I haven’t finished one section of my breakfast quesadilla. There is something caught in my throat that interferes with my swallowing. Oh yeah, right. It’s love.

I flash on a breakfast we had 23 years earlier when we were new and the possibility of us loomed large. I couldn’t eat back then either. Love had filled me in that way where food seems inconvenient. Whole meals would go stone cold in those days while we were busy opening ourselves to each other, laughing, hoping, making impossible promises.

Today, at this breakfast, we are exchanging financials and trying to tiptoe into…


I have always had issues with Mother’s Day.

First of all- bring me flowers on a random Tuesday in October or July. Much more meaningful. Write me a card filled with one specific way I have made a difference in your life, and leave it on my dresser for me to find when I’ve had a shit day and feel like I don’t matter. Give me a hug or re-watch an episode of Game of Thrones on the spur of the moment on a Saturday afternoon. But please don’t take me to a crowded brunch awash with the energy of…

Nick Fewings on Unsplash

When I was 19, my mother started dating a guy who was 24. She also started smoking pot, hash and doing magic mushrooms. “They’re natural!” Then she quit her job, and ran off on a cross country camping extravaganza with her new guy.

His name was Leonard but she called him Chip. When you are 19 and your mom’s boyfriend is 24, it’s difficult not to feel repulsed. In the late 1970s, the term ‘cougar’ had not been coined. But she was one. And I found it gross.

“Chipper is a free spirit, a rambler… He’s a rolling stone,” she…

I met Neil Simon when I was 26. He was 57.

We were “introduced” in the 80s on the patio of Tommy Chang’s, my favorite Thai restaurant on Melrose Avenue. Neil was exactly what I would have imagined he’d be, if I had ever imagined sitting and talking and laughing with one of America’s greatest playwrights.

But I hadn’t ever imagined such things.

shutter stock

I think the affair began at the New Year’s Eve party.

Everyone dressed in costume. Mama was a geisha. Daddy, a drum major, all white satin and golden edges. It wasn’t clear who Buddy was supposed to be. The King of Siam, maybe?

My 2 yr old brother was already sleeping. But I was allowed to stay up long enough to greet everyone. After all, 5½ yr olds are-not-babies. Mama curled my hair and dressed me in my nicest pajamas. (The ones that had a matching robe and slippers.) I was swollen with pride. Our home looked like a palace. Plates of finger foods, twinkling lights and our best cut crystal…

Caleb Asch — YogiWithACamera

In a big metal tub, they would wash the sand off their feet and tell each other lies.

They were the usual lies. The ones shared with sincere faces. “Love you forever. You’re the only one. Til death do us part.”

Then the years started passing. There were fertility issues and bankruptcies and loved ones dying. There were the unrealized hopes. Dreams got difficult to manage. There were compromises and disagreements and other lovers.

But mostly, there was the turning away. The turning away, and then the running. And then the pain. The flopping on the deck after being hooked…


I have a brother who is homeless. And mentally ill.

They didn’t take hold of him in that order.

(you can read a previous piece about him here)

It is a truth I find difficult to reason, my youngest brother’s mental illness. He is currently diagnosed bipolar. But his condition has been given different names, and changing medications, all along the way. Once, he was told he was uni-polar with depressive something or other. And before that, a disorder called shattered personality blah-dee-blah. And no question, all of those words apply.

I’m a witness.

He has suffered, and I don’t…

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

We weren’t allowed to give out our telephone number when we were kids. Mama was paranoid certain neighbors on our street might get it.

These were the neighbors whose children we were no longer allowed to play with. These were the neighbors whose houses we weren’t even supposed to walk past. These, were also the neighbors who were testifying against her at the divorce trial.

People did that during divorces back then. They chose sides and showed up in court.

It was a Friday night. Mama was curled up on one end of the orange sofa grading papers. The television was on in the corner, the volume turned down to a hum. I was at the other end of the sofa reading The Secret…


The emergency calls were starting to come more frequently.

Your mother is having trouble breathing and the paramedics have been called. We can’t get your mother’s blood pressure down and the paramedics have been called. Your mother fainted walking to breakfast and the paramedics have been called.

I’d had my mom placed in an assisted living facility near my home, for moments like these. I could get to her place in 5 minutes. Or meet her at Cedars-Sinai in 10. Sometimes I beat the ambulance. Sometimes I did not. …

Mental illness scares me. Or maybe what’s scary is being fully present to the mental illness I know so well.

Where I grew up, in New Orleans, crazy is a given. It’s expected. It’s part of the charm. There’s a saying. “We don’t hide crazy in the south. We parade it on the front porch and give it a cocktail.” And that’s true, if it’s your great aunt Johnnie who wears red high top Converse with a dress to your granddaddy’s funeral. Or the duck lady in the French Quarter. Or the guy that parades around with nothing but a feather boa and a pair of black briefs, the words ‘Who Dat!’ embossed in gold across his ass.

But when…

Katie Mitchell

southern girl dreamer, writer, actress, calamity-mom, prefer vodka, podcast co-host of If it’s Not 1 Thing, it’s Your Mother

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