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

A daughter reflects on wanderlust, travel, and her mother’s life before triplets

When my mother found out she was pregnant with triplets, she quit her job and let her passport expire. She was elated and scared, nauseated and starving — and by her second trimester, under strict orders to stay in bed.

For the next four months while she lay on her left side, my mother’s belly swelled, stretching in such a way that it required scaffolding — a harness doctors custom-designed to support the weight of us all. From the back, she looked narrow. From the front, enormous. …


THIS IS US

When walking becomes the destination itself

Photo: Jad Limcaco/Unsplash

To the uninitiated, walking is just putting one foot in front of the other. When the destination is the goal, walking is indeed a slow approach and sometimes considered a waste of time. Walking can also be interpreted purely as a form of exercise without the walker having any other expectation.

But “going for a walk” evokes something quite different from “walking.” In “going for a walk” neither destination nor effort need be the prime motivators. Instead, when “going for a walk,” whether it be in the city or country, one takes a voyage into the self that lets the…


A veteran’s musings on leaving Afghanistan and the killing fields

Photo courtesy of the author

I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation. War is hell. — William Tecumseh Sherman

“Do you still think about war?”

I let my finger hover over the keyboard after I fire off the text message. I expect the responses might be slow or nonexistent, but a green bubble appears.

“I swore I would never be this person, and yet, I think about it every day,” my old…


THIS IS US

Not all children grow up

Ana, age 12 (with her cat Pepper)

The first playdate was the product of an infant/toddler reading hour at my local library in the fall of 2002. I’d been freshly laid off from a dot-com job that had consumed me. My daughter Ana was 18 months old.

I’d been adrift, aimless, caught in the purgatory between unemployment and whatever came next. Suddenly I was in the company of a toddler all day, every day.

And so I found myself in the library at 11 a.m. …


When my physical voice failed, I had to learn that I deserve to be heard

Photo: We Are/Getty Images

The voice box is a pink, slick mass through which air blows. It’s an alien with a toothless smile. When its folds, the vocal cords, work properly, they press together as we speak, mirroring humming lips. Air slips through the cords. They quake and can vibrate up to 1,000 times per second. That rattled air becomes voice.

I lost my voice at 15. I sounded like a boy hitting puberty, as my inflections became an unpredictable mash of breaks and warbles. …


I love it but I wish I didn’t

Photo by Handy Wicaksono on Unsplash

Cigarettes are my best friend. We live together, work together, look up at the stars, walk along the beach, sit through sunsets, stay up late watching movies, and escape the world when we are alone. When I am sad, cigarettes pick me up. When I am happy, they never harsh my buzz. When things go wrong, they are where I turn first, and they’ve never abandoned me in a time of need. When I need to think, they help me formulate my thoughts. On hard days, no one bothers us if we need to take some time together away from…


So few interactions give us unbridled permission to imagine

Six months ago at Café Gratitude in Venice, California — while deliberating between an “I Am Immortal” latte and an “I Am Stellar” blue smoothie — a thought popped into my head and I blurted it out.

“I’m going to stop wasting money on psychics.”

Across the table sat my friend and fellow psychotherapist Sara, with whom I often compared notes on therapists, healers, bodyworkers, psychics, and spiritual teachers. “Totally,” said Sara. “I really can’t hear another prophecy about the man who’s coming and the perfect family I’m going to have with him. I mean, I’m 60 for god’s sake…


Lived Through This

Moments when ‘everything’s going to be ok’ isn’t true

Photo: eranicle / Getty Images

Everything is going to be okay.

We whisper it to our children when they skin their knees or have a fight with a friend. We proclaim it to those who have lost their job, their partner, their health. We post it on Instagram, showcasing our optimism. We repeat it like a mantra to ease our own anxiety.

Everything is going to be okay.

We assert it to bolster our conviction that the pain is temporary or even inflated. …


I didn’t want to admit it, but prayer seemed to work

Photo: John Price on Unsplash

In the summer of 2015, in the wake of a long overdue decision to officially separate from my husband and file for divorce, I drove across the country with my Saint Bernard. The trip was uneventful until I got to Tennessee, where I stayed for the weekend with old friends I’ll call Jenna and Rob. It was here where I lost the dog.

I didn’t personally lose her. Phoebe broke out of a doggie daycare while I sat in an evangelical Christian church outside Nashville, where a rock band played power ballads about “the awesome, almighty father” and hundreds of…

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