Category: Personal Essays

Christmas 2017: the stories we told and the stories we heard

Christmas 2017: the stories we told and the stories we heard
My husband and I volunteered to wash dishes from Christmas dinner. My sister- and brother-in-law made an amazing meal for 12 people, two of whom are vegetarian. My daughter and I are used to eating the sides and not worrying about a substitute for stuffing or turkey and ham. My in-laws took a different approach... Read more »

ChicagoNow is a space that will always ache in your absence, Jimmy

ChicagoNow is a space that will always ache in your absence, Jimmy
I published my first Cancer is Not a Gift post on February 2, 2013. I had been keeping an informal blog, which my friends and family could check in with to see the progress of my treatment. Truth is, I wrote those posts as much for myself as I did for anyone else. Writing about... Read more »

It's our first Tuesday with our daughter living on her own

It's our first Tuesday with our daughter living on her own
When my daughter was about 10, I remarked to a friend that she was growing up too fast and I wished she would slow down. He said, “Have you considered keeping her in tupperware?” Well I didn’t keep her in tupperware and so she has grown up. She’s 19, working full time, and this weekend... Read more »
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Goodbye, a love story about teaching

There is a point in every semester when you abandon hope and start planning for the next semester. I passed that point a few weeks ago. I am not, in fact, going to teach the perfect class this semester. My perfect plan always falls apart, sometimes because of me, sometimes because of students, and sometimes... Read more »

The five people you’ll meet in travel hell

The five people you’ll meet in travel hell
Sartre said, “Hell is other people.” If that’s true, then so is heaven. People just are what they are. It’s the “No Exit” part of Sartres’ equation that creates hell. Hell is standing in lines and sitting at airplane gates with the same 150 people for just over 10 hours. It’s not that they’re so... Read more »

Love is grace the second time around

Love is grace the second time around
Love hurts. It wounds and scars. That’s what the song says anyway, and it certainly has been my experience. People can be cruel. They can be faithless. They often fail or betray. And, of course, people die. Love hurts a lot. I’ve never thought love was a guarantee. People don’t owe you love. They give... Read more »
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Words work better in the fellowship of knowing

A friend of mine with Stage 4 cancer told me, near the end of her life, “I hate it when people call me courageous.” I’d never known anyone with cancer and to me she seemed courageous because she was living her life with purpose, refusing to let her diagnosis paralyze her. She was so authentically... Read more »

The spider beside me, with apologies to Ann Rule

The spider beside me, with apologies to Ann Rule
I came in to work this morning, arms full of stuff—lunch bag, work bag stuffed with papers, two bags full of office supplies, a coffee cup, my purse, and an umbrella. I have no problem carrying all this stuff anymore because I’ve been working out. I just have to remember to wear a short sleeved... Read more »

Jason Isbell doesn’t ignore the elephant in the room: “maybe time running out is a gift”

Jason Isbell doesn’t ignore the elephant in the room: “maybe time running out is a gift”
My daughter and I saw Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit (with Amanda Shires) last night in the Chicago Theatre. Concerts are magical. You’re sitting in a room, an ornate and beautiful room at that, surrounded by people. If you’re like me, you’re keenly aware of how steep the stairs are to the seats that... Read more »
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This is what I'd save if I had to evacuate

This is what I'd save if I had to evacuate
Tonight is our monthly ChicagoNow’s Blogapalooz-Hour! Our community manager asked us to choose from any of the previous 54 prompts he’s sent out in the past, and I chose this one: “Write about an inanimate object you have a strong emotional attachment to.” As I’ve watched television this week and have seen folks in Houston... Read more »