Monday, December 14, 2020

I Don’t Want Anyone To Die For Me, I Just Want A Barbie


From the archives 2016

The moment my Dad lined the three of us up along the lip of our harvest gold and walnut couch, I knew it was a trap. I may have been seven years old, but I was savvy enough to see through “Do you know what Christmas is really about?”

“Jesus!” I proudly parroted, certain I had just saved myself and siblings from the ensuing spiel. And then he turned to my six-year-old brother. 

“Do you know what Christmas is really about?”

Come on! Come on! You can do it! It’s a trick question. You just heard me say the answer.


Oh, thank God!

But then he turned to the toddler.

“Do you know what…”

“Santa Claus!”


I caved into the cushions as he launched into a lengthy lecture, one with too much information for my age and stage, that completely crushed that cute little Christ in a crèche and left me a very sinister second grader who had savagely slain someone with her sin.

When it was over, my brother and sister happily hurried off blissfully oblivious to their offense after becoming completely lost immediately after the opening bit about the babe in Bethlehem. However, the gravity of my guilt settled on my shoulders as I made my way over to the console TV where my mother had placed our nativity set, as she had done every year, ensuring we all would see it.

I surveyed the ceramics from Sears. There were the wise men still way off in the corner of the console working their way west for the Epiphany. The shepherd who carried his sheep for some reason rather than letting it walk. The ox and ass, who through stifled giggles allowed me to say “ass” at church. The angel with a clipped wing that had chipped when she slipped from her nail and crashed where the cradle should have been. And Mary and Joseph, all staring expectantly into the blank space where my youngest sibling would reach her chubby little fingers in on Christmas morning, to place the baby, ceremoniously signaling the start of our festivities.

All awaiting the arrival of Jesus, just so I could kill him.

It was a good thing I had been preparing to make my first confession in a couple of months. We had really only covered the venial sins in my Baltimore Catechism. You know, the little ones, like fighting with my brother and not making my bed. The stuff that would still let me into purgatory where I could be on a payment plan of penance. Nothing so dire it deserved damnation. But it turned out we should have been covering the mortal ones, because I was unwittingly a murderer!

Mrs. Johnson, my Wednesday night CCD teacher, had mentioned the mortal sins as a category not to concern our elementary school selves with because those were really big ones like killing someone…which I had apparently already done! And the only way to get a mortal sin off of your soul was to go to confession. So, I would have to sit and stew in my sinfulness until that Saturday in spring when I would finally be capable of confessing to this capital crime and cleanse it from my conscience. I was going to have to be extra careful not to take any unnecessary risks to ensure I survived until then!

Over the next several days, at recess, I stayed off of the ice my friends were so gleefully gliding across and sat on the steps. I skipped going to my best friend’s house after school. And every time we got in the car, I secured my seatbelt, even though this was 1980 and seatbelts were completely unnecessary unless we were on vacation and even then, I am pretty sure they were only required to keep us from climbing all over the car and driving my parents crazy on cross-country car trips.

I didn’t go out and play in the first snow of the season. I skipped sledding and stayed safely inside watching the neighbor kids out the dining room window. And this is when my mother was sure something was amiss.

“I know that Santa is watching, but it doesn’t mean he doesn’t want you to have any fun.” And then she winked.

Mom was well aware I knew who was what. I had known since Kindergarten. It started with suspicions about The Tooth Fairy, then barreled through the Easter Bunny and snowballed right on over to Santa. I had always been an over-thinker and in a matter of minutes my five-year-old mind had managed to decimate the magic, much to my mother’s dismay.

But it stayed our little secret. She knew that I knew that she knew that I knew. But ne’er a word was said about it since that day more than two years earlier.

However, it wasn’t “Santa” that concerned me. It was that other guy in red. The one whose name also started with an “S.”

And as my worries piled up just like the snow outside, I finally could take it no longer.

“I don’t want anyone to die for me, I just want a Barbie.”

And then there were tears.

And a very simple response.

I don’t remember exactly what she said, only that she pointed out how very much she loved me. And if she could love me that much, to just think how much more God must love me and that Christmas and all the rest of it, in its simplest terms was about that love. And yes, there was a birth and a death, but there was a lot of living in between…and after. And so much living and loving for all of us to do as well.

And most importantly, she assured me that I was not a murderer and that dying for someone was something else entirely. And she let me in on a little secret…the best news of all.

