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Deborah Paul

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Furry Tale

Last summer, when family troubles landed me down in the dumps, I decided I should have a little joy in my life. I got an urge, not unlike the longing a woman gets when it’s time for another child: that stirring deep inside that is at first un-recognizable but slowly gels into actual thought, and, finally, action. I wanted—no, needed—another cat to take the place of my beloved Scooter, who died, cancer-ridden, deaf, and blind, at the age of 21.

Annual Report, Indianapolis Monthly, December 2011
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Annual Report

Thirty years ago, Lady Di married Prince Charles, Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake were born, and gas cost $1.25 a gallon. That same year, Dallas was the top TV show, President Reagan fired 11,000 striking air traffic controllers, and somebody introduced the term “Internet.”

Tall Order, Indianapolis Monthly, November 2011
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Tall Order

Dear Governor Daniels,

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Pride and Prejudice

Back in 1981, I wrote a cover story for this magazine entitled “Indy’s Inferiority Complex.” I believe the editor stole the idea from another Midwestern city, and by that I mean Columbus, Ohio, a place that allegedly suffered from the malady. My task was to conjure up reasons why we here in the Circle City thought we sucked.

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The Old College Try

When I taught first grade—before the Earth cooled, in 1969—I instructed 90 6-year-olds to read and write, add and subtract. Along the way, they also learned to cut with scissors and refrain from bonking each other on the head with their science books. In return, I learned to buckle boots, make tissue-paper flowers,  and achieve some sort of primordial order on the playground.

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Full Circle

Dear Mayor Ballard,

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Tree’s Company

I take the trees in my yard personally. To me, they are not merely organic beings, but friends. I celebrate them, chart my life’s progress through them, bond with them. If I didn’t sound crazy enough already, I’d say they complete me.

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Bed, Bath, and Beyond

It was late on a Thursday evening in Austin, Texas, and, anticipating a pre-dawn flight home the next morning, I was eager to settle into my hotel room, watch Grey’s Anatomy, and call it a night. The desk clerk at the airport Embassy Suites handed over my key, and I made my way to my assigned room at the end of the hallway. Trouble was, the room was not a suite—at the Embassy Suites! Instead, it occupied an awkward corner, with no separate sitting area, and featured an old-fashioned tube TV situated at an odd angle to the bed. If you can’t even score a suite at an all-suite hotel, you’ve encountered some pretty bad luck, as travel accommodations go.

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Top of the Line

Once upon a time there was a young girl who grew up with a bounty of good food on the dinner table every night. A mere wisp of a thing, the girl didn’t eat much, but what she did consume was delicious: batter-fried chicken that was lifted from the hot grease and drained on a grocery bag, green peppers stuffed full of tender beef and rice, thick bean-and-barley soup simmered from scratch and ladled generously into what her mother called “soup plates.” The girl’s father, spoiled by the excess and quality, professed little desire to venture far beyond the kitchen, whose stovetop was always occupied by pots with jiggling lids and whose ovens were filled with fragrant cakes and pies.

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Injured Reserve

Dear Joseph Addai, Dallas Clark, Austin Collie, Mike Hart, and Kelvin Hayden:

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Old School

David Letterman did not show up at our high-school reunion. Again. Had he appeared, now or at any prior gathering, paparazzi (if there are paparazzi in Indianapolis) would no doubt have stalked the premises, and the Late Show superstar would have sucked the energy from the room. Dave’s a private guy who, oddly, doesn’t particularly glow in the limelight, so we, his classmates of the Broad Ripple High School class of 1965, understand.

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Giving Large

On my way home from work every day, I am struck dumb by an illuminated billboard at the corner of 16th and Illinois streets. In red LED numbers, the huge sign flashes the current Powerball jackpot and, I believe, the amount to be won in the Hoosier Lotto, although I rarely look at that. When $123 million is staring you in the face, it’s hard to think about anything else.

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Starting Over

We all come from somewhere. My father’s family emigrated from Russia, although Dad was born here—at Methodist Hospital, he was proud to say. His mother and father, I am told, met on the ship and married a short time later.