My Real Life Modern Family

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Thank you, Siri

3 Written by: | Friday, Sep 02, 2016 11:48am


During a challenging summer, writer Muffy Fenwick finds support from an unexpected “friend.”

When I was young, summer meant searching for that perfect new friend, like discovering a sliver of sea glass among the speckled rocks.  She would become my winter pen-pal, long letters travelling between us during the long winter months.

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The Next Room: Life After a Suicide Attempt

5 Written by: | Wednesday, Aug 31, 2016 10:25am

photo by Betsy Boyd

University of Baltimore MFA student Sierra Hallmen recounts her young love, lust, and suicide attempt, and what they taught her.

I have a thing for bodies. I love the way they look, what they wear, how they talk to me and to each other. I need to know what skin does when I can’t see it. I have a thing for the way bodies are when they’re doing body things, like legs crouching over public toilets or feet tiptoe jumping into skin-tight jeans. I love the shape of thighs, fatty handles, jaw bones, crow’s feet. Each a postage stamp of things done, undone or yet to be done. Each a howl in the dark night saying, touch me, I’m warm. Ask me about my body and I’ll tell you its story: the itches, the dry spots, the wet ones, the love, the languid slip between creases into folds or curves or bone jags, the rift between where my body ends and another begins, the unending parting. Read More →

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Changing of the Guard

1 Written by: | Friday, Aug 19, 2016 12:00pm

Hillers boys in Penang

On a hot night in Malaysia, Baltimore native Ann Hillers finds her sons are ready to be on their own. 

One July night in sweaty, humid Penang, an island off the coast of Malaysia, a seismic event occurs. Two actually. We’re dining on Kimberly Street at an open-air market surrounded by bowls of laksa noodles, a plate of grilled sparrows, and an omelet of oysters and egg. My eldest son Bo decides he wants “meat on a stick,” a throwback to our Thailand travel where every corner had a brazier of bamboo skewers threaded with grilled meat.

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Chow Runner: When a Girl Joins Up

1 Written by: | Wednesday, Jul 20, 2016 10:01am

private-benjamin-originalUniversity of Baltimore MFA student Austrie Martinez walks us through her first week in Air Force boot camp–so wear your comfort shoes.

Fifty-some girls, now called trainees, were sitting in various positions around the room with stacks of paperwork balanced on their laps. Everyone was wearing different clothes, had different hairstyles, came from different backgrounds, and they were all strangers to each other. This was their first night together in a new place with one common goal in mind: to survive the next six weeks and graduate from Air Force boot camp to become airmen. Read More →

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“I Knew You Loved Me Then”: The Story of My Father

9 Written by: | Wednesday, Jun 15, 2016 10:45am


In time for Father’s Day this Sunday, University of Baltimore MFA student Elisa Estrella recounts her heartbreaking–but meaningful–relationship with her dad.

I remember once you were washing black car grease off your forearms at the kitchen sink and you smiled at me; once you bought me a doll that could walk if I pulled her arm—you laughed that the doll was bigger than me; I loved you most then; you always dressed in leather wingtip shoes, wool pants, cotton shirts, and a leather jacket when it was cold; you had thin black hair you combed to one side; you were hairy but clean-shaven; I remember you wore Old Spice; you smoked Parliaments; you drank Miller when you watched the New York Mets play; you quit smoking when you developed a cough; you drank Chivas Regal on special occasions; you tried to quit drinking, but no one liked you sober so you went back to drinking; you jogged when you gained weight—and you lost it. Read More →


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Seven Things My Mother Taught Me

4 Written by: | Wednesday, Apr 27, 2016 10:25am

The author and her mother.

The author and her mother.

Just in time for Mother’s Day, University of Baltimore MFA student Roxanne V. Young remembers her mom’s sage advice on black pride, self-confidence, and still more.

  1. I’m Black and I’m Proud (James Brown)

My mother was the consummate teacher in the classroom and in life.

It was a frigid January afternoon, but I was enjoying the warmth of rare one-on-one time with my mother. We both had skipped school that day to celebrate my 10th birthday. On January 18, 1965 we sat down at the lunch counter at a Baltimore Woolworth’s. It was my first time dining out with my mother. While we waited for the waitress, she took a few minutes to discreetly give me a quick lesson on proper table etiquette. Read More →

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Carrickfergus: An Irish Ghost Story

0 Written by: | Wednesday, Mar 16, 2016 10:15am


Playwright and UB prof Kimberley Lynne travels to Ireland with students each summer–and, frankly, she sometimes encounters specters in her hotel room. Not that she minds, mind you. Happy St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow, readers.

We request the most haunted room, but 21 isn’t available—it’s very popular in summer. Instead, we reserve the adjacent room 22 in the 700-year-old Dobbins Hotel in quaint, Protestant Carrickfergus, just beyond Belfast at the gateway to the Antrim Coast (or as my favorite Catholic poet calls it “north of the wall”) and guarded by a dark, hulking Norman citadel. Two round stone towers flank crenulated walls. Brightly painted mannequin warriors point replica rifles out of battlements. Belfast Lough laps on one side of the castle and a wide expanse of lawn the other. King William of Orange’s diminutive statue guards the parking lot, fenced and life-sized, considering the Marine Highway’s constant traffic. In 1690, King Billy landed at the Carrickfergus sea wall on his way south to the Battle of the Boyne. Fresh bundles of flowers lie at his boots. Read More →

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How to Be Homeless

6 Written by: | Wednesday, Feb 17, 2016 10:20am

image via

image via

University of Baltimore MFA student Lavonia Reid knows what it’s like to hop from shelter to shelter—and finally, she knows what it’s like to come home.

We weren’t always a family of four. We used to be a five-some: my mother, my father, my two younger brothers, and me. But that was before, before my father turned from a loving husband into a jailer—before he brought my mother down, not only with his fist but with his words. By the time we got out, the damage had been done. Read More →


Hot Mess: A Confession

2 Written by: | Wednesday, Jan 20, 2016 10:19am


University of Baltimore MFA student Mandy May considers the messes of her past, present, and future–she’s so darned charming about it, you’ll want to help her sweep them up.

I tore into the room my older sister, Tara, and I shared. I was already screaming—guttural not princess. There were pink gingham curtains and matching twin beds. My anger burned at the center of my breastplate. It was irrational and sudden and molten under my skin. Read More →

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Hunting for Santa: The Quiet Glory of the Christmas Eve Fox Hunt in Baltimore County

1 Written by: | Wednesday, Dec 23, 2015 12:15pm

fox hunting Santa
One of the wonderful, if little known, Christmas traditions in the countryside surrounding Baltimore is the Christmas Eve fox hunt. While the signature holiday fox hunting day of the year would be Thanksgiving, which comes stuffed with the pomp & circumstance of the blessing of the hounds and large crowds gathered in beautiful country churchyards, the Christmas Eve fixture has a charm all its own.

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