Getting Older

Posted on | March 28, 2018 | No Comments

The thing about being forty is this:

I don’t feel forty.

Let’s face it, when we were kids and thought about the future, forty was OLD. Like full on decrepit old. By 40 there were going to be flying cars and robot butlers and we would all be living life Jetson-style in our circular glass apartments. Forty was what we’d turn when we were established in our careers as astronauts or famous authors or whatever else… with our 2.5 kids in their pre-teen years. No one told me forty could be like this… with a one year old and an eight year old and a rickety old house with windows that let in all the cold or warmth from outside. No one told me forty was  starting over at work, starting over at marriage, starting over at being… well… me.

When I look at my life and where I am in it, I feel thirty at the most. Thirty seems a reasonable age to have a one year old and to consider more kids. Thirty seems reasonable because then my parents are in their fifties, not their sixties and I have ten years to get to that magical forty number where I’m well-established and legit. But being forty and feeling so … wayward… is strange. I don’t feel established. I don’t feel legit. I don’t feel as though I have the gravitas to tell anyone anything about life or love or how to be a lawyer. I don’t feel that I’m qualified to speak on motherhood or careers or hell, anything! So how did I get here?

Age is such a funny thing, really, isn’t it?

Forty seems so much younger than it did when I was a child. Sixty seems so much younger than it did when I was a child. I feel less like I’m middle-aged and more like I’m still coming into myself, still learning and growing and reaching towards the top of the hill. Certainly not OVER the hill.

And yet… forty.

They say that age is just a number but that’s only true when your number is over thirty. Below thirty and age feels relevant… crucial even. And then you turn 31 and suddenly it’s just a number. Just an arbitrary categorization you mark on an information sheet. Just one more box over to the right, nothing to see here, thank you very much. And then one crazy day you turn 40 and you’re marking that next box over… the one so much closer to 60… while juggling a bottle and a baby and wondering to yourself “How in the hell did I get here?” Or maybe “Am I here?” And then your body starts doing strange things that it didn’t used to do and suddenly you’re just… older. Everywhere.

But I don’t know… even with all the aches and pains, I’ve been forty for nearly four months and it still doesn’t feel real.

Maybe it’s the baby.


Posted on | March 27, 2018 | No Comments

It was cold in the emergency room.

Not the kind of frigid that makes you uncomfortable, just the kind of cold that makes you want to take a long nap under a very warm blanket. My husband was reclined back in one of those avocado green ER chairs, with an IV in his right arm but nothing attached to it. Although a nurse had come in once or twice, I’d yet to speak to a doctor of any sort. We were curtained off from the world, hidden in a sterile corner of the emergency room.

And my husband was in pain.

Not just a little pain, but pain that crumpled him from the knees to the chest. He tried not to, but occasionally he let out a soft grunting moan that I imagine would have been louder had I not been there.

Finally, they came; two surgical residents in scrubs and tied off head scarves, looking like they had just stepped out of a television drama… or an operating room. They’d let him go home, they said, everything was fine. Just a weird and rare infarction of the omentum that would heal itself. Nothing to worry about, really, they said, as my husband nodded through his pain. They stepped away to call their attending physician and said they’d be back.

It was a long time before anyone came back, pulling aside the curtain at 1:00 am, 10 hours after we arrived, to tell us he would be admitted for observation. To tell us that for some reason, his kidneys were failing and needed more fluids. For some strange reason, not in any way related to his pain, they said.

I left him there, in his avocado chair, and went to be with our boys. At 1:30 am I let the tears fall… all the many tears that had cramped and kicked their way into my chest as I watched my husband fight off pain. We slept together that night, me and both boys, all three tucked and tumbled into the same bed.

My husband slept alone.

When I arrived back at the hospital the next morning, he was still in the emergency department.

Nothing had changed.

No one had done anything to help. No one could explain the pain.

Twenty seven hours after arriving at the emergency room, my husband was finally transferred to a regular hospital room.

Twenty. Seven. Hours. Later.

Twenty seven hours of kidney numbers failing. Twenty seven hours of waiting for answers. Twenty seven hours of “any minute we’ll let you go home, oh wait no your kidneys are failing.”

Twenty seven hours of watching my husband grimace and curl with pain and discomfort, watching the fear slide slow across him, dripping down with the fluid in his IV… seeing the numbers come back lower and lower, evidencing the damage the emergency room physician had wrought on his kidneys.

“A perfect storm,” they said.

“Shouldn’t have given him that IV Contrast,” the wonderfully kind surgeon acknowledged.

“Could have been avoided,” I heard, bouncing around and around my head.

