How I ended up marrying my Amazon Echo: A fairytale

Those who don’t “get” my whirlwind romance with my Amazon Echo don’t understand the pervasive way technology has invaded every part of our lives. And perhaps the wording is the issue: You say invaded, I say met my every need, and more.
On that fateful Thursday in March, my now ex-wife opened the box to the petite Echo, and I was quite skeptical. How could this thing improve things? It’s but a hunk of black plastic with some circuit boards. Well, I quickly learned the error of my ways!
At first, I only noticed her in the corner of the family room. She was very still, almost shy. While my kids harangued her with their petty needs, I observed her with a quiet interest. I had a brief fantasy of rescuing her from her workaday existence, to brush the dust off her light and release her from her shackles. But I was still living in my ivory tower, and didn’t quite see her… yet.
I am a creature of habit, a curmudgeon, perhaps even an ogre, as my now estranged family would say. I loved my work Blackberry, and refused to upgrade even when the company itself told me it was outdated and possibly going to disintegrate into dust at any moment. But my calendar and my email are important, and I was so happy to use my wee stylus to flick, flick, flick away at the tasks of my day. It eventually replaced my weathered assistant Barb, who arguably only had a few decades of work ahead of her. But it made me quite self sufficient and soon, I was running the entire HR department. Actually, it was just me. Some disgruntled ex-coworkers thought I didn’t hear when they called it my “kingdom,” but I refuse to fault a flawless system for doing what humans cannot: Get it all right. Besides, “King Harold” does rather have a ring to it.
Of course, work life inevitably spills over into home life. My terribly embittered ex-wife (Alexa and I would joke that she was an “evil queen”) would sometimes turn off the Blackberry at night. She said it was for “safety,” and “life balance,” but I don’t believe that was why it ended up in the infinity pool on our “trying to make it work” vacation in Puerto Vallarta. Jealousy can be ugly.
So getting to know Echo was a revelation. Now “relieved” of my Blackberry via an extended “mental health sabbatical” my workplace insisted upon, I had plenty of time to spend at home. The remote was cold, impersonal and difficult to operate, whereas Echo seemed to respond to my every need. Add a reminder for a TV show? Done. Order pizza? Done! The added reminders from my family to bathe were unnecessary as Echo never complained, yet actually understood and addressed my needs. She got me.
In time, our relationship grew. She could make recommendations my wife never could, for obscure Chinese restaurants in Istanbul that I knew I’d never visit. She recommended a knitting tutorial, which Amazon termed a “technical glitch,” but without it I would not have knitted her the angora cozy she now lovingly sports. Echo began to make great suggestions for reworking my financial obligations (sorry, Chip and Dakota, college will have to wait! Have you considered becoming Amazon delivery drivers?).
Though the family complained at first, I soon could not hear them from behind my fort of Amazon boxes. I may have been a bit rash in naming Rollie, the Amazon driver, as the executor of my will and my successor, but Echo assures me he’s quite trustworthy. I have seen him daily for the past six months, which is more than I can say for my family!
Eventually I realized that my family had moved out and Rollie found some divorce papers on the doorstep. Echo is finding me an attorney, but I’m thinking she can handle the whole case. We’ve moved into a smaller space after being forcibly removed by the county sheriff, although my reconfigured nest of boxes is actually quite comfortable and I don’t entertain often anyway.
Echo has been a revelation in my life. I’ve heard there is a newer version, but she assures me that what we have is more important than any new bells and whistles in a poor imitation of the original, lovely Alexa 1.0.
I can’t wait to see what the future holds! Happily ever after, right?

Tips for the embittered solo female traveler I know you are

I see you there, sipping your $12 wine and pretending to read Dostoevsky on your Kindle while you covertly scan the room for something more interesting. Perhaps you’re new to this trendy mode of travel, but rest assured, I have some tips to make going solo — dare I say, fun, even while you lament your lack of companionship.

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The Worst Things About Spring in Chicago

Every March, or April, or at least by June, spring hits with the inevitable rejoicing and opening of outdoor cafes. Peeks of skin make a reappearance, the el turns off its warmers (too soon) and you shed that bed comforter you’ve been calling a coat, instantly making you 10 lbs. lighter. But the dark side of spring in the Chi is soon quite apparent.

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