Pet ownership is a lifelong commitment. Know that before you break a fur friend’s heart.

My beloved Ollie.

It all seemed lovely when it began. People were adopting pets like mad during the pandemic. Shelters were empty. Rejoice! All these beautiful, loving pups getting new homes. And lonely people were going to be lucky enough to know the unconditional love of a dog. Spectacular! Amazing! A smidgen of good news amidst the uncertainty and fear of a rampant global pandemic.

What could go wrong?

Well. For those of us who were dog owners before the pandemic began, we already knew: Dogs are not accessories. They are beings who have needs. They give love, but they need love, too…


No effort required

Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

Sometimes in the moments before I fall asleep, words come into my head that I don’t believe are intended just for me. I grab my phone and type them into my notes app — often with almost unreadable typos. In those drowsy minutes between the here of this busy, striving life and the there of rest and rejuvenation, the quiet place that resets us for another day , a missive comes and insists I share it with the world. This is one of those.

Do You Know How Beautiful You Are?

Not conventional beauty, not beauty prescribed by magazine covers or Instagram, but real…


Photo by Ruth Caron on Unsplash

We all know Karen. The irrational, angry, screaming white woman calling the cops for some imagined or petty infraction. Many of us may even know “A Karen”. Certainly we’ve all witnessed Karen behavior recorded by a cellphone and shared on social media for the whole world to marvel, laugh and wonder at. Every time one of these outbursts pops up, a lot of us are left asking why? Why is this woman so upset about something seemingly so harmless? Why not just move along, live and let live? …


Photo by Olia Nayda on Unsplash

We are like poison to one another. That’s what I think every time I venture outside. All of us in our masks, aware, like never before, how close we are to one another. We queue up according to the stickers on the floor at the grocery store, the pharmacy, the doctor’s office. We douse ourselves in hand sanitizer and keep our distance because we are all potentially poisonous to each other.

And I can’t help thinking: is it any wonder?

The volume of hate in our world has been getting louder and louder for years now. Mass shootings and “stand your ground” laws, people caged at the border for…


Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash

Today is Valentine’s Day. And I’ve always been the one in my little nuclear family to go all out for the holidays — all of them. I’m the mom and, in this house, it’s what we do. We even celebrate half birthdays — with cupcakes and a small happy birthday sign cut in half.

One year I bought these odd little potato things to celebrate St Patrick’s Day. No one liked them. I put them in the freezer for a while, then had to admit they were not for us and just toss them.

For years I was a fool…


Photo by Emanuel Ekström on Unsplash

On the day my mother died, at the very moment, in fact, that she was taking her very last shallow, pain-laced breath, I was at the small but well-stocked market just down the road from her apartment. She’d lain dying in a hospital bed in her small living room, with a gaggle of goslings running past her sliding glass door, for a day and a half by then. We knew she was nearing the end.

She was no longer awake. Eating and drinking had diminished to nothing while she was still trapped in the hospital. …


Photo by LOGAN WEAVER on Unsplash

In the darkest of my days, I am bolstered by the thought that the world will go on without me. That my death will not cause some revocable tear in the time-space continuum for anyone but me. There will be grief — I have those I love who also love me, but their lives will go on.

Not that I am eager to go — not yet. Not at all. I firmly hope that my death will come when I am old enough to no longer be a fool. But today, still foolish and semi-young, I’m glad to know the…


Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved; loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves. — Victor Hugo

I’ve been writing for a lot of years but I never really wrote anything for my mother, not a card or a poem or anything that was like a from-me-to-you kind of thing. I don’t know if she would have liked me to or not. She could be a little fickle when it came to things like that. She definitely subscribed to the “don’t get too big for your britches” school of parenting but she…


Photo by Roberto Lopez on Unsplash

On the doorknob hangs a tattered old silk robe that she leaves for her cat to bat and slay. The silk is jade green and painted with pink birds, it was a gift from a man who promised he loved her, although she didn’t believe him even the first time he said it. That man has been gone for some years now but the robe remains, a tangled and complicated diversion for her ancient white feline.

Other men have travelled through these rooms with varying degrees of belief in their ownership of things. Stella never bothers to challenge their notions…


Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash

It began with my hair. We were six weeks into the COVID-19 shut down in NYC and I’d missed one haircut already. In simpler times, I’d be due for a second in another week. But these were complicated times and I just had to figure out how to make the mop on my head look something like what it normally resembled.

It only mattered because I was on Zoom twice a day, five days a week to co-assistant teach the preschool class I’d been spending every day with up until the shutdown.

I looked at what I was trying to…

jesscio

Writer of fiction, essays, poetry. NYC. Novel coming out in 2021. jesscio100@gmail.com

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