Val and the Greek Mafia

Pops and I were sitting having dinner at a restaurant owned by one of his former students, Jimmy, who my dad referred to as a “nice Greek kid” even though that “kid” was probably in his fifties.  As we were sipping wine and enjoying saganaki, he comes with this gem out of the clear blue […]

Uncle Feather

Imagine you spliced the genes of Tom Selleck, MacGyver, and Don Johnson, and placed this superb human specimen in a pair of cowboy boots.  That was my Uncle John.  He was the definition of suave-not smarmy or fake, just a good ol’ boy with a genius brain, a boyish enthusiasm, and a compassionate heart. Uncle […]

She likes her sweets!

I think there’s a gene that is passed down through the females in my family that makes us lose our sanity when we encounter sweets.  I know that many women like sweets and chocolate, but this is extreme.  I have been known to go into a fugue state over Snicker’s pie. Grandma tolerates dinner courses […]

Hair Salon with Grandpa

My grandpa, Leo Bruski, was a 6’3″ Polish dude who owned a lumber company.  He was no one to trifle with.  Yet, in true grandfatherly fashion, he pretty much let Laura and me do whatever the hell we wanted to him without batting an eyelash.  And he had lovely thick hair that was just begging […]


One Sunday after church I asked my mom why the priest never talked about Doh-Mighty.  She looked confused. “What do you mean, honey?  What is Doh-mighty?” “You know, there’s Jesus and the Holy Spirit and then there’s Doh-Mighty.” Now she looked a tad alarmed.  Being an educator, she chose a different tack and asked me […]


I’ve been thinking a great deal about my grandmother lately.  I brought a picture of her to my office today.  In the photo, she’s strolling through a busy street in Havana.  I’m guessing it must be from the early 1940s. Her name was Pegrouhi (or Bergrouhi, depending on who translates) and we grew up calling […]

Night Night

My daughter has gotten into the adorable habit of saying, “night, night” when she’s ready for bedtime stories.  She loves books and will sit quietly browsing through her library, Moo, Baa, La La La, The Hungry Caterpillar, and Fox in Socks.  Ahh, sweet, funny, innocent children’s books. Mom and Dad used to read us stories […]


Watching football reminds me of my dad.  Yes.  The diminutive Armenian/Cuban goofball who probably came up to the elbows of most of his players was a badass high school football coach in Detroit public schools. I have the photos to prove this. Some choice memories from his fellow teachers, coaches and students… Mr. Banka, who […]

Ok…start running!

Here we go!  I feel like I’m at the top of a roller coaster and in that second of silence before the plummet, when everything slows down for a moment, and I can feel the blood pumping through my veins with greater thickness and purpose, like my body is saying, “this is the end, my […]