My name is Marlene and I am a blogger.
At first it all started innocently enough with a few blog posts on WordPress. Having always enjoyed writing, I figured I would just jot down a few thoughts in between loads of laundry and put them out there.
I learned how to set up my site and was up and running in no time at all. I shared those initial blogs on Facebook and smiled at the likes and encouraging comments I received. I admit that the positive feedback felt good, and I was deeply grateful to the friends who shared my blogs. I checked my stats and marveled at all the people in the different countries who read my posts. I said things like, “isn’t that lovely, someone from Australia just read my blog?” It was just nice to be writing again. I hadn’t realized how much I had missed it.
But all too soon it became apparent that my little WordPress site wasn’t going to be enough. I needed more. I moved on to sending out my blogs to online publications. A dear friend, who I realize now was an enabler, had sent me the list to feed my addiction. When the first blog I sent out was accepted for publication I felt heady intoxication. The positive reinforcement became something I started to crave. I was used to snarky comments from my children, not this sudden validation that I still had a brain. It was a rush I couldn’t explain. I also discovered that the blogging community is one that is comprised of supportive and intelligent people. It was a community I wanted to be a part of.
Each day I searched the news for topics to write about. I lay awake at night thinking about my next blog topic — hoping for an idea that would go viral. Friends and family started to shy away from me; concerned that anything they might say in my presence might turn up in a blog post.
“Write about something other than us,” my middle son implored. Was there something other than my family I could write about? I considered my son’s request for a brief moment but then realized that I had spent two and a half decades devoting my life to my children and they owed me — it was my right to write about them and their antics.
Antics, which, I might add, had probably taken decades off my life. My existence had become so much about being a mom that when it came time to send a bio and headshot to the online publications I couldn’t even find a picture of myself that didn’t include my husband and kids. I finally found one where I was able to mostly crop them out.
In my quest to write the perfect blog the laundry started piling up, the breakfast dishes remained on the table and I stopped going to my spin class. Ok, maybe I hadn’t started taking a spin class, but I had definitely considered it. I knew I would have to get myself under control before I lost it all.
I decided that while I would continue to write, I would do it at a more moderate pace. I would allow my family a modicum of privacy and scale back on checking the views and clicks my posts received. I even bought a Peloton bike for the house so I can take spin classes in between writing my blogs.
This is a cautionary tale for anyone considering starting his or her own blog. Blogging can suck you in before you realize what is happening. Proceed with caution. But if you have a desire to write, do proceed, because it really can be fun and fulfilling.
— Marlene Kern Fischer
Marlene Kern Fischer is a wife, mom of three sons, food shopper extraordinaire and blogger. Her work has been featured in the online publication Better After 50.
Why has winter lasted six months this year? Being trapped inside with the kids while the snow is thigh high is not my idea of fun.
My husband confessed to wearing long underwear to work. He says his office is heated, but when he leaves his coffee unattended for a few minutes, it changes to brown slush.
My 6-year-old son Noah, the geography expert, has been asking questions about the temperature. “I thought negative numbers were only in Antarctica. Is that true, Mom?”
I couldn’t answer him because my teeth were chattering.
Like most kids with autism, my boys are schedule oriented. Late starts, early dismissals, and missing a day of school can be problematic. Nothing in our house full of toys keeps their attention. It’s tough to entertain them all day. I’m convinced it would be easier to organize NASA’s next launch.
During the last snow day we made cookies, spent four minutes with Play Doh, and then it was time for television. I had recorded their favorite educational shows. Two boys sat glued to the set while Isaac opened and shut the front door repeatedly. The utility company will love us this month.
Although Noah was mesmerized by Word World, it was time for his nebulizer treatment. I set up the machine, and he held the mask to his face. I looked at the clock. It was only 9:30 a.m., and my nerves were shot. When I turned on the nebulizer, Noah could no longer hear the TV over the roaring machine.
“Turn up the Valium,” he cried.
“I wish I could,” I laughed. I walked to the television and adjusted the volume.
Later the trio wanted to play in the snow. We burned 45 minutes bundling everyone in snow gear. Three-year-old Henry attempted to make a snow angel but was unsure how to move his arms. He growled and went inside after his mittens were full of snow.
Noah was disappointed that he couldn’t create an igloo where he could hide from me. He had expected to build a gigantic fort with a door and four windows that could double as a guest house. This was not possible in 15 minutes.
