There is nothing, and there is not one bloody thing.


In September, 2007, Mary-Louise Parker adopted a child from an orphanage in Ethiopia.  The child’s Uncle walked a distance that Parker stated she would complain if she had to travel to in a car. The journey was made with his children, three of which were under 10. The baby was carried on his hip. This excerpt is from a letter written by Parker (“Dear Uncle“) as a tribute to him.  In their first meeting, he said: “I hope that she will be taken care of, go to school and perhaps one day be something, a doctor.”

There are so many reductive adjectives used to describe those materially less fortunate, words the privileged use to anoint them. Words like proud, or graceful…It never rings true. Having seen what I saw when you brought me to the hut where my daughter was born, and introduced me to the people in your village, I felt like I was hovering over every judgment of my reality and yours, unable to land. None of the families I met were intact, everyone had lost children, parents, or a spouse. There was not enough of anything for anyone. The only bounty was in categories of suffering or possible ways to die. I didn’t feel them looking at me with distance, they all smiled and shook my hand.

I hid my embarrassment at how stupid I felt when I entered your hut and was alarmed by the darkness that swallowed me despite it being late morning. Of course I knew there was no electricity, no light would be there except for what might creep in through that ceiling of straw. I knew it, but I couldn’t fathom it until I stood inside with you and stared at an actual nothingness and my eyes adjusted to near black. There is nothing, and there is not one bloody thing. As you pointed at different parts of the hut that were designated for the cows to sleep, or the spot where your family of twelve eats when there is food, or where you slept, I saw spots with absolutely nothing in them. There was an absence of comment on your situation that made you seem twenty feet tall. It’s something I could never know if I hadn’t stood there, with you showing me what life is like on another planet where there is no complaining, or showing disappointment. [Read more…]

Thanksgiving at dawn. House full of sleepers.


Quiet has many moods. When our sons are home, their energy is palpable. Even when they’re upstairs sleeping I can sense them, can feel the house filling with their presence, expanding like a sail billowed with air. I love the dawn stillness of a house full of sleepers, love knowing that within these walls our entire family is contained and safe, reunited, our stable four-sided shape resurrected.

~ Katrina Kenison, Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment 


Riding Metro North. The Return.


5:30 am.
A brisk walk to catch the 5:40 train to Grand Central.
28º F. Cold. Can’t touch me.
Running on a four hours sleep. Can’t feel it.
Dark. Spring forward. Fall back. Fall back into darkness, on both ends of the work day.
But today, light beams.
Thanksgiving week.
A scheduled vacation week. And here you are, Day 2 of vacation and off to work again.
And, looking forward to the day.

I find an open two-seater in the Quiet Car.
I lean my head against the window, close my eyes, and replay last night. [Read more…]

Riding Metro North. Vive la France.



2:45 am.

How quiet it is.
Too soon to wake.
Too late to stop the mind.
A hamster on the wheel, spinning.

Duras: “How quiet it is,” […] “Who’d believe our nights are such an ordeal?”

3:30 am.

In the Quiet Zone.
Ascending to de Botton’s higher consciousness. Or somewhere.

Alain de Botton: “Perhaps late at night or early in the morning (when there are no threats or demands on us), when our bodies and passions are comfortable and quiescent, we have the privilege of being able to access the higher mind …We loosen our hold on our own egos and ascend to a less biased and more universal perspective, casting off a little of the customary anxious self-justification and brittle pride.”

I do feel that ascension. Now if I could only park here.

6:51 a.m.

Father and his daughter walk to train station.  It’s 45° F.  “It’s cold Dad.” I look down at her bare red legs pockmarked with goose bumps: “Why aren’t you wearing nylons?” She snaps back at me: “Really Dad? Nylons. Nobody wears Nylons anymore? That’s creepy.

So, now I’m on the wrong side of 50 and creepy.  OK, so it wasn’t a focus area. And, it’s not that I haven’t looked at women’s legs. And there you are, a flat stone skipping silently across the water, jumping decades of fashion revolution. [Read more…]

Dear Daddy


Going up Sixth Avenue in a taxi, your grandson said, “Mommy, aren’t there so many amazing things in the world? Aren’t we so lucky to be alive?” That’s you in him, Daddy. He’s so like you, full of extremes and heavy on the dream space. Both kids put their fists up for each other and I know that would make you happy.


