Call to Account

Do you know any employer who hires somebody and lets them do and say whatever they want on company time? This guy is on company time every second of the day. That's his whole job.

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Front of Mind

Watching the degradation of the fail-safes designed to prevent total collapse of our system of government has destroyed our sense that everything will be okay "no matter what."

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Final Fortnight

Starting Tuesday, I'll be writing a daily arrangement of thoughts. They may come from the day's national events, or from some godforsaken conversation on social media.

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Reckoning

America is experiencing a reckoning. The filming of police brutality has exposed truths Black people have known for hundreds of years; our society was built upon maintaining white supremacy. In big ways and small, our behaviors as a culture protect the property,health, wealth, safety and feelings of white people through the process of diminishing and... Continue Reading →

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My Polish Family

My dad never talked much about his origin family. His mother was, in his words, crazy, and we had little contact with his three brothers. What I knew about my father's family fit into a 2X2 inch cube. We know volumes about my mother's family, the big South Side Chicago Irish clan she spoke of... Continue Reading →

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Recipes by Mom

The version of this piece published on Eat, Darling, Eat uses softer, less-critical language about my mother. I understand why they made those choices, but it's important to me as a person that other women who might not have had a great relationship with their mothers know that they're not alone. My mom had good... Continue Reading →

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Things I Have Learned

This has been a period of non-linear learning, picking up bits of knowledge like rocks on the sand. They're unrelated except for their origins, washed to my feet on the waves. I have one favorite pair of pants. I wear them every day. I don't care what I eat for lunch, as long as it... Continue Reading →

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Understanding Extroversion

My daughter was three years old when she got her first wheelchair. To that point, she had used a stroller provided by a wheelchair company, so NOT a regular stroller; it had appropriate therapeutic seating to encourage her ability to sit, and hydraulic wheels to absorb shocks, and a seat back that reclined completely for... Continue Reading →

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While I’m Here

When I turned 40, I started picking up on the things people in my age-group were saying about the aging process. There was one post, I forget the exact wording, about if you find yourself on the floor, you start looking for all the other things to do while you're down there; clean up furballs,... Continue Reading →

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Solitude

Some girls spend their time dreaming of a big wedding, planning for motherhood, wishing for Prince Charming to sweep into their lives. Other than looking for a prince, or really any boy, to sweep into my life, I didn't dream that way.  Professionally, I wanted to be a baseball player or a priest. But I... Continue Reading →

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Miss Bennet

Despite our best intentions and planning ahead, disability affects every trip we take out of the house, even when we go see a show starring a person in a different body. I don't know why I thought, even subconsciously, that it would be any different.

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GFAF, a Complaint

Thanksgiving has been stalking me like a shadow this year, peering out around the corner weeks ago, with its gluten-centric traditional dishes passed down on my family line;

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Ducks

Sometimes, it takes being in those naked spaces where we can't hide anymore to find out what we're made of, who we are, and how we behave . . .

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Skeptical

Have you met my husband? He's the tall one with Max Headroom hair and the quiet public demeanor, always Canadian-polite, gentle with animals. If you have had any kind of discussion with him, you know he's a skeptic. Almost a cynic. On most subjects. I could cite examples, but I (cynically) expect some readers would... Continue Reading →

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Horror Eyes

If you have ever watched a recent horror film, you are familiar with a common special effect used to signify that a person has been possessed by or has become an evil spirit; the entire eye, including the white part, becomes pitch black. This happened to me this morning, sans evil spirit. I blame my... Continue Reading →

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Heaving with Fat

A slender segment of the skinny population expends effort toward stopping fat people--from going to concerts and parties to buying clothes to trying to work out for whatever reason moves them. These hateful skinnies can't stand it, and they can't shut up about it.

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Whitman

I took a class on Whitman, Dickinson, Keats and Longfellow in college. It was team-taught by two department stars, Dr. Kiefer and Rodney Jones, one a natty dresser with a gorgeous head of curly hair, the other an acclaimed poet, a stereotypical professor in appearance, wry sense of humor and laconic delivery. While I vividly... Continue Reading →

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Grab Bag

I admire my husband's drive. I love how he can go in one direction persistently, and not be pulled off to the things that trace across his intellectual field of vision.

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Country Music

Growing up in suburban Chicago, I didn't listen to country music. It was either my father's symphonic music on WFMT, or my mother's bobby-soxer/50s crooners, or local pop radio on the radio in my room. Occasionally, we'd click past HeeHaw on TV, but we never stayed to watch. I learned early that that wasn't *our*... Continue Reading →

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Calm Sea

It will come as a surprise only to people who don't know him, but my husband Tim was hired shortly after putting out his resume. He found an employer that matches his conscientious work ethic, substantially increased Tim's annual salary, and is near enough to our home for Tim to ride his bike. Plus, Tim... Continue Reading →

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Watching “Shrill”

Preparing to go out is a practice of expecting judgement--explicit or implicit--about my person. Once past the initial introduction, I am powerfully charming, capably playful, and intellectually stimulating. But the judgement phase comes first, and withstanding that onslaught while maintaining my natural effervescence is emotionally draining.

