Finally, the Right Size
– Non-Fiction by Jody Forrester –
Already 5’9” at twelve years old, I never knew where my hands were until I bumped into a doorway or where my feet were until I tripped over somebody else’s. Bones too thick, mouth too big, shoulders wide as a linebacker. A girl who looked like a boy, a woman often mistaken for a man. Clumsy and awkward, not at all athletic, only my friends back in Los Angeles would know how farfetched my ambitions were, how crazy it was that I, now twenty-four, was on a bus heading north from Vancouver to Prince George where I would plant trees in the forests decimated by logging.
Since moving to Vancouver three years before, I made several close friends who led an enviable vagabond life of travel earned with spring and fall planting. In 1976, when provincial funding was not renewed for the youth center where I worked, I found a foreman willing to take me on. Abound with fantasies of exotic travel punctuated by seasonal reforestation, I’d boarded the bus outside the downtown station one dark spring morning at 4:30. It wasn’t until I saw my new backpack and Tent settled on top of worn suitcases and duffel bags that I began to feel uneasy. Warned that stores would not be nearby, the bus’s luggage compartment held all that would clothe and comfort me for the three-month commitment ahead. I knew little about my destination, only that Prince George was an industrial city in north-central British Columbia. Its many mills depended on logging for their wood and that’s where the tree planters came in—it was their job to replenish the slopes.
A muted palette of colors heralded the April dawn as the bus lumbered over a narrow river bloated with rainwater and ice-melt. The roadside was lush with yellow buttercup, golden paintbrush, and the primrose fireweed of early spring, and the trees were already transforming the ubiquity of winter brown to a spectrum of greens. In the distance I saw that the river traversed hilly terrain towards distant mountains still snow-capped with winter. But the beauty did little to ease my mind. A lump growing in my throat made it hard to swallow. I wondered if I was really up to living out of a tent in the bush, let alone working long days outside. It only then occurred to me that the friends I emulated were Canadian men, so different from me, an American, urban-bred female. Hoping I wouldn’t embarrass myself, I both welcomed and dreaded the challenges that lay ahead.
In 1964, when I was 5’9”, the average twelve-year-old girl was 4’11”. I was miserable, cemented in self-loathing for my ugly self, an easy target for adolescent boys insults and teasing. My mother took me to a bone doctor to see what could be done about my height. He agreed with her—I was already too tall for a girl.
“Worse,” he told her, “your daughter’s x-rays show she has another two or three inches to grow before reaching full height. At the very least, she’ll be six feet. A giant!”
“It’ll be hard for her to snag a guy, being so tall,” my mother said. “Nobody will want to dance with her.” The doctor, more than three inches shorter than me, nodded in agreement. His face was serious, as though pondering my fate. I hated them for convicting me to a lifetime of misery, but hated myself more.
Then there were my teeth and lips. The dentist my mother took me to also agreed with her. My teeth were too big, my lower lip too thick, my upper lip too thin. She made me fake-laugh to show him how the lip rolled up, revealing a stripe of ridged pink gums. He shook his head, as though in sorrow.
“Worse,” my mother said, “her laugh is loud, too loud, I’ve seen her scare people.” That was news to me, news I’d rather not have heard. Now there was something else about myself to hate, and to be self conscious of.
“Nothing to do,” the dentist said, “except stop laughing.”
He winked at me.
From that day to today, I cover my mouth when I laugh so as not to offend.
The list goes on. The average shoe size for a girl my age was six and a half. I wore a size ten and a half then, soon to be a twelve. There was only one shop in all of Los Angeles where a girl with a shoe size larger than nine could shop—on the third floor of Mandels in downtown Los Angeles. To reach the elevator at the back of the store, we clodhoppers were forced to walk past dozens of racks displaying hundreds of shoes all cute and fashionable, available in every color and fashion. Jealousy always tightened my stomach; I wanted them all, or at the very least, I wanted to have a choice. Upstairs were only staid styles more suited to a woman twenty years my senior.
I was so much bigger on the outside than I felt to be inside, and the constant attention about my height and feet made me shrink even more. I hated the notice my size drew, always there was somebody to obnoxiously exclaim, “My, you’re tall!” as though I didn’t know.
