Emergency Pot Cookie (Or, the Nascence and Destruction of my First Real Writing Job)

If you are ever nineteen and living in San Francisco for the first time, working at your first writing job, getting paid, getting laid, carousing 24/7 with your utterly lovable just-coming-out-of-the-closet gay bestie, bathing in a seemingly endless shower of free weed, passing effortlessly into the VIP lounges of the city’s newest clubs, eating Chinese food that pitches ... [Continue Reading]


Why I Didn’t See the David (and other methodologies of heartbreak)

When I was twenty and graduating college, my grandmother gave me the kind of balls-out crazy gift-of-a-lifetime that characterized her gift-giving oeuvre. It was a three-week trip to Italy for myself and a friend. A shoestring trip to be sure: two coach tickets, enough money only for the cheapest hostels and maybe one meal a day. But it was Italy. I had been studying both ... [Continue Reading]

Women We Read This Week

Women We Read This Week

Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich’s "Towards a Fight" in The Rumpus It’s difficult to summarize Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich’s “Towards a Fight” not only because it is so wide-spanning, but also because it is infinitely quotable. Marzano-Lesnevich writes about gay rights in the North and the South; she writes about New Orleans, a place fraught with challenges ... [Continue Reading]


“Lenin Was Half-Jewish and So Can You”

My grandfather, Israel, always claimed it was my doing. I was nineteen and I was getting restless. My studies at the Moscow Oil and Gas Institute were entering their third year. Thermodynamics was replacing Math, and Pipeline Design was replacing the History of the Communist Party. If it didn’t dawn on me before that I was on my way to becoming an engineer, it was ... [Continue Reading]


Of Bikes and Men

I’ve just completed my first year as a full-time lecturer teaching writing at a state university, and this is, undoubtedly, the most anticipated summer vacation of my life. After nine months of being tied to my desk, of prepping, teaching, reading, and evaluating, of being saturated with fluorescent light and numbed by the institutional gray of my cement surroundings, ... [Continue Reading]

Photo by Luca Setti

A Story About Hanoi

This is a story about moving to Hanoi. This is not a story about moving to Hanoi as an American. This is not a story about eating phở cuốnby the lake where John McCain was shot down. This is not about learning to call the Vietnam War the American War. This is a story about moving to Hanoi, but this is not a story about moving to the capital of a communist country. ... [Continue Reading]

Photo: Dr. DeNo

Walk It Down

I caught my first salmon off the seawall in Kotzebue, Alaska in the very early morning of August fourth. I used a snagging hook: a three-pronged weighted beast of tackle that bent my rod backward when I cast. I worried about those standing by and what a rogue hook this size could do, how it might catch something on land instead of in sea. Snagging is illegal in most ... [Continue Reading]


On Appetite: Four Food Vignettes

Salt Alice Driver What did we know then? We knew the dirt roads of the Ozark Mountains, knew that duct tape was the best way to remove thousands of seed ticks, knew to ignore the fierce itch of poison ivy, knew to collect rocks with abandon. The curve of that salt block, worn down by the tongues of dozens of cows, called out to us. We ran across the field, my cousins ... [Continue Reading]


From the Hearth in Périgord

When I first approach the five-hundred-year-old farm, I am not sure I’ve come to the right place. The address Danièle Mazet-Delpeuch had given me a month earlier when I called her for an interview was simply “La Borderie,” the name of her French home and cooking school sewn into the fringes of a diminutive village in the rolling hills of the Dordogne, a region of ... [Continue Reading]

man-o-war photo

An Unwanted Guest

I didn’t see the jellyfish, but I felt it—a searing pain at my ankle that shot up through my leg, bringing me, in a matter of seconds, to my knees in the sand. I looked down and saw its limp, blue body floating away from me down the rivulet I’d stumbled into when the sand along its border collapsed under my step. The creature had gripped me with its tentacles for ... [Continue Reading]



My grandfather lives among the trees. He is streaked with dirt, brown as a fallen acorn. When he walks, the leaves bend under his feet. Years ago, he kept caged pigeons in his garden. In the morning, he would jangle their cage to announce himself. The garden is his domain, and everything in it his subjects. Out there, we know not to tangle or disturb. We are visitors. ... [Continue Reading]


Snow in Mongolia

When I phone Amaglan in Mongolia, the first thing I want to tell her is that it’s snowing here in the U.S. But I can’t find the words for it. This shocks me. I sit there, holding the phone, watching the snow falling onto a triangle of lawn at my parents' house in suburban New Jersey. I listen to the cadence of Amaglan speaking in Mongolian, carefully enunciating words ... [Continue Reading]

Photo: Arcady Genkin

The Purest Form of Play

"Place begins with embodiment. Body is a place, and it shapes our perceptions." Malcolm McCullough I grew up with a view of the ocean. When I was little my father used to take me out in the evenings, past the breakers, into deeper water; it was quiet and soothing. I took swimming lessons over the course of a number of years. My memories of these lessons are physical, not ... [Continue Reading]


On Packing

It is best to use a well-made bed or the floor, so long as you have a large, smooth, clear surface, a canvas, if you will. It is best to start early, to take your time, to mentally map out (a maze of nerves like tangled alleys, footpaths, avenues) the possibilities, the contingencies. You must have time to ask the questions: Will I get lost? Will I be loved? Shunned? Will ... [Continue Reading]


Backpackers in Paradise

Our minibus is whisking us around flash cards of local color. The Waterfall. The Woman Walking on the Dusty Roadside. The Sulking Men on Motorbikes. The Village Store called “Christo!” The Kids Climbing a Lime Tree. The Fishermen At Ocean’s Edge. The Naked Toddler Jumping Into a Rock Pool. Then, when a massive metal seahorse rears up on the side of the road, the ... [Continue Reading]

stormy sky over islands

The Wind’s Keeper

We smelled the island before we could see it. The pungent acid scent hit us like a wave. “Oh my God,” I said, scrunching up my nose. “What is that?” It was past midnight, and we were heading to Volcano, a volcanic island in the Aeolian Islands blanketed with black, sulfurous ash. In the distance, I could see the faint glow of lights as we motored through the ... [Continue Reading]


Apocalypse Soon

The fog crept past the streetlight, swallowing the clouds of smoke we blew out, skinny or fat or from our noses in dragony tendrils. It was quiet there on the back porch; you really couldn’t ask for a better place to take a break – sweat stuck to your skin; hands stinking like tequila and salsa; legs twitching from the hours of running up and down the stairs –the ... [Continue Reading]

netanya photo

Making Deals with God

It was my last day in Israel, and I was surrounded by dozens of strangers in a sprawling home in Netanya, a seaside town two hours outside of Jerusalem. Stacks of dirty plates covered the long dinner table, and children scampered up and down a spiral staircase that led to the top floor. I was on an eleven-day religion reporting trip in Israel, and I’d taken a bus from ... [Continue Reading]


Who Made this Grave

One day, in late October, my son and I left his Mexican preschool and wandered up the Calzada toward Morelia’s pink stone aqueduct. He was collecting sticks snarled with epiphytes and I was walking backwards so I could watch him—his red plaid uniform, his white-blonde hair—and yet lure him homeward. Behind him, I could see, through the ficus that lined the old ... [Continue Reading]


Touring the Revolution

The green hills from which the Zapatistas descended to take San Cristóbal nearly twenty years earlier looked wet and blurred outside the windows in the rain. After the parched Oaxacan isthmus and clammy, tropical Tuxtla Guitierrez, San Cristóbal’s mountain air felt liberating, like emerging from a fever into quiet clarity. We rolled down the windows and watched the ... [Continue Reading]