I’m pretty sure one of the hate-mongers offered me cookies while I was sitting in their living room, but I was too nervous to eat.
Across from me sat Shirley Phelps-Roper, attorney and de facto spokesperson for the Westboro Baptist Church. Her father, pastor Fred Phelps Sr., had founded the anti-gay empire, and Shirley was the face behind a good chunk of the group’s 52,000 protests. I’d only ever seen her depicted as angry—angry at a picket, angry on the news, angry on the radio.
Angry, but never alone. Shirley was constantly flanked by fellow church members or a few of her 11-kid brood. Today, her daughter Megan—“my right hand”, [...]
Growing up in rural Maine our school was so small we didn’t have a gym. Twice a week we were bussed over to the town’s maritime academy to use the facilities. Our gym teachers were marines in training, and I was a skinny only child, far more adept at the barre in ballet rehearsals than I was at hand-eye coordination on the field.
Basketball is the only sport I ever learned to play. I spent games on the bench, my stomach cramping with anxiety. I dreaded the moment our coach would call me over to sub in, forcing me out onto the court. I didn’t kid myself about scoring; I [...]
The first time I met Bill Murray, I was 18 years old and wearing a miserable brown ensemble.
The garments belonged to my mother, and for unknown reasons I had filched them to add to my own wardrobe in New York: a chocolate, polyester blouse, light-washed jeans, and mahogany, backless loafers in the style of re-imagined Mary Janes. I had just moved to the city for college and the independent film I interned for consisted of a tidy editorial crew (Editor, Assistant Editor, and me.) Rather than cool clothes, I outfitted myself with that spirited, blind alacrity only youth affords. I was thrilled to work on a real film—in the [...]
My brother’s request was simple, his tone firm: We were going out for dinner. I couldn’t recall the last time I ate a full meal, let alone left the house. I hadn’t been to my own home—a six-hour drive north—in weeks. Deadlines passed unnoticed, my precarious writing career in peril.
Everything rested on a fulcrum, the pulse of a 77-year-old woman in a dark room. And that was all that mattered; I was either inside that room, or just outside it.
“I don’t know if I’m doing a good job,” I confessed as my grandmother and I watched the hospice nurse pack up her bags.
“She says she’s not [...]