Archive for the ‘Friends and family’ Category

The past 12 weeks have been among the most liberating and transformative of my adult life — but among the busiest and most stressful too. I was wistful back in September as I considered leaving the home Esteban and I had bought and rebuilt together. Half of me worried we would regret our decision; the […]

It’s been more than 20 years since Esteban and I first walked into our house, but the memory is still vivid. The wallpaper and woodwork were yellowed. Brown rings of nicotine stained the ceiling. The puke-green shag carpet reminded me of dead sod — with a path trampled down the middle, to the kitchen. The […]

The words “thank you” can’t begin to convey my gratitude for the outpouring of support after my last post. I’m thrilled to report that Esteban is fully recovered and back to his daily routine. “This is the age of miracles and wonders,” as Paul Simon wrote. Although it was distressing to spend so much time […]

It’s been a rough 10 days, friends. On July 9 my husband Esteban woke up with shortness of breath and a tight chest. In a scene that was eerily reminiscent of his first heart attack six years ago, we piled into the car and sped to the emergency room. The only photo I’ve taken in […]

The first time I met Aunt Lisa, Esteban and I had rented a Plymouth Reliant in Queens and had driven it through rain and sleet almost 300 miles north to Lake Placid. I remember almost every mile thanks to the bald tires and absent windshield wipers (which presumably had been stolen back in Queens). Lisa […]

October has been a full month. Friends have been ailing. My loved ones have had health scares. I’ve been busy at work. I’ve been busy at home, too, as Esteban and I have begun preparing our home for sale. But through it all I’ve tried to pause for a few minutes of stillness and reflection […]

Years ago, when we still had our dog Arrow, Esteban and I used to hike in a state park almost every weekend. But after Arrow died and our lives grew more complicated we slowly abandoned the habit. I’d almost forgotten we even had state parks in Minnesota until my friend Silke — who was visiting […]

Fail harder


I read an article a while back about Johannes Haushofer, a professor of psychology and public affairs at Princeton University who wrote a rather unconventional résumé: rather than tout his accomplishments, instead he listed his failures. “Most of what I try fails, but these failures are often invisible, while the successes are visible,” Haushofer wrote. […]

In Minnesota we have two seasons: Winter, and road construction. Welcome to Minnesota. Enjoy our orange cones! But sandwiched between them every year is one single, glorious day we call “summer.” Summer really does feel that fleeting here, perhaps because the winters are so memorable.   Proof that Mother Nature is trying to kill you. […]

Today is Memorial Day in the U.S. — a day to remember and honor those we’ve lost to the senseless tragedy that is war. Here’s one story, about a distant relative, I first published in 2014. May Doug and his sacrifice never be forgotten. On September 27 1942, Douglas Albert Munro sacrificed his life in […]

Remember that day I walked 25.9 miles (41km)? Here’s one-third of the story. I first heard of the Petite Ceinture a couple of years ago through MessyNessy Chic, where one photo in particular captured my imagination. Could this really exist in the heart of Paris? Photo via MessyNessy Chic During my next trip I vowed […]

A distant birth


One of my dearest friends turns 95 today. I can’t think of a better way to mark the occasion than through his own beautiful words, which he penned five years ago as he approached his 90th birthday. Alles Gute, mein lieber Doktor Robert.

When I heard about the attacks in Paris last night, my first thought was my friends. They come from all walks of life: journalists, musicians, authors, photographers. One is a tour guide, a yoga teacher; another is my underground muse. A couple are unemployed — and a couple more are retired. In spite of their […]

Dynamite and Prayers is the title of photographer Max Becherer’s stunning new book. Although the subject is the emerald miners of Afghanistan, Max’s storytelling transports us to a sweeping landscape few of us can even imagine — and unveils the true cost of war. I’ve had the privilege of working with many world-class photographers, but […]

I was heartbroken when I heard about Robin Williams’ suicide last August. He’d overcome so much, and in the process it seemed he’d grown wise. But I also felt betrayed. Had his unhinged joyfulness been just an act? Or had he forgotten his own lessons? My questions vanished the other day when his widow shared […]

The name is fictional, but the man is real. Here’s “Sal” in his new home. “The fact is, I’ve simply lived too long.” My friend Sal’s eyes filled with tears as he surveyed his new apartment. “I’ve outlived so many friends … and …” He didn’t have to finish. I knew what he was thinking: […]

Since 2009, my friend Pam and I have wandered into the woods each spring to hunt for morel mushrooms. There are two components, I think, to our seasonal addiction: First, the mushrooms are delicious. The English language has no adjective superlative enough to describe the smell and flavor of fresh morels sautéed in butter. And […]

As I write this my friends in Freiburg, Germany are gathering to remember the woman we called Gundi. I only vaguely remember the first time I met Hildegund Dörflinger, because I was already wobbly on Christmas-market Glühwein when I arrived at her bar. But I do remember that she made me feel instantly welcome. Gundi, […]

April is National Poetry Month.* I was going to leave this fact unacknowledged, because — though it’s heresy to admit it — I don’t like most poetry. Poetry can be sumptuous and evocative. But too many writers use poetry as a literary Cuisinart, as an excuse to dice up thoughts and mix metaphors. Some poets […]

My husband has been inconsolable since he learned that a dear friend’s 14-year-old daughter died in a car accident last Thursday. I’ve tried talking with him, holding his hand, just sitting quietly next to him … but his sadness is overwhelming. I understand why: No matter the circumstances, the death of a child always seems […]