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 cuốn by 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]

wade_morgen

Lives and Past Lives

1. I’ve always loved walking at night. I’ll go anywhere: through the neighborhoods of small towns, through a dozen identical suburbs, through seedy Pittsburgh neighborhoods and seedier Latin American cities. In any location, the impulse is the same: I walk at night to look into the lighted windows of strangers. At night, windows roll by like stills on a film reel, ... [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]

redcross

Writers Respond to Typhoon Haiyan

On ordinary days, this is a magazine of creative nonfiction, inspired by travel, written by women--by which we mean that Vela publishes writing that endeavors to express what is real in a manner that is both curious and connection-seeking, and we do so in the spirit of solidarity. And when but in the wake of faraway disaster does such work matter most? As everyone knows, ... [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]

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]

seeds

Seeds

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]

LifeinMongolia

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]

road1

The Journey in the Song

"But what can be the shared space of meaning and sound?" Jean-Luc Nancy, Listening "All I've got to put in a song is my own experience,” Leonard Cohen once said, speaking about the process of songwriting. But as a listener, you could invert the sentiment, too: all I've got to get out of a song is my own experience. I remember my mother driving me to school when I ... [Continue Reading]