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  1. What a powerful piece. I know Brittany’s family and I am excited about her soon to be released memoir, Hell If You Don’t Change Your Ways. Congrats on all you’ve achieved thus far! All the best.

  2. One of my favorite books in both its adventurous form and its content. I read it in one sitting and would do so again and again. This beautiful review really captured its essence.

  3. What an outstanding piece. Love and regret and pain all mushed together–we unwrap it and there it is, memory, freshly shorn.

  4. It is amazing the content of such a short read. The more I read the more I wanted to read. Anxiously anticipating more from you. Amazing read, Zina!

  5. To me this was such a compassionate and sharply observed picture of how the love between mothers and daughters and between sisters isn’t always fair in the way it’s given or taken but can be mediated by regret or grief, or even envy. That love is still real though—I think this came through.

    • Yes Indeed ,OMG- First I give thanks for this Amazing Lady, She soars,roars, she gets it done. I’m So so Proud of you making big moves, doing big things- I so enjoyed this, and it leaves Me wanting more- That’s when you know!!!!… May God Continue to bless you In ALL you do Zina. One Love❤️ Keep it Coming.

  6. Dear Zina, i loved reading your piece on writing. I look forward to your forthcoming autobiography. I can even hear you reading it and this gives it a greater force in my mind as a reader. Keep it up.

  7. Wow! That was an awesome read! It is amazing how much I can relate to what you wrote. I can hardly wait for your next blessing!

  8. In the short amount of time it took me to read this I was transported to a place of calm and serenity. Your writing is so vivid. I can’t wait for your short story!

    • Zina, I’m so excited for you and cannot wait to read your upcoming work. I am especially excited to read your autobiography about your military journey. Beautiful writing.

  9. Zina! Your writing takes the reader in and allows him/her to feel the undulation of the waves in your mind and movement. Looking forward to reading more of your work!

  10. I like this creative thinking “ways crashing”! I want more!

    Excuse me we’re saying this, You have mother’s snip-it but not grandmother (you’ll get there) creative thoughts becomes reality; say what you mean in the moment.

  11. Beaitiful. When Jeffrey’s mother rouses to “Under the Boardwalk,” I’m remeinded of a hospice patient who hadn’r spoken or opened her eyes in days but mouthed the words as volunteers sang a Christmas carol at her bedside.

  12. Very nice. I can feel the early morning and the “delicate and hectic” movement of birds, as well as all the memories.

  13. Your words captured eloquently the care you had for your mother, and the care she had for you. You can feel that kind of love go deep in the soul, as obvious as sun going down.

  14. I felt like I was there. This brought back memories of being in the Army working as a psychiatric specialist during Viet Nam 1971-1973 at Walter Reed Army Hospital. There was life and death all around me, suffering beyond understanding. All that could be done was to be there for them in any way that felt right. I could feel your fear and pain for too have been in your skin.

  15. Written from the heart, yet in such an informative and amusing way. Certainly gives me pause from feeling miserable about the unfortunate loss of my testicles. Kinda makes me want to tell myself to grow a pair.

  16. I love this, Tamara! I’m forwarding your terrific advice to friends as soon as I finish writing this comment. Thanks for the shout out, you da bomb! xx

  17. Well written Krishna. Bring on more. The universality of suffering – very moving and in so few words !

  18. I love this hermit crab essay! What a clever and humorous approach to a complex and hard experience. I just wish that the multiple choice answers (which are labeled as 1, 2, 3, 4) would match the language in the text (i.e. “Answer C, of course they all must go.” “Answer C, but they really mean D.” etc.)

    • Meghan (and Louise!) – Thank you so much for reading. And you are absolutely correct! This was a quirk with the WordPress formatting when we input the content during production! We’re so sorry for this snafu; it’s something we should have caught during QA, especially since the form is what makes this essay. It’s been fixed to match the author’s original draft and intent! Thank you for commenting and for your grace. 🙂

  19. I love the breathlessness of this story–its tempo–the way it lingers for just a moment and in the next leaps across time. Reading it a few times, I tried to figure out how Ms. Miller created this breathlessness and came away with one word she uses twice: Pfft. The tempo of the syntax is driven by cars and a bus, Miller’s non human protagonists. This is without a doubt my favorite coming of age story!

    If coming of age in my home country of West Germany took place by way of bikes and street cars and trains, in rural North America childhood was ended by (and in) private cars. (The song about American Pie, the Chevy & the Levy tells a tragic story about it.)

    In many ways the condition of the Chevy Galaxy works like a metaphor for the kid’s feelings about his relationship to his older brother. It’s broken and needs repair; it disappears entirely; reappears and needs fixing again; till finally, it will be replaced by a dream car, a new Buick. This promise of a closer relationship is in the boy’s imagination, a vision that he sees in the future; a dream of a relationship with his grown up, soon to be married, brother that actually works.

    But such a mechanical summary does no justice to the lyrical way Ms. Miller tells a story about a boy’s longing for closeness to his older brother. This is a fabulously crafted story and I can’t wait to read other stories by Ms. Miller.

  20. So, so beautifully written. Please write more. Keep submitting pieces ready for publication so that I can read them with my hazel eyes while sitting on my sofa in the room with two cats. — 73-year-old woman in Massachusetts

  21. Wonderful! I love how you interspersed the experience in the room with your memories of your Dad and thoughts about your own fathering.

