Home: A Story in Three Acts

A few weeks ago, I was asked to perform a piece of writing in front of people. It was scary and exciting.  I expected a few people, maybe 10, in a coffee shop who may or may not be interested in hearing my story. Instead, there were 150 people crammed into a small bar in mid-town Tokyo listening intently as I shared my writing. I was slotted the second to last spot on a Sunday night and as the night wore on I worried more and more that the people in the audience would grow tired and leave. Actually, I…

Limerick

As it’s St. Patrick’s Day and I am a writing teacher, I thought it apt to teach the art of the limerick to my middle school students. While their poems themed mostly around farts and each other, mine was more an homage of thanks to dear St. Pat for giving me one day a year to make inappropriate jokes with my students. Here’s to you St. Patrick! (Also, thanks for bringing Christianity to Ireland or whatever.) Nothing better than teaching a limerick, To those kids who pretend to be so sick, We can all thank St. Pat, Don our caps tip…

End of the World

“No regrets. Compromise. Sun will set. Sun will rise. And we will sing like it’s the end of the world. Raise our voices so they’ll finally be heard. Try to write us off, it just started to kick in and we’ll never buy the life you’re selling.” -Kevin Johnston, The Bright Silence My brother, Kevin, embarked on an incredible journey of self-discovery last March. He quit his job in Brooklyn, packed a backpack full of his CD’s grabbed his guitar and boarded a flight to Germany to play music. It was his first solo tour, and his first time traveling alone in…

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Almost Paradise

When you think of paradise, what do you picture? Sandy beaches with coconut palms waving in the breeze? Peaceful, clear water that looks as though it’s made of glass? That’s usually what I picture, but on Thursday I think I changed my mind. I think paradise looks more like this: and this and this To…

Mary Miller on Her Writing Process

Originally posted on JMWW:
Mary Miller is the author of the short story collection Big World. Her work has been published in Mcsweeney’s Quarterly, American Short Fiction, the Oxford American, and other journals. A former Michener Fellow in Fiction at the University of Texas, she currently serves as the John and Renée Grisham Writer in Residence at the University of Mississippi. The Last Days of California is her first novel. Curtis Smith: Congratulations on THE LAST DAYS OF CALIFORNIA. I really enjoyed it. In your acknowledgements, you thank your agent for wanting “to represent a woman who said she would…

The Story of 13

A big part of my job is to inspire young minds to think and innovate and write and create. It’s great. I love that part of my job. The other, bigger part of my job is the part where I have to set all my agendas aside and just listen. One of those times was today: “It’s cold today,” she said. “It is. Really cold.” I muttered, peering over my computer screen at her round, worried face. “You ok?” “No. Yes. Kind of I guess. I don’t know. No.” she replied. “What’s wrong?” I asked, although I already knew. She’d been asked…

If Phillip Lopate Broke Up With Me…

If I was dating Phillip Lopate and he wanted to break up with me, I hope he’d do it with this… (Lopate’s original poem, We Who Are Your Closest Friends can be found here.) We who are your string of dates feel the time has come to tell you that every Thursday we have been meeting, as a group, to devise ways to keep you in perpetual uncertainty frustration discontent and torture by neither loving you as much as you want nor cutting you adrift. Your true love is in on it, plus your boyfriend and your ex-fiancé; and we have…

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

I love everything about baseball: The silent anticipation before each pitch. The smell of peanut shells being crushed under beer soaked hiking sandals. The crack of the bat as the pinch hitter poles a long one into deep left.  Take Me Out To the Ballgame being softly chanted during the 7th inning stretch as young and old enjoy watching bloopers on the jumbo screen. The taste of a juicy hot-dog with just the right mix of green relish, spicy mustard, and sweet ketchup. The roar of the crowd at the double play in the top of the 8th to clinch a close win.…

What Would Virginia Do?

Do you remember those bracelets? You know the ones, WWJD? They were popular about 10 years ago, when the Jesus wave was reaching the dry shores of Greeley, Colorado. I mocked them then, thinking they were nothing more than a marketing scheme to get a young-fresh crowd of people into the pews. And they probably were. But the message they were meant to be spreading wasn’t too bad. And it finally reached me today. Now don’t get the wrong idea, I’m not pondering what Jesus would do if his grandmother was dying because he likely would react the same way I…

American Songbirds

Something happened to me last night; I managed to transform from a rational human being into a babbling idiot.  I met two of my favorite singers: Misty Boyce and Sara Bareilles. In fact, I was so excited to chat with them that I’m pretty sure I word-vommitted all over their backstage lounge. Sigh. Anyway, I strongly urge you to listen to Misty sing in the video I included. She is amazing, but the end of the video is conclusive proof that I shouldn’t be allowed to talk to famous people. In my defense, I can’t help it. I get so excited and…