Bohemian Rhapsody

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Secrets of the Engagement

23 Written by: | Wednesday, Apr 06, 2016 9:45am

Hayes engagement

When my 27-year-old son Hayes called a couple of months ago to confide that he was in the market for a diamond ring, I wasn’t surprised. He and his brother Vince seem to go to a wedding every couple of weeks. Their demographic has begun the march to the altar, and Hayes and Maria have been together since junior year of college. Read More →

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Morning Traffic on a Strange Planet

17 Written by: | Wednesday, Mar 02, 2016 8:00am


Does this ever happen to you?

You are sitting at a red light in morning traffic, half-listening to the news on the radio, half-trying to decide how to juggle the elements of an ordinary day: the meetings, the appointments, the overscheduled children, the dirty house, the dreaded phone calls: the insurance company, the plumber, the cable provider. Which to do first, which second, which can be put off, which to axe entirely — oh wait, you need some cash, and there’s an ATM in the next block, should you stop now or get cash at the grocery store later —

and click, something shifts. Read More →

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I Served on a Baltimore City Jury and I Don’t Feel That Great About It

28 Written by: | Wednesday, Feb 10, 2016 8:00am


The Clarence M. Mitchell Courthouse. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

At the beginning and end of each day, the judge implored us not to discuss the case with anyone. But when he finally dismissed us from the dusty climes of the Mitchell Courthouse back into our lives, he lifted the ban. In fact, he urged us to tell our friends, neighbors, and families what we had done, because we had performed an essential and noble duty of citizenship.

But what had we done, after all? Nothing to brag about, I’m afraid.  Read More →

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How to Change People’s Lives

11 Written by: | Wednesday, Jan 06, 2016 8:00am

Tom Gleason

Tom Gleason

I heard over the holidays that my college advisor, a Russian History professor named Abbott Gleason, known as Tom, died on Christmas Day after a long struggle with Parkinson’s disease. The fact that I took even a single history course in college, much less ended up a history major, was completely this man’s doing. Read More →

Bohemian Rhapsody

Shopping: A Cautionary Tale

2 Written by: | Thursday, Dec 03, 2015 7:05am

Marion's fishbowl

As we enter the season of untrammeled purchasing, which some have embraced for months as others grimly postpone as long as possible, I would like to offer a little parable. It’s a bit of a shaggy fish story but there are lessons in there somewhere. I think. Read More →

Bohemian Rhapsody, Featured

Shopping: A Cautionary Tale

5 Written by: | Wednesday, Dec 02, 2015 8:00am

Marion's fishbowl

As we enter the season of untrammeled purchasing, which some have embraced for months as others grimly postpone as long as possible, I would like to offer a little parable. It’s a bit of a shaggy fish story but there are lessons in there somewhere. I think. Read More →

Bohemian Rhapsody, Featured

I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead and Also Before

18 Written by: | Wednesday, Nov 04, 2015 8:00am

Jane Winik sleeping

The subject of sleep first came up a couple days ago at the breakfast table, at which my rumpled darling had wearily arrived in her plaid bathrobe in search of the restorative powers of Multigrain Cheerios and coffee. Fifteen, Jane fell in love with coffee at the malt shop, which is what our neighborhood Starbucks might as well be, then noticed the big fresh pot brewing on our kitchen counter every morning. A baby addict was born.

After checking her phone for overnight BuzzFeed scoops and Instagram emergencies, she yawned and posed the following existential question. “If you could never be tired, never need sleep and just be up all the time, or if you could just have a long, perfect night’s sleep every night, which would you choose?” Read More →

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The Original Desperate Housewife of Dayton, Ohio

3 Written by: | Wednesday, Oct 21, 2015 8:14am


“Ever since I read that Eva Braun, Judas Iscariot and Anne Boleyn shared my zodiac sign, I never could get too choked up about astrology,” wrote Erma Bombeck in one of my favorite columns. Read More →

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When My Mother Became the Freaking Buddha

8 Written by: | Wednesday, Oct 07, 2015 8:00am


Author’s note: As I mentioned in another column, I’m working on a novel that contains a character loosely based on my mother, partly just as an excuse to have her in my head. In the process, I ended up rereading this old essay. The illness described here was not the one that finally got her — she was around another 13 years.

“When My Mother Became The Freaking Buddha” is adapted from my 2005 collection, Above Us Only Sky.

One day in May of 1995, I got a call from my mother. “I was just picking up the phone to call you,” I assured her, knowing she was anxious to hear the latest on a book deal I was hoping to get. I was supposed to call the minute I knew anything, but I hadn’t. Well, only two days had gone by since I’d heard the news, which wasn’t too good, and anyway, one has to balance the pleasantness of one’s mother’s interest in the minutiae of one’s life with its faintly annoying aspect.

Making up for my tardiness, I launched into the tale, and it wasn’t until she broke in and said, “Well, I have to go soon and —”

“I’m almost done,” I said.

“Yes, but I have some bad news.”

No. “What?”

“Well… It looks like I have a little cancer,” she said, and then, in the five minutes remaining until her boyfriend Ceddie picked her up to go eat Chinese, and interrupted by my shrieks of what and how and when, she told me that she’d been diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, she had known for over a month, she was starting a course of chemotherapy and radiation on Friday, and she had a fifty percent chance of cure. Then Ceddie was there, and she had to run. “Oh, Mommy,” I said helplessly. Read More →

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Another Incredible Weight Loss Miracle

20 Written by: | Wednesday, Sep 09, 2015 8:00am


No matter what you read in the paragraphs that follow, don’t worry about me, don’t try to tell me I look just fine, and for heaven’s sake don’t exclaim next time you see me, as did one elderly acquaintance, in her Carolina drawl, “Whah, look at you. You must have lost a thousand pounds!”

(At the time, I had not lost even one pound, but this sort of thing has been happening to me all my life with no relationship at all to whether I have lost weight or not. For reasons I cannot divine, people remember me as much fatter than I am. I bloat in retrospect.) Read More →

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