[3-min read] Was it middle school when I first learned that the earth wouldn’t exist after the death of the sun? Back then—in the early 1980s—and for several years after hearing that apocalyptic fact, I assumed human beings could still be earth inhabitants on the very day the sun died. I had imagined what that might look like if I were still alive then: a spectacular, cosmic flash of the final solar moment followed by a sentient flash just before my demise and then . . . nothing.

Inspired by a catastrophic oil spill in the Santa Barbara, California, Channel the previous year, the first official Earth Day took place on April 22, 1970. The event involved a nationwide demonstration with twenty million people organized by then Wisconsin Democratic senator and environmental and social activist, Gaylord Nelson, and Harvard grad student Denis Hayes. Nelson had worked with presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon to usher in a decade of conservation efforts. That would eventually bash headlong into the wall of the Reagan era, which played out partly as a reversal of conservation policy coupled with ecological deception that included the fossil fuel industry running ads to assure Americans that what earth needed was more carbon dioxide.

(If only that were true, given a single bitcoin transaction releases about 402 kg of CO2 and annually, transactions release around thirty-seven megatons of carbon dioxide, which is comparable to the emissions of certain cities and smaller countries. U.S. gaming platforms—think PlayStation—are reputed to be equally polluting.)

In 1986, I paid four hundred dollars for my first car, a used 1974 Datsun B-210. It needed new rings and burned through a quart of oil in a week and whenever I started the engine, an ominous cloud of black smoke would billow out. I don’t remember learning of Earth Day, but I knew of greenhouse gasses and the ozone hole, and I was ashamed of my contribution to what we were about to call global warming. I even quit using aerosol hairspray, which was a significant sacrifice for a teenager in the 80s. But the Datsun was all I could afford. Thankfully, by the time I read Al Gore’s 1992 book, Earth in the Balance, I was driving a newer (more efficient), small-model pickup truck.

Though Earth Day gained enough traction to eventually be celebrated by a billion citizens worldwide, in industrial and political arenas, policy and action didn’t keep pace with environmental degradation. When Nelson passed away in 2005, environmental activist Greta Thunberg was two years old. Originally notorious for her “school strike for climate,” Thunberg, continues to challenge world leaders and tirelessly advocate for change with assurance for the rest of us that, “Hope comes from action.” My effort to reduce household food waste and the reusable bags and cups I carry with me are steps I’ve been assured that if we all took, would significantly help the environment.

In 2012, I bought a new Mini Cooper. Its gas mileage was improved from the pickup truck. (Full disclosure: Anyone who knows how not tall I am knows I belong behind the wheel of a Mini.) Still, I was a member of a car culture and a two-person, two-vehicle family in a state plagued by drought and wildfires.

Between 2017 and 2021, an unprecedented number of environmental and climate policies were reversed. Meanwhile, in 2020, a record-breaking twenty-two climate disasters occurred in the U.S. alone, causing $95 billion worth of damage. That was also the year I sold my Mini (we’re now a one-vehicle family) and moved to Minneapolis in large part because it was a walkable-bikeable city. As a climate migrant, I also believed it to be a region where I could better-tolerate climate change. That felt like significant action. I can buy groceries, a latte (in a reusable cup), and get a chiropractic adjustment within walking distance from where I live. I can spend lazy Sunday afternoons visiting any of several local breweries all within an easy bike ride.

I’m less naïve and more in awe than when I first learned of the sun’s classification as a finite star. To loosely paraphrase astrophysicist Don Brownlee, co-author of The Life and Death of Planet Earth, it’s beneficial for us to not only protect, but also acknowledge the unique treasure that is our fabulous planet. In the profound words of William Shatner on his return from space, “What I understood, in the clearest possible way, was that we were living on a tiny oasis of life.” What an honor.


[3.5-min read] I’ve been sifting through a folder of iconic high school knickknacks. I’m pretty sure my mom secretly abandoned it guilt-free in my garage on one of the times she passed through my city en route to living in a new town. It takes me back to a conversation I had about Simple Minds. Their song, “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” is on the soundtrack for the 1985 film, The Breakfast Club, which is about a motley sampling of high school students. They both have a distinct vibe—the movie and the band. I’m not one to dwell in nostalgia, but that’s what they make me feel.