My children may never see me hunched over a checkbook and sense my mounting panic, or come home late and find me in the street armed with a shovel as I take the driver of a car by the neck when liquor is smelled on him. They will watch me make much of their victories and hold a grudge until my last breath if someone treats them cruelly. This is your family I am running here. I can’t take credit for more than remembering to point to you when I do something right and for continuing to put one foot in front of the other when I lose heart. We all miss you something fierce, those of us who wouldn’t exist had you not kept walking when an ordinary person would have fallen to his knees. To convey in any existing language how I miss you isn’t possible. It would be like blue trying to describe the ocean.


Most of all to you, Daddy. That’s you in me, the far-off gaze. The poems are you, as are the good deeds and the jars of candy I hide everywhere. You are what makes me indomitable and how I know to keep walking when I feel crippled in every conceivable way.

~ Mary-Louise Parker, ‘Dear Daddy’ from Dear Mr. You

I bought this book yesterday and I’m finding it hard to put down.

“A wonderfully unconventional literary debut from the award-winning actress Mary-Louise Parker. An extraordinary literary work, Dear Mr. You renders the singular arc of a woman’s life through letters Mary-Louise Parker composes to the men, real and hypothetical, who have informed the person she is today.”

See NY Times Book Review: In ‘Dear Mr. You,’ Mary-Louise Parker Writes to Men, With Lust and Rue.  “That Ms. Parker’s book is so seriously good seems like overkill. But it is…”

Sunday Morning: “There’s no words”

“Damned is the man who abandons himself”
These six words show
That the worse the situation is
Never, ever should a man consider it is lost.

~ Raimundo A. Sobrinho

Raimundo Arruda Sobrinho, 77, is a Brazilian poet and writer. Born in a rural area of Goiás on 1 August 1938, he moved to São Paulo at the age of 23 where he worked as a gardener and a book seller. In the late 1970s, early 1980s, nearly at the end of the military dictatorship of Brazil, he became homeless, and this lasted for nearly 35 years. During this period he wrote several poems and short stories, but they remained unknown until they were discovered by Shalla Monteiro in April 2011.

Thank you Sawsan

Flying. Gate C-12. Nashville.


2:15 pm flight.
Nashville, TN to LGA.

Gate C-12.  This would not be mistaken for Gate 4 in Albuquerque, a share with over 500,000 views.  No Sir. No such Magic.

Day 4 of a grueling road trip.
A thin cushioned seat at the Gate.
Followed by an announcement that the flight would be delayed 80 minutes.
It’s a wonderful life!

I walk.

Country girls with their long hair, tall boots, and skinny blue jeans.

A live performer strums his guitar, his love lost, his heart break. Patrons sit at the bar watching CNN and nurse their microbrews.

The intoxicating pull of a Quiznos Swiss Turkey Club, Hot fries from Burger King and Tall Caramel Macchiato from Starbucks – “Freshly steamed milk with vanilla-flavored syrup is marked with espresso and topped with caramel drizzle for an oh-so-sweet finish.”

But I resist. I walk away from all of this.

And I walk.
[Read more…]

There’ll be days like this

Home at last, I haul in the grocery bags, swallow a couple of extra-strength Tylenol, put the entire Van Morrison play list on the stereo, and spend the afternoon roasting vegetables and making pasta sauce, salad, and a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. Outside, the rain comes down in sheets. I am singing “Days Like This,” belting out the song. The kitchen fills with good smells.

~ Katrina Kenison, Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment

Notes: Related posts: Katrina Kenison

Driving I-95 S. Catching the 5:40.


Wednesday night

RK:  Dad, can you drive me to the train station? I need to get to work early.
DK:  What time?
RK:  5:30 am for the 5:40 train.
DK:  Really? It’s a 5-minute walk.
RK:  You are up anyway. You don’t want me walking in the dark, do you?

Thursday morning.

We pull up to the station.

5:31 am.

DK:  Have a good day Honey.
RK:  What’s the rush? A few more minutes Dad. It’s toasty in here.
DK:  OK.

We sit in silence with the car running. I flip on ‘The Coffee House’ on Sirius: Ray LaMontagne with Trouble. The air vents are blowing heat, it’s 46° F outside.  And dark. [Read more…]

Quiet has many moods


Quiet has many moods. When our sons are home, their energy is palpable. Even when they’re upstairs sleeping I can sense them, can feel the house filling with their presence, expanding like a sail billowed with air. I love the dawn stillness of a house full of sleepers, love knowing that within these walls our entire family is contained and safe, reunited, our stable four-sided shape resurrected. But those days are the exception now, not the norm.

~ Katrina Kenison, Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment