The value of examining your core beliefs regularly

The world is flat.

Applying leeches will get rid of a patient’s illness.

If someone takes your picture, they’ll steal your soul.

At one time, each of these statements was believed by groups of people. Today, we scoff at these theories because we know them to be untrue.

But the people who believed these things were not stupid.

The world’s best scientists believed the world was flat. Experienced, caring doctors believed leeches got rid of “bad” blood. Wise community leaders believed that spirits could be captured by cameras.

So what changed? How did people come to accept a different reality…


What else have I forgotten?

The ’70s was the era of canned tuna and cottage cheese and peach slices for the calorie-conscious woman. My mom was a fan. When I was growing up, she served cottage cheese with supper, maybe five or six times a month.

I liked it fine, but once I moved out, I don’t remember ever buying curds OR whey for my tuffet. It seemed like old-people food. And my meager food budget was allocated to only the basic necessities: pasta, chicken, bagels, frozen veggies, cereal, milk, chocolate, and Diet Coke. Mostly pasta and Diet Coke, to be honest.

A curd in the hand…

A few years…


Throwing your own party is never fun

I love my mom. She’s one of the most amazing, funny, loving people I’ve ever met. Strong, cheerful, and squishy soft — a quality I savored as a child during long church services when I nestled my head into her.

At 87, she’s going strong and still making the world a better place. I’d happily celebrate her every day of the week.

But even the deep love and admiration for my mom was not enough to make me love Mother’s Day. Like many women, I spent many years wishing the holiday would fall off the calendar.

Honor or labor?

In most traditional families…


I don’t think they understand what they just said

I tuned in intermittently to a livestream of the maskless hoax-fest in Tulsa, OK, this weekend. “Health and Freedom,” they called it. The “rally-style” event was sponsored by Clay Clark, a man who prides himself on creating mass-spreader events.

I would watch for a while and snap it off when I couldn’t stomach any more. Some of what I heard:

“The government no longer has dominion over us!”

“We’re not compromising. We’re taking over!”

“It’s a sin not to vote. God is disappointed in you when you don’t vote.”

“COVID is an excuse for stealing your liberty!”

“You need to…


100-word story

Skipping out the 7–11 door, Billy glanced around for Mom’s car. She was late. Again.

He slurped his frozen drink and jumped onto a parking block, pretending it was a balance beam. Arms extended, toes pointed. As he hopped off, he spied familiar green paper. Money!

He scanned the lot…no one was looking. He scooped up the cash and stuffed it into his pocket. Would he buy some candy? Put it in his new bike fund?

A familiar clunk sounded behind him. “Hurry up, Billy,” Mom called. “We need gas.”

He fingered the bill. Beaming. “I’m buying this time, Mom!”


Prompt response: childhood bedroom

Gold sculptured carpet
concealed treacherous ‘gators; we escaped
by scampering to the top bunk.

Loud, flowered curtains
displayed scary faces at night; I pinched my
eyes closed and buried my face in the pillow.

Whispered secrets
and assurances slipped up and down the wall
in the dark.

The tiny closet
housed hand-me-down clothes: handed
from friends to you to me.

Saturday spats
cleaning our room; Mom made us face each other
and do jumping jacks until we laughed.

Our dolls
were stewardesses, attended balls, got married daily.
Forever 24…and glamorous.

One hundred square feet cultivated our dreams, our joys, our…


It’s easier than you think

In my senior year of college, I worked part-time as an intern for a magazine. Proofreading keylines, writing short news items, editing letters to the editor. As my graduation date approached, the editor-in-chief approached me to offer an assistant editor position.

As an English major with few prospects, I was thrilled. Landing a job before commencement would relieve pressure. I was ready to say “yes” before I was even asked.

But when he handed me the formal offer a few days later, it was $500 less (let’s be clear…$500 less PER YEAR — this was that late ‘80s) than I…


Helplessly watching her drift to extremism

My two best friends and I were in Chicago for a shopping trip when the Supreme Court heard the 2000 Bush-Gore election case. ’Twas the heady days of hanging chads and such. Every time we walked into the hotel room, my oldest friend in the world snapped on the TV. She was eager for Bush to win.

Other than that weekend, we probably discussed politics for less than an hour over 40+ years of friendship. We went about our politics privately and compatibly.

Just 16 years later, I jettisoned my moderate Republican affiliation the minute Trump gained support in the…

Tina L. Smith

Writer, humorist, animal lover, lifelong language geek (er, I proofread for fun). I write on diverse topics that catch my fancy. Everything but haiku(tm).

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