Twelve long hours and five hundred miles later, the bus stopped at a weathered tin signpost riddled with bullet holes. Prince George, population 18,901. There was no depot, only a weather-silvered bench and a sign on an equally weatherworn pole informing that the bus south was at 11:10 PM. The few who got off with me were swept away in waiting cars. On the long stretch of highway, there were neither shops nor restaurants nearby. Nothing. Dirt rustled up by a blustery wind rendered distant buildings ghostly. A steady stream of cars and trucks passed, bowling clouds of tumbleweed in their wake. It was 4:15 pm, and I was so far north that the sun was still high in the sky.
The foreman named Rick had only given me directions on which bus to be on, nothing more. I didn’t have his telephone number or even know his last name, but it didn’t matter—the only pay phone lay crushed on the ground, zigzagged by dozens of black tread marks. A half hour passed, then another, and another. I baked in the heat, haloed by undulating eddies of dust and dirt. I thought that I must be on the outskirts, or maybe that was all there was to Prince George, I had no idea.
Leaning against the pole by the road, chest tight, I began to long for the bed always there for me in my parent’s home, and the comfort foods always in their pantry and freezer. Now broke and unemployed, I knew they would welcome me. At the same time, the knowledge that I had that safety net undermined my self-confidence, threatening to make false my credentials as an independent adult.
When I apprised my parents of my tree-planting plans, they urged me to return to their home in Los Angeles.
“Don’t be stupid, you haven’t the endurance or strength,” my father said.
“There’s got to be a typing job in L.A. you’re more suited to, and you can stay with us until you’re back on your feet,” my mother said.
But as a born-again Canadian, I was determined to show myself resourceful and capable. I left home at seventeen, and had already been on my own for seven years. Falling back to the seductive comforts and safety of home would be dangerous. I still had something to prove, both to them and to myself. Now here I was, over five hundred miles away from my adopted city of Vancouver, nobody to greet me, no stationmaster that I could ask for help.
I smoked, lighting one cigarette from another, butt to butt. I was hungry but had already eaten the little food I packed. A film of dirt shrouded the backpack that I bought the day before, along with a lime-green tent and a sleeping bag. I sat on the ground, sinking into self-pity, feeling desolate and abandoned, a feeling too familiar from my angsty adolescence. A too-skinny mutt came by sniffing for food. I hoped that he’d keep me company but off he ambled, not looking back.
I renewed my resolve, as I had already so many times, to take care of myself, no matter if I had to stick out my thumb and head back south, even though I had nowhere to go having sublet my basement flat for the summer. My closest friends had all left Vancouver, tucked away in their own tree-planting camps. I had hoped to work alongside them, but their crews were already full, and the best their foreman could offer was to connect me with Rick, whoever and wherever he was.
At last, more than three hours later, the dusk still held off by the bright sun, a much pocked and dented pick-up truck pulled up alongside me. The blond, bearded driver neither introduced himself nor asked me my name. Remaining in the cab, the engine still running, he indicated with a chin point that I was to climb in the back among boxes of groceries and coils of ropes. I expected more, something like how nice to meet you, sorry I’m late, how’re you doing, where you from, but apparently I was only a name on his to-do list that he could now tick off.
We soon reached his house where I met the rest of the crew. To my relief they were all very welcoming. In the group of eleven, there were two other girls and their advantages I immediately noted—both were with boyfriends and both seasoned. Still, they greeted me as a friend, happy to have somebody new amid the same group that had planted the last few seasons together. That night we slept in our sleeping bags spread out on the living room floor. Full of nerves, I slept little, until the morning arrived with the welcome smells of bacon and coffee made by Rick’s wife, Andrea.
A four-hour drive in a boxy panel truck called a crummy took us further northeast into the bush, the last two on one after another dry and corrugated dirt roads. Andrea and Rick sat up front while the crew bounced on parallel benches in the cargo space. A joint passed around and two of the boys played Beatles songs on much-scarred guitars. Most of them came from small towns throughout Canada, and were fascinated that I had grown up in Los Angeles, a city they likened either to Gomorrah or an iconic Hollywood production.
We finally stopped in an alpine meadow carpeted with a rainbow of wildflowers nestled in the foothills of the snow-topped Rocky Mountains. With years of practice, Rick made sure that camp life was comfortable. He organized us into teams to set up a kitchen tent, an outhouse, and a sauna. A large canvas tent was erected for sleeping, which I hadn’t known would be there when I brought along my two-man backpacking tent. Still, I would be glad to have the bit of privacy it would afford.
