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Once inside the jail I was divested of all my personal belongings except my commitment ring, which I refused to give up. The paperwork seemed endless, but finally I was led to a booking room where a different pair of cops was completing the paperwork for another arrest.

As I waited on the bench, a beefy, spunky looking lesbian (I assumed) cop absent-mindedly brushed her boot back and forth over the rung of her stool. In my loneliness, the soft repetitive thud of her boot against the chair sounded to me like the heartbeat of humanity and gave me hope.

Before I was processed, they allowed me to make a phone call. The rules for using the phone were very complicated. I racked …

I was abandoned at 3. Fostered and dumped at 13. Alcoholic relatives til 17. Then I hit the streets. But I always felt a spirit guiding me. I survived horrific things. My 3 brothers committed suicide. I refused. Married for 20 years. Became a terrific parent of two beautiful successful children. Divorced at 40, and now a Cancer survivor (I think) only to be abandoned by my two loving children. Such is Life.

A number of years ago I was invited to South Africa to lead a 3-day technology seminar. As part of the deal, I asked to have my hosts arrange for a 1-day trip into a wildlife game reserve in South Africa and also a trip to the north side of Mt. Kilimanjaro. I was not looking for a group safari, just a personal guide that was trustworthy.

Everything was arranged and I left on a Saturday night, stopped in London and Nairobi, finally arriving in Johannesburg on Monday morning. In general I do not sleep on airplanes, this time I did get a few hours sleep over the course of 2 red eye flights. Needless to say I as a …

I always suffer from emotional hangovers in the wake of family reunions, but I am not exactly sure why. I love my family, warts and all. I look forward to the times we can all get together in the same city. Around the core of usual suspects buzz an ever-changing crowd of lovers, in-laws, friends, and hangers-on, so it is anything but boring, and, at the very least, the potential for people-watching and overhearing interesting conversations is great.

One of my duties for family gatherings is to provide the soundtrack for the event. I spend hours burning CDs, trying hard to include everyone's tastes. In my typical musical anal fashion, I attempt to include both "slow" and "fast" songs from …

When I wake up, the only wreath in the house is one of cigarette and marijuana smoke that lazily curls around the naked bulb in the ceiling of our studio apartment. I climb out of the top bunk of the bed I share with my younger brother. It's hard to escape the view of anyone in a space that small. My brother and my father are sitting on the floor. My brother talks animatedly of nothing, spewing out words that fill the air as surely as my father's smoke. My father sits in a full lotus, wearing a pink ruffled skirt, and naked from the waist up, taciturn, nodding sagely at my brother's inanities, his cheeks drawing in sharply as he sucks on a glass …

This is a story about heartbreak. Well, not specifically heartbreak itself, but that sinking feeling when you look across the room, and you realize, in that split second, that he's not looking at you, he's not smiling at you, hell, you're not even in the picture. You're not going home with him tonight. You're just some woman, with a huge crush, who he's sort-of known for two years, and suddenly you're feeling very small, and very much like you would like to jump up, tear out of said room, and run down the street screaming and sobbing at the top of your lungs.

But you don't. You sit there, your life spiraling out of control, staring at the ice in some vodka drink you …

I was born blue. Chord around my neck. C-section. The first wanted child in my mom's life.

When I was a baby, my father played Janet Jackson songs and "My Girl" on the record player. Dancing was always a daytime activity. I was a child actor and being this, I was his pride and joy. He loved going to his tuxedo shop and bragging about the fact that I booked a Pillsbury doughboy commercial here and a TARGET print ad there. My parents didn't get along though. They weren't a good fit. They bored each other and in the boredom, the climactic event was divorce. I rarely saw him. He didn't want custody. He wanted to travel the world in a VW bus with …

The old phonograph played Stars and Stripes as we schoolchildren marched out to Air Raid Drill. Nobody thought for one serious moment that the Japanese would invade the Queensland coast but Mr. Bytheway, our headmaster, had his instructions from the Department of Education and so march we did, to John Sousa, the flutes all a-twiddle. It all seemed very cheerful, appropriate too, since Queensland was by then teeming with American servicemen.

Inside the raw red earth trenches we were instructed about keeping our heads down. It was all a great giggle. In the rainy season we hunched, getting all muddy crouched over puddles in the sand-bagged trenches, anxious for the all clear and the piccolos to escort us back to …

It was about 10:00 one evening. It was late fall. I was sitting in my favorite recliner (in my underwear, as I recall) grading papers. I'm sure either the television was on or I had a CD playing. When I grade papers, I kind of zone out.

