Follow my sister, Nina, and me as we make a book together: my writing and her gorgeous inks on paper.

Posts from the “Uncategorized” Category

6. We Shall Set More Plates

Posted on April 25, 2020

In the grocery, I pick fruit out of bins. Raspberries all ship from the same place in California. I grab a fountain drink, let ice cubes plop, plop, bouncing into my squeaky Styrofoam cup. Cabbage the color of amethyst is such a bargain it could be free. A pint of Bluebell ice cream won’t hurt, or the fudge topping I’ll heat and drip, drip, drip. On the meat aisle, Malcolm finds the perfect chuck roast. I can’t think about the animal, her worried mind, her nerves that carry pain. Red means fresh, but red is blood. On the drive home, I spritz our hands with bacteria killer that smells of lavender and freshens. If I were to lose Malcolm, I would curtail eating meat.…

5. Busted

Posted on April 22, 2020

I miss a bikini, my oiled and tanned tummy, staking my claim during maximum sun hours, my towel a piece of property, fenced by sand, the contrast underneath my watch band and silver rings, and where my straps pulled down. I had less patience tanning my back, forgetting to turn my face evenly, right, left, right left. But what a yield, pink shifting into brown, a thinning color, the contrast dialed up by white shorts, a bright yellow tank top. I’m not fat fat, but fatter than my fighting weight, my driver’s license weight. I renewed it soon after I lost my appendix, after I’d lost seventeen pounds and almost my life. Everything fit or bagged. Surviving felt good! If I ate an egg…

4. Cloud Hands

Posted on April 21, 2020

Doing things on the ground used to be natural: somersaulting, crab-walking, scrambling like a centipede. I’d Indian-cross my legs and pop up. Malcolm was amazed. “My legs don’t bend like that,” he’d say. But now if he’s not around to pull me up, I must get on all fours into a supplicant crawl and pray the right, stronger leg works. Staying upright is job one. In the safety of my bathroom, I bend at the knees, lower and raise, with my hand on the bathtub, grunting. Why do sounds of struggle sound ugly? Would yodeling distract my burning thighs? Susan from down the street teaches Tai Chi. She pays a call on me, a private. On the front hall carpet in sock feet, I…

3. Silenzio!

Posted on April 21, 2020

When I see gummy candies at check out, I miss my son. The red cherries on green stems, the peach flavored peaches, blue Smurfs that stain the tongue. Long ago, he dared me to eat sour patch kids. “Just take one taste, Mom.” What an assault on my tender buds. I lean toward Swedish Fish! Are they raspberry? It doesn’t matter. They’re two bites of yum that get stuck in my flipper denture, so I eat them toothless. A few times, I’ve left home without the flipper and didn’t remember until I lisped or smiled. It’s not a bad feeling, to give your mouth more space. “Take care of your teeth,” I tell my son, just so he’ll say “Okay, Mom,” because him calling…

2. Corka

Posted on April 20, 2020

I keep promising: I’m coming with the chair. But every morning, I wake to fog and my mother’s wheelchair, folded in the front hall, expectant. She’s leaving me voicemails. She needs: the juices, Fiji water, lactose free ice cream, but also, please, (in her kinder voice) Magnum bars, the ones with the caramel. And lactose? She leaves another message: an eyebrow pencil. Someone brought her the face shaver and her graceful arching brows are gone. Will they regrow even into stubble? Until then, she’s drawing them, darkly. I used to watch her “put on her face” as if the face under the makeup wasn’t also her face. She’d be going out for the night with my father, her sharp shoulder blades freed, her décolletage,…

1. Move Closer

Posted on April 19, 2020

For fifteen years, it was only my first sister and me. Our parents moved often, flying across the ocean, driving us cross country, so Nina and I we were the perpetual new girls, missing what and whom we’d left behind. But we always had each other, and in every house, we slept in twin beds. Nina couldn’t sleep unless I answered her when she told me goodnight. “Goodnight,” she’d say. “Goodnight,” I’d say. But there’d be one more thing, one more thought – about a clueless boyfriend, a hard teacher, a mean girl, what outfit to wear tomorrow. With each other we felt as secure and successful as billionaires. “Goodnight,” she’d say. “Goodnight,” I’d say. “Should I get a pixie cut?” she’d ask. “It’ll…

Cover: Now We Are Sixty

Posted on April 19, 2020

Now We Are Sixty is a collaboration between two sisters, one an award-winning writer, the other a renowned and highly collected artist, both in their early sixties. The full-color book  – 9 ½ x 12 and 100 pages – pairs Pia’s short, tender memoir entries with Nina’s intuitive and improvisational inks on paper. Working side by side, the sisters, explore aging, their long marriages, their history growing up in a musical family, their violinist mother’s dementia, and their luck at being sisters. Pia, the eldest, lives with her husband and their dog, Ella, in New Orleans, Louisiana, close to her two stepsons and eight grandchildren, but across the pond from her grown son in London; Nina, the second born, lives in Carmel Valley, California…

The Thunder and the Hurricane

Posted on March 1, 2016

In 2006, my son’s U-16 soccer team, the Lakeview Thunder, returned after Katrina to finish out what would be a brave and gnarly season. Only three of the players had homes that weren’t damaged or destroyed. This essay was ten years in the writing, and I’m deeply grateful that it found a home in Oxford American. With illustrations by Donald Baechler. Read the essay here.