This Is Us

Lessons from a season of table service

Photo: Hans Vivek/Unsplash

I told a lie to get the job. It was 1981 and I said I was 18, old enough to legally serve alcohol. I was 17. I needed cash and something to fill the time that wasn’t school or the bad boyfriend. My place of employment — my first real…

This Is Us

How midlife loosened my tongue

Middle finger up in the middle of a field.
Photo: Gwendal Cottin/Unsplash

When I flipped off the speeding truck, I knew things had changed. Sending a hearty “fuck you” to a stranger was a thing I had almost never considered before, but in the moment, it seemed oddly, perfectly natural. I briefly reconsidered the wisdom of this change when he doubled back…

I ate a gummy and it was a ride

Photo: Glen Carrie on Unsplash

The gummy cubes are tiny, about half the size of a standard sugar cube, and they’re pleasingly packaged in an adorable tin. The accompanying literature suggests I drop them in tea, coffee, or cocktails. Just like sugar cubes. They’re flavored — “like those hot cinnamon candies,” say the people who…

And worried for its future

Photo by Emily Powers on Unsplash

I rediscovered the pleasures of the mail during the pandemic, a rare delight in a dark age. After impulsively joining a penpal movement, I went down a stationery rabbit hole, loading up on paper, cards, stickers, and washi. Now, in addition to penpal strangers (who seem less like strangers with…

A micro essay

Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash

I came to dinner thinking about my hyoid.

The hyoid is a bone in the neck that supports the tongue. I’ve been around awhile and have never heard of the hyoid — but there it was, in a book. It’s a book I don’t want to read, about murder and…

A short, cranky rant

Photo by McGill Library on Unsplash

It’s never good news. No one ever says, “Women your age should drink more gin.” No one tells you, “Women your age make such good friends.”

“Women your age should be paid more,” is not a thing you will hear.

This time it was a massage therapist saying, “Women your…

And do I really want one?

Photo by McGill Library on Unsplash

Last year, in the thick of a global pandemic, an editor with an Australian publishing house reached out and asked if I’d like to write a book. Hello! She found my writing online and envisioned a collection of essays, just as I have done in my favorite dreams.

After lots…

It’s about what happened there

“Nude Descending a Staircase (№2)” by Marcel Duchamp

I’ve been working on a collection of essays about menopause and am miserable. Why am I doing this? Who would read this? It’s tedious and horrible, unsavory and ugly, not unlike those long nights, spooked days, endless years. But I’ve realized that it’s not a thing to write about, like…

When negative space is positive

Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash

“Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.” Maya Angelou

When I was a kid, my father gave me music. I fell in mad love with most of it, and turned to it often; to speak my pain, quell…

Unpaid work is still work

Photo by Adam Nir on Unsplash

I’ve been paid to be a lot of things: server, cook, barmaid, receptionist, gallery girl, accountant, data entry automaton, catering drudge, writer, editor, and curatorial assistant. The pay has never been great — or even good — but it has helped, as every dollar does. …

Lisa Renee

Write it down.

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