bird brain

Find scores of new pieces and original art on my Substack blog, Dispatch from Bewilderness

Oldster Are You There God, It’s Me, J and I’m Getting Old (June 2024)

“Birds soaring skyward, plants poking through earth, buds stretching toward sun. In my first life, I didn’t stop to smell the roses. Now I do. “

This may contain: a broken glass bottle laying on the side of a road with water droplets all over it

HuffPost How to Save a Life (April 2024)

“It takes decades to build a life, and seconds to destroy it.”


Pulse: voices from the heart of medicine  Assistant Head Wrapper (February 2024)

“I’m an antique. I started working as a junior copywriter at Time in 1972. I was a token Jew, a token hippie and a token ‘female professional’ among hordes of perky typists and preppy males.”

Dorothy Parker’s AshesBreaking Up is Hard to Do (October 2023)

“My brain broke up with me. Rather, my brain broke up in me and sometimes it shows on my face.”

Oldster | It Took Six Years for Me to Say Two Words (September 2023)

“In cartoons, people like me are hilarious, especially in the scenes where skulls get smashed. Think baseball bats, frying pans, and coconuts on craniums.”


    Salmagundi  | I Lost My Life in 2006 (Summer 2023)

“You might wonder how it feels to wake up one day and not know who you are. I don’t know. I don’t remember.”

Talk Radio One

          Talk Radio One  | Radio Interview with Steven Spierer (Spring 2023)

“At 10:00 AM on a Tuesday, a woman in Dutchess County, New York ran out of beer for breakfast and ran out for more.  She stole a truck, careened around a curve, and hit a parked car.  Steve talks with Judith Hannah Weiss, the woman who was sitting in that parked car and lives with brain damage caused by that crash.”

The Washington Post  | When the words won’t come. This is my life with aphasia (Spring 2023)

“Within days of my injury, I could unstick my tongue from the roof of my mouth and create an odd sound every now and then, and I do mean odd.”

Image: John Fetterman

Opinion | I have aphasia. I take the attacks on John Fetterman personally (Fall 2022)

“John Fetterman starts many speeches by asking his audience, ‘How many of you have had your own personal health challenges?’ And every time, nearly every hand goes up.”

The Doctor Said in Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine (Spring 2022)

“I speak like I’m landing on this planet for the first time.  Words spurt from my mouth and go splat on the wall.  This may have happened to Bruce Willis, too.”


scratched and torn

Dispatch from Bewilderness in Bellevue Literary Review (Winter 2020)

“Some things happen over years. Others occur in seconds—and replace who you were with someone you never met.”

Notes from a Former Ghost in The Rumpus (Spring 2018)

“I started keeping a journal ten minutes ago. It’s 800,000 words long and it’s on 2,043 scraps of paper, 7 shopping bags, 4 paper plates, 1 paper cup, 3 placemats, 12 receipts, and 2 popsicle sticks.”


Helen Keller at Christmas in Midcentury Modern

“Helen wrote, ‘The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched — they must be felt with the heart.'”


How to Make Your Eggs Behave in Midcentury Modern

“I worked two jobs and took college courses when I could get through tear gas and mace.”


Dissecting an Ad for Urns in Midcentury Modern

“Faults ‘accumulate stress’ over time. Scientists are studying ‘fault structure’ and damage future quakes could do. People can fracture and rupture, too, and rarely deal well with faults.”


Not Ready for My Close-Up Due to Post-Its on My Neck in Midcentury Modern

“Today seems like a good day to answer questions no one asks. So here they are, a few (imagined) questions and a few answers, too.”


Unreality Show(s) in Midcentury Modern

“When I was young, we didn’t have real people. I mean we didn’t have real people who became brands like Oprah and Martha. We didn’t have Dr. Phil or Judge Judy or Dr. Oz. We had Aunt Jemima and Betty Crocker, who never existed, and did not have reality shows.”


Female Relic Intersecting Life and Time in Midcentury Modern

“I’m an antique. I started working at Time in 1972. I was a token Jew, a token hippie, and a token female ‘professional’ among troops of typists and preppy male executives.”


Losing My Mind and Getting a New One in Literal Latte

“I’m not an expert on brain injury. I am a person who has one.”

Losing a Person in Virginia Festival of the Book, Challenge Into Change

“I wake to a world of wings. A twig, a bud, a branch, a song. This
world is theirs, this endless sky, this fledgling learning how to fly.”




It Took Six Years for Me to Say Two WordsNominated for Best American Essay 2024

It Took Six Years for Me to Say Two WordsNominated for the Pushcart Prize 2024

A Fragrance – Winner in Creative Nonfiction’s Tiny Truths Contest (2019)

Away With Words – Finalist in New Rivers Press Many Voices Project Competition (2018)

Brain Drain – Finalist in the 45th New Millennium Writing Awards (2018)

Losing My Mind and Getting a New One – Honorable Mention in the 44th New Millennium Writing Awards (2017)

Losing a Person – Virginia Festival of the Book, Winner, Second Prize, Challenge into Change Contest (2015)