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#61 Sometimes a Fantasy is All You Need

When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time indoors. I was bookish, despised sports, and prone to vicious sunburns so you wouldn’t find me running, jumping, or climbing trees. I wasn’t shy, not at all, but I was much more interested in reading books or watching TV shows about wild adventures than actually having wild adventures. My favorite shows were the ones with strong female leads — women kicking ass and looking great while they did. Spies, detectives, superheroes, yes please. And their romantic pursuits? I drank them like a glass of Nestle Quick. Who remembers this guy? I’d imagine myself as Diana Prince (a.k.a Wonder Woman) pining for Steve Trevor while saving him from the Nazis. Or The Bi

#60 Here We Are Now, Entertain Us

Is anyone listening to Mike Birbiglia’s new podcast, Working It Out? On each episode, he speaks with a comedian and gets them to share work-in-progress jokes and respond to off -the-cuff prompts. While I was listening today, I was struck by one of the prompts. It struck me as a good one-inch picture frame: Is there a particular smells that reminds you of your childhood? I introduce you to: The Smells of My Formative Years... Early elementary school: freshly photocopied paper. I’m old enough that with they were still using purple-inked mimeograph, and the paper was always a little damp. As soon as that paper hit my desk, I’d raise it to my nose like all the other little huffers in my class

#59 Baby Won't You Let Me Have a Little Time to Hide

The other night my sister, Kim, shared a memory. We were kids- she was probably 14 and I was 10. It was a Saturday night in the summer and we were down the shore. Our parents were, as usual, working at the bar up at home so the older kids were babysitting us. But technically, we were old enough to be left home on our own while the older kids were out at the bars. A birthday, maybe my 10th? Even though we were in the dog days of summer, Mom always bought me a winter coat. I'd wear it around, loving the feel of the lining against my sunburned skin. So, we were by ourselves in this big, quiet, scary house with only 3 channels on the tv and no long-distance phone service. We were about to settle

#58 If There's a Cure For This, I Don't Want It

My first birthday. There's a lot to unpack in this photo so you may want to download it. I mean, so many clowns, right? I slept like a log last night. It must have been the combination of the birthday love and champagne. Today, I’m basking in the afterglow — making no plans and just letting the day unfold. I even took a nap! I’m unwinding. I had such a wonderful birthday — totally different from what I’d planned, but maybe even better. On one of the several zoom calls of the day, we talked about travel and someone asked if we could have gone somewhere together, where would it be? The obvious answer was Mykonos — which was what we’d planned. But, I realized it didn’t matter. The geography is

#57 Got My Toes in the Water

It’s a beautiful thing to be at the seashore on my birthday. I’ve spent so many birthdays here. And this year is so strange and quiet. A couple of weeks ago I was mourning the loss of the big planned birthday blowout. But now I’m happy that it’s been a small and special celebration over the last few days. My sisters, Lynda and Patti, came down and we spent the day at the beach. It was hot and the flies were fierce (Lynda said, “That’s because it’s a LAND BREEZE.” and she showed us how the deep green lifeguard flag was flapping in the wrong direction. Wrong direction unless you like green-head flies, in which case the direction is perfect.) We abandoned our chairs to stand shin-deep in the oc

#56 Pedal to Whatever

It’s 11:16pm. In 46 minutes, I will be 50 years old. It’s weird and cool and exciting and UGH and WOW. But the thing that’s on my mind is this: I don’t know how to ride a bike. Does this count? This isn’t some deep, dark secret. It’s actually on my list of go-to fun facts to use in corporate icebreakers, along with “raised in a bar” and “rode an elevator 33 floors with JFK, Jr.” I’ve even bonded with other people who (GASP!) never learned to ride. I really have no idea why I didn’t learn when I was the usual age (what IS the usual age, anyway? 2? 7? 19?) I used to say I was “never taught” as if it was a deliberate choice by my parents to further alienate me from other normal, two-wheeling ki

#55 Glow, Glow, Melt and Flow

I haven’t been sleeping well the last few months. Between the pandemic, the sick dog, and the election, I guess I have to make room somewhere for the generalized anxiety that has me reliving the time that one of the nuns hurt my feelings in High School.* So, between the hours of 3am and 6am, I am frequently awake and ruminating. I’ve tried a bunch of things to get myself back to sleep: meditation, medication, reading, weighted blankets, breath work, journaling. None of those things consistently work, so I've found myself nurturing the terrible habit of scrolling through my phone. Sometimes I’ll find myself 11 weeks deep into the Instagram feed of a woman who lives with 2 pigs, 4 dogs, 13 bun

