Friday, December 28, 2012


You're moving into a new house. Not your idea really. More like your wife's. She nagged and nagged til you gave in. You're such a softie. At work, at home, on the train, at the gym. You're the nice guy.

You're moving into a new house tomorrow. Still have to finish packing. A bunch of boxes sits on the floor in the attic. They're empty. You are in the middle. You have to figure out what to take to the new house, what to toss out in the trash. It's so hard to choose. You'd like to take everything but your wife said "there is no room for all that junk, just pick a few things and toss out the rest." And you said "ok dear."

You're moving into a new house where there is no room for too many memories. You look around and start from the corner bookcase stuffed with yellowing books from high school and college, even your term papers. I guess I can toss that stuff you think. And begin to page through papers and books. Suddenly you hear your wife's voice. "Dinner is ready! Are you up there?" You don't answer. "Dinner is ready," she repeats. "Come down right now." Dinner is ready? you ask yourself. What time is it? How long have I been up here?

You're moving into a new house tomorrow morning and at this pace you won't be done til next year. Still haven't decided what to take, what to toss. So hard to leave your life in a big, black trash bin in the alley. "I hope you're done with all that." She places a steaming plate of spaghetti with red sauce in front of you. You stare at the spaghetti silently, then say "Sure, I'm done. I'm all done."

Friday, December 21, 2012


The end of the world is here.  I know you don't think so but I just saw it on my news feed: the NRA calls for an armed officer in every school.  In every school?  Yes, every single elementary, middle, high school in this country should have an armed officer to prevent more shootings.  

Or, perhaps, what will happen is that the armed officer will engage in a gun shootout with the next killer right there in the hallway or the playground and boom! - children and grown-ups will be caught in the middle of it.  

I call that an apocalypse, don't you?

Let's all of us carry a gun in our purse or pocket.  Yeah!  let's.  It won't take long before we're all gone from this planet.  Or at least from this country.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Come to San Miguel this February!

Literary or creative nonfiction is the fastest growing literary genre.   The telling of facts in a creative manner entertains readers, surprises them, and teaches them something about real life in the process.
Creative nonfiction walks a fine line between fiction and truth with style and confidence.  Create stories that read like fiction but are based on real life.
In this workshop you will learn how to write a gripping opening sentence, how to use dialogue and bring characters alive, how to incorporate research to add depth to your writing, and the essential techniques of successful and interesting creative nonfiction writing.
We will also look at examples of creative nonfiction from an array of authors and study them to learn about voice, style, and structure as we produce our own essays by the end of the session.
San Miguel Writers' Conference - Beatriz Badikian-GartlerBeatriz Badikian-Gartler’s publications includeMapmaker Revisited: New and Selected PoemsOld Gloves: A 20th Century Saga; travel essays in The New York Times, The Winfield Post, New Directions in Travel Writing, and others. She has also published short stories, film reviews, poems, and personal memoir essays in journals and anthologies in the United States and abroad.
Badikian-Gartler holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago and has been teaching for the last 25 years at various institutions of higher learning, such as, Northwestern University, Loyola University, Roosevelt University, Columbia College, University of Wisconsin, Newberry Library, and others.
San Miguel Writers' Conference - Beatriz Badikian-GartlerHer writing has won several awards, including a nomination for a Pushcart Prize in 1993, a Time Inc. fellowship, and grants from the Illinois Arts Council and the Chicago Office of Fine Arts.  She is a popular performer in the Chicago area and lectures often on women’s issues, art, and literature.
In 2000 Badikian-Gartler was selected as one of the “One-Hundred Women Who Make a Difference in Chicago” by Today’s Woman magazine.  She is also an Illinois Humanities Council Road Scholar.

Monday, December 3, 2012

YOU HEAR CHURCH BELLS: flash fiction

    You're surprised to hear church bells in the distance. You thought the church had been demolished a long time ago. In a strange way, the bells are comforting. Unusual for an atheist. Must be the memories of church bells from childhood. The neighborhood. The friends. Suddenly the memories flood you and you have to sit down for a moment, on a stoop.

    The church bells take you back to the old days when everyone knew everyone, doors were never locked, you and your best friend Ralph were inseparable. I wonder what happened to him you say out loud. Ralph was great. Had no fears. You liked to follow him around, imitate him. Your mother used to warn you about that but you never paid attention to her. You were spoiled, her favorite son. Her only son in a family of girls. Five were the golden boy.

    You're listening to the bells when the door behind you opens. Excuse me someone says. I'm sorry you reply and get up. I'm sorry. I felt faint for a moment you explain to the lady looking at you askance. You start to walk again, down the block to the 711 to buy cigarettes and a six pack.

    You walk out of the 711 with the six pack under your arm and a cigarette between your lips. Stopping to light it you realize the church bells have stopped tolling. You inhale deeply and blow the smoke out of your nose, cross the street, smile. You're going home to drink and forget the neighborhood, Ralph, your mother.

    That's what grown men do. They drink. They smoke. They forget. They forget until they're forgotten.