Chicago Tribune Commentary Elizabeth Conant: Lin Brehmer reminded me that it’s great to be alive – and a life well-lived is a triumph

Photo credit: E. Jason Wambsgans


The past few months have been hard on me and my peers. Our world is changing.

We’ve begun to lose iconic people who’ve always seemed to exist as permanent landmarks in our lives and culture, such as WXRT-FM 93.1 host Lin Brehmer. It’s easy to forget that these people are human and that they’re aging too.

I’m at the doorstep of 60, and in the past year or two, I’ve become acutely aware that this is an age at which maladies appear more frequently and morbid diagnoses begin to arrive. Even in my early and mid-50s, I retained that feeling of “everyone but me” regarding aging and disease — an attitude that prevails among the young and early middle-agers. It’s the sense that one has not arrived yet, that age and its concerns are still far off.

In our modern world, we are very keen on extending life, and we have come to expect longevity. It’s easy to forget that just a generation or two ago, if you made it to 60, that was an acceptable outcome. If you died in your 70s, it wasn’t considered a breach of cosmic justice. It was simply your time. Your glorious turn on the planet in corporeal form was up.

But these days, we fight as hard as we can to survive into years of frailty — and then we consider it a victory. I disagree.

I assert that a life well-lived is a victory, no matter what age it finds completion. It may be heart-wrenching to see someone depart, and it might not seem fair, but a life fully expressed is not a failure or a tragedy. Rather, it is a good outcome.

Last year, I went back to my hometown of Chicago for a visit. It was a thrilling week for me, densely packed with reunions. There was music and food, and there were all those streets and neighborhoods that I knew so well, the sight of which made me profoundly happy. WXRT provided the soundtrack.

The DJs’ voices on WXRT were as familiar and comforting to me as those of old friends. After all, these on-air personalities had been with me for years. It felt as if no time had passed since I’d moved away, more than a decade ago. Lin accompanied me as I drove through the city. I can’t hope to describe how full this made my heart. The sound of his voice made me feel loved; it restored my spirit. It made me feel like I really had returned home. I experienced a moment of true bliss that day.

Lin died on Sunday.

I knew he’d left the air in the summer, but I’d also heard that he had returned this past fall. Somehow, I just figured he’d beat the cancer, and he was back; all was as it should be. The news of his death was shocking to me. Understandable but still shocking. And as I began to think more critically about it, I realized that my generation was at the beginning of its downslope.

It’s begun. The time of goodbyes.

Death is nothing new, and our grief is not exceptional. But what does make the experience far different at this time in history is that we are all experiencing these losses in real time and on a global scale because of the internet. For us, there is no softening of the message through the buffer of time. Maybe it’s a good thing because it is certainly cathartic to be able to share with people all around the world our grief and our memories. I’d even say it’s a kind of privilege. But it’s certainly a new one.

For the most part, a death after 60 productive years on the planet is not a tragedy. It’s a sorrow that will subside as time passes. And as we in the 50-plus segment of the population can easily attest, time passes much more quickly as one ages.

Ten years ago feels like the year before last. Last year feels like just last week. Our end dates are fast approaching. But let us not be made too weary by this; all of us have done the best we can, and we will continue to enjoy the ride as best we’re able. Let’s thank our missing comrades for all they added to our lives, let’s smile at the memories and let’s let them go with a wave and a kiss.

Thank you, Lin, for reminding us that it really is great to be alive.

Elizabeth Conant is a musician and writer originally from Chicago and now living in Saratoga Springs, New York. She played keyboards for more than a decade in the Chicago-based indie pop band the Aluminum Group. She blogs at TheHillhouseinGreenfield.com.


This is a commentary published on January 24th, 2023, in the Chicago Tribune.

It is an edited version of the original post entitled “Liz’s Bin”.

Liz’s Bin

The past few months have been hard on me and my peers. Our world is changing.

We’ve begun to lose iconic individuals who’ve always seemed to exist as permanent landmarks in our lives and culture. It’s easy to forget that they’re human, and that they’re aging too. And since many were there to pave the way for us, they may even be a bit older than we are; it stands to reason they might leave first.

I’m at the doorstep of 60, and in the past year or two I’ve become acutely aware that this is an age at which maladies appear more frequently, and morbid diagnoses begin to arrive. Even in my early and mid-fifties I retained that feeling of “everyone but me” regarding aging and disease. The attitude which prevails among the young and early middle-agers. The sense that one has not arrived yet, that age and its concerns are still far-off. For me personally, the new awareness and perspective began as a murmuring in my 58th year and moved in for good sometime over the past twelve months.

I now take nothing for granted. Blood pressure meds are part of my daily ritual now, and due to a family history of colon cancer, I have pre-cancerous polyps snipped off every few years. I’m thankful all is well so far, but it’s real now. It’s here.

In our modern world we are very keen on extending life, and we have come to expect longevity. It’s easy to forget that just a generation or two ago, if you made it to 60, that was an acceptable outcome. If you died in your 70s, it wasn’t considered a breach of cosmic justice. It was simply your time. Your glorious turn on the planet in corporeal form was up. But these days, we fight as hard as we can to survive into years of frailty – and then we consider it a victory. I disagree.

I assert that a life well-lived is a victory, at no matter what age it finds completion. It may be heart wrenching to see someone depart, it might not seem fair, and it may hurt, but a life fully expressed is not a failure or a tragedy. Rather, it should be considered a good outcome. I’d like to think that if my life ended tomorrow, it would be seen as a minor success. I’ve been kind to people (however I fully admit to also being neglectful and selfish at times) and I’ve tried my very best to be loving and kind wherever I go. That’s about the best I can do.


Last year I went back to my hometown of Chicago for a visit. It was a thrilling week for me, densely packed with reunions. There was music and food, and there were all those streets and neighborhoods which I knew so well, the sight of which made me profoundly happy. Two radio stations provided the soundtrack; WDCB (which at my arrival was serendipitously playing a track by friend and jazz guitarist Dave Stryker, who I had also coincidentally just seen play the night before at Caffe Lena in my current hometown of Saratoga Springs, NY) and then – there was WXRT.

The DJ’s voices on WXRT were as familiar and comforting to me as old friends. Because they truly were old friends. These on-air personalities had been with me all throughout my musical growing up. And it was kind of remarkable that they were still on the air. It felt as if I hadn’t actually been gone for a decade and a half. Lin Brehmer accompanied me as I drove north on 294. I can’t hope to describe how full this made my heart. It restored my life energy; the sound of his voice made me feel loved and ready to keep going. It made me feel like I really had returned home. I experienced a moment of true bliss that day.

