A Prayer For Father’s Day

 I miss my father mostly now on the days I used to phone – Father’s Day, during the NBA finals, towards the end of Academy Awards night, and every four years throughout the long windup to the election of the president of the United States. On the occasion of our talks before he died, my dad always surprised me with his remarkable ability to weave the things he loved together into simple lessons about life, faith, democracy and the glory of a good competition. “The beauty of it all!” he would marvel. (continue reading)

The Big Sick

 It was Dec. 12, 2018. My husband Dave and I awaited another meeting with my oncologist on the third floor of UC San Francisco’s Helen Diller cancer center. We were both experiencing “scanxiety,” a term cancer patients and their loved ones use to describe how they feel before new results come in from a CT scan; X-ray images often reveal life-changing developments—a timeline altered, dream aborted, life shortened. (Continue reading)

Americans Need An Official Dia de los Muertos

 It took the brilliant Pixar film “Coco” for me to figure out what was missing: the dancing skeletons, the flower-adorned grave sites, the altars crowded with candles and framed photos of deceased loved ones. I’m talking about Dia de los Muertos, and though the celebration of this Mexican holiday is already established in Latin corners of the United States, I’m proposing we go full throttle and declare the Day of the Dead an official American holiday. (Continue reading)

Trump Hates Science. Sad!

Like many girls growing up in the late 1960s, I was intimidated by math and science throughout my school years and into college, where I avoided lab units in biology and chemistry whenever possible. But something happened that made me a late-blooming science fan. At age 57, cancer hit. (Continue reading)

My Secret Cure for Cancer

 My doctor said yes, they “did find cancer,” so everything was different from that day forward. First came a five-hour surgery to remove a walnut-size tumor from a gland next to my right ear. A month later came the cancer patient’s obligatory ritual — six weeks of five-days-a-week radiation sessions plus chemotherapy. (Continue reading)

Life and Death In A Bonus Year

 I am just about through my first bonus holiday season. Last year around this time, my husband and I assumed we had decorated our final Christmas tree, and planned our farewell New Year’s Eve together. I’d been diagnosed with terminal cancer six months earlier and given a year to live. But as I’ve written in earlier op-eds in The Times, a funny thing happened on the way to the funeral. (Continue reading)

Aren’t You Dead Yet?

 Last December I wrote an essay for The Times about what I wanted to do with my life after I was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Now when I run into friends on the streets of my town, they hug me and tell me I look great. But I can see it in their eyes; what they really want to say is, “Aren’t you dead yet?” (Continue reading)

The time I have left

 The enormity of the news didn’t sink in fully, not at first, even after my doctor uttered the words: “I’m sorry, we did find cancer.” My husband, Dave, and I had only the faintest sense that evening that our lives had been hijacked forever. Early 2014 brought major surgery, then six weeks of chemotherapy and radiation. (Continue reading)

Ruleboy’s passing

 Sometimes the death of a loved one comes in an instant. But often it takes a slow drain of the calendar to get to the end. In these cases, the family endures while the dying one suffers physical hell mixed with periods of lucidity, joy, even wisdom. So it was for my brother Marty.  (Continue reading)

Past, president, future

I’m a longtime fan of Dave Eggers—author, editor, originator—so I became a quick enthusiast of his 90 Days, 90 Reasons project with its countdown-to-election stream of essays from people on why they’re voting to re-elect President Barack Obama. So far, we’ve heard from Jonathan Franzen, Khaled Hosseini, Jamaica Kincaid, Judd Apatow, Paul Simon, Michelle Tea and plenty of others. (Continue reading)

The namesake

I remember my dad mostly on the days when I used to phone him—at Thanksgiving, Christmas, during the NBA finals, on Academy Awards night and, especially, every four years during the rousing days of the Democratic National Convention. On the occasion of our talks, he would amaze me with his ability to weave the things he loved together—sports, politics, family, movies—into simple lessons about life, faith and the glory of a good competition. (Continue reading)

Two decades

Back in late April of 1989, the night before the very first SN&R hit the streets, a friend asked me how it felt to be the startup editor of a publication that had zero readers in a city that had not yet trained its citizens to look for a free paper every week. How did I feel?“Old as hell,” I replied. (Continue reading)

Six days in D.C.

I needed to set my eyes on the document itself. As throwback as it sounds, I’d always been thrilled by the words put down there: the “we hold these truths,” the “unalienable rights,” the desire to submit facts to a “candid world.” Especially moving, of course, was the part where Thomas Jefferson explains why it’s the duty of the people to throw off a government when it turns destructive or betrays its purpose. (Continue reading)

Heart and soul—Molly Ivins, RIP

February 23, 1995. It had already been a long day for Molly Ivins. She’d flown into town from Texas and was scheduled to speak that night as part of the UC Davis Distinguished Speaker Series. She’d spent the day in classrooms chatting with faculty and students, appeared as the featured guest at a formal dinner that evening with the chancellor, and, finally, at 8 p.m., given a rousing speech—her call to a passionate populism—to a sold-out Freeborn Hall. (Continue reading)

Home improvement

 Let me start by confessing the pitiable fact that I have no skills—none—when it comes to home improvement. I’ve never laid a tile, built a fence or fixed a leaky faucet. When invited to participate in last weekend’s Rebuilding Together Day in Sacramento—one that had 1,000 volunteers doing top-to-bottom renovations on 23 low-income homes—I secretly knew I was worthless to the cause. (Continue reading)

Drip, drip, drop

The first thing we noticed was the blue ice melting. My husband and I traveled out of Sacramento last month, up the Pacific Northwest, and one day found ourselves standing on top of a huge mountain of frozen cold, the Athabasca Glacier. Underneath our feet was a 1,000-foot-high pile of pressurized crystal, just one of many glaciers stretching out, like solid rivers of white, from the vast Columbia Icefield in Alberta, Canada. (Continue reading)

Kucinich reloaded

The first time I met Dennis Kucinich was in 1978 on a tour of solar homes in Davis. The youngest person ever elected leader of a large American city, Cleveland’s mayor was a fast-talking, blue-collar, populist kid with a progressive vision for the future. He favored radical politics, renewable energy and something called economic democracy. The people who loved him called him “boy wonder.” The ones who didn’t dubbed him “Dennis the Menace.” (Continue reading)

Home Sweet Homeland

At age 19, Dale Maharidge took a month-long solo backpacking trip across Canyonlands desert in Utah and realized with a jolt that he was meant to become a writer. He forthwith moved to the town he considered most overflowing with untold stories: Sacramento, California. After living for three months out of his Datsun pickup, he got hired, in 1981, as a low-level cop reporter at The Sacramento Bee. (Continue reading)

The Labyrinth

 Upon entering the Great Hall, you notice a problem. It’s too hot, too bright. Sun streams in from enormous skylights overhead. The light and heat makes this place too bothered, too functional, too contrary to the finding of inner peace. (Continue reading)

He talk pretty

David Sedaris’ cranky mix of insight, humor and observation has gotten him compared to Woody Allen, J.D. Salinger, Robert Benchley—even Mark Twain. But as any fan knows, Sedaris is none of these. (Continue reading)


I spent several days this month on a folding chair in my garage digging through spidery boxes of newsprint in search of various ancient issues of the Sacramento News & Review. My goal was to move through this anniversary task with utmost haste. But that proved impossible. (Continue reading) 

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Two decades cover

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