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

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Humans 101

It’s one of our most innate and reliable guides

“Would you take a pill that removed your boredom forever?”

I almost said “yes.” Boredom is excruciating. Doing nothing — meditating, sunbathing, kicking down the cobblestones — is lovely. Boredom is an unscratchable itch layered on top of that glorious nothing. Who needs that?

I almost said “yes,” but I know the trickery of thought experiments. I hedged: “Yes, if it doesn’t change anything else about my life.”

“Oh, but that’s the point. What do you think it would change?”

Last summer, I wanted to paint this gorgeous view:

As usual before starting a landscape, I tallied the things I…


This Is Us

Black stories are most rewarded when they center blackness — which, in a certain sense, is to center whiteness

Black and white photo of the author and her son posing on a street.
Black and white photo of the author and her son posing on a street.
The author and her son

It is a cool autumn morning and I am perched on my couch, a coffee cup nearby, a few pages into Claudia Rankine’s newest book, Just Us: An American Conversation. My 14-year-old son saunters in and asks what I am reading when I look up over the brim to tell him: “It’s a book on race by an author I met last summer during my writing residency.” “Is it good?” he asks. “It’s interesting,” I say. “But sometimes I get tired of reading about racism.” “Why… because it makes you angry?” he asks. “Angry is not the right word. Annoyed…


This Is Us

Thousands of people collect hyperrealistic vinyl babies — but how do they sleep at night?

Hyperrealistic baby that is actually a doll.
Hyperrealistic baby that is actually a doll.
Photo: michelle a

I want to stroke Alma’s silky wisp of hair, put ointment on her peeling ankles, kiss the place where a drop of blood has dried on her teeny heel. I keep scrolling. Eloisa stares at me with vacant green eyes, her fists delightfully wrinkled but eerily glossy. I keep scrolling. Red-eyed and deathly pale, Isadora makes my heart stop. Beneath her button nose, the minuscule mouth dribbles blood, sports fangs.

“Adopted,” the caption reads. Painted and designed by an 11-year-old — under her mother’s supervision — Vampire Isadora was sold at a discount.

At reborns.com, anyone can become a happy…


Express Yourself

A simple drawing exercise to help you rediscover the meaning of perspective

A photo of poetic neon square light against a sunset sky.
A photo of poetic neon square light against a sunset sky.
Photo: Artur Debat/Getty Images

Everything is closed. Schools are closed. Stores are closed. Parks are closed. Museums are closed. But you know what’s easy to keep open for you and your kids? Your eyes.

Let me show you an easy way to open things up. But I want you to wait until your kids have gone to bed. I know you’ll be exhausted. (We’re all exhausted!) But this will be relaxing; this will be fun. No one is keeping score.

All you need is a pencil and a piece of paper. First, freehand a square in the center of the page. Small or big…


The problem with hard work is that it’s fundamentally boring to talk about. But I’m going to try.

Morning Sun, Edward Hopper

My teacher wants to see me after class.

I don’t know why. I have absolutely no idea. I’m 12 years old, and I’m not a troublemaker of any sort. I’m far too shy for that.

She scratches her nose as if she’s uncomfortable. It’s hot in the classroom, and I’m uncomfortable too.

“Your results came back from the English exam.”

I remember that we took an exam a few days ago, an international one. It’s supposed to test our ability in English. …


A manifesto for middle-aged creatives

Photo: Manit Plangklang/EyeEm/Getty Images

I remember the moment I first felt old. While watching a band that shall remain nameless, I thought the men of a certain age—with their dad bods and hairlines—looked weird playing guitars. Perhaps it was a simple identification—I remember buying their first CD—but the idea persisted. Robert Smith applying lipstick night after night at 60 years old. Bono and The Edge, still without surnames. And Thom Yorke, in his fifties, surely must get sore dancing like that, right?

Then, on the edge of 40, I joined a band.

Three years in, I still feel self-conscious pulling up to a dive…


Express Yourself

Procrastination as vocation

Photo: RyanJLane/Getty Images

I have embarked upon yet another of my Massive Secret Time-Wasting Projects. It’s too late to interrupt the process now: Once undertaken, these things take on their own unstoppable momentum. O the seductive and terrible lure of whatever you’re not supposed to be doing, whomever you’re not supposed to be with, wherever you currently are not. I remember my late cat, whenever I would munificently let her out into the backyard, wanted nothing more than to escape immediately into the adjacent yard: “Over There,” we called it, that alluring and forbidden land. The cat heart yearns for Over There, and…


A meditation on black art and representation

Photos courtesy of the author.

When you opened the front door to my family’s house, it kind of scraped against the living room carpet. We never used that door. The amethyst carpet laid under a white canvas couch, two chairs, and a loveseat, all with a royal crest-like pattern etched into them. The seats were frayed at the ends, and the color appeared more eggshell than angelic. There was a bay window in the living room, too — it looked out onto the dead grass and tired asphalt. All the seating angled its way toward the television.

Two paintings hung against the wall and, as…


Forget about everything else

Photo by Johnson Wang

There is a story about an exchange between Jerry Seinfeld and a young comedian. The comedian approaches Seinfeld in a club one night and asks him for advice about marketing and getting exposure.

Exposure? Marketing? Seinfeld asks. Just work on your act.

Seinfeld, a pure stand-up, a comedian’s comedian, is appalled by the question. It’s offensive to his legendary heads-down work ethic. But to the kid, this was a surprise. Isn’t that the kind of question you’re supposed to ask? Isn’t that how you get ahead?

He’s not alone. Certainly, I myself wasted many chances to learn about how to…


Becoming your own person is never a frivolity

Photo: ArtMarie/Getty Images

“We decided yours should be first,” the curator tells me. “We are all in love with it.”

The opening of the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art Academy alumni exhibition is just beginning when I arrive, panting after finally finding a parking spot some five blocks away. My oil on canvas, a dream-like piece, occupies the prime entrance spot. In it: two Earths, seemingly on a collision course with one another, and a red ladder with street lanterns piercing the dark blue sky raised above them. One Earth is lit up and playful, a cord stretching to power the lanterns. …

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