Lin died yesterday.

I knew he’d left the air last spring, but I’d also heard that he had returned this past fall. Somehow I’d just figured he’d won – he had beat the cancer, and he was back; all was as it should be. Yesterday, the news of his death was shocking to me. Understandable, but still… And as I began to think more critically about it, I realized that my generation was at the beginning of its downslope.


It’s begun. The time of goodbyes.

Death is nothing new, and our grief is not exceptional. But what does make the experience far different at this time in history is that we are all experiencing these losses in real time, and on a global scale. For us, there is no softening of the message through the buffer of time. Maybe it’s a good thing, because it is certainly cathartic to be able to share with people all around the world, in real time, our grief and our memories. I’d even say it’s a kind of privilege. But it’s certainly a new one.

I can recall so many times when my parents would hear about the death of a friend or colleague and express their regrets with a tired resignation. It was as if the time in between the death and receipt of the news served to dull the sting. I can’t really know; my parents were of that stoic generation that thought it bad form to express their true feelings. What I remember is the pause that would follow after my father would peruse the New York Times obituaries and read a name aloud. A beat of silence would follow, and then there would be the recollections, and finally my mother would say “Oh, that’s too bad”, and on they would go.

It feels as if I too am adopting my parents’ approach to the news of a death. It hurts, and yet it seems to hurt far less now than if these people would have died a decade or more earlier. At this point in the game my peers have all left legacies of some sort. There may be regrets – I should think every life has a few – but for the most part, a death after sixty productive years on the planet is not a travesty. It’s a sorrow that will subside as time passes. And as we of the fifty-plus segment of the population can easily attest, time passes much more quickly as one ages. Our pain will soon become less acute.

Ten years ago feels like the year before last. Last year feels like just last week. You know. It’s gone in a blink. Our end dates are fast-approaching. But let us not be made too weary by this; all of us have done the best we can, and we will continue to enjoy the ride as best we’re able. Let’s thank our missing comrades for all they added to our lives, let’s smile at the memories, and let’s let them go with a wave and a kiss.

Thank you, Lin, for reminding us that “It’s so fucking great to be alive”.


Postscript thoughts:

Men, please don’t put off having a prostate exam. My own father had prostate cancer, but thanks to early detection, he went on to live another two decades. I know that men aren’t as familiar with routine physical exams as women, so if you haven’t been to a doctor for a health check in a long time, please break this trend and make an appointment.

~~~

Funny that after all these years I never knew that Lin got his start in commercial radio here in upstate New York and was known as “the Reverend of Rock and Roll” at WQBK, in Albany. We traded home states, but in the reverse. (But like Lin, I will always be a Cubs fan.)

~~~

Here are a few songs played on WXRT today as Lin’s colleagues remembered his life through stories and music:

“Chicago” by Sufjan Stevens.

“No Hard Feelings” by the Avett Brothers.

“Keep Me In Your Heart” by Warren Zevon (it was his last song).

“All Things Must Pass” by George Harrison.

“I’ll Take You There” by Chicago’s own Mavis Staples.

~~~

Today’s Sun-Times piece on the life and death of Chicago’s WXRT radio host, Lin Brehmer.

~~~

The title of this post was inspired by Lin’s Bin.


The first track Lin played on his commercial radio debut at WQBX in Albany (January 20th, 1977) was the Beatles “Within You, Without You”. He explained that he had chosen it because he had always felt that “life flowed within you – but mostly without you”.

Horizon Bound

These days I think my job to be mainly that of a writer. An unpaid writer without benefit of professional editing, but a writer no less. A ruminator. A distiller of my many experiences into bite-sized takeaways that don’t require a lot of time invested to offer a return of insight.

But what exactly makes me qualified to offer such wisdom? A fuck ton of life experiences. I’ve packed a lot into my 59 years. And at the rate that people of a similar age are dying these days, I kinda feel the clock ticking. I feel a strong urge to share my shit. If the material isn’t of interest to you, that’s fine. But if you do resonate with my writing, then I can call this a job well done.

And, having long considered myself to be a “jack of all, master of none”, this is not a small achievement. (My son, were he to read this, would likely correct me; strangely, the original meaning of that phrase was just the opposite. But let’s not go down that rabbit hole for the moment.)

What is unresolved in my life? What would I like to see completed in a flat-out winning scenario? These are the questions I am posing to myself these days, with the sorrowful knowledge that much of it will likely not come to fruition. So I gotta make hay while the sun shines. (That expression leaves no room for misinterpretation.) I shall lower my expectations and find myself much happier at the results.

When I see middle-aged or older folks go through harrowing medical journeys in order to stay alive, I often wonder why? I’m honestly not sure I’d take any drastic measures to keep going at this point, should I become afflicted with a life-threatening disease. Or – perhaps my innate human drive for survival might kick in and supersede my current feelings on the matter. I just don’t know. But what I do know is that my son is launched. My most important job has been done. Were I to die in the near future, he might grieve my departure, but I can tell you it wouldn’t slow him down one bit. He’s sailing under full power now.

At this point in my life, I’m just trying to stay alive longer than my tenacious mother. After that, I dunno. I can honestly say that I am not entirely thrilled about being here. The things I’d always valued are increasingly elusive. I realize this may sound terribly aloof. Because, my goodness, don’t I have it all? I’m surrounded by nature, my home is beautiful (and paid for) and I’m safe. But my life is flat, flat, flat. Very little joy these days. As things stand now, there is no more playing music with other humans. No more in-person camaraderie, no more athletic success (much less prowess), and no more promise of aesthetic satisfaction regarding my aging body. And certainly, no more sex. Naw. That ship left the dock back in Milwaukee.

This next stage of the game is going to require a whole new approach. Every decade or so it seems life requires an overhaul, and now seems to be that time of reckoning. I’m not feeling quite up to it, but like a runner with her eye on the finish line, I’m motivated to find that second wind and blow this thing out to the best of my waning abilities.

Stay with me as I wrestle publicly with my grumbling alter ego. Let’s see if I can’t offer you a few more interesting tidbits before I reach my ambit.

See you next year, friends.

Ubiquitous Elephant

Woman ill in hospital bed

I can’t leave this unspoken anymore. There is an elephant in the room. There is an elephant in every room, and not a one of us is brave enough to admit it out loud lest we stir the pot, finding ourselves at the receiving end of a whole lot of grief.

