A young woman had a mole on her ear. It started out as a speck, right on the rim of the top arch, where the cartilage was a little firmer.

She lived far from home. She attended the local university and studied humanities. She was a good student: dependable, intelligent, hard-working. She developed a strong, professional relationship with her professors.

About a month passed, and this woman noticed her mole had grown to twice its size from before. It was now a raised bump.

The next day, the mole doubled again. Then the next day, the same thing happened. She documented the growth in a notebook over the next week.

The mole was now a sizable protrusion from her ear. She noticed when her classmates’ eyes would dart to her ear and try not to get distracted during lectures or study groups.

The woman made an appointment to see a doctor.

She entered the doctor’s office and related the history of the mole while the doctor examined it. It was now about an inch long and irregularly shaped. It was dark, and it didn’t hurt whenever he poked or flicked it. She stated the mole had no sensation whatsover.

The doctor, having heard this, decided to do a quick outpatient operation. He took a tweezers and held the end of the mole, then with his other hand, he grabbed a scalpel.

He ran the scalpel flush along the edge of the ear and sliced the mole quite cleanly from the the surface. He held the mole in front of the young lady for her to see, then he dropped it into a metal bowl.

The doctor put a bandage over the wound and sent the young woman on her way.

The mole was left in the bowl overnight.

That night the young woman tried completing a homework assignment that she told her professor would be overdue. She had mentioned a personal matter that needed tending to, referring to her mole. She couldn’t concentrate. She stared at her textbook without reading, and she held her pen against blank paper, but no words flowed.

She went to bed, hoping her professor would understand the situation and give her a little more time to finish. Her professor knew she could finish. She always did.

The next morning after lecture, she approached her professor about the homework. Before she could explain what happened, the professor thanked her for turning in the assignment. The professor said he appreciated her effort to get it done, despite whatever else was going on in her life.

Puzzled, she smiled, nodded, turned around, and walked to her next class.

Over the next few weeks, the young lady realized that if she made plans for anything, she discovered they’d already been done.

There was the time she was going to clean the bathroom. She had the bucket of soapy water and a sponge, and she put on rubber gloves, but when she got to the bathroom, it already smelled of bleach and everything was thoroughly cleaned. Pristine.

Then, once, she was going to hang out with some friends. Go to a movie and dinner. She called one friend to confirm the plans, but the friend kept going on about how delicious dinner was and thanked her for coming along, it was a lot of fun and her insight about the movie was brilliant.

The young woman was so confused. 

At times she thought she saw shadows, or maybe just one shadow, lurking, dashing between other shadows, shadows that were still.

Along with the strange occurrences were feelings of deep sluggishness and weakness. As days progressed, she found it increasingly difficult to get out of bed. She felt as if the world was puffing up around her. Everything seemed bigger, and so she felt smaller. Progressively. Day after day.

She made another appointment with the doctor.

She entered the doctor’s office and related what had been happening to her since he removed the mole.

The doctor reexamined the site of the operation. He found another mole. He lanced that one, too. It hurt.

This mole bled a lot for its size. This mole was a slightly raised dot, much smaller than the lumpy mass from months before. This tiny mole went into a metal bowl. 

Then the metal bowl was emptied into a biohazard bag with other biological waste, tumors and plasma and bacteria and oozy bodily discharge. 

The biohazard bag was then transported to an incinerator.

The incinerator destroyed the biohazard bag.

By then, it was too late.

The shifting shadow disappeared.

The professor could still count on the young woman turning in her homework.

The young woman’s friends still would enjoy their outings together.

The young woman’s family would still expect her home for holidays.

No one knew the difference.

Especially her.

Another New

Most of the time new friends make me nervous, not because of anything they’ve done or said. It’s only because they’re new, and I don’t know very much of their personalities or preferences or ways of thinking yet.

It never ceases to amaze me when friends find me quickly. I’m usually relatively well-guarded. Making friends used to take so much longer. And it surprises me when our dispositions are somewhat similar. Somewhat.

