My Grandmother’s Passing

And just like that, she was gone.  I opened my email this late afternoon to find a message from my stepfather sent mid-morning.  My grandmother, his mother, had passed away suddenly and peacefully.  Actually, the email read, “relatively quickly and without pain.”  When you read an email like that, the words kind of blur.


How Did it Happen?

How did it happen that both of our cars were broken into this morning, that my husband continued to change the oil while the police dispatcher referred me to an online crime reporting tool.  Everything seemed normal.  Nothing was stolen, only rummaged through, because there wasn’t anything to steal.  My husband and I disagreed on whether we should have locked the cars or not.  I’m sure they would have broken the windows to find… nothing.  Rule of thumb I learned from the streets- if there’s nothing to steal, better to leave the doors open. More

Why You Won’t Be Getting a Cheesy Family Holiday Postcard From Me

Cheesy family photo: family of four dressed in red behind fake white background.

Even though Christmas has passed, we still got a few more holiday postcards trickling in. You know- the ones with the pictures of smiling families along with PR messages like, “Peace Love Cheer Joy?”

First of all, no one goes through life smiling like that.  You would be considered really weird walking down the street with a big grin on your face.  And yet, in America, it is perfectly acceptable to contort one’s face by pulling your cheeks as far apart as possible and then sending a picture of that to people.

And then you teach your children to do it.

I get the sense that in America, the wider your grin, the happier you’re perceived to be. More

We’re Going to Hell. We’re Just Here for the Music

Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus.

It’s Christmas, and I haven’t been to a church service in years.

When I was a child, I went to Catholic Mass a few times, mostly as a spectator.  We weren’t Catholic.  My mother, an agnostic, married my non-practicing step-father, whose mother was very much a devoted Catholic.  So we went to church because we were Judeo-Christian in our upbringing, if not in our practice.

Of all the annual masses that I attended, the one that stands out the most was a particular midnight mass on Christmas Eve.  I was about 10 years old.  The church was cold and the priests (I am guessing they were priests) swung incense which made it very difficult for me to breathe.  Everyone else seemed able to handle it, but I couldn’t breathe.  My mother took me out to the vestibule where there was a wooden bench and told me to wait there.  Then she went back to the service.  It was even colder in the vestibule than it was in the sanctuary.  I was so sleepy (it being midnight after all, and me being 10 years old) that I lay down on the bench.  I knew I wasn’t supposed to lie down on a bench in a church, but I was so tired.  I managed to ignore the cold to get some sleep, but it wasn’t very deep.  At some point a man walked by and saw me lying there.  I immediately sat up.  I didn’t want to appear homeless.  When he left, I lay back down.

So that is my most vivid memory of a Catholic mass- being tortured by cold and sleep while my parents sat through a service they didn’t believe in. More

A Birthday That Isn’t There


Yesterday was October 2.  It was my husband’s brother’s daughter’s 15th birthday.  I worked that day.  I wrote October 2nd at least 13 times in my work notes.  I thought about October 2nd often that day. More