The one habit my brother Chris could never kick was cigarettes. I admonished him one day, near the end of his too-short life, to stop smoking. He knew he was dying, neither of cancer nor emphysema, and he replied with a raised eyebrow and his dark Irish wit, “It’s not gonna kill me.”
I thought of that moment as I was trying to get our beloved dog, Aengus, to eat last week. His usual food no longer appealed to him. I took to poaching chicken with a little thyme and chopping it in the food processor. For a while, he liked it. But in his last week, even that was refused. Read more
My uncle George sees the gulls flying overhead as Japanese bombers over Pearl Harbor. I tell him that one looks like the airplane coming in low and fast over Greenwich Street headed for the World Trade Center. We are sitting on a pristine deck looking out over the blue Atlantic. There is nothing but ocean, a flat horizon line and blue skies—a clean slate for the imagination. We bring our history with us wherever we go. Read more
My husband Jim has a litany of coincidences in his life. He will regale you with them if you but utter the word. His main source of income is the result of a coincidence; meeting an Oberlin college friend on the street in Manhattan and finding the friend had a bar for sale just as Jim’s profession as a news-film journalist was being eclipsed by television news-readers.
In our family, we call the moment that two cars traveling in opposite directions meet at the same time and place that a pedestrian is walking, “Jim’s law of coincidence.” We pronounce this phenomenon co-in-sigh-dence. Read more
This is a story of a young man who lives in two worlds. You probably live in one of them and don’t even know there is another conjoined. Read more
While looking for a clue to the pain in my gut two years ago, I was greeted by numerous medical professionals and their various tools. The emergency room doctors wanted to make sure I was not going to die on their watch, and after they assured themselves of that, paid no more attention. My primary care physician suggested a test for H-pylori and was very pleased with himself when a test proved him right. Antibiotics cleared up the strange organism. The pain continued. Read more
Last year I resolved to interrupt relentless winter with a trip to a tropical clime. It was a good resolution. February, although the shortest month, always seems the cruelest to me. This year, I had a ticket to Costa Rica ready and waiting. My friend Kara had found a yoga retreat in a country that was foreign to both of us but promised consistently warm weather and clear skies. Read more
They say that change is the only constant in life. Yet it always takes us by surprise. One of the first people I met when I came to Narrowsburg in 1999 was Mary Greene. She was my editor at The River Reporter when I first filled this space as the voice of a part-time resident. I warmed to her instantly. She seemed to be living a life I could imagine myself living, if circumstances were different. We both had young children we were devoted to, craved time spent in nature and shared a love of poetry. Read more
My friend and I had spent the day at MOMA with the Matisse cut-outs. We took them in as if visitors to the master’s home in the south of France, letting the artwork stoke our appetites and then repairing to the cafe to sate them. Read more
My son is looking for his life. At 27, he is already an experienced filmmaker, director, writer, cinematographer, editor. As a freelancer his income is sporadic and meager. It is increased only slightly by a teaching job at a film school. His father slips him $20s. We pay his rent and his overdue utility bills. When his shoes need repair, I take him to the cobbler and pre-pay the bill.
He knows this worries me. Our funds are not without end. We get older. Read more
Butte, Montana was once a boom town for copper mining. Massive steel head-frames still dot the landscape throughout the city. At night they are illuminated in crimson. In the last part of the 19th century, more than 100,000 people lived in Butte, from all parts of the world. It was a cosmopolitan city with theaters, grand hotels, elegant mansions and a Victorian amusement park with a wooden roller coaster and vast public gardens. Read more