Teaching the Mentally Unstable



The student in my college classroom was a large fellow. At least 6’3″, 280 pounds, or more. He sat at the very top back of the lecture hall and often wandered in and out during the two-hour class.

In his first email to me, he told me he was glad I was teaching the class. He was respectful, addressing me as Professor Zacharias, instead of as the “Miss” or “Missus” more common among his historically misogynistic culture.

His email started out innocently enough, kind, even. He felt obliged to catch me up on the class since I was taking over for a professor who had fallen ill a few weeks into the term. He let me know that the work the students had finished had not been graded and returned. He hoped I could get to it soon.

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In Lieu of Google

Kids reading

The lady ringing up the items was hunched over. It was difficult to tell if she was that way because she was tired or because of her age. Or maybe both.

Her name was Peggy. It said so right there in that place near a person’s heart where all names are embroidered. Her hair was the blonde of Sandra Dee’s. It was teased and cement-sprayed. Deep crevasses crossed her face, a map of the journeys she’s traveled over the years.

The guy in the line just ahead of me was patient as Peggy rang up the items of the shopper before him. She moved with the speed of sourghum poured out. It took her about ten minutes to ring up six items.

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Distress Call at Spivey’s



Lord, I am busier than a one-armed fiddler in a snake pit.

What has me so busy? Besides preparing vocabulary exams and reading essays from 140 students, you mean?

I’m cranking up for book tour for BURDY. It kicks off this weekend. Saturday at  11 a.m. at the Gilbert Theater in Fayetteville, N.C.

Following that, I’ll be at the Triangle Reads in Raleigh, N.C. You can purchase tickets and come hear me and a bunch of other writers read/talk about our works on Sunday afternoon.

Other stops include Rutherfordton, N.C., Spartanburg, S.C., Moulton, Al., Woodstock, Ga., Columbus, Ga., and Kingsport, Tn.

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Emancipation doesn’t always mean freedom



People keep coming up to me at football games, in the grocery store, and in the hallways asking, “How’s it going?” They often let me know they’ve been praying for me. I’m glad for the latter. I love being prayed for, don’t you?

Usually, when people are praying for us, though, it means they are anticipating that we are facing some sort of trouble. My so-called “trouble” that has concerned folks praying is that I took a full-time job teaching at a local high school. This particular school is in a high-poverty district. Nearly 90 percent of the students live in poverty.

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The One-Sidedness in Us All


Okay, I admit it. I was giggling. Not out loud, mind you, that would have been rude and rudeness is not allowed, ever.


It was funny, listening to readers who had never encountered Eudora Welty or her writing carry on about her.

They were reading “Why I live at the P.O.” which just happens to be my favorite short story in the whole entire world.

Or at least the world of short stories I’ve read thus far.

Have you read it?

Then you know that opening when Sister says that Stella-Rondo stole Mr. Whitaker from her.

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