March Oaxaca

My Own Mexican Revolution

I was walking back from the grocery store, loaded down with bags, when a man came up the sidewalk. I looked down and away. He leaned towards me and whispered, “F**k me.” The insistent pressure exploded. I lost it. “F**k YOU!” I shouted, and then continued, calling him a dog, a monkey, an animal, a barbarian, and any other disagreeable creature I could think of ... [Continue Reading]

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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]

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My Husband Travels

It was eight minutes before the taxi arrived to take my husband to the airport. We were in the bathroom, throwing toiletries into a tartan sponge bag. “Here’s your glasses cloth,” I said, treading carefully. “I’ve washed it for you. Your glasses look so much better when they’re clean.” That was it. In a last minute panic, he hit the roof. “Shut up, ... [Continue Reading]

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The View from the Sitting Room

  One morning, the women in the Kabul house awoke with a particular sense of purpose. After the dawn prayer, when Nazo would usually roll back into bed and sleep in as long as she could, Nafisa nudged her sister-in-law and marched her toward the kitchen. As foreigners and guests of the family, my two American colleagues and I were exempt from early risings, but I ... [Continue Reading]

Photo: Emily Higginson.

Private Ceremonies

I had only a minute while I waited for the doctor to meet my patient. I grabbed a plastic cup and a pregnancy test from the lab and slipped into the bathroom. This is one of the perks of working at an abortion clinic – all the pregnancy tests you can take. My husband Jeff and I had been trying to get pregnant with our second child. But every month when I placed those two ... [Continue Reading]

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My Month as a Slut

My sister clapped her hands and said, “Let’s get dressed up like sluts and go to the Beverly Center!” This is how it started. For my thirteenth birthday, my parents had gotten me tickets to fly down to LA. It was my first plane ride by myself. “I’m sure you’ve done this a thousand times,” the stewardess had said when she shepherded me on the flight early, ... [Continue Reading]

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Disappearances Have to Disappear

Bodies meant nothing to me. When they jammed into me on the metro or the bus, rather than tensing, pushing, or fighting for some tiny symbolic personal space I learned to let all my air out and flatten myself into the crowd, into the wall; to press myself out of my own body. I became good at it, nonchalant like the sweat running down your arm can mix with mine and your ... [Continue Reading]

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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]

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Girls, Girls, Girl

The girls looked bored. They slouched in plastic chairs, picked at their nails, crossed and uncrossed their toothpick legs. Neon shadows slashed their skin, deepened the dark places, made their bones look sharper than they really were. Men filtered through the open-air patio, Western guys in flip-flops and shorts. They wore the efficient expressions of informed ... [Continue Reading]