My sister-in-law and her family went on a trip recently and asked us to care for her daughter’s bearded dragon.
This dragon, a green guy with brown eyes, is still a youth, about seven inches long from the nose to the tip of his tail, though in 18 months he’ll swell to the size of a Tyrannosaurus-rex arm, one you can take out walking with a leash.
While he stayed with us, he lived in a big glass box on our buffet cabinet in the dining room. This changed our mealtimes slightly. Eating in the presence of a reptile makes…
For several years in my twenties, the main thing I did was itch. And scratch.
The “itch cycle,” they call it. Irritants cross the skin barrier, causing the sensitization of immune cells. When you scratch, your nails damage the surface barrier of the skin, allowing more allergens to enter. And thus more itching. And scratching. And itching again. This is why it’s a cycle.
As an affliction, itching seems so trivial. A minor irritation to the skin. It isn’t a broken leg or cancer. Those are ailments you can deploy surgeons and research toward. No one calls 911 over an…
Let me tell you why I’m like this. If you don’t know what I mean, that’s fine — you don’t know me, and I don’t expect you ever will. But I know me, and I know what I’m like, and now you’re going to know, a little bit, kinda. This is a story about a state the size of a postage stamp, wedged between New York, Pennsylvania, whatever’s south of Cape May, and the beautiful goddamn Atlantic Fucking Ocean. This is a story about New Jersey and me, and maybe you, if you’re lucky enough to be from here, too.
“Would you take a pill that removed your boredom forever?”
I almost said “yes.” Boredom is excruciating. Doing nothing — meditating, sunbathing, kicking down the cobblestones — is lovely. Boredom is an unscratchable itch layered on top of that glorious nothing. Who needs that?
I almost said “yes,” but I know the trickery of thought experiments. I hedged: “Yes, if it doesn’t change anything else about my life.”
“Oh, but that’s the point. What do you think it would change?”
Last summer, I wanted to paint this gorgeous view:
As usual before starting a landscape, I tallied the things I…
Like many thoughtful humans, I’ve been overcome with rage as I witness story after story of Asian American elders being pushed, kicked, and slammed into the ground just because they had the audacity to walk to church. But as an Asian American immigrant, I also felt something more.
Bizarrely, even though I would never engage in such hateful violence, I found myself feeling responsible.
I know I share this feeling with other immigrant children who have carried the burden of holding our parents up when they have been dismissed in their new country as being stupid, greedy, and unworthy. …
I love teaching Introduction to Creative Writing. It’s a wonderful triathlon: We start with fiction, then move on to poetry, and lastly we write stories from our lives. And I do my best to persuade students to abandon their hastily selected majors and join the writing program so they can help us uphold our time-honored tradition of disobeying our parents.
But this semester, something’s gone wrong.
I, a man who is more like Peter Pan than a man, have become the parent, and the students are my disobedient children.
How did this happen?
How is it possible that the lost…
Life in the pandemic would be very different without video calls. We are exceedingly lucky to have unbridled access to technology that even 20 years ago was only familiar to most people by way of NATO knockoffs in Hollywood movies. The convenience that the video call affords us, too, is not to be underestimated. [Insert customary joke about crunching numbers with a colleague while soaking your toes in a foot bath here.] But as a replacement for a face-to-face meeting? I think I speak for a lot of people when I say, ain’t nothing like the real thing.
After one horrific Megabus experience in 2012, I began taking the Amtrak everywhere instead. What’s better than staring longingly out of a train window, Sufjan in your earbuds, a vast landscape stretched before you? It never mattered where I was going, Lollapalooza 2015 or a wholesome coastal town — I was A Mysterious Traveler with Grand Intentions. I was on a journey to Find Myself and Get Into Mischief along the way! (Of course, this was the BC, Before Covid, times.)
Back then, there was always that specific vibe of taking the train. Perhaps it has something to do with…
Standing in the kitchen on a cool early fall day, chopping the last of the late summer sauce tomatoes, I’m suddenly overwhelmed by a bloom of heat in my body. Rapidly expanding heat from head to toe, feeling fall no more, but a heat wave flush, like a sweltering summer day.
Is it me or is it hot in here?
The hot flash is the darling of menopause symptoms, the signal marker of what some consider midlife female malfunction. Hot flash is synonymous with menopause, and those without a clue (men, young women, lucky women) begin their short, practiced list…