A Guide to Learning What Turns You On

Every couple of months, I’ll have a twinge of anxiety. “I’m a sex writer,” I’ll think. “I’ve written about sex, for a living, for years.”  And yet, my own desires often feel like little hummingbirds I’m just waiting to alight on my hand. Do I actually want to have sex with that person, or do I just…

Virginia Woolf and the Complexities of Cottage Loaf

WHAT WE MOST OFTEN REMEMBER from Virginia Woolf’s 1929 essay A Room of One’s Own are her thoughts on real estate: “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” Yet Woolf also recommends something that’s less commonly cited, but no less important—a good meal. She writes, “One cannot think…

How to Deal With Rejection

Now that I’m dating after a long break, there is a new rule in my household: I don’t waste time dissecting dates’ text messages. The aftermath of first dates used to find me analyzing every comma with my ever-patient friends. I’ve kicked the habit recently, because I’m actively trying to wean myself from self-consciousness around…

A Guide and an Ode to Leaving a Relationship

A week or so after I left him, I experienced something I can only call euphoria.  The few days since I left had been a drumbeat of pain. Yet that golden, late-August afternoon, walking home from another day of brain fog, it descended upon me. I was Peter riding to Damascus; a lightning bolt buoyed…

The Messy History of Emily Dickinson’s Black Cake Recipe

IN THE DARK PANDEMIC DAYS of last December, 667 people gathered on a video call to celebrate Emily Dickinson’s birthday—and her black cake. Participants were invited to bake the recipe before the gathering, and many appeared on camera with their own rendition of the cake. The tradition had started five years before, when Emily Walhout, a…

Eat Like Jane Austen With Recipes From Her Sister-In-Law’s Cookbook

A KIND-HEARTED SPINSTER, PASSED OVER in her youth by a potential suitor, spends her life faithfully tending the hearth and home of her dear family and friends. She is content to toil as a housekeeper, unrecognized but for the praise of beloved companions. All the while, she keeps a detailed household book of handwritten recipes, from…

What Should You Do With a Captured Nazi Flag?

WHEN JAQUELINE ANTONOVICH FIRST SAW the flag, her body flooded with fear. She would recognize that flash of red anywhere. Antonovich is a historian at Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania, and she had recently purchased a mid-1800s-era farmhouse in Allentown. Antonovich’s new house kept offering her small gifts from its long history—an antique glass baby bottle, an…

How to Deal With Bi Erasure

When Charmee Taylor, an LA-based actor, came out as bisexual two years ago, she hoped it would be a climactic moment. “A band is going to play, people are going to be like ‘Go Charmee, you’re out!’” she says. But the euphoria was tempered by a sinking realization: As a Black bi woman, Taylor would be coming…

The Risks of Coming Out at Work

When the world was sheltering in place, Takeyla Benton was coming out. It was March 2020, and the Wisconsin, US-based financial-services professional and mother of two had just quit her job at a credit union, and broken off an engagement to a man. Lockdown gave now 39-year-old Benton time to rest and reflect on whether…

How to Overcome Masturbation Shame

When I was 12 or 13, my mother gave me and my sisters a copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves. It was a revelation: a whole chapter on having sex with other women! Diagrams of vulvas! Frank discussions of birth control! My favorite chapter was the one on masturbation. It was any hormonal, nerdy bisexual teen’s dream: an instruction manual…