Told Video is Born

Hi everyone: We have moved our video services, and most of our time nowadays, over to Told Video. Rebecca is still writing a lot of fiction, and has a novel in the works. Please visit us at Told, VimeoLinkedIn , Twitter for Rebecca and Twitter for Told Video to keep up with our current work!

Radical Victorian Artist Marianne North


I wrote an article on an unusual gallery I visited at Kew Gardens last fall. Marianne North was a radical single woman who traveled the world in the late 1800s while painting a wide variety of plant specimens. Her collection is made up of hundreds of small botanical paintings displayed edge to edge in a gallery she designed herself. Here’s my article, for the wondrous Atlas Obscura.

A Day in the Air

 Tom Huang, who teaches at Poynter Institute and serves as the Dallas Morning News Sunday and Enterprise Editor, often posts his airport observations on Facebook. I am now addicted to recording the bizarre and inane details from a day of flying.

I awake to the sharp, incessant sound of a chip bag in close proximity. Next to me, a teenager is smothered in neon. She smells like Target – a sweet plastic odor mixed with popcorn, and she clutches a giant pillow like an indignant four-year-old.

On the flight to D.C., a curly-haired woman says she likes the book I’m reading, and I think of her as I read the writing she said was good. It is. On the way off the plane, her son’s teddy bear has been left behind and I run-walk up the concourse, clutching the small animal as if it’s my own. When I reach them I suddenly don’t know what to say, holding the fuzzy thing out like a strange offering.

The next time we leave ground, I sit near the couple with the leather bags. Wealthy, sullen. She orders pepsi-no-ice and finishes half a dozen crossword puzzles; he stares idly out the window, responding to her awkward chatter with silence.

On my return journey, I sit curled in the terminal, engrossed in headphones and sandwich. A family with toddlers invades, the father performing his lines as if on stage at a comedy club: “WE BETTER BRING SNACKS SO WE CAN SHUT THEM UP HA HA HA.” On the plane, I fold my wrap sweater up around my head like a bird wing and try to rest. My neighbor turns the bright monitor off for me. All around is the thick swishing sound of soda cans opening, dozens of metallic grasshoppers taking to the air.

Halfway Through


I got into the Christmas spirit on my third visit to CVS this year. I’d dragged the overflowing tub of holiday decorations out of the attic earlier in the week, sighing and grumbling as I sifted through the same old wrinkly red placemats and disturbingly cheery snowman pillows. It felt as if I had tucked them away just weeks ago.

The idea of filling our living space with sparkles and whimsical Santas yet again nearly led me to tears. I had so many other, more practical things that needed doing. Alas, we’d decided to have our annual “Festivus” party, so I grabbed the ribbons and bells and began to arrange them around the house hurriedly.

By the end of the week, the neighborhood had sporting twinkly white lights that peeked through curtains onto icy sidewalks. Bold colors in the shapes of stockings and reindeer popped on across the street. With five nails and a hammer I marched up the attic stairs. Ten, then twenty minutes later, after numerous trips to the basement for further tools, I stood in a sea of wires and lights and felt like I had been reborn as Clark Griswold in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. I’d broken rule #1: check the lights before stringing them. I ripped the partially-lit star off the window pane and cursed the moment of inspiration I’d had.

The week wore on in a montage of cranky, stressed out scenes of shoppers frantically stock piling gifts, standing tensely in lines, and strapping quickly-selected trees onto their cars. My first trip to CVS bore a new string of lights, which I carefully plugged in and strung between the nails, a small smile growing on my face. As I placed the end of the string on the last nail, the row of lights flickered and went out. My smile turned over and I shoved the broken lights back into the box sourly.

Weekend shoppers’ plans were covered in ten inches of snow. Two days later, more slippery weather sent everyone home without gifts again. The optimistic among us ventured to predict: “At least we’ll have a white Christmas!”

I walked to CVS for the second time, trying to hum carols in my head. I fetched another package of lights from the back of the shelf. Back in the attic, I plugged them in and stared, shocked, at the colors that filled the attic like a circus show.  I know one thing to be true: stars are white. Back into the box went the colored bulbs. By now I was starting to feel a tiny bit amused by the situation, a sure sign of insanity.

Giggling quietly, I put on my boots and headed back to the store, following my footsteps from only a few hours before. I was on a mission, dedicated to brightening our neighborhood as if it were an act of patriotism or thick-headed team spirit. Dishes had piled up, emails needed to be answered, but I was not to be deterred. I grabbed some white lights, plopped the colored lights back on the Returns counter, and flew home. As I stuck the last piece of wire on the nail and stood back to admire the glob of lights that somewhat resembled a star, I felt a spark of something like holiday spirit.

That night I watched an older Dr. Who Christmas Special; as the camera panned along the set of a nineteenth century English Christmas, the narrator reminded us that this season happens as we are fumbling through the shortest days of the year, in order to make us stop, light candles, gather, eat, and say “congratulations, we’ve made it halfway through the darkness!”

