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Category Archives: Personal Essays
August 19, 2013 by Mara Purl
Projects have always been a way of life for the Purls. Sometimes a bane, sometimes a boon, projects define our time and express our various core purposes. That’s what I’ll miss the most, I think—that I won’t get to do the next project with Mom.
July 14, 2013 by Mara Purl
“A Year for Mom” are posts written the year of my mother’s illness and her passing. It had started as one of Mom’s bright ideas. Though she and Pere had been unable to fly to California to see my sister Linda perform the remarkable one-woman show The Year of Magical Thinking, she imagined that, somehow, the show could come to her. Read more
May 9, 2013 by Mara Purl
One of my favorite roles in life is that of step-mother. Any more than one can plan or train for motherhood, one can’t schedule the unexpected eventually of becoming a step-parent. The job comes with its own prickly difficulties, but also with a series of gifts that continue to leave me, by turns, breathless and grateful. Read more
May 8, 2013 by Mara Purl
Nothing could have been a greater honor than my friend's request that I be her baby's God-mother. We didn't know exactly what that might mean, as this special relationship would occur without religious affiliation. But since Erin and I refer to one another as spiritual sisters, it made perfect sense that I'd be involved in the spiritual life of her daughter. Read more
January 31, 2013 by Mara Purl
“A Year for Mom” is a collection of posts written during 2013, the year of my mother’s final illness and of her passing. Some of the most heartfelt and extraordinary communications I’ve ever sent or received took place during this challenging year. I feel I learned so much that ultimately it was as much a year of gain as of loss. Many of my friends and readers have expressed a wish that I share my experiences. These personal moments are shared . . . from my heart.
My family all had a fabulous Whirl-Purl of a holiday season. I’m sure you’ve had years like this.… Read more
September 21, 2012 by Mara Purl
Writing is tough. It takes hours, weeks, months, years of solitude and focus. It requires “killing your darlings”—a writer-term for throwing out your favorite passages. It means wrestling with characters, struggling with storylines and remembering why the heck you’re putting yourself through all this torment in the first place. Then there are days when writing is just plain fun. For me, this often occurs when I get do a research field trip. I’m not entirely stupid about this—I choose favorite locations where my story just happens to take place. So I got to spend today in Morro Bay, one of the most delightful spots along California’s gorgeous Central Coast.… Read more
November 28, 2011 by Mara Purl
I think as a child I probably loved Thanksgiving because of the future—it meant Christmas was coming soon! It was also a holiday I anticipated with great joy because it meant we’d go visit Grandma Dorothy. She married my step-grandfather late in life—but just in time for my sister and me to adore her. The house she shared with “Daddy Bob” was a classic New England cottage in Waterbury, Connecticut. Cape-Cod-Blue with white trim, it stood erect despite the steep street that seemed to slice under it.… Read more
November 14, 2011 by Mara Purl
“Who done it?” Why do we get so caught up in solving mysteries? I have several readers—whose names I shall not divulge—who regularly e-mail me demanding to know who killed Chris, and whether she’s really dead, and when the crime will be solved! And I thought I was the only one who couldn’t sleep at night wondering about the characters of Milford-Haven!
My accomplished friend Margaret Coel has equally marvelous stories about the obsessive nature of readers and how involved they become with her characters. At our event last weekend, she recounted some of the “helpful suggestions” she receives regarding her two protagonists, and how their life-dilemmas might be solved.… Read more
November 7, 2011 by Mara Purl
Sometimes an evening with female colleagues is a rite of passage, a kind of test a woman can only pass by showing her authenticity. And sometimes a girlfriend-evening fulfills a basic need for time with those who share the same wiring.
Actually women have all kinds of ways of connecting. Sometimes the moments are brief—a quick lunch hour to catch up with a friend or get to know someone better. Other times it might be a special treat like afternoon tea—a chance to dress up and go someplace elegant, where the surroundings are inspiring enough to give us a fresh perspective.… Read more
October 3, 2011 by Mara Purl
It was a spectacular California early October Autumn day on the Central Coast: blue sky painted with whisps of cloud, sparkling water tracing the carved coastline, and just enough of a bite in the air to break out a jacket. Actually, this was a dress-up day, so the jacket was a pale silk leopard print, the skirt was leather and the shoes were high heels. Why the fancy duds? Today was High Tea in Santa Barbara, something I’d been looking forward to, something we’d planned for months.
There was an interesting twist in this plotline, however. The charity we’d been working with supports families to prevent homelessness and welfare dependency, especially in a tough economy.… Read more