BETA

Personal essays

Honoring Elliot

Two weeks ago, I received news that a boy I went to high school with—I will call him Elliot—had been tragically killed in a car accident in our hometown....

Fieldwork in Kyrgyzstan

A halal butcher severs the jugular to drain the blood quickly and minimize the sheep’s pain. A sharp knife, a quick slash, a rush of red seeping into the...

Variations on home

Mantralayam, India, 2012 These streets—lined with cows and crushed flower garlands—lead to places I don’t know and will never know. My parents walked here and felt the concrete below...

Turtles all the way down

“What I am saying is a kind of declaration of love.”—Fyodor Godunov-Cherdynstev, Memoirs Beneath a sky like an inverted robin’s egg (in fact the sky was an extraordinarily large...

About home: Arizona sketches

I. In high school, I cracked an egg on the road on the hottest day of the Arizona summer and watched it crust on the pavement. I don’t know...

Aesthetic revolution

Championing aesthetics is often a bourgeoisie endeavor. The act of considering superficial presentation before carefully contrived personal authenticity lends itself to upper-class ignorance. Trumpeting the purchase of a new...

Zamn zaddy

Let’s talk about the Stoner Girl. She’s a product of society’s fledgling acceptance of marijuana and a growing female presence in mass media. She’s a white girl, usually a...

Concrete Quiet

Mornings are not for noise.  They are not for making doctor’s appointments or doing laundry. Mornings are for silent conversations between the voice in my head and the voice...

Shuttled

It was the first time that my grandma expressed concern for me. “Oh, you are not putting my baby on a Greyhound,” roared Bernice. The last time I had...

The Asian tourist

Flipping through my family’s photo albums, I encounter the usual snapshots: family portraits, birthday parties, playground trips. Some photos are a little more unusual. The landscape shifts; the tropical...

Worlds of Warcraft

There’s no language for the joy of leaving one world temporarily for an imagined other. I was nine years old when my brother taught me how to play World...

A chicken fell from the sky

Tennessee made for a good port of entry. His first winter was mild, but legitimated by snow; the autumn was crisp and warranted the purchase of an expensive pea...

The Egypt Thing

“M A L A K.” Say it at Starbucks and they’ll spell it wrong every time, introduce myself in a loud place with music and I’ll be a combination...

Skull and Boners

I am the sum of my achievements. This is what my schooling has taught me. I’ve had 17 years of elite education, from kindergarten to college, each chapter capped...

Say anything

Liam Mitchell,* the first boy I kissed, had eyes like Paul Newman’s, skin like Marilyn Monroe’s, and voluptuous brown curls that put Cher’s to shame. But when his lips...

Womb Crunch

When I was little, my parents told me that before I was born I was just a glimmer in their eyes. I took it literally. Before birth we hovered...

Stripped and furred

I would like to be able to turn a good phrase. My writing professor from last fall told me to read The Spanish Temper by V.S. Pritchett, and I’m...

This is how you bleed

We are never just wandering; we are always wanting something. It is not hard to want here. In a city like Moissac, in a country like France. At dusk...