My story "Q & J" published in Wolftree Magazine

Based out of Fargo, ND, Wolftree Magazine is a bi-annual magazine for makers, dreamers, and adventurers. It is about people who live humble but extraordinary lives and the stories that accompany them

One of my favorites memories is of the time Michael surprised his grandmother with a car trip to Queens to visit her old priest. The memory stuck and later turned into a story called "Q & J" which is now published in Vol. 4 of Wolftree. The publication is in stores all across the states and in 9 different countries, but you can also buy a copy (or a 1-year subscription!) at I have been supporting independent publications for as long as I can remember, but this one is truly special and beautifully done. 

The Gift of Nothing (Or 9 miles of Walking Around Queens)

If you’re ever wondering what to get Michael Brown for his birthday, if he could use a new tool, or a different magazine subscription, or a gift card to Cobble Hill Cinemas, you need to stop wondering, because the answer is nothing, you get him nothing

Even though the gift of nothing is a hard thing to reconcile for someone like myself who loves to make cards and give gifts, the blank expression on Michael’s face when you hand him one---or, rather, gently place in front of him because he doesn't quite know what to do with his hands when it happens---is the only reminder I need when that blasé birthday rolls around. Do I really want to put the guy through that? During the early days of our relationship, you better believe I did, but now that I care so much for him and his needs, I don’t. And because he is an ever-changing wacky dude (whose birthday will always deserve to be celebrated), this was the first year Michael realized he didn't want to put anyone else through the torture of not being able to give him something. The definition of thoughtful, this guy. 

A month before the big day, Michael wrote an email to his family, subject line MY BIRTHDAY. He knew we’d be itching to do something for it, so he made it very clear what he wanted / would accept. 

Family -

My birthday is a month away, and I know Mom will be pressing us for
something to do, or to make a little noise, or to eat something. Here
is what I would like for my birthday:

Sylvie and I have done some long walks/hikes around different areas of
the city to explore parks and neighborhoods. Bay Ridge/Bensonhurst,
the Bronx, Staten Island, I guess even Washington Heights.

We have had one planned (or maybe I have had one planned) to Queens. I
don't want to give away ALL of the highlights that I have planned, but
there will be museums, gardens, historic infrastructure, neighborhood
parks, and, yes, even a cemetery. There will be roughly 10 miles of
walking, frequent stops, snacks will be provided, and we will end up
in Flushing, where we will eat Chinese ravioli, better known as
dumplings (the rest of us can try other things, but I think dumplings
will be enough for Mom). We will take public transit to and from this
adventure. The NOAA says that the average historic temperature for
that day is 32, with an average high of 41. Bundled up and walking,
that should be fine walking weather.

It will last all day.

I would like if we ALL could go on this walk, Saturday February 7th,
as your collective birthday present to me.

While it wasn't exactly what we had in mind for him, it was certainly a step in the right direction (no pun intended) and, in the end, a (birth)day well spent, even though he kind of gave it to himself by planning the whole damn thing. Still, we thank him.