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One of my all time favorite books is “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” by Betty Smith. There so many scenes from it that I remember vividly: Cheap Charlie’s penny pick, crisp dickys and paper collars, Sissy pulling a flask from her corset (which even as a teenager, I understood was symbolic of nurturing pity). I also have so many memories of being with the book. I remember reading it as teenager, being transported from the second floor of our Tudor home in San Diego, to Francie’s Brooklyn fire escape. I remember bringing it with me to college, and tucking it into my backpack in case I had a spare moment to read in between classes. I remember being curled up on my slip-covered, second-hand loveseat in my just-barely-scraping-by Lakeview basement apartment, and stumbling upon the 1945 black-and-white movie on tv. I had no idea there was a movie version, and was delighted that I recognized it, even without seeing the title. There was something about this story that always drew me in. Francie’s world, and all its uncertainties and upsets, was always a source of constant comfort for me.

As I grew older, I somehow left the story behind. I don’t even know where my original copy is anymore, which crushes me just a bit as it did make many moves with me. But when I moved into my new office on campus, I was reminded of it, as just outside my office is a beautiful tree. I’m not sure what kind it is, but it’s the first thing I say hello to every day, no matter the weather, the mood, or whatever else is going on. Like Francie’s tree, it’s my daily reminder of hope and perserverence.


Distracted, working mom seeking short escapes from a hectic life via quick crafts and fast food. Sure, she could meditate, after she cleans the house.

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