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Nicole C. Kear
Author, Essayist, Professor of Writing // Books: Now I See You: a memoir; Foreverland; The Fix-It Friends series // www.nicolekear.com

It’s the antidote to a social-media-induced inferiority complex.

Photo by Jason Abdilla on Unsplash

Here’s something I never thought I’d miss until Covid took it away: getting a tour of people’s houses.

I’m talking about the kind of informal walk-throughs that happen when you drop your kid off at a new friend’s house to play and the host asks, ”Do you want to a tour?” and you say, “Yes, sure,” every time. Perhaps is it just my overly voyeuristic nature or maybe it’s an idiosyncrasy of city living, where you never have enough space and every square foot costs roughly a gazillion dollars, but I never tire of exploring other people’s living spaces. Part…


THIS IS US

Don’t depend on the kindness of strangers, but do celebrate it

One-stop Subway Artist Sketch

To paraphrase a great sage: The subway’s like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.

Some days, what you get is human fecal matter underfoot. In case you’re wondering, that’s the best case scenario for encountering human fecal matter. It’s also possible to encounter it underhand, as my sixteen-year-old son discovered one afternoon during his commute home from school. Never since Lady Macbeth, or the year 2020, has someone washed their hands with such desperation.

Other days on the subway, what you get is tourists from Paris who let you speak terrible French to them and…


Letting go of the desire to “win” isn’t easy, but it’s worth it

Photo by HalGatewood.com on Unsplash

A few days ago, I gave my 16-year-old a trumpet.

He does not know the first thing about playing the trumpet — or playing any brass instrument for that matter. When he was younger, he dabbled in guitar briefly, and that’s been the extent of his musical training.

A few weeks earlier, we’d both been snacking on cheddar cheese and water crackers past midnight, which is when we conduct ninety percent of our conversations. I asked if he might want to get back into playing guitar over the summer. Or singing, maybe? …


Keeping kids safe is great in life but terrible in literature

Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

Contrary to popular belief, parents do not ruin everything. They do, however, ruin many, many things — and topping the list are freedom, fun and adventure. Parents — caring parents, at least — will do everything they can to keep kids safe, which is great in real life, but terrible in literature.

This is why so many middle grade stories get rid of parents.

The easiest way to do this, of course, is to make them dead. Long-dead, ideally. It is no coincidence that a preponderance of great heroes and heroines have been orphans.

Consider:

Anne of Green Gables. Heidi…


THIS IS US

We’ve all been stuck in some way or another

Photo: Mitchell Gaiser/Unsplash

Last summer, my eight-year-old got trapped inside a couch. Under the couch, technically, in its undergirding. It was complicated, the way scenarios involving children often are, especially in the middle of a pandemic.

See, this is a story about a kid in a couch, but it is also an allegory.

It was August, a time when, normally, our family of five would be undertaking epic summer adventures, casting off from Brooklyn to shores unknown. But like everything else — school, sleepovers, birthday and holiday celebrations — summer adventures had been canceled. Both of our attempts to visit my husband’s family…

Nicole C. Kear

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