As a problem-solver by nature and as a professional troubleshooter, I’ve tried to get into the habit of asking before doling out advice, even though it goes against my natural tendency. Over the years I’ve attempted to train myself to ask first if someone actually wants help solving an issue, or instead, would they prefer an empathetic listening ear?

That said, fair warning, I am about to offer some unsolicited advice, and it’s the following:

If you can at all avoid getting your tonsils removed as an adult, I would suggest doing so.

I will leave out all the gory details, but suffice it to say that having a tonsillectomy later in life is not particularly fun, and all the ice cream in the world cannot change that fact.

(I was extremely lucky to have had my wonderful dad come in from out of town to take care of me post-surgery, and I am extremely grateful for the endless refilling of my “ice collar,” batches of mashed potatoes and mamaliga, and countless other essential acts of care he provided. I also had lovely friends and family members checking in on me remotely.)

For your amusement, I’ll just leave you with a roster of several days’ worth of random exchanges I had with my father while I was unable to speak. I would hold my iPad out into his field of vision, sometimes waving to get his attention. You’re seeing my side only, since of course he was able to verbally share his parts of the conversation.

Vicki and I are going to zoom at 1 instead of her coming over here

And she’ll do most of the talking 

The funny thing is I eat this regularly 

Overnight oats - oatmeal, oat milk, yogurt, softened overnight 

On Madison we had Bonavita drip coffeemaker, it was recommended by Cook’s Illustrated as the best do you 

I got a free new drip coffee maker through one of my Facebook groups 

When I have people for brunch 

I found out that the pine wall was put in much later in a renovation 

Something with the word Milk?

Club sandwich from Chez Claudette

Maybe you could find the blue freezie pack with cows on it, somewhere in the freezer 

Could we decide tomorrow?

Fever Dream

Last weekend, I attended my first live-theatre show since the Before Times: Sweet Charity, a musical I’d never seen before, performed by a group of local university students.

There I sat alone – my would-be companion sidelined with Covid, natch – the audience fully masked. Even the performers wore masks, except when singing a lead part.

A 1960s Broadway musical based on the Federico Fellini movie Nights of Cabiria, the original Sweet Charity came with a book by Neil Simon, choreography by the legendary Bob Fosse, and the lead role filled by Gwen Verdon as a bubbly “dance hall hostess” who meets a shy tax accountant when they get stuck in the same elevator.

The show makes it pretty clear that being a “dance hall hostess” commonly involved an income-supplementing activity for some of the women that, these days, would be referred to as “sex work.”

When the musical number Big Spender started up, a strange familiarity started to come over me. I knew that song. And not just from decades’ worth of pop-culture references. I knew it.

Well let me get right to the point:
I don’t pop my cork for every guy I see
Hey Big Spender! Spend a little time with me.

Wouldn’t you like to have fun, fun, fun?
We could have a few laughs, laughs
I could show you… good time!
Would you like to have a… good time?

Excerpt from “Big Spender” – lyrics by Dorothy Fields

And then it hit me. I sang that song. Back at a children’s arts camp I attended as kid, in one of our group performances.

Was it a bit odd that a bunch of 12-year olds were taught to sing a song about showing wealthy men a “good time”? If it was, we certainly didn’t realize it at the time.

Anyway. That wasn’t even the song that’s stuck with me the most since the show. That honour goes to Rhythm of Life, a mesmerizing earworm that just won’t leave, especially after I listened to this version by Sammy Davis Jr. from the movie adaptation. Check it out, if you dare. And tell me what you think.


Mi español

You are like a muscle
That’s atrophied
But still part of my body
And mind

Or maybe more like a
Buried treasure
Deep down
Or deep up
In my brain
(Or maybe my soul?)

I’m working the muscle
Exercising it even though
Sometimes it hurts

Less often do I start to say something en español
And finish en français
Languages are a funny thing

The journey back to you is a little rough
But I’m finding my way, slowly

Some frustration
A lot of laughter
Need more patience

spray painted letters: "más poesía x la ciudad"
Ciudad de Panamá


As I approach the new self-checkout area at a local supermarket, a clerk comes over to guide me. She is probably at least a decade or two older than me, although my sense of age is probably not as sharp as it used to be.

“Be sure to put your bag on the scale and add each item after you scan it. Do you have your own bags?”

“No, for the avodadoes, you should click the ‘enter code manually button.’ See how there’s a number on the sticker?”

It’s not like I’m new to self-checkouts, but as she deftly corrects a few of my actions, it does facilitate a smoother transaction. Usually I have to click the “Get help” button at least once during these things, but today I don’t.

After it’s all over, I make my way to the exit, rolling shopping cart literally in tow. With its turquoise pseudo-Moroccan tile pattern, I think it’s cute – but by its very nature, it can never be hip. Even the word “hip” is un-hip, I fully acknowledge that.

Even though I leave feeling about a hundred years old, the whole thing was somehow quite a satisfying experience.


Two Years

Two years ago this week, you went on an unexpected outdoor adventure. Racing down city streets, careening along window sills, bouncing off balconies.

You hid out for four days, undoubtedly terrified, waiting.

Then one morning, you plucked up every ounce of your feline courage and found your way back home at five o’clock in the morning. You walked through the door I’d left open and into the kitchen and scarfed down as much food as you possibly could. You looked up at me when I saw you, seeming almost puzzled as I burst into sobs.

Since then, you’ve curled up with me at night while I slept with my elbow tightly around you. You’ve tucked yourself under my arm while I typed on my laptop with the other. You’ve dozed soundly on your bed while I worked a foot away on my desk.

You diligently caught mice in my old apartment and have enjoyed bird- and squirrel-watching vantage points at my new condo.

You don’t meow excessively and you haven’t broken or scratched things, only adding some wear and tear to the couch… a small price to pay for your constant companionship throughout the pandemic.

Sophie, you are a kitty like no other. I ❤️ you.