Don’t drink the water. I’ve heard it nearly a hundred times already, and I’ve only been here a week.
When I accepted a position as a visiting professor in the creative writing department at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, I wasn’t thinking about the drinking water. Mostly, I was thinking about the beach, the beach, and a little more about the beach. Also, my syllabi, my students, and my swimsuits. I didn’t think twice about the Cape Fear River two blocks from my new home. But I’m thinking a lot about it now. Read More
When people first learn that I don’t drink alcohol, they often request an explanation. Mine is rarely consistent. Sometimes I say I don’t like the taste. Sometimes I say I’m Muslim. Sometimes I say I have a medical condition. Read More
High prices, geographic disparities in availability and the misguided demonization of all sugars (including the natural ones found in fruits) have deprived many Americans of some of the most delicious and curative foods on the planet. Read More
I hear it all the time, from doctors, teachers, lawyers, hairdressers, accountants, you name it: “I don’t follow the news. It’s too depressing.” While I understand the sentiment, I find its consequences far more depressing than even the gloomiest of newscasts. Read More
Imagine a place in the United States where most everyone smokes, where smoking is in fact encouraged, where cigarettes are used as rewards, and where at times, you may even be denied outdoors unless it’s for a smoke. I know it sounds crazy in this day and age of “no tampering with smoke detectors” in lavatories and smoke-free bars that such a place could exist, but it does. Crazier still, this smokers’ paradise exists — in fact thrives — within establishments charged with the very task of combating insanity, namely, our mental hospitals. And while we’re on the topic of insanity, it’s worth noting here that this includes correctional facilities, as prisons are now this country’s largest mental health facilities. Read More
Lying in a sterile hospital bed, complete with wheels on the bottom and metal bars on the sides, Read More
I could no longer disregard the pressing demands of my relentlessly contracting and expanding
bowels. The term “evacuation” once conjured images of large masses fleeing fires or hurricanes
or nuclear disasters, blocking exits and major roadways. No longer. Now, images of the most
messy and unavoidable consequences of human life have come to replace them. Images of
excretion, humiliation and death.