The History