0 comments for “Friends

  1. What a beautifully written piece. I can’t wait to read your book! You are perfectly imperfect, as we all are. I am proud to call you my friend! 💜

  2. Oh, Katharine …. what a lovely, loving piece of writing. You really nailed it – one single breasted woman to another. Keep writing! Keep being wonky and wearing two different socks. Kudos to you.

  3. Thank you Veena for sharing your experience.
    Beautifully written! Having to navigate all those nuanced and not so nuanced social layers takes guts and insight.

    • Maravillosamente bien escrito, con la suficiente cercanía para, conmover, y la justa objetividad e inteligencia para reflexionar y cuestionarse la situación. ¡Muchas gracias Veena!

  4. Thank you Veena for sharing this amazing and insightful piece of excellent writing. I was gripped from the beginning and learnt so much. You are an outstanding and talented writer with much wisdom.

  5. A fascinating article with astute observations–possible only by living in a culture different from ones own. This author’s same sensitivity has been achieved by many Peace Corps volunteers, including me. I even married a native of my assigned country (Peru). Such experiences have changed many lives.

  6. Hello Veena! Loved loved the article!!! Send me an email. I want to introduce you to our amazing friends (and colleague) who just moved to Costa Rica!

  7. What a wise and important article you have written, dear Veena! I will recommend it to all to explain the invisible structural impediments to equality and access to rights.

  8. “Sometimes to survive we have to bury our stories deep in the earth, without a single stone to mark the spot.” THIS! And now you’ve marked the spot and women weep and honor your bravery as they recall their own stories. Blessings.

  9. Dear Friend, thanks for your vulnerability in sharing. The body keeps the score, and this amazingly written piece is a step in healing. Honored to bear witness to it.

    • That was a huge burden you were carrying. I hope it’s a bit lighter now. Thanks for being brave enough to share it. That kind of strength is inspiring.

  10. Thank you for your reflections on your PCV life in Nepal. Each volunteer has such different experiences yet I could relate to everything in your story in a very personal way – even though I served in Nepal from 1964-66. I’ve returned to Nepal 5 times since the 60s and admire how Nepalis have retained their smiles and friendliness to others. Thanks for your article and service. RR

  11. You are so brave. These words hit home for so many!!!
    Your writing authentically captures the feelings that are so hard to say out loud. Thank you for sharing them! 💜

  12. Beautifully written remeberance of time in Nepal. I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Lamjung, Nepal from 2017-2019. Ours was a very different experience with cell phones to connect with staff and colleagues, and buses the took us to Kathmandu and back close to our homes. I lived in Brahmin house but worked for the most part in a Dalit village. That created some tension at home but being white and old insulated me from negative comments or perhaps my limited Nepali kept me ignorant. Where I lived overseas work is now commonly in the Middle east and, in general, money sent home to my to Dalit community meant that while there were social caste differences there was broad economic parity betweem communities,

    • thank you for these reflections Richard. In the 80s I never heard of workers going to the Middle East – mainly India and for the upper echelon, Hong Kong. How interesting that the remittances made everyone at a similar economic level

  13. Kris, this is fabulous – and so quintessentially YOU!!! Funny…deep…. food/love/travel….woven into culinary/life wisdom…all with your unique and perfectly aimed humor! Brava!

  14. Lauren, this is masterful, wrenching, and so so lovely. I didn’t know anything about NSSI before I read this, but your piece connects at such a gut, personal level. And I’m so grateful for the illumination.

  15. Thank you for this. I recently adopted a shelter dog and he has come with challenges — growling and barking at family members (we are working on it with a behavior specialist). It is not always a simple, sweet story of “saving a dog who also saves you.” Sometimes, these unwanted animals need extra help. Zeus is lucky to have you.

  16. Your writing style draws me in. Telling, reflecting, reaching forward, then back to the present. And I have seen the reality of you and your brother’s relationship in my own grandsons. I feel privileged tohave read “Teeth.” Thank you for sharing.

  17. Great advice – this one really resonates and is super practical, thanks

    8. Note where you are in the writing process. You can help to protect yourself by telling your reader what kind of feedback would be most useful. In a raw first draft, a writer usually needs encouragement and some gentle questions to open up the story, and feedback such as line edits can be disheartening. When a writer starts to play with bigger aspects like structure and organization, further developing character and voice, this is a great time to receive feedback on how these are working. Once a piece is fairly polished, however, structural feedback may be discouraging. If your piece is a first draft and you simply want gentle feedback about what’s working and what could be improved, say that. If you’re happy with the structure of the piece and mainly want line edits, let them know that too.

  18. I’m interested and glad to read how other mother’s who have children with disabilities are able to manage with the help of writing their stories. Thanks, Jaclyn!

    • Jen Yo
      Hi, I have written a book – Dawn, The Doorway – Ascend through naturally distinctive children (Children born with congenital anomalies)
      It is under process of publishing through Archway Publishing (From Simon & Schuster) I would like to send some more details and get your endorsement. It is based on practicing compaassion….. Grandpa of Dawn

  19. Michelle, just, WOW. I won’t forget this story. I am so sorry you’re have had to endure this, and so grateful to you for writing about your experience so beautifully.

  20. “If prayer is nothing more than a sequence of words, then maybe theology is nothing more serious than grammar.”

    What a lovely line. Having grown up devoutly Evangelical, I can relate to a lot in this piece, inlcuding playing hide and seek in our church building. Except we called it “Sardines” as one person would hide and everybody had to find that person and hide with them. I also grew up in Oregon and we went camping at Cove Palisades, where I loved finding my own, often dangerously precarious, nooks in the rock face of the high desert. I suppose finding our nooks of faith can be at least as precarious.

    Thanks for a lush and thoughtful read.

  21. I love this, pure and simple. You guys are lucky to have each other
    to navigate a world that can be so harsh. So glad you didn’t give up on him.

  22. I love your work. It touches me. I read “Gulf Coast 1977” some years ago and have had it on my Frig since then. Thank you.

  23. Beautiful told story Chanta about unimaginable loss. We all have a language of love and yours is food, which brings you back to your early childhood and a time of happiness and innocence, your parents but especially your mother. You are a truly caring giving and loving person. Viktor Frankl came to mind as I read your story.

