My Mother, My Daughter, Myself

6091832360_c140db4ca7_mMy daughter Anna Maria was born on Orthodox Easter Sunday—Pascha—six years ago. That year, the date fell on April 19. While her brother had blasted his way into the world at the very bottom of the night, in a delivery that was swift and surreal and un-medicated, my daughter arrived in the late afternoon as the sunlight was just beginning to dim. I latched her to my breast and asked my husband to run go get me a hamburger, fries, and a gin and tonic, as well as a big cup of coffee.

I was forty years old. Among the number of reasons we named our daughter Anna Maria was the teaching of Holy Tradition that the Virgin Mary’s mother was named Anna, and that she and her husband Joachim had long prayed for the little daughter who had been born to her when she was of an advanced age for the era. [Read more...]

Resisting My Inner Columba Bush

9250603381_054a467525_nPoor Columba Bush: On top of the doubtlessly-endless-hassle it must be to have your husband effectively running for president when you are known as a “low key sort,” it’s even worse to have Karen Tumulty of The Washington Post go digging through your disclosure forms to find out that—as goes the stock phrase that has now been repeated over and over like a bad penny—you “took out a loan to buy $42,311.70 worth of jewelry on a single day” in 2000. As well as to bring up, yet again, the old story about how you were held by customs officials, coming back from Paris, for lying about how much shopping you did, because you were trying to hide the $19,000 bill from your husband. [Read more...]

Mama and The Help

7261678144_86dcaa47b6_zIn memory of my mother

 “How come we don’t have a maid?” I asked my mother. It was the summer of 1973 and I was five.

Across the street at the neighbor’s, Lula wore men’s white cotton socks with sandals and came outside to greet the mailman every afternoon. She was slow moving and wide, with skin the color of wood varnish.

“Come and let me love on you,” she’d say, but Mama always stiffened a bit, as though she were not quite comfortable. [Read more...]

The Collision

deerAll I saw of the deer at first was the eye: domed, amber and pellucid, set in a pallid furry temple. I saw that, and the briefest flash of a muscled flank as the deer charged from the trees and straight into the front right fender of my car.

If this were a short story, or a scene in a movie, this would be the moment when time would suddenly lengthen, stretch into slow motion: I’d have some kind of clarifying and revelatory last-minute realization. That’s not merely a literary conceit: I have experienced those moments when experience seems literally toculminate, the universe to distill to a point.

[Read more...]

Breaking Up with My Job

leavingjobLast week, I left the job where I have worked for the past seven-and-three-quarter years. There’s not much to say about the job itself—that’s the other life I don’t write about in this forum, the one where I live under another name entirely, although in this day of the online permanent record, you can connect all the dots in a minimum of keystrokes on Google.

There’s also little to say because it was a very good job, the kind of rare position that is always being written about in our papers of record for its flexibility and humane part-time hours, along with its intellectual challenge. Despite my commitments to domesticity, volunteerism and full-on mothering, it never made sense not to work, and it’s been good for my mental health, to boot. (I guess that means I should write about it, but I’m not going to do it here.)

[Read more...]


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