Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life

Recently, I read Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life. In the book, she writes her biography using the format of an Encyclopedia. It’s a fun format that made me think about things in my own life that I never considered noteworthy. I asked my creative writing students to produce their own versions and decided to write my own.

Cassette Liners

When I was younger, no moment held more possibility than unwrapping a new cassette tape. Would there be cool pictures of the artist? How would the artist(s) thank in their liner notes? (This would lead to me thinking about who I would thank in my future albums.) Would they write some funny anecdotes about the process of creating the album? Most importantly, would they include the lyrics? Before the internet, there were only two ways to solidify your favorite songs’ lyrics: memorizing them by ear or the artist kindly including them in the liner notes. Lyrics in the liner notes were the best surprise, even if it meant it was nearly impossible to refold the liner to fit neatly back into the case.

When cassettes did not include liner notes, I had to learn the lyrics by sitting in my room for hours, listening to the words. When rushing to learn the words, I would sit with a notebook and pencil, writing the lyrics. This is how I memorized the lyrics to REM’s It’s the End of the World as We Know It. It took me several days to get the lyrics down.

Additionally, because we could not Google any references, we didn’t know, ensuring the authenticity of deciphered lyrics posed another challenge. 

    Lenny Bruce is not afraid? Who even is Lenny Bruce?


This weekend, I went to a live show. I noticed that the drummer did not have a clear plastic shield in front of the drum kit. One of my clearest childhood memories is watching a musical performance on tv and asking my mom why the drummer had a plastic shield in front of the kit. “Drummers spit a lot,” she said without hesitation. “It protects the other musicians.”

It wasn’t until I was 43 and attending a Mumford and Sons show that I suddenly realized that my mother had made it up. At every show I’ve attended since, I look for the shield over the drumkit and think of my mom.  I cannot bring myself to look up the real reason, although I’m sure it has something to do with acoustics. I’ve also noticed the shield is more prevalent at larger venues.  However, Foo Fighters never use one.  I have no idea, but I want to let the mystery remain. 

See also:



A few months ago, I bought a new brand of flossers. They weren’t on sale, but they were mint flavored and sturdy, which led me to true real middle-class splurging and I bought them even though they were not on sale. Mike commented on them, telling me he liked how strong and minty they are. I was about to make a smart-assed remark about this, that eighteen years together left with nothing to talk about except dental products. But then I saw the positives of this:

  1. Our lives were conflict-free enough that we were afforded the luxury of having the energy and time to notice something as simple as a new and improved dental flosser
  2. After eighteen years, my husband still finds it important to voice his appreciation of something as small as making sure he has good dental flossers.

If you are curious, the best flossers can be purchased here.

Group Projects

Growing up, I hated group projects, mostly because I always had a clear vision of what I wanted to do. The thought of having to share or compromise that vision was devastating. Also, I was (am) socially awkward, and the thought of forming or joining a group was, and still is, anxiety-inducing.  In most instances, I’d take care of everything myself, even if it required much more work. As an adult, I still prefer to do things myself. I plan my lessons and prepare my school materials by myself. At home, I take care of vacation planning and home projects, thankful for a spouse who just stays out of my way.


This past weekend, HBO offered its channels for free. Growing up, I always considered premium channels the pinnacle sign of “making it.” In my younger eyes, premium channels were for rich, successful people. Now, I refuse to pay for them because I won’t watch them enough or I will watch them too much. Either way, it is nice when the universe sends me a sign that it’s time to sit for two hours and watch A Life Less Ordinary, something I would never make happen.

See Also: TV


Years ago, I signed up for a subscription to Reader’s Digest. When the scanner scanned my information, it read “Kerri” as “Kern.” This makes it easy to know who Reader’s Digest sold my information. Saturday, I received an advertisement from T-Mobile addressed to “Kern.”

Midget Mom

This spring, Michael grew taller than me. He takes great pride in this, often leaning over, kissing my forehead, and telling me, “I love you, Midget Mom.” He thinks he is teasing me. Honestly, it is one of my favorite things that he does.

Random Encounters

Random encounters give me anxiety. I am terrible with faces, so when I see someone from my forty-six years of living in the same state or from my eighteen years of teaching, I usually cannot place the person. I’m always overly enthusiastic and super vague. 


It’s so good to see you! 

How are you? 

How are things?

I keep asking open-ended questions in hopes of the other person saying something that sparks a hint of recognition. 

Sometimes it works. Sometimes, the mystery remains. 

Once, I had a lovely conversation about summer with the mother of the boy who constantly bullied my son. As we talked about her son going to sailing camp, I scanned my brain for any information I could use to place how I knew this woman I encountered in front of the chicken nuggets freezer at Target.  



Did I grow up with her?

Several minutes after we parted ways, I remembered: that’s the woman who spawned the child who goes out of his way to make my kid’s life miserable. That’s the woman whose child has hit my child multiple times. And I stood there exclaiming how happy I was that her kid was enjoying sailing camp. 

Maybe she will chalk it up as me being super classy and polite. If my brain had worked properly at that moment, I would have asked her how she felt about raising a child who demonstrates sociopathic tendencies. 

Routine, Planning, and Organization

Routine makes me unbelievably happy and calm. In my classroom, I am always planning at least one quarter ahead.  I am getting antsy that quarter three is not ready to go, even though it is eight weeks away. 

My summer vacation is planned.

I have a Google Doc for Christmas.

My Google Calendar is a masterpiece.

My socks are organized into four different categories (athletic, dress, no-show, and winter)

My shoes are organized into five different categories (functional athletic, fashion athletic, flats, boots, and sandals)

Amazon Subscribe and Save, and Walmart Plus are the two greatest programs that ensure I never run out of anything, including dog poop bags, granola bars, or protein powder.


Despite an overwhelming need for order and routine, I am not very superstitious. I try to find patterns in events as I love data, but I am not overly superstitious. My husband, an engineer, lives for superstitions, especially in sports. He buys a new Red Sox hat every year, swearing that the new hat brings new opportunities. He buys himself a new Eagles shirt each year. This year, he wore his new Eagles shirt, purchased just outside of Philadelphia, on every game day. He swore it brought the Birds luck. He buys Michael some sort of Eagles shirt each year for Christmas. However, after the Eagles dropped the next two games while wearing his new hoodie, Mike confirmed that it was bad luck and told him to save it until after the end of football season. Mike also decided that his team never plays as well when I am in the room, so I get to avoid watching the games, a setup that does not bother me in the least.

This year, his beloved Birds made it to the Super Bowl. I stayed out of the living room for the games, got a book to read, took the dog for a walk, and went to bed early. Mike wore his lucky shirt. Michael wore his.

The following morning, all bets are off, and Michael is wearing his new hoodie to school, ready for the onset of remarks from Chiefs fans.

Pitchers and catchers report to spring training tomorrow.

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