between authenticity and schmaltz

At the microphone, a woman with cropped hair and suspenders put her hands to her chest. “My love for you, Cheryl,” she said, “is a secret message between my heart and yours.” Cheryl put a hand to her own chest, her face lit, eyes crinkling. This was the start of the question and answer sessionContinue reading “between authenticity and schmaltz”

remembering your origin story

It was Halloween, and we stood in the alcove of the Monastery of the Precious Blood. My canvassing partner rang the bell. We waited. Normally we’d have left a door hanger and gone after half a minute, but we waited a long while. For as strange as we felt trying to convince sixteen Sisters AdorersContinue reading “remembering your origin story”

the difficulty of being real

I’ve graduated to a new improv class. Our first meeting, we sat in a circle on tiny chairs in the elementary school and shared what we hoped were likeable details about ourselves. “My housemates got me into improv,” I said. “Even their arguments are funny.” We got to know one another’s names with gestures andContinue reading “the difficulty of being real”

why do we expect our greatest creators to be perfect people, too?

Beyond brilliance, there is only one thing we revere more highly. It’s often subconscious, unstated, and for many of us, it is what makes a genius worthy of our admiration. It is goodness. In Genership 1.0: Beyond Leadership Toward Liberating the Creative Soul, David Castro argues that “the problem in our culture…is that we associateContinue reading “why do we expect our greatest creators to be perfect people, too?”

What it means to say only yes

“What exactly do we remember? Which version of our lives?” – Lera Auerbach, Excess of Being My improv friends have taught me a rule, the first and most essential to any improvisation: Yes, and… Yes, the plane is crashing, and we must save it; yes, this toboggan will win the race, and we have to buffContinue reading “What it means to say only yes”

Why the smartest people make the most mistakes

When I was five, I sat on the white stripe that demarcated the soccer goal—or nearabout—and picked flowers. My father was competitive, bothered. He yelled at me from the sidelines. Meanwhile, a trailing pack of children kicked the ball in large figure eights around the field. It was my first and last soccer game. IContinue reading “Why the smartest people make the most mistakes”

Five unforgettable contemporary (short story) characters

I’ll be teaching a creative writing course in the fall, so I’ve been shuffling, brushing, idling my way through all my favorite short stories, mining them for the best possible instances of pen to paper or fingers to keys. In doing so, I realized that plot–while important–doesn’t wedge itself into the crevices of my mindContinue reading “Five unforgettable contemporary (short story) characters”