On Writing: An Abecedarian

“To be inside the cathedral of a language is to be inside a particular view of the world.”

Published: Jan 24, 2022
Length: 17 minutes (4,455 words)

What Killed My Sister?

The answer—schizophrenia—only leads to more perplexing questions:

Susanne Long was my sister, three years younger. She was funny and savvy. She was creative and kind and curious. She had a master’s degree, and she taught English as a second language in Washington, D.C., and later in Seattle. She spent two tours of duty in the Peace Corps, one in Liberia, the other in Morocco. She baked, cooked, knitted, quilted, played recorder. She took photographs. She loved to learn languages, and she loved to garden. She trained as a marathon runner. She was happily married, then unhappily married, then divorced. She was a great beauty, with high cheekbones and a Queen Nefertiti nose. She loved to hang out with her friends.

At the age of 32, never before, schizophrenia came to call. She began to hear nasty phrases hissed at her: We’re going to get you, etc. We may call them voices, but to her they were sentences spoken from the mouths of colleagues and passersby.

Published: Apr 1, 2014
Length: 15 minutes (3,923 words)