That’s not my name

DSC_0288I didn’t expect to post again so soon. My plan is to write and schedule. But I have a rant and nobody but the internet to talk to at the witching hour.


My name, my full name, is Jessie Bishop Powell.  But I get a lot of mail for the following people who don’t exist:


Mrs. Scott Merriman.

Mr. And Mrs. Scott Merriman

Dr. and Mrs. Scott Merriman

Well, Dr. Merriman exists. That’s Scott. But that other person is a figment. My first name is not Mrs. My last name is not Merriman. And no, it is not acceptable to hold onto a titular formula from an earlier era  when women’s identities were subsumed beneath their husbands’.… 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?

Read the rest

The Girl Who Hated (almost) Everything


She doesn’t look like a total crosspatch, does she? Don’t be fooled.

I raised my hand. “I hate writing.”

Mrs. McMullen came to my desk. “Do it anyway.”

“I’ve been to the zoo once. In Kindergarten.” I scowled at my worksheet.

“Write about that trip, then.”

“I got lost.”

“I’m sure you’ll think of something, Jessie.”

I wrote, “At the zoo, we saw the monkeys. They were very very very very very funny.” I made the ‘very’s’ huge so I wouldn’t have to cover the whole page.

Mrs. McMullen returned it. “Do over.” She kept me in from recess.

I wrote, “I hate the zoo.… Read the rest

2002 A San Francisco Odyssey

“Jessie, where the fuck are we?”

“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.


Kelly at the Presidio

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.”

“I’m starved.”

Kelly said, “That’s pretty low on the old priority list right now.”

He had a point.… Read the rest

Behind the Rising

J&SWhen 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.… Read the rest

Of speaking and silence

CarolineWithSky“Caroline, help Lisa with her seatbelt.” I handed my daughter her classmate’s buckle.

Lisa said, “I got it,” in her nasal, robotic voice.

Caroline tilted her head and moved her mouth, but nothing came out. Her words had gone away again.

I climbed in up front and scanned the permission slip. “Crap, Scott which thing are we going to?”

Scott finished clicking in Sam. “Which what? Yogurt shop?”


“I thought you knew.”

“Well, I don’t, and the paperwork doesn’t say.”

“I’ll go in and ask.”

“The teachers are right there. Ask them.”

A minute later, with the right destination in hand, we started out of the lot.… Read the rest

Warning: TMI to follow

schnozzMy driving distractions don’t usually take my eyes off the road. Sure, I punch endlessly at the radio buttons and pass things over my shoulder to the backseat passengers. And yes, I answer the Bluetooth and use it to call out from time to time. Handsfree is a Godsend. But I don’t text or even really dial my phone. I don’t whip around to glower at the small people sitting behind me.

But this morning I sneezed, and I came to a sudden crisis point behind the wheel. It wasn’t one of those “Ah-ah-achoo” sneezes where there’s buildup and prep time.… Read the rest

Because it’s my name

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.”

“What then?”

Mom beamed at the rows of beans, eggplants, tomatoes, and peppers. … Read the rest


Scrape-squeak-squeak. Scrape-squeak-squeak. Dunk-gadunk squeeeee.

“ I think we have rats in the attic.”  I stood in the hall looking up.

Scott came from his office and listened with me. “Attic fan.”

“But it sounds like The Devil in The Exorcist. You remember that scene where Ellen Burstyn tries to convince the housekeeper there’s a rodent infestation, only it turns out to be Satan?”

“Jessie, the only thing I remember about The Exorcist is that you said it was suspense and dragged me off to see the director’s cut in 2000.”

“It is suspense! And it sounds like it’s living in our attic.” I pointed at the ceiling.… Read the rest

Noise pollution

“Turn it down.” Scott’s face loomed as my door swung open.

“I had that closed.”

“We can hear you in the kitchen.”

“Yeah, Mom, it’s too loud.” Caroline poked her head under her father’s elbow.

“You’re only complaining because it’s heavy metal. If I had the Beatles up, you’d be in here dancing.”

“You’ve got Beatles? I want the Beatles!” Sam joined the fray with enthusiasm unreasonable for someone who should have been zoned out in front of the TV.

I clicked around until my desk stopped shaking with the gunshots of “For Those About to Rock, We Salute You.”

Scott rubbed the back of his head.… Read the rest