Jul/Aug 2020

e c l e c t i c a
n o n f i c t i o n


(These are excerpts—click on the title to view the whole piece!)

Unrequited Love: How Before Sunrise Shaped My Love Life

Love is as banal as it is meaningful, which is to say, I'm not breaking new ground here. Shakespeare wrote sonnets—Let me not to the marriage of true minds—Rousseau was curiously drawn to cross-eyed women, and virtually every popular song is about love being lost, found, temporarily misplaced, or lost and then found again. Of course, I didn't fall in love with a woman at fifteen. I fell in love with an idea—that words passing between two human beings are the only thing worth truly yearning for. In this way, the movie taught me about transcendence, and yes, a marriage of the true minds, that is only possible in conversation.

Andrew Bertaina

A Memoir of Picking and Planting

We went to war in December 1941 and the United States began to ration scarce goods, beginning with tires and gasoline. In the course of 1942, rationing of food products began, including meats, dairy products, canned and frozen vegetables, sugar, jams and jellies, and many other items. The Federal government encouraged individuals to plant "victory gardens," and Americans responded. By 1943 there were an estimated 18 million such gardens in the United States. By 1944, according to the US Department of Agriculture, our victory gardens produced an amount equal to all commercial production of fresh vegetables.

Peter Bridges

My Hair, Myself

Under my full, smooth helmet of hair was an intentionally-tangled bird's nest. Back-combing added volume, which I needed, and height, which I didn't but liked anyway. It was a fashion trend—think Jackie Kennedy, Priscilla Presley, Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl. Marge Simpson's blue beehive is an exaggerated homage to the high hair mania of the time. These were the days when we set our hair on big pink foam rollers or orange juice cans to give it body and tame wayward waves. I tried them but never lasted through the night—in the morning I'd find curlers strewn around the room.

Alice Lowe

In Defense of Democrats and Middle School Girls

With each new outrage, people kept reminding us, "This isn't normal," but it was our normal no matter how hard we pretended it wasn't. Some people were excited by the abnormality of it all, and others were disgusted, but this election was our introduction nonetheless. We watched the news cycle spin together a too long red tie and a crisp blue pantsuit until the two became knotted together, and all of our hands became stained with the color of the piece we decided to pull on.

Hannah-Marie Nelson

The Abbots Lawrence

Abbot had complained about his house for years. Not about the walls that were one-inch spruce on 2x4 studs exposed inside; or the wind that tore through the cracks; or the rotted sills and sagging corner. What angered him was the front door opened to the south—same way his roof pitched; and every time it rained or snow melted, it soaked him when he left or came inside.

Scudder Parker

To Tell or Not to Tell

As the youngest child in her family, she wasn't sure how to raise her own, and was often impatient with us, once yelling at me to "stop acting like a child" when I was five. She was educated enough to worry that this was a crazy thing to say, yet not perceptive enough to understand that she might not have wanted to have children.

Susan St. Aubin

Yelps from the Brink

One of my coworkers just asked me what kind of car I drive, because apparently someone left their car running, lights on and a baby inside, out in the parking lot... and he thinks it was me (for real—in all seriousness). Did he ask anyone else in the office? No. Why in God's name would he think I have a baby and would choose to leave it in my car with the engine running—while I'm at work all day?! First of all, do I look that stupid? Or rather, do I look like I have kids? I can barely get it together enough to make my own lunch, much less make babies and be a baby mama.

Juliana Staveley-O'Carroll

My First Fiance

He was busy those years we had no contact. He has five children and a wife and two grandchildren. His wife has a hole in her throat from smoking. She is having surgery. He left his family in New Jersey and moved to bumfuck. His mother is down the road, and his brother, but something's not right. The story doesn't hold water. He has neglected, again, to tell me the truth.

Carroll Susco

In My Skin

The following Monday after work, I stop at the gym to work out. In the locker room afterwards, as I strip down to shower, a couple of women squeal, "You got a tattoo!" and rush over to get a good look at it. The other women, the ones who look away, will never speak to me again. It occurs to me later this isn't as hurtful as it would have been before my wildflower.

Mary Zelinka