My Real Life Modern Family

Lifeline, My Real Life Modern Family

Forget He/She: Going Gender Neutral in the Classroom

8 Written by: | Wednesday, Oct 15, 2014 12:00pm Goucher prof Kathy Flann encounters a writing student who wants to remain gender neutral in class, she’s happy to try to comply, but finds it far harder than she expected.

Just before the spring semester, I received an email from a student I had not yet met. We were soon to begin several months together in Introduction to Fiction Writing, a class that attracted mainly first-year students.

I just wanted to give you a heads up on something before class starts. I identify as a genderqueer person and I use gender neutral pronouns. So instead of referring to me as “he/she” or “him/her”, please use the singular “they” instead. It is totally understandable if you slip up a few times as I do often appear quite feminine, but I really appreciate your effort in this as it makes me pretty uncomfortable when people refer to me using female pronouns. If you find neutral pronouns to be overly cumbersome, I would also accept my name used in the place of pronouns. Thank you so much for your consideration. Read More →

Lifeline, My Real Life Modern Family

Over the Threshold: The Mystery of My Dad’s Missing Love

0 Written by: | Wednesday, Oct 08, 2014 10:19am

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Baltimore writer Holly Morse-Ellington believes her newly divorced father has a super serious girlfriend–unfortunately, thanks to her dad’s close-lipped nature, her best information source is a tiny barking dog.

My parents’ divorce has been a long road for me. Maybe it’s not my road to travel. But that’s the thing about family. No matter how carsick their problems make you, you’re stuck in the backseat. Hands tugging at the child safety locks activated on the doors. Head hanging out the window and panting, “Are we there yet?” Read More →

Culture, My Real Life Modern Family

Severna Park Hilbillies

0 Written by: | Wednesday, Sep 24, 2014 3:00pm


The monster of Monster Mile.

Writer Lisa Van Wormer shares her first trip to a NASCAR, where she discovers a previously unknown species: the Severna Park Hillbilly.

For my first professional car race experience, I decided to go to Dover International Speedway, also known as the Monster Mile, to watch the NASCAR Sprint Cup.  The internet told me what to expect for my NASCAR weekend: mud-tired American made trucks blaring country music, flags of all kinds including checkered, Rebel, and Old Glory, a multitude of mullets varying by hair length, texture, and even color in a lax open-carry and BYOB atmosphere.

I was looking forward to a super friendly and inviting crowd to watch about 40 cars race around a mile-long cement circle 400 times in the blazing sun.  My trusty friend Google said the “true experience” involved camping all weekend in a parking lot across the highway from the track.  Good old Google had never lead me wrong before, so I rented a pop-up Aliner trailer, stuffed it full with beer and food, hitched it to my black F-150 that was dying to get truly dirty, and was off to be all in for this ride.

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Lifeline, My Real Life Modern Family

Being Joan Rivers (in Baltimore)

5 Written by: | Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014 11:26am


University of Baltimore MFA student Nancy Murray recounts the day she got to know Joan Rivers quite personally.

In my acting days I had a reputation for being able to play any character at a moment’s notice. It didn’t matter if it was a murderous psychopath, a disco-dancing diva or a Puerto Rican man. If I played the character I could make it believable. I liked this about myself. I thought it said something about my ability to empathize with others. I was grateful for it because it meant that I always had work. Read More →

Lifeline, My Real Life Modern Family

An Unaffiliated Jew: How I Got Religion

1 Written by: | Wednesday, Sep 03, 2014 12:12pm

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University of Baltimore MFA student Ellen Hartley describes her stint in Hebrew school, the scandal that rocked her temple, and the pivotal personal decision she made at age 15.

I am an unaffiliated Jew. I wasn’t always. I became an unaffiliated Jew in 1956 when I was 15.

