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Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button? by
50
(61 Stories)

/ Stories

And the winner is: My aunt Ruth!  I’ve written about my Aunt Ruth and her buttons here and in my book. She inspired me to start my own collection when I was a teenager. I kept them in a small box inside my grandparents’ secretary desk. On more than one occasion, I talked to my…
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A Pair About Shoes by
50
(61 Stories)

Prompted By Shoes

/ Stories

Well, since this is a prompt about shoes, I figured that a pair of stories would be fitting. The first one is an excerpt from my book. The Red Shoes They were fire-engine red. Cherries in the snow red, million-dollar red; movie star pouty lips, just like on Mad Men red—an I-mean-business red. They had…
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Here’s to Life by
50
(61 Stories)

Prompted By Final Farewell

/ Stories

” I want  lots of roses,” my sister said. This was the first time she directly spoke about the inevitability of her death, acknowledging that some kind of farewell or celebration would be held for her. And she had a few ideas. I grabbed a note pad and we started planning what would become a…
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Boustrophedonic Musings by
50
(61 Stories)

Prompted By Brain Games

/ Stories

What does plowing a field have to do with knitting, one may ask. The answer: As knitters know, when knitting an intarsia pattern one reads the pattern from right to left, and in the following row from left to right. This type of writing/notation is known as boustrophedon. The word originates from the Greek: as…
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My Pink Dress by
50
(61 Stories)

Prompted By Lost and Found

/ Stories

The Pink Dress None of this was supposed to happen: not finding the dress, not losing the dress, and certainly not finding it again. But that’s what did happen.   In the days before you could make online reservations, my husband used the services of a trusted travel agent for his business trips and some…
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Second Hand Rose by
50
(61 Stories)

Prompted By Yard Sales

/ Stories

“What in the world will we do with all this stuff?” Soon after our mother passed away, my sister and I were faced with the daunting task that so many of our generation are dealing with these days: sorting through a lifetime’s accumulation of clothes, jewelry, tchotchkes, and mementos. Drawer after drawer revealed scarves, purses,…
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Letters to my Mother by
50
(61 Stories)

Prompted By Forgiveness

/ Stories

 I wrote a series of letters to my mother around Mother’s Day, ten years after her death: my attempt to get to a place of forgiveness.  Dear Mom, I guess we were a mismatch from the beginning. You wanted a boy; you got me: a scabby-kneed tree-climber, a girl who played with mud and tar…
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Waist Deep in the Big Muddy, Yet Again by
50
(61 Stories)

Prompted By Protests

/ Stories

This piece originally appeared in 2018 for the Student Activism prompt. Now in 2020, once again young activists are taking a leading role in the Black Lives Matter movement, taking it to the streets and the seats of government as a beleaguered nation is forced to face its history of systemic racism while a devastating…
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The Mowing of Summer Lawns by
50
(61 Stories)

Prompted By My Hometown

/ Stories

At dinner time, dads cup their hands around their mouths and call their kids home.
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Martha My Dear by
50
(61 Stories)

Prompted By Chance Encounters

/ Stories

"It was bashert," she used to say, using the Yiddish word for destiny
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That’s Life by
50
(61 Stories)

Prompted By Magazines

/ Stories

The photographs in LIFE captured powerful moments, whether the subjects were soldiers, politicians, athletes, poets and writers, Hollywood stars, or everyday people.
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The Enchanted Castle Cake by
50
(61 Stories)

Prompted By Recipes

/ Stories

It was more than just a cake; it was an architectural marvel. 
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A Visit from my Sister by
50
(61 Stories)

Prompted By Dreams

/ Stories

There I am, waiting for my shampoo to begin, when my sister emerges from behind the curtain at the back of the salon.
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M-I-C…K-E-Y… M-O-U-S-E! by
50
(61 Stories)

/ Stories

He was my first crush. Cubby O’Brian played the drums on The Mickey Mouse Club. Much to my dismay, he was always paired up with Karen*, who had pretty blonde curls. I didn’t look anything like this: Not me. No way. When I saw an  article in the SF Chronicle about the Disney Family Museum,…
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Time in a Bottle by
50
(61 Stories)

Prompted By Snail Mail

/ Stories

Or, more accurately: Time captured in a batch of letters. After my mother passed away in 2007, my sister and I found a stash of letters tucked away in my mom’s old cedar hope chest, along with some of what we assumed was her honeymoon lingerie. What a find! I’d forgotten about the letters, but…
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Nu? So It’s Christmas by
50
(61 Stories)

Prompted By Holidaze

/ Stories

While I enjoyed talking about eight days of presents, what I didn't talk about was how many of my gifts were practical things, like, oh, socks, for example.
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We Are Family by
50
(61 Stories)

