A Story About Expat Depression and How I Might Be a Wizard

A Story About Expat Depression and How I Might Be a Wizard

When you move to another country, the whirlwind of emotions begins to wreak havoc before you even take the suitcase out of the closet. Anticipation. Fear. Sadness. The entire spectrum from a childlike eagerness all the way to paralyzing despair. Trading in home, friends, family, your native language, and all that is safe, comfortable, and familiar for a strange and uncertain future is scary, but exciting. Profoundly exciting. I often deal with complex emotions and challenges in one of three ways: 1) writing about them 2) completely avoiding them with chemicals and escapist entertainment 3) Googling the shit out of every aspect and detail until I fill my brain with enough information to comfort myself, or ignite a full-on freak out. In 2005, I scoured the Internets and found mountains of bullshit about what moving to Paris is like for an American. Intimidating bullshit that made me feel like a sewer rat. These blogs and sites were written by people very...
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Finding Hope in a Galaxy of Women’s Stories

Finding Hope in a Galaxy of Women’s Stories

If you're reading this, that means we made it through 2017. What seemed like a hopeless quagmire of shit and doom in January is still an insane quagmire of shit and doom, but maybe it's a little less hopeless. A little less shitty and a bit less doomy. At least, in the way that I'm choosing to view it, the world is still broken, but nearly one year into the most powerful country in the world being run by a bile-spewing fleshy cesspool of fetid narcissism, I've seen plenty of clear reminders that he isn't the one with all the power. I'm still angry. I'm still worried and freak out a lot, so when I catch myself sinking and letting my imagination overwhelm me with worst-case scenarios, I look elsewhere. I follow the advice of Mr. Rogers, and I look for the helpers. Lately, though, I don't stop with the helpers. I look for the fighters. The resisters. After watching a...
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You Can’t Outrun the Uncertain Future

You Can’t Outrun the Uncertain Future

A few months ago, life was normal. The future was uncertain, but I slept better than I do now. My husband Olivier and I were enjoying our first year of living in England. After ten years in France, it was a welcome and exciting change. We often had conversations about what the next big leap might be. Maybe back home to the States, depending on the election. Or, maybe elsewhere in the U.K., depending on how the whole Brexit thing goes. The threat of Brexit cast a shadow over everything, but it didn't feel menacing. Hell, it probably wouldn't actually happen. That'd be crazy. Then came the morning that we woke up and found ourselves living in fucking crazytown. My husband, a European working in England, had to go to work immediately afterward, all the while wondering if everyone he looked at had just voted for him to leave. Luckily, working in an office with a colorful international mix softened the blow....
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How to Find Closure When Your Bullies are Dead

How to Find Closure When Your Bullies are Dead

I wore the dress because it was Halloween. One day where we can dress up and pretend to be something that we're not. Something we don't get to be every day. Something more wild. Cooler. Louder. My dress had a newspaper print pattern splashed with neon pink and green. My mom wasn't crazy about it, but I loved it. It was cheap, so I was allowed to buy it when we were shopping for new clothes a couple months before. However, she hardly ever let me wear it. It was too "tacky" and too "loud." But then, Halloween approached and I had a last minute idea. I was now 12 years old and adult enough to dress my own self up for Halloween, thank you very much. I put on the dress. I slipped into my neon green jelly shoes. I sprayed red and black and glitter into my hair, which I curled and teased and sprayed and poofed. I did my...
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Lessons From a Dollhouse: Longing For a Smaller Life

Lessons From a Dollhouse: Longing For a Smaller Life

My grandfather gave me the dollhouse right about the time my brain began to form lasting memories. He'd built the entire thing himself, with his own two hands. My mother, the oldest of four children, was the first to give her parents a grandchild, so I was a big deal. My grandparents spoiled me in the usual ways, but the dollhouse held the most meaning. Within each piece of tiny furniture there existed a universe of adoration. Every small human figure and carefully cut piece of fabric, another echo of love from my grandfather to me. A few years later, my mother and I moved halfway across the country. I could only take with me a few things that would fit in the car. The dollhouse, with most of our other possessions, remained in my grandparents' garage. "We'll come back for that stuff later," my mother said. "We'll rent a U-haul and move it all into our new house when we find...
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Living on the Periphery of Terrible Things

Living on the Periphery of Terrible Things

It's been a week since Hell hit Paris, and those French flag profile pics on social media are already starting to go away. They won't vanish as swiftly as they appeared. They'll decrease in number, little by little, just like those rainbows from a few months ago. Those rainbows made me happy. I enjoyed opening up my timeline and seeing the burst of color. We'd fought for equality and won. This is how we shout things from the rooftops, now. This was our happiness, translated to small, digital images. Of course, seeing some people ranting about the greatness of the Confederate flag from a rainbow profile made it clear that many didn't give a shit about (or comprehend) equality as much as they do following the photo filter herd while screeching about what they want. Yeah, I got cynical. I forced myself to focus on those I knew were genuinely shouting with pure joy, and I felt better. When the French flag filter...
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