My essay writing group has met for twenty years. I am the baby of the group: the youngest by six years, but the eldest member is close to twenty years older than I am, and had no idea what the title meant. It was great to make Edith blush when I explained what the title was a sly reference to.
He Gives Great Phone
My phone avoidance started young. I was raised by parents who believed that the telephone is an instrument of business and social communication that should be used by the people who pay for it — adults. Therefore, I never participated in any of the quintessentially teenage telephone behaviors — hours on the phone with friends, or boys, or doing homework. The idea of watching a television program with a telephone receiver glued to my ear was as ludicrous to me as dating an underclassman.
If I was on the phone for more than ten minutes with a boy, my father would say, “He can pay to take you some place and talk to you.” If I was on the phone for more than ten minutes with a girlfriend, my father would say, “If you have so much to say to each other, go over to her house.”
When I got to college, my freshman roommate was a wealthy girl from the Dominican Republic
This is one of my favorite of my rejected pieces, and I don't quite understand why it has not found a publication home.
My husband and I have never agreed on decor. When we moved in together, he sweetly asked where he could put the collection of Wild Turkey clocks and whiskey paraphenalia that he had gathered over years of working in the liquor industry.
“I don’t care,” I said. “Any dumpster or trash can will do.”
He was — luckily — amused, and life went along blissfully, even through replacing decks and siding and living room rebuilds. After we had renovated the kitchen and completed our vision of perfection,
This piece has been kicking around for a while. I think rejecting it has been a good call because it's lacking something.
Someone Else's Gardens
Leaving my garden was the painful thing for me. When I originally bought the river cottage, it looked like something out of a 1930's photo by Walker Evans. The paint was peeling. The shutters sagged. The yard
lacked any growing thing except for some hydrangeas whose sole function appeared to be keeping light out of the living room and a rhododendron that performed the same task for the bedroom.
I lived with those bushes and bare ground for a long time, while I concentrated on serious indoor problems like the plumbing and electrical systems. I did amend the soil with donated manure and leaves and I stuck plants that friends gave me into the ground. The result was a yard that looked like a New England specimen garden
for the agriculturally-impaired. A delphinium here. Two peonies there.
This is one of my favorite rejected pieces. Lots of nice letters saying sorry, "The Renovation Itch" made the rounds of the usual susupects The Boston Globe, Home Forum, and a bunch of decorating magazines. It appears from my files to have been originally written in 2001
The Renovation Itch
“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a couple in possession of a newly renovated house must be in want of a bigger one.”
Surely this is how Jane Austen would have begun a sequel to Pride and Prejudice. For no matter what the size of the estate to begin with, once a couple has been together for a few years and renovated the property, it’s never large enough.
My husband and I have been together for eight years, seven of them in wedded bliss and constant renovation. I knew that Bill was the one when he repaired
This essay is truly reportage. This event actually happened, the way I described it. I think it was a bit too macabre for most publications — I sent it to Poets & Writers, Smithsonian, the back page of Orion, the Boston Globe, and Yankee. None of them took it, but they all responded in a nice way to it.
AN UNTIMELY DEATH
When I saw the cat lying in the road, I thought, "It can't be Ninja. Ninja never roams this far. When I get to the driveway, he'll come to greet me like he always does."
I drove slowly past the cat, amazed that someone could leave a