Did I Say That Out Loud?

Midlife Indignities and How to Survive Them


By Kristin van Ogtrop

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From the former editor-in-chief of Real Simple, enjoy this hilarious and deeply insightful take on the indignities of middle age and how to weather them with grace: "A pure pleasure to read" (Cathi Hanauer, author of Gone).
Do you hate the term “middle age?” So does Kristin van Ogtrop, who is still trying to come up with a less annoying way to describe those years when you find yourself both satisfied and outraged, confident and confused, full of appreciation but occasional disdain for the world around you. Like an intimate chat with your best friend, this mostly funny, sometimes sad, always affirming volume from longtime magazine journalist van Ogtrop is a celebration of that period of life when mild humiliations are significantly outweighed by a self-actualized triumph of the spirit. Finally!
Featuring stories from her own life, as well as anecdotes from her unwitting friends and family, van Ogtrop encourages you to laugh at the small irritations of midlife: neglectful children, stealth insomnia, forks that try to kill you, t.v. remotes that won’t find Netflix, abdominal muscles that can’t seem to get the job done. But also to acknowledge the things you may have lost:  innocence, unbridled optimism, smooth skin. Dear friends. Parents. It’s all here: the sublime and the ridiculous, living together in the pages of this book as they do in your heart, like a big messy family, in this no-better-term-for-it middle age.


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Just Happy to Be Here!


Something happened in the past few years, something sneaky and silent that I didn't even realize was a problem until it was right upon me, like a bat about to fly into my hair: everyone around me became mindful.

When you were a kid, did you worry about mindfulness? Of course not. You just did your thing, tra-la-la-ing through life, with a relatively mindless approach that usually worked just fine. Now, suddenly, people are paying so much attention! Greeting every situation with open hearts and discerning minds, bidding each other namaste everywhere they go. And "learning" how to breathe, which, last time I checked, generally doesn't need to be taught?

As soon as I noticed this awful development I thought, Ugh. It all sounds so boring and I definitely do not need to change the way I breathe in order to be a better person or find out whether my life has meaning.

But one of the hallmarks of middle age is the mistaken belief that if you constantly endeavor to keep up with trends, you will never be left behind by your children, the culture, or that one woman in your book group who has always been cooler than you. I am nothing if not middle-aged, meaning it's a long, pitiful slog from now until the end of my days to try to keep a grip on our world as it inexorably advances beyond my reach.

Which is why I found myself, not long ago, in a mindfulness meditation class on an otherwise ordinary Sunday afternoon. I was sitting cross-legged on an orange bolster on the floor of the local yoga studio, trying to accept with an open heart and discerning mind the fact that both of my feet were beginning to fall asleep and wondering whether mindfulness was a bunch of hooey, just as I suspected, when I heard the instructor say, "There is a big difference between thinking and thoughts." Immediately I knew that the twenty-five dollars I had plunked in the basket outside the studio was completely worth it because, even if I never achieve mindfulness, that one simple phrase uncovered an essential truth that has eluded me for some time: I used to think, and now I have thoughts.

Oh, there is a difference. Thinking is linear, with one idea leading to another like identical cars of a long train, sleek and shiny, all linked and moving forward with precision to a preset destination. Maybe you are thinking about what you need from the grocery store or whether your dog has to go to the vet or how to reorganize your closet so each item inside doesn't look like something you never want to wear again. Whatever the case, you are progressing in an orderly fashion with the hope—in fact, the reasonable expectation—that when you reach your destination, it will be pleasing and well worth the trip.

Once you pass the age of forty-five, however, the mysterious process happening inside your head is no longer linear. Now you are on a different train, a rickety circus train that looks like it's held together with paper clips. There's an elephant in one car and a lion in the next and then one with a giraffe whose head sticks out of the top and after that a car with a bunch of drunk clowns. You don't know where you're going and, really, does it matter? Because your circus train is probably about to crash.

