This week, Gentle Reader, I have an exercise for you.

Imagine it’s your first night in a new place, and the first time you’re all on your own, with no one to rely on and nobody to answer to. It’s the beginning of a new life, and you’re very happy. You’ve been away at work all day and this night will be yours alone to fill.

It’s also the very first night and all the noises are strange and unfamiliar. It’s the first night in this new bed, and every movement is followed by questions: “Was that comfortable? Is that a weird smell coming from the mattress? Is it too warm? I hope it’s not too warm, the sales guy promised it wouldn’t be too warm.”

So, to mark the milestone, satiate any feelings of unease or uncertainty and revel in this new, hard-won autonomy, plan the evening.

Plan it to enjoy the simple comforts that are both balm and celebratory. And lean in to the cozy way it always makes you feel, maybe even since childhood.

To prime the pump, as it were, I will share with you my non-negotiable warm fuzzies.

In order of appearance (and not all at once):

Hot, steamy shower for at least 30 minutes, listening to …


From my childhood and beyond, Rod Stewart, Simon and Garfunkel, Billie Holiday, Led Zeppelin, Joe Cocker and Van Morrison. Depending on the lightness of my mood, maybe some Shakey Graves, Illiterate Light or the Builders and the Butchers.

Afterward slipping into …

Ridiculously soft brand-new, just washed socks.

An over-sized pair of flannel pajamas, fresh from the dryer.

Or …

A giant, cuddly sweater, a comfy pair of uber-soft bottoms, soft socks and warm, cute slippers.

I settle into the comfiest furniture in the room and beside me is …

Potato salad.

Or …

Oatmeal full of nuts, dried fruit and brown butter — really, any carb-based traditional-breakfast type foodstuff: French toast, regular toast, waffles, pancakes. I have a very undiscriminating breakfast palate.

Something crunchy and fried with a creamy dipping sauce.

Blue box mac.

Green chili with brown rice and crema.

The seafood casserole that The Kid hates, but I adore.

Scrambled eggs and homemade hash browns.

Birthday cake.

Milk-chocolate covered raisins.

Before the first bite I settle in with some comforting diversions. I’ve been reading while eating since I’ve been reading. I love movies and watched way too much TV growing up.

Reading material:

Some old-fashioned Gothic Romance like the kind from authors Victoria Holt or Phyllis Whitney, which in my opinion is far overdue for a revival.

Michener: “Chesapeake,” “Centennial” and a third to be named later.

Four or five juicy thrillers with a twist I wouldn’t see coming from an inch and a half away.

A couple of Mad magazines I don’t remember reading, the last few months of British Cosmo, and an assortment of style mags.

Watching material:

The entire series of “Homicide: Life On The Street.”

“The Big Chill.”

Some juicy episodes of “Doctor Who,” and other series featuring British accents like “Britain’s Best Baker” and “Waking the Dead.”

Keeping my after-dinner hands busy material:




After brushing my teeth, but before bed:

Check the weather, set the alarms, and pick out my clothes for tomorrow (in my imaginary, comfortable, happy place, every day’s a boots and sweater kind of day).

Lather, rinse and repeat.

And for that old-school, new adventure daydream, I am deeply grateful and slightly terrified.

And I firmly believe that reviewing your own list will lower your blood pressure and give you a shiny coat and healthy teeth.

Thanks for your time.

Contact me with questions, comments and your own thankful lists at