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Lifing Up

A noiseless patient spider,
I mark’d where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
Mark’d how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.

And you O my soul where you stand,
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them,
Till the bridge you will need be form’d, till the ductile anchor hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.
-Walt Whitman

 

 

I would first encounter this poem in my daughter’s science book, in search of orb spider facts. But instead, my heart slows at the line “Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space.”

While I have tried many times since, I have yet to find a more apt description of this post-COVID life. Of navigating an untethered, ever-connected swirl of news and voices and opinions and angst, flitting between far-flung theories and carefully spun judgments. Looking for solid ground. A place to land for a spell. To catch our breath, or dinner.

“Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space.”

Six feet apart. Enough to keep the germs – and everything else – at bay.

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We Are Not Monarchs

My daughter tells me over breakfast that certain butterflies die once they give birth. She points to a crayon drawing she’s made: a dead monarch falling down from the sky, little Xs where eyes could be. Sounds about right, I think as I grind the coffee beans. — The baby is 1 and a half

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Who We Follow

There’s a reason there are tea rings on my dining room table, tie-dye stains on my deck. There’s a reason Ken built a ramp to slide down the basements stairs and a rock climbing wall to reach the heights of our master bedroom. There’s a reason that, just a few months ago, we bought a

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A March Ago

Want to hear something crazy? I say, sliding into the corner booth. I’m pregnant! I haven’t seen my friend Shannan in months, so we meet on a sunny afternoon for Pan-Asian in a sleepy lake town. I wear overalls. We split banh bao. She sips my chamomile tea. We chat for hours – book progress,

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Party of Five

They said it would happen like this: The baby will come and you’ll never be able to imagine anything otherwise. She’ll just fit, they said. You’ll see. (They were right.) —

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Expecting

Here’s what we have: me, 8 months pregnant, balancing a laptop on a burgeoning belly with two snoring dogs under a pair of propped-up feet. The clock reads 3am. It is quiet, cozy, warm. Perfect conditions for sleeping – unless, of course, you are not. (I am not.)

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This Is Your Gap Year

Months ago, when COVID-19 was still a whisper, I was interviewed by a local San Francisco news station about my homeschooling plan for kids ages 2-7. The segment was long, the questions many. How much school do kids “need”? How can working families pull it off? What’s your advice for those just getting started? Six

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A Day in the Life of a Homeschooler

A day in the life of a homeschooling parent can look much like a day in the life of any parent. You rise, navigating a dark hallway lined with mismatched socks and cardboard swords. You trip over a sleeping dog or two. You wait for your world to wake up, or at least the one

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