The Gift You Won’t Want to Return

With my nimble fingertips ripping through the paper, I couldn’t wait to open my Christmas surprise. Mom had been eluding to it all week; how cute it was, how wonderful it would look on me and that it was the perfect color for my complexion. Throwing the paper onto the floor, I tore the box open, pushed the tissue aside, then gasped in horror.

“What the hell?” my snarky sixteen-year-old self wanted to growl, but held inside. Instead of some hip outfit that would attract […]

The Perfect Holiday Gift

Dressed to perfection in my new athletic apparel and spiked shoes, I stood at the tee with a license to kill in my gloved hand. Knowing the importance for a swing with precision, I slowly raised my $250 driver meticulously over my right shoulder, then, without hesitation, let it rip.
“Ugh!” I cried, my face burning as the all too familiar sound “swoosh” stung my ears and wounded my ego. Once again, that stupid little ball defied contact, and I stood humiliated ready to […]

A Thanksgiving Tradition

My mother instilled family traditions in her children with an iron fist and demanded we follow, or else. One such practice required me to kiss my three brothers before bedtime. Traveling from oldest to youngest, I was to leave a peck on their cheek before I made my way to my bedroom. It was a ritual she thought cute and one I grew to abhor.

In the early years, it wasn’t too bad because I actually liked them, plus no one had developed cooties or […]

100% Irish and Proud of It

I walked into The Cover Story Boutique on Main Street in Los Altos and was instantly swept back in time. Proudly looking at all the adorable decorations for St. Patrick’s Day, I saw smiling leprechauns, green shamrock encrusted plates and napkins, beer mugs sporting sayings like, “Kiss me I’m Irish.”
As a child, knowing that I was Irish made me feel like I was one of the chosen ones. My father, born to Irish Catholic immigrants in 1916, instilled that heritage into his daughter’s heart […]

The Gift of Support

Months of endlessly pestering my mother had finally paid off. Christmas was coming in two weeks, and I was determined to get an early present, even if it killed me.

In 1965, I was thirteen and completely flat. While the other girls flaunted their lacey symbols of womanhood under crisp, white uniform blouses, I sported a cotton tee shirt. I was what people called a late bloomer. Spring’s first bud had yet to form on my scrawny body, but I was adamant– chest or no […]

The Strength of Life

The giant steel door cracked open and began to press on my back. A pungent smell, vastly resembling death, wafted overhead while cold, damp air seeped from the dark cavern within. As my rail thin body was forced to lunge forward, I saw my life flash through my mind. For a brief second, I thought this is it. This is the end. I was sure I was going to die.

It was a hot and muggy day in June 2002. I was in Los Angeles […]