Before I Had Kids

Warning to all who enter our building, the water seems to be contaminated! Seriously, there are at least six women in our school who are expecting babies, all within months of each other. Saying it is in the water may be an understatement. We are completely surrounded. No joke. Of course, when you have even one pregnant lady around, all the women within 100 feet chime in with their stories of bringing life into the world, imagine what it is like with five or six. Whole lunch time conversations revolve around weird food cravings, stretch marks and random strangers touching their bellies, breast feeding vs. bottles, the struggle of getting … Read more…

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Nanny Cam

I crouched over a computer in the darkness of the basement. It was still early morning, my family dead asleep. The computer had one purpose: store video from the nanny cam placed in my son’s room.  I’d placed it one week ago while he was at Saturday’s Baseball practice. It sat on his desk, disguised inside a candy dispenser. From the vantage point it captured all but the entrance.  I heaved a breath, anticipating what I might find. I had begun to suspect, and had looked for clues, but only recently had thought of this plan. I had to know. Had to find out.  The recording began right away with … Read more…

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Subterfuge

Ever since I’ve been confined to this damn wheelchair, I can’t really change my scenery all on my own. I have to get the attention of some orderly, raising my hand and waving someone over if I’m not near a call button. Don’t get me started about why I’m even here in the first place. It has something to do with the krauts, I know it. I enlisted with my friends, we fought, but they sent me home when I got injured. Hence the wheelchair. But why they had to put me in this place, I’ll never know. I guess they view anyone with fighting experience as a threat. They … Read more…

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Confessions of a Sister

Eighteen months into my life I was gifted a sister. I don’t remember receiving this gift, but the moment was captured in a photograph. Mom and dad placed her on my lap, my chubby arms wrapped around her, with mom on one side of me and my grandfather on the other. The look on my face is simple and complete adoration. My mom said that I told everyone who met my new sister for the first time that she was ‘My Baby”. It was nice always having a playmate; someone to be silly with and share a laugh. We made up games, played pretend and explored the world around us. … Read more…

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Helminthes*

With the light came the sound of the church bells.  The distant clang rose alongside the sun and the birds, like tiny, hungry angels, began to sing. People came from miles around.  Wagons rolled in on wooden wheels pulled by sleek strong ponies.  Farmers laid down tools; hunters returned their guns to the brackets on their walls. Women in bonnets and girls in calico dresses stepped down from carriages in their patent leather shoes.  The ground trembled slightly with all of the excitement. The sound of the bells continued.  Black and gray birds swept the sky, directing attention to the white church steeple; confetting the air with joyous wings and … Read more…

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The Starless

In what was assumed to be the terrible silence of space, the world searched for a source.  Using more than scientific equipment; using stories and heavenly signs, the world ‘found’ a creator.  It was not a man or a woman or some alien being, but an awareness; an invisible force that was said to rotate the globe and warm the lands. Questions were asked and eventually an effort was made to explain how life began.  It was decided by some that something or someone must be responsible for the conception of a planet.  It had to be this voiceless unknown that gave pure mystery a grounding.  It gave speculation a … Read more…

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A Love Letter to My Children

My most cherished ones, Love is ridiculous. It can turn a sane person into a lunatic in a matter of seconds. Love creates a passion inside your soul that is uncontrollable and irrational. It comes when you are not expecting it, grabs you around the throat making you gasp for air and wail as if your life were in jeopardy. It is the years of loving someone only to have them ripped away from you making you question what it really means. But, love is also beautiful. It can turn a distrusting heart that has been damaged by the hurts of others into a heart that wants to change the … Read more…

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The Beautiful Messy Chaos

I am grateful for the beautiful, messy chaos in my life because it means I have people and things in my life that make it that way. Where would I be without my people to love and care for and worry about? Mark was a retired volunteer where I used to work. I liked Mark. We talked a lot while we stuffed and addressed envelopes for our mass mailings and while we walked to the post office to deliver them, Mark pulling flyers and stickers off of power poles and light posts as we went. We got to know each other pretty well. Well enough that he treated me to … Read more…

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Billy Joel

For a couple of weeks I wrestled with the guilt, certain I had helped burn the building down. And why wouldn’t I think that? My still forming eight-year-old mind equated the facts: we had been playing with matches right alongside the building; the building did burn down. It did not matter that the incidents were several weeks apart. WE had burned that building down. How could it not be us? What were the odds? Now new questions swirled around in my mind: Who was I supposed to tell? Should I even say anything? I whispered with my sister, one of my fellow arsons. “Do you think we did that? I … Read more…

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Body is a Factory, Where is the Soul?