    • Beautifully written. Such a mikafo stick build up. I think I held my breath for the duration. Scared silly like the character & then boom! A silly piece of fuzz. Exhaling at last…

  22. Such a beautiful, poignant story. It reminded me so much of the last days of my own mother’s life. I even have a bowl story similar to yours. Only I was an adult when I broke it.
    Many thanks for this lovely work of art.

  23. I have not had Covid, but I might as well have. I am losing strength from inactivity. I know I need to move more, but here I sit.

  24. What a beautifully written account of such raw emotions and heartbreaking reality. I am still weeping after reading this. To have such a deep love and know you will lose it is incomprehensible. Having known such joy in a marriage and accepting the reality that it must end is truly devastating. I witnessed it with my sister who lost her husband to a terminal illness. Sending healing thoughts to you…🙏🏻

  25. Great questions—and answers. Morgan’s book is a fascinating look at a family’s process with life-threatening illnesses, emotional turmoil, loss and resilience.

  26. Well done, Louise Bell. I’m sorry you had to go through all of this. You’re a wonderful writer.

  27. Wow! I am thrilled to read this beautiful essay and revel in your gift of words again. Long time reader and lover of all three of your books. I met you once, at a book club reading in St Paul. You are as lovely as your writing. Keep shining, Jonathan!

  28. This is a beautiful piece. A lovely look at the efforts of a daughter who regrets not a single act of love shown to her mother.

  29. Your story moved me beyond anything in a long long while. So rich and brittle and fat-thin and strong at the same time. And your writing convinces me that love exists outside the bathtub, too.

  30. Your tribute is heart rending and even though full of pathos not a bit sentimental. I had to go back to your first sentence to get the full tragedy of his life. Erased twice. Just beautiful writing — will look for other stories by you!

  31. I love the way you relate the island’s history to yours — great structural device! I don’t mind telling you that I had some (minor) belly responses to your ordeal. Fabulous story telling!

  32. Thank you, Jason, for humanizing Sleepy’s life. No one knows why he chose a sad path. Bless you for having compassion and gratitude. We need more writers like you.

  33. Carol,. Quite an inspired piece as I found myself , introspectively recalling images, situations sometimes loosing but eventually winning. And like standing in front a slot machine I too found my self struggling to let go of the handle knowing three 🍒 await , to sate my certainty.of a win….eventually!
    Thank you again for that great.composition.
    Hamburgers anyone?

  34. Dave’s heart, you and your tub, the views—-all of it pulled me in. That’s what good writing does.

  35. Trish’s writing is so evocative. Her prose takes you right into the kitchen. I felt the cold on my face from the open fridge door.

  36. Such a great conversation between two of my favorite memoirists. I found myself nodding in agreement as i read. Looking forward to spending time with both of you soon!

  37. “…it is possible to take care of yourself and not only survive, but thrive.” Never easy and sometimes awkward, but yeeessss. Wonderful interview.

  38. Carol, Love this essay. It’s upbeat, exuberant, fun and a joy to read! I can hear you saying each word and sentence. It’s You! Thanks for sharing and the uplift to my day. Debbie V

    • Thank you Deb! I’ve always enjoyed writing, and have learned so much over the last few years via Zoom writing classes.

  39. What an incredible story. It was so moving that I didn’t want it to end. Thank you so much for giving us a vivid snapshot of life in a trans family.

  40. Am navigating my own loss to suicide of my teenaged son. I found him too. Sometimes you need somebody who gets it. I’m sorry there are others. When I get to the other side, I sure as hell hope it makes some sense.

  41. I read this wondering how such a good heart is given such a rough life. Then my mind wanders down the rabbit hole wondering if you could talk to and live vicariously through the life and times of your asshole brother, would you take the opportunity?

  42. I always said after going thru what I did when our parents died in same yr…” I’m going to write a how to manual..”. Always have multiple cert copies of your self and partners documents. Birth certificate. Marriage cert. I bought 12 death cert. I used all but 1. And they must be certified. Which costs money.

  43. A beautifully written piece; albeit heartbreaking. I will eat ice cream cake with you any day! Xoxox

  44. Dad was surprised to find that each death certificate cost 20 bucks, and since he needs about 50. . . The death care industry is a complete rip off. Thank you for baring your soul and sharing, because it’s so important to make this shit known. Love you.

  45. Thank you, Lisa. The practical side of death is a hammer that many don’t see coming. Your notes are a true guide – especially about the death certificates. The thing I most remember about my mother’s death was being in a foreign place and having to drive out in the middle of nowhere to meet a family-owned mortuary who did cremations. It felt like an audition. This was East Texas and creamation was not the accepted form of burial. I felt more judgement than compassion. “You don’t want an urn? Any urn? Then how will you transport your mother’s remains?” (By halving them and sending one box to my sister in California and one box to me in Hawai’i.). Trying not to spend money on ashes was met with downcast looks and a cool demeanour as if I was some heathen monster, some sort of evil they couldn’t get rid of fast enough. I should be ashamed, that was obvious. And here I’m running around, emotionally distraught, and trying to sort out the business end of death while my sister is sitting in the ICU with my dying mother. Mom had a living will but she was in a Baptist Hospital in East Texas. It took me 9 days to get her off of life support even though she had a living will and I had power of attorney. I kept having to debate the issue with their lawyer and counsellor while my mother’s eyes pleaded with me, grabbing at her ventilator tube with her eyes begging me to enforce her wishes. So my mother is dying and I’m evil and cheap and a potential murderer, all from those ‘here to help’. The business of death. I was not ready for it either, but ready or not…

  46. Wonderful story full of the love, hope, protection and letting go that is parenting. Thanks for so clearly voicing it for all of us.

