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“Flash” by Caroline Paul (Audio)

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

By Adriana Widdoes

“Later it would seem fitting that my turning point arrived the way a revelation should: with a great flash of light.”

When I was eight-years-old, I was the only girl on my Little League team. For an entire year, I wore a dirty, backwards A’s cap to school every day. I spent recesses discussing the benefits of Mark McGwire becoming America’s next president with any of my male classmates who’d listen. I rarely smiled in public, refused to be dressed in anything “poofy,” and when my mother brought me home an issue of Girls’ Life Magazine, I returned it to her—I was not interested.

Call it being a tomboy, or call it plain, old-fashioned stubbornness. At eight, I believed that being labeled a “girly girl” would be the end of me. Many children (girls and boys) go through similar periods of figuring out exactly where they’re comfortable standing on the gender scale. To some it’s important, to others less so. But for former female firefighter turned writer Caroline Paul, proving tough in front of her male counterparts at the San Francisco Fire Department was the most worthwhile thing she could do—until her attitude almost got in the way of her job, a Moment she’d never forget. She narrates her story in this audio recording.

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