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Human Parts
A publication from Medium about humanity: yours, mine, and ours.

PAST IS PROLOGUE

An accidental correspondence revealed how one doting father’s life ended in a tragic crime that took decades to uncover

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In my experience, fathers tend to fall into two general camps. There are the dads so preoccupied with their own interests and careers and financially supporting their families that they rarely interact with their kids. Then there are the dads who strive for an active role in their children’s lives: They change their diapers and teach them sports, counsel them as they grow up, and worry about their futures.

But then again, imagine a father who would write an operetta for his children, with parts for each to sing to fend off homesickness when they’re far from home. In the…


THIS IS US

I struggled to understand my father. Here’s what I do know about him.

Illustration: Tetiana Garkusha/Getty Images

There are some things you should understand about this man, the man who fathered me:

1957

He looks like almost every other baby ever born: red-faced, hairless, eyes closed. His cries pierce the quiet country desolation and scatter among the last brittle oak leaves of winter. Spring is coming.

1968

Middle child syndrome. Somewhere among the cows and the chickens, the last of the hogs and two stray dogs. Not as pious as the eldest, a daughter, nor as charming as the youngest, another son. Poor eyesight and a buzz cut. Nothing special, really.

1973

Pulls a knife on the kid at school…


HUMANS 101

Five things you need to know in order to help yourself

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Two weeks ago, I was kneeling to pull up ivy in the backyard with my sweetie, and when I stood up, I didn’t feel real anymore.

I don’t really know how else to describe it.

I wrapped my right hand around my left wrist, trying to feel real again, but it didn’t do much. I felt like I was disintegrating into particles of light but not in a fun, hot spiritual sense.

Jason could tell something was wrong with me immediately. “What year is it?” he asked. “Which way is north?” He did a silly monkey dance to get me…


THIS IS US

We’ve all been stuck in some way or another

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Last summer, my eight-year-old got trapped inside a couch. Under the couch, technically, in its undergirding. It was complicated, the way scenarios involving children often are, especially in the middle of a pandemic.

See, this is a story about a kid in a couch, but it is also an allegory.

It was August, a time when, normally, our family of five would be undertaking epic summer adventures, casting off from Brooklyn to shores unknown. But like everything else — school, sleepovers, birthday and holiday celebrations — summer adventures had been canceled. Both of our attempts to visit my husband’s family…


HUMANS 101

4 simple steps for better communication

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People typically shut down when someone talks for more than 40 seconds. I’d recently read that from Mark Goulston, author of Just Listen, and this past weekend I had a firsthand experience of it.

When someone I didn’t know very well visited me recently, I discovered the guy, likable enough, was quite a talker. As we sat together after dinner his verbal stream of consciousness washed over me, and I wondered when he might pause to take a breath. He didn’t.

I felt myself shutting down, losing interest not just in listening to him but also in saying anything. The…


THIS IS US

On our first overseas trip as a family, our bodies fell apart

Illustration: Calla King-Clements for Human Parts

When we began dating, Tyler and I did a lot of traveling. We started out small: Our first trip was from Boston to the tip of Cape Cod. Soon we ventured further, to California, to Mexico, to Peru. We broke up once in Key West. But I was too broke to change my ticket, and we got back together before our flight home. We got married in Maine but never took a honeymoon — I was pregnant and vomiting six times a day by then. …


LIVED THROUGH THIS

Why is it still okay to comment?

Photo courtesy of the author

When you turn 50, if you’re normal and not pathologically overly positive, you fall into a depression. Regrets hit harder; the knee you busted trying to impress a boyfriend 20 years ago hurts more; and you start obsessively checking your retirement account and panicking.

But there are benefits too, mostly of the I-don’t-give-a-fuck variety. Dramatic friends no longer keep you up at night, you have no shame in declining plans, and because you’re entering that invisible stage society reserves for women who can no longer reproduce, no one comments on your looks anymore.

Or so I thought. Hello, my name…


HUMANS 101

Support yourself through mindset, self-awareness, and health

Photo by Rampal Singh on Unsplash

No one wants to ruin their life, but some people manage to do it. Ruin, by definition, means to “damage irreparably,” and I’ve seen doctors, attorneys, promising young writers self-destruct as a result of unmanaged bad habits, drug and alcohol abuse, and illegal behavior. When we see it happen, whether it’s a celebrity or someone we know, we’re often surprised, but when we look closer, it’s most often been a slow burn on the way to the wreckage.

That intrigued me, so I asked my friends on Facebook and my contacts on LinkedIn, “What is the best way for someone…


THIS IS US

When we interact meaningfully with someone, maybe in some way, we stay connected forever

Photo: Artur Debat/Getty Images

It is the curse of the humanist to want all the laws of science to apply to people too. I confess to being cursed in that way. A few years ago, when I was researching my novel Weather Woman and was reading a lot of science, I became captivated by the theory of entanglement, which refers to the idea that once two particles have interacted they thereafter always respond in relationship to one another, even when far apart. In a 1935 paper, Albert Einstein called the phenomenon “spooky action at a distance.”

Being a person who thinks more about people…

Human Parts

A publication from Medium about humanity: yours, mine, and ours.

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