Prompted By Cousins

/ Stories

Once we were six, and now we are five. First cousins.  We lined up like this: my sister, the oldest; the only boy; two of us born a few months apart; the middle of three sisters; and the baby. We posed for pictures together from the time we were toddlers. In the beginning, there were…
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Who Wrote the Book of Love? by
50
(61 Stories)

Prompted By Baby Books

/ Stories

When I was an adult, I found a little blue booklet with a few pages of notes written by my mother. She had filled in my name, my date of birth, weight, doctor's name, and a list of which shots I was given and when, with a reference to how much and what kind of formula I was fed. End of story.
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Crush Redux by
50
(61 Stories)

Prompted By The Crush

/ Stories

Those eyes, the black turtlenecks, the bon mots and literary references...Ilya was smart and sexy and mysterious.
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A Place of Wonder by
50
(61 Stories)

Prompted By Libraries

/ Stories

The Children's Room became my domain. This is where I first started reading about Beezus and Ramona, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, Amelia Earhart, Emma Lazarus,The All-of-a-Kind Family, Charlotte, Nancy Drew, and the magic stories of Edward Eager.
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He Was the Egg Man by
50
(61 Stories)

/ Stories

Throughout my childhood, Grampa Mike was always there : birthdays, holidays, ordinary days...and he used to show up with a flat of eggs and maybe some roses that were a little past their prime.
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Ain’t Gonna Lie by
50
(61 Stories)

Prompted By Honesty

/ Stories

Honestly, if I didn’t skirt around the truth when I was a teenager I never would’ve had any fun. Was I dishonest? On occasion, yes. And on one occasion I got out of a jam by being honest after I got myself into said jam by cheating. Let me explain. For some reason I no…
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Try to Remember… by
50
(61 Stories)

Prompted By Honeymoon

/ Stories

September 2, 1973 We began our honeymoon with an afterparty at a nearby restaurant. Several of our friends came along from the wedding; we shared some additional toasts at the bar before my brand-new husband and I drove to the airport to begin our long weekend away. Times being what they were, what with my…
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A Date at Eight by
50
(61 Stories)

Prompted By First Dates

/ Stories

I’m sure we thought we were terribly grown up, going on a date and all. Did my mother make me wear gloves? She may have.
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A Long and Winding Road by
50
(61 Stories)

/ Stories

"Notably the Berkeley School of Criminology was targeted by key players in the US military-industrial complex such as Ronald Reagan himself, then Governor of California and Regent of UC-Berkeley."
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PE and other Sorrows by
50
(61 Stories)

/ Stories

Before I can start talking about PE, I need to explain a couple of things. When I was in elementary school (fifth grade, I think), I came down with pneumonia. I believe I missed an entire month of school. The teacher had all the kids in my class send me get well cards, which I…
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Of Shoes–and Ships–and Sealing Wax by
50
(61 Stories)

Prompted By Poetry

/ Stories

I eat my peas with honey, I've done it all my life. It makes the peas taste funny, But it keeps them on my knife. --Gelett Burgess
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No FOMO for me! by
50
(61 Stories)

Prompted By Spring Break

/ Stories

Back before FOMO was a thing, it never dawned on me to do anything on “spring break.” Now, what do we think about when we think about spring break anyway? Off to the beach or the slopes, depending–right? College or high school kids up to no good, shenanigans and high jinks that these days are…
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2725 Haste Street by
50
(61 Stories)

Prompted By My First Apartment

/ Stories

I couldn’t wait to move out of my parents’ house after high school. I had decided to take what is now referred to as a “gap year,” and got no end of flak from my parents about it. I went searching for a job so I could make the first and last months’ rent for…
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How We Like Our Eggs by
50
(61 Stories)

/ Stories

The skin on my grandmother’s hands was paper thin. It’s what I remember most about her. She also had piercing brown eyes and a way of clamping her lips together that signaled her disapproval. She wasn’t a warm and affectionate sort of grandmother. Not at all. She was more of a “my way or the…
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He Was the Egg Man by
50
(61 Stories)

/ Stories

He bought us ice cream and pretended to scold us when we stuck out our tongues to lick our cones. When we sat next to him with food on our plates, he'd look surprised and point at something behind us. We'd turn around to look, and he'd have taken a bite of our sandwich. His big blue eyes gave nothing away--he was innocent!
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An Unexpected Education by
50
(61 Stories)

/ Stories

I found myself sitting next to women my age, or not much older, who were military wives. They came from the Midwest, the South and back East.....Their husbands were off fighting in Vietnam while these young wives held down a job, kept house, took care of the car, called the refrigerator repairman, paid the bills, and tried to stay sane.
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Chains of Love by
50
(61 Stories)

