Your Humble Narrator


Little T noodles on Grandpa’s player piano, 1970ish

My name is Terra. I live in Cambridge, Massachusetts with my husband, Bryan, and our two cats in a house that we’ve ironically named Freak Mountain. I work as an administrative assistant at MIT, and have been told that I write rather well.

I grew up in the greater Springfield area of western Massachusetts, experiencing childhood in that benighted place during the benighted decade of the 1970s. My family was a solidly working class one in which the men did not cook (except for grilling meat outdoors during the summer) and the women truly believed that cooking from scratch was too difficult, so thank goodness for convenience foods.

I was raised on breakfast cereal, canned and frozen vegetables, “minute steaks” and Spam, Kraft slices and Velveeta, American chop suey, cakes and brownies from mixes, ambrosia salad, Friendly ice cream, and a truly remarkable array of junk food the consumption of which marked one as a real Amurrikan and not some commie nut’n’berry freak. When my family went out to dinner (a major undertaking considering that I’m the eldest of five), which was not often, it was to Mr. Steak.


Sometimes I look at life like this…

As a teenager in the early 1980s, enduring op-eds by the likes of Phyllis Schlafly and jokes about imminent missile launches, I was “scared liberal” and then, as I started university, goaded into giving up red meat (a discipline that expanded to include poultry in 1990). Ever since, I’ve been swimming against the swelling current of U.S. conservatism. Food-wise, this has meant eating salads, liking tofu, and generally extending the range of my palate beyond the usual meat/starch/veg arrangement. I eat fast food once every few years or so, and seldom eat snack foods or drink soda. I work out, do yoga, walk a lot, and am more successful than a lot of people at not being neurotic about my diet.

But somewhere deep inside me is a twelve-year-old who will happily devour Doritos and Slim Jims, downing them with Chelsea or Mello Yello. A kid who will pig out on Toffifay while poring over “Mad Magazine”, or eat Funyuns while gleaning inspiration from Steve Martin TV specials. (“Excuse me, do you have trouble growing things from your nose?”) A kid who goes to the mall to play some pinball at the arcade, buy nail polish at McCrory’s, and have an ice cream sundae at the coffee shop behind J.C. Penney or a cone at Friendly’s. A kid who thinks Jell-O is fun.

I think Dr. Westchesterson knows what I’m talking about…

2 responses

  1. Most people think of Massachusetts as Boston, but outside the 128/495 orbit it’s a whole’nother world. Keep this great video on the QT or the New York Times might write about it and ruin it…


    1. Recently my MA heritage was called into question when I teased someone about saying “tawnic” when referring to soda. It is a whole ‘nother world, and while I’ve made my home in the land of “pahking the cah” and “wicked pissah”, my western MA roots start showing when Boston gets conflated with Massachusetts as a whole, like in that business about making “Roadrunner” the state rock song. Man, that pisses me off. I love Dr. Westerchesterson; I don’t think the NYT could ruin that video!


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