All posts by Susan Shafarzek

Doubts About the Enterprise by Angela J. Latham

Photo of pen writing on paper
 

I can’t tell if it’s a naturally recurring feature of my post-mastectomy slog, or just another variation of my chronic struggle to feel relevant. Four weeks out from surgery I stare at my screen and write sentences, only to delete them seconds later. “I decided that if I let a boy get me pregnant, I would kill myself before I’d ever tell my parents. I would have too.” Hyperbole. Delete. “Later I learned that there were problems in the Evangelical Women’s Caucus. By 1987 it had split up into two groups, each better reflecting the … Continue reading Doubts About the Enterprise by Angela J. Latham

From One March to Another: My NICU Baby and the Pandemic Turned One by Jamie Farnsworth Finn

Photo of cake with rainbow colored layers
 

I stared at the thick frosting of the cake, dotted with rainbow sprinkles, wondering if this would be what made him sick. I’d messed up the recipe, not realizing that “pasteurized egg whites” were different from just regular eggs that you took the yolks out of. So, the buttercream frosting included a decent amount of raw eggs. I’d already spent every day since his birth worried he would get sick. Today, on his first birthday, I worried the cake would be the reason. When you’re born in a pandemic, death seems as likely as life. … Continue reading From One March to Another: My NICU Baby and the Pandemic Turned One by Jamie Farnsworth Finn

The Piano Lesson by Carole Duff

Photo of open piano with music sheets
 

Carole Duff has earned an Honorable Mention in Streetlight’s 2021 Essay/Memoir Contest   “I love a piano, I love a piano, I love to hear somebody play . . .” From Irving Berlin’s Stop! Look! Listen! Soon after moving into our first house, my husband and I purchased a piano. It was a Belarus reproduction of a Yamaha upright with a shiny, red-brown acrylic finish. One of my husband’s university colleagues knew a Russian musician and piano tuner who knew an immigrant couple who wanted to sell their piano. In the late 70s, they were … Continue reading The Piano Lesson by Carole Duff

The Hidden Curriculum by Naomi Raquel Enright

Photo of chairs in classroom
 

Naomi Raquel Enright has earned an Honorable Mention in Streetlight’s 2021 Essay/Memoir Contest I am the brown-skinned, biological mother of a son presumed to be white. My mother is Ecuadorian and my father was Jewish American. I was raised to name and understand racism and was taught that the racism I experience is because of an ideology of racial difference that systematically privileges and protects whiteness while simultaneously disenfranchising and criminalizing blackness and brownness. Even before I had the language to describe this understanding, I knew it was an ideology and a system that I … Continue reading The Hidden Curriculum by Naomi Raquel Enright

Celebration (Part II) by Susan Shafarzek

Photo of wine glass on colorful tablecloth
 

I’m amazed and delighted every time we hold Streetlight’s Essay/Memoir contest to see how many wonderful submissions we get. The only sorrow is that we can’t give out more than three cash awards. But, we can offer honorable mentions and this year, I’m happy to say, six very excellent writers have agreed to let us publish their work under that aegis. We’ll be starting to roll out those wonderful essays this coming Friday, with Naomi Enright’s insightful and useful criticism of the usual way our troubled American history gets presented in school. The Hidden Curriculum, … Continue reading Celebration (Part II) by Susan Shafarzek

Water by Armen Bacon and Phyllis Brotherton

Photo of flowing water
 

Armen Bacon and Phyllis Brotherton are the 3rd place winners in Streetlight’s 2021 Essay/Memoir Contest   Sheltering-in-place brought out the wannabe gardener in me, a long-time aspiration, with many attempts usually not ending well; these failures primarily attributed to over- or under-watering, usually the latter. I forget or get sidetracked with another endeavor or simply want to put watering off until tomorrow. In the heat of summer in the San Joaquin Valley of California, unless you desire heat stroke, watering should occur early or late, not in the hottest part of the day. I’ve been … Continue reading Water by Armen Bacon and Phyllis Brotherton

A Tuskegee Airman by Miles Fowler

Photo of plane
 

As a Tuskegee Airman, the late Leon “Woodie” Spears was one of fewer than 1,000 African-Americans pilots in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. He was among the last cadets to be trained on the grounds of (and in the air above) the Tuskegee Army Air Field near Tuskegee, Ala. Several thousand other African-Americans were also trained there to be navigators, traffic controllers, mechanics, and bomber crew members. Nothing was easy for the young black men who came to Tuskegee from all around the country in the early 1940s. Woodie was from … Continue reading A Tuskegee Airman by Miles Fowler

The Wedding Guest by Melissa Sinclair

Photo of roses in glasses
 

Melissa Sinclair is the 2nd place winner in Streetlight’s 2021 Essay/Memoir Contest   “Can u go to the parler with me today if u don’t have any plans?” This text is from my friend Nighat, who is getting married today. I do not have plans; I have been wandering around Houston in the rain. My Lyft driver pulls up to an immaculate house in the farthest exurbs of the city. The stylist, Shaireen, is a brisk Pakistani mom of three. Her eyes are the color of the sea just before a storm. She spreads white … Continue reading The Wedding Guest by Melissa Sinclair

Garden Thief by Kate Sheridan

Photo of plant with white flower
 

Kate Sheridan is the 1st place winner in Streetlight’s 2021 Essay/Memoir Contest   I wasn’t always a thief. But some losses demand rebalancing. Redistribution. Retribution? In hindsight, I should have asked for the house. But the habit of self-sacrifice was so ingrained it barely crossed my mind. Instead, in the dead of winter I took our tiny travel trailer to a campground along the river and left him our two-bedroom rancher on its fertile country acre. Later that spring, when I moved into a real house, I took only the minimum from the home we’d … Continue reading Garden Thief by Kate Sheridan

Puzzle Envy by Vicky Oliver

Photo of hand holding pen filling in crossword
 

Each week, my husband completes the New York Times Sunday Magazine crossword puzzle in about thirty minutes, leaving no square unfilled. He writes in pen and never crosses anything out. Starting at 1 Across, and moving across the puzzle like a ravenous lawnmower razing grass, he completes all the Across sections to approximately 120 Across, only deigning to glance at the Down clues if he reaches a difficult patch. If I were an insecure person, I’d feel pretty dumb by comparison. The only clues he ever asks my help with are the names of makeup … Continue reading Puzzle Envy by Vicky Oliver