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

SEPTEMBER 19, 2011 8:41AM

In The Resin: A Meditation on Mindfulness

Being mindful, staying only in the moment, is both essential to me and a constant struggle. I imagine, sometimes, that I am trapped in resin, thick, translucent and golden; there is only this time and this experience. The past is visible but unreachable, and the future is obscured by tiny opaque… Read full post »

SEPTEMBER 9, 2011 11:39PM



It’s not a particularly sad piece of music; it’s in a major key, and more peaceful and majestic in nature than elegiac. When I heard it tonight, though, at the end of a crime drama, played by a sweet-faced boy in a white shirt and tie, I found that tears… 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 »

AUGUST 17, 2011 11:41AM


It is August. I am lying on my Marimekko bedspread in my room at home and the house is filled with the smell of ratatouille. My mother makes a huge batch every year at this time, and my parents eat it with everything and serve it at dinner parties until the… 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 »

AUGUST 3, 2011 9:12AM

For Those About to Rock.........


 Mayhem Fest Fans 04

I grew up listening to classical. There was no “pop” music aside from three or four Beatles albums stuck at the end of a row of records, and an assortment of Peter, Paul, Mary, Arlo, Woody and Pete. I heard Top 40 radio in the car with my… 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 »

JULY 8, 2011 10:41AM

Hair: (Not) The Musical

The men in my family have a barber. His name is Bill, a laconic, bald gentleman able to discuss basketball, cars, and even politics with encyclopedic knowledge, gratifying interest, and no trace of offensive opinion. He has cut my father’s hair for 47 years, and my brother’s for 44; my br… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
JULY 6, 2011 10:20AM

Food Schizophrenia

It is always my sense that other people have a firm set of beliefs, preferences and habits while I wander alone in the bleak wasteland of flakiness. I am influenced easily, attracted to trend and fashion, susceptible to admiring and emulating the worlds of movies, books and interesting friends. I ret… Read full post »

JULY 3, 2011 12:53PM

The Fourth in Florence

From the time I was in nursery school until I graduated from high school, I never spent a summer in my home state of Michigan. Most summers we went to Maine, but for three summers, we headed not to the rocky, Atlantic coast, but across that ocean to Europe. The middle… Read full post »

JULY 1, 2011 9:21AM

Not A Happy Camper

"To put it rather bluntly, I am not the type who wants to go back to the land; I am the type who wants to go back to the hotel."

-Fran Lebowitz

During the seven years in which I lived in Boston, I was completely safe from the specter of camping.Read full post »

JUNE 22, 2011 8:42AM


I worry, sometimes, that I misrepresent myself in essay form as some kind of thoughtful, benevolent creature concerned only with the satisfaction of aiding my aging parents, providing home-cooked meals to the masses, and saving woodland creatures. I am inordinately fond of the cozy portrait, the tear… Read full post »

JUNE 15, 2011 9:44AM

Resumes and 60 Minute Chicken


 "Who am I, anyway?

Am I my resume?"

-A Chorus Line 


It has recently come to our attention that in 90 days my husband may, or may not have a job. As the House Writer, I began immediately to work on resumes, cover letters, and all manner of beguiling… Read full post »

JUNE 12, 2011 1:04PM

The Mystery of Auto Correct

I understand how lots of things work in a practical, technological sense. I can bone a chicken, replace a faucet washer, and rig a device that will keep the dogs from opening the screen door. I was raised to be “handy,” and I’m proud of that.


I do… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
JUNE 8, 2011 8:51AM

Not Hot Blooded

 "Man it's hot. It's like Africa hot. Tarzan couldn't take this kind of hot."
-Neil Simon, Biloxi Blues 
People like me are not supposed to live anyplace where it gets to be 90 degrees. I know people, lots of them, who are thrilled when they can… Read full post »
JUNE 6, 2011 8:44AM

Miss Skeeter Tells a Story

Outside the kitchen, the reception is in full swing. It’s a happy event;  a new Senior Pastor has been asked to take the helm of the church where I work, and his youth and energy seem to be contagious. The June sun shines obligingly in through the ancient lead-paned windows, and… Read full post »
Editor’s Pick
JUNE 2, 2011 10:58PM

Summer Love

Every year at this time, I think of that summer. We were “just friends,” John and I; he had been my First Official Boyfriend more than a year ago, and left me silent and sodden with tears after only six months. He was big and beautiful, his legs were like the… Read full post »
JUNE 1, 2011 8:22AM

Summer Work

I am twenty, walking across the field to my first job as a waitress at a retirement community. The dew wets my ankles through the nylon knee-highs; I am encased in various faux fabrics from the ridiculous mustard-colored babushka to the zip-front, short-sleeved shirt and down my black-trousered legs.… Read full post »

MAY 31, 2011 9:05AM

Not Rocket Science, But.......



As is often the case, a small cluster of things conspired to create a knot that I’ve picked at for a couple of days. First, I read chef Gabrielle Hamilton's thoughts on hiring people to work for her in a busy summer camp kitchen; she discarded, without consideration,… Read full post »

MAY 27, 2011 9:45AM


What you may not know about me is that for a time, I was resplendently wholesome. Someone asked me, the other day, how it was that I had ended up working at a church. I had the same flinchy, defensive reaction I have when I deal with a new cashier at… Read full post »

I grew up on stories of writers rowing tirelessly against the stream of rejection. Romantically, they died before being published, received no more than a pittance for works later deemed “classics,” or died trying to write a second novel after a glorious first. I relished the kind of stor… Read full post »