Isaac experienced pure joy sledding down our deck steps and nearly collided with the swing set. He zoomed down the steps again and again and again. I had visions of Isaac being knocked unconscious. I was sure if I had to call 911, I would be told the ambulances wouldn’t be running until the spring thaw.
The rest of my day crawled on.
When my husband returned from work, the kids ran to greet him. “Oh yes, we had a great day,” said Noah. I wondered why Noah’s definition of “great” didn’t match mine.
“Since I’m already wearing my long underwear,” my husband said, “I’m going outside to shovel the driveway.”
Then he noticed the bags under my eyes. “Honey, I think you need some Valium.”
— Tyann Sheldon Rouw
Tyann Sheldon Rouw lives with her husband and three sons in Iowa. Her work has been featured on Yahoo Parenting, Brain, Child Magazine, Scary Mommy, The Mighty, the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and various newspapers. She blogs regularly at tyannsheldonrouw.weebly.com. Find her on Facebook and Twitter.
Dear Writers of Open Letters,
A trend has emerged in recent months of writing open letters for publication as a means of presenting arguments, salient and otherwise, on matters of public policy, societal ills and economic theory.
I know, in this age of social media postings to which trolls respond with hate-spewing comments, angry subtweets and outraged text-on-photo memes, one longs for the opportunity to make one’s opinion known without the fear of reprisal, repercussion or disagreement. As discourse becomes less and less civil, it becomes increasingly tempting to find means of expressing oneself in a vacuum of sorts, avoiding the need for actual discourse of any sort.
By creating the false intimacy of an open letter to an individual (i.e., Donald Trump, Rahm Emanuel or Gallagher), one can address a troubling social or cultural issue without seeming to engage all those at whom one’s comments are aimed, building an effective preemptive defense against claims of generalization. Conversely, by addressing such a missive openly to a general group (Pharmaceutical advertisers, 9-11 Truthers, People Who Wear Camouflage to Funerals, for instance) a modicum of anonymity may seem to be afforded the specific person(s) toward whom one aims the ire. Either approach, though, serves only as bare cover for a tactic that we can all clearly see lies somewhere between the subtly repressive and the outright fascist.
From behind the veil of the open letter one may comfortably launch ad hominem attacks (I know some of my mouth-breathing detractors will assume that this is an attack that sounds just like another attack but has a different meaning; if you’re too stupid to use a dictionary, Google it.)
The one-sided nature of the open letter presents no opportunity for debate and thereby frees one of the need to obey the basic rules of debate. A writer of an open letter to aficionados of proper punctuation, for instance, might set up as a straw-man some militant user of the Oxford comma whose righteous insistence on clarity might then be mocked in absentia as pompous and hermeneutic despite his never having actually existed at all. Such a strategy might not hold up in a proper debate setting under examination and cross, but the ne’er-do-well who wrote this imagined open letter would serve the purpose of his or her opinion and face literally no consequences for the rhetorical crime. Can we as a people allow such grievous wrongs to stand? I think not.
This abandonment of the basic tenets of public debate sets a terrible precedent. Once we begin to allow straw men to go unchallenged, it will lead to the common acceptance of the casual tautology because that is what will come next and then, bam. We’re down the rabbit hole into the slippery slope argument and there’s no going back. No. Going. Back.
I ask you, therefore, to stop. All of you. The age of the open letter must come to an end and I urge you all to accept this and move on.
The comments section has been disabled, because frankly, I don’t need the hassle.
— Dylan Brody
Author and humorist Dylan Brody calls himself a “purveyor of fine words and phrases” and specializes in smart, humane storytelling. He has performed in venues all over the world, regularly opens for David Sedaris and has written for dozens of comedians, including Jay Leno. He wrote the satirical self-help book, The Modern Depression Guidebook, and the novel, Laughs Last. He is a thrice-published author of fiction for the young adult market with one of his books, A Tale of a Hero and the Song of Her Sword, finding a place in the curriculum at several public schools in the U.S. In 2005, Dylan won the Stanley Drama Award for playwriting.
Let me share the events that led to me, BOMBING the interview I had for my dream job. A very lucrative job that I happened to have turned down three years ago — because I didn’t want to relocate to D.C., where I now live. Go figure.
Anxious, excited and nervous for the big interview, I pack my gym bag so I could hit spin class and get ready at the gym. This was my brilliant plan to work off all the nerves and walk into the interview cool, calm and collected. As opposed to how I feel after attempting to get ready at home, with toddler Ava, who is far to0 curious about my body in the shower and morphs into a WWF wrestler when I attempt to apply eyeliner.
I meticulously pack my gym bag with a pencil skirt, a modest modern sheer blouse, an appropriately nude bra and undershirt, professional heels, nylons, etc.
The sitter arrived right on time to watch my toddler while my oldest is at school. I snag my bag from Ava, who of course has it open and the contents completely disheveled, and head off to the gym. I had planned everything down to the minute, 50 minutes of spin, 10-minute shower, 20 minutes for hair and makeup, check! Now, to get dressed. This is where my day dove face first down disaster hill!
Nylons: why does it look like I wore these in a barbed-wire hurdles event? Sigh, Ava had caught them up in the zipper while “helping me” rearrange the contents of the bag. “ Oh, well,” I think to myself. I can pull off no hose; Thank God, I shaved my legs. Skirt, heels, bra… Bra? Where the hell is my bra? You have to be kidding me. I’ll be late to the interview if I go home for a bra. Of course, I couldn’t just wear my sports bra that day. I had worn one of those normally “awesome” fitness tops with the bra sewn in. Today, I loath this clever innovation!
Well, after concluding my only option was poor posture with my shoulders rolled forward, I decided I would attempt to keep my blouse from making contact with my chest. I ended up at the interview looking like “Tits McGee” in a room where they forgot it was NOVEMBER. With the ac on full blast, no nylons and a peanut butter handprint on the rump of my skirt. That, I might add, I didn’t see until I got home. I was so flustered that “confident and competent” are the last things on the interview team’s mind. The critically arched brows and flared nostrils of one interviewer and complete lack of eye contact from the men on the panel confirmed that I would not be getting a call back.
On my drive home, knowing I had just BOMBED my interview and stifling back tears, I tried to gain perspective and tell myself that the day’s events just meant it wasn’t meant to be. The girls must still need me at home. Upon walking through the door, my little Ava begins screaming, “No, No, No,” and launched into a flailing whirlwind of tantrums and poop. With a deep breath, I reminded myself that this time at home with my children is a short-lived opportunity.
I may also have made a mental promise to my youngest that when she is 16, I will be walking her into school every day, in the exact outfit she sent me of in for my interview.
— Emily Woolf
Emily Woolf is a wife, mother, group fitness instructor and former consumer studies teacher who enjoys fitness and blogging. When she’s not chasing after her three spirited girls, teaching or helping clients learn how to work out, she manages a health, fitness and family life blog and a Facebook page called Full of Grit. She does not consider herself a writer — just someone with a knack for finding herself in humorous situations where you can choose to laugh or cry.
This morning I had the pleasure of working out next to my former self. She was young, fit, skin as smooth as porcelain, perky, young.
Oh, did I mention FIT!! You know which girl I’m talking about.
I found myself being a tiny bit catty and snarky in my head while she was doing her perfect leg lifts. That’s not so hard, I said to myself. I can do that.
OK, maybe not right now because my hip hurts from the too-much-sitting-on-my-a** syndrome, and I am a bit gassy from the taco soup I made last night. After having kids, I find that in addition to urine leaking out ALL the time, I also have lost control over my flatulence. I figured doing leg lifts while squeezing my a** was NOT a good idea.
As quickly as the snarky comments in my head appeared, they disappeared. I smiled. I remembered how far I have come. Not just physically, but mentally.
So I sucked up my pride, peeled my 41-year-old body off the floor and looked her way. As she was probably completing her 50th Jane Fonda-like leg lift, I looked at her and said “great form.” She smiled, said thank you, and returned the compliment. “You’re really fit for your age.” I laughed so hard I snorted and possibly farted. She had no idea why I was laughing.
I might be older, not as fit, not so perky or smooth, definitely not fast or limber anymore, but I’m good with that.
Later that night I found myself thinking about my unlikely workout partner from earlier in the day. Thinking about what that 19-year-old girl said about “being fit for someone my age.” Thinking about the way I laughed and actually took that as a great reflection on my life right now. Her comment got me thinking about just how far I have come and how I like the direction I am going.
One of the best parts about being “someone my age” — I find that I just don’t care anymore. Consider:
1. I love eating buttercream frosting from the bowl.
2. I love that my husband pointed out to me that the blender was still plugged in and I had my finger on the trigger. Hey, I never claimed to be the smartest bulb in the bunch.
3. I love that the guy at the Taco Time drive thru knows us.
4. I love that I don’t care anymore about how much screen time my kids get.
5. I love that it’s more important to me that my kids stomp on ant hills than do homework.
6. I love that I don’t buy everything organic anymore.
7. I love that after we got home from parent-teacher conferences, I threw away all of my daughter’s standardized test scores.
8. I love that my kids are getting to know the fun side of me.
9. I love that I didn’t wait too long to say “I don’t care anymore.”
10. I love that I am finally confident enough in myself and my family to not feel the need to compare our lives to someone else’s.
11. I love that there are perks to “being someone my age.”
So, this is life. I think I like it!
— Sara Lindberg
Sara Lindberg is a full-time school counselor with two kids, ages 5 and 7. Her background includes a B.S. in exercise science and a M.Ed. in counseling. She has never considered herself a writer, just a woman with a lot of random thoughts in her head and access to a computer.
(Editor’s Note: This piece originally appeared on HumorTimes.com on Jan. 5, 2016. Reposted by permission of author Paul Lander.)
The news doesn’t need to be complicated and confusing; that’s what any new release from Microsoft is for. And, as in the case with anything from Microsoft, to keep the news from worrying our pretty little heads over, remember something new and equally indecipherable will come out soon.
Really all you need to do is follow one simple rule: barely pay attention and jump to conclusions. So, here are some headlines today and my first thoughts:
US and Allies conduct 24 airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq
Someone just tell Liam Neeson ISIS took his daughter. That should finish them off.
Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck are fed up with living together
Not as much as the rest of us are about hearing about it.
CNN reporter Poppy Harlow passed out while on the air
Thank God, one of CNN’s three viewers called paramedics.
Ivanka Trump defends Donald Trump
Proving where there’s a will there’s a way.
You’ll never guess what marijuana is being blamed for now
I know, I know… wait, I forgot…
Steve Harvey signs for 3 more years as host of ‘Miss Universe’ pageant
Look for him to also host next year’s spelling bee live from the ‘Philpeans.’
Robert Spitzer, most influential psychiatrist, dies at 83
In lieu of flowers, people are just being asked, ‘so, how does this make you feel?’
This is what Beyoncé wears to chill with Hillary Clinton
According to Kanye West, it should be, ‘What Hillary Clinton wears to chill with Beyonce.’
RIP Harlem Globetrotter legend, Meadowlark Lemon
Some advice, you might want to save the old water/confetti in the bucket trick for once you’re officially in heaven.
David Spade complains Michelle Obama’s been on ‘Ellen’ more than him
Maybe, because she’s funnier.
People report feeling 4.2 earthquake in L.A.
Well, it was either an earthquake or a bunch of folks exhibiting the effects of eating at Chipotle all at the same time.
Bill Cosby indicted
Bill Cosby should sue Viagra because his erection lasted four decades.
Republican Carson’s campaign manager, 20 staffers quit
Ironically, not working for a brain surgeon means they no longer need to have their heads examined.
Ninja Lanternshark: Scientists discover new species of shark off Central America coast
Never mind, it was just conference of lawyers on break.
— Paul Lander
Paul Lander is not sure which he is proudest of — winning the Nobel Peace Prize or sending Sudanese peace activist, Fatima Ahmed Ibrahim, to accept it on his behalf, bringing to light the plight of central Africa’s indigenous people. In his non-daydreaming hours, Paul has worked as a writer and/or producer for shows on ABC, NBC, Showtime, The Disney Channel, ABC Family, VH1, LOGO and Lifetime. In addition, he’s written stand-up material that’s been performed on “Leno,” “Letterman,” “Conan” and “Last Comic Standing.” His humor pieces have appeared in Huff Post Comedy, McSweeney’s, The New Yorker, Santa Fe Writers Project Journal, Humor Times, The Higgs Weldon and Hobo Pancake. In 2015, he placed second in the National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ annual column contest in the online/blog/multimedia category for his pieces in Humor Times and was named the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop’s “Humor Writer of the Month” in April.
I’m not big on signs and such but…
Oh, wait. I’m a big ol’ liar if I leave that in print.
Okay, okay. … I am big on signs. Of all sorts. I admit it.
Think I’m silly, if you must. You won’t think I’m all that silly, though, once you get a load of this.
The new year, 2016, is going to be my year. The signs say so. Two signs in a row, in fact, that things will soon be looking up for me, signs that 2016 will indeed be my year.
(Which would be awesome and appreciated and oh-so very welcome considering the <cussing> <cus> of a <cussing> year 99 percent of <cussing> 2015 was for me and my loved ones.)
The first sign came when my forever friend Debbie and I went to lunch last week. We’ve had lunch together at Chinese restaurants now and then for, sheesh, 20 years or so. (Can you remember, Debbie?) Last week we did so for the first time this year. And what to my wondering eyes should appear but a fortune from my fortune cookie that read:
I thought that was a nice fortune. A good fortune I could certainly hope for. But I honestly didn’t think of it as a sign.
Until, that is, I got another sign. Yesterday. A big sign. From an official source.
That source being Anderson Cooper.
Now, I don’t participate in many of the memes on Facebook. But one featuring Anderson Cooper drew me in yesterday. I saw it on a friend’s Facebook page and just had to do it.
So I clicked on the link, connected to my Facebook profile as directed… and was delighted by the result:
An absolutely fitting fortune for me. (Though it would have been more fitting if Anderson had said I won Publisher’s Clearing House, considering all the times I’ve entered over the years.) Still, Anderson Cooper announcing my riches to come is a sure enough sign for me, one I won’t ignore.
Especially considering the first sign — that I now realize was a sign.
In light of the signs — and despite it being early — I now officially bid you farewell, 2015! I forgive you for all the funk you foisted upon me and mine during the past 12 months. You’re behind me as I now look straight ahead to 2016 and the signs it has already sent my way!
Signs pointing to 2016 — finally! — being my year.
For good things.
Of all sorts of sorts.
Perhaps you should be on the lookout for signs 2016 will be your year, too!
If nothing else, go ahead and try that CNN Facebook meme just for the heck of it. Or order up some Chinese food including a fortune cookie. Neither one can hurt. And one or the other just might make your day.
If not your year. Cheers to 2016 being our year!
— Lisa Carpenter
Lisa Carpenter is a freelance writer and blogger specializing in topics related to grandparenting, the empty nest and the baby boomer lifestyle. She publishes the Grandma’s Briefs website, stressing the vitality and relevance of today’s grandmothers, and she writes regularly for the Huffington Post and PurpleClover.com. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.
When reacting to anger, women have three basic modus operandi. Men have one.
I know, it’s shocking, but we women have always been overachievers. Women react with either avoidance, depression or the sit ‘n suffer. Men are only capable of the sit ‘n suffer.
Avoidance: If you’re anything at all like me, and admit it, you are, then you despise confrontation. When I became middle aged, I also became vain, and found myself buying boxes of hair dye at the drug store. I used this silly product made by companies who have the nerve to know that I am vain and prey on that fact to squeeze a few bucks out of my wallet and into theirs. Nonetheless, I freely admit that I spent several years doing the deed myself at the expense of several household towels and the bathroom grout, neither of which will ever again be pristinely white.
After years of doing this, my family caviled at the purple hue of my hair to the point that I finally had to seek professional assistance. After some time in the beautician’s chair my hair went from purple to black. My actual color, or I should say my birth color, was brown. Black and freckles simply made no sense. So back I went to the beautician for another correction. This time, I came home almost blonde with the dried bleached-out texture of a sweater that sits in the back of your closet because it’s too itchy on your skin for comfort and it’s a putrid shade of mustard anyway.
I was beside myself. I should’ve stuck with the purple. I didn’t want to go out and be seen in public, but even worse, I didn’t want to go back to the shop to confront the hairdresser yet again. I was sure that it couldn’t be fixed and that if it could be fixed, it was going to cost me more money for the vanity I already felt guilty about. So instead, I spent a day fretting and staying home avoiding the issue and all mirrors all together. Eventually, I had to force myself and my anger to calm down and confront the issue full throttle. I was angry about the whole thing. I didn’t want to have to confront the hairdresser, but in the long run, my hair is now brown, no really, it’s brown, my freckles match, and the beautician couldn’t have been more sympathetic.
That’s anger: avoidance, confrontation and resolution.
Depression: Then there’s that stuff-it-down-your-throat anger. This is the one when your boss really pisses you off. So you write him a nasty e-mail to get even. But then you’re smart enough not to push the send button. You wait: a very wise thing to do. You calm down. Or at least you think you calm down. Then you spend days resenting your boss and never speaking up for yourself. Your boss sucks. This job sucks. Actually, your whole life sucks. And now, let me be the first to present to you: depression. It’s really anger that has fallen and can’t get up. I’m really, really good at this one. I have multiple empty bottles of Prozac and Lexapro to prove it.
So I suck it down. Remember Ross Perot? There is a giant sucking sound you can hear coming out of my intestines. Swoop! There it goes deep into the bowels of, well, my bowels, Anger went in. It swam around my bowels for a bit, and then flowed with the current. It made its way into my heart but couldn’t get quite cozy. Anger has a lot of energy. So it wasn’t too tired to keep swimming.
Upward it went, eventually landing in my brain where it promptly and finally lost its buoyancy. Its arms couldn’t take one more stroke onward. Its flippers fell off. And finally, finally, its mask came off, too. Without its mask, it can’t see very clearly, so it flops around for a while until it finally removes the snorkel out of its mouth. So now it can’t see and it can’t breathe. It finally has to come up for air. It was anger that went in. What came out was something entirely different: anger’s cousin, depression. If you’re a very lucky girl and you’re very patient, it may eventually lift itself up and remove itself from your body a little at a time until it’s finally gone. You might even be able to forget about it.
That’s anger: stuff it down, depression, possible memory loss and, finally, peace.
Sit ‘n Suffer: This is the third manner in which women handle anger. It is the only one for men. This is anger that needs support. And I’m not just talking about bras here, ladies.
We all have those people in our lives who just know how to push our buttons. They know the precise combination of parry one and parry two, and when to thrust, penetrate and then turn the sword at a 180-degree spin with a direct hit into your gut. We react by going to the office.
The office is the place where we pull our support together. Our support contains all the people in our lives whom we can count on for utter and complete agreement at our meeting. We don’t want opinion. We want back up.
Unless my husband is the target, which is extremely rare, he’s always the first one elected to my committee and invited to my executive board meeting. What we need at this meeting is some “sit and suffer.” In my family, “sit and suffer” is what you do when party A, the innocent bystander, has to literally sit, and then suffer with party B, the injured party. “Sit and suffer” is a time-honored tradition. If you are a member of my family, and you are not a member of party C, the party who did the injuring, then you sure as heck better perform “sit and suffer” with me if you wish to remain a family member in good standing.
In the end, the meeting is called to order. Everyone supports party B. That’s the injured party in case you already forgot. Keep up, people! Party B finally feels better. The anger has dissipated, and now, we can second the motion to begin to discuss the appropriate and mature response to party C. A decision is reached. The meeting is adjourned. The action is taken. The incident is over.
That’s anger: sit ‘n suffer and peace.
Sit ‘n suffer has an added bonus. It’s not just for dealing with anger. It’s used for dealing with anything unpleasant. If my hubby has a stack of bills he needs to pay, I should be in the room to “help” him. We can’t both write the checks. We can’t both lick the envelopes. Nope. My job is to sit ‘n suffer with him while he has to pay the bills.
Women learned sit ‘n suffer from men. Men never learned avoidance or depression from women. You don’t see men burying their heads in the sand to avoid an issue. You don’t see men crying about issues until they eat them alive. You see men calling in the troops before they go to battle. As much as we women are overachievers, I think men have something here with sit ‘n suffer. There’s something to be said for creating a team of people on your side and confronting issues head on.
I just don’t get why it always has to involve troops and war or sports and teams. How about if we just call the meeting to order and do lunch?
— Leslie Handler
Leslie Handler is a 2015 National Society of Newspaper Columnists award winner. She is a frequent contributor to WHYY’s Newsworks, has written for The Philadelphia Inquirer, ZestNow and Boomercafe, as well as blogs for The Huffington Post. She has a bachelor of journalism degree and currently lives smack dab between Philadelphia and New York City with husband Marty, dogs Maggie and Hazel, a collection of fish, said husband’s cockatoo who she’s been trying to roast for dinner for the last 31 years, and a few occasional uninvited guests. You may follow her blog and read published essays at Leslie goes BOOM!