Debra Monroe is the author of five books, most recently the memoir, On the Outskirts of Normal. Her nonfiction has appeared in The American Scholar, Doubletake, The Morning News and The Southern Review, and her Guernica essay “Gray Area” was just shortlisted for The Best American Essays. This is from her sixth book, in progress—it first appeared onJohn Griswold's Inside Higher Ed blog, and our thanks to Monroe for allowing us to reprint it here. Debra Monroe will be teaching a weeklong workshop in personal essay at the 2014 Taos Summer Writers' Conference. Registration opens December 2, 2013.