One recent Saturday morning, I walked into my original favorite Minneapolis coffee shop and “Alive and Kicking” was playing over the sound system. “Oooh. I love this song. Wow. This takes me back,” I said to the barista. “I’m a little older than you and it was on the soundtrack to the 1980s classic film, The Breakfast Club and I graduated in the 1980s,” I blurted. She smiled and walked over to an iPad, looked down at it and read aloud, “Simple Minds.”

“I could have told you that,” I gushed.

“So, what do you miss most about the ‘80s?” she asked.

“The limitless energy of youth,” I said, laughing and waiving my arm above my head in a dramatic gesture. After a pause, I added, “That’s a hard one. I’ll have to think about it.”

Hers was a timely question for me. If you have parents (and stepparents and aunts and family-like friends) who are in their 70s, you’ve likely come into the possession of whatever it is they can’t bear to part with—other than to pass it along (or back) to you. “These are important! Don’t throw them away!” my mom has instructed for sentimental items that she’s forwarded to me because she apparently can’t trash them herself.

The *important* items tucked into the folder are: a school paper I wrote while attending seventh grade in Berkeley, California. It’s titled, “Marijuana and Legalization,” and the opening paragraph states, “All of what I say throughout this composition just depends on what kind of person you are. You will understand after you read it.”; *priceless* pictures of band members of Mötley Crüe and Van Halen that I cut out of music magazines and then taped onto the college-ruled pages of a notebook; a computer printout with my name (misspelled) and “FRESHMAN” at the top, followed by the explanation, “Here they are at last!!! The computer has, after cogitating at great length, produced the names you have been waiting for.” Following that is a list of “ten best boys,” their class, and a number representing their compatibility score. At the bottom of the page, it reads, “The computer match is sponsored by student government”; a handwritten account of a span of time during which my closest girlfriends and I first experimented with partying and fooling around with boys, including the names of who fooled around with whom. (Side note: I had to Google the meaning of cogitated. None of the names of the boys I fooled around with appears on that “cogitated” list and for the record, the word was used incorrectly, the computer anthropomorphized.)

Now for the answer to what I miss most about the ‘80s. The folder items listed above are fertile with implicit options such as an obscene amount of free time, David Lee Roth, and boys. (Not.) But during that era, there was also a degree of cultural absurdity and ignorance that has since been topped to an extent I couldn’t have imagined. What I miss most is my dashed assumption that we wouldn’t repeat history because we had learned it. Decades later, I know from experience that history most certainly repeats itself. I also recognize that what I learned in history classes in the late ‘80s was grossly incomplete and even inaccurate. Several positive standards of society that I was (naively) optimistic were unshakable, have proven to be vulnerable, along with my unflinching optimism.

I wouldn’t call it a resolution, per se, but I am leaning into an evolution from what I grew up with as magical thinking, toxic positivity, and spiritual bypassing, to an exploration of the paradox of living as both ebb and flow, positive and negative, heartbreaking and joyful. It’s a hot topic in some circles, this learning to work within the tension of duality, as Brené Brown discussed during an interview with Barack Obama. They described it as a skill: to be able to exist in—not flee—a space where two seemingly conflicting elements are concurrently true.

I’m not encouraging my older friends and family to unload their precious memorabilia on me—I now live in a condo, so it would take up space I need for furniture. I will say, however, that marveling over personal evidence of the absurdity of a decade has been fun. It’s the sort of fun I haven’t had since, well, the 1980s.


[3-min read] On a cool day in late May, three months after Putin’s military had invaded Ukraine, I met Luda Anastazievsky. A Ukrainian American, Luda had arrived at a fundraising event for refugees as a guest speaker. She wore a puffy yellow jacket with the hood up and cinched tight around her face. Despite the chill, the rest of us were gathered on the large lawn of the German American Institute in Saint Paul, adhering to pandemic precautions. We sampled Ukrainian sausages, potato salad and coleslaw sides, and sweet treats, and sipped German beer—a culinary blend representing Ukrainians who would soon be arriving in Zell, Germany.