  24. I feel honored to have read the book in its entirety. In it, many images are almost too painful to remember but too important to forget.

  25. This is a(nother) wonderful story of Cambodian survival and resilience. I was there during the war (as a journalist) and amidst everything fell in love with the country’s silk weavings, which are available at https://mekongblue.ecwid.com/ – gorgeous work and most reasonable prices.

  26. I am deeply impressed by the illuminating story and the author’s command of the language. They made me think of Kurt Vonnegut’s best.

  27. Very interesting. To this day I have had several names. Each name is attached to particular part or phase of my life. Curiously, the name I love the most is the one my mother and father used before their deaths, “Nelvin,” and was used throughout my high school days – but not since.
    For my career, family, and Writing I have mostly been “Melvin” or “Mel,” which has been ambivalent most of the time.
    Now I go by the name “Django” which I chose when I became a deep musician, and which I handed down to my son.

    So today, when one asks what is “Mi Llamo?” I often think to myself, “Which Me do you want to know?”

  28. Hello Michelle – I just spent some time looking at your website and I am so excited to talk to you! I sent an email last week but have not heard back yet. You were recommended to me by Marcia Maier as a prospective copy editor for the unusual parenting book I am working on. I hope you will reach out soon. Thank you!

  29. Excellent story. There is so much more than what the title protrays in this piece. It certainly paints a picture of two brothers and their relationship together. Loved it.

  30. So touching! Chantha, I can’t wait to read the entire book. I feel so honored to have met and gotten to know you.
    Gayle Jordan

  31. This is beautiful, Nita. I’ll think of it whenever I need to remember the hard truths of aging and steel myself for the repetitions and rages.

  32. Hi Kandi, this is Dan McManus. You bought my Jayco trailer. I lost your number, but wanted to let you know I received a re alll notice for the propane regulator. Email or give me a call and I will get you the notice.

  33. Suzanne – I’ve written “stuff” for years (research papers, articles for clubs, a blog for over a decade now) but I’ve never written a book. Now I’m thinking about it. So I took a moment to search online for some guidance and stumbled upon your post here.

    Just wanted to say your keen observations and your turn of phrases are beautiful and so inspiring to a 61 year old novice! Thank you for sharing your beautiful writing with me and giving one more lens to use in exploring my writing!

    By the way, I attempted to include my URL as requested below – but kept getting an error message to “enter URL.” You might want to have your web guru check that out for you!

  34. Intriguing short story. I read through it twice for all the details to sink in and come together.

    “What will I be doing someday when I receive my fate? What will be left unfinished?” – Those two sentences really leave you thinking….

  35. Very descriptive I felt like I was in the corner an unseen observer. My grandmother also had a kerosene heater as described in this vignette taking me back to the memories I have of that time with her.

  36. I’ve read this twice now. I don’t do that often, but this story really puts you in a thoughtful mood. It’s worth a read.

  37. I loved this. The description is perfect- I could smell the kerosene, feel the heat of the room and sense the despair this young man had for being in a position where his soul will forever be darkened, no matter what decision he made.

    I’m very impressed and hope to read more from this author.

  38. Emotional read, you can really feel the relationship and tension between all the characters. Love the visual descriptions.

  39. Kandi, it’s Clint. It seems I’ve lost your contact info but found you here. I’m leaving LA in a few days heading north. I’ll be stopping to see whomever of my old friends I can find. Greg has just moved back into his property in Paradise and the house is going up. I’m intending to stop in. He doesn’t seem well at all. Please send your contact info and maybe we can meet.

  40. Hello Marie ! Haven’t been to the Christmas Store lately, but just this morning, finished reading the intro to ‘Archetypal Figures in Hemingway’s, “Snows of Kilemamjaro”‘ by David Anderson. Clearly a synchronicity : )

  41. What a gorgeous piece! The language grabbed me right away and didn’t let go. I was in that gym with the narrator and the boys. Holding my breath to see what would happen. Caring about the characters. Pulled into their world. Wanting them to make it. And that ending….wow. Brava!

  42. This seems very real, heartfelt and well-written! I hope Morgan’s MFA is going well, and that we will get to hear much more from her! I hope sincerely that she will get to be seen!

  43. Brilliant hard hitting sparing no emotion of what once was joy but has turned to sorrow

    Want to read more of your compelling depiction

    What a gift you have.

  44. Congratulations to Allison, so well-deserved, this recognition! Little did I know that participating in her master class and roundtable critique via SCBWI -WWA last June would lead to membership of an amazingly supportive community. A world of possibilities has opened up. From daily co-work sessions to finding out about publishing platforms such as Brevity and Hippocampus Magazine, Insta Pods, not to mention the writing spurt I experience daily.

  45. Beautiful. My mom’s 90 and regularly repeats questions and repeats stories. She’s not diagnosed with dementia and I don’t think she has it. But it’s my impatient replies to her that I recall with guilt. I get so focused on my own life and time constraints. I forget to see her actions as her own and see them as intrusions on my time and sanity. Thank you for opening my eyes to a picture of my mom and sometimes in the picture my dad, passed at 92 yo in 2010, sitting next to her. She’s just anxious and I don’t go see her enough. Thank you

  46. I think it’s coming for my mom, too. But I don’t know how to explain it. Thank you for putting words to this.

  47. Interesting article, but it is a shame that you have thrown away your ethical & rich heritage. If you never learned much about Judaism, you owe it to yourself & your children to learn about it before you discard it. Being a self-respecting, knowledgeable Jew is a positive, not a negative. I lived once in a small town where they were very few Jews, and my contribution while I was there was to seize the opportunity to answer their questions & explain to many non-Jews something about my heritage. Most of them had never met a Jew before so I was very conscious of the fact that it was important for me to present a positive image and the true facts.

  48. Hi Karen,

    Thank you for your interesting article on the subject of Lev Tahoe. I am just “down the road” from you in Windsor Ontario. This was also the talk of our community and featured what felt like daily in our newspaper. At the time Chatham-kent was an area I covered for work.
    I had several meetings at your Superstore meeting room, where I was asked what I thought about them. I was the only Jew many of my committee members had ever met. It was an interesting time!

