The Artists

Her plan was to get a PhD and teach gender studies in some suave city like Boston, where she could occasionally contribute smart, iconoclastic essays to smart, iconoclastic academic reviews. She did get her PhD, but she didn’t get the college teaching job she had hoped for. In that, she is like most of us: she’s achieved what she wanted in some ways, and in other ways she has missed the mark.
The Sun, August 2007, “Consumer Report”

Jim stood by the bed and touched my shoulder. When I flinched and turned away, he lay down behind me, still wearing his heavy boots, and I curled up even smaller, as if trapped inside an egg. Slowly, while facing the wall, I told the story of the expert and the fly-smeared window. After I’d finished, he squeezed me tight and said one word: “Bullshit.” And I felt the weight that had been pressing on my chest lighten.
“He’s no more autistic than I am,” my young husband said.
The Sun, February 2007, “Father and Son”

Steve was popular and known for his jokes. I was a shy girl who had only one close friend. In the spring of our sixth-grade year, Steve was absent for several weeks. Rumor had it that he was in the hospital. Finally a teacher reported that Steve had diabetes. None of us really knew what that meant, but we passed the word diabetes back and forth like a medicine ball. When Steve returned, he looked the same as he had before, so we stopped talking about it.
The Sun, January 2007, “My Friend and Bruce Springsteen”

It was shortly after that, while I was staying with my grandmother for the summer, that I became part of a bicycle crew in Queens. . . . The camaraderie we shared was seductive, and for the first time in my life, I understood what it meant to love someone other than a relative or the silent, pretty girl at the back of the class. These were my first true niggas, and my relationship to them was the initial demarcation of my blackness. I would have killed anyone who tried to take it away.
The Sun, July 2007, “Bang, Bang, in a Boy Voice”

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