It’s Just a Tornado

Our apartment in New Orleans overlooks the Mississippi River. At least that’s the way I remember it. For the last two days, the fog has been so heavy we might as well have been in 19th century London. That’s been fun, the rolling patches of fog, the slightly eerie sensation of driving through a deserted Quarter, a lone tourist hurrying across...

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Time for New Odd Facts

I attract spiders. I haven’t put up a Christmas tree—other than Tom’s little Target tree, which we never take down, it stays up year-round—in 10 years. I want an El Camino. I am afraid of ocean liners. I can’t spell, I have no sense of direction, I am a hyperventilating cook, yet I have lived for over fifty years. All my life, I’ve preferred...

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The Uncertainty of Being Southern

As my husband ate a haystack, munching away, I thought about my earlier conversation with the man at the fireplace shop. “Why are they called dog irons?” I asked. I only asked the man this question after walking through his entire 50,000 square foot store and not seeing one dog on the fireplace equipment. He said, “They’re not. They’re andirons.” Southern...

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The God Moment

I am struggling to get at something. The thing is important, undiminished by my fuzziness as to exactly what it is. It has to do with what is important in this world. Not what we are told should be important. But, for me, what is, in fact, important. The triggering event: I was sitting in writing group listening to the writers read their work...

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The Dog Cured My Arthritis

When I was 52, I began to lose the ability to walk. Arthritis in my left hip led me to quit modeling, quit wearing high heels, quit walking for my health. “You won’t need a hip replacement,” my rheumatologist told me, “for at least a year or two.” Determined to beat that projection, I undertook a physical therapy/yoga/stretching regimen. It was...

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A Novel I Love More than Christmas

At Beth’s Bookstore, I slipped a paperback from the shelf. I read the first line. That’s how I chose a book: the first line, then the first paragraph. Sometimes if I’m unsure, I continue further down the page. Then I either buy the book or I put it back. I’ve been burned using this method—occasionally, a book doesn’t live up to the opening—but...

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The Trenches We Dig

  In New Orleans working on a novel where the main character, a little girl named Jazzy, evacuates Katrina to her grandparent’s home in Jackson, Mississippi, I’m studying maps of New Orleans to understand the storm surge from Katrina while I’m sitting in the Bywater neighborhood, which is separated from the Lower 9th Ward by the Industrial...

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How Not to Choose a Freelance Editor

At Beth’s Bookstore, I slipped a paperback from the shelf. I read the first line. That’s how I chose a book: the first line, then the first paragraph. Sometimes if I’m unsure, I continue further down the page. Then I either buy the book or I put it back. I’ve been burned using this method—occasionally, a book doesn’t live up to the opening—but...

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We Got Plenty of Time

It’s six o’clock. The cab was supposed to be here at six o’clock. I call. “This is Ellen Prewitt? Y’all were sending a cab?” “You’re in Harbor Town, right?” “Yes’m.” “We’ve got someone coming.” I stuff the phone in my back pocket. Two seconds later the phone rings. “I’m coming to get you. You’re in Harbor Town, right? I’m on Park. I’ll be there...

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