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When Did You Start/Quit Smoking?

I started smoking when I was fifteen years old, back when almost everybody smoked, shortly after the Surgeon General’s Advisory Committee on Smoking and Health confirmed a causal relationship between cigarettes and lung cancer. The committee’s four hundred page report claimed that an average smoker was nine to ten times more likely to die of […]

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EE Cummings

I Must Have Been Dreaming

Just because I’m of a certain age, it doesn’t mean I’m all grown up. And just because I’ve been in therapy for the past twenty years, it doesn’t mean I’m entirely sane. At five o’clock this morning, I woke up in the middle of a “project.”  As I bobbed up to consciousness, I found myself […]

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The Husband Store

One lovely day in June, back when I was thirty-something, my mother came to town to conduct her annual appraisal and denunciation of my life choices. She determined almost immediately that my job, my lifestyle, my finances (hair, apartment and cat) showed no promise of ever being what they should have been by that time, […]

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Now We Are Sixty

You’ve seen it before – it was inevitable – aging baby boomers everywhere changing the title of A.A. Milne’s book to suit themselves, from Now We Are Six to Now We Are Sixty.  For many of us, the gentle inhabitants of the 100 Acre Wood enriched our earliest years: Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Tigger and […]

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The Butterfly Was One of Three

The butterfly was one of three that decorated my fortieth birthday cake.  The white arrowhead my grandfather found when he was young, perhaps as young as he was when the nearby picture of him was taken in his doughboy uniform. The baby hairbrush just below that picture belonged to his firstborn daughter, my mother, who […]

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Part Time Wrecker Driver

Wanted: Financial Reporting Accountant…..Programmer Analyst…..Hospice Social Worker and Bereavement Counselor…..Assertive Community Treatment Team Leader…..Second Shift Vacuum Coating Technician…..Part Time Wrecker Driver Last winter, just before Christmas, I applied for a job at the Trinity Lutheran Church.  Secretary.  Part Time.  “Pastor Peggy” returned my email within minutes to say that I was perfect for the job.  However, […]

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Adorably Imperfect

I can’t get my therapist to feel sorry for me. Last week, during our weekly session on the third floor of the First Baptist Church, where the Brattleboro Pastoral Counseling Center operates rent free, I tried.  In an effort to demonstrate my firm grip on reality, I fired off a list of “incompletes,” things considered […]

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Tender is the Invisible Light in August

It was a bright clear day, a sunny afternoon overshadowed by dismal thoughts.  I was standing in the Hotel Pharmacy, feeling beat.  Beat as in defeated, not tired.  The folks at the Hotel Pharmacy are competent, compassionate people.  They were being especially compassionate with me, perhaps because they sensed my anxiety or had even detected […]

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Cold Sesame Noodles and Ben-Hur

There was a brief time in my life when I lost control over my body and with it, the ability to correctly gauge my emotions.  I wasn’t particularly good at feeling my feelings back then anyway.  Even so, it took me longer than usual to detect a pattern and a disturbance in the fact that […]

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How to Read Moby Dick

I was lying on a gurney in the emergency room at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital.  It was just past noon.  I was feeling stupid, my appearance made ludicrous and my movement restricted by a hospital gown that covered only the half of me and a gangling variety of apparatuses: oxygen tubing clipped to my nostrils, electrodes […]

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