That is the difference between thinking and thoughts.

Being a person with thoughts isn't all bad. If you lose yourself in the colorful scatter that is your mind, you can find hours of entertainment. But if you fight it—try to get the giraffe to keep his head inside the train or command the clowns to sober up—you are just going to be angry and sad for the rest of your life, however long that might be.

My mindfulness meditation class ended at 5:15 and dinner guests were due to arrive at 6:30. I had worked throughout the afternoon to prepare for the party, making quinoa salad and cutting the asparagus and chilling the wine and setting the table so all I had to do was roast the salmon and asparagus. We were hosting two couples—my friend David and his girlfriend, plus newlyweds who had just moved to town—so with me, my husband, and two of our kids, that made eight people for dinner.

Everything went according to plan and I was feeling mildly triumphant when we all sat down at the table, me on one end and my husband on the other. There was a weird emptiness that I couldn't quite put my finger on, plus a moment of confused silence. Then David said, "Are we expecting more people?" And all at once I understood the reason everyone felt so far away: I had set the table for ten instead of eight.

Ten place mats, ten plates, ten pressed white napkins, ten forks, ten knives, ten water glasses. Ten dessert plates waiting expectantly on the counter in the kitchen. All extremely organized. But not.

We had planned this little dinner party weeks earlier, and the number of people had never changed. Do I remember counting the guests in my head as I dusted the dining-room table and put down the place mats? No. Suddenly my mind was just at ten, because that's where my train of ragtag thoughts had come to rest after it careered over the edge of the cliff.

"Do you want to join us?" David said, and I moved my seat to be closer, and we all laughed and made jokes about the imaginary guests who hadn't shown up. We left the two extra place settings on the table. Everyone stayed a bit too late, which is always a good sign, and I imagine that as David and his girlfriend got ready for bed that night, one said to the other, "Well, that was fun, but it's too bad about Kristin."

When the father of my friend Rob was on his deathbed, he asked Rob, "What's more important, thoughts or feelings?" Rob's dad was eighty-eight when he died, and the closer I get to that number, the more I begin to think that the question he posed was the most interesting question of life. Thoughts are important but they're unreliable, unpredictable, and often unproductive no matter how mindful you are. Feelings, though—feelings are what endure.

This book is for anyone who has lost things over the years—and perhaps you've lost more in this past year, during the coronavirus pandemic, than in all the years leading up to it. If that is the case, I am so sorry. Hopefully your sense of humor is still intact. Hopefully you know that it doesn't matter if your thought train is headed over a cliff, because it's the feelings that linger when the train is upside down with its wheels spinning in the air. This book is for you if you're someone who knows that setting the table for two imaginary people may be a sign of cognitive decline—or proof that you're a generous person with a welcoming attitude toward her fellow man. Who looks at the indignities of midlife (sleepless nights, elderly parents, a house full of crap you no longer need, not knowing how to dress, adultish children who persist in finding new ways to worry you—should I go on?) and thinks, Consider the alternative. Who possesses grace and patience and wit when faced with these indignities, because you have gained perspective by watching terrible things happen to people you love and your catalog of sadness has grown quite thick. You are old enough to have heard stories of unfathomable grief, and you never forget any of them, even as more accumulate over the years: a terminal diagnosis, a child with mental illness, the failure of a love that was supposed to last a lifetime, a global pandemic. You carry these stories with you, thinking, Consider the alternative.

You no longer believe you are special, which is a relief. When you're young, it's the job of your parents—if your parents are good ones—to convince you that there's no one quite like you in all the world and that you are capable of anything your spectacular brain can dream up. Making you believe such a thing might be love, or it might be pressure disguised as love. As you get older, though, you realize that the world is full of people exactly like you. Maybe your hair is thinner or your hips are wider or you have more money or a laugh that lights up the room whenever anyone hears it. Still, you are pretty much like everyone else, which makes you more forgiving. More understanding. It allows you to see that everyone around you is beset with frailties and blessed with strengths, just as you are. Even if—like me—you don't really know how to be mindful, the understanding and forgiveness you now possess make you a kinder person.

