Always the Lucky One

 

Things fell apart slowly. I knew my luck was going when I began losing at the card tables. It was a small shift. I’d been on a streak while I stayed in New Orleans. Every third or fourth day, I walked to Harrah’s. All I knew how to play was blackjack, and I didn’t know if it was a winner’s game or not. I’d heard that if you played the odds at craps, you could ensure a slow and steady income. But that’s not what I did. I followed the generally suggested rules of play, took chances when compelled to, and left the casino with two, three hundred dollars each visit. It wasn’t high stakes, but I’d known what it felt like to be a winner. After my streak turned, I walked out of the casino two, three hundred dollars poorer twice a week, and I knew things had shifted. I was no longer in the good graces of whatever spirits I’d appointed to guide me.
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In the Van

Last Halloween you splattered fake blood all over a sexy nurse costume and went as “Malpractice.” Your boyfriend didn’t think it was funny, but he doesn’t think anything is funny. He’s in his last year of college, studying psychology. You don’t understand how you can study feelings. You like to imagine him recording the salt concentration of tears. Your mother always tells you he’s the smartest man you’ll ever get.
            He asked you why you couldn’t just be a regular sexy nurse, why you could never just be sincere. Continue reading

Somebody Else in Kentucky

I was somebody else in Kentucky. Well, at least I tried to be. But traveling is always messy. I hate sleeping on a hotel bed; it’s like sleeping on an oversized Ritz Crackers box, covered with a paper towel. Yet, when you sign in at the front desk of a hotel you can be anyone, anyone at all, whoever you dream up. So, when my best friend Jackie asked me to tag along to Kentucky, I said yes. Continue reading

Mushroom Picking is One Word

I remember, Sister Marie, that Mother held her finger to her lips, like this. ‘Soldaten,’ she whispered. I wanted to tell her how hungry I was, since we’d not eaten a thing since the day before, and that had only been the stale bread made of sawdust that you got at those roadside charity kitchens during the war. Maybe you don’t know those places because you only came after Germany surrendered. Continue reading

5 Bad American Habits I Broke While Traveling Through Europe

1. Let go of your material possessions

I spent months packing for the trip. My husband had just bought me new breasts. Thousands of dollars so that I would look like a European in Europe. A pair of double Ds pushed so high into the air that they nearly touched my chin. Wearing anything felt like wearing lingerie. There were a couple of times in Italy when they made me wear a plastic cover just to go into a church. Continue reading