  47. Kayte says:
    March 22, 2023 at 8pm

    I have never been given the opportunity to “know” this fabulous writer and/or especially her heart. Thank you for exposing its’ depth with me and to the world that is privileged to read it…. And thank you for allowing me to see my beloved brother in a way that he was unable to show me…… and I thank your sweet daughter for sharing this gift to me…..

  48. What a remarkable and beautiful piece that shows a parent’s infinite love and capacity to pave the way in unchartered territory. Thank you for writing and sharing this!

  49. It takes a lot of bravery to share the writing assignments God has given you these past couple of years. Thanks for the tough, honest words. Judy

  50. The writing from this man is simply beautiful. The way the words flow together make the imagery of the content come alive. I was transported. I need more works from this talented author!

  51. A practical and poignant list. Our system makes it hard to be the one left behind. Thank you for finding the fortitude to share it.

  52. This essay was beautifully written. Every parent should be as devoted and understanding to their child as Ren is.. What a wonderful gift it is to have this unconditional love to give a child. Bravo Ren!!! Looking forward to more stories.

  53. Oh Jon – How good to read your words again. I still use lines from the Healing when speaking about the “calling” of birthwork. Your writing has always had a place in my heart and, even more, in my soul. This doula is one of your biggest fans.
    Judith Nylander

  54. Your writing is so strong- I felt like I was in the kitchen with you when your mom walked in. Thank you for sharing that story. Great job!!

  55. You are a gifted writer! I miss visiting with you in the back of the church sometimes. Keep shining your light!

  56. Thank you for giving voice to that quiet/loud/angry/sad buried Self that many of us live with – so many hopes and fears! I look forward to reading more of your work.

  57. Required reading for humans! Thanks to the author for vividly showing us what one family’s love for their trans kid looks like.

  58. So real and honest about the struggle of potential loss and trying to live with its inevitability. Beautiful and heart breaking at the same time.

  59. Wow that was a great story! Why can’t we just all love each other? That writer put her kid and their needs first 😉

  60. Jonathan your story is indeed sunlight therapy. I liked following you back home, and I think of my cousins back in Copiah, knowing that they likely directed their negativity towards you. I particularly am glad that James predicted your future as a writer, and glad that I am one who read a couple of your books, and learned from you. So very good to hear from you, love, love, love you, and all the esteem you have gathered and shared.

  61. The awakening of a spirit. A story that could have been lived and told a thousand times but I read it here first. Thank you Jonathan.

  62. What an incredible story! Thank you for sharing the thoughts and feelings of your tender years, when so much can snuff out that light and sparkle so easily. I’m glad that your story now has happier days in it and the success because of your considerable talent.

  63. My grandma has Lou Gehrig’s disease, she is about 75 years old it was diagnosed 2 years ago. Right now it’s getting more difficult to live for her, because of stiff muscles she can’t even move. Riluzole and Edaravone medicines are given, but won”t give much relief. She can”t eat food without choking. I thought this might be the last stage and the medications she was given did not help at all, so I started to do alot of research on natural treatments, I was introduced to Health Natural Centre and their ALS Herbal Protocol. She started on the ALS/MND Treatment last year, her symptoms gradually diminished including her vocal cord spasm, Body Weakness and Difficulty with swallowing. Reach them at health natural centre . org , She is getting active again since starting this treatment, she is able to walk again ( down the street and back )she have also resumed exercising to strengthen muscles!! God Bless all ALS Caregivers. Stay Strong, take small moments throughout the day to thank yourself, to love your self, and pray to whatever faith, star, spiritual force you believe in and ask for strength. I can personally vouch for these remedy but you would probably need to decide what works best for you.

  64. Absolutely beautiful work. So relatable to my life on so many levels. Thank you for writing this, thank you for sharing. Glad to have you around.

  65. March 7, 2023
    This was a very visual piece of writing weaving all the colors of life, fabric, mother, daughter, family. Thank you for sharing and taking me on a journey with you from the beginning to the end. A lovely tribute to your Mother.

  66. I went through this, too. Not in quite the same way, but it took me a long time to move from noticing that I was happiest when I was writing — to noticing that I was happy ONLY when I was writing, and no other time. The problem was not the girls.

  67. Thank you for this interview! I resonate with so much of what was discussed, even though my daughter’s depression did not knock her into psychosis, she turned to drugs to self medicate. As a mother, I experienced the same far, anger, loss, and determination to help someone who was “not there.” Sharing stories, I find, is the best medicine for moms.