Medical procedures and pharmaceuticals extend our lives far into the frailest years, and, more often than not, this creates a lousy situation. In short: people these days are living too long. A long life is not a victory if it is an unpleasant one. Consequently, I believe that every adult should have the right to choose a humane and legal death.


My mother is living on and on in the isolation of her house. Granted, she’s got the deer and the birds and the woods outside her windows, she’s got her British murder mysteries, and all of the 70s and 80s sitcom reruns to entertain her. She’s got The New Yorker to read (and read them through she does!), she’s got her drink every evening, and she’s still able to prepare food (she knocked out Thanksgiving dinner again this year, a true feat in that her right knee is now quite literally bone on bone). But she’s not able to come and go and she did only months ago. She is stuck inside her house. It can’t be easy. But there’s no reason to highlight this. She knows. And she has adapted. People are really good at that.

Now she is faced with a knee replacement at the age of 88. (She has postponed dealing with this for a long time. That’s understandable, but at this point there’s no avoiding it.) It surely stands that a woman of her determination will come through it ok, but if not, then what? And, even if things do go well – what then? We need to make some modifications to her house. She knows this, and we discuss some of the logistics with success. But when I move too fast, offering to do something for her, she gets angry, and says I’m taking over her life. And she has drawn the line at care. Somehow, this future scenario does not involve any outside party coming in to assist her with things. She fights me on this, saying I write her off as incapable. Quite the contrary; I know that she is clever and resourceful, capable of surprising things in light of her limitations, but she is human, after all – and post-op, she will need care, one way or another.

I believe that the thing she’s battling with is not so much the details themselves, or that I am taking over, but rather it’s the beast that is pushing its way into the room which frightens her. I wish we could just acknowledge the creature, and make plans accordingly. It might make the beast less menacing.


Mom and Elihu both know my feelings about death. I believe that in a fully realized and modern society, a lucid adult should be afforded a medically efficacious, humane and affordable – and legal – death at the time of their choosing. Both Elihu and my mother warn that I might not avail myself of such a service when I become old and frail. They posit that when I am a very old woman, I might not wish for the end. Yes! I completely agree! How can I know possibly know how I’d feel in that moment? I can’t. But what I do know is that I want the option of a humane – and legal – exit.

I’m gonna stop you right now if you’re tempted to spout the reactionary “It’s a slippery slope” response. While the more litigious or philosophical among you may have specific points to support your case, I believe that for the majority of people, that response is born of fear. The religious among you will also take issue with this for your own reasons. This is where we will likely part ways; I do not believe a loving god would deny its children this most tender of mercies. I won’t be getting into the arguments here and now, but rest assured I’ve studied all manner of debates on the subject, a multitude of points and counterpoints.

I’ve been thinking about death for years. I’ve seen many videos of people’s final moments (a profoundly generous gift on the part of both the people themselves and their families). I’ve read many books, and listened to numerous talks on the subject. What helps give me the courage of conviction to write candidly about this is the number of people with whom I’ve discussed the topic, and the number of people who have admitted to me, in the safety of a private conversation, that they heartily agree. People should be able to choose their exits.


As a musician I work a fair amount in nursing homes, and I see the saddest outcomes for individuals who’ve lived the most glorious lives. After I finish performing, I always make informal rounds, visiting folks who I see to be awake and who welcome my brief intrusion. I’ve been playing at one facility for nearly seven years, and, sadly, some of the residents are still there… They are bedbound, screamed at all day by TVs, blaring at top volume. It is cacophonous. It is inhumane. It is terrifying.

I can recall meeting a fellow who had taught chemistry at Columbia University; he spoke about his life as a child in a small town in Finland. He recalled the fish that his mother had made, and told me how much he missed that. He told me about the research of which he was a part, he told me of his three children whom he’d raised in the city, now all gone. Dead. He and his wife had long since divorced. Was she dead too? He didn’t know. He was well-spoken and brightly recalled his memories which I followed with great interest. And yet here he was, bedbound, soiling himself and unable to move, dependent upon an over-worked and underpaid aid to restore his comfort, to say nothing of the basic dignity he’d lost in the whole mess. Bells and blinking red lights were always going off in the hallways; it was impossible for the staff to keep up with the need.

(We have all visited a relative in one of these places. And if you find the higher end joints a little off-putting, just imagine this bottom-of-the-barrel venue. No one in his right mind would ever send his mother to such a place. It goes without saying no one would wish this outcome for themselves, either.)

After I have finished with my visits, I invariably end up speaking to the staff. At the conclusion of our conversations, I always pose the ultimate question: If you could choose to end your life in a safe and legal manner, thereby eliminating the need for living in such a place, would you? And of the dozens of people whom I’ve informally polled, not one has ever answered differently. Every single person has said that they would choose a humane, safe and legal death over life in such an institution.


My mother comes from a generation which was raised to live in hardship without complaint. (Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.) This generation was encouraged to be self-sufficient and responsible; living in this manner is often a point of pride. It makes sense then that her needing or asking for help feels wrong. Perhaps like a tiny failure. Hard wiring is not easy to undo. So at the end of her eighth decade, it’s a bit late to expect that my mother will change her way of thinking. I get it. Additionally, a woman like her who’s done an expert job at hosting hundreds of people over the years might have a hard time letting go of that authority and yielding up the most basic tasks to another person. It might also be that accepting help means that true frailty is not far behind. And, however heartbreaking it may be to conceive, that really is the truth.

Yes, I can understand that it’s got to be frightening to be in her shoes. I think we’re all scared of finding ourselves at that place in our lives. And yet so few of us have the courage to admit our fears aloud. Most of us keep silent; we stifle our gripes and concerns. We suck it up. And I really wish we didn’t.

It’s my hope that people all across this earth can learn how to speak candidly and caringly about the end which awaits us all (as well as the feelings of uncertainty that precede our final days). My mother and many of her generation may find self-advocated death an abominable thing – and certainly my mother is likely not the type to avail herself of such a service were it even available – yet I still assert that a humane and swift death needs to be the legal right of every rational, healthy adult.

Would you have surgery without anesthesia? No, you would not. Would you have your dog suffer? No, you would not. You would use medical tools to minimize or eliminate suffering. If you’re a doctor, you will likely cite the “do no harm” bit of your professional oath to me in protest. Well, I believe that preventing someone from obtaining a wished-for, safe and legal death at the conclusion of a long life is doing harm. Quality over quantity. It’s simply one step beyond a DNR. But, as things stand in December of 2022 here in the US, it’s one hell of a big step.

