Things to Read


Reading List (pdf)

A million years ago, when I was a junior in high school, I took a humanities class. The school I went to was a lab school attached to a state university, so part of the deal was that the students were basically guinea-pig-slash-gold-fish hybrids. We were studied and experimented on. One of those experiments was this humanities class. It was team taught by one English teacher and one History teacher. We also periodically had observers from the education department at the university, sitting in the back of the room, watching us stuff our heads with information and try to synthesize it all.

I was 16 years old. That class broke my brain. Nothing I took in college came close to comparing, in mental difficulty or in the sheer mountains of work required. I’ve tried to explain the experience to others, but the response is usually, “Yeah, I had a hard class, too.” I’m not sure the experience was as universal as one might assume.

Last weekend I sorted through a bunch of old papers and binders, weeding out things I no longer want to hold onto. My humanities binders were in the pile. I flipped through them, and I thought it might be entertaining to put together a bibliography of the readings from the class. Four pages later, I’m starting to see why that class was such a monster. That’s a lot of material to ask a kid to ingest! I don’t know how we did it then. I know I couldn’t do it now, even if I treated it like a full-time job.


Mah Fightin’ Finger


I’ve been cheating a bit at this years NaNoWriMo. I’m doing the writing, but it’s not a novel. I’m writing a personal history (sounds slightly less ridiculous than “memoir”). A friend posted on Facebook that it was the anniversary of the Jonestown massacre, and that reminded me that it was also the anniversary of my family moving from northern Indiana to the tiny not-even-a-town Metamora, in southern Indiana.

We moved on November 18, and on the 19th, I crushed my hand in the rusty gears of an antique cotton gin. It was sitting on the porch of the house we’d rented, and the big kids were trying to loosen the gears. Don’t ask me why. I guess it seemed like a good idea? I put my hand on the gear, intending to help, at the exact moment the gears finally loosened and moved. My hand was was crushed, and I ended up getting a bunch of stitches. The ring finger was the worst, but the most visible scars are on mah fightin’ finger.


Commie Kitty

Commie Kitty #barrettes

It’s throwback Thursday, right? So. When I was in high school, I chopped off all my hair but left a long side tail. Which I braided. And at the end, I used a plastic child’s barrette to fasten it. I had a whole collection of them, but Commie Kitty was the best.


Hurry Up and Wait

I had a strange dream the other morning. I woke up then went back to sleep, which seems to be when most of my bizarre dreams happen.

My whole immediate family were living in my mom’s house, which is biggish, but not big enough for eleven people. I mean, there’s only on bathroom, for crying out loud. Totally ridiculous. Also, my ex-step-father was living there, in the present. I have no idea why.

In my dream, we all went to the local Renaissance fair, held in the town’s historic district. ALL OF US. At the fair, my niece disappeared. We thought she’d wandered off, but we came to the conclusion she’d been abducted. We tried to call the police, to report it, but I was the only one with a cellphone, and my phone had disappeared. We finally put two and two together and decided that my niece had grabbed my phone, as she was being abducted, because she’s a smart cookie that way.

So instead of calling the police, we decided to go home and wait for my niece to call us. Which she eventually did. And when she called, all she wanted to do was discuss random minutia, like what the kidnapper had fed her for lunch and what color she wanted to dye her hair next. I finally got her attention by telling her that she was going to run down my phone battery, if she didn’t hurry up and tell us where she was.

She told us that the Magenta Lady had kidnapped her, because she wanted a girl of her own. I have no idea who the hell the Magenta Lady is, but in my dream it made perfect sense, and it was actually a good thing. We knew the Magenta Lady wouldn’t hurt my niece. Also we knew where to find her. Also also, this information made rescuing my niece less of an emergency.

And that meant that the second half of the dream involved my whole family, who were all living in one house, trying to decide whose room my niece would stay in, after she was rescued. (Um, how about the one she was staying in before she was kidnapped? PLOT HOLE, AHOY!) After much arguing, my room was chosen. That meant that I had to clear out a whole bunch of crap, because I am–in dreams as in real life–a junior-league hoarder.

We spent all day boxing up junk and carrying it down to the car, to take to Goodwill, at which point my ex-step-father had a damn melt-down about how long it was taking us. He wanted us to hurry the hell up. Okayfine, but every time I took a box of junk down to the car, my mom had to go through it and take 2/3 of the things back out again. I yelled right back at my ex-step-father that it was not my fault we were late. I was bringing things out of the house as fast as I could, and my mom was taking them back to the house just as fast. It was like packing sand down a rat giant hole.

So then my ex-step-father stomped back into the house and locked himself in the bathroom. At which point I woke up.

That last part of the dream, where my ex-step-father yelled at everyone for taking too long to get in the car, and then having a melt-down and stomping back into the house and locking himself in the bathroom? Every. Single. Morning. He would yell at us for making him late for work, and then as soon as we were all in the car, he’d go back in the house and use the bathroom. Totally ridiculous, and it used to piss me right the hell off.



A family friend visited us multiple times over the course of several years and took tons of photos and slides. At some point, he gave them to my mom, and she asked me to scan the slides for her, since I have a slide scanner. This is just a few of the more general photos. These were taken between 1979 and 1980, in Metamora, Indiana.

Below the aqueduct

Foggy canal

Candle Shop (?) and Post Office



Canal and Water Wheel

Canal Days crowds


Canal Days vendors

Canal Days vendors near the mill park


Gristmill interior

Inside our woodworking shop

Me reading

Pets, Photography


Buck, my oh so creatively named buckskin Quarter Horse x Shetland Pony, circa 1982

Buck was a horrid, murderous shithead. He would blow up his stomach before you tightened up the cinch, so that five minutes into a ride the saddle would slide sideways and you’d fall off. He’d rub you off against fences and trees. His favorite trick was to find a low-hanging branch and bolt toward it, so you’d be knocked off. He also bit people, and if you weren’t careful he’d turn around and chomp on your foot while you were riding him.

He was only barely green-broke when I got him. I was nine years old and had no idea what to do with a horse. I got a quick lesson in how to put his tack and how to feed and brush him, and that was about it. I was on my own, and it was trial by fire. Parents: DO NOT DO THIS TO YOUR CHILDREN.

Pets, Photography



Bear showed up at our house and insisted he was going to live with us. About a year later, some pre-teen kids knocked on the door and claimed he was their dog, but he was having none of it, so he stayed put. I only have a couple of photos of him, and this is the clearest. He was some sort of generic farm Collie mix. Leggier than a Border Collie and without the characteristic crouch and evil eye.