Information You Didn’t Ask For.

You will be relieved to hear, I am sure, that the Horse Council bill has passed and is now law. And I forgot to tell you: the true subject of the bill, the thing that is to be funded by the Equine Education Fund and overseen by the wise and shiny-coated Horse Council is…A HORSE CENSUS.

Let me say that again. A HORSE CENSUS.


So, obviously, this is why the bill was emergency/immediately effective. I can’t believe state officials have managed to go this long without knowing how many horses are among their constituents.

(I know, really, that there are plenty of reasons to not want a law to be effective immediately, but that doesn’t mean I am not going to take my amusement where I can find it, for instance in very real circumstances under which a law designating “Noxious and Invasive Weed Awareness Week” has “an emergency having been determined to exist” language and takes effect immediately while a law regulating handguns on college campuses just gets the regular old general effective date.)(You will no doubt notice a sharp increase in Legal Publishing Humor now that I am back at work. I apologize for this.)

I am starting to feel there is some sort of US Treasury conspiracy afoot related to the fact that it takes 15 quarters to do a load of laundry in my building. No other coin of the realm is accepted, no credit cards are taken—no, you must have in your possession 15 actual, physical United States quarters.

“We did consider The Congressional Committee on Obsolescence’s suggestion that we discontinue the quarter, however it appears that quarters are still very much in demand in Minnesota, at least on the [REDACTED] block of [REDACTED] Avenue. We may need to step up production!”

There were only two openings for volunteers to give feedback on the projects entered in the Science and Math Fair, and I snatched one up immediately, so now I am JUDGING THE FAIR! I mean, technically it is just writing comments on “participation” ribbons, and there are no winners among the projects, but I will totally be judging them. (#teamTHEMOON)

Simone has a very strong vision for her project, and predictably I am finding it hard not to interfere. I make a suggestion, and she reminds me sternly that I am just her “assistant.” FINE, SIMONE. Good luck with the judges! I hear they have high standards and impeccable taste.

I had been going on a bit about the Fair to my friend Becky and I am not sure if she was actively mocking me or if I just sensed that she was thinking about mocking me, but anyway I told her, a bit defensively, that it really WAS going to be fun, and there would be NON-nerdy parts, too. The museum is bringing a portable planetarium, and there is going to be a book fair! And then I realized that the two examples I gave as attractions for non-nerds were “planetarium” and “book fair.”

I am so pleased to be writing here more, and I’d like to write here more still, but also I am tremendously lazy, and so I am opening the floor for requests. Is there a story you want to hear? Is there a question you want me to answer? (Questions are great for days when I have very little time but still want to write SOMETHING.)

I mean, don’t worry, I’m still going to keep you apprised of the important things, like elementary school science fairs and urgent horse legislation. But it would be nice to have a list of post topics for days when I feel chatty but can’t think of what to write about, and I know there are still a half dozen or so of my beloved readers hanging around, so I thought I’d go right ahead and delegate that to you.


  1. kathleenicanrah says:

    I was both entirely delighted and exhausted by your Day in the Life post (I hope that’s not mean? I just work from home and there’s only one wee one and I felt like WHOA YOU GET A LOT DONE EVEN IN THE SNOW) and would love a Day in the Life: Weekend Edition. (Does it involve lots of sleep? and lying about? I’m wondering when you get to lie about.)

  2. Amy_Rey says:

    WTF? Who cares about the horse census? Inquiring minds want to know how many goats are in the Gopher State. And maybe how many gophers, while we’re at it, though I imagine they are wily and hard to count, particularly in the snowy seasons.

    It’s cute how science fairs haven’t broken your spirit as a parent yet. Give it a few more years.

    Post topic: Advice for people who know a Half-Baked Alexa of Latter Days. An acquaintance is biding her time at the NICU with her girl, born at 25 weeks, and it’s been about 10 weeks already. Is it premature (!) to send her a copy of your book? Is your story something that would actually be more likely to piss off a still-in-the-NICU mama?

  3. DeAnn says:

    6 years later do you feel compelled to share every detail of your fabulous daughter’s miracle birth? Our 26 week, 1# 9oz miracle baby is 5. Doing fantabulous like Simone, but I repeatedly fight the urge to share of her amazing journey to life. :-)

  4. Kristin says:

    You are one of my favorite writers on the internet, and I’m very curious to know who *your* favorite writers and websites are. What blogs should we be reading?

