It is not always beautiful.

Or peaceful.

It is messy and noisy and primal and filled with … a shocking amount of bodily fluids.

It is a sudden realization of what a miracle it is that we exist.

It is spiritual, even when you convinced yourself you don’t believe in another world, an afterlife or a before-life. You wonder why you, a mere mortal received such a beautiful gift and how to care for such a beautiful gift.

It is far more intense than in movies.

Some will send gifts, not encouraging words. Some will send encouraging words, not gifts…

The best part of the same damn day.

I am watching a show on tiny houses as my daughter sleeps on me. A lady is blathering on about out-of-style cabinets vs. money for her wedding dress. I can tell by her maskless face and over-the-top concern about dated cabinets and her “special day” that this must have been filmed in 2019 or before.

Priorities have changed.

It is New Year’s Eve, the last night of 2020. I just turned 40. The weather is the same stale gray. I am drained from isolation and reinventing the same day again and again.

Let’s bake cookies. Let’s go jump in puddles…

I write this on day 25 of my second annual Sober September.

I know what you’re thinking:

Do you have a problem?

Are you pregnant?

Is it lent?

No? No. No.

A month of sobriety is like a month without sugar or meat for me. I realize I don’t need it, I look and feel better without it, and that it’s everywhere.

During these month-long sobriety tours, I sleep better. My skin takes on a nice rosy hue. I’m less irritable. What I like about alcohol is swirling a tiny straw, the clink clink clink of the ice, the smooth…

I couldn’t sleep last night.

Is it the pandemic? The hazardous smoky air from wildfires that kept all of us inside for a week? Is it the choices that I now have to make where there is no easy answer, such as give up my career OR send my kiddo into daycare, during the middle of a pandemic?


It’s the dog. He’s 14 and has the doggy version of dementia. He has lost control of his bladder. At his last check up, the vet brought up end of life and euthanasia. …

I like to take photos and am pretty “average” at it. (New Mexico, Balloon Festival).

My grandma, the love of my life told me to stop pointing out what I was bad at.

You know the conversation, where someone asks you if you’d like to play tennis or go play pub trivia or do axe throwing or anything in which skill assessment is inevitable.

This is what I do:

“I’m bad at sports.”

“I have a terrible memory.”

“I am not very good at axe throwing.”

“Stop telling people what you’re bad at. They don’t need to know,” wise words from a wise Grandma.

One thing I am good at? Self-deprecation.

The kids I spent…

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark,” episode five. Michelle McNamara’s book is half-finished. Her daughter needs her. The killer she’s chasing is still out there, which means there is neither justice nor closure for his victims.

And she goes to sleep and never wakes up.

I see myself in Michelle McNamara. We’re both Irish, from big Catholic families, both from the Chicago area. We look similar: dark hair, light eyes, pale. We’re writers. We’re “late-in-life” mothers of one. …

Can you endorse me for making flawless popcorn on the stove? Or…how about drinking more sparkling water than any human should be capable of?

If you look at my LinkedIn, you’ll see a list of professional skills: Social media crisis communications. Blog management. Marketing collateral writer. Subject line poet.

But … here’s what you should probably endorse me for instead.

My real-life LinkedIn skills

· Writing snarky-but-hilarious listacles about bad wedding dresses and MILs from hell

(this was my actual job for awhile and I was good at it)

· Having a debate with myself at 2–3 am about whether or not I switched…

Oh god. I am Karen. Or Susan. Or whatever you want to call a late-thirties mom laid off from her “cool” writing job and relegated to stay-at-home mom, the title that conjures images of watching soaps and eating bon bons. (For the record, I have never yelled at anyone who works retail.)

“You’re so lucky to stay in yoga pants all day.”

Moms are lucky to shower.

How I Felt Working and Having One Kid

I felt the pressure to return to work nearly as soon as I had my daughter. I treated myself to a massage on Christmas Eve, a month after she was born. My joints…

It’s Seattle, 2020.

I wish I lived here right now.

A virus is spreading and I am out of Clorox wipes. The store doesn’t have children’s Tylenol or toilet paper. We are encouraged only to leave our houses to go the grocery store.

The bookstores are closing, the restaurants are closing, and the orange man in charge told state governments to get their own ventilators.


In a few weeks, I have gone from a person who would eat a fallen cookie off the floor (five second rule) to a person whose hands are chapped from washing them too much.

And yet, at the…

Love from the Heart of Coronaland

I live in Seattle and things are weird. And getting weirder.

My favorite restaurants are changing their hours or shutting their doors. Schools are closed. There’s no traffic. I’m afraid of standing close to people. I’m afraid to cough in public. Touching an elevator button feels like an act of bravery.

It’s weird.

There are no community events in my apartment building and they removed the bowl of free dog treats.

A sense of unease descended upon the city. Every day, I get a newsletter from a business about how they’re sanitizing everything, closing…

Amanda Halm

Travel guidebook author and former writer of many many listacles. Making my way through parenthood.

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