I was getting a Barbie.

Friday, December 11, 2020

Amish Underpants and All


From the archives 2017

“Are you at the good Denny’s?”

Three motels, one with its hourly rate proudly posted, and the adult bookstore directly across the street made it clear I was not.

I had been expelled from a closing airport and sent to spend Christmas Eve at the "bad Denny's" to be hit on by an aging gangster named Foot while sitting adjacent to Chardonnay, a stripper with a stack of singles and feather roach-clip earrings, wearing a black Santa hat emblazoned with the word "Naughty!"

“I don’t think so…but I need to reserve a cab pickup…”

“Ma’am, we don’t make reservations for pickups from Denny’s. Especially that Denny’s.”


All eyes turned to me, the pariah from the police car, who had just been plopped in the parking lot. I stood there, Delta Dawn incarnate, wearing an ill-fitting 17 year-old wool winter coat and ripped yoga pants, clutching a small suitcase.

Just hours earlier, I had been racing through an underground tunnel at LAX because the first leg of my flight had been switched and was suddenly being serviced by a completely different airline…in a totally different terminal…on the opposite side of the airport.

I made it, just in time to reprint tickets and tags and rush to the gate…where the flight was delayed. I had just set my carryon down and was readying to settle in when --

“Here, watch him!”

A complete stranger, not even bothering to make eye contact, shoved her son at me and disappeared…for half of an hour. She blew back in the same whirlwind in which she went, phone squeezed tightly between her shoulder and cheek, whisking him up as she hurried past and on off down the hallway hollering back to me without even glancing up, “Hurry up Helen! I can’t do this all myself!” No, she couldn’t. She definitely couldn’t. And poor Helen, wherever she was.

But now, I sat, plates piling high on the pressed wood table, ordering course after course from the menu to bide my time until the airport reopened in a few hours. I preferred paying rent on this sticky tabled booth rather than at the hourly motor lodge across the way where there was a good chance that the surfaces were just as sticky. I ordered $16 worth of food. $16 is an immense amount of food for a single person at Denny’s.

I swirled my straw through three dollars worth of strawberry shake.

“What you doin’? What you doin’ with that bad ass?”

I looked up to see a bandit-bandanaed-blonde-bombshell airbrushed across a black t-shirt just below some numbers and the letters “O.G.” sliding into the booth across from me.

“Foot” slurred a thick tongued introduction fragrant with fermentation as he extended his tattooed fingertips; a tinted motif that flowed up his forearm, then slipped under his sleeve unseen to later resurface, slithering up his neck and culminating around his eye in teardrops, dots and digits. He continued by unleashing an uninvited ode to my ass. That same, travel tired tush that was now respectfully tucked away in torn yoga pants under a large tunic.

The rip in the rear was the result of a snag from some stable doors set up in the sanctuary for Christmas Eve service. I was cleaning up the frankincense and myrrh when my derriere was detained by the doors just minutes before boarding an airport shuttle to make it to my original flight in the nick of time…before it was changed in every way possible. 

A flight that I was taking to catch up to my husband who had already headed to the Midwest a few days earlier. A flight I had to take solo because I worked at a church and Christmas Eve is, well, a workday. A flight that was supposedly a “connecting flight” that had just landed at a tiny airport that “doesn’t do connecting flights.”

“Ma’am, you’ll have to leave. The airport is closing. It’s Christmas Eve and everyone wants to go home.”

“But I’m supposed to get on a connecting flight in a few hours.”

“Ma’am there are no connections. This is the end of the road.”

I stood there wagging my tickets for the remainder of my trip. Tickets printed by an airline that doesn’t service that airport. Tickets that no one would even look at when I asked them to because it wasn’t their airline. Tickets that cost hundreds of dollars, but were getting me nowhere except kicked out of the airport because it was closing.

“Ma’am. How did you even get here? Who dropped you off?”

“I flew. I just got off of a plane a little over an hour ago.”

And then the walkie-talkie was whipped out and I was described as a confused lady in a red wool coat. A really old red wool coat. A red wool coat that I was wearing even though it was at least 70 degrees outside.

Two Novembers into our marriage, I had no winter coat nor the budget for a winter coat. But was surrounded by Iowa weather that required said winter coat. This was back before you could order things online, so we went shopping. 

