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  1. Thanks for sharing that heartbreaking journey so raw and well written
    I often think of you all.. love Tini

  2. This made me think about what it must have been like for my mom going through the exact same thing with my dad in 1970. Heartbreaking and so beautifully written. Thank you for giving words to this hellish experience.

  3. I loved your story.. Self deprecation tells me the couch and shag carpet is good for you. You see yourself in all it’s, how did you put it, “chunky” glory. Thanks for the chuckles, laughs and reminding us that a critique of one’s self can be therapeutic.

  4. Such a visceral memory. If only we all knew what that last time would be like — if we could forecast, script, rehearse, what would it look like? This captures the moment and the lingering regret and pain.

  5. What a horrible, lovely, strange, sad, and powerful story. Thank you for sharing. Michael was a great man. And he was clearly lucky to have you. And you him. For whatever time allowed.

  6. I wept . So beautifully written. I too wanted to hold my son forever and tell him how much he was loved, still do. Cancer ripped him away from our family.

  7. Thank you so much for this. I’m so tired of apologizing to myself for my stomach or my rolls. And while I thought this was going to be a story about what happens after the loss of a pregnancy, I am happy that it was none of that but so much more.

  8. I’m so very proud of you my beautiful Goddaughter. Keep up the great work. Love you much !!!

  9. I loved the entire piece. Your discussion of both self awareness and self love is vital, especially in a society that puts so much emphasis on a woman’s body. Thank you for sharing your gift with the world.

  10. Keep Up the Awesome Writing.
    So, l really do not have much to inquire about NOW because WE
    Just Talked…Great talking w YOU this evening. LMU DEARLY
    AMEN 💕 😂 💕 😂

  11. Adina thanks for this wonderful writing! You have infused this essay with introspection, humor and an emotional power that challenges narrow patriarchy and cultural conditioning. This is Not Baby Weight speaks to many audiences because of your skills as a writer and thinker. I’ve read this several times today and once read it aloud for a colleague who kept saying “that part” as I read. I want to be a writer like you when I grow up. Will definitely be sharing.

  12. I enjoyed your narrative of us “Ferguson” women😱! Great work…a chuckle here and there…but mainly reflections! Thank you for sharing! ❤️🥰❤️

    • I loved this piece. It spoke to me and my body. Thank you for this. Also, love the rhythm of your writing.

  13. I so relate to this. I have been so ambivalent ( and also inert) these past several years. Thank you!

  14. I really did like this Connie..and scarily enough? I find myself there..covid kills more than the body, it kills the soul.

  15. Most of this is bullshit. Your grandma paid for your flying lessons. If your dad took you to a bar when you were growing up you were to young to be shouting pool and learning anything. You got blaming your problems on others from your moms side of the family. Nice piece of fiction though.

  16. What a dose of reality. I think I have been in a classroom with some of those boys, or their brothers. I want to know what happened next.

  17. Great story. I grew up in Northern Idaho and the houses of ill repute of Wallace were known and discussed frequently at my high school. Some of my friends made the occasional “field trip” to Wallace to avail themselves of the services available there without one life ever being ruined. All were disgusted when the politicians finally put an end to things.
    On a side note, Sam Day once interviewed me for a story in the Intermountain Observor.

  18. Three of my friends lost parents to suicide. I’ve heard about their lasting pain, even though two of them are all married with children. This was poignant without being sentimental, a tough line to toe. Thank you for sharing.

  19. Hi Melanie…

    Serendipity led me to discover you just now.

    So enjoyed your piece on “turning 50”

    Smiled all the way through till the end.

    Was further touched by your acknowledgment of “Always Canadian”

    Like you, I reside in the USA, and like you, my mantra too is “Always Canadian” eh !

    So looking forward to reading all your
    books ☺️


    E. Moren 🍁

  20. This beautiful piece will stay with me. The dad/husband of a family I love died by suicide a year ago Saturday. I see his wife and children (ages 14 and 16) continue to struggle as they navigate his loss. Another dear friend is one year “No Evidence of Disease (NED)” following a Stage III colorectal cancer diagnosis at the beginning of Covid. Life is tenuous, tender. Thank you for the reminder, and the hope.

