Thinking About

Reflections on the existential relief of leaving the house

I grew up in a household where ‘running errands’ was a circadian behavior. Sleep, work, school, meals, yard work, and errands (by car) were our big 6. Church was a maybe, exercise and socializing happened when they happened, and once in a while we went to the movies. But errands, many of them aimlessly executed, were an always.

My parents did them, talked about them, planned for them, and complained about them (while seemingly finding salvation in them) as a matter of daily course.

Errands — or more aptly, the half-awake ritual of running them — felt like a currency…

Thinking About

What forest walks and smart storytellers taught me about soft fascination

I first learned about soft fascination last year, from the inside out.

Week after lockdown week, as the pandemic wore me down, I escaped to a nearby state forest to walk and breathe and reflect. Often, a kid or friend accompanied me. We’d wander in tandem on trail, or six feet apart along the dirt fire road, beneath towering redwoods.

Some days, I stole into nature alone, with only a playlist or audiobook as companion. And some days I went ‘naked’—nothing in my ears beyond the crunch of dry leaves underfoot or the whir of mountain bikes speeding past. …

Thinking About

I like it when market trends signal joy

My home state of California officially re-opened yesterday and it has me thinking about breath mints.

Apparently sales of the wee pellets are rebounding (after a steep decline) in the wake of vaccinations, masks off, and normalcy reinvented. Thanks to Radiolab for alerting me.

Did Americans not feel the need for fresh breath while stuck behind masks and locked doors? Or did folks simply opt out of impulse purchases because less time at grocery stores made for fewer impulses to act upon? I suspect a little of both.

Now, it seems, Altoids season is back.

Does this mean we’re ready…

Thinking About

Stale airplane smell is gross and charming and it helps me remember myself

I am sitting on an airplane, typing.

This behavior is old, this habit familiar — in a good way. I quite like hurtling thought the sky while structuring thoughts on the page.

And yet I’m rusty.

This flight is my umpteenth, but also my first (in 16 months). The plane is crowded with masked passengers and despite what I imagined, empty of fanfare or other new protocols.

No one congratulated me, gave me a sticker, took my temperature, or nodded curtly as I handed them medical records at the gate. Instead, all the old things happened in all the old…

In 2021, pregnancy isn’t the conversation — technology is

There’s a saying in my house.

Or rather, there’s something Mom (that’s me) says to the teenagers who live in my house: “Please have sex in a field.”

I’ll let the weirdness of that sink in while I brace for impact on this end. My kids are sure to melt when they discover Mom wrote that down for strangers and hit publish. But too bad for them, because it’s time to move our family traditions into the light. I’m frankly convinced that more kids need the field talk.

Here’s why.

As anyone with teenagers in the weirdly dystopian digital age…

Pandemic Reflections

There is always a new voice, always a new idea. It never quiets here.

I often describe Medium as an incredibly busy intersection on the internet. A massive amount of overlapping activity happens here at once. Writers and readers are everywhere you turn — some on their daily commute, some parked with no plans of leaving, some visiting for the first time, some lingering in doorways, seated on rooftops, or clustered in conversation.

As an editor for Medium, I stand at this intersection every day.

I read countless stories in depth, and catch glimpses or jagged corners of others. One person’s idea leads me to another and another — I move from the grimy…

It will be your turn soon

I’m occasionally annoyed by the fact that my state’s Covid-19 vaccination website is called My Turn. To be clear, the annoyance is absurd. It’s my immature self that gives in to it on days when I’m feeling sorry for those of us parked at the back of California’s line. And given how rapidly that massive line is moving, my woe-is-me nonsense is particularly insufferable. But pandemic brains can be insufferable, this we know.

As a well-oiled American, the name also inspires me — and hopefully others. Sadly, there is no shortage of good reason to remind us Yanks about how…

Yale professor Akiko Iwasaki, PhD, shares a working hypothesis

A pandemic, by definition, is a time of devastation. This particular pandemic has wrought severe devastation in an unbearably dark and heavy year. And yet, it has also been a time of astounding progress.

Bobbing and weaving among the shadows, the bright light of science has been mesmerizing to watch. Vaccines have emerged at breakneck speed. Epidemiologists and virologists have pioneered new advances in untested territory. And all of it has happened in real time — before our sad, tired eyes.

Of course there’s still plenty of work to be done, particularly when it comes to the mysterious, multifaceted, and…

Insights from former CDC director Tom Frieden

There’s reason to feel hopeful about the state of the pandemic in the United States.

Though variants are plenty scary and deserve careful attention (keep your upgraded masks on), so too do the drop in case rates and significant uptick in vaccination numbers deserve celebration. We’re getting there.

As former CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden writes in his latest weekly update for the Coronavirus Blog, “If things continue to go as planned, by June anyone in the United States over the age of 16 who wants a vaccine should be able to get one.”

Though the virus shows no sign…

How the body responds to pain

I’ve been thinking about pain lately.

Last week, a teenage friend fell and broke her wrist while snowboarding. The accident itself was reportedly low on the drama scale, yet the ensuing pain sidelined her. When ski patrol arrived on the scene to zoom her to safety, they administered fentanyl in response to her insistence that the pain level was a 10.

As her story bounced from friend to friend (my children among them), kids responded with condolences and reflections on their own adventures and mishaps that yielded broken bones. Testimonies flew via Snapchat. “I was in shock, but didn’t cry…

Kate Green Tripp

Senior Editor, Health & Science @ Medium. I write and edit stories about health, well-being, and behavior. But sometimes I just write.

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