And the insignificant worries in your rearview mirror—you are thrilled to watch them diminish. If your children have reached their twenties, you no longer care about where anyone goes to college. Oh my God, the brain cells I burned obsessing over where everybody was going to college! I want all of those brain cells back. This book is for women who have watched enough kids get into and then go all the way through college to know that where you go to college doesn't matter very much. Skinny thighs—those no longer matter. Also not important: watching that Netflix show everyone is talking about; whether or not your high-school boyfriend would still find you attractive; if your neighbor didn't wave hello because she didn't see you or because she secretly detests you. You are now self-actualized, meaning you don't give a rat's ass. Finally!

When I was in my late thirties I bought a house from a kooky seventy-year-old woman who wore ribbed white tank tops without a bra and left a big messy pile of old family photos on the floor of the garage when she moved out. I gathered them in a neat stack, put them in an envelope, and sent them to her, because it was incomprehensible to me that she had left them intentionally. Old family photos have meaning! But that kooky lady knew then what I know now, which is that they don't. Old family photos are just things, and if you're smart, you know to value memories over things, because although both fade, one can live on in your head while the other just ends up at Goodwill or in some grown kid's first apartment covered in water rings because what's a coaster? And so this book is for the woman who has perhaps stopped caring about things. Maybe even about decorating in general. She looks at her dining-room door frame and sighs, not because the paint is chipped but because she remembers the winter her six-year-old ran into it while riding his Big Wheel inside the house every day. Why should she paint over it? Maybe the chipped paint sometimes makes her feel like her life is completely out of control, but more often it makes her smile, because that six-year-old is now eighteen and most of what she knows about his life comes from Venmo. What she wouldn't give to have that boy banging into the door frame again, shouting to her with glee, just for an afternoon.

Yeats knew that things fall apart and the center cannot hold. My center can't hold either, which is why I've got back fat and a muffin top above the waistband of my pants. But I try to laugh, because back fat and a muffin top and chipped paint and imaginary dinner guests are insignificant frustrations. Minor indignities, in the grand scheme. Middle age is full of them. And there are so many things that are much, much worse. None of us knows how life will turn out, and even if we forget everything else (who is Yeats again?), we must not forget that. So let's just feel happy to be here. To cry sometimes, when the occasion calls for it, but to laugh as often as we can—that is enough. Because consider the alternative.

Chapter 1

Fork Lady


It wasn't until the anesthesiologist on call appeared at my bedside that I began to suspect something might be dangerously wrong with me. She was still in her bulky down coat, little flyaways of wispy hair escaping her ponytail, glasses beginning to fog after rushing inside from the cold. Maybe it was the fact that she was out of breath or the fact that she hadn't taken off her coat, or maybe it was because she was the first person since I had arrived at the hospital three hours earlier to use the words emergency surgery. She said it in a quiet, reassuring voice, but you can't change the meaning of a phrase like emergency surgery just by changing your tone.

After it was all over, a number of people said to me, "You must have been so scared!" I wasn't then, although now when I look down at the giant purple scar, I do feel the remnants of fear. But I feel something else too. By the time we all reach middle age, our bodies are dotted with scars. Most of mine have come from cartoonish mishaps: when I tripped in the kitchen and fell into the stove; when I collided with a branch on the running trail. Dumb but harmless things I did to myself as I pinballed through life. These scars make me feel idiotic, because they send the message You are a clumsy oaf. This big, new scar, though, sends a different message: Guess what, girl—you are mortal! And so this scar actually makes me feel…lucky.

