It’s My Birthday (Groan)

Due to my crappy memory for anything besides Simpsons quotes and sports statistics, lots of my childhood memories come from parental second-hand stories. My dad tells embarrassing scatological stories of my first few years with an uncontrolled bladder and my mom mostly fills in details from questions about my elementary wanderings. One story that can be corroborated was around my 5th or 6th b-day. During the common “Happy Birthday” song, I burst into tears. On a grainy home video, I’m sitting at the head of the table in a darkened room with a little conical hat, fires burning atop my sweet cake, family illuminated in shadows performing that droning incantation and you can see it coming. My face drops and I lose it. Even as a tiny kid I didn’t like that song.

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The 1st Biden/Trump Debate Was Ugly and Weird

One of my favorite activities during the Christmas season is re-watching Home Alone. I know every line, every scene and love it all. The family running around packing for France, the pizza, the bumbling robbers, the old man shoveling rock salt, the tarantula, the house lights, the paint cans, the background score, John Candy and the Kenosha Kickers being quite popular in Sheboygan; it’s 103 minutes of Christmas spirit for me. However, one character stands out among all the familial dysfunction: Uncle Frank.

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Parasites

Parasites have a pretty nasty connotation. Vermin such as: fleas, lice, ticks, worms—are tiny monosyllabic terrors. They’re selfish takers. They bite. They suck. They kill. Parasites target bodies and blood. In Bong Joon Ho’s Oscar-winning movie Parasite, the broke Kim family targeted the wealthy Park family. Through a series of unfortunate events, the four poor Kim’s come under the employ of an outrageously opulent family, who are living their idyllic life, shuttling in their chauffeured Benz between high-rise offices, classy supermarkets, garden parties and their ultra-luxe home. Continue reading

On Applying to Be The New York Times’ Travel Writer

When I was in elementary school, I had a globe with raised mountains and sunken seas on the surface. The tactile senses elicited by slowly roaming my dirty little fingers over the nubs conveyed a palpable sense of something beyond me, beyond my little town, in the mysterious lands across the Atlantic ocean in which I’d swim every summer. That was my instant and distinct connection to the larger world. What was out there? Continue reading

Can We Talk About Guns? Can We Talk About Anything?

It’s not time to talk about gun regulation when people use guns to kill for fun, politics or revenge. It’s not time to talk about human contributions to climate change when hurricanes sustain category five winds for 36 hours or dump five feet of rain in a few days. It’s not time to talk about health care when GOP politicians are rushing a vote on damaging legislation through secret meetings. It’s not time to talk about the antiquated electoral college despite two of the last five popular vote count winners losing the election. Continue reading

My Top Ten: Best Places to Swim in the World

Ocean creatures nibble on your feet as the wide expanse of seawater pulses with waves for bodysurfing. Nude night swimming as a teenager felt like breaking rules that weren’t meant to be followed anyway. Sunday night swims at the Y.M.C.A, when we were still a family of four, with vending machine ice cream followed by the classic show by the formerly virtuous, presently vilified Bill Cosby.

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Can America Ever Recover From Its History?

Teaching Korean kindergarteners about Rosa Parks involves a lot of backstory. The story doesn’t begin on that bus in Alabama. Its roots are profoundly sad and incomprehensible. I found myself saying things like, “White people didn’t like black people,” and really struggling to find a simple answer to their, “Why?” It is an oversimplification for sure, but slavery and its legacy in America is both undeniably understood as a construct of capitalism yet difficult to comprehend in a moral context. Continue reading