Stories from the heart. Tempered by the mind. By an award-winning writer. With a background in talk radio, newspapers & TV news. Novel in progress.

A beast is a beast, and a frog does not become a prince. But sometimes dreams come true in unsettling ways.

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Photo of “Cupid and Psyche” with Masks after Edward Burne-Jones via Pixabay

Fairy tales lie. They tell us marriage is the end of the story. That everyone lives happily ever after. That true love wins out in the end.

But marriage is not the end of the story. It is the beginning. Everything that happens on the way to the wedding is foreplay. Fairy tales do not admit that the course of true love never did run smooth. It took Shakespeare to say that.

Not that Seymour would have listened even if every story about a prince and a princess came with a trigger warning. She quoted Emily Dickinson in her wedding…

What I learned from a Nobel laureate and the host of ‘Finding Your Roots’ when I met them face-to-face in Atlanta

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“Black men listening to a speaker at an outdoor STFU meeting” by Kheel Center, Cornell University Library is licensed under CC BY 2.0

When February rolls around, I often think about a family member who extracted this promise from me a few years ago: No mandatory gift-giving.

I don’t want to leave her off my Christmas list, but that’s the way she prefers it. What she wants instead is to feel valued, appreciated, and remembered throughout the year. She’d rather be surprised with a bottle of wine or an edible bouquet. Not with another charcuterie board or cashmere scarf or some other offering freighted with obligation and expectation. I gave you yours; now where’s mine?

Her request reminds me of a line from…

Watching it after GameStop’s rise and fall will break yours too. But will it break it enough?

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“The Big Short” by Junichi Yamashita is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. Graphic by author.

I watched The Big Short again after hearing about the GameStop frenzy. How amateur investors on Reddit and Robinhood drove up the company’s stock price and made a killing in the stock market — by outsmarting professional short-sellers at the big hedge funds. Only to see their gains plummet within a week.

The movie broke my heart when I saw it the first time in 2015. Last weekend, it broke my heart again.

I rewatched it because I needed a refresher on short-selling to understand what’s been happening. I was not the only one. …


At the Sexual Harassment Snitch Line, Some Callers Only Want to Talk to Women

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Photo via Creative Commons

If a man answers, they hang up.

Hi, this is Donna.”

That’s what they’re looking for. Or Heather, Tracy, Nancy, Janelle.

Thank you for calling. This is Maggie. How may I help you?”

Any of these female voices will do. All trained from day one to smile as they speak. Be cheerful, submissive. Accommodating. Never argumentative. Never disagreeable. Only with a woman can the caller’s personal movie begin. Here comes the canine panting into the mouthpiece, the kind that can only mean one thing.

This is what you put up with in the underbelly of call-center life, where nearly seventy-five…

Life | Pandemic | Travel

How a Dying Woman Became a Lasting Reminder of the Importance of Human Connection

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Photo by Jackson Eaves on Unsplash

It is one of those nights when the commute between Seattle and my so-called home in the San Juan Islands feels more like punishment than reward. Long day, long drive, long boat ride. I’m working harder than I want at a job I dislike to maintain a bourgeois veneer I don’t even believe in. It is already dark when I reach the ferry landing feeling not so much dead inside as…neutral, on hold.

To get here this evening, I drove north on Interstate 5 from the University of Washington, left the freeway in Mount Vernon, and headed west on Highway…

This is one of the most beautiful personal essays I've read in a long time. It really moved me. Not just because it's so beautifully and thoughtfully written. But because the issues you've raised resonate with me personally.

Looking at your family photos, I feel I know your grandparents. They look like members of my own family. And so do you. Thanks to our New Orleans roots and its tangled ethnic past, we have been multiracial for a few generations. But now we have a few biracial members, too.

I'm going to share this with my family before our Zoom…

Who knew corsets and mint juleps could be so much fun?

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“Gone With The Wind (1939) — Vivien Leigh & Hattie McDaniel”by BudCat14/Ross is licensed under CC BY 2.0

So far, I have yet to meet a Black woman who has attended an antebellum-themed party. It never even crossed my mind that such things took place until the hubbub over The Bachelor went viral.

As everyone from Moscow to Beijing knows by now, the TV show made history this year by featuring its first Black lead, a real estate broker named Matt James. At a time when white supremacy is on the rise, this was seen as a race-relations breakthrough.

But then we learned one of the women vying for the bachelor’s rose had attended an antebellum-themed party in…

Emotional undertow is a natural part of the process, but there’s one thing you can always count on.

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“In The Middle of Night” by -Jeffrey- is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

The red rotary-dial phone on the bright yellow wall is the first thing you notice when you enter our kitchen. It stands out like the alarm boxes at school, minus the phrase that’s tempted me since first grade — Break glass in case of fire.

For my mother, the red phone is a trophy in the exalted pantheon of delayed gratification. A secular manifestation of the word made flesh. An article of faith as integral to my mother’s personality as her Catholicism.

That phone takes its place alongside the green velvet, French provincial sofa in the living room. Placed on…


Life lessons on the power of imagination, Chadwick Boseman, and the danger of pretending to damn God while suffering from late-stage cancer.

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Photo of Chadwick Boseman by Dave Hogg licensed under CC BY 2.0, Triptych by the author.

I watched Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom during the Great Jupiter/Saturn Conjunction, which happened to be the same day as the 2020 Winter Solstice. While I watched, I kept waiting for my Negro Super Powers to kick in, the ones I’d heard about on Twitter and elsewhere on the Internet.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I’d qualify since I’d been Black for a long time now and had no intention of going back to the days when people like me were known as Negro or Colored. …

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