The pain started on Thursday morning as a funny little humming in my back. It felt like I had tweaked some tiny, insignificant muscle between my shoulder blades that I'd never bothered to learn the name of, and so now it was going to make itself known. I had a breakfast meeting with a man I found vaguely annoying, so by the time I got to my office I had chalked the pain up to carrying a heavy backpack and having to listen to an irritating person in a crowded restaurant with mediocre food and service that was incomprehensibly slow for midtown Manhattan at nine a.m.

At lunch the back pain was still there. I walked over to the Whole Foods on the edge of Bryant Park, which has an enormous salad bar from which I always pick the wrong things. That day I got cold tortellini salad (like chewing on a sponge) and found a stool at the long counter. Next to me was a young pair, clearly coworkers. The man sat mostly silent as the woman complained about her job and the fact that a third (absent) coworker was leaving their company for something better. "I want a new job too!" she said, and I stole a glance at her, hoping she was at least interesting to look at to make up for the fact that everything coming out of her mouth was a twenty-something cliché. Alas, no. As the conversation became more predictable I tried to amuse myself by turning what she was saying into a little millennial haiku:

Mom says I'm the best

So much talent just wasted

I could run this place

In all fairness, my irritation with the girl was probably caused by the back pain, which had begun to spread. Exactly seven seconds after I swallowed each bite of tortellini, I would get a stabbing pain in what I assumed, from its location, was my stomach. I tried pressing my fist beneath my rib cage after I swallowed, which had always worked on pregnancy-related heartburn. This did not help. I was reading on a Kindle as I ate, bent over with one hand in a fist at my stomach and the other holding the Kindle. Not only was this ineffective but it made me look deranged or like I was in the beginning stages of a stroke. Even with a mysterious little pain in my back and a mysterious big pain in my stomach, I still had enough pride that I didn't want to look like I was having a stroke in front of the whining millennial next to me.

As I walked the three blocks back to the office, I argued with myself about whether or not I should go home. But it was a mild early November day and standing up seemed to alleviate the pain. So I went back to work and harangued the office manager about ordering a standing desk for me since everyone knew that sitting was the new smoking and my back pain was all the data we needed to prove it.

When I got home that night, though, I began to suspect this was not a problem a standing desk could fix. The back pain was still there and the stomach pain was worse. Plus, I had chills. I lay on the sofa wrapped in blankets, my sidekick, our black Lab Jill, snoring on my calves, and decided to take the night off from parenting. Perfect Renata, our sons' longtime babysitter, stood in the doorway and stared at me with alarm. "This is not like you," she finally said.

The next morning was no better.

"You should call your doctor," said my son Owen as he headed out the door.

"I might," I lied. Calling the doctor on your first full day of being sick would violate the Just Wait and It Will Go Away approach to health problems that had gotten me to my sixth decade relatively intact. But I knew Owen would worry all day if I told him the truth.

Honestly, I had no idea what was wrong with me. I canceled my morning coffee date and my afternoon lunch date and told the office manager that I was staying home. I watched from the sofa as the dogs chased each other around the dining-room table, and Renata and my youngest son, Axel, and Axel's friend Manu came and went. It hurt to walk and it hurt to eat, so I lay there all day with my Kindle, reading and dozing, petting the dogs from time to time, feeling dependent and ridiculous and slightly sorry for myself as I waited for whatever this was to pass. At five p.m. my friend Nandini showed up at the door. Nandini is Manu's mom and—most relevant to this story—a doctor.

"Hey," I called from my fainting couch. "Can I ask you something?"

Nandini leaned in and peered at me with concern. "You don't look good," she said. "I think it might be your gallbladder." Aha! I wasn't fat, but I was fair and female and fertile (I mean, ish) and over forty, four of the five risk factors for gallstones, which for some reason I had memorized instead of memorizing the difference between jealousy and envy or who was president of the United States in 1905. Talking to Nandini emboldened me to call my own internist, who told me that if I didn't feel better in the morning, I should head to the emergency room. But which one? Because I live in suburban New York, there are about fifteen hospitals within twenty miles of my house, and if you believe the comments on the local moms' Facebook group, they're all great and they're all horrible. My doctor seemed unsure of which emergency room I should go to, which was definitely unsettling but, I suppose, a discussion for another time.

