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Midweek

As of August 15, 2018, I am:

Frustrated by: insomnia. While I’m not suffering nightly inability to sleep (which, technically, is what insomnia really is–not the occasional issues I have), there are plenty of times like now, in which I wake up at four in the morning and my brain immediately kicks into gear. I am my worst self at four in the morning–or two, or three, or whenever my big glob between the ears decides to wake me up and involuntarily think about all of life’s inane details. I worry, I get angry, I miraculously remember everything I need to do or forgot to do. In short, I stress myself out. I have tried a number of remedies–getting a glass of water, writing down everything that’s on my mind, changing the music on the radio, mindfulness exercises, breathing exercises. Typically it takes me two hours to go back to sleep. Since I woke up this morning at four, and since I was still wide awake at five-thirty, I figured I’d just make a cup of coffee and come downstairs and write.

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Road Trip

FAMILY

Yes, there is definite joy in the American road trip, even the modern ones with Google maps, in-car entertainment, and multi-zone climate control.


We are all tired, all of us on the last night in the last hotel on the last leg of a rolling road trip to visit family in New Jersey. It’s a solid two hours past our children’s normal bedtime, but they are awake, their little blonde heads still damp from swimming in the hotel pool, their eyes sleepily watching cartoons as the air conditioner kicks on to chill us to sleep.

Our hotel is in Front Royal, Virginia, a town that sits along the Shenandoah ridge, one with a friendly looking Appalachian downtown and businesses named Smoots Auto Center and Knotty Pine Restaurant and Lounge. I don’t know anything about this town beyond noticing that there are a lot of what I would describe as motor lodges, a vestige, perhaps, of a time when more tourists pulled off Highway 522 to explore the caverns buried around these valleys.

This trip has been one of constant motion. We’d started this morning in a different hotel a stone’s throw from the Jersey Shore, were treated to breakfast by my aunt and uncle and their grandson, and followed that with an abbreviated but fun board game session. The night before, we’d been at a different aunt and uncle’s house, splayed out on their deck in the mild evening, my cousin’s Pandora channel playing on the outdoor speakers while their dogs yipped about. The day before, a cookout and hours-long swim at my cousin’s house in North Jersey; the day before, time spent with my aunt and three cousins at her townhouse.

In total: we have hugged and visited sixteen aunts, uncles, and cousins and their children at four different stops. In the mornings, we try to explain to our children who they are meeting and remind them how they are related.

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Let’s talk about suicide

OP-ED

 

Maybe Anthony Bourdain’s last travelogue will lead us on a journey in which we learn to take better care of each other.


I was brushing my teeth yesterday morning when my phone screen lit up with a breaking news alert. It is not unusual for the New York Times to ping me with tidbits they think I’ll find interesting, but since the phone was near the sink, and since I often have nothing better to do while brushing my teeth than scanning Twitter, I picked up the phone, turned the screen back on, and read:

Anthony Bourdain, whose memoir about the dark corners of New York’s restaurants started a TV career, died at 61. CNN said the cause was suicide.

I’m not sure how to describe the kind of reader I am, but I knew within the first four words that Bourdain was dead. Still, I had to read it twice–is that right? possible? The final sentence was a sucker punch.

I was in the seventh grade when one of our classmates committed suicide. He wasn’t someone I knew well, but even then I remembered the chilling coldness that came in understanding a living, breathing human being made the deliberate decision to stop living and breathing.

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