Who Else Misses Libraries and Bookstores?

Ryan (age 3) and I reading at the library.

I was thinking about the things I miss because of this coronavirus pandemic and the shutdown of the world as we knew it. 

I miss being able to hug and kiss my parents.

I miss stepping into a grocery store without fear. (And I miss finding eggs and toilet paper on the shelves.)

I miss public libraries. 

I miss bookstores.

Because shopping for books online just isn’t the same.

My son received several gift cards for his recent birthday. (On a side note, Ryan is such a trooper. He celebrated his 12th birthday at home, with the largest chocolate cake we’ve ever had for the 3 of us, and promises of a major “do-over” when all this is done.)

He’s shopped for books on amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com. 

But it’s not the same.

I miss browsing. Wandering the aisles, discovering a book I didn’t know I’d want to read. 

And you just can’t do that online. 

During the shutdown, our reading habits haven’t changed. I’m reading library books that I had checked out before they were closed down. I’m re-reading books from my personal library, some of which I don’t remember having read the first time. It is during this re-read, that I make a decision to either keep the book or donate it (when the libraries re-open).

And Ryan?

He’s reading everything. Maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it certainly feels that way. (Often we read together, during the day, and always at bedtime.) In the last month, we have read a fictional book about a zombie apocalypse (and he ordered a few more in the series). We have read inspiring biographies on people who make me proud to be a member of the human race – people like former President Barack Obama, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., former First Lady Michelle Obama, and Rosa Parks.

What about you readers?

What are you missing?

And, what are you reading? Feel free to share in the comments section.


Because of Ryan

Ryan, age 8. Strong enough to lift the truck that towed the space shuttle Endeavour. California Science Center, July 2016

I first became ill when Ryan was just two years old. He has grown up knowing me like “this.” “This” meaning pain in my legs, prescription bottles on the counter, doctors appointments written on the kitchen calendar.

It breaks my heart that Ryan has learned a powerful lesson at such a young age. People get sick. All different kinds of sick. Through no fault of their own. And sometimes there’s nothing you can do to make the illness go away. The only thing you can do is learn to live with it as best you can. 

But there is a flip side to all this. 

There has to be.” 

Those lines were taken from one of my personal essays, “Because of Ryan” which was recently included in the fourth issue of Please See Me. 

Click here to read the full essay. 


Dressing Up During the Shut Down

How are you handling the world-wide shutdown?

Are you starting a new project? 

Cleaning? Organizing? Cooking? Painting? Reading?

I’m doing a bit of everything.

Teaching – while my son now completes the rest of his sixth grade year through online assignments.

Cooking. Every day. 

Reading. Nothing has changed there.

And there’s one other thing I’m doing. 

“I’m getting dressed each day. And for me, dressed doesn’t merely mean clothes. Getting dressed also includes my jewelry.”

The quote above was taken from my most recently published personal essay, “Why I’m Dressing Up While the World Is Shut Down.” You can read it on The Mighty by clicking here. 

And, readers, I’d love to know how you’re handling the shutdown. Feel free to leave a comment below.


A Shout-Out to Classroom Teachers

The library corner in my fourth grade classroom, September 2010. (The cozy rug hadn’t yet arrived.)

Our family’s world changed on Friday, the 13th. March 13th, when the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) announced that all schools would close for two weeks due to the spread of the COVID-19. 

My son was supposed to return to school on Monday, March 30th. 

Since then, LAUSD has amended its original plan and called for all schools to remain closed until May 1st. But even that date is tentative. Rumors are swirling that our children will not return to a classroom for the remainder of this school year.

In the meanwhile, teachers scramble to put together lesson plans and instructional programs that children can access online. Which means parents are now being called upon to serve in the roles previously held by the schoolteacher – taskmaster, cheerleader, supervisor, tutor, coach.

Now, many parents are taking to social media, claiming “that being with their child day-after-day helping them with assignments is giving them a taste of what it’s like to be a teacher.

“And to those parents, I want to say, ‘No it’s not.’ “

Those words begin a personal essay I wrote  and that was published last week at Motherwell Magazine. You can click here to read the essay in its entirety.



What Do You See When You Look in the Mirror?

The many family photos on our refrigerator. There is a reference to these photos in my essay.

How would you complete this prompt:  “When I look in the mirror, I see…”?

My latest publication is a personal essay answering that question. As I wrote in my short biography for Ailment – Chronicles of Narrative Illness, “My personal essay describes all the different “Wendy’s” I see when I look in the mirror. Living with an invisible disability, an autoimmune disease called Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disease, has changed the way I look at myself and changed the way I see myself.” 

Click here to be re-directed to Ailment – Chronicles of Narrative Illness to read the essay as well as other pieces exploring lives with chronic mental and physical illness.