I never imagined the day I’d abandon my mother.
When I was a kid, I imagined that when I grew up I would be so wealthy I would rescue my mom from my father’s rage. I imagined I would buy her a house right next to mine and we’d live happily ever after. She’d be normal again. Perhaps someday, she’d be the mom I knew as a little girl, the one who tenderly stroked my hair at night before I fell asleep. I imagined she would carry on complete conversations and laugh in joy with me again. We’d walk to…
For as long as I can remember, I had no confidence in my body. In my mind, I was a large, fleshy pear waddling down the street. Trying on jeans was an exercise in masochism. The sight of my pale thighs glaring even whiter off the fluorescent lights as they tried to squish into jeans one size too small (because, for some reason, every shop sizes them differently) was agony for my anxious brain. We are not taught to love our bodies. We are taught to fix them. …
Last week, we posted a brief writing prompt on indulgences: gifts we give ourselves with no one’s permission but our own. Here are some of our favorite responses — on solitude, surfboards, and more.
“Hello, ma’am, can I ask how many will be dining with you this afternoon?”
“Just the one!” I reply cheerily, a tone that seems to rearrange the features on the waitress’s face to convey confusion. In a split second, she corrects herself, now smiling she nods and escorts me to my table.
An hour of staring into space. A bath with magic salts. A penthouse suite in your own city, booked on a Friday night in September. In 200 words or less, describe a moment, object, or unnecessary expenditure you bestow only upon yourself. Something extra. Something luxurious (whatever that term means to you). An indulgence.
This week, we’re trying something new. By Monday, September 23, share your unnecessary indulgence — small, big, or medium — as a response below. Keep it short. We’ll publish a compilation of our favorites in Human Parts.
Chronicle an obsession. An infatuation. Something that makes you stare at your phone until your battery dies. A mildly embarrassing all-consuming attraction to an idea, a person, a cultural phenomenon — or an entire fandom you’ve created in your mind. You’d never tell anyone unless they asked you, which they almost never do, so here you are: talking to yourself about that thing, that energy, that overlooked corner of the universe that lights you all the way up.
Publish your story on Medium with the tag “Human Prompt” by Friday, September 20th. We’ll feature our favorite infatuations in Human Parts. If you don’t hear from us within two weeks, assume we’re not featuring your story — but we encourage you to keep it published on Medium nonetheless.
It’s fall, which means back-to-school season. In honor of the vaguely scholastic energy you may be feeling right now, take yourself to the School of Living. Your classes? Those are up to you. Audit a course in accepting compliments, or giving them. Enroll yourself in Advanced Forgiveness or Codependence 101 (with subsections for everyone you thought you couldn’t live without). Show us what you need to learn most: the mundane, the frivolous, the borderline life-saving, the un-standardized-testable.
Publish your story on Medium with the tag “Human Prompt” by Friday, September 13th. We’ll feature our favorite scholars in Human Parts. If you don’t hear from us within two weeks, assume we’re not featuring your story — but we encourage you to keep it published on Medium nonetheless.
It’s the details that make it real: those insignificant gestures, tiny inconsistencies, and forgettable grains of reality that blur into the tapestry of happenings so seamlessly that it’s almost impossible to notice. But if you strip the significant things from all the unimportant little details, you’ll get a sterile, factual description of what’s happening.
For example, this crowd is here to bury my father. Only my brother is missing. The nurses are exceptionally professional in this hospital, and the walls are sand-colored. And lying on the kitchen floor for hours is not a good idea.
If you take away the…
For six years, I worked at an amusement park. Service jobs tend to ripen you for misanthropy, but there is nothing like putting on a uniform and dehumanizing yourself so that others may enjoy their day, all while listening to the same ten tracks of Africanized park music on a loop for six years straight. I encountered a good cross-section of humanity during my sentence, and what I saw did not inspire confidence in the general trajectory of civilization. The only way I endured was through commiseration with my co-workers. We suffered together, but in that suffering, we created a…
Check-ins. Desk plants with twee names. The iPad bolted to the conference room door, or your boss’s face staring down at you from a giant TV screen. It’s Labor Day weekend, a time to detach from the construct we know as work — the 9 to 5, the grind, the unnecessary meeting at 4 p.m. on a dead-silent Friday.
But not all of life’s labor happens on the clock. We stress ourselves out on nights, weekends, and holidays with mountains of tasks we dutifully tackle for free: emotional labor, second-draft texts, plodding dinners with friend-quaintances, family vacations that require more…
When my daughter was undergoing treatment for cancer, a container of “holy water” arrived at my door from an acquaintance who had taken a trip to a sacred spring somewhere in the Middle East. “Have her drink this,” the note said. “It has miraculous healing properties.”
I politely thanked this well-intentioned person, but I was, frankly, horrified. My daughter was immunosuppressed! All I could think about were the germs I’d be introducing into her system.
This wasn’t an isolated incident during my daughter’s treatment. While most of our family and friends trusted that we were doing everything we could to…