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

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.


My parents told me that they were starting a medical supply business. They’d actually wanted to open a store selling natural food and supplements but some Business Guy they met convinced them that the medical supply business was easier and a lot more lucrative than the health food and vitamin business.

Right around then, my sister and I were at an impasse. Well, different impasses but at the same time. My sister wasn’t sure whether or not she should go to graduate school. I had gotten myself into a ton of debt with my first business venture and wasn’t sure where I should go from there. My sister told my parents that she would be willing help them with the new medical supply business. They told her she should definitely work on her masters instead. I don’t remember if my parents asked me to help them out or if they just told me, but I was the one that got roped in.

As I learned about insurance reimbursement for durable medical equipment, fitting patients for various orthotic braces, and the ins and outs of a state- and Medicare-compliant medical equipment facility, I kept thinking that my sister with her sociology and public health degree, not to mention her willingness, was much more fit for this kind of work than me, the art major who was doing all of this only because of my begrudging filial piety. I felt resentful about the fact that both my sister who offered to help and my brother who wasn’t the least bit concerned were free as birds out in the world as I struggled to learn about this foreign industry. But I didn’t know how my parents with their broken English would absorb the material from all the seminars and classes, pass the required exams, and navigate government documents. They really should’ve thought about all of this as they were looking into this kind of business but I guess the Business Guy made it sound much easier, and probably threw in something like, “I’m sure your kids can help you,” into his pitch. They needed me and I as the first-born of immigrant parents who had it rough didn’t know how to say no.


The Trick of Treats