Friday Lunch! Weekly Blog

Purple Poodle Skirt

It means I have to willingly pull back the curtain and expose the ugly parts of me. The part that ugly cries in my car, the part that stokes my deepest darkest fears, the me I work hard not to let the world see. And maybe I just feel ugly in those moments, weak and bare revealing the parts I don’t want seen, because then I’d have to truly admit they’re mine. I’m supposed to turn a cheek to those hurtful moments, to prove how strong a woman I am in the face of pain.

How J. Cole Taught Me To Love Minez

It could have been easy to forget that I got out of breath walking the few feet from my car to my job every day, or that I was already in the largest size clothing my local plus size store sold. Then I discovered J. Cole—”I hope one day you hear me…you ain’t never gon’ be happy til you love yourz.” I let his lyrics run on repeat in my mind instead of doing what I always do: quitting on myself.

Mover’s Guide: How to pack up a house (and not lose your mind)

Moving can be daunting. Relocation anxiety is real, especially if you’re hoofing it alone. But, fear not, we’re here to help with a few simple steps. Let’s get started.

Body Love: A Group Blog

Ten writers on what they love about their bodies.

Remember Raw Oysters?

Often I wondered how food could let him forget himself and when I asked him, he said it was probably because they grew up together, in a three-story house on Brooklyn’s Avenue J, in the midst of the Great Depression. The circumstances of his upbringing didn’t allow him to think about what he wanted, to eat or to become, he had simply: to eat and to become.

Orange is the New… Metamorphosis

At twenty, I should have been educated on how to avoid this road, but instead I dove into the forbidden territory, eyes as bright and wide as my eager grin, expecting my skull not to ricochet against the asphalt. When the rest of my graduating class was having the time of their lives, I was tangled so deep into this web that I became a cocoon of drugs, control, and misery. What kind of butterfly could possibly emerge out of that? […]

The Lottery

Moving to a better school district would mean leaving behind a community where seeing Black leaders, business owners, and even law enforcement, is commonplace for my child. And in the current political climate, it means exposing her to a much higher likelihood of overt racism, on top of the well-documented racial disparities that have long plagued Black students. […]

Open Your Mouth (Silence Won’t Save You)

Silence was a luxury I couldn’t afford as a little girl. It’s a luxury that no little Black girl can afford, really. I learned quickly that I either fought with my words or fought with my hands. Sometimes, if called for, I fought with both. Being loud was an act of reclamation, saying, “You’re going to look and listen to me. You’re going to hear […]

Five Myths: A Daughter’s Guide to Surviving (your mother’s) Stroke

The day your mother has a stroke, you have to admit you know almost nothing.It starts when you receive a text from your sister that lights up your phone in the darkness of a movie theater: Mom is in the hospital. […]

Looking Toward My Reflection

My words held up a mirror and exhibited the same qualities she’d always instilled in me, one last time. Two weeks later, she let go. She found that bravery I’d asked her to, our bravery. Her last lesson to me was how to love myself again […]

When You Have NPC Parents and No Cheat Codes

This whole situation was like trying to find all the hidden items of Zelda. Can’t you enjoy the game without discovering all the secrets? Not for me. To truly know myself, to be able to successfully walk through my life, I had to understand my parents’ programming.

Admissions: Part 1

I was 16. It was fall of my senior year, and I was applying to colleges. But I knew where I wanted to go. For most of my life, I’d lived down the street from my dream school, an ivy-covered university that loomed large in my consciousness. My father was affiliated with it, and it played a central role in my family’s life—we went there for plays, exhibits, sports events. I’d even dressed up on Halloween as the school’s star football player when I was a kid. I was sure this university was my destiny […]

Julian

Shame defined my womanhood, then motherhood when I gave birth to my first son two years later. The vessel in me expanded and shrunk, carved and bubbled, carrying the scars, my past becoming my present: a hysterectomy.