*  *  *

Just before my hospital adventure, my husband and I had begun watching the Showtime miniseries Escape at Dannemora. Starring Patricia Arquette, Paul Dano, and Benicio del Toro, it tells the real-life story of two inmates who, in 2015, broke out of the Clinton Correctional Facility in northern New York with the help of one of the prison employees. Arquette plays the accomplice, Tilly; she runs the prison sewing room when she's not giving del Toro's character blow jobs or presenting him with hacksaws hidden in ground beef so he can escape and take her to Mexico for the exciting life she has always deserved. "She is so self-destructive!" I would cry every time Tilly made a bad decision, which was about seven times per episode. There is something fascinating to me about self-destructive people, perhaps because I pride myself on being moderate and sensible. Regular life is complicated enough without hacksaws in the ground beef.

But people who work in an emergency department see self-destructive behavior everywhere they turn. Which might explain why, after he reviewed my CT scan, the ER doctor gave me a long look, scratched his chin, and asked, "Do you chew on chicken bones?" As I was soon to learn, there are people all over the world who intentionally swallow needles and glass and paper clips and other sharp or dangerous objects. So I suppose it made sense for him to wonder whether the problem in my stomach was self-inflicted; just because someone looks like a moderate and sensible woman doesn't mean she doesn't chew on chicken bones just to see what might happen.

"No," I said.

"Your scan shows a foreign body," he said. "It has perforated your stomach. Do you remember swallowing a fish bone?" This was a tricky question. I can usually recall nearly every single thing I've eaten for the past three days. But remembering everything I've swallowed, even by accident—a dog hair? a piece of tissue? a bit of wax along the edge of a sliver of Manchego?—is something else altogether.

"No," I said.

The ER doctor sighed, his shoulders drooping. "I am sending in the surgeon."

On the other side of the privacy curtain to my left was a man who seemed to be on eighty-seven medications; he was surrounded by family members who obsessively deliberated over which toppings to include on the pizza they were going to order later. I'm no doctor, but it didn't sound like there was much wrong with this guy, as he had strong, lucid opinions about pizza and kept telling everyone, in a loud voice, that he was about to get up and walk out to his car. Behind the curtain on my right was an elderly woman accompanied by her adult son, whose sneakered feet I could see if I leaned forward and peeked around. Two EMTs had wheeled the woman in, and the son announced with exasperation that this marked their fourth visit to the ER in a week. He desperately wanted his mother to be admitted to the hospital, which he repeated patiently to each new medical professional who approached. As he described her health history and medications, his mother mumbled in a low voice, the sound unvarying and unbroken, like a delivery truck idling at the curb. "She's talking to someone who isn't there," the son said to the nurse. "She's talking in her native tongue." All I could think was I hope to God one of my three sons is this good to me in a few decades when I start mumbling in my native tongue.

In a flurry, the surgeon appeared with an assistant by his side. Dr. Miguel Silva was an extremely kind, trim man with a clipped way of speaking and frank eyes that never looked away when you were talking. "How often do you eat fish?" he asked, pushing down on my abdomen.

"I don't know," I answered, flinching. "A couple of times a week?"

"When was the last time?"

"I had smoked salmon on Thursday," I said, remembering my breakfast with the annoying man and secretly hoping I could blame him for this entire hospital visit.

Dr. Silva shook his head. "That's not it." He repeated what the ER doctor had said, that a foreign body had perforated my stomach, in the back, hence the pain between my shoulder blades. "If you just had a hole in your stomach, we could give you antibiotics and it might heal itself. But"—he poked the index finger of one hand through two fingers of the other—"because you have a foreign body there, your stomach won't heal unless we remove it. I think I should do surgery on you this afternoon to remove whatever it is and put on a patch. We may have to take out a tiny piece of your stomach, but we'll try not to do that." He waited, staring down at me. "What would you like to do?"

