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26 posts categorized "Essays"

21 December 2011

A case for aging like a normal person ( - 15 December 2011)

XojaneWhy I'm avoiding Botox--and the notion that I have an expiration date.


The first hint that people thought I had an "expiration date" (a visible, indelible mark on my person, saying how much time I had left to be a potential romantic partner or plain old-fashioned piece of ass) came a few days after my divorce was finalized.  
I was chatting with a friend when he congratulated me on my newly single status and, predictably, asked about my love life.  Well, what he actually said was that I better be collecting as many headboard notches as humanly possible.
I laughed, of course. But instead of playing along, I just went with the truth.  
“To be honest, I haven’t thought much about it,” I replied.  “There’s so much going on here right now that dating is pretty low on my list of priorities.”
(To read the rest of the essay, click here).

It happened to me: I donated an orgasm to science ( - 28 November 2011)


XojaneWhat happens when you donate an orgasm to science and it goes viral on the web?  Well, let me tell you.


After donating one of my orgasms to neuroscience, I watched a scan of my brain at the moment of ecstasy go viral on the Internet. And as a result, I find myself being simultaneously accused of being a sinner, an exhibitionist, a pervert and a tease.

It all started as a purely research endeavor.  As part of my background research into the neurobiology of sex for my book, "Dirty Minds: How Our Brains Influence Love, Sex and Relationships,"  I interviewed Barry Komisaruk, a lovely and brilliant professor at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey. While many researchers avoid sex and love experiments like the plague due to lack of funding and scientific prestige, Komisaruk and his lab have been studying what happens in the brain during orgasm for decades. He's a true pioneer...

(To read the rest of the article, click here).

Updating Facebook status, to divorced (The New York Times At War Blog - 22 November 2011)

Atwar_postFor the New York Times' At War blog, I wrote a piece about military divorce.


Soon after I married my Army officer husband, an acquaintance gave me a photocopied page of an old-school military spouse handbook as a lark. As part and parcel of being a “good” military spouse, it entreated new spouses to have at least two pairs of white gloves on hand at all times as well as a well-stocked stationery box. The first was deemed necessary to make the best possible impression on all the higher-ups a wife might meet as her husband made his ascent through the ranks.The second, of course, was recommended to help the new spouse stay connected with friends and family as she started her wonderful new adventure as a soldier’s rock and helpmeet...

(To read the rest of the post, click here).



04 March 2010

Chet of Arabia (The Atlantic Monthly - March 2010)

COVER_bigger_atlWhy do I travel to exotic destinations with my son?  In "Chet of Arabia," I discuss traveling to Jordan with my three-year-old son during my husband's deployment to nearby Iraq.


We ENTER THE archeological park early in the morning, soon after it opens. As a solo mother with a preschooler, I choose to take the horse-drawn carriage through the Siq—the astonishing mountain-cut pathway to Petra...

(To read the rest of the piece, click here). 

12 November 2008

Widow for a day (The Boston Globe Magazine - 16 November 2008)

Bostonglobepageone An essay about my anticipatory grief during my husband's deployment appears in the November 16, 2008 issue of the Boston Globe Magazine. 


Funerals always remind me of my father's funeral. So when I received an invitation to attend the memorial service for two soldiers killed in action during the same Iraq deployment in which my husband was participating, my first inclination was to respond, "No, thanks." But, knowing my attendance was expected, I reluctantly put on my funeral best and made my way to the chapel...

In honor of Veteran's Day, it also appeared on the front page of

(To read the rest of the essay, click here).

22 September 2008

They called, I answered. It got to me. (The Washington Post - 21 September 2008)

Washpostlogo My personal essay, "They called, I answered. It got to me," appears in the Outlook section of the September 21st edition of the Washington Post. 


When my husband deployed to Iraq for the second time in April, he left me responsible for the following things: our 3-year-old son, our finances and his company-level family readiness group, or FRG...

(To read the rest of the essay, click here).

09 January 2008

Pleasure Vs. Process (Wine Enthusiast - 15 December 2007)

Wine_enthusiast_2An essay about how the experience of drinking wine in Europe differs from what I learned in a high-falutin' wine tasting class appears in the December 15, 2007 issue of Wine Enthusiast magazine.


On holiday in Greece, my husband and I ordered a liter of a local Syrah at the recommendation of our waiter.  After taking our order, the waiter returned to fill our glasses from an opaque ceramic jug without first offering us a taste.

Three years earlier, I would have protested and sent the wine back, insisting to see the bottle and making a small show of sampling...

12 November 2007

On the line: For the wife of a soldier, a tough call (The Washington Post - 12 November 2007)

Washpostlogo_5An essay about my life during my husband's deployment to Iraq (including my serious cellular telephone addiction) appears in the Style Plus section of the Washington Post. 


It feels like the first day of school.

I decide to wear gray pants with a stylish black jacket, an ensemble I hope says I'm the right person for the job. Really, the only one for this job...

(To read the rest of the essay, click here).

05 November 2007

In Her Shoes: The Fun Aunt (American Baby - November 2007)

345_ab1107covAn essay about my days as a "fun" aunt appears in the November issue of American Baby.


The evidence of my transgressions lay before me. The drum set that couldn't be played quietly if one tried. A toy cell phone that chirped children's songs in irritating tones. And dozens of blocks, vehicles, and action figures that glowed, twirled, and buzzed...

(To read the rest of the essay, click here).

04 October 2007

The Lonely Mother (Notre Dame Magazine - Autumn 2007)

Cvrau07The essay, "The Lonely Mother," appears in the Autumn 2007 issue of Notre Dame magazine.


He lies in a glass box, his tiny face glowing golden from the red and yellow lights of the monitor nearby. The neonatal intensive care unit seems at first to be a peaceful place. The lights are dim. Visitors and employees adopt a quiet tone when talking. The machines attached to my son hiccup a gentle beep in time with his heart, often lulling my husband and me into a peaceful daze. Until, that is, the trance is broken with a deafening alarm which signals that someone's heart is not beating properly. Then a wave of panic erupts across the ward...

(To read the rest of the essay,  click here).

10 September 2007

Taste of a Memory, Tart but Sweet (The Washington Post - 10 September 2007)

Washpostlogo_2An essay about my great-grandmother, cookies and memory appears in the StylePlus section of today's Washington Post.


"Do you remember, honey?"

After she turned 95, every conversation I had with my great-grandmother, Babcia, seemed to both begin and end with that same question. Do you remember? It was as if she wanted reassurance that her memory, by then failing her far too often, still retained some value...

(To read the rest of the essay, click here).

A Great Leap Forward (The Christian Science Monitor - 10 September 2007)

Csm_logoAn essay about my experience performing publicly after I gave up my dreams of being a dancer appears in today's Christian Science Monitor. 


I waited in the wings for my cue. My last performance had been more than 12 years ago, and I wondered what had led me here. I clutched the curtain, hoping that the bile in my throat wouldn't rise any higher. Finally, it came – the change in music that was my cue to join the other dancers on stage...

(To read the rest of the essay, click here).

25 February 2007

Haggling by the Pound (Ottawa Citizen - 24 February 2007)

GetimageAn essay about haggling in the Khan-al-Khalili market in Cairo, Egypt appears in the Travel & Leisure section of the February 24, 2007 edition of the Ottawa Citizen. 


My husband tapped his foot impatiently as my son started to squirm in his stroller. It was time to move on -- the morning was getting late and Cairo's famous open-air bazaar, the Khan-al-Khalili, was becoming crowded. The alleys of the market were filling with tourists, fresh off the tour bus, and over-ambitious baksheesh men looking to take them to the "best" stalls for a small fee...

(To read the rest of the essay, click here).

30 January 2007

A New Kind of Living Space (Irving Parent - November 2006)

Webpagecoversip My essay, "A New Kind of Living Space," was reprinted in the regional parenting magazine Irving Parent in November 2006.  The essay first appeared in the Christian Science Monitor titled as "Our Home's Designer Look, Courtesy of Fisher-Price." 

24 January 2007

Taking Care of Me (The Bark - Issue #40, January/February 2007)

Bark40_cover_129x169_drop"Taking Care of Me," an essay about how my relationship with my dog changed during my husband's deployment to Iraq was published in Issue #40 of the Bark


I did it again.

