Why Trauma-Informed Care is really the Hippocratic Oath of the 21st Century.

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Photo by Abby Anaday on Unsplash

My physical therapist, Bob, is in his late forties. He has graying hair, large hands. Dry humor and an easy-going smile. During appointments we talk about his dogs. We discuss music, “kids these days,” my poor posture. And he scares the living shit out of me.

Bob doesn’t know that when I first met him, I was evaluating him as much as he was evaluating me. As he examined my health history, I went through my own strange sort of checklist: he is tall, safe. He has hair, safe. He is in his late forties, not safe. …


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Photo by Cindy Tang on Unsplash

A month before he moves in, I drive out to the shitty town where he lives. It’s the town I grew up in, but he inhabits a part of the town to which I had always turned my head. The trailer parks, the rotting porches, the dilapidated sheds. He contacts me using a broken phone, its motherboard exposed. I pick him up at a Shell gas station where he connects to Wifi.

We sit on the hot summer sidewalk in front of the Shell. I remember a different summer, fifteen years earlier, as he smokes. I remember him eating fistfuls…


A Response to a Response to a Response to “Loser Teachers”

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Photo by Daniil Kuželev on Unsplash

As is typical in the wake of any Trump news, a mushroom cloud of op-ed pieces exploded in February when Trump referred to educators as “loser teachers.” After years of inflammatory Trumpisms, I personally gave little thought to the news. I have, however, enjoyed reading and considering many of the response pieces. As a teacher myself, they have been encouraging, or, at the very least, validating. But there is one that stands out, and it has been troubling me since I first read it.

In “Teaching Is Enough: A Response to a Response to ‘Loser Teachers,’” Sarah Schuetze takes issue…


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Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

Life does not come naturally for me. My earliest memories recall a suspicion that I was old in a young body; I never expected to live to adulthood, and I certainly didn’t plan on it. This suspicion, for insurance purposes, has been coded into several diagnoses, but I have always just called myself sad.

I am, however, fortunate to have learned how to cope with being sad. Not only am I surrounded by many beautiful, supportive people, but I have also developed ways to keep myself going. I stay busy, I have a routine, I know my tools. …


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Two years ago today was a typical Friday in many senses. The halls of the technical college where I worked were only half-lit. Most classrooms were empty. Almost all of the faculty offices were. As I packed up the last of my books and files, I heard the occasional clip of heels crescendo past my office door. Everyone had left for the weekend, but I was leaving for good.

I had been quietly de-cluttering my office for weeks before this day. …


To The Woman Who Did Not Report: A Found Essay

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Photo by kumoma lab on Unsplash

To the woman who did not report:

First of all, just so we can level set, you know that I see you. I see you. You are sitting there alone because you are ashamed. You feel small. You never sat before any committee, before the members of any board, before an investigator, or a polygraph. You never told your story. No one ever heard. But it was not for a lack of bravery. Never tell yourself it was for a lack of bravery. …


On Mother’s Day, I went to our parents’ house. They’re moving; dad got a job in a city two hours away. It’s time they joined the rest of our family down there, anyways. I came to help them prepare, clean the house. Instead, I comforted mom. Held her limp body in my lap for hours. They’re moving, but you’re not going with them.

Your room was the first empty one. It didn’t take much — your clothes were mostly gone, your bed empty for months. I sprayed cleaner on the windows you would open to escape. The roof’s shingles were…


Why we can’t talk about David Foster Wallace without talking about addiction.

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Photo by Jonny Clow on Unsplash

I fell in love with David Foster Wallace, as many people do, when I first watched his commencement speech for Kenyon College called “This Is Water.” I cried every time I watched it, and I often showed it to my writing students at the end of the semester. Then I began reading Infinite Jest, which, in so many ways, exploded my admiration for him. I told my friends that I had found my hardcover soulmate. But then I stumbled on an article titled “A Brief on Hideous Things About David Foster Wallace,” and I was horrified. For a time.

The…


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Paper Bag Head by Kate Pugsley

My last visit to the dermatologist gave me a whole new sense of validation. After interviewing me and examining the epidermal topography of my face, my doctor sat down on a swivel stool, scooted close, and gave me a pity sigh. “Well, Congratulations,” she grinned, “You have Adult Female Acne.”

As she continued to explain her diagnosis, many thoughts pinballed around my brain. Primarily, like, wow. I had no idea what all this red stuff on my face was. I never put together the fact that not only was it acne, but it was adult acne. Having experienced first pre-adolescent…


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Photo by Lance Anderson on Unsplash

When I was ten, my parents decided we were going to take our first family road trip to Boston, Massachusetts. My three sisters and I really wanted to see the east coast, and my mom had always loved the history of the city. In anticipation, we spent our free time researching things to do in Boston. We wrote a list of places to see, museums to speed through while my mom read every word on every placard.

At dinner one night, though, my parents announced that plans had changed. Our family road trip had a new destination. Instead of Boston…

Jackie Dawkins

Transient teacher. Amateur writer. Professional overthinker. At home in Lake Michigan's strange and wonderful bay.

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