It was a sunny day in Bermuda. Of course, every day was sunny, in Bermuda. She smiled and let her elbows slip through the silken sand until she had only to tilt her chin toward the sun to feel her long dark hair – sun-kissed now – spool onto the sand and curl back upwards, brushing softly against her bare back. She sighed. The perfection was almost unbearable. Almost. Eyes closed, she  turned her face slowly left, then right, feeling the sun spill over her skin in warm waves she could almost taste. Or was that taste just the subtle sea breeze washing over the scene like a paintbrush applying the final touch, transforming her once-ghostly complexion into a perfect bronze?

“Gisele!” A deep voice called. In no rush, she rolled her neck one more time and inhaled deeply before opening her eyes to accept the tanned figure sauntering toward her across the gleaming white sand. Olivier was tall and lanky, with blue-green eyes that matched the sea. As he emerged now through the almost-visible golden haze, she imagined him riding in on a noble steed. She arched an eyebrow and thought languidly, “Well, isn’t this what I’ve always deserved…?”

Grinning broadly, he dropped down onto the bed of sand next to her and grazed her lips with a kiss before settling onto his six-pack, cupping his chin in his hands. She pushed her own hands into his thick, dark curls. She never could help herself with that hair.

Feeling a cool wave brush over her foot, she looked down to see that the surf was coming up. Soon they would be surrounded by a shallow pool, then lifted up and swept out into the turquoise sea, where she would float effortlessly as the minutes passed by, unknown and irrelevant. She would marvel at the comfort of the water that held her up and kept her warm under the rays of a receding sun. 

Only…only now something felt strange…

A sudden slap of cold water jerked Anna back to reality. The plastic bottle she was holding under an automated fountain had overflown. She yanked the bottle back, wiped her wet hand on her jeans and craned her neck once more up to the travel ad that loomed above her, willing herself back into its sweet scene. 

“Now boarding Zone C for Flight 542 to Minneapolis,” an attendant squawked over the loudspeaker. Anna capped her water bottle, shoved it into her backpack and tried to shake her perpetually tangled hair out of her eyes. She succeeded only in shaking her glasses off her face. She grabbed them from the ground and turned toward her gate, gritting her teeth against the thought of Uncle Earl and Aunt Marve, who would be waiting for her on the other side in their old beater, bickering ferociously. 

As she joined the line to board, Anna stole a wistful look at the next gate over. Flight 835: to Bermuda.

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A New Year

Published in Wild Greens magazine January 2022:

“There are a few times in life when you leap up and the past that you’d been standing on falls away behind you, and the future you mean to land on is not yet in place, and for a moment you’re suspended knowing nothing and no one, not even yourself.” – Ann Patchett

I stared down the length of the couch at the drab gray upholstery, the worn fleece blanket that lay listlessly across my lap, the brace on my knee, and the Kleenex strewn about the whole wretched tableau. I closed my book, which I had long since stopped reading. TickTick… What was that noise? The sound reverberated in the empty apartment. I held my watch to my ear — unbearable! I tore the offending object off my wrist and threw it across the room. 

“Don’t cry,” I instructed myself strictly, “Don’t cry.” 

I threw a pillow at the watch to muffle its still-audible tick. 

The truth is, I wasn’t used to being alone. As an only child, I had always been proud of my ability to entertain myself. But I didn’t like an empty house. That’s why I had lived with four roommates — other busy Brooklynites whose general human puttering made the place feel lived-in — until, one after another, they had moved out as the pandemic dragged on. Visas ran out, budgets wore thin, and the struggle to find replacements strained the leaseholder until finally, she, too, announced her departure. Now, I had zero roommates and the lease to a five-bedroom apartment. My jaw tightened stubbornly just thinking about it. I would fill those rooms. I wasn’t about to let slip the final shred of ribbon tethering me to my life.

My phone rang. In the split second before rational thought could reign, my heart leapt. But I knew it wasn’t him. Sure enough, there was my mom’s voice, crackling in my ear over the last remaining land-line on planet Earth. “Hi, sweetie! How are you today?”
“Same as I was two hours ago, totally fabulous,” I said testily. 

“Well, how’s your…leg?” At least she remembered that much. Alzheimer’s was taking its toll, but she could still remember when something big happened, most of the time.

“My knee is the same. It hurts like hell,” I reported for the second time that day.

“Oh, it just kills me that I can’t be there!”

“It’s fine, Mom.” 