I know that I shouldn't have.  I promised my husband that I wouldn't.  But I couldn't help myself.  I have no excuses, really.  I understand that, to some, my crime is tantamount to animal cruelty.  But it couldn't be helped.

And yes, it involved a novelty wedding veil.  I know I should be ashamed of myself...

28 December 2006

A New Kind of Living Space (Kansas City Parent - Winter 2006)

Dec20cover20125 My essay "A New Kind of Living Space" was reprinted in Kansas City Parent magazine.  The essay originally appeared in the Christian Science Monitor titled "Our Home's Designer Look, Courtesy of Fisher-Price" in December 2005.

27 November 2006

A Baby's Favorite Plaything (Christian Science Monitor - 27 November 2006)

Csm_logo_2 My essay on being my son's favorite toy (and the many embarrassing public performances that accompanied that honor) appears today in the Christian Science Monitor.


Like most expectant mothers, I read a number of books about pregnancy, wanting to know, well, what exactly I should be expecting! I pored over these books - highlighting passages, taking quizzes, and marking off checklists - in order to make sure that I was prepared for anything and everything the birth of my son might bring. And I thought I was ready...


09 November 2006

A lesson in history, but not from Hollywood (Christian Science Monitor - 9 November 2006)

Csm_logo_1 An essay about watching war movies with my husband, a soldier who is fairly picky about how the great battles of the past are portrayed, was published in the Christian Science Monitor today. 


We were less than 30 minutes into our movie rental when my husband bolted upright from the couch and said with disgust, "What is going on with that uniform? It's all wrong. He looks more like a foreign legionnaire than a British pilot."

I should have expected it. Being married to a soldier means that you are going to have to sit through your share of war movies. And each time Nick and I do, I'm treated to a litany of criticism regarding the way Hollywood depicts the military events of the past: "That doesn't look a thing like Verdun..."

(To read the rest of the essay, click here).

07 August 2006

Understanding, Lost and Found in Translation (The Washington Post - 7 August 2006)

Washpostlogo_1 My essay, "Understanding, Lost and Found in Translation" appears today in the Style section of the Washington Post. 


Alittle less than a year into my husband's tour of duty with the Army in Germany, I lay in a bed in the Kreißsaal (labor ward), hoping to delay our baby's birth as long as possible.

As I pulled books from the bag of distractions that my husband had brought to help pass the time, I found I had to brush a fine dusting of sand from each cover. The bag had been unused since his deployment to Iraq, its pockets still coated with the unintentional souvenir of a year I'd rather forget. By the time I wiped the fifth book clean, the baby decided he had had enough of life on the inside and switched residence to an incubator in the neonatal intensive care unit...

(To read the rest of the essay, click here).

30 July 2006

"Mozart Played on Kazoos?" reprinted in USAToday


My essay "Mozart Played on Kazoos?  Welcome to Salzburg!" (originally appearing in the 13 July 2006 edition of the Christian Science Monitor) was reprinted in USAToday.  To see the essay online, click here.

13 July 2006

Mozart Played on Kazoos? Welcome to Salzburg! (Christian Science Monitor - 13 July 2006)

Csm_logo An essay about my experiences with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as I traveled in Salzburg, Austria is up in the Home Forum Section of the Christian Science Monitor today. 


It was the kazoos that got my attention. Since I had arrived in Salzburg, Austria, days earlier, it seemed that I couldn't get away from the city's famous son. He dogged my steps.

As I crossed the Mozartplatz on my way to the center of the Altstadt (the historical part of the city), I felt his eyes watching me from atop his marble pedestal in the center of the square.

As I rode the funicular up to the top of the Hohensalzburg fortress, the headphones that seemed permanently attached to the ears of the young man next to me were blaring the maestro's Piano Sonata in C minor, as opposed to the heavy metal music I anticipated from the way he was dressed...

(To read the rest of the essay, click here).

19 May 2006

Normal (Literary Mama - April 2006)

Lmbook_large My essay Normal appeared on the Literary Mama website in April 2006.  It's a piece about my sojourn in the NICU with my premature son.


