A Few More Miles

It never gets easier, you just go faster. —Greg LeMond After my father’s stroke, after months of rehab, after coming to terms with the fact that the blind spot on his right side—his lost peripheral vision—was the new normal, his doctor told him he couldn’t ride his bicycle. Last fall he had aortic valve replacement […]

Party of One

“Wo shi yi ge ren.” Chinese for I am alone. Party of one. In English the phrase sounds celebratory: you’re alone, but hey, it’s still a party. Chinese lacks that aura of metaphorical festivity. You just count. One. I contemplate counting as I report my solitary number to the hostess at a restaurant in Suzhou, […]

Counter Intuitive

The cop that wrote me up for trying to use a fake ID at an Ocean City bar was wearing yellow-striped shorts, an embarrassing reality that defused any grand aspirations of mine to spin the tale into one of proud delinquency. Where that cop is today, I do not know, and he does not know […]

A Box of Chocolates in China

I cling to the back of a motorcycle, my hair wild in the wind, arms clenched around the slim waist in front. I am flying through the night, lights winking as we buzz around bumper-to-bumper traffic in a Chinese city of three million. Have I lost my mind, never having been on a cycle in […]

Preparing a Place

I am looking for someone. On the subway. At the hospital. Walking the sticky streets of the in-town neighborhood where I live in the shadowy, noirish, lost-dog summer nights. It takes me a long time to realize what I am supposed to be doing. Two years, maybe. In my self-involved twenty-something way, I consider two […]

I’ve Never Touched One

The year was 1993 and I was eight months pregnant and trapped in an elevator with an unstable guy who was rumored to have murdered his wife. I wanted to get out, but thought it would be rude, since I’d already told him I was going to the top floor for something to eat. Mr. […]

Taking the Edge Off

  IT’S BEEN A LOVELY DAY (EVEN IF I DID WANT TO KILL MYSELF) “I find that being in a family is the most excruciating possible way to be alive.” —Anne Enright, The Gathering Greetings all, After a pleasant Thanksgiving with Mom and my siblings where he won all the after-dinner games, my father suffered a […]

Boiler Rat

The power plant loomed out of the morning blackness, hulking above the Iowa corn fields like some menacing, malevolent, medieval castle. It was surrounded by trees in soft fall colors, planted there in an attempt to showcase it as environmentally friendly and to soften its sharp square lines; but you can’t hide that much ugly. […]

What Goes Around

“What is this place?” my father asked. “It’s Seattle, Dad,” I said. “From up high.” Lunch for two at the Space Needle’s revolving restaurant had seemed like a good idea when I’d wrested him away from his wife, Donna, that clear summer day. I’d hoped he’d be able to point out the marina where he’d […]