I’ve made a good friend these past few months. In some ways I feel like I’ve run into a twin: we’re both kind of quiet, yet feisty. But we look nothing alike: tall, short; strawberry blonde, dark brunette; curly hair, straight (except tonight, when she straightened hers); fair complexion, dark; blue eyes, dark brown.

There’s a 9-year age difference, which, if I were 14 and she were 5, it might be a bigger deal. Plus, she’s a lot more mature than her age suggests. And I’m a bit more immature. So we meet in the middle.

We celebrated her birthday this evening. There was cake. And candles. And good company. We went around the room and said what we like about her. One of her best friends wrote her an awesome song. Then the rest of us tried to follow that.

When it came to my turn, I said, “[My friend] is perceptive. And patient. And deep. And a fast and easy [planned pause, at least 1 second] … friend.” Then the group burst into laughter.

Then I explained how easy it was making friends with her. And others pointed out that the bunnies really took to her, then she told a story about how the bunnies licked her hand the last time they saw her when she schlepped it all way up to Inwood on a local-train, shuttle-bus weekend to attend a citizenship celebration.

She definitely does not take her friends for granted.

Another adjective for the list: devoted.

Add, still, and if you could, a bunch of other thoughts about friendship that language can’t capture.


Happy birthday, girl.


Things I Might Have Given Up for Lent If I Celebrated It

mini powdered donuts – my love never fadeth; I had normal-size powdered donuts this week, and the taste was totally different.

corner/edge brownie pieces – but I’d make the sacrifice to eat the middle pieces. Give me a medal of honor already.

Heroes – this would require to stop going to a friend’s apartment to keep from watching it. I didn’t sign up for giving up awesome friends for Lent.

Guitar Hero – I’m not completely addicted, but I would venture to say withdrawal symptoms are likely, especially if I don’t get to play “The Kill” by 30 Seconds to Mars or “The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World.

vending machines – not necessarily buying things from them. Whenever I pass a vending machine, I have to stop and study its contents. I like memorizing the alphanumeric combinations. F3 on the machine at work is for Reeses’ Peanut Butter Cups.

Mayor Bloomberg tap water – I really love NYC tap water. It’s among the best in the country. How could I possibly give that up? What do I drink instead? Soda pop? Gogurt?

sleep – I LOVE sleep! I can’t even describe how much my body craves sleep. I don’t get enough of it already, but if I gave sleep up completely for 40 days, I wouldn’t be the only one suffering.

sunshine – people who live at the poles do this for months at a time. All I know is it would be so hard to give up sleep AND sunshine during the same Lent period.

compelling Sunday School classes – these are a rarity, but when they’re good, they’re incredible. Sometimes a little speculative quip will find its way into an intensively doctrinal discussion. That’s kind of like sprinking anchovies on brownies. DOES NOT BELONG.

constellations – it would not make me a stronger person to give up my romantic and scientific sensibilities for 40 days.

winter – YES! totally writing winter out of my life. Spring should be well on its way by Easter, right?

Getting over Writer’s Blog

I’m getting close, people. An idea flashed in my brain about how I want to relate the oath ceremony. I can’t do it tonight, though. It’s going to take some time to organize it. It’s going to be relatively long, probably the longest I’ve written in a few months. And I have to find the right words; there’s always the right word for every situation. My mouth is watering and my brain is about to bubble over. I hope it turns out as good as I envision it.

It’s late. I spent a couple hours with some great friends, and I can never turn down an offer to play Guitar Hero. I also need to polish my seminary lesson for tomorrow.