He lies face down in a glass box, his tiny face glowing golden from the red and yellow lights of the monitor nearby. The neo-natal intensive care unit seems at first to be a peaceful place. The lights are always dimmed. Visitors and employees alike adopt a quiet tone when talking. The machines attached to my son hiccup a gentle beep in time with his heart, often lulling my husband and me into a peaceful daze. Until, that is, the trance is broken with a deafening alarm that signals that someone’s heart is not beating properly. Then a wave of panic erupts across the ward.

During the first few days of our child’s stay in the NICU, this alarm jolted our fight-or-flight response. Each tone caused my stomach to plummet. I found myself gripping the arms of my chair as I frantically tried to get a clear view of my son’s heart and lung monitor...

(To read the rest of the essay, click here).

A Flying Carpet Ride of Memories (Christian Science Monitor - 24 March 2006)

Logo_1 My essay about our trip to Istanbul, Turkey with our infant son, Chet, appeared in the Home Forum section of the 24 March 2006 edition of the Christian Science Monitor. 


We had been in Istanbul, Turkey, for only a few days and already knew that we stood out. When the carpet sellers who lined the streets of the Sultanahmet, the city's ancient historic district, saw us from the back, they took note of my husband's close-cropped hair and yelled out, "Soldier! Soldierman! Mr. Army, Mr. Navy! Come inside and see a carpet. Maybe your pretty wife will like one, you buy it for her! Maybe not. You don't like, you need not buy, but come look!"

But when they got a good look at our fronts, with the small, wriggling bundle strapped to my husband's chest, they changed tactics. As soon as they saw our infant son held fast in his baby carrier - his eyes open wide and bright, taking in the extraordinary and beautiful city surrounding him - they took a slightly less aggressive approach...

(To read the rest of the essay, click here).

A New Balance (Strut Magazine - December 2005)

Header_logo_2006_05 An essay about finding a new balance once I left my job and moved my Germany was published in the December 2005 issue of Strut, a regional magazine based in Detroit.


When I moved to Europe last year, from Decatur, Ga., I expected many questions from friends and family regarding my new surroundings. After all, it's not every day that someone gallivants off to Germany for an indefinite stay. I figured a barrage of interesting questions would be coming my way, including:

"Have you made any European friends, yet?"

"Do people really drink beer with breakfast?"

"Sprechen Sie Deutsch?"

And perhaps, one day, I will actually get to answer those queries – to someone other than the voice inside my head. For, what I did not anticipate was the question I actually was asked. As it stands, regardless of relation, creed, or age, the No. 1 most frequently asked question since I’ve moved to Europe is, "What do you do all day now that you aren't working?"

Our Home's Designer Look, Courtesy of Fisher-Price (Christian Science Monitor - 1 December 2005)

Logo_2 An essay about the home redecoration that a new baby requires was published in the Christian Science Monitor's Home Forum section on 1 December 2005.


Move over, Martha Stewart - I have redecorated my house and it is fabulous! My days of paging through furniture and design catalogs for new, spectacular ideas have ended. Forget Art Deco, French country, or urban contemporary styles - for me, those are so yesterday. And none of those looks support my needs any longer.

I've decided to go a more organic route. My house's new look is casual, but utilitarian. Bright and playful. Practical, with more than a bit of whimsy. And did I mention colorful? It ought to be. The color palette was provided by Fisher-Price...

(To read the rest of the essay, click here).

Topless (Skirt! - April 2005)

Logo An essay about the seemingly shameless older women we saw sunbathing on the Algarve coast was published in Skirt!magazine in April 2005.


On a recent trip to the Algarve Coast, my husband, Nick, and I were a bit shocked by the display of nearly naked women sunbathing on the beach. It isn't so much that we're puritanical about beach attire. In fact, my husband isn't really a beach kind of person so the topless aspect was a crucial selling point in getting the trip arranged to begin with. It was simply that the women adorned in barely there thongs were of all shapes, sizes, and ages - with the mean values being mostly round, large, and old. We had expected the balding, older men in the tight Speedo racing suits, but hadn't thought of seeing their female counterparts...