Girls in the Hood: The First Time I Shoplifted

AshleyOld School Circus21 Comments

Girls In the Hood: The First Time I Shoplifted www.bigtopfamily.com

The first time I shoplifted, I was eight years old. At that time, we were living in a huge house owned by The Community in a neighborhood of Steubenville known as Belleview, and Sister Helen was still living with us then. You would think living with a Catholic nun would exorcise the orneriness right out of most kids, but I … Read More

AshleyGirls in the Hood: The First Time I Shoplifted

The Sister Helen Effect

AshleyOld School Circus17 Comments

www.bigtopfamily.com / The Sister Helen Effect

Among the strange stories I’ve told, perhaps living with a nun for much of my childhood makes the loudest statement about just how different my childhood was. The nun’s name was Sister Helen, but her impact on my life wouldn’t just be on childhood. She would change not mine, but my whole family’s lives, forever. Most of us who were … Read More

AshleyThe Sister Helen Effect

Profanity 101 Or That Time I Taught Creative Cursing

AshleyOld School Circus25 Comments

The summer after I finished third grade, when I was nine, we were living in a mansion owned by The Community. The Community entrusted it to Sister Helen as a caretaker, and we were all allowed to move in too. It was a Tudor home with seven bedrooms, two staircases, a sun porch (converted to a chapel), a huge yard … Read More

AshleyProfanity 101 Or That Time I Taught Creative Cursing

That Time My Mom Thought She Was A Nun

AshleyOld School Circus23 Comments

I was eight years old in the Year of the Brown Dress, as my older sister and I eventually came to call it. My mom had been raised Catholic but in the years since divorcing my dad, she had become a Born Again Christian. And in her heightened state of Jesus Awareness, she’d decided to “sacrifice her vanity” by wearing … Read More

AshleyThat Time My Mom Thought She Was A Nun

The Time I Fought Back

AshleyOld School Circus26 Comments

In 1987, I was 13 years old, and my family’s main method of transportation was a 1976 AMC Gremlin. It was red with blue doors and covered in rust, and as if these aesthetics weren’t enough to draw stares, it had a muffler that growled and coughed, assaulting the ears and noses of unlucky onlookers. We lived in a struggling steel … Read More

AshleyThe Time I Fought Back