Introspection


Homecoming: Birgitta, My Mother of Mothers

So I call her double-mother, and for life I owe her twofold, or more. My debt to her is pleated infinitely, like the skirts of the floral chair in her living room. When I was little, I’d hide beneath the wooden coffee table and play with her orange and blue Dala horses, the clacking of their lacquered legs muffled by the cream carpet.


Homecoming: Working Out In the Long Run

"This story doesn’t end with me running a marathon, trembling arms raised in victory and frigid medal between my teeth. I may never enjoy running, or even feel truly comfortable jogging with a friend." RC ponders what it means to run.


Homecoming: Perfect Stranger

“So, where are you from?” I have been asked this question dozens of times by dozens of people during my time at Harvard. Every time, I return my well-rehearsed lie: “I’m from Baltimore, but I live in California now.”


The Lens: Lemons, Sleepless Nights, and Other Bitter Things

There are two definitions for the word “pith.” The first is the spongy white tissue that sits under the rind of a citrus fruit, coming from the archaic descriptor for spinal marrow. The second is simply the essence of something, its true meaning or feeling. I’ve found that it is easy to connect the two definitions, for the best way to describe the pith of my time in quarantine is a deep set, bitter sadness.


Mornings at Murphy's

Jen took her coffee with milk and one Sweet’N Low, iced in the summer. I handed her the pink packet, grabbing two Equals for Bruce before rushing to the donut rack for his glazed jelly stick and ice water with a plastic straw. Will took his coffee black with two Splenda and George usually asked for a milkshake, but only if Suzy was working (which she usually was). If not, he’d have a coffee and a bagel with extra cream cheese or a hot dog with raw onions, not grilled. I’d hand Lucy, a nurse practitioner, her cinnamon twist and cup of tea just in time to hear her chide George for his order — after all, he recently suffered a stroke. I identified my regulars by their orders long before I learned their names. They called me “Red” before they learned mine.


Separate Because We Aren't

All we can do is wait it out, co-regulating each other’s quarantine-induced neuroticism in our own sort of homeostatic system that harkens back to Gaia herself, trying to bear in mind the reason we’re doing this in the end: to sustain life.


From Hill to Hill

There are more houses with regal columns and streets with plenty of parking. The people are different too. It’s almost as if older people have gotten younger. Dispensaries and ramen places have turned into lingerie boutiques and salad shops.


Purple Babies: Notes to Keith Haring

My baby Keith, even when you were purple, you acted like a baby. You left this world the same way you entered it: nonjudgmental, pure of mind, seeing the world with a simple, singular clarity.


Quarantine Diaries

Jane Z. Li takes us inside the Li household, where each family member has a floor to themself to practice social distancing and explains how her family is staying cautious in light of COVID-19.


To Choose a Side or Check a Box

I assure you, I do not consider myself a “tragic mulatto,” or feel like every day of life is a punishment for my parents’ sins. The irony is that I would be perfectly unperplexed by my racial identity if it weren’t for the perceptions of others.


Shopping for Scrubs and Other Traces of Normalcy

I’ve always been vaguely aware that my mom is an infectious disease doctor. There were little clues — medical jargon over dinner, horror stories about patients used to scare me into healthy eating, a skin rash-themed wall calendar — but on the whole, I simply thought of her as my mom, and beyond that, just perpetually busy. Now, though, her profession is not just unignorable — it’s inseparable from her identity as my mom, from her very existence.


Me and My Chip Bag Versus the World

"I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to best comfort my mother. I don’t know how to best help the people around me. I don’t know how to best help my friends. I don’t even know how to muster the right amount of empathy for people living next door, let alone people across the country or across oceans."


Girl’s Shoes in Gay Pornography

Porn is nothing if not essentializing. In most scenes, these actors are merely the sexually submissive partner. In other scenes, though, scenes which script out and eroticize sexual violence, these actors are cast as victim.


Where's Home?

I was running along the Charles when I first wrote the essay you are reading in my head. At first, I thought I’d touch on how having grown up as a military child influences the way I perceive the world. I imagined sharing anecdotes of driving away from a city I loved and watching it disappear in the rearview mirror, or how I learned to use the cardboard boxes as sleds in a neighborhood-wide game. But that piece was written before COVID-19 began to wreak havoc across the globe. It was the piece I had in mind before we were notified of the University’s decision to send us home, for our safety and the safety of others.


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