I am not a beach person. The way seagulls swoop over your head like rats with wings terrifies me. I hate that feeling of sand caked in every crevice.
But when my friend Thomas invited my husband and I to a nude federal beach in New Jersey, rumored to be filled with spectacularly hung men and tanned, pierced women, I decided it was something worth trying.
“I think we should go,” I told my husband.
Maybe it was because I needed a change. Spring had been of those staying-in-bed-smoking-cigarettes instead of going out seasons. I found myself fighting a constant drowsiness and listening to Jewel. Some days it took an effort to look both ways before crossing the street. Keep reading »
“The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they’re untrue but they are incomplete.” — Chimamanda Adichie
Let’s play a game. It’s called Guess The Race.
Gentleman A was a hard partier. He did a lot of drugs and drinking in his youth. He almost failed out of college. He had a tumultuous relationship with his parents. He was in tremendous debt. He had a huge sense of entitlement. As he got older, he rarely exercised and gained weight. He cheated on his wife.
Gentleman B never drinks or does drugs. He prefers an evening at home programming or watching TV. If he stays out late, it’s to see a movie, listen to music, or talk about computers with his friends. He graduated from college in three years. He’s extremely fit. He always carries heavy loads. He cooks.
Which one is Asian? Which one is white? Keep reading »
I used to be the sort of person who was always looking for the next big thing. In high school, I wanted to be in college. In college, I wanted to have a job. Every job I had, I wanted to be more successful.
I didn’t learn about stillness, about just being, until I had to. And I don’t think it’s coincidental that the more I just be and the more gratitude I have for my life, the happier I am.
My bouts of depression have always had a chicken-and-the-egg quality to them. Was I on a downward spiral of depression throughout my mid-20s? Or was it from my stressful and demanding job and how hard I was on myself about not being the most amazing person ever? Did I feel depressed because I studied abroad in Eastern Europe away from my family and my friends? Or was I depressed already and that trip just exacerbated it?
I don’t think there are necessarily answers other than “both.” Just the way my mom is inclined to bruise easily if she knocks her leg on a coffee table, I’m inclined to get depressed easily. I wouldn’t have chosen to be this way if I had the choice. But since this is what the lottery stuck me with, I’ve learned how to cope with it. Keep reading »
You know that moment, where you’re gripping some of your side fat in the bath, and you just ate all of the leftover spaghetti at once, with pesto and tomato sauce and grated cheese and, weirdly, liverwurst, and you’re thinking, Tomorrow I will go to the gym. And then I’ll go every day after that, for the rest of my life. And I will lose weight. It’ll be easier than I expect it to. And then my hair will grow out and it’ll be thicker than last time. And then I’ll be prettier. And then I’ll wear sleeveless dresses all the time and I’ll be happy?
That moment is lying to you. Keep reading »
Here’s something you probably wouldn’t guess about me: my friends and family members haven’t met anyone I’ve dated for almost eight years. Wait. I stand corrected. One time I invited my brother to dinner with a guy I was dating about four years ago and I chewed all my fingernails off before the appetizer course.
It’s almost pathological, my phobia of introducing guys I’m dating to my loved ones. In the past I’d always made excuses like, “If he’s important to me, you’ll meet him” or “I’m still getting to know him myself.” I rationalized the compartmentalization of my love life by telling myself that I needed to get to know someone without everyone else’s opinions tainting how I felt about the guy. I’ve been lying to myself. Keep reading »
There’s something about large groups of femmey, gregarious women that makes me feel like I’m perennially choking on my own nervous snot. It’s not the whole queermo thing, because I react to being surrounded by attractive men by becoming almost aggressively casual. It’s more that finding myself swept up in a crowd of giggling, nice-smelling women takes me almost viscerally back to middle school, when I wore a retainer every hour of the day and thought that playing the alto sax in the jazz band made me the next Kathleen Hanna.
Also, I was really into Kathleen Hanna. So. Keep reading »
I was never that woman who dreamt of having many children or starting my own “Brady Bunch.” Babies, little booties, and bottles were always an afterthought to enjoying a successful career, one peppered with travelling the world and enjoying a range of other adult activities a childless, flexible lifestyle could provide. However, after my husband Jason was diagnosed with leukemia and underwent a bone marrow transplant (which I wrote about here), it would be an understatement to say that my priorities and narrow definition of family underwent a fundamental revolution. One year post-cancer, I began to dwell on the thought of living and dying without a family of my own.
Cancer had forced mortality to become an issue that often occupied my thoughts during sleepless nights or long car rides, and in my worst nightmare, I became the modern antagonist of some sort of widowed cat lady fairy tale. I imagined myself an old hag with cracked skin in a big castle, hoarding treasure and cackling wildly all by myself, full of bitterness and regret over my own solitude. The adult lifestyle that once felt so plush suddenly transformed into a thorny horror story, and Jason and I decided to try IVF. Keep reading »
When I entered the ranks of the unemployed, I was full of optimism. How hard could it really be to get a job? I asked myself. I have a college degree. I’ve been gainfully employed since I graduated.
Answer? Very hard. I was out of work for over a year and reached a level of desperation usually reserved for meth addicts.
Here are a few of the lessons I learned while collecting government checks… Keep reading »