Their story: ‘America offers everything’

“This is home,” Nael Al Saedi said, sitting on his couch one rainy Saturday afternoon.

His family walked in and out of their living room, taking turns telling stories and listening to each other’s. The home has been theirs for less than a year — bought about seven years after arriving in Lansing as refugees.

Inside, the youngest helped herself to ice cream at the kitchen table. Outside, a red, white, and blue pinwheel spun in the landscaping.

This is home, he said.

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And finally, it’s spring: where our words have been

“You must be coming to visit me!” We were halfway around our block when were stopped by a wave from our octogenarian neighbor who lives behind us. We weren’t technically coming to visit, but our walk turned into a tour of her ever-changing garden. Her garden is her thing: I notice her from the kitchen Read more about And finally, it’s spring: where our words have been[…]

Why I learned to talk about depression in public

Of all the chapters in The Year of Small Things, the hardest to write was about self-care. For one, pretending you’re Dorothy Day feels good; prophetic, even. Talking about depression doesn’t.

 

But. It’s important to talk about with other people if only because it shouldn’t be awkward. Vulnerability was the posture I wrote from, and now that people are seeing the stuff on the soft underbelly (I’ve had three children, what do you want from me), people have felt compelled to share their own mental junk.

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You know, Dorothy Day never voted

Dorothy Day — my patron (almost-) saint — was arrested for picketing for the rights of women to vote. And even after the 19th Amendment passed, Dorothy Day never voted.  The cofounder of the Catholic Worker movement felt problems weren’t solved by politics, her granddaughter Kate Hennessy writes in The World Will Be Saved by Beauty: An Intimate Read more about You know, Dorothy Day never voted[…]

5 ways to share Year of Small Things love

The Year of Small Things: Radical Faith for the Rest of Us (Brazos, Jan. 31) will soon emerge from its cocoon and go out into the world, and to do that takes a lot of brain space. So do snow days and three-day weekends with children. The Midwest … it’s a tricky thing, you know. In Read more about 5 ways to share Year of Small Things love[…]

Social justice for ‘the rest of us’

On the way to their town house’s parking lot we smile at each other, quietly, nervously. You’ve never driven a car, I ask. No, she says. Not even once? I ask. No, she says. I decide to start in an empty parking lot somewhere; I mention this but I’m unsure if she comprehends. So I Read more about Social justice for ‘the rest of us’[…]

How we respond here to the refugee crisis

I watch my friend in her sparse kitchen. She uses a small saucepan to scald milk for us to drink. Dave used to do the same when he baked bread in our kitchen, and the sweet-sour smell reminds me of home. She pours two steaming glasses and then sits on the folding chair, the only Read more about How we respond here to the refugee crisis[…]

One final word about Alzheimer’s, I hope

I started a fire in the toaster Friday morning. Don’t worry: I got Louisa’s PopTart out just in time.

Because I saw the incident coming, I’d already been holding the contraption to the open kitchen window when I smelled the quick death of breakfast junk-food. I unplugged it — “Never stick a fork in the toaster,” my first-grader loudly warned me (“I’m not, it’s a spoon”) — and saved the morning, just barely.

Meaning the preschooler didn’t fall apart in tears. Meaning I could laugh about it and feel borderline Ma Ingalls about my quick thinking under duress. Also the house didn’t burn down, etc., etc.

Chances are, I’ll forget about this by next week. A year from now or later, I’ll read this and try to conjure the memory — what had happened? Why?

Because that’s what a life is, these little moments.

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