The Naked Australian and Other First Dates is my collection-in-progress. Most essays are first dates or first meetings, but overall, you can say each essay explores an encounter with one or more men. Many of these essays are already published and quite a few have won literary awards now, so I’m becoming proud and happy with it. When I get a few more finished, I’ll enter it in contests as a collection. For those of you just embarking on the holy work of prose, you should know I’ve been writing for thirty years and started crafting these essays six years ago.
Christmas in the Bitch’s Dollhouse. Recently divorced, Lisa struggles to be a perfect mom and tries to stage the perfect Christmas for her daughter. Instead she sets the perfect fire. WINNER OF THE BRIAR CLIFF REVIEW NONFICTION CONTEST 13 pages
Turnpike Psycho. One night Lisa drives the Pennsylvania Turnpike to visit a friend. On the way, she remembers her murdered friend and realizes she herself is being hunted.WINNER OF THE 2013 FLORIDA REVIEW EDITOR’S AWARD FOR NONFICTION and a Best American Essays Notable Essay. Read an excerpt here.
“As I wrote and polished this essay, I must’ve read it a thousand steely-hearted times. When I received my copy of the journal the other day, I read the beginning up to ‘Then, Kim’s husband killed her,’ and could not go on.
“Luckily, this two-volume issue of The Florida Review is filled front-to-back with some of the best prose and poetry ever gathered in one binding, so I can read everything else. I am comforted that Kim’s story keeps such wise and gifted company.”
His Apple Pie. A “short-short” or flash piece. On the way to a party, Lisa lets a boyfriend talk her into leaving her Border collie alone in the car with a hot apple pie. (Flash Nonfiction in WORD RIOT. December Issue 2014) 620 words. Listen to her read it to you here.
Born-Again Anthropologist. As a sixteen-year-old, Lisa goes on her first date, a set-up with a college student. It’s a dream date, until she discovers she may be a bigger man than he is.
“I had fun telling this story the very same night it happened, and I’ve told it hundreds of times since. The judges deemed this ‘a very funny essay,’ which makes me crazy happy, because that’s exactly what I was going for.” HONORABLE MENTION IN THE 2014 TOM HOWARD/JOHN H.REID FICTION & ESSAY CONTEST.
Liking Mike. After being dumped by “The Disappearing Docelino,” Lisa joins online dating, meets a nice man, and discovers she’s happier alone.
“Each time I read this essay, I think the same thing–it’s my personal favorite, and I really couldn’t tell you why.” (Appeared in ASCENT LITERARY MAGAZINE. Concordia College Literary Journal. 26 Mar. 2012.) 17 pages
The Poet and Pajama Man. Lisa goes to a blues club with a mysterious stranger, the audience forms an instant family, and then, one of their own is lost.
“Most essays tell me what they’re about as I write, but this one just didn’t. During the date, I was intrigued by the way strangers form instant ”families,” and the essay kept going in that direction. This was a low point in my life, and the essay tried to tap a darker purpose, a deep-seated fear that I might turn out not like Kitty but like Pajama Man. But I have a resilience, a defiantly buoyant and driven nature, so I ended the essay with that. They say poets don’t finish poems, they abandon them, and the same is true of essayists and essays.” SUPERSTITION REVIEW, 16 pages
Shark Week. On a first date with a professional outdoorsman, Lisa takes a hike in the perilous Florida wild and learns that no animal is more dangerous than she.
“In all honesty, I love this essay almost as much as ‘Liking Mike.’ Although I had to disguise my date’s identity as I did all the others, I couldn’t change the fact that he really had the condition he confessed to me. He was a kind and clever man, probably more alluring than he comes across here. I think this story just gets funnier and scarier as it goes. I hope you find it full of toothy surprises.” (Appeared in TAMPA REVIEW ONLINE 20 Aug. 2012.) 17 pages
Casey and the African. A South African with only his looks to recommend him emails Lisa out of the blue, “We’re a match made in heaven.” She sneers. He calls to invite not her but her dog out for a walk. DUCTS: A PIPELINE OF PERSONAL STORIES.