Hearing About Manchester

A photo of Molly watering our veranda plants to soften the blow of the conversation below.

A photo of Molly watering our veranda plants to soften the blow of the conversation below.


Me: (writing emails early this morning)

Hank: Hi mama.

Me: Hi Hank.

Hank: Whatcha doin’?

Me: (with the tone of someone off to the dentist for a root canal) Writing emails.

Hank: To who?

Me: You mean to whom? If you would say he or she you would use who. If you mean him or her you use the word whom. Unless it is formal and the recipient is undeclaired then it is whom.

Hank: English is hard.

Me: Truth.

Hank: So yah…

Me: To whom are you writing emails?

Hank: Sure. That.

Me: I am writing an elevator pitch to a literary agent.

Hank: What is a… Huh? I have too many questions about that one sentence.

Me: A literary agent sells books. A literary agent is a person who works for a writer and represents them to publishers as well as other agencies that would like to buy the rights to use a writer’s work. An elevator pitch is a phrase used to describe why you would buy, invest, support something said in the briefest and most direct language possible in the length of time it takes you to enter and exit an elevator.

Hank: So you have to read this email in an elevator?

Me: (grinning) The elevator part is metaphorical. It represents the length of time you have to sell your idea or in this case my latest book project.

Hank: Ooooooooookay. I understand. Wait, that must be hard for you. You talk a lot.

Me: (raised eyebrow)


Me: (loudly slurp coffee, eyebrow still raised)

Hank: I mean in a good way. It takes you time to tell your whole ideas. This is why you are a good writer.

Me: Nice save.

Hank: (relieved) Thanks. I was worried. You know what I mean though.

Me: I do. Trust me. I hate these query emails. I hate writing press releases for the blog. I hate promotion. I feel so slimy. Like I am standing in front of a group of people I respect and shouting, “Hey! LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME! Aren’t I great? I am soooooo great. Oh, you think I’m great? (death metal growl) GOOD THEN PAY ME.”

Hank: (giggling)

Me: But I have to start using my creative writing to pay me more so I can freelance less or else the blog and my book projects have become very expensive hobbies that I can’t continue to devote so much time to.

(news on in the background announcing a bombing at a concert in Manchester. 22 dead including children, 50+ injured)

Me: (shock, horror) My god.

Hank: Where is Manchester? Is it in London?

Me: No, it is in the north of England.

Pai: (stopping to listen)

(News: Pop singer Ariana Grande concert…)

Pai: Children and Teens are terrifying to some people. They represent the future where their ideas will no longer be powerful. They are taught to love and accept all people and that education is the real power not fear. That makes them a target.

Hank: Children were there at night? This happened at 10:30pm, right? Why were there children there?

Me: (large lump in my throat) A child is any person under the age of thirteen.

Pai: They were your age, Hank.

Me: That could have been you.

Pai: And you, Joy. I would have bailed rather than sitting through a pop concert.

Me: More likely Hank, you and one of your Tias or Primas (aunts or cousins).

Hank: (devastated)

Pai: It would be like walking into school and the majority of your class wouldn’t be there today.






Hank: This feels normal. This feeling I have. This feeling is becoming normal now.

Me: That is what the sick and sad people of the world want.

Pai: They want you to be afraid and angry.

Hank: I am not afraid or angry. I am so sad that there are no word and no tears. I can’t even cry. I just want to find a person who is thinking about hurting people this way and be their friend and love them enough that they know they don’t need to hurt people.

Me: (nodding, rubbing Hank’s back) Hurt people hurt people.

Hank: I just want to love people.

Pai: That is probably the right answer, Hank.

Me: We need reconciliation.

Hank: What does that mean?

Me: It means the restoration of friendship.

Hank: That is exactly what the world needs.

Me: It starts with us.

Hank: (nodding, numb)


Naps and Nerds and Celebrity Crushes

conversations with hank


Me: (having successfully gotten Molly down for her nap, return to the lunch table) Well, I don’t know about you lot, but I too am taking a nap this afternoon. My arms are jelly after all that tomato planting.

Leslie: A nap sounds lovely.

Pai: My hobby is napping.

Hank: I can’t nap. My body just doesn’t do it. I just lay there in the dark, like, this is not working, until I get up.

Pai: You don’t have to sleep to rest.

Me: Exactly, 99% of the time when I say I am napping I mean I am laying flat on the bed and either reading or getting lost in my imagination or Netflix.

Hank: I can’t read a book while my sister is sleeping in our room!

Me: Yes, but you can listen to a podcast with headphones.

Leslie: People are always suggesting that I listen to podcasts, but I have no clue how to actually do that.

Hank: I can help you with that, Leslie!

Me: Hank listens to a podcast you would love called Good Mythical Morning.

Hank: It’s not a podcast it is a show on YouTube.

