The Four Travelers: Who Will You Be in the New Year?


Happy New Year!

Congratulations to all of us for everything we did right in 2012 and everything we’ll do better in 2013.

But instead of a list of things we’re going to do or stop doing this year, I’m wondering if it might be more effective to think about how we’ll do or not do those things.

Please note: I just made this up (on the heels of the emotional hangover that is Christmas), and so it might be ridiculously off-point. (Although probably no more so than the Spotify playlist my daughter and I named “Emus and Hamsters” because her younger friend confused “Emo” boys with “Emu”, like the bird; and my grandmother thought we were saying “hamster” when we were talking about the “hipsters”, but I digress… Anyway, this playlist is full of tracts from bands like Air and Bon Iver and it’s what I’m listening to as I write this.)

Ok. So.

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Things We Overcome


A breakup.

A divorce.

The money you had to spend to replace your leaky garbage disposal, your broken thermostat, your refrigerator that died on Christmas Eve Eve.

A hangover.

A fight with your best friend.

A fight with your spouse.

A fight with your child.

Someone saying something mean about you on the internet.

A lunatic shooting up a school.

A lunatic shooting up a movie theater.

A lunatic shooting up a shopping mall.

Burning the main course.

The dog eating the caramel cake as it cools on the counter top.

The dog passing away.

Losing your job.

Moving away.

Missing your family on Christmas.

The Top Seven Rainbow Bright Moments of 2012


I’ve decided 2012 is the Year of the Rainbow.

For my friends and me, some of the happiest moments have come at the tail end of some deluges, both figuratively and literally.

Here are the top seven. …

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The Truth About Santa and Sex


Do you remember when you learned the truth about Santa?

I don’t, but I am certain my daughter will.

She was in fourth grade, maybe the last kid in her class to believe.

The two of us were eating dinner at a restaurant I frequented in the months after her father and I decided to divorce. I didn’t yet have it together enough to cook at home.

A paraphrased recollection of the conversation:

“How was school today, Lily?”

“Okay, I guess. Actually, maybe not.”

“What happened?”

“Just kids saying stupid stuff.”

“What stuff?”


“What stuff, Lily?”

“Mama, I have a very important question to ask and I want you to tell me the truth. Do you promise to tell me the truth?” Continue reading

Risque Photo Leaves Much to the Imagination

Dad and me, ca. 1978. This was not a surprising photo to find stashed in a box of family snapshots... But there is one that was...

Dad and me, ca. 1978. This was not a surprising photo to find stashed in a box of family snapshots… But there is one that was…

A couple years ago my dad gave me a big box of photos his own dad gave him after my grandmother died. I think I was the first to sort through the box.

Among the hodgepodge of unorganized snapshots:

  • My grandparents and another couple at a Chinese restaurant in the 1960s.
  • My grandfather, who served in Europe in World War II, in his Army uniform. He is small, with pronounced ears, and vaguely resembles Humphrey Bogart.
  • A series of faded, ghostly shots from a formal dining table stacked high with china and with a woman in an A-line dress standing to the side. It looks like the bounty from a bridal shower. I think the woman is my grandmother, but it’s too blurry to know for sure.
  • A girl (Dad thinks she’s his aunt) showing off an engagement ring to another girl (perhaps my grandmother).
  • And, then… My grandmother – definitely my grandmother – wearing lingerie and posed seductively on a coffee table.

That last one caught me off guard. My grandmother posed for sexy photos? Did my grandfather take them??

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Winter Break

My aunt and daughter, Christmas morning 2011. Warm enough to walk to the river in our PJs.

My aunt and daughter, Christmas morning 2011. Warm enough to walk to the river in our PJs.

One of the things I love most about Tennessee is that sometimes the seasons get confused.

It’s 70 degrees for a stretch in December, 50 for a snap in May.

We drink Jack and Diets on a patio while the Christmas traffic whorls around us. We eat chili among spring flowers.

On these days, it is easier to set aside worrisome things.

Forget about that trouble at the office because today is more beautiful than that situation is dire.

Change the oil tomorrow because today we’re not leaving the fireside.

Keep her home from school because she’ll learn more in the garden.

How many songs are written, how many babies made on a warm day in winter, a cold one in late spring?

Nature has shrugged her shoulders; we can, too.