The elephant will seem far less menacing when we can get her fed and comfortable. She may even turn out to be a welcomed guest. But we’ll never know until we can all agree that she’s sitting right here in the room with us.


Drawing by Jules Bradbury

To see further examples of the work of Jules Bradbury, find her on Instagram: @no_still_life

or visit her website: www.no-still-life.com

The Severing

There was a time when it was all on me.

Making money, taking care of the kid, the students, the Studio, the chickens and ducks, the house, all of it. Now, at least for the moment, nothing at all is on me. I am bereft of the many responsibilities that had once left me spent at the end of every day, while, unbeknownst to me at the time, had all been at the very heart of my purpose here on this earth. Now, with all of that tidily wrapped up, my purpose is not something I know with any certainty these days.

It’s not a pleasant feeling.

Yes, there are still some hurdles ahead which only I myself can navigate, and there are situations which would likely fall apart if I didn’t step up and do my job, but at the end of the day these will merely be administrative tasks. They do little to address the deeper issue that lurks behind my every moment these days.

Why the hell am I here?

The kid is successfully launched, my brother is on site to help mom out, and I have no one to whom I am beholden. Is this not precisely what I had yearned for all those years ago when I lamented the unending domestic drudgery that was my life?

Goodness, Elizabeth. Your future has arrived. Why then is it such a melancholic occasion?

I’m moved to write tonight, but my conscience is nagging me to get in the car and attend an open mic across town. I know there will be a keyboard, I know that I can join in. But I also know that it will almost certainly disappoint. There is a resting level of mediocrity which afflicts this town and its music scene. Swarms of not-quite-average musicians fill the open mic signup sheets by 6:30, promising a three-hour cavalcade of out-of-tune guitars, waif-like girls with nasally, warbling voices and miserably indistinguishable three chord songs.

I realize that writing publicly and honestly about my feelings may well have bad consequences, but at this point I’m not sure that I care anymore. The stakes just aren’t that high these days.

Last spring, the candor in my writing, instead of being seen as simply that, was taken to be a breach of trust within the band that had employed me. As the new member of an established family, I had marked myself a loose cannon from the start. There was no going back. No apologies or retractions were going to fix it. It made me physically sick for months. And, it had been such a musically successful endeavor, the likes of which I could never have guessed would come my way – that it made the loss even more tragic.

When my new musical venture vanished, so too did my hope. My desire to stay fit, to be healthy. Even my will to get out of bed. I forced myself to attend a handful of open mics in a desperate search for something, anything, that might help fill the musical void, but instead, the experiences made things much worse. I discovered that I was alone. Completely alone. To realize one is living in a community without peers is heartbreaking.

In an effort to pull myself up and out of a serious funk, I tried my hand at busking this fall. It went well, and I began to really look forward to future sessions, until one night when I was packing up my keyboard, I suffered two herniated discs. A lightning bolt of pain had me instantly on the ground. Crap. I’d finally come upon a promising solution, and in one split second it was gone.

The two months that have followed have been another challenging detour. It’s hard not to take shit personally sometimes. Things were looking so good just less than a year ago. I had a gorgeously promising foothold into another world, a higher tier, and then – I lost it. After a period of mourning, I’d tried to get back up again. I’d tried to take matters into my own hands, to be proactive. And then….

Seriously?

I’m going to try to check my self-righteous and self-sorry attitude and try to behave with some humility this evening. My plan is to go out shortly, armed with a wide range of material to offer. Folks seldom ‘get’ me at these things, so I’ve taken to writing songs that I think might resonate better with the room. Who the fuck knows what will fly and what will tank? I’m planning on doing “Twisted” because it’ll be fun, and, since it’s a basic blues I figure I can’t go wrong…. But I can already feel that sensation of losing traction with the audience. Joni who? Whatever. (Ok, yeah, I do know it’s Annie Ross a la Wardell Gray.) I’ve got an REO Speedwagon tune in my back pocket if all else fails.


Consider this a real-time post. I have now been to the open mic and returned. Some insights. Not a whole lot, but some.

When I realized that the first three songs out of the gate were Dead tunes, my perspective changed. It was likely a room of people with whom I had little in common. What kind of material did I possibly know that would they resonate with? Would I simply be met with blank stares? I myself was merely tolerating their music. Quite likely they would merely be tolerating me too. Again, I scolded myself: these were my fellow humans, the whole purpose of the gathering here was to be supportive of each other. My own piano student herself was hosting, and of course I was happy for her enjoyment and success. But it was a challenge for me to remain in the room. And although I heard no compelling grooves, there were a few people eagerly pounding on djembes and swinging tambourines – so the music had an obvious appeal to some.

Come on, Elizabeth, forgive the dropped beats and the out of tune guitars. You’re far from perfect, don’t be so snarky. Be nice.

So yeah, after a $3 whiskey (!) I did get a little kinder. And I listened. In between tunes the piano guy played “Christmas Time Is Here” from the Peanuts book, and he actually knew the bridge. So there was that. A fellow Greenfielder sat in on drums, adjusting his snare hits to fit the errant beats accordingly. The vibe was congenial, and although I’d never been introduced to some folks, they’d already known who I was, and that was nice, I suppose. Maybe next time I’ll get there earlier and play. After all, I’ve got a week to choose my angle.


About three months ago, in absolute despair about the next chapter of my life, I consulted a local tarot reader. She worked at the head shop which Elihu and I had visited since he was tiny, and from which I bought my first oversized gemstone rings (to accommodate my ever-enlarging osteoarthritic fingers). This woman was said to have been the “best there”. And so she did my reading.

Among the cryptic things she’d said to me (I took notes) was this line: “Soon, in late November or early December there will be a great severing.” My God that sounded scary. Of course my first thought was my mom – who knew, right? She was 87, after all… A friend had even suggested maybe this meant my son. No, neither of these could possibly be!

And then today, at a piano lesson, this young girl from across the road, whose family had taken in half of our flock (the favorites) when I left for the road this past spring, they had made the decision to “off” the hens, as they were old and had ceased laying eggs. The girl mentioned this in passing, as it is a common thing for farm folks to do and to talk about – in general it’s nothing more than a recounting of the week’s events. But this time – this very afternoon – to me it was a punch in the gut. I was stopped.

For a few moments I tried to process this. It’s been several weeks now that I’d been wanting to go over to her place and visit with my dear Hammie (a black and white Hamburg hen). My heart wished for that comfort, as the past few months have been pretty awful for me. I’d thought that once I was walking ok without the use of a cane, I’d take a trip across the road to see her… It was a hope I held onto; it was a tiny light I had looked forward to. I just wanted to see Hammie once again, to see her beautiful, familiar patterns… I wished to hold her in my arms and bury my nose in her side, taking in that lovely, earthy scent.

