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Essays by Karen Anderson

  • It was the week after New Year’s and my daughter was headed back to college, her car full of Christmas gifts, clean laundry, and turkey leftovers. We exchanged big hugs and she climbed behind the wheel. “I love you,” she said. “That’s a given.”
  • By the time I gave birth to a child, my mother-in-law had already raised four sons and had a lot to teach me. “Here,” Phyllis said, laying my screaming daughter along her forearm, face-down.
  • The gray striped cat had been at the humane society for six months when we got there.“Nobody wants her,” the technician said, “because she’s so shy.”
  • I’m with a group of friends and notice how I enter every conversation by taking it apart, by asking for more details, more evidence. It’s called “critical thinking” and I learned it years ago in school, a very important skill that helps us analyze facts in order to make judgments.
  • My mother loved Christmas. The decorating began early and covered every available surface—holly on the banister, stockings on the mantel, candles on the tables.
  • My brother sits on the top step in the back hall, his blond head bent forward to watch me. I am helping him with his buckle boots.
  • My eight-year-old daughter comes dancing out of her bedroom, all dressed up to go to a birthday party.“Don’t I look radius?” Sara asks.“Absolutely radius,” I agree.
  • Some years ago, I went hiking in the Himalayas with a group of women. At regular intervals along our route, we would come upon “resting trees” where stone terraces had been built up around the trunks of big trees so that a traveler could back up and set down his load in the shade.
  • Coming home from school in the afternoon, I would pile in the back door and dump my books on the landing. “Hello!” I would call to my mother.
  • I joined a sorority in college in order to fit in with the popular girls. In order to become a popular girl. To become confident, out-going, gregarious—instead of the shy, studious person I’d always been.