She’s short, I’m tall, and, as some short people do when they talk to tall people, she got toe-to-toe when she shouted up at me: “Do you have a Higher Power? You need a Higher Power. Who’s your Higher Power?”
“Well,” I said, “Looks like she’s talking to me right now.”
From the hundreds of meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous that I have attended during the past ten years, I get much: support, mostly — for which I am deeply grateful — a few scares, hidden wells of insight.
But also, I get religion, a lot of religion.
I get religion there that I ought not be presented with, according to the organization’s own lights. And I get religion that’s smuggled in, despite claims otherwise. AA asserts, over and again, that it “is not a religious society.” But over and again, I’ve also encountered the religion that is AA. …
Bill St. John typically writes about food for UCHealth. This week, he shares his insights on dying …. and living.
We all live in fear now of getting sick. But fear turns into terror when a man fears he’s dying.
I am 70 years old. I have adult-onset asthma. I’m considered a high risk of becoming severely ill or dying of COVID-19. Around 4 a.m. the morning of Wednesday, March 25, I woke in terror.
Intense pain throbbed throughout my lower gastrointestinal tract; six times I spat up bile, the green of the Wicked Witch of the West; a hippopotamus sat on my upper chest; I quivered, I grimaced, I FaceTimed with my doctor’s office, and I got my sad sack to the Emergency Room. …
I was 14 years old when the priest put his hands down my swim shorts and diddled my dick.
I was at the shallow end of a very large indoor swimming pool. The water reached slightly above my navel.
The pool was at a seminary, the place where young men go to study to be priests. Mine was a “minor seminary,” a combination high school and junior college, something not much seen these days but popular in the mid-20th century. …
He says it is best to see the castello in the morning, early, just as the sun raises its brow in the east. He says to go down the road from the castello, down from the Tuscan hills that push it up into the sky, down into the valleys where the fog is poured like milk and to wait there until the mists lift and then to see it.
The castello is plain, unadorned. He thinks it is handsome when the morning’s gold has been splashed on it.
On Sundays in spring, he goes as far as Poggibonsi and turns around on the road to see the castello through the crooked frame of the pear tree. He sits along the way and eats his breakfast of meat and cheese and bread. He sees plainly then, for the vines have not yet put out their leaves. …
This story happened 35 years ago tonight, on New Year’s Eve 1984, exactly one-half of my life ago.
One Christmas, not so long ago, I was very ill and took to the hospital.
On the day I checked in, I met a young man. He came down the hall to greet me the way R.J. Crumb sketches his cartoon character, Mr. Natural: feet soles first, they the plow of a long sloping gait, head tossed back.
“Hi,” he said. “My name is Myron.” We shook hands and I settled in for a long winter’s nap.
I grew fond of Myron. He was only 16 years old, but he was grown a man. Before he was in the hospital, Myron had spent alternate weekends with either his mother or father, both separated and both, sadly, spiteful of each other. …
Wine is a metaphor for a life, from the moment the bud breaks on the vine in spring, through the rains of summer and the orange sunshine of harvest, until the grape becomes another self which, too, grows and changes and matures.
I wrote those words. And for close to 40 years, almost 5 million more on wine, and wine and food. Not all of them as lyrical, but all as heartfelt about my love of wine.
During those 40 years, I wanted to pass that love on to others: readers of my words, and students whom I taught about wine. …
My parents died some 20 years ago, she in April 1999 from complications of Parkinson’s; he, in September 1999 of prostate cancer. That they were only in their mid-70s made it sadder for us all.
I tell friends whose parent has just died that I have little help to salve their loss. In the reverse of how we’d hope time would work, I miss my parents more as each year passes.
Perhaps that’s because they have had such an outsized influence on my life, day in and out. My father taught me about wine, beginning when I was 12 years old, and that launched me into 40 years of writing and teaching about wine, in a few million words off my fingertips and out of my voice box. …