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Showing posts from November, 2014

A Christmas miracle

I was sixteen when my father left. That year there was no Christmas tree, no turkey dinner, no presents.  My mother worked two jobs as a cleaning lady.  I sold hats at the Emporium in downtown Saint Paul. It was Christmas Eve, 1965. The store was closed.  The streetlights were decorated with the tinsel of the season.  Somewhere a church bell tolled "Silent Night." I stood alone on the corner and waited for the bus to take me home. The wind whipped my thin coat and threatened to tear off my hand-knit hat.  My mother had sewn a pair of corduroy pants to pull up under my dress, but I carried them.  It was better to freeze than look ridiculous. It was a snowless night, bitter and empty.  I shivered against the wind and considered how one year had changed everything. My parents' marriage was over.  My home and heart were broken. The divorce did not surprise anyone but me.  My father's fierce anger had exhausted my mother's forbearance years ago.  But

Thanks, but no Thanksgiving for me

Thanksgiving is a holiday without a heart.  A feast without a focus. Forget the hoopla about "gratitude" for good health, good fortune, good families, good jobs. Let's get real. We're together for two reasons;  to watch football and eat turkey. Too much turkey. Never eat food with a face.   "Turkeys have faces. Sweet, sad little faces." Not at my house, however. My daughter was only in second grade when her teacher organized a field trip to a local turkey producer. The experience changed her life. "Turkeys have faces," she said when she came home.   "Sweet, sad little faces." She couldn't spell "vegetarian." But she was one. Bad mommy.  Bad, bad mommy.  I was a single mother, and not that good at it. While other mothers relied on family recipes for turkey dressing, I roasted a bland, milky brown tofurkey, stewed wild rice, baked gluten free pumpkin pie. I was determined to seduc

Tears on the job? Five strategies to buck-up

The undertrained thirty-something supervisor sat ram-rod behind her desk, hands folded on her lap. "You ever hear of 'employment at will?" she asked,  her right eyebrow raised for punctuation. My undertrained supervisor  I smiled and allowed her to rattle on. "'Employment at will' means I don't have to work with you if I don't want to.  I can fire you any time I want and I don't need a reason." My heart pounded.  She had no reason to fire me, but would she?  Had I screwed up?  Failed her? Failed the company? My family? Myself? I said  nothing.  My stomach tightened.  My jaw clenched. Oh, how I hate it when I cry at work. Humiliation is never a "teaching moment."  I've read the essays written by the consultants who promise it's okay to cry on the job. The shedding of workplace tears demonstrates passion for work.  And our emotional outburst helps your supervisor grow into more compassionate, caring leader

Why I no longer trust the St. Paul Police

(After Fox Network covered this story, my blog was "hacked" and the link to this post removed.  I post it again, here, with a live link.  If the message was censored by the St. Paul Police, I would not be surprised.)  My dogs awoke me,  barking,  at 3:00 AM -  and I knew something was wrong. I grabbed my under-the-bed baseball bat and stormed into my backyard. The car next door had been burglarized; a neighbor's garage broken into. And the woman who lives in the house behind mine was robbed in the middle of the night. And so as the flood lights slapped across my empty back yard and my dogs growled, I determined to apprehend the culprit. I searched the yard for the wretched, evil doer who would dare take advantage of the decent folks who live in Como Park. Behind me, in my living room, someone walked out the front door with my MacBook and other electronics. Because I didn't check inside the house - I didn't discover the crime until the next morning. "