Even if you don’t feel tipsy during the Halloween party, look for these dead giveaways:

- A complete inability to remove the foil from the champagne bottle, or to figure out how to uncage the cork without removing the foil.

- Taking the stairs down from the hosts’ apartment ever so slowly, getting both feet on each riser ever so carefully before moving on to the next.

- Your partner saying “You’re doin’ great!” at least three times during the five-minute walk home.

- Shucking off your bra and tights from under your costume in front of a (curtained) window while cheerfully giving the finger to the hypothetical neighbors who might be offended by the unintentional display.

- Being ever-so-proud! that you remembered to wash your face before bed.

- Waking up late the next morning ravenous for every smeary, fatty mass-market food being trumpeted by TV commercials.

- When your partner reveals that he brought home a frozen pizza last night, you rush wordlessly to him, fluttering your hands, and finally manage “I’m so glad we got married!”

little things, late arrivals

Things I learned to appreciate later in life:

- avocado
- sour cream
- Mexican food of all kinds. Now consider that I spent my formative years in Texas and only discovered Mexican food after I moved away from it. Awwwww, so sad.
- a sponge to wash the dishes. I still prefer a brush for most things, but The Fella introduced me to dishwashing with sponges and I have to admit, they’re better for some items.
- beer
- moisturizer
- flip flops. I was a Dr. Scholl’s kid all the way.
- Matt Damon. I only started reeeeeally appreciating him during the first act of The Informant!.
- Barkeepers Friend. Boy howdy, everyone who told me this stuff was miraculously perfect? They were understating it.

little things

I like:

- the gust of wind that sometimes blows, puffing out the curtains and stirring the air, in the seconds before the rainfall starts.

- making a balanced, delicious dinner seemingly out of nothing when the cupboard seems bare.

- when the season changes from sandals to boots, or vice versa. (But honestly, mostly sandals-to-boots.)

- cocktail glasses.

- wooden matches, the bigger the better.

- the heel off a loaf of homemade bread, still warm from the oven.

- the mute button.

- ginger jam.

reframing failure

Today, I had a disappointment. It was big. And I’m okay with that.

Here’s why: I know that true disappointment, deep disappointment, means I’ve identified a goal and tried my darnedest to achieve it. Not getting it is almost beside the point: trying is the point. Failure means I’m trying, really trying, to achieve goals, even if they might be out of my reach.

So, what can I fail at next? I’m compiling quite a list of possibilities over here, things to aim at and — maybe, just maybe — fail.


Let’s see: I got our always-problematic TimeWarner account corrected & reset (and got the direct number for the very helpful local supervisor dedicated to fixing any future difficulties), made a cogent argument against portraying the small benefits available to women within a marginalizing sexist system as unearned privilege, danced for 10 minutes (the first 3.33 minutes of music embedded for your convenience), formed a small personal philosophy for sweetening my inevitable dealing with sour people, and cleaned the kitchen.

Not bad for a Saturday in pajamas.

little things

I love:

-clementines. I love how easy they are to peel, how tiny they are, how each segment is just the right size to pop into my mouth.

- spinning kids around: grabbing a child by the wrists and twirl twirl twirl, that little face beaming and giggling up at you, until you both get wobbly-legged and dizzy. Yesterday I spun the smallest child at a family picnic; by the time I set him down, all the rest had lined up for a turn. When you spin more than a few children in a row, you can feel it the next day in your shoulders, arms, and back. It occurs to me that I would get more than enough exercise every day if I could just spin children for 30 minutes or so, including the breaks so I don’t whoops.

- clear wine bottles. I soak the bottle in cold water so the glue softens, the label peels off, and I can easily scrub the glass clean with a sponge. Wash well inside and out. I use clear bottles to store grains, to fill with fruit-infused liqueurs, or to serve chilled water.

paying down my sleep deficit

Things I slept through this morning, according to The Fella:
- yardwork and a leafblower just under our bedroom window
- someone yelling at those workers to SHUT UP
- children yelling and playing
- a loud and long alarm in the building next door

Things I slept through in my dream:
- my dream-self peeing (which normally snaps me right out of a dream)
- Zooey Deschanel dropping off a yardful of rambunctious children at my quiet and sedate daycare
- someone yelling at Zooey Deschanel’s noisy brats to SHUT UP
- a loud and long alarm in the building where my dream took place
- being Lily Tomlin


Since the appearance of the internet, the world has changed in ways I could never have imagined in my childhood.

I suppose that my youthful self could have envisioned some of the more obvious and celebrated online conveniences and necessities. I would have understood the desirability of email, a single-point, globally-accessible source for the delivery of written communication. Like letters, but with immediate delivery? And you can log in from any point where you have a computer and an internet connection? (Or, y’know, a sufficiently clever phone?) Younger Elsa would have understood — and maybe even have predicted — the basic outline.

I could have imagined having immediate on-demand access to an encyclopaedia indexing matters of all kinds, that we could just call up a user-submitted page rather than debating trivial questions all weekend long: was Copernicus Polish? Was Burgess Meredith in How to Marry a Millionaire? What are the chief ingredients in gremolata? It would have blown my young mind, but I would have realized that it was both feasible and beneficial.

What I could never, ever have foreseen, and what blows my mind every single time: sitting on my couch and getting an email announcing a package delivery before I can even register the footsteps on the porch as “probably the UPS guy.”

dream logic

All week long, I’ve been having what sound like classic anxiety dreams, what should be classic anxiety dreams, but Dream Elsa keeps stepping up and mastering the anxious situations.

- A dream replays a real-life conversation in which a loved one asks me to do something I feel awkward about doing. In the dream as in life, I tactfully and pleasantly say no, re-establishing my boundaries; in the dream as in life, the loved one graciously accepts my refusal and we chat about other things before saying “I love you, bye.”

- I find myself at a party where I know absolutely no one. Instead of freezing up or standing in a corner, I pour myself some punch and smilingly make my way around the room meeting people.

- I awaken in an unfamiliar and busy bank lobby without pants. “Huh,” I say to the tellers, “my pants have disappeared, along with my wallet. I’ll have to get new ones! See you later.”

- The bank building shifts, as dream landscapes tend to do, and becomes a shopping mall bustling with shoppers. Unsurprisingly, all of them are fully dressed; I am still trouserless. “Well,” I think, it won’t be the oddest thing they’ll see today. Hmm, I bet I can buy some pants in one of these stores!”

- I’m out with The Fella in a busy bar when I’m temporarily struck dumb. He looks at me quizzically; I calmly gesture to my mouth and shrug, smiling to reassure him. He understands completely, flashes me a loving look, and without words we fist-bump, clinking our wedding rings in solidarity.

I’m not sure what these mean, but I wake up each day nodding in appreciation of this Dream Me who sizes up each situation and faces it with calm confidence and competence. I half-expect to dream of showing up, naked and unprepared, at a final exam — and to get an A+.