Friday Lunch! Weekly Blog

The Happy Heretic

With fanatical determination, I memorized the required lines to affirm I took Jesus Christ as my lord and savior, all the while thinking to myself, “I absolutely believe no such crazy thing.” After my baptism on that hot summer day, I finally felt like a proper member of my southern family, and not just the cousin from California-where-all-the-weirdos-lived. I was euphoric, enjoying Jell-O salad and sweet tea with my kin. But when I returned to California, Christian hymns and sweet baby Jesus were put away and forgotten.

Write Without Fear. Edit With Mercy.

A Love Letter to the Sentence

I hit a writing wall. I could construct a narrative and cast characters, but I didn’t enjoy the sentences I wrote. I didn’t know if they communicated what I thought they did. I could write one I liked every now and then, but I want to write well on purpose, not by accident.[…]

The Feeling

The first time my classically trained ears hear “Forty Six & 2” by the legendary metal band Tool, I was washing dishes alone in my apartment, music blasting through my Bose headphones. I had heard of Tool before, of course, but in high school my best friend wouldn’t stop talking about them, but, like everything else that was overtalked, I ignored them. I wasn’t really into heavy metal at the time either. I didn’t find much of what I was looking for in heavy metal, but I opened my Spotify app and search for Tool. What I really wanted to do was focus, and the way that I focused best was through classical music…

A Little Voice That Never Quits

I’m crying in the principal’s office, but I’m an adult. I’ve just quit my job at the school where I started my teaching career, and I’m telling my boss why. No, I don’t have a job lined up. No, it’s not because of any negative experience: I love this campus and the community I’ve made here since 2013. I just… need to go.

Writing in Conversation

Hearing someone else’s perspective inspired me. That’s what I’d forgotten. It was 2016. I’d lived in New York City for almost four years. I was still working on a YA manuscript that I started writing four years ago during NaNoWriMo. I’d had one short story published in a magazine, but that was a while back. I had a new desk job in the city where I tried to dodge invitations to go to Chop’t on my lunch break so I could write. I had a writing partner who lived in Albuquerque, and we were working on TV scripts together. Our G-chats about story ideas were fun, full of energy, and always gave me ten new ideas for our script. But novel writing remained a long and lonely process…

Amanda Woodard Wylie High School

Ecstasy Like Fire

My old creative writing teacher leans his squat body against his desk, his girthy thighs splayed across the seat of his swivel chair. I’m sitting beside him in one of those plastic stand-alone chairs with metal legs that are inherent to schools, and I’m sporting tight clothes that don’t technically break the standardized dress code, though some teachers in the halls give me looks. The way we’re sitting, mere inches from one another, close enough to touch, feels uncomfortably familiar, but I push the thought from my mind.

Skies turning green as a tornado approaches- Photo by C. Read

This Isn’t Normal: Climate Change from a Reporter’s Perspective

Thick clouds took over the sky as I raced down windy roads, trying to beat the impending storm. Against the strong wind, trees bent uncomfortably close to my small, red car. I zipped around tight corners hoping, more like praying I’d make it to the town hall in one piece.[…]

The Opposite of Silver Linings: The Big Comeback

This year-long hunker-down reset my rhythms to a slower, less eventful pace. The pandemic gave me an excuse to do what I would rather do anyway. I am loath to give up  sleeping until I feel ready to get out of bed. I don’t want to go back to traffic jams and parking tickets or obligatory events. Though I suppose that’s not entirely new. I am happy in sweatpants. I don’t miss zippers. Or shoes. […]

Compelling Characters – In life and In Stories

What do a Pentecostal minister, a hobbling chicken, and a German immigrant have in common? Me! The minister was my maternal grandfather, the chicken was a family pet, and Mr. Wagner was my flute teacher. Another shared aspect was their ability to sometimes completely baffle me […]

The Best Kind of Magic

Books have been some of the best friends I’ve ever had. They’ve kept me company when I was lonely, taken me on great adventures, helped me explore other cultures and worlds, and given me deep insight into myself and the Universe. But one of the most precious gifts I have received through reading books is healing – spiritual and emotional healing.

A Man Who Literally Goes to Therapy

A meme started going around this year that hit close to home. It goes like this: “Men will literally ___ instead of going to therapy.” There are many of them, and a lot are hilarious. They poke fun at deserving men (“Men will literally run for president instead of going to therapy,” “Men will literally invent Facebook instead of going to therapy”) and the toxic behaviors of literary characters (“Men will literally hide a portrait of themselves that ages while their physical form stays young and beautiful instead of going to therapy”).

What Will Become of the Millennial Wild Woman?

I feel I haven’t even made it to adulthood, let alone nearing menopause. My outer woman struggles to have a purpose, but inside I have never felt more capable. I’m panicked. I feel trapped in my body.

