After we moved to the eastern fringe of the Everglades in 1977, I started taking myself to and from school. The crossing guard assisted each half-mile trek. Going was thrilling, each new day at a still-new school filled with people, unlike my house. Coming was uncertain, each afternoon returning to empty, silent solitude. For company, I called the party line to listen for voices between the busy signals; Hello… is… anyone… there? Or with homework finished, I tape-recorded episodes of the Brady Bunch and Dukes of Hazzard, transcribing the audio-playback while inserting myself in the dialogue as a new character.


By: Jessica Joy Mills


When I married into the Army, I was 25 years old. I was born in Massachusetts, went to college in Vermont, worked in New York City, and found myself living in Colorado Springs, home of Focus on the Family. It was an education in people unlike me, people who had radically different world views and political perspectives. I taught at a school in which most of the faculty and students were members of New Life Church, where their evangelical pastor was Ted Haggard, who years later would make news for hiring a male prostitute while simultaneously railing against gay marriage.


By: Katie Volkmar

Supermarket Savior

A busy day and now I have all three kids with me trying to get grocery shopping done.

A weird stranger follows us around the store, commenting on the lovely curly hair of my eldest. I make sure the two older kids hold onto the cart as we get into the checkout line. As the stranger rounds the corner, an older man slips in behind us and smiles at me. The stranger seems agitated. I hurry to the parking lot, load the kids and groceries in, and take a long way home, just to be sure we’re not followed. That older man, an angel I’ll never forget.


By: Joan Bihun


The sushi stopped halfway to my mouth. “What?”

“I said I know what happened. I know you slept with him at the Christmas party last year.”

My hands didn’t shake as I placed the piece of Ahi Maki – FYI that’s tuna – precisely back where it had started. Since he was the one who swore me to secrecy in the first place, “for the sake of his bestie, my love,” what changed? The cool condensation on my glass was as soothing as the water gliding down my throat. We finished lunch, talking about nothing.

I should have said, “He raped me.”


By: Jennifer Nardine


Yes, I played with matches. Once.


By: Thomas R. Keith

Home Life

Spittle flew like bullets from his fury-suffused face. It terrified me seeing a person I loved transform into a huge, roaring animal. As I grew older, rage piled on wrath as I grasped tiny stands, trying to claim some power, some safety. Mom dialed 9-1 before the chase ended.


By: Jennifer Nardine

All I know. . .

“♫ All I know is that I don’t know, all I know is that I don’t know nothing,” my 14-year-old self sang, only I heard the music blaring in my headphones.

Immediately, I saw the hurt and disappointment in her eyes. “Of course you know. You’re so smart,” Mom chided. #cnftweet


By: Brandon Morgan

The Toothbrush Story

My roommate and I were cleaning the bathroom.
“Wait,” said my roommate. “I have the perfect tool for this.”
He left, and returned moments later holding my toothbrush.
“Um,” I said calmly, “that’s my toothbrush.”
“No, it’s not,” he replied.
Like I wouldn’t know?
“This is the toothbrush,” he continued, “that I went around and asked everyone about. No one claimed it.”
“I don’t think so,” I said. “Because if that were true, I would have said ‘That’s my toothbrush.'”
He considered this.
“Oh,” he finally said. “Then it must have been another toothbrush.”

I threw that toothbrush away.


By: Cartland Berge


I should be focusing on work but instead I’m clearing out the basement to ready the office floor for jackhammering since a sewer pipe has rotted, backing up water (and related detritus) into our showers where we normally go to make ourselves clean rather than to be repulsed by sewage!


By: Joan Bihun

My guilty pleasure: I read Nora Roberts

I’m trying to get past feeling academic guilt. Romance novels are a huge industry, and Nora Roberts can actually write! She has multi-book story arcs and character development, vivid description and true-to-life dialog. Sure, the men are all handsome and the women are gorgeous, and they all have names I don’t often encounter. That’s part of the fun of slipping into the story, using it as a launching point for my own romantic fantasies. Romance isn’t a thing in my real life, and I love romance and passion and tenderness. One of my wish list items: stay at Inn Boonsboro.


By: Jennifer Nardine

Dov’è la…

The Sunday morning sun is gentle on Florence. You have risen early to seek out a monastery beyond the edge of your map. Alone, you navigate the silent sidewalks.

