Terri Steel

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The Lucky One: A Confession

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The author, left, in her turquoise bikini--with her best friend, Sara.
The author, left, in her turquoise bikini–with her best friend, Sara.

It’s balmy in December–why not go to the beach with University of Baltimore MFA grad student Terri Steel, as she recalls the teenage vacation to Ocean City that altered her identity for good.

Our bare feet dangled, Aerosmith blared, and Route 50 was a blur beneath us as Sara and I headed to the beach in the back of her older brother Pete’s new 280ZX. I knew I was there as Sara’s guest as a last resort. All the other moms had said, “ABSOLUTELY NOT!”

Black and White

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terriUniversity of Baltimore MFA student Terri Steel sees her loving family like any other, even if plenty of people stop and stare.

Other kids called us the Oreo cookie. It was the 1970s and there was no such thing as political correctness. Sheila, Shirley and I enjoyed being the cookie, or at least that’s what I believed. I never considered that perhaps it was because of my position in the shiny white center. Names like Fat Janet and Retarded Betty were common in my neighborhood. One of my favorite Saturday morning cartoons featured Bill Cosby’s voice as the lead; it was called “Fat Albert.”

Road Trip

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image via dirtrunner100.blogspot.com
image via dirtrunner100.blogspot.com

University of Baltimore MFA student Terri Steel recalls the childhood road trip that changed her forever.

Another one whizzed by; we’d been passing them for hours. Bright yellow bubble letters against a black backdrop reading “SOUTH of the BORDER” and “CATCH Pedro IF YOU CAN!” The signs were a welcome sight, standing out against a monotonous stretch of landscape unadorned aside from the occasional nut shop dotting Interstate 95. I looked down at the bag of Stuckey’s pecans I had been munching on since morning. “How much longer until we get there, Mom?”

Adventures in Babysitting

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When University of Baltimore MFA student Terri Steel took her first babysitting job at age 12, she expected fun and games, not bad adult behavior — looking back, she knows she shouldn’t have been too surprised by what happened that life-changing night.

I thought I was made for motherhood. When I played house with my friends I was always the mom, improvising a game plan I was sure would come in handy when I became a real mom.  My pretend house was tidy and my pretend kids did cool things and had lots of make-believe homemade treats, like chocolate chip cookies and fresh cherry pie.  As soon as I turned double-digits, I sought fiercely for my claim on the babysitting jobs that came to other neighborhood girls, but no one seemed interested in me.

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