Here We Are–This Must Be the Beach

September 1, 2015

My dad says that whenever we’ve arrived at our destination. Someone–his mother, maybe? I really need to start writing these things down–used to say it, and now he does. We don’t travel much as a family, so I haven’t heard it all that often. Nonetheless, I’ve picked it up myself.

This must be the beach.

We were headed to the beach, and now we’re here. So this must be the beach.

I lived essentially all of my adult life (so far, anyway) in a city. I grew up on a farm–most people know this about me, if they know much about me–but it didn’t take me long to replace the evening music of crickets and irrigation sprinklers with the irregular chorus of sirens and subway thrum.

Thirteen years ago I stepped into Harvard Yard with a guitar case and a stuffed panda bear and most of the other belongings that mattered to me. I stayed in Boston for two degrees, three Red Sox World Championships, three apartments, one disastrous breakup, two teaching licenses, one totaled car, the Marathon bombings, two adopted cats with snipped ears, countless beers, too much snow, many oysters, the issuing of the first legal same-sex marriage licenses in the nation, and my own wedding, just over a year ago, looking out over the Charles River.

The city adopted me. I don’t know if it loved me, but certainly I loved it. My heart catches in my throat when I see the skyline coming into view as my plane approaches Logan. I sweated there, and bled, and cried. I shouted myself hoarse, nursed broken hearts and whiskey, breathed the air and knew I was home.


Now I am back in a place where tractor fumes and cut hay dance on the breeze. These hills aren’t my hills, not yet, but the grass and the sky and the deer are familiar. Drivers wave when you pass on the road. Walgreens sells cases of Bud. At the high school football game you will run into women from your third grade class, now bouncing fussy babies on their hips. You may not recognize that guy in the John Deere hat, but his cousin used to date your babysitter.

Crossing the northern California border used to unlock my heart. It was almost a physical thing, that small release of a part I didn’t know I’d hidden away, revealed only when I finally came home. I haven’t felt it, not yet, but every hummingbird and every back porch chips away at the dirt from the city.

Not home. Not yet. But the beach, maybe. This must be the beach.

Hey, I wrote a thing!

January 24, 2014

Specifically, I wrote a thing for The Toast, which you should all be reading in general because it is wonderful. You should read my piece at least five times each so the editors ask me to write more things for them.

Food porn

December 11, 2013
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I Don’t Expect to Sleep Through the Night

October 18, 2013

I happened to catch an interesting story on NPR yesterday about new research on the benefits of sleep. The super non-sciencey version is that our brains (like other animals’ brains) actually flush out toxins while we sleep, which has implications for research on Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related illnesses. I didn’t know this before yesterday, but apparently dementia disorders are overwhelmingly associated with sleep disorders.

My interest in the story is twofold. First, I’ve struggled with insomnia for pretty much as long as I can remember. I basically thought this was just an unfortunate side effect of being me, but as it turns out, it’s actually a very common symptom of bipolar disorder, and one that is delightfully (for the most part) treatable with the right combination of medication.

Secondly, my grandmother had Alzheimer’s. Her deterioration was deeply painful for my mother and her siblings, and a fear of developing dementia is now something my mother and I share. Like the risk of developing bipolar disorder (which is pretty huge if one parent has it), the risk of developing Alzheimer’s increases considerably if the disease also runs in your family. The initial articles I found about potential links between bipolar and Alzheimer’s made my brain hurt (on account of not being so sciencey) but I would be curious to see if research on two conditions so strongly linked to sleep disorders could both be aided by this new discovery on sleep and the brain.


October 9, 2013

So I’m a big sports fan, which isn’t something I’ve written about all that much, although I was once really excited about starting a feminist sports blog. (That is still a thing that would be awesome to do. I’m even still sitting on the WordPress name. I am just awful at organization.) I think part of the reason I don’t write much about my love for sports is that it can be tough to be a female sports fan, especially if you’re also a fan of women’s athletics. Mainstream sports media dudes are, by and large, dudes, and their treatment of women’s sports (and women in sports journalism) runs the gamut from total ignorance to dismissal to super gross sexism.

But that’s not actually what I want to talk about in this post. Instead, let’s think about fandom, and taunting, and young Wil Myers.
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But What’s Your REAL Name?

October 9, 2013

At least once a week someone asks me what my initials stand for. My stock answer is “My first and middle name,” which usually gets a chuckle, but almost never deters the questioner. When they realize I’m not going to tell them, a lot of people just start guessing. Curiosity is persistent, it seems.

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Things That Go Boom in the Night

August 20, 2013

Last night we heard what sounded like an explosion. I still can’t find any news reports about it–plenty of emergency vehicles materialized in the neighborhood, but no one seemed to be able to find the source of the noise. One neighbor, a combat veteran, said he’d seen some kids run into the bushes and assumed someone had been shot. Another guy claimed to have seen a flash and was sure a transformer had blown.

The last time I called 911 was five years ago, when a man was shot and killed several doors down from the apartment where I lived. In the aftermath it felt like everyone in the neighborhood was standing around on our porches and balconies, watching police and EMS come and go, some of us answering questions from a Herald reporter walking up and down the block. We’d heard gunshots? Were we sure? The answer is that once you’ve heard gunshots in person, you don’t really mistake them for anything else.

When I was growing up, the most sinister noises I could hear at night were probably just the odd possum or raccoon trying to root through our trash. I was afraid of wildfires and coyotes. I still instinctively flinch when I see a dog off leash. One dog on his own might run at your livestock, but two together could make a sport of it.

Then I moved to Boston.

In my freshman year of college, my dorm sat directly atop the subway route. Mass Ave ran just past my window. I could feel the whole building shake when the train slowly rumbled below and I couldn’t seem to block out the red and blue when flashing lights passed on the street at night. Our proctor assured us that we’d get used to the sounds of the city and I didn’t believe her until a few weeks later I realized I’d been reading in bed all night and hadn’t even noticed all those sights and sounds.

I’ve never really felt unsafe in this city. Just the other night I walked home–nearly a mile–well after midnight. I was maybe a little spooked when the lights at two intersections suddenly went dead, but I didn’t feel unsafe. I’m privileged enough to know that if I call the cops they’ll probably come pretty quickly (particularly since there’s a good chance plenty of my neighbors will call them, too) and that they’ll believe my answers if they ask me questions. But for the past couple of years I’ve found myself compulsively (irrationally) checking behind the shower curtain when I get home, just to make sure no one’s lurking there. I check my apartment door once, twice, three times before I go to bed.

There is no point to this post. I heard a loud noise last night and I still don’t know what it was. I don’t like that feeling.