all happy families

My Mother's Child

I will always remember one specific evening after school in 1999. I was sitting in the living room of our apartment complex, wasting my day in front of the TV, when my mom barged in crying. It wasn't the first time I had seen her emotionally fall apart in front of me nor the first time her nine-year-old daughter would comfort her while she broke down.

I was already beginning to accustom myself to the peculiarity of living with an uncle suffering from schizophrenia at this point: frequent stares from our neighbors in fear of his presence; fighting with kids in the neighborhood who taunted him while he [...]


Mad Men: “It’s Nice to See Family Happiness Again”

You can choose your friends but not your family, wrote Harper Lee in To Kill a Mockingbird; it’s a sentiment that carries through last night’s Mad Men, though it has a twist, because in a time in which the standard definitions of family begin to fluctuate and expand, the boundaries between families and friends and even coworkers blur as well. And, with family, to some extent, you do choose—you can choose your wife or your husband; you can choose to leave (like Roger’s daughter); you can choose to suppress (like Peggy, like Roger) or even recreate (like Don).

Last night’s show, the second to last we’re getting in the first [...]


A Letter To My Aunties


I heard some of you tried to Google me.

My mother tells me this sitting on the edge of my childhood bed. I’ve been gone from the home I grew up in for five years. I left to start my life. I’m back now to show my gratitude—like a spiritual praxis; there’s a cord that ties me to my family and their needs; I am a healer at my best.

As a kid I didn’t understand why my life had restrictions. Unlike so many of my friends, I had a list of terms and conditions governing my free spirit; a body of rules that determined my [...]


Dress Your Family In Your Lover's Shoes

I was asleep on the overnight train from Carbondale to Chicago, dreaming about snuggling with my boyfriend, Sam. I awoke to find myself reaching for my seatmate—a newly released convict who did not want to snuggle.

“No,” he said, crossing his arms. I knew he was a former inmate from his grey sweatpants, matching t-shirt, and prison-issued sneakers. The Pinckneyville Correctional Center is halfway between Southern Illinois and Union Station. The midnight train is the cheapest option for shipping freed men north.

He shook his head. “I don’t cuddle.”

“Sorry,” I mumbled. It seemed pointless to explain that I’d thought he was my boyfriend of one [...]