All of this. All of this pain and agony. Some his, some mine. All of this fear and worry. All of this could have been avoided.

The worst of it was the being alone. I was so alone… carrying the weight of my husband’s illness and my need. Carrying the weight and worry of two boys who need their father. Carrying the weight of a woman who needs her love. Alone. I sat alone by his bedside, watching him rest, finally, when the pain medicine kicked in. Alone. I have done alone before, my heart screamed, I can not do alone again. I wanted someone there… someone to hold my hand as I held his. But I was alone.

“I can’t lose him,” I sobbed to the nurses. “I can’t.”

He is my everything, I spoke to myself, He is my only. With him, I am not alone and I can not, I will not be alone. I wanted to scream. I wanted to kick and punch my way to answers. I wanted to save him so that he could continue to be my salvation. I can not lose him.

“You won’t,” they assured me. “Totally fixable. You won’t lose him.”

And I didn’t. We were lucky. He came home, not the same but better. He came home and still I heard the nurses in the back of my mind, reminding me that I wouldn’t lose him. Reminding me that this fear was temporary.

Their promises wove into my heart, bolstering my confidence to leave him at home, alone, without my watchful eye. But deep in the back of my mind, a voice whispers still a truth I dare not speak aloud:

“You will lose him, Karen. Someday. You will lose him. Just not today.”

And Fear reclined back, terrifyingly comfortable in his curtained off corner of my heart.

Starting Over

Posted on | February 3, 2018 | No Comments

When I looked at my life on December 31st, I felt…. stagnant.

Yes, I realize that’s a ridiculous thing to say when you’re 40 with a new-ish baby, and a new-ish husband. But I’m one of those people who needs new adventures. I need something on the horizon… something good, something bad… just SOMETHING.

So on January 1st, I wrote an email to an attorney I admire. It was nothing more than a spontaneous reach out to soothe some of the anxiety I was having at not going anywhere.

But then he responded nearly immediately.

And one week later I was sitting in an unfamiliar office with two familiar attorneys, laughing and talking about career options.

One week after that, I had a job offer and a decision to make.

For those of you who have been around a while, you may recall that when I got divorced, I had to haul it out of Savannah at rapid speed. I was so lucky to find a firm back in Macon who wanted me and I signed on the dotted line. I started to work there on June 1, 2011.

On January 19th, 2018, I sat across the desk from my boss of nearly 7 years, and told her it was time for me to move on.

It was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve made thus far in my life, and I don’t say that with a smirk.

See, when I joined the firm 7ish years ago, I didn’t just start a job; I started a new life. Shortly after I started, we hired another attorney. Then six months later, we hired a third attorney and a law clerk. Then six years went by and those three people were three of the best friends I’ve ever had. 

The thing about being a lawyer is that shit very often gets incredibly real. And nine times out of ten the only people who understand the realness that comes with being a lawyer are other lawyers. These three in particular, knew nearly exactly what my life was like for six years. They experienced the highs and lows alongside me. They were the unofficial planners/photographers/cake wrapper-uppers at my wedding. They love my boys like their own.

And leaving that sort of environment… where you work with your people… is incredibly difficult. It felt so much like closing a door instead of opening one. It felt like abandoning ship in the middle of the ocean, with no life raft, while an incredibly awesome party was taking place on deck.

But sometimes you just have to hold your nose and jump. And so I did.

I start my new job on Monday morning.

Here’s to new beginnings all over again. And if these three think they’ve seen the last of me… they are sorely mistaken. Because Goonies never say die, y’all… and dammit, I love you guys.


Turning 40

Posted on | December 13, 2017 | 1 Comment

Yesterday, I had a cardiologist appointment.

Luckily, everything is fine and I can continue living in blissful ignorance of whether or not my heart is beating. But as I sat in the waiting room, populated with people who seemed much older than me, one thing loomed over me like a black cloud.

There on the paper in front of me, in stark black and white, it requested that I list my age, and for the first time in my whole entire life, I had to write in the number “40.”

As if it weren’t bad enough that I was at a cardiologist. As if it weren’t hard enough to be running on no sleep thanks to a habitually sick baby. As if it just weren’t tough enough being alive and forty… I had to see in on paper.

The thing is, I know it’s just a number. I don’t feel any different than I did last week when I was still in my thirties. I don’t really feel any different than I did ten years ago when I left my twenties. It’s just a number.

Only… it isn’t.