I sit in my class and listen to the professor talk about the heart. Not in a romantic sort of way, but as an organ; as a pump. His words are flat and technical as they pass by me but I try to grab them, I try to hold on to them as they drift up, over my head. “About every 60 seconds, your entire blood supply will pass through your heart,” the instructor says, turning toward the white board. I can tell he has repeated this story too many times. There is no inflection in his tone, no excitement in his voice as he says, “Blood moves quickly from … Read more…

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Abundance, Plums and Where Scarcity Comes From

You know why I believe in abundance? Plums. My Katie called a month of Saturdays ago and said, “It’s time.”   I have witnessed first-hand Katie’s 6’5” husband, Rick, standing on a ladder (making him almost ten feet tall) shaking that plum tree until it’s buck naked. (Butt naked? This is a running debate at my house…) In any case, Katie and the twinners, Emma and Caleb, and Riley, the incessantly barking dog, take cover because those plums rain down on us like purple hail, and we scurry to pick them up and put them in buckets. And buckets, and buckets, and buckets. That tree and all of the resulting … Read more…

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The Exclusion of Dusza

Deep down Dusza knew he had missed out. It was not something in particular like an event or an opportunity that he had passed up. No, it was Dusza’s general preset every day he woke up. Some people are “outgoing,” some “nervous.” Dusza’s defining personality trait was “excluded.” He stirred his coffee, clinking the rim of the mug over and over. He never even looked down. He poured the untasted coffee down the drain. He turned away from the sink and the kitchen window that looked out into the neighbor’s garden, full and bright and green. He shuffled back down the hall, dark in the premature gloaming that settled in … Read more…

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We Do Not Understand

A bus ride is like purgatory: It’s not quite hell, but it is a place that determines who’ll go to hell. And I wasn’t quite sure if Colby Mathews would be going to hell or not. The boy was evil, no doubt. But did he really have the malicious soul-stuff to burn in eternal hellfire? Maybe yes. Maybe no. His younger sister was cute. Hot maybe even. Okay definitely hot, but in a sweet, big-eyed, soft-speaking sort of fashion. It was the kind of hot other people’s sisters ought to be. My sister, Claire, was (Thank Almighty) not this or any kind of hot. She was instead the whiny, snot-nosed … Read more…

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The Scientist and The Assistant

The scientist sits in the middle of his lab on a old, wooden chair. His son built it for him many years before. He crouches forward and rests his chin on a cane, deep in thought. The scientist’s assistant waits, silently and attentively, near a polished steel workbench. His master can hardly walk, much less perform experiments. His hands are his master’s hands; His feet are his master’s feet. What his master directs, he does. This day is different, although neither the scientists nor the assistant knows it, yet. “Johann,” the scientist says, “mix the third vial with the fifth. Shake this time. Do not stir.” Johann complies. “Now heat it … Read more…

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Everything I Ever Needed to Know about the World, I Learned in My Garden

My first attempt at gardening didn’t look anything like this. It looked more like somebody launched a seed grenade behind my fence, shut the gate, and allowed the chaos of nature to do its handiwork. I referred to it as my Crack Plants. What can I say? I’m from the middle of the Nevada desert and was more like the Grim Reaper of Gardening than Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary – no silver bells or cockle shells up in these here parts. Still, I soldiered on, subjecting my strawberries to shade, forcing my potatoes and tomatoes to live next to each other (just because plants’ names somewhat rhyme does not make … Read more…

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Crab Legs & Spider Legs

At the grocery store today, over by the meat case, I stood looking at the bounty of seafood on sale. My eyes ran along the selection as I considered the possibilities for our evening meal. The shrimp were all there, pink and fresh and posing in a frozen curl on their sheet of ice. White fish fillets and red lobster tails lay in perfect rows under the glass but the overhead lights directed my attention to the largest display in the case. Alaskan Crab Legs, the little tag in the window announced along with a price that was too expensive for my wallet. I felt my stomach growl just a … Read more…

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The Man Chained Up in the Basement

My Grandpa and Grandma Raymond lived in an old, white farm house that had once been transplanted into town from rural Minnesota. When they first bought the house and moved it from the country in the early 50’s, they did not have money to finish the basement. The basement was dark, with just three ground level windows that were more like slits. It was cold; the walls were all gray cinder block style and the floor was a cold, gray concrete. Grandma had put down some big mismatched 1970’s green and orange rugs to help with the cold on your feet. Though, it helped very little. It had a funny … Read more…

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Write a Personal Mission Statement

Do you live your life as if you are on a mission? My mission is defined in my personal mission statement.  I wrote it in order to articulate the way I believe I ought to live my life.  A great life isn’t going to just happen to me.  I need to be deliberate, intentional, and purposeful in how I go about it and my mission statement outlines how I can do that. There’s a long and a short version. The short mission statement reads: I will remember in all things that I do, that I want to guide my life and my decisions with these qualities that I value most: kindness, honesty, creativity, and fearlessness. … Read more…

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