“Is your boyfriend helping you? What’s his name…?” My throat constricted. Sometimes she remembered the big things, and sometimes she didn’t. Soon I would have to stop telling her. But she was still my shoulder to blubber on — the one who would stick up for me every time, tell me with real conviction that it didn’t matter what anyone else thought, I was still the greatest person alive. So I’d blubbered through it all with her the day before. Now, I couldn’t imagine reliving the story once again. I answered simply: “Michael.” 

“Oh, right! And he… OH MY GOD!” she cried suddenly. 

I bolted upright. A current of electric fear ran down my spine. “Mom, are you alright?”

“Anna, you would not believe — There are four squirrels on my planter right now!” She exclaimed. I laughed in relief — saved by the squirrels. “I meant to put cookies out for them,” she continued, perplexed. I could hear her rummaging through the kitchen, could picture her in its warm yellow light sporting the ratty old sweatsuit she refused to give up, reheating her coffee for the hundredth time that day. I blinked back another threatening tear.

“I better let you go then,” I said, “I love you.”

“I’ll call you back! I love you too!”

“I’ll talk to you tomorrow,” I said firmly, hoping she would take (and remember) the hint this time; I couldn’t handle another circular conversation today. I hung up and closed my eyes, wishing for the sweet relief of a dreamless sleep. But it was only 3 p.m., and lately, I had slept in fits. Every few hours I would wake from dreams so vivid they left me feeling strange and scared, hollow and hurt. Like I’d narrowly escaped a twisted world that I could easily fall into again, spiraling alone down the rabbit hole if I only took a wrong turn. I would shiver in the darkness and wish for dawn, when I would inevitably awake for good, unrefreshed but unable to sleep more.

Last night I’d dreamed of the accident. I was charging down the mountain through big tufts of deep white powder that I didn’t know how to navigate. The wind cracked at my ears. I spied a sleek, untouched surface on the far edge of the slope — so I cut right. But when I got to the gleaming path, I just started going faster, and faster. I couldn’t stop! I had lost control. So I cut left again in a desperate attempt to slow down, but my right ski caught on a mogul — and suddenly, I was tumbling down the mountain like a paper doll, rolling through thick white chaos that became a blizzard that subsumed me. It spun me around and around while I strained desperately against white blindness for a glimpse of him, waiting for me at the next pass, arms open wide, ready to hug me on the ski slope as he had before. But all I saw was white snow and flashes of his black jacket until his face appeared in front of me with that cold look in his eyes — a look I knew. A look that said: “I feel nothing.” 

The buzzer to my apartment screeched through my reverie, and I jumped, jerking my knee. I howled at the sudden pain, then rolled my eyes. “Don’t be such a baby, Anna!” I muttered, grabbing my crutches begrudgingly. “But who the hell…” The buzzer clanged again, and I scowled as I crutched huffily across the room, pulled open the heavy apartment door, parked my crutches, and made my way down the stairs, leveraging the banister and the opposing wall to swing down step by step. “If it’s another goddamned delivery guy with a package for Sarah…” I grumbled, not sure how to finish the threat in a way that would do justice to my wrath in light of my handicap. I reached the bottom and hopped the last few paces to open the door to the outside world.

A sharp stream of cold air whipped my face, and I inhaled sweet reality as I took in — not the dreaded delivery guy — but my friend, who had evidently trudged all the way to Brooklyn from East Harlem to stand before me now with a bottle of champagne and a bag of groceries. I yelped with joy. She grinned and held up the bottle. “There’s another one in my backpack,” she said. 

One foot standing firm on the cold ground, the other hovering in the air, I lunged forward and wrapped her in my arms. “Don’t cry,” I instructed myself tearfully, “Don’t cry.”

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Published in Wild Greens magazine December 2021:

Somehow, despite the wind, we chattered merrily, like two best friends who hadn’t seen each other for a year. Or, maybe, I did most of the chattering. Maybe that’s why I don’t remember the wind stealing the words from our ears with the same icy tentacles that whipped the pom-poms on our wool hats while our boots crunched on a hard layer of ice that was rapidly getting buried in fluffy new fall. 

“A-wheeeeeee-oooooh!” Kíra let out a Viking scream, and I snapped around just in time to see her charge forward, toward the cliff-face.

“Kíra!” I screamed. 

She stopped like she’d run into a wall, arrested by a gust of wind that pushed her back toward me in a fit of ruddy laughter.

“Try it!” she laughed.

I took a tentative step in that direction. I was never the daring one. Feeling the force of the wind, I leaned into it. I guffawed. “The wind is holding my whole body weight!” I cried. Kíra walked closer to the edge. She leaned, and the wind held her too. 