My husband, who'd been with me this whole time, was sitting to my left, just behind the head of my bed. I twisted around and looked at him. He is not a medical professional and, as far as I know, has limited experience with foreign bodies. Still, I felt like I needed a second opinion from someone. "What do you think?" I asked.

His response was sensible, if lacking that supportive touch. "Don't look at me," he said.

I turned back to the surgeon. "What would happen if I waited?"

"Well," Dr. Silva said slowly, "you could get—"

Let's pause for a moment for a list of a few words you hope never to hear come out of a doctor's mouth:

  • malignant
  • obstruction
  • tumor
  • terminal
  • mass
  • quarantine
  • intensive care
  • MRSA
  • staph
  • complications

…and sepsis, which was the word Dr. Silva used next.

"I guess we should do the surgery," I said.

Weeks later, my husband told me that he admired how I'd handled myself in that emergency room. No crying. No wavering. All forward motion. In his eyes, I demonstrated immediate acceptance and resolve: This thing happened to me, there is a known fix, so let's get on with it. He wrongly attributed my quick decision-making to strength of character in the face of adversity. What he doesn't know about me, even after twenty-seven years of marriage, is that I rarely open the little door in my brain that allows the mismatched thought marbles rattling around in there to hurtle down the chute that leads to the section labeled CONSEQUENCES. If I did, maybe I would not have attempted to lighten the mood by saying to Dr. Silva, "Why do you look so unhappy?"

And maybe I would have understood exactly what he meant when he responded, "I wish I didn't have to do surgery on you."

After the visit with the wispy-haired anesthesiologist, I was wheeled out of the ER toward the operating room and finally got a look at the devoted son of the woman mumbling in the bed next door. I had so many questions for him! What language was his mother speaking? Did he write her medical history down and keep it in a card in his wallet or did he just know it all by heart? And how could he possibly take his mother to the emergency room four times in a week and still hold down a job? The son appeared to be in his thirties; he had a scarf around his neck and a backpack on the arm of his chair and very nice eyes that regarded me with a mixture of kindness and sympathy. I didn't think I could ask the nurses to let me stay for a chat, so as I rolled by I simply said, "Good luck."

"You too," he replied with a wan smile.


