All posts by Susan Shafarzek

Precious by Sarah Dickerson

White and black kitten
 

When I was five years old my stepdad, Bill, found Precious as a stray kitten in the parking lot of his office and brought him/her home. We had him/her fixed at the appropriate time, but later, no one could remember which surgery had been performed. Was the cat spayed or neutered? We decided Precious was a girl—why else would we have named her Precious? And besides, don’t all cats seem inherently female? She was “precious” indeed. Solid white but for a black patch on top of her head between her ears, so little she slept … Continue reading Precious by Sarah Dickerson

A Visit With Santa by Priscilla Melchior

Santa waving in the falling snow
 

Clichés abound this time of year. It’s the one season in which it’s OK to speak of holiday magic or lapse into sappy memories like those that surfaced recently when I ran across a 1956 photo of 4-year-old me on the lap of Santa Claus. Understand, I’m talking about The Santa Claus—not some run-of-the-mill helper who brings up the rear in an annual Christmas parade. I mean he who sat upon the throne-like chair in Richmond’s Miller & Rhodes for the latter half of the 20th Century. Whole books have been written about his reign, … Continue reading A Visit With Santa by Priscilla Melchior

Miles and the Orgone by Miles Fowler

Gold domes on pink stands
 

In his 1971 memoir, Me and the Orgone, Orson Bean recounted his life-changing experience undergoing orgone therapy, a body-mind psychotherapy developed eighty years ago by Austrian-born psychiatrist Wilhelm Reich. Reich and orgone played a role in my life, too, beginning in the 1970s when I embarked on an eventually abandoned plan to become a psychotherapist. While studying Gestalt therapy and bioenergetics at Associates for Human Resources (AHR) in Concord, Massachusetts, I learned that these therapies are partly derived from different phases of Reich’s career. As a psychoanalyst in the 1920s, Reich developed a new approach … Continue reading Miles and the Orgone by Miles Fowler

Postcard From the Darkroom by Valerie Kinsey

Inside of a darkroom with safe light
 

During a late afternoon P.E. class in fourth grade, my mother came looking for me on the playground in her leather boots that zipped to the knee. In those days she wore her brown hair in a short permanent wave that looked like a little cap of curls from far away. I remember seeing her standing on the foursquare courts between our shrill games and the parking lot. She claims she called my name and I ignored her. I don’t remember the events of the afternoon this way; however, my family had encountered a lot … Continue reading Postcard From the Darkroom by Valerie Kinsey

My Sister by Peter Breyer

Picture of Berlin
 

The voice of the singer soared over the lyrics of the gospel choir that Easter morning a decade and a half ago. You plead my cause, You right my wrongs/ You break my chains, You overcome/ You gave Your life, to give me mine/ You say that I am free…How can it be? I had plenty of reason for celebration sitting by my wife of thirty-five years, our son and his fiancée, and finally, my 88-year-old mother, all in a row. The exuberant parishioners were filled with joy, but I was still distracted with the … Continue reading My Sister by Peter Breyer

Car Talk by Joan Lassiter

Tan 1973 Buick Riviera
 

I wheel in beside the beige Buick. Ten years ago Mama had claimed its parking space twenty feet below her apartment balcony. From there she watches over her car—a proud reminder that she still has places to go, people to see. “Hi, Honey!” she calls as my feet swivel from beneath the steering wheel and onto the pavement. I squint upward. Her gray curls are barely visible above the brick ledge. “Hurry on up. I need a hug.” Juggling my canvas tote and purse I lean down to peep into the half-lowered window of the … Continue reading Car Talk by Joan Lassiter

Quetico by Larry Glass

Fog over water and trees
 

At some point—I’m not sure when—I came to accept that there are quite a few things that I can’t control. It was not a conscious decision, no epiphany, no wrestling with big ideas. It’s not really ceding control—it’s accepting what has become increasingly obvious, in truth probably somewhere between realizing and accepting. The stock market, terrorism, famine, middle of the night trips to the bathroom, gray hair, the clutter that my wife and kids leave on the kitchen counter where I’m trying to cook, the hair that our dogs shed on the furniture, the weather. … Continue reading Quetico by Larry Glass

A Circular Argument by Miles Fowler

Older computer monitor and keyboard
 

I am a compulsive researcher. If it were not such a useful compulsion, I would need a twelve-step program to break the habit. I can get hooked on almost any research project, although I tend to obsessively research things that interest me like history, motion pictures and the supernatural, which, like religion, has long been a topic of interest to me without my necessarily believing in the suspension of the laws of nature. I am especially motivated to spend hours poring over records if I feel an emotional connection with a subject, for example, a … Continue reading A Circular Argument by Miles Fowler

Computing the Elusive Spirit of Place by Inderjeet Mani

Statue in front of blue and pink sky
 

We have our entanglements and love affairs with places. “And the end of all our exploring,” T. S. Eliot promises, “will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” Such knowledge may be never-ending. We don’t know what the sense of place felt like to our hunter-gatherer forebears, but judging from their sophisticated tracking and navigational skills, they were able to notice things in their environment that most of us have long forgotten. Luckily, along with other mammals, we still have our built-in sense of place, with maps of … Continue reading Computing the Elusive Spirit of Place by Inderjeet Mani

The Blue Dress by Karen Foster

Red shoes under blue cloth
 

***Karen Foster is an Honorable Mention for Streetlight’s 2018 Essay/Memoir Contest***   We Girls sit close together in the backseat of the car: Mission Accomplished. The Presentation of Mary Academy semi-formal is tonight and I am “doubling” with my friend, Maureen (a.k.a. “Mo”) and her steady boyfriend, Joe. A doll-sized study in organization, she has mapped out routes, timetables, and assignments over the past weeks with the efficiency of an executive level manager. Mo’s huge eyes and long lashes are framed by sharply penciled eyebrows that travel to the edge of her face. Joe’s large … Continue reading The Blue Dress by Karen Foster