Type-Setting Tunes

By on Aug 23, 2015 in Essays | Comments Off

The machine engulfed Travis, but he didn’t seem to mind. Travis chain-smoked unfiltered Camels; and one was always burning at his side as he pressed the buttoned keys for all the letters to appear, just as I had originally typed them. Sometimes, yes, he made mistakes but not often. And anyway, when the words appeared in print, I was the editor; I was the responsible party. And so I never mentioned Travis or his work to anyone. He was frail and hunch-backed. Stooped just in the form you’d expect from one who spent eight, maybe ten hours each day typesetting others’ words, making sure...

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Halloween Hell

By on Oct 26, 2014 in Essays | 1 comment

When my twins are almost six, they appear delightfully normal in our Halloween photos. Samantha, an impish Raggedy Ann, wears a red yarn wig; her lips are cherry red, and there are matching red spots on each of her round cheeks. She smiles exuberantly, showing off her missing front tooth. Her hazel eyes sparkle in anticipation of Tootsie Pops, Starbursts, and all of the candy she will bring home and beg to eat immediately. In contrast, Matthew is dressed as the Grim Reaper, holding a plastic scythe menacingly in one hand. His other hand grasps the death mask he removed because he was too...

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That One Pitch

By on Mar 4, 2014 in Essays | 1 comment

The author’s father is in the top row, to the right of the man in the hat   In late August of 1957, my father took me on a trip to visit his home town of Nanaimo in British Columbia. We stayed in the Plaza Hotel, where, almost a half century earlier, he’d been a bellhop, before going to work in the coal mines. On our first morning, just after breakfast, my father took me on a walking tour of Nanaimo Harbor. We stopped at the Bastion, a fortress constructed in 1853 by the Hudson Bay Company to protect their coal mining interests on Vancouver Island. My father pointed out that...

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Necessary Things

By on Dec 2, 2013 in Essays | Comments Off

Gray Bunny Before Grace names it, the small stuffed bunny is pale pink with purple dots and wears a lavender bow around his neck. A cherished playmate for my littlest niece, he is clutched close at bedtime and in the car seat. Eventually she learns to introduce him, dangling him by an ear and announcing “Bunny,” giggling at her own ability to speak.   With so much affection and milk lavished on him, the bunny makes regular trips through the washing machine. Soon the pink fur fades and the original ribbon frays and then falls off, only to be replaced with a rapid succession of...

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Kafka and Cable

By on Nov 19, 2013 in Essays, Humor | Comments Off

Today I had a Kafkan experience. It is no longer the Count in the Castle who surrounds himself with so many maddening layers of bureaucracy. Now our “service providers” have done it. Or, to put it another way: corporations. Consider this: I call the cable company. Me: Yes, I couldn’t help noticing that my cable bill went up by twenty dollars in the last two months. Functionary: Yes, your two-year plan expired. Me: What can we do about this? Functionary: You could certainly take on an even higher bill, by adding services. Me: I don’t want those services. Functionary:...

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By on Oct 21, 2013 in Essays | Comments Off

“I think you need to do something about the boat,” said Manny on the phone. “I was down at the marina, and the canvas cover is torn and shredded. The boat’s being exposed to the elements.” I felt a pit in my stomach. I didn’t want to hear this. Six years earlier, at the age of forty-seven, my husband Perry had suffered a heart attack, which deprived his brain of oxygen. After a two-week coma, he gradually awakened, slowly regaining part of his cognition and former self. Many parts didn’t come back: He couldn’t practice law anymore; he couldn’t cook or drive. My once lively...

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