#54 The Downtown Trains Are Full With All Those Brooklyn Girls

A fellow storyteller posted this great essay about New York City on Facebook this week. It was in response to that d-bag hedge fund guy who proclaimed New York to be “dead” and the swift online backlash of irate city-folk (present company included) who told that guy to go to Cleveland. The essay is so perfect I joked that I might just copy and paste it on this blog. Alas, I’m left to write my own stuff and not shamelessly plagiarize from others. I feel grateful I didn’t have this much of a moral compass in grade school, when I’d copy the entries in the World Book Encyclopedia word for word for my social studies reports. Anyway. The thing that’s got me feeling romantic about NYC is, of all th

#53 My Heart Was Gone When We Reached Avalon

One-inch picture frame: Going the to the seashore Even in their leanest financial years, my parents always managed to make sure the whole family spent a week or two each summer at the Jersey shore. Dad sang at nightclubs in Wildwood and Sea Isle while Mom wrangled us kids into a rental house in Stone Harbor or Avalon. Dad would send us down the shore on a Saturday morning while he stayed behind to work at the bar, usually joining us sometime Sunday afternoon.* Mom would roust us out of bed early with a singsong, “Time to go to the seashore, kitty cats kids!” Mom and Patti at the beach. That bathing cap is #goals. Getting 6 kids and an unruly dog ready for a 2-hour road trip was pure chaos b

#52 This Is the Way to Turn Your World Around

The great thing about writing these blog essays is the conversations they open up with friends and family. I love the comments but also the texts and (gasp!) phone calls from friends who want to chat about something I’ve written. One of those was just today. A friend called me up to say she really liked that I often mention the tv shows and movies that influenced me when I was growing up. We chatted about being “raised by TV, movies, pop music.” Her question: Why does everyone think that’s such a horrible thing? And I get it. I have no regrets about being co-parented by the Big Three*, PBS, and UHF. My parents had 6 kids and ran their own business. By the time I came along, they were in thei

#51 Heathcliff, It's Me, I'm Cathy

I’ve been a reader my whole life. As a kid, if I wasn’t parked in front of the TV watching the Bionic Woman or Laverne & Shirley, I was making my way through the library of Nancy Drew books my mom picked up at a garage sale. When I was in middle school, I devoured wartime sagas that had been made into miniseries and contraband books that I’d swiped from my older sisters (The Thorn Birds! Flowers in the Attic!). When I was in 7th grade, my sister was assigned Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre in her sophomore English class. I lost myself in a world crafted by the Bronte sisters and reported the highlights my sister during commercial breaks for the Dukes of Hazzard. Reading was an escape, an adv

#50 I Said There Is No Reason For My Fear

I’m on Week 10 of 12 in The Artist's Way and it’s a tough one. TAW is basically a 12-step program for “creative recovery” so it’s all an inside job. There’s a lot of “tapping into your feelings” stuff in here, which is not my strong suit. I usually keep my mind on top and leave the heart to do it’s job pumping blood to my brain. Vulnerable feelings and emotions are a foreign land where I don’t speak the language and I’ve just missed my flight home. Don’t get me started on crying. Crying is high on my list of Least Favorite Feelings, only slightly behind vomiting and using a neti pot. This little cutie used to cry a lot. I don't think it was just about her bangs. This week’s chapter in TAW is

#49 I Get a Check on Friday, But It's Already Spent

I gave myself another one-inch picture frame assignment: my 90s “temp” job. Before I landed in advertising, I worked at a number of low-paying administrative jobs, struggling to pay rent and student loan debt. I finally ended up at a pharmaceutical company in midtown. I originally went in for a temp job, but the guy I would work for had gotten in trouble for only hiring pretty temps so they offered me a full-time gig instead. My main issue with the job was the ungodly start time of 8:30 am. I was an unrepentant night owl and 8:30 might as well have been pre-dawn. I proposed a compromise to my new boss: I’d try my best to make it in by 9 am, but stay as late as they needed me and he wouldn’t

