an ongoing series by Thomas E. Kennedy and Walter Cummins  


An Essay by Katie Singer

Eaton Bishop, Herefordshire, England
A lovely country church famous for its collection of superb 14th century stained glass. An interpretive panel explains the stained glass scenes in the five light east window, thought to have been built 1320-40.
“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.”
—James 4:8

        Many memories of my tour to the British Isles are blessedly gone; others I cannot shake. Images of handwritten itineraries and my favorite green paisley-print dress mix together with the large, overly air-conditioned “coach” and endless purple fields of heather. There was the smell of the wool shops in Ireland and the dusty library in Wales where my grandmother looked up our family tree, in search of a Coat of Arms to connect us to something more elevated than the Greens of Newton, Iowa.
        There was Kevin, the bus driver, Ron the tour guide and an assortment of old people. There were the college students on the trip who I envied so much: old enough to travel alone yet young enough to still have fun. I myself was ten years old at the time, way too young for anything of import to happen. That is what I thought.
        We attended a medieval feast replete with mead and oversized shanks of meat. I kissed the Blarney Stone and toured Stonehenge. I saw mists off bogs and petted sheep as they ambled across the dirt road, regularly bringing the tour bus to a halt. There was also time spent with my grandmother that gave me an eerie peek into my mother’s childhood.
        And then there were the thirteen churches. I counted. The tour should have been called The Churches of the British Isles, just to be up front. I didn’t know why old people were so interested in churches, but we stopped at what seemed every church ever built. To be sure, one could feel the history of these buildings. And the architecture was like nothing I had seen in the States. But really they all began to look the same, just like the grayed senior citizens shuffling all about me. After a while I ended up in the basement cafeterias with Kevin and the other bus drivers while the tour trudged around above us. Kevin seemed to feel I had done my penance, had trailed past enough dark wooden pews and stared up at an adequate number of stained glass bible stories through the dim and dusty light of endless sanctuaries. I was happy to receive his forgiveness of any debts I owed the tour group and enjoyed many a scone and a cup of Twining’s with him and his colleagues.

Me and Church Ruins

St. Nicholas Church, Sevenoaks, England
The town of Sevenoaks grew up around a chapel surrounded by seven oak trees in what is now Knole Park. Poet John Donne served as rector of St Nicholas from 1616 to 1631.
“No man is an island, entire of itself...any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”
—John Donne

        I didn’t really relate with God at all back then. My father taught me and my sister that religion was stupid because it caused wars. This seemed a simple enough statement and he was a smart man, so I bought it. It certainly saved me a lot of time. God was for weak people; I was raised to know I didn’t need anybody or anything to get me through this life. “Every man’s an island,” my Dad would tell us. How was I to know that the actual saying went a bit differently? We believe what we are told by our parents. Our tour group visited St. Nicholas Church one rainy afternoon; I was in the hometown of Mr. Donne himself. I have since taken it upon myself to make my children aware that it is extremely difficult to get though this life alone and that it’s alright if they ask others for help—even God.

Dunstable Priory, Bedfordshire, England
In 1131 Henry I established an Augustinian priory at Dunstable. It was at Dunstable Priory that the annulment of Katherine of Aragon's marriage to Henry VIII was announced in 1533.
“And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town.”
-Matthew 10:14

        My grandmother took her usual Greyhound bus from Iowa to Michigan a few days before our departure. As always, she arrived with a collection of Glad Sandwich Bags filled with unidentifiable food. She offered these to me and my sister as if they were gifts chosen just for us. My stomach turned at the thought of eating something that had been warming in the bus those many hours, picked at now and then by my grandmother’s arthritic fingers. I placed the items on the kitchen counter and waited for them to go away.
        She could have flown to Detroit each time she visited. She could have purchased food that was packaged for travel. But she was cheap, mean. “Mean” can be used to express cheapness, killing two words with one stone.
        When she was younger, Nanny would make the drive to Michigan in her 1965 gold Chevrolet Impala. She was the worst driver ever. From a young age I knew I was in peril the way she stamped on the brakes for no good reason then suddenly went to leaning heavy on the gas. We were constantly on the brink of accident.
        And now my father drives like that. His age is showing. He cannot make up his mind quickly enough and this results in a lot of sudden moves that other drivers don’t appreciate. I won’t allow my children in the car with him anymore. It is difficult to admit our parents are too old to drive. A grandmother can be too old—they’re always old. But my father is supposed to be virile and quick-witted forever. I am always startled by the tired, stooped figure that greets me on our rare visits.
         My grandmother seemed to hate my father. She probably blamed him for her daughter’s obviously bad marriage. When she visited, she hardly spoke to him. Now and then as he tried to sneak out early for work, I would witness her laying into him, hissing words I could not recognize. He would stand there, just taking it, not reacting. He seemed to shrink in front of her. I had never seen my father as anything but the top dog; it was confusing to watch this small elderly woman take him down. I imagined him walking out the front door, slowly growing back into the man he wanted to be, getting on his motorcycle and reclaiming the world as he drove away from our home. Maybe that’s how we all felt about that house: as soon as we got away we could breathe again. Maybe it wasn’t just me.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland
Saint Patrick is said to have passed through Dublin on his journey through Ireland. He is reputed to have baptised converts from paganism to Christianity in a well close to where the Cathedral now stands.
“And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.”
—Genesis 25:23

