Kummerspeck

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I. In German, Kummer means grief.   My grandmother died twice: the first time was a lie. My mom asked a friend to call her at work with a fake family emergency. Afterwards, we drove to Paducah and ate Arby’s french fries. My mother talked about how awful my grandmother was and told me I should be grateful I had …

Wedding Predictions

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My children will beg me to carry them all over San Francisco, their bodies sticking to me, their voices question marks and exclamations. My heart will roar like a train when I see my father, yet I will stay pleasant, quiet, impenetrable. My brother, who never asks anything of me, will ask me and my mother to pose in nuclear …

Status Updates and Russian Trolls

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Your neighbor Dorie says it’s hard to leave a man who is emotionally abusing you. Mom likes Franklin Graham. Your cousin Brian shared a selfie. Your colleague Jacquard published a poem that took years to write. Your niece’s husband Jesus ran Bloomsday while pushing his daughter Gabriela in a stroller. Your friend Mei is taking an online class with a comedian who kicks cismales off the …

It’s Gingko Season

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This is not a metaphor for anything. I am talking about a very real pungency. Smashed yellow cherries on the concrete sidewalk. It’s check-the-bottom-of-your-shoe season, it’s did-I-step-in-dog-poop season, it’s no-you-didn’t season: it’s Gingko Season. It’s that one spring in Brooklyn where we finally discovered that the Chinese restaurant on the corner had been using the construction dumpster by our house …

Listless

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✓ Eggs ✓ Cheese ✓ Meat ✓ Spinach Are the items most frequently listed for my grocery getting. When I check off each item on my phone, I wonder if I should just uncheck it for next week’s go round. To switch it up, I’ll get different cheeses. Or hummus. Even a zucchini. God knows which vitamins I’m overloading or …

Toxic Gaming

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The father with oil stains on his button-down shirt is enraged he cannot find a golf course in Tijuana. A perverse butt of a chewed cigar hangs on his lower lip flaking tarred edges onto his chin. Spitting slurs he moves among the crowd, his daughter twisting underneath him. He insists people are lying to him. He demands knowledge. The …

Felipe

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I saw Felipe yesterday. It was the first time I’d seen him since his brother’s wedding, and he looked just the way he’s always looked when he was sleeping. He’s slept the same way since we were born. Mouth open, the thoughtful look on his face accompanied by a scab or scrape for good measure. Those scabs when we were …

Unwanted Graveyards

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One October when I was eight, I made gravestones of me and my family. Perhaps I had a fascination with death. Perhaps I wanted to feel the stickiness of glue between my thumb and forefinger and the permanence of a Sharpie in my hand. I asked my mother to buy grey and brown construction paper—grey for the headstone, brown for …

Babelogue

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Mary had the perfect imperfection, a small space in between her two front teeth, like Madonna or Lauren Hutton.  It was just what I needed, a flaw, to help me focus every fear I had of feeling happy.  Happy felt like another solar system – a curious and desired destination, I suppose, and yet unwelcome.  Nothing good could come of …

A Blessing

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“You have a big head.  Can I touch it?” she asked bluntly.  The little brown hands approached my head like a priestess who was about to perform a ceremony, and give her first blessing.  Her hands felt cool on my scalp that has known brutality of many other hands, combs, hot combs, perms and finally an electric raiser, (cutting my …

Funeral

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I first met him when we were high school freshman. I liked the coltish limbyness of him, his pretend exasperation with the things I said. I knew he liked me too. A decade later he called me because his mother was dying. He took me to lunch.  I wondered if he could tell I still felt the same. He asked …

Harambe

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The meme was first expressed on May 28th, 2016, and demonstrated a remarkable and rapid evolution in only a few short weeks. In the final months of the year the meme’s proliferation and dispersal slowed considerably, as other sensational events captured the internet’s fleeting attention span, but experts predict Harambe may go on replicating itself virtually forever. After the gorilla …