Meagan Lyle: Cavaliering Ignorance

“How did you go to college and not learn the difference between hate and justice?”

The barn smelled like manure as I turned on the lights. Immediately, the chatter between animals began. I could never tell if they were hungry and demanding hay or crying for help to escape the pens we kept them in against their will.

I cursed myself under my breath for taking this job without asking the right questions. For moving across eight states, for leaving a community I spent three years building to live in a small rural Vermont town close to my family. I was expecting sanctuary, peaceful nature, outdoor education experience. What I found was a glorified petting zoo with fancy barns and an expensive gift shop.

I heard a shuffle in the feed room and prepared myself to interact with my new coworker. Menial morning chores often invited conversation, but on this particular morning I wasn’t interested.

The night before, I watched footage of white supremacists reigning terror in Charlottesville, inciting violence across the nation. My mind played loops of domestic terrorism and hate speech and I searched for direction on how to resist. Lost for words.

“Morning!” Conor said cheerfully—as if existing on a different planet.

“Morning.” I replied quietly. I poured mental energy into sending every possible nonverbal signal that I didn’t want to chat.

I left the barn to feed the outdoor animals in the pasture—seeking solitude.

When I returned 20 minutes later, Kathryn, another coworker, had arrived. They were both mucking out the stalls.

“Have you seen the Vice documentary yet? About Christopher Cantwell?” Kathryn asked. Cantwell was a featured white supremacist, I found out later, who lived only 15 minutes away from us.

Great, I thought. Just what I was prepared to talk about this morning with these relative strangers.

“No,” Conor said. “But I saw someone from Burlington got fired because they were spotted in the footage.”

“Good,” I said. “They deserve to be fired and shamed.”

“Really?” Conor asked. “I feel like that’s a little harsh. I bet you wouldn’t say that if someone got fired from a conservative organization for attending a pro-choice rally.” He followed, too prepared.


Photo by Tabitha Dudley

Within seconds, my teeth clenched, my chest contracted and blood rushed to my head pounding violently. My brain sifted through thoughts as if experiencing grief.


You stupid asshole.
How did you go to college and not learn the difference between hate and justice?
Why the fuck would you say that?
You were way too quick to make this comparison! Have you been thinking about this all night?
No, it’s not the same.
Do you even know why women attend pro choice protests?
Do you know any women?
That’s literally the most ignorant reasoning I have heard a person use.


What news are you watching?
Why would you compare these things?
Why are you inquiring in such a nonchalant way- as if asking: isn’t annie’s mac and cheese the same as kraft? As if this was a simple and non-threatening non-triggering opinion?


This isn’t about partisan politics. This is about hate speech and violence. A life was lost yesterday. How dare you compare, referencing freedom of speech?
My face was on fire.


You are a 23-year-old white male. Old enough to understand, but clearly you have never grasped the concept of privilege or been challenged to question it. Maybe you need someone to show you truth unveiled.

1) Women attend pro choice rallies because for so long, men have decided, and continue to decide, what we do with our own bodies. Different life experiences bring us to these protests for a variety of reasons. We want autonomy, rights and safety to decide whether or not to birth a child- one of the hardest most painful things that the body can naturally endure. We want to choose whether or not to be a parent with all the responsibilities that that entails- just like fathers have that choice.

2) What happened in Charlottesville was a dangerous hate group that supported racism and violence against all people that didn’t have their “white” complexion. They were so violent that a woman fighting for justice died. Too young. They were so violent that people across the country were fearful. These white supremacist terrorists unveiled the hatred that has plagued america since its inception, something we still choose to deny as a society.

3) To compare a desire for individual and collective liberation, freedom and safety to a “rally” that preaches hate, inferiority and violence, is OUTRAGEOUS.

4) You wouldn’t know these to be different because you have never hurt directly from oppression. You have never feared being raped for simply walking home at night. You have never feared cops pulling you over and shooting you for a broken tail light before you have a chance to defend yourself. You benefit from this oppression.

5) But this white supremacy that you are defending behind the guise of free speech does NOT help you. In fact, it inhibits us all from living as our fullest, most vibrant and creative selves. It strips us of culture and attempts to make us all the same. But you would laugh at this. You would say; “Oh yeah, I wish we could all live in a world with rainbows and butterflies.” And smirk at the “hippy shit” idea. And that, my friend, is a shame.

Back to reality. My shovel, half full of shit, rested in my hands, my face was stern and my heart fluttering. All I could manage to get out is:

“You are so wrong. There is no justification for hate speech and violence. A pro choice protest is advocating for rights and freedoms- not preaching hate.” My voice shook and I walked away without allowing him the chance to respond. Water seeped through my eyelids and I tried desperately to find more cow shit to clean up until I pulled myself together.

I hope you read this, Conor. I intend on sending it to you. Because while you probably never gave this conversation a second thought, I am still churning over it five months later. That’s your privilege. Being able to say whatever you want without consequence and forgetting about how it could have hurt others. I hope your journey leads you to compassion so you can wipe that permanent cavalier smile off your goddamn face.


Meagan Lyle is a queer artist, organizer and educator who loves exploring the forest & cooking for family and friends. Her roots are in the northeast, though she found welcoming community and a warm home in the southeast after finishing school. She writes in an effort to understand the world a little better, which some times works and some times doesn’t. Meagan eager to start exploring the zine world by blending her passion for watercolor paintings and poetry together.

Lisa Sinnett: Publication Hangover


I don’t know how writers keep on with the mighty task of public honesty. Our responsibility to the collective human conversation is not only daunting, it’s painful in the most vulnerable and shaming way.

Take my recent publication of “What They Were Told” in Mutha Magazine.

Since I’ve been working on it for 10 years, it’s enough to give me hope that my voice belongs “out there.”

But there are always a few reactions that turn my stomach and make me grateful for my day job.

One professional editor in New York read the post as a courtesy to a friend who called in a “big favor.” He texted back: “She’s a solid writer. If she’d had an editor who cleaned up her errors and inconsistencies it would’ve been more powerful. But the errors were distracting.  She especially needs someone who doesn’t know her to read her stuff. They can let her know what parts she’s missing.”

Sensing an opportunity, my dear friend suggested that he, Mr. New York, could be that person? His “no thanks” came back so fast, I almost felt the burn in my fingers as my friend hung up suddenly, after mumbling, “Well maybe I’m biased in your favor.”

