Monday, March 2, 2015


We must pray for the folks back East! The succession of killer blizzards! The bitter cold! The suffering!

People think Los Angeles traffic is non-pedestrian friendly. Well, let me tell you I have never in 25 years experienced anything like the death-defying dash I took across the intersection of Providence Highway and Legacy Place, hard by the I-95 offramp, in Dedham, Massachusetts yesterday afternoon.

Nothing could have induced me to make a run to Whole Foods in the first place except the survival need for half-and-half to put in my coffee in the morning. (Oh yes, and then there was actual food....).

Anyway, just to situate my fellow Angelenos, my foray would have been akin to trying to navigate the nightmarish Wilshire/Santa Monica Blvd. interchange in Beverly Hills, or that terrifying San Vicente/Fairfax/Olympic monstrosity I still haven't fully fathomed, or the fiendish Temple/Beverly/Virgil vortex in Silver Lake if there were ABSOLUTELY NO SHOULDER, BANKS OF DIRTY SNOW EXTENDED ABOUT A FOOT INTO THE STREET IN ALL DIRECTIONS, AND PEOPLE WERE ALLOWED/ABLE TO WHIZ THROUGH AT 70 MPH.

And in order to even reach the intersection you had to cut over a six-foot high bank of snow in the CVS parking lot and descend on foot on a kind of ice slide into the middle of the street.

And the walk light didn't work.

And the temperature was about ten below zero.

A family of a father, mother and three small children--probably also hapless, carless inhabitants of the local Holiday Inn, or else refugees--were fortuitously also trying to cross. Whoever they were, I'm convinced the six of us were the ONLY people in weeks insane enough to assay this perilous voyage. After standing there for several minutes, backs huddled to the snow,  in desperation this stalwart crew simply inched out against traffic, the guy holding out his hand to the encroaching hordes like a traffic cop.

"I'm following YOU!" I cried gaily, cravenly and clearly hoping that if a car hit, it would take out one of their toddlers instead of me.

Shaken to the core, once safely in Whole Foods and trolling the aisles of overpriced food, I seriously wondered if I'd have the courage to cross back, especially since I'd lost the brave family and would no longer have anyone to cushion the way. I kept thinking of that Shirley Jackson short story about a woman at a traffic light who, trying to decide when to cross, becomes paralyzed with neurotic fear, hours pass, and I'm pretty sure is still standing there today...

However, I am not a pilgrim for nothing. On the return trip--alone, quaking--I waited five minutes for the light to change and sprinted across the intersection like a crazy person with my bag of meager provisions. I am NOT going back, though, and can only hope that my garbanzo salad, pomegranate kefir, and Italian rosemary crostini will last me the next three days.

Way more to the point, my room faces east and I awoke the next morning to a stunning, slow-motion sunrise.

Seriously, New Englanders are hearty folks and they have been through the wringer this year.

My heart goes out to the and the parishioners at St. Margaret Mary and St. Denis's have given me a beautiful welcome. I hope to see more of them tonight at Lenten Mission Talk #2. Thank you to Frs. Linehan and Burke!


  1. Sounds much like Northern Michigan.

  2. Heather FairfieldMarch 4, 2015 at 7:48 AM

    Like I said last night ... you MUST believe in God if you tried to navigate that intersection on foot!!! Had I but known, I'd have made the 10 minute trip from my house and driven you across the street to Whole Foods, so you'd have had a much less perilous journey!! As it stands, I'm glad I at least spared you waiting for a cab or having to brave anything on foot other than the parking lot of the Church after your talk was over!!

    Though I'm not personally a Christian, I did want you to know that I found your presentation very touching. Also, you might find the following article interesting, since you talked a bit about how many New England families have the "minimal physical affection" approach towards their children. ( I had just read the article the night before last, and was struck by how much of what you talked about reminded me of the findings from some of these studies.

    In any case ...

    It was a genuine pleasure to have met you ... especially knowing how highly Tom thinks of you and how important you are in his life. If you're back in the area again, and you need a ride somewhere, don't be afraid to let me know. (Or let Tom know and he'll get word to me!!) :)


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