Category Archives: St. Paul

To be trusted with tears

fith-and-minn

Photo courtesy of Metro Transit

Why the disheveled man approached me rather than someone else I couldn’t say. It was a recent chilly Wednesday evening and I had pulled my beret down over my ears.

The man wanted to know if the 54 would stop at our corner, something I easily confirmed with a glance at the bus departures board. He lingered after I answered; it seemed he wanted something more.

“Name’s Kevin,” he said, offering his hand, which I took.

“Nice to meet you.”

I pulled my bike bag a little closer.

“Know who you remind me of?” 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

Reveal

bleeding hearts“What are you going to plant in your garden?” asked the physical therapist as he worked the ropy muscles along my spine, a preemptive visit on my part in hopes of avoiding future strains.

“Oh, tomatoes and peppers, carrots and lettuce, something like that,” I said, brushing him off; that’s not what I meant when I told him I garden. Those vegetables that I’ll put straight in the ground from farmers’ market containers and seed packets are not what make me a gardener at all. What I meant, I realized, is that I weed. Continue reading

And then I fell

Photo credit: flattop341 on flickr

Photo credit: flattop341 on flickr

Funny to reconsider that last post of mine, Trust the earth to hold you, in light of what happened the day after I posted it.

I wondered about myself when I wrote those lines: “if I should fall, should I ever fall, if I ever dared to fall,” thinking as I was about all the abstract ways one can fall. Picturing perhaps some ill-begotten fall from grace, or a slow slide into the clutches of a sorrow I could not tame.

No, it’s fair to say I was not thinking about a literal fall. Continue reading

Stepping on toes

skyway

A skyway connecting two office buildings in Lowertown, St. Paul

Recently I was sitting alone at a skyway-level Caribou in Lowertown St. Paul, drinking a holiday concoction that I never would have ordered if I’d been paying, this drink on the house to encourage my frequent buying habits. I was staring out the window at the glass skyway connecting two office towers, watching white-collar workers drift across the street suspended in air, coatless in their controlled environment. And watching this steady stream of largely undifferentiated, white, middle-aged workers crossing the skyway, I was reminded of standing in a science museum in rural Vermont on a previous sabbatical with my children, observing ants work their way through humid plastic tunnels, oblivious to the humans on the other side of the tube. So it was here too, lightly dressed workers plying the halls of the office towers, oblivious to the winter weather, carrying styrofoam cups of soup with plastic lids and takeout coffee and brown bags of subs and chips, making small talk with their co-workers, always moving, never stopping. Continue reading