Lori Jakiela

Lori Jakiela is the author of the memoir, Miss New York Has Everything. Her essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Pittsburgh Post-​Gazette and elsewhere. She is a professor of English at The University of Pittsburgh’s Greensburg campus.

The Union Project

“Work is about a search for daily meaning as well as daily bread.” –Studs Terkel When my friend Sara asks me to work a catering gig, a hipster-ish wedding in a rehabbed church called The Union Project, I say, “I am so in,” and she says, “Really?” as if she expected me to say no. …

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Vox Humana

I met the great oral historian and journalist Studs Terkel when I was 18 years old. I didn’t know much about Studs back then, only that he was a writer and a pretty famous one, and since I wanted to be a writer, too, it was probably a good idea to go see him. I …

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You’re not the boss of me

The sweatshirt is off-pink. It has shoulder pads. “The shoulder pads make it slimming,” my mother says. “And it’s not pink. It’s burnt salmon.” We sit on my mother’s bed, two co-eds at a sleepover. My mother is just back from a vacation she wasn’t well enough to go on. She’s still dressed for the …

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The Strange World of Elevens

The orderly’s name was Rich. He’d come to fill my mother’s water pitcher. Rich had eyebrows like steel wool and eyes that seemed focused anywhere but here. “My dad used to scrunch his face up all the time, just like that,” I said. “You shouldn’t frown so much.” “My wife tells me that, too,” he …

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Suitcase, Unpacked

I knew my son before he was born. “That’s ridiculous,” my mother said. I was seven months pregnant and had just told her that my unborn son had a great sense of humor. “How in God’s name,” she said, “would you know that?” I knew because every time I tried to take a nap, he kneed me …

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The Chair, the Blow-Dryer and the Bombshelter

The world, my father liked to say, is a dangerous place. “Just when you think you’re clear,” he’d say. “It sneaks up and bites you.” Which might explain how I ended up on the bathroom floor, my ankle twisted, my hairdryer whirring in the sink. There’d been no warning, other than the one on the hairdryer that …

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