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Martha and I have been friends for a long time. We have many things in common: our devotion to our children and families, love of reading and learning, delight in travel and adventure. In other ways we are very different. Martha is a scientist and a very logical, rational and analytical person. I am a dreamer. Literature and stories are my avenues into the wider world. Even though we spar on occasion over our different ways of processing information, we have great love and understanding for one other.
I love to tell stories, especially stories about my family. My friends are kind enough to listen, and when my sister and I get going, we might spend hours reminiscing about long-concealed memories. One of our favorite …

I'm dreaming of being a child again. When I didn't know much of cruelty and pain. When I didn't know what it was to watch someone you love slip alway slowly. When one of the coolest things in the world was to wait by the radio and hear the words "school is closed." Snow Day! The days where I spent the whole day outside in the woods playing until I finally heard Mom call us back in. Tire swings. Catching crayfish. Wading in creeks. Making bike trails. When the only time you could watch cartoons was Saturday morning so it was a big deal. Boat rides on the lake. Spending summer days at …

Late in February, Testwell Laboratories was convicted in New York State Supreme Court of falsifying the test results of concrete used in projects including the new Yankee Stadium, Freedom Tower and the Second Avenue subway. The news transported me to the summer of 1971, when, as an employee of Pittsburgh Testing Laboratory, I was responsible for the integrity of the concrete in major construction projects around Manhattan.

Let me state some pertinent facts. First, I was seventeen years old at the time. Second, I knew nothing then about concrete. (What I know now is the fruit of my study of Wikipedia and other sources). It was the summer before my freshman year of college and I was at …

Gina Prestopino’s mom was an insomniac, so she put out day and night. Her mother baked ziti at 11:30 p.m., for instance, when Gina and I were trying to sneak in from a date. Mrs. Prestopino was Polish and she learned to cook Italian for the mister; it was a culinary marriage made in heaven. Sometimes she put out sausage and peppers or stuffed cabbage. She never left the kitchen--canning tomatoes or beans, sweating through August afternoons, or perched on a stool at night smoking Larks and listening to talk radio, and always ready with an apple or ricotta pie.

Gina drove me crazy on several counts, but I pretty much wheedled my way into the family, if only to sit in …

Five years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer. The following two years I went through one treatment after another – chemo, radiation, a number of surgeries. It was a hard time for my family, especially the children. I have always been strong and energetic, the caretaker and the nurturer. Now I was weak, bold, sad, depressed and afraid. My husband, my sister and brother -in-law, my children and my niece and nephew were confused and frightened. No one knew how to deal with this new reality, but worst of all, we didn’t know if the treatments would work and what the future would bring.

The treatments ended and we started slowly rebuilding our lives. My body stared growing a bit stronger …

My sister and I grew up in an extended, old European family where togetherness was a central component of existence. We spent most summers with our grandparents in a small village in Serbia, and daily interactions revolved around a large dining table set on a breezy veranda. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, neighbors – people of different generations – anyone from the village – spent time there together.

We ate meals together, had coffee and cake, played cards, listened to stories and argued about politics. Many evenings my grandmother’s friends arrived and tried out new knitting or lace-making patterns. My grandfather’s war buddies came to share stories of old adventures and drink a glass (or two) of plum brandy. The mailman stopped by …

Approximately one in ten people suffer from a rare disease. Many of them are children. Meniere’s Disease is only one of thousands of the rare diseases out there. It is an incurable disease of the inner ear that causes severe vertigo, hearing loss, tinnitus, and a sense of fullness in the ear. The vertigo attacks can be very violent, cause vomiting, and leave the sufferer immobilized.

Meniere’s Wars-The Saga Continues…
We’re all familiar with the typical horror movie ending. The good guy battles endlessly with the bad guy and finally kills him in some heroic manner. The good guy smiles triumphantly and walks away. Meanwhile, you’re yelling at the screen, “You idiot, he’s not dead yet!” Sure enough the bad guy manages to revive …

My Former Private Student

In 1995, I used to teach private lessens to anyone who called in response to my small Yellow-Pages advertisement.
Once I had a student whose name I no longer remember. She was a 19-year old woman of one quarter Asian and 3-quarters European ancestry. She had green (or grey) eyes, shoulder-length black hair, straight white teeth, and skin without blemishes. The only flaw that I could discern was an enlarged pupil in one of her eyes—it was permanently larger than the other one as a result of a surfing accident—after a surfboard hit her on the head, the pupil waxed to a double the diameter of the other pupil. She was a very beautiful young woman.
She was taking …

It was my first birthday party - I was super excited, okay? So I'd like to preface this story with the statement that really, I'm a good person at heart. I really am! I'm a really good person - who just likes birthday parties. A lot.

As I said, it was the first birthday party that I had ever been invited to, and even back then, I recognized a good party when I saw it. The birthday girl's mom had clearly worked hard on this party - the decorations were stellar, the presents were beautifully wrapped, the cake looked delicious, and the mom had even gone so far as to make a special hat for the birthday girl.

I wanted that hat.
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The skin on Dad’s hands was dry, cracked, and marked with scars from years of physical labor while working in a machine shop. When he wasn’t at work with a wrench, he spent his weekends hammering and building the handy man special we fondly called home. Helping him on this solemn morning, and watching his hands, I was flooded with memories of my Dad and childhood.

