A journey into my family history, the chemical industry, and genetics

Illustration: Sara Wong

It’s 1989. I’m 26, 19 weeks pregnant, and I really need to pee. The technician calls my name and I follow her to the examining room where I undress and slip under the cold white sheet on the examining table. After some discussion about morning sickness, she applies gel to the wand and places it on my small baby mound. She gently presses the wand over my full bladder. I feel a slight release of warm urine between my legs. …

(after a poem by Dorianne Laux)

Burnt sienna to match the appliances and times
Fat flutes alternating with thin
Creating crannies the Pam never reached
Weary from a brief marriage to Betty Crocker, and a fling with Duncan Hines, they found love with the Pillsbury Dough Boy
When the phallus with a hole rising up from the flutes
Gave them the idea to be themselves
The perfect shape for an ice ring
Floating in the froth of sherbet, 7-up and whatever mom had on hand
Bacardi or Crown Royale working equally well to
Numb the pain of a failed marriage and fast husband
Who left us for the Italian…

Was Chrissy Teigen’s apology this week on Medium an attempt to shore up her sinking career? Probably. But it also seemed sincere (both can be true). And though she stated that she’s not seeking forgiveness, I forgive her anyway. Why? Because while she once leveraged her celebrity for cruelty, she is now leveraging it to call out the dehumanizing effects of mobbing. And its about time somebody did.

Mobbing is the bullying of an individual by a group that often forces the target of the bullying out of the workplace through humiliation, discrediting, and ostracism. Konrad Lorenz, in his book…

A mash up of the words alive and dead

“Want some?” Those were the first words Steve spoke to me while extending a heaping spoonful of cocaine as I stood flipping through the stack of albums next to the turntable. In case you hadn’t guessed, it was the 80s and we were at a mutual friend’s Fourth of July party. While I declined the cocaine, I did need someone who was drinking age to drive to the nearby liquor store and buy me wine. Steve obliged.

Four years later, and mere weeks before Steve’s and my wedding, I came close to calling everything off. The reason I didn’t was…

Bake any banana bread this past year? You’re not alone. Many of us adopted new pastimes and rituals while being (mostly) stuck inside during various stay-at-home restrictions. Some pastimes were born of necessity, others of boredom. Some will last, most won’t, especially as life returns to normal…whatever normal is.

With my children having long ago flown the coop (could someone please nominate parents of small children for a Nobel Prize?) and my work scaling back considerably, I had nothing but time on my hands when the mandatory stay-at-home order went into effect in California a year ago this month. Add…

By Amy Roost

The week after pandemonium* broke out, I met a friend for coffee. I thought Amy and I had shared everything — including our names—over the course of our nearly 50-year friendship. So I was surprised when, after kibitzing a while, she presented me with a jigsaw puzzle featuring an eclectic assortment of words in different colors, fonts and type sizes.

“I figured you could use a break from social media,” she offered.

“Ah, right,” I turned the box over, looking for something better than 500-pieces of cardboard.

“Also, I know how much you love words.” Of course…

A true story as told to (and written by) Amy Roost for Estela Salazar.

Don José

I was 6 when Don José surprised me with some cookies and milk before bed. I got so sleepy. The next day I woke up all bloody, with a cut on my ankle. Mami and my sister Valery washed me and bandaged my wound. It was not only my ankle that hurt. Everywhere, my body was sore. My back. Between my legs. But I couldn’t remember anything. Many years later, my therapist would explain.

This was in Tijuana, where I had moved with my…

Nine years ago, at the age of 47, the editor of my hometown community paper offered to let me write a bi-monthly column. It marked the start of what would be an improbable journey to a successful writing career.

Success didn’t happen overnight. It wasn’t until 2014, that I had a piece of writing go viral. Then, in 2015, I leveraged my experience writing about politics to secure a full-time writing position for an elections software company. In 2017, I wrote a podcast and pitched an accompanying story to the New York Times that resulted in a film and book…

Our last family vacation was to Mexico City, circa Roma’s 1970–71

‎Alfonso Cuarón’s biographical masterpiece, Roma, was nominated for 10 Academy Awards including Best Foreign Language Film, Best Picture, and Best Director. I can relate to Roma’s painfully accurate portrayal of a family breaking apart in the 1970s. It’s what happened to mine and what made it the most difficult film I’ve ever sat through.

My alarm bells began ringing from the very beginning of the film centering on arguably its most symbolic character: The family’s German Shepherd who no one walks or picks up after.

In 1964, when I was two, my parents brought home a German Shepherd puppy. Because…

Amy Roost

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