According to “How Stuff Works”, spacecraft re-entry is “tricky business”. I’m fairly certain that isn’t how aerospace engineers or astrophysicists would explain it. But, hey. *shrugs *

Re-entry into the work world after vacation is tricky business, too.


The object, you, launched into the freedom of space (space to breathe, to graze, to sleep, to gaze), must return to the real world.

Re-entry is sudden. Jarring even.

Gravity and drag push and pull against you, sucking you into an atmosphere charged with fabricated urgency.  Your calendar is already full. Notifications pour in. Deadlines loom large and lowering. Somehow, tasks have metastasized and spawned action items in your brief absence. The cool aura of peace that momentarily surrounded you burns away. Once briefly and tenuously calibrated, your sense of equilibrium is rocked off-center.

The ground rushes up to meet you as you hurtle, limbs flailing, earthwards. Red warning lights flashing. Alarms blaring.

You slam into terra firma.

Bounce once. Twice. Skid to a stop.

Everything goes black.

A train stalls on the tracks. The network is down. You didn’t bring lunch. The copier is jammed. But the show must go on.

You open one eye. Then the other.

The smoke clears. A voice cuts in.

“How was your break?”




7 thoughts in 7 days off social media

It has been 7 days since I logged off Facebook and Instagram for a while. I’ve had lots of thoughts in that time (like “how can I get someone to find the boy Leila likes on Instagram and see if he has ever posted any shirtless pics without sounding like a sociopath?”). But here are 7 less crazy thoughts about being off social media that are probably worth sharing.

1)  Ignorance may not be bliss, but it’s a ceasefire.

I may not know which celebrity did what or died, or what the latest outrage perpetrated by [insert entity here] is, or where you got to go/do that I didn’t, but in the quiet space left by the absence of media chatter and the resulting cognitive dissonance, there is some peace.  I like it. It gives me time to regroup and ration my ****s. I can’t be just giving them out all willy-nilly. Because, inflation.

2)  One-eyed morning-scrolling keeps you from waking up. #staywoke

For the last 7 days, I’ve gotten up within 10 minutes of waking up. I reach for the phone, check the weather, do a quick check of work email, and get up. There’s nothing else to “check” except myself, and I can do that in the bathroom. Not that I physically check myself.  I just check in to the day. Wake up to my life. There will be enough crazy populating it soon enough without me clicking and scrolling and bookmarking any extra. Bandwidth matters.

3)  It’s okay to be bored sometimes.

There was an article posted recently in Atlantic Monthly about the benefits of boredom. According to fancy scientific studies, it sparks creativity. I’d like to think that the few moments of boredom I’ve experienced in the last few days spurred some ingenuity, but I can’t be sure. There’s this (and another post I’m working on about a word I made up), so that’s something.

4)  If you take a picture of a tree falling in the forest, and you don’t post it, is your reality sound?


It still happened. And if I’m honest, I took the picture so that I can look at it, which I can still do. I don’t need anybody to “like” it, because I do. We like “likes” though, don’t we? It’s validating. “Yes, you/your food/your kid/your dog/that thing you’re doing/your Pinterest projects are interesting.”  You exist. There. Done.

Just to clarify…I did not take a picture of a tree falling in a forest. But here’s one in case nobody has posted it recently. (picture courtesy of

Tree falling


5)  You’ll have more to say if you say less.

Need I say more?

6)  There’s more than one way to skin a cat, but that’s dumb.

Idiomatically speaking, to skin a cat = achieve your goals. I’d like to think my goals in using social media were to stay connected to people, stay abreast of what’s going on in the world, to be entertained and to entertain. But, if I’m being real with myself, a lot of it was about passing the time or procrastinating. But there are other ways to do those things. It’s possible to connect through good old-fashioned conversation, an activity I engaged in during a mandated team-building time mid-week. In spite of my social awkwardness, it was refreshing. Staying informed isn’t hard to do either, and it’s easier to manage if updates aren’t speeding past you like ticker tape. I still get news notifications, but I feel less compelled to click on all of them. (See thought #1). As for passing the time and procrastination, *shrugs*, I’m trying to quit.

Strictly speaking, skinning cats is not a good use of time. It’s also gross.

7)  You have more time than you think, and it’s better than it seems.

There never seems to be enough time. Just 24 hours. But when I add back the time spent posting pictures of falling trees, one-eyed morning scrolling and skinning cats, there’s more of it. I’m estimating about 1-3 hours a day. I can fill those hours with reading or writing or playing check-up with Maya. Or with nothing. It makes me appreciate the other hours, too. Gratitude is never a waste of time. It draws out the moments around it. It creates time. Try it. Take a few moments to list the problems you DON’T have, the people you do have, and the good in you.

See?  More time.

There is enough.

So the hiatus continues.


