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His personality was much too big for any room, and yet no one was ever smothered by it. You could enter a space blindfolded and backwards and still be able to tell that he was in it. His body was too large for barstools and yet he balanced there with such precision that he could turn and pivot and rotate around enough to be the life of several conversations at once.

And this man, too, would have to die. Did die, in fact, just this month

It is a tricky thing to write about the death of someone you didn’t…

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I had dinner and a bottle of wine with my godmother, my Aunt Jean. I wanted to talk, really talk, about this divorce and everything that went on around it. As a veteran of divorce, both her own and her daughter’s, I felt like she could give me some insight or understanding. I wanted to talk to someone who was like a mother, but who was not my mother. I never shared the whole truth about how I was with my own mother. It felt safer to keep it at a practical, actionable, fixable level. …

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In my freshman year of college, Joyce Carol Oates came to campus to give the big fancy guest lecture of the year. I had discovered her novels in my last year of high school, and already read 10 or so by the time I got to college. I loved Joyce Carol Oates.

I told everyone who would listen how much I loved Joyce Carol Oates, so much so that word got back to the head of the English Department and I was invited to interview her for the school paper and accompany him as he drove Joyce Carol Oates around…

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I am telling myself the story of our life together, and I am telling myself the story of my new life.

I talked with my therapist about storytelling. This is how I understand my life and the world around me. If I can craft a story, define characters and articulate their motivations and inner lives, then I can understand a situation. I told her the story of my new life and how the characters in the story needed to change.

My story of today started years ago. It started, maybe on the day I got married.

On our wedding day…

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My friend Stacey warned me not to do anything crazy: don’t adopt an African baby. Don’t move to a commune in the desert. Don’t get a tattoo.

I sat at a coffee shop in trendy Wicker Park, next to trendy Metamorph Studios, waiting for my tattoo consult appointment with one of the trendiest tattoo artists in Chicago. The coffee shop was the kind of place where the baristas make fancy designs with the soy milk in your soy latte.

The design in my soy latte looked like an albino vagina.

I had been planning this tattoo since before the marriage…

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Artful rips in jeans, hiding and revealing was the fashion. My straight-seamed, ironed-bloused mother raised her eyebrows as we walked through the department store. Who would pay money for these, she wondered, holding the very pair I coveted. They’re already ruined.

I was fat. Officially fat. Fat kid in school fat and every pair of pants I owned left an angry red line around my waist where my flesh pressed against buttons and waistbands. Fat kids move slowly so we can feel a seam just as it yawns right before it splits. …

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The Muse is a fickle dominatrix. When she has you, she has your entire body and will not let go. She doesn’t know a safe word, and the truth is, neither do you. You need to give in to her urgings and create, create, create until you are exhausted and collapse from sheer exhaustion.

This is what I used to think, many years ago, when I also thought that drinking led to truth-telling and that any writer who did not have the approval of the Academy was not worth my time or my brain space.

I was right about one…

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As a kid, I was what you might call a lazy tomboy. I didn’t own a dress, I had short hair, and I would rather read than do just about anything.

I liked girly things, though — especially the fashions and the makeup and the hairstyles. I just figured they weren’t for me. My mom cut my hair, so the hairstyles were out. I was the fat kid, and I went to a Catholic school where we had a uniform, so the fashions were out. And I only got to play with makeup when I found my mom’s ancient blue…

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I am sitting on the sofa in my apartment, just across from the front door. My neighbor is doing something out in the hallway that involves noises and talking and moving things about. Next to me, the cat springs to attention, tense and ready to deal with whatever threat is coming from the unseen noises.

Truth be told, so am I.

I have always been more of an observer than a talker, a quiet neighbor — a true introvert. Like most introverts, I developed the skill of casual interaction. I could make small talk when necessary. …

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There are so many wonderful things forming in my life right now. I am writing more, working actively on my creative plans, and generally more self-aware. I can trace my partner’s influence and support in all of these things. I started to think that he is the ultimate benevolent presence.

And I immediately realized that’s not right. Benevolence is non-judgmental, non-harming, and well-wishing. But it is also passive. It shines and warms like the sun, but it doesn’t help you search out harder and darker places.

Instead, he is an enriching presence. Enrichment is all those benevolent things, plus it…

Rebecca Sturgeon

I’m just here to love on people until they realize how much they’re worth.

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