Because we needed a new challenge.

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“I stepped on a bat!” my daughter screamed from down on the dock. “Someone help!!

I mentally anointed my husband as that “someone.” I was five minutes into Saturday afternoon nap, complete with earplugs and a face mask that might as well have had “Go Away” quilted into it. I burrowed deeper into my scratchy cabin blanket and leaned into my neglect. I wasn’t even sure I’d heard her correctly, frankly. Who steps on a winged animal known for agility and speed? Maybe she meant baseball bat. Or maybe she said mat.

After several…

Farewell, you forgiving pain in the ass.

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“I think we’ve made a terrible mistake,” my husband Jeff said to me as we drove the few short blocks between our university apartment and our vacant off-campus house. We were going over to remove a few remaining items in the garage and to mow the lawn one last time before transitioning ownership to strangers the next day.

“Oh thank god I’ve been feeling the same way,“ I said with a rush of unbridled relief. I stopped at the red light and turned to my husband of twenty-four years. …

This is not the 2020 virus you are looking for.

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When my 15-year-old daughter started struggling with acne this fall, I knew it was time for Accutane. If you’ve never had children, or acne, Accutane is a miracle cure for pimply teens. It’s like a magic wand that turns those painful-to-behold angsty faces into smooth templates of granite-like, youthful skin. But it comes with some serious side effects, so every prescribing physician is required to emphatically counsel females against pregnancy (helpful!) and run routine liver function tests before the first dose.

Two days after my daughter’s pre-Accutane blood draw, the…

Your 2020 Step-by-Step Guide

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Step 1: Find An Actual Goatherd

Retreat for the summer to your family’s weekend cottage in Minnesota for what you adorably believe will be the last few months of a pandemic. Optimistically anticipate it will be over by July 4th. Settle in with a collection of family members who all had the same idea, an obscene number of dogs, and way too many WIFI-enabled devices for the “cozy” little river cottage to handle. Wait until you have one moment away from Zoom calls to notice that, while fighting the good fight, the family homestead is in dire need of some love.


Let’s just get this over with, shall we?

Photo by Matthew Angus on Unsplash

I’m at the Miss Havisham stage of the pandemic. Life has been on hold for so long I’ve stopped noticing. But rather than an old wedding dress, I’ve shaken that Dickensian image with a muumuu to disguise the absence of a bra, and instead of manipulating my teen children, I ignore them by binge-listening true crime podcasts while we pass each other in the kitchen like ghosts. That’s because we, unlike a lot of the world, are still fastidiously trying to avoid COVID.

My husband’s cousin and his wife on the east…

I live on your campus. And I definitely wish you were here.

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My family and I live on one of the thousands of college campuses across the globe that abruptly closed in the wake of the pandemic.

When I say that we live on campus, I mean we literally live in one of the residential colleges that houses hundreds of first and second year student at a private mid-western university. I am accustomed to the sights and sounds of scores of undergraduates living their lives within a few feet of us at all hours of the day and night. …

And Other Recent Discoveries.

Photo by Maxim Shklyaev on Unsplash

Ok! Show of hands from those doing some light hoarding? Anyone?

Relax. I was where you are about a month ago. Rumors of shortages sparked my panic purchase of canned and frozen foods, leaving my shopping cart filled with absolutely no fresh fruit or vegetables whatsoever. I never hoarded toilet paper, I’m proud to say. But my growing anxiety was on full display as I made makeshift gloves up to my elbows from the complementary disinfecting wipes dispenser at entrance of the store. …

This is not a coronavirus essay.

Photo by Willie Fineberg on Unsplash

In the fall of 1983, I was in the 7th grade. My older teenage brother shipped himself off to boarding school to escape our narrow minded small town making me suddenly an only child. My parents, experiencing premature and incomplete empty nesting, weren’t sure what to do with me, so when they decided to leave town for the weekend, they did what most 80’s parents found perfectly acceptable: They left me in the care of another teenager.

The girl they selected was well known to them, and, in fairness, she was as reasonable a sixteen year old as any to…

And not in a good way.

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It all started on the elliptical one morning. I’d known for several months that I had a problem, but my workout awoke something menacing. It was like my body was trying to eject a jagged, evil demon but it just couldn’t do it. Dr. Google said stones and referred me to a urologist.

After my first visit, I was sent home with a lot of plastic, and it was all about pee. One piece of plastic to pee in, one to sift the pee through, and another in which to store the pee for further analysis. I set up…

Clarity. That’s all we ask.

Photo by Daniel Tuttle on Unsplash

My kid is on the debate team. This is how I know he is proficient in at least one language. He also doesn’t hesitate to sit at the edge of my bed, late in the evening, long past the point where I feign interest in whatever argument he’s making, talking himself in circles. If he notices me dozing, I insist I’m thinking deeply about what he’s saying. But I’m totally lying. I’m asleep.

The kid loves to talk. Talking is his jam.

It helps to remember this when I struggle to communicate with him via…

Leslie Kleinberg Zacks

Writing about whatever I feel like. Mom with a career. Filled with love and rage. It’s cool- I’m not for everyone. twitter @lesliezacks

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