I am posting from the road (metaphorically), traveling back to Memphis after a wholly enjoyable trip to move my daughter into her freshman dorm.

While away, I stayed in a hotel that has an enormous library in the lobby, and I spent the last two evenings sitting at a long table in that library, reading and writing, sipping wine, then reading and writing again.

The book? Cleaving, by Julie Powell (author of Julie and Julia). It called to me from the shelf. As a friend said recently, the universe finds a way. It does.

The writing? Something (still in progress) about motherhood, photography, and transitions.

Also, these notes, crudely labeled and offered in no particular order:

Unexpected, and unfortunate:

The floor level women’s restroom at the Moda Center has no tampon dispensers. (To the woman who shouted, from the stall, “shit! I just started my period!” and to the stranger who came to her rescue, the sisterhood salutes you.) That this is still happening, in 2022, even in ultra-progressive Portland, is ridiculous.

Unexpected, and delightful:

Letting a child watch Home Alone over and over again, for 18 years, will teach her how to handle travel delays and interruptions, how to ask for what she needs, by herself.

Worth sharing:

Both college move-in and drop-off experiences were, for me, physically taxing but emotionally awesome because one was “rip the Bandaid off” quick and the other quite leisurely. The first, during the height of 2020 summer COVID, was so fast there wasn’t time to overthink anything or be wistful. Everything hauled and loaded in 2 hours. Wham, bam, thank you, ma’am. The other, this week, was long and unhurried. We arrived three days before move-in, to buy what we needed (because that seemed more logical than shipping), and I stayed a full day after, in case there was anything we forgot (which we did). Time on the front end mitigated stress and anxiety. Time on the backend made for a slow and complete release. (More to come on this one.)

Dare you to prove me wrong:

No two Target stores in Portland are alike. We went to six, so I feel confident making this statement.


Portland : Seattle :: Memphis : Nashville

File for reference:

If you have a long layover (planned or unplanned) and decide to spend the time shopping, do not buy anything liquid that’s more than 3 oz., in case your connecting flight is canceled and you leave the airport to sleep in a hotel.


If you purchase something expensive that’s more than 3 oz. (looking at you, Kiehl’s grapefruit body wash) and you leave the airport to spend the night at a hotel (thank you, United), and you realize that you’re going to have a problem getting back through security, ask for help. And be nice about it. Most people who work in customer service positions actually want to be helpful, and they often know things you and I might not know.


A slow stroll through the international rose test garden is worth the trouble of finding a parking space.


Parking Kitty is a super user-friendly public parking system. Also: fun branding.

Skill building:

It’s hard to overstate the importance of learning to say, “I’m sorry I was rude, I’m feeling frustrated;” and “I understand you’re frustrated; I feel that way, too.”

More skill building:

Also hard to overstate the value of learning to ask, “what’s important to you?” and “what can I do to help, right now?”


Learning to listen for what someone isn’t saying is a lifelong challenge and well worth the effort.

For your next Trader Joe’s run:

Pampelonne French 75 4-pack.


Teaching children how to make purchase decisions sometimes looks like standing in an IKEA showroom talking on the phone to your 21 year old son who is standing in another IKEA showroom, across the country, buying a bed for himself for the first time.


Letting go ≠ Abandonment (quite the opposite, actually)


  1. I really enjoyed this post, Jenny. It was a very relatable sort of stream-of-consciousness essay. Good for you, taking your sweet time with moving your kid into her college dorm. I absolutely loved the movie “Julie and Julia” so I must check out “Cleaving”. And thanks for the reccomendation on the wine cocktail. Hubs and I were just saying we need to make a Trader Joe’s run soon, as we move into our new house tomorrow!

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