It is fluid rather than fixed. Feeling rather than thinking. It exists whether you have a label for it or not.

Illustration by Draden Ferguson

Sometimes hard work pays off. Sometimes it makes things harder. If you’ve ever struggled to fall back asleep after waking up at 3 o’clock in the morning, you know what I’m talking about. You stare at the ceiling. You try to count sheep. You swear you won’t get on your phone, but of course, you do, and now it’s 4 o’clock in the morning and you are wide awake.

The point is, it’s easier to fall back asleep when you stop trying so hard.

Writing can feel that way sometimes. I brainstorm, I outline, I edit, and I end up…

The more of it we lose, the more of it we crave.

Illustration by Draden Ferguson

One morning on a hike in my neighborhood, a massive, gray bobcat emerged from the bushes and onto the trail in front of me. I dug my heels into the ground and tugged on my dog’s leash. She was too busy sniffing a rock to notice. Some bodyguard. The bobcat stared back at me with wide, yellow eyes, like a startled housecat. I took a step closer, but a voice snapped me out of it. “What are you doing?!” my husband whispered from behind. “We gotta get out of here!”

It’s not uncommon to see wildlife where I live, in…

Complaining about small talk has become the new small talk.

Illustration: Draden Ferguson.

On my morning walk, I wave to my neighbor and ask how he’s doing. “Oh, just waiting for the sun to come out,” he smiles, working on his truck. It’s been two days of gray, damp weather, but it feels like weeks. I tell him this. He agrees. Looking up from the hood, he squints and points to the hills in the distance. “I’ve lived here for twenty years,” he says. “Watching that sunset never gets old.” We exchange a few more pleasantries, and I’m on my way.

Maybe it’s a year of being in quarantine, but I miss talking…

Creativity doesn’t need to have an expiration date

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

The phrase “unfinished project” brings something specific to mind for each of us. For you, it might be the novel you’ve been working on for the past decade, or the pile of knitting supplies sitting in the corner of your bedroom, or the stack of half-read books collecting dust on your coffee table.

Whatever it is, I’m willing to bet that thinking about it makes you a little uncomfortable. Anything uncompleted tends to have that effect. Oftentimes, the discomfort is not even about the project itself — it’s a reminder of all of your shortcomings and failures. “I’ll never finish…

This Is Us

Reckoning with anti-Asian hate in a country my grandparents loved

Illustration: Draden Ferguson

“Lucky to be here.”

It’s a phrase I hear all the time about being an American — more specifically, being an American whose family came from someplace else. We live in a powerful, prosperous country full of opportunity and abundance, and there is no better place to be, which is why so many people risk their lives and leave behind their belongings to live here. At least, that’s the way the story goes.

But in the aftermath of the Atlanta shooting spree, I tell my therapist I have misgivings with this phrase. That I’m not sure how to balance feeling…

Illustration by Draden Ferguson

Confession: It’s been over a year since I’ve had my teeth cleaned. Let’s blame it on COVID and not the fact that I hate going to the dentist. Or at least, I thought I hated it.

During my first routine check-up in over a year, I plopped myself down in the dental chair. The dental assistant prepared my x-ray, and the sun shined through the leaves outside. It was nice to see a different view from the one at my kitchen table, where I work all day. I inhaled the plastic smell of fluoride and dental equipment and exhaled my…

This Is Us

Maybe we’re all a bit like my shelter dog Murphy — we’re just trying to protect ourselves

Illustration: Draden Ferguson

It’s noon, time for my daily meditation. I open the app on my phone and press play.

“Let go. Feel your seat.” My butt is already numb.

“Now gently close your eyes.” I open my eyes — a little kid watching the bad part of a movie — then close them again. Why is the refrigerator humming so loudly? Should I get that looked at?

“Allow your thoughts to pass. Notice them, like a fly on the wall.” Will the refrigerator explode in the middle of the night?

“Notice your breath.” I suck in a gust of air from my…

3 strategies for making mistakes you can learn from

Photo: Flashpop/Getty Images

Usually this is the point in the year when everyone finally admits that their New Year’s Resolutions were terrible mistakes. Run three times a week? Quit Instagram cold turkey? What was January-1st-you even thinking?

But in Covid times, New Year’s Resolutions seem like a relic from another era. Most people aren’t exactly crushing goals, or even vaguely thriving. Most of us are barely keeping it together, each individual stress exacerbated by the stress of feeling like we’re failing at everything, all the time. …

Why nice people are jerks online

Two people holding their phones.
Two people holding their phones.
Photo: Westend61/Getty Images

Spending an extended amount of time on the internet can feel like being in a bad relationship: You know it would be healthier to call it quits, but still, you can feel yourself being sucked in. And the longer you stay, the harder it becomes to recognize yourself.

Coming off a long, grueling election week in a long, grueling year, that feels truer now than it’s ever been: Our personas online, especially on social media, are often far from the people we want to be IRL. We pick political fights with relatives in the comments of a cousin’s Facebook post…

Illustration: Draden Ferguson

Early in my career, I got a job offer so good, I thought it was a mistake. The work was interesting, my boss was awesome, and best of all, it paid more than I’d ever earned in my minimum wage life. On the way home from the interview, I called my mother with the good news. “I don’t know,” she said. “Maybe you shouldn’t risk what you already have. We’re lucky to have any job.” I was deflated. I sighed and stopped mentally shopping for all the new stuff I’d buy with my upgraded salary — namely, I was looking…

Kristin Wong

Kristin Wong is a journalist and freelance writer. She’s written for the New York Times, ELLE, The Cut, and Glamour.

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