“Kíra, careful!” I admonished. She leaned backward and immediately tumbled into the snow. I followed suit, letting the force of the wind push me backward too, until I landed in the snow next to her. We laughed and rolled toward each other like two kids having a sleepover on a bed of snow. 

“Do you like it here?” I asked solemnly. Kíra let out a hoot. I knew she was thinking of old times, when I would suddenly get serious after a day of careening antics. ‘Questions with Anna,’ she’d always called it.

“It’s no Kyle Avenue!” she said. I smiled. She was always doing that, looking out for my feelings first. “I don’t know, it’s been kind of lonely. I miss you! But I’m getting to know my cousins and, like, my culture. It feels like a treasure hunt on one of those old-timey maps! And I’m an explorer on the winding trail!” 

“Is it worth it though? When you’re lonely?”

“Well, I met this girl Margrét who’s really cool, and I think we’re going to be good friends. You’ll meet her!”

“Oh…That’s great!” I said with a little too much effort.

“Not best friends! Of course,” she clarified. 

“Whatever, you’ve already thrown me to the wolves of high school,” I joked. 

“Then be a tiger!” Kíra roared as loud as she could; the wind whooshed it away.

“I might have to lose the glasses string,” I mused.

“Nooo! The glasses string is quintessential Anna.” 

I sighed and sat up in the snow. I gazed out at the clean blue ribbon of the fjord, spooling through a valley between sprawling mountains, endless black rock and scraggly grass now cloaked in dramatic white. The homes nestled into the mountain base on the other side were trim and modest. Not a Walmart to be seen. Not a single strip mall in the entire drive from Reykjavik to Akureyri. Just small towns, open land, mountains, and rock. I took a deep breath and savored it.

“Nope,” I said, doubling back, “Absent your protection, I can’t keep wearing my glasses on a string around my neck.”

“Anna Peterson, you don’t need my protection!” Kíra proclaimed. She jumped up, extended a green-mittened hand, and pulled me to my feet. Her bright blue eyes watered from the wind, shining with perpetual mischief.

“How much farther?” I asked.

“Not too much!” Now with each step, we plunged to mid-calf. The light began to change. Our shadows grew longer. Occasionally, the sun slipped behind peaks of the mountain that rose to our left, casting a dark film over the diamond snow. I looked up at the mountain’s dwarfing presence as the sun fell lower in the sky, and I shivered. Kíra had told me how avalanches started with a little crumb of snow tumbling down the mountain, growing bigger and gaining speed until it was a huge white mass, rushing down, crushing everything in its path. We had to be careful of avalanches, she’d said. Not that there was much we could do about it if we saw one coming, I’d thought glumly.

“Here’s the path to the top!” Kíra cried. Straining my eyes through accelerating snowfall, I could see a pathway of flatter ground between two peaks that led around the side and up, with a steep climb near the top. Kíra forged ahead, and I tried to keep up. Taking a deep breath, I turned onto the path…and was met by a surprising, quiet serenity. With rock face blocking the wind on either side of us, the ferocious rush softened to a whisper. The snow, catching on cliffs above, filtered down in a gentle flutter. We trekked on. 

Red-faced, we rounded a sudden bend and lost the protection of the second face. The wind whipped out like a laser and pushed us back. Gasping, I heaved my weight forward and realized with a sinking feeling that I’d lost sight of my friend. I pushed forward, looking for a snowy figure, or a flash of green mitten. “Kíra!” I called out to her. The snow formed a moving surface that swirled around my boots and up all around me, stinging my cheeks like pinpricks. My heart beat quickly.

A barely-perceptible, “Almost there!” reached my ears. And then…the snow slowed…and we emerged together — into a moonlight so bright it was almost a silver sun. Below shone the golden light of a hundred miniature houses on the other side of the now-black fjord. I thrust my arms into the air and threw my head back — like Leo in Titanic, which we had seen together in 5th grade.

“I’m the queen of the woooorld!” I yelled. 

Something hard and cold hit my cheek. I whirled around to see Kíra cackling with delight, already packing her next snowball. I grabbed a fistful of snow, mashed it together, and lobbed it in her direction. I missed.

Laughing even harder, Kíra ran over and grabbed my hand. Her green mitten and my purple glove clasped tight. 

“LEAN!” she cried. We stretched our arms to their full combined wingspan and leaned all our weight into the winter wind. And I felt it rush around me and over me and through me until I became part of it — fierce, fearless, indestructible. 

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The Millennial Dictionary

Despite the fact that it’s 2021 and the average millennial is about 35, a great many people still claim utter mystification when it comes to millennial speech patterns. While this author suspects willful miscomprehension more often than not, the following publication has been designed to educate boomers and set straight zoomers (for once and for all).