When Luda took the podium at the front of the lawn, the audience grew still in reverence to the message we suspected she would share. She began by expressing the daily devastation she felt, how her heart was broken and filled with sadness from the media images she was seeing of her homeland. Luda told us that she was originally from the port city of Mariupol, surely understanding how we would recall the images of destruction to which she referred. And that we would know of the Azovstal steel plant that housed thousands of Ukrainian soldiers who fought off Russian soldiers on-site while being shelled from outside, and while Mariupol civilians hunkered in Azovstal’s underground bunkers stocked with dwindling supplies.

“I recall a different Mariupol,” Luda said. She remembered its Sea of Azov coastline, its libraries and schools, restaurants, and cafes. She told us that Mariupol had been a modernized city with lovely trees and parks. Now, Luda shared, eighty percent of its structures were in ruins (the estimate has been updated to ninety percent) including its drama theater which, at the time of its destruction by airstrike, was sheltering hundreds of civilians. “I always break into tears,” Luda said of seeing media images of the invasion. In an April interview, she had shared that she worries she’s suffering from secondary PTSD. I struggled to imagine how surreal it might feel to witness all that I appreciate of my city—lakes, parks, coffee shops, museums, downtown—destroyed.

Luda told us that she has family members and friends still in Ukraine, including several cousins, only one of whom she’s heard from. She maintains hope that the others have survived, but she also knows of citizens who have been taken by Russian soldiers from Ukraine and relocated to remote Russian places. Soldiers relocate captives to the far east of Russia, Luda said. In my imagination, I pulled up a map and confirmed that “far east” is furthest from what was once home, qualifying the relocation as a historical tactic of cultural suppression.

Having once studied in Russia, Luda still has contacts there. She has worked tirelessly with those contacts to arrange for the escape of her loved ones. The financial toll of assisting is significant; the psychological pressure is immense. As she spoke, I sensed Luda’s exhaustion and yet how determined she was, and how heartbroken. She needs a hug, I whispered to myself.

Listening to Luda gave me the perception of living in a time of war. Putin’s is the sort of war I associate with the past, when an aggressor would invade another country’s cities using tanks and missiles and soldiers walking through open streets and inflicting mass and random inhumane violence on other human beings, spouting fear-based rationalizations. In the media today, I have seen the faces of Ukrainian citizens in peril. They are modernized versions of the faces I studied in history textbooks in high school in chapters about world wars. I wonder what has become of the defiant faces I saw on television during an initial Russian military raid, like the teenage girls hunkered in a subway station with a cat that one of them had coaxed into a carry box before fleeing her home and taking shelter with friends. On that day, one of the girls had looked into the TV camera and stated of Russia, “It’s just like North Korea,” thus exposing my fleeting naïveté (and that of Ukrainians who couldn’t believe the invasion would happen).

“There will likely be Ukrainian families coming to the Twin Cities. Please consider helping if you can,” Luda concluded before thanking her rapt audience. I exhaled slowly and wandered to find a bin for my paper plate. And then I was face-to-face with Luda. “Thank you for sharing your story,” I told her. “It’s important to hear it from a person rather than a television.” Luda nodded, and I reached out to touch her arm. In an instant, I was pulled into a hug—two heartbroken strangers in puffy jackets, embracing.

It was one of the most comforting hugs I’ve ever received.


[4-min read] “How are the conditions for skiing?” I asked a woman paused on Lake of the Isles. She seemed to be composing herself in minor ways, maybe putting her gloves back on, definitely shoving her hat from her forehead. “They’re really good,” she answered, eagerly more so than enthusiastically. “It’s my first time doing this in a long time, but I’m doing pretty good. I’m enjoying it. I just fell because I was trying to get from that spot to here—that’s my husband up there. He probably hasn’t even looked back yet.” She twisted to point. “But the tracks are better here. That’s where I was.” My husband and I verbally concurred, nodding our heads that the tracks were indeed better where she was standing.

We hadn’t seen her fall. And I wasn’t expecting her free-flowing conversation style. “Do you ski here?” she continued. We nodded yes. “If you’re an expert this is probably easy. I think the conditions are good. You would enjoy yourself. I’m happy with how I’m doing. Especially since I just went on Medicare. It’s a bit of a shock,” she shared—all of it, sharing. My husband and I emitted a low, “Ohhh” accompanied by a sympathetic tilt of our heads when she mentioned Medicare. (Only a decade-ish away from it ourselves, we both felt a nudge from our own mortality.)