“Hold still for a second, I almost have it,” I said. Dad dropped his hands to his sides. I slipped the knot closer, making it a little snugger, just the way he liked it. “Perfect, Dad.” Normally, he would have felt the tie to make sure it was as it should be. Instead, he said nothing, glancing …

Yes,it indeed was a world removed,not unlike the Walton's on thier own walton mountain.Although we didn't take all night just to say goodnight.We lived a simple life, it involved hard work and constant diligence, but it was a very satisfying exsistance.At this particular time i was four years old, i still retain many clear and good memories of the place and time.It was at my grandparents place just outside of pine bluff-arkansas.It was out in the boonies just off sulpher springs road.. the road down to the house was a rutted dirt road, you basicly set your wheels into the ruts and gave it the gas and like a slot car you were there. we had a underground spring fed water well that we drew …

Yes,it indeed was a world removed,not unlike the Walton's on thier own walton mountain.Although we didn't take all night just to say goodnight.We lived a simple life, it involved hard work and constant diligence, but it was a very satisfying exsistance.At this particular time i was four years old, i still retain many clear and good memories of the place and time.It was at my grandparents place just outside of pine bluff-arkansas.It was out in the boonies just off sulpher springs road.. the road down to the house was a rutted dirt road, you basicly set your wheels into the ruts and gave it the gas and like a slot car you were there. we had a underground spring fed water well that we drew …

Letter to my wife:

Dear —

Last night I was lost in a world that I hardly ever see, except when I am with you. When we embraced our very spirits, beings, souls melded, blended, intertwined together. Yes, you remember, I know, even after all this time, my daily situations cannot overcome it. As I lay down to sleep at night, with my window cracked open to allow the easing of a gentle breeze, coming in also on the reflection of the moonlight is a reminder of how your love has illuminated my heart, my very inner being with this wondrous thing that tells me to the depths of all that is me, “I am love, embrace me, never let me go, i …

Reverend Paranoia And His Psychotic Tales

Chapter 1

It is December of 1999, soon before my death, and I am sitting with my roommates smoking what I believe to be marijuana. My roommate Dave, who at his point is my enemy, sits next to me telling me to inhale deeper. We have fallen for the same girl, and she sits across from me watching as I hold the smoke inside of my lungs. I exhale and giggle uncontrollably at the two of them.

I went to sleep not knowing that I had already signed my own death. A chemical cocktail of stress and substance X were simply too much, and began eating away at my brain. …
My life so far is a series of diagnosis, a series of hospital trips, and a ton of trips to the pharmacy. However, none of which are for me. I have a brother with Aspergers Syndrome, a father recovering (ever so slowly) from cancer, and a mother in constant battle with depression. My house is a pharmacy, my emotions are not mine.

I am 17 years old, and my parents tell me i've "shouldered more than my fair share of pain" ... yeah, whatever. Growing up with a brother of Aspergers, an older brother especially, means that you learn to be what they are, do what they do, and say what they say, even if you view them as a fool while they do …

As in all countries, there are some aspects about Argentina that can be worked upon…one of those being litter and trash control.

As an avid lover of the creations of Mother Nature, and a person that has chosen to live in this country, this is one of my biggest struggles.

I have a hard time with seeing such an amazingly beautiful place as Patagonia poke-a-dotted with trash bags, candy wrappers, cigarette butts and toilet paper. In fairness, some of the wayward garbage is due to dumpsters becoming overfilled and the loose dog’s temptation to smell. But either way, the garbage that is strewn amongst nature has to be picked up eventually by a human hand.

So, instead of letting it drive …

Despite my plans to give up cigarettes once and for all, I enter the unventilated and disgusting Smoking Cube with Shea, a likewise unfiltered girl, to smoke her donated Marlboro Menthol light amongst other travelers. Dulles International Airport is filled with different kinds of travelers; some weary with the strain of thousands of miles already under their fanny packs, others disheveled and nervous to fly like me. I try to appreciate all of the interesting aspects of travel to distract my worried head. I focus on the people. I’d always heard glorious stories about airport reunions, but never experienced them. I want to see sons returning to the arms of happy parents after years of war, mothers embracing their children after week-long business trips, lovers …


Many years ago I worked as a Dominatrix, not exactly a prestigious job but it paid well enough and it was easy work. How many people get paid to beat up and humiliate men for fun?.

My clientele ranged from your average Joe to the rich and famous (ask me about David Carradine sometime), but (unknown to me or anyone at the time; my most “infamous” client would turn out to be one of the worlds most nefarious 9/11 terrorists; Nawaf …


In October of 1996, the last gift that my father gave to me was a long sleeved tee-shirt for my birthday—about two months after he died. If you are reading this story, you’ve read the words correctly, and if you’re listening to me speak, you’ve heard the words correctly—two months after my father died about a month shy of his 59-th birthday. It’s not entirely common for dead people to give gifts to the living, so the following will explain this strange claim that I just made in this introductory paragraph.
Prior to my driving my father to Queen’s Hospital in Honolulu at the end of May 1996, we as a family—my father Gregory, my mother Polina, and I—led …

Doppel Ganger

In 1993, some months after I sold my first reliable car, my second car was an
Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme which I bought used from a car-rental outfit (Alamo, I
think). The car looked good but had a curious personality—it always broke down
on major holidays and some weekends. I spent a lot of money on towing services,
and I came to know my mechanic at the G. M. dealership very well.
He was a white fellow with blue eyes and dark hair and beard; he was born in
Waipahu and lived in Ewa Beach. He spoke English inflected with Pidgin as could
be expected of someone who …
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