I was never a great cook, but now at least I’m a good cook

Since I’ve spent the past fifteen years teaching at a university renowned for its culinary program, you might think I’m an accomplished chef. Alas, I am not a member of that elite club — though occasionally a student will respond to me with a “Yes, chef.” Then I get all gooey inside.

I am an English teacher, and up until a few years ago I wasn’t even a mediocre cook. I was timid in the kitchen. I didn’t know what I was doing, and I never had the chance to practice my cooking. Sure I mastered a few dishes: blueberry…


Great reads for the holidays or anytime

My bookshelf. Photo by Trish MacEnulty

I’ve been writing book reviews for the Historical Novel Society, and I highly recommend their publication The Historical Novel Society Review for historical fiction lovers. My focus is late 19th and early 20th historical fiction, and many of the books published this year focus on the strong female lead. These were four of the books that I enjoyed the most.

MURDER ON COLD STREET
Sherry Thomas, Berkley, 2020, $16, pb, 352 pages, 9780451492494

Will we ever tire of variations on a Sherlock Holmes theme? Not likely. In the Lady Sherlock series by best-selling…


It was still fabulous

I remember the first year that I got a few dozen birthday wishes from people I barely knew on Facebook. I thought, well, this is kind of fun. The next year there were more, and the year after that… You know how it goes. I always made an effort to acknowledge other people’s birthdays on Facebook if I knew them even remotely. And it was handy if I forgot my brother’s birthday to have the Facebook reminder.

But this year I decided I didn’t want or need a few hundred birthday wishes from people I may or may not know…


I wonder if it’s still relevant

You weren’t prepared for this. No one taught you how to deal with a situation like this, and yet here we are and you face a battle of unimaginable proportions. This is a crucial moment. It is the end of an era, and the future is unknown. But now is the time. Your time.

We, the generations older than you, have sometimes accused your generation of being uninformed, unengaged, and entitled. Obviously, this is an unfair and gross generalization. After all, your generation embraced the egalitarian vision of Bernie Sanders. But if there is…


Surprise: It’s Not Because They’re Lazy

Traditionally when we think of college students who cheat, we think of frat houses with file cabinets full of A papers and recycled multiple choice tests. We associate students who cheat with laziness, stupidity, and duplicity. As an English professor, I come down hard on cheaters: zero for the assignment, possible failure of the course.

However, my attitude has evolved in recent years. …


The Effects were Sometimes Lethal

The first time racism reared its ugly head in my childhood world was when the girl next door told me we couldn’t play with Nina, the little girl across the street, because she was a “dirty Jew.” I was a year younger than the girl next door and tended to let her boss me around, but I liked Nina, who insisted with tears in her eyes that she wasn’t a Jew.

I had no idea what a Jew was and why it was such a bad thing, so I asked my mother, who sighed with…


Feeling Bad about Feeling Good

We’re living in such a dystopia. All around my neighborhood are tent cities that weren’t there six months ago. This morning I took my dogs on their walk down by the abandoned school behind my house. I saw a figure wrapped in a sheet on the playground equipment. He moved a little, and I worried we had woken him.

Since I’m in the process of moving, I had a comforter and pillow at my house ready to go to some charity or other. As soon as I got home, I stuck the comforter and pillow…


Planting seeds of hope

This is the cover for my book about a drama program at a women’s prison.

It’s 1:35 on a wet thundery Saturday afternoon, and I am standing between two razor wire-topped chain link fences, waiting, waiting as usual to get in. This is the last meeting I will have with this group of women, whom I’ve been meeting every Saturday and Thursday for the past three months. I always have to wait — sometimes twenty minutes, sometimes forty. Today may be even longer because it’s raining and the yard is closed. Even though the yard is closed, they tell me “my” inmates will be allowed to come up.

I’m eager to…


Holding on to the spaces left behind

Photo by the author

On September 26, 2018, my ex-husband had a stroke. That day, the vehicle that is my life veered over the edge of a cliff and plummeted.

His life wasn’t a sitcom either. After the stroke, he couldn’t walk, use his right hand, go to the bathroom by himself, or sit upright in a wheelchair for long without his blood pressure falling and causing him to pass out.

I’ve known several people who’ve had strokes. …

Trish MacEnulty

I’ve published novels, a memoir, and a short story collection. Now writing historical fiction. (trishmacenultywriter.com) Follow me on Twitter @pmacenulty.

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