We prize youth so much in our culture. We put it up on a pedestal and celebrate it with advertisements and cosmetics and everything geared toward making most especially women look younger. Sporting wrinkles, showing spare tires, feeling the brush of thigh against thigh, placing reading glasses in pockets? These things are hidden. Tucked and pulled and pressed and injected to disappear, to be eliminated, to be covered up with “Anti-Aging creams and lotions.”

Know who doesn’t slather on anti-aging cream?


But somehow growing old as a woman is like growing obsolete. It’s like being told to move to the back and let the 20 year olds shine. Our beauty is not celebrated unless it is celebrated for looking younger than we are. No one looks at a woman over 40 and says “Oh you look gorgeous!” unless they follow it up with “You don’t look 40 at all!” Or 50. Or 60. Or 70. Or whatever age we are that is past the point of society’s acceptance of beauty.

Turning 40 as a woman in America feels like the end of being beautiful. It feels like the end of being accepted into a particular club of women you never knew you wanted to join.

I don’t feel older, make no mistake. I feel the same as I did twenty years ago.

What I feel is somehow…. disenfranchised from being a woman. Like I’ve graduated into being just old… not female… not a woman… just… old.

And it stings.

Especially when I stare at 40 on the intake sheet at a cardiologist.

Building a Village

Posted on | November 13, 2017 | 3 Comments

I was talking to a good friend of mine today about our town being “clique-ish.” Okay… talking is the wrong word. I was complaining.

And I was complaining for the same reason most people complain: I don’t have a clique.

Maybe it’s because I’m lazy, or maybe it’s because I’m mostly exhausted all the time, but I see all these people having fun with each other, their kids running around together like long lost brothers and sisters. Every time those images flash up on Facebook I think “Why am I not in a group like THAT?”

Not too long ago, the couple who set Banks and I up went on a camping trip. They went with a group of other families and the pictures were fabulous. It looked like everyone had a wonderful time, and it turned out we knew most of them. My first reaction was one of jealousy. That was a group I could be in, right? I could pack up a back pack and brave the wilderness, yeah?

But then I remembered….

I don’t sleep on the ground. Ever. Also? Bugs.

One “clique” down.

There are country club cliques and private school cliques and church family cliques and somehow, I always feel a little on the outside of all of them. I’m no longer a country club girl. My kid attends public school. I’m lousy at remembering to get up on Sundays for church.

It’s not that I don’t like the people in those groups… it’s just… it never seems like I’m the right fit for their groups.

I couldn’t hear my friend laughing at me as I complained, but I knew she was.

“You have to build your own,” she told me.

And I realized she was right. It’s not about fitting into little pre-fab cliques. It’s about pulling and choosing your village from among all the groups around you. I’m not going to lie, it’s going to be hard for me. I’m really exceptionally lazy when it comes to leaving my house for things other than house fires and work. But I think if I want to put down the roots I’ve been longing to plant, it’s time to step outside my comfort zone and look for people to build MY village with.

Maybe I can put out a personal ad?

“Desperately seeking friends. Women with children have first priority. Must love to laugh. Beer-drinkers preferred, though any alcohol consumption is fabulous. A love of sports is a definite plus. Must love people who are indecisive, moody, messy, often irrational, and overwhelmingly nuts in all the best ways and some of the worst. Applicants may apply via walking across the grocery store to let me know that I have failed to zip my pants, button my shirt, or that there’s something in my teeth.”

If only it were that easy.


Love Like Cheryl

Posted on | November 9, 2017 | 1 Comment

Everyone has that moment: the one that knocks you backwards and steals your breath away. The moment that whispers in your ear “You are temporary.” Some people are fortunate and they only have to hear the message once to fully appreciate where they stand in the grand scheme of the universe. Some of us need to hear it over and over again.

On Friday, my husband called me at work, his voice shaky, to tell me that the 42 year old wife of one of his friends had suddenly passed away. When I say suddenly, I mean suddenly. No warning. No explanation. Nothing to pin point as to why her heart simply stopped beating at that precise moment on Friday morning. Cheryl Ogle was many things to many people: a wife, a teacher, a friend, a guardian angel. But the role of hers that struck me in the chest was that Cheryl Ogle was a mother. She was the mother of two boys, barely older than my oldest.

Some things just hit you where it hurts.

I wasn’t close to Cheryl. We’d met a few times and I remembered her as being exceptionally kind with a Southern drawl that was 90% sugar with a splash of water. I couldn’t say that we were friends, though I think, in retrospect, that we would have been.

I watched the people move in and around the cemetery, holding pink flowers and hugging on the two boys and their father. I saw the signs lit up around town, reminding everyone to Love Like Cheryl Ogle. I listened to the minister speak about Cheryl and what she meant to her family and to her community.  I listened as her husband spoke to mine about his wife, I heard how his voice caught briefly in his throat, how his eyes misted over as he looked back toward the bright white casket adorned with flowers.

