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for the information age



These bite-sized stories chronicle my efforts, both pitiful and successful,

to navigate the rapidly-changing world.


My hope is that they help you do the same.

christmas motive - cross section of red

As I wrap your gift, I have the irrational desire to somehow shield you from the terrible emptiness the holidays can bring. It is an embarrassing truth that a gift can sometimes make us feel grossly misunderstood or overlooked. We don't like the gift, it doesn't fit, it's a bad color. It's too practical, it's not practical enough, we already have one.

What I want to tell you is this: very seldom will you find anything that really matters sitting wrapped under a spruce tree in your house. It is your life’s work to discover the gifts. And they will open for you and open for you. Over time. During and after great travails. When you take a leap. On a Wednesday morning.

On Thanksgiving, we passed the baby around. We took turns holding her, swaying her in our arms. We ate cheese and crackers, and then we held the baby. We brought platters of green beans to the table, and we held the baby. We discussed politics, careful not to go too full bore in any direction. We held the baby.

The baby seized our fingers reflexively. That line from an e.e. cummings poem came to mind: nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands. The baby smiled, cried, gnawed on a toy, bobbed her tiny head. When our arms grew tired, we passed the baby back to her mother, who took the infant as if she had just given birth and was holding her for the first time—body-weary, brimming, beaming.

In this way, in the holding and the passing of the baby, we had a glimpse of what it might be to be a family. Or a country.

If you snip a few of the blooms that grow on the garden edge with sharp shears. If you cut in pursuit of beauty, in the hope of bringing a small bit of it into the house. If you carry the cut flowers into the kitchen and lay them on the counter while you fill a jar with water,

you will find that you are host to, not only five fat hydrangeas, but also eight or nine upset ants, a pair of pale green grasshoppers, and one crisp brown beetle.

You will realize that you have not brought beauty in. What you have done is to disrupt an entire household, a whole bloom-dwelling. And what you will do next, as you—ruthlessly, ruefully—sweep insects into the garbage can, is

to long for your youth. For the time before you had children, before you loved, before you cared about anything but yourself.

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