Because neurotic is the new black....

Ann Nichols

Ann Nichols
East Lansing, Michigan,
December 31
I write, I read, I clean up after people and I worry about things. I have a chronic insufficiency of ironic detachment. My birthday isn't really December 31; it's March 22 but it won't let me change it.


Ann Nichols's Links

MAY 10, 2013 9:08PM

A Spectacularly Good Griever

I am dreading Mother’s Day. I cannot look at the two little garden plots in front of my house, for which my mother took me every year to get bedding plants as a Mother’s Day gift. I feel, just now, a longing for my mother that is every naked, raw and… Read full post »

MARCH 4, 2013 10:23AM

The Tyranny of Clocks

Today is March Fourth, which some clever souls have turned into March Forth, as in “change something/do something/forge ahead!” Instead of forging forth on the Fourth, I am using the day as an occasion to break my decade-long relationship with the tyranny of the timer. It’s sort of… Read full post »

FEBRUARY 24, 2013 9:51AM

Yesterday at the Book Store

I am at the only real book store left in this town.  It’s a place I have been thousands of times, because I feel that I can keep it alive through sheer force of will. I have a Kindle, I’ll cop to that, but I try to buy as much as… Read full post »

FEBRUARY 18, 2013 11:43AM

Can Self Love Save this Brine Shrimp?!

It has come to my attention, with the force of a massive asteroid hurtling through space to crash into my soul, that I need to take better care of myself. I have become, in recent months, a sullen, twisted hard little kernel of a person. A sulker, a ruminator, able to… Read full post »

JANUARY 28, 2013 10:56PM



Snow Day II

It was gray today, unseasonably warm, the world around me a stark palette of snowy white and the near blackness of rain-soaked, leafless trees. I always loved the idea of “the pathetic fallacy” in my life as an English major; it seemed right and just that nature shoul… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
SEPTEMBER 11, 2012 10:39AM

Beauty is More Than Skin Deep: Why Don't I Believe That?

First, let me acknowledge that this post is totally inspired by a piece on Huffington Post by Jane Devin, author of the memoir Elephant Girl: A Human Story. She makes the case that it is unhealthy and unhelpful to insist that girls and women are (physically) “beautiful” regardless of… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
SEPTEMBER 6, 2012 6:46PM

Shot Full of Arrows

As a child, long before I turned my attention to tragic heroines and their male counterparts, I was drawn to mortal injury and related suffering. There is no explanation for the deep and satisfying emotions I got from the pictures I hunted in my father’s Professorial Library; I suspect it is… Read full post »

AUGUST 30, 2012 11:54PM

Tragic Heroine

A literary agent once told me that, although my pieces about my life were well-written and interesting, she could never sell a memoir because I “had no hook.” Again and again she asked me about my life. I answered honestly, and in her e-mails I could see the regretful shake of… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
AUGUST 24, 2012 9:23AM

At Fourteen

So I’m watching “Criminal Minds,” which I love because of the profiling part – I would love to have a job in which I had access to everyone’s most intimate, personal business. It wouldn’t have to be killers; I would be perfectly happy plumbing the depths of gardene… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
AUGUST 8, 2012 10:01AM

Love's Raging Rash: I Accidentally Read a Romance Novel

I am fairly catholic in my choice of reading material; in a pinch I will read whatever is lying around. At summer houses, and in insomniac wanderings in my own house I have read everything from Zane Grey to Boethius, and I actually like things like YA series fiction and “cozy”… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
AUGUST 3, 2012 11:16AM

No Room for Moderates: Tales of a Community Organizer

There is no room in this politically polarized world for middle ground, even at the local, grassroots level.

Five years ago I got involved in protesting development near my house. I’m not anti-development, but this was an objectively and inherently bad plan, complete with shaky financing and… Read full post »

JUNE 29, 2012 6:50AM

Friendship (Fail)

I am an introvert and a loner by nature, an extrovert and a pack animal by cultivation.  As a result of this mild and untreated social schizophrenia, I have always had a difficult time with the kind of friendship that I think women are supposed to have with each other. It… Read full post »

JUNE 26, 2012 10:42AM

Staycation 2012

“He doesn’t want that black one to get anything” observes my husband.

“Probably a racist” I respond, taking a sip of iced coffee. We are sitting on our comfortable porch early in the morning, watching squirrels steal food from an open trash bin across the street. We are… Read full post »

JUNE 21, 2012 6:55PM


It starts when I am cutting up the peaches. I often buy fruits and vegetables “reduced for quick sale” for use in smoothies, soups, and other comestibles requiring neither peak freshness nor flavor. It would be a mortal sin to chop up and freeze a pint

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Editor’s Pick
JUNE 6, 2012 8:23AM

Going Meatless

About ten days ago I stopped eating meat. There were no green-bordered, engraved cards made from heavy stock telling the world that “Mrs. Nichols announces with pleasure her decision to forego all animal protein until further notice.” There wasn’t really a reason, either, aside from… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
JUNE 4, 2012 8:40AM

A Garden Story

I have never been much of a gardener. I have always done well with houseplants, and loved gardens, I just didn’t actually so much have a garden. When we bought our house it was clear that the big house cast shade all over the small lot in such a way that… Read full post »

MAY 25, 2012 9:49AM

Summer: A Preview

Summer is my least favorite season. I am a ghostly pale person, I sweat easily, and I do not garden successfully. I am allergic to chlorine and can’t spend days by the pool without breaking out in hives, and I am not generally given to hiking, camping, kayaking or doing any… Read full post »

Last night we went out to dinner at a low-key sports bar/restaurant. As we ordered, a family appeared: an extraordinarily pregnant mother, a father, grandparents and what appeared to be twins about three years old. One was wailing on the way in, and later there was whining, running around, jumping on… Read full post »

MAY 22, 2012 9:51AM


It’s a familiar story: young men barely out of high school are horsing around with a car/loaded gun/case of grain alcohol/unsafe balcony or some combination thereof, and one of them ends up dead. In the local story it was two 20-year-old “men” fooling around with a loaded pellet gun… Read full post »

MAY 8, 2012 7:53PM

Id Wins Again

So I started to write this as a Facebook status, and then I thought about all the people who might read it and judge me for it. I had wanted to say that I was uncharacteristically angry today, that little things that I could usually ignore or forget are growing like… Read full post »

APRIL 25, 2012 9:31AM

Nature Girl

I have never in my adult life been what I think of as a Nature Girl. I hate camping, and anything that involves jumping across slimy stones in the middle of moving water while other people wait with increasing impatience. My role models, during my formative years, tended to be snarky… Read full post »

APRIL 17, 2012 6:01PM

She Was Slow, But Man Was She Deep!

This is not the first time I have written on this topic. Apparently it is my soapbox, and my message to the world; my epitaph will read “She Was Slow, But Man Was She Deep!” I will not give up, I will not cave in to a world of sound bites… Read full post »

APRIL 14, 2012 8:16PM

White Girl Problems*

In the recent past I have twice opened articles on Major Famous Website because the title promised to give me information or ideas that were genuinely worth my time; in both cases the actual piece was best categorized as “Whining about White Girl Problems.” I do understand the need for ed… Read full post »


It was really just going to be too much trouble to do a Passover Seder last year. My mother is Jewish, and we grew up with an annual Seder at my grandmother's house in Ohio, but these days we are just all sort of Professionally Busy.  My brother (a doctor!)… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
APRIL 5, 2012 9:57AM

Maundy Thursday and The Real Housewives of New York

Yesterday was a day of thick, dark solemnity at the church where I sling Shepard’s Pie and order linens. There was a funeral first, the final celebration for a man only ten years older than I am. He was busy, active, healthy, a father of two young adults, lost to a… Read full post »