  21. So many times, I stopped to re-read a paragraph because it demanded I do so. Beautifully written… can’t wait to read the entire memoir. Oh… and those recipes. What a genius, creative way to include them. WOW.

  22. I love this story, Chris. I teach a creative nonfiction class that requires students to read and share contemporary essays. I hope it means something that several different students have recommended this one.

  23. I am trying to book a flight back to Seattle. What sessions are happening on Sunday, August 14? Is it a full day?

  24. Thanks, Karen. I’d counter Rifka’s comment with the observation that you seem to be doing thoughtful work embracing your heritage in this new context. You describe walking on a tightrope, and, impressively, you keep from falling to either side.

  25. Wow, what a story and what incredible writing Charlotte!! I was with you with the ups and the downs, and the ups again. I genuinely LOL’d (in disbelief) when your first father said, “We’ve got quite a drive back to Princeton.” ….and then the twist at the end! Really engaging writing, and really well done.

    • Jeff, thank you so very much for leaving such encouraging words!! It took me a few years to find the laughter…but I don’t know how I would have survived otherwise.

  26. This was a brilliant story and I thoroughly enjoyed reading through it. I could feel the anxiety and the tension and the hurt and anger of wanting to know and be loved by the ‘wrong father’ and feeling so rejected and hurt by it, but then having an unexpected and happy twist in the end when you find the ‘right father’, one who is there for you through and through. I, too, am curious to hear about the ‘right father’ and the bond that grew between the two of you.

    • Patience, thank you so much for reading my story – the bond is growing, but real life is complicated, as I’m sure you know! It’s not easy to establish a father-daughter bond at our stages in life…but we’re finding our way!

  27. What a great story (and loved the opening story re the pyramid scheme cowboys!)! I was hooked on every sentence, love your writing style! Also the hidden (or not so hidden?) messages about the hypocrisy of the community at the time.

  28. Great story, Charlotte. Very funny and very sad, all rolled into one piece. What a turn at the end. I was so glad Dennis Lane was not your father. Indeed, he was quite a disappointment. Glad you found your real dad. Pat

  29. Sharp, poignant, engaging piece! The details are crisp and the pacing kept me glued to every word. Excellent piece, Charlotte! I admire how you were able to tell a long, complicated story in a short space, leaving the reader wanting more, yet creating a complete, satisfying story in itself.

  30. I love this Charlotte! You have such a good sense of humor that you tie together with these visceral feelings. It’s truly a complete work of art.

  31. I cannot wait to read the memoir. Great tension created in many levels. And the ending could only happen in a true story!!!

  32. Absolutely loved your essay Charlotte. Connecting all those numbers and ending with what counts is so moving.

  33. Wow this packed a punch, Nice writing, Amazing story, I want to know about the new father as well. Maybe a second piece somewhere? I’m so glad he’s part of your life.

  34. Charlotte, the turn at the end! Completely unexpected (as the discovery must have been for you). So much I love about this piece—the tensions that swirl around all the men in it, the hint early on (you “convinced yourself”) that something will be amiss, your italicized thoughts, the tepid tea that represents the accumulations that make you want to cry. I’m glad this found its way into print.

  35. Brian – Thank you for your valuable reminder that our work deserves detailed attention to the small things that could detract from its impact. I’m often tempted to rush through, to yield to the excitement of finishing. Your words will remind me to conquer my impatience.

  36. What a fantastic story! Charlotte totally pulls you in as she bravely confronts “the wrong father”. And what a wonderful and unexpected twist at the end. Now I want to hear about “the right father.” I am curious about what her mother has to say about all this. Fantastic piece.

