OSCAR AND VERONICA
The Nervous Breakdown
"The two of them sit on the curb across the street from the Fun Church listening to the Christian rock jamming out the stained-glass windows. It’s that day: the perfect one between spring and summer that everyone in Chicago waits for. No humidity. No clouds. The grass has reached its greenest. The rehearsal of music that they’d both normally hate sounds pleasant. And the potential for that afternoon in the sun is overwhelming infinite. So they sit on the curb with their backs to Wicker Park scattered with other single people sunbathing and playing chess and softball and Frisbee. But they are not happy...."
CONNECTED THAT WAY
"Stories on Stage" WBEZ public radio
"I had a baby. Mary came out me, and we’re together always, riding the bus, eating, walking side-by-side, bussing tables at the Nite ‘N’ Day. Now she’s big as me. Her and me’re hard to tell apart, except I got only a few teeth so you see my smile and know I’m the mom. Mary doesn’t call me Mom. She calls me my name, Sally. The City takes care of us, gives us a room, makes sure we go to work and earn a paycheck. Aileen is the City. She stays at the House with us and the others. She is real nice to me and Mary. Mary’s good at making sure I cross the street at the light so cars don’t hit me. I’m good at making sure Mary wears washed clothes. I separate what’s clean and what’s not. The dirty ones don’t go in the drawers. We got keys and cards kept all together around our necks. The keys open doors and the cards let us get on the #49 bus, showing who we are with photos and names. Hers says Mary. Mine says Sally."
"There were muggings and auto accidents and venereal diseases. There were Christmas Eve shopping emergencies and cheating lovers and dead bodies. All challenges in a day’s work. I’d just completed my graduate work and immediately begun work for AXA Assistance, a French insurance company that included emergency travel assistance as an add-on. It was standard for most insurance companies outside of the States; you have a phone number on the back of a card that you call when you run into trouble while traveling. The office maintained over forty languages and had sister offices across the globe. It was heart-racingly exciting and stressful and exhausting, and while I worked there, I never wrote a single word."
FOREIGNER IN A
Briefly Knocked Unconscious by a Low-Flying Duck
This anthology of short, personal essays brings a vibrant oral tradition to the page through the work of 2nd Story, a Chicago-based collective working to build community through storytelling. These original, unpublished essays are adapted from the group’s monthly events, which fuse page, stage, and sound to deliver a unique, live literary and theatrical experience. Contributors include Sam Weller, Patricia Ann McNair, Eric Charles May, and Randall Albers.
Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Send them my way—I thrive on constructive criticism.