I Want Brownies

On the short, three-block walk from the subway to my apartment building this evening, I thought, I am SO done with platonic friendships. No more. I have more guy friends than should be legal. I don’t need any more. I’m fine with the males in my life serving only to balance the abundant estrogen that my wonderful girl friends provide. I don’t know, it’s hard for me to say I can’t hang out with these boys, because it’s not like I spend a lot of time with them. I see them at church, and that’s it, outside of the occasional movie or concert every few or six months. At the same time, I don’t want to spend a lot of time with a boy who doesn’t want to be more than friends. But, most boys I know are sensible enough not to hang out with me like that. They know if they’re going to spend a lot of time with a girl, they’d better be wooing her. I’m not saying my situation is insufferable, I just really have no need for more guy friends.

Then I approached the door of my apartment building. I was done thinking about it. Over it. I was cold and cranky and tired and wanted to get inside. Three blocks.

If you’re up later on this evening, go and check out Comet Lulin. It’s probably brighter if you’re not in a city with dense light pollution. Enjoy.

Word Association

The word providence has been floating around in my head. When people ask me how I ended up in New York City, sometimes I answer, “Providence.” It only very recently occurred to me the word contained in this word, provide. Then the connection only very recently clicked, and the word’s meaning became so much deeper for me.


It’s not a default answer; it’s what I say when nothing else explains why or how.

What brought you to New York City?
Can you explain why your biological father has found you?
How is it that your dad responded so positively when you told him you’ve been talking to your biological father? (I’ll tell that story later.)

All providence. That’s all I can say.

He provides.

I Am Not A Poet.

I appreciate concision and succinctness, but I’ve never imagined mastering it to the level of a poet. Emerson says some wonderful things about poets in his famous essay, Nature. Poets are the epitome of stuff. He articulates it just like that, too.

Also? To do it – poetry – within the confines of a particular structure and meter, especially impressive.

The poetry reading tonight was insightful. People can do some amazing and incredible things with words. Voices bounced and flowed and the words as sound waves were music, a meandering march to custom cadences. I wonder if an activity like tonight’s would have been half as successful outside of a big city or away from an academic setting. Would this have flown in Middleburg, Florida?

Jacksonville is more feasible, though. A group of us had gotten together sometime during the summer of 2001 to share our favorite songs. I contributed an arrangement of “Simple Gifts” by Yo-Yo Ma and Alison Krauss. If you haven’t heard this version. Get it. Play it. Then set the song on repeat.

I should have just read something by someone established, like T.S. Eliot or even Dr. Seuss. But I didn’t. I’m American now: who says I have to keep playing it safe? Sure, what I read may not have been So Awesome, but that’s okay. 

Poetry may not be my thing; my brain has trouble creating along those lines. Even now I’m struggling  producing effective prose. Maybe I need a break. Although I’m not generating much high quality right now, I have gotten into the proper habit of daily vulnerability, which is not only the essence of blogging, but the core of writing.

While I am not an exalted poet, while that kind of word manipulation and presentation is not my cup of tea, I will take what I can do with a little bit of honey. I am a lowly, yet eager writer.

Ah, Grasshoppers

Patience. I informed you the photos from the previous post will have to suffice for now. Yesterday is not something I want to rattle off without any introspect. Yesterday meant a lot to me. It will take some time to process and express it thoughtfully. You know me. My becoming American just isn’t American voting and American jury duty and taking a peculiarly worded oath. Like I said, yesterday was phenomenal, but I’m going to ruminate a while so that you’ll know that I mean phenomenal in its hyperextended superlative form. Phenomenalest-est-est-est-ultramegagoogol-est doesn’t quite cut it for me. It’s the experience I want to share.

Thanks again for your support and friendship and love. You truly added significance and power to my day yesterday.

Today Is NOT the End of the Road, Mr. Immigration Man!

It’s late. I had a phenomenal day. I don’t even know where to begin. Even if I did, I wouldn’t know how to describe today. Hopefully this photo does a sufficient job. It started with me becoming American:

Courtesy of Marcus Bowers
Courtesy of Marcus Bowers

 That’s right, America. May is in the house.

And, the day ended with some amazing Americana:


More later, of course.