The oversized waxed cartons that held the pine seedlings we would plant were emptied and flattened to construct the walls of the sauna next to a fast moving creek. Once erected, the structure was enveloped in thick sheets of plastic. The men installed a wood-burning stove called an airtight in a circle of boulders that I helped fish out from the artic water.
I shivered. “It’s cold!”
“Really? I hadn’t noticed.” Rick’s lip curled.
This was the first time he spoke directly to me. I looked away but could feel his scowl at my back. He seemed to take an instant dislike to me; it would be awhile before I found out why.
That first night, after a dinner of roasted chicken and stuffed peppers cooked on the propane stove by Andrea, a fire was made, and a bottle of Southern Comfort and a few joints passed around. It was so like camping with friends that I had no thought of the next day when I crawled into my tent and wriggled inside my down bag for the night. The whiskey and pot high rode into my dreams, and it felt like I had just shut my eyes when the morning bell rang.
Nervous about the day ahead, I found my way to the kitchen tent to grab a few spoonfuls of granola and a mug of coffee before Rick shepherded us into the crummy to drive out to the logged slopes. The rising sun, opposite the waning crescent moon, was just beginning to allay the night’s inky blackness. My first deep breaths made me light-headed and giddy. I laughed as I climbed into the truck, and my fellow planters laughed at me, the city girl in the bush for the first time, wearing a flannel shirt not yet faded and Dickey work jeans still creased from the shop shelves.
The hills that we were to plant were in sharp contrast to the nature that housed us. A pervasive smell of wood fire, not like a campfire but more like a house burning, hugged us like cloaks. Slick with morning dew and strewn with charred slash left behind by the loggers who preceded us, the scorched slopes were nothing like the forests they had once been. Instead, they presented as a surreal vision of Dante’s seventh circle of hell. It made me ache to look at them.
Rick dropped each planter off at a pre-designated start place, then jumped out with me, the last one left. He clipped a sack of pine seedlings around my waist. It weighed too much to straighten up, though I soon found out that hardly mattered—it would be easier to stay bent, close to the ground.
In the slash, there were no furrows, no guides to measure off. Rick was exacting as he stressed that it was most critical to stay on an imagined line, the goal a red flag a half-kilometer away. He showed me how to stomp on a narrow shovel to make a slit in the ground, how with the shovel wedged in, to insert the tree with roots untangled, then close the v-shaped cut with a thump of a heel. Shovel, wedge, plant, thump, count off ten steps. Do it again.
“Okay, you head towards the red flag, then the next one, and the next one. Got it?” he asked, already turning away.
“Sure,” I said, not sure at all, but hoping I would be able to translate his instructions to the actual job.
Once Rick left, I obsessed over each seedling, trying to tease out the bunch of hair-like roots with my fingers, until I realized that my fastidiousness was unfounded, that it only took one hard shake to free them. Speed was what counted. We were paid by the tree, about twenty cents each, counted not by what we had emptied from our sack, but for the trees that Rick would later ascertain had been planted well. An experienced planter might earn close to $200 a day. The other people were distant blobs of color, and though far away, I could see that they were moving at twice my pace. I planted maybe a hundred in the six hours before Rick collected us, and during that time I had kept moving, eyes on the ground, counting off steps, feeling his breath on my neck. He was not impressed when he saw how many trees were still in my bag. It was the other planters who reassured me with stories of their own early days.
At the end of that first day, there was no campfire, no weed, no drinking. A thick silence settled over the camp by eight o’clock, even though the sun still hovered high above the Rockies. I crawled into my sleeping bag, and didn’t realize that I had fallen asleep until the breakfast bell awakened me. Dangling drops along the top seam, from the bubbles of water that had clustered during the night, fell on my face. I had a can of Snow Seal in my backpack, still unopened. A more experienced camper would have known to waterproof the tent the night before. I unzipped the door and was further alarmed to see snow powdering the ground. Steve, the only other novice planter, caught my eye while I sat cross-legged in the door of my tent, reluctant to leave my sleeping bag’s downy warmth.
“Can I bring you a cup of coffee?” he asked. His face was round with brown eyes and lashes that were more deer-like than human. I had already noticed him and his attention in that moment warmed me.
