The Bigmama Rose: An Easter Story

The rose is scraggly. Its head droops. The petals cannot hold their shape. It’s damn lucky to be here. One Mother’s Day, a long time ago, my dad gave my grandmother a rosebush. The bush was planted beside the lattice … Continue reading

No One Was Asking for It

One winter day, I was walking through the parking lot at Laurelwood Shopping Center. Laurelwood is a safe, comfortable place. I was in my late 40s. A woman stopped me. She was gray-headed, probably mid-60s. She grasped my arm and, … Continue reading

When God Bites You In the Butt

I try not to get angry at people when they disagree with me. It’s not because I’m a saintly woman. I’ve simply learned that when you get sanctimonious with someone, God will turn around and bite you in the butt. … Continue reading

It’s Not Anyone’s Fault Our Jails are Racist

The exploitation of Black Americans in my lifetime shows itself as mass incarceration. Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not calling those working in the judicial system racist. I don’t blame the white woman who confused my Black friend for a purse … Continue reading

Around the World in Love

What do London and San Francisco have in common? They are the top two cities downloading my short stores. Where in Canada—the third highest download site—are listeners downloading the stories? Everywhere but Nova Scotia—Nova Scotia don’t like Cain’t Do Nothing … Continue reading

Don’t Fall for the Ewing Effect

Cast your mind back to 1982. The time is the NCAA Basketball Championship. The game pits the Georgetown Hoyas, coached by the brilliant John Thompson, against Dean Smith’s Carolina Tar Heels. The Hoyas’ star is the new phenom center Patrick … Continue reading

Small Things I Do FWIW

I shop at the Family Dollar or Dollar Tree or the downtown Walgreens rather than the ritzy Walgreens because one does not have to exercise class privilege just because one has it. I choose to place myself in situations where … Continue reading

The Flexible Heretics

I shuffled clothes through the narrow hallway. Brick wall on one side, eclectic paintings on the other, I didn’t have much room to maneuver. I’d spent the week sorting my stuff (this pile goes with us, this pile to the … Continue reading

How to be a Winner in the New Normal

I’ve never been with a winner. Well, except that streak when the North Carolina Tar Heels won the NCAA Basketball tournament and the St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series and Peyton Manning and the Colts won the Super Bowl. … Continue reading

Dressing Up My Vote

Usually, when I vote, I dress to scare the other voters standing in line. I want them to look at me and think, “Dear God—she’s got the right to vote?” But this morning when I thought about casting my vote … Continue reading

Put Him Back in His Place

Why am I so mad about the presidential race? Because I’ve lived through this shit. I’ve been stalked while riding my bike, cutting and swerving through the neighborhood, trying to get away from the pickup truck, pedaling as fast as … Continue reading

Sic ‘Em, Brain

The young woman squirmed in her seat, responding to the hypnotist’s questions. She and I were students at North Carolina’s Governor’s School in the 1970s. In the lecture halls of Governor’s School, I first learned of quantum mechanics and the … Continue reading

Entertaining Angels Unawares

Like a water bug on a lake, he zipped past me, twirling around the display case, flailing his skinny arms, talking to himself, entertaining himself at the T-Mobile store. He was my favorite kind of child. A frenetic, voluble young … Continue reading

What the Hell, Dentists?

For all of my adult life, I’ve been flossing. Okay, okay. Not when I was in college–who needs to floss when the only thing going in your mouth is cold beer? And not when I was a young lawyer. Man, … Continue reading

How to Fail at the Race Talk

I failed at the conference for racial justice this weekend. I gave racially tinged advice to a perfectly innocent question that had no race element to it. I mistook one African-American woman with glasses and short hair for a different … Continue reading

You are Not My Conservative Friend

Two years ago, my husband and I went to Central Europe and heard the stories of those once neighbors—laughing together, eating supper, playing cards—who fell to pieces over “Serb” and “Croat” and “Muslim,” and began killing one another. We all … Continue reading

Don’t Tell Me about Your Assault Rifle

I no more want to know you like assault weapons than I want to know what kinky things you do with a porn magazine in your hand. You see, if you’ve moved past guns for self-protection into defending your right … Continue reading

Trusting in Life

The retreat had not yet begun. I was walking beneath the live oaks, crossing from the dorm room I would share with my cousin and aunt to the building where we would practice restorative yoga for two days. The gulf … Continue reading

Prayer, A Rule of Thumb

A while back, I conducted a workshop where I took my writing mentor Rebecca McClanahan‘s book Write Your Heart Out and translated the types of nonfiction writing into types of prayer. I don’t remember all the parallels (writing from joy, for … Continue reading

What I Love about My Life in Memphis

I live in Memphis on an island with wild edges and a dog who loves them as much as I do. I have a wood-burning fireplace in my house. I go to St. Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral where the Dean stands … Continue reading