When he was younger, my son would pepper me with questions about how to do things. “How can I make a one-man flying machine?” was one that piqued his interest early on—enough so that he bypassed Mom’s knowledge base and went straight to the President of the United States (then Bill Clinton). Bill wrote back, telling Conor that NASA was working hard on things like that and that Conor should study hard and stay in school. But Conor was a dreamer. He was a creative kid who could be kept happy and busy with a lump of Sculpey clay or a pencil and a pad of paper. Read more
Maple catkins droop as tender Amelanchier blossoms herald the arrival of shad plowing upstream to deposit their lucre of roe in the riverbank. Everywhere forsythia and daffodils arch their slender necks in a riot of yellow, proclaiming the end of another gray winter. Redbuds will follow magnolias, then dogwood, each one taking its turn in the unfolding until all are green again, the architecture of branches obscured by leaves that sway and float in the breeze of spring, the warm breath of summer. Read more
I sleep well, generally. So when a pain in my gut woke me mid-REM on a recent Saturday, I knew something was wrong. “Where is the appendix?” was my first thought. But no, this pain—a burning acute bullseye of pain—was on the other side. When I touched the spot, it burned like the proverbial poker. Read more
My son asked me what my New Year’s resolutions were. I told him I don’t make them anymore but I have some to offer the rest of you…. Read more
- Stop assuming the worst of your fellow human beings. Maybe they are just deaf to your needs. Tell them what you want and ask how you can help them.
- Speak softer, but clearly. Make eye contact.
- Don’t forget to ask, no, really ask, how their day/week/life is going before ranting about your own. Don’t rant. Okay, maybe a little. Sometimes.
- Stop watching Fox News.
- Watch less MSNBC.
Even though I think this presidential election is clearly between two opposing points of world-view, I find it hard to get caught up in the drama of it, as I have in the past. Maybe it’s my age. My generation has seen its share of pivotal elections—Stevenson v. Ike, Nixon v. Kennedy, Bush, Sr. v. Clinton, Gore v. Bush, Jr. Each time the zealots on both sides have predicted doom should the other side win. And if it were true, we are living in it. Maybe we are. Read more
When you’re short on religion, as is my family, you have to make your own ceremonies for important occasions. It helps if you have good planning skills. We don’t. In spite of all our shortcomings and recent obstacles, like my aunt’s stroke, we wanted to have a family memorial for my uncle at the place he loved best, on Fire Island. His cremains had been languishing since May on a marble mantelpiece in the townhouse he shared with his wife for the last 40 years of his life. Read more
Did they really camp it up?” a friend asked when I returned from a nephew’s wedding. “Well, no” I said. “They’re the straightest gay couple I know.” Not that it wasn’t a fun wedding—it was. The reception was held in an artist cooperative near Rochester, where the artists also serve as staff for events that foot the bill for studio space. Their artwork is everywhere. There is a whole room dedicated to Marilyn Monroe, but she was not the mascot for Eric and Andy’s wedding. Read more