My brother’s request was simple, his tone firm: We were going out for dinner. I couldn’t recall the last time I ate a full meal, let alone left the house. I hadn’t been to my own home—a six-hour drive north—in weeks. Deadlines passed unnoticed, my precarious writing career in peril.
Everything rested on a fulcrum, the pulse of a 77-year-old woman in a dark room. And that was all that mattered; I was either inside that room, or just outside it.
“I don’t know if I’m doing a good job,” I confessed as my grandmother and I watched the hospice nurse pack up her bags.
“She says she’s not [...]
Yesterday, Leonard Knight, the man who built Salvation Mountain, died at the age of 82.
The trick is to say this exact thing, I said. What seems to be the problem, officer? And you have to call him officer.
I’m not going to call him officer, Avi said.
What about the hash? What if he checks inside the car? Cathy asked.
Everybody just be cool, Avi said. He rolled down the window.
The cop beamed his flashlight into the front seat. What’s your nationality?
I’m American but I was born in Israel, Avi said.
And your mom? He motioned towards Cathy.
I’m not his mom, she said. [...]
The Marlboro Psychiatric Hospital in New Jersey opened in 1937 and closed in 1990. The 600-acre grounds are dotted by Tudor-style "cottages" that housed up to 55 patients each, which are in turn dwarfed by the larger, looming treatment buildings. "This is the kind of place people were talking about when they said someone had been ‘put away,'" Greg Roberts, chief executive at the hospital for 17 years, told the New York Times as he packed up his office. "For a long time, that's what happened—people were put here and all but forgotten."
Legend has it that the builders approached the owner of a local slaughterhouse, looking to buy [...]
The year that four of us were a family in the Nutcracker, night after night pretending to have Christmas on stage, we stopped putting the Christmas tree up. We rehearsed instead of decorating. Then my mom had my little brother and retired from the Nutcracker for a second time in her life. The Christmas tree went back up, but this time, its branches drooped with pink. We'd retired the normal Christmas ornaments and hung every last ornament that one of us had received as a Nutcracker gift. Ballerinas and pointe shoes and so many Nutcrackers and mice and soldiers and Claras: characters and shoes enough for fifteen productions danced [...]