#48 Until All the World Had Been Stripped of Sweetness

About 8 years ago, I went out to dinner with a new friend. She was chic, boho-gorgeous, and had the effortless confidence of someone who had been slightly famous in the 90s. She’s a lovely person, but I felt conspicuous sitting next to her. I was insecure and sure that we must have looked like the Odd Couple. When the waiter approached with a basket of the house-made rolls, my friend looked up at him with a mixture of flirtatious familiarity and legitimate incredulity: “Do we look like we eat bread?” As the waiter smiled and removed the offending carbs, I was at war with myself. I had recently lost some weight (I forget how. Juice cleanses? Weight Watchers? “Clean” eating?) and was still get

#47 If They Were Me and I Was You

What's killing me here is the inscription in mom's distinctive handwriting to both my brother and me. Our birthdays are 3 weeks apart. I have a birthday coming up in a couple of weeks.* I’m not an overenthusiastic birthday person. I don’t celebrate my birthday month. I like hanging out with my people on the day, but I’m not into making elaborate plans. I like getting presents, but I don’t expect them. I’m also notoriously bad at remembering other people’s birthdays and even worse at giving gifts. I get angsty over trying to come up with just the right gift that communicates “I love you, I know you, I appreciate you, and also this gift is so on the nose perfect that for years to come you will

#46 Don't Admit That It's Part of a Scheme

This morning Barbara was buttering her toast in a very civilized way, ie with a knife. I didn’t have a knife so I just jammed my (clean!) fork into the butter. Because she’s a nice person, she put her knife down, got up from the table, and returned seconds later with a knife for me. But I’d already taken her knife and was happily loading up a slice of black pepper and polenta sourdough with a knob of salted Irish butter. At the bemused look on her face I just said, “You didn’t say SAVED.” In the Hindsley household, the rule of SAVED was simple and sacrosanct: if you had something but needed to briefly walk away from it, saying SAVED meant that no one else could have it or interfere with you

#45 You Were With Me All the While

I spent the better part of today looking for pillowcases. Not online — in my apartment. They’ve been missing for a few months now and it’s driving me crazy. How could 2 white,100% long-staple cotton pillowcases just up and vanish? And what is “long-staple cotton” anyway? I live in a 900 square foot apartment and my personal living space is probably around half of that. I do laundry in my unit, so no laundromat/laundry room. We haven’t had a cleaner or any guests staying in the place since quarantine commenced. I have one closet and 2 drawers. While this set up is positively palatial by NYC standards, those of you living in less crowded cities and towns might consider me to be essentially cra

#44 Life's Like an Hourglass

A couple of days ago I wrote a sad post about Delilah’s health and since then I’ve gotten a few calls and texts from people checking in on us. We’re doing OK. I’m doing OK. OK is different from “Fine.” or “Great!” It’s just OK. Delilah seems blissfully unaware that the END IS NEAR and I’m grateful for that. She’s not ready to cross the Rainbow Bridge just yet, but she has been looking at waterfront property nearby.There’s really no point in telling her the bad news. She might have months left. She also doesn’t speak English, so might as well just skip it. We’ve added two new meds to her already staggering regimen: steroid eyedrops to address a blood clot in her eye (likely from banging into

#43 All the Boys Think She's a Spy

I was talking to a friend last week and she reminded me that we all have “A” days and “B” days. “A” days are the ones where you run toward your goal like a man whose hair is on fire runs toward a pond.* You’re on it. Making shit happen. Producing, connecting, creating. Oprah’s got nothing on you. “B” days are the ones where you eat a bag of tortilla chips and watch Superstore on Hulu. Today is a "B" day. It’s gloomy and I feel gloomy. And tired. And a little sad. Normal stuff. When I was in London, a coworker called it “having a duvet day” — spending the day tucked into bed. I didn’t literally stay in bed all day, although halfway through my morning practice I decided I needed 20 minutes und

#42 The World Will Never Ever Be the Same

Sixteen years ago I tagged along with my friend Alisha to pick up a puppy from a farm in Lancaster. I never pass up a chance for an adventure with Alisha, and heading out to Amish country to visit puppies is in my top 5 favorite things to do (Amish not required). The minute we walked through the door I turned to my friend and said, “Do NOT let me get a dog today.” Then I threw myself into a pile of squiggling puppies. A few days later and I was still high on nose boops and googling “WHAT KIND OF DOG IS BEST FOR TEENY TINY APARTMENTS?” I finally called Alisha and said, “Feel like taking a ride out to Amish country?” I approached a crate of slumbering pups, hoping they’d wake up. Out of the pi


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