         We flew into Dublin from Detroit. I had never taken an airplane overseas before. We always traveled by ship. My dad didn’t like flying. We took boats to Norway and England, France and Germany. I didn’t think of it as luxurious, it was just how people got around. Now here I was on an airplane, sitting among a mass of strangers for what would be a very long time. Night turned to daylight out the windows of the plane and people awoke from under flimsy blankets and eye masks. It was uncomfortably intimate.
        When we arrived in Dublin I think I was excited. I have always been eager for that new beginning, and what could be newer than a foreign country without one’s parents? We were greeted by a woman with gray hair and red cheeks who held up a sign for Universal Tours. I felt both special and silly at the same time. Here we were being guided, something that never happened on our family trips. Until the tour, I assumed travel meant not knowing what was happening, where one was supposed to go and what anyone was saying. But here we were, our hands practically being held, go here, go there, a bus is waiting for you…
         We arrived at the hotel, an old, wooden kind of place. Everything on that trip felt old and wooden: a young American’s perception of the architecture of ancient Europe. On the wall inside the hotel entrance was a handwritten itinerary and welcome note from our guide, Ron Thirlwell.
        I remember the handwriting so well, black magic marker, all capitalized, very neatly laying out the next day’s plans. It sounded almost fun except that I kept looking back, spotting my grandmother, reminded that I was going to do all of this with her. It suddenly dawned on me that I would be alone with her and I was actually a little scared. She had shown so much malice in the past; I didn’t know when it might surface and be directed at me. Her twin brother, my Uncle Shine, was the nicest man on earth. Uncle Shine was born first, receiving all that was good; Nanny came next, nothing left for her but spite and anger. Uncle Shine raced horses in Lexington, Kentucky and I couldn’t wait to go visit him and Aunt Flora each year. They never had children and I think my mom pretended that she was their daughter. I recognized that desire.

Donagh Parish Church, Glaslough, Monaghan, Ireland
William Carleton the novelist went to hedge school here. Hedge schools were formed during the times of the Penal Laws to covertly educate a population which had no state recognition.
“It is more blessed to give than to receive."
—Acts 20:35

