Posts Tagged: longreads

Reading & Weeping

I didn't think "read it and weep" was a real thing that people did, but this afternoon I proved myself wrong!

The thought of staying awake 12 more hours and then actively pushing was unfathomable. I looked at Dustin. “What do you think?” I asked him, begged him to tell me. He was at a loss, too.

“Whatever you want to do, it’s your body.”

I hated this. Stop reminding me. It was my goddamn body, I had to endure the physical, at the very least someone else should have to do the mental arithmetic.

I wanted the c-section so badly. I wanted it like you want a glass [...]


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) [...]


The Shark Has Pretty Teeth, Dear: Why I Teach Women Self-Defense

I took my first empowerment-model self-defense class in 1999, and I've been teaching it since 2000. For 14 years, I’ve been deeply invested in this way of helping women, children, and other targeted populations discover their power and reduce their risk of harm.

Empowerment self-defense, or ESD, was developed by feminist activists who rejected the old, male-designed-and-taught self-defense models of the '50s and '60s. They wanted a system that taught practical skills within the context of rape culture; one that addressed the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social/cultural components of self-defense. The ESD model is constantly fine-tuned by the people who teach it; today, for example, the National [...]


How I Found Out I Didn't Have the Herpes I'd Been Living With for Four Years

This story is an update to this story, published here in April 2012.

Six months ago, I sat waiting in my gynecologist’s exam room chair, fully clothed and wishing I were anywhere else. At that particular moment, I’d even have preferred being naked and spread-eagled on the paper-lined bed. It’s not true what they say about the stirrups being the worst part of the ladyparts exam room: it’s the chair. Once you’re clothed and in the chair, it means you’re there to talk.

You never forget your first time debriefing with your gynecologist. Mine was four years ago, at age 22, when I sat crumpled in a chair [...]


"You inherited a Caucasian nose. Your nose is nice."

As they traffic in all these modified body parts, even the most esteemed surgeons in the field can come across as almost blasphemously politically incorrect in casual conversation. (I had never thought Mongoloid was anything other than an insult until a black surgeon used it to praise a mouth, and even the term “ethnic plastic surgery” confuses most accepted distinctions between ethnicity, which is tied to culture and language, and race, which includes physical appearance.) These exchanges can be jarringly retro but also oddly refreshing—discussions of race with strangely post-racial specialists who choose to see beauty as something that can be built, à la carte, with features harvested from peoples all over [...]


"She Couldn't Openly Be Who She Was"

I don't know if I'm, like, "allowed" to link to this, because I know the author and edited the piece, but it's the best thing I've read all month, and I've been thinking about it every day for weeks, and it seems dumb not to share something like that just because of an etiquette rule that I might be making up in my head.

So! I would like to recommend "Rooms We Die In" by Migueltzinta C. Solís, about Solís's trip with his mother to clear out the residence of a recently deceased aunt who was a hoarder. The conditions they find inside are horrifying, but they also [...]


A Post-Lunch Tab

"You are a typical egg-laying chicken in America, and this is your life: You’re trapped in a cage with six to eight hens, each given less than a square foot of space to roost and sleep in…" Here is a tab that you should probably only click on after you've eaten lunch. [Rolling Stone]


The Big Book of Female Killers, Chapter 2: The Marquise de Brinvilliers

This is the second installment of "Lady Killers," a new series. Read Chapter 1 here.

Poison fits easily into the home. It's subtle, secretive, tidy. It doesn't leave blood on the floor or holes in the wall. Dropping a bit of colorless liquid into food or drink is a total breeze. And who, historically, stirs the batter, serves the wine, and is exceptionally invested in keeping the floor clean? Women, of course.

Paris in the second half of the 17th century oozed with poison and the fear of poison and, by extension, the fear of women: divineresses who dabbled in arsenic, spells, and abortions, and the rich young [...]


The Big Book of Female Killers, Chapter 1: "The Blood Countess"

This is the first installment of "Lady Killers," a new series.

There's something so seductive about the word “murderess.” It's mostly that serpentine double “s” at the end that gives the word its poisonous charm. But murderesses: we're into them. We like them clever, glamorous, powerful, and built for a compelling Hollywood biopic—everything that the average female serial killer from the past century or so is not. Statistically speaking, the murderesses of the modern world tend to fall under similar lowbrow headings: drug problems, low levels of education, pink collar jobs held between long periods of unemployment. They're not into torture, nor do they engage in “overkill”—or violence beyond [...]


Scandals of Classic Hollywood: The Most Kissable Hands of Pola Negri

Pola Negri looked like something from a storybook: she had jet black hair, pale skin that reporters compared to a camellia blossom, and a sensual mouth that, painted bright red, read as something deep and mournful onscreen. She was Polish by birth and Hollywood’s first foreign import; the Czar of Russia once said she had “the most kissable hands in the world.” To American audiences, she was exoticism manifest: an amalgamation of connotations that added up to different, not us. That exoticism was fiercely appealing—five years before Negri came to Hollywood, it had made Theda Bara into a massive star, at least until the public figured out the creature who had [...]