For notoriously impatient New Yorkers, the pandemic is changing our expectations

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Photo by Dimi Katsavaris on Unsplash

I got waxed once. The woman who tore out my pubic hair said something about beauty and pain, halfway through our session. I didn’t have a good reason for the assisted self-torture. Unless you consider curiosity a good reason. I’m a curious person, I suppose.

The woman who tore out my pubic hair also said something about patience. She asked if I was a real New Yorker. This was before the session began, when she found me in her waiting room, 15 minutes past the appointment time. I sat, staring at the wall, not my phone. She said she knew I couldn’t be from New York — I was too patient. Since then, I’ve wondered what an impatient person would have looked like, in that moment. …

“Most [college] freshmen are on a journey to discover who they are and what strengths they have to offer the world, but Josh [Hawley] seemed to have already completed that process by the time he arrived at Stanford.”

This Politico article, about Josh Hawley’s time at Stanford, came across my feed this morning. According to professors and peers, Hawley arrived on the college campus with a firm foundation of Christian conservatism.

I wrote a piece earlier this week that hits on a similar theme. Intelligence doesn’t lean left or right, and Hawley is a perfect example of that. …

Your joggers were just joggers, but I never looked at joggers the same way again

mondrian style window in san francisco
mondrian style window in san francisco
photo by author

I saw you in 2016, on or before Halloween. We were on Market Street, halfway between Union Square and the Ferry Building. I don’t know what I was wearing, but you wore joggers. Dark joggers and a white T-shirt. It’s the kind of outfit that shouldn’t be memorable, but I remember.

When people dance in my city, on these streets, they dress to be seen. Last summer, I saw a man in green neon, slow stepping, his head down, and his arms tucked like a boxer in training. He danced the dance of a competitive athlete gone social. …

“I discovered it late; I discovered it at the perfect time.”

For the last month, I’ve had one music album on heavy rotation, thanks to Ray Lobo. He wrote an…

Critical thinking is a practice, not a one-time lesson

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Photo by Paul Siewert on Unsplash

I’m not that smart. I know many people who are smarter than me. Still, people have called me “smart” on occasion, and I remember every time it happened — because I care, deeply, about being smart. I want to be seen as smart. I want to sound intelligent.

The funny thing about being smart is that there’s no direct link between intelligence and performance. I might be perceived as a smart person, at times, but I still do stupid things. I sound (and look) dumb — because I am dumb.

I’m smart, and I’m dumb, and I’m learning new things all the time. …

A feel-good feminist story that sours in the end — but then redeems itself

Exactly two months ago, on November 15, 2020, I listened to an episode of This American Life. True to form, the story told was fascinating and bittersweet.

Titled “Change You Can Maybe Believe In,” Act One had reporter Jasmine Garsd, a native Argentinian, covering an unusual media event.

In Argentina, there’s a popular talk show, known for its women-as-objects narrative, intended for a traditional housewives audience.

Garsd was familiar with the show, and she was surprised when the blatantly misogynistic host took a sudden interest in feminist politics, namely abortion rights. …

But it’s also an opportunity to learn

illustration by melissa toldy
illustration by melissa toldy

What is the main difference between fiction and non-fiction? A simple answer: Fiction is a made-up story, and non-fiction is a re-telling of real life.

In fact, you could switch those descriptions, and they would still fit.

Fiction is a re-telling of real life. “Real” in the sense that it portrays a reality we can understand. And believe it or not, non-fiction is a made-up story. All stories are made up.

The significant difference between fiction and non-fiction is this: The author hides in different ways.

If you’re writing fiction, you can have one of your characters say something nasty and mean. Maybe they’re expressing your hangups, but you don’t have to take responsibility for their perspective. Your job as a fiction writer is to make sure the statement feels true, not whether it’s “right” or “wrong.” …

Mary Tyler Moore played a “dark and negative” character

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“Why?” The son asks his father. He wants to know why his mother left. Dad says, “Things happen in this world. People don’t always have the answers.”

Ordinary People is a 1980 film about a family — mother, father, son. They are grieving, each in their own way. The fourth member of their family, the eldest son, has died in a boating accident.

For the son, the grief is too much to bear. He survives the boating accident, but then he tries to kill himself. We never see his attempt; we only hear reference to his time in the psychiatric hospital, and we see the scars on his arms. …

David Attenborough’s “witness statement” is a call to raise the standard of living — for everyone (not just humans)

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Photo by Roman Purtov on Unsplash

There was a time, not that long ago, when humans thought Earth was endless. Some of us imagined a world beyond the sky, but most people saw our planet, this planet, not as one planet in a vast universe, but as the only place there was to know.

A natural historian, David Attenborough, got the chance to see the world expand. He flew to distant parts of Earth, far from his home in Britain. From the early 1950s to present day, he traveled the globe and documented a thriving ecosystem.

What a beautiful gift Attenborough gave us humans, in the process. We saw the wild life on this gorgeous planet. Dark oceans turned into a kaleidoscope of color and poetry. Calm plains transformed into battlegrounds between hunters and the hunted. Rainforests revealed the tree-dwelling creatures who did their part in spreading nature’s diversity. …


Melissa Toldy

Writer based in Brooklyn, NY.

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