Before that I had felt comfortable within the fairly relaxed Jewish framework in which I’d grown up. My parents came from an Orthodox background of Eastern European immigrants. Their families kept kosher and observed the whole shebang. My mother officially left the fold as a teenager, when she and her cousin Ethel sneaked out of Yom Kippur services and went to a luncheonette for their first ham sandwich. When my parents married, they moved 250 miles away and dropped the Orthodoxy. Our refrigerator regularly held sliced ham for sandwiches; oddly, my mother drew the line at bacon, which she claimed made her ill. I remember my father making bacon and sausages for my brother and me on Sundays when my mother slept late. We’d run the exhaust fans so the “porky” odors would be extinguished. Read More →

My Real Life Modern Family

The Honda Rebel

0 Written by: | Wednesday, Aug 06, 2014 12:30pm


Every time I see a Honda Rebel 250 street bike, I think of cleavage. More specifically, my first intimate experience with cleavage. I was fresh out of high school, disheartened by the closeted state of my sexuality and the state –Indiana –in which I lived, surrounded by corn, mud flaps, and Baptists. I was 19 years old at the time; the cleavage was 43.

The cleavage, of course, belonged to a woman, Shaileen, who frequented the motorcycle shop where I worked. Once or twice a month she and her husband, Leland, would roll into the parking lot on their gargantuan Honda Goldwing, its radio blaring, its chrome glinting in the sunlight like the shades of an insensitive celebrity. They were from New Paris, Ohio, a town just east of the Indiana state line, famous for being the birthplace of the Christmas carol “Up on the Rooftop.”

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Featured, Lifeline, My Real Life Modern Family

Road Rage!

0 Written by: | Wednesday, Jul 23, 2014 9:45am

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University of Baltimore MFA student Nancy Murray describes the morning that Baltimore rush hour traffic sent her over the psychic edge.

Even if everything had gone perfectly I would have been about five minutes late for work. I didn’t call to make excuses to my boss because the chances were good that he wouldn’t be there either. It was entirely possible that he would never know I was late, but it was imperative that I get there as quickly as I could. There would be hell to pay if I were just unbuckling my seatbelt when he pulled up. Read More →

Lifeline, My Real Life Modern Family

Waste Not, Want Everything

9 Written by: | Wednesday, Jul 16, 2014 9:27am


Baltimore writer and cabinetmaker Danielle Ariano describes her mother’s super strict policy never to waste anything edible–and how it has affected her own approach to food and life.

My mother washes out plastic baggies. Not the kind that they give you at the grocery store checkout, the kind you buy. The kind with zippers. Sometimes when I visit, I’ll find one drying in her drain board, looking like a dead jellyfish. Read More →

Lifeline, My Real Life Modern Family

Road Trip

24 Written by: | Wednesday, Jul 02, 2014 9:58am


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University of Baltimore MFA student Terri Steel recalls the childhood road trip that changed her forever.

Another one whizzed by; we’d been passing them for hours. Bright yellow bubble letters against a black backdrop reading “SOUTH of the BORDER” and “CATCH Pedro IF YOU CAN!” The signs were a welcome sight, standing out against a monotonous stretch of landscape unadorned aside from the occasional nut shop dotting Interstate 95. I looked down at the bag of Stuckey’s pecans I had been munching on since morning. “How much longer until we get there, Mom?” Read More →

Lifeline, My Real Life Modern Family

Hidden Nerve

0 Written by: | Wednesday, Jun 25, 2014 9:46am

photo by Judith Krummeck

photo by Judith Krummeck

Baltimore writer and beloved voice of classical music radio (WBJC) Judith Krummeck describes her sense of place — in the U.S. and Africa — and her sense of longing for each land she’s called home.

A hidden nerve is what every writer is ultimately about.

–André Aciman

I was born in Africa. I am an African. But, because of the color of my skin, I am not truly African. Strictly speaking, because I was born in Africa and I am now an American citizen, I am an African American. But, because of the color of my skin, I am not truly African American. In the truest sense, I am neither African nor American. Read More →

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