Featured Stories

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86: Old Maid?

Old Maid? No one is in control of your happiness but you; therefore, you have the power to change anything about yourself or your life that you want to change. ~Barbara de Angelis By the time I turned twenty-eight, I had been teaching for seven years, held a master’s degree in education and was buying a home. I was surprised by my home-buying experience. As I signed my loan documents as an “unmarried woman,” I somehow felt I’d failed. I’d been so busy racking up accomplishments, I forgot to get married. Handling this minor oversight in my usual direct manner, I fell in love with a suave engineer. We met in the fruit section of the supermarket — he in an expensive suit and me in my typical weekend attire: sweatpants and a T-shirt. I noticed the waves in his thick black hair and caught his twinkling eyes studying either me or the grapes I was holding up for closer inspection. Embarrassed by my sloppy appearance, I moved on, only to run into him in several other aisles. Finally, he vanished, and I checked out, glad that my Oreos had been concealed from the well-dressed man by the three rolls of paper towels I was buying. Parked next to my box-shaped car was a sporty 280Z. Leaning comfortably against the passenger door was my now grinning Adonis... (more)
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87: An Accidentally Funny Life

An Accidentally Funny Life Keep your face always toward the sunshine — and shadows will fall behind you. ~Walt Whitman I was out of breath when I finally made it to my seat near the back of the airplane. I had run from one end of the terminal to the other, dragging a heavy bag behind me, my husband so far ahead that I couldn’t make him out in the crowd. It was impossible for me to keep up with his long legs and willingness to plow down anyone who got in his way. My having to say, “Excuse him, he was raised by hyenas” to all the folks in his path of destruction slowed me down even more. But my breathlessness that afternoon wasn’t simply my body’s response to unusual feats of exertion and apology. What Paul and I had done earlier that day — signing papers to buy a house in Oregon while on vacation — was enough to suck the oxygen out of anyone’s lungs. It also made me have to pee. I must have gotten up to run to the tiny outhouse in the sky twenty times during our flight home. As I sat in the on-board bathroom on one of my treks, I noticed my hands were shaking. What had we done? To be more specific, what had I done? You see, I was thirty-five, while Paul was only twenty-six. Clearly, I was the adult in the relationship, right... (more)
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88: Law and Order

Law and Order Discrimination is discrimination, even when people claim it’s tradition. ~DaShanne Stokes After leaving a crazy and abusive relationship, I decided to change my life. I wrote out my goals and put them on the wall. I enrolled in college at night and took self-improvement courses at work. As I made steps toward my goals, I started to feel better about myself. My self-esteem increased. My mind became clearer, and I started asking myself, Where am I headed? I wanted to do something different and challenging, so I took every job test I found, including one for the Philadelphia Police Department. The written test was administered at a high school, and I scored ninety-five percent. As part of the interviewing process, I took a lie-detector test and a psychological test at the police academy. After receiving notification in the mail that I had passed both tests, I was required to take the physical exam. When I met with the doctor, he instructed me to stand up to measure my height. After doing so, he said, “Oh, let me measure you again.” He did and then said, “You are a quarter of an inch too short.” I asked, “Too short for what?” I didn’t know there was a height requirement. A month later, I received a letter informing me I... (more)
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89: Serious Work

Serious Work Gain control of your time, and you will gain control of your life. ~John Landis Mason I am upstairs in my office in the spare bedroom playing solitaire on the computer. “What are you doing?” my husband asks from the doorway. “Working,” I tell him. “You can’t be serious,” he says. “I am,” I tell him. He shakes his head and walks away. I can understand his confusion. Playing computer games doesn’t command much work respect. Sometimes, he sees me with my feet up on my desk staring absent-mindedly at the birds chirping in the flowering plum tree outside the window. That doesn’t look much like work either. But work comes in many forms. I am a writer. When I’m writing a nonfiction article, I am all business, fact-checking, interviewing, editing. I can be at my computer for hours revising my piece until I get everything just right. When I am writing fiction, I have more leeway. I listen to the voices of my characters, which are not always ready to be heard. So I do other things — have a snack, putter in the garden, take a walk, bake a cake. Eventually, the characters talk to me, and I happily continue writing. If he catches me when I am having trouble with one of my stories, the doubts can creep... (more)