  49. Thank you, Holly Hagman for this insightful & smart write-up of my breakout session on constrained writing at HippoCamp last month. This is a wonderful and illuminating take on a subject I love, and it’s refreshing to visit my beloved stomping grounds and see it all through someone else’s fresh perspective!

  50. wonderful interviewer, wonderful interviewee, wonderful interview. gonna buy me the book.Thanks for this, Morgan.

  51. Suzanne, you never fail to amaze me. You speak of shape . As I read your piece I could see the words coming off the paper backed up by the same words becoming a shadow pile of print.
    I don’t know how clear I am but I love reading what you write.

  52. S – thank you for giving precise/explicit, fiercely moving, entirely recognizable voice to the lived experience of so many of us. Brava! Including your essay in my list of all-time-favorites.

  53. Really fine piece, very evocative with just the right amount of grit, and clearly every word describing that time and place was earned through living it.

  54. What a lovely piece, Jennifer. I’m so sorry for the loss of your dear friend. By writing you are still connected to Monica just as writing connects each of us to the world. Your piece made me think of the poem by Alden Nowlan, “An Exchange of Gifts”. Writing is, indeed, such a gift. Thanks for sharing yours with us.

  55. What a wonderful piece. Like Judith (below) I read this following a link on Marion Roach Smith’s blog. I was with you all the way, feeling your panic at the prospect of having to go home. (Yes, falling over would top the list.) Isn’t it strange how in times of strife and struggle we come to see the full generosity of others.

  56. What a poetic writing, Linda. I feel like I am flowing with your music and your feelings. What a great gift you have given yourself, following your dreams and playing the chords in your life.

  57. What a lovely story. I’m writing a book about loss so I was particularly attuned to the story and could feel the vibrations. You affirmed yourself, comforted yourself and now shared it all with others. What a gift!

  58. I really loved reading this- So touching in so many ways. Without saying it, you show how you are supported and surrounded by loving people, your friends, your husband. I like how subtly you have fit these in between the words, just as music also does.

  59. Jennifer, I enjoyed that little piece. I expected it to be about handling the successive rejections of being a writer rather than about rejection for a dream job. In the end, it was really about something else entirely: realizing why you write. Your old couple reminded me of a scene when I was 25 sitting at Hot Shoppes, reading a letter from a woman friend who was hitching her way through Africa. As I read her letter intently, an old woman walked over to the table and said, “I know things aren’t going to well back at home and there’s nothing I can do to help, but maybe this ten dollars will be of some use to you. You have to take it. I have to do this every so often.” And I did. I actually needed that money. At the time, I aspired to write, and did, but never thought of publishing. I didn’t even know one could publish the sort of thing I wrote. I sealed everything I wrote during a five year period in a box when I took a “real job” ( meaning, instead of substitute teaching), married, and began raising a family. I still wrote and shared things with friends, but nearly all of that vanished. I began again and then said it’s time to retire and pick up where I left off some 35 years ago. Now, I’m a novice, and have to adjust to a rejection rate that far exceeds anything I ever experienced when I wrote proposals to get funding for projects. Compared to submitting to lit journals, that was a near sure thing. Anyway, I liked your piece a lot. A long time ago, I worked with Betty Hubbard at Central Arkansas. I think she’s still working. If you ever cross paths with her, you’ll be glad you did. Thank you.

  60. Another great tip on craft, Nicole. Especially reminding us that beyond “show, don’t tell” lies the need for intentional and delicate balancing of show AND tell.

  61. As a person thinks, so he/she IS. To be in war is to be conditoned to violence, unless one can learn to identify with the soul and the God Within each of us. God is Love, God is Good and it is mankind who creates evil in our world, by way of one’s thougths.

  62. The Broder story is touching and brings one to things internal and perhaps eternal. All is energy and all energy vibrates. Cetain vibrations resonate to the soul and bring joy to the heart. Such is her story. Blessings to her. Don Crawford

  63. So terribly wonderful! You are truly skillful at your craft. I love to read your stories and truth is always so powerful.

  64. Remarkable writing from a gifted author. When I first read the title of Sara’s essay, I thought it would be about a woman caring for her aging husband. How interesting to me still to read portions of it from that perspective. My beloved will be 81 soon and doesn’t need care like an infant. Quite the contrary. He still runs, lifts weights, walks the woods with me. But constancy and my nearness, now more than ever. A gift, really, but I sense the shadow.

  65. Reminds me of when I had to leave Israel and return to Australia – albeit unwillingly. Left my boyfriend behind, my friends on the kibbutz and the memories of my time alone, free to be me without criticism.

  66. Nicole–I stumbled upon your story just the other day. Captured by your words, I have read it three times and each time I’ve been taken back to an effervescent young girl in catcher’s gear. I think of you and your parents often first with a smile and then with a shake of my head. Wishing you well.

  67. Love the story. It took me back to another time, but I could still smell the soft sweet smell of my grandmas perfume lingering in a scarf. I couldn’t put it down, it came home with me also.

  68. This is a great post. Your honesty is so refreshing! As someone on the periphary of the adventure community I am always asking myself this question (“Why do we do it?”), and now as a mom I am continually asking myself the question “What do I want my children to value about the outdoors?” I lost part of my leg in a climbing fall, and since, have come to know many folks in the climbing world who have also suffered accidents. There seems to be an obsessive nature to many folks, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing….if it includes hanging with a community you love. Still, danger, potential injury, life-changing circumstances are always there. It is helpful hearing from the folks left behind as it helps put things in perspective.

    I am so sorry to hear about your brother. He did sound like an amazing guy. It also seems he was well loved. Thank you for sharing his story and your experience.

  69. I had my first and last full body massage almost ten years ago. I went with my wife and we were escorted to separate rooms. I had no idea what to expect. The massage therapist was much older than I. I was in my mid twenties and she was in her late 60s. I was not attracted to her in any way. However, to my surprise during the massage I had an intense erection. I was utterly embarrassed. She did not say anything about it. I was terrified and had trouble relaxing. To this day I have not returned for fear of it happening again. I am researching the topic to muster the courage to try again.

