Walking across the grounds of the Arnold Arboretum, equipped with nametag and field equipment, I was approached by an older woman one morning. She asked me, “How are the trees feeling today?” I wanted to correct her – that I was not a groundskeeper, but a researcher. But as I clipped, pruned, measured, weighed, read temperatures, I realized I did feel as if I were taking the earth’s pulse. It laid strewn out before me and said it did not feel well. But it looked fresher at 4.5 billion years than I did at 20, and the constant tugging at my sleeves and pant legs, the outrunning me, the answering of every reason with another Why? reminded me of the half-immortality of childhood. Still, it felt a bit feverish.Read more
Studenthood can be uniting. There’s a tinge of solidarity walking down the library hall, seeing someone face down passed out in a textbook with a suit jacket and pajama pants in the same ensemble, and thinking “yeah, you go buddy.” But at the same time, it reinforces a trope of normalized suffering. I found, after a while in my original department of choice, that my list of sins did not quite match that of my friends. My miseries did not reverberate around whatever dismal lounge had the misfortune of holding office hours at 9PM, returning back to me in forms of despairing questions from peers, and oh! the eraser shavings.Read more
… Probably nothing that monolingual Americans can pronounce.
I can detect the exact moment that someone reading off my name is going to give up. I’ve gotten very good at it. They will say ‘Silvia G’, or give a nervous laugh, or even worse – produce a few half-assed sounds reminiscent of a turkey call and then tilt their heads expectantly with the look of, ‘come on, you don’t expect me to say this, do you’?
Actually, I do.Read more
One night on my way out of the office I asked for a handful of manuscripts to review for a literary magazine. These were pieces from the slush pile – written on many subjects, from many places, written by people of many backgrounds. That night I read them over in a cafe. There was about a 50/50 divide between pieces authored by women and pieces authored by men. I noticed that I drank my wine quite a bit quicker while going through the men’s pieces. Why? Every single one of them, without fail, and regardless of the subject or context of the story, included some sexual encounter or thought about a woman. Some went into detail, while others just brushed a glance over her shoulder on a subway platform. Only once or twice did she serve further relevance to the story in any way, and I don’t quite recall if either of those roles were anything other than the author/main character needing to do something ‘edgy’.Read more
Today while scrolling through my newsfeed I passed a silly little post where someone had decided to redraw the classic Disney princesses to have some extra body weight, some colored hair, some tattoos, and whatnot. They titled it, “if disney princesses had normal bodies” or something like that. Now, ‘normal’ is always a loaded term, necessarily excluding people by its definition, and I personally don’t think it’s a useful term outside of the realms of medicine (heck, even sometimes in medicine). But my thoughts are not going to be about the actual post, but rather, the comments.Read more