Monday, January 18, 2016


            It is dark outside. Night has come early today. Clouds all day and the daylight seems to gone too soon. You are walking down to the corner store to buy a gallon of milk. You wish you could run away, right now, run far away. Who needs all those kids and that nagging wife. But you’re a good man, a responsible man. You’d never do that. And so here you are: walking in the middle of the street because there’s more light here, the tall trees obscuring the sidewalks. A car might run you over but who cares…here you are: walking to the corner store to buy a gallon of milk because your wife had no time to do that all day. You work and work and then you come home and you have to work some more.
            Suddenly you look up. The shooting star catches you unaware. Make a wish you say to yourself out loud. Make a wish and it will come true. And then you say: who told you that? Such bullshit! But you make a wish anyway. Very quietly. Very much to yourself lest a neighbor hear you and report you to your wife.
            The shooting star has shot by already. The dark envelops you once more. The light of the store on the corner is your beacon. You walk like a zombie. Milk, a gallon of milk, you repeat to yourself like a mantra when you see the car. The lights blind you. Where is this guy going the wrong way you ask yourself and the next instant your wish comes true.

Monday, January 11, 2016


            You’re in a grocery store. It’s a small one, not the hypermarkets they have in other countries. This is a small neighborhood store, like they used to have in the old days, when people shopped every day for the daily necessities of life: bread, milk, a cutlet, a can of tomato sauce, cheese.
            You’re looking for fat free/lactose free milk for your wife. She only drinks fat free for reasons of weight and lactose free for reasons of intolerance. But this is a small store and they don’t carry such fancy items. It is past eleven at night. You’re not about to go looking for fat free/lactose free milk at this time of night in this storm. But she needs her milk. She’s pregnant.
            Right. And that’s the other problem. She’s going to have another child. You’re going to have another mouth to fee. As if four weren’t enough. Not counting you and her. Why do you need a fifth child? Because she likes children. You know I like children, she always says. So what? Does that mean you gotta have a dozen? She stays home and you have to go out slaving away the best years of your life to feed and clothe all the children because she loves children.

            You walk up and down the aisles, the refrigerated section, but nothing. Should I buy regular milk you ask yourself. She’ll yell and call you names and then you’ll have to go out again and find the right milk. You better go find it now. Go to that big store that’s open 24 hours. Just take the car, drive and find it. Buy the right milk and go home. She’s waiting. She gets impatient when she waits. Go to the right store and get the right milk. Then go home to the kids and wife. Just go. Go home. But not before buying the right milk. Hurry. Your wife is waiting. And she can get very impatient. Especially when she’s pregnant. She gets so moody. One minute she’s fine and the next she’s crying and then yelling. Just go and buy the right milk and go home. Just do it. 

Friday, January 8, 2016

MORE ACCIDENTS OF LIFE: Part 2 - "I remember"

I remember when my father got very sick when I was 8 years old. 
After a few months in the hospital he would come home on Sundays.  He’d wear a white shirt and blue pants, and bring a small bag.   We had very little money then and the women from the Greek church’s philanthropic organization helped us out.  That was the summer when I went to their summer camp – the first and last time. I was not used to sleeping on a bunk bed, much less on the top bunk.  Since we had to make our beds every morning, mine was full of crumbs. It was virtually impossible to do a good job standing on the flimsy wooden ladder and clean, straighten, tuck.

I remember when brides walked out of their houses and all the neighbors stood around to watch them get in the car, go to the church. 

I remember when women (and girls) walked arm in arm.

I remember competing in a television quiz show when I was 17 years old.  There were 9 contestants. An older man and I kept winning, so we had to go to the second week. During that time people would recognize me on the street or at work. The second week I eventually lost.

I remember the chilblains in my feet and hands every winter: red, itchy, swollen.  Painful.  The only remedy we knew: very hot water and salt.  I’d immerse my toes and fingers in the scalding water for as long as I could stand it. 

I remember the day we left Buenos Aires for New York on Pan American Airlines.  It was our first airplane flight. We were all dressed up.  I remember reading the EXIT sign on the plane and thinking how thoughtful “they” were wishing me EXITO (Success) on my new life in the United States.

I remember working at Montgomery Ward’s as an OCR typist.  There were about 12 of us young women typing letters and numbers on long, green strips of paper from handwritten notes.  The first day I confused all the Fs for 7s and had to retype the entire batch.

I remember my first friend at Montgomery Ward – Mary Ann – who changed her last name from Chmielarz to Golden because she wanted to be Jewish.

I remember meeting her every Saturday downtown to go to the Art Institute.  We’d have lunch and then lie down on the grass outside the museum pretending to be hippies. 