I decided to make myself feel better in the weird egotistical and self-deprecating custom of a true writer, and seek validation with a friend who “liked” my piece and got her ex-boyfriend to “like” it too. This friend is a nice suburban white lady who confessed that she befriended me because she thought I was Latinx. I don’t look Latinx, I just have a (weird for an Irish Canadian) olive complexion most of the year. She kept me on as a friend after she learned I was White, but she works the subject of race and Detroit politics into almost every conversation, so much that I feel I need to study up before I head to her house.

I step into her house after a brisk walk and she greets me with a detail from the story I just published.

Friend: Hi Elisa. So you have only one boob?

Me:  Uh, I have Poland’s Syndrome?

Friend: Yeah, but you only have one boob? How come I didn’t know this?

Me: Um, not exactly. You could Google Poland’s Syndrome?

Friend: But WHY didn’t I know?

Me: (running away thinking Because it’s not my job to tell you?)


I assume that most people are walking around with a boatload of hurt and it’s not my business to poke at them.

So, in case you’ve been worrying about it, the proper response to a writer baring her soul is

“Wow, you’ve really made me:

a) Laugh

b) Think

c) Fall asleep

d) Want to kill you.”


What not to say: “Are you sure you’re not making this all up?” Or “Or I feel so sad you feel this way.” Or “Tell me about your body parts.”

If I wanted to feel ashamed about my life choices, questioned about my truthfulness and morals, or have my body poked at and put on display like an exhibit in a freak show, I wouldn’t write stories. I’d build a time machine and go back to my childhood—and if you were there, too, I’d punch you in the face.



Lisa Sinnett, in spite of being deeply flawed, vulnerable and truthful, manages to hold down a full time job teaching high school Spanish in Hamtramck, Michigan, while maintaining close relationships with her family and working on her upcoming memoir-novel, Dispatches from Detroit

The God of Sluts

“I think about how Anabelle seemed to believe that sex was wrong for girls like us–and how just about everyone agreed, even the bible. But I am that kind of girl. And somehow, deep inside–in a place that has survived the shame that sets my life on fire every day–I know that they are all just full of shit. I just know that sex is okay, even for girls. And if god and the bible don’t know that, well then god and the bible are full of shit, too.”



The God of Sluts

By Chanelle Gallant



“Well, then I guess there’s no God.”

I decide this as I walk home from my best friend Anabelle’s house in the suburbs of Ottawa. I’ve just told her about my first consensual blowjob, with a boy named Julius. After he came in my mouth, I spat it out and said “no offense.” He laughed. I told her that part, too–how I was accidentally funny. She looked down at the ground under the swings in the empty playground where we were slowly swaying, her perfectly highlighted strawberry blond waves hanging around her face and said, “I didn’t think you were that kind of girl.”

Oh. Shit. Maybe not so funny?

Hot shame rushes across my face, the shame that accompanies every waking moment of being a fifteen year old girl.

On my walk home I think about what kind of girl I am. I think about how Anabelle seemed to believe that sex was wrong for girls like us–and how just about everyone agreed, even the bible. But I am that kind of girl. And somehow, deep inside–in a place that has survived the shame that sets my life on fire every day–I know that they are all just full of shit. I just know that sex is okay, even for girls. And if god and the bible don’t know that, well then god and the bible are full of shit, too. I choose blowjobs and joking with boys about their come over a god that would hate girls like me.

Fifteen years later on a bright August afternoon I’m sitting at a Prisoners’ Justice Day vigil at the Don Jail in Toronto. I’ve been going to protests and vigils and actions for years. This one, though, was the first time I’d ever seen a preacher speak: a tall, thin Black man with warm eyes and a white collar. He stands on a little patch of grass and motions to the jail behind him as he says, “The lives of people locked up matter because all lives deserve dignity. All life is divine.” I feel something old crack and move in my chest.

I’d only even gone to the event because I was hoping to see an ex girlfriend who I’d broken up with in the spring. Our short romance ended when I slammed the phone down on her after she stood me up for the last time–but fuck I still missed her. And now here I was on this little patch of grass outside the city jail trying to look unaffected while my eyes welled up. Quiet down now, heart.

But whatever steel wall I’d erected at fifteen to protect my slutty queer self from god’s Army of Slut-Shamers started to crack. Here now was a different kind of god, a god that apparently saw the value in us all and had bigger things to worry about than what I did in bed. Still. “I am an atheist,” I reminded myself as I left the vigil, a little horrified and angry at my tears. I held my head high, my kitten heels digging into the grass, so the ex would fully appreciate that any tears I had were not for her.

I didn’t give it much more thought until a few years later when I was in Laos sitting in the passenger seat of a jeep barreling down a gravel road, windows open, dust blowing in my hair. I was living in Thailand working with a sex workers’ organization and needed to renew my visa so I popped across the border to Laos, figuring I’d see some of the country before returning to Bangkok. I stayed with a friendly Australian ex-pat who kept his lechery limited to discreetly glancing at my tits when he thought I wasn’t looking. He put me up on his couch and offered to show me around. So that’s how I came to be driving through the rural roads of southern Laos in his jeep with a small piece of bamboo in my hand. We bumped and shook over the rough roads and waved back at the kids in school uniforms piled into the back of a truck ahead of us. It had been months since I’d seen any of my too-radical-for-religion friends. I looked down at the bamboo, noticed its minute and exquisite symmetry and thought: “God.”

That night, alone in my bungalow room near the border, I looked at the book I was carrying. Good god, could I have been any more earnest? It was Wayne Dyer’s Your Sacred Self. “I’m not religious,” I’d reassured myself when I bought it at the  second-hand book shop in Vientiane, “I’m just curious.”

Looking at the dorky yellow cover of that book, remembering the years I spent in Cathedrals (“I just find them comforting!”), and my original college major (religious studies) I realized two things: First, that I was a Christian and had been circling it for years, holding tight to my threads of denial as the evidence mounted.

Second, that I was a white woman from the Global North having a spiritual awakening in the  Global South. The horror: I was Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love. I’m an intersectional activist, an abortion-loving queer lady of the night. Surely if god had any mercy, she would make me anyone but Elizabeth Gilbert discovering anything but her Christianity. In a Buddhist country colonized by a Christian one, no less,  all of this having started while listening to a Black Christian preacher whose faith communities were born in resistance to genocide and whiteness.