  68. I recently lost my mother and I found my emotions reflected beautifully, wonderfully in this writing.

  69. Oh that first step takes so long. Lifting that 10 pound shoe and allowing it to drop 6 inches in front of you and then the nest step. What we put ourselves through before we execute. The result FREEDOM!
    Thank you for Stuckness

  70. The subject of this piece was enough to take my breath away. But then the richness and precision of the language (“the plastic dome WINCES open”), the matter-of-fact tone that comes with grief…wow. Brilliant. Thank you.

  71. Whoa! That guy was having a bad day! Wonderful
    piece , light and solid.
    It flew.
    PS saw your letter in P&W and had to look your published self up. Don’t stop!

  72. My favorite lines: ” ‘You think culture is just sarees and cumin and oil wicks? No, kanna,* culture is how you see, what you value, what you remember.’ And I realize it’s true. Despite my limitations, despite the deficiencies in my knowledge and understanding, there is nevertheless a legacy built right into my own foundation, infused in my blood and bones. It shapes how I think, what I honor, what I choose to write, and how I write it.”

  73. Notes on the Fragility of Bowls shows a rare depth of soul. It shows a courage to share existential reflections on personal life events. The images used are striking, at the same time real and symbolic. The hollowed maple burls, the coronation bowl and the clay pot, both broken and repaired, the jagged sutures and missing shard.

    This moving reflection is so much more valuable that what we often hear from those caught-up in mundane trivial talk and activities. There are past and present events that we cannot control or change. There are wounds, sorrows, and tears that have left their indelible traces on life and memory. There is the image of light departing through the wounds. Can the heart keep pumping? Can the light be replenished?

    Finally, we are left with the suspense of the incomplete future: “I will…”; and the shared love of the song of the white throated sparrow.

  74. I just found this in early 2023. It is so deep and touching that I want to read it again and perhaps comment again tomorrow. TMc in Ontario

  75. This essay has me searching for words to express what has been revealed to me. Things that I have just found about you, and things I’ve just found out about me. Ah, a ringing phone to break the spell.

  76. Oh Dheepa!! This is such a lovely piece – wish it wasn’t so sad!! You are an amazing daughter, mother, wife and a great friend! ❤️

    • Oh my god… it’s so so touching odhina… I could visualise every scene when u read every instance you mentioned and the tears rolling down my cheek..

    • So very well expressed Dheepa, but so sad to read, hard to contain the emotions!
      You are a fabulous writer!! Love and hugs !!

  77. A very energetic and moving vignette, really well written. I closed my website but you can find me at Jane Berger Herschlag.

  78. I loved your story, too. I did some dangerous things in my early twenties and luckily nothing bad happened. But doing them empowered me to do other kinds of things that weren’t physically dangerous, but scary for me, such as face classrooms full of kids as a new teacher, go for a masters degree when I didn’t even like school, train and run a marathon, and the biggest of all—face cancer. There’s always a fine line between life and death, but life is for stepping out for what we want/need even when we are afraid. I’m so sorry you don’t have your brother on earth anymore. But I bet he’s with you in spirit whenever you attempt to do something hard. Keep talking with him. He’s listening.

  79. It is beautiful writing. I have two people I cared about who killed themselves and you do wonder what that last day was like and you are left wondering for a long long time about everything and more.

  80. Oh, Joy! This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing the gift of your considerable talent in capturing all of the many emotions present in each of these moments.

  81. I absolutely love this beautiful piece of writing. My father was a gardener too. His hands were always warm. I remember my small cool hands warmed by his many times in my childhood and adolescence. He would have taken pleasure to did up a lily for me, just as Sayuri’s father did for her here. He was a constant in my life. Unconditional love. The images your writing evokes, “My father stands in a field of sunflowers”. “Day after day, lifting me up into daylight ” . “As he circled the bright fields”. Just gorgeous.

  82. The writing beautifully captures the grace and challenges of a devout life! The musings on the habit are especially engaging.


  84. Tim Hetherton brought me here- that was super interesting and fun to read! thanks for putting that all down!

    Chris Gibbs

  85. Nice piece of writing! To me, your experience has always been a secret history. I’d be interested in reading more!

  86. Beautiful piece! I love the way you weave in the process of kayaking as well as the myth of Demeter and Persephone!!!!

  87. What a great interview! A plethora of good information. I will be re-reading Candace’s book for about the 4th or 5th time.

  88. What an amazingly gorgeous story. What a great ride in a foreign land, (beyond Kansas) I could visualize every scene. So sorry about what you endured due to your brother’s choice. (((BIG HUGS))) to you.

  89. Thanks for your beautiful memory, Ryan. It’s so important to remember how we got here, and your story brought to light a few special vignettes of my own family tales. So many ancestors did so much to help me thrive in a world so very different to the ones into which they were thrust. At my best, their strength and wisdom live on through me. Your story underlined for me how much joy my family savored in my smallest achievements. I could taste the the contentment and gratitude in your postscript fish dinner. Thanks for prompting my own sweet memories.

  90. Hello Ms. Francis-Williams!

    I am delighted to have come across this story and you! Your biography says you grew up in the 60s and were immersed in the counterculture movements of southern California. As a graduate student, I am working on a research project around just that and, if able, I’d be honored to talk to you more about those things. After reading this story, I also wondered if you had ever published your memoir “Sassafras Tea and Cinnamon Toast, a life without ruffles.”