I remember auditioning at the YMCA on Irving Park for the Greek theater company after hearing an announcement on the radio. I got the part of the maid.  The clueless, snooping maid.

I remember my first waitressing job at The Beef Pub on Wabash Avenue.  I spilled a plate of spaghetti with sauce on a woman’s lap.  

I remember my second waitressing job the next day.  

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

INVENTORY OF MY BODY at this point in my life

Image result for toenails                 Image result for knees

Red toenails.

Damaged right big toenail from bumping toe on a step in Hydra in 1982: went black, fell out, new nail grew fungus and thick; had to go to Dr. Scholl every 6 months to clean and sand down; then used a fungoid tincture every day for a year and now it’s almost as good as new.

Bunion on left foot.

Right leg has a scar on the side from surgery for polio and another one on the knee from the cast.

Left knee has a torn ACL, so I need to wear a big-ass brace when I play tennis to prevent knee from collapsing.

Left leg has a scar from falling down the stairs at the Foster train stop in Evanston sometime in the late aughts: wound got infected; had to take antibiotics which ruined my colon with c.diff.

Lower back had a herniated disk in 2000: took steroids, did physical therapy; now it hurts when lifting heavy objects.







Blue fingernails.

Head has suffered migraines for many, many years. Now it has a very small aneurysm somewhere.

Thick lips.

Big brown eyes.

Thick eyebrows.

Teeth are pretty good now after half a life going to the dentist for repairs, root canals, gingivitis.

Sunday, January 3, 2016


I remember my first kiss.  We were standing in the tiny lobby of my building while my parents were upstairs waiting, fretting, ready to call the police, because it was past midnight.

I remember losing my virginity in a car and thinking it was a cliché.

I remember thinking that if I found the right man I’d be happy. I thought many other things too.  Many times I wasn’t thinking.  My therapist said “sex is the currency of love.”  I used to like to count them, trying to remember their names.  But I couldn’t always remember them all.  I still can’t.

I couldn’t help myself: I had a weakness for men who shared my political ideologies. I was after all a “red diaper baby.”  As such, I was inexorably attracted to Marxists, communists, Stalinists, leftists, whatever you want to call them. They however did not always make for the best partners, lovers, boyfriends, whatever you want to call them. 

I met the first one at the university where I was studying and working. I was married by then. S. was a professor of sociology and Latin American Studies. Short, with an Afro hairdo.

My first affair took me by surprise. I didn’t expect to be “that” woman, the wife who cheats. I didn’t think that way about myself but I was bored. Life at the university proved too exciting for a young woman who missed the intellectual excitement a professor can offer.

I felt at home for the first time since arriving in Chicago eight years before. The stimuli danced around me day in and day out.  We talked politics, music, social issues, we laughed, and all or much of it in Spanish.

After the first one, it gets easier.  The second one was younger, a classmate in Introduction to Marxism class, Jamaican, tall and golden.  P. had a twin brother, both track and field athletes for the university. They lived with four other Jamaican runners in an apartment provided by the school.  We’d spend the afternoons together in his small room after class.  After, I’d take him out to dinner and introduce him to different restaurants.  When P. tired of me, we broke up. And I met R.

The Wild Hare Reggae Club + one very cold night in early January, 1981 + Sonia’s friend Phyllis = meeting B.  It was a weeknight.  The place was virtually empty.  We danced for a long time.  He liked my long black hair. He took my phone number and I went home.

I didn’t know at the time that he was there to meet Phyllis’s friend, not me.  I’m sorry.  I was just being myself. 

The Campbells were unusual. At least to me. First of all there were a lot of them: three sisters and four brothers plus one more sister who had died of sickle cell anemia before I ever met them. 

I found myself in the middle of this black family from Evanston. It changed my life. 

B. had been a Jehovah’s Witness but had been kicked out for having an affair with an older woman when he was seventeen.  Now he was just a Christian as he told me when we met.  He had a difficult time accepting my atheism.  He tried to talk me into believing in a Christian God. He tried to change me.  Not the first man to try that, nor the last.

“I like my bread like I like my men,” I told Valerie at the school cafeteria after I ordered a tuna salad sandwich on whole wheat.  She asked me about my live-in boyfriend.  I told her about B.  And as I explained who he was, as I described him and what he did for a living, I saw her face change colors and expressions. 

“I know him,” she said.  “My roommate’s been seeing him for a while. He’s been spending evenings at our place.”

My heart skipped a beat first, then pounded fast and furious. 

That explained his unexplained absences, his coming home late every other day, his weekend away “to find himself.” 

That was how I learned that B. had been cheating on me for six months with this woman who used to be a nun.