There was a beautiful red wool coat, at Yonkers department store, that I loved. Then, there wound up being one functional coat at another place that was the only one that fit me and the budget. The store closed before I could go back and get it. I resolved to return the next day.

After work, I swung by home to change out of my bank teller’s uniform before heading out to make my practical purchase and there, lying on the bed, was the red wool coat. That red wool coat took extra hours. That red wool coat took giving things up. That red wool coat made me cry. And even though it has gone out of fashion and I live in the heat of Southern California, I still wear that red wool coat every year when I travel home for Christmas. It is the only winter coat I own. It may have been seventeen years old, but the intent and love behind it are still the same.

“Well, all of the cabs are gone now, and by the time one gets here, we’ll all be gone and it’s not safe to leave you standing outside alone. Is there someplace I can drop you until the airport opens again in the morning?” The airport cop had been summoned to deal with the confused lady in the red wool coat.

“Maybe a 24-hour restaurant like an IHOP?” I offered.

“I don’t know. A lot of things are closed.”

I checked my phone to see what I could find. I found a Denny’s. He said that was doable.

I climbed into his squad car with my carryon luggage in my lap, closed the door, and as the car pulled away from the curb, the questions began. Familiar questions. Questions we used to have on a list for a nonprofit I had worked for. Questions that were asked of mentally unstable people off in an alternate reality.

And according to my phone, we were not headed towards the Denny’s. Not by a long shot. I was headed to spend the early morning hours of my Christmas where those deemed “confused” who show up in old red coats at dead end airports with tickets for airlines that aren’t there wind up. So rather than starting at the beginning again. Out of desperation, I chose to start at the end. The destination. Rural Iowa. My mother and father-in-law’s house and how they would be waiting to pick me up, along with my husband.

And as fate would have it, this cop, way out on the west coast…had family…in the tiny town just one county over. And knew all of the places and even some of the people from my husband’s hometown. And at least for a moment, long enough to turn the car around, decided maybe I wasn’t completely deranged and dropped me at that Denny’s.

That Denny’s where I now sat across from a very large man, with very identifiable associations on his skin, as he wound up his ballad to my butt.

“I’d really like to kiss you.”

“Dad, leave her alone!”

And there he was, the son. Foot had a son! A son! A son with miraculous timing. A son whose face burned with embarrassment as he dragged his elder from my booth toward the door, apologizing profusely. A son who said he hoped his father hadn’t ruined my Christmas as Foot staggered back toward me offering, in his own way, to…keep in touch.

“For the love of God, Dad! Get in the car! Now!” And one kick to Foot’s own “bad ass” and they were out the door and into the waiting car.

I spent the next few hours in the booth next to Chardonnay and across from an autistic tree surgeon named, I kid you not, Gabriel. Who, from what I gathered, came in every night to sit on the same stool and eat the same thing. He would sit at the counter and talk about trees, to anyone and everyone, as loudly as he could.

He knew everything there was to know about trees! Their insides, their outsides, their bark and their bite. And how at this time of year, everyone loved trees. He got to string them with lights all throughout gardens and hedges. And shape them and tie them and make them look lovely. So of course Christmas was his favorite! And what better way to spend Christmas than with his favorite strangers and at his favorite place, Denny’s.

And he wished each and every one of us a merry Christmas and us him in return. And in those wee early hours while we were still in the night, all of us waiting for…something; the strays and the castoffs, the unwanted and wandering, the fringe and forgotten were gathered together and wished well and welcomed and given glad tidings of great joy from Gabriel, about his evergreens.

It was going to be okay. I had a place to be. I was warm and I had $16 worth of cold spaghetti and sides splayed out before me. I was pretty blessed and soon I would be with people who loved me...with or without underwear.

Yep. When I finally arrived at my destination, my luggage was lost…for five days. 

Despite everything, I made it back to the airport, onto an outbound flight and to my mother and father-in-law’s house. Where I finally replaced my ripped open pants with a pair of pajama bottoms I opened for Christmas because I had nothing else to wear.

And being Rural Iowa, everything was closed for the holidays. I eventually had to give in and buy some underwear from a Mennonite supply store just to get by. These behemoth britches came way up past my belly button and my husband and I called these sizeable, sexy specimens my “Amish underpants.” 

But I had made it to my destination. To people who love me, Amish underpants and all. And I know that I’ll never have another Christmas Eve like that one…

Because next time, I’m going to the “good Denny’s.”