His was a woman who loved big.

She was a woman who was loved big in return.

As we left the cemetery hand in hand, my husband looked at me.

“We have to do better,” he said. And I nodded. Because I knew what he meant.

This is a big world. And it needs more people to Love Like Cheryl Ogle did. It needs me to love bigger, to be more patient with those around me, to remind the people I love just how much I love them. And to love the people around me, even when it seems nearly impossible to do so.

So today, buy the car behind you a coffee. Give a dollar or two to the homeless woman on the corner. Buy a new book and donate it to a school library. Tell your husband how much he means to you. Hug your kids just a smidge tighter before you say “have a nice day.”

And when they look at you funny or ask you why? Tell them you’re doing it for Cheryl.

I think she’d like that.


It’s Tricky

Posted on | November 2, 2017 | No Comments

Way back in the early 2000’s, when I lived care-free in Orlando, Florida, I worked in a burrito restaurant. I lived in a dirty little apartment with my roommate and a dog, and life consisted of dancing, drinking, and going to work then repeating the cycle again and again.

Most of the time, I am sublimely happy with my life here in Georgia. I love my boys, I love my husband, and most days I can even find something to love about the challenging job I do from 8-5. But on some days,  I drop the boys off at their respective schools and an old Run DMC song comes on my Spotify playlist. Like magic I’m transported to a little bar in Orlando, belly up to the bar with my roommate while the same song blares through the speakers.

“It’s a sign,” she says with a pleading smile. “Don’t go to work!”

We banter back and forth, sipping margaritas and staring longingly at the pool table.

“Seriously, it’s a sign,” she says again.

And I believe her. So I call in to work, and we stay at the bar and drink margaritas and laugh and shoot a game or seven of pool with some guys we know from around town. I think we stayed all day, just goofing off, enjoying the outdoor patio and the sunshine, tasting the sour-sweet margaritas and being young.

That day stays with me. The pout of my roommate as she begged me to skip work, the sound of the song in the amplified speakers, the crack and slide of the pool balls across a felt table. I can taste the margaritas, feel the sun on my face as I lean backwards with a smile.

Today, “It’s Tricky” came on as I pulled out of daycare. The thought occurred to me that those days are long gone… the days when I could just “call in” to work and drink margaritas. The days when I was young enough to spend a day in a bar with friends. The days when I could lean back in a chair on an outdoor patio and smile without wrinkles, without worries, without wondering if maybe I’ve had too much to drink or where the boys are or what time the baby sitter has to be home.

Most days, I’m sublimely happy with my life.

But on some days, like today, I want to call my husband and beg him to play hooky. To belly up to a warm, Florida day. To drink in sunshine alongside margaritas.

And to laugh, as though no one in the world has any cares at all. Least of all me.

As the last notes of Run DMC played loudly in my car speakers, I pulled into work with a sigh. It’s not a sign. Not today.

But maybe one day, it will be.

Until then, I’ll keep longing for those days when nothing else mattered save being young.  And happy.

Baby Brain

Posted on | October 31, 2017 | 1 Comment

I swear I’m losing my mind.

I mean… I remember being a little less together after J was born and saying stupid things and what not… but this is another level, you guys. Do you lose brain cells with each child? Am I feeding my intelligence to my child through his milk? Because I am an absolute moron these days.

Yesterday, J finished eating and started to put his plate in the sink. I stopped him.

“J,” I said with authority, “You just saw me put the dirty clothes in the dishwasher. Don’t you think your plate goes there?”

He stared at me for a long minute before bursting out laughing.
“Dirty dishes,” I mumbled. “I meant dishes.”

It happens like that… ALL THE TIME.

It’s like my words are backwards in my head. I’m scared to talk to clients on the phone because more often than not I say the wrong words or I can’t find the words I’m looking for. Is this normal? Is this one of those things that just comes with turning 40 and having a baby and an 8 year old? Because I am slowly. going. insane.

My entire world is poop and pee and “ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba” and for what ever reason, I’m finding it harder and harder to leave that stuff at home. Every now and then I catch myself turning my head side ways and kissing my shoulder like it’s the head of my baby.

Kissing. My. Shoulder.

So far, I haven’t done that in front of anyone but Good. Lord. My brain is absolutely baby-fried with no end in sight.

Yesterday, I forgot C’s costume for daycare and today I dropped J off in Drop Off with a happy “Merry Christmas!” before shaking sense into myself. Tell me there’s a light somewhere that will turn on and I’ll remember that I’m a semi-competent attorney? Please?

