birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.


Initiation marks the movement from one state of being to another, the ending of one thing and the beginning of another. I mark three times in my life's progress toward adulthood, which I describe as an increased sense of self responsibility: two were defined by formal, cultural rituals; the third, by a ritual I created.

The formal ritual of the marriage event mattered more to my mother than it did to me. I let her take the reins and showed up and responded when and if I was needed. Marriage marked the ending of my more-or-less carefree summers, the days at the lake, and the beginning of more responsibility for myself. I now worked at a summer job until I resumed college classes in the fall.

The matriculation ceremony, which marks the end of college, marks the commencement of increased responsibility, the beginning of what our culture regards as adulthood. College graduates are beginning to live an adult, income-earning, self-supporting life. I remember this ending-beginning period of my life as being the most difficult in my life to this point. In August I was finally hired to teach at the high school I'd left five years earlier.

Divorce is not marked by any formal ritual that I know of. Recognizing the tremendous difference I felt between being a married woman and now a divorcee, I wanted to mark this ending and beginning with a ritual. I gathered friends by my fireplace and celebrated with a fire ceremony. Fire seemed appropriate. It is both destructive and creative; it sustains and destroys. I burned my marriage license and journal pages to mark the ending of my married state and the beginning of my new life as a single person.

The Uninitiated

A Hop, Skip, and a Plane Ride Away