  70. I love this, Sandra. All the sensory detail.

    And to the laundromat woman, I say, well bless your heart, darlin’.

  71. Your father was a guiding light in my life. He made me believe in myself and gave me the push I needed to go to college. He made me see things in a new way. He took some of us seniors of the Breckenridge Class of 1985 to Washington DC. It was a new and exciting world but he made us look at the darker side, the homeless people on the streets. It was a look at a very different world than the one we were living in. I grieve for you and your brother still today and always will. I am so happy that you have found your way in life.

    • I have a couple of very old, very faded photos of that trip if you would like them. Just let me know and I will email them to you

      • Sue,
        Thank you for sharing this! I think about stories from that D.C. trip regularly. My brother (age 9) went with you all and I stayed home. You guys told my brother you’d give him a penny for every truck he counted on the road between Breckenridge, MI and Washington D.C. Luckily, he didn’t collect. 🙂
        I’d love to have any picture you are willing to share.

  72. This is beautifully written. I love the different perspectives and ending with such haunting questions makes the reader stop and pause. Congratulations!

  73. I’d say that you’re still there. Your DNA lurks in the soil from the light switches, rope swing, and water dribbling down your chin. The farmer may have bought the land, but you still own what stood on it. He can’t buy memories and the influence in your life from living on that piece of home.

  74. Wow! These are so good. I thoroughly enjoyed reading these SSs (short stories) – and crying. So beautifully written from the heart. Thank you.

  75. I remember so well the day this happened. I lived in Chelsea and my kids went to high school with Nicole.
    Horrible incident. Mr. and Mrs. Leith were 2 of my kids favorite teachers. I’ll never forget it.

  76. After immersing myself in much of this journal’s intense writing that exquisitely portrays the of pain, loss, and grief of life (including my own), this delightful piece made me laugh aloud and cheer for the author. Sometimes we just take ourselves and our bodies (whatever size) too seriously. What a fun story!

  77. The wolf encounter is exciting–the descriptions make me feel as if I were there.
    Found out about this article from the Yellowstone National Park Employees site on Facebook.

  78. Love this raw, personal and poignant short. Thank you Audrey Jennifer Smith for sharing your Tough Titties!

  79. This artfully crafted essay exposes the raw and honest experience of living with personal trauma. As the story draws the reader through to its profound end, one is left to wonder how the universe really works. Irony. Indeed.

  80. This piece is ALIVE. There is not a wasted a word and every description bristles. I mourned the cat (I lost a kitty to a garage door, too) and hated the VW right along with her.

  81. I suffer from PTSD after an accident. I have many fears. Your essay gave me hope that you can come out of this and reminded me that others suffer, too. Hope you keep getting better.

  82. Compassionate from all standpoints, including mother. And as a psychologist, that’s the reality of humanity. A beautiful and haunting piece.

  83. I may only be echoing the words others have already written, but feel compelled to comment anyway; since I was so moved by your story. As someone else had written, I was captured from the very first line I read. The story telling was masterful. You lay exposed all the crevices of your mind and soul, and carried us with you on your journey. It left me with many thoughts, as most well-written pieces do.

  84. Riveting and expertly crafted. So sorry for your loss. I’m fascinated that your fear subsided. One would imagine it only intensifying. Did your doctor have an explanation for this?

  85. Im so proud of all of you but just kind of partial to my girl Brittany. They were all very well written soul searching, thought provoking , etc. Etc. Stories and also some hard moments for some to relive in writing so thank you for sharing your heart and soul to each and every one of you! Melanie mason

  86. Beautiful and powerful – love the comparison between the landscape and your self. I’m so glad I had the chance to meet you and talk on the dawning of my 5th decade on this earth! ~ JoEllen (from Casa Del Mundo)

  87. Christy, this essay is filled with such powerful imagery and detail that I could picture the inside of the car and smell the smoke and fuel. The description of your cat’s death is heart wrenching. I did not know that V-Beetles easily caught fire.

  88. This essay drew me in from the first line until the last. You are an incredible writer. I’m in awe of how you managed to pull the pieces of this tragedy and your fearful obsession together into a coherent and insightful narrative. Condolences on the loss of your father. Bravo, Evelyn.

  89. Beautifully written. Love the representation of brown, in an array of contexts, its parallels with good and evil.

  90. Powerful piece. The depth of emotion in this story, all that you went through processing such trauma, amazing to read.

  91. Great article. I, also, was an English major in the 1990s, and didn’t really “get” Joan Didion until later in life. I recently watched the movie Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold, and was again blown away by what an interesting person she is. I’ve learned so much from her writing and how she put her experiences into written form. I’m sorry that you have not yet had a chance to cross paths with her…here’s hoping!

    ~Kristen Gill

  92. Beautiful story, Jenny. Thank you. I spent healing time in the Boundary Waters 20 years ago and those days and nights are still balm to my soul. Take good care.

  93. Outstanding. Congratulations, Brittany, on a truly haunting essay. You’ve perfectly captured the child perspective, while slowly revealing the too-adult truths that had to endured. I second Matt M.’s compliment — this is a story that sticks in the brain. Well done!

  94. I love this essay. Your love and admiration for your mom just shine through! I’m sorry she didn’t get to revel in her long-awaited party, and I hope that she gets to enjoy the tail-end (also my favorite part) of many parties to come!

  95. Blake,

    You tackled a raw and vulnerable subject in a raw and vulnerable way, laying bare your emotions for the reader to parse out. It was a pleasure to read. Congratulations on your place as a finalist!

  96. Nina,

    I thought this piece was so clever, and each time I read it, the cleverness became more apparent to me. I’ve no doubt your ability to take care of and protect yourself comes in no small measure from the power you hold over your writing subjects. It was really crafted and the balance of your characters was spot-on. Congrats again.

  97. Sarah, congratulations on your essay. I was moved reading it, and was blown away by your use of language throughout, which to my ear, matched your theme perfectly. It’s an important topic, and you handled it marvelously. Congrats again.

  98. Gwen, this kept me enthralled from beginning to end. The mix of medical detail with human interest was a perfect balance. I read it several times, and each time I kept hoping the outcome would be different–that’s how good the writing was. Congratulations!

  99. Dear Anne,

    Congratulations on your winning essay! It left me breathless with both nostalgia and hope, as well as a deeper appreciation for the bonds we have as a family. It was a beautiful essay. Congratulations again!

  100. Dear Yvonne,

    Congratulations on your essay, it was a privilege to be a part of the process this year! I came back to your essay again and again and was impressed with the imagery, the mastery of your subject matter, and the way you tied it all together. There were beautiful small details and touches as well as the overarching themes and they were woven together perfectly. Congratulations again, it is a wonderful piece of writing.

  101. I will never forget this essay. Very few stories actually have me catching my breath from sadness and despair. Despite the straight-forward narrative style, Gwen beautifully captures the tension, focus, vulnerability and tragedy of life and death emergency care. Really wonderful work, and congratulations on being a finalist!

  102. Wow. I kept trying to slow down, to savor the words. But I honestly could NOT wait for the next line. And then the next. Oh, gosh – thank you so much for sharing that. I know it will stay with me for a very long time.

  103. Breathtaking. Really fabulous to have the experience – a taste – of such love as you have for your sister. Swept up and away. Thank you!

  104. That was absolutely lovely. You captured the beauty, mystery, and unflinching love of sisters that endure the battle and tend to one another’s scars. Brava!

  105. Great review, Jen! I’ve never heard of this book, but I can certainly relate to its content from my own experiences as well as my female child’s, who didn’t want to go to school when she had her period because there were no trash dispensers in the stalls (in elementary school). Her fear that the girls who hadn’t yet become “women” would tease her was too much for her to bear.

  106. That’s my sister, and she has done an awsome job!! I remember gram like that and how she used to say the things she did. Love and miss u grandma. My sister tells in such great detail makes u feel like u were really there. Again great job sissy!!!

  107. Good illustrations of what it means to be an authentic human–reminds me of some friends I have known and an old saying one of them is fond of saying, “If you don’t have any scars, you haven’t showed up for life!”

  108. Thanks for this. My mother was totally embarrassed by my fatness. Her other children were “normal”. She involved a platoon of other adults in an effort to control “Harry’s weight problem”. It’s a long narrative which I’ll share with anyone who’s interested.

  109. Wow….great writing & amazing that you & your sister found forgiveness….I have not yet for my abusive stepfather…

  110. This is a great piece of writing. Although clearly falling under the rubrics of both memoir and feminist, it also could be found in the terror genre given that your father was such an (unconscious) ogre. Thank heavens you survived!

  111. Hi Beverly: A lovely piece, as are several other pieces of yours I’ve found after finding this one tonight. You’re a very gifted writer, subtle and soulful.

    My wife of 36 years, Jeanne, passed away in 2007 after a long illness. Much to my surprise I eventually met someone else, married Julie in 2012, and now I’m the 75-year-old stepfather of a 17-year-old boy! My natural son Jacob, if natural son is the way to put it, is 40 and a musician. Both he and my stepson Sawyer — also a musician; he plays alto saxophone in the Highland Park High School marching band and wind ensemble — are terrific kids, if one can speak of a 40 year old as a kid.

  112. My father entered a home for Alzheimer’s patients earlier this year so this story resonates. The ‘wish with one hand’ line is just the kind of thing he and my aunts would say routinely – after a while I realized they weren’t reciting; coming up with that kind of phrase is actually an on-the-spot skill. And yes – you see that fleeting glimmer for a moment and you know they’re in there. Nicely done.

    • Thank you so much. I am so sorry you and your family are going through this horrible experience. I have learned that somtimes laughter is the best way to make it through. Laughter and never forgetting that the bad parts we see are the dementia, not our loved ones. They are still in there, and it is our job to remember that and love on them every chance we get! Thank you for taking the time to comment on my story. Prayers for you and your family!!

  113. I suspect this story is going to stay with me long after this first reading. The moment her mother is described as picking at her face we see what Mom’s real problem is, or has eventually become. So much in this story is shown and not told, it’s what makes it truly strong. If ‘Driving’ hasn’t already been nominated for a Pushcart, it needs to be. The quality of writing here is the reason I continue to follow and purchase small press magazines

  114. I was just watching a Smithsonian documentary last night about (of all people) Eddie Van Halen, and among other things his description of the bullying he took when his family first immigrated. He was unable to speak the language and I suspect that, later when he reinvented the guitar and developed his sound, that bullying had a direction impact on why his theory was always ‘bigger is better.’ Interesting thought that ‘God Don’t Like Ugly’ could have a sequel, one that shows a grown-up Creature, what effect that episodes like this might have had.

  115. What a wonderful story and so beautifully told. The sadness of reality filled with the hope of memories which fade. Lovely! — Judy

  116. Amazing story! Wording is so captivating and kept me engaged the whole time. The usage of pathos is really powerful *tears*.

  117. Powerful and sad. Makes one think of all the stupid and hurtful things most of us did as children that were born of our own insecurity and fear…brilliant and important writing.

  118. I really enjoyed reading this. I think many writers can and will relate to what you have written. Inspiring and talented. Thank you for sharing. You made this writer’s day.

  119. Been receiving massages for years now, every so often getting an errection.

    Sometimes, it’s even a male massage therapist.
    Am I gay? Certainly not, I just have extreme issues with blood flow and nerves through my hips.
    When touched on my butt thighs or abdomen, I will probably get an errection, even if it was Rosie O’Donald.

    While getting my massage last week, I got an errection.
    At the moment I’m incapable of sexually relieving myself, thus my anxiety towards the situation was at its highest.
    Thankfully she didn’t say anything and just continued, or so I thought.

    Today I had the horrible experience of going into my Doctors office to be told that she won’t be seeing me anymore cause i got an errection, by multiple people in the office whom I didn’t disclose this information to, or tell the massage therapist too.

    It was extremely embarassing doing the walk of shame out of my Doctors office with everyone knowing I had an errection the other day.