Polo by Henrietta Harris

The Mind, The Body, The Voice

When asked, I almost always give up and offer the term “a nonsexual orgy.” People enter a dance studio in a leafy Boston suburb and commence to touch, play, and move with each other’s bodies. What else should I call it? The people who come here often know it by its technical name: A Contact Improv Workshop. The people who […]

What We Think We Know

I wondered what it must be like to live every day looking death so directly in the face. I stepped closer. The marble he was cleaning had long ago lost its sheen, but he cleaned with a vigor that defied all skepticism as if he would only stop working when at last he could look down and see the reflection of the sky […]

More Than Four Squares

A recent DNA analysis told me I’m “less likely to freckle,” “more susceptible to male pattern baldness,” and have “a stronger tendency to be agreeable.” Coincidentally, I do have very few freckles, am shedding hair by the fistful, and when in the right mood, I can be as congenial as Sandra Bullock in a rom-com flick […]

What We Hold Inside

Nesting Matryoshka dolls were originally created as an homage to family, each doll at home inside a loving matriarch. Now an important part of Russian culture, the first sets were designed as toys. Traditional sets consisted of eight hand-painted pieces: the largest a Babushka, holding a rooster with a headscarf tied […]

Diagnosis

Two years after being hospitalized, I’m still not 100% certain if I’m bipolar or not. I mean I’ve had two different psychologists tell me that they think so. That I “exhibit” the key characteristics. They’ve said so after sessions where I’ve talked too much, but felt like I was only starting to describe how I felt every […]

For the Love of It

am·a·teur·ism /ˈamədəˌrizəm,ˈaməˌt(y)o͝oˌrizəm,ˈaməˌCHo͝oˌrizəm/ noun: amateurism the practicing of an activity, especially a sport, on an unpaid rather than a professional basis. the fact or quality of being incompetent at a particular activity. A friend of mine took up ballet at forty. It’s been ten years of chassés and ballonés and wobbly pirouettes. There are some moves she […]

Center of the Living Room

My father is a simple man in old age. He lives on the outskirts of Las Vegas now, in a rinky-dink apartment complex. The television blasts CNN at an alarming volume for such close quarters, but he’s outside, minding his business and squatting on the patio with a cigarette between his fingers. In between puffs, […]

Mad Scientist

Books rest on shelves, floors, tables, and chairs in my home. Film posters, book covers, maps, and even postcards hang on my walls. Plants crawl down the mantle, down from the ceiling, and sit in corners, window sills, shelves, and on tables. A globe, a mason jar of number two pencils, a coat rack made […]

Small Details

I notice small details. Hairline cracks in a wall, misspellings and incorrect grammar, the moment a person lies. There’s no inquiry involved, no attempt to gather evidence. I’ve always been this way. It still stings my mom. She wonders what I’m even talking about when I point out the fret on her nurse’s face. People […]

When Greek Gods Fall

His name was Nicolas. We called him “Greek God.” It was 1995, pre-Facebook and we huddled in a dorm room, perusing a glossy, thin booklet displaying headshots of over 500 Vassar freshmen. Instead of chugging tepid beer at a nearby party, our friend group, a motley crew who shared little in common except that we […]

UFYH

Sometime in the past week or so, I hit a funk. I decided to catch a few extra minutes of sleep in the morning and it quickly became a few extra hours. It can easily be dismissed as having a lazy day. Or a lazy week. Or a month. It doesn’t bother me that much, […]

Young black woman standing in front of pink background turns head to side yelling into a megaphone.

The Reluctant Activist

I rifled through the plastic container, searching for the perfect nail to affix my handmade sign to the tree. Renee, my partner in crime, stood to my right holding the “NO Gas Station!” signs that we’d just made in my garage. She seemed unconcerned about the vehicles that whizzed by a few feet from us, […]

Big Sib, Little Sib

I was 14 when my mom told me she was pregnant. Right away, I knew it would be a little brother. On the bus one day, Mom called and broke the news: “I know you’ll be disappointed, but it’s a girl.” Bella is still figuring out which is more accurate and has decided to try […]

Invincible (Two Missed Calls)

It’s the eve of my mother’s heart surgery. I’m not referring to the past, as if this was some story. It’s actually tomorrow. I’m playing the countdown game, taking a redeye and arriving home at 4:45 in the morning of the procedure. Within hours I’ll hug her, say our goodbyes, and watch her be taken […]

Bad Connection

My husband and I married in Madison, Wisconsin four years ago and moved to his rural childhood home to lead and grow his family’s farm. Before moving here, my husband and I made a list of pros and cons of leaving to live in a rural place, where the nearest town is politically scarlet. The […]

Los Angeles in the Rain

My car’s having problems, again, so I’ve been taking the bus and train to work. Walking to the bus stop each morning, I pass the U-Haul place, which is always populated by Latino men, young and old, talking and waiting. Across the street at the bus stop, I stand to one side and observe street […]

New Math

Dear [REDACTED], At first, I stared at your e-mail and blinked a few times, thinking that perhaps my contact lenses were blurry. It said, “Thank you for your interest in employment with [REDACTED]. Your application was received and carefully reviewed. However, based on the information you submitted, it was determined you did not meet the […]