We’re drinkin’, my friend
To the end of a brief episode
So make it one for my baby
And one more for the road …(Frank Sinatra)*
My mother used to tell the story that, when I was about 3, she was late picking me up from my aunt. Auntie B was late for her own job — the 3–11 shift bartending at the local American legion — so she scooped me up and took me along. I spent a lovely afternoon sitting on the bar, drinking Shirley Temples, and learning to flutter my lashes. …
I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins.
My soul has grown deep like the rivers.— Langston Hughes*
In the beginning, it was dark — too dark to make out her face or her features. Only the jeweled sparks from her rings, as she waved her hands in circles and curves, and offered thanks over her oracle cards. I could hear the wooden beads of her bracelets chattering, could smell the deep, dark scent of the nearby river. In this tiny room, we clasped hands and prayed.
In the French…
For my first 5 months living on the road, starting in September 2019, it was fun being a digital nomad. Who wouldn’t love a glorious autumn in the Scottish Highlands? Sailing the Caribbean in December? Writing from a Costa Rican beach in January?
I wasn’t watching the news, I was watching my bucket list. I didn’t need a permanent home. All I needed was my backpack and my passport. Next up: Panama. Colombia. Maybe even Madagascar, baby!
But first — a quick flight from Mexico City to Los Angeles for a funeral. And then — a strange question at the…
I’ve been to a dozen professional counselors in my life. One tried to sell me Herbalife. One urged me to consider that I might really be lesbian, despite my many decades of pro-penis adventures. Another literally fell asleep while I was talking.
Consequently — despite my very real anxiety and depression issues — my interest in therapy has been restricted to acquiring new Xanax prescriptions, and scoring HIPAA-protected paid days off from work.
So when the quarantine blues hit me in May, I did not immediately turn to traditional methods of coping, like Zoom counseling, excessive drinking, or Peloton. I…
Well, my friends …
If I’ve learned anything during the lost year of 2020, it’s how much I’ve misunderstood the idea of home. For me at least, it’s not so much a place, as it is a knowing … of where you belong.
Like so many of you, I spent the quarantine holed up with family — we muddled through a couple of midwestern blizzards, my son’s brush with Covid, and a weird autoimmune disorder that made my dog go blind.
But good news arrived with the spring: I finally escaped Indiana, got vaccinated, and traveled to where the good…
Even at the age of 7, I was accustomed to people coming in and out of our house at all hours of the day and night. My parents ran the NAACP and organized civil rights marches from our living room, and published a militant newspaper from our basement. On any given night, there were revolutionaries at our dinner table, college kids singing freedom songs, union workers painting picket signs, people arguing passionately about strategy and politics and race relations and whose turn it was to go pick up the fried chicken from Stefanich’s.
But this night — April 4, 1968…
I was reading the second book in the Outlander saga when my adult kids brought me a dog from the shelter — a bouncy, wannabe Shih-Tzu mix. He was smart and fast, especially when stealing food, like the Paris street urchin in the book — Fergus.
And like the character, he also turned out to be a natural adventurer. He has traveled the country with me, riding shotgun and raising hell wherever we go. He’s a steady sailor who owns a custom-made life jacket; he’s a master of Kong food toys, and a skilled chipmunk-catcher.
And now, inexplicably, he is…
Fergus was adopted from the shelter in August, 2016; he was 8 months old. Despite his size (15 pounds), temperament (Road Runner on Adderall), and original name (Mr. Snuffles), he believes himself to be a Shih-Tzu. We’ve been unable to cure him of this delusion.
Me: (waving the leash) Come on, kid. Let’s go outside.
Fergus: (glancing up) That’s so not happening.
Me: You’ve gotta pee, dude. Let’s go.
Fergus: Maybe you’ve gotta pee. I’m watching Maddow. Also, Pop just fell asleep in his chair. Those unattended chicken wings aren’t going to eat themselves, you know.
Me: Pop! Move your…
Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale.
How many nights
did I stand over my babies’ cribs
watching them breathe?
Tiny chests rising and falling
in miraculous, endless rhythm,
bitty hearts and lungs
I made you, I’d whisper
Formed your perfect bellies and limbs
of my own blood and bone
fed you with my own body.
How many heartbeats
are you allotted at birth?
How many breaths
until you run out?
Now at my father’s bedside
his breaths slow and weak
his heart running out of beats.
Each one now a labor
I watch over him
like his mother…
“So it’s the very idea that black women don’t even particularly get to dream themselves free for real, for real, because we’re so busy fighting … everything. Who would we be if we weren’t just trying to survive?” — Rachel Cargle
I’m supposed to be in Tulsa, Oklahoma this weekend, covering counter protests for a local newspaper. The plan was to stand up for free speech, bear witness to the breathtaking reach of this administration’s racism and cruelty, and try not to get tear gassed, beat down or arrested. …