Whatever Happened to ______ ?

Envy over her success led her husband, also a writer, to become violent. She fights every day for her safety — and to avoid being relegated to obscurity like so many writers who are mothers.

Author: Anonymous
Source: Longreads
Published: Jan 15, 2020
Length: 19 minutes (4,879 words)

Having the Wrong Conversations About Hate Activity

A personal essay about the ways in which a terrified mother tried — and failed — to be a walking-talking public service announcement.

Author: Anonymous
Source: Longreads
Published: Sep 6, 2018
Length: 19 minutes (4,750 words)

My So-Called Stalker (1999)

(Via David Carr’s Reddit Q&A) A woman recounts what it was like to be stalked by one man for years—and how police ignored her plea for help:

“Ron left frequent answering-machine messages that had no real pattern. Sometimes they were weird, nonsensical treatises, accusatory and rambling, definitely creepy, but not exactly life-threatening. Certainly not enough for the authorities to care–and not enough to motivate me to file a report.

“Then he started showing up at the store and lurking on the sales floor, peering at me. It was a busy place, and he often got by without anyone’s seeing him. I felt him even when he wasn’t there.

“One day, I was stocking shelves and sensed someone standing behind me. Minutes went by, and I realized the same person was still standing over my shoulder. I scooted to the right a bit, thinking perhaps he was trying to look at the shelf I was blocking. I heard the rustle of his pants as he shifted with me. Oh my god oh my god, I thought frantically, Oh my god it’s Ron. It has to be. He’s right fucking behind me! The breath left me, and I stared straight ahead at the shelves, immobilized by something I couldn’t explain. In that split second, I finally understood that my life would never be the same.”

Author: Anonymous
Published: Jan 15, 1999
Length: 52 minutes (13,094 words)

Crushing Debt Drove Me to Kosovo — And Then to Iraq

A man with $90,000 in debt makes some hard decisions about his life—starting with a trip to Kosovo for an IT job:

“Of course, all I understood at the time was JOB INTERVIEW and VIENNA. Prior to my application, I had never heard of the OSCE, and I knew next to nothing about Kosovo. My IT skills were rudimentary and my management experience nonexistent. I was mystified why I got a call. I was so completely unqualified for this job, I might have treated this like a mini-vacation but for one significant fact: the salary. The job paid $85,000 a year, tax-free (due to the glorious Foreign Earned Income Exclusion). This was an incomprehensible amount of money. It would fix everything. The pressure to do well in this interview, just for this one small chance at a dream life and the magical solution to all of my problems, was intense.

“I flew to Vienna two weeks later and interviewed the next morning in a small yellow room. It was 10 a.m.—4 a.m. EST. There was a panel, chaired by my would-be boss, a taciturn Austrian man. I was dressed in a garish blue Hugo Boss sport coat that I picked up at Century 21 a week earlier. I was over caffeinated, jet lagged, and clammy. I made nervous self-deprecating jokes, which translated poorly between our cultures. It was a disaster from start to finish. I left the interview thinking, ‘Thanks for the free trip to Vienna.’ I spent the rest of the day squandering my remaining per diem on beer and meat, refusing to think about what might have been. The next morning I flew home.”

Author: Anonymous
Source: The Billfold
Published: Sep 11, 2012
Length: 16 minutes (4,208 words)

A Medic Confronts The Open Wounds Of Afghanistan

An anonymous personal account from a Marine Corp medic in Afghanistan:

“My corpsmen and I processed dozens of locals who’d been arrested for a countless acts of shadiness. We provided medical exams and documented any marks, scars, or injuries on them before and after questioning. They would arrive with a grape-juice-colored stain across their fingers and palms, from the test for chemical traces of homemade explosives. We wondered: Is this mouth I’m peering into breathing tuberculosis into me at this moment? Were these eyes viewing Marines throguh a Kalashnikov sight earlier? Will these hands make bombs tomorrow?”

Author: Anonymous
Source: Deadspin
Published: Apr 19, 2012
Length: 9 minutes (2,433 words)

PR for the PRC

During the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, I worked as a speed typist for the Chinese Ministry of Propaganda. It was my job to type, in English, everything that was said during an endless blur of press conferences where the Middle Kingdom celebrated its logistical triumphs.

Author: Anonymous
Source: n+1
Published: Sep 27, 2010
Length: 12 minutes (3,010 words)

Dispatch from Tehran: Blood and defiance in Azadi Square

On Monday, huge crowds braved violence to protest the Iranian election results.

Author: Anonymous
Source: Salon
Published: Jun 16, 2009
Length: 8 minutes (2,091 words)