Marion Franck

Seeking a connection with a stranger in Queens

* Editor’s note: Marion is on summer vacation. This column first appeared in January 2005. Today I am on the subway, thundering towards the apartment of my mother’s oldest living friend, Vera, who resides in Jackson Heights, Queens. My mother and Vera met at work in the 1940s, but they didn’t see much of each […]

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Does repetitive work have to fence people in?

* Editor’s note. Marion Franck is on vacation. This column originally ran January 2003. Today I feel like a mouse in a cage. I’m sitting where I always sit, with a window in front of me and another to my right, looking out on the green of my backyard, normally very soothing, but this time […]

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I await the moment of birth in two locations

“This kind of news never ceases to amaze,” wrote a good friend after I sent out the email from Wisconsin announcing the birth of my second grandson. I’m grateful to her for capturing something that is deeply true: nothing is more anticipated than the birth of a baby — calculated down to the day of […]

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Unheralded workers deserve a special thanks

* Editor’s note: Marion is on vacation. This column is slightly edited from the original, which ran in 2002. By Marion Franck “I’ve got a piece of real bad news,” my husband said as he got into the car, squinting as if he were trying not to see something. I knew he was going to […]

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Who would bother to learn the ‘language of hope’?

* Editor’s note: Marion is on vacation. This column was first published in 2002 but has been updated. This year marks the 152nd anniversary of the birth of Ludwig L. Zamenof, inventor of Esperanto. If his idea had caught on, we might be setting off fireworks today and singing “Feliĉan Naskiĝtagon.” Instead, I bet half […]

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Why do my nuggets of wisdom sound like a scold?

* Editor’s note: Marion is on vacation. This column has been slightly edited since it first ran in June 2002. In the late 1990s, a graduation speech falsely attributed to Kurt Vonnegut buzzed around the Internet and later became the basis for a popular song by Baz Luhrmann called “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)”. The […]

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Father-in-law offers many lessons, but can I learn them?

Marion is on vacation. This column first ran in September 2002. I wonder if there are certain things I just can’t learn. I’m not talking about nuclear physics, which I know I can’t learn, or tying flies, which doesn’t interest me. I’m talking about genuine life skills, things I truly want to learn. Let me […]

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Kindle offers the new book, but am I the new reader?

“I always take three books when I fly,” a friend said. “The first is the book I’m finishing. The second is the book I plan to read next. The third is in case I don’t like the second one. “It gets heavy.” This friend had a birthday and now owns a Kindle, Amazon’s e-book reader. […]

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Piano music has wings that carry me home

I knew what was going to be special about the house concert I attended on May 22. I would see my new friend Dennis Johnson, an accomplished pianist, in his element, hear his music, and spend time with his wife and friends. As a young man, Dennis practiced up to five hours a day, and […]

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How wisdom is acquired, in three parts

My son and I are sitting in our cabin in Lotus looking at the swollen river some 400 yards away. Suddenly, a man in an inflatable kayak paddles quickly to shore, jumps out and dashes up river on a deer trail. His speed, suggesting a crisis, inspires me to move fast, too. I gallop down […]

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My head is as mixed up as this year’s weather

For me this spring, sex is in the air. The sex of babies, that is. Will it be a boy or will it be a girl? For the second time, my daughter and her husband have chosen not to know the gender of their unborn child. Their first child is a boy. In the betting […]

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Parent and adult child anticipate the big move

I recently made phone calls for a foothills community group to check on an elderly woman. I learned that what we hope for from such efforts is not always what we get. Marie (identifying details have been changed) was 81 years old, living in a retirement community. She experienced a major life change when her […]

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Beatles wrote just the right song for today

I remember sitting many years ago in an overstuffed chair in the living room of a house on E Street, then occupied by the Davis Free Clinic, when one of my fellow peer counselors sang to the rest of us, “Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m 64?” I don’t […]

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Passion continues at the Wisconsin state Capitol

What surprised me when I went back to Madison, Wis., this week is that there are still protestors circling the Capitol. Right now should be a lull. It has been almost two months since Governor Walker signed his law to gut collective bargaining, and it will be six months before signatures can be legally gathered […]

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