On a bakery worker’s life, with a little input from Raymond Carver, David Thomson, Anthony Bourdain, and uh, Michelle Pfeiffer

The longest relationship of my adult life has been with a local bakery: a Polish mom and pop in a Chicago suburb where I’ve been employed on and off since…


Of all the stories whirling around Chicago’s Graceland Cemetery, the best one, meaning the most Chicago one, isn’t about ghosts or superstition but class. Hauntings and horror stories are a staple of cemeteries the world over, but only a city with a labor struggle pedigree like Chicago’s — site of…


White Mystery, photo by Diane Alexander White

Big cities call for big voices to cut through all the noise, and birthdays call for big songs to celebrate being alive. Chicago birthday boys and girls are lucky then. …


Van Morrison’s “Purple Heather” is a song about idyllic summer-end love, but I feel spring whenever I hear it. Maybe it’s because I associate spring with hope, and hope with love — new or past, fleeting or undying, idyllic or otherwise.

It could also be some quality in Van’s voice…


I did not have a happy end to 2018 or a promising start to 2019.

On New Year’s Eve day, I found a feral kitten in a window well behind my parents’ house. It was struggling to get out, so I gave it a little help by lifting it out…


Life and listening to Al Green have taught me two things about the relationship between boundaries and love: romantic love too often comes down to transgressing boundaries, and self-love always comes down to reclaiming them.

It’s all there in “Belle,” a song from Green’s 1977 watershed album of the same…


When I was young, I had this notion that life would turn out to be a party. …


When the Widow Quinn’s husband died, Mom was the only woman in town who didn’t join in the gossip, who didn’t whisper around that the Widow had surely killed her man, poisoned him or maybe smothered him in his sleep or even henpecked him to death. And when Widow Quinn…


My father at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, 1951, before deployment to Korea.

Dad’s first homecoming as a war veteran was in March 1953, two years to the month after he was drafted into the army for the Korean War. He arrived home to the U.S. at Seattle, to a port with a small crowd of civilians and a sign reading “Welcome Home…

René Ostberg

I live in Illinois and write things. Find more of my stuff at www.reneostberg.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store