  • “Middle age is not for the faint of heart. But as these smart, wry essays make clear it’s also a glorious time of leaving others’ expectations behind.”—People Magazine
  • “Wise and very funny… a tender but not treacly meditation on family and how we spend our time.”—Time Magazine
  • “Van Ogtrop takes a humorous look at middle age in this insightful outing. Written 'for the woman who has perhaps stopped caring about things,' van Ogtrop’s essays are eminently relatable…Nearly every topic is fair game—droopy breasts, losing friends, and trying to keep up with her children as they jump from Facebook to Twitter to Instagram—and van Ogtrop’s tone is casual and welcoming. This thoughtful, quirky mix of meditations hits the spot.”
     —Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
  • “Full of hilarious thoughts, anecdotes and insights from that time in life where you can manage to be highly satisfied by life — while simultaneously outraged by everything.”—New York Post
  • “One pearl of wisdom in veteran magazine editor Kristin van Ogtrop’s ultra-relatable memoir, Did I Say That Out Loud?, is our unofficial 2021 motto: 'Let’s just be happy to be here.' She bobs through midlife’s low points—swallowing a mysterious object and getting emergency surgery (check your salads, folks); leaving her job and losing a beloved black Lab—and comes up for air laughing.”—Martha Stewart Living
  • “This truly laugh-out-loud collection of essays from the former editor-in-chief of Real Simple tackles aging, motherhood, her love of dogs, a medical odyssey, the demise of the magazine industry, and more."—Zibby Owens, KatieCouric.com
  • Did I Say That Out Loud? had me laughing out loud as I devoured these utterly relatable tales of work, family, love, and the sometimes tragic-comic mishaps that seem to happen more frequently as we reach a certain age. Each chapter is like a letter from a great friend—the cool, relatable friend who not only worked for Anna Wintour but also swallows household objects by accident. Kristin Van Ogtrop finds the perfect blend of humor and poignant honesty in this wonderfully original collection of essays.”—Ann Leary, author of The Good House
  • “Mourning the demise of a high-flying career, dear old friends, and her younger body, Kristin van Ogtrop explores the secrets and delights of life at fifty-six with humor and candor—reassuring us that, however distressing it may be, getting older is way better than the alternative.”—Ada Calhoun, author of Why We Can't Sleep
  • “Okay, yeah, maybe the lady-parts party is over, but this book is the funnier, more fun after party, and my old crone-womb breathed a sigh of relief (inaudibly I hope). Kristin van Ogtrop is so brisk and hilarious, so trustworthy and grateful and delightfully done with all the same things I'm done with that I kept saying, out loud, ‘Exactly!' and ‘THANK YOU.’”—Catherine Newman, author of How to Be a Person
  • “Reading Did I Say That Out Loud? is like sitting down with a bottle of wine and your best girlfriends, talking and laughing long into the night. Toenails, insomnia, pets, parenting, careers, Botox, bosses—all the hard won pain and joy of making it to middle age are here. Thankfully, Kristin van Ogtrop holds nothing back. Read this book and give copies to all your friends.”—Ann Hood, author of Kitchen Yarns and Comfort
  • “Like a long-awaited coffee with your smartest, savviest friend, Did I Say That Out Loud? offers comfort, connection, and cackles of the best kind of laughter—the kind that makes you feel not just understood, but seen.”—KJ Dell’Antonia, New York Times bestselling author of The Chicken Sisters
  • "When I saw the tagline of this new book of personal essays—‘midlife indignities and how to survive them’—it rose to the top of my nightstand book pile. I felt comforted, self-forgiving, and highly amused in equal measure.”—Carol Brooks, Editorial Director, First For Women
  • “This book abounds with wisdom and humor, poignancy and warmth. Whether exploring the midlife fall from corporate (or corporeal) grace, the tragic loss of a family dog, or the literal if beloved mess of raising three sons in the suburbs, Kristin van Ogtrop is candid, inspired, and a pure pleasure to read.”
     —Cathi Hanauer, New York Times bestselling author of Gone and The Bitch Is Back
  • "Full of humor, heart, and humility, Kristin Van Ogtrop’s essays capture the mantra of the first piece in this perfect collection of meditations on middle age: Just happy to be here. I loved this book."—Laura Zigman, author of Separation Anxiety
  • “Smart, funny, and unfailingly honest, Kristin van Ogtrop is the ideal companion for traversing the bumpy roads of midlife. Whether chronicling the rollercoaster of insomnia, the challenge of parenting people who inexplicably consider themselves adults, the experience of walking away from a career no longer worth salvaging, or the disappearance of a beloved dog, Kristin van Ogtrop finds meaning in the mayhem. Did I Say That Out Loud? is not only beautifully written, but is grounded in gratitude, which makes this collection both a comfort and a delight.”
     —Karen Dukess, author of The Last Book Party

On Sale
May 3, 2022
Page Count
336 pages
Little Brown Spark

Kristin van Ogtrop

About the Author

Kristin van Ogtrop is the author of Just Let Me Lie Down: Necessary Terms for the Half-Insane Working Mom. The former longtime editor-in-chief of Real Simple and “The Amateur” columnist for Time, she is a literary agent at InkWell Management. Her writing has appeared in countless publications, and the New York Times bestselling collection, The Bitch in the House. She is a wife and mother of three, but sometimes loves her dogs more than anybody else.

Learn more about this author