Since I’m not on social media right now, I’m relying on readers to post this on theirs. Otherwise, this is a metaphorical tree falling in a digital forest. Alternatively (or additionally), you could comment here. Mama needs a fix.



It’s a gas

I’m inordinately paranoid about going to the dentist.  Afraid that the drill will slip out of my dentist’s hands and accidentally bore out my eyeball, or that I will have to have a root canal.  And it happened.  The root canal, not the eyeball thing, which totally could happen. I’ve seen a lot of medical tv shows.

Actually, it was 2 root canals and a deep filling.  In spite of brushing and occasional flossing, I always get cavities.  Lots of them.  I’m told that it’s genetic.  I refuse to believe that it’s because of the occasional (okay… rare) flossing. Flossing is gross, but so is putting your dentures in a glass by the sink. So there’s that.

Did I mention how much I hate going to the dentist?

What follows are my thoughts from the chair. *********************************************************************************************************************************************

The “you’re gonna feel a little pinch” thing is an understatement.  Why don’t they just go ahead tell you the truth?

I’m about to stab your gums with a needle now. Then I’m going to twist it a little and pump some really nasty venom in it.  It won’t start working for a while.  But it won’t wear off before you need to be seen in public either. Ready?

A good 3 minutes after I can no longer feel the entire right side of my face, the dentist returns.  He asks me questions about my job as he fires up the drill.  The sound.  The smell of burning tooth dust. My entire body seizes up. I can’t with that drill. I just can’t.  That’s when he offers me nitrous.

Laughing gas? I’ve never had it before. Why not.

A minute or two later, the hygienist is putting a little plastic mask over my nose.

I concentrate on controlling my breathing.  I don’t want to breath too deeply or too often because I don’t want the hygenist thinking I’m some kind of druggie or something. If I keep taking huge drags of gas, she’ll judge me. Don’t judge me!

I try to hold my breath for a few seconds, only succeeding in making myself gasp in even MORE gas, which made me twitch a little.  “Ha, you can’t even do drugs right. Amateur.” She said…in her mind.  But her mouth said, “You okay?” Great.  She feels sorry for me now.  Don’t feel sorry for me!

The gas tells me that the hygienist is evil, but not to even worry about it.

She keeps aiming the water sprayer at the back of my throat, which I’m certain is intentional.  The suction tube dangles limp in her latex-gloved hand until the dentist barks “Suction” through his SARS mask.  Water begins pooling in the back of my mouth.  I imagine a tiny Indiana Jones dangling from my uvula, panicking about the rising water.  Indy!  Use your whip! Use your whip!

I gag.  The hygienist takes this as a sign that I’ve had enough gas.  She is wrong.

I have not had enough, but she turns it down anyway.  I take a couple of deep breaths and hold it, trying to increase the buzz.  I’ve seen people on tv do this while smoking weed.  [<–another example of the importance of carefully placed modifiers. Grammar ninja out]. profiles_Ninja_me_5934_528387

I’m gonna ask them to give Leila nitrous when she comes, too.  She’s such a panicky child.  It’ll make a her feel all calm and stuff.  This must be what being high feels like.  Yeah.


I don’t want her to feel high.  She might like it and start doing drugs with boys in abandoned buildings.  It’s a slippery slope.  It starts at a dentist’s office and ends with prostitution.  I don’t want her to be a prostitute.  My eyes begin to water at the thought.  The dentist sees that I am clearly in pain and gestures for the hygenist to check the tank and turn the gas back up.


I lie there thinking up new cupcake flavors for the remainder of the procedure. Amaretto anise. Ha! What if that was somebody’s name? Rum & coke. Something with celery? Can you put kale in a cupcake? Hipsters love that shit.

Then the accounts lady brings me the updated treatment plan.  “One side done. We’ll do the left side when you come back. Just a couple more fillings and crowns.”  I ask her how much it’ll cost.  She says something about $1,400.  Vibe. Killed.

That was over a year ago.

Today, I found myself thinking about how much easier it would be to endure the craziness of working at a high school, or going to my mom’s house, or finding a parking spot at HEB on Sunday if I had my own private supply of laughing gas.  It sure would be easier to put up with people.  On the other hand, it would be considerably harder for me to get anything done. I already have self-diagnosed, selective ADD, and I procrastinate like crazy (par exemple… it took me 13 months to finish writing this).

Hey, what can I say? My life is stressful.  Some of the stress is legitimate. Some fabricated.  I just need to learn how to manage it without drugs, of course.

Philosopher and psychologist, William James, said…

The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.

This week, when I inevitably find myself stressing about something, like paying back my grad school loans, or what pants to wear, I’ll just think about this:

At least I’m not in prison like Piper Chapman.  I bet they don’t even let inmates have laughing gas.