Creative nonfiction essays



tablets click into sickly amber plastic like the urine they render so urgent in reverse. click (drop), click (drop), streams of static swishing sound heard on the off-air channels of anything analog.

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Sweet Little Comforts

Mont Blanc

My thought is a mandala, a mantra. A round thing turning over and over in my mind. A focus for my eyes and my breath. It’s as close as I come to prayer.

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Normal, IL movie theater

“There will be people who’ll cross the street to avoid you because you’re black,” my mother would tell me when I was younger, in every conversation or argument about race we ever had.

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Night Cycling

Night Cycling

The island was ours; each kissing gate and the kisses inside of them, each water trough, every animal call, root, rock, dock leaf and bunker. Even the moon.

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Gdansk Fever


According to an Ask Jeeves Internet search, Gdansk holds over 300 hotels, not including informal hostels and private “zimmers.” Why so many? I’m glad you asked.

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Meditating with Mabel

We considered Mabel housebroken, but as any good Buddhist—or new dog owner—knows, identity is a construct, subject to change. In other words, accidents happen, especially when no one’s watching.

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If You Think You’re the Best

When I ascended to the den, pliers in hand, to watch the Americans go down in Lillehammer, I knew I didn’t want to go out like them.

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For a While, For the Summer

Coffee mug and press

I want an example, a model for how to live independently, with the smallest bit of indifference and anonymity, without fear, for a while, for the summer.

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The Edith Wharton Inside Me

Edith Wharton

It is rare in my experience that anyone can be both the center and circumference of a circle. How does Edith manage it?

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I Was 16

I was 16 in 1994. I had a crush on a girl at my high school named Stacy. She was two years older — blonde hair, a grunge band on her t-shirt and a constant half-smile on her face — and it goes without saying that she had absolutely no interest in me.

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David Foster Wallace and the Velveteen Rabbit

The Velveteen Rabbit

Interviewed by Stacey Schmeidel for the Spring 1999 issue of Amherst Magazine, David Foster Wallace said, “The truth is I don’t think I’ve ever found anything as purely ‘moving’ as the end of The Velveteen Rabbit when I first read it.”

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Whore of Babel

The place in the brain where language sucks meaning can seem like nirvana.

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Daughter off the Cross


It wasn’t until she lied to me that Irene earned my respect.

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Birth of the Cool

Thelonious Monk

I grew up in a wealthy, Westside neighborhood and attended schools dreamt up by former hippies. The city’s racial metaphor for me felt like a pot of soup with a nice, chef salad, something casual and light and accompanied by a glass of iced tea.

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My Beijing

my beijing

Grandpa bought the place for cheap back in the sixties, a Communist blessing. Grandpa did good for high-ranking Reds. Black-and-white photographs of him with the Chairman hang where house guests will look.

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