The past rushes in to fill the void as we stare at our four walls

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Photo by Amarnath Tade on Unsplash

The pandemic experience is very much about physical confinement, as we stare at the same walls hour after hour. Some people respond by binge watching Netflix, others by reading, cooking, listening to audio books or podcasts, or making art. Others join in to virtual events on Zoom, allowing them to see across screens into the zone of another person’s confinement.

But the pervasive feeling of confinement persists, and the practice of mindfulness, of staying in the moment, can be challenging when the present looks so bleak and denuded compared with the past.

Nostalgia is inevitable in the pandemic.

So is…

growing up trying to guess what’s on the other side of the pack of playing cards

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Photo by Warren Wong on Unsplash

In childhood, my sister, my mother and I would sometimes use a regular pack of playing cards to test our psychic abilities. We’d usually do it after several rounds of playing card games, either blackjack or poker. It may not seem particularly appropriate to teach little girls how to play poker, but my mother was a big fan of poker, and apparently she thought it best for us to know how the rules of the game were played while we were still little, and playing with small stakes, before we grew up and lost actual money.

To my mother, whether…

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Photo by Bruce Christianson on Unsplash

New York City in the wake of the coronavirus now is really just that strange…but for me, the strangeness started months earlier

I boarded a packed 4 train to the Bronx, thrusting myself into the subway car filled with passengers. It would have been back in early December of 2019, one of the many such travels I made on the New York City subway in my job search.

That effort took me across the four boroughs of New York City regularly, at any given day of the week, at a times which varied from early morning to late afternoon, or anytime in between. …

The library window overlooked a secret courtyard

When I started going to the McClatchey branch library in Sacramento, in 1975, I was seven years old. The library was, and is, in a stately old home on 22nd Street between T Street and “U” Street, elevated from the sidewalk by a rise of stone steps. Its appearance was cozy and welcoming to me from the outside, and the inside was even better. Inside the front doors there was (and still is) a fireplace with sofas and chairs arranged around it to form a comfortable, elegant, and snug reading room. …

hateful words can never be truly taken back

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Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

On sticks and stones and breakfasts in bed

“Love is autoerotic, and has a fundamentally narcissistic structure since “it’s one’s own ego that one loves in love, one’s own ego made real on the imaginary level.”

— Jacques Lacan

I love you’ is about everything or nothing. Behind this phrase is a tough economic model that leads to great profit or disastrous loss. With these words the speaker addresses the ego of the beloved one, every fiber of that human. ‘If I love you diligently, I expect the same in return.’ The pressure and expectations linked to this love are enormous. A burn-out is constantly lurking.


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Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

You check your email and observe that someone from LinkedIn has messaged you. You read the email on the LinkedIn site. The message is curiously worded, which gives you pause, so you re-read it several times, trying to get the gist.

Someone has asked you if you are interested in writing true stories for a YouTube channel. The email contains several links which you are invited to follow to see samples of the sort of content you will be expected to produce.

All you have ever gotten from LinkedIn so far are come-ons of the “I Will Teach You to…

A Prose Poem

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Photo by Paulius Dragunas on Unsplash

Grasses the color of oatmeal appliquéd the rolling California hills, a hand stitched quilt in bas-relief giving off a strong astringent odor of plant flesh drying in the sun. In the hard plastic hutch of the car we rode in, the muscles of my friend’s small brown hand brown hand worked the stick shift as his sandaled feet worked the brakes and clutch, guiding me and my daughter, asleep over our luggage, inexorably closer in space and time to the San Jose airport.

The low growing bushes slung hard by the roadside marked the divide between the…

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Photo by Alex Bierwagen on Unsplash

The first time I escaped an attempted date rape

I arrived at the auditorium in the depths of the forest before the appointed time, after getting off of the bus that wound through the redwoods. I often came to the campus to visit my friends, students who had shows on the college radio station, KZSC, but tonight I was here to attend a lecture, which was also an anti-apartheid fundraiser.

The University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC) campus is built on a hill, in the ancient redwood groves above the city of Santa Cruz. …

You’ll need to invent a kluge.

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Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

When technology fails, it can fail bigtime, right at the wrong moment. My big technology fail happened when I was working as an arts editor at a weekly free newspaper.

Know that it was bound to happen eventually.

My source called me and we chatted while I set up my recorder and turned it on. I told him that I would be taking notes, using a tape recorder as my backup, which I would use to type up the interview.

He gave a great interview. I asked questions not only about the state of virtual reality, which was still in its infancy then, in 1999, but questions about…

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Photo by Daniel Monteiro on Unsplash

I waited in a slowly-moving line with around 20 people in front of me, human after human snaking towards the wall before taking an abrupt left turn to watch monitors reading off what cashier number to move to with ones purchases. …

Bobi Wood

Writer, journalist, artist.

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