I whipped my copy of Your Sacred Self across the room in rage, crying as it smashed into the wall. I didn’t know what was more humiliating: being in my own personal Eat, Pray, Love or that I had been heading toward it for years and didn’t know it.


Chanelle Gallant is a writer, educator and long time activist in intersectional sex working and feminist communities. She has writing upcoming in Make/Shift and The Rumpus. You can find her at 


New Prose by Anna Doogan

People don’t seem to talk much about Vanport anymore. They razed the remains, put Delta Park there. Added a sports complex. . . The Black families in Portland these days are still pushed North by gentrification. They cling to the edges of the Albina neighborhood, Killingsworth, MLK Boulevard.



The weekend before Christmas, we take our kids to see the lights at Portland International Raceway, near Delta Park. A drive-through display of animated lights and holiday scenes. We know it’s a mistake once we get there.

“We should have come earlier,” my husband mutters as we swing into the line of cars.

We’ll sit in the line for two hours, three kids in the back bouncing up and down impatiently. In the dark, the line of waiting cars swirls and snakes, twists back to the highway and doubles around again. Bored volunteers wave us through the line with flashlights, pass candy canes through the windows.

We don’t seem any closer to the entrance, and the kids are getting restless, now wired on sugar. I stare out the window at the black fields and marsh of Delta Park, try to make out the shapes of frozen trees.

“This used to be Vanport City,” I tell my husband. He nods. He already knows. We stare out at the blackness of the land, listen to the Christmas carols on K103.

Vanport City was a cheap and poorly constructed attempt at a federal housing project in the 1940s. The largest housing project in the country, the second biggest city in Oregon.  A quarter of Vanport’s  residents were Black, unable to find  non-discriminatory housing within Portland’s edges.

When the Columbia River started rising, the Housing Authority told Vanport residents that they’d have ample warning before a flood hit. Time to move safely, time to prepare.

Instead, a 10-foot wall of water burst through Vanport later that same afternoon, destroying every building. Some killed, thousands permanently displaced. The entire city demolished by flood in one afternoon.

Displaced Black families moved to the North of Portland, Albina. The only area where Blacks could find affordable housing, redlined by banks as too risky for investments.

People don’t seem to talk much about Vanport anymore. They razed the remains, put Delta Park there. Added a sports complex. It has seven softball fields, nine for soccer. They put the Portland International Raceway there, host 5k runs and motorcycle shows. The annual  Christmas light exhibit. The Black families in Portland these days are still pushed North by gentrification. They cling to the edges of the Albina neighborhood, Killingsworth, MLK Boulevard.

Our car slowly inches forward in line. I suddenly feel sick, waiting here to see displays of twinkle lights shaped like reindeer, like Santa Claus. All I can think about is hats and shoes floating on water. Black mothers rushing children through flooding streets, back alleys. Brown hands sifting through cold water. Belongings left behind, forgotten.

My husband rolls down his window, forks over eighteen dollars to the waiting attendant so we can drive in to look at the lights.

Our children bounce in their seats, shriek with happiness.  Point out the glittering polar bear, the dancing elves waving in the cold air.

Underneath us, ghosts of parents and children and cities. Swallowed by rushing black waters, shoved far underground.

Guns in Three Parts – new prose by Amber Finn


“She wondered what a Lady would have needed a gun for and then decided she probably knew. ”



She thought carefully for a moment before choosing a gun. The faded red velvet lining of the box somehow made them both more dramatic and beautiful than it would have if it still retained its original scarlet, valentine hue. She knew he preferred the one with the black handle so her first instinct was to avoid it. As if touching it would some how alert him to her presence. When he’d first shown her the twin pistols he’d dismissed the mother-of-pearl stock as a “Lady’s gun” even though they were identical in size, weight and shape. She wondered what a Lady would have needed a gun for and then decided she probably knew.

She was relieved that she wasn’t afraid of them anymore. Having decided she wrapped her fingers firmly around the gun and then closed the box and hid it where she’d found it. She could never be sure that he didn’t use hairs or other invisible means to make sure drawers stayed shut. She’d found a few over the years and had been grateful that her blonde hair was fair enough to pass for his white more than once. He was more complacent these days or was too distracted to pay much attention to her. Maybe the sheer isolation of her situation made him believe she was incapable of trouble. She hoped so.

Backing into the hallway so that she could run to her room if she heard the front door knob rattle, she held the gun up to the light of the open window to check on the bullet chamber. It was full as she’d expected and she was relieved that she wouldn’t also have to go snooping for bullets. Already warm in her hands, the barrel and handle shone more like jewelry than death.   The sun darkened through the window and she hears thunder rolling in the distance. The afternoon monsoon is on its way and the moment passes her.  The gun now dull metal in her hands.  She runs down the hallway to her bedroom and she circles the bed before hiding the gun under the mattress on the side of the bed farthest from the door.  She is terrified and giddy and crosses over the threshold without feeling it..  She will look back for decades at this moment, at this choice and every time it will make her stronger. She is aware of simply not caring how this ends, only that it does now.

She will never know if the gun is what made the difference.  If he noticed it missing or noticed something different in her. Maybe it’s because she is almost thirteen and he is the one who changes but whatever the cause he stops coming into her room at night.  She waits in the dark with white knuckles gripping just beneath the edge of the mattress.  She is ready and determined to do whatever she has to but  he doesn’t come.



She felt a reassuring calmness spread through her. A new feeling she would have many more times throughout her life. It was the confidence of having made the right choice while bracing herself to act on it.

She reached the top of the stairs, pushed through the door and walked over to where she knew she would find it. It was heavy but modern at least and she double-checked the safety before going back downstairs.

The boy had shown up a few weeks ago. Snarling, on his bike, he chased kids throughout the complex and bruises and raw skin were the reward if he caught you. A few days ago he’d caught her best friend on the tennis court and had shoved her faced roughly into the ground. Her friend’s older brother saw the whole thing but did nothing and her heart felt heavy that someone big enough and old enough to stop this was too afraid to do anything.

No one would ever ask but she felt tired of this. Bullies were something she knew and they never stopped on their own.

He was still outside her house–gloating over the child next door and refusing to move body or bicycle from the stairs. He grinned at her return until he saw the dark grey shape in her hand. She really liked it when he stopped grinning.

“Go away now.” Her voice was much calmer than she had hoped. “Never come back here.”

“Shit! Put that away!”

He was already backing up, pulling his bicycle behind him. “Leave.”