/ Stories

I began wearing an anklet when I'd outgrown little girl ankle socks and graduated to cheap mesh stockings in shades of a summer tan, worn over smooth legs. I went to Woolworths and used my allowance to buy my first anklet. My sister and I both wore them, copying one of our beloved aunts who wore a fancy one that had a tiny flower with a pearl in its center, with her name engraved on it.
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Great Moments in Parenting by
50
(61 Stories)

Prompted By Parenthood

/ Stories

Parents, we’ve all had these moments, right? Right?? One day my daughter invited a friend from school over to play.  I’ll call this friend Jane, because that is her name. Jane was eight or nine–a year older than my daughter–and since her mom and I were friends, the girls had spent time together before, sometimes…
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RIP VCRs by
50
(61 Stories)

Prompted By Good Riddance

/ Stories

Oh, it was so great at the beginning. My husband brought home the machine from his office and we went off the the video rental store and wandered the aisles like kids in a candy store. On a weekend, after the kids went to bed, we’d watch movies back to back, remembering to “be kind…
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Masterpiece Dinner by
50
(61 Stories)

Prompted By What We Ate

/ Stories

We were looking at a ridiculously expensive cut of meat that we were instructed to stud with truffles, brush with brandy, brown in butter, slather with a mixture of more butter blended with pâté, and finally wrap like a precious gem in a buttery dough.
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With Gratitude: Mean Girls by
50
(61 Stories)

Prompted By Middle School

/ Stories

While gaggles of kids talked and laughed at lunch, I found a quiet corner and savored my solitude as I ate my sandwich alone. Thanks to a thoughtful custodian who unlocked a room for me, I could avoid being seen; I spent my period of exile in silent, and sometimes salty, contemplation.
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Well, Hello! by
50
(61 Stories)

Prompted By Fame

/ Stories

This isn’t about my fame or lack of it. This is about secondhand fame. To be precise, this is about my father’s famous friend: Carol Channing. My dad grew up in San Francisco, and as a precursor to his eventual career as a drama teacher, he got involved in theater during his high school years.…
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There Was a Fire Here by
50
(61 Stories)

Prompted By Disasters

/ Stories

Excerpted from my memoir, There Was a Fire Here. October 20, 1991. Oakland, California — There was a fire here. It started high above our house, on a hill facing west. No one knows for certain how it started, but a human hand set something burning and started The Fire. The fire incinerated, it eliminated; it…
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Ball of Confusion* by
50
(61 Stories)

Prompted By 1968

/ Stories

1968. High school. Last half of junior year, first half of senior year. Waiting for my life to start for real. Yearning to move on. Falling in love, falling in lust, making some bad choices and a couple of good ones, trying new things, boys on my mind, unhappy at home, hard truths, assassinations, end…
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Sunnyside Up in Panzano* by
50
(61 Stories)

Prompted By Nudity

/ Stories

This must be the way things are done here, I thought. No turning back now. So I focused on the ceiling fan as it spun in a lazy circle, thinking about how I would describe this feeling to my friends.
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Triumph Over My Arch Nemeses by
50
(61 Stories)

Prompted By Hair

/ Stories

I was never really satisfied, but basically gave up on achieving the ideal arch I'd been searching for most of my life. I mean, while doing other things and actually HAVING a life.
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one’s not half two, it’s two are halves of one by
50
(61 Stories)

Prompted By Weddings

/ Stories

I woke up that morning thinking: today I will glow. I always heard that brides get this special glow  you can’t fake or create with makeup, it just happens the day you get married, so I checked the mirror expecting to find it, except it wasn’t there yet, and I thought, well, maybe it creeps…
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Requiem for a Teacher by
50
(61 Stories)

Prompted By Teachers & Mentors

/ Stories

Wesley was an important figure to me at a time when I felt excited, scared, adventurous, and doubtful. He read my words, praised me, and called me out. I felt appreciated and challenged by him.
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Numbers by
50
(61 Stories)

Prompted By Those We Miss

/ Stories

My sister checks in with the woman behind the counter, signing her name and mentioning what she’s there for. It hardly seems necessary to mention this. Everyone who enters this room, unless they are a support person like me, is here for one reason: they have cancer.
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Meeting Madeleine by
50
(61 Stories)

Prompted By Babies

/ Stories

My journey to meet Madeleine began with a phone call. I was in the midst of cleaning out my late mother’s kitchen, standing in front of her pantry looking at boxes and cans dating back to the 20th century, when my son-in-law reached me on my cell phone. “I guess you know why I’m calling,”…
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Easy Reader by
50
(61 Stories)

Prompted By What We Read

/ Stories

One of my favorite things to do when I was a kid: Grab a book and climb a tree and read until someone came looking for me.
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Waist deep in the big muddy. Again. by
50
(61 Stories)