         The first morning in Ireland I woke to sunshine coming in the window of our hotel room and my grandmother already up and moving around. I was relieved to see there would not be need for much discussion that trip. This was a trait that ran in our family and at that moment I was grateful for it.
        When it was time to board the bus, it was an odd social situation. There we were, all stepping into this giant motor vehicle, ready to spend the next two weeks with each other. We smiled awkwardly, a few hellos were said.
        From my seat I sized up each adult who walked down the narrow aisle, wondering if one would be my savior. Even as large old-lady-purses battered my right arm and shoulder, I considered the possibilities of a new start. I was always waiting for someone to “come get me” in my life.
        After the parade of seniors subsided, Ron Thirlwell, our guide, bounded onto the bus. What an entrance he made. A top hat and cane were all that was missing as he began his greetings and introductions. The front of the bus was his stage.
        I was confused about men at that point. Or maybe I had them just right and that was what was confusing. My father, the person who represented “man” to me, was handsome and smart, brazen with women and easy to upset. He swore at everything, the words erupting from within him whether smashing his finger with a hammer or recounting stories of lazy graduate students. I always knew I was a little disappointing to him, though I was charming—his word—and loved sports. I also learned I was intellectually passive, though I did not know exactly what that was at the time. I was also clearly not the right size for a girl, I was stocky. I learned early that a woman would always be trailing just behind what it was her man hoped she would be.
        My mother was pretty when she was young, artistic, and attended graduate school at a time when not so many women did. But once my father chose her for his own she began to disappoint him. And so she began to drink because it’s crushing to know we’ve disappointed the man who picked us when he could have picked anybody.
         I always noticed boys, but I got crushes on men. I created a crush on some of the unkempt and socially inept graduate students that my dad had over for his regular picnics. They just had to be kind. I wanted someone kind, someone who didn’t always sound like he was yelling or just on the verge of doing so. I also developed crushes on my father’s colleagues—middle aged, bespectacled and balding men who paid tender attention to me. Only now have I finally come to the point where my age and that of the men I am attracted to is within close proximity.
         The bus driver, Kevin, started being nice to me right away. Each time I began to mount the steep bus stairs, he would stand and offer his hand to me, always with a smile that seemed to say it was important that I had arrived. I finally decided he was just too elfin and old to get a crush on but he sure could be my confidant. He seemed to feel sorry for me, the only young person there on a bus full of senior citizens. He would often bring me treats from wherever he would go when we all filed off the bus to trudge through heather fields or castle ruins. One day he bought me a doll. It was a pretty young girl, with light pink skin and dark hair in braids. Supported on a stand, she wore a traditional Irish Catholic school outfit, all plaids, reds and greens. She came in a plastic dome cover, to keep her safe from dust and scuffing.
        I had a doll collection at home. Whenever my dad went on his trips without us, he would bring me back some exquisite collectible doll. Japanese, Guyanese, French, Polish. All dressed in fancy doll clothes with fancy doll hair. None of them came in containers—perhaps my father threw them away because they took up too much room—the dolls would arrive with missing shoes or bent necks. I lined them up in my bedroom, each one representing a time my dad thought of me.
         The doll Kevin gave me was inexpensive: plastic legs and arms with the seams showing, light when held. But it was my favorite one because of the way it was given to me. Kevin was so pleased, so excited for me to pull his gift from the brown paper bag. And my reaction was all he needed in return. Only I didn’t know that. Combined with the little girl excitement of getting a present was my feeling that I didn’t really deserve to be singled out and given such a thing. At home during Christmas, when we opened gifts, my Dad would regularly exclaim, “Jesus Christ, she doesn’t need that,” “My God, we’re really breaking the bank, aren’t we,” “What a bunch of consumers.” So I picked up on the fact that gifts were really something for lesser people who felt the need to be recognized with material items. I was to be above that.
        I couldn’t very well refuse the doll Kevin had given me, so I did the next best thing, I got him something back. I knew I had to. I was determined. The very next stop we made I ran to the nearest gift shop and bought him a chocolate bar and a shot glass with a shamrock painted on it. I was so eager to give Kevin my presents, to show him that I wasn’t some greedy, unappreciative little kid but a mature young lady who knew that the world did not revolve around her.
        When I gave my new friend his gift, the look on his face surprised me. It was disappointment. I explained that I had to get him something because he had gotten me something. And then I got one of my first life lessons about receiving. It wasn’t a lesson that immediately stuck, I think it took a few decades for it to settle in. But Kevin told me that just because someone gave me something I did not have a responsibility to give something in return. In fact, he explained, allowing someone to give us a gift was a gift for the giver—it apparently made people happy to do these sorts of things. Even now I can remember the ache in my stomach and my heart as he patiently laid out this concept to me. I felt sick because I had ruined his fun. And my heart hurt thinking that it might just be alright for me to receive tenderness from someone without “earning” it, working for it, but simply because I was breathing.

