After the divorce, when I was three, Mom and I moved to a rental house in Botsford, Massachusetts. The town was neatly divided by railroad tracks, as cliché as that sounds. The other side of town was where people had two cars in the garage, maybe a higher-end Ford or Toyota, raised ranches and split-levels in a palette of blues and yellows, with an occasional splatter of red. Our neighborhood had duplexes in gray and beige with skeletal cars posed like lawn sculptures.
Our front door opened directly into the living room that was just big enough for an old couch Mom covered with a bright blue sheet, and a black-and-white TV perched on the shelf she made from two-by-fours and bricks. Up a single file staircase we each had our own room. I felt safe there.
I remember Mom hunched over the kitchen table with various envelopes, pencil, pad, and calculator figuring how to make it to the next check. When we did get a check, on the first and fifteenth, she would divide up the cash into labeled envelopes for food, electric, gas, and my favorite—sundry items. “What’s sundry Mommy?” I asked when she read it aloud to me.
“That’s for you, Sweetpea, when you need an ice cream cone or a slushy at the park.” ...
I hold this story close to my heart. I wrote it for anyone who has been suddenly abandoned, anyone who has taken great emotional risks in order to find themselves. Right now I am healing from a huge, sudden abandonment in my life. And even though I have slowly learned how to mend this hole in my heart and spirit, I walk this world knowing that I am not the same—that I am more skittish, my stride not as smooth. I write to let others like me know that they are not alone. I hope this story gently holds your hand.
I am also the author of three collections, The Way Home (Dancing Girl Press 2013), For The Woman Alone (Ampersand Books 2014), and Bomb, which is to be published by Ampersand Books this year. I am the Art Director of SmokeLong Quarterly , and my work has been published in The Rumpus and Bartleby Snopes . I write to nurture and nourish, and when I am not writing I explore this world with photography.
As soon as I read John Cheever’s The Wapshot Chronicle, The Wapshot Scandal, and his short stories, I wanted to be a writer.
The Courier is a story from an unpublished collection of 28 stories: Portraiture: A San Francisco Story Cycle.
JOE DE PATTA
I was 15 when my band, piano, drums, and guitar, had our first paying gig at a school gym in the San Francisco bay area. It was terrifying and sensational. Performing has become easier decades later, but echoes of the original anxiety endure. The poems are about the competition, jealousy, frustration, friendship, loss, and joy that all bands experience. Whether they play note-perfect Beatles songs, ragged reggae, blues, prog rock, punk, or metal, every member has experienced the same disillusion and inspiration, sometimes in the space of a few minutes.
I was born and raised in San Francisco and I now live in Taos, New Mexico. I am copy editor for The New Smoker , a magazine about modern cannabis culture, and my short story Earthquake was in issue #5. I’ve written two and a half novels and many short stories, poems, and essays
JUDY L MANDEL
My first writing life was that of a news reporter, which morphed into work in public relations and then corporate marketing. Sigh.
My second writing life led me to write a memoir, Replacement Child (Seal Press, 2013), about growing up as a replacement of sorts for my sister who was killed in a plane crash, and about my family’s survival of that tragedy.
Now, in addition to my own writing, I am an editor, writing coach, and ghostwriter. I run an annual Memoir Retreat Workshop, this year in Siena, Italy.
Here I Stand is based on true events. Maria is me.
My most recent work is a chapbook Folding Washing and a collection of poems My Gift to Life. My story The Wife and the Piano Teacher is published in Issue 22 of the 34thParallel Magazine .