Animals have a way of exposing our inadequacy.

Before all of you parents begin ranting about how keeping an animal alive isn’t even remotely as hard as raising a child —

I KNOW.

That’s the reason why I’m writing this piece, just like why I wrote this one.

It’s because of my reverence and appreciation for the miracles that are dedicated, committed parents that I remain childfree. Rudy (our little, neurotic Schnoodle above) is as close to motherhood as I’ll get. I know that taking care of a pet doesn’t even scratch the surface of how challenging I imagine it…


Racialized self-regulation ensures I’ll never retire.

I was born Black and female, so I work. My work is to quell the rage.

I am permeable, and this is the work. To allow the toxins of trauma to seep from my pores in a palatable way; to seal my orifices to keep social poison at bay. My melanin is a marker of my vulnerability. I am a pincushion for public outrage, a target that bears the wounds of historic and present-day violence.

I wake up and wrestle. I squeeze my eyelids shut to stave off the disquiet. There is no evading…


Paying tribute to 7,208 square meters of progress, power, and pride.

“You know, I used to play rugby,” I muttered into warm leather, most of it slick with my sweat.

“Oh? I can see that,” came the reply, soon punctuated by the snap of a belt held taut beneath my chin and laid across both cheeks.

“Wiggle your toes.” Pop! There was a residual crackling as my head settled back on the chiropractic table. It costs $60 per visit to consent to this torture — I would have paid any amount of money not to admit I needed it.

“Ugh,”…


Chaos ensues.

During my senior year of high school, I was diagnosed with angiosarcoma (which I Googled immediately… and shouldn’t have).

There are only four things I remember about that cancer diagnosis. How sweaty I was, how angry my mom looked, how much my dad cried, and how incredulous the doctor seemed.

“Hmmm,” she frowned, flipping vigorously through charts and forms. It’s entirely unnerving to witness a medical professional contort in real-time, orienting themselves with improbable data while preparing to translate what we could already insinuate was devastating news.

We all just sat there, me wiping my palms on my…


I haven’t missed a $450-$2,695 payment in 10 years. I’m far from finished.

Hope? Nope.

I knew what I was getting into.

I’m a first-generation college grad born to two amazing parents from South America. I prepared to graduate from a private, all-girls, college-preparatory high school at 16, got a partial academic scholarship to a private university, and proceeded to take out $15,000 a year in federal Stafford and parent plus loans to cover the rest. (Fun fact: no one, not even the government, is willing to lend to a college-bound kid who’s not even remotely 18 yet. This meant my parents…


Introspection

Lessons learned while boldly embracing this body


Do we make love or does it make us?

“Girl, you so fine, someone ought to put you on a plate and suck you up with a straw.”

Imagine someone saying that to you. That someone is a middle-aged, graying man in larger-than-necessary cargo shorts and typical Caribbean-dad sandals… who has been mistaken more than once for Cedric the Entertainer.


The seductive—and scary—sides of winning big on a game show

I won nearly $40,000 on the Price is Right in 2018. Unexpectedly, the experience was almost tantric in its sensuality. The hours-long, anticipatory wait in line, furtive glances at strangers nearby, and sweat (so, so much sweat) as we stood in handmade shirts waiting for the chance to caress Drew Carey in a public forum… it was almost too much.

Interestingly, we weren’t all there for the same reason. Not all of us planned to actually ‘come on down.’ Sure, the vast majority of the hundreds of us who gathered for one of two tapings per day at CBS…


My list of identities will never contain the word “mother.”

Black. She/Her. Cis. Hetero. College-educated. Cancer survivor. Blissfully married. 30.

That list of identities will never contain the word mother.

It’s the pandemic, you’re tempted to rationalize. It’s climate change, you muse.

Ah, it makes sense now; it’s all that racialized trauma.

You’d be right. But this decision transcends the external and lies deep within.

From the word Black, you’ll bring expectations to this piece by association. I expected that.

Black. Woman. American. If you can, strip your eyes of the film of caste, of indoctrination, or association. Shed that burden. This isn’t a commentary on the political. …

Ashley Strahm

Jersey roots, Durham fruit. Committed to justice, enthralled by stories, and inspired by an equitable future for us all.

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