St Mary's Berkeley, Gloucestershire, England
A special feature of St Mary's is the table tombs in the churchyard. The most famous of these is the early 18th century memorial to Dickie Pearce, family jester to the Earl of Suffolk. Pearce, died at Berkeley Castle and was buried in the churchyard. Pearce is supposed to have died after falling from the minstrel gallery during a performance, though an alternative version is that he was murdered.
“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
—John 8:32
        We wended our way through Ireland, Scotland, Wales and finally into England. In that time I learned how to receive and also that truth really could set someone free—or at least loosen the leash a bit. I also learned the definition of orgasm.
        My grandmother was a hard woman. She was small and wiry with a large nose but pretty features. Her anger seemed to nourish her; I could not imagine her ever weak or in need. Many years later my mother would tend to her mother who had finally grown frail. There were broken hips and forgotten faces. I was spared the sight of Nanny as anything but feisty and mad, but perhaps had I seen her vulnerable I would have gotten to know better who she was. And then perhaps I could have understood why she seemed so angry at me whenever people on that trip brought me candy, coins, trinkets or attention. Perhaps there would have been a glimpse of the woman that existed before the resentment and tweed suits and practical pumps. Instead I am simply left with the image of an angry woman who insisted in taking her granddaughter on a trip to the United Kingdom.
        My grandmother seemed to feel slighted each time I received a compliment or treat on that trip. And I did receive a lot of treats that summer. After an outing we would all pile back on the bus. As I sat in my seat—on the aisle, always—the elder tourists would walk by and drop assorted goodies into my lap. Some shortbread cookies here, a chocolate four-leaf clover there… While I was already self-conscious about my weight at age ten, I gratefully accepted and devoured those symbols of affection. It felt good to be selected out of the large group of people as the one who got the prize for a change. Meanwhile, my grandmother wasn’t getting the attention because I was taking it away from her. And she wanted it. She would preen in front of the bus driver and interrupt my conversations with fellow travelers. She seemed to be screaming, “Look at me!” to everyone on the bus.
        One night in a hotel room somewhere in the British Isles, my grandmother was sitting at the vanity, brushing her grey hair. The scene felt to be right out of a Joan Crawford movie. The shades were drawn and a dreary darkness permeated the room. Nothing was ever light around my grandmother. I did my best those evenings to avoid talking with her. I would do my few bathroom chores and then immediately grab my book and get in bed. Reading has saved me from facing many things; I learned this trick from my mother.
        But on that night, before I could get to my bed and to my reading, my grandmother called me over. I stood behind her as she looked back at me through the mirror. “Don’t you like me?” she asked. The question scared me. Perhaps I had been watching too many of those Saturday afternoon black and white movies but I felt sure something bad was about to happen. And then, still in that elongated moment following her question, I realized for the first time that my mother had been raised by this woman. My mother had probably been asked this question many times. I gathered strength and answered my grandmother for myself, and perhaps for my mother. “You’re not nice to people. You’re not nice to me.” Then I walked to my bed and slid way down underneath the covers. I realized that the danger I felt was the truth creeping up on me and that our whole family was scared of it. From then on, whenever I got that particular feeling of imminent danger inside of me, I knew I was about to face truth and that, contrary to what I’d been taught, it wouldn’t kill me to speak it—or hear it.
        My grandmother seemed unmoved by this incident. The next morning she told me my knee socks made my calves look big. Then we went downstairs for breakfast.

Me, Nanny, Portabello Road

Winchester Cathedral, Hampshire, England
The early church was rebuilt beginning in the late 11th century; the ground was so marshy that thousands of wooden piles had to be driven into the ground to make it solid enough to build what was then the longest church in Europe. Even today, the cathedral crypt is prone to flooding.
“As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God.”
—Psalm 42:1

