Growing Up Lachenbruch (essay)
Our Town, Official Newsletter of Los Altos Hills, California
“… And then there’s the moment after we’d staked a tube of wire fencing around a tiny oak seedling we’d just found. Dad grinned, a little sideways and conspiratorially, and said, “Now we thatch it.” We pulled up some dry grass and wove it into one side for shade. “Now it’s up to you, little buddy,” he said with the same love he gave me when he’d tell me about plate tectonics at night. In 2011 when Mom and Dad moved out, a dozen of our little buddies still grew. From miniscule to majestic. …”
Field Notes: Bi-Mart, 9:20 on a Workday Morning (essay)
Gold Man Review
V12, December 2022
“Bi-Mart: Eighty-five stores in the Northwest, bright open spaces, imperceptible music, friendly staff in red or blue smocks—and stuck in the past.
But I have to go there. Our Kmart closed, our Fred Meyer won’t have what I’m looking for, and I know the store is easy to navigate once I get past the red gate, the in-my-face greeter, and my attitude.
Because I’ve tiptoed in a few times—and there’s nothing exactly wrong with the place. It has a simple parking lot—no flattened plantings, no curbs. It has wide aisles and an unassuming layout: electronics to the right, housewares straight in front, with hardware behind. Food and pharmacy are on the left, with camping and sports behind all that. And they always have potting soil out front. Nothing will ever change. But I hear, “Bi-Mart, no. You don’t shop there. It’s for retirees. Good for plastic bins and sometimes hardware.”
Every Day is a Data Day (essay)
CALYX: A Journal of Art and Literature by Women
V33(2), November 2022
“I was already fatigued—exhausted. And then I got cold. When I got even colder, I took a swim.
I was a grad student, twenty-two, in a field camp in northern Alaska, and over-eager to fulfill my dream: to study how cold and ice affected establishment of tundra seedlings. The small number of plant types and the harsh, predictable environment made the arctic coastal plain ideal for my study. Ice would test the seedlings’ strength and physiology. The months-long light would show which ones could carry on without a rest.”
Voices Carry (short story)
Stories (Within): An Anthology of Stories Within Stories
Not a Pipe Publishing, 2022
“Gary insisted we stop for Thai food at a place we used to frequent back when we lived in Berkeley. “To power me through,” he said. Because insisting was what his people did.
And even though I replied, “The kids will hate it,” we went and had Thai all the same. Because going along quietly was what my people did. It didn’t matter how much I’d tell him. Gary would see and hear the consequences soon enough.”
The Physics of Connection and Solitude (essay)
High Country News
August 13, 2020
“If I held a hammer correctly, the way my father taught me, and then swung it down on a rock, the rock would break. I would have caused that to happen. I would have transferred kinetic energy from my arm to the hammer’s handle and then to the hammer’s head and then to the rock. The energy would cleave bonds in the rock, and release sound and heat. My father taught me all that, long ago.”
Forestry for Sophomores: A Novel
Upmarket fiction, 98000 words
Monica Patton, the proud, competent Professor of Forestry and the only female professor in her department for three decades, still champions the hustle culture of academia—despite her tanking career. Her one lifeline is to co-write a proposal with her successful colleague, and only friend, Lisa. As fall quarter starts, a posse of women from a cultish commune—her combative daughter, baby, and three others—move into her home, filling it with chaos. Monica is already suffocating with the grueling workload of teaching the department’s all-important FORESTRY 201 class, when two weeks into the quarter, her disrespectful colleagues saddle her with more work. Then Lisa ghosts her, missing the grant deadline. In juxtaposition with the culture Monica observes unroll at her house, the culture of academic is unwelcoming and stiff—but she cannot leave the institution she devoted her life to. Neither can she dedicate herself to increasingly likeable group of commune women, with their refreshingly genuine problems, without losing what status she still has at the university. How will Monica find connection, balance, and meaning for what is left of her life?
Nettle Soup: A Novel
Literary fiction, 98000 words
Dawn Perkins was raised lonely by grandparents on a remote Oregon homestead. Desperate for connections, after college she starts a green commune, but twelve years in, her domineering manner throttles the hopes of the other residents. Unless she can deal with a trauma from her past, Dawn will continue to push people away and drive her commune—and her dream—to failure. Shown through the rotating narratives of four adults and two teenagers, the novel explores loneliness and the barriers that keep people from connecting.