TP’s wedding

Taryn and Mike

There’s a chapter in Lena Dunham’s new book where she talks about her little sister Grace. It’s a story about a little sister becoming herself and the big sister not really being ready to accommodate all that.

Taryn and Mike

Dunham writes:
“What I really wanted, beyond affection, was to feel that she needed me, that she was helpless without her big sister leading her through the world.”

Taryn and Mike

I could have written it. Big sisters have to protect, filter, make things infinitely harder for little sisters. It’s not just our job, it’s who we are.

Taryn and Mike

My baby sister got married this month. Before she walked down the aisle, I said, “I”m so happy you found your person. Someone to make you happy and mow the lawn for you.”

“Yeah, Mike hires someone to mow the lawn,” she laughed. “But I’m glad, too.”

Taryn and Mike

Taryn and Mike

TP looked absolutely resplendent. I may have gone before her down the aisle, but on the way out, I stood a few paces behind.

Taryn and Mike


Photo credits: Rentham Photography 

Renee, Bono, and you

So, Renee Zellweger got a new face. Megan Garber already wrote what I wanted to say and did it better.

But you know whose face no one seems to be writing about with as much criticism and doubt? Bono. Bono who just told us about his face after 20 years. He copped on the Graham Norton Show to having glaucoma. He finally explained how the signature sunglasses he’s been sporting to meet Congressmen in their offices and to woo fans onstage are actually his shields against irritating lights.

So Renee, whom most people would likely recognize on an awards show but might not immediately notice in an elevator, becomes a tabloid bat girl overnight. We can’t stop looking and studying and doing a fair compare. The?

But Bono, whom most people would walk into an elevator and pass out from the star encounter, gets to throw shade for 20 years. When he finally feels ready to share, we say, Sure, dude. Glad you’re getting the treatment you need. Then we go back to eating our Luna Bars and hearting all of Instagram with its filtered pics.

You might say, yeah, but Renee changed her face permanently. Bono just put on a pair of specs. It’s not the same.

Or did she? Or did he?

Why don’t we want to believe the stories people tell us about themselves? Why do we believe ourselves an authority on others’ lives? Why is there only one acceptable narrative, until the better, truthier one emerges? What if Renee is just really taking better care of herself, getting more rest? Do I believe it? Why does it matter?

I asked my newsreporting students: What is the question you get asked that immediately puts you into a box?

Women and men alike responded…

“You’re so tall–why don’t you play basketball?”

“You have a disability–will you be able to get a job?”

“You’re from Nigeria–do you know my cousin from the Congo?”

“You moved here from New York–how has your adjustment been?”

It made me realize: Sometimes we don’t like the answers we’re given because we aren’t asking the right questions, or we aren’t waiting for the right time.

Or maybe–maybe the answer isn’t ready yet. Maybe it’s going to take another 20 years.

Dairy Queen, 15 yrs. old

I ride a red-hot mountain bike to my shifts at Dairy Queen. Parents, if you want to safeguard your children against delinquency, ensure that they have to ride a wild hog like that around town. Transportation by two-wheeler does not a mischievous adolescent make. I leave my house a half an hour early for my shift at the DQ, having completed the story problem in my head: If Kendra wants to reach her destination three miles away and have both hands off the handlebar and she pedals at a pace of….

Coolness: there was no app for that.

After I get my driver’s license, I am occasionally allowed to borrow the mini-van to drive to work. One night, while mopping the floor at DQ, I accidentally hit my head on the corner of a stainless steel prep table. I continue mopping until I see red droplets falling on the floor, coming from my head. I want to go tell my manager that I think I am bleeding but as I approach her, the information and the blood cross circuits and I stand there smiling creepily at her, pointing to my head.

“Why did you squirt Mr. Misty syrup on your head?” my manager asks, slightly annoyed.

My mouth is moving. The words are not.

“Oh my goodness! Oh Oh, sit down. Oh, that’s blood. Okay, hang on, let me call your parents.”

Both of my parents arrive in my dad’s car, wearing their pajamas. One to drive me home, one to drive the minivan home since I am too disoriented to get behind the wheel.

I totally hope my bloody slush story is part of the folklore of the Bay Village Dairy Queen.


The official uniform of high school evenings and weekends includes navy shorts two sizes too big and a beige polo with the DQ insignia. Weekdays I wear the navy pleated polyester dress code of my all-girls Catholic high school factory. Either a nun or a corporate queen dictates my high school wardrobe. You should see the fascism I overcome with a pair of socks.

kendra mags
above: In spite of the fact that I look 9, this is actually my 16th birthday). 

I know teens today are busy texting their bosses GUNNA B L8 as they drive barefoot to Hollister, listening to Howard Stern full blast on XM. But one thing that has not changed is the misguided usage of “teen” as a noun or adjective. Open a Teen Cafe or launch a Teen Scene website and you are a teeny bit going to guarantee no one below the age of 43 will think it is the hippest. And remember I consider myself an authority on these matters, since I am the epitome of high school hip.

This entry was posted in Retro.
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