with increasing boldness

The world you see undulates with many parallel troughs–a million mental alleys.  Every new day, you throw your marbles out of your mind and let your feet and arms and shoulders follow, and soon some marbles nestle loudly into the grooves and run along with authority and precision, directed by you, with increasing boldness.

Each marble is a whole little round version of you.  Like the suns.

In the groove.

– One Day I Will Write About This Place by Binyavanga Wainaina


then again

Many people assumed Annie Hall was the story of our relationship.  My last name is Hall.  Woody and I did share a significant romance, according to me, anyway.  I did want to be a singer.  I was insecure and I did grope for words.  After thirty-five years, does anybody care?  What matters is Woody’s body of work.  Annie Hall was his first love story.  Love was the glue that held those witty vignettes together.  However bittersweet, the message was clear.  Love fades.  Woody took a risk; he let the audience feel the sadness of goodbye in a funny movie.

a daughter’s memoir

I suspected that my father-in-law, Paul, was failing mentally when he set out swimming straight across Lake Michigan to Milwaukee, more than sixty miles away.

now and then

Because the word that God speaks to us is always an incarnate word–a word spelled out to us not alphabetically, in syllables, but enigmatically, in events, even in the books we read and the movies we see–the chances are we will never get it just right.  We are so used to hearing what we want to hear and remaining deaf to what it would be well for us to hear that it is hard to break the habit.  But if we keep our hearts and minds open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize, beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear him, he is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, his word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling.  In that sense autobiography becomes a way of praying, and a book like this, if it matters at all, matters mostly as a call to prayer.

– Frederick Buechner, Now&Then


“What is wrong with you?”  My mother had said these words so many times to me that my sisters had adopted them.  I had a habit of grabbing some scissors and pulling up a chair while my mother cooked dinner.  I cut up whatever was in sight–letters, bills, report cards–it was relaxing after a long day at school to just cut things up, cut, cut, cut.  The way some people needlepoint.  My father saw me doing this once and said, “Don’t be an idiot.”  I didn’t speak to him all night, and then I wrote a retaliatory note to him, in pencil so dark it ripped the paper.   I pressed down on it like a dying man, writing, “I am not an idiote.  Do not call me one!”  I put it on his pillow.  My dad apologized right away but from that day on whenever I did something stupid, my sisters would say, “I am not an ID-I-OTE!  Do not call me one!” in the voice of John Merrick, the Elephant man.

wishing for snow

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesdays  participants can add the book to their To Read Lists if they like your teasers!

My early childhood–how can I say it?–was like the second draft of a story or the pentimento effect of a painting painted on an old canvas over an earlier picture.  It had a resonance; it was something that had happened before but had yet to happen: history but also possibility.

I love a good Read

The Family on Beartown Road by Elizabeth Cohen is one of those books that resonates and Cohen not only knows how to tell a story, she tells it eloquently.

Julia and Sanford Cohen.  Their love was a busy thing.  It was public, and it had plans.  They would frequently talk all night long, in excited voices, about politics, education, economics.  But mostly they talked about each other.  The second marriage for my father and the third for my mother, they could not get over their enormous luck in finding each other.  When we went to restaurants, they picked tables where they could sit side by side and hold hands.  Sometimes they embarrassed us.  They’d peck or hug at parent-teacher meetings at our school, in open view of our friends.  They looked lovingly at each other in airports, as though they had just met after long separations.  My sister and I lived on the periphery of their great, lucky love.  It was not that they didn’t love us, too–they did–but we fit in around the edges and corners of their feelings for each other.


from Barnes and Noble interview with Elizabeth Cohen:

Elizabeth Cohen: When my father moved in with me I joined the growing ranks of the “sandwich generation.” Daily, we tend to the needs of people at the opposite ends of life, needs which sometimes mimic each other but also can clash. I have my own name for it, I call it “extreme parenting.” In most cases the people in the middle of the sandwich generation have children that are school age or even about to go to college. Rarer are those who, like myself, find themselves in the position of caring for an elderly, infirm parent or one with Alzheimer’s disease at the same time they have an infant. That can mean feeding and diapering two very different sorts of people.

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