    Having severe depression and Autism, the incident threw me into a suicidal episode.
    Even though I need massages on a regular basis to function, I’m not sure I could work up the courage to see another one.
    I just hope this world kills me before I do at this point. :/

  120. Beautiful story. You were my third grade Nun at St Catherine’s, Sister James then. I was a terribly shy child. I always thought you were such a beautiful woman, although at the time I’m pretty sure I didn’t even realize that nuns were even regular people, who used the bathroom and had hair. Your eyes are just as riveting as they were then. I enjoy writing myself, satire is my joy. My sister Julie told me to read this and I’m so glad she did.

    • Wow! This is wonderful, Margie. I remember you! Thanks so much for reading and for leaving this message. And thanks to Julie for sharing it with you! I would love to read some of your satire.

  121. Brilliant and beautiful piece of writing. Love the advice to “stay open” – to be open and receptive to the possibility that there’s more to the story than we immediately recall. I’m fascinated by story, how our minds process what happens to us, how our memories work, etc. Thanks for sharing your story.

    • Thank you, Dianne, for your lovely comment. I’m fascinated by story, too, the narratives of our lives–the larger arc, the smaller stories.

  122. This is a lovely reflection. That you were insightful enough to see beyond a forgetful man and a clumsy girl to the beautiful people inside speaks volumes. I feel like this was an important read for me this morning, as today I move my great-aunt into a memory care facility. It’s such a huge step from the independent living place she was for a year, or even the personal care place that followed. I’m a little nervous about being around people who are lower functioning. Thanks for the reminder to look beyond.

    • Thank you so much for reading and for your comment. I understand your trepidation as it is always a little scary to do something we are not used to doing. My mother has been living in a nursing home for the last 12 years, prior to that she was in assisted living for ten years due to early-onset dementia. It used to be difficult for me to go to the nursing home. I’m a shy person in general, so when someone talks to me without a filter (which in my experience happens more commonly at the nursing home–partly a result of cognition, partly as a result of folks being older and bolder ?), I often fumble. I’m getting better at it, but I do have to bolster my resolve, and also leave my ego at the door. Before I had my daughter I didn’t have the opportunity to be around many people with disabilities, now I know to just treat all the people I meet respectfully, and to presume comepetence. Even when people are being unkind, or difficult, or behaving in a way that makes me uncomfortable, I try to understand why they are acting that way. I remind myself that everyone is someone who is or was loved dearly by someone. I imagine how once they were more than likely, cradled in the arms of a parent or sibling or grandparent, aunt, uncle, who loved and wanted the best for them. It’s easier that way to see the humanity in everyone. That and a sense of humor can get you through most things. Good luck!

      • So true: everyone deserves to be treated with respect. I should clarify: mostly I’m nervous about my aunt’s reaction to the different memory issues and accompanying behaviors, especially worried about her just being afraid. So far she’s doing ok – amused, curious, but not fearful or panicking which I was worried about.

  123. This article really spoke to me, thank you! I have been writing “bits and pieces” in various notebooks for many years. I have always had to hold down a full time, “proper job”, but am beginning to move into a new phase, writing every day, even if it’s just a couple of sentences as they occur to me. I can be brushing my teeth, getting ready for work, but I drop what I’m doing so that I can write (yes,with a pen) whatever is going through my head. I am working on a sequel to my first, self-published non-fiction book and have the entire thing in my head. The sentences, paragraphs and chapters come to me in dribs and drabs and eventually, they will become my next book. I am inspired by your words and encouraged by your honesty. Thank you.

    • Go you, Deborah! I’m so glad this post resonated with you. It can be so hard to keep holding time for the work of writing, when life keeps getting in the way, but clearly, some of us just HAVE to. 🙂

    • Thank you for reading, Shirley, and for your comment. I’m glad my “story behind the story” has got your neurons firing. Wonderful!

  124. A very good book report, but it doesn’t capture the excitement of reading the book itself. For that, you might refer to “PILLE: ‘Japanese Girl at the Siege of Changchun’ is honest, dark memoir.” The translation was written to make full use of the English language, not to slavishly follow grammarian’s rules.

  125. Thanks for the honest review of this book. It sounds like something I should read–eventually–given that I’m writing a play, and love going to Broadway shows.

  126. My favorite part about this is the unsure sort of dance at the beginning that ensues between the man and the narrator (you). Is he speaking to her ? Has he chosen her? For the end to play out a yearning for more so smoothly, I thought you were able to achieve this progression between the characters beautifully. Also, at the beginning you point out the woman has infected fingernails and by the end you focus on her whole hand in a playful game that is made complete by the mother. To me, this was very thoughtful and healing.

  127. Tricia, this is lovely and puts some often-absent focus on “the other sibling” and what that life can be, might be…and it is also interesting to see *you* on the outside looking in, for a change, but with far more curiosity, connection, and understanding than most.

    • As a teacher, I have seen families fail “the other child” while focussing on the one with disabilities or behavior problems. But this is a powerful statement about those other families that make love and concern a way of life and path of beauty.

      • Thank you for reading, Jan. It can be difficult to spread the attention around with more than one child for sure.

  128. I reiterate what Stephen has said. The story of Danny and your own struggle in life could only be told in this simple (though by no means lacking anything) way.

  129. Patricia,
    Thank you for sending your story. I can truly appreciate it, since I also was a SSJ for 8 years and am now happily married.

    • Katherine! I never got to post a thanks for your comment although I know we spoke about it. So glad you enjoyed the essay.

  130. As a very dorky writer mom of a byrashul 1-year-old son and wife of a black man, this article made me laugh, snicker, gasp and cry. Thank you for sharing your story in a witty self-deprecating and insightful way.

  131. Beautiful story – My mother also died from heart failure, very recently. Brave women, and you are very brave.

    • Thanks for sharing your story, and I am sorry for your loss. I found writing about my mother’s death was very healing.

  132. Many thanks for posting this. Bizarrely (is it bizarre?) I still can’t bring myself to talk much about this subject. The human story is a tragedy.

    • I’ve been thinking about this comment for awhile now. We all talk when we are ready. It took me 20 years.
      Thanks for reading and responding.

