The Geography of Heaven

At some point in childhood, one realizes that it is highly unlike that “heaven” is a place above you where angels lay on their stomachs peering over clouds or braiding hair into their halos, and that it is equally unlikely that “hell” is a place below you where tomato faced demon children cartwheel and somersault and stomp fires out of their tails when they get too close to the blazing walls.




Such questioning can happen to all children, from the devout church goers to the ardent atheists. Even more problematic than the physical orientation of this scene–as one learns that earth is not flat, and therefore a jolly God would be strained to peruse the whole of creation from a throne somewhere in the sky–is the symbolized idea of a sedentary, quiet place for all children who are good, and a rambunctious, loud place for all children who are naughty.

It isn’t hard to see why adults would like to paint a picture suggesting that children would be rewarded for stillness and silence, as this would aid in such activities as reading the newspaper, gossiping with the neighbors, or driving safely. However, from a child’s point of view, this has the unfortunate effect of simply putting a distaste in the mouth for the idea of heaven and rather an interest in the idea of hell, except for those children who are inclined to please the adults in their lives anyway, in which case nothing is gained from the lesson; it preaches only to the choir.

In a way, though, he up-down diagram makes perfect sense after all. If the earth we stand on is a giant sphere, then everything above it is also spherical. Atmospherical, in fact.


At the center of the sphere is hell, the limit, the place where a human soul caves in on itself, compacting and reducing itself to a solid, stagnant point.

Meanwhile, the expanding sphere is what heaven is; an atmosphere, a realm, an expansion that continues through space in all directions from the small point at the center.


In which case, growth and energy expansion and exploration and all other things that characterize children (difficult for adults though they may be) are what heaven is all about.

Even Superheroes Have Bedtimes

Michael here. I have requested that the editor of this website consider my piece for publication, and she has happily accepted it.

7.  7:35.  A time parents crave in days like this.  Bedtime.  My son, Jeffrey, wearing a Spider-Man mask and a batman cape, protested that he was a superhero.  Lizzie responded with a profound truth.  “Even superheroes have bedtimes.”

6. Earlier that day, I went out to contribute to the local economy.  The sign on my establishment of choice, a burger restaurant named Cubby’s, informed me that there was no dine-in option under the circumstances, and I’d have to drive thru or get curbside service.  It also informed me that they now closed at 8, meaning the workers go home earlier.  At Cubby’s in this time, “even superheroes have bedtimes.”

5. A week ago, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued a stay at home order.  All Californians were “order[ed] … to stay home or at their place of residence except as needed”– an order without an expiration date.  For many superheroes who worked long hours and now face an uncertain economic future, they probably took at least some comfort in a normal bedtime.

4. In the midst of the pandemic, a rush to the stores was inevitable, and they were quickly overwhelmed.  Eventually Walmart and other grocery stores had to meet demand in wisdom and order and chose to limit their hours to better serve their customers.  Greeters, like all superheroes, have bedtimes.

3. Two Fridays back, my family went to my sister-in-law’s. We were there to see our shared babysitter, who would be shortly leaving us to wait out the pandemic with her in-laws.  We had to try to explain to two three-year-olds what was happening.  Every bedtime is a departure, and, with the babysitter’s departure, it was another example of what Lizzie later told Jeffrey: “even superheroes have bedtimes.”

2. March 12.  COVID-19 was the talk of my state, but I wasn’t fundamentally changing my behavior just yet.  Then my faith directed that almost all church gatherings be “temporarily suspended worldwide until further notice.”  Recognizing that if my church wasn’t safe from coronavirus, the public transit I took home wouldn’t be either, my wife drove to my work to pick me up that afternoon– 50 minutes each way.  I haven’t been into the office since, and have teleworked instead.  I have, however, helped my wife get enough sleep while we juggle two boys and a full-time job. She needs the sleep. After all, even superheroes have bedtimes.

1. I became interested in the coronavirus that apparently originated from a bat interacting with a meat market in Wuhan, China earlier than most Americans. As of now, Wuhan has been the biggest source of infection caused by COVID-19, and it likely would have been even more spread had the Chinese government not directed millions to stay at home.  One of these millions is a superhero, another one of my sisters-in-law.  Her love of adventure has led her to teach English and study at a University a few hours from Wuhan.  For approximately two months now, she has engaged in what we all now call “social distancing” and she remains healthy.  I’m sure the absence of a nightlife has led this college student to be one of now billions who recognize that even superheroes have bedtimes.

The Quarantine Life

If you’re at all like me, and I’m assuming you are in at least a peripheral kind of way, you’ve been wondering what this global quarantine looks like for everyone else. I’ve started watching more YouTube channels and keeping tabs on Facebook more, not to learn more about the pandemic, but to try to wrap my head around this community experience.

And I wish there was more I could find. How many people are Cloroxing their groceries after shopping? Who in the family is doing the shopping? Are people using more delivery? Are people comfortable with take-out? Where are people taking walks? How are people with kids but no backyards getting along? Whose job is being affected, or who has lost employment? Is life easier in some ways?

All of these are on my mind.

So here are a few snippets of our experience, in a corner of the world where the virus itself has only made a modest appearance but where it could escalate any day.

First: Michael.

Michael, my husband, has Cerebral Palsy. From what I’ve researched online, individuals with disabilities are NOT likely to have greater risk of Covid-19 complications, unless they have other underlying conditions like heart problems or asthma. However, Michael does have asthma (as do I, though not as badly) and a history of pneumonia and breathing problems. As a kid, he was once hospitalized for a week for severe breathing difficulty, and as newly weds, we once went to a doctor who measured his breath force and said he had the lung capacity of a seventy-year old. Yikes.

So, he’s the one we’ve been most worried about in our immediate family. Fortunately kids are not usually at risk, which has been a huge relief for us. But we’re trying to take this thing seriously both to limit community spread and in hopes that this will pass by us.

Second: Pollution.

While there are bigger issues at play, this is a really cool silver lining from all this (and hey, we can actually see those silver linings with less smog!) China, of course, has been social distancing far longer than the U.S. has, but even in Utah the sky looks clearer to me. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking, but I stepped outside to get milk and a prescription (that I disinfected, and then I washed my hands) and the evening overhead was deep and clear and more saturated than I’m used to seeing.

Third: Hands.

Anyone else having dry, cracked hands from washing them so often and so long? I mean, I wash them several times a day normally, but not for two “Happy Birthdays” every twenty minutes.

Speaking of Happy Birthdays…


Jeffrey’s birthday! He’s four now, and has been telling people for MONTHS that he was going to have a party when he turned four. He wasn’t too upset when I told him that we’d just celebrate his birthday at home for now, and that we could have another one when the germs went away. He loved his truck cake and presents and got lots of long-distance grandparent love.


We also got him a hoppity ball (like a kid-sized exercise ball with a handle on it), but that was a social-distancing present so he could use up some energy inside.

And now my hands are feeling sore from all that washing, so that’s a wrap for today.



It’s been a sleepy two years in terms of writing and drawing and publishing, mainly because of pregnancy and a wonderful new baby. The little one is wonderful, but pregnancy is a challenge for me, with 8 months of Hyperemesis Gravidarum. And then, even the best of babies come with parental sleeplessness and exhaustion.

That said, I finished an MFA this past December, and my committee got on my case about trying to submit pieces, so I’ve been making more of an effort and I’m so pleased to have my little essay “Lullaby” up in Mothers Always Write, a journal I love. You can find it here.

Here’s to restful nights and sweet dreams and babies who grow up too fast.