“I’ve been lost since the Presidio.” Broken glass littered the sidewalk, and Scott had just stepped on a spent shotgun shell, its ruffled blast end an unmistakable sign of what had happened to the mason jars around our feet.
Scott’s friend Kelly, who had joined us willingly enough after lunch, said “The Presidio. That was awhile ago.”
“How long have we been walking?”
Scott checked his watch. “Four, five hours, give or take.”
Kelly said, “That’s pretty low on the old priority list right now.”
He had a point. What had started as a ramble along the waterfront to reach the Golden Gate bridge had delivered us to a neighborhood of thinly spread houses.… Read the rest
When I went to the University of Kentucky, the University had this little spot, it was kind of a depression in the sidewalk really, called the Free Speech Area. If you had something you wanted to spout off about, you could go there and trumpet it to the heavens. Sometimes, it drew actual protesters, and I think the odd prof might have sent classes there to say something. But mostly, the space was occupied by this old fart with bad hair and an ugly coat. He wore that coat rain, shine, or snow, and yes, he showed up in all those conditions.
My parents stood behind the house. My mother’s waist-length hair was bound into a ponytail, but my father let his curls tumble down to the middle of his back. Dad looped a narrow arm around Mom’s shoulders.
Mom said, “If it’s a boy, we’ll call him Jesse Bishop, after my grandfathers.”
“What about a girl?”
“I want something beautiful. Something that shines like the sun and glitters like a jewel.” Mom gazed out over her garden.
“No. I also want it to be down to earth.” She looked harder at the garden.
“There’s only one Eartha Kitt.”
Mom beamed at the rows of beans, eggplants, tomatoes, and peppers. She smiled at the neat green carrot tassels and the round cabbages.… Read the rest
I hurled down the Norton Anthology of American Literature. It was an undergraduate text, but heavy, and I had hopes. No. It ricocheted harmlessly off my windshield. Next, I tried the MLA Handbook. One bounce and it fell onto the pavement. A Reader’s Guide to Contemporary Literary Theory, Critical Theory Since Plato, The Heart and Stomach of a King, and The English Language: A Historical Introduction… Read the rest. All of them thumped against the glass. Some of them lodged at the top of the hood or caught in the windshield wipers. The rest cascaded down into the parking lot. But none of them started so much as a hairline crack.
Inside me lies a dinosaur in slumber, recumbent and half submerged. I try to keep her this way, because that terrible lizard roars destruction. But sometimes, no amount of medication can keep her from snorting to the surface, her enormous size swelling up through my skin and out my mouth. And on those days, I feel the boil. I thrash to free myself from the scalding heat. And my mania has teeth. She will seize you as gladly in her jaws as me. Or she’ll take us both down, hold us burning together until she ebbs back inside my skin.
I attended a mini-conference last week, and because I am me, I’ve been mulling it over ever since. It was one of these parenting seminars destined to be either spectacular or spectacularly dumb. I should assert here that my inner skeptic was expecting the latter.
A little background. I do not approve of parenting via the fluffy-cloud method. Scott and I once paid some $400 for a parenting course that was ALL 1970s schmaltz. The class text even used the phrase “hang-up”. Does it get more 1970s than “hang-up”? And yet, I loved that syrupy thing. Every annoying idea that irked me actually had practical applications that were anything but stupid.… Read the rest
Grad school exacerbated my bipolar. I’ve mentioned that before. And it took away my writing completely for four horrible years. And what’s worse was that I felt it going away. I took some creative writing classes and suddenly had nothing at all to say. Each piece was a struggle, and as I finished the final story, I realized that there simply were no more ideas. None at all.
It wasn’t just a matter of writer’s block. Writer’s block implies a hurdle that one can overcome. There was nothing at all in my way. I was still sitting down regularly, trying every trick I knew, and there was just nothing there.… Read the rest