One wrong turn, then another. A smartly dressed gentleman, wiping his brow, approaches you, in a hurry. Quickly you don your most affable tourist’s expression. “Scusi, signor. Dov’è la…”

No.” A peremptory hand thrust in your face. He darts into the road. Only once does he glance back, as if expecting pursuit.

A furtive lover? A criminal? Or simply a man hunted by life? Like an unplaceable aroma, the mystery lingers.


By: Thomas R. Keith

Stone and Light

Dawn, just. Young, sprightly novices pairing ancient, creaking masters. Flickering candles, pushing away the silent night cloaking the door. Venerable oak out-masters all, creaking heavily. Flagstones sing sleepily down the nave. Air, still heavy with last night’s incense, dances with wool and vellum in the choir. All is quiet. Brilliant colours strike their bright notes across hooded faces: begin! Matins, sleepily sung: the Latin stumbling from tonsured tongues. And the blue-robed Virgin, that bright-eyed Byzantine empress, smiles from her glass throne, silently correcting the Latin. One of these days she ought to correct her children’s Latin. Tomorrow, tomorrow.


By: Gregory Carrier

The Caretaker

The choir sings the opening introit indistinctly. The priest walks heavily down the nave, his vestments swishing softly. Abruptly stopping at the foot of the altar, the vestments mutter as he bows deeply. A deep breath, then a pause before the air rustles with the sign of the Cross and a deep baritone.

In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti.

A soprano voice flits in: Amen.

Baritone: Introibo ad altare Dei.

Soprano: Ad Deum qui laetificat

— click.

“I hope you enjoyed la Basilique Saint-Remi. It’s closing time: I ought to get going home now. CDs in the gift shop.”


By: Gregory Carrier

Roman Holiday

Imperial capital.
Bread and circuses.
Emperors, slaves, visible, invisible.
Maze of marble, brick, wood.
The world’s languages encompassed by Latin.
Triumphal arches revealing Rome’s might in stone.
The world cheek by jowl atop seven hills.
The Forum’s marble sinews shining brilliantly with the sunrise.
The Colosseum’s stone bones glowing dully at the gloaming.
A snow globe of St. Peter’s: seven euros!
Statues and fountains conquered by vandal pigeons.
Italian, not at all: Google Translate!
Directions, walking, lost, Googled, found.
Guides, actors, waiters, housekeeping.
Cappuccinos and museums.
Classical history.


By: Gregory Carrier

I Remember When

Eavesdropping on the table of middle schoolers planning a pool party instead of studying, I smile fondly. They, like I before them, joke and jostle and talk about who is dating whom.


By: Jennifer Nardine

First Day

It’s 8:27. Should I start now? What if more people come? I’ll seem ridiculous repeating myself. I think I’m sweating. They can’t see that, can they? Don’t fidget. They can see that. They must think I’m nervous. I am nervous. Am I wearing the right outfit for this? More people came. Thank goodness I didn’t start early. I think I’m pacing. Stand still. Why is that person already on their phone? Boredom? Personal crisis? Breathe.

I’m speaking now, I think. Am I telling a joke? I guess so — hope so — since a few of them laughed.


Let’s begin.


By: Aaron Langille

Mourning Cloak

Taking part in the Digital Pedagogy Lab Zoom discussions and live keynotes in the presence of nature in our home yard, the Finnish pine forest, the August evenings’ warm sunshine, with red admirals and mourning cloaks floating and dragonflies zooming over my head. Contemplating the paradox of embodiment in the digital, my non-visual, formless, disembodied thoughts gain a reflecting surface through Hilma af Klint’s Swan series. Tuning into conversations that give me hope while gently spooning wild blueberries into freezer bags – these will be cherished throughout the ensuing Nordic winter.


By: Susanna Aliisa Kohonen


We come to the week hungry for inspiration. We are nourished by the words of teachers and speakers who emphasize reflection, care, honoring identities and brilliance. We may leave feeling brilliant ourselves. We cheer “DPL! DPL!” all the way downtown to the university and as we march into our offices. Wait. Shh. We worry that we don’t hear the cheer as loudly walking down the halls back in our own academic spaces. Are the whispers of “standardize” and “assessments” growing louder? Was it all a dream? How will we sustain the enthusiasm when we walk through the actual classroom door?


By: Joan Bihun


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Tiny Tales from the Digital Pedagogy Lab 2021 Copyright © 2021 by Laura Gibbs is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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