Audio version available here produced by Medium Studios:

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

The Beauty of an Ugly Brown Hairdryer

From the archives 2016

It’s a big, brown, slightly broken, archaic monstrosity…but it’s mine. The hairdryer I got in the 8th grade, for Christmas 1986.

Despite its thirty-plus years, it still works. However, I have apparently tripped over the cord and bounced it off of the bathroom tile one too many times because occasionally, I have to squeeze the seam back together while flipping the switch to get it running. But, with just the right finessing, it pops back into place and purrs back to life.

My husband has offered, repeatedly, to get me a new one. Reminding me that it’s perfectly alright to replace it. But I just can’t. 

You see, it was my Christmas present. The present. The only present…8 months before my family finally threw in the towel and limped our way kicking and screaming to Iowa after my dad's company was "acquired."

My 13 year-old self learned the ugly meanings of lots of words like “acquired,” including "merger" and "downsize" and "independent contractors" as she was swept up in the aftermath of what has been called  "one of the ugliest takeovers in Wall Street history."

My brother and I had paper routes and I babysat like crazy to pay for school clothes, shoes, and all the other little things that came along the way. I helped out in the school kitchen for free lunch. My mother watched kids in our home, made cakes to order and sewed clothes and costumes for neighborhood customers. And my dad took the extra hauls, whenever they were available.

But by my 8th grade year, my dad had gone from driving a truck to loading one, for minimum wage…with a wife and five kids. And I still remember, that tearful moment when my parents told me, that as the oldest, there wouldn’t be much for me under the tree. I was okay. I wasn’t worried for me. I wasn’t the one with the tears.

But on Christmas morning, somehow, there was a box with a bow and a big brown hairdryer. And then I was the one in tears.

 “It’s not that bad,” my brother soothed, oblivious to the true reason for the tears. And as I looked down, yes it was. It was huge and horrible and just…well…a hairdryer. But it was MINE.

And it still is.

Because over time, I have also come to learn the beautiful meaning of the word "gratitude" for something as ugly as this big brown hairdryer.

follow me on Instagram and twitter @thelaurabecker

Saturday, November 7, 2020



(Archived 2018 and published for this Election Day announcement because the dawn was inevitable)

Hope provides a pressing forward. A progression. A pursuit. The result of looking beyond that dimmed horizon with our hearts to the coming dawn…which is inevitable.

In our despair, we fall back, dragging deeper into darkness, fueled by fears fed with what-ifs, finding ourselves further still from that place where we finally see the light. A pointless position where we’re somehow persuaded to take up residence. Ruling out any possibility of the very real rays just beyond the ridge.

But no one can stop the sun from shining. Prevent it from pouring forth, casting out shadows. It can merely be obscured, as we’re shielded with clouded considerations and foggy forgone conclusions. Lies we’ve let linger in an attempt to prolong the night so we might hide from the whole truth and our parts in it just a bit longer. But the sundown cannot sustain. Nor should it. For the shade is always shifting.

So, by all means, mourn.

But do not surrender hope, just because it is asked of you. Or easier. Or lost. No!

Seek it out! Snatch it back! And soldier on! Holding it tight, like a torch, leading us into that impending tomorrow filled with a radiance that cannot be rescinded.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Laura's Lament



You reach your presence out to us and promise:


“I shall never leave you nor forsake you” 


And yet…


Here we find ourselves in a hell-storm of hatred where those with wicked hearts are revered and cruelty is commended, 


Armed to the teeth with weapons and words with the safety long unlocked; the trigger tickling the tips of our tongues and annihilation just a keystroke away, 


Socially distanced across a chasm that already cut right through the basest blue and red wrongly assumed to be all that we are, leaving intact only the white of the flag that we’ve formed into one of surrender to our fears.


A house divided, where one will not forgive the utterances of another and in return the sins shared betweenst, bent on the blasphemy of banning hope.


Where love is rejected and all are judge and jury, but there is no order in this fictitious court of our own creation stacked with personal preferences and prejudice,


Ordering orientation of others and sentencings of self-denial, shoving our sisters and brothers to the backs of closets from whence they once came for our own comfort and convenience because acceptance might just take a smidge of effort and empathy and enlightenment,


Because we like it dark ‘round here where we do our deeds disguised as dignified through the commercial commoditizing of our lives, which we weigh against potential gains and losses, 


Sold on an auction block that was supposedly bygone, but still bets against the brown and black skin of our siblings whom we deny in the presence of the purveyors’ empty promises in a ‘Merican market of mayhem and marginalization that devalues us all as we sell our souls to perpetuate the privilege.


