A List of Ways My Dying Dad Smoked His Last Cigarettes

posted in: Culture, Faith, Uncategorized | 0

As my dad died, I had violent fantasies about severely beating the next person I saw with a cigarette hanging out of his or her mouth. I told my husband I was going to kick them in the throat. He thought that was an uncharacteristically mean thing for me to contemplate. I couldn’t help it, though. My dream of pummeling smoking strangers was most likely a way I dealt with my anger toward my father and his precious cigarettes, which were responsible for his Stage IV lung cancer…read more

Child of the Desert

posted in: Culture, Nature, Uncategorized | 0

I grew up in the desert and thought it was the most beautiful place on earth. My best friend in high school and I would ditch our afternoon classes senior year to drive to sandstone cliffs, where we’d climb and tan and talk as lizards scuttled near. We’d kick up red dust in dry stream beds as we hiked, mindful of scorpions and rattlesnakes. It seemed perilous and that was part of the attraction.

It was quiet. There was always something soaring. I can’t speak for her, but I was aware how unique it was to grow up in such a place. I felt blessed to be a desert-dweller.

At night, we’d drive up twisty roads to the top of formations hand-hewn by New Deal workers to sit cliffside. Heat lightning flashed in the distance. Had we been able to transport across the valley below, underneath the flashing clouds, we’d find no rain falling. It is common for thunderstorms to roll through dropping no rain. Just angry, gorgeous zings tapping out a code with the light they exhale…read more

Punching George Bailey in the Face

posted in: Culture, Faith, Parenthood | 0

The email I composed to my daughter’s teacher was eloquent and angry. It was arch, crisp, devastating. I wrote words I knew would wound a person who dedicated her life to teaching elementary school children. She was a monster, a liar, a manipulator beyond reason. I was fierce and poetic, conjuring a vision of a little girl with a passionate love of school and learning left terrified to enter what was once a beloved place. I seethed and hammered keys. I marveled at how bitterness inspired twisting, clever phrases, even congratulating myself on one particular paragraph. My daggers were lined up and smartly punctuated…read more

The Dog Who Watches TV

posted in: Culture, Faith | 0

We have a three-year-old male dog. Because he was a rescue from an animal shelter, nobody knows exactly what breeds contributed to his mixed nuttiness. He has a medium build, like a spaniel, but the broad chest of a doberman. He has floppy ears like a beagle, but is fluffy like an Irish setter. 90% of his coat is white with a few black splotches. He was always a typical dog—friendly, goofy, always hungry. His singular goal in life seemed to be catching squirrels. Not only do they invade his slice of the world, I imagined he told himself they taste like furry, tasseled, ambulatory prime rib roasts…read more