Part One:

Small Rituals”

Memoir & Short Stories, 31 Chapters, 55,000 words

Small Rituals is a collection of stories that bring together memoir and imagination in unique ways. A lively literary experience.”

‘As the genre of memoir ‘opens-up’ with so many wonderful new writers crafting imaginative narratives based in lived experiences, my confidence in the timeliness of this manuscript grows stronger. There are 29 short stories (memoir and fiction) with two throughlines: one that follows an unexpected journey that begins in the Chicago bus terminal and ends in Honduras, the other traces a love affair that slowly dissolves. While these throughlines are chronological, the inbetween stories are not. The collection explores memory, destiny, and the power of the stories we tell ourselves. Small Rituals is part one of a trilogy, part two takes place on the Camino de Santiago, an 800-kilometer pilgrimage across northern Spain, which I plan to walk a second time in 2023.

A Brief Synopsis:

Like all good travel odysseys when my journey begins, I am on my way home. Home was an old weather-beaten wooden sloop tied up in a lagoon on a small Caribbean Island — that I shared with Rock, who was equally old. And weather beaten. I had a two-hour layover at the Chicago airport, so I went outside for a smoke, missed my connection, and jumped on a shuttle to the Greyhound bus station to begin a journey with no destination and not much cash. With my little suitcase on wheels following me, I walked across the Mexican border. High in the mountains of Oaxaca I joined a 4-day magic mushroom ritual. Surrounded by volcanoes on the shore of Loga Atilin, Guatemala, I lived for months with no cash. On the banks of the Rio Dulce, I worked in a bar that raised money for a school for Mayan children living in tiny villages down the river. In Honduras, I worked with a group of ‘Seven Day-ers’ to help open a small university (turned out they were also big-time drug smugglers). In the end, Rock sailed our ‘home’ from Cayman Island and joined me in Honduras, but I was a different person.

The stories that lie between my adventures are short and rely on memory and sometimes dreams and other times daydreams of what might have been, and what was yet to come. They are eclectic stories about courage and death, sadness and stolen moments, loyalty and lies, and triumphs of a different kind.

To write this collection, I began by twisting memoir into fiction and a first-person story into a ‘fly on the wall narrative’ and then, like a kitten chasing her tail, I revised it all back again. I sat at my keyboard surprised as new characters emerged in the writing, self-invented and imagined they came to life and staked their claim between my memories — refusing to be left out. While this began as a literary quest to discover small bits of meaningfulness in a life lived, I know how much truth I have found in this collection. True stories are difficult, and as I say, at times I needed an imaginary friend to help me find the truth. Meaningfulness is different from truth; meaningfulness is downright deceptive and can often be found hiding.

Self Portrait in Brugge, Spain, 2012

The Stories:

1: Taking Flight

2: Chicago

3: Midnight Rituals

4: Destinies

5: Twenty-nine Years

6: Mexico City; the centre of the Compass

7: Encounters at the Posh Stand

8: A Simple Question

9: Clouds like Steppingstones

10: Stay Close, Come Quickly

11: I Put on my High heels and Mascara

12: Two Down one to Go

13: Morphine Cocktails and Stolen Flowers

14: Strawberries and Scorpions

15: If I Could Stay Put

16: Step the Fuck Away

17: Welcome to Casa Guatemala

18: Mayday, Mayday, Mayday

19: Drink for the Children

20: A Timeless Dance

21: Destiny and Destinations

22: Extraordinary Blue Eyes

23: Under the Mango Tree

24: Loyal and True and Loving

25: Dastardly Deeds

26: I’m not that Kind of Atheist

27: He’d Take a Bullet for Me

28: Dead Still

29: The Damage is almost Invisible

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