Is Being “High Maintenance” Inherited?


My grandmother instilled in me an appreciation for art and an understanding that determination keeps you moving. From her, I also inherited an overblown concern for how my hair looks.

People called my grandmother (my mom’s mom) “the last of the Great Ladies.” That meant she was elegant and paid a lot of attention to appearance, from her own to the flower arrangement on her dining room table. She went to the hair salon weekly until she died. A few years ago, she admitted to my sister that she regretted spending so much time on her appearance. This was a fluke moment of remorse, however. When she returned from the hair salon just before her 100th birthday party, I asked her about her fresh nail polish. “Of course,” she explained, “I had to match my nails to my lipstick.” (read more…)

Imagining the Audience Naked Isn’t Helping! –Better Tips for Public Speaking


For a high school video production class, I hosted a live TV segment that was broadcast on our local cable channel. I sat at a desk in our little makeshift news studio to report on a popular security guard at the school and his impact on students’ day-to-day lives. Other students adjusted the cameras and made sure the sound levels were right. At 10:30 am on the dot, we went live. I still vividly remember the feeling of getting the first few lines out coherently, and then…


It felt like someone hit the eject button on my brain and everything emptied out instantaneously. (read more…)

A Fall in the Trees

Forest of Beech Trees_gustav klimt

On a cold Friday in February five years ago, I took the day off to go skiing with my friend Brian. We went to our usual spot, a resort in northern Vermont, and spent the morning skiing off-piste. After lunch, we headed down a trail that was new to us; it had a mild grade, and the trees weren’t as dense as some of the other trails we had been on that day. It was a more relaxing ski down and we moved along quickly, carving between the trees, stumps, and other features. About halfway down the trail, one of my skis sheared to the wrong side of a small stump. I fell forward, rather slowly and unremarkably, and then felt a very strange pain in my knee. It was quick and fierce, and I remember audibly moaning when I finally came to a stop. I was still clicked in to both skis. (read more…)

My Boobs Are Just Fine

Vija Celmins

I hate shopping. I only go when I want something extremely specific. Last week, this “something specific” was an unpadded bra. The process made me realize how my changing relationship with myself is not at all reflected by the consumer nation.

I’m a small-breasted woman. I could probably arguably fit into a girl’s trainers bra. And I might have to because it seems the majority of A-cup bras have a ridiculous amount of padding in them. And if they don’t have pillows built in, they cup in a way that leaves a gap between where your boob ends and the bra starts. (read more…)

This is How It Happens, Or What I Learned from Steve Jobs


When Steve Jobs was seventeen, he dropped out of Reed College after just six months. The tuition was too expensive and he wasn’t sure where it was leading. But he stuck around the campus, sleeping on floors in friends’ dorms and started dropping in on classes that looked interesting. At that time, Reed had amazing calligraphy instruction. Jobs, struck by the beautiful, calligraphed campus posters, decided to take a class. Jobs had no practical application in mind at the time, but as he described it in his 2005 commencement address at Stanford, he was fascinated learning about “serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great.”

It was a full ten years later before any of this knowledge came to practical use. (read more…)