The gun is as steady as her voice and she thinks she can see his eyes watering. This is fantastic. She suddenly didn’t care anymore what trouble would follow this.

“You’re crazy!”

She would take crazy if it meant that he was the one who was afraid this time.

“Don’t come back to find out.”

She can see the word bitch halt and tremble on his lips.  He’s too scared to let it tumble into the air.  She doesn’t lower the barrel until he is gone and only then does she see the same light now shining in her heart on the faces of the two smaller kids from next door.

“He won’t come back.” She tells them.  And he doesn’t.



The first time she goes to a gun range is on a late morning near the end of the short Washington summer. There is no one else there, just a few empty beer cans lined up at the end of a shale gravel pit and a few hopping ravens near a garbage can. The ravens scatter when the dusty flatbed pulls into lot.

They have been arguing all morning and she knows she’s lost this round but keeps hoping that something will happen to interrupt his plans.  She watches as he pulls two rifles from the gun rack in the back seat of the pickup. Her heart is pounding as he leans them on the fender and then walks to the end of the field to arrange the cans the way he wants them.  She thinks briefly that she could pick one of the rifles up and shoot him with it, end this all here.  But she doesn’t know if she can hit him and then what?  She will have still had to shoot one. Her mouth tastes like pennies.

Then he’s back.  “Can you see those ok?”

She wonders if he’s crazy.  “Sure.”

He unloads and reloads the first rifle for her, talking as he goes.  He reminds her of the kickback even though she remembers perfectly well the day he came home from bird hunting with a large gash on his nose because he had forgotten that one time.  Even her mother had giggled.  He holds the rifle up to the inside of his left shoulder and mimes shooting at the cans.  “Just like that.”

He holds out the rifle to her.  The dark opal ring on his hand glitters.

For some reason fear skips over some invisible line and suddenly she is angry.  She hates this.  She hates not wanting to touch his guns and not being given any choice.  He must be out of his mind to teach her to do this.  Why does he think she won’t use the knowledge against him?  Why does he think either of them will still be safe if she knows how to do this?  Like the times he pulls the truck onto an abandoned logging road and tells her they won’t go home if she won’t get behind the wheel.  They have changed homes enough times that he might be telling the truth this time but still she is so afraid that her teeth chatter and she pulls her school backpack into the driver’s seat  and sits on top of it so that she will be able to see over the dash better. She thought that nothing could scare her more than trying to control the truck and then this morning she finds out she is expected to take up shooting. She hates him.

She glares at him and grabs the other rifle. Not the one he wants her to take but the newer one still leaning against the truck. It is warm in her cold hands, the opposite of what she expected. She lifts it heavy to her shoulder and closes one eye while she tries to make herself steadier. She wants to close both eyes.  Instead she breathes in and she fires. The sound is worse than she expects and her ears are ringing even though she can still hear the last few echoes of the shot in the distance. There is a hiss behind one of the cans as the bullet buries itself in the shale hillside. She fires again  The middle can makes a thok sound and falls over. She can hear him start to congratulate her but she keeps firing until all 8 rounds are spent and five of the cans are knocked down. Her shoulder is sore like it’s been punched a few times in the same spot and she rolls it around to try to get some of the sting out. She leans the rifle up against the truck again and climbs into the cab and shuts the door. She can still smell the sulphur in the hot air. She doesn’t watch as he gathers up the shells and puts the guns back in the rack.  Instead she runs her fingernail through the dust on the window sill of the truck and turns over the feeling of having won something though she can’t say exactly what it was.

Amber Finn is an urban farmer with culinary training. After spending the ‘90s in Portland as a prototypical pierced and tattooed lesbian barista, she packed up her wife and two children to return to her homeland of British Columbia. She lives on the edge of the Salish Sea amid many progressives who value sustainability but still manages to find people who piss her off. When she’s not herding chickens, she is increasingly active in local politics.

Call Me Home

Excerpt from the new novel Call Me Home by Megan Kruse

Megan Kruse is a young writer of raw and fearless talent and Call Me Home showcases all she can do. She writes here of harrowing lives — of a family bent and broken by violence, where each person is desperately trying to somehow grow toward light and liberation. In the process, she offers a most unlikely tale of hardness and hustle, of grace and loss, of painful love and tough breaks and the unimaginable paths we must all eventually take toward survival.

— ELIZABETH GILBERT, author of Eat, Pray Love



Silver, Idaho, 2010

The belated Easter party was to be held that Saturday night at A-frame A, the most complete of the new houses. Just a few beers, and then the Longhorn, according to the much-circulated plan.


Who had an Easter party? Jackson didn’t care. He was going to see Don. He hadn’t seen him since Honey brought him to the East side on Tuesday; each day that Don’s truck didn’t appear, Jackson tried to pretend he wasn’t disappointed. Now he shaved in the pocket mirror, the one he’d stolen from Lydia, and put on a clean shirt. He did everything slowly, meticulously. He drank the rest of the bottle of wine. What a girl he was. He thought again about the lock of hair he’d given to Chris. In his imagined, more perfect life, he discarded sentimentalities. Into the trash with the birthday cards, faded photographs. A better Jackson would scorn them all.


It was a little past seven when he made the walk to A-frame A. Already the light was draining away; he hadn’t remembered a flashlight. The lake was lapping against the shore, a dark, bright line that curved like a knife blade in the dim evening light. The clouds had lifted, and the faintest web of stars was beginning to stretch over the water. There were crushed cans along the path. When he got to A-frame A, there was already a crowd. Jackson was a little late, because he hadn’t wanted to be too early, but now it seemed like he shouldn’t have worried. He could hear Jay Donahue and Bill inside, shouting and laughing, already drunk. The floor was still not sanded, but the windowpanes were up, the electrical wiring coursing through like veins. Someone had set up a card table and filled it with bags of chips, open plastic cartons of donuts, and cupcakes. There was a group of men sitting around it, drinking from a small cityscape of open bottles. Don was nowhere in sight. He had the feeling of walking onto a stage.


“Jack!” Bill flagged him over. “You gotta hear about this. Tell him, Jay.”