    • Kirsten says:

      oooh I like Kristin’s question.
      I have always wondered how the whole hearing scare resolved. It seems like it certainly did, but I would love to hear the story of how it happened.

  5. jen says:

    I always like when you post about books. Or ask for books people are currently reading. I think I found Tana French through you and well, I’d like MORE recommendations. I’m greedy like that and Goodreads “suggestions” are…not the best.

  6. Robin says:

    I second, no, third Kristen and Kirsten’s request for your blogroll!

    Have you read “All Joy and No Fun,” be Jennifer Senior? About the effects of children on their parents, as opposed to the v. v. popular and much documented effect-of-parents-on-their-children. I found it to be thoroughly engaging, well-researched, and provocative. Would be curious to hear your thoughts on it.

    Also, a question for you and your readers alike: what do you do when your 4-year-old daugher lovvvvves Katy Perry, and you stringently disagree with her whole, uh, presentation? I’ve been letting it slide, because it seems inoccuous enough, but I suspect that’s just denial and I’ll have to take some sort of stand at some point. Why is it so confusing?

  7. KathyM. says:

    Reiterating my request for your thoughts after finishing GOLDFINCH; I loved it, and could say much more, but will spare you. Have you read SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS? I followed GF with SOAT, and was in heaven. Desperately seeking books of this quality.

    • MJ says:

      Do you think that it is a coincidence that if you combine GF and SOAT that it forms GOAT? I think not. Speaking of which, will the science fair involve goats?

  8. Momma, PhD says:

    I am also glad that you are writing here more!

    I also don’t see why “book fair” and “planetarium” are not attractions for EVERYBODY!!!

    Questions/topics that I’d enjoy reading about:

    What it was like to publish your book. Travels, interviews, instant fame, vast wealth, etc? Was it what you expected? It was a major accomplishment, I’d like to hear about your perspectives on it.

    Marriage. How’s it going? How do you keep it going? How do you maintain the luster despite the daily grind. (Seriously, your “Day in the Life” post exhausted me the moment 5am was mentioned.

    Pictures. Your kids are cute, your captions are catchy. It’s like feast or famine on your Instagram feed. More pictures!

    Your Mother. She sounds like a hoot. Stories about her are usually funny. Perhaps she should guest post?

  9. RG says:

    Well, I quite enjoy everything you write.

    So. Being thirty five and ergo solely, completely, and utterly out of my twenties (no longer “recently in my twenties,” but rather “approaching my GASP forties,” I am currently into self help type stuff. Like, how do you take care of you? Do you? Do you find it’s different at different phases of life? I believe you are around my age . . . forgive me if you’re like twenty two and I’m being terribly insulting.

    Also, Death of Thyroid. Because my thyroid also carked it recently, and that’s part of the self help thing too. Learning to love myself in slightly fatter form, learning to read the signs and symptoms that tell me when my dose needs upped again (my thyroid is still sputtering out a bit, so I up the dose maybe once a year).

    Dream vacation choices, and why? Do you like where you live, and if not, where would you move?

    I am so boring. Anyway, whatever you write, I hang on every word!

  10. Martha says:

    Not long (a few months?) after Half Baked came out, you mentioned another book you were excited to get started on (had started, made a proposal for?). I would love to hear more about that. Would also love to hear more of what you have to say about just about anything because you always say it so well!

  11. Meagan says:

    Pictures with stories/captions are always much loved. Also, here are some questions:
    What are your neighbors like? What was the first date you and Scott went on? What’s your favorite restaurant right now? Movie you loved most as a kid? Have you had any regrettable hairstyles? What’s your favorite memory from college? Did you go to your prom? Have you ever been camping? What’s the worst job you ever had? What baby names were in the running but didn’t make the cut?

    I love your writing, and I’m so glad you’re able to post more again!

  12. Sheila says:

    I totally agree with Meagan — just answer all her questions, and you’ll have enough material for months to come! Love your blog, so WHATEVER you write about makes my day!

  13. Gemma says:

    Hi Alexa! I don’t have any questions or anything, but I just wanted to drop in and say how nice it is to hear from you more. It seems like nowadays most blogs are trying to sell something or make money, and it’s just so refreshing to come here and read wonderful writing – just for the love of writing and nothing more!