Becoming a Wordplay M.A.S.T.E.R. (Maker of All Sorts of Tomfoolery to Entertain Readers)

Like any young teenager, I was passionate about the things I loved and the things I hated. What I loved were my pets, which came in all varieties (dogs, cats, ducks, guinea pigs, birds), my funny storybooks that featured dorky kids like me (too tall, clumsy, self-conscious), and my writing, especially the comical stories I composed with my best friend Izzi (which we crammed full of wordplay) […]

Being Biracial: The Identity Crisis of Both and Neither

I have never felt like I belonged to a group of people. As a kid, I spent half my time with the white kids and the other half with the Asian kids. And through it all, I never felt like I truly fit. […]

And God Said: “Come as You Are”

What I came to see was that all my prayers are answered. Every time. I don’t always hear it, and I’m not always willing to do what I feel directed to, but that Love is always present…

Hood Century: Using Architecture and Psychogeography for Community Preservation

Last week I was scrolling through Instagram and saw an image of a boxy apartment building on the corner of Greenwich and Laguna in San Francisco describing it as having a “pop-up book feel” and I felt instantly drawn to it. It led me to the account Hood Century – a page devoted to images of mid-century design from the “hood” in cities all over America.

Never Enough: The Life and Trials of a Perfectionist

What I experience goes beyond merely seeking excellence and having high standards. I compare myself to others and become easily discouraged when I can’t match their success. Individual events and conversations haunt me for days, and I ruminate on what was said, playing out alternate scenarios until I’m so upset my heart races and my cheeks flush…I am a perfectionist.

Pregnancy 101: The Woes, the Rules, and Yes, the Swollen Ankles

Two blue lines. “Are you sure?” I asked my husband, Tom. One line on the white, plastic stick looked kind of faded. I peed on another stick. Same result: Two blue lines, this time, more defined.[…]

The Baby Step

When I have children, I don’t want to let them down. I also don’t want to let myself down. I’ve got a lot of career goals and life ambitions, outside of having kids. Life is a constant game of juggling, but will I manage to keep all of the balls in the air without dropping one? Can I manage to be an attentive, loving parent as well as a dedicated writer and journalist? 

Divorce and Happy Endings, or “The Great Mulligan”

As someone with decades of professional divorce-related experience, a child of a “broken home,” and a thrice divorced person myself, I have come to some conclusions about divorce. Mainly this: Divorce is good.

It's Time for Your Dental Exam

It’s Time to Schedule Your Dental Exam

I’m sitting in a stiff blue chair, reclined as if I should be relaxing. I’m scrolling through my phone to pass the time. There’s a TV in here, playing daytime television I didn’t consent to watch. Everything around me is metal.[…]

Close Listening: Paying a Different Attention to Music

My mom gave me my first record player when I was in college. I had been eyeing it for some time: a gray and navy Crosley suitcase player, one of the many that became popular at Urban Outfitters at the beginning of the new vinyl boom. I lived at home, commuting to the university I attended in Fort Worth, and I mainly listened to music through my iPod and headphones or in my car. I had never heard music on a record player, so I had no way of knowing if it sounded better, despite what vinyl purists might say.

Drowning in Numbers: How I Almost Drowned in the Ocean and Why America Continues to Drown in Covid-19 Cases

I hadn’t made it far when I heard a train-sized roar coming from the ocean behind me. I hung from my arms and glanced over my shoulder. A wave hit me, and I slammed into the rock and cut my chest on the mussels. I recovered, but the next hump of water was so tall, it would strike above my head. I had to jump.

Words Can Carry Weight

Do you remember when I called you late one night? I needed someone to confide in and you offered to listen. A scary event had happened to me a few days prior. I was having a hard time processing it because I couldn’t believe something like this actually happened to me. 

Is It Time to Panic About the Climate Yet?

I admit I’m a worrywart. That’s what my mom always said, “We’re a family of worrywarts.” In reality, we’re a family riddled with anxiety of varying degrees, from mild uneasiness to extreme panic attacks.

Bubbie’s Blog – Stardate 2020: Love, Fear and Zombies – Grandmothering in the Time of Corona

When I was a little girl, I climbed into my mother’s bed in the early mornings and snuggled up against her back. I remember feeling such a desperate love for her and also how that love was tinged with fear and sadness, as if she were somehow an evanescent, non-renewable resource.

Taking a Look at the Carnivore in the Mirror

I could feel the rubbery, nimble necks of the dead pheasants underneath my fingertips as I carried them to the sink to be plucked and gutted. My grip on their bodies was loose, making it easy to drop them quickly. I wanted to drop them, but I resisted.

Being There: Education in an Emergency

In my first year of teaching, an entire family came to meet me at our school’s first parent night: mother, father, daughter, and son. They were strikingly tall, both mom and dad my height, and the daughter swiftly approaching. The Samsons (names changed) dressed as if they might be headed to church, or coming from […]

Spinning Spooky Facts Into Fiction

Many years ago, when cops rarely arrested teenagers for trespassing in vacant buildings, I went ghost hunting with my forever friends, Marney and Janine. Our target was a building in an abandoned arsenal not far out of town. It was a moonless, windy night, perfect for a bit of misbehavior and mischief.

The CIA Believes in the Paranormal?

The government is researching what your fave ‘spiritual guru’ on instagram has been trying to sell you? And the CIA studied this in the eighties?!