Photo by ALEXANDRE DINAUT on Unsplash

My costume is cinched tight, I’ve re-laced my pointe shoes again and again. My hands are shaking as I stand in the wall of curtains waiting for my cue. Right on time, I step out into the blinding light, my body memory taking over, smile, smile, smile. Everyone is looking at me. I’m terrified. I love it.

You know you’re not funny. I have just regaled my family and friends with my amazing stand-up comedy at a barbecue when my friend rolls her eyes and says this to me before walking away. …


Fairies definitely live here. Or maybe it is a scene from Jurassic Park. Or it’s just an okay cell phone picture of one of the most magical places I’ve experienced in my entire life.

This summer I stared up at ancient Redwoods in awe, some charred from wildfires, some toppled over, their giant hole-y plant carcasses blocking the path. Out of the rotting tree flesh, all shades of green exploding, ferns and moss and saplings. I thought, ah yes, the circle of life! How profound! Out of decay and death, new things grow. Did you know that some trees can communicate with each other and that dying trees send all their nutrients to other trees close by that are most likely to survive? How fucking magical is this and what a heartrending movie ending…


Danny was everyone’s crush in my 6th grade class, including mine and my two best girlfriends, Lily and Anna. He was skinny and pale, but he had long, wavy hair that fell over his right eye in a way that was just too cool for any 6th grade girl to handle. Also, he was older, okay? He was already 12! I didn’t care it was because he had to repeat 6th grade. So what he was lazy? He didn’t just wear Nike and Adidas, but designer brands my 11 year old brain had never heard off. Calvin Klein boxers, the…


And the cop actually “investigated” me

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

I saw the voicemail when I got home. My phone had been on silent since I had just gotten my four teens vaccinated against COVID at the health department. The message was from a police officer in a neighboring town following up with me on a “potential parenting plan dispute.” When I called the officer back, he explained that my ex-husband had contacted the police department claiming I was in violation of our parenting plan by vaccinating our kids. The officer was now investigating me.

Aside from traffic violations, I’ve never had any interactions…


Malachi Brooks on Unsplash

I’ve come home from playing with my friend on the street in front of our house in my tiny German hometown. It’s a late summer afternoon, the sky blush and gold. The heat has left my cheeks flushed and my hair sweaty. I’m in second grade. I find my brother on the steps in front of our house. He warns me before I go in: Mom and dad are fighting! My stomach drops but I square my little shoulders and push open the heavy front door. My parents are in the dining room screaming at each other, breathing hard. There…


Maybe your physical symptoms aren’t made up after all

Photo by Meta Zahren on Unsplash

Two decades ago when I was only 19, I laid in my friend Ben’s bed watching TV when he looked at me sideways suspiciously. What? I asked squirming uncomfortably under his stare. “You got a fat neck. Have you ever had your thyroid checked?” No, and also, fuck you. He was a volunteer EMT at the time who had just spent several of his teen years in cancer treatment, so I thought he was seeing illness and death everywhere (and, well, being a dick).

Last week I got a call from the doctor’s office about my blood test results. You…


Reconsidering my mom’s insane economic ideas during the Covid pandemic

I always admired my Opa’s work ethic (and his killer fashion sense). Then the pandemic made me look at paid work in a different way.

We were separated by an ocean and talking on the phone so my mother didn’t see how my eyes rolled back into my brain and my jaw hit my chest simultaneously. Was she serious? Like the time she explained to me that houseplants don’t grow well in kitchens because they can hear the carrots screaming while being viciously murdered on cutting boards? There was never a point in arguing with my mom, but her casual statement about the obvious and absolute ridiculousness of work followed me around for many years and I’ve reconsidered it during the pandemic.

My mother died…


Yes. You can come back from this.

It’s hard telling people you don’t want to have kids. They look at you suspicious, eyebrows arched up nearly into their hairlines. It feels impossible telling people I can imagine a life (just as beautiful, just as meaningful), in which I never had the kids that are currently fighting over who has to scrub the crusty dinner pots. And that in my current life I deeply enjoy, crave, and revel in the childless spaces I create. Suddenly, sharply, the suspicion turns to disgust.

What the hell is wrong with you? You don’t deserve to be a parent! I feel sorry…


A painting next to my desk. Definitely not foreshadowing anything.

Do you know “Crazy” by Aerosmith? If not, what are you even doing with your life?? If yes, you probably grew up in the ’90s like me which was all about rock power ballads and Aerosmith was being played at every party I went to in middle school and high school. I went to, like, three parties, but still. “Crying”, “Crazy” and “Amazing” were very on-brand as far as song titles went for my angsty pre-teen and teen self. …


For most of my life, the answer has been: I have no idea

Tucson, AZ street art by Ignacio

My little brother and I are at a bar with our mom. It is one of the only bars in our small German village where everyone knows everyone. I’m maybe 7 years old and my brother 5. It’s fun at first, because I’m a kid in a grown-up place and everyone seems friendly, even happy at the bar. We play darts. I watch my mom bite into a lemon wedge, then lick the back of her hand, then drink out of a small heavy glass in one gulp. Her tongue is long and red and I remember cringing seeing her…

Juliane Bergmann

I love words and people and “…conversations that it seemed a sin to break off: the ones that made the sacrifice of the following day a trivial one.” — Hitchens

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