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Stories by Jennifer Ball

She Hated Adverbs

I knew Judith Moore only through her voice: a baritone with a slight Southern accent. And I knew her writing. The first time I spoke to Judith -- in early 1997 -- she called me ...

Second Day of 7th Grade

The second day of seventh grade, the students of my new junior high were having a sit-in in the library over open campus. There were about 40 of them on the floor between the stacks, ...


The music that tells us we’re alive.

I'd press play on my older brother's boom box, and listen to the Beach Boys' "Surfin' USA." The volume never passed two; I was terrified of discovery by my mother who had a ban on rock music.

My Junior High High

James Taylor was the soundtrack for my adolescence. I would sit in the living room and play his records over and over on our big console while I tried to imagine what anyone would ever ...


The woman we never forget.

"Careful, Ma; don't spill your soup," I warned. "First time you spill, that's it — you're going to the home.” Mom's reply was immediate. "I know. I've picked out what I want to take with me."

Rage to Kill

I think I got my perfect pitch from my mother's side of the family. I got my anger from her side too. I call it the curse of perfect pitch. Or the chip-on-the-shoulder gene. My ...

At Home in San Diego

Where I live, no major high-volume road cuts apart the 'hood. People can cross the street without becoming dead. The amoeba-shaped Balboa Park Municipal Golf Course and grid-busting canyons have made a rabbit warren of the streets.

A La Costa gibbon saves a marriage

When I think of La Costa, I remember the wildlife — the skunk that lived under our house, for instance, a beautiful creature whose size would double when it puffed up its fur after it ...

Jefferson Jay

Jefferson Jay is getting a master's degree in history from San Diego State (he says his thesis will be on "mass media interpretations of Haight-Ashbury during 1967"), but he'll be singing songs and playing the ...

Solana Beach

I discovered Solana Beach because of a pig — well, two pigs, actually — Sporky and Frances Bacon. Frances (name variation because she was female) lived on the middle Barbara in Solana Beach. Before I ...

If I Had a Sledgehammer for a Nose, What Havoc Would I Wreak?

Sporky, the porcine pest

My pig discovered glass today. He understood there was some insurmountable clear space he didn't understand, nor could he get through. Nothing more complicated than a sliding glass door to you and me, but to ...

What’s Ben and Jerry’s Newest Flavor?

What did these Deadheads give back to my community? Mess Noise.Traffic. Bad LSD.

I’d heard the news by 9:00 a.m. Jerry Garcia had been found dead of natural causes at a rehab center in Marin. A former roommate who currently lives in L.A. had called me to gloat ...

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