The whole room smelled of men – a different smell from the high school cross-country locker room, which had appealed to Jackson in another way – wispy, ephemeral slips of running shorts, clean sweat, shampoo. The men in Silver smelled dirtier. Beer sweat, sawdust. No one had touched in the locker room – all of the runners were virginal, clean, and of themselves, communal only in their dedication to noble pursuits: a second shaved from the half mile, a lighter pair of running shoes. The Silver crew touched with beery, cheerful abandon, and Jackson was one of them. Their meaty hands palmed him. Was it possible they weren’t thinking of sex? All of the things that had marked him in Tulalip, in Portland, evaporated. It seemed like no one saw. Then there was Don, he thought. Don saw or he didn’t. Jackson looked around for him but he couldn’t see him. Josh, the crew leader on the north side, was holding up a pen, one of those naked lady pens, and laughing loudly. Jackson laughed loudly, too, slapped his own skinny leg – A broad! And her top falls off ! Was it really this simple? Men and their simple wants. Josh turned the pen and the woman’s top slid down again.


Out of the corner of his eye, Jackson saw Don climb the steps to the open house, knocking his boots against the doorframe. Don was wearing a red sweater that pulled against his stomach, his round shoulders hunched forward. He was carrying a case of beer and smoking a cigarette.


Don didn’t look at him. He gave a wide, encompassing smile to the room, and Jackson concentrated on an open fifth of Early Times. He took a long drink, and then another. One of the guys slapped him on the back. “Good man!” he said, knocking his own bottle against Jackson’s.



Women’s Shelter, Alamogordo,

New Mexico, 2010


The New Mexico sun was a flat disk, the clouds high above in the hard blue sky. The house was the same as all of the others in town – a brown stucco box, bleached to a bone color in places. Inside was a long hallway with six doors and part of a family behind each one. The mailbox was always empty, and it bothered her the way the mail car drove right by. Wasn’t it a giveaway? It seemed like an obvious thing to overlook when you were trying to make a building look like a home, like a place that held any whole family instead of six or seven approximations: what was left of families, after. The backyard was a scrabble of dirt and rock, where Lydia sat with a little boy against the tall wooden fence while Amy was inside talking to the caseworker.


“You can’t blame your son,” the woman kept saying to her. “You can’t blame him, and you can’t blame yourself, but you were right, you needed to go without him. You couldn’t take the chance that it would happen again.” The woman’s eyes were watering, in danger of spilling over. “This happens with teenagers,” she said gently. “They get angry at their mothers. They want their fathers’ love, and their fathers manipulate them just like they manipulated you. You had to make a decision for your safety and your other child’s safety.” She waited, but Amy didn’t say anything. “Do you want to talk about it?” she asked.


Her head felt thick. The woman didn’t understand. Who would? The idea of trying to explain made her feel like she was trying to walk through thick mud with aching, bone-tired legs. He was safe, she knew that. Jackson was always the self-sufficient one, the big brother. But that was the problem – he rarely seemed to need his mother, but he needed Lydia, and Lydia him. From the time Lydia was an infant he’d watched his sister, held her, fed her, protected her. Amy had at times almost resented their closeness, Jackson’s hovering, for the way it implicated her, proved what Amy knew: that Gary was dangerous. In some ways, Amy thought, Jackson considered Lydia to be his, and she couldn’t blame him for it.


She hadn’t chosen one over the other, she told herself now; she had not. It was the right thing to do. Jackson had a life ahead of him that shabby Tulalip, Washington, could not give him, and she knew with as much certainty as she knew her own love for him that he would leave that town, that he would make his own life and see his father for what Gary was. And to take Jackson – to bring him to this new life, when he was supposed to be starting his own – wasn’t right.


New prose by Shari Winslow

“This is what happens when you teach high school,” she said. “You connect if you can, and you love them even when you hate them, and you just care so damn much. And then they’re gone in some way or another.”


I saw her on the street. First Avenue, on my way to the bookstore. She’d cut her hair; instead of her long, thick braid she sported a choppy bob, her dark blonde edges brushing the top of her collar. Her black pea coat was the same, though. One arm hung loose against her side. For awhile she’d tried wearing a prosthetic arm, but she hated that. She’d gone her entire life without a left arm, and trying to fit one into a space where she’d never missed one before made her feel even more self-conscious.

“Hey,” I said. “You changed your hair.”

She turned and smiled.

“Yeah, well. It’s almost the only thing I can change. So why not?”

Snowflakes drifted in the damp, gray air, swirled in the glow of the Christmas lights still on the trees, but didn’t land, didn’t stick. It was early January. She had been dead for nearly a year.

She walked away.

I saw her everywhere. Not every day, not all the time, but everywhere: in the produce section at Fred Meyer. In the food court at the mall. Striding down Pacific Avenue in downtown Tacoma, towards Union Station. But of course it never really was her. She would turn around and look right through me with a stranger’s face. Her perfectly functional right arm would clutch a purse, her left arm swinging free.

In late February of the previous year, the head of the English department at the high school where I taught said, “Did you hear? Bethany killed herself.” Her eyes gleamed with the juiciness of the gossip. She loved being the one to break the news. She had taught Bethany for one semester of IB literature, but Bethany was in my sophomore class the entire previous year. Halfway through her junior year she asked to be my TA after she dropped calculus. Most of the time she sat at my desk and read while I walked around my room, gesturing wildly at my sophomores. Sometimes I caught her smile when I paused in front of a kid’s desk and said, “The life you save will be your own!” or “You might think this is just a notebook for English class, but this is the essence of your soul!” She entered grades into my green spiral grade book with the vinyl green cover. Her handwriting was perfect.

She borrowed my copy of The Awakening and spilled coffee on the cover. Just a corner. It barely warped, and it didn’t matter. Of course it didn’t matter. But she couldn’t stop apologizing.

I didn’t count the number of times I walked her up to the counselor’s office. I didn’t ask how she managed to cut her right wrist when she didn’t have a left arm. I just watched as she sipped from a styrofoam cup of water, and when she finished, she used her perfectly manicured thumbnail to shred that cup into a perfect spiral, her jaw clenched.

Her counselor was short, feisty, warm, with a Peruvian accent. I can still hear the way she said her name: Bay-thany.

Bethany shredded her yellow paper hall pass next.

Her counselor called her mother. Again. Bethany already saw a therapist, already took medication, but her counselor explained to her mother that she was sitting there in her office, sobbing, with fresh cuts.

Her mother wanted to know how her math grade was.

I wrote Bethany’s letter of recommendation, because she was brilliant and because I wanted her to get out. She lasted one semester at Mount Holyoke.

My department head said, “I heard she was sexually assaulted and just went crazy. She didn’t even go back to school second semester.”

