The Difference Between Sympathy and Empathy

CW: pet death “So, are you going to get a new cat?” my coworker, Bridget, asked. Her eyebrows rounded and the gray streak in her hair glowed in the harsh fluorescent light. A mixture of impatience and grief constricted my throat. I had come so close to getting out the door. My computer was off, …

Advertisements

In One Breath

A cop informed me that my son was both homosexual and dead. Shot at a bar he had apparently haunted. “Will you accept the body?” the cop asked. A thousand bats’ wings pulsed inside me before I said "No."

The Songs We Sing

Sometime in the middle of May, in the blinking daylight hours between rolling fog and thunderstorms, the buildings along Lincoln Avenue inhale. The restaurant workers in their white aprons have thrown open the large, floor-to-ceiling windows that line the fronts of their buildings. You have to fight against the draw of their breath as you walk by them, and the …

Evidence

Those glazed over eyes. You know what I mean: that moment at a party when you realize you can't remember how long you've been talking, and everyone that was listening is now either staring at hors d'oeuvres or smiling politely while internally wording their tweets about that boring guy who droned on for half an hour about the pros …

Telling Strangers Your Life Story, or Why Not to Go Whole Hog on Census Records

Genealogists are magicians. Don't believe me? Watch as I make my Aunt Barbara disappear before your eyes! In my ongoing search to learn about my grandfather, Ralph James's life, I came across a newspaper article that stated the date of his first marriage to Gladys Hooker. With the discovery of that date came an intriguing story problem: If Gladys …

Baby-daddy

Last week, I told a story about how a little circled X in the 1940 Iowa Census led me to a big discovery about my grandfather, Ralph James's life. I found out that in January of that year he'd resigned his position as Council Bluffs Assistant County Engineer during a meeting where the board was approving raises for him …