An Open Letter to Neil Gaiman

20140515_105253One of the few things I anticipated, really reveled in, as an expectant mother, was the books I imagined my children choosing. I did not look forward to first steps, had low expectations in the “first words” department, and absolutely dreaded the thought of birthdays.

But books.

Two times, Scott read Winnie The Pooh to my swollen belly. We presented The Sneetches, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, and Henry and Mudge to our newborns, and we gloried in the first titles the children read independently.

We’ve been planning our kids’ libraries for years, pre-stocking our shelves with our own true loves.… Read the rest

Knife’s Edge

I talked with my sister’s ghost last night. We met in my grandparents’ kitchen as it stood before the house flippers renovated it into a room of stainless steel appliances and corian countertops. My grandfather was there too, disgruntled because the new gadgetry hadn’t migrated into the ghost house. He was annoyed with my sister and I, too, because, even with one of us dead, we couldn’t manage mutual civility.

“Sam’s nothing like you, really,” I told Amye.

She shrugged. She stared over my head, out the window behind the sink.

“For instance, he gives a shit about other people.”

Again the shrug.… Read the rest

The Tenth Circle

Sock Hell

Sock Hell


Our house has several circles of hell Dante never thought of. Today, I’m thinking in particular of Sock Hell. This is the underworld of mismatched socks, where no two look quiiite close enough to each other to be worn together in public.

But it’s worse than that. Sock Hell is a crowded place. In fact, because there are so very many socks in it, redemption is nearly impossible. The socks are damned as much because mates can languish nearly side by side, unmatched when one, perhaps is faded more than the other, or one (but not the other) acquires a fine glaze of pink paint when I tromp through something fresh I am coating.… Read the rest

Everyday poet

When Emma was a poet, she wrote books even the least well-read listener enjoyed. She remains popular now only in academic circles and lives off her investments. She stays indoors, cloistered by agoraphobia, though she hungers for companionship. I hold the Huddleston chair at our University because I am her translator, the one person who can still walk inside and carry her words out again.

She’s moving from her house to an apartment across town, and we’ve been packing for weeks. Her psychiatrist thinks this means she’s finally coming out of isolation. But she and I know it’s merely a new phase of her particular funk.… Read the rest

You Might Be a Geek If

You might be a geek if


These are the signs of geekdom in my house. What signs do you see on a regular basis?

What kind of geek are you?


“We’re looking for a parent for Caroline Merriman?” The woman calling me sounded professional and slightly worried.

“What happened?”

“She fell and chipped her tooth.”

The kids were at Starbucks, not two hundred feet from where I was answering phones at the ballet. I send them on a regular basis, confident Caroline knows when to come get me if Sam breaks down and Sam knows I’ll throttle him if he does anything too outré. It gives them an outlet when my volunteerism has left them stuck waiting around after both their classes have ended.

I knew I’d get a call eventually.… Read the rest


“Sam, why did you bite your friend?”

“I didn’t.”

“Oh yes you did. Hard enough to bruise. His Mom told me.”

“Mom, I didn’t bite him.” Arms crossed, Sam stomps. “I pinched him.”


Holy moly, cats, it’s been three weeks. The Nutcracker cracked my figurative nuts this year. But it was good, and the kids had a great time, except for the moment mentioned above. I’m finally hooking up with Trifecta again, just in time for the editors to switch things up and put Trifecta and Trifextra in alternating weeks. This is good. It isn’t like I have time for many more than 33 words this week, even with the annual cracking of the nuts behind me.… Read the rest

All the fish


When I eat Ritz crackers with cream cheese, I think of my grandparents, of childhood winters in Florida, of the briny ocean stink as we put in the boat at Wiggins’ pass. Mummum stocked the cooler with the three necessities for any fishing excursion: water for me, beer for the adults, and sandy cracker sandwiches for everyone.

But we didn’t use Ritz, God no. They were expensive, and the generic was good enough. We didn’t shop at the chain groceries, either, where prices were higher. We went to Benson’s corner market or the scratch-and-dent food store. The very fact that they had a winter condo and a boat nearly overwhelmed my grandmother, so she made sure the condo was part of a cheap complex at the end of Wilson Street.… Read the rest

Blood ties

Clarissa Drew pulled her dress tight over her rounding belly. “This fits too well,” she muttered.

Her husband went on shaving. “It’s driving me crazy.”

“My dress?”

“No. You know.”

“Owen, he’s not some Dickensian waif you can pluck up like Oliver Twist. He’s your nephew. He has parents.”

Horrible parents.”

His parents.”

“They aren’t fit! God only knows what the kid sees. Pot, sex, meth, whatever walks in that trailer door.” Owen drew an even line through the foam on his cheek and shook the razor in the sink.

“You don’t know that.”

“You mean I can’t prove it.”

“Same thing.”  Clarissa let go of the dress to rub his shoulders.… Read the rest

Therapeutic Interaction

Every Tuesday, Scott and I put on our wedding rings like armor. It’s easier than explaining, “We don’t usually wear them; they fall off. We won’t resize them. My grandmother touched them.” We dress in slacks and button down shirts. I strap on my ten dollar gold watch and poke through my golden heart earrings. He shaves as we drive Caroline to school.

Then he, Sam and I, jump on the highway for the hour-long commute to therapy. It’s exhausting.

We’re working with a graduate student clinic in Auburn. We’re very lucky to be there. The students, completing their practicums under licensed psychologists, have access to the newest theories, the things that might help Sam.… Read the rest