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

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

My Babies

I admired my advisor. She was one of the first women to get tenure in the art history department, and she eventually became chair, and later dean of the college. She brought a lot of drama to her lectures, drawing out her descriptions of Aztecs pulling the living heart out of a sacrificial human or Maya kings penitently running a rope through their tongues.

I loved that she could achieve conventional power in a conservative institution while teaching such a wild and in many ways unacceptable subject, something so far removed from Titian or Monet. I was trying to decide about graduate school, whether it made sense for me, why the graduate students I knew, ostensibly immersed in the subject they loved most, were so on edge and mopey. Then my advisor started telling me my schedule, why I didn’t have time to wait.

I had to complete my dissertation, get a job, and publish a book so I could get tenure and still be young enough to have my babies. I thought about the ages of her children, thought about her life in a whole new light, but also realized how sure she was that I wanted the same things she wanted, and suddenly I wasn’t sure at all.


Life Lessons