Help Wanted read the sign in the window — an unusual and welcome sight during the immediate aftermath of September 11, 2001. I took a deep breath, tugged at the bottom of my blouse to smooth the sweat wrinkles, and walked into the hotel lobby. I needed this job.

In my twenty-first year of life, I had finished college, watched from a distance as two airplanes smashed into the World Trade Center, undergone an emergency tonsillectomy, and shipped my long-distance boyfriend his Nickelback CDs after finding out he’d been cheating on me. It was not exactly the gap year I’d…

A collection of essays about life, love, and survival during unprecedented times.

The COVID pandemic brought a lot of new things into my life, including gray hair, buying sweatpants online, and mid-day power naps. But it also reconstituted something that had been missing for years: creativity. When the world shut down in March, I started writing, drawing, and painting for fun — something that I hadn’t done since much of since my son was born almost 12 years ago.

After experiencing the high of contributing my writing to a few anthologies and blogs last year, I had an idea. Why not create my own? …

It’s hard to believe I’m writing this, but today is my 366th day without alcohol. On so many levels, I feel like a different person than I did a year ago. And it all started with a simple New Year’s resolution.

It wasn’t that I hadn’t attempted this before. In fact, Dry January was an annual tradition for my body and my brain: we’d enjoy a particularly liquidy November and December, declare that it was time to make a change, quit for a week or two, fail to notice any drastic improvements, and cave right around mid-January when there’s nothing…

Dear Alison from 2019,

I hope this message finds you well.

I’m writing to you from the future — from a time when, as you will soon understand, the greeting “I hope this message finds you well” will make you want to scream. You will hate it slightly more than the phrase “living in unprecedented times” and almost as much as “we’re all in this together.”

Listen. I know 2019 had some rough patches — like that awful head cold you had back in May — and I know you have high expectations for the year to come. It will…

The holidays are upon us. I know this because I’ve seen lots of social media posts that say THE HOLIDAYS ARE UPON US. Also, because Christmas threw up in the dollar section of Target about two months ago. It felt a little late this year.

I can’t say that I’ve ever really loved this season as an adult. It’s stressful, it’s expensive, and — if you live in a place with affordable property taxes — it’s cold. But in the past, there were a few things that made this time of year palatable. Enjoyable, even. …

My 11-year-old son — with his huge brown eyes and small frame and impossibly curly hair — looks just like a miniature version of me. And that’s where the resemblance ends.

Don’t be fooled by the smiles…we were probably arguing 30 seconds earlier.

I once took an online personality test that identified me as an organizer and a time-keeper. He, on the other hand, got thinker and philomath (someone who loves learning). In other words, I get stuff done, and he daydreams about stuff.

Our lack of commonality doesn’t end there. Back in school, I won awards for writing, but I struggled through math and science. My son, on the other hand…

Photo by Robert V. Ruggiero on Unsplash

Gyms and yoga studios are shuttered. Crossfit boxes and boutique fitness centers have gone dark. Marathons and 5Ks are cancelled, and even mountain biking trails have closed their gates. If you’re following the rules and still want to stay in shape, you’ve gotta learn how to exercise alone.

And — aside from the whole global pandemic piece of it — I’ve been preparing for this for years.

While I love other humans as much as the next introvert, I don’t generally enjoy working out with them. Running and biking in groups stresses me out, and I’ve been known to stomp…

Photo by Adrien Olichon on Unsplash

In late December, I predicted that 2020 was going to be “the best year ever” and set the most ambitious New Year’s resolution imaginable: I would attempt to give up alcohol for a full year.

It’s now March 29, and only one of those statements is still true.

Alison Roth

Writer, podcast addict, runner, stick-shift driver, parent & step-parent. Not necessarily in that order. Personal page: all opinions are my own. (she/her)

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