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

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.


When my parents were expecting a second child, they moved into a new house. It was probably a Sears kit house built around 1900 with a gambrel roof, and three small-ish bedrooms upstairs. It was 1975 and the country was in full bicentennial mode. My bedroom was appropriately, then, given red-white-and-blue striped wallpaper. The lines were vertical and differing in widths and intensity of color, but what I really remember is that at night in the dim light where color disappeared to my eyes, the lines seemed to move, like they were streaming up or down the walls. I was alternately fascinated and terrified by this optical illusion.

I think the carpet was red. And that later we added some light blue gingham-checked curtains.

I had what seemed like a huge bed – it may have only been a double bed – that was covered with a white quilt with giant flowers cross-stitched on it by my great grandmother. Sometime later this was replaced by a set of bunk beds that allowed for more floor space and a massive amount of display space for my absurdly large collection of stuffed animals.

Because of the roof line, the closets were triangular – pointy at the top, but wide at the bottom – and the full length of the room. This was my secret space, made comfortable with a cushion of blankets, a red corduroy “husband” pillow, and whatever stuff I taped to the sloping ceiling. It was here I would hide and read “Peanuts” books for hours.