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My Square in the Domestic Violence Quilt

Originally posted on Red's Wrap:PART 1 Thirty years ago, I sat all night on the sofa in my upper flat, smoking Benson & Hedges, with my mother’s green and orange afghan wrapped around my shoulders, waiting for my addicted, unpredictable, and sometimes violent boyfriend to pull up in front of my house, get out of his car, and use the key I had given him by mistake to come in and kill us all. After spending all night on the couch looking out the window at the corner intersection and waiting for his car to pull up, I showered, dressed, got my daughter ready for school, and went…

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Just Like I Remembered: High School Reunion

When my old boyfriend came through the door of the hotel where my 40th high school reunion was being held, three girls, wait, three 58-year old women scurried over to quick give me the 411.  “Clark’s here.” “He’s right over there.” Shushing and fluttering like starlings after the same bug, they gathered round waiting for…

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The Reflex of Deference

The inside of inequality, the cellular scrapings of being considered lesser than, lies in the reflex of deference. Deference is the wee tiny rock that women carry in their pockets, the signal to tell them to get out of the way, sit down and be quiet, to become small and unremarkable in the presence of…

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Cross Over

This is a story I’ve told before but sometimes, the first time you tell a story, it means one thing and when you tell it again, it means something else. It’s not a big story, no adultery here, no orphaned children. It’s not about a mistake made that involved a lot of weeping. It’s a small story with a lifelong lesson. Once upon a time, there was a young woman who worked all day and into some nights tallying up census data and writing reports about the various plights of poor people. She did this work for a big organization whose mission it was to fight poverty and racism. She…

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Do I Want to Be Cheryl Strayed or Her Mother?

It’s not that Cheryl Strayed hiked 1,100 miles, a trip chronicled in her book, Wild: Lost and Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. It’s that she did it alone. She chose to be alone. No cell phone. No hiking partner. No thin string connecting her to rescue. What I admire is not the hike because I think many of us could do the hike. I admire that she wasn’t afraid to be afraid. In a scene that will stick with me for a long time, she stops to take her boots off and rest her really messed up, blistered, damaged feet. One of her boots falls off the side of…

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The Melancholy of Sunday Night

It starts around 5:00. Before that, the day has hope. At 5:00, hope evaporates into little clouds of resignation that then gather and form a storm cloud of dread. It’s as if someone has given me a pill timed to dampen my mood and behavior late afternoon every Sunday. This has been true every Sunday…

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It’s Not Your Fault

I just apologized to the complete stranger that I snapped at five minutes ago while we were both standing in line to be seated at the Terrace Cafe at Beau Rivage Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi, where I have no place being because I’m not a gambler, I’m not into nightlife, and I’ve cut back so…

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Words in a Scrapbook

There’s nothing the matter I’ll be fine tomorrow Nothing can be done This is just the way things are I’m going to go lie down I’ll nap for a little while Would you turn out the light And close the bedroom door

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Not on the Rag but Still Feeling It

Is there possibly a more inelegant phrase than ‘she’s on the rag?’ Maybe. I’ll search for it later. My mother told me that when she was a teenager growing up in a small town during the Depression, she and her sister actually used rags that were washed and bleached and hung out on the clothesline…

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