Posts Tagged: personal histories
13

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 [...]

16

La Malinche, La Llorona, La Virgen: My Mother's Ghost Stories

Mom tells the story with a smirk on her face and an eyebrow raised, as if she's revealing something wicked. “It was late, sometime after midnight. I was on the phone with my boyfriend and all of a sudden I felt a cold draft. I thought I left a window open.” The words coming out of Mom's mouth are suspended in the air, waiting for a reaction. I'm listening, but not really; I have heard her tell this story countless times.

“All I know is that I tried to turn around to see where the cold was coming from, but I couldn't move. I was frozen! I was laying in [...]

10

You Belong To Me

When I was eight years old, the only thing I wanted to be was president, and Tommy Hanlon told me in front of everyone in my class that I couldn't be.

One plank arm, square in my face with a noodly little finger: "If you weren't born here—you can't be president!" he squealed, a proud look in his eye.

At the time I was ostracized and lonely and distinctly un-American. I was, by the Southeastern Pennsylvanian definition, a "normal looking" eight-year-old, with a whole lot of love to give, but I had an untrustworthy accent that I'd brought over from England and a few other Victorian ticks like asking a [...]

11

Hitchhiking to the End of the World

Sandwiched between a hulking grey backpack and an expandable bag on my chest, I stand on the shoulder of a steep road that winds up from a surreal aqua lake. I’m on the edge of the pristine Aspen-like town San Martin de los Andes in Argentina’s northern Patagonia. I have a purpose here. I just decided one hour ago: I am hitchhiking to Ushuaia, the southernmost tip in South America. I am hitchhiking to the End of the World.

I’ve been in the country for a month and only hitchhiked once before. I don’t know what I’m doing. "Stick out your thumb higher,” two passing Chilean hitchhikers call out [...]

19

Preexisting Conditions

My husband is at the DMV taking both the written and the behind the wheel portions of his driver's test. I am not married to a 16-year-old; rather, this is happening because my husband's been driving our family minivan without a license for the last four years.

We had planned to go hiking and grill out with our two young daughters today. We both work full-time and the two of us rarely have a free day that aligns. But he told me over breakfast that he had to go handle this—previously, we'd both found out at a court date for a previous traffic violation that his driving privileges had actually [...]

23

When You're Unemployed

The first thing to go is the caring. You used to care so hard about everything. You cared about what other people thought of you, and you cared about your resume, and you cared about your health and your apartment and your future. But now it feels like the person who cared about those things was some other person. You didn’t realize that caring was like gasoline, that you could empty the tank and, without the positive reinforcement something like employment provides, be unable to refill it. You are all out of caring.

You have replaced caring with a new feeling. That fuck everyone feeling. Everything is horrible. Your metaphorical [...]

7

Old Loves

In high school I read a poem about a woman watching raindrops slide down her windowpane. Each drop reminds her of a different past lover. The memories accumulate on the same plane, slipping and colliding at unplanned intervals. I remember nothing about the author or the rest of the poem, but I remember wondering if it was possible to have as many boyfriends as raindrops, and feeling inexplicably sad. I didn’t yet have meaningful relationships that could be put in the past, so this was a foreboding sadness—a sense of a dark raincloud on the horizon.

In an interview with Grantland recently, Lena Dunham shares her many “passions,” one [...]

54

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) [...]

23

X-Files Red, Not Lohan Red: A Haircut Trauma

I dread getting my hair cut. Actually, I dread getting all of them cut.

The reason is three-fold. I hate small talk, I hate people touching my head, and I hate being hovered over—especially when that person is above and behind me. I'm positive that in a past life I was killed suddenly, from behind, and that it was mob-related.

Anyway, haircuts, for this reason, are traumatizing. I avoid getting them until my hair starts to feel like chainmail and starts talking to me. That’s when I know it's time.

I can't make an appointment like a normal person, so my method is this: I walk down random streets until [...]

0

It's OK If Your Sign Sucks, and Other Lessons

"But that morning, I sat at the intersection in my idling car and watched that woman bouncing around, and even though I was in a bad mood, she made me smile. She had swagger. She didn’t give a shit that she looked a little unwieldy out there, jumping up and down, boobs jiggling. She didn’t care that her sign sucked. And the drivers in the cars next to me were smiling and waving at her, and some of them were men, too. They weren’t giving her a cheap, ‘Hey there, little hottie!’ wave, they were giving her an appreciative, you-made-my-morning wave. They liked the cut of her jib. And so did I."

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