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Category Archives: Journal

Literacy through Mills & Boon

I take my literacy for granted. I was sitting at the Weymouth Library to use the free wi-fi (since my B&B didn’t have it) when I realized the two adult women opposite me at a table were working through a book together. One was the tutor, the other was learning to read. On this trip, […]


It was in the breakfast room of my small Oxford guest house where I started thinking about curtains. My server of corn flakes and coffee kept walking back into the kitchen, pulling the curtains behind her, closing off her work area from the public space where hotel guests were seating themselves at small, round, perfectly […]

Elliot Rodger, gaucho . . . and vengeful shooter

So his name was Elliot (not Elias) Rodger, and he was a junior at UCSB (mascot: the gaucho). I’m sure there will be interviews and comments coming from students and professors. Would his choice of major have given us any clues? Will Americans say, “At least he was a Brit and not one of us.” […]

Scraping off UCSB’s number 1 party school veneer yet again

My alma mater is in the news again. A few months ago is was a drunken fraternity “Deltopia” orgy of setting fires, overturning cars, and 100 arrests. This time, May 23, it’s mass murder. Elliot Rodger chose Isla Vista, the “student ghetto” west of the University of California Santa Barbara campus, as a target for […]

The day my music died

It would have been the summer of 1962, and Miss Etta James was on the box. Time stood still for me as she raised the gospel shout at the beginning definitely got my little-white-girl-in-suburban-L.A. attention. “Sometimes I get a good feeling A feeling I’ve never, never, never, had before . . .” Her gravelly vocal […]

Woman walks into a Denny’s

I’m not particularly proud of any of this, this eating out at Denny’s. It’s a chain, it’s been racist, and its red-and-yellow logo is not cool, hip, or artistic. But you get a free Grand Slam on your birthday (not everywhere, but at my neighborhood one anyway), the booths are comfortable, the service is great […]

Women sitting in cars

Have you recently been on the road with a useless woman? A woman who thinks she never has to serve the driver, clean a window, check the oil, or pump gas herself? Was it because I was alone on my latest 1,300 mile road trip and noticed how most women sit like sticks in the […]

103 minutes of Eastern drek

Film review: GERRY “A triumph!” “Provocative!” “Visually spectacular!” “One of the year’s 10 best!” (best what is not specified) were the blurbs on the back of this film I got from the library. The exclamation points alone should have tipped me off that this was going to be outrageously bad, and famously Bostonian Matt Damon […]


Actually it was East Elfinwild Road, Glenshaw, Hampton Township, Pennsylvania, and it was a hell of a place to drive–or learn to drive–a stick shift. A windy two-laner east up the ravine from the river bottom, East Elfinwild Road was lined with trees, so a sunny day threw quick, blinding shafts across a driver’s eyes: […]

My first transvestite

The red-haired giant from Tennessee was showing me his gowns, trailing his fingers in a reverie along the satin and feathers that hung in his closet. “This is my favorite,” he gushed, pulling out the hem of a silky blue number. A photo of him wearing that dress and ten pounds of wig and makeup […]