Excerpts

From the chapter “Downward Spiral”:

“The boardwalk history shouted from the storefronts, advertising Steel Pier fudge, water taffy, American Bandstand and the Miss America Pageant. Old billboards for suntan lotion towered above the buildings, featuring a little cartoon girl and a puppy pulling at her bathing suit, two years before Jodie Foster became a household name with the movie Taxi Driver. The air smelled of salt, seaweed and coconut.”

National research tells us that for every one gay kid that gets bullied at school, 4 other straight kids get bullied because they are perceived to be gay.

From the chapter “Breaking Faith”:

“I’d been in this new school less than three weeks. I had done nothing wrong that I could think of; I hadn’t crossed any social boundaries that I could identify. When they had approached me, I hadn’t been looking at any of them. I hadn’t been expecting anyone to speak to me. I just wanted to sit quietly and disappear into the background. I wasn’t that, whatever that really meant. I was…nothing. But my lack of identity didn’t stop the comments and I had no idea how to make the girls who had started this understand that I was just…nothing. Besides, it was too late now. This was already way beyond just the popular girls.”

From the chapter “Home Stretch to Graduation”:

One of my favorite lines from this chapter to give everyone a clear picture of my love/hate relationship with 12 years of Catholic schooling:

“I charged into the office and Sister Clarence looked up from the counter, startled. She was probably expecting her flying monkeys to return but she got me instead.”

In regard to the young person who inspired me to begin writing Urban Tidepool.

From the chapter “2011”:

“As our night ended and I had to leave, Max came from the other side of the long table. I wondered fleetingly if it would be awkward, having never had a reason to hug him before. It wasn’t. He hugged me and I hugged him back and the words came out before I could stop them.

‘I’m gonna miss you, my friend. You grew up good.’

He squeezed me a little harder around the neck.

‘Thanks, Nancy,” he whispered. ‘You helped.’

How the hell did that happen?”

From the chapter “One Mississippi”:

Observations on living in the south…

“Hampton had had bees and crickets and cicadas. Mississippi had lizards and enormous Gulf state cockroaches that popped out unexpectedly when you opened the shower curtain, or the garage door or the linen closet. The lizards were tolerable, even cute, and they stayed outside. But these giant roaches were another story! I half expected one of them greet me wearing a bandana around his forehead, wave and thank me for my contribution before making off with my socks. Taking a shower and opening the closet door to get a towel became an aerobic game of peek-a-boo, when I would—quick, quick!—fling the door open, and—quick, quick!—shake the curtain or the door to discourage wild life, and then—quick, quick!—jump back about three feet in case there had been someone home who was now skittering around free range on the bathroom floor. These steps had to be followed at all times because the wild life was known to occasionally make an appearance in the shower with you if you didn’t rouse them and escort them to the county line beforehand and there was NOTHING worse than coming nose to nose with a giant cockroach hanging on the shower curtain when you were all sudsed up and unarmed. What was I supposed to do then? Wash his hair for him?”

From the chapter “The First Christmas”:

“I had spent Thanksgiving with the father and Michael and the father’s new girlfriend, who had gone to great lengths to cook traditional Italian dishes for us that my traditional Irish taste buds had no idea what to do with. As soon as dinner ended, I ran to my aunt’s house and tried to describe the fiasco of something that looked a lot like seaweed soup.”

From the chapter “Not So Much a New Start”:

On the joys of Catholic school uniforms…

“I traded in one blue sack-shaped uniform for a different blue sack-shaped uniform and this time white shirts to start freshman year. The father had long since stopped making himself available when I needed new clothes of any sort and the trip to pick up the new uniform was no different. He sat in the car, smoking, while I took his credit card and went in the store to get what I’d need…in this case, a blue, sack-shaped bundle of heavy polyester. Wherever pollies were farmed, a lot of them had given their little lives for that bundle.”

On my first car, a 1973 Ford Pinto:

“Well, “floored it” might be something of a misnomer as related to a ten year old Pinto. It chugged happily along, drawing on all the engine power of its sixteen asthmatic gerbils, inching up parallel with the other car.”

On decorating for Christmas the first time alone:

“Guessing now that the father was very busy at work, we went ahead and decorated the tree. We decorated the front the most, reasoning that’s what everyone would see. I thought it was beautiful and knew the father would be very proud when he got home. We even put the tree skirt on. I wondered if the tree might prefer pants, like I did, but I had just been through all of our decorations and I knew we didn’t own any tree pants.”

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