Surprise! Tin House online has published my first piece of fiction in two years. It's one of the stories in the collection I'm writing about fundamentalist girlhood, inspired by my own childhood.
For the first time, I've written about the spiritual experience I had in my early teens, and how it helped me begin to heal from child abuse. This piece is also my coming out as having narcolepsy, and an exploration of how science and spirituality intertwine to make us who we are.
I have a new article up at VICE looking at how the death of a parent impacts kids' mental health. The response to this piece has been really moving. One woman shared how much she related to the main subject, Nicki, even though their experiences seem very different from the outset: Nicki lost her mother to an overdose in the U.S. and the commenter lost both of her parents to the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia. People have shared stories of losing their parents at all ages, yet many of the feelings are the same. Grief is a universal human experience that needs to be honored as a lifelong process.
Six years ago, my amazing grandfather passed way after a surgery to address an untreatable infection. He died exactly three months before my wedding. I was devastated.
The official cause of his death was kidney failure, but that wasn't the whole story. It didn't capture the role the infection played in precipitating his passing. His death inspired me to look into how little we know about antibiotic resistance and the damage it's doing. This piece is the result. It was a long reporting process, but I'm really proud of it.
I have an article up at Tonic on helping kids manage anxiety. My goal was to make it as practical as possible, so it has specific strategies on how parents can break down anxiety-inducing tasks and empower kids to face their fears.
I wrote a new piece about my grandmother, my namesake, a woman who's woven into my identity, who's present every time someone asks about our shared name, but whose death makes her a stranger to me. Thanks to Modern Loss for giving it a warm home.
Photo credit: Gina Meola Photography
My pick for editor's choice week at SmokeLong Quarterly is up. Micros are notoriously difficult to write, so I was impressed with the rich detail in David Lerner Schwartz's 'Safe'. It's also surprisingly complex thematically, raising interesting questions about money, sex and consent, and race.
"I slept with the teller in the vault, with all the Presidents around us green with envy."
This week's story is "Safe" by David Lerner Schwartz, selected by guest reader, Virgie Townsend. Collage by SmokeLong Quarterly.
Guess what! I'm guest reading for SmokeLong Quarterly this week. No need to bribe me with riches or baked goods. Just send me great stories of 1,000 words or fewer.
You've probably seen articles and news shows talk about babies who are "born addicted to opioids." I interviewed neonatal opioid exposure experts and a woman who grew up being called a "crack baby" to find out why being called a "baby addict" is both medically wrong and hurts children.
Here's an opportunity for short fiction writers: SmokeLong Quarterly, where I'm on the staff, is offering a fellowship for writers of flash fiction (stories of 1,000 words or fewer). The winner of the 2018 Kathy Fish Fellowship will be considered a virtual “writer in residence” at SmokeLong for four quarterly issues and receive $500.00. Each issue will include one flash story by the fellowship winner.
The fellow will also get to workshop their stories with staff, which may be the best perk of all. The most helpful feedback I've received is from our team.
Apply by Oct. 31.
I've wanted to write this piece for five years, since the day I read the words in my fourth great-grandfather's will: "I give to my Son William my negro [woman] Lucy and her six children now is his possession.” For most my life, I had heard that my ancestors on my dad's side were humble farmers. But it is also true that I'm descended from four families that intermarried to help form a slaveholding landed gentry in the South. The more I learned about my ancestors' lives, the m...ore I learned about the lives of the people whom they enslaved, and how my ancestors robbed them and their descendants of wealth, education, and in some cases, their lives.
When white supremacists chanted “blood and soil” in honor of a Confederate general in Charlottesville this weekend, they were invoking me and people like me. As a descendant of slaveholders and Confederate soldiers, I want to tell the truth about the evil that my ancestors perpetrated, the repercussions their crimes have today, and how I still benefit from their actions and white supremacy.
I have a new article up today at the Washington Post. Did you know parents who have extra breast milk can donate it to human milk banks?
I became a breast milk donor after I realized I produce more milk than my baby could ever possibly eat. As a kid, my mom used to recite the adage “to whom much is given, much is required.” She probably meant something like I should play the piano in church. Instead, I mail packets of bodily fluids to a human milk bank in New England. From there, the milk bank pasteurizes it, combines it with other donor milk to balance the nutrients, and then delivers it to NICUs for preemies. It's been a weird, incredibly rewarding experience. I highly recommend it if you can.
My husband probably saved a life today. He went to the Red Cross and donated platelets, which help form clots and stop bleeding. We pretty much constantly have a nation-wide shortage of platelets.
He decided to donate after we read about Lauren Bloomstein, a first-time mom who died 20 hours after giving birth to her only child (see her story here: https://www.propublica.org/…/die-in-childbirth-maternal-dea…). Lauren had a hemorrhagic stroke after her blood pressure spiked fol...lowing delivery. Surgery could have saved her life, but the New Jersey hospital where she delivered didn't have any platelets on site, and wasn't able to get any for hours because of the platelet shortage. By the time a batch arrived and they could perform the surgery, a CT scan confirmed that her brain activity had stopped.
Blood product shortages cost people their lives. Donating can help save them. If you meet the eligibility requirements (http://www.redcrossblood.org/donat…/eligibility-requirements), make an appointment.
The SmokeLong staff have read more than 300 flash fiction fellowship applications since the fall, each with four pieces. That's more than 1,200 stories, or up to 1,200,000 words. It's been one of the most intense, rewarding reading experiences of my life. Now we're down to 13 finalists, and even I'm excited to find out who will be our next fellow.
It was tough, but we've narrowed it down to 13 finalists for the Kathy Fish Fellowship. Thanks to everyone who submitted this year. We were stunned by the talent in our queue.