Sonja

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Halloween 1973

We were walking down the road towards the full moon.

A blue pick-up truck passed us. In the back of the truck were a witch, a fairy, and a ghost. I was Little Red Riding Hood. My sister was sixteen, so she wasn’t anything at all.

By the time we got to the school, the Halloween party was already half-over. There were no more goody bags, or chocolate or even candy corn. All that was left were hard orange toffees wrapped in waxy Halloween paper, and black jaw breakers. The punch was warm and watery pink, with the cherries all sunk to the bottom.

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Countdowns

There was a sign over the door at the safe house in Brooklyn that told us how many days were left. Left until the revolution was supposed to start. That sounds crazy now, that feels […]
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Conversations during an election

I don’t know who to vote for the woman behind the counter says. This Harper is not so good but these other guys…We can’t even take care of the people here. She gestures around her […]
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Clothing as magic & other conversations

 You wanted to know if I’d always worn red and black. No. But I’ve always been a bit particular about clothes, For example I wore a yellowish brown plaid wool hat all through out one school […]
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lipstick

Cherry red armour

I had a boyfriend once who said “sometimes when you talk I just watch your bright red lips move.” I wasn’t even insulted. I could probably trace every tube of red lipstick I own to […]
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Flipping the bird

Getting the finger from an 8 year. Is that funny or fucked up? When you work with kids you learn it can be both. Sometimes it has to be. Her tiny little hand shaking in […]
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One day and then another

This past week was pretty hard for me. Even after sixteen years of working with vulnerable kids, kids beaten up by poverty, cultural genocide and addiction, it is still hard to know that a kid who is talking about suicide can’t get a bed in a hospital for a night. To know that when you call for help for a kid what you’re going to get is cops with guns questioning them. Some cops are nice and some are not but everything about them: their handcuffs, their tazers, tell a kid they’re in trouble.  And after they talk to the kid they will more than likely leave them behind because they know when they get to the hospital they won’t admit them.  “I’m happy to sit in a hospital waiting room for five hours until they send her home,” the cop tells me. “But my boss is not going to like it.”  Sometimes even if the hospital takes them they release them a few hours later in a taxi alone.

It’s like a kid coming to you with a broken arm and having to tell them: It’s not broken enough.

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Blue (pill) Christmas

That year my room-mate Francois was a med school drop out who was studying pharmacology, both academically and personally. He had drugs for waking up, falling asleep, calming down and perking up. Still it never occurred to me that he was depressed until a week before Christmas when he shut down the Champlain bridge by threatening to jump. The next day his dad came to pack up his things and within a few hours it seemed like every trace of my room-mate and his marvelous medicine supply were gone.

I don’t know why Francois was sad but I knew why I was.  I was twenty-three and newly divorced, publicly humiliated both by my unfounded belief in happy endings and my unfaithful husband. My friends and family had sympathy in small amounts, equivalent I realized, to their initial enthusiasm when I’d gotten married three years before.