Category Archives: United States

Barley Swine

Do you care for any vodka with that?

Orange juice — I had asked the flight attendant for some orange juice. But despite the convincing case Kendrick Lamar made in my earbuds, I felt inclined not to drank. I was at cruising altitude, trekking 1,800 miles in order to feed myself.  And now I was thinking, about expectations and about managing them.

I saw the booze as a specious salve for the jittery nerves engendered by a delayed, overbooked flight. But for my neighbor — embittered towards American Airlines and pawing the arm rest like a caged tiger — alcohol was exactly the tranquilizer he needed. In fact, it was precisely what he expected. “Finally, some service around here,” he grumbled with a half-convincing smile. (For several more minutes, he continued to paw.) Continue reading

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Oxheart

“They spell puddin’ with a ‘G’ here, hon.”

I throw on a Texas twang neither of us have while I joke with my sister. It’s the first time we’ve had dinner alone in five years, and we’ve driven three and a half hours to get here.

We decide that in our home state, eliding that letter is required when speaking of corn puddin(g), but optional when one merely writes about it. Now before I do precisely that, some background is required…
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Red Medicine

My memory sucks.

There are gaps spanning several years. The most complex experiences survive only as basic sensory reactions — smells and sounds, especially. Etched in my nostrils even now is the aroma of burning leaves.

Before sparks turned to flames, I would splash through piles taller than I was, burying pine cones and needles. Nature’s firecrackers fell from the only kind of tree I knew growing up in east Texas. I don’t know how old I was, but I can still hear that sound. Continue reading

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