My Real Life Modern Family

Featured, Lifeline, My Real Life Modern Family

Lessons from a Turtle

1 Written by: | Wednesday, Nov 26, 2014 10:22am

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Award-winning poet Elizabeth Hazen reflects on her ambitious life thus far — the winning, the losing, the waiting it out.

Once at the National Zoo, I watched a pair of giant tortoises copulating, the sound that emanated from their habitat like a sleeper’s distress in the midst of a confusing dream. My son wondered what the matter was. All of the children wondered, the older ones with a slight blush of awareness. The adults chuckled nervously, parents scooting their children along to the next exhibit. Meanwhile I stared with the fascination of a scientist, the brazenness of a paparazzo. How those enormous, armored bodies could fit together—how even turtles could evince pleasure without words! Somehow this was a comfort to me, though simultaneously I was conflicted by my voyeurism and my relentless obsession with things I do not understand. Read More →

Featured, Lifeline, My Real Life Modern Family

What’s for Dinner? (One Mother Confesses)

5 Written by: | Wednesday, Nov 19, 2014 9:50am

overworked momWhen University of Baltimore MFA student Melinda Cianos suddenly realized she’d never shown her family how to serve themselves dinner, she felt called to instruct.

My father worked at Bethlehem Steel for 20-some years and my mother never finished high school. There weren’t conversations around the dinner table, or elsewhere in the house for that matter, about how and why I should attend college, so I didn’t. I started a family at 22 years old; I had more than enough to keep me busy so I don’t how not having a degree found its way in to start gnawing at me, but it did. I looked away from it until I was 34, at which time I thought, “I’m ready.” What I didn’t realize was that I might be the only one in my household who was. Read More →

Lifeline, My Real Life Modern Family

Appointment Television: A Bedtime Story

1 Written by: | Wednesday, Nov 05, 2014 10:09am

illustration by Elisabeth Dahl

illustration by Elisabeth Dahl

Baltimore writer Elisabeth Dahl breaks to us gently how TV used to treat people.

I’m going to tell you a story, children. It’s a little scary. It’s about your parents.

Don’t leave. You should know this about them. It will help you understand. Read More →

Lifeline, Links, My Real Life Modern Family

Bad Moon Rising: A Halloween Story

0 Written by: | Tuesday, Oct 28, 2014 10:33am

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My 1979 Halloween was one strange trip. It was my sophomore year of college, already full of freedom and weirdness. That year, every day felt like Halloween as the country was swept up in the mania of The Rocky Horror Picture Show’s twice-weekly screenings at over 230 theaters. And punk rock ruled. It was the heyday of bands like the Ramones, the Cramps and Richard Hell and the Voidoids. I knew lots of people who sported mohawks, wore dog collars routinely and pushed giant safety pins through their lips. But this was Halloween, the freakiest night of the year, and I was eager to blend into the mayhem myself. But I had one mundane chore to finish first. Read More →

Lifeline, My Real Life Modern Family

Forget He/She: Going Gender Neutral in the Classroom

13 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.

Read More →

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.”

Read More →

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