Prompted By Student Activism

/ Stories

As I’ve been following the young activists today who are taking a leadership role in a fight my generation seemed to have given up on, it brought me back to another time when young people felt both helpless and passionate about a cause. In our day, it was the anti-war movement. What is tragically similar…
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My Aunt Rocks! by
50
(61 Stories)

Prompted By Aunts & Uncles

/ Stories

Her name is Rockie, but don’t take her for granite. One of her jokes. Her given name is Rokama. According to several sources I consulted, in Hebrew the name means “comforted.” Or beloved. Or one who has received mercy. Or possibly: compassion. They all fit. If I had to name some of the influential women…
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My Aunt Ruth by
50
(61 Stories)

Prompted By Aunts & Uncles

/ Stories

 Aunt Ruth used to chide me when I complained about being exhausted after chasing my young children around. “In my day,” she said, “we’d put the kids to bed—and then figure out how to save the world!” Saving the world meant throwing herself into the fray: she’d hoist a sign, march and demonstrate in the…
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Meeting Madeleine by
50
(61 Stories)

Prompted By How We Met

/ Stories

My journey to meet Madeleine began with a phone call. I was in the midst of cleaning out my late mother’s kitchen, standing in front of her pantry looking at boxes and cans dating back to the 20th century, when my son-in-law reached me on my cell phone. “I guess you know why I’m calling,”…
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Alice’s Restaurant by
50
(61 Stories)

Prompted By Restaurants

/ Stories

In 1971, I was living in Berkeley, California. I attended classes on campus and also worked there as I put myself through school at UC Berkeley. I lived in a house with three roommates, a large tank of tropical fish, my two cats, and an Old English sheepdog. My boyfriend spent his freshman year away,…
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Gone with the Wind by
50
(61 Stories)

Prompted By Best Picture

/ Stories

I first read the book when I was a teenager. It’s the only book I missed two meals to finish. I staggered out of my bedroom late in the afternoon after turning the last page. I’d been lost for what seemed like days in the lives of Scarlett, Ashley, Melanie and Rhett. My parents must…
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Both Sides Now by
50
(61 Stories)

Prompted By How We Met

/ Stories

This is how it started.  I asked him to write down the lyrics to “Both Sides Now” for me.  We were both seniors in high school, hanging out in the same circle of hippie wannabe ne’er do-wells. The song was on the radio all the time and I wanted to learn the words. I knew…
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Sunshine of My Love by
50
(61 Stories)

Prompted By Teenager in Love

/ Stories

The last time I saw Kelly, he’d been dead for over a year. In yet another dream, he was sitting next to me on a bus.  “You have to let me go,” he said. When I met him, in 1966, Kelly was a junior in high school. He was outrageous, audacious, charismatic, and sexy as…
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The Old Ballgame by
50
(61 Stories)

Prompted By Sports

/ Stories

Family legend has it that my dad fully expected me, his second daughter, to be a son.  I imagine him pacing in the waiting room in the maternity ward, punching his fist in a glove, thinking about the times he’d play catch in the backyard and discuss the finer points of the game with a…
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Six in the City: A Year in the Life by
50
(61 Stories)

Prompted By A Year in the Life

/ Stories

The year: 1957-1958. I was six and my sister was eight when our parents told these two San Francisco-born California girls that we were packing up and moving to New York City. My father had entered the doctoral program at Teachers College, Columbia University, and we’d be living in Morningside Heights for a year—giving up…
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A Long, Strange Trip by
50
(61 Stories)

Prompted By Marijuana

/ Stories

Thanks to a program that no longer exists, I was able to attend the local college while still a senior in high school. After filling out the necessary paperwork and expressing my urgent need to study Italian—a class not offered at my school—I was approved to begin classes on campus in the fall of 1968.…
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A Wish Fulfilled. . .The Hard Way by
50
(61 Stories)

/ Stories

When my husband and I bought our first house after years of being renters, we were excited but a little bit terrified. The night before we made our offer, neither one of us got any sleep. We had looked and looked, and then one day the mother of one of our daughter’s kindergarten classmates told…
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And in the End by
50
(61 Stories)

Prompted By Beatles vs Stones

/ Stories

The Beatles break-up began in 1969, the year I graduated from high school. I wished it weren’t so, but it was inevitable that they would go their separate ways, just as it was inevitable that high school would end, and everything would change.
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Halloween Caper with My Daughter by
50
(61 Stories)

Prompted By Halloween

/ Stories

Caitlin, my daughter, spent several months in the Intensive Care Nursery as an infant. She needed open heart surgery and ended up spending several months recovering, having setbacks, and recovering, before she was finally able to come home at around four months of age. The ICN was full of babies who were too small or…
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