While eating breakfast in a quaint French café in San Francisco with all the clichés of lace curtains, marble top tables, and chocolate croissants, I watched a homeless woman rummage through the trash outside. She had plastic bags stuffed in the holes in her shoes, and she didn’t appear much older than me.
I grabbed my son’s half-eaten breakfast sandwich off his plate wrapped it in a napkin and ran outside. The homeless woman was walking briskly down the sidewalk, and I had to run to catch up. The travel books never mention what to do when you encounter homeless people in other cities, but it’s probably poor manners to chase them. Read more →
I keep seeing ads for Mother’s Day with petal pink letters in frilly font and slight women wearing flowing flowering frocks. It’s like advertisers think mothers dress in doilies, cover their heads in bonnets with perfectly tied grosgrain ribbon, and smile demurely all day wearing pink champagne tinted lip gloss.
I guess I should be glad they think that. Maybe they don’t notice that my flowing hair is tied back in a rubber band because I haven’t washed it, the dew on my skin isn’t from sprinkles of rose water but the sheen of oil on my face that I didn’t have time to powder, and my tinted lips are from biting them in an effort to avoid saying something regrettable. Read more →
Writers are told to write what you know. I started writing about mercy for the exact opposite reason. I didn’t know anything about it. I didn’t understand it. It was a word with a heavy veneer covering the solid wood underneath. While I almost never heard the word outside of a church, I could see the need for giving and receiving it everywhere. It’s as ancient as the air we breathe and as transparent. It’s easy to miss if you aren’t looking for it and life is suffocating without it.
I have a new computer and noticed at the top center is an icon of a little light bulb that reads, “Tell me what you want to do.” Maybe it’s because I had a perpetually messy room as a child and watched too many episodes of “I Dream of Jeannie,” but I’ve been looking for a light bulb like that my entire life.
Haven’t we all? How much simpler life would be if we could just get what we want, what we think we need, what we know will finally fill that persistent ache of our humanity. When I look at my life, the things I wished for as a child, the vows of certainty I made as a teenager, the ambitious plans I made as a young adult, and the middle-age accumulation of decades of yearnings, efforts, achievements, and disappointments, I wonder why I long for anything. It hasn’t been a ‘your wish is my command’ experience, but it has been magical, even if that magic felt black at times. Read more →
When I was in college, a friend often wore Birkenstocks, the backless shoes that are the tree-hugging cousin of the flip-flop. The shoes reminded me of crunchy granola and the Hare Krishna food they used to give away on campus at the University of Florida. This was back in the nineties before Nordstrom carried the comfort shoe in an array of pastels. I was poor in college, so a splurge for me was a 2 a.m. run to the border for a nacho bell-grande. In hindsight, I should have opted for the free food passed out by the bald people wearing white sheets and dancing with tambourines. It was probably healthier. But I was afraid if I ate the Hare Krishna food I would end up in a hallucinogenic state and disavow my beachy flip-flops for its chunkier cousin.
A friend of mine confessed on a recent girls’ night that her Christmas tree was still up. It was past mid-March. New Year’s resolutions had already been forgotten, Cupid already shot his arrow, leprechauns already spent their pots of gold, and cumulus clouds were already forming April showers in the skies, so I didn’t really know what to say.
She seemed relatively nonchalant about it, and I told her I didn’t know whether she had become fully liberated or if she had simply gone over the edge. There seems to be a fine line between those things. Read more →
This Sunday is Divine Mercy Sunday. Since mercy is kind of my thing, I figure I should write about it. Only, all I can think of are answers to the question, how did mercy become my thing? Mid-life crisis? PTSD? Exposure to pesticides?
I have other things I am passionate about including cats, dogs, and color-stay lipstick. Unlike mercy, those things make sense to me.
For most of my life, mercy felt above me like one of those words at the top of the hierarchy that I could never reach. It was like the incense used during Holy Days that rose to meet the cherubs at the top of cathedrals. It was an enigma, because I never took the time to contemplate what it meant, how it’s shown, and its source from which salvation hinges. Read more →
During this Lenten season, I lost a dear friend unexpectedly. It was a Tuesday, and I planned to go to the grocery store. Instead, I was in the ER and then the ICU, waiting, hoping, and praying while trying to comfort her two daughters who are the same ages as my boys. I had so many joyful memories with these girls: picking blueberries on a hot summer day, watching them bob in the pool, laughing, and splashing with abandon, and chatting leisurely in their kitchen on carefree topics that meandered like the veining in the marble on their island. We went trick-or-treating with them, hunted Easter eggs, and watched fireworks on the Fourth of July. Read more →
“Reunited and it feels so good,” are lyrics from the 1978 song by the vocal duo, Peaches & Herb. But upon returning a stray dog, the lyrics that played to the song’s melody sounded more like, “Reunited, and it feels like crud!”
It was far from peachy.
When I found the elderly dog, he was thin, filled with fleas, and uncharacteristically aloof for his breed. After twenty minutes of convincing him I wasn’t a serial killer, he reluctantly succumbed to my coaxing him into the backyard. Within minutes he escaped and sat stubbornly in middle of the road. I directed cars to drive around us while begging him to follow me. Perhaps, the dog binge-watched Criminal Minds before running away, because he clearly knew the finer points of stranger danger. After getting him into the backyard for the second time, I jammed logs in the passage in the gate he eluded, creating fine fence folk art that I am sure would become the envy of my neighborhood. Then I went back inside to post his picture on lost-dog websites. Read more →
I’ve been on a search for the holy grail of vacuums. This isn’t a new thing. I’ve been at it for years. Other people travel the world, I buy (and, often return) vacuums.
I guess I am looking for the perfect vacuum that has among its features a desire to actually use it. So far, all I have had is a longing for clean floors. A friend of mine lent me one of those robot vacuums. I figured even I could muster the motivation to try it since it only required me to push a button.
The dog and I suspiciously watched the wayward machine. It was like a mini R2D2 after a night out at the bars. It swayed in one direction and then the other, continuously running into things. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for it. It was trying so hard. Read more →