  91. today is December 23rd. according to your “when can you submit” there is a fee-free submission period from 12/21/2022 to 12/31/2022. I have tried every day so far, but Submittable still still demands $3.00. this is not about the money. This is about accuracy and being able to rely on posted information about a submission call. Can you please let me know how to access the free submission. There is a world of difference between pay to play and venues just welcoming written works. I await your instructions on accessing the fee-free option.

  92. Casey thank you for sharing a moving and soul gripping summary of these three novels that I am grateful to know about. It has been five years since I lost my adored 26-year-old son and I am hoping I will find my words to share this never-ending grief.

  93. I really enjoyed your memory piece, Ryan. It brought back all the details of going fishing with my father (though he LOVED it). Even setting trotlines.

  94. I love this essay, Maryam!! Finding compassion for the ways we are unique in our reading, writing, and learning is so liberating! Thank you for sharing!

  95. Evoked long ago memories of farm pond fishing in the deep summer heat, and left me longing for a seat at the family table. Ohhhh, for a taste of Mama and Mamaw’s fresh caught deep fried fish, hush puppies, and coleslaw! Simply lovely, Cressie. More, please!!!

  96. I once read in the Economist something to the effect, “Evil exits in the world and evolution has prepared us to recognize it”. This sounded right to me based on my experiences in life. I could make decisions that were not random, but the result of parenting I received and all other knowledge gained by living in different cultures and working with humans in these diverse cultures that would be considered, “The right thing to do” and these decisions would benefit me and be beneficial for the society. I have more recently concluded that many people make poor decisions because their envelope of knowledge is too limited to cope with misinformation. Further, I have concluded that most of those trapped in this limited bubble of knowledge will never have the necessary curiosity or incentive to be motivated to expand their knowledge which could allow them to have thoughts and make decisions which are better for them and the society. This has made me more empathetic towards these people and causes me sorrow that they will what the remainder of their lives trapped in small bubble of knowledge.

  97. Loved the imagery in this story- brought back many fond food memories of time spent cooking & fishing with my Missouri grandparents.

  98. A tender, vivid story that really transported me to place (and, naturally, inspired me to cook fish tonight). Well done, Ryan!

  99. Joanne I met you in person at the Library in Oneonta . I finished your book on 3 days. It made me laugh and it made me cry. As we talked about in Oneonta I can relate to your story. My husband had PSP. And while reading your book I felt like I was reliving my husbands battle with PSP. As Beany said your book is a love story. If my husband had had ax choice he would have chosen the same path as your husband did. Thank you for sharing your love story. My love story was very much the same as yours. My husband was a gift.

  100. A beautifully written story. It is full of sights , sounds, smells, and taste. It made me happy and sad and also reminded me a bit of Welty.

  101. Ryan, I love the richness of your storytelling – such a feast for each of the senses. You pry loose memories of my own childhood as you unwind your story, full of the poignancy of seemingly simpler times, comfortable and predictable routines, delicious home cooking, and taking life as it is. Your writing is both a balm and a nudge. Beautiful! I cannot wait for more!

  102. This is such a gentle poignant story — I soon got lost in the world you created. The car and the siblings, the fish fry and the hush puppies, the sense of time lost is all so rich. Love the way it brings you up to modern day- fish from Whole Foods, dining alone after the parade of people in the childhood house. This is a lovely piece of memoir writing. More, more please

  103. What a lovely story, so happy you have such vivid memories, and can share them.
    I would have liked to spend a day with Mamaw!

  104. Ryan, such a beautiful story. I feel like I have been transported to your youth – in a place that’s so different from where I grew up – in a way that is rich, warm and moving. Congratulations!

  105. Ryan, I so enjoyed reading about this vivid Mississippi memory. I can’t help but tear up thinking of my own. I too had a Mamaw that told all of us children we would never be a fisherman if we couldn’t bait our own hook. Congratulations!

  106. This story made me feel like a fly on the wall of someone’s life. So rich, so vivid, so delicious… Loved it!

  107. Wow, that made me feel so warm inside. It brought me back to the simpler days as a kid just playing outside with my friends and then running home to a home-cooked meal with my family. What an amazing childhood memory. I could really picture the whole scene. Loved it!

  108. Loved this story about family and fishing. I thought a lot about my now-deceased younger brother who adored fishing. Really felt connected to the characters in the story. Thank you for the sweet peek into what can draw families together.

  109. Ryan — Time travel is such a wonderful gift — thank you for transporting us. You have a gift for telling details — can see (and hear) Bubba jumping two-footed to the ground, the shirtdresses (for good and not so good) are vivid still and I can picture Mama at the stove, talking and cooking, lifting the edge of the fish to make sure it’s not too brown.

  110. What a great story, Ryan. It transported me back to Mississippi and a bygone era. It makes me want to grab a cane pole and find a little pond in the woods somewhere. Congratulations!

  111. Congratulations, Ryan (or should I say “Cressie”?) on the publication of this wonderfully detailed childhood story. It further confirms the rich truth of food being the key to life’s best memories. Is that really the hush puppy origin story? Never knew that!