But there was no time—there wasn’t enough snow to deter the planting. I had less than ten minutes to dress myself, eat, make a lunch, and pile in the truck, shovel and bag of trees on my lap.
For much of the first week, I felt like I had the flu. Every bone, muscle and tendon ached, more than I had known possible. My hips were bruised from the tree bag hanging and banging on them. Chapped lips, torn fingernails, dirt embedded in every crease. I got used to putting on clothes still crusted with grime from the day before and the day before that. The mornings were the hardest, but the end of the day not much easier. The sauna helped, and I stretched, and that helped too, but still I walked like a cowboy used to life on a saddle.
I envied the girls, Gillian and Susan, shorter than me by more than five inches. My back ached from the bending; the ground was so much closer to them than me. But I was surprised to find that they envied my man-sized hands. In junior high school they caught notice by the boys who teased that all they were good for was giving hand jobs (not that I knew what that was!). As a planter, I found them to be an asset, as well as my long legs that could stride up a hill, one step to two of the other girls’. As I was able to plant more and make better time, the labor was showing me what I was capable of, and it was no small joy. In the bush, my big-boned strength served me well, and the discovery that I could fall asleep and pass the night free of my usual restless dreams and nightmares seemed miraculous.
Rick never did warm up to me. He told Steve that had he known I was American, he never would have hired me. One evening, we gathered in the kitchen tent for a meeting. Deeply fatigued, I tripped over a loose shoelace walking in.
“Don’t they teach you how to walk down there?” Rick said.
People laughed—I blushed.
“He’s just that way,” Gillian said. “Don’t take it personally.”
But how could I not?
Steve continued to pay special attention to me and I to him. He poured my morning coffee and put milk in my cereal while I battled the thick sleep that always took awhile to shake off. We rubbed the knots out of each other’s neck and shoulders that by the end of the day no longer felt human. A new romance while working together in the bush was unlike any other. We played out our courtship with a small but attentive audience who were excited by our coupling for the change in routine it provided.
Steve was a few years older, twenty-nine to my twenty-four, and had worked in construction as a finish carpenter. He had already made himself indispensible at camp— there was nothing he couldn’t jerry-rig, a much-valued skill when far from civilization. He was also several inches shorter than me. In the past, that would have been enough to dissuade me, but my attraction to him overrode my vanity. Especially when I felt how well we fit when horizontal. Besides, on the hills I was becoming more and more at home. The urban stereotype of tall man, short woman, wasn’t a good enough reason to deny what was happening between us. As my body transformed to lean, brown, and strong, it was no longer the nemesis I’d always felt it to be. At the end of most days, I experienced an electrical-like rush of triumph that ameliorated the constant pain and fatigue. The hard walk, mountain air, and the loneliness of the bush so far away from city noise and distractions suited me. I hadn’t known that I would be happier on my feet, working outdoors, than I ever had been in an office or factory where I was chronically short-tempered and easily annoyed. In the bush there were no office politics, just bodies working hard, and sweat translating into currency.
I still have a black and white photograph that Steve took of me in the low light of morning. I’m wearing a hooded sweatshirt, dirty work pants with multiple loops meant to hold tools, running a brush through my hair. I look happy. I was happy. I was in love.
Steve and I spent the evenings cuddled in my tent, planning our future, agreeing that we would find an apartment when back in Vancouver for the summer. Then, after we returned to the slopes for fall planting, we would travel, maybe to South America, maybe to Europe. Our promises to each other heartened me; there was a future, something to look forward to. I thought him an unexpected miracle. I didn’t know then that once back in the city, among our own friends and commitments, our relationship would be sorely challenged, and a year later, run itself out.
We completed the first job in the designated three weeks and shut it down. The next camp could only be accessed by helicopter. We were flown in three at a time, squeezed in among boxes of supplies and trees. The slopes there were even steeper, the debris left by the loggers thicker and more slippery from recent rains. Our shovels had to be switched for mattocks, a tool much like a long-handled ax, but with a broad end instead of narrow. Only a mattock could penetrate the deeper slash.
This time, one of the other planters rather than Rick showed me how to swing the nine-pound mattock over my shoulder, aiming for just the right spot to make the v-cut, then place the seedling and bring the mattock down again to close the hole. It was only efficient if done in two smooth moves, and for the first few days, I was back to planting less than a hundred trees a day. When my arms and shoulders begged me to stop, I refused, counting on my thinning pride to fuel the impetus necessary to keep going. I would not give in to my parents or Rick, both of whom expected me to fail.