I walked back to my classroom. My sophomores arranged their desks in a circle for their Socratic Seminar on All Quiet on the Western Front. What is worth fighting for? I half-listened, trying to take notes. My kids glanced at me, trying to see if I was writing when they were whispering and giggling and having chatty side conversations. I looked at my paper. The only thing I could write, sitting safely and miserably in a circle of sophomores, was a single sentence: Bethany killed herself.

After lunch the counselor called me up to her office.

“I wanted to make sure you’re okay,” she said.

“I’m okay,” I said, but I cried, and so did she.

“This is what happens when you teach high school,” she said. “You connect if you can, and you love them even when you hate them, and you just care so damn much. And then they’re gone in some way or another.”

You lose them all eventually, in so many ways, so many ordinary ways.

And then you lose some because they die, because they drink too much and drive on the wrong side of Peasley Canyon Road. Or they slip and fall when they’re hiking on Mount Rainier on a family vacation.

And you lose some because they kill themselves.

You lose one because she jumps off the Aurora Bridge on an ordinary day in February.

They call it the Suicide Bridge; I read one article that claimed a person died each month. Sometimes bodies land on the pavement, or on cars. The dot-com employees working below the bridge talk about grief counselors being brought into their offices.

Sometimes the jumpers land in the water, and they might not die right away.

Bethany landed in the water. Bethany. Bay-thany.

But I didn’t hear anything until afterwards. After she died, after the funeral. My department chair’s eyes gleaming with gossip. The counselor’s eyes closed with grief. You lose some. You lose some.

The last time I saw her, really saw her, she was visiting one of her friends on campus during her Thanksgiving break. They hugged each other, smiled, giggled. I caught her eye and waved and thought that maybe she’ll be fine.

Shari Winslow writes and teaches English in the Pacific Northwest.

Christmas Lost and Found – by Margaret Elysia Garcia

“Our worst fights have always happened during Christmas. I have always bought my own Christmas gift and wrapped it and set it under the tree pretending it was from him. He has spent all of our Christmas’ retiring early to bed. Disengaging. Or drunk.”


When he was in elementary school, my husband’s mother took him to his aunt’s house for a Christmas party—and then left him there without a word, without so much as a change of clothes, for months. His aunt had four kids and a superior attitude of a sister with a green card, a husband, and a mortgage. He could stay and be a grateful eight-year-old. He could watch her kids open presents. He could have left over toys already half broken from their birthdays and other Christmases. He could unwrap the present that was wrapped for unexpected guests during the holiday season. Cheap women’s cologne you buy at the drug store. A badly scented candle. A weird toy from Avon.

He asked Santa in a mall for a Star Wars action figure. He wanted a Millennium Falcom but knew better than to ask big. He’d settle for a Han Solo—even a knock down made in China and sold in Mexican swapmeets where the face of the doll didn’t quite match up to where the machines placed the eyes and the hair so everything looked slightly off and slightly cheap and slightly Mexican swapmeet.

At school, where he was trying desperately to keep a low profile and to fit in with American kids despite his lack of English and his clothes that reeked of fresh over the border (black dress leather cowboy boots and button down shirts and big belt buckle like he was some mini weekend brown cowboy ready for Sunday school or norteno singing). The white teachers got stuff ready for the Christmas program. In the nativity scene all the angels were white, Mary, Joseph, the baby doll stand in for Jesus, the shepherd, even the wise men from the Orient—all white. It was someone’s bright idea to make the brown kids in the ESL class sing “Feliz Navidad” like they must have sung it in their home country. My husband had never heard it before and they made him sing and dance at the program, singing it to the little white kids—along with Cambodian refugee kids and other brown kids, because that seemed like the perfect spot for the other kids in the Christmas program.

As an American teenager, he often spent it alone or with a bottle on Santa Monica beach looking out on the ocean, thinking about disappearing. By that time, he’d been adopted by West Side jews and did Hanukah instead. It didn’t hurt as much and he was happy to eat Chinese food on Christmas.

When December rolls around my husband becomes increasingly hard to live with. He usually refuses to partake in any of the festivities. I’ve never seen him put an ornament on the tree and usually I’m the one who does Christmas. I do the shopping, I do the baking, I do the Christmas cards, and I do the singing in choir and the decorating of the house.

Our worst fights have always happened during Christmas. I have always bought my own Christmas gift and wrapped it and set it under the tree pretending it was from him. He has spent all of our Christmas’ retiring early to bed. Disengaging. Or drunk.

I’m the one who puts water in the tree to keep it fresh. He’s the one who volunteers to chop the tree up for kindling afterwards.

I insist on keeping the tree up ‘til Epiphany. I put up my grandmother’s nativity scene despite not having any religious affiliation anymore. I put the three kings on the opposite side of the living room and slowly move them over to present their gifts to the baby Jesus.

I have no problems with myths; I thrive on creation.

Our children are 10 and almost 12 and still believe in Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, leprechauns, the Easter Bunny. Anything really—except Jesus. I’m floored by their belief, as I have felt so very little. But I do believe that people can change. Perhaps their belief comes from me.

Our tradition has become me overcompensating for his under achieving holiday spirit. But this year, I couldn’t do it. My mother had been sick. And then I had been sick. And I had no energy to find the Christmas boxes in the storage shed nor energy to buy a tree permit and go chop one down in an area that needs thinning as is the tradition for mountain folk living in a national forest. I couldn’t really bake cookies. I didn’t send any cards. The most I could do was sit catatonic on the couch and occasionally order something online while watching sitcoms on huluplus. It was already the second week of December and there was no hint of red or green in the house.

The children started to worry and I started to cry. My husband offered to do the thing that would send most mountain people into an uproar of protest: he offered to go buy a tree from in front of Rite Aid from the Boy Scouts. My kids were beside themselves. Buy a tree?! Buy a tree?! No one buys a tree. You put hot cocoa in a well insulated thermos and you put snacks in the cooler and you borrow someone’s 4WD vehicle , go up into the mountains with a saw and determination and you cut down your tree. This is what I get for fostering a tradition with my children.

I started to cry in front of them. Something I try hard never to do. And then we were all crying. And then I went to lay down for awhile.

When I woke up, they were back from Rite Aid with a tree. They’d found three of the five boxes labeled ‘Christmas’ in the storage shed and had begun to decorate the living room and the tree. They only found one string of working lights and they didn’t get a Charlie Brown Christmas tree like I usually get when I chop one down, but instead a bushy, perfectly symmetrical cone shaped tree. The perfect kind, that you buy.

