Category: Slice of life

My cabbie taught me a lesson: A chance encounter with America

My big question, before I climbed into cab #923, was what has America turned into lately – with the hatred and mockery and economic and racial divisions? The cabbie was a young man, eager to talk, from somewhere else, maybe the Middle East. We started with the weather. “This city,” he said, “I’ve lived here three... Read more »

Do you have cooking in your blood? A chance encounter with genetics

Here’s what I learned today while having my blood drawn. My phlebotomist wasn’t planning to talk to me I don’t think. All business. Getting out vials and needles and such. No eye contact. “Spell your last name for me.” I did. “What is your birthdate?” Done. That’s what I thought until I looked at her... Read more »

What I learned at the estate sale: Some endings come at the right time

The signs went up overnight: ESTATE SALE. By the time I went out for my morning walk, cars were everywhere down the street and around the block, surrounding the severe Mid-century modern house, all concrete and corners. It was sidewalk-colored, and looked like it should have a loading dock. From the outside, it looked like... Read more »
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My trips with my lifetime friends: what I hope will never end

I’m never going to give this up. Every other year, I go on a trip with the friends I’ve known the longest and the best. We started being something on my fifteenth birthday when they threw a surprise birthday party for me after a humiliating social defeat – not getting invited into a high school... Read more »

In line at the post office, I traveled to France: The case for talking to strangers

Post office, Saturday morning, twentieth in line, one window open. Just wanted to pick up a package, had to pick up the package. Time of the essence – movie starts in an hour, 20 minutes away. Checked email on phone, Facebook, even played a game. Another window opened, but only for people sending pre-paid packages.... Read more »

A moment every mother can recall: The grocery store meltdown

It was one of those instant-empathy moments. We were searching through the gift card display in front of the grocery store service desk when the automatic doors parted. A young woman swept in, a small infant clutched to her, a blonde toddler in tow. The woman was turbo-charged; the baby, fuzzy haired and content against... Read more »
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Who could lose their temper with the good little girl in Apt. 2? And what kind of anger followed?

I was a pretty mild-mannered child, the shy girl who lived on the second floor on the corner, overlooking the library on 111th Street. I lived there with my mom, who was also pretty mild-mannered now that I think of it. The idea that I would do anything bold enough to draw anger seems far-fetched.... Read more »

Binge-watching for good or evil: TED talks vs House of Cards

Binge-watching is seductive, even irresistible. Like many powerful weapons, it can be a force for good or for evil. Until yesterday, my binge-watching history exposed me to characters who do awful things. Now, I am trading them in for real people who operate on a higher plane. I found them at TED, the online collection... Read more »

Lessons from moving: You can box up the past and bring it along

I’m in the middle of clearing out 23 years of stuff in order to move from one house to another and am reminded how very good I am at saving things that appear to be important at the time. Some of them are. In the past few days I have come across my dad’s glasses... Read more »
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Writers write, parents let go: a dispatch from Iowa City

Reporting from the Midwest stronghold of creative writing for my annual visit: It’s fairly crawling with aspiring novelists, essayists, memoirists, poets, and related others. For a whole week, we meet in groups of 12 under the tutelage of successful writers who actually make a living doing this, trying hard to help us get better. We... Read more »