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To Make Small

I watched awards season this year with mixed feelings. I'm thrilled that "BlackkKlansman" got the attention and awards it so deserved (though I was bummed it didn't get Oscar Best Picture), and happy, also, that a movie about a capable, powerful woman in the shadows of her husband's success (The Wife) got so many eyeballs... Continue Reading →

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Twenty Years

Twenty years ago yesterday, Tim and I went on a date. We'd gone on dates before, awkward, blushing dates where holding hands is terrifying and you're sure all your friends are watching. In high school, we dated for six months, and went beyond those innocent hand-holding dates, but in the beginning, it was Norman Rockwell,... Continue Reading →

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Grit

I just finished watching the second season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which I enjoyed very much. It's a pleasing fantasy, entertaining and kicky, a bopping tune with gorgeous sets and costumes in saturated, period-reminiscent colors. It's fun to imagine my mother in those scenes, a woman of the same age as Midge, not yet... Continue Reading →

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The Chicago Way

When Barack (HUSSEIN!) Obama was running for president, a number of naysayers complained that he was part of the Chicago Machine, the enormous gears of power churning within the City of Big Shoulders. I always marveled at that assessment, because from what I could see, Mr. Obama was an outsider to Chicago politics, an unconnected... Continue Reading →

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Babies

A couple of weeks ago, I got to hang out with a four year old when I went to his house for dinner. I was purportedly there to hang out with his parents, but secretly, my plan was to play with him. I even brought my own toys. And play we did, with his brand-new... Continue Reading →

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To a Favorite Performer

My affection for Merideth Kaye Clark is well documented; her performance of Joni Mitchell's album "Blue," in its precise instrumentation and note-for-note interpretation that somehow flies on its own wings was an absolute joy to behold. I had the good fortune of interviewing her a couple of years ago, and found her warmth and enthusiasm... Continue Reading →

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She was a Free Spirit

My mom's on my mind today. Probably like a lot of people who've lost their parents. Thanksgiving is especially reminiscent of her because it was often her birthday, which is November 25. The smell of onions and celery and pepper sauteing at 8 a.m. brings to mind my mom, in her floor-length purple "dashiki" robe,... Continue Reading →

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Necklace

I don't generally wear necklaces that rest near my collarbone, but I recently bought one that was so pretty I couldn't resist. It follows the curve of the hollow of my throat, just low enough to keep me from feeling constricted. I've added extenders to it, but I'm still not completely comfortable in it; I'm... Continue Reading →

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And be glad in it

On the way into the hospital for a routine visit, I saw a perfect depiction of the entirety of life; an older man and woman pushing someone in a wheelchair who appeared to be the woman's mother chatting as they passed a young woman heavily pregnant, waiting for her partner so they could take the... Continue Reading →

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Gossips

"If I thought she'd get the story right, I would have told her everything." I found that line on a piece of paper in a random box I was cleaning out, and I'm not sure if I wrote it or someone else did. It resonates for me now, alongside the phrase "if they'll talk with... Continue Reading →

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Good Day Sunshine

I've had an exceptional summer. Probably the best since becoming an adult. I've gotten to see my daughter graduate, have all my kids together for a celebration, and now my daughter is staying with us while she job hunts. It's been a great garden year, with plentiful roses and calla lilies, a surprising raspberry crop,... Continue Reading →

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White Pants

I bought white pants for the first time in my life. The last time I could safely wear white pants, I was 10 years old, and wasn't in a position to buy my own clothes. Now, forty years of periods later, I am finished with the threat of ruining a pair of pants with surprise... Continue Reading →

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Dear White Trash

Your ignorance coupled with your hatred has created a monster that shits and pukes on everything in its path, and the rest of the world -- the world that has chosen to learn and grow and listen to people who don't look like us -- are sick of cleaning up your mess.

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Lady Day

The first time I heard Billie Holiday was in college, sitting on the floor of my friend's apartment. Her voice matched the scratchy quality of the vinyl album, warped and uneven, plaintive and faded. I was deep in Ella Fitzgerald at the time, whose robust and athletic singing captured my musical imagination. Billie's voice was... Continue Reading →

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Grace

I've been thinking lately about the idea of "grace," something I first heard about in Christian circles, when I traveled in them. The grace of God. Saying grace. Hail Mary, full of Grace. An ambiguous idea that, as a Catholic, I had trouble grasping. In my understanding, God loved us--as long as we were good.... Continue Reading →

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Graduation

My daughter graduates with her bachelor's degree next month. It's a little over a month away. She agreed to let me use my vast craft supplies to make graduation announcements, so I've been busily puttering away with colors that will make her happy. I've mentioned the upcoming date to coworkers and friends as we try... Continue Reading →

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Flares

My paying gig as front-desk customer service at a community arts center means I get to talk to a lot of people. Some people are signing up for classes with Portland Parks, some are visiting our art gallery, some are looking for something else altogether. What I do every day is sorting out what people... Continue Reading →

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Born Free

There hasn't been an update about my daughter for a while, because she's been off at school being a student. That's unremarkable except in the sense that there were doctors who didn't think she'd be strong enough to hold a pencil, and she's about to finish her Bachelor's, but whatever. She's a person who's in... Continue Reading →

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Dear Ava DuVernay

Dear Ms. DuVernay, I'm writing thank you for bringing to life one Meg Murry, a person so alive for me I hesitate to call her a "character." Ever since I learned you were making a movie based on A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle, I've watched with eager anticipation every step along the way,... Continue Reading →

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