All posts filed under: personal essays

The 2017 Diaries: GE17

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, but today is the General Election here in the United Kingdom. As an American/EU national living (and working, and paying taxes) here, I can’t vote. But I have paid close attention to this election. And this election is giving me literal chills. Actually, it made me cry. I queued up outside a local public school to vote for Hillary Clinton on a chilly November morning last year. I was ecstatic. Elated. I was voting for the first woman president. We, as a country, were standing on the edge of a wonderful, new, exciting world of possibility. We were about to take a massive turn. And we did, but not for the better. I cried every day for a full week following the US election results. I cried with my friends, I cried with my mentors, I cried with my mom and my uncle. I cried on the bus on the way to work, at work with my coworkers. I cried. A lot. When I relocated …

Take it From Me – Oh, Comely

I am a professional listener of music. Years of practice in self-isolation, my headphones lost beneath a mass of curls; hidden – during class, on walks, in the locker room at swim practice. Before technology had caught up with my sleuth listening capabilities, I carried a disc-man around in a knit turquoise bag. I could fit three jewel cases inside with it. Each day, three different CDs. One morning, a classmate nicked it off a bench and hid it. When I realised it was gone I burst into tears in front of our entire middle school. Sobbing, I searched for my homeroom teacher to fix this egregious trespass. Only when the disc-man was safely in my hands did the crying stop. I was 12. I should have been embarrassed, I was embarrassed by nearly everything – but I wasn’t this time. Music was everything. Read more…

Fire and Water – Oh, Comely

My mom went into labour on the evening of 22 July 1989. It was the last of a stretch of inordinately hot days, the kind that make the Manhattan skyline waver against the clouds. I do not know if you could see the stars that night. She was 37 years old, and was in labour for 22 hours. On 23 July, at 6.08pm, I was born. A Leo. I’m no great believer in horoscopes. I find the platitudes to be self-soothing. One more way that we absolve ourselves of responsibility for our actions. I never met an Aries I liked – I’m a Capricorn so it’s no wonder we don’t get on. We toss our hands up to the heavens and blame the stars for our misfortune – mercury is retrograde; the moon is full. Read more…

IT HAPPENED TO ME: I Was Groped at the “Pussy Power” Rally at Trump Tower – XOJane

“I would quite honestly bet a large sum of money that this shrill liberal harpie is talking unmitigated BS.” A few days ago, I broke the cardinal rule of internet journalism: I read the comments. I’m usually good at avoiding that cesspool. As a freelance writer, I know better. But this time it was different. This time, the article wasn’t by me — it was about me. The story this commenter was referring to was my “claim” that I had been groped at a rally outside Trump Tower on Tuesday, October 19. As I read the full comment, I felt my heart beginning to slam against my chest. I don’t mind being called a liberal harpy, or shrill. (Though, if the commenter knew me, they’d know my voice is actually fairly deep.) What enraged me was the ease with which my claim, my story, my voice, was dismissed. I can’t quite start off my story by saying I was “minding my own business,” which is what a lot of my friends who’ve been groped can …

It’s A Wonderful Life, When Lived In Between

I‘ve always liked putting down roots. Perhaps it stems from the fact that until I was nineteen, we never owned our own home. Perennial renting isn’t uncommon in New York City. By virtue and happenstance of my birth taking place in New York City, this is the first place I put down roots. My family, best friend of 22 years, and countless more friends and experiences I have all thanks to that city. I have bemoaned the gentrification of St. Mark’s place, the whitewashing of Nine Points, the never ending construction on the Gowanus. I feel NYC in my blood – it has made me who I am, and that is the reason I feel so comfortable leaving it. Because it is my home, I can always go back. This may be me taking it for granted. The roots I have in this city stem back generations, cover decades of friendships, deaths and births. They exist, as perennial as rent-stabilised lease agreement. “Some people, as they move through their lives, rediscover home again and again. Some …

Finding my Kindred Spirit – An Ode To Claudia Highbaugh

Last weekend I found myself sitting in front of a fire, drinking a glass of pinot noir with a good friend and mentor. It was a languorous Saturday evening. She turned to me and said, “you know, we had very similar childhoods.” The woman I was lucky to be sitting across from was Dean Claudia Highbaugh. For those who haven’t attended Connecticut College, or Harvard or Yale while she was there, this will mean nothing. Those fortunate enough to know Claudia might burst out laughing. Because on the surface, Claudia and I are nothing alike. She’s black, I’m white. I was born in 1989 and Claudia was born, well, before that and grew up in the tumultuous era of the Sixties. She believes in god, I don’t. I am tall, she is short. She’s from the South Side of Chicago and I’m from Greenwich Village, Manhattan. I am a student, she is a teacher. Claudia Highbaugh occasionally teaches a freshman seminar at Connecticut College. This was how I met her; I, an unsure, unstable young woman in a …

Being Half A Jew, Reluctantly

As a pre-teen, I didn’t often tell people I was Jewish. The frizzy hair, the glasses, the freckles, and braces – those were enough to contend with. Not that being Jewish should have been something to contend with. Yet in my adolescent mind, despite my liberal New York City upbringing and United Nations International School education, it was. Even in college, being Jewish was something I joked about. “This half of me is Jewish,” I would say, drawing a line down my face, indicating the left half. By then I had tamed my hair, gotten contact lenses, embraced my skin, and lost the braces. Yet my ancestry was still something of an ‘otherness’, something I wasn’t as willing to embrace, or to wear. Growing up in a half-Jewish half-Italian but completely agnostic family has its perks; we celebrated all the holidays. We lit a Menorah and had a Christmas tree, enjoyed Easter Egg Hunts and Passover Seders, without ever attending church or synagogue. I loved Matzoh and equally so the feast of the seven fish on Christmas eve …

Princess Wanted (Girls With Curls Need Not Apply)

My whole life I’ve been plagued/blessed with curly hair. My opinion on said qualification was always down to self esteem, and mostly tied to age. As a toddler I looked like Little Orphan Annie. As a child I had no qualms about my frizzy mop and loved the length. By the time I hit puberty, however, my curls became the scourge of my life. Constant straightening, disastrous haircuts (a pixie cut at 16 I am still regretting), and enough hair product to fill an olympic sized swimming pool several times over – that was my life for the past ten years. It’s taken a long time to go back to being happy with my curls. But recently I’ve been edging back towards discomfort. A few months ago, whilst searching for how to get Meg Ryan’s lustrous curls, I stumbled upon this article on naturallycurlly.com. The whole thing is very on point, but this quote stood out for me: “[S]ince when does having curly hair make one earthy? Neither have we found in our unscientific gatherings that curly hair …

Life with Three Little Letters: Excerpt

Gabriella: If you could say anything to the parents or family who walked out on someone with HIV, what would it be? Victor: I’d say, Okay, so you had a shock. You reacted. How long has it been? Do you think about him or her? Your son or daughter? Do you miss them? Wouldn’t you like to see them? Wouldn’t you like to give them a hug? Aren’t you curious? That’s what I’d like to say. Is this a knee jerk reaction, and would you reconsider your position? I’ve heard stories of people coming out to their families and getting kicked out of the house. I hadn’t been out to my parents yet and I was dreading it, terrified. I joined a support group where I got to know parents and kids who were really scared, and parents who were really great with it, who wanted to help other parents. I realised: don’t be afraid to do something that’s hard because of the reaction it may provoke, because that reaction is in the moment, and …