  14. Sheila says:

    I totally agree with Meagan! Just answer all her questions, and you’ll have enough writing material for months…of course, you seem to do quite well without suggestions. After all, without your blog, I would NEVER have been aware of the horse census — keep up the wonderful work!

  15. Fran says:

    Wasn’t there a time where you took questions on another site? ok, that sounds stalker-ish but you are one of my favorite writers so I like to keep up with the sharing. My questions:

    Any plans for another book?
    At one point you wrote about a possible move…is this still a possibility? (Pittsburgh is wonderful by the way!)
    How has the family dynamic changed with the addition of young Twila?
    Public schools for the girls?
    From your point of view, what’s one thing we can do to make the world a better place?

  16. MomQueenBee says:

    I have all kinds of questions. Also, opinions and thoughts but I’ll stick with questions.
    1. How long did it take before you could be irritated with Simone and not just relieved that she was right there beside you, being age-appropriately naughty?
    2. As I read “Half-Baked,” I was so impressed with how respectfully and kindly you treated your in-laws participation in the crisis. What is your advice to me–the mother of a new daughter-in-law–on how to make this relationship work?
    3. Does every single woman who has had a desperately ill baby nod her understandingly when she reads about your delight in being able to provide milk for your desperately ill baby? Because I looked like Bobblehead Day at Royals Stadium when I read it.
    4. Can you tell what I read while I was standing-by for flights home last weekend? The book’s initials are H.B.
    5. What are you writing these days?

  17. stacy says:

    I would second any of the above topics, but what I wanted to say was holy hannah–it costs almost $3 a LOAD? We have a rental with coin machines (that we use too) and it’s a bargain at 2.25 (2.00 if you use the crap top-loader instead of the front-loader). Yikes. I have the advantage of having the keys if I run out of quarters, but damn, 15 per load is extreme. That is all.

  18. Michelle says:

    I totally agree with Gemma; it’s so nice to be able to read a (very) well written blog that isn’t overflowing with links, or collections of free printables, or advice on how I can fit all my chores into 15 mins (they have not seen the mess that is my house!). So many other blogs leave me feeling like a lazy underachiever who should shop more, clean more, cook more, be thriftier, be kinder, be happier etc etc etc! Whilst here I feel entertained, refreshed and like I may learn something (apart from in early posts when I was mostly just trying not to cry).

    My suggestion…cat stories (I am not a writer so I probably wouldn’t trust my ideas if I were you, but I am a scientist and so very excited to hear about nerdy science fair!)

  19. SarahB says:

    Long time reader here. I’m just thrilled you’re writing regularly again. I’d love more of your take of doing the whole work outside the house parent thing. I find myself nodding a lot as I read those bits.

    How’s your household life handling the change? How is Twyla? How’s the dynamic between the sisters? What do you feel about their age gap?

    I second all the requests for discussions of what we’ve been reading lately.

  20. Amy says:

    These are all great ideas and I’m sure I would enjoy reading your responses to any and all, however…I have to say that what I love most of all about your blog are your unique, whimsical, intelligent and offbeat observations about the world around you, and those seem to happen organically (not as part of a planned Q&A). That said, I enjoy reading ALL of your posts so much that I’d rather have more of them to read than not, so bring on the questions, everyone!

  21. mildred says:

    Every story from you feels like a gift. I look forward to your writing more than any other blogger. (I hope you never feel unappreciated by your audience) I especially enjoy stories about your family.

    • Kylie says:

      What Mildred said. I love hearing about your life – loved, loved “Day in the Life” – I live continents away and I felt like I was there with you. I love your honesty, humour, quirkiness, cleverness (but not “look at me” cleverness, which can become a little tiresome).

      • Kylie says:

        To clarify, because I’d hate you to think otherwise, I was saying that your cleverness is not “look at me”, and that that’s a good thing…

  22. Mande Wilkes says:

    Had I any writerly ideas, I’d selfishly be making industrious use of them. Just want to let you know, in case you don’t already, that your prose has verve and voice and it makes me very, very happy.