The kids did an abysmal job of decorating the living room and the tree. The ornaments all seemed to cluster towards the top, the lights somewhere around the middle and the bottom of it was completely bare. They put it in a precarious place by the corner of the living room and kitchen which would make sitting in the dining room that much more difficult from branches jutting out. They cluttered the living room with all the decorations that other people have given me that I never put out but feel to guilty to throw away.

My husband bought Christmas presents to distribute among the four of us—and the ones that come from Santa. No cards were mailed. Nothing got baked. Someone sent a box of Sees. He bought some store bought goodies. He made us drinks. He helped plan the menu and he went and picked up my friend from college who joined us. Somehow, in the absence of my well spirit, he found his.

Margaret Elysia Garcia blogs at

New Work by Cynthia Bostwick


by Cynthia Bostwick

After I turned fifty I got braver, and when she says, “Your grandfather was a good man,”

I say, “No, mom, he was an abusive son of a bitch.”

My mother’s memory of that night must be vivid. As she’s gotten older, she tells it more often. She awakens in the night, in her upstairs bedroom, to find her father in her bed. He’s drunk. She’s a teenager. She says the worst thing was he threw up on her new bedroom rug.

My sister and I share a glance. What the fuck was her father doing in her bed? Drunk? So drunk he threw up? The story is endlessly shocking, even on repeat telling, because it always ends the same way. My mother gets a far off look in her eyes, and she giggles a little, “I really liked that rug. I was so mad.”

I was so mad. But she was never mad when he kicked her, breaking a rib. Or when he broke a date’s nose when she got home half an hour late. Or when he called her a bitch in heat and made her smoke a cigar with him. After I turned fifty I got braver, and when she says, “Your grandfather was a good man,”

I say, “No, mom, he was an abusive son of a bitch.”

My mother shrugs. “Well, he was strict,” and she looks into the distance, “but he loved me.”

I have never told her about him exposing himself to me in a rowboat, with my brother. Well, I must have told her when it happened, unless my brother convinced me I shouldn’t. I never told her about the recurring nightmares I had about that time, how I would never again go fishing with my grandfather, how my dreams had me getting hit in the head with a rock, and my grandfather telling me not to tell my mom, because I had gotten blood all over my blouse and she would be very, very mad at me. I no longer know, clearly, what part is the dream and what part is real. But I know what I saw, and I know my brother said, “Grandpa, your snake is showing.”

I am awakened by a mooing sound outside my bedroom window. I know it is my grandfather, and we are going fishing today. I am six, maybe seven. My parents had a party the night before, and it was pretty loud. They are still sleeping. I get dressed. My brother is already in the kitchen. He hands me my straw hat. We walk down the front lawn to the lake, and there is grandpa, with his khakis, his old cotton shirt, a burning cigar, and our poles. He has a grownup version of my hat on. His wire-rimmed glasses are perched on his nose. In the boat is a cardboard cylinder, I know there are squirming worms inside.

My grandfather waves his cigar, motioning us into the boat, and he steps in. The boat rocks a bit, next to the dock. He stumbles a little, and we take our seats. Me in the bow, my brother rowing, and my grandfather in the stern.

The sun is low, below the trees, the summer day is just beginning. My grandfather unwraps biscuits, cut in half, buttered and put back together. I can smell my grandmother’s Estee Lauder perfume on the handkerchief he has them wrapped in, the sun shines through the soft cotton. The water is still, just the ripples around the oars as they dip into the water, in rhythm. The galvanized catch pail sits waiting. He tosses a biscuit to me, and I catch it with one hand. He eats one, smiling at me.

We’re out just before the weeds, over the bluegill beds. He puts the biscuits back in his pocket, and take a pole from the seat. He lifts it up, and lets out a little line to unhook the line and sinker from the rod. Reaching back sideways, he casts the line over the beds to catch a fish. The red and white bobber sinks slightly, then rights itself on the surface. I bite into the biscuit, the warm butter drips out the side of my mouth. My brother tucks the oars into the boat and readies his line. There’s no rod for me, I am just along for the view. A pair of mallards swims into the reeds.

My brother casts, and I duck—he is close enough to hook me and I am dreadfully afraid of fish hooks. Last week, my brother hooked Andy, our neighbor, as they were casting from the shore. The only way to get the hook out of his back as to push the barb through his skin and cut the barb off with a pliers: Andy tried to be tough, but in the end he cried as the barb pushed through his pale skin and my father clipped off the barb.

I right myself and look at my grandfather. I see that his penis is hanging out of his open fly like a long sausage. My brother sits between us and I poke him. He looks at me, and I point. My brother laughs. “Grandpa, your snake is showing.” I giggle. My grandfather looks right at me. It seems like forever, but finally he tucks it back inside his baggy khakis, the ones he always wears fishing.

That night I have a dream, the first of my many recurring instances of the dream. My brother and grandfather walk me up the shore to our house. Blood streams from my head, and I am wearing my favorite blouse, a white and blue sailor’s blouse, what they called a “middy.” It’s soaked in blood. I cry. My brother tells me to be quiet.

“Mark threw a rock out of the boat and it hit me in the head,” I sob. My grandfather orders me to take the shirt off, and he puts it in the catch pail. I go to my room. No one else is there, and I am still bleeding. My brother tries to wipe away the blood, and my grandfather says I can’t tell anyone what happened.

“But my middy blouse,” I sob, “Mom will be so mad.” He says he’ll get the blood out, but I think how can he? My blouse is soaking in the fish pail with hooked bluegills.

Years after my grandfather died, I ask my brother about this dream. I tell him I’ve had it so many times, and ask if he remembers anything. We’re both high from the joint we’ve shared. “Never,” he says, “that never happened, Cin.”

I tell him not to call me that. I hate that nickname. He looks shocked. “But we’ve always called you that,” he says, incredulous.

“I know, but I am not a Cin,” I say. I feel the fear and sadness rising. “I am not a Cin and I don’t want to be called one.”

He holds his hands up, as if to fend off a blow, “OK, sure. No worries.” I pass the joint back to him. I never have the dream again.

A couple of years ago, I asked my mother about the events in my dream. “Mom, I have this memory of getting hit in the head with a rock Mark threw and bleeding all over my middy blouse. Do you remember that?”

“You loved that blouse. I loved you in that blouse,” my mom says.

“I did love that blouse,” I say. “But did that ever happen? Do you remember that?”

