personal histories

Stories Like Passwords

This past spring I attended a writing residency at an artists’ centre in Banff, Alberta. For seven weeks I lived in a dream. My studio was a refurbished boat in the middle of a small forest on top of a mountain; I spent my days floating inside, working on my terrible novel, and my evenings walking into town to buy overpriced wine. There was a large writing program already in progress when I arrived at the centre, and though there were men there, the people I’d connected to almost instantly were a group of women; all different kinds of writers, all different ages, all at different points in their [...]


Pregnancy, Week by Week


The father is on his way over. His best friend (who I’ve also been sleeping with) is already at my place. I want to learn shibari; he’s going to show me some basic knots. I text the father. He’s bringing wine. Can you also pick me up a pregnancy test?


I don’t sleep that night. I do some drunk-Googling.

Vancouver abortion clinic lsd and pregnancy walk-in clinic

At 6 AM, I take the test. It’s not my first rodeo; I know that early morning is the best time to take a pregnancy test; your pee is full of hormones. The second line appears almost instantly, [...]


Women I Dated in Paris, by a Lesbian Who Can't Speak French


My first date after moving to Paris was at a cemetery. I had been messaging a girl on OkCupid from New Zealand who was looking for people with whom to knock must-visits off her Parisian bucket list; her name was Ruby, and she suggested we meet up at Cimetière du Père-Lachaise. Ruby from New Zealand had only one OKC profile picture, and it was of a small, distant, short-haired figure sitting in a kayak. I had no idea how I’d recognize her in a crowd unless she brought the kayak along with her. But that didn’t end up mattering, since outside the Gambetta metro stop on a sunny spring [...]


How to Have a Miscarriage

You’re going to need some Gatorade. For the fluids, electrolytes, sugars. Or instant chicken broth, if you can get someone to make you a cup, because you’re going to be there for… Wait. Back up.

Start over.

You’re 40 years old, and this is your second marriage. You’ve waited until you’re ready. Waited so many times, really. Until you got remarried. Until your husband got back from the deployment, got through graduate school. Bought your house that you will never move from, because you hate moving and refuse to do it again. There’s room in it, even if your kids (two boys from your first marriage, one girl from his) [...]


Cooking Lessons


Perhaps my love of German wine comes from a deep recess in my brain that ties it up with awkward adolescent groping. My parents were permissive and kind, but we weren’t a hippie-dippy ‘naked’ house where the adults smoked pot—not that there’s anything wrong with that. When I was in college and home for winter break they would go out to dinner and a movie and leave my boyfriend and I at the house so I could cook him dinner. I would go to the nicer grocery store in our town that eventually got bought out by Whole Foods and go a little nuts buying fancy ingredients. This is [...]


On Pheasants and Polyamory

I found the pheasants accidentally. I’d gone looking for the avenue of shoes on Brush Street, a new art installation in Detroit, and got a bit lost. When I stopped to orient myself, I saw a single pheasant through a thicket of tall grass in a vacant lot next to a sagging two-story. The house had an old Ford F150 parked in front. I saw an empty kiddie pool, a plastic circle in turquoise with green fish printed on the bottom. I heard soft crowing, and walked stealthily towards the sound

As I approached, I saw more pheasants through the tall grass. I wanted to make out details, but the [...]


The Last Real Wilderness Is Time

There is a long and beautiful monologue in Colson Whitehead’s The Colossus of New York in which the author expounds upon the peculiar way in which the city lives, and the way that its inhabitants own everything in it, including the continuous and unstoppable state of change. The city, the reasoning goes, is always as you saw it when you first set foot there, and you become a New Yorker once you see an old place you once loved subducted and recycled to be something new. Your city lives in memory; the real city defies sentiment, swallows things whole.

I heard the author recite that passage during a film fundraiser. [...]


Two Victors

It’s only an estimate, but I’ve done the math. My father died while I was in a run-down hotel lobby in Newburgh, NY, picking up my race number for a half marathon that would begin in just under an hour.

Dad, at 62, was still an impressively healthy athlete. He swam a mile a day, rode his bike twice daily and played volleyball every weekend. One of the big regrets of his life was that he could not persuade me to take an interest in the game, despite the fact that I “had the shoulders for it.” That Saturday morning last June, while I was driving north from New York [...]


In Sickness and in Health, But Mostly in Sickness

I have been sick for most of my life. This is both incredibly simple and incredibly complicated. Here is the short version: my immune system does not know how to protect me. My body attacks itself and I become inflamed. I am always in some type of pain.

I was 14 when I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel disease with no known cure. Countless medications, several surgeries, a handful boyfriends, and a few periods of remission later, I was unexpectedly thrust into a new kind of sickness. At 27, without warning, I experienced crippling lower back and hip pain. After months of failed treatments and tests, I [...]


Summer of Pie

At the age of 29, my mother taught me how to bake a pie. That she was in her kitchen, proving how easy it was—how pleasurable it was to master this most domestic of tricks—was a shocker. “There’s more to life than getting married, you know!” she’d said when she caught me walking a Barbie down the aisle in a make believe game of wedding when I was young. “There’s art and work and travel,” she said slowly, clearly trying to make an impression.

But it all sounded boring, coming from her. I already knew I could become an astronaut, a lawyer, or president of the United States if I [...]