Rust & Remembrance: Jacob’s Ladder, Part 1

Marine diesel oil is the color of burnt sienna and emits an odor that smells like fermented soil, all earthy and rich, harsh but intoxicating. Work around tankers a while and you pick up a nose for it, like some insufferable wine buff. You become an aficionado of distillates.

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Felony Record: Ban the Box

I’ve run the job search gauntlet before and having a record makes it even more difficult to change employers. Staying at my current job, no matter my happiness level, means not having to start over in proving my value and capability. Of the things holding me back, foremost is my fear of the box.

Bootstraps: Single Mother/ Courtney Gutierrez

I answer emails and nurse and write treatment goals and rock the baby and meet over the phone and jiggle a pacifier and enter data and bounce a vibrating chair with my feet and all the time I am buzzing, buzzing, buzzing inside.

Black, I: The Truth About Slavery

I was in the ninth grade, the only black girl in a classroom of white peers, when I learned the truth about slavery. At the time, I thought I knew all there was to know. No fault of my mother’s; she just didn’t have the heart to tell me the whole truth…

Black Mourning: Let Our Grief Be Our Own

We must let our grief and our celebration, our individual experience, be our own. Because given the voice to speak our own way, we all have something distinct to say about our collective history and future…

Bootstraps: The Happiest Place on Earth/ Asha Doré

The American Dream, he’d say, and we’d both go quiet and watch the short evergreens and palms out the front window for a beat, their leaves waving a little under the swarm of midday sun. When the window filled suddenly with with a spray of water, the trees and road went liquid. Their colors blurred. Dad would gasp, Shit, Asha it’s happening again. He’d say, God’s raining only on us.

Rust & Remembrance: Nicknames

We all had nicknames in the shipyard up north, not so down south. I don’t know why that is; maybe because the yards down south were so damned big and the bosses were always watching. We would never collect in groups out in the open in the southern yards, while up north we had real unions and some really tough shop stewards, so the ass-kicking went both ways…