Sign in

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

HUMANS 101

4 simple steps for better communication

Photo: Matt W Newman/Unsplash

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 some friends of my wife’s visited us for an overnight stay, I discovered the guy, likable enough, was quite a talker. As we sat together in my office 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…

Read everything from Don Johnson — and more.

Upgrade to Medium membership to directly support independent writers and get unlimited access to everything on Medium.

Become a member

Already a member?Sign In

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…


Express Yourself

Sometimes the lessons you learn from writing a book aren’t quite what you expected

illustration by author

I’ve heard that a lot of writers have a similar origin story: They’re reading a novel and suddenly stop. “Holy crap,” they say, I can do better than this!” Then they close the book and sit there, or they fall down and lie there, dazed.

“I can do better than this,” they whisper. “I really can.”

This is my story. It happened with a book my mother gave me called The Strumpet Sea. I don’t remember the book, but I think it was about a strumpet and a sea.

By the way, what’s your book? Which one made you cry…


THIS IS US

How one novelist reconnected with the ancestors she never met


THIS IS US

The stories we tell ourselves can make all the difference

Photo by Tinuke Bernard on Unsplash

I’ve been happy since November. Yes, I understand that happiness is a subjective concept. I know that it’s not the end-all, be-all in life. I absolutely get that it’s only been six months which shouldn’t even be that big of a deal. But it is to me, dammit.

Tonight, I listened to Sam Cooke and Solomon Burke while I danced around the grocery store at 10:00 at night. An older man with a kind face stopped me to ask how long it had taken to do my hair.

“Six hours.”

“That seems long. Mine doesn’t take long at all.”

He…


LIVED THROUGH THIS

Car crashes, quarry jumps, and the friends we love despite everything

Photo: Christina Reichl Photography/Getty Images

I put my feet on your dashboard, sand and beach tar between my toes; we are old friends.

You pull out a Marlboro and fumble in your pocket for your lighter, holding the steering wheel with your knees. “Don’t,” I say, reaching out for the wheel, nodding toward my child in the backseat. You nod and drop the cigarette out of your lips to your lap and grin at me. “Fine, but only for you.”

“Not for me,” I say.

“For him, because he is yours,” you say.

“Yes, but also for you.”

I’ve been trying to save you for…

Human Parts

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

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store