Appetizing our angst into soundbites as we down the decay of dishonesty and disinformation disguised as delicacy, ruminating and clenching our jaws on what should never have passed our lips in the first place, fighting to swallow as it sticks to our insides, bringing about a heartburn that has little to do with heart and more with reflux and reflex and regurgitating poison talking points begging purge until the acidic untruths ulcer within, ultimately eating us alive.


Because we’ve put it all into hock with the attempted short sale of our salvation, as if its grantor, falsely deemed a lender, would ever approve, 


But we’ve convinced ourselves we can trade up, if only we sell out somebody else to make it so. Betting we can bargain our birthright on margin in an attempt to get ahead of all of the “others” well beyond unworthy because the prosperity gospel declares them so. With their poverty pronounced sin, they wouldn’t be there in the first place if they were people of price because it’s not possibly a problem of those perpetrating it through superior positions. 


And it’s alright says the alt-right with wayward words that award whiteness the winner with nothing done to deserve it. Granting grievance over grace, gift wrapped and given to grind down the already downtrodden, heavily heaped upon scape goats gone forth amidst the slobbering mob which seeks to satiate their emptiness by tearing to shreds those sent to us from elsewhere. Yes, sent, as strangers seeking reception, yet winding up against walls with their little ones locked away falsely calling it security claiming to “protect” us from brownness at our borders when there’s already a terrible malignancy marking us within. 


A cancer that cannot be overcome because we refuse to acknowledge the diagnosis and insist it’s nothing more than the remnants of that bad something-or-other we had once upon a time, long, long ago that somehow just seems to linger. And linger. And linger.


Until we full-on relapse like the addicts to our own self-delusion that we are. Again and again. Going back to draw from the dry hopeless wells of deceit repeatedly continuing to drink dirt, miraged as miracle under the politician’s promise, rather than receiving the living water offered if only we will share a cup. But our vanity intervenes, bringing us back to the lie that there are lives worth less, suffocating on the dust to which we will ultimately return and of what we are made because we refuse to even touch the tumbler on which another’s lips may have landed.


We turn up our noses returning to the Jim Crow fountains, now more refined, as a sort of bottled water version of bias, pumped up from our darkest desires and slipped into the secretive storehouses of sin safely inside the gated walls of our “good neighborhoods” where the other is not wanted. Slurping down the subpar swill that is nothing new, all just repackaged and repurposed for the current century and will only leave us thirsty again and standing in the desert of a vanished oasis that never really was…on stolen land.


And for this, I am furious…that it’s all disgustingly done in your name! 


And we, your supposed people, say nothing. We wish not to rock the boat when it’s already sinking asunder from centuries of neglect. The lazy inaction of sitting on the sidelines, infuriated by those actually in the game because some of them may be kneeling rather than worshipping an idolistic image, claiming you as our savior screaming, “America first!”…forgetting or flat out forfeiting the truth that you come far, far before that.


And yes. Yes. I have fault in this. A fault that I can never fix myself and so I ask that you please save us. Please. Stop this sorrow and save us yet again from ourselves. And send us toward that long arc of justice ever curving, reaching down to the deserving someday to crush us underneath, but by benevolence at last grabbed out by your grace for abatement.


Have mercy oh, God. And forever change in us that which we are unable to change ourselves, overturn our unwillingness, and hold us accountable to all that we are responsible to reconcile if only we will…however hard it may be. Because avoidance brings you no glory. 


And let it be for that. Not as loss or waste, but for the remembrance of your righteousness. To be told and retold and told yet again, of your reigning resolve to cherish your children. ALL OF THEM. And speak as witness with gratitude for your promise: 


“I shall never leave you nor forsake you”



Friday, October 9, 2020

Behind the Back of the Back of My Backyard

Today I went wandering...

Winding way away
Beyond the eastern boundary of our not-so-big burg 
Behind the back of the back of my backyard
On a gaunt twoway tract of Texas tamed by blacktop over bridges and byways
Under cornflower skies clouded with cotton, so wide they reach beyond the corners of the mind’s eyes to the afternoons of childhoods past where they filter through lenses of reminiscence amplifying the azure to a sharpness that pierces the heart with want for all of the promise once promised
Impaled by that point, bleeding bygones over bridges past bales and barns where cattle and cactus and cottonwoods cross paths with cemeteries and new construction and antiquity scantily secured by the rusting rails of what remains
With wounds inflicted by wishing, but not necessarily needing, nursed for no reason other than the harassment of hindsight all of the way to an apparent nowhere

Out past the prior passages ventured to for a view of anything other than the day to day of pandemic perimeters imposed by our present predicament
Finally, filling my lungs with a refreshing that afforded the opportunity to turn back to where I belonged
Wayfaring a backtracked route through that wild tangle of what once was and now is and one day soon shall be, lined up all along the asphalt that divided its direction with nothing more than a thinly dotted line that can be crossed over, so easily sending one off in the wrong direction
Beyond the eastern boundary of our our not-so-big burg 
Behind the back of the back of my backyard

Monday, October 5, 2020

She Just Works with Kids

She doesn’t do real ministry

she just works with kids.

She can’t be on the speaking schedule…

she just works with kids.

She wouldn’t have any insight…

she just works with kids.

She couldn’t teach that class…

she just works with kids.

She wouldn’t understand…

she just works with kids.

She wouldn’t be tough enough…

she just works with kids.

She wouldn’t know how to do the research…

she just works with kids.

She’s not a real pastor…

she just works with kids.

She’s not actually in leadership…

she just works with kids.

She doesn’t need to be included…

she just works with kids.

She doesn’t need a day off…

she just works with kids.

She couldn’t handle the complexities…

she just works with kids.

She really sold herself short…

she just works with kids.

She’s not important enough…

she just works with kids.

She really doesn’t matter…

she just works with kids.


She has had all of the above said about her without a second thought because...

She "just" works with kids.

Friday, October 2, 2020

Laugh Along

I was baptized on April Fool’s Day.


In second grade, after accidentally eating little smokies during lent, a boy in my class told me that they were going to have to take me to church and pray the weenies out of me. I was horrified. But my mother later assured me, much to her amusement, that there was no Roman Catholic ritual for the exorcism of miniature kielbasa. 


At my confirmation, my dress blew up over my head in front of the cathedral.


And while giving my high school baccalaureate speech, to my amazement and delight, I was not struck by lightning. 


I’d anticipated in my adolescent brain that this just might be a possibility, as it was the first time I ever intentionally used honesty and humor to share with others about faith in a public forum. It was then that I began to truly believe that God just might have a sense of humor after all. Something I now see was being clearly conveyed to me all along. First off, I was created female (Ha!), in a Roman Catholic household (Ha!), with a gift and calling for ministry (Ha! Ha! Ha! HILARIOUS!) So, as I headed off to college, I couldn’t help but think that somehow, the joke was on me.


My first weekend away, I went to church…and then didn’t return. For weeks. Then months. Then finally years. I want to be clear, this was an absolute surprise to me because I wasn’t raised a “casual Catholic.” I completed my Confraternity of Christian Doctrine with almost perfect attendance. My entire growing up I only missed church twice. EVER. Once when I was having an appendectomy and the other when I went to New York with my choir…but went on a weekday to make up for it. 


But as a young adult, I loathed it. It really grated on me. Not because I didn’t believe in God, or want God in my life, or even love God, but because the talents and calling I had been gifted with and the beliefs I had brewing, just didn’t reconcile with the rest of it. That little mustard seed of grit I was granted was not gone, it just needed to be planted elsewhere. But I had no idea where to begin. So, I started with the Catechism of the Catholic Church and I went through it a page a day because leaving something so central to how I was raised was a big deal. And it took a long time. But before I was even finished, I could see it wasn’t who I was meant to be. So, who was I?


Well, after a lot of deliberate research, study, and discernment turns out I am a Presbyterian, who recommitted to Christ and officially joined the church when I was 30, with a wicked sense of humor who loves storytelling and still hasn’t forgotten what it was like to be that little girl from way back when. But who is able to laugh about it. And write about it. And talk about it. And be absolutely okay with others laughing along and seeing themselves somewhere inside. Someone who’s taking it just a page turn at a time like with that hefty catechism, slowly discerning what to do next and always waiting for that wonderful punchline that I now know is never at my expense.