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]

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]

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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]

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Of Bikes and Men

If you enjoy this story, please consider supporting Vela on Kickstarter! We thank you infinitely for your support. 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 ... [Continue Reading]

Neither MFA nor NYC

Neither MFA Nor NYC

My favorite story from my college years wasn’t one I heard in a Creative Writing workshop. I didn’t hear it in any lit seminar or poetry reading. I heard it on a Wednesday night in West Oakland, sitting in a metal folding chair at the twelve-step meeting where I clung to my tenuous new sobriety. The story was told by Milton, a teeny-tiny wrinkled old man, ... [Continue Reading]

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Women We Read This Week

Nikole Hannah-Jones’ "Resegregation in the American South" in The Atlantic Focusing on the experiences of three generations of Tuscaloosa, Alabama residents, Nikole Hannah-Jones paints a depressing and accurate picture of resegregation in the American South. She addresses the very real fact that, despite Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, segregation is still very ... [Continue Reading]

Photo by Jorge Santiago

The Ism and the Alcohol

A year and a half ago, I published my first essay on addiction. You’d think having gotten sober at age seventeen would have been fodder for plenty of personal essays, but it took me twelve years to start writing about alcoholism and sobriety. Even then, that first piece did not show me drinking or using, or even considering drinking or using. Instead, the piece ... [Continue Reading]

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On the Far End of Reality: Jennifer Percy’s Demon Camp

Everywhere he went, he saw them, their burned bodies, watching him. These were the days after the war. Demon Camp is not really about soldiers. Well, okay, it is. Jennifer Percy's debut book revolves around the lives of soldiers who’ve returned from Iraq and Afghanistan with PTSD, focusing chiefly on the story of Sgt. Caleb Daniels. But Daniels doesn’t believe his ... [Continue Reading]

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In the Form of Birds

The summer my father died I bought a book on Southwestern birds. It was he who had given me my first feeder on my 8th birthday, back when we lived in New Orleans. He’d gotten the bird-feeding bug, I’m guessing, from his mother. At his parents’ house in Springfield, Pennsylvania, there was one of those open platforms—a plywood landing about six feet high. My ... [Continue Reading]

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The Writer and the Army Wife

Recently, I published a short essay about saying goodbye to my husband before his first deployment. The piece is, as you might imagine, a crier, and it evinced a pretty strong emotional reaction in some readers: many of them reached out to me, thanking me for reminding them that men and women throughout the country are continuing to endure the sorrow of separation, ... [Continue Reading]