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The Pie I Didn’t Bake

It’s that time of year again — and I’m re-running this post, which first appeared as an essay in the East Bay Express 20 years ago. My thoughts are with all those who suffer from addiction this Thanksgiving, and with those who love them. ** A week before Thanksgiving, and I’m making a list. Canned pumpkin. Evaporated milk. Nutmeg, allspice, and – after double-checking the cupboard – cinnamon: spices I won’t use again until next year. I flip through The Joy of Cooking to a page stained with flour and butter, and after reviewing Basic Pie Crust, lift the sack … Continue reading

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Morning After

I started to write this morning about the shock and disappointment and fear that I, and so many people around me, feel. I started to write about the weird quiet when I awoke this a.m., the way people looked at each other on the bus — with kindness, like after 9/11, but also with a jittery attention to the screamer on the street, the conspiracy theorist speaking too loudly to ignore — the way my office feels like a morgue. I started to write about how I grew up feeling proud of my country, and how I still get misty-eyed … Continue reading

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The Pie I Didn’t Bake

You know those seasonal columns that get repeated each year?  Maybe it’s a cleverly rhyming send-off to the year, or a list of what the writer is thankful for. This Thanksgiving, for the second year now, I’m posting an essay that first appeared in the 12/27/96 issue of East Bay Express. ** A week before Thanksgiving, and I’m making a list. Canned pumpkin. Evaporated milk. Nutmeg, allspice, and – after double-checking the cupboard – cinnamon: spices I won’t use again until next year. I flip through The Joy of Cooking to a page stained with flour and butter, and after … Continue reading

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Darkness & Light

Lent has officially ended. Today is Good Friday, the second of the three days (Triduum) leading up to Easter Sunday.  Today — or rather, tonight, at sundown — marks the start of  Passover.  I’ve been thinking today about story, without which we wouldn’t commemorate either event.  I’ve also been thinking, this Lent, about trust, about giving up my often desperate grip on control in my own stories.   I’ve been praying, I guess, about letting go.  Today, too, I am struck by the Triduum’s embrace of sorrow and agony, and how those dark places open us up.  Story does that too, … Continue reading

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Field Trip

I’ve always been self-disciplined, to a fault perhaps. Responsible, accountable. Dogged, in the damning term of one of my grad-school advisers. Lindsey is nothing if not dogged, she wrote in my file, words that stung when I found them with their reminder of how she’d chastised me for showing her too many revisions. Part of that doggedness is the writer’s schedule I’ve kept for more than twenty years: the hours where I park my ass in the chair and write. Or stare at the screen and despair. Lately those hours have become drudgery. How to get the joy back, the … Continue reading

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