  37. Powerfully real and tangible emotions expressed and surface in this piece; Losing Weight. Reminds me a lot of a course we were required to take while working with very young kids from traumatized backgrounds. Guiding each of those kiddos to finding a balance between the reality of their loss/experience and some positive memory in their brief past was a key discovery for both myself and the kids I was working with. This is meaningful writing on so many levels.

  38. Debra, I love your solo retreat story. I can so imagine myself in your shoes–or rather sandals. You are making progress. Those conversations with strangers who are genuinely interested in your memoir matter. They fuel us through dry spells. Good luck with your book. You’re getting there! — Beth Ann Mathews

  39. When an editor doesn’t know what a comma splice is, that’s a problem. You’ll never find a comma splice in a magazine like The New Yorker or The Atlantic, and the omission of commas after years and city names is now the norm in too much writing. The story a writer tells is the most important, but the writer can follow some basic rules about comma usage. As for students, it’s to be expected that they make mistakes. They’re students. But comma mistakes are unacceptable most of the time. There are no comma splices in The Dubliners. Joyce knew the rules. Then he wrote Ulysses.

  40. Small world! I was a PCV in Nepal 18 (education,1968-70). I was the first posted to Mukti High School in Pyuthan Ratamata,

    You must have been hiking the route in from Dang (Ghorahi) that climbed up to the Mahabharat Range with expansive views of the Dhaulagiri and Annapurna Himalaya, then following the crest eastward for some hours before descending from Tiram village to the Mardi Khola. That was the dry season route that began with a flight into Dang Tulsipur.

    During the rainy season when the flights were suspended, the route from Kathmandu to Pyuthan involved taking a bus down to Birganj, then Indian Railway connections via Muzaffarpur, Gorakhpur, on to Tulsipur Uttar Pradesh. From there, a bus up to Koilabas just across the border. Then hiking over the first range of Siwalik Hills into to Deukhuri Valley, and roughly following the Rapti River/Mardi Khola up into Pyuthan. Today there apparently are bus connections over all-weather roads!

    The connection between Dang Tulsipur and its namesake in U.P. was noteworthy. Tulsipur State was one of the original Baisi Rajya (22 petty kingdoms) of western Nepal. It consisted of Dang-Deukhuri Inner Terai and adjacent part of present-day U.P. During the Sepoy Rebellion of 1857-8, the Rani sided with the rebels against the British. When they lost, she went into exile across the border and the British annexed territory right up to the base of the outermost Siwaliks, so there is still no outer Terai belonging to Nepal along this section, and there are the two Tulsipurs commemorating the erstwhile rulers.

    • thank you for this wonderful history of the travel to Pyuthan. You have identified EXACTLY where I was hiking. Someone who knows the area now told me that it is now about three hours by bus from Ghorahi to Bhingri. What a transformation! Time and space compressed.

      • The old walking route from Ghorahi to Pyuthan went through Tiram rather than Bhingri. Bhingri probably wasn’t a destination until the road was re-routed further north around the headwaters of Arun Khola and upgraded to motorable condition. Nevertheless, the late Albert Clark and I must have gone through Bhingri during our cross-country trek from Pyuthan, to Dhorpatan during the Dasain holidays, 1969; without it registering in my memory or the photos I took.

  41. Ali, this is so moving. And courageous. I have been trying to tell a similar story for years and you’ve given me a little more power to do so. I hope you got some healing from this as well.
    Thank you.

    • I hope that your story finds its way out! More than the writing, hearing from other women has been an unexpected and beautiful salve!

  42. Thanks so much for this, Laura! Writing groups are a powerful thing — IF they are the right fit. You pointed that out, and I appreciate the mention of the groups you’ve joined, because a couple of them are new to me. As the former leader of a writing group in Kansas City, I developed a survey for writers who are looking for a writers group. It focuses on those very details you mention – what is your main goal in joining a group, how much time do you want to commit, etc. The survey is at Many thanks for this nurturing piece!

  43. I like how you have interlaced the voice of your father with your own feelings and responses and how you relate to your son. Well done with the back and forth. I can hear and feel your father.

