The starting line

jillbecky_2015-mn003-286-mediumTwo years to the day after we flew to Berlin for a family sabbatical, I left my husband for the first time. It wasn’t Berlin’s fault. And maybe it wasn’t M’s either. But things were put into motion during that yearlong hiatus from our so-called real life that a separation had shifted imperceptibly from the category of impossible to damn near inevitable. Continue reading

The healing power of coffee

368028111_0776c55399_zMy dad’s decline was rapid and dizzying: He bounced from a routine chemo visit to an outpatient transfusion to the ER to a hospital room to the ICU in the course of 12 hours on a Thursday a few weeks before Christmas. We’d driven to his oncologist’s office for a morning appointment, telling his wife we’d be back by lunch with plans to catch a matinee of Brooklyn that afternoon, unaware he would not be coming home again. Continue reading

Scene from a hospital

hospcorrAfter my father’s transfusion went haywire, the nurse in the emergency room asked many questions, among them this one:

“Have you ever been a smoker?”

The nurse stood before him, her pen poised to record his response.

I gave him a sidelong glance and thought about the cigars he’d light up in our backyard after dinner, the puff puff sound he’d make to get it lit;  Continue reading

H is for hippocampus

neuron

Source: Wikipedia Creative Commons

The word of the day is ‘hippocampus,’ I told C as we drove home from Whole Foods on a late October afternoon.

Why do you say that? she asked.

I came across the word three times today, I said. First listening to the radio: I heard a song by Hippo Campus, that band you’re going to see in a few weeks. Then I got an email from Hippocampus, a magazine that only publishes essays. And last I got a call from an old friend who works at a foundation, asking me to write a press release about four neuroscientists who just received awards for their research on memory. They all study the hippocampus.  Continue reading

Mistaken identity

jjI know you won’t believe me when I tell you I was once mistaken for a movie star. Ridiculous of course, but I tell you, it happened.

I was seated at a diner somewhere near Bemidji, drinking coffee with—was it M? or an old boyfriend?—waiting for eggs and toast, when the waitress came to warm our coffee and said,

“I’m sorry to bother you, but—” and here she looked around shyly, “aren’t you Sandra Bullock?”

Continue reading