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That Time I Got Sober (& Why I Relapsed)

Five years ago I quit drinking, a decision that coincided with a trip to Japan. My travel companion was an avid member of NA and AA so we enjoyed our sushi without beer, attended alcohol-free concerts and went to bed early. Quitting drinking was more of an experiment (lasting precisely a year). I liked being […]

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Animal Instinct

One night in New York I was riding the subway from the Lower East Side back to Queens. Sitting at the end of the train and facing the car, I made eye contact with a large, rough, broken looking man, standing by the sliding door. I was going to smile, but after noticing the intensity in […]

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Lost in Translation

Residing in a non-native English speaking country inspires linguistic and communicative innovation. Whether ordering a coffee, directing a cab driver, or when trying to convey larger ideas, like, “No, I do not want to go out with you,” expression demands the creative and the savvy. After seven years of formal Spanish education and years of […]

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children, travel, Uncategorized

Fingerprints

On a sunny London morning, a woman careened towards me with a baby carriage, smiling and bouncing with happy. I had just spilled hot coffee down my arm and the front of my shirt. Often, my awakening to children and babies is forced—an occurrence delivered with high-pitched screams and tension, for me, most evident, while […]

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Spinsters

Given the formality of customs in Asia, the Vietnamese are surprisingly unreserved about personal interrogations. From most, I received the following line of questioning: 1) How old are you? (29) 2) Are you married? (No) 3) Do you have a boyfriend? (No) This was usually followed by a longer conversation, where I am forced to […]

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Homeless

In a string of masochistic decisions, I decide to quit smoking while traveling: first in Bali, then in Thailand, then Vietnam, now in Turkey. So far, I am unaccomplished; it is the one routine that can bring me stability, comfort and familiarity regardless of the changing climates, languages, smells and general feeling of strangeness that […]

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Cowboys in Asia

My first night in Saigon, I haven’t slept in two days. I am past the point of being tired—wired, where no self-medication will suffice. The host at the front desk says I look weary and suggests that I go to the spa, “Ahh, night massage. Good for you. Help you get rest.” After cramming my […]

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The Veteran

Bangkok is not the kind of place you want to spend any time trying to relax or heal. I found myself wandering down the more ancient, narrow streets where stray dogs roam the alleys and (I never understood this) caged birds hang from the streetlamps. Walking in the dark alone felt dangerous, only if you […]

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Same Same

World travel, backpacking culture, and tourism, in general, breeds a certain type. Take the guy sharing a sleeper on my train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. He is wearing Thai pants and has matted blonde hair, grown stringy past his shoulders. His eyes are kind, but shifty, casual, as if to say, “I’ve done this […]

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Plastic

When I was 16 I told my parents that I wanted breast implants. I asked them if it were possible to consider it an “investment,” kind of like paying for piano lessons or gymnastics or college: “But think of the opportunities! The opened doors! I could do anything!” They didn’t buy it. Like any good […]

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