Hard Times in Babylon

2024-04-03T15:45:39-07:00Categories: creative aging, family, featured posts, journalism, memoir, Seattle, writing|Tags: , , , , , |

Bangladesh, 1987. A few months after the Haiti trip. Photo by Hilda Bryant. Thirty-seven years ago, I said yes to this guy. It was April Fool’s Day, but he wasn’t kidding, and neither was I. We were in Haiti at the time, on assignment for the TV station where we both worked, full of hope for our shared future and for Haiti’s too: Haitians had just held their first free elections in the republic’s history. Such hope seems quaint in 2024. Haiti is at the mercy of violent gangs; dreams of any future that resembles democracy are currently barely plausible. And democracy is being tested and threatened and tested again here too. Right here in these United States, in ways we could not have imagined. Just as we could not have imagined, 30-plus years ago, that we would someday be engulfed by a worldwide pandemic. That more than seven million people would die (1.2 million in the U.S.), and countless others be permanently affected by their run-in with the microscopic virus. Who wants to dwell on any of this? Or read about it? Let alone write about it? Turns out that guy I said yes to wanted to dwell on it, to observe it, and to write about it. Turns out writing a novel, starring real people not unlike ourselves, made the most sense to him. There would be plenty of scholars and epidemiologists who could weigh in on the pandemic from their positions of expertise. There would be plenty of famous and glamorous [...]

April Come

2021-04-28T14:18:16-07:00Categories: creative aging, faith and doubt, family, featured posts, hiking, memoir, nature, parenting, quiet, Seattle, Uncategorized, urban life, writing|Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

“April come!” our daughter Claire used to plead at bedtime. Her favorite lullaby was Simon & Garfunkel’s classic, “April Come She Will.” But the pleading was play-acting: she knew her father loved nothing more than to sing that song to her and her baby brother Nick. This morning, my husband teared up as he read Robin Wall Kimmerer’s poignant account in Braiding Sweetgrass of taking her daughter off to college. He and I laughed as we recalled our own last manic trip from Claire’s dorm room to Target for hangers—the only remaining little something we could think of to do before we would have to say goodbye. Three years later, we did it all again when it was Nick's turn. I read Kimmerer’s book a few months ago, and loved it, and so it made me happy that Rustin was loving it too. And remembering that long-ago college move-in day—can it really be nearly 14 years?!—was a moment of April sweetness, one of so many in this showery, sunny month, when streams are ripe and swelled with rain; this moment of the year that is bursting with newborn life every which way you look. On one morning walk in the scrap of forest that backs my urban neighborhood, I saw this. And this. And this.  And yet. I am still so quick to brood (that editor hasn’t gotten back to me) and fuss (why is my stupid Zoom suddenly going choppy?!) and whine (wish I could… wish I could… wish I could…) And yet. I got [...]

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