  112. Loved this so much! It brought tears to my eyes. As the baby in the story, and being raised by the same women it is interesting how our experiences with these 2 women were different in many ways. I always knew they loved fishing but never really enjoyed seeing them fishing in the way described in the story. Their fishing days were over by the time I could remember. It was so fun reading the story from your perspective. You told it so well. Thank you for capturing this memory.

  113. You have a wonderful way of conveying your journey and showing how nothing is left behind.
    I really enjoyed your book, too.

  114. Oh, Ryan! What a wonderful story! I so enjoyed immersing myself in the beautifully crafted vignettes of a loving family and childhood memories. I can almost taste the hush puppies and brim. A bit of made by hand makes the tasty memory even better!

  115. I just read your story aloud to Terry! It’s so genuine, and directly from your heart. Details upon details create a warm and real response from anyone reading it. It was so visual. Terry added that your childhood was sure different from either one of ours! We love it.

  116. Such a lovely and well written memory Ryan, I really enjoyed slowing myself down to appreciate the nuances!

  117. What a journey into a time and place I sadly don’t think exists even in Mississippi.
    But maybe. I loved the relationship of the women handing down tradition through nature, activity, stories. So much love emanates even to us the readers. A gift.

  118. Such a beautiful story. I feel like I am right there. Also, love the inclusion of present day experience at the end.

  119. Ryan, thanks for that memory….I can see all of us gathering at Mamaw’s house at the holiday. Such a small house but so huge with love and good memories… it’s amazing how we all fit. I can feel Mamaw’s dress as I climbed in her lap in that rocking chair…..slightly worn but rich with her scent. I’m instantly brought back to images of her brushing her long grey hair at night before bed and rubbing Ben-Gay on her knees……LOL

  120. Ryan- Congratuations! I loved reading about your memories of Mama and Mamaw. Food is a way of traveling through time. Beautifully conveyed. Mary Pat

  121. Beautiful, poignant story with such an authentic voice – I’m sitting right beside you throughout! Great piece, Ryan!

  122. I loved Davis’s use of field peas.
    Loved Ronit’s Another one who wouldn’t be ours.
    Loved Randel’s and pulls herself into the rest of her day, week, life.
    Great examples departing an essay. The emotional leave always resonates with me.

  123. Ryan – This is fantastic! I was right there with you as a child – such sensual details — SO ALIVE! You’ve made me hungry for fish and fishing. Thank you for writing this. Karen

  124. What a delightful childhood memory… I could see and hear and almost taste every moment you spent that day with your family. You wrote it with such a tender richness, that I want to know more!

  125. Hi Ryan……….I’m so glad Denise told me about your story. You did a great job, good buddy. I loved the vivid memories, the solid setting, the accurate dialogue. Hurrah for you! Now I am waiting to read your whole book of memories. Keep on keeping on. love, carol

  126. Lovely vulnerable piece and learning to take care of our body and use the damn restroom when we need to is a real practice!

  127. I have read this so many times – I give it to my students – and each time it guts me. I watched my mother die, but I’m more afraid of how my daughters will deal with me dying.

  128. Wow, Christy. Love your review … but a great-grandfather hung for murder? Never heard about that. Can’t wait to read the book!!

    • What an intriguing review. You have captured the essence of a beautiful written experience.
      Can’t wait to read the memoir about your great grandfather..

  129. I love your description of the why and how of your memoir writing. “I write what I know and let myself move into what I don’t,” I wrote about my father’s tragic accident–or had to–as a way to order the chaos in my brain. Trying to claim structure to an unfathomable event brought a semblance of control. It took me several months to get through the piece published in Hippocampus (2017). Since then, I’ve explored more threads in the tangled web of trauma, each leading me to the place I need to go next.

    • Evelyn- I just read your essay! What a beautiful tribute to you father and vivid description of fear! It’s so beautifully written! Thank you!

  130. So well written. Loved every word and analogy, every bit of description…even had to look up a few words with which I wasn’t familiar. You’re a teacher and entertainer! So sorry you have been going through this illness. What a talented woman – you must keep writing!

  131. I am trying to put my story into words. Sometimes it feels like an impossible task. How can I hope to accurately describe what I am feeling, what I am thinking? Writing has always been a difficult task for me, but it is something that I am passionate about.

    • Hi Lily! I appreciate your comment on this post, and I would love to connect with you. I have a free online writing group that offers community and support for writers. You can email me at if you’d like to connect. Thank you!

  132. Alison – I found this story by searching Facebook for an old acquaintance from school. I am so glad I found you, but so sorry to hear of this. We were not close in school , but I often think about how your life turned out when you moved from Blan schools. I’m glad you have found a way to tell others your story, especially the young vulnerable girls/women out there. My daughter is 20 and I feel I need to have her read this and have that conversation.

  133. Being a cradle Catholic and a participating Catholic today, I could relate to your essay in many ways, although I am a female. It sure was refreshing to hear something positive about a priest, and honesty instead of bashing of our faith. Catholics do deal with a lot of guilt, some is necessary and some can be paralyzing. I’m glad you were able to talk to both of your parents (remarkable!) and even a priest about such intimate feelings. I have two grandsons who are 13 and 14 years old at present. Your essay helps me to think about what feelings they may be going through and to be more available to calm their fears. Thank you so much for your amazing essay!

