The Magic of Eating a Banana

By on Oct 13, 2013 in Essays | 2 comments

Nate is six months old when his pediatrician tells me that I can start feeding him solids. I am so excited to offer him something besides rice cereal that I run down to the store with him to buy a couple of baby-food jars. He bounces close to my body in the baby carrier. As I peruse the “kid food” aisle, everything comes from a box or a bag or even—yogurt—from a tube. When I get home, I crack open a jar and enjoy the pop sound of the air releasing. With Nate in the high chair and my heat-indicator spoon in hand, I give him his first bite. He sticks out his tongue over and over like a...

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Learning How to Love and Let Go

By on Oct 13, 2013 in Essays | Comments Off

I was 42 and recently divorced when I decided I wanted to adopt a child out of the foster care system. I could have found an anonymous sperm donor or a gay friend to help me become a mother, but parenting interested me more than pregnancy. My passage into motherhood began with an interview with a social worker, a home inspection, and an eight-week foster parent training. When I invited my family to attend my graduation from the training program, my younger brothers boarded a flight from San Francisco to Los Angeles with their toddler children, and my mother drove four hours from Fresno to...

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By on Aug 19, 2013 in Essays | 3 comments

I was going to let my answering machine take the call. It was 10 at night, and I’d been just about to go to bed. The voice playing through the machine wasn’t familiar, but something about its tone — troubled and tense — made me pause and listen. “This is Trish from Tom Siddon’s office.” Trish? Oh, yeah. I kind of remembered Trish. She was a therapist, as Tom and I were. We’d met each other long ago at a family-therapy workshop. What could she possibly want from me this late at night? “Tom collapsed in his office,” Trish’s voice said through the machine. “He’s been...

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What I Learned During My Summer at Penn State

By on Aug 19, 2013 in Essays | Comments Off

I was sitting at Whiskers when the verdict was returned. Whiskers is a neat little pub off the lobby of the Nittany Lion Inn, the historic, colonial-style hotel on the campus of Penn State University, seemingly the place to be if you didn’t want to deal with the crowds of onlookers at the real place to be – the Centre County Courthouse, ten miles to the northeast in the little town of Bellefonte. Thirty minutes before, I had asked the bartender for my check. It was 9:30, and I had a solid half-hour walk back to my apartment on the south side of town. For the second day in a row, it...

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Short Film is the New Fable: Society’s Honest Voice

By on Aug 11, 2013 in Essays | Comments Off

Still from “To This Day”   The form of the short film has always been a deep draw for critics and art lovers, especially the ones found in places like Wild Violet. Something about the medium gives it a depth that isn’t always created on full-length feature films, which devote themselves to following a predictable narrative building up to an action-packed ending in mainstream cinema. Oddly enough, the restrictions which short film-makers face — duration, budget, and resources — help create a finished piece which is obsessively conscientious...

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Mississippi Freedom Summer – 1964

By on Jun 25, 2013 in Essays | 1 comment

In my Army days a black sergeant told me that if he had a choice between a house in Mississippi and a house in hell, he’d take the house in hell! In 1964 I had the chance to go to Mississippi as a civil rights worker and see for myself. I wanted to be a missionary and considered this a good opportunity for cross-cultural experience. I was totally unprepared for what I found. It wasn’t just segregated buses and drinking fountains. The whole society was segregated from top to bottom, with blacks getting nothing but leftovers. Hospitals and ambulances were segregated. Even the Red Cross...

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