Personal Essays Archive
“Something I think about often is how you once said that sometimes when you write a letter, the person you are writing to may never write back. Perhaps what you were quietly teaching us about was grief.”
“Of course pretending to be a regular girl is monstrous—as monstrous as not writing, and as monstrous as being a mother who takes some time to herself to write, as I am doing now.”
“In reading Pamp’s books, I found myself strangely transposed. I occupied both the position of literary critic working to understand century-old biblical exegesis and that of discoverer of a forgotten family text.”
Throughout transition, I’ve often thought of my body as a poem––one whose semantics is a web of social relations I can’t quite parse, that no one can fully parse. More than a “receptacle,” my trans body necessarily relies on the creation of new subjective semantics.
Catherine Newman’s new novel is a paean to kindness, to the kind of friendship and family relationships that unabashedly avow their love and affection, that cuddle and enthuse and share delicious food and drink and lean hard into humor.
What if we understood reading as a practice of codependency, a way to share and take care of one another, instead of as evidence of high intellectual achievement?
Moving exposes the true quantity of our stuff: there’s too much. And what story do these objects, and the way in which they inhabit space, tell? Our possessions tell the stories of our changing bodies, our relationships, our jobs, the pandemic, the hobbies we’ve given up on, our privilege.
In Maya Angelou’s 1981 memoir, she travels to New York, London, Cairo, and Accra. Everywhere she goes, she meets people who look like her but do not necessarily think like her. Black skin, she realizes, does not immediately equate to kinship, and in fact can mask conflicting understandings of
Alice Hattrick’s new book redefines how we think about the body’s relationship to pain, in the process providing us with a new way to understand what it means to be chronically ill.
By leaving China, I demonstrated my freedom of choice and a quest for knowledge. Yet physical detachment only heightened my yearning for an emotional homecoming. In the decade since I first boarded a plane to the U.S., distance has lent me both a sharp lens and a soft gaze