The phone rang. It was an acquaintance of mine in California. Without revealing too much, this person happens to have a legitimate and respectable career that includes a bevy of very famous clients in the entertainment industry. The reason I knew this person is that I used to write music reviews for an online indie magazine, and, as I had to include my email address, I got a lot of responses, both positive and negative (Ah, …

I’ve been reading a lot lately. After all it is summertime, and I am a teacher. Many often accuse me of having a job where I’m paid three months a year for “doing nothing.” I try to explain that I have a yearly salary which is spread out over 12 months. It’s like that old joke about the guy who went to order a pizza. The waiter asked if he wanted it cut into eight or twelve pieces. After musing several seconds, the guy responded, “You’d better cut it into eight pieces; I don’t think I can eat twelve.” Since I’m “working on” my doctorate (a funny little phrase we who have finished all of our classes but still have the dissertation to write use), …

June 9, Queen's Birthday holiday in the land of Australia
Fly to Beijing via Air China

The fact that the flight was relatively not full did nothing to reduce the noise level – seems always so whenever there are a big number of chinese passengers. Adults talked recklessly loud while keeping the stewardesses on their toes. Babies cried non-stop to their hearts’ content, taking pleasure to abuse the ears of the adults who had nowhere to duck for the next eleven hours. Yes, thus is the reality of the Economy Class in a Chinese aircraft, the most effective damper to any sense of romance one has projected on travel! Only one should really stop complaining when it's the cheapest and most affordable …

Sundry memories sweetened by Lilac’s nectar
Whole life packed into one suitcase
Aimless studies to please other people
Life’s dream helplessly forgotten and misconstrued
Fighting fearlessly back with forgone emotions
Unraveling life’s greatest mysteries to feel happy.

Yes, Dad. Yes, Mom. Yes, Sis A. Yes, Sis B.
Yes, I will play tennis. Yes, I will swim. Yes, I will take piano lessons.
Yes, I did not do good enough on the test. Yes, I need to study harder.
Yes, journalism major will be a waste of my time. Yes, I will pick a more practical major.
Yes, I will work for this company. Yes, I will learn as much as I can so one day I can start my own business.
Yes, it is a good idea to go to China to learn Chinese.
Yes, it is time I join the family business.
No, I am not happy.
No, I don't know who I am anymore.
No, I have no …

The myth about my generation of women is we put off having children to establish careers. The reality: we were forced to become breadwinners.

"Don't worry about writing till you're home with children," said a freshly-published novelist at her Manhattan book party twenty years back. I was newly married, she ten years older. After a cubicle-defined decade, Sara got pregnant, went on maternity leave, and gave birth to her first novel concurrently with her second son. Thanks to her husband's salary, she never worked again. Already I had a sinking feeling hers was not to be my fate.

The fantasy: My husband …

I was born blue. Chord around my neck. C-section. The first wanted child in my mom's life.
When I was a baby, my father played Janet Jackson songs and "My Girl" on the record player. Dancing was always a daytime activity. I was a child actor and being this, I was his pride and joy. He loved going to his tuxedo shop and bragging about the fact that I booked a Pillsbury doughboy commercial here and a TARGET print ad there. My parents didn't get along though. They weren't a good fit. They bored each other and in the boredom, the climactic event was divorce. I rarely saw him. He didn't want custody. He wanted to travel the world in a VW bus with no …

I used to work part-time at a store called Media Play. The store had four distinct departments: books, videos, computer games and software, and music. My better-than-average skills in things musical put me in the music department where I spent my nights helping customers find what they were looking for and pointing them in the direction of music I thought they'd like. I was good at it, and customers would return seeking my help any time they needed the right song.

When I started my master's degree in literature, I had to reluctantly leave Media Play behind; I didn't have the time to spare, what with my studies. But, like a criminal who returns to the scene of …

I was a bit of a rebellious Cub Scout. One Saturday the den mothers had us pursuing a knights-in-shining-armor theme. We made shields from poster board, helmets from empty bleach bottles, and swords from yardsticks. It was great fun all around. We were to paint our swords and helmets with silver paint, replicating authentic armor, I suppose. While rooting through the supplies, I found gold paint and decided my sword would be different . . . more precious. For some reason, the den mothers were very indignant about my veering from the hoi polloi, and I'm not sure why. Perhaps it was because they had future plans for the gold paint; perhaps it was my perceived insolence. …

I am the youngest of seven children, two of whom died shortly after birth due to my parents' "incompatible blood." Something to do with "RH factors." Apparently, my parents' blood types were at war with each other, a condition that can be remedied easily nowadays with the proper medications and care during pregnancy. But in the 1940s and 50s, it was a real crap shoot. One way to look at it is to realize that I, my brother, and my sisters are lucky to be here. As a result, three of us have AB- blood, a type that occurs in a small segment of the population (My 10th grade biology teacher, Mrs. Schoonover, told us that the occurrence of AB- …

How on God's green earth can 16- to 18-year-olds be world-weary enough to be truly cynical? I recently heard a high school graduation speech in which the speaker (and the top of her class) assumed the audience would be relieved to hear a laundry list of all the things her speech would not include (and therefore waste our time?), such as Robert Frost's poem "The Road Not Taken." I think she wanted us to know that she wouldn't bore us with a speech about making choices, reaching crossroads, moving forward, etc. I suppose that to many teenagers today, those seem like useless activities. Not "random" enough? And to drag Mr. Frost and his magnificently misunderstood poem into the mix? …

I used to tell people that I only had two fears regarding aging: (1) hair growing out of my ear canal, and (2) having toenails that look like Fritos Scoops®. Well, I have hair growing everywhere and have for some time now. Gym class at Tyner Junior High School was an embarassment for me, largely because the secondary sex characteristics involving body hair awakened in me before pretty much everyone else at my school. Though the 70s were dawning, my classmates were ready for neither a hairy chest nor a moustache [cue classic 70s porno soundtrack featuring a sinuous boom-chicka-baio-baioooo electric guitar]. In fact, my mother had this preternatural fear of my shaving for the first time, claiming that once …
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