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Burned Nipples

“Do you smell something?” my employer wrinkled his nose and looked around the house suspiciously as he set down his briefcase. He was a doctor, as was his wife. I was the nanny. It was the summer of 1987. Whitney Houston wanted to dance with somebody, a gallon of gas...

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Turning Ten 4

Turning Ten

Ten years ago this week, I posted for the first time to this blog. Ten years. That’s like high school plus college plus graduate school. It was the start of a new semester, and I’d had the revolutionary idea to ask one of my composition classes to try out this new...

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Composition 2

The First Day of the Semester: Hour by Hour

The 8 a.m. hour: Rumpled and wild, the bedding reflects the quality of my nervous sleep. Even with relying on my new-found friend, melatonin, I woke throughout the night. By 4 a.m., I rolled around fitfully, the veil of sleep resting lightly upon me, my blood running cold with First...

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Bagley Tree 4

What I Did During My Summer Vacation

In a few days, the new academic year begins. Since I’ve not quite recovered from the stresses of the summer session, and since my fall teaching schedule recently underwent an adjustment (one section cancelled, another added), I’m a bit breathless. No matter. Whether or not I’m ready, it’ll happen anyways....

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Bike Tire 6


His rage was immediate. “God damn it! You could have killed me! Why weren’t you looking? You God damn just about hit me!” Panting, fueled by adrenaline, the middle-aged man glared at me, outraged, itching to transfer his upset, ready to spit more invective as soon as I engaged. He was shaking;...

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Paco Couch 3

Tender Toddler Tending

Even before he came out after school, even before he got into the car, I knew he’d be crabby. He’s always crabby when he’s nervous. Often, he swings through a few pit stops  — quick pullovers at “I’m so tired” and “I’m really hungry” — before parking at the real destination: the...

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I wrote this more than a year ago. I am re-running it. The world is too awful. It was a glorious spring day, the hard edges of the air softening into mildness, the sun reflecting in puddles, spirits sitting up and stretching their arms to the sky. Awaking from the...

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Trees Short 4

The Small Things

Guns. Bombs. Death. Terrorists. Neo-conservatism. Trump. Brexit. As heart-on-her-shirt hard-boiled-egg of a comic strip character Cathy would say, “Ack.” ACK. I feel ill-equipped to have the big conversations. When it comes to politics and violence and hatred and opinions, my stomach compacts into a dark, hard knot; instinctively, my spirit...

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Ringriding 3

My Teenage Diaries: The Gifts That Keep Giving

Of late, I’ve been mining my teenage diaries as source material for an essay I’m writing. The collateral joy from this process has been surprising. Because, well, I was an idiot when I was a teenager. I was cruel and bitchy and loving and fun and wishing and wanting and sad...

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Still of Night 3

In the Still of the Night

I wrote this seven years ago. It’s on my mind again this week, as Allegra has left for ten days in Europe on a school trip. Every time I walk past her bedroom, my heart clutches. It’s dark in there. She’s not on her bed, listening to music. Her whiteboards...

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