  134. I just read this story today because I subscribed to CNF’s Sunday Short Reads newsletter. As a fellow ME/CFS sufferer your story moved me deeply, Michelle! I’m lucky to be more functional at the moment, but I still relate to the feeling of being left behind. Especially the part where you compare your isolation to being deceased. It’s a really powerful analogy.

  135. This is so so fine, and very sad. I wish I were with you ALL to help in some way. Please tell Marget that I love her and remember well walking (on and on) that arroya behind her home. So much Love to all, and of course Richard and to that Land. Keep me posted. Maybe we can arrange a visit when she gets back this way. And any help I can offer. Please. You have my personal email: 828.505.1925

  136. Megan, your questions to Linda elicit deep self inquiry that ultimately lead to catharsis and change. Linda underwent lasting transformation in the act of boldly examining and dismantling her family home, and its layers of heavy emotional import. Brava for your keen ability to crawl into the hidden corners of your subject’s inner world, where the secrets and revelations live, and bring them out into stunning light!

  137. The romantic image of the lonely writer is one I’ve cultivated for many years. I’m at a point now where I understand that writing (for me) can be a solitary activity as well as part of a community. Reading this was like the gentle but determined nudge I’m always trying to give myself about finding a writing group. Thank you, Laura.

  138. Sorry to hear your Dad passed…He was an amazing horseman. I have had horses in my life that changed me, made me a better person. I am more careful and mindful of how I view others and like horses I have learned to sense what or who I should avoid for self preservation. Every time I am with a horse- it is an opportunity to learn from them. Every time you touch a horse- you can either make it a negative or positive experience for both of you…never go to the barn mad or upset and take it out on your horse. Use that time to release that negativity and be in the moment- because you can’t get back that time.

  139. Yes that is a magnificent article! I am so pleased to see how you’ve devoted much of your life to bettering so many power disparities and social injustices. Only later in my own, considerably more modest career did I better appreciate the steep ethical foundations authored long ago by then influential development ethicists but now I sense are not especially embraced by today’s such younger professionals

  140. That rendition of a life that was not desirable, filled me with horror, and empathy. The horror for me, emanates from the reality that real life, unfortunately, sometimes, derives from this kind of abuse The criteria, and dialogue, was very vivid in its detail.

  141. Hi Katherine, just read this for the second time (after recommending it to Steve Z!), and it’s just as wonderful as the first time I read it a few months ago. I want to read more of your writing!

  142. This was a joy to read and quite enlightening. You brought a voice to a subject in need of one. Thanks for sharing!

  143. Thank you for sharing your insights. I am curious to know how you went about finding a writing coach.

  144. Your conceptual approach reminds me of author Andrea Barrett’s collection of short stories called “Ship Fever” published in 1996.
    I’d love to know if you are familiar with this compilation.

    Thank you for your marvelous story.

    • Thank you so much for reading it! I have not read Andrea Barrett’s work but will be sure to check it out.

  145. I love the imagery used in this piece, and the fragmentation you used — I’m a huge fan of fragmented narratives! Also, I really like the contrast between the Kudzu and peas, and the way you accept your heritage at the end, for better or worse. Truly beautiful.

  146. A beautifully rendered experience. I love this sentence: “Outside on the sidewalk, grave men touched their hats, children bowed, matrons shook hands — a dry and formal culture — but suddenly the air was rich with bells. I exhaled and almost skipped.” The parallels between the kitten and ballet dancer/narrator were mesmerizing.

  147. I love how real you were able to make the balance of wonder and worry feel to me as I was reading this beautiful “Foreign” story. And how your struggle is highlighted by the kittens failure.
    I also love your sentences such as “kindness slipped through their silent faces”, and “I wasn’t part of her struggle” that seem unexpectedly and almost painfully honest and reveal so much.
    A small unforgettable story that sinks deep.

  148. “They are compasses, children. They are maps by which we find our way home.” — I so love this! Wonderful essay.

  149. Exceptional writing against a ghastly backdrop. Bravo! I am so sorry for your experience and loss, but so warmed by your incredible resilience!

  150. Leann, your words are so beautiful. I am so glad to know that your dreams of being a cowgirl and a writer have come to you. Thank you so much for your courage and beautiful gift of this essay.

  151. I held my breath the entire read. Beautifully written to haunt everyone who reads this. Thank you!

  152. As your piece strives for balance between the fantastic possibilities of space above and the deadly nuclear weapons below, what I appreciate most is that your eyes don’t glaze over. Instead you hitch a ride to the stars on Handel’s Messiah, look back, and restore your sixth-grade hopes with a fresh perspective.

  153. You made me cry – that’s not the first time. Rachel, your writing finds a way of revealing and making beautiful what is in my heart but I didn’t know how to say. And of showing angles and perspectives I hadn’t considered.
    thank you.

  154. Love the way at the end that there’s empathy but without letting go of the acknowledgment of the damage done. Such a delicate balance and beautifully written.

  155. A year ago my best friend died in hospice. It was sudden that stage four terminal cancer. You described the whole experience perfectly, the horrid, the deep numbing grief. Well done.

