X100: Crimetown


They have names like:

• Charles "The Ghost" Kennedy

• Bucky Barrett

• Colonel Stone

• Tatiana (who is a wolf)

• The Doctor Broad

• Vincent "Buddy" Cianci, Jr.

• Billy Furley        

• Frank "Bobo" Marrapese

• Detective Vinny Vespia

• Raymond Patriarca

• Attila the Nun

• Louis "Baby Shanks" Manocchio

They say things like:

• "Listen, if you're going to be bad, be good at it."

• "When it was time for me to talk, I was ready. I'm like, you motherfuckers are going to hear the truth."

• "I didn't sell myself out, but, you know. You have to make arrangements."

All real. All true. Crimetown, Season One, Providence, Rhode Island.


Last night I read Ghosts, a YA graphic novel by Raina Telgemeier. I couldn't find my own book. My kids have read Ghosts so many times, its spine folds soft and easy like a tortilla. (Avoid composing similes when hungry.)

Today I'm reading The Hot One (I found my book!), a true-crime-meets-memoir by Carolyn Murnick. I'm interviewing Murnick next week for Spine.

Nothing outside — not blurbs, not cover design — suggested I'd find something similar inside these books, but I have. Both examine the ways the death (past and future) of a loved one changes the people left behind. Narrative serendipity! 


x100: Homecoming


Homecoming sucked me in from minute one. Part psychological thriller, part conspiracy mystery a la Lost, the drama tackles a complex storyline using only audio. Season One succeeded because creators Eli Horowitz and Micah Bloomberg figured out how best to tell a story within a strictly defined narrative space.

For Season Two, Horowitz teamed up with novelist John Brandon to carry one character out of the audio realm and into the textual with an ebook, The Lost Coast. Every time a podcast episode dropped, a chapter dropped.

I talked to Horowitz about what this transformation entailed. Read it at Spine.

x100: Healthcare

Of all the privileges I possess, healthcare is among the greatest. My children delivered. My minor health issues addressed before they ignited into major issues.  My healthcare keeps me moving.

I have struggled to understand the intricacies of the House plan vs. the Senate plan, how each affects this, that and the other.

What it boils down to?

House: 2018 = 14 million fewer people insured. 2026 = 23 million fewer people insured.

Senate: 2018 = 15 million fewer people insured. 2026 =22 million fewer people insured.*


*All figures = estimates from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Read more.


x100: Say Pretty!

My daughter and I waited behind a slew of boys for her turn for a T-ball photo. The female photographer arranged each boy in a batting stance none of them ever achieved during a real game.

The photographer offered sporty words for each player to say while the camera clicked. Say "strong!" Say "fast!" When my daughter stepped up, the woman arranged her, then prompted, Say "pretty."

The WTF that blinded me must be akin to that Smithsonian science writer Rachel Gross feels when she searches for images of female scientists. The WTF that prompted her to write this poem.

X100 = 100 words on whatever I — or you — want to write about. (Nonfiction. Fiction.) To submit, email me

x100: Miss P at The Vet

My parents have a kitten, Miss P. She is the Cutest Kitten Ever. (All kittens are the Cutest Kitten Ever.) I took Miss P to a new-to-me vet, who greeted Miss P with a crunchy treat.

After each poke and prod, Miss P received another treat. For the grand end-of-visit finale, the vet offered Miss P a spoonful of Mushy Yum. Miss P loved the vet.

The next day I read this article by my former W&M professor Barbara King. Making animals feel secure at the vet is now a thing. Should have happened forever ago. Glad it's happening now.

10 x 100: Ming Doyle


Where's Waldo? There. There. There!

Waldo turns 30 this year. Cabot Street Books, up the road a town, convinced retailers to let Waldo hide among their wares. Kids and I spent time Sunday seeking.

Favorite stop? Paper Asylum. The comic book shop offers a curated experience, including shelves highlighting local creators. I knew artists Braden Lamb and Shelli Paroline of Adventure Time lived in Salem.

I did not know artist Ming Doyle lived in Somerville! Ming illustrated The Kitchen, about four 1970s wives who get badass when their mobster husbands are jailed. She's amazing, and now I know she's local.

10 x 100 = 100 words written in 10 minutes. Ready, set, sprint!

Amy, Still

A few years back I wrote a story about a woman with attention deficit disorder. In part, it was an attempt to explain to other people what it felt like inside my brain. I came at the main character, Amy, from several angles before abandoning her and Mary, her work friend.

But after a mass shooting, I found myself thinking about the abrupt endings of the victims' stories and revisited Amy. Thanks to Across the Margin for publishing.

Read Amy, Still.