Going out in a pink casket

My nana went out in a pink casket.

She lived the rest of her life in primary colors, mainly. She wore white orthopedic shoes, drably-colored coats and navy cardigan sweaters. She drove a powder blue Buick Skylark. She preferred sturdy things, and, having soldiered through the Great Depression, she covered everything in several layers of plastic–to preserve the already sturdy condition, of course.


But every so often she would betray the practical farm girl from New Castle, Pennsylvania that she was and indulge in the pink Cadillac of lipsticks. She cherished several pastel floral dishes. She loved an old fancy songstress like Edyie Gourme. She stopped to gawk at a poinsettia plant in a retail store window–so big and robust was the plant that it distracted Nana from the smartly-outfitted mannequins.

I was closest to my nana, much more than maybe anybody I’ve been closest to since she went out in a pink casket. In retrospect, I didn’t spend very much time with her, hours logged and years counted. But I was known and adored by her in a way that was more overwhelming than any child could or should ever be loved by anyone other than their nana.

I have not felt the loss of my nana as acutely as I have felt other losses in life. Her mind unspooled and then went cascading off at the end of her 90+ years. She suffered and caused belabored suffering and I did not talk to her much after I got married, because I couldn’t. She didn’t remember me.

Still, I have since felt the ways that she has enriched my life and they reach me and affirm me in my blue station wagon, which she financed and of which she would have approved, reliable vehicle that I bought. My nana reaches me when I am singing off-key with my children, of which she would not have approved, gifted singer that she was.

She had taken care of all the business of her own funeral and burial, ten years prior to her death. She left notes, signed documents, filed them with the appropriate parties. She had chosen that particular vessel into which she would spend her time in rest eternal. She went out in a box with little roset accents and pearly touches.

I want to tell my Nana right now: I am fighting the battles she fought for all over again. I am slugging toward the finish line of this semester. I am pushing my Tempera-paint covered babies into the parts of their childhoods that they will remember vividly. I am entering another decade of marriage with a man she met before her memories faded. I am trying so mightily to do the practical, helpful thing and to wear the navy cardigan like a good soldier, but I know the fight that is in me. I am, after all, cut from the same cloth as my nana. I don’t want to go out now. I just want the things that I undertake to finish with a flourish. I want to go out, always, in everything I do, in a pink casket.

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I listen to podcasts. Ergo, I am an awesome human being.

I frequently listen to podcasts. I was an early adopter of This American Life, Fresh Air, Serial, The Moth, and now I am deeply involved in the Relevant Podcast, Dear Sugar and making my way through back episodes of Invisibilia. I like to talk about podcasts with other podcast enthusiasts. I think like a podcaster. I see life through the lens of podcastabilities. I celebrate podcasts and the life of a podcast devotee.

Opname van een hoorspel / Recording a radio play

Because I listen to podcasts, here is what I want you to believe about me:
– I am an open-minded person.
– I am very educated.
– I am supremely evolved as human beings go.
– Podcasts were actually my idea.
– I have a diverse set of interests and passion projects.
– I participate in democracy.
– I give to worthy kickstarters.
– I am a close friend of Ira Glass.
– Hillary Clinton calls me for political advice.
– I am skeptical of certain non-governmental organizations.
– I wear TOMS chiefly because of their get/give business model.
– I would rent my cloak over Adnan Syed’s involvement in the death of Hae Min Lee

Woman on a two way radio - Miami

Because I listen to podcasts, here is what I want to believe about me:
– I am an open-minded person.
– I am very educated.
– I am pretty evolved as human beings go.
– Podcasts are the kind of thing I probably would have invented if I had the time.
– I have a diverse set of interests and passion projects.
– I participate in democracy.
– I am probably the kind of person who would give to worthy kickstarters.
– I would totally be a close friend of Ira Glass if he hired me to work for TAL.
– Hillary Clinton should call me for political advice.
– I am one of the most skeptical people, just, in general.
– I totally wear TOMS chiefly because of their get/give business model.
– I consider Adnan Syed like a brother.

Headphone Tail Piece

Because I listen to podcasts, here is the truth about me:
– I am an overprivileged white woman with incredible access to high speed internet and smart phone technology that enables me to maintain a hobby of listening to nerdy-voiced people read their acts of journalism aloud.
– I am not really all that special and depend on podcasts to make me sound more interesting than I am.
– Cleaning my bathroom is boring and podcasts make it less insufferable.

Headphones and Trolley

Because I am part of a generation of people that listens to podcasts, here is the truth about what should be expected of me:
– I should be more than a downloader and a binge-listener to recorded voices.
– I should be as captive an audience to my family as I am to the snorty giggle of Terry Gross.
– I should care about the injustice of my neighbor’s busted car battery as I am about the gay brother of the Dear Sugar writer-inner.
– I should curate the topics about which I educate myself instead of relying on Sarah Koenig to do so episodically for me.
– I should and can and will continue to believe in the power of a story and all the stories that are never voiced, broadcast, or allowed to reach an overprivileged woman scrubbing her bathroom floor as an antidote to her own privileged boredom.

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The best thing I saw at #AWP15

I got to go the Association of Writers Program conference in Minneapolis this past weekend, thank you Workplace Pro Growth account!

It was the best carnival of all for a writer, a smorgasboard of publishing goodies and a veritable Main Street USA of connections, all overstimulating and whipping one around at full-tilt. Also, I am now in possession of 45 bookmarks and 8,000 pens.

It’s easy to fall prey to AWP overwhelm and to just want to stand bowlegged in a corner and hope someone is going to shout, Red Rover Red Rover, Girl with the manuscript come over. But one is better off wading into the book fair looking as though one has a plan. And waiting for something shiny to call out.


Which is why the BatCat Press was my absolute favorite booth. How darling are these girls? They were all shiny dappled cheeks and information and I was all standing stun-gunned, trying to get past the fact that they are in high school and cranking out professional books and hand-marbling pages and all kinds of other ridiculousness. They attend a high school called Lincoln Park in Pennsylvania, which I hope it’s okay if I’m posting their pics here, because they’re kind of a big deal. They operate the only press in the U.S. run by high school students.

This is the part where I tell you how I spent my high school years: shoving cup after cup of Reese’s pieces into my wide open maw while I stood in the walk-in cooler at the Dairy Queen where I (supposedly) worked.


These girls make books. With their hands and their brains and probably some hipster pixie dust.

And here is their teacher, perhaps the most charming teacher I’ve ever snuck a picture of at AWP.


Shout-out to BatCat Press. Press on…..

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