I liked the reminder that instead of being cold and grumpy, we can focus on buying random objects and fixing broken strings of lights, and then come together for a few moments to admire the effort we all put in.

The next week, after cold rain had ruined the lovely heaps of white snow and replaced it with gray globs of muck, we filled our home with friends and food. One man, arriving late from work, came over as he took off his coat, eyes shining. “It’s so nice to be here – it really feels like the holidays,” he said, looking around at the crowd. “And I love the tree or whatever it is in your attic window!” I smiled, and knew it had all been worth it.

The Stubborn Lives of Freelancers

Only a hopelessly romantic soul could find beauty in a production trip for an ad for a major oil company. But there were so many interesting people I left after the shoot was over, and I couldn’t stop thinking about them.

My brain is working slowly today on making the connections I would like to make. About the heart breaking slowness of it all, the day to day dull patterns of money ebbing and flowing and the tooth brushing and eating and transporting our bodies from one place to another.

Just having met so many souls who piece together their freelance lives, their creative lives, making time for their dreams or putting their aspirations on hold while they travel: screen play authors making words come together on laptops in vans that whiz toward the airport; musicians and comics and actors going home to start over, start again; writers waking up to wash the evening’s dishes, vacuum dog hair. All of us throwing ourselves up against a wall, a formation made of stone that crumbles from time to time to let us in a little further, to give us hope that these slamming motions repetitive and continuous and monotonous will give way to our stubborn, relentless poking.

As I drove home the other night, the almost-full moon floated up above a multitude of clouds that danced like a weird finale of costumed performers in a recital: the spiky sharp mohawked with the round fluffy tutus with the long, narrow gymnast with the polka dotted  polka dancer, until the curtain ever so gradually fell on them and the road ahead of me was gray and lit only by beams of electric light.

The dull ache of the slowness of it all gave way, like the fade of daylight, to a feeling of hope for all those I’d just met, each headed on their own path toward fulfillment or disappointment to lives filled with regret and longing or overflowing with success and recognition. And even those, those who reached their goals they so naively and courageously spoke of, even they will eventually want more, and pursue that again with just as much chance of winning or losing that battle. And just the way we all pine for something, someone, some life, and the way human nature tends to always want more, and the hilarious and painful truth of it all made my chest overflow with a heavy, jittery feeling of happiness and content. Maybe it was just the lack of sleep and delirium of being away from home working for five days straight, but whatever the cause my eyes blurred up and the feeling burst out of my throat and I laughed and whimpered and kept on driving under the nearly perfect moon.

“Giant on Campus” story for Williston Northampton’s Bulletin


I was thrilled to have the opportunity to interview and profile a former teacher for Williston Northampton school’s Bulletin alumni publication. I met Al Shaler, a man who is both fascinating and fascinated with life, after living so much of it. Here’s the article that came out in this spring’s issue:


Published Writing Clips, Revealed!

I’ve created an easily searchable list of my published work. Check out the Words page for a thorough list of (most of) my published writing. Enjoy!

Emerging America: Students Preserving History

Lately, I’ve been doing some work for the Collaborative for Education Services in Northampton, MA. They have a number of programs that “develop and foster educational excellence” in the state of Massachusetts.  Windows on History, part of their Emerging America history program, supports teachers and students in creating historical websites about their town’s history, using primary documents found in libraries and historical societies. Classes from elementary to high school have participated in the program; I am working to write blog posts about each project for the website. I hope to be involved with many other interesting tasks with this organization, so stay tuned!

(Links to my posts will be provided once they’re on the site)

Brattleboro’s Yucatec Cuisine

I met Mucuy Bolles, co-owner and chef at Three Stones Mayan Mexican Restaurant in Brattleboro, through the dance community in the region (I am a dancer as well). It’s hard to believe that someone can be so good at two things, simultaneously – but she is. Mucuy enjoyed a long modern dance career, and now cooks incredible Mexican Mayan food at her restaurant, owned with her husband Christian Makay. Lucky for me, she’s also sweet, funny, and quick to share her amazing family heritage. You can read my Advocate article on her restaurant here.

Uber Tubers

Another food posting?  Yep – this is yet another piece of fascinating information I came across in the continued work for our upcoming food site. I haven’t published an article about these crops (yet) but am thrilled to have had the opportunity to see them before the snow falls.

Jerusalem artichokes, chinese artichokes, and Welsh onion

Jerusalem artichokes, chinese artichokes (or “mint root”), and Welsh onions are three food crops that were introduced to me during a visit to a residential permaculture plot in Conway, MA. These plants grow perennially in New England, meaning they can provide food (albeit in tuber and leek-like onion form) without having to replant every spring.

The permaculture plot is being designed and maintained by the Regenerative Design Group (link goes to their page about this residential project). There were several other food crops that we discussed that day that weren’t available for free samples, but that we will certainly be highlighting on our food site soon. Stay tuned!