As she wished us a great day and we responded in kind, each with the added sincerity that comes with the New Year, we left her to process her thoughts. I was confident she would be assisted by her connection with the vast frozen and snow-covered lake. A minute later, I was less confident that I had “met the moment,” though. Sure—I listened. But this past year, I’ve been striving to do more. When someone says “I fell” and/or “It’s a bit of a shock,” I want to hear it, register it, and be brave enough to meet that moment with something like, “Are you okay?” or a pause to let her say more, rather than assume she is fine because she looks unbroken, assume I know how she feels because I know how I would feel, or because I’m not brave enough to find out whether she needs one more moment of another person being there so she doesn’t feel so alone.

The book Amazing MN was in the cabin my husband and I rented to kick off our winter holiday. Among intriguing features of the state was a statistic claiming that Minnesotans talk less than inhabitants of other states. They/we are number four on the list of least talkative. I suspected as much soon after moving here and I mentioned it to my chiropractor. I admitted to her that it renders a new resident unsure about social rules. I described how sometimes I’ll say something, but rather than responding, the other person will say, “Hmm,” and give me a look I’m unsure how to interpret. I’m left to wonder whether I’ve said something offensive, antiquated, or inappropriate. My chiropractor seemed to know exactly of what I described, and postulated that maybe people say less rather than risk saying the wrong thing.

Two occasions when I’ve given in to a pandemic-isolation-plus-new-city-loneliness urge to talk here have garnered unexpected results: During my first appointment with a massage therapist, I blabbed my head off. At the end of the appointment, they thanked me! “It’s been great talking with you. No one talks to me. Thank you.” I was so surprised, I did the Minnesota thing and squinted a little, allowed a long pause, and finally responded, “My pleasure” almost as if it was a question. Did they mean it?

The second time, my husband and I tried a new (to us and the city) restaurant and sat at the bar. We exchanged a few pleasantries with our initial bartender and after five minutes or so, another bartender approached to help us select wine. Without us knowing, he had checked what food we ordered and came up with a couple pairing suggestions of which he offered to give us tastes. His suggestions were different from our usual preferences and we told him so, sharing that my mom used to live in Napa, and we enjoy wine tasting. “I have something for you, then, but you have to tell me what you think.” We sipped and opined, and after dinner he stopped back by to ask us to choose a fruit flavor. When he reappeared, he said, “It’s on me” and set down a dessert bowl and spoons. “I’m just so happy to have people who will talk to me.”

Occasionally, I ponder what might have pulled me to Minneapolis (aside from thorough statistical research). It’s an existential nuance of “Why am I here?” I am indeed passionate about communications. Might it be to refine how I communicate? And with that, surely, to become adept at ascertaining when to be brief and when someone would love for me to be a person who naturally engages them when they’re feeling “so happy to talk.”


[3-min read] You’ve heard of this efforting business? I recently heard the term in an exercise class. “Be careful that you’re not over-efforting,” the instructor advised and maybe I was projecting since there were about twelve other students, but I swear there were lasers beaming from her eyes through the Zoom screen and onto me. “Keep your neck relaxed as you move your shoulders. There’s no need to involve your neck,” she added, shaming me into relaxing some. After class, I googled the term and found that efforting means putting in too much effort.

Efforting is my MO. Even a pandemic hasn’t changed that. And I happen to have chronic neck tension. There is a significant possibility that the two are related. Over-efforting sounds redundant and yet I understand the temptation to use it. It conjures up a memory of a bulbous callous I already had on the middle finger of my teeny right hand when I was in elementary school. I would grip my pencil and press so hard to write that a sizable bump manifested. Despite the discomfort, I ignored it until I got self-conscious about it in middle or high school. So I tried holding the pencil between my index and middle fingers rather than between the thumb and index finger. It didn’t give me enough control, though. I realized I would have to train myself to stop over-efforting—the “over” part seems appropriate here, doesn’t it?—while writing, but it was a challenge. I needed to catch myself pressing hard and pause, then allow myself to just glide. Gliding is not something I do naturally. I’m on the OCD spectrum so my life feels jerkier. Controlled stops and starts. Measured.