Adderall: Candy. (Once intended to cure the largely imagined generational affliction, ADD)

Awkward: Every human interaction ever annoyingly required by the burden of life

Basic: an unoriginal criticism of another person who may or may not be as unoriginal as the critic themselves. 

Bitch: Not a bitch. A term of post-wave intersectional feminist endearment from one female friend to another

Biotch: Also not a bitch and also not a typo. Likely your best friend. Female to female.

Bye Felicia: A cultural appropriation beloved for its incomparable power of dismissal

Canceled: Collectively renounced, cast aside, cut down from position of unbridled popularity forever – or until such time as the debate over the existence of cancel culture cancels canceling. 

Cringe: See: awkward. Life. All of it. 

Dude: a term of general endearment that crosses gender lines but is not, apparently, to be used on boyfriends by girlfriends, as This Writer was informed by now-ex boyfriend of last year.

Extra (adj.): Either belovedly over-the-top or obnoxiously out of bounds, depending on the overall popularity of the person to whom term is being applied. Often involves sequins. 

Fb: Facebook. An increasingly unfashionable means of internet-bragging and crush-stalking that involves too many words for our waning attention spans but remains too formative to early millennial identity to be truly abandoned despite convincingly feigned disaffection.

Gen Z: The new youngest generation of supposed adults, most members of whom cluelessly refer to themselves as millennials, thereby oppressing true millennials with undeserved associations and an ongoing societal wrath that should really have been transferred to these superficial youngsters by now! (Born in/after 1997, okay?!)

Ghosting: The accepted standard of non-communication that, no matter how outraged ghostee is today, they, too, have deployed yesterday and will deploy again tomorrow. 

____ Got me like… : At best a once-clever but now annoying and overused photo caption, the implied ending of which is the be-captioned photo and the transparent purpose of which is to post an attractive selfie on social media.

I’m crying: Not crying. Laughing so hard you’re crying (often with no tears nor visible sign of emotion of any kind).

I’m cry: See: I’m crying, with grammatical perversion originally employed for comedic effect and/or the purpose of shaving off a whole syllable of time and effort.

I’m dying: Also not dying. And probably not crying. Laughing uncontrollably, and most often stone-facedly, for ~.3 seconds before scrolling on.

I’m SO busy: Wild card! Could really mean anything.

I mean… : Not actually intended to imply meaning at all but to cast doubt or disdain upon the statement that follows, preceded, or the entire subject of present conversation

Insta: Instagram. Highly popular means of internet-bragging & crush-stalking. Generally retained by even the most authentic conscientious objectors who have opted out of parent company Fb.

Judging: A bad thing to do to another beautifully unique human unicorn but also what we’re all doing to each other at all times.

Nice: Conversational insertion intended to reassure speaker of listener’s continuing pulse and, in some cases, feigned interest. Still under review for actual meaning. 

Okay, Boomer: Better translated as, “please go away, I have no respect for your opinion,” and applied exclusively to members of parental generation whom millennial utterer perceives to be out-of-touch, condescending and/or generally dismissive of the unique pain and suffering the millennial generation has endured at their hands.

Real talk: Very much not real. Preface for a superficially edgy and/or snidely humorous statement intended to launch a new topic of gossip.

Riiiiight: Wrong.

Sarcasm: The full universe of language.

Side-eye: A passive aggressive half eye-roll that you claim to have used on someone who was being ridiculous or illogical, even though you actually just nodded along in the moment to avoid the horror of openly expressed dissent. (Inspired by an emoji.)

Snapchat: I forget.

Snark: English.

Tik-Tok: A Gen-Z thing. Nobody cares.

Totally: Complete, wholehearted and undying agreement, whether utterer is actually listening to their friend or busy texting another friend.

Twitter: Addictive internet-based trolling and harassment. Generalized chaos.

Ummmm…: The pinnacle of millennial subtlety, employed to call attention to the awkwardness of a person, statement or situation in real time whilst preserving the oblivion of instigator of said awkwardness.

Unclear: The response side of a call-and-response style exercise in tandem snarkicising, initiated by a rhetorical question the purpose of which is to call attention to something both snarkers deem so nonsensical as to be beneath them.

Vine: What?

Woke: Possessing a loftier and more advanced understanding of the human experience than you…or anyone else.

