All posts by Susan Shafarzek

Hot Toddies by Anne Carson

Person drinking from mug
 

***Anne Carson is the 2nd place winner of Streetlight’s 2018 Essay/Memoir Contest*** Before my older sister outgrew me, outgrew our entire family’s chaos, we shared a bedroom. For a few years there, we were good company for each other. We would stay up after bedtime and role-play storybook fantasies about our futures that seemed more like memories of a former life together centuries ago—as shopkeepers in some village. She on the twin bed beside the windows on the front of the house, me on the bed closer to the hallway. We sold fine goods, maybe … Continue reading Hot Toddies by Anne Carson

24 Hours by Heather Bartlett

View through back of ambulance
 

***Heather Bartlett is the 1st place winner of Streetlight’s 2018 Essay/Memoir Contest***   “Working for 24 hours straight is all about your perspective,” he says. “Your body can handle it. Human beings adapt. Think about it. How many times have you stayed up all night studying? Or partying?” “Sure,” I say, “but this is different.” It’s so hard. Physically. Without sleep I have to interact with so many people, make decisions and make sense. Both a patient and my partner are depending on me when I’m definitely not my best. I’m only partially sure it … Continue reading 24 Hours by Heather Bartlett

We Have Winners

Balloons and Confetti
 

Congratulations to the winners of Streetlight’s 2018 Essay/Memoir contest! But first, a little whining. Judging a contest is a lot of hard work (whine, whine). I hasten to say I don’t mean the reading of the entries. That’s really fun. It’s the making of decisions. I had good help, but we had some very tough contenders. Everyone (perhaps with not quite as much whining as myself) agreed it was hard to make these decisions. We saw excellent writing, acute observation, heartfelt disclosure. Only three winners could prevail. I’m hoping that those who didn’t win will … Continue reading We Have Winners

Death in Vienna by Brett Busang

Painting of bulidings in Vienna
 

Michaelerkirche goes back to the 1200’s and looks it. Being from a country whose ancient history—as far as English-speaking people go—stretches back to Plymouth Rock, I have no local frame of reference. What is the 13th century supposed to look like? Ancient and forbidding, I would think. Dark most certainly—though accommodations have been made for 21st century prejudices, which include a yearning for visibility. Yet I gave the 13th century my due attention and was duly rewarded. I seemed to understand its unpainted stonework, its dankly disarranged furniture, its pointy architecture. (Baroque people had re-shaped … Continue reading Death in Vienna by Brett Busang

Only Skin Deep by Linda Nemec Foster

broken pearl necklace
 

If I could erase anything from my distant past (not the recent one), it would be that first half of fifth grade from September to December of 1960. The country was on the edge of its Camelot years with JFK and Jackie, perfectly coiffed, on his arm. I was on the edge of my first meltdown: pre-adolescent, pre-pubescent, pre-everything. Stuck in fifth grade, I viewed the universe from a basement classroom in the bowels of St. Wenceslas Elementary School in a boring suburb of Cleveland. Most of the teachers were nuns, relegated to black and … Continue reading Only Skin Deep by Linda Nemec Foster

Maida’s Little Books by Susan Shafarzek

Drawing of a house made from neon wires
 

Maida Westabrook was a brave little girl who had a “floating mass of hair, pale gold and tendrilly” and also a serious chronic illness, which had at one time confined her to a wheelchair, but that was in the past. She could now walk, albeit with difficulty, and had many friends. She also had a devoted—and, happily, wealthy—father, a widower who cherished the life of this his only progeny and thus was devoted to making her life satisfying, stimulating, and worthwhile. To that end, as can happen only in fiction, he provided her (in a … Continue reading Maida’s Little Books by Susan Shafarzek

Wrestling With Peace by Mary Alice Hostetter

Rainbow colored peace symbol
 

I remember that day in sixth grade at Gap Elementary School with painful clarity. Mrs. Groff turned from the board where she had written in her careful cursive the names of the countries involved in The War—seemed pretty much the whole world—and she asked, “How many of your fathers fought in the war?” She might as well have asked, “And how many of your fathers stayed home and milked cows while brave men went off to foreign lands to fight for freedom?” That’s how I heard her question, and I wanted to disappear. It was … Continue reading Wrestling With Peace by Mary Alice Hostetter

Just a Crush by John Ballantine

Two people looking out at the sea
 

Did she touch you like that, with a little more than love, a little more hurt than you want? Did you see the pain in the dulled eyes; hear the shame in her slurred words? Did you know the room was not safe? I knew when I turned in the dark that I should not switch the light on—not because my clothes were thrown on the chair, or the book on my desk was opened to unfinished homework. No, I knew that the door was open a crack letting in eyes that were too familiar. … Continue reading Just a Crush by John Ballantine

The Paradox Formation by Mary Pacifico Curtis

Giant rocks in black and white
 

When I was a child, Moab terrain served as backdrop for macho trucks suddenly dwarfed like hood ornaments atop massive mesas, the sun blazing rays from which, within seconds, a Chevrolet logo would emerge. In a photo of Moab terrain, Doug half crouched with his bike on a flat rock precipice, the Colorado River murky in the canyon’s distance below its edge. In the frozen moment, a smile spilled across his face completing the image of energy about to explode into motion. I chose this photo for the cover of his funeral program. A year … Continue reading The Paradox Formation by Mary Pacifico Curtis

The Hit Lady by B.K. Marcus

2 birds sitting on a lamp post
 

She was four-foot-something, ancient, squat, and elegant. I assumed she was Russian, though I only ever heard her speak once. She was born before there was such a thing as the Warsaw Pact, before the Cold War, before the founding of the Bolsheviks. Even in her diamonds and furs, she did not seem out of place in our eleven-story, turn-of-the-century university building, nestled between Harlem and the Hudson, where the elbow-patched faculty of the 1970s lived alongside the Old World émigrés of earlier decades. I could already see over her hat by the time I … Continue reading The Hit Lady by B.K. Marcus