Me: It’s both.

Hank: It is?

Me: Isn’t it?

Leslie: What is this now?

Me: It is a nerdy talk show hosted by mega smart, southern, eyebrow gesturing dreamboats, Rhett and Link.

Hank: What?

Me: I have a huge crush on the boys from Good Mythical Morning.

Leslie: Nice.

Pai: (nodding, unfazed)

Hank: HEY! You can’t have a crush on them! You’re married to him! (gesturing to Pai)

Pai: She can have a crush on someone. I know she chose me.

Me: Hank, just because I am madly in love with my very own salt and pepper bearded nerd doesn’t mean that I won’t or he won’t be attracted to other people. Your papa has a crush on a singer named Cat Power.

Pai: I do.

Me: See!

Hank: This is weird.

Pai: No, it isn’t. You had a crush on Katy Perry when you were four and I didn’t call you weird! Everyone gets crushes.

Leslie: It’s true!

Me: Contrary to the popular, romantic idea about soul mates there is no such thing. There are more than one person for everyone in this world and that is why choosing to love a particular someone special for as long as you both shall live is an ever evolving commitment. Fidelity is a choice.

Leslie: But crushes on famous people are practically harmless.

Pai: Yes, when am I ever going to meet Cat Power? Who’s real name is Charlyn Marshall, by the way.

Me: Exactly!

Pai: But even if I did meet her and for some odd reason she’d want to go on a date with me I would still choose your mother. Every day.

Me: (blushing, flirty eye contact thrown across the table to my person of 12 years)

Hank: I didn’t have a crush on Katy Perry.


Pai: You did. You can’t deny it.

Leslie: Even I knew this and I live in America.

Hank: (mortifyingly embarrassed, huffs away from the table)



My Tantrum

Hank and Molly Playing Ballerina

Hank and Molly Playing Ballerina


Me: (opening the oven to find I have burned the garlic bread at the end of a long and painful RA/AS day) GOD BLESS! GAWD DAMN BLESS IT! AHHHHHHHHHHHRRRRGGGHHHH!

Pai: (rushing in) What is it?


Pai But what happened? Are you hurt?


Pai: Is that all?

Me: Babe, that isn’t all. I am at the end of my rope. I am running on less than empty.  I was standing here watching the oven SO THIS WOULDN’T HAPPEN AND IT HAPPENED IN FRONT OF MY FACE AND I WAS TOO BRAIN DEAD TO NOTICE!!! ARGH! I am fully done and my body is too busy fighting itself to give fuel to my brain so I AM DOING STUPID THINGS LIKE BURNING THE FLIPPING GARLIC BREAD I SPENT THE LAST 20 MINUTES MAKING WHEN THE TOTALITY OF THIS MEAL OTHERWISE TOOK NINE MINUTES.

Pai: (picking up the tray of half burnt garlic toast to throw it away)


Pai: (creepy calm) If you don’t stop yelling I swear this burnt bread will go over the side of the veranda to feed birds, so help me.

Molly: (toddling into the kitchen, arms in the air, yelling and walking strain over to me) Olha! Olha! Olha! (Look! Look! Look!)

Hank: (following behind her silently)

Molly: Mama mad at Papa? (putting her little hands on my knees looking up at me) Mad? Mama mad?

Me: (deep breath)


Me: No, Molly, I am not mad at your papa.

Molly: Mama mad. (nodding)

Me: (getting on her level) Mama is mad, baby. Mama was mad. I need to calm down.

Molly: Tem calma, mãe. (Calm down, mama)

Me: (pulling Molly into a big hug) Thank you, Moo-Moo.  I am sorry, Alfredo.

Pai: You’ve got to learn to ask for help.

Me: I know.

Molly: (petting my hair) It’s okay, mama. Tem calma (calm down).

Me: Thank you, Molly. Thank you for your help.

Molly: Okay. (job done, toddles off singing) Please, no thank you. Please, no thank you. Please, please, please, please, no thank you.

Me: (hugging Pai)

Pai: (hugging me back) You okay? Do you need to lay down? Are you in too much pain? I can finish.

Me: No, no. I’m better. I just need five minutes then we can eat.

Hank: (having stayed silent and taken in the my tantrum declares) Well done, mom. You didn’t use a single palavrão (swear word)!

Me: HA! I didn’t?

Pai: Well, that’s a first!

Hank: Your learning, mama. I’m proud of you and I will set the table.

Me: Thanks, Hank.

Hank: And I don’t mind my garlic bread a little burnt.

Me: (throwing my arm around his shoulder) How’d I get so lucky to have you for my kid?

Hank: Because I picked you. I knew you were the mom for me and I picked you. You’re my choice. (walking away with the plates toward the table)

Me: (smiling, wincing back tears while using kitchen sheers to cut off the burnt edges of the garlic bread)