About American Breakdown

All told, I was sick for a quarter of a century. Just launching into adulthood when the illness first struck, I was 21 years old and bedridden—an old lady in a young woman’s body. The fatigue felled me. I couldn’t hold a book. Talking on the phone wiped me out. Walking a block to the corner store wrecked me. I took baths rather than stand in the shower. I stopped brushing my teeth at night.

I felt utterly alone until the day I stumbled upon Jean Strouse’s 1980 biography of Alice James—the chronically ill sister of the writer Henry James and the psychologist William James—and felt I had met my kindred spirit. Why was I sick? Why was she? A doctor told me I was “just depressed,” and researchers called Alice’s illness “fashionable.” But was it really so simple? Were these illnesses simply the psychosomatic expressions of conflicted psyches? Or was there something more to the story?

The Butterfly Effect

I’m pleased to announce that “The Butterfly Effect”–which was first published in Creative Nonfiction, where it won the Robert Fragasso Animal Advocate Award for the Best Creative Nonfiction Essay About Animals, and then went on to win a Pushcart Prize–is now available online. Click here to read about monarch butterflies, the Butterfly Lady of Butterfly Town, USA, and so much more.

5 Questions from Orion’s Scott Gast

  “I started out researching an article about mammograms, and in the process I uncovered all of this other mind-blowing information about Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the pink ribbon campaign. I even created a file called ‘Hypocrisy, Doublespeak, and Conflicts of Interest.’ Later, that file got subdivided into three separate files: ‘Monsanto,’ ‘American Cancer Society,’ and ‘Pinkwashing.’ Read more…

A Pushcart Prize!

Well. I am downright delighted to report the happy news that my Creative Nonfiction essay, “The Butterfly Effect,” has won the coveted Pushcart Prize and will be published in The Pushcart Prize XXXVII: Best of the Small Presses, coming out in November of this year. Pulitzer Prize winning poet Charles Wright says, “A Pushcart Prize selection is one of the very best…