When your grandson’s birth is preceded by eleven days of street protests in the heart of Quito, does the smell of tear gas penetrate the womb, do the whir of helicopters and the boom of explosions echo inside the uterine wall, does all of it presage more disruptive events in his life? Ilio’s was not…

Read More

This past year I read good books and experienced good things. Here are a few of each of them matched up in a semi-random, teeny bit calculated way, introduced by a few lines from the featured book. From “1989” in How to Write an Autobiographical Novel, a deeply perceptive and intelligent collection of essays by…

Read More

When I was pregnant with my first daughter Natalie in 1986, the Chernobyl reactor exploded and the threat of a nuclear cloud passing over the Pacific Northwest and radiating the six-month old fetus inside me freaked me out. Later, when I was pregnant with Ana in 1989, tanks rolled over Tiananmen Square, scattering protestors, killing…

Read More

Jane Hodges picked me up at 1:30 last Thursday afternoon at my North Seattle apartment to drive me to Mineral, a small community in the foothills of Mount Rainier. In its Wikipedia entry, Mineral’s amenities are listed as “a post office, two churches, one general store, one tavern, a log lodge (in the National Register…

Read More

Recently, on the third anniversary of my mother’s death, I went to Hedgebrook to have some writing time as well as to teach at the Summer Salon, a day of small-group writing workshops given in the Hedgebrook cottages. Three years earlier, I had been scheduled to do the same, but the week before my departure…

Read More

We, the once geeky and near-friendless high school students, who observed but never took part in cool happenings, who skirted the outermost margins of the outermost social groups, who always wore the wrong clothes and said the wrong thing – we grew into regular people. And some of us became writers who could avenge the…

Read More

Writers write because they have an affinity, even a compulsion, for words. We love and are driven to make sentences that grow into stories that touch the reader in some way. It’s how we communicate. And even though making sentences might require much hair-pulling and brow-furrowing, we trust that the words, sentences, and clarity of…

Read More