Posts

Why Books Matter

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On Mother's Day several years ago, Rick gave me a Nook e-reader. Before that, I was a “real book” snob. “ But the feel of turning the pages !” I said. “ The smell of the paper and the binding !” I said. I eschewed e-readers like any self-respecting purist should. But that summer, my new Nook in its lovely green case delivered voracious reading to me at a furious and satisfying pace. From its glowing screen, I read All the Light We Cannot See, the House on Mango Street, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Where’d You Go, Bernadette, Just Mercy , several New Yorker articles, and other things I can’t remember. As long as I charged that magic device every night, I had the world at my fingertips. I discovered the joy of carrying an entire library around in one slim volume. When my kids were small, one of our favorite bedtime stories was a book called (aptly) “Always Room for One More.” The title echoed in my brain: there is always room for one more way to read! Years have gone by since that

3 Cheers for New Neural Pathways!

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Anxiety, thou art everywhere, all at once.  Everywhere we turn, people are talking about anxiety, stress, and uncertainty.  Pick your topic:  The economy: Will it tank? The country: Will it collapse? The next election: Will we survive it? The pandemic: WTF? Racism. Guns. Abortion. Masks. Vaccines. Police violence.  Being alive right now, well, it's a doozy. As the mother of a passel of Gen Z-ers, I see how much the cluster f--- that is our culture is weighing on young people. Many are cynical about the world and the future, and boy, do they have a right to be. I desperately wish I could convince my own offspring that there are reasons to be hopeful, but I also know I cannot relate to what they have experienced in the past 6 years. Us older adults have been through those same years, but from a vastly different vantage point. The formative years of young adults -- those years between 10 and 25 when we are weaving together so many notions about how the world operates -- have been stee

I AM FROM

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My daughter Tallulah is our guest writer today! Please enjoy this poem she wrote last November, as well as the art she made to go with it. I AM FROM by Tallulah Alatorre I am from long days in the yard lost in my imagination. I am from a minivan stuffed full with 5 whirly children and two exhausted parents. I am from the sound of NPR echoing in the halls on Sunday morning. I am from apples and peanut butter served on a smooth wooden cutting board. I am from trips to the beach with hot cocoa. I am from hikes and creek explorations. I am from long nights spent on a soccer field with the feel of an icy chill on my face. I am from the evening sun hitting the yellowish walls of my home, illuminating the living room. I am from the warm sweet smell of dinner preparing in the oven. I am from walks to the corner store and soccer tennis at the park. I am from hand-me-downs and everything used and loved before me. I am from the crackling of the fireplace during winter time. I am from doing my hom

Tiny Rituals

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Dateline, 2015 . We rise early in the morning, my feisty 8-year-old and I, and head out to a soccer field.  As the youngest of five, she is all in for this gig, having tagged along to her older siblings' games and tournaments since she was born. Now it's her turn and she is beyond enthusiastic. Rabid might be a better word. Early mornings are her favorite time to head out to a field, and games at least an hour away are the best. She loves to get up while it's still dark, pile her soccer backpack, pillows, and blankets into the car, and doze on our way to a game, holding a warm cup of hot chocolate and watching the sky lighten through half-closed eyes. We trundle down I-80. As we come around the wide curve in Albany, Golden Gate Fields appears, floating on the edge of the bay off to the right.  She perks up, stretches her body as high as she can, and starts to look for horses. Golden Gate Fields is the local race track and in the early morning, trainers and jockeys are busy.

The Truth is True, Even When It's Not

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I have been cleaning up my laptop lately and finding really old files of all kinds of things. Today, I am posting one of the things I found. I have absolutely zero recollection of writing this piece, but apparently, I wrote it in 2018, during Lent.  2018 was a shit show: not only did it follow the single worst year of my life (2017), but our entire country was dripping with Trump droppings. Maybe that's why I don't remember writing it – I may have tried to erase that year entirely from my brain.  Anyway, this is what I wrote back then.  It is imperfect and sloppy and not entirely sensical.  And it was good to find it today. ---------------------------------------------- The truth is true, even when it’s not. I have been praying the rosary every weekday morning during this Lent.  The first time I did it, I was flooded with relief.  Spending time so differently—without noise and clamor and news and the distress that comes through my radio and my smartphone—felt like a gift to mys

Daybook: 9 January, 2022

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Outside my window,  the sky is piercing blue, the air is sharply chill. The planting beds are heavy with recent rains and replete with weeds that I should be pulling. I am thinking about many many things: Aren't we all? I'll share the first five I can think of. (1) the stupid pandemic and how radically it has altered all of our lives; (2) the pile of laundry I need to get through; (3) my goal (at work) to raise $375,000 this year from individual donors; (4) the three large manual typewriters on my dining room table that have been there for two weeks (rendering the table unusable) and how I want to sell them so I can get rid of them and so I can use my table again; (5) the fact that I can never seem to get up early anymore. I used to get up at 6 or 6:30, and now I can barely crawl out of bed on the weekends before 9 or 10. Is it the cold winter weather? Is it the pandemic?  I am thankful for the beignets my husband brought home this morning for all of us to enjoy, from Devils Te

From the Flagstone

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From the flagstone in the far corner of the garden All I see are flames leaping from the copper pit and Manzanita branches, sketching dark lines against the not-yet-night sky. I’ve been sitting here for hours, finally just sitting, Letting night descend, letting plants seep and mingle into darkness. Listening to the irises and the ribes. The dog runs back and forth, shimmying in the November air, Tearing through fallen leaves, Dancing in the disappearing light. She has taken over for the bees, dashing from plant to plant while they sleep and wait for the sun to rise again. This patch of earth and stones and trees and grasses, Is ours. Our place apart from concrete and cars, electrical lines and insatiable billboards. Our place to sit, to stare, to listen. At rest in a world of bees and flowers and shifting light.