Choosing joy

The puppy stopped suddenly, coming up short when he realized what he wanted was gone.

The younger, and far less dominant, of two dogs, he had been playing joyfully with a toy, shaking it and tossing it around, when it flew from his mouth and hit the floor with a thud. It caught the attention of the older, larger dog, who quickly grabbed it off the floor and walked away with it.

And just like that, the toy was gone.

This is a true story, which I tell because of what the little dog did next. His face took on a stunned look, and he stood motionless, silent, for a couple of seconds. I could practically see him thinking about what had just happened, and whether or how he should respond. Then shaking his head slightly , his face restored its happy puppy brightness, and he ran off to grab a different toy. Continue reading

How to honor Dr. King

I marked the start of the Martin Luther King holiday by finishing the last few chapters of The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation, by Chicago reporter Natalie Y. Moore. The book explores the continuing persistence and effects of racial segregation America, with a focus on Chicago and especially the city’s South Side, where Moore grew up.

This book has earned wide praise, and has left me with much to consider. It approaches segregation primarily in terms of race, but acknowledges the intersections with class and economics. Which of these is the more important factor if our goal is to be improving racial equity and justice?

It seems important today to remember that Martin Luther King’s primary goal wasn’t racial harmony; it was racial justice. Continue reading


My day began at 4 a.m., when I decided I was not going to get back to sleep. I took a book to another room and curled up with both it and a dog. I also opened up Facebook and found that one of my friends had been up and sharing at 2:30 a.m. — not a friend who is likely to have been ending a long day at that hour.

By 6 a.m., I was in multiple conversations, all with friends in my own time zone.

It’s Saturday. Why were we all awake?

Continue reading

Missing Mom

Today would have been my mother’s 96th birthday. I didn’t spend the whole day thinking about this, but it was in the back of my mind, surfacing periodically — at work, in traffic, as I walked through my garden.

Dead nearly 13 years, she’s always just barely off-stage, ready to walk on at the slightest queue. Opening day at Comiskey Park? I’ll call Mom to let her know if I’m going. Crocuses came up early? Mom would be thrilled. White butterfly just flew by? Maybe it was Mom. Continue reading