  156. The isolation and loneliness of this story has really stuck with me.
    The feeling of being surrounded by people, yet having no one to talk to
    The novelty of Sundays in those cultures where everything closes to facilitate time to spend with friends and family is less rosy for the outsiders that have not yet created either
    The despair of hoping and failing to make it through the night when there could be help with the new dawn
    The last line shows how things have changed with time.

    • Thanks Kat. Yes, those Sundays were weird. I didn’t realize at first and planned to buy stuff for a picnic on a Sunday. To my shock, NOTHING was open. I was in Germany a couple years ago visiting friends and it has changed. There were places at the train station to buy more things than when I lived there.

  157. You show so deftly how family secrets can affect generations and how freeing it can be to embrace them and bring them into the open. Loved this!

  158. You capture so well the anxiety of being a stranger who does not speak the language. I felt like I was right there with you. And the image of the kitten dying has stayed with me for days–powerful!

    • Thank you Kathy. I keep thinking of the many currently forced into new countries, new languages. I had a job and intended to go. But yes, the kitty broke my heart.

  159. I was so on edge about what was going to happen with the peephole guy at the end! Wonderfully done!

    • Thank you Kathy, for your comments on my story!

      Your story “Pulses” is so beautiful, poetic, and heartfelt. I admire the way you entwine family life with plant life.

      Your conceptual approach reminds me of author Andrea Barrett’s collection of short stories called “Ship Fever” published in 1996. I’d love to know if you are familiar with this of compilation stories. They are truly superb.

      Let me know if you have read them!

      I thank you for your marvelous story—and your comments on mine.

  160. I am so glad I found this story! Deb, you are a powerful writer, and every word awakens the senses, connecting us to the heartbreaking experiences of the narrator. Well done.

  161. Patty. Hi, its clare Elton. I so want for you to be happy AND healthy. I always thought you to be the kindest woman with a gentle spirit. I thank you for that. Please take care❤

  162. I couldn’t agree more, and I think you are being generous. It felt shallow to me, with too many details of the circumstances and too little insight. I came to the book expecting Owen’s to connect the dots about specific books and what they offered, but she does little more than list titles. So what? Also, it was just plain strange that there wasn’t a single mention of her husband the whole time she was raising kids, having more kids and then falling in love with Kyle. Are we to believe that little detail of her life wasn’t part of her dilemma? A very unsatisfying read.

  163. Such a sad and beautifully written piece, I could feel all of your pain. And then your bio, I wish you lots of courage.

  164. What a beautifully immersive piece, Terri! There are so many incredible sensory details that evoke a sense of disorientation and loneliness and also beauty. Thank you for sharing this.

  165. Oh this is powerful, and in between the punches of humor, there is very real pain. I disagree that “you got yourself into trouble.” You were living, adventuring, BEING and the times were dangerous for women because predation was very real then too, just differently cloaked, also so often using an alias.
    Your story to me, illuminates this need to look very carefully at our circumstances. Sometimes a peephole is very, very necessary. Right, Indira?

  166. As a person who had undergone a very serious bladder cancer surgery. I could not put this memoir down. I thoroughly recommend it to everyone undergoing recovery . Brahna’s resilience to overcome her tragedy will be a guide to all our healing. Definitely pass on to all your loved ones.

  167. What a touching and memorable story. I loved the descriptions of the light, a new culture, the language. And I was so sad for the little kitten and for you. I found it heartbreaking no one would help…Beautiful writing. Bravo.

    • Thank you, Ann. I think the fact that no one took the time to help encouraged me to learn the language. I suppose its a human thing: I don’t understand you so if I ignore you, you’ll go away…

    • Hey Roz, Thank you so much. I just commented on your blog post about a memoir in essays and will subscribe. Sorry, I got the email with your comment here AFTER I sent the email.

  168. Such tragic and beautiful poetry. So many vidid and memorable descriptions:
    “fell from my mouth like tangled wire.”
    “rain was erasing sidewalk hopscotch.”
    “asleep in a pile of leotards.”

    Your story perfectly captures your bravery, loneliness, compassion, and sensitivity.
    It is a quiet and moving marvel.

    —Lotus Mae

  169. So many beautiful descriptions. My favorite: Re tGerman words “fell from my mouth like tangled wire.”

    • Thanks, Jacalyn! And yes, German can leave you with a sore throat, but I love the language now. Its rules are so different…

  170. A wonderful story. So vividly observed. It felt like Germany in the, what, 70s? And the kitten. Of course you never forgot her. I also loved the way you described how words behaved in your mouth. Well done!

    • Thank you, Anne. Yes, late 70’s. Because I couldn’t talk, I spent a lot of time looking and writing. If you learned to speak German after you were out of school, you understand what I wrote about the language. Jetzt (now) – an early tongue tripper!

  171. Hilarious. And scary – the crazy situations we get into when we’re young. Everyone has them, well, every woman I’m guessing. Your descriptions were visceral. I also laughed at the type of man you wanted and was thrilled to know you’d found him. I mean, you’re married, right…

    • Hi Terri. Thanks for your comment! I’m glad you enjoyed my story. And yes—I am married to a man that pretty much fits my description to a tee. Only he’s better than I hoped for. Thanks so much again! —Lotus Mae