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.
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…
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. …
I was hungover when the phone rang.
The night before, I’d been partying with my fraternity brothers, so I answered and immediately hung up. Despite hanging up the call, the rings came once more, so I answered.
“Benjamin!” The voice was frantic on the other end. “Turn on the TV now!”
“Mooooommmmm,” I groaned. “It’s, like, super early. What do you want?”
My roommate echoed my sentiments from his bed, but my mother’s frenzied voice continued to climb in pitch. “Turn on the TV!”
I climbed down from my loft after throwing my old Nokia phone into a recliner…
There are 3,289 members in a Facebook group that exists for parents who have lost children to cancer.
Each member represents a child who died from a disease that is underfunded and misunderstood, a child whose photo is decorated with a gold ribbon (or not). It’s the symbol that reminds us it’s September and that it’s once again time to let people know about the terrible reality of childhood cancer.
None of the 3,289 parents in this sad Facebook group need ribbons or numbers or the color gold to remember our children. What we need is for you to remember.
The summer after kindergarten, I went by “Hot Stuff.”
I was still “Hyo-Sung” when I woke up on the first morning of day camp to pull my favorite yellow T-shirt over my head. My mother had made sure it was washed the night before even though our portable washing machine had to be pulled out and connected to our kitchen sink, and so doing laundry meant no cooking that night. …
I’ve done quite a bit of musing while sitting on the beach this summer, and I thought I was done writing about it after my last piece. For anyone who thinks that I’ve been doing a tremendous amount of sitting on the beach, thus affording me copious time to ponder and ruminate, let me clarify: I’ve had a few lovely short bursts oceanside and since I don’t enjoy swimming (I know, I know), I instead do a lot of observing and contemplating. I get a lot of thinking bang for my buck.
Mid-afternoon today, while spooning kale salad into a…
On December 10, 2003, Taliban and al-Qaida operatives launched a complex attack against the small forward operating base I’d been stationed at for eight months. In the barrage and carnage that followed, my friend Steve and I were wounded in action. I took shrapnel to my arms and lower back, had my wrist fractured, and was knocked unconscious. When I came to, muscle memory took over, and I ran out under a gauntlet of explosions searching for medics while Steve slowly bled out because a piece of shrapnel had hit a vein in his arm.
The attack ended when an…
“If your own parents didn’t want you, what are you doing here?” — Olivier Rousteing, Wonder Boy
We sit at her small glass kitchen table. The Scrabble board she’s had since college takes up most of it, the ceramic napkin holder with neatly folded paper napkins takes up the rest. We haven’t seen each other since before Covid and waste no time getting to our favorite activity: cutthroat, take-no-prisoners Scrabble. That no one likes to play with us is a badge of honor.
I haven’t seen my mom in real life in almost two years. Now, sitting in her house…
No, this isn’t the story about the worst thing that’s ever happened to me. Don’t get me wrong, it was a singularly miserable experience filled with pain and tears, frustration and depression. But if you’re looking for “sorrow porn,” look elsewhere.
If you read the title and thought, “That sounds like the worst thing that could happen to anyone,” you would be partially correct.
For some people, suffering a spinal cord injury and becoming a paraplegic or quadriplegic is the worst thing that will ever happen to them.
For me, it wasn’t.
For starters—spoiler—I survived. I’m here typing this in…
Content warning: Graphic descriptions of injury
If you ever need hand surgery, you should try to get it done in Japan.
At least that’s what the hand surgeon at Mass General Hospital told us right before he spent 10 hours trying to reattach my husband’s severed left index finger.
The surgeon’s tone was cheerful and matter-of-fact as he talked with us. We were sitting on a cot in the emergency room on a Friday night. Jared had been working on a project at our house when his hand got sucked into the blade of a table saw by a loose…
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