I measure the number of ounces of wine I drink (Ugh. So Elena from “Little Fires Everywhere”). I weigh the two halves of a pastry to ensure that my husband gets the larger half. I over-effort with friends and people I haven’t yet met. If I notice someone who seems lost or like they may need a recommendation, I snap into action. Out in public, I’m on high alert for anyone who might want a suggestion.

In contrast, I also over-effort to move out of the way. Last month I was mountain biking when I heard someone behind me. It was a steep patch with a diagonal tree root, and I wasn’t sure I would make it over, so I dismounted as fast as I could to be off the approaching rider’s line. I dismounted so quickly, I slipped and fell with my bike sprawled across the path. “Sorry!” I said, still scrambling. “Are you okay?” the person asked, clearly in no rush and concerned that I had possibly damaged myself. (Just a bruise.) That was the millionth time I’ve done something similar on a mountain biking trail.

Clearly, I could benefit from a different mode. I’m trying a mantra: I belong in my space. I’ve even experimented with taking up extra space in strategic places and not moving unless asked to (no one has yet, but this still makes me exceptionally uncomfortable). I’m also working to “mind my own business” at times, letting people discover and recognize their choices on their own—have their own adventure. So far, it’s going well. And I think I’m absorbing the benefits of dosing my effort. On that note, I’m off to chillax.


[3-min read] Summertime is here and that means playtime, family time, playing-with-the-family-kids time. I’m guessing that’s why references to safety are in the media. Craig Melvin and Al Roker joked on the 3rd Hour of Today show that when the mother is away and the father is left to look after the child, the credo is: You gotta keep the child alive. This, as Melvin shared a picture of his daughter at the very top of the playground climbing bars. I noticed a band-aid on her knee. “Don’t break the child!” I thought.

“Let’s go for a walk,” my five-year-old grandniece had suggested to me three days before. A walk sounded lovely. The two of us had missed out on a morning stroll with other family, opting instead for Trolls: A Cosmic Kids Yoga Adventure. (It was a blast, of course.) Now, everyone else relaxed indoors, so she and I went for a walk along the quiet country road. She wisely insisted that I hold her hand and walk on the outside so a car couldn’t harm her. We chatted and after a few minutes, she said, “Let’s walk to the stop sign.” I squinted and looked up ahead but saw no sign. “That may be too far,” I answered. “It’s not! It’s just up there!” she promised. Dubious about being away from the yard without anyone knowing, I thought, “What would a responsible adult do?” I texted her mom: We’re on a walk.

We summited the top of the hill; still no stop sign in sight. “We should turn around here,” I said. “No! It’s not far,” she said. “We can come back tomorrow,” I said. “How about we go back and get snacks and then come back?” she countered. “I don’t think I’m up for going all the way back and then back out again,” I said, adding, “But we can do it tomorrow, with snacks.” “Okay,” she agreed.

Life teaches us very early that being impulsive can end our joy in a snap. After we turned toward home she suddenly stated, “I’m going to run!” She dropped my hand and sprinted, carefree, her hair streaming behind her. Taking a picture with my phone, I looked up in time to see her (she later explained) lose her balance. “I caught myself with my hands at first,” she’d say. But then her knee met the road before her other knee and skin above the ankle scraped pavement as well.

No no no no,” I whispered, jogging up to her, focusing to see if . . . . She stood up, brushed her hands together, looked at her knees, and listed the damage while fighting back tears. She was in obvious pain. “Oh – let me see,” I said when I arrived at her side. “It’s not too bad,” I told her. “You’ll be okay.” “It hurts,” she said through tears now. “I want my mom.” I wanted her mom, too. “We’ll be home really soon. Hang in there,” I assured her. She hobbled a little, stopped, and said, “It’s getting worse!” “The blood is a good thing,” I tried. “It cleans the area so it can heal better and not get… infected.” Should I say infected? Does that sound too scary? 

It hadn’t occurred to me that she was wearing flip-flops and therefore running would be risky. I’ve never been a mom, plus I irresponsibly wear flip-flops for all sorts of activities. What could I do to make it better? “I’m so sorry,” I said. “Why are you sorry? You didn’t do anything. I was just running and lost my balance,” my grandniece explained, now consoling me.

I use humor to cope with uncertainty, so as we finally entered the front door, I waited a beat before telling her mom, “Okay, so, not really – but I want to say I broke your child.” Experienced and looking all business, she whisked my grandniece away to apply supermom skills to wounds.