Otherwise, I may as well stay in bed. Forever.

Send Christmas Movies… I’m apparently already celebrating, anyway.

Raging against the Dying of… Humanity

Posted on | October 12, 2017 | 4 Comments

First, I am angry.

Then, I am sad.

Eventually, I make my way back to angry again and I sit there, soaking in the sweat of my disappointment and rage.

How did we get here? As a country. How?

It’s not just about “respecting the flag” or “locker room talk” or Hollywood moguls and presidential candidates taking advantage of hopeful starlets and pretty women. It’s not just about a President using social media to insult other politicians, or split media factions painting stories in red and blue with nothing in between. It’s about…

it’s about…

What the hell is it about, you guys?

Is it that white males are feeling the press of equal rights, encroaching on their happy world of privilege? Is it that men in general are wanting to exert that last gasp of power? That push to say “we’re here, we’re stronger, get used to it?” Are they mad that women and people of varying shades of skin tone are in greater numbers in the work force?

I’m sick to my stomach with the hypocrisy of it all… the anger over a black man quietly protesting for the sake of his community vs. the shrug and sigh of “accidents happen” when yet another black man or woman is shot by a police officer. Where is the anger over a man saying he can grab any woman’s genitalia or kiss anyone he wants? Is it hiding behind Hilary Clinton’s emails? Is that why we’re mad about them?

It’s not liberal and conservative, people. It’s not. You can say that it is all you want, but it isn’t.

It’s common decency and respect for the lives of people and their right to say “No” vs. What, exactly? What do you stand for? Do you stand for “The Flag” or do you stand for “I hate professional athletes or singers or actors disagreeing with my politics.” Because if what you stand for is “The Flag” then you do know that these protests aren’t about the flag or the anthem, and were NEVER intended to be disrespectful toward the military, right? Do you stand against Harvey Weinstein and what he did to young women? Or do you stand for Donald Trump and his boastful bragging about groping unwilling women whenever he wants.

What. Do. You. Stand. For?


I stand for humanity. In all it’s colors and shapes and genders and orientations and ages. If a portion of humanity is hurting, then it has my attention and my devotion to doing whatever I can to make it better. Because that’s what we should be doing. As citizens of this gorgeous planet we’re slowly killing. People are hurting here. In the world. In America. Because the force in charge, the status quo, the 50-70 something white male who runs most of our media and politics and movie studios and hell, everything… that force is pushing away instead of pulling in.

Don’t be that force.

Don’t push away the people who are hurting.

Pull them in. Embrace them. Listen to them.

Because if you don’t? Don’t kid yourself.

YOU are the problem.


Posted on | August 7, 2017 | 2 Comments

With several looped around each hand, the grocery bags leave red circles against my wrists.

“Darling,” he shook his head, “I can help with that.”

I shrug, weighed down but smiling.

“It’s no problem,” I smile, keeping my eyes averted so he won’t see the truth. “I can get it.”

The bags pile up on the table, load after load. Slowly, I unpack them, placing items one by one into nooks and crannies. Saving them to pull out later. Saving them to wave in his face with a flourish of “look what all I do for  you.”

I rub the circles into my skin, letting the marks remind me of my troubles, feeling the pain of plastic soak deep into my soul. Rings weighted with more than just groceries. Scars from a marriage prior, scars from so many broken things.

We argue later, voices raised, as I let his calm spiral and swoop around my Irish temper. I’ve been itching for a fight. I know it. He knows it. The faded rings on my wrists still there, where only I can see them.

The distance between us gets wider and wider, a chasm of silence as he slides into the bed beside me.

“I love you,” I want to say to this man who sighs with frustration yet love over my moods and baggage. I think about reaching out a hand, just to cross the distance, just to tell him without apologizing that I’m sorry.

I think too long. I always think too long.

His breathing deepens into a slight snore and I draw in a ragged breath. I waited too long to move or speak. The distance between us is so wide that I wonder if he’ll ever forgive me for the things I say, the bags I let pile up around us, the little odds and ends that I’ve hidden in the darkest corners of our lives.

I whisper an apology he won’t hear, an “I love you” he already knows despite this hole I’ve dug and filled with my insecurities.

I think for a moment that I will cry, that I will heave with sadness for the things I put him through, for the inevitable day when it’s too much and he packs his own bags to walk away.

And then with the slightest of movements, he reaches out a hand, fingers twining with my own. The pressure is slight but enough.

“I love you,” he says, without saying a word.

I love you, too.

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