In this more demanding environment, there were battering thunderstorms, vicious black flies, even more vicious no-see-ums. But there was also the Northern Lights explosion of primary colors and the Milky Way’s cascade of white spiral fingers swimming across the cloudless black sky. Diaphanous layers of ruby red, topaz gold, and sapphire blue spread above the burnt mountains in a soupy mix. If the multitude of starry lights had burst into an operatic aria, I would not have been surprised. It remains to this day on the short list of spectacular events that I’ve witnessed.
Several times we were pounded by sudden storms that send us scurrying back to camp. Backgammon and cribbage boards came out then. The rain pelting the plastic made explosive snaps, not unlike gunshots, and the swamp-like heat suffocated. Clouds of biting black flies and no-see-ums prowled, their bites raising itchy welts on my exposed neck and hands that were near impossible not to scratch.
Stories of childhood came up, and I volunteered some of my own, harmless things like roller skating competitions on our block and cards clipped on bicycle wheels.
Gillian’s question surprised me. “What are you, Italian?” she asked.
“What?” I was high and confused about what she was asking me.
“It’s just that you don’t look American.”
“What does an American look like?” Steve asked. He was sitting on the floor between my knees while I pressed my elbow into his tight shoulders. “Harder, Jo, yes, right there!”
“You know,” Gillian said. It hadn’t occurred to me that my olive skin and dark curly hair would be confusing.
“Are you Jewish,” Drew asked, the worldliest among them.
“Yep,” I said, not wanting to have this conversation. I wasn’t about to explain to them that yes, I was Jewish, but more on a cellular level, identifying with the heritage and culture rather than observant of the religion.
Rick stood up and walked out, but not without shooting me a look meant to wither. Worse than being an American, I was also a Jew. I had already had a bad experience at a wafer fabrication factory with an anti-Semitic supervisor, and was highly sensitive. I could feel my blood start to boil.
“Really?” Gillian asked. “I’ve never known anyone Jewish. My minister said Jews had horns. But he was pretty crazy.”
“Jesus, Gillian, get real.” Steve said. When my hands fisted on his neck, he stood up.
“My grandmother nose was hooked, and she claimed that the worse thing that ever happened to her, like ever, was being taken for a Jew after spending a summer in the sun,” Susan said.
“Good thing she wasn’t,” I said. “Then she would have had far worse things to worry about.”
My voice was harsh, maybe too harsh, but I didn’t care. Still, I reined myself in. The camp environment was a casual one, not a place for arguments or debate. I wasn’t so much angry as unbelieving that anybody would consider being thought a Jew the worse thing that could happen to them.
Meanwhile, I was feeling my body’s newly discovered strength and agility when three weeks in, I stepped onto a pile of slash that was disguising a deep stump hole. My left foot sank in toe-first, wrenching my ankle as I fell backwards with all my weight, as well as the weight of the tree bag. More than a mile from camp, I could see nobody in shouting range. I wanted to cry, to scream, to rage at the mountain side, at Rick, at the logging companies who had taken the original trees out, but knew the futility of it. I was on my own and would have to get myself, by myself, off the mountain and back to camp. Rescue would not be forthcoming.
I sat up on the edge of the knee-deep hole, lifting each branch to unsnarl the thick roots that trapped my thick leather and spiked cork boots, wishing only to roll time back a few minutes to avoid what just happened. Extricating my foot was no small doing, and once out, it was a few minutes before I tried to stand, hoping it wasn’t as bad as I thought, but it crumbled, unable to bear my weight, and threw me down hard enough to bruise my tailbone. I was truly alone—my parents could not help nor could Steve even though he couldn’t be too far away. When finally I was able to talk myself into getting up, I kept testing the foot to prove to myself that I actually was injured and not just babying myself. My mother always thought I was faking when I said I had a bellyache or headache, and I had internalized her doubt in my body’s honesty, but I really could not bear any weight on the ankle.
