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

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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »
Editor’s Pick
MARCH 22, 2012 12:18PM

Bio Terrorism

I was recently asked to write a piece for a fairly well-known national website. I was honored, and writing the actual, substantive post was fairly easy; I do it all the time. The problem, the thing that made me worry and sweat, was the requested “bio.” Being a clever girl, I… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
MARCH 5, 2012 9:52AM

Pinterest (uh) What is it Good For? Absolutely Something


As you may know, I like to view my very-nearly-fifty-year-old self as all hip and early adopterish. I have an unnatural dread of youngsters snickering as I hold up my new-fangled thingamabobber and look at it over the rims of my glasses, saying something like “tell me again,… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
FEBRUARY 16, 2012 10:12AM

About My Kid

 the road

 I have talked the talk about letting children be who they are. I have spoken articulately about it, advising other parents with my face screwed into a knot of sincerity and compassion. I have written about it. “We do not own them,” I have preached, “give them roo… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
FEBRUARY 7, 2012 10:07AM

Avoid Stress

It began with a familiar sensation; I couldn’t align my upper and lower jaw to close my mouth tight. My teeth didn’t seem to line up right, and I couldn’t force them into the customary alignment. I will tell you this: when your teeth don’t line up right in the safe… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
JANUARY 25, 2012 9:29AM

"Old Literacy" v. "New Literacy:" A Five Paragraph Essay

This morning my husband pointed me towards a story in The New York Times. The article focused on Duke English professor Cathy N. Davidson, who advocates for the replacement of term papers with blogging. Speaking of the term paper concept, Professor Davison says that “[a]s a writer, it off

Read full post »
Editor’s Pick
JANUARY 12, 2012 9:42AM

The Etsy Girl

I have, of late, been living in the Land of Etsy. I buy things that strike my fancy, usually small things, sometimes odd things. I bought most of my Christmas gifts there, and the vast majority of my own wish list came from my Etsy “favorites.” As I write, I am… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
DECEMBER 19, 2011 5:25PM

A Cardinal on a Pinecone

My father famously remarks every year that “Christmas is at our throats again.” He is not, categorically, a Little Ray of Sunshine, and for my whole life I have rolled my eyes when he says this, appeased him with fruitcake, and gone on about the business of making holiday magic.

This… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
NOVEMBER 22, 2011 11:41AM

A Thanksgiving Gift

Right around the time I was married, my mother was taken to the hospital because she felt terribly, strangely ill. My mother, who was always the one who didn’t get the cold that was going around, who rarely took so much as an aspirin, was suddenly the pale, waxy thing in… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
OCTOBER 13, 2011 11:43AM

White Coral Bells

The first day of kindergarten, I had to ride the bus. This was not that unusual at the time; fewer parents regarded the inaugural public school launch as an occasion to take the morning off, drive the maiden voyager to school, take 50 photographs and go into the classroom full ofRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
SEPTEMBER 30, 2011 9:12AM

Great Moments in Parenting: I Was a Pep Rally Skipper

Because his phone died at the restaurant, and because he was bored and used my phone to text his friends, a message for my son appeared on my phone as I watched television last night: “Do u want 2 skip pep rally with me and Mark tomorrow?”

 I resisted the… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
SEPTEMBER 8, 2011 8:39AM

The Life and Death of a Community Organizer

In 2007, I became a Community Organizer. It started with a photocopy stuck in the handle of the front storm door, telling us that the City planned to construct a 10-story building two blocks from our house, a building taller than any other in town besides the University’s new football stadium.… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
AUGUST 26, 2011 10:04AM

Over and Over

As I may have mentioned a time or two, we live surrounded by rental houses filled with undergraduates.  At the beginning of May they leave after graduating, or merely filling their parents’ SUVs with lava lamps, microwaves, bean bag chairs and dirty laundry. As they move out, the stre… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
AUGUST 22, 2011 9:53AM

Clean and (Unfortunately) Sober

I am not afraid of spiders, snakes, public speaking, heights, crowds or death. I am afraid of clowns, but I am taking steps to get over that, having just last February shaken hands with a clown who attended an event I was catering. “Don’t you find that a lot of people… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
AUGUST 10, 2011 10:54AM

I Am A Lost Penny

Went to church, praying, "Santa Maria,
Send me guidance, send me guidance," 
On my knees.

Went to church, praying, "Santa Maria,
Help me feel it, help me feel it. 
Pretty please!"

And a voice from down at the bottom of my soul
Came up to the top of my head.
And the voice from down at the bottom of
Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
AUGUST 8, 2011 9:38AM

Everything Louder Than Everything Else

 I was banging my head. I was in a crowd of 15,000 people, feeling the bass squarely in my solar plexus and raising and lowering my head rhythmically along with the bearded stranger next to me.  Two seats over, on the other side of my husband, a young girl was banging so/… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
JULY 26, 2011 10:25AM

Let Them Eat Tofu

It is the consummate, diet-related cliché: “you can stop drinking, or smoking, but you can’t just stop eating.” You can, of course, stop eating; Ghandi used that strategy to magnificent effect. As a method of reaching a healthy weight, however, it’s frowned upon. What y… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
JULY 13, 2011 10:11AM

Why Do We Feed Garbage to Our Children?

Sometimes, the universe throws something in my path with such impatient persistence that I have to stop and take a good look. It may be a “something” about my life, some integration of previously disparate elements, or a wakeup call that something is wrong in the universe outside my insul… Read full post »