I’m lost now
searching for myself
in spider-infested
cardboard boxes,
closets filled with
old sheets no one
wants, in a pile of
naked coathangers
through the detritus of
a life lived making
electronic gadgets…

I gather up towels,
electric razor parts,
old chipped china
from the fifties,
purchased by
his mother,
an Orange County
housewife.
What does any of it
have to do with me?
These scattered tools,
old circuit boards,
hoarding secrets you
couldn’t tell.

I’m nowhere in here,
not in your mother’s
yearbook: “Love ya, Red!”
or your father’s A+
history paper
or the Bible given
to your brother
that he never read…


Photograph by me, Trish MacEnulty

In 2014 I read a long profile of the novelist Edward St. Aubyn in The New Yorker. The profile described his work this way: “extremes of familial cruelty and social snobbery are described with a tart precision that is not quite free of cruelty and snobbery.” The profile noted that some of his best books are highly autobiographical and document the egregious behaviors and attitudes of certain members of English uppercrust society. (Hint: this is no Downton Abbey.) They also relate the travails of a man whose childhood sufferings resulted in a raging drug addiction.

I freed myself from my…


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…

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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