I considered leaving behind the bag of trees and the mattock, but I knew that to Rick they were more valuable than I was. Butt-scooting down the hill, using the ax as a crutch, I made it to the logging road with sweat dripping under my arms and breasts. I sat dazed, awash again in self-pity, knowing there was at least a mile ahead of me before I could reach the camp. Jaw clenched, ankle feeling a knife was embedded that twisted and jabbed, I had to take frequent rests. I dreaded seeing Rick. My long-internalized guilt at failing to please added to the weight of shame for my lack of forbearance, exactly as my father had predicted. I practiced smiling, even tried a few chuckles in preparation for my presentation at camp. I could not bear for anyone to see how fragile I was. One abiding principle in my life was never to reveal weakness.
I was relieved to find the camp deserted and so made it unnoticed to my tent. Several hours later, in Steve’s embrace, I could finally cry. He helped me take off the boot to a puffy ankle swelled to twice its size.
Rick was pissed.
“You’re going to cost me,” he said. “As if my work comp. wasn’t high enough. I should have known better than to hire a Yankee!”
He stood a moment, his frown a rictus of contempt, then turned away. As though I wanted to be disabled, as though I wanted to be sent home. Worse, I was stranded—the helicopter wouldn’t be in for several more days.
Steve carved a branch for a cane so I could hop on my good foot. I assisted Andrea in the kitchen, where I could sit while slicing and mixing or spoon out raw dough onto a cookie pan. I washed dishes until my fingers pickled in water, no longer dried and dusty from planting.
By the time the helicopter came in with supplies, Rick was overtly hostile, asserting that I was exaggerating my injury. The entire crew protested his treatment of me, but he could not be dissuaded from his belief that Americans, and by default me, were not to be trusted. I was not at all happy to hear that Rick would also be on the helicopter back to Prince George.
When it was time to go, my new friends crowded around with hugs and kisses. I wiggled my way into the jump seat behind Rick, stuffed between three bags of trash to be dumped in town.
From the helicopter I had a wide-screen view of where I’d spent the last three weeks. A forest of trees that had been there for countless years surrounded acres of stripped land, angry swaths of black. It pleased me to imagine the trees that I planted eventually absorbed into that tableau.
Once the helicopter settled on the tarmac in Prince George, Rick strode off without a word. I’m sure he hoped, as I did, that we would not see each other again. I limped to the terminal, then to the shuttle that would take me back to the desolate post that I had first arrived at. That was that. My adventure was over. But this time, when the bus driver threw my gear into the baggage compartment, the pristine backpack, tent and boots that I had arrived with were now dirt grey embedded with mud. Buoying my spirits, the address of a friend of Steve’s who might have an extra bedroom available to rent was in my pocket.
The drive south was a different ride altogether than my anxious trip north only six weeks before. In the bush I was what I thought of as the best version of myself. I planted more than three thousand trees with my size twelve feet, man-sized hands, and big-boned long legs. Sitting with my foot outstretched, waves of an unfamiliar feeling coursed through my thoughts—a prideful sense of satisfaction. Despite my self-doubts, despite my parent’s concerns, despite Rick’s hostility, I did what I set out to do. This body that had always felt alien was now a friend, the person I was on the inside finally catching up with the person I appeared to be outside, uniting both with a warm sense of completion.
The riot of wildflowers blooming on the trip north now spilled onto the road, the river we crossed now swift running. What were crusts of snow clinging to the mountaintops above the tree line were mostly melted, leaving white thin streaks like cake-frosting drips in their wake.
It is more than forty years later that I’m writing this. I picture the trees that I planted sturdy and robust, their branches laden with cones. Like me now, rooted with my family, my branches extending through the DNA of my daughters. Those six weeks changed the course of a tortured relationship to my body from disavowal and self-loathing to acceptance and self-loving, permitting me a sense of well-being previously unknown and allowing me, even as I age, to find pleasure in the advantage of being able to reach for a book on a high shelf.
About the Author – Jody Forrester
Jody A. Forrester, a former chiropractor, received a MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars (2010), and BA from Antioch LA (2008), both in literature and creative writing. Her stories were awarded an honorable mention in the 2009 Anderbo/Open City Competition, and featured in the 6th Annual Emerging Voices Group Show (2010) at the New Short Fiction series in Los Angeles. Other work has been published in Prime Number, Claudius Speaks, the Furious Gazelle, the Citron Review, Straylight, Two Hawks Quarterly, the WriteRoom, and the Missouri Review blog. This essay is a reworking of a chapter from her (as yet unpublished) memoir, Guns Under the Bed: Memories of a Young Revolutionary. She can be reached through her website .
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