Monday, April 21, 2014


I am so, so lucky that no matter where I am in life, I have always found a place for teaching in one capacity or another.

From an email from a student at Queens:

You work magic with your classes, Susan. You bring total strangers together and turn a motley crew into a fun, thoughtful, supportive writing group.

Friday, April 4, 2014

What Blue Actually Looks Like

One morning last May, I rounded a corner in a loop of sidewalk in my neighborhood and found little trucks with little claws crawling over the rubble of a collapsed furniture plant. Some years before that, my husband and I moved into an old house in Drexel, NC--raised in the late 1940's by skilled and amateur carpenters alike--and began adding our own inexpert repairs and clumsy renovations. Soon after that, we began planning for a family, another clumsy and inexpert endeavor.

Read my essay, recently published in South Writ Large, here.

An excerpt:

We moved in in June of 2000; in August 2001, I had a positive pregnancy test. I was sick and happy. We both were. We called Danny’s uncle, a carpet layer, and chose a beige pile for the upstairs. Downstairs, the original wood flooring had been restored by actual professionals. It was beautiful, perfect in its imperfections, its knotty whorls and discolorations, all the reminders that this was real wood, grown from an actual tree, cut and sanded and fitted by human hands. We’d laid out new linoleum in the kitchen without disturbing the asbestos beneath. Replaced the rotted vanity in the bathroom. Put new hardware on the kitchen cabinets. Filled the rooms with furniture, mostly hand-me-downs and gifts, factory mistakes family members had purchased for a song.

I started bleeding on a Saturday, but it was just a pale smudge in my underwear, and so I went out to begin our weekend work like normal. I said nothing to Danny. We were spreading grass seed on the long, muddy side yard. It was the first cool day of fall and the cloudless sky was such a deep blue, I couldn’t stop admiring it. I tried to think of the right word for it. We use deep to describe such a color, but the word doesn’t quite mean what it should. Not dark blue or thorough blue or even endless blue. It was the kind of blue that could comfort a girl pushing a seed spreader in narrow stripes over a red-mud stretch of land.