Yas: A more emphatic version of “yes,” originally popularized by 20-something females most likely living in Los Angeles

Yaaaaaaas: A more emphatic version of “yas,” perhaps originally coined under circumstances of inebriation and now widely used with whimsical self/generational-deprecation

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Ballet After 35

When I was 28 or 29, I started a dance blog with a friend that we called “Ballet After 30.” My friend was just over 30 and shared a similar background to mine; we had both trained at pre-professional ballet schools until young adulthood but ultimately left ballet behind to pursue other careers. When we met in our twenties, we bonded over our shared history and our enduring, somewhat complicated identities as former ballet dancers. At the time that we started the blog (a thankfully short-lived tumblr that morphed into a successful podcast project), I didn’t yet completely identify with the sentiment implied in the title; I didn’t fully understand the striking difference between squeezing a ballet class into your hectic life as a busy twenty-something, and attempting to do the same as a thirty-something. Certainly, I could feel myself drifting farther and farther from the ballet shape I’d been in at my eighteen year-old prime, but my interest in the topic of “ballet after 30” had more to do with celebrating the often under-appreciated ways in which one could contribute to the world of ballet even after, or having never pursued, a professional career. My interest was in the way ballet seemed to permanently transform your soul, flowing through you year after year even while coming unmoored from the rest of your adult identity, fading into the background, until one day you heard a snippet of Chopin or walked into a theater, and it all came flooding back bearing a sense of loss.

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Jumping the Dragon: GOT’s Last-ever Episode is its First Big Let-Down

iron throne burning

Never before have I felt so much anticipation for a single episode of television. Never before, have I been so disappointed. After one of the most perfectly executed routines in film & TV history, to say that the creators of Game of Thrones failed to stick the landing would be an understatement. They went in for the final backflip, sailed through the air, near-perfect form… and fell flat on their fucking faces. Here, in my never-humble opinion, is how it happened.* Continue reading

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Review: Osipova, Hallberg (and we can’t ignore Kittelberger) in “Pure Dance”

Pure Dance

On Friday, April 5th, I attended Natalia Osipova’s “Pure Dance” program with David Hallberg at City Center. Long recognized as one of the world’s preeminent ballet talents, Osipova is one of very few ballerinas with the clout to commission her own evening of solos and duets from disparate choreographers. She danced in five of the six pieces presented; the sixth was a solo for Hallberg. Overall, I found the program a clear reflection of the present-day ballet landscape, with multiple attempts to integrate more contemporary movement into classical ballet technique (to varying degrees of effectiveness), and an educational preview of Osipova and Hallberg themselves, neither of whom I’ve seen perform with any regularity over the years. (I don’t think I had seen Natalia before at all!) There was just one piece that moved me deeply – Roy Assaf’s “Six Years Later,” which, alone, was well worth the ticket. Continue reading

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Why This Millennial <3 Hillary

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton listens to a question as she testifies before the House Select Committee on Benghazi on Capitol Hill in Washington

I am a die-hard supporter of Hillary Clinton. I am an excited supporter of Hillary Clinton. I supported her presidential bid in 2008, and I support her even more enthusiastically – at times desperately – in 2016. I am a woman, a feminist and a (slightly older) millennial. I grew up with a mother who ardently admired Hillary. I graduated from Wellesley. I’m ambitious. I value intelligence, nuance, distinction and drive. I care deeply for the expressiveness of language, and sometimes I feel an even deeper disgust for its rhetorical abuse.

If those are the outlines of my identity, maybe it comes as no surprise that I so strongly favor Mrs. Clinton. But I don’t think this is a game of pure identity. I think Hillary Clinton has been the smartest presidential choice for a long time and remains the smartest choice today for a variety of concrete, political and even philosophical reasons that go far beyond our individual identities. And I so intensely wish that everyone around me, but especially the millennials who are my peers, would take a few minutes to be thoughtful about her, to give her the credit and consideration she deserves, whether their experiences and identities align to push them naturally in her direction or not. I hope, in delving more deeply into a few of my recurring thoughts about this election, to inspire more widespread respect and support for such a talented, historic and truly inspirational woman. Continue reading

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How to be Single – and How to Disappoint Your Target Audience


I went to “How to be Single” on Valentine’s Day. I went with two girlfriends, a tote bag full of Reese’s hearts, and the kind of spectacular hangover-to-end-all-hangovers that blindsides me about once a year. Target audience? I THINK SO. In fact, I saw the trailer in the fall and was so excited that I might have marked my calendar for its theatrical release in February. “How to be Single” not only seemed like a movie I could relate to and enjoy (unlike, say, “Bridesmaids,” which looked too gross and cynical for my taste), but it was one of several women-made, women-centric comedies that, whether they seemed like my taste or not, I was really encouraged to see coming out in force this past year. Continue reading

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