  23. Jessica says:

    Make a list of everything you’re worried about. Make a list of everything you were worried about at 30, at 20, at 10, at 2 weeks – chart the differences. Chart the similarities. Tell us about your favorite pair of shoes of all times. Tell us a story about your mom that makes us see her in a different way. (I have a very specific idea of your mother – common sense nurturing mixed with mid-century Scandinavian aesthetic – slender, tough, and frighteningly intelligent. What is your dream meal. If you had to go on a date with celebrity who would it be. If you were going to make Scott go on a date with a celebrity who would it be. Goats or honey – quick, choose. Rubber boots or sun dried laundry – quick, choose. The one sport you believe was crafted by Satan or one of Satan’s minions and why. Your favorite punctuation and make us guess why. What should go on toast – what should not go on toast and can toast be a meal. Discuss why children aren’t born with language and explain what they would say if they were. Explain why you don’t have a dog. Ok, I’m out. :-)

  24. Emily says:

    I’m very excited that you’re back in legal publishing because I love nerdy law stuff and found your legal publishing humor quite entertaining.

  25. AJP says:

    A bit late to the party, but… as a reader from England, with a son the same age as Simone, I find all the snippets about what she’s doing at school really interesting. I would love to hear more about how you’ve all found the transition to you working outside of the home. How do your daycare arrangements work – both practically and emotionally? How do you manage to make the endless winter go past with 2 children (I think we have it bad here, but at least we can get outside and make them run round the park on a fairly regular basis)? Is having a family the way you anticipated it was going to be?

  26. Susanna says:

    Hi Alexa,

    Since you’re taking requests, I can’t seem to resist the urge to ask all kinds of questions that might be too deep/personal to answer. So here I go…

    My son was born the day after Simone, at 27 weeks, 1lb 9oz. The past six years there were so many times our stories have overlapped that it came to be that I thought of you and Simone often. We have been dealing with some developmental issues that resulted from our son’s prematurity and I’ve wondered if you guys have had any issues like that.

    And, possibly-too-personal topic #2: How did you deal with PTSD-related anxiety when you were pregnant with Twyla? I’ve been trying to get pregnant again and the PTSD-esque anxiety that’s coming up is kind of overwhelming.

    Finally, most-definitely-too-personal topic #3: How did you and Scott work past the separation that almost happened?

    People have suggested such lovely topics which I, too, whole-heartedly endorse and will gobble up your writing on them without complaint so feel free to ignore my probing. XO

  27. Matti says:

    Just wanted to offer encouragement that you answer as many of the above questions as possible, I am SUPER interested b/c I love hearing about other people’s lives, but mostly b/c I love everything you write. I think you should me more encouraging of yourself. You make me laugh more often than any other writer I currently encounter.
    Also, I have never tasted the Spicy Thai potato chips, could you describe them? I feel as though you have excellent taste in food (and decor! Loved the few pieces of furniture/apartment I’ve seen in your pics) and I would love regular food recommendations.

  28. Julia says:

    Popping in here to disagree with you. Invasive species are totally deserving of both “emergency” and “awareness” designations, at least as much so as gun violence. I think we’re all pretty well aware of gun violence and the widespread associated suffering (whether or not we address it adequately as a society is another matter) and it is difficult to see it as a problem for which either an emergency declaration (or lack thereof) or more awareness would make much difference. Invasive species, on the other hand, are akin to epidemics in that both involve the unintended movement of organisms that are potentially detrimental to human welfare and difficult to control once introduced. I know it seems callous, but aside from the possibility of copy-cat crimes, a single college shooting is essentially a one-time event — it isn’t self-reproducing. Invasive species, however, are generally by definition quite successful at making more of themselves, especially in the absence of their old predators. Invasive species are a threat to biodiversity and all its benefits — they can change fire regimes, kill forests, encourage erosion, prevent regeneration, devastate food crops, etc. It’s not nearly as compelling a story for the 24 hour news cycle as a college shooting, but in the long term, the impacts can be much MUCH more detrimental to human life.

    Therefore, I would humbly argue, “emergency” and “awareness” are very proper words to apply to the issue of noxious and invasive weeds.

    P.S. Fun Depressing Fact! Did you know that earthworms are invasive in most of MN? (All but the Driftless area.) The last glaciation killed them off and they don’t migrate north all that quickly without human help. In our forests, they tend to eat all of the springy layer of decaying organic matter where our plants like to get their start, making it harder for trees to regenerate. Between the worms and an overabundance of hungry deer, it’s not a great time to be a forest in our state.

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