Please know I appreciate your patience and understanding, and that I love you.

Sent: Saturday, 11:07 PM

Dear Jessica Vale,

In my recent email to you requesting representation for my literary novel Letters Lost, I neglected to include my telephone number. I apologize for the oversight. You’ll find the number in my signature below.

I hope this minor error won’t tarnish your opion of my sample or give you the impression that I’m careless about my work.

Jessica Smith
(212) 555–8871

Sent: Saturday, 11:11 PM

Dear Jessica,

I apologize for having sent you another imperfect email. …

We really do want to know, and we want to publish it in The 2020 Newsletter.

How this started:

My former MFA professor, author Alan Davis, and I have stayed in touch since the early 2000s when I was his student in a Minnesota university MFA program.

In December of 2020, we had an exchange of holiday newsletters (which are just like the regular newsletters you subscribe to, but they appear less frequently in your inbox. And you don’t subscribe to them. They just…show up).

After reading Davis’s letter and then responding with my own, I couldn’t help but wonder…

Despite well-intentioned urging from others, you’re the only one who can say when the time is right

Two swings tangled together.
Two swings tangled together.

As young as five years old, I understood without real understanding that when I grew into a woman I would someday, inevitably, become a mother.

As a little girl, I semi-regularly played the game of House with a friend who lived in the next apartment building, and we’d choose our roles before each game: Husband or Wife. We took for granted that choosing Wife also meant playing the role of a mother.

We believed this because we watched as much TV as any kids in the late ’70s, and studies show TV programming has a long and largely unchanged history…

Thank you, Hapsari! I really wonder how often this (or something remotely like it) happens to agents...

Two days ago, I was looking at my Facebook profile picture very, very closely.

Someone I’d known in high school had left this comment below the picture: “Seeing those eyes again after 30 years…”

I wondered, why mention “eyes” and not “face”? Were they trying to be nice by not mentioning how much my face had changed? Did I look so different? And who do I think I’m kidding right now by using the word “different?”

You know what I mean.


Just bad, full stop.

Because “older.”

Older is bad.

We need no more evidence of this than Twitter’s…

Parents, in everyday life, often think childfree people have it easy. “You’re ‘tired’? You don’t know what ‘tired’ is,” they’ll say, for example.

The holidays are no different.

This season, especially, with COVID and elections and fraudulent fraud, we all have our unique challenges, many of which come with living the lives we’ve chosen.

I know we the childfree have ours, just as parents do.

In fact, and this may be surprising to some, parents actually have it a lot easier than we do, so it can make us feel unseen or misunderstood when they make assumptions about how “easy”…

Within the first five minutes of the 1987 movie Baby Boomabout female advertising executive J.C. Wiatt — a partner at the firm, Fritz, delivers this piece of advice after telling J.C. he wants her to be a partner:

You know that normally I don’t think of you as a woman. But in this case, I do have to look at you as a woman-slash-partner. What if you and Steven decide to get married somewhere down the line? What if he expects a wife? Do you understand the sacrifices you’re going to have to make? I mean, a man…

Last week, in a moment of weakness fueled by love and wine, I slipped. I kissed my husband. On the mouth.

That kiss is the first we’ve had in three months. He’s been counting.

The last time he and I went such a long time without kissing was from 2003 to 2004 when he, then my soon-to-be fiancé, was deployed with his Army unit in Iraq.

That year-long lapse in lips-on-lips intimacy was, in a way, involuntary. This one is different, because with COVID-19, the decision to be physically close, or not, is entirely one’s own.

He doesn’t have COVID-19…

Whether people should need a license to have children isn’t a new conversation. In 1980, Hugh LaFollette, Marie E. and Leslie Cole Emeritus Professor in Ethics at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and Editor-in-Chief of the International Encyclopedia of Ethics, argued in favor of licensing parents because, in short,

…any activity that is potentially harmful to others and requires certain demonstrated competence for its safe performance is subject to regulation — that is, it is theoretically desirable that we regulate it.

It’s hard to disagree with a measure that would serve in the best interests of children. Yes…

During this interesting time, there are a few reasons a live-in partner will ask you to keep six-ish feet of distance between the two of you at home or will beg you to social distance outside of the house:

  • You travel regularly for work
  • You stay in hotels whose sanitary practices can’t be verified/trusted/confirmed
  • You work in the health industry and are likely to come into contact with people who are infected
  • Your partner has read that many carriers are asymptomatic and can infect others without ever showing symptoms, themselves

You probably believe you won’t get it. Therefore, you might…

Kristen Tsetsi

Novelist, THE AGE OF THE CHILD & others. Former adjunct prof, journo, cab driver, etc. Co-host, ChildfreeGirls podcast.

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