But – she was gone now. Head cut off and left in the forest, she’d been food for the wild creatures. Ah well. At least I know she filled a belly or two, and her parts have sunken back into the woods of Greenfield. She still rests here. And she was, after all, just a chicken. A reunion wouldn’t have been the same thing for her as it would’ve been for me. But still. My heart breaks once again. Great severing, indeed.


Time for me to sever myself from this day, from the unexpected sadness, from the way in which I miss so terribly the tribe I’ve yet to meet. I’m not as despondent as I was a month ago, but I’m not in a great place either. I miss my son (he won’t be here for break). I miss the music I used to make and the places I used to go. I miss having friends, I miss the body I used to inhabit. I’m just waiting now. But for what, I don’t know. Holding my breath in hopes that things don’t get too much worse, or at the very least that things don’t change too quickly, so my heart will have time to adjust.

But I’m certainly grateful that I don’t live in a war zone. I do have my home. It’s warm and it’s safe, the interior is cozy and beautiful, and the roof doesn’t leak – and since the mouse nest has been evacuated from the piano, all is well for now.


I experienced one very good moment this past fall; it was a happy and welcomed respite from the current bleak musical landscape of my life: Here I am singing “I’m Confessin” with a non-local band at a trad jam session which is held monthly in Saratoga.

A happy accident. Now this is what I need more of in my life.

Somnessence

My mother always used to say that if only all the aging women of the world who were lying awake in the middle of the night could come together in some sort of idea-swapping convocation, the problems of the world could be easily solved. Finding myself at the doorstep of 60, likely about the same age my mom was when I remember her first saying this, I’m now discovering my own sleep pattern to be less than ideal. At night, I sometimes imagine all of the other humans at this stage in life who, like me, lay sleepless, their minds wandering to and fro, following after tangents or manically focusing on troubling thoughts.

Last night as I lay in my bed, unable to sleep, yet not alert enough to do anything, my mind was churning. This is the time when my ideas seem to flow without much effort. Mostly, I’m just drowsy enough that I can’t quite get pen and pad in hand, but every so often – a time or two a week – I’ll successfully jot things down. Things like topics for posts, short melodies, or prompts which I hope will bring the concepts cascading back to me in my waking hours. Disappointingly, when I do manage to write something down, my scribbling is not always legible in the light of day. So I’m often back where I started. Knowing that my ideas are still somewhere, inaccessibly located in the landscape of my dream self.

My sleepless moments were rich with nuanced ideas, but now, as I make the time to sit and write, I can’t bring them back. I can, however, remember some dreams from the night before, and these fascinate me. Highly detailed and other-worldly, they behave as memories and provide me with the feeling that I have traveled far and wide just since yesterday. I have always had an active dreamlife; many times I’ve awoken in the morning feeling as if I needed another night’s rest after a full itinerary of oneiric travels.

During the night a hot new app was busy transforming my photos into slick, genre-specific avatars. As I slept, I had dreamt of an old friend from high school, and, waiting for me in the morning was an image that was supposed to look like me, but instead looked like the woman who I’d just dreamt of. Earlier that week I’d thought about her – having never known her well and not having thought of her in a few decades – so I went to message her on Facebook but found that her career as an actor had put her out of my immediate range. There would be no hello across the years. I didn’t need her audience, but it was strange, really, the way in which she appeared to me both in a dream and then in an image the next morning. It felt as fantastical as the newly created images looked.

What this means – if anything – I haven’t a clue. But it seemed like another nod from the universe that there might really be cosmic or energetic links between people and events. I certainly believe in plain-old coincidences, but every now and then it’s so tempting to believe that things are meant to happen as they do. I remain ambivalent.

Why did I get a herniated disc when I was out busking? This seems a pointed and cruel irony; I was busking in part to make myself some much-needed money – and it was as I packed up my gear that I felt a lightning bolt of pain which sent me to the ground and ultimately ended up costing me a good $500. All this for a lousy $50 in tips. Just what the hell was this experience supposed to have done for me?

The past few weeks since the event I’ve been unable to walk, hardly able to move about my house. Stairs have been unbearable. At my wits’ end, I went to see a chiropractor (who came recommended to me by a local keyboardist who, like me, had also once broken his neck). It’s taken a few weeks of ESTIM sessions and having my spine stretched on a table (this allows the disc room to move back into place), but I am now able to move almost without pain. It’s still going to be a long road back to racewalking and mountain climbing, but at least now I have hope. I once told an eye doctor who was gazing into my injured sclera after a nasty accident with a tree branch, “Before you tell me anything, remember that hope is half of healing”. I firmly believe this to be true. Thankfully, I have hope again.

I’m not sure if I believe this back injury was a necessary experience, but it sure has highlighted for me how good I have things now, relatively speaking. It’s been humbling. Truly, you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. I’m hoping my restored mobility will continue to remind me that I should take nothing for granted. Things could easily be much worse. I have it good, I know it.

This aging thing and its accompanying maladies, however, have begun to frighten me. I can see my face and my body getting older; I am noticeably changed from this time last year. And I’d be flat-out lying if I said it didn’t break my heart. Also, I’ve lost almost half of my hair over the past six months, due to a huge amount of stress – and this alone had seemed to be the worst indignity yet. Until, that was, I found myself unable to walk. (I’ve had to sub out of some lucrative holiday gigs, and that hurts too.)

I suppose that I need to focus on what I do have. A successful child and a warm and safe home.

And through the magic of AI I am now in possession of some lovely alternate images of my countenance, which, although illusory and not representative of my real self, serve to buoy my spirits. I will happily take an improvement of mood in any non-destructive way I can. For now, these dreamy images help take the edge off of this all-too-real reality.

While there are traces of some similarity, this image doesn’t really look like me; when you see photos of actor Virginia Madsen, I’m sure you’ll see the likeness to her. It is truly like our faces have merged in this image.

I Could Be Good for You

Watching a YouTube-guided playlist of era-specific videos while tending to the mindless task of scanning an unending pile of lead sheets for my new paperless life as a musician, I was brought back to some long-forgotten guilty pleasures, one of which being the band 707 playing their 1980 hit “I Could Be Good For You”. The live recording is rather primitive, but the performance is loaded with energy, and it positively thrills me.

