August was a difficult month, for many reasons. I told one of my best friends recently: I feel like I’ve lost myself. I’ve been pushing myself for so hard for so long I’ve forgotten what makes me happy.
Last week, I learned about the annual Library of Congress National Book Festival, which took place Saturday. A friend and I (both avid readers) decided to check it out. It was madness. I couldn’t believe the crowds and felt proud to be among such a city of nerds.
And I remembered how much I love to learn, whether that’s about the sting acceleration of a jellyfish (up to 5 million g) or the divided friendship between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. I may feel a little astray right now, but when it comes to learning and exploring something new, I am never lost. Continue reading
A little more than a week ago I had the AC on and was basking in the midday sun. I felt excited for the day even if my new social energy pushed me to physical exhaustion. Life seemed full of hope again.
Then the work week arrived. And rumors of a new health care bill surfaced — one that would destroy protections for those with pre-existing conditions. I reached out to my representative. I spent a troubling amount of time trolling Twitter and tweeting about advocacy opportunities as well as sharing my own story.
On Thursday morning, a few hours before the bill was put to a vote, I went to the bathroom and cried. I just let it all out — the anxiety of a future that goes back to a time where I had to struggle to access the supplies I needed to live; the emotional devastation of living in a country that does not support my right to live; and the empathy for all those who may die (possibly millions) as a result of this bill. Continue reading
I walk home from my latest book club meetup. I’m wearing jeans and a jacket for the first time in months. This late September, it finally feels like fall. I pass through the wooden tunnel beside the latest construction zone. The wooden foundation seems to shake with each footstep, but I feel safe and somehow separate from the world in this enclosure.
I look down at my phone and see a missed text from a former colleague. She asks if I’ve read her latest email. I check my google inbox, and see the email with the subject line: Roscoe’s death at 95. I quickly scan its contents and then call my friend, tears streaming down my face. I exit the tunnel and stop at the crosswalk, waiting for the walk sign.
In 2013 a few weeks after I completed my MFA in creative writing and publishing arts, a former colleague of mine approached me at work asking if I could help with a self-publishing book project. I was hesitant at first, having never published anything but my own work and feeling a bit burnt out from graduate school. But I agreed to meet this self-publishing connoisseur. Continue reading
It’s dark, below 10 degrees, and I’m starting to feel comfortable in this DC neighborhood, surrounded by fellow commuters. It helps that I made this exact trek a few nights ago. The sidewalks near the Dupont metro are mostly clear of snow and ice, and even though I make no eye contact with passersby, I feel a sense of solidarity with this community of young professionals.
We’re just trying to get by, doing the best that we can, and hope that we don’t fall.
But halfway on my way to meeting my friend for dinner on 14th Street, I come across a stretch of ice. My mind is on this book I just finished on the train, “In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin” by Erik Larson that provides a third-person account of the U.S. ambassador William Dodd’s stay in Berlin prior to World War II.
As I later told my friend at dinner, the book captures the building momentum of a culture that preceded one of the greatest atrocities in history. Even though I tend to be a bit of a history buff, especially around that time period, I was still amazed by the tension and struggles that plagued Berlin years before events like Kristallnacht even happened. And the world let it happen. Continue reading