Essays

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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Flytime

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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Speaking in Tongues

By on Oct 13, 2013 in Essays | Comments Off

The author’s daughter and mother-in-law   This week, I’m living in a tri-lingual household — English, Portuguese and baby. It’s an interesting dynamic, because not one of us understands fully all three languages. My husband’s mother does not understand English but is fairly fluent in baby. My husband speaks both English and Portuguese, but I translate baby into English for him for the most part. And me? My rudimentary Spanish brings me no closer to understanding the Portuguese language than it brings me to understanding a Nirvana song. Cheerfully, if...

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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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Gone

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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