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


In Human Parts. More on Medium.

This Is Us

My mother seemed to think you could catch being upper class, like it was a cold

When I was 12, my mother and I were in this ongoing argument. She wanted me to grow up to become a trophy wife; I wanted to grow up to write one really cool novel and then die while I was still hot.

I mean, she wasn’t that explicit about it. Whenever the topic of my future came up, she’d begin by naming the only two rich person professions lower-middle-class parents know (doctor and lawyer). It was plain for anyone to see that I had neither the interest nor aptitude to become a member of any of the life-saving professions…

Lived Through This

Or, why I grew up thinking all adults are miserable

A person walking toward the right side of the pic against a colorful, motion-blurred background.
A person walking toward the right side of the pic against a colorful, motion-blurred background.

I never met any happy adults when I was a kid. My parents were miserable, my parents’ friends were miserable, my friends’ parents were miserable, and that was pretty much all the adults I knew. I didn’t know that happy adults were even a thing until I went to college and met people from Oregon.

As a kid, the only real variable I ever noticed among these various miserable adults was the degree of flamboyance they used to express their unhappiness. Some people were low-key about their misery while other people were Don Henley about it. …

Glynnis MacNicol on being single, childless, and suddenly motherless in her 40s

For someone who has always been bad at math, I have a weird fixation on numbers.

Take my mother’s death. Officially my mother died on March 20. A Monday. This is the date on her death certificate and the date on her gravestone. This is also what the staff at the nursing home north of Toronto, where my mother had lived for the past 26 months, told my father when they called him at seven that morning. My mother, they said, had died overnight.

I wanted more details, though. “Overnight” felt too nebulous. When my sister, Alexis, and I arrived…

Not Another First Time Story

My first hurt haunts me, even now

When I was small, I would watch my mother lace up a pair of Pumas. She called them her “shitkickers,” and she wore them whenever she was ready to fight. I remember her walk — that fearless strut down Fort Hamilton Parkway in her black leather jacket — and how everyone seemed to yield to her. I think about the way she pinched a Kent 100 cigarette between her fingers, and how she would rope her thick hair into braids. Later, she would pull at the rubber bands and her face, once taut and tight, would soften. My mother was…

I purged Mom’s house of chaos and found my inner calm

Buried deep in a box full of stuff located in my mother’s garage, I find a fragile hourglass, filled with shimmery aqua-colored sand. No framework protects its delicate structure. I flip it over and watch the sand form a crumbly pyramid in the bottom globe.

This gets placed in the tub of things I want to keep.

My mom invited me over to clean out her home and garage, so I'm here to climb the mountains of clothes and shoes, topple boxes, and recreate some semblance of order from the current state of chaos.

Little did I know that purging…

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