The Great Expectations

Jan 12, 2015

“Expectations lead to tension, “ said Susan McCulley, my dance instructor.  Then she told us to look at ourselves in the mirrored wall.  She asked, “Does what you see meet your expectations?”

Nope.  Not so much.

I was expecting to appear a little taller.  I stood near the front of the room and looked at the reflections of my classmates.  Clearly, they all towered over me.

Letter to Centrifuge Man

Jan 7, 2015


The U.S. military relies heavily on the skills of its fighter pilots -- an elite group of men and women with a challenging skill set.  Nelson County writer Linda Crowe made that discovery while watching a YouTube video of her nephew at Marine Corps Flight School. Rapid climbing and descents can cause pilots to lose their vision or black out, but they can train in a kind of centrifuge to avoid those fearful events. Crowe was amazed and impressed by a plucky instructor in the video and sent fan mail to the guy she calls Centrifuge Man.


The Customs Forms: Objects of Gratitude

Dec 17, 2014

I’m deep into recycling old papers one day when I come upon a small handful of very thin ones, all the same size, with “US Postal Service” printed on them.

I know these papers. Customs forms, the documents I had to fill out whenever I sent my son Owen, a U.S. Marine, something in Afghanistan.

At first I saved all my copies of the forms, in case he didn’t get his boxes. What we’d do then, I had no idea. But I saved them.

A Message to Santa

Dec 11, 2014

Tis the season when small children write letters to Santa Claus, often providing their parents with helpful hints for shopping.  Charlottesville author Deborah Prum is no kid, but she likes the tradition of writing to the jolly old man up North and shares this year’s letter with listeners.

Dear Santa:

The Christmas Present

Dec 5, 2014

When I was growing up, my parents never took down our Christmas tree. It was a synthetic tree from the 1960s, its faded green branches plasticine and matted, imbued with the soot, tobacco, and laughter of the dozens of Christmases it had presided over, making no pretense of being an actual tree. It was bejeweled/smothered with a cacophany of lights- indoor and outdoor, colored and clear, blinking, non-blinking, and chasing. It was frenetic and tacky, more Jackson Pollack than Norman Rockwell, but we wouldn't have changed a thing about it.