Guitarist Kevin Russell, slumped over his low hanging Gibson, with his early rocker haircut and form-fitting T-shirt simply reeks of Nigel Tufnel from Spinal Tap. (In fact, the more I think on it, the more convinced I am that Christopher Guest may have modeled his character after him. Did Kevin Russell create his look or was he simply mirroring the collective archetype of the time? It’s a chicken-or-egg type of dilemma I suppose.) From the outside, this guitar player is a caricature, but from the inside, (to me) he represents the familiar.

These days, things familiar are dwindling. So seeing and hearing the band 707 as they were back in my youth brings me a mild sense of things being right again. It makes me feel the energy and hope of a kid. And who on earth does not thrill to the feeling that only naivete, inexperience and limitless possibility can bring?


While we make plans for the future and almost always have our eye on goals down the road, this doesn’t usually include the final stretch. That patch when it gets ugly and real. Seriously, who the hell ever truly thinks about getting old? Older, yes. But old? Consider this for a second.

I’m guessing being “old” is a vaguely defined time for you, a place in time far off into the future. You might be mindful about the process ahead, but I doubt you’re deeply aware. (Barring any unique or extreme situation, that is.) Me, I’ve yet to truly face the mirror. Yeah, I broke my neck once, but youth and good luck helped me to avert a life path which might’ve had me looking more closely at my mortality a whole lot sooner.

I’ll wager you haven’t put a lot of mental energy into visualizing how things will end. How things will really end. End end.

These days my mobility is limited. Really limited. And it sure does shed light on what the ending times might look like. The prospect of descending the five steps from my kitchen door to the ground outside is a challenge. Lightning bolts of pain are a possibility in every thoughtless move. A single step must be fortified with a cane’s solid contact with the floor and a tightening of core muscles. It’s exhausting. So is getting out of bed. The whole thing – just moving through a day and trying to maintain some faint semblance of time spent in contribution, not to mention performing the basic functions of living – is a huge effort and takes gobs of time.

Guilt blankets my spirits as I try to rationalize my diminished output. After a week of merely just existing, my ego is broken and looking for harbor. My inner voice sounds like a forgotten old woman muttering to herself: I’ve been a useful person, right? And I’ve been a musician, too. How lucky for that, right? But wait, was I any good? I think I was… I was good enough, I suppose… But what the hell was I doing all that for anyhow? It seems a bit vainglorious, truly it does. Well, at least I know that I’ve mostly been kind to people. I do know that. And I’m a really good teacher, yeah, I know that too. I do. And there’s also still a lot I’d like to write about – that’s of interest to some, but honestly, who cares? Wait, does any of this actually matter? Who needs another piano teacher or another blog post to read? Can I just be satisfied with my turn as it stands? Has my contribution been enough? Haven’t I had enough fun? Do I still have any reason to be here?

(Further musings go much deeper into the existential conversation; I’m still ambivalent about the “everything happens for a reason” philosophy, however pieces do tend to arrive in serendipitous ways, which tempts me to believe. But at the end of the day, whether we’re here for a reason or not, the ultimate takeaway for me is that we may as well do our best job at life while we’re here. Be kind, help when able, and do what we’re good at doing. Seems that’s the least we can do, and also the most we can do, too.)

I feel like Cinderella when I recall a reality of just six months earlier in which every one of my dreams had seemed to be coming true. A time in which I had a new keyboard, a new band and new prospects. Damn. I had it for a minute there. Right? Wait, did I? Well, I had a taste, at least. That’s more than most people ever experience. Dammit. I won’t be able to do any of this shit for much longer. Crap. Will I ever have it again?

Watching my 87-year-old mother moving around her house pushing a rollator and hanging onto the counters like a rock wall, I’ve harbored some sorry thoughts. God, how sad. How does life end up like this? And just what in hell is she even living for at this point? I like to think that I won’t end up thusly. But do not we all think this? Ha! We can all be sure, at least as things are now on this planet for most of us, we won’t have a choice in the matter. Some of us will draw the lucky straw and go either peacefully or quickly. The rest of us – the majority of us – will languish for a length of time in ill health and weakness, dependent upon others for basic tasks. This is a future none of us wishes for. But statistics show that it’s our likely outcome.

The lava lamp in my son’s bedroom has ceased to flow as it always did; the wax inside has grown stiff and slow-moving. Looking it up, I learn that yes, even lava lamps have a shelf life. I resist the temptation to see this as a metaphor for my own life and how it has slowed precariously over the past few months. This is not a sign from the universe, I remind myself. Get over it.


I begin a search on YouTube for back injury success stories. I’m gonna need some footholds on the way back up.

It appears I have a herniated disc (MRI next week will confirm). This new situation isn’t the usual back issue that’s bothered me since my twenties. This is acute, intensely painful and very different. While there’s been a slight improvement over the past few weeks thanks to several chiropractic sessions, I’m still unable to walk properly (let alone racewalk or dance, two things I dearly love). I certainly can’t workout – I can’t twist my core or lift a hand above my shoulder without experiencing a stunning electric shock of pain.

Perusing vids and websites, I’m encouraged by success stories. One young woman peppers her shpeel with the phrase “check your ego”. I really didn’t get her meaning for the first few minutes. And then, when I began to understand how long my road back to physical fitness was going to be, I got it. Sheeeit. I got it. Who cares if I was working out six days a week and could easily curl 20 pounds last May? None of that matters. I can’t do shit today, and I have to let all that “I used to” stuff go. No laurels to rest on. Crap.

My body is weak, soft, fat. And injured. But I just received my first round of exercises, so at least I’ve got a plan. Sadly, I’m beginning from a place way behind the usual starting line. That’s discouraging. It’s gonna be a long climb. This recovery will demand the kind of patience and perseverance I’m not keen on. The process won’t be sexy. But the alternative seals the deal on a lost future. So, onward I must go.

My mother faces a knee replacement in the next month, and this is the next family hurdle. I’m feeling slightly stressed that I cannot be of any significant help to her right now. She is in pain – I’m guessing it’s worse than mine – yet she doesn’t let on how horrible it is. But it shows; she looks weary. It’s all got me a bit emotionally guarded and on the ready for difficult times to come in the new year. My mother speaks cryptically about dying before she makes it to surgery, she laments the long wait time before the procedure (she needs relief now). She tells me how this is far more daunting a prospect than having her mastectomy this past summer. She’s a stoic woman and seldom allows her deep feelings to be known. But I can tell she’s afraid. Hell, I am too. My dear friend Ganga was seven years younger than mom when she died, shortly after her hip replacement. This stuff happens. We all know it, but aside from the very frank and helpful consult with the surgeon, no one else has spoken this fear aloud. It’s a strange time. A new and scary place.


