Lolliblog

Everyday, noted.

This,
This right now,
This second of this season
is my favorite.
I wish summer could last forever,
bare feet
sticking to the floor
chasing sweat-soaked sleep
on hot cicada din nights
broken by the crack of thunder.
But this doesn’t
can’t possibly
last;
summer’s fleeting an agony
that makes me love it all the more.

This,

This right now,

This second of this season

is my favorite.

I wish summer could last forever,

bare feet

sticking to the floor

chasing sweat-soaked sleep

on hot cicada din nights

broken by the crack of thunder.

But this doesn’t

can’t possibly

last;

summer’s fleeting an agony

that makes me love it all the more.

Passages From “To Kill A Mockingbird” If Atticus Finch Were More Like My Dad

patrickcassels:

  • “Kids, you never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view,” Atticus said solemnly. Then, the smoke alarm went off. “Ah, shoot,” said Atticus. He scurried into the kitchen, then came back holding a skillet of burning hot dogs. “I totally screwed up dinner,” he…

Pat Cassels, my literary humor hat is off to you, sir, and I am honored that you were once-twice, technically- our house guest.

I love this.


Here are Rachael, Eliza, and Sarah in the kitchen of our old house. My favorite days were days like this; the girls left to their own devices, which in this case involved weird dress-up outfits and balloons. 
I used to wish I could be one of those organized parents, all brisk purpose and strict schedules, but looking back, I suspect childhood is happiest when one errs on the side of bedlam.

Here are Rachael, Eliza, and Sarah in the kitchen of our old house. My favorite days were days like this; the girls left to their own devices, which in this case involved weird dress-up outfits and balloons.

I used to wish I could be one of those organized parents, all brisk purpose and strict schedules, but looking back, I suspect childhood is happiest when one errs on the side of bedlam.

Backing Out

An overdeveloped sense of duty has its benefits, mostly to other people. I have internalized the importance of keeping my word, living up to stated obligations, returning library books on time. Admittedly, I derive a measure of satisfaction from knowing folks can count on me.

Sometimes, though, I hit a wall. When I was younger, I just powered through it, but recently, well, I’m not sure whether I’ve lost my resolve or wised up. I am pretty sure it’s the latter.

I don’t do it frequently, and I’m still not comfortable with it, but very occasionally I back out of commitments. Most of the time it’s because I miscalculated my tolerance level or fate offers up extenuating circumstances. It actually takes a lot to overwhelm me, and it takes very little to make me feel guilty, which is an existential equation I’m working on in the interest of self-preservation.

It is better for everyone if I can get what I need, and sometimes this requires reneging. It makes me feel better to think how much I would dislike being someone’s obligation, one more item to check off on the to-do list. I am quite sure people would be upset to learn I think of them that way. Them, me- we all deserve better.

Anyway, it’s only the beginning of my evolution, and I certainly don’t want to overcompensate into whimsical unreliability, but I am trying to get better at backing out and giving everyone (including me) some breathing room.


