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

THIS IS US

Of all the haunting remnants of the past year, the one I can’t shake is my daughter’s eerily real doll

Image courtesy of the author

We were falling deep into our pandemic winter, and after the better part of a year of fully online or hybrid school, my daughter’s noneducational hours had become dominated by additional screen time so that I could keep working. She transformed into a third-grader with a casual online “window shopping” habit and a growing obsession with Reborn Babies, strangely realistic, silicone baby dolls.

I wasn’t sure how I’d survived the better part of the year as a freelance writer in shutdown with a throbbing ball of stress growing and contracting somewhere over my heart, my nervous stomach. …


PAST IS PROLOGUE

Play is a serious business. But seriousness does not exclude fun.

Image: Pieter Brueghel the Elder: Children’s Games. 1560. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

I sit down to write something about play, and its importance for human life. And as I write, I ask myself: Am I working? Or am I playing? Sometimes, it is hard to tell.

In a previous piece, I wrote about how to think more deeply about work. In that piece, I talked about how philosophy can help us understand our relationship with work more deeply. But the more I think about work, the more I find the boundaries between work and non-work, between work and play, become blurred and fuzzy.

So if we want to understand human activity better…


FICTION

Flash fiction about endings and beginnings

When it was all over they studied how it started. When it was all over they rearranged their calendars. When it was all over they kept the pets they’d adopted, but allowed their closets to fall back into disarray. When it was all over they had new leaders, new songs, new science, but old habits, old hatreds. When it was all over they went on vacation.

When it was all over they joined a book club, feeling suddenly as if there was nothing they couldn’t do. When it was all over they congratulated each other on their survival without forgetting…


THIS IS US

If cake were a drug, this one would be a Schedule I substance

Photo courtesy of Whole Foods

BTR (before the ‘rona), my beautiful sister, KC and I hosted a girls’ night. She served these two cute little cakes from Whole Foods Market with a warning: “The strawberry shortcake is good, but the Chantilly cake is a problem; be careful.”

All of us laughed, and I playfully rolled my eyes, thinking, “I’ve met very few non-chocolate-related confections worthy of my love and devotion.”

Welp, she didn’t lie. That Chantilly cake was a magical and addictively delicious berry-filled delight. …


PAST IS PROLOGUE

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

Photo: John Jennings/Unsplash

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

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.

My houseguest, someone I didn’t know very well, turned out to be quite the 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 nonstop talking continued at breakfast…


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. …

Human Parts

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

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