        Our tour director, Ron, was a ruddy-faced Englishman. He was not handsome; I even knew that at age ten. But he paid such close attention to me that I felt like the prettiest girl in the world when he was around. I have learned that some men just know how to make a woman feel so extraordinary that we sometimes allow them many mistakes—if only we can have that feeling of extraordinariness. Ron was the superstar of the tour, the lead singer in the band. He was young—to the rest of the crowd—energetic and in charge.
        It did not seem odd to me that Ron would pay me so much attention, even flirt, although there were two attractive young women there closer to his age. I even felt envy when he did spend some time with them. At a young age I already knew I was to cast an evil eye toward any woman who was getting in between me and a man.
        Ron laid praises on my grandmother for being so kind as to bring her granddaughter on the trip. Oh yes, my grandmother was under his spell, too. He had the routine down and his charm was intoxicating. There were women on that bus born of many different decades and not a one was able to resist Ron’s ways; we all were convinced he was somehow especially interested in us. We would have fluttered our eyelashes had women still done that in those days. But Ron did give me most of his attention. He always invited me to walk with him as we toured the ancient castles and historic landmarks that made up a good part of the tour. He almost always sat with me and my grandmother when we ate. Sometimes he invited me to come over and sit with him, just the two of us. He would tell me, in a whisper, that he was tired of all the talking and socializing and how nice it was just to get to spend a little time with me.
        Ron seemed to want to train me; I had visions of My Fair Lady when he would correct my “What?” to a “Pardon?” or when he taught me how to eat “European style.” Holding the fork in my left hand and the knife in my right, I was to cut the meat and then, keeping the silverware in those same hands, I was to eat the food on the fork. He said this was much more civilized than that gauche American practice of switching after cutting one’s food so that the fork ended up in the right hand. He looked down on much that was American and I followed right along. I was still looking for a world to belong to and America didn’t seem to want me much anyway.
        One afternoon I found myself in Ron’s hotel room. My grandmother would not have allowed me into a grown man’s hotel room by myself so I lied, telling her I wanted to take some pictures of the park across the street from our hotel. There was a thrill to standing there alone with Ron. I felt that something exciting could happen. I would have that feeling many times throughout my life, of standing on a precipice, believing that the slightest move was going to propel me into an unsafe place but that the trip would be exhilarating.
        I stood in the hotel room while Ron gathered some things together. He moved in a way my father did not. There was something feminine about him, fussy almost. I found this attractive, endearing. He brushed his hair in the bathroom, allowing me a glimpse of where he probably stood to do all sorts of things I could not know of. He then took his key from the dresser, placed some money in his pocket and walked toward me. In that moment I decided he was an adult and that whatever he chose to do next was the right thing. He placed his hand on my shoulder and reached for the light switch with the other. Then with that same hand he opened the hotel room door and said in his British accent, “After you.” We were headed, he told me, for a walk in the park across the street. There was a famous garden there, he said.
        Gardens were big in the British Isles. I now live in a town where the English Garden look is what many of my suburban peers aspire to. They plant daisies, asters and lavender alongside colorful, popping clumps of impatiens—a few roses here and there. Small gates and assorted porcelain statues dot the areas. English Gardens symbolize different things to different people.
        I was a ten-year -old girl taking a stroll through an English Garden with a grown man and it was romantic. I felt like a woman with Ron. I felt him look at me as if I was pretty. That was the first time I experienced that sensation. I was a tomboy, a chubby tomboy no less. I was not the girl with pretty blonde pigtails and legs like a young colt. My father always said I was “chunky.” I’m not sure why that was important enough to him to even make note of but he used the word often. It wasn’t said as a put down as much as an observation. Of course, I knew early on that chunky was one of the worst possible offenses committed by a girl and I tried for years in vain to diet-off my chunkiness. But all the grapefruit, weight loss powder and cider vinegar wasn’t going to change my body-type, something I finally accepted right around my mid- thirties.
        Ron looked at me longingly as we walked. His face seemed to say so many things at the same time. Perhaps we were even holding hands; with such a huge age difference it would have simply seemed sweet to an onlooker. Later I would read Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov and find the story familiar. There is a desperation to a man who is in the midst of feeling something he knows he shouldn’t be feeling but can’t seem—or just doesn’t want—to stop himself. It is different for a child who does not own that consciousness yet.
        We continued walking, past daisies and roses and Black-Eyed Susans and then Ron asked me if I knew what an orgasm was. I did not. And I could tell it was something that I didn’t need to be knowing either. I had a queasy feeling in my stomach, not the excited feeling of the hotel room but the familiar inevitable disappointment feeling. The earth felt suddenly soft under my feet. Once again the trip that I had hoped for was going in a bad direction—my intuition told me this. I knew it was my fault, too, that I had misled this man in some way. I had persisted in something that could not possibly work. I wanted to run from him but that was just too dramatic a move for me, plus we had made our way deep into the garden where hedges rose along each side of me; the hotel was out of my sight. And of course, part of me wanted to know. I wanted to know everything Ron knew because he was worldly and if I knew what he knew I’d be worldly, too, and that would make me attractive.