Our Audi seemed to be on its last legs; our go-to mechanic told us the exhaust system needed to be replaced and Audi parts are expensive. The car is worth $2,000 tops, so the $3,000 quote to fix it didn’t make sense. We went to a franchise muffler shop for a second opinion and the price was the same.
The car wouldn’t pass emissions without the exhaust system overhaul and the muffler ‘s death rattle grew louder by the day. We were thinking we’d have to scrap the car when Sam heard about this place on Car Talk.
American Muffler is on a block in New Haven notorious for drug deals and drive-by shootings. A rusted chain-link fence separates it from blighted buildings, and its rutted parking lot is littered with broken glass. A cheerful guy with dreds and a neck tattoo trotted over as Micah and I drove in. “Nice Audi”, he said, pronouncing it “Oddie”. “What’s the problem?” Micah started to explain. “Just get in, start it up.” The guy threw himself on the asphalt next to the car, belly down, craning his neck to look at the undercarriage.
“Your muffler’s shot, man. And the exhaust’s rusted out.”
“Can you fix it?” Micah asked.
“Sure.”
“How much?” I asked.
He thought for a split-second, shrugged. “A hundred bucks. That sound okay?” Okay? We couldn’t believe our ears. “Cash only. You don’t got it on you the ATM’s over there.” He pointed to the pawn shop across the street.
A half hour later, the rusty muffler and exhaust pipes lay on the garage floor, and we handed him five crisp twenty dollar bills that he counted three times before pocketing. Later, the car passed emissions with flying colors.
Who’d have thought? Repair shops in the business of actually repairing things. Old fashioned ingenuity, something many of us no longer even look for, because we’ve been brought up (brainwashed?) to cautiously go by the book. I understand liability. But I gladly gave up any guarantees, the lounge with free bad coffee and a flatscreen, all the official-looking documentation to see American Muffler in swashbuckling action, proof that resourcefulness is not dead, just flying under the radar.

Our Audi seemed to be on its last legs; our go-to mechanic told us the exhaust system needed to be replaced and Audi parts are expensive. The car is worth $2,000 tops, so the $3,000 quote to fix it didn’t make sense. We went to a franchise muffler shop for a second opinion and the price was the same.

The car wouldn’t pass emissions without the exhaust system overhaul and the muffler ‘s death rattle grew louder by the day. We were thinking we’d have to scrap the car when Sam heard about this place on Car Talk.

American Muffler is on a block in New Haven notorious for drug deals and drive-by shootings. A rusted chain-link fence separates it from blighted buildings, and its rutted parking lot is littered with broken glass. A cheerful guy with dreds and a neck tattoo trotted over as Micah and I drove in. “Nice Audi”, he said, pronouncing it “Oddie”. “What’s the problem?” Micah started to explain. “Just get in, start it up.” The guy threw himself on the asphalt next to the car, belly down, craning his neck to look at the undercarriage.

“Your muffler’s shot, man. And the exhaust’s rusted out.”

“Can you fix it?” Micah asked.

“Sure.”

“How much?” I asked.

He thought for a split-second, shrugged. “A hundred bucks. That sound okay?” Okay? We couldn’t believe our ears. “Cash only. You don’t got it on you the ATM’s over there.” He pointed to the pawn shop across the street.

A half hour later, the rusty muffler and exhaust pipes lay on the garage floor, and we handed him five crisp twenty dollar bills that he counted three times before pocketing. Later, the car passed emissions with flying colors.

Who’d have thought? Repair shops in the business of actually repairing things. Old fashioned ingenuity, something many of us no longer even look for, because we’ve been brought up (brainwashed?) to cautiously go by the book. I understand liability. But I gladly gave up any guarantees, the lounge with free bad coffee and a flatscreen, all the official-looking documentation to see American Muffler in swashbuckling action, proof that resourcefulness is not dead, just flying under the radar.


My chocolate chip cookies are my crowning achievement. They eclipse my parenting skills, my teaching skills, even my writing ability. I’m not being humble here. My cookies are just that good.

My chocolate chip cookies are my crowning achievement. They eclipse my parenting skills, my teaching skills, even my writing ability. I’m not being humble here. My cookies are just that good.

The Lucky Ones

The past few days have been full of calamities, both far and near. The violence in Israel and Palestine, the downed Malaysian plane, and closer to home, an acquaintance was hit and killed by a truck while jogging in the afternoon and a guy Micah knew from middle school, also on a run in the middle of the day, was hit by a drunk driver and later died.

When tragedy strikes singly, my natural inclination is to dwell on how we constantly rub elbows with the Reaper. With multiple misfortunes such as these, my ruminations grow darker and more obsessive. I found myself looking at real estate listings in the middle of nowhere. I mean, what if I could just gather my family around and take them to a safe place, to live a simple life far away from potential disaster? This plan, mentioned at the dinner table to Sam and Micah and Sarah, was greeted less than enthusiastically.