A couple days and painful band-aid changes later, it wasn’t so bad for my grandniece. I, however, struggled to accept that parents regularly believe they might have broken their children so I’m probably not a negligent person. Life rewards us for bravery, and I should try again. So – anyone want me to watch their kid?


[2-min read] I spent a lot of time holding my breath during the pandemic. After the study circulated of how we could contract COVID-19 from the respiratory droplets of a person jogging past, I started holding my breath when I passed a runner not wearing a mask. In Minneapolis, most residents didn’t embrace the idea of wearing masks in outdoor spaces; using one hand I could count the number of runners I saw wearing one. I’m not a runner, but I do ride a bike a lot and I didn’t wear a mask, either. I held my breath.

Luckily, the city did a great job of making space for all us outdoor enthusiasts, so only occasionally was I at risk of passing out due to low oxygen. The lakes in Minneapolis have separate paved paths for pedestrians and cyclists. The cycling paths are one-way. The city responded to the need for pandemic distancing by closing the roads around the lakes to vehicle traffic so that people had plenty space to ride their bikes one-way in the opposite direction. It was blissful. What a necessary indulgence during a chaotic time.

Later studies debated the chances of contracting the virus even with mask-wearing. I reasoned that since breathing in another person’s respiratory droplets was the most common transmission of COVID-19, that holding my breath behind my mask provided an additional measure of protection to me and/or the other person. For example, there were times when I crossed paths with a person who wore a mask, as did I, and though we had the best of distancing intentions we would cross less than six feet apart. So I held my breath in the enclosed common spaces of my condo building, like the mailroom and elevator; in narrow aisles of the grocery store; or when someone passed too closely walking out the IN door of a coffee shop.

Shallow breathing over time can manifest a sense of unease. It’s a relationship of mutual causality, so not breathing deeply can be a consequence of stress and anxiety. Common advice for feeling overwhelmed is to exhale long and even audibly when possible. And it’s effective, pandemic or no.

Inhaling deeply is an entirely different phenomenon. In moments when you are hesitant about moving forward, it takes bravery to consciously inhale. It’s a small act of accepting what comes next, trusting you’ll be okay in the moment that follows. Try it when you have a chance – did you sense the courage that arrives with it?

I’m vaccinated now (including the post-second-vax, two-week waiting period). At last, the time has arrived again for carefree breathing. But it doesn’t come naturally yet. It takes practice to remember to not hold my breath in certain situations. When I do remember, I inhale deeply this newer existence.


[2-min read] I’ve been editing my brains out lately and apparently, I neglect transitions. The professional editor to whom I paid a chunk of change to help with my memoir advises me again and again, “What about adding a sentence here to create a smoother transition?”

Hold on. I can’t skip from topic to topic and expect the reader to keep up? Have you never had a conversation with me? It’s my modus operandi to jump around. Give me a glass of wine and hold onto your hat; it’s a fast ride. And it’s so much more fun to write like I talk.

Enough about writing, though. (How’s that for a lame transition?) What about life? Don’t I get bonus points for how much transition I’ve endured in my life? I’ve transitioned from the high desert to the Midwest; from a single-family home to a condo; from driving everywhere to biking or walking. I transitioned from being a social butterfly to living in isolation. These are big deals. I’m worn out, people. And what about while I was growing up? Back then, I frequently transitioned from one apartment, school, or city to another as if I were a military kid. (I wasn’t.) Transition is my middle name. (It isn’t.) I want a prize.

It feels like the country is transitioning into the last phase or three of the pandemic – barring another setback. I’ve spent over a year transitioning into a homebody, but now I’m supposed to transition back into someone who is comfortable not crossing the street to pass people on the sidewalk; sitting in circumstances resembling a crowd; using public restrooms that don’t have windows; buying clothes from a store – perhaps even trying them on first; and seeing the dentist?

Fingers crossed I do better with those challenges than I’m managing with memoir transitions.

SPring eQuinOX

[2-min read] “Fight like a man! You’re being a little bitch! Fight like a man!” he yells, stepping forward. A few blocks over, that heavy metal crunch sound as two speeding SUVs meet. A single degree more and simmer becomes boil. The first day of spring.

