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

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Finding My Team

I wanted to be a baseball player when I was a kid. Not a softball player, a real baseball player. But I was a girl. I had one chance to play real baseball when I turned 12, with a Young America team. Three girls broke the gender barrier that year and we were all on the same team. In fact, the best player on that team was a girl. Mary Beth. Mary Beth was also the biggest player. And the strongest. She could rope the ball thanks to her mighty swing. She'd make contact and the ball would sail into the outfield, as if it was pulled by a rope. I, on the other hand, wasn't that good. But I could get on base because my strike zone was so small that I either walked or got a tepid hit. I was okay on defense. Once when the coach asked me to play third, the boy playing that position refused to leave his spot and move to the outfield. One thing led to another and we ended up rolling on the clay punching each other. I'm pretty sure I tried to bite him and he pulled my hair. The stunned coach separated us. I don't think he expected that one of his girl players would get into a brawl with one of her teammates. My parents were relieved when I decided not to play any more. My dad, who had covered baseball for years, couldn't watch when I was at the plate. Too difficult knowing how wild the pitchers were and how hard the ball can hit when it's thrown with speed. My only gender-based takeaway from that experience was that I was just as entitled to suck at the same sport as a boy. Later in life, I broke another gender barrier when I became the first female owner in a fantasy baseball league. That was in the early 1990s. A friend had invited me to join. When he polled the other owners to allow me into the league, two voted nay. They didn't even know me, so it was solely because I'm female. They ended up quitting the league shortly after I was admitted. But I'm still an owner. Over the years, the guys have thrown me baby showers. They've encouraged me to stay in the league when I tried to quit because of the demands of being a working mother. They 've commiserated with me when my father died. And I know that if I called one of them up and asked if they would let my kid intern for them, they'd say yes in a heartbeat. Still, I have never ended the season in first place. Yet, I find it heartening that I am entitled to suck just like any guy.

Boys and Girls

"Gender is fake!"