“You can’t live life like that,” Sam said.

“What’s wrong with trying to eliminate certain risks?” I asked.

“By certain risks, do you mean walking? Running? Driving? Going anywhere at all?” Micah asked. “Interacting with other humans?”

“You could build an underground bunker and stay in it,” Sarah said. “Like a coffin.”

I hate to admit it, but they’re right. As much as I would do anything in my power to keep everyone safe, free will requires the assumption of risk. We roll the dice every day, and every day, the lucky ones manage the most death-defying feat imaginable. They live.

poem I wrote sitting across the table from you

if I had two nickels to rub together
I would rub them together

like a kid rubs sticks together
until friction made combustion

and they burned

a hole in my pocket

into which I would put my hand
and then my arm

and eventually my whole self––
I would fold myself

into the hole in my pocket and disappear

into the pocket of myself, or at least my pants

but before I did

like some ancient star

I’d grab your hand

Kevin Varrone’s old-fashioned love poem is writ modern; he replaces sentimentality with simplicity and improbable action without losing one iota of classical romance. My advice: read this aloud to someone you love. You’re welcome.


On our fifth anniversary, Sam and I went back to Nantucket, where we spent our honeymoon. Here we are, on the ferry ride over. Is it just me, or does Sam look like he’s in freaking middle school? I offer this as evidence to refute his ongoing claim that being married to me caused him to age prematurely.

On our fifth anniversary, Sam and I went back to Nantucket, where we spent our honeymoon. Here we are, on the ferry ride over. Is it just me, or does Sam look like he’s in freaking middle school? I offer this as evidence to refute his ongoing claim that being married to me caused him to age prematurely.

Five Things You Will Miss When You Are Older

  1. That feeling that time is endless and therefore, expendable. As you get older, time collapses in on itself and starts rushing toward you, like an explosion and its billowing smoke-filled aftermath. When you are young, squandering time is blissfully no big deal, so it comes as a shock when you grow up and are seized by a frantic sense of purpose or lacking that, the paralysis of crushing guilt. The young have the luxury of boredom, which should be indulged by whining and frittering.
  2. Physical recklessness. In other words, blatant disregard for life and limb. Jump from high places, slide down banisters, balance on the edge of that fountain. Sure, you may fall, but your joints are supple, and when you’re young, lacerations heal quickly. Breaking your arm at age 11, jumping off the garage roof on a dare, may be painful in the short term but will get you lots of attention, a cast signed by friends and family, plus it’s a cool story you will never tire of telling. Breaking your hip at age 78 on a smear of butter in front of the dairy case at the grocery store is just sad.
  3. Falling into unrequited love.  Don’t hold back. Throw yourself into a disconsolate heap upon the altar of unreciprocated love. Sigh. Howl. Feel so wretched that the object of your affection will never, ever be yours that you believe you might actually die of a broken heart. Within reason, you can be stalkerish. When you get older this level of obsession would be considered creepy and possibly illegal, but when you are young, such melodrama is known simply as adolescence.
  4. Disregard for housekeeping niceties. Cleanliness and comfort are things you will annoy yourself with when you are older. For now, you should be oblivious to dust and mildew. This is life, after all, not a Holiday Inn, and it’s supposed to be messy. You have a decade at least before you start inspecting the glass for smudges and in doing so determine it is half-empty. Don’t rush it. You want to put off this depressing epiphany as long as you can.
  5. Willful over-indulgence. It’s never a good idea to eat an entire sheet cake meant to serve 48 with your sister, but we did and we still talk about it! The same could be said about drinking five vodka tonics, or staying up talking all night at a sleepover. Throw yourself into that wicked stomachache or hangover or case of sleep deprivation with gusto, and bear it like a young person, as a badge of honor, not like an old fogey, who considers suffering penance.