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Story Archives

Filtering by Tag: 2015-07-31


Jenn Maer

By Jenn Maer


When I was a little kid, I was obsessively well-behaved. I ate my vegetables. Got straight As. Wrote thank you notes for every single gift I received. 

Then one day, I snapped.

It happened during recess in fifth grade. It was my turn to take the red rubber ball to the playground, which meant I was in charge of keeping it safe and choosing the game we’d play. I took this responsibility seriously—like I did everything back then—and silently vowed to be a just and fair keeper of the ball. We would play Four Square, I decreed: No backstops, no spinsies. 

Then out of nowhere, Adrian B, a sixth grade bully with the hard, mean eyes of a career criminal, stole my red rubber ball. The ball I’d earned with good behavior. The ball I’d sworn to protect.

This would not stand.

A white-hot rage bloomed inside me like a tiny, pony-tailed Hulk. I raised my fist and threw the first (and only) punch of my life. Adrian turned his back to me in reflex and the blow hit his spine with a sickening crack. I broke my wrist with that single punch. 

Adrian cried. 

I did not.

And every damn kid in the school signed my cast.


Ask yourself or your table this: Have you ever rebelled against your nature to achieve a greater good?


Jenn Maer’s career as a storyteller began at age seven when she penned (well, actually, penciled) her first novel—a 75-page, double-spaced, spiral notebook tour de force entitled “Shark!” She is a design director at IDEO.


Shoshana Berger

By Shoshana Berger

I’d just completed my first semester of theater school at Carnegie Mellon when I got The Fat Letter. It hung amongst four others, nearly identical, pinned to the department bulletin board in crisp white envelopes. By fat, I don’t mean that it was stuffed with paperwork. I mean it was a letter whose sole purpose was to inform me that I was too fat. Carnegie Mellon is where Ted Danson and Holly Hunter and Ethan Hawke learned how to act. I doubt Ted Danson ever got a fat note. I looked around to see who was in the hall, then yanked it down and scurried away.

In neat courier type, it recommended I go see the school nutritionist and work on an exercise regimen. I grew up in Berkeley in the 70s. My mother wore flowing peasant Marimekko dresses and ate KFC out of the bucket. Hollywood bulimic chic was as appealing to me as any 18-year-old, but also a staggering rebuke to my free-to-be-you-and-me budding feminism. Fat notes weren’t a part of my worldview. So, I ate the fried zucchini sticks, drank the beer, and was kicked out of school at the end of freshman year. I transferred to NYU and joined a pot-bellied experimental theater troupe.


What small acts of rebellion have determined the course of your life? 


Shoshana Berger has written for the New York TimesSPINWIRED, and a stint as the editorial director (more like “cool-hunter”) for Young & Rubicam. She is an editorial director at IDEO.