“Your brother was always throwing rocks,” she says, “and you put your hand through two windows,” she says.

“But do you remember if he ever hit me in the head with one? I think we were out fishing with Grandpa.”

“No, I don’t remember that. I do remember Daddy coming and mooing at your window to wake you up to go fishing,” she says. “He loved you kids.”

And that’s the end of it.

Cynthia Bostwick lives and writes in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she learns new lessons everyday from her ten year old son, her spouse, Linda, their dog Henry and the sad and angry people she meets in her day job as a lawyer.

Midlife Teen Mama Trauma

Mid-Life Teen Mama Trauma
By Nina Packebush


Last night a text came in from my girlfriend’s ex-wife saying that their 13-year-old daughter was in the ER with difficulty breathing.

Of course my girlfriend went into Mama Panic Mode and prepared to head straight to the hospital 30 minutes away. She went into our bedroom to grab her shoes and wallet.

I followed and, as I opened my drawer and pulled out a clean, long sleeved shirt to hide my tattoos, I reminded her to change her clothes. I made sure my jeans were reasonably clean, free of holes, decently fitting and that my Chuck Taylors were the newer ones, rather than the tattered, dirty ones.

My girlfriend was wearing Friday-night-in-a-partnership comfortable clothes, meaning she was a little sloppy. The colorful Vans she chose weren’t the right shoes for an almost 50-year-old woman.

She turned to me with confused irritation. “I’m not changing my clothes. We need to go. It’s just the hospital.”

It’s just the hospital.

I looked back at her with anxiety building; my mind trying to figure out the best course of action. She was stressed and frantic, but she looked sloppy–cute queer sloppy for sure, but certainly not respectable and well-kept. I didn’t want to insult her or tell her what to do, but I was genuinely confused. The hospital hasn’t been just a hospital to me since I was eighteen-years-old and went in for my first OB appointment.  I was assigned a social worker and was counseled about the wisdom of giving up my baby for adoption. When I shyly told them that wasn’t an option I was assigned a nurse to visit my home after the birth of my baby. I didn’t realize until after the fact that the purpose of this nurse visit was to determine if my home was safe for my baby and to observe my parenting. As I navigated doctor appointments, playground politics, ER visits, and even everyday trips to the grocery store I learned that I wasn’t the right kind of parent. I looked away when people stared.

I learned to laugh when the pediatrician joked, “So you know how this happened, so it won’t happen again, right?” while he weighed and examined my infant at his first well-baby check-up.

I pretended not to care when people asked me if my son was my little brother.  I quietly answered when complete strangers asked me how old I was and “Is the dad still around?” It didn’t take me long to learn that presentation mattered. Words mattered. Image mattered.  A lot. And it especially mattered in the presence of authority.

I’m a queer mama with three children; 28, 24, 17, and I’m co-raising my eight-year-old grandson with my middle daughter, who also happens to be a teen mama. I have spent my entire parenting life as too young while navigating different levels of broke, poor, or lower-middle-class, and most of the last thirteen years queer single parenting. My girlfriend, on the other hand, is a 49-year-old mama of a 13-year-old daughter and a nine-year-old son. Her son is essentially the same age as my grandson.  My girlfriend has spent the majority of her thirteen years as a parent partnered in a solid lesbian relationship, living a solid middle class life.

My girlfriend and her ex-wife had been diligent and intentional on every step of their parenting journey. They had picked out sperm donors and paid for insemination. They had a house, financial security, and a stable relationship before they started their family. My family began on one of several drunken nights collecting sperm the old fashioned way from my spandex-wearing, wispy mustache toting, heavy metal boyfriend. My pregnancy brought tears, canceled abortion appointments, subsidized medical care, and not one second of preplanning. Her journey into motherhood included celebrations, fulfilled dreams, and genuine happiness.  Our parenting experience was night and day.

I was quiet on the way to the hospital that night.  I rubbed her neck and I reassured her that everything would be fine, but that brief exchange standing in front of our dresser was heavy in my mind.  Of course I had always felt that teen mama was an integral part of my identity, but until that moment when I stood face to face with my girlfriend, I hadn’t fully realized just how deeply that identity and experience had shaped me.  I’m 47 years old, in the beginning phase of menopause, have adult children, and am a doting granny, but I’m still a teenage mother. Teen Mama will be an identity that I carry for the rest of my life, right alongside the scars and tools for survival that the experience gave me.

When we got to the hospital nobody looked twice at my girlfriend. She was a mama who had rushed out the door to be with her kid. She was the right age, the right socio-economic background, her kid had private insurance. While I sat alone in the waiting room that night I noticed a sign that read, this is a safe place to leave your newborn. In my exhaustion and stress I had to fight back the tears. I know what it’s like to be young, pregnant, and afraid. I can imagine the scenarios that would drive someone to make the choice to drop their infant off with strangers. Yes, adult women sometimes drop infants off, but the average age of a mother relinquishing her baby to an Infant Safe Space is nineteen. I took a picture of the sign, and when I got home I showed it to my daughter.

She shuddered, “This makes me so sad. I can’t even imagine…but I can.”

And that’s the thing, we can both imagine because we have both felt the shame, confusion, marginalization, and loneliness that being a teen mama is. We have both faced judgment and we have both had our parenting questioned for no other reason than we were too young, despite the fact that we are damn good moms.

I said to my daughter, “You know I can imagine being eighty years old and still reaching for the long sleeve shirt and clean shoes before going to the doctor, the ER, the hospital.” She nodded.  She knew exactly what I was talking about.

Becoming a mama before I became an adult shaped who I am, and although there are a lot of scars associated with that, those scars make me who I am today. Those scars are evidence that I’m damn strong. Those scars have left me with a deep empathy for other people and an ability to creatively survive and thrive. I’m a queer. I’m a writer. I’m a granny. I’m a wanna-be-urban farmerand an unschooler. I’m a lot of things, but mostly I’m a teen mama and I wouldn’t trade it for anything, not even a good credit score and the ability to go the hospital in rumpled sweats and a tank top.

Nina Packebush is a rad, queer, zinester granny living in the Pacific Northwest. Her writing has appeared in a variety of alternative publications and websites including Hip Mama Magazine, Mutha Magazine, The Icarus Project, Literary Kitchen, and the anthology My Baby Rides the Short Bus. Nina is currently working on a young adult novel. You can find more of her writing and some of her audio at: