From the category archives:

Learning from Others

Walking Shoes

by the Coconut Girl on January 22, 2014

“Ma’am, before you start, let me tell you, the wait is two hours.” – Safe Ride Home operator, 2 AM, New Year’s 2014 I. Out So we walked a mile and a half, my high-heeled dancing shoes and I. Three beers over two hours meant I was no good to drive. I started out on [...]



by the Coconut Girl on December 15, 2013

My boss stood on the roof of an old rectory in Philadelphia, pointing at a plumbing vent. He was fifty-one. I was twenty-one. “That sealant is failing,” he said. “So is the flashing.” He kicked chunks of gunk from the pipe. “Take a picture.” Before we’d ascended to the roof, we’d been on the building’s [...]



by the Coconut Girl on August 30, 2013

Thirty minutes was all the time we had to find it. The sun dipped low behind swags of salmon clouds. The children and I walked across fields, jumped down rocks, and pulled back branches. We were warm, I knew, but how warm?  It was my brother’s school. I visited him there once, on my college [...]


So Are the Days

by the Coconut Girl on August 1, 2013

That thing sat open for a week and no one even noticed it. Much less reached in and grabbed a cool handful. For years it was the hottest spot in town, but no longer. It was abandoned, in the background. The sandbox. Cranking up the cover was once a morning ritual, more so than a [...]



by the Coconut Girl on June 11, 2013

Family stories are things to be stockpiled and brandished like weapons. They’re essential self-defense in those incendiary moments when children are scream-cry-fighting, it’s the end of the day, and you’re at the crackly, threadbare selvage of your wit’s end. A good tale offers distraction, plain and simple, a sparkling silver rattle for the elementary-school set. [...]



by the Coconut Girl on May 24, 2013

  “Charlotte’s the buckle of the Bible Belt, wheeeeee!” My Southern uncle explained his city’s accessory-geography to my Northern step-father on Tuesday at our mini-family reunion in North Carolina. They were talking regional architecture, these two college professors, a subject they both know a lot about. Meanwhile, I, the architect, was busy trolling through crystal [...]

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Curb Your Dog

by the Coconut Girl on May 1, 2013

Even for Superman, bending steel can be hard sometimes. So how are we mortals to be strong in the face of insurmountable odds? I mean, what were the odds that I would catch the early-morning dog walker whose little darlin’ was dumping in our yard every day? After all that work I did last Fall [...]

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Aleppo Girl

by the Coconut Girl on March 1, 2013

At a coffee shop last Wednesday, I saw a copy of The New York Times. A girl from Aleppo, Syria appeared on the cover, in a photo by Muzzafar Salman. She’d lost her home in a missile strike the day before. This lullaby is for her. To be powerful is to be fragile.       — Ai [...]


Uncle Rico

by the Coconut Girl on January 11, 2013

Was it the songs from “Napoleon Dynamite” I’ve used for Coconut Girl videos? Or my “Vote for Pedro” PJs?  Whatever it was, on Tuesday, I Law-of-Attracted Uncle Rico to my doorstep. Rico arrived at 11 AM while I was working at the dining room table. The kids were at school and I was drafting plans [...]


Lunch Date

by the Coconut Girl on January 9, 2013

One of my favorite dining companions is a two-year old girl named Sophie. She and her brother Lucas have been friends of my kids since preschool days. Here’s an homage to Sophie, who needs some extra love right now.