    • Thank you for reading. And ugh, I carried so much shame for so many years about my response — I’d always assumed I’d react different. It seemed so out of character. May we change the narrative for those who come after us!

  44. This is such an evocative picture of little girls and their friendships. While I was reading, images of my older sister and my best friend appeared.

  45. Thank you for your bravery and vulnerability. It is so hard to be honest in writing, but that is what humans want and need.

    • I appreciate you reading! I try to ask myself, Is this actually the most true thing I can say about XXX? And if it’s not, I try to ask why. It is SO hard, but knowing it helps other women feel understood is worth it!

  46. Katharine, this is beautifully written and so honest. As a woman who surrendered to silicone at eighteen, your question “Will i feel it when its touched” is one i have rarely heard of a woman prioritizing, you know, her own sensations as much as the look. His honest recommendation for fat transfer was a quick peek into the world of implant complications. Congrats on choosing you.

  47. The world needs more women like you to share their voices and experiences! Thank you for writing this enlightening piece ✨🌟💖🙏

  48. Hello Katharine Emlen, what a moving piece. I’m a young adult college student who struggles a lot with reading and I don’t think I’ve read anything so easily. You words came easily to me and I never had to double back and reread something a few times to understand. I also especially admire how you talk about your worth and body going through changes with kindness towards yourself. I think any young woman reading this who fears of breast cancer or has it, this could really shine a light on their situation. Just wanted to share that with you! Beautiful writing!

  49. Love LOVE your style of writing… it’s not just letters forming words to be read on a page, you’re a skilled wordsmith who painted such a wonderful story that I feel that I not only know you, I lived the experience through you. I was transported into your world and I felt what you felt and I found myself smiling even as tears rolled down my cheeks. Thank you. Don’t stop writing! I can’t wait to read what you write next!

  50. This piece . . . ah, it’s got everything. It’s poignant and ferociously honest and laugh-out-loud funny and wise. Thank you for sharing this story; I’m giving it to everyone I know. That last line . . . powerful stuff, Katharine.

  51. Beautifully written, Farha. Especially the situation you are describing about a child and a mother’s interaction.

  52. 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! 💜

  53. 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.

  54. 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!

  55. 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.

  56. 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.

  57. 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!

  58. 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.

  59. “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.

  60. 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.

  61. 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

  62. 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! 💜

  63. 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

  64. 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!

  65. 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.

  66. 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.

  67. 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.

  68. 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.

  69. 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

  70. 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.

  71. “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.

  72. 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.

  73. 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.

  74. 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.

  75. 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.

  76. 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 – gorgeous work and most reasonable prices.

  77. 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.

  78. 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?”

  79. 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!

  80. 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.

  81. 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

  82. 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.

  83. 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.

  84. 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!

  85. 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….

  86. 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.

  87. 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.

  88. 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.

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

  90. 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.

  91. 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 : )

  92. 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!

  93. 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!

  94. 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.

  95. 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.

  96. 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

  97. 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.

  98. 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.

  99. 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!

  100. 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!

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

  102. 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.

  103. 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.

  104. 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.

  105. 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.

  106. 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.

  107. 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.

  108. 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!

  109. 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.

  110. 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.

  111. 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.

  112. 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.

  113. 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

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

  115. 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.

  116. 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.

  117. 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.

  118. 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.

  119. 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.

  120. 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.

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

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

  122. 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.

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

  124. 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.

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

  126. 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.

  127. 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!

  128. 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.

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

  130. 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.

  131. 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.

  132. 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.

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

  134. 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.

  135. 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?

  136. 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

  137. 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)

  138. 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.

  139. 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.

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

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

  142. 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

  143. 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.

  144. 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!

  145. 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!

  146. 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!

  147. 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.

  148. 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.

  149. 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!

  150. 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!

  151. 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.

  152. 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!

  153. 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.

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

  155. 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!

  156. 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.

  157. 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!!!

  158. 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!”

  159. 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.

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

  161. 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!

  162. 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.

  163. 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!!

  164. 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

  165. 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.

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