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Awareness

The night I move in, I sit in my darkened kitchen and sip wine next to the open window. I watch as the cops pull up beside a black teenager who is walking on the sidewalk across the street. They say something to him, get out of their squad car, and pat him down. One of the cops glances up, sees me peering out. After a few minutes, they pull away and the lanky teenager is ... [Continue Reading]

Photo Jorge Santiago

Love in los tiempos del Spanglish

  If you enjoy this story, please consider supporting Vela on Kickstarter! We thank you infinitely for your support. When I first met el Gordo – antes de que lo llamara el Gordo, cuando todavía era Jorge – we spoke puro español. He had a mop of pelo negro, casi chino, a lion’s mane embracing a sweet, round cara de inocencia. Pero en sus ojos había ... [Continue Reading]

Photo: jhencolors2

The Postcard Days

Before flying north for a summer halfway through college, what I knew about Denali National Park was that it was big and remote, and that it had bears and one gravel road. Soon after arriving, I found myself with an unremarkable job in a remarkable place: working 40 hours a week selling books and postcards at the visitor center at mile 66 of said road—measured from its ... [Continue Reading]

Aftermath_ChrisGoldberg

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]

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“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]

Photo by keightdee

A Return to Limantour

The sublet in Berkeley was our last resort. My father and I had been kicked out of the bottom floor of a house in Sausalito for breaking the unstable leaseholder’s plate, and we had traipsed the cold streets of San Francisco for days, looking for an affordable place. That futile mission had ultimately landed us here, just off of Telegraph Avenue, at the threshold of an ... [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 © Itzel Aguilera.

Documentary: If Images Could Fill Our Empty Spaces

Alice Driver, one of Vela's staff writers, recently completed her first documentary, If Images Could Fill Our Empty Spaces. The film explores the complicated relationship between violence and photography in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. Watch it below, and then read an interview with Alice about making the film. Inhabiting the Lives of Others: An Interview with Alice ... [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]

Photo: Gwen Harlow

The Tweakers or the Ghosts

You know you’re close when the fog thins out, when the dull pink behind cuts through, when the hills along the highway become vacant and brown. Staples, Starbucks, Target, In-N-Out; casinos and check cashing. The spires of the oil refinery silhouetted and pumping exhaust that smudges across the sky. The last exit before the Carquinez Bridge, before the end of the East ... [Continue Reading]