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The Blog

The Most Important Work

August 9, 2021

Two years ago, the Monday after a job I had loved for more than a decade disappeared on me, I posted a photo of Karen and me at home with our grandchildren Nathan and Emma. The caption read: “First day at new temp job. Seem to be getting along okay with co-workers.” A former colleague left this comment on the post: “Glass half full: they are so lucky to get to spend time with their grandfather. My grandfather had a huge positive impact on the person I became. No more important work!” July 2019 One thing about living through times...

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The Remembering

March 1, 2021

I don’t remember when it was that I began to spend so much time remembering. This is in part because memory is cumulative and I’ve somehow managed to accumulate—no, that can’t possibly be right—58 years’ worth of experiences, moments and sensory impressions, all neatly logged and stored away in the old hippocampus*. That’s a lot of memories, with more joining them every day. What struck me recently is just how present and powerful the act of remembering has become in my daily life these past few years. Every morning I do a set of stretching exercises that a physical therapist...

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Absent Friends

December 19, 2020

It might be the most 2020 sentiment of all: I miss my friend. Lucca always felt like an old soul, even when his body was young. Maybe it was the eyes, big yellow saucers on his remarkably expressive face. As a fluffy black kitten he chewed everything in sight and raced around on paws so big he would trip over them, leading to the first of many nicknames: “Puppy” (Pup, Mister Pup). He earned them all by being the friendliest “people cat” I’ve ever known; when the doorbell rang our other two cats would find a bed to hide under...

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Find Your Way Back

October 24, 2020

The black and white image has an iconic quality to it. The father leans in, embracing his adult son with both arms, turning slightly away from the camera to plant a kiss on his son’s cheek. The son looks directly into the camera, weary eyes full of vulnerability, as a hint of a smile touches the corner of his mouth, a suggestion of the comfort he’s receiving. Because of who the father and son are—Hunter Biden and his father Joe—one apparently desperate Republican operative recently tweeted the photo, asking “Does this look like an appropriate father/son interaction to you?” I...

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Choose Your Future

October 9, 2020

“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.”-- E.L. Hartley One particular moment from the past has replayed in my mind over and over in recent months. Thirty years ago, I was a junior staffer for California Lieutenant Governor Leo T. McCarthy. The former Speaker of the Assembly was a throwback even back then, an old-school idealist with old-world manners who relished weighty policy discussions almost as much as he did chatting up short order cooks, doormen, cops, and nurses, a family man who went home to San Francisco every night that he possibly could. His belief...

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Everything Is Heavier Right Now

July 31, 2020

The hardest part of the moment we’re living through isn’t the wait—it’s the weight. What a short time ago were the simplest everyday decisions now feel heavy with risk. Do I go into that store? Do I walk on that popular path? Do I visit with others who may calculate risk differently than I do? Do I wipe down that half gallon of milk before it goes in fridge, if it helps me sleep at night? Even as we second-guess a thousand daily micro decisions that we took for granted in what our son now calls “the before times,” the...

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What I’ve Learned (So Far)

April 29, 2020

Many years ago Esquire magazine launched a series called What I’ve Learned, featuring famous people reflecting on their experiences and the lessons gained from them. In my previous job, we used that same story frame for alumni profiles in our school’s biannual magazine. I never imagined turning the tables on myself, but here we are, being quite literally homeschooled by the changes the current pandemic has brought. Here are a few things I’ve learned since Karen and I began self-isolating nearly seven weeks ago: I don’t need as much stuff as I thought I did. We are living more simply...

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A Different Time

March 15, 2020

Last weekend—March 7th and 8th, 2020, just a week ago—suddenly feels like a different time. On Saturday our son brought our grandson and granddaughter over so he could take a long bike ride, and we fed them lunch and played with them until our daughter-in-law came by to bring them home. On Sunday we did a little shopping, in stores with full shelves, smiling staff, and chatty neighbors. Tuesday morning our son and daughter-in-law and the grandkids flew to Phoenix to visit her grandmother, parents, and sister. By the time they get home the day after tomorrow, the world will...

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Move Me

January 21, 2020

As readers of My Heart Sings the Harmony know, I really only have one set-in-stone requirement for any music that I’m going to choose to make part of my life: move me. Make me feel something. The reason this came to mind this week is a concert that I went to the other night, that I didn’t review, and really couldn’t have, since I don’t know the artist’s body of work all that well. What I did know was his reputation as a top-flight guitarist whose skills are admired by many fellow musicians. That reputation attracts a certain kind of...

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A Hanukkah Story

December 22, 2019

We’ve talked about karma before. I tend to be a pretty grounded person from day to day, but as I’ve written elsewhere, I also find that sometimes the only reasonable thing to do is to give in to wonder. And so it was last night. My father was Jewish. But I was raised by my mother, who for much of her life was a member of the Episcopal Church. My concept and experience of Jewish tradition came mostly from books and movies. Karen and I tried lighting Hanukkah candles with our kids a handful of times, but it didn’t really...

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