        I looked down at my feet and said I didn’t know what that word meant. Ron then told me something that I still remember thirty-eight years later, verbatim. “An orgasm is like having all your birthdays come at once.” Right away I pictured party hats and noisemakers and a pink cake; pretty little girls at a big table, plates of ice cream already in front of them as they awaited the cutting of the cake. I knew that was the kind of birthday Ron was talking about. My own birthdays could not possibly have been used as an example of something that someone wanted to have more than one of. I think I said something like, “Wow.”
        The rest of the walk was made in silence. If we held hands at the start, we did not hold hands as we headed back to the hotel. I was scared. My intuition told me I was perching on an edge that was far more dangerous than I could even understand. I wanted to get away from Ron, I decided I didn’t want to take that particular trip with him, whatever it was. His appearance suddenly changed to me. The rugged young Englishman turned into a flushed old creepy guy. He became “gross.” For the first time during the trip I wanted to see my grandmother, wanted to be back in that familiar surrounding where I knew how to survive.
        As soon as we returned to the familiar lobby I said a rushed “thanks” and ran up the stairs to our room. My grandmother was buttoning her blazer in preparation for dinner. She looked at me when I walked into the room in such a way that I felt I had done something wrong. In my mind I quickly replayed the whole time in the garden making sure I hadn’t done anything to deserve the look I was getting.
        “Where have you been?” she asked.
        “I was in the park with the Colemans,” I answered quickly.
        “Well, it’s almost time for dinner. Hurry up.”
        I was so relieved to be back in the recognizable jungle of anger and suspicion and safely away from that marshy unknown. I smiled at my grandmother with gratitude.
        For the rest of the trip Ron tried talking to me in the same intimate manner. But I had gained one new tool and that was the ability to dismiss a man in the way only a woman can. I was going to show him that I wanted nothing to do with him. I was punishing him. I found it fun.
        When I got back to the States, Ron wrote me, sent me pictures of himself and then finally called. My dad answered the phone; a very short discussion ensued. I walked by the conversation, heard my father tell someone that they need not call the house again. My dad had a way of sounding cordial and threatening at the same time. I never spoke to my parents about Ron but my dad was a man and he knew there was no good reason for a thirty-year-old man to be calling his ten-year-old daughter. I had a feeling of being protected by my father for one of the only times I can ever remember—it was wonderful. And while I was relieved to be saved from that awkward moment I also hoped my dad noticed that a man was pursuing me, actually wanted to be with me.
The Anglican Church of St Thomas à Becket, Hamburg, Germany
On 15 April 1835, city authorities assigned a plot of land in the present location, Zeughausmarkt. The ministry centred around the expatriate community; mission work in the city; and the hundreds of British seamen at port in Hamburg each year, who were entertained at weekly church concerts.
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”
—Ecclesiastes 3:1
        Three years later I spent my birthday in Bad Godesberg, Germany. My father was teaching at the University of Bonn for the summer. We traded homes with a colleague of his. There was a cow pasture outside our apartment building. When my big day arrived I had to assume there was going to be a surprise, what with the lack of preparations so apparent. There was. My father had invited all his students over for dinner, ostensibly to celebrate my birthday. They started arriving, smiling kindly at me but acknowledging no special purpose to the evening. One, who had followed Dad to Germany from the States, brought me a stuffed monkey which I named Harold. He knew it was my birthday.
        I ate spaghetti in the kitchen with my mother and sister. A cake was later brought out to the living room, where the men sat talking. Most of them looked around, wondering what the occasion was. I thought about Ron Thirlwell and his definition of an orgasm. My birthdays had been forgotten, ignored and overlooked most of my short life. If they all came at once, that would be an awful experience.
        I knew I was always going to feel like an outsider, never quite understanding the language spoken around me—even if it was supposedly my native tongue. I would also always have to support myself because counting on others was not a sure thing. Maybe my father was right after all, maybe he knew better than Mr. Donne and every man truly was his own island.
        My trip to the British Isles, all connected by way of questionable and volatile links, taught me a lot. I learned that history is important for context; God appears in many other places besides churches; and that stories are meant to be told.

Me and Nanny, England

Katie Singer has an MFA from Fairleigh Dickinson University. She is a Senior Lecturer in the department of Literature, Language, Writing & Philosophy at Fairleigh Dickinson She also coordinates the Minor in African-American Studies and chairs the Black History Month Committee. She has two children and lives in Montclair, New Jersey.
        Katie has taught writing workshops in composition and creative writing, as well as African-American literature and studies. She has sat on panels and given readings at various conferences, most recently at the International Conference on the Short Story in Toronto. Her writing consists of short stories, poems and essays; she has published in various literary journals and newspapers including most recently in The Paterson Literary Review.

                                                    [copyright 2012, Katie Singer]