A Waitress' Tale

It never happened at Isaly’s ice cream joint, the first place I waitressed.  

Well, waitressing is probably not the right word for what I did. It was more like order-taking, burger-flipping, shake-making, and plopping-on-the-counter-for-the-customer work. That demanding all-in-one food industry post that so many have as their first or second or forever job. 

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October Dark

It was almost three years ago when I went over to his house. He was a sophomore in college that already lived off campus and that was kind of cool. He was into anime and when I had been the desk manager at the dorm he had lived in the year before that was how we became friends. Kind of. 

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Health Class Didn't Teach Me About Rape

It was over a year later that I realized what had happened. It may sound strange to you that I didn’t know it had. Wouldn’t you know if that kind of thing had happened to you? I wasn’t unconscious or inebriated. I remembered that evening, those moments in that room, but I didn’t realize it had happened. Because it wasn’t the kind of thing I was taught about in health class. Instead, I was taught about herpes and genital warts and obesity.

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Seventeen

Train station toilets and hospital rooms, especially bed seven, smell the same. Like chlorine and baking soda and coercion and cold. I’m seventeen and I wear my school uniform. No - she wears her school uniform, three layers of khaki and stockings. He wears a suit and carries an umbrella. 

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The Myth of the Nice Guy: And Why You Don't Owe Anyone Anything

Over a decade ago, I had a best guy friend with whom I shared a great deal of my life. He was the picture perfect, textbook “nice guy.” Unfortunately, as is common, when someone seems nearly too good to be true, they often are. This guy was my best friend. And I his. I had always suspected that he wanted more than my friendship, but I wasn’t interested in taking our relationship to that place. I thought this was something that he would respect. I was wrong.

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Choices

On an August day in 1988 I walked home from my summer job at the Farish Street YMCA. I was fifteen and a freshman in the Lanier High School band. Dressed in shorts and a t-shirt I moved along the sidewalk of Monument Street quick and unresponsive to the honking horns and catcalls from the fluid noon traffic. A man in torn blue jeans walked towards me with a brown bag in hand.  He brought the bag to his lips then howled when he returned it to his side. He looked at me then said,” GOOD STUFF!”

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Dear Love

Dear Melinda,

It’s been a while. A lot has changed since we were in second grade. I’ve fallen in love a few times, in different ways. I’ve said some “I love you” and said some “I love you too” and also kept some of them silently to myself. You know how it goes.

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Dear Old Flame

Dear Old Flame, 

Do you remember how we first met? It was an impromptu double date. One of your roommates was trying to hook up with one of my best friends, and my apartment was off campus. I pierced my nose that night, just for the fun of it, and you stopped by for an hour or so.

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Dear Papa

When the breeze blew cold, the sun shined bright and the room was filled with tears of happiness, you were holding a little girl in your arms. Your arms that were warm enough to cuddle her in that rainy and chilling July. Your fingers that lingered over her head and a kiss you planted on her forehead.

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Dear Francois

Dear Francois,

I’m using the names we picked for ourselves in French class all those years ago because technically I’m not even supposed to be thinking about you. It’s been nearly two decades after all, and I’m supposed to have grown up, moved on, and all that jazz. Well. I am married – happily, I promise.

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Dear Miss Marshall

Dear Miss Marshall,

I still dream about the band room at Paul Revere Junior High, even though more than sixty years have elapsed. I can see you now, sitting at the cluttered desk in your little office. The new school had just opened and my mother insisted I join the band, even though I had been playing the clarinet only a few months.

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Father Figure

You remember your father’s fingers curling around the head of your new born baby. They are long, the nails rectangular and pared, clean pink and white, like the baby. Her head fills one of his hands and he uses the other to cradle her body neatly to him.

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SecretsJulia NusbaumComment
Indulge Me

When I turned fifty, I made a video about that age. It included a status report on my body and mind — how both were doing. I documented my swollen joints, brown and white and pink spots in various places on my skin, and grey hair. Thirteen years later, I still have all those things, joints, spots, hair, in close to the same condition.

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SecretsJulia NusbaumComment
Velvet Theater

I have always been terrified. Jumpy. Unsettled. Waiting. Expecting something to go wrong. The scariest place for me has always been my own mind—its ability to morph something ordinary into something terrifying.  

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SpookyJulia NusbaumComment
Haunted Sleep

The problem with sleep paralysis is that no matter how much you know about it and how easily you can dismiss the things that happen as a side effect of coming out of REM sleep the wrong way, when it’s happening it can still feel like a ghost is attacking you. 

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My Cemetery

Officially, I do not believe in ghosts. Unofficially, I eat that stuff up. If someone has a ghost story to tell, I want to hear about it. Tapes of ghostly words? I’ll listen! (heart pounding, head under covers). Pictures? Yes, please. It is perhaps true that I have seen every episode of Paranormal State. There’s a nostalgia to my fascination with ghosts, I’m sure of it.

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SpookyJulia NusbaumComment