“Fight like a man! You’re being a little bitch! Fight like a man!” he yells, stepping forward. I try to imagine something to say that would give him pause. Inspire him to reconsider. Encourage him to notice it’s a sunny warm breezy day, geese returning to the pond. A restorative space in which to exhale.

“Fight like a man! You’re being a little bitch! Fight like a man!” he yells, stepping forward. Not a model student of inclusion and diversity training, by commanding someone to fight “like a man,” he is boxing in the masculine gender, not allowing a spectrum of individuality but inciting a protection of ego, a shallow defense of heritage, perhaps. Labeling him the slur, he is accusing the other of being no better than female – as if male is better, on display that very moment. As if no woman fights fiercely. Deeming women merely pejoratives and not true keepers of family, society, planet. Piling on misogyny, he is modifying the feminine slur with “little.” Wishing to minimize a force. Has he never been loved by a woman?

I am at a loss for something effective to say. Instead, I imagine how he might be different on a summer day. “I’m angry!” he’ll announce, holding his ground. Not antiquated, constrictive, destructive language. It allows for vulnerability. Enables authentic self-expression. Instant relief. It also saves his face. And the day. That first day of spring.


[3-min read] Remind me not to move again during a pandemic. I’ve been entertaining myself by looking at my appointment book for this-time-last-year events. March 4, 2020, says “plants,” when a friend loaded all my green babies into her car because they wouldn’t have survived a cross-country drive followed by a two-month stint in a storage shed. It was tough to let them go. March 7 says “Popejoy,” where my husband and I sat with several hundred other people mesmerized by the dance performance of Pilobolus. We were nervous, but not stay-at-home nervous. We went to Target for supplies on March 8, but shelves were already devoid of TP. March 13 has “COVID Shutdown” but after calling to confirm, I kept my massage appointment. March 15 says “Lynn’s” because she was hosting our going-away party. We agreed to cancel it after hearing of 1,000+ Italians dying of COVID-19 in a single day. I decided to keep my haircut appointment on the 17th, and we closed on the sale of our house the next day.

White-out streaks across that month of March. Various appointments were all moved up and otherwise, we didn’t stay a few nights with friends before we didn’t fly to Phoenix for Spring Training baseball. I still marvel that as originally scheduled, we left New Mexico headed for Minneapolis on March 26. We didn’t get a box for the road from Whoo’s Donuts. We did accept a few rolls of toilet paper from the housekeeper employed by friends who briefly rented us their Santa Fe casita. He had a jump on compassion and empathy.

In contrast to March, with business scheduled nearly every day before we departed, April 2020 says “Beer!” on the 17th with an arrow indicating it was moved to the 18th. There is an asterisk by Earth Day on the 22nd. In May, we closed on the purchase of our condo and in August, we nervously booked a long weekend at a small lake resort up north because a neighbor told us we wouldn’t mentally survive our first Minnesota winter otherwise.

One of the greatest challenges of the move has been loneliness compounded by pandemic isolation. I haven’t been able to make new friends. At first everything else was novel, so it didn’t bother me. Now I recognize I am among the living and not in a ghost condo only when I hear neighbors walking above me, laughing next door, or leaving through the garage below me. In lieu of chatty co-workers, I have noisy baseboard heating. As I tap my keyboard wishing lines indicative of evolution of the soul would manifest, I am intermittently stunned by a lengthy and rolling, boisterous sound of… flatulence. Imagine it. (I have backed into a far corner covering the pinhole of my phone while on a call with an acquaintance, praying she won’t hear and attribute the offense to me.) A shoddy substitute for companionship, I think.

Optimistically, I bought a 2021 appointment calendar. I use it to mark when my credit card bill is due. (My new hobby is purchasing cool merch like Outdoor Afro hiking socks and a Refugee Designs hip pack to support inspiring movements and businesses.) I note the monthly Farmer’s Market and whatever I don’t want to miss on TV. On March 29, my one-year anniversary in Minneapolis, I’ve written “JURY DUTY.” I’ve been summoned.

I do not yearn for times when something was planned most days. But it’s strange to have lived here nearly a year and have only a vague sense of my new city. I accept I may never fully know Minneapolis as it was pre-pandemic. I do look forward to the day when I can start trying.