Personal Essays

Found Objects: Curb Chairs

        I saw another chair on the curb. The old sadness washed over me at its being discarded in such a fashion: A public ejection from a private space, after good and faithful use, the rainy wait for the garbage truck, wet fabric and wood grain swelling, a scene that would end […]

On Becoming a “Morning Person” 

        Centuries before we turned to wristwatches and cell phone screens it was sundials and the ancient obelisks of Greece and Rome that told us the time of day. There was no electricity to mediate the day, hour, or minute. Light did it all. If we want to discuss metaphors light, perhaps […]

A Scarf Can Hold the Universe Together

    About six years before she died, my mom began suffering with rheumatoid arthritis—and yeah, it was “suffering,” not “living with” or “surviving” or any of the other empowering turns of phrase. RA’s fatigue and pain and stiffness made it hard for Nette, whose life had been a blur of sports, work, housework, and […]

Time as the Spooky Thing

        A bunch of us were swapping spooky stories as we followed my niece’s little girls through the subdivision on trick-or-treat night. One was a princess in a stocking cap, the other a witch in tennis shoes. It is a hallowed night when there are young children in the family. My niece […]

Disappointment and Horror

        A friend was expressing frustration with things not being what they pretend to be. He had gone to one of the big comics/cosplay/fandom conventions, where the first floor of the center was supposed to be multiple vendors selling artwork and other high-end collectibles. Instead, it was dominated by a company that […]

Not-So-Random Acts of Kindness

        A recent visitor to a United Methodist Church in a St. Louis suburb came in from the parking lot with confidence but hesitated at the door, as if he did not know how to proceed. (“At Kirkwood UMC, we say ‘all are welcome, all are forgiven, and all are invited to […]

The Fragile Pleasures of a Road Trip

      “Everybody’s off on their own trip,” as they said in the sixties. It is still a useful phrase, especially in a personal, interior sense. It points to the difficulties of perception and communication. I have completed an epic, 3,800-mile trip from the Midwest to the East Coast and back, on behalf of […]

Moving Along Through Time

  I was sitting at a café table outside the pâtisserie in Little Morocco, Queens, waiting on repairs to my aging Honda, when an older man in shades pulled up to the curb in a no-parking zone, in his black Cadillac Escalade Premium Luxury Platinum. I was thinking about mobility, you see, so the universe […]

Little Egypt, Queens

    Sometimes you know the universe is at work when the metaphorical intersects with the personal. When my car suddenly shuddered and seemed to slip out of gear as I was trying to get over the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge to Long Island, my next self-assignment, I pushed harder on the gas, thinking I […]

Breaking the Flatness of the Present

  The feeling comes over me at unexpected times—walking down a street of stone townhomes at dawn, lights in bay windows, stairs and gardens mounded with new snow. Sensing that the skyscraper-as-public-art was designed instead as a taunt and a cashing-in on disaster. Leafing through a glossy magazine filled with photos of socialites smiling as […]