Posts tagged "research"
Anniversary Disease

Anniversary Disease

Every day is the anniversary of something. May 26th is the anniversary of my mom pulling out half her hair while giving birth to me. It is also the anniversary of the public hanging of Alse Young, the first person executed for witchcraft in the American colonies. May 27th is the anniversary of my unquenchable...
Abandoned

Abandoned

The manager of the marina explained why I saw few deserted autos in the Keys. “After hurricane Wilma, we hauled 65,000 automobiles out of Key West. Most of those sat neglected long before Wilma arrived.” “And, you know, the population of Key West is only 25,000.” In the ocean, plastics, chemical sludges, and other man-made...
How to Erase an Arab

How to Erase an Arab

“Israeli General Says Mission is to Smash P.L.O. in Beirut” Seventh grade, social studies—On the family tree, next to the names of my father’s family, I write locations of birth: Lebanon, Palestine, Syria. I trace flags from my atlas. There is no Palestinian flag in the book, but I know how to draw it. When...
Notes on Conscience

Notes on Conscience

“The Ayenbite of Inwyt,” Richard Rolle of Hampole called it. Prick of conscience. The voice of God within. Internal wisdom. Tolstoy saw most people seeking to silence it with habit, if not with tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs.  See “Why Do Men Stupefy Themselves?”: “The cause of the world-wide consumption of hashish, opium, wine, and...
A Brief Atmospheric Future

A Brief Atmospheric Future

If we’re to believe the neuroscientist Professor Marcus Pembrey, from University College London, who concluded that “Behaviour can be affected by events in previous generations which have been passed on through a form of genetic memory…phobias, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorders… [even] sensitivity to [a] cherry blossom scent…” then the pigeon knows of its ancestors’...

On Keeping a (Writing) Notebook (or Three)

In her essay “On Keeping a Notebook,” Joan Didion writes about the odd notes she has taken over the years – on conversations she has overheard (“That woman Estelle is partly the reason why George Sharp and I are separated today”), facts she has learned (“during 1964, 720 tons of soot fell on every square...
Post-Mortem

Post-Mortem

In the arctic, there is very little predation. The cold and lack of scavengers or insects keeps death on pause. The puffin with wet wings will lay on the beach for months. A washed up narwhal must wait for a polar bear. If he dies north of the tundra, a polar bear must wait for...
Crossing the Rapidan (#18)

Crossing the Rapidan (#18)

I’m falling. I thought the ground was there, that the wall would hold. I was wrong, and now I am moving through the air, nothing holding me.   Grant moves south. Grant moves south.   The sun is high in the sky, rising over my forehead. As I accelerate down, I think, quietly: I am falling.  ...
Wide Open Spaces

Wide Open Spaces

The policewoman, let’s call her Ann Marie, doesn’t stop talking as she shows me the crime scene photographs of the woman who shot me when I was seven years old. This is the first time I’ve seen the photos of her suicide, though I was seven a long time ago. Twenty-four years. These are my...
Silence and Not-Knowing: An Introduction and Silence Is My Playlist (On Being Asked for One to Go with My Work)

Silence and Not-Knowing: An Introduction and Silence Is My Playlist (On Being Asked for One to Go with My Work)

Silence and Not-Knowing: An Introduction If I had to name our household’s mantra, it would probably be “go look it up.” This, of course, is the most basic response to not-knowing: researching in order to learn, confirm or dispel. (For example, a certain person always wanted to be a hostage negotiator, until, in her research,...

Ignorance, Lies, Imagination and Subversion in the Writing of Memoir and the Personal Essay

I’ve long believed that much of the power of memoir and the personal essay comes from the fact that the writer allows the reader to stand alongside him or her, participating in events that have already happened and sharing space with the author’s sensibility. To make that possible, I tell my students, it can be...

Dogs in the Dark

I lie in bed, breath suspended. In the darkness, something is moving. It’s not that I don’t know the source of the noise–it’s that I do. My border collie mix is just making his watchdog rounds, checking each room, working the graveyard shift. His job for fifteen years. Only for the last year Cal’s rhythm...

The Blind Prophets of Easter Island

Jacques Cousteau and his son, Philippe, circle the thirty-foot stone Moai heads of Easter Island. I sit on the matted carpet of my Oakland apartment. He squints and purses his lips and nods towards each elongated face in some ritual of recognition he usually reserves for communing with aquatic life. I bounce somebody else’s baby...

The Soils I Have Eaten

The state soil of New York is named for the place where a man lost his finger to a rattlesnake. The finger lays quiet in the ground. The snake’s great-great-grandsnakes still chitter through this soil. Sometimes one snake gets the idea he can blink his eye. He concentrates on this single violet thought. A slick frog crunches...