Author Archives

7 Leadership Lessons from the Game of Thrones

When you play the game of thrones, Cersei Lannister tells Ned Stark, you win or you die. The stakes are lower as we navigate the shoals of modern career-building, but the moves and counter-moves of the Starks, Lannisters, and Targaryens shed light on what makes an effective leader in any walk of life. What follows is […]

The Magic Ratio

One of the most useful concepts in my professional and personal toolbox is one I stumbled upon nearly 15 years ago when I was trying to save my troubled marriage. Today, it forms one of the foundations of the school improvement program I help administer, and serves as a core practice that has improved every […]

We are what we repeatedly do

If we say we are a writer, but we do not write every day, we are not a writer. If we say we are kind, but we treat people thoughtlessly and commit a thousand small, unintentional cruelties, we are not kind. If we say we are open and honest, but present a glittering facade on […]

Are you happy?

The other day I was talking with a friend about the problem of happiness. Not that being happy is a problem. But so many people I know aren’t happy, and that (to them, at least) is a problem. Whether it’s a problem for me, too, depends on whether I choose to make it one. I know […]

The Joy of Pivot Tables

Ah, January. When I have all the previous year’s personal finance data and can spend untold hours allowing my OCD nature to run wild through endless spreadsheets, pivot tables, pie charts and other instruments of analytical torture. For someone with an income as modest as mine, and as many children as I have, I’m actually […]

Snow Day

The concept of the snow day was foreign to me for the first four decades of my life. Snow was, as a coworker from the Philippines said yesterday at the office, something on Christmas cards. I moved from Los Angeles to Santa Fe in 2006, after years of mild New Mexico winters. The winter of 2006-07 […]

Timehop

When I heard people talk about Timehop, I thought they meant when Facebook greets you with these “x years ago today” memories. Apparently that’s just called Facebook Memories, and Timehop is an app — which I don’t need, since I have Facebook, right? This “7 years ago today” picture was in my Facebook feed the […]

Once upon a time, I wrote a book

Once upon a time, I wrote a book. Two books, actually. Three, if you count my dissertation, but it’s full of Greek and academese so I probably shouldn’t. Oh, and several screenplays. By “a book,” I meant a novel, because I’ve only written (finished) one of those. I dusted it off (metaphorically; it only exists electronically) and […]

The Highlight Reel

Yesterday, my wise friend Shelli posted this on Facebook: [My Facebook] life is my highlight reel. It shows my amazing life. It doesn’t show much of my boring life because, really, who’d want to see that? It shows vacation pics, not because I take grand vacations, but because that’s a highlight. It shows pics when […]

The Riddle of the Sphinx

I’m not talking about the riddle Oedipus solved, thereby fulfilling the prophecy he was trying to avoid and giving Freud something to write about. Now everyone knows what walks on four legs in the morning, two legs at noon, and three in the evening. There’s probably an Instagram meme. I mean who built the ancient limestone […]

The Tea Ceremony

Since I stopped blogging regularly five or six years ago, I’ve written a few posts, but it’s been in fits and starts. Every time I think about starting again, I think, why? Do I have anything of significance to say? I no longer have any interest in writing about politics (though once in a while a […]

Can you ever go home again?

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus said you could never step into the same river twice, since the river ever flowed, and was never the same at any moment as it was at any other. Cities are like that. They grow and decay, decline and gentrify. Their character changes subtly or dramatically as an ever-changing river of […]

Road Trip: Part Deux

You’d think the Grand Canyon would be hard to top, but it turned out to be third on Tessie’s list of awesome things on the northern Arizona leg of our road trip. When we got back to Williams, home base for the Grand Canyon expedition, I got off the freeway one exit too soon, which […]

Road Trip

My 10-year-old daughter and I spent the day at the Grand Canyon, her first trip there and my first time since I was her age. I was a little disappointed when I went as a child, because I expected it to look like it did in all the professional photographs I’d seen, the colors more […]

Slacker Mom’s assault on moral decency and good nutrition

The other night I took my two eldest daughters, 14 and almost 12, to their first concert. Fall Out Boy seemed a safe enough choice. I actually like some of their songs. People my age without kids apparently have never heard of them, though, because a couple of friends who asked who was playing responded […]

Reflections on New York

I was in New York last week for the BlogHer conference, the first time I’d been to New York in 20 years. It was exactly 20 years ago, July 1995. I remember because I went with my best friend and we flew there on her birthday. Enraptured by the Greek and Roman collections at the […]

Welcome to my midlife crisis

What I now recognize as my midlife crisis began about five years ago. I was a stay at home mom, married, a practicing Catholic. I was putting the finishing touches on a book that a publisher had expressed interest in after seeing a chapter and outline. Life was good, or so it seemed. I never […]

What am I afraid of?

I must have read What Was I Scared Of? a thousand times over the years as one after another of my children passed in and then out of that stage when they wanted to hear the same book again and again. When it was Dr. Seuss, I didn’t mind so much, in part because of […]

Why I Hate Valentine’s Day

Don’t happy people in love have enough days to celebrate? Their anniversary, the day they met, his birthday, her birthday, random romantic vacations… So many days to post pictures of the roses he sent, or the ocean view from the balcony of the hotel room they can’t tear themselves away from, even with the beach […]

When life and comedy and scripture collide

The last couple of weeks have felt kind of like a test. So many things have gone awry, so many little and medium-sized challenges and annoyances and unexpected expenses and repairs and things not working as they should.  I have taken some of them in stride, and others, not so much. By coincidence, the movie […]

Happy New Year

Two years ago, on New Year’s Day 2012, I wrote this post.  The photo on the post was of a woman’s hand holding a champagne glass.  It wasn’t my hand, just some random picture I had found on the internet.  The woman’s hands were lovely, as hand models’ hands are, and her long nails were […]

Back when I used to be a blogger

Back when I used to be a blogger — a real blogger, who posted at least 3 or 4 times a week, sometimes more — there is no way on earth I would have not heard of a blog that had 395,975 likes on Facebook, a blog that was turned into a book that, only […]

The Test of Time

You never know how long things will last.  These four daisies, for instance.  They were part of an arrangement I got more than a month ago, and as I picked the others out one by one as they withered and died, these somehow kept their youthful vigor – if youthful vigor is the appropriate term […]

Maskbook

The other day, I was talking on the phone with a friend I hadn’t spoken to for a while and she said, you are always so positive on Facebook. She meant it as a compliment, because she was telling me about another of her friends is  negative on Facebook and she finds it demoralizing. I […]

The Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time: A Comedy in Three Acts

Setting:  The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, in the City of the Holy Faith. Act I Portia, Cordelia and Tess and Mom wait for mass to begin.  Tess sits with arms crossed in stone-faced silence as her ploy to skip mass by faking sick has failed.  Elizabeth is in the ladies room to […]

New Years Resolutions

I’ve always been ambivalent about New Year’s resolutions.  Some years I’ve made them, some years not.  Rarely do people keep them.  In tongue in cheek recognition of this, my friend Bob Cornelius wrote on Facebook last night: 1st Resolution: Go to the gym every day. 2nd: Feel guilty for not going. 3rd: Pie & ice […]

Pain

Today I read a New York Times column that made my blood run cold. It was from two days ago, written by Emily Rapp, a woman who happens to live in Santa Fe, New Mexico, as I do. A woman who is a mother, as I am. A woman who has faced pain I cannot […]

Youngest blogger in Santa Fe?

My 7-year-old daughter wants to start a blog. Yes, really.  She writes long stories for her sisters and friends already (she’s the one who started reading when she was 3) so I know she’s serious. She’s has had a g-mail account for a long time, so setting up a blog for her on Blogger will […]

Thoroughly modern me

The other day I mentioned we’d been to Old Salem to see how the Moravians lived, but that day we would be hanging out at the pool.  Well, we’ve done a lot of hanging out at the pool since then.  Normally, I like to do a lot of culturally enriching type sightseeing when I travel, […]

The kids, the pool and the Moravians

No post yesterday because I was at Old Salem seeing how the Moravians lived in the olden days.  My daughter Elizabeth is having a wondeful time with her friend Jane, enjoying being one of a pair of big girls instead of the eldest of four little ones.  I am still getting over the fact that […]

Facebook is killing my blog

Seriously. I have wasted more time on Facebook the past few days than I can believe. Maybe wasted isn’t the right word, because certainly it’s nice being able to keep up with what your friends and family are doing, but still, I really did blog a lot more before I started spending so much time […]

Better by the dozen

What’s kept me from the computer lately is that one of my friends and her children are visiting from out of town this week. This means we now have six children in the house, but the other night we had two other friends over, who also have six children between them, for a total of […]

Peanut butter and cabbage

I kid you not. And I thought chocolate covered bacon and corned beef and cabbage ravioli were weird. I saw the PB&C on the blog of Michael Ruhlman, whose book, The Making of a Chef, I enjoyed immensely. The sandwich, hmm, I think I would enjoy less. In comparison, I’m thinking that bacon chocolate bar […]

I’ll make you famous

When my husband and I were on our honeymoon in 1991, the hotel where we stayed kept showing the same movies on cable over and over. One of those movies was Young Guns II (1990), starring Emilio Estevez as New Mexico outlaw Billy the Kid. Several times in the movie, when Billy pulled a gun […]

Blood and Watermelon

Santa Fe sits in the foothills of a portion of the Rocky Mountains known as the Sangre de Cristo, which is Spanish for the Blood of Christ. The early Spanish settlers chose that name because the setting sun reflected on the snow-covered mountains and gave them a reddish hue at sunset. For the same reason, […]

BC

I use this expression rather often and semi-ironically meaning Before Children rather than Before Christ, so instead of constantly putting (Before Children) in parentheses after I use it, I decide to give it its own post I could just link to in future and save time. Because as a mother of four and borderline OCD […]

The end of innocence

He was a sweet, golden-haired boy, and his mother had kept him pure. Then I came along. I, with my worldly daughters. We, experienced in the ways of the flesh — the ground and re-formed, battered and deep fried avian flesh — gave a little boy his first bite ever of fast food. And not […]

Got my crack, finally

I’m online.  Oh, thank God.  Haven’t had internet access for over 24 hours and now understand how crack addicts feel when they can’t score.  Moved from one vacation stop to another, and there is no internet where I’m staying.  I have 15 minutes now, but no more until sometime tomorrow, if then.  It is really […]

Return of the native

I’ve been on the road the past few days, so haven’t been able to blog or even read until now the raging battle in the comments section of my last post.  I’m back in LA, sitting by an open window — an open window!  in January! — watching the little savages play under a lemon […]

Toilet training future adults

Please, please, please, think it through very carefully before you blog about your children’s bowel movements, or post a You Tube video of your child dancing naked and singing about successful defecation, and then zoom in for a close-up of the chef d’oeuvre the little prodigy has produced in the potty. You don’t think people […]

Cooking with kids

No blog posts for the past few days, since I’ve been busy doing all those things good mothers (the kind who don’t sit on their computers blogging and reading blogs while their kids sit on the other computer doing who knows what) do — taking them on exhausting outings, reading to them, and letting them […]

Names from the past

A friend from high school, one of only two I’ve kept in touch with, recently joined Facebook and sent me a friends request. She’d been Googling other friends from long ago, and it suddenly occurred to me that if anyone who knew me 20 years ago or more was looking for me, they’d have a […]

To brine or not to brine

That is the question. Whether ’tis nobler in the belly to have moist, succulent white meat but possibly to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageously oversalted drippings? Or to take arms against a sea of gravy troubles by roasting a dried-out bird unbrined? Either way, there will be tryptophan enough to make us sleep. […]

Happy birthday, Grandma

My grandmother, Betty Lou Heintz, nee Brown, would have been 87 years old today. She died nearly 18 years ago, when she was only 69. I realize that in the larger scheme of human history, 69 has more often than not been an impressive age to which to live. I, at 44, would in many […]

A mother’s love

Before I had children, I had no concept of the power of a mother’s love. Truly, it can overcome almost anything. The example I am about to give is mundane, and many of you will laugh at me, but I’ll risk your ridicule and relate it anyway. I am not afraid of snakes, or mice, […]

Can’t sleep

When I told people that Portia was sleeping through the night, I had a feeling I might jinx it. Sure enough, she woke up hungry at 3:30 this morning. If that had been the only nocturnal disturbance, it would have been okay, since she’s only three months old, and infants are expected to wake their […]

Bifocal blues

I’ve finally gotten used to my progressive bifocals. At first I felt as though I’m walking in a pit, and they threw my depth perception off. I’m still careful backing out of parking spaces, but I don’t feel as disoriented as I did. Switching back and forth between the regular glasses and the prescription sunglasses […]

Hate Kate

I was absolutely blown away by the number of hits this blog got after I posted my “Lazy shrew and breeder pig” post. I had no idea how many people Google the Duggars and the Gosselins. Especially the Gosselins. Especially Kate Gosselin, whom people (mainly women, from what I can see) apparently love to hate. […]

Definitely not good eats

Last week’s installment of Tantri Wija’s weekly column in the food section of the New Mexican, “Bacon is the New Black,” was particularly clever, skewering the food-trendiness of recent decades “with chefs stacking tiny little squares of shaved daikon radish and beef carpaccio atop one another in artistic towers that look like hats from Fellini […]

Imperfect Parent blogger of the week

Imperfect Parenting has named my humble little Moralia their parenting blog of the week. Toward the end of August the site will having voting for blogger of the month, and I’ll be in the running. Stay tuned.