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Memoir

Secrets Are a Captive Country

My grandfather had never told me about his trip to the Soviet Union in the sixties, but I don’t know why I was surprised. He never told me anything, not even my grandmother’s name.

At a Rest Stop Somewhere in Texas

You go to Buc-ee’s for the same reason you break up with someone: to pursue possibility, that narcotic promise of more.

A Body Like a Home

Surgery can be seen as way to escape being a trans woman, the freedom to disappear into an “ordinary” life. But my scars, my complicated being, mean more than any illusion of freedom.

My Father’s Calling

He gave his life to the Russian Orthodox Church. It didn’t deserve to lay claim to him in death, too.

The Agony of Intimacy

After years struggling with painful vulvodynia, my relationship hit a breaking point. When I finally found help, I had to wonder who I’d be if I had never learned to fear sex.

Spit Thrice For Good Fortune

I used to laugh at my mother’s Russian rituals, but now, I see them as a reminder of a home I’m in danger of forgetting. 

Against Signatures

If a signature scent represents the delineations of a person fully fleshed, perfume samples offer the liberty of a protean form.

To Give a Name To It

A collection of baby names is like a taxonomy of hope, a kind of catechism for future lives scattered over the horizon.

All The Ways An Era Ends

Fascinated by Lou Reed’s New York, I moved to St. Mark’s Place two decades too late, and the sickness I got there followed me for years.

The Last Days of the Leather Fortress

For a decade, the BDSM site Kink.com has filmed scenes for its more than 50,000 members in a hundred-year-old armory in downtown San Francisco. This year, the final erotic frames were shot on the premises.