  133. Well. That is s scene well seen, a tale well told. I feel privileged to read it.
    Jules Older

  134. David, you humble me. Nothing I might say to praise you would be as powerful as what you gave us. Thank you.

  135. Oh, yeah, now to my comments… I was really swept away and into the bus ride, feeling nervous for both the author, and then the passenger, and what might happen? or be misunderstood? The rhythm of the words may have made the rhythm of the bus ride synchronous? I don’t want to over think this piece, as it just spoke to me what it had to say…

    • Thank you, Careyleah. I think you’re right about the “synchronous”–though it was probably more serendipity than intention.

  136. Had my first massage today and was worried sick about it happening to me, sure enough it did, I was so embarrassed!!

  137. Well written and it touched a nerve. My son is a recovering alcoholic. I pray he doesn’t become Danny, but if he does I hope people are as generous of spirit with him as are you.

  138. I love how the writing has evoked in the reader the sense of unease that the children felt at times. Beautifully written and engaging.

    • Thank you. I was unable to reply because my email has changed and I couldn’t confirm the address! I appreciate your taking the time to read.

  139. Stunning. Heart wrenching. Beautiful. I’ve spent a lot of time sorting out painful, senseless stuff. And I cannot express how grateful I am that you didn’t tie this piece up in neat and phony bow. At the same time, I wish you peace and healing. You already know that that this is a process. Your students are so lucky to have you as a teacher.

  140. This is so absolutely well written. One of the most difficult yet, deserving of all the years you have invested into writing. We who are writers discern, digest and write at our own pace. May your heart have found some peace.

    The statement: Maybe We Can Make a Circle. That sticks out in my mind.

    There is a pond and I stand at the edge. In my hand is a stone. My anger makes me throw that stone as far as I can. When the stone crashes through the thin skin of water, it creates a circle; which is joined by an overlapping circle and onward into infinity.

    There comes a time for everyone when we must release our barrier (be it anger or something else) to the world around us. Doing so opens us to others and we become enriched.

    Nicole, I think of this as a koan. You most definitely have reached out and touched my soul. May the chanting of my soul reach out and embrace you with peace.

  141. my word – a breathtakingly articulate account of an imaginable horror. I am moved by your account as indeed I should be. this sentence struck me hard “Maybe we can make a circle someday,” it said.

    I’ve been wanting to ask you for years: What does that mean?’
    and I felt the inadequacy of the response to you. And it also made me recall these words from Rumi :
    Be helpless, dumbfounded,
    Unable to say yes or no.
    Then a stretcher will come from grace
    to gather us up.

    We are too dull-eyed to see that beauty.
    If we say we can, we’re lying.
    If we say No, we don’t see it,
    That No will behead us
    And shut tight our window onto spirit.

    So let us rather not be sure of anything,
    Beside ourselves, and only that, so
    Miraculous beings come running to help.
    Crazed, lying in a zero circle, mute,
    We shall be saying finally,
    With tremendous eloquence, Lead us.
    When we have totally surrendered to that beauty,
    We shall be a mighty kindness.

    (Rumi, 13th century Persian poet and mystic)

    You were privileged to have a father of stature and love, and it is an immense loss to bear his sudden , grim departure so young. I send my truest good wishes to you. Writing has helped me to live well – other peoples writing I mean, in the shape of Shakespeare, W.B.Yeats, W. Golding, Montaigne, Atwood – countless others. They inform how to look at the world differently, and shape the people we ourselves become.

  142. Nicole, Your writing style is intense and unique in its ability to stay in the present moment as you recount your personal feelings and reactions to such a profoundly painful loss without clouding your rendition of your experience with judgement or any wisdom you may have eventually found in the process of dealing with such a harsh and sudden catastrophic loss, which hopefully you have found. But you ability to take anyone reading your story into your consciousness at that moment is very powerful, emotionally compelling and totally captivating in my opinion because I get the feeling that I’m there with you as you are responding to the insanity of violence to someone you love with all your heart, you are sharing raw emotions, your confusion, your pain, minute to minute without a hint that you know where it will go – which of course you do now looking back – but you don’t telescope it in your rendition of those awful, painful times. Some of the most compelling writing I’ve ever read.

  143. I’m also a writer, didn’t write anything on net though as i never tried to, and i can say we writers feel it too much than others and i know it’s impossible to get a way out of it.You are a fabulous writer and I’ll love to learn something from you. and sorry for what happened with you.

  144. Such an incredible and heartbreaking story. It is fantastically written, powerful and emotive.

  145. Wow. I’m so sorry about your dad, and I wish you could have had answers to all those questions you couldn’t quite ask. I hope writing this brings some sort of peace. I live in Michigan, and when I was a kid I lived 3 blocks from Adrian College. Coincidence I know, but it made me feel this piece was personal, to me, for some reason. Regardless, hugs. I know you’ll get (have gotten already) a ton of comments. Know that I won’t forget your story.

    • Thanks, Dawn, for your personal response. I have such great memories of my four years in Adrian. It was the best college experience I could have asked for.
      Take Care,

  146. WordPress suggested this reading to me – and I loved it.

    Not only is this a difficult personal story, it is an incredible illustration of the way complex experiences affect us. For years, for lifetimes, sometimes we need to turn the themes over and over and over again before we can process and understand what happened, or to discover whether there was something valuable locked inside the difficulty.

    Thank you or sharing. Just beautiful writing.

  147. Brilliant. Simply brilliant, and brave. My favorite part may be the end, where the narrative stops before I expect it to, before I am ready. I’m hanging there going….”Whaaaat?” And then I get it. So incredibly well done. Thank you.

  148. Oh Nikki, I am still crying about that day. I was your Mom’s roommate at CMU and your Dad was at our duplex many hours. He was such a good man, and I have never forgotten his sense of humor, sly smile when he knew he had fooled us with his latest story, and the love he felt for his family. I was sitting in our family room that day and opening up our mail. The TV was on and I was reading the Christmas card from your family when it came on about the shooting at Chelsea High School. I had never felt such shock and sorrow then or since when I saw Joe’s picture on the TV screen. My heart aches so much for you, your Mom, and Brian. You are a wonderful writer and a wonderful daughter. No one at any age should have to go through what you and your family endured. Sending my love to you.

