Introspection


To Love a Stranger

The silence was in no way uncomfortable; most times, it was pleasant, even relaxing. But underneath was a low thrum of pent-up frustration, which I only became aware of every once in a while. There was so much I wanted to tell her — about my high school track meets, the school paper, later my college roommates — and so much I wanted to ask, that I simply could not.


Welcome to the Club

How could I have felt complimented when I knew I was being denigrated? As the entire ethnicity group to which I belonged was being effectively erased, how could I have felt, however briefly, seen?


How Things Fall Apart

I left later that night, relieved that I wouldn’t have to see Gayatri until the next winter but also wondering whether I had said too much. And sure enough, that one genuine moment came back to bite me.


Unpacking the Baggage of Hawaii's Tourism

The portrayals of Hawaii as a party paradise for slender college kids holding beers or backflipping into blue water rubs me the wrong way. I find this kind of vacation porn reductive: It erases the state’s complicated identity.


Corner Pieces

What is the organizing of a Zoom vigil supposed to look like? What kind of advocacy work are we expected to perform while we grieve? How do we protect bodies so tempting they seduce bullets?


Humility or Humiliation?

We are not all comedians, and we don’t all bear the same burden of trauma that Gadsby does, but her set made me realize that we are all capable of hurting ourselves through our remarks about ourselves, even when they are diffused by the intonation of a joke.


Mutation

This version of myself looks up and sees my mom’s shoulders heave up and down. I’m looking at my father’s back, and I don’t need to see his face to know that it is tearless, like mine. Only when I read these words does the memory float back to me. I described it as half-grief. Stuck in the wrong places, like sweat.


Harvard in My Mind

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t imagine, pre-admission, what it’d be like. Racing to class, skipping a stone across the Charles, trudging up a narrow stairwell as the sun spilled over treetops. On some nights, after I finish my homework or exit a Zoom call, I still do. Now, in my childhood home, I still imagine what it would be like to be where you are, to breathe your city’s air. To see you.


New Roommates

I have also watched, uninterrupted, as they grew through cat adolescence. I can’t see their ribs when they breathe anymore, and there is a new fleshiness to their jowls that I press my fingers into when I scratch their chins.


Notes From the Dish Pit

There is truly nothing exceptional about a 20-year-old working a vaguely unpleasant low-wage job. Yet I had to explain to college friends what I was doing, calling them after work to detail why tolerating burns from seeding ghost peppers was a victory.


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