7 Kinds of “Friends” Who Sap Your Energy

We all have 'em: The friends (or acquaintances, relatives, or coworkers) who bleed you dry, whether of money, compassion, patience--or all of the above. They may not seem similar on the surface, and each may have a quite different M.O. But they all have one thing in common: They're starved for attention, and their appetite … Continue reading 7 Kinds of “Friends” Who Sap Your Energy


Missing My Mom: Sounds, Smells, and Other Grief Triggers

You never know when a trigger is going to pop up. After 18 years without my mother, you'd think I'd be immune to them by now. I've learned how to avoid things that can ignite a crying jag--like the CVS aisles that house Aqua-Net Hairspray, Duracell hearing-aid batteries, and Efferdent. I generally avoid perfume counters, … Continue reading Missing My Mom: Sounds, Smells, and Other Grief Triggers

South Philly Saga

I grew up in a very special place. It wasn't affluent or particularly picturesque. But, in many ways, it was beautiful. There was hardship and heartbreak there, but also love and affection and happy, happy times. It was a complicated place, a working-class section of one of America's most important-and most misrepresented and misunderstood-cities. Like … Continue reading South Philly Saga

In Praise of the Day After Christmas

You know that little letdown, that pang of depression you get the day after Christmas? I don't get that. While many, if not most, people who observe the holiday look forward to Christmas, I look forward to the day after Christmas. I don't mean that in the "aw, I'm sad that it's over but at least now … Continue reading In Praise of the Day After Christmas

Life as a Highly Sensitive Person: The Little Things

I've always been highly sensitive—to everything, from emotional and intellectual stimuli to physical stimuli—to sights, sounds, smells, tastes, textures. As such, I am opinionated—not because I am trying to be difficult or judgmental, but because I truly sense and feel things to a sometimes extreme degree. For the most part, I consider my ability to … Continue reading Life as a Highly Sensitive Person: The Little Things


By May of 1979, I had seen two dead people in my life--three, counting the junkie who died on Sue DeNaro's front steps when I was 6, but I only saw him for a second, because my mother ran outside and scooped me up in her arms before I could see any more. The two … Continue reading Silence

5 Things Millennials Can’t Understand

I'm a "young" Baby Boomer, born toward the end of the 18-year generation, which spans from 1946 to 1964. My son is a young Millennial, a high school senior. Though he's definitely interested in the way things were during my childhood, and the zeitgeist of the 1960s and '70s, there are just some things he … Continue reading 5 Things Millennials Can’t Understand

Nostalgie De La Boue: Longing for the Gutter

I've always been attracted to the melancholy—in art, in music, in life. I'm on a desert island, and I can have one of two movies: The Big Lebowski or Schindler's List. For me, it's Schindler's List all the way. Though I'd say that I am happier and more contented with life than many--if not most--of the people I know, I … Continue reading Nostalgie De La Boue: Longing for the Gutter

Why I Hate Halloween

Now that it's over, I can tell you why I hate Halloween and why, with the exception of my son's childhood years, when I'd be preoccupied with the fun side of it--buying or making his costume, stocking up on candy, decorating the house--I always have. Basically, it has to do with grief. Because grief has … Continue reading Why I Hate Halloween