  149. Masterfully written, Callie. You brought your mother’s love to life with details of butterflies.

  150. When I read this piece during the copy-edit process I GASPED out loud. I read so many works each month, and still this one stopped me cold. I still can’t find the words to adequately express how moved I was by your work. This is the kind of story that has created something seminal at such an agonizing price. Congratulations on your work, Nicole, and I’m so happy that it is in HM.

    • Pamela,
      I really appreciate your comments here. Thanks for your encouragement and kindness. I love HM and am honored to be published here. It’s a relief to have this story out in the world after many years of writing and revising.

  151. From the moment I read this in Submittable, this became a seminal essay that I will remember … always. Absolutely beautiful work, Mary. What a fine example of subtle weaving, imagery and language.

  152. Kaylie, thank you so much for sharing this story with us. There are so many moving and powerful things to love about this piece, but what I love most is the tenderness between you and your daughter. I also love that you call her “my girl” instead of her name, or “my daughter” – I wish I had that closeness with my mother. One of the best things about this piece is how you never stop being her champion, just as you’ve never stopped being mine. Your daughter is a lucky girl and you are anything but a bad mother.

    • Lauren, thank you so very much. Your kindness is amazing, and your work ethic impeccable. Thank you for reading!

  153. How poignantly Gretchen Henkel captures the inner torment of child “internees” – held prisoner by their parents’ abusive behavior. Excellent piece.

  154. Nicole, this is beautifully written and takes me back to that terrible December day. I taught first grade with your mom after this horrible event and watched her put her life back together. I never had the privilege of meeting your dad but heard wonderful stories about him and your family. He would be so proud of all of you!

  155. Nikki,
    So powerful, I hope that finally writing this letter will bring you a bit more peace. What you and your family experienced was and is beyond our understanding. I often think of all of you. It is nice to hear you are teaching. I wish you well.

  156. Excellent job, Nikki. I loved working for your dad. He loved his family, his Polish Heritage, and the Chelsea community. He talked about how he had to “discipline” Madonna while both were at Rochester Adams. He drove to Hamtramck for every Fat Tuesday to buy Packzkis for the faculty. He is the only superintendent who would stop by the faculty dining room to eat with the teachers once in a while. We loved shooting the bull with him. A day doesn’t go by when I don’t think of that terrible afternoon.

  157. Hi Nikki. been a long time. Good to see you are teaching and doing something you love. Very powerful piece of work. Let me into some things I didn’t know about that day. I hope you are doing well

  158. What an amazing piece of writing from Gretchen Henkel. So vivid. I loved reading this. The speaker is as trapped as that fly while only the breasts of the “stepmother” fly free.

  159. This is an impressive piece of writing under any circumstance. Knowing that you truly lived it makes it immeasurably more touching and worthy of praise. I know your parents deserve the highest regard for the way they raised you. I hope to read you in the future.

  160. All I can say is thank you for sharing and letting us see from your eyes i could never imagine what you went thru you are a strong and remarkable woman that your dad is truly proud of

  161. Nikki,
    Truly amazing that you would write this letter now. Carey and you were awesome patients at MedSport. I remember your dad providing the support only a dad can provide after your surgery and during your rehabilitation. Thank you for sharing. I admire your strength.

    • Hi Shane-
      Thanks so much for reading and responding. Your message was a very nice surprise. I would love to connect with you on social media.

  162. Nikki,
    I am truly at a loss for words. Matt & I were both in tears tonight in memory of this horrific tragedy and your personal journey. Thank you for sharing, we are greatful. These memories take on a new meaning for us today as Matt is now a superintendent in a small town & our children walk in those shoes.

    • Hi Laura,
      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. I smiled when I read that Matt is a superintendent in a small district. I know how difficult that job must be, but also how rewarding. Best wishes to all of you!

  163. Nikki,
    Thank you for sharing this intimate part of yourself as you help us all remember the personal tragedy of this awful day. My heart still aches for your family’s loss. Your dad was a kind, honest, and excellent leader, and I have always appreciated his support and care as my boss. His impact on all of us is still felt in the Chelsea School District!

    • Thanks for sharing this, Steve. It means a lot to me to hear from people who knew my dad in professional contexts and admired his leadership.

  164. Thank you for having the courage to share this, Nicole. I walk the old CHS campus often, and I always say a prayer for your dad. There’s a reason this letter was so many years in the making.

  165. Thank you for sharing this piece of yourself, Nikki. I still think about the time that we crossed paths at the Auraria Campus and the pain that was still in your eyes.

  166. Nikki,
    I think we have all been waiting to hear this from you. In some ways, you’re asking & answering some of our questions as well. You’re an inspiration to be able to get this out so beautifully & strong. Thank you.

    • Hi Leslie–
      Thank you for this comment. It helps me remember that this story belongs to all of us. I am glad to know that this telling of my experience has helped others. I needed to tell it, but I didn’t know how many people would read it. Thank you.

  167. Nikki,
    I think we have all been waiting to hear this from you. In some ways, you’re asking & answering some of our questions as well. You’re an inspiration to be able to get this out so strong & beautifully. Thank you.

  168. Wow. This is an amazing and heartbreakingly poetic piece of writing. I didn’t know you well, Nikki, I was a year behind you and we had mutual friends. But Alice was my favorite high school teacher too, and I was not doing well in Mr Leith’s chemistry class that year either. I had heard she called someone that day but I had no idea. I don’t know what to say.

  169. Beautifully written Nikki. It was such a horrific tragedy for you, your family and our community. My heart was so sad for you and Brian and your family. Thank you for sharing.

  170. All I can say is WOW!!! This is so beautifully written and took me right back to the day it happened! I had just graduated 6 months before this. Your dad was an amazing man & I still think of him often. You are an inspiration to all of us Nikki and I know your dad is smiling down on you!!!! ❤️

  171. I remember that day, I was in middle school. I had Mr. Jones in high school who spoke about this to our class, he spoke very highly of your dad and had only kind things to say about him.