (Elizabeth Holmes trial)

How to Give Feedback Without Ruining Everything (Kim Scott, interviewed by Dan Harris on Ten Percent Happier)

Something I missed a couple of years ago that maybe you didn’t miss (so then why didn’t you tell me?!): Casefile Podcast Case 76: Silk Road.

Final note:

My daughter looked up my 2021 music trends on my phone (no, I don’t know how she did it – and I don’t want to learn). Apparently 18-year-old girls and their 50-something mothers both like Taylor Swift.

P.S. It’s almost midnight, and I just remembered that I haven’t yet made lunch for that 18-year-old daughter. Oops.



  1. Gah, it IS December already, isn’t it? That’s quick. I don’t even know where 2021 went. I better be more mindful for 2022. Anyway, your cooking section reminded me that I’d love to try cooking. Thanks for sharing, btw!


  2. I ❤️ You and your musings! And I know you know this, but enjoy those interruptions while they are there – there are days ahead when there will not be as many and boy, are you going to miss them! So proud that you are not beating yourself up for not making the word count deadline – you wrote a lot and I enjoyed reading it and will look forward to more chapters. Thank you for putting yourself out in the world and bringing us along.

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  3. I’m with you – the feeling of being lost in time is the best. Happens for me when gardening, smocking, reading a good book, even sometimes when I daydream in the shower. It’s like a mini time warp. And because I am a nerd, today I totally got lost in time answering an interesting final exam question!

    Thank you so much for sharing your writing with us – i get a happiness surge each time I’m notified that you have posted something!

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