Sometimes I am struggling to get the lid on the food storage containers and not so successful. Maybe it’s the incorrect lid for this bottom; maybe it’s the correct one and I’m trying desperately to jam it on there upside-down.

And I think back to how my high school aptitude testing results said I should be an airplane mechanic. Professionally speaking, I have been: a mall elf. a study skills instructor. a children’s theater performer. a tour guide. a button store cashier. an IT call center rep. an instructional designer. a piano teacher.

But I have not been: an airplane mechanic. Determinedly trying to jam those lids on, I think, perhaps, that following that suggested career path might not have ended well for any us.


Releasing it

“Should we bring it to the park near the river up here?”

“Yeah. I gotta pee soon.”

We have a live vole in an Amazon box in the car. A vole or a mole. Which is which? I can never remember.

Gotta drive it at least a mile from your house, they say. Otherwise it finds its way back, they say.

When I tire of seeing beautiful trees and green hills out the window, I review my hands.

In that acting class in college my classmates often criticized how I use my arms onstage. The complaints came in two flavors: 1) you swing your arms around like an ape; 2) you clench your arms at your sides, like logs.

Tonight, in my lap, I have one of each: a log and an ape arm. They just never felt like mine, is all. I only paid attention to the words, the words coming out. Halfway through an acting scene I’d remember I had arms and would try to make them do something normal but gave up when it got too distracting.

I think about how today I realized there are two words – synonyms – with the same ending but their beginnings are opposites. PROfess. CONfess.


“Do you want me to release it? Or do you want to?”


He takes the box. I watch him walk with it a little ways into the woodsy part. Opens the lid, tips out the mole. I watch him watch it scurry away.

I think: it would be kind of funny if I left him off a mile from home, like the vole. I could slide over, start the car and head off. Funny. For me.

Why have I thought this? Is it for things he has done, or hasn’t done? Is it because I’m tired of feeling smaller and meaner lately when I’m with him? Or is it just to see how his face would look as I drive away? I bet many things are secretly done in this life just to see what someone’s face will look like.



The questions we ask mostly boil down to:

Why am I suffering?
Am I suffering?



“We ask.” Pfft. Why do I speak as we?

“I” ask.


It’s hard to know when to stop peeling back the layers.


A secret, she said, is this:

If you are about to ask a question, and you realize that all of the responses will be wretched, just do not ask it.

Get up and walk away. Even if you are in a small boat: find a way to go.

It will always have been better not to know. Vague dread will not wake you in the night like a pointy inevitability. Choke the Oracle and free yourself.


It can be difficult sometimes to be convinced that these harsh New England temperatures are not a punishment for something.

I shout into the bitter winds,

“What have I done?

What have I dooooooooooone??”


Always they show the bedraggled hero continue to fight, long past logic, though the odds of success are so small. She may sound her war whoop and run toward danger, or she may have a twinkle in her eye as her fingers fly, decoding the seemingly un-decodable. Her spirit is undaunted.

“No!” I will shout, looking about for something to thump. “That’s not how it is!”

They won’t show her turning away, overshadowed by fear and reeking of doubt. Falling to her knees then listing impossibly slowly until she is on her side, motionless. She lies pinned to the curb like another forgotten specimen stabbed through the thorax.

This is the show I never see. Maybe they can’t make that show. Maybe we cannot watch it.


“…And no one talks about when one might stop and need to rest
Or how long you sit alone before you stop looking back 
It’s like you’re waiting for Godot 
And then you pick your sorry ass up off the street and go . . .
And what the hell is this? Who made this bloody mess? 
And someone always answers like a martyr 
Is it something you should know, did you never do your best 
Would you be saved if you were brave and just tried harder?”


If I Were Brave, by Shawn Colvin


I walk through the night with a firefly in a lantern. My firefly lights the way for me, yes; but it is sad. It wants to be free. If I free it, I will be lonely and in darkness once more.

Though I know I will soon be stumbling in the dark night, I lift the lid of the lantern. “You are free,” I whisper to my firefly. 

It begins to fly out of the lantern into the quiet night. On every beat of its wings, it grows larger. Larger, and larger still. It moves it glowing wings slowly and rhythmically. Soon, there is a soft glow all around me. I am able to see so many paths.