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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

How to celebrate your impending irrelevance

Birthday cake with candles for a woman.
Birthday cake with candles for a woman.

If you are anything like me — a 38-year-old who owns multiple DVD copies of Heathers so I can still watch it when the grid goes down and the world becomes The Road, even if one of the cannibals on The Road steals my other copy — you woke up recently to an unwelcome surprise. Timothée Chalamet starred in a Super Bowl car commercial where he portrays the college-age child of Edward Scissorhands and Winona Ryder’s Kim. This commercial begs many questions, including: In the movie, Vincent Price gives Edward his scissorhands as an aid to help in his movement—so…

This Is Us

It affirmed for me that sometimes, life is scary for no good reason

Black and white spooky image of floating Halloween faces.
Black and white spooky image of floating Halloween faces.

There are moments in life when you wonder how you got here. You know, your classic, “This is not my beautiful house, this is not my beautiful student loan”-type early midlife business, where you’re going about your day and some small moment snags you, pulling you out of the present and into your past, leaving you wondering how you even came to be the person you are.

For me, those moments usually come when I am involved in multiple haunted necklace auctions on eBay. Or when I have to hide my book of crime scene photos because guests are coming…

This Is Us

Notes on a childhood memory

My earliest memory, and thus the beginning of my selfhood, has absence at its heart. I don’t remember much about knocking out my front tooth. By that I mean I have an incomplete, fragmentary recollection of what happened Before and what happened After. I remember sliding around the kitchen floor in my socks. Getting a bit of momentum, sliding toward the stairs at the back landing, then turning around and doing the same in the opposite direction. My mother was in the kitchen, too, moving between the sink and the stove. My sister was sliding with me, sometimes in front…

This Is Us

When the time to ‘sit back and unwind’ never arrives

Two Black people sitting outside at a small, round table with cold drinks on it.
Two Black people sitting outside at a small, round table with cold drinks on it.

Many years ago, I decided that I would no longer subscribe to the standard concept of “seasons” as we know them, choosing instead to simply determine my own. I’m aware that days of the year aren’t really up for interpretation or debate, but the seasons’ official start and end dates (at least here in the mid-Atlantic United States) never seem to have any real connection to anything anyway — much of winter remains fairly warm, spring is too cold, it’s all a big mess. With that in mind, I followed my own designations and never looked back. And my first…

They find the pop-up store in an old shopping arcade on the walk home. DVDs fill baskets out the front, and racks and shelves inside.

There are probably hundreds here, he thinks. They strike him as memories in cases, sealed in plastic wrap and sold on the cheap.

“Wow,” Jane says. “Can you believe it?”

“Believe what?”

“DVDs!? I mean, do you even have a DVD player anymore?”

“I don’t even have a television.”

“Let’s look inside.”

He kneels down and takes a DVD case from a basket. Turns it in his hand.

“What is it?” she says.

He shakes…

Bart Schaneman

I see them everywhere I go. Faces from my past. Old lovers. Parents of dead friends. An enemy who never got the satisfaction he sought. Acquaintances of acquaintances who only put up with me because they had to.

The only thing we ever had in common was being from here.

I’ve been going through my old CD book, driving these hometown streets with the music of my young adult life. It’s a time capsule written by my younger self. I stopped buying physical albums about 10 years ago, so Devendra Banhart’s in there, along with Wolf Parade and Okkervil River…

The Human Comedy

For as long as the boy could remember, his father had taken him to the deli on Sunday mornings. “Two smoked salmon on everything bagels with cream cheese, please!” he would order with a grin that was several baby teeth short.

“A strong breakfast for a strong young man.” That’s how Mohammed had always replied. “You’re even bigger than last week!”

The boy would grin at Mohammed, then at his father, whose blue felt yarmulke covered the bald spot on his head as if it were custom-fitted.

The boy had no idea that yarmulkes and Mohammeds weren’t supposed…

Sin, Expiation, and a Visit From Time’s Goon Squad

By Walter Nicklin

To place a call or send an email to someone you haven’t seen in a half-century can prompt introspective doubt, if not existential angst. Why am I doing this? And why isn’t my voicemail being returned? Did he not answer my first email because it went into “spam” — or, maybe more likely, because his memories of me are of a jerk?

But I’ve changed; I’m not the same person (you say to yourself). And this is likely the last chance to make amends, to show you’re not such a bad guy after all. …

I say, “I’m from Brooklyn” like there’s a grenade exploding from my mouth.

I walk different after saying it. My step is a little harder, my shoulders more square, nose held higher in the air. It’s a momentary self-assuredness that follows me for a spell.

I feel it rise into my jaw when I see her approach across the water as I’m crossing the Williamsburg Bridge; when the train doors close on First Avenue and the L snakes under the East River.

The thing is, the Brooklyn I’m from isn’t the Brooklyn of today. It’s not that funky…

“Wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then.” —Bob Seger

That day, we hadn’t even been looking for woodchucks. But a local farmer, Mr. Patchman, said he would pay two dollars for every one we’d spot in his cornfield and manage to kill. It didn’t matter how you killed the woodchuck, he said, as long as it was dead. The word spread through the neighborhood. Roaming the hushed toads of my town, we kept a look out for movement in the fields. The low, wobbly movement of rodents.

This was the summer of 1977. The summer…

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