My small and sedentary life of late has not been entirely wasted; I’ve written a number of songs. Most are toss-aways, some novelty numbers, a small number of earnest songs too, if not a bit too simplistic. Hey, I’m not a poet. At best I can write a jingle or a hook. So this is new territory. It’s taken a hard stop on my go-go-go life to bring me to writing music, so in some ways it hasn’t been a total loss.

A few weeks ago (before things got this acute) I saw the comedian Maria Bamford perform here in Saratoga. Her candid, stream of conscious style was stunning, mesmerizing. She is a genius. I am not, but I am definitely full of something that still seeks expression. Seeing her inspired me. She gave me a small dose of courage. She helped plant a tiny seed of a thought…

Characters, voices and bits come to me, and they quickly get recorded on my iPad memo app before they have a chance to vaporize in my flimsy memory. I don’t sleep a whole lot (getting in and out of bed positively sucks!) so I drag on into the wee hours of the morning, writing, inventing, improvising. I’m beginning to hatch a plan to weave all this into some sort of one-woman show. There are online busking platforms that might work as a venue. It’s only a germ of an idea at the moment, and until and unless it becomes public, only my son and a few friends will hear these primitive stabs at content. It’s a tiny light which helps to distract me from the sucky slog that is my life right now. All in its time, I suppose.

I may not have a lot to contribute at the moment, but I shall do my best to avoid wallowing. I’ll do something every day to pull myself up and out. I have my mom, my lost brother, beloved son and high school bestie to think of. I can’t leave them all quite yet. So for now, my life will consist of gentle core exercises, a handful of piano students, and writing new material. I’m a bit anxious about the next two months, so this seems like a productive way to focus my energy and take my mind off the worry. (My body doesn’t move fast, but my brain continues move with the pace of a nervous squirrel.)

Hopefully, by the close of this short chapter, I’ll be in a better place. Hopefully, by then I really can be good for you.

707 performing live on the Midnight Special. As a kid I would try – mostly in vain – to stay awake long enough to watch the show.

A short clip of Maria Bamford, with a clever piano accompaniment by Luke Thering.

Falling Reign

This past summer has been an emotionally difficult season for me.

At a time when most of my peers have been wrapping up their careers, and at a time when I had fancied myself to be starting my career anew, I instead discovered my future to have fallen far short of that expectation. This has consumed me, and I have been stuck. And when my son returned from his trip to Europe late this summer, he knew it too, straight away.

“You are becoming happy in your sadness” he’d said after I’d admitted that I was still bereft at the end of my recent musical employment. “You are becoming happy to be sad. It’s not acceptable. You’re letting this become your story. ” He paused, and then he let a few minutes of dark highway pass, as if for effect. “Do not let this become your story.”

Although whatever had happened was in the past, he could tell that I was still dwelling on it – nay, simmering in it. What was gone – and how it had all gone down – was becoming toxic to me. “You have to move on” Elihu said, as we drove home in the inky darkness. It stung to hear him so critical, so serious. He was hardly my kid anymore; he was a peer offering sage advice. My mental health depended upon it, and we both knew it. I’d been able to push it away during the lonely summer months, as I’d had no one to counter my mood, no one to discuss it with. But he was home, and now I had the outside perspective I’d needed. Yeah. Time to move on. But to what?

________________________________________________

With no musical comrades, no peers and no dear friends in physical proximity, “moving on” seems truly daunting. Elihu has been my closest companion for the past nineteen years, and it is a tall order to replace such an insightful and considerate person with whom I can discuss things. I do have a few close friends – my oldest bestie from high school having recently become a cherished part of my life – but she is far away and has her own life to contend with. And in the end, no one can really take the place of my son. People warn against considering your child to be a peer, but I dunno. I have often said jokingly that I gave birth to a 50-year-old man. Not so funny as it is true.

Music seems to be fading into my past, and it breaks my heart fiercely. I have new projects – unrelated to music – which I should really dive into, but I flounder. I try to convince myself that I need new headshots, new recordings. That I need to write songs. Sure, I can always do that, but is it truly necessary at this point? Who fucking cares? I’ve worked mostly as a sideman; at 59 it’s a little late to pretend I’m a solo artist. So what is it that will earn me money, give me a sense of joy, self-respect and fulfillment? Is music even my path anymore? I am beginning to doubt it. I mourn the richness of my musical past and miss the brief taste of how it felt to make music again with other humans (that gave me joy, albeit short-lived). For now, I suppose it’ll have to go on hold while I discover what the next practical move should be.

What that will be, I don’t know. I’m grateful for my spiral-bound pads, filled with writing, lyrics, poems and project to-do lists, yet following through and assembling any of it into meaningful content seems as challenging as losing these goddam extra pounds I’ve solidly re-packed onto my frame over a season of self-soothing and grief.

__________________________________________________

Last night, a violent late-summer storm pelted the house with sheets of rain and gusts of wind that knocked out power and toppled trees. I stood in the screen porch, feeling fully the might of the wind and water, and I asked the force to please wash me free of the past; wash me clean that I might start over again, from this moment forward…

It’s been a few weeks now since Elihu has returned to campus. He is an autonomous individual. I am no longer a full-time parent. The Queen has died, lain in state, and been buried. Things are different now. It’s time for the new order.

I suppose it’s time for Elizabeth 2.0 now. And when I figure out what form that will take, I promise you’ll be the first to know.


Turn of a Dime on “Liz Sings 70s”, my YouTube channel

hillhousewoman on Instagram

The Heart of a Moth

If one were to believe in karma, or in a certain “this-therefore-that” way of thinking, a belief that each event is the product of other events, all serving to bring forth one particular outcome, then things would be easier to justify, easier to handle emotionally. But these days I’m not too confident about it.

Once I was. And it was a less stressful way to live. Everything happens for a reason. Easy.

Sure, one can see in hindsight with some clarity how things build upon each other. Some consequences are so clearly related to things that came before that one can’t help but make the association. And there are those segments of our lives when things just seem so perfectly scripted that it’s hard to believe it wasn’t all “meant to be”, or that we might not have just earned the perfect outcomes through a withdrawal from some sort of energetic bank account.

I’m a mass of conflict these days. Just a few months ago I could not have felt stronger, more hopeful. Great things were within my grasp – I’d say I even sat squarely in the middle of some moments of pure perfection. Things I’d dreamed of for ages had finally come to fruition. And somehow it felt as if I’d earned all of it through my years of sacrifice and toil and hope… The world owed me some good shit now, cuz I’d been through a lot, and I certainly deserved it. Right?

A lot of people deserve good things. And a lot of people will never, ever receive these things. Most people on the planet will live fairly crappy lives, ones in which merely existing is the only goal, lives in which nothing out of the ordinary will manifest. But what on earth have they done to deserve these horrible fates? Not a bloody thing. Not in this life, at any rate.

Where is the parity? There seems to be none.

Not to say that there isn’t a direct correlation between hard work and its reward. Of course that can exist. But to me, that kind of opportunity seems a luxury. For me personally, I feel that reward doesn’t always seem to be a reliable outcome of hard work. Cuz I work a shit ton. I toil, I clean, I sort, put away, file, fix, tend, check in on, shop, cook, learn the tunes, learn the gear, teach the students. All for what ends up being not enough income to pay bills in anything like the real world. Were it not for the home provided for me by my mother (the Hillhouse itself), I truly would be out on the streets. And at 59, that’s a crappy thing to know about myself. All this work, just to exist in another person’s dwelling, and without the means to sustain myself in the most primitive way. Demoralizing.

Yes, I might see my reward as existing in my son. He is undoubtedly a remarkable human, and he’s destined for great things, he’s happy and launched. Yes, I’ve enjoyed a life densely packed with experiences that most folks don’t have.

But here I am on the other side, with the remainder of my life an expanse of nothingness. No rewards in view, no destinations. Got some ideas, a couple of projects I’d like to accomplish, idealized visions of what I’d like to write or perform. But any one thing on the list seems to require an investment of energy which I just can’t seem to summon anymore – or money, which I simply don’t have. My gear is old, my clothes are outdated, and the blog isn’t free. So what now? As I see it, it’s a game of waiting and simply slogging it out, hoping for a few more good moments before the finish line.

My inner conflict is further stoked by a secret disdain which I feel for some people. Shameful, but true. Look at those ham hock arms, listen to the horrible way in which they speak to their children, look at that antagonizing shit they post across their vehicles… And then I realize that if there were to be a catastrophic event and we were all thrust together, I would see their humanity first. My heart would soften when our eyes met… I would see the fragile person within. I would feel forgiveness, and I would understand that their life was a product of the situation into which they were born. And I wouldn’t care that they still believed in Trump. (Many of my friends would disagree with me on this quite fervently, but I say humans are humans at the end of the day. I don’t have to hang out with them, but I don’t have to hate them either.) How dare I feel so superior?

As I was standing at the window just now, looking out at the tall weeds surrounding the vacant chicken coop with a deep feeling of despair growing inside, my eyes landed on a moth, clinging to the wall. That creature and I both have hearts, I thought. A vague feeling of hope overcame me. For just a second, I felt some relief. It felt as if we were all in this together, every creature on this globe. Good outcomes and bad outcomes, we all experienced them. Moths too. Imagine flying towards a thing that your whole essence tells you to be the ultimate goal, only to find your life extinguished? That doesn’t seem fair, to be sure.

“Who ever told you life was fair?” my mother would often say to us as children. I could never form a response, shamed, scolded and immature as I was back then, but now I understand what I had been thinking but couldn’t articulate. “Everyone”. From the time we’re tiny, we’re told to play fair. What a strange incongruity. Play fair, nothing in life is fair. I suppose that both are true.

We earthly creatures are all linked in some way, sharing this bizarre brew of the tragic and the magic. And strange as is may seem, in view of the unfavorable odds with which we are presented, it appears that each one of us somehow manages to maintain a tiny feeling of hope. Each one of us has a heart which continues to beat.

Even a moth.

The Privilege of June

This is the first June 12th in several years which has passed rather uneventfully.

Last year on this day my son graduated from high school. Two years ago on this day I permanently injured my eye. Today had been my former in-laws’ wedding anniversary. This is also the birthday of my ex-husband’s second son, the out-of-wedlock child who inspired me to move with Elihu from the Midwest to upstate New York and start a new life.

It’s interesting to me that the day which used to cause me such anguish now hardly registers as a day of note. Even my eye injury (something which is still an ongoing cause of mild discomfort) falls to the status of the everyday. And my son’s half-brother’s birthday is not the hurtful anniversary it used to be. In fact, I’ll likely suggest before the day is through that he might call him. Can’t say that I don’t feel a slight twinge when this other family is mentioned, but at this point, it’s simply part of our reality.

The past several weeks have been painful for me, in the wake of an imprudent move of mine regarding an old friend. I lost a professional situation in the mix as well, but it pales in comparison. Yet somehow, the internal anguish which has dogged me recently without much letup has tempered a bit today.

This morning and afternoon I have passed the hours in the sunshine and in the shade, reading, leisurely walking about the waist-high grasses of our property, and just being with my son. When Elihu and I walked together down the long, wooded driveway to the road at his suggestion, my heart was made light. We two always enjoy great conversation, and much laughter. It’s something I’ve never taken for granted, but perhaps in this final time before he leaves for the rest of the summer, I cherish his company even more. These days I am living moment by moment, noticing the peace and comfort of my life, and regarding it far less casually than is my habit.

“I am not grateful for my life,” answered Elihu when I asked him if that was how he had felt, “but rather I feel privileged to be here”. He went on to cite the exceptionally rare chance that each one of us had at becoming humans, let alone coming to be in such a safe and thriving time and place. Prone to depression as I am, it’s easy for me to want to give it all up, to get it done with already, just fucking leave. But something about the way in which Elihu presented his case and the manner in which he spoke had reached me. It inspired me just a little. And a little is something. Today it was the something I needed.

On Wednesday my son leaves to spend the summer in Europe with his father and the other family. I’m thrilled for him, but I admit that a tiny piece of me still feels a tad jealous. I wish that I was going with him on this adventure. But instead, after having raised him on my own, and having done all the of heavy lifting during those densely-packed academic times, the trend continues; his father gets to share with our son all of the magical, other-worldly experiences, all of the travel and adventure. (Fits the term I recently learned of “Disney Dad”.) But it’s ok. Elihu’s life will be so enriched by the events ahead. This makes me happy. It makes me feel grateful.

Actually, it makes me feel privileged.


Postscript: Another contributor to my improved mood is the success of my mother’s recent surgery, and her favorable prognosis. She is faring well and her recovery looks to be complete. An enormous relief.

June 12ths of the past…

Birth and Baptism

Summer, Defenestrated (9th paragraph)

Storm of the Eye