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

THIS IS US

Image by Erik Drost via Wikimedia Commons

The NBA post-season ended in July, the Olympics came and went in August, the US Open was over before I knew it in September, so when the football season kicked off last weekend, I was thrilled. Before Covid, I could not have told you the difference between a shortstop and a running back, but as pandemic life crawled forward with no end in sight, I’ve gone from being a casual sports viewer to a total fanatic. …


LIVED THROUGH THIS

Source: Sim Gyu-Dong, “Goshitel”

In the first week, I broke everything: a $2 plate from Daiso, which I’d loved for its spunky polka-dots. A cylindrical holder for my travel-friendly toothbrush and mini toothpaste. Finally, a precious Royal Albert mug I’d been given as a gift that spring.

Crash.

I looked numbly at the elegant ceramic shards spread across the jaundiced linoleum floor—cracked pieces of beautifully printed lavender and rose, now made useless — and tried to move past my dismay.

“I couldn’t have helped it,” I murmured to myself. Every time I spread my arms, something else topples over.

I wasn’t clumsy. I was…


EXPRESS YOURSELF

watercolor of a little blue rounded monster shaped a little like an airplane window. He has triangular teeth in a smiling mouth that extends beyond his body, set close to to the top of the “window,” and a heart, and is wearing red sneakers and waving with stick-figure arms. Hand-lettering in typeface script reads “hi. this is bunt.”
illustrations Yi Shun Lai

The other week I woke up in an absolute, hellfire snit. I had not been that cranky in a long time. (I know you have been there.)

While I was lying there in bed, kvetching out loud and in general making a nuisance of myself, I recalled a creature I’d made years ago. I call him bunt.

Like most of my artwork, bunt is the result of a combination of things: One, I was feeling pretty yuck, because it was the weekend after the 2016 election had been called for D0nald Tr*mp. Two, I was also feeling happy, because we…


THIS IS US

You bring him home from the hospital, in our case so early that you haven’t yet bought him a bed.

You look at him, inscrutable in a quickly assembled bassinet, and set about understanding him.

You hold him.

You hold him until, and while, he learns to walk, then hold out your hands so that he has somewhere to practice walking to.

You hold him only when he wants you to (and perhaps just a little more).

You imagine him in the world, first looming above others, their turning to him; then small, unknown, alone.

You put on his socks…


THIS IS US

illustration: Nikita Klimov

I am from America. One Nation, Under God. I don’t live in America anymore though. I live in far-away countries that are sometimes under God, but mostly under skies, clouds, stars, the sun, the moon, and sometimes birds.

I decided to return home after nearly a decade for a road trip — a three-thousand-mile drive with my mother and brother in a Chrysler Seabreeze from Boston, Massachusetts (where I grew up) to L.A.

Sitting in the back of a car for long stretches opens the mind up to a lot of weird thoughts. About three hours after we set out…


LIVED THROUGH THIS

Back when I was in elementary school, there were always kids who were pariahs. Kids with certain kinds of deformities, or speech impediments, or habits of drooling. We knew we were not supposed to mock these kids, and so we didn’t taunt them openly, but we shunned them in subtle ways nonetheless. We would avoid them, or whisper about them, or choose them last for our teams, thinking our behavior would go unnoticed. But of course it was noticed. Noticed by the poor kid herself, noticed by the other students, noticed even by the teachers. …


Adventures in raising weird birds.

Photo by Evie S. on Unsplash

I was at this art gallery on Cape Cod and there were these huge black and white images of feathers. They were printed on this creamy-textured paper that you just wanted to rub between your fingers. I was very pregnant and the skin on my feet was pulled so taut it seemed like it would split. I sipped a berry smoothie and stared at the feathers.

They looked the opposite of how I felt. Effortlessly graceful. Simple and cool. Beautiful.

I didn’t say anything about them, but later my husband snuck back to the gallery…


THIS IS US

Goodbye, bouquet. Photo by the author

Picture the scene: There I am at the flower shop, stationed in front of those big, backlit refrigerators, grasping for the necks of birds of paradise, and then: “That one that looks like velvety lettuce! And the spiky purple ones! And oh, oh, those little orange bursts!”

“You mean these ones?”

The teenager flings a manicured hand in front of different buckets.

“These or these? You sure you want these? They smell like onions.”

(Oh, I do.)

We don’t use a single proper name as I move toward the blooms that please my eye and point. It doesn’t matter what…


Photo: Unsplash / Jessica Flavia

My fingers are a dune buggy race down the endless sands of your back, and then they’re a squadron of submarines descending through the uncharted depths of your hair to your very top’s very bottom.

And after so many years mapping your body and its complex topographies, I spy a secret: a single freckle lurking on the back of your ear where I can barely see it and where you couldn’t possibly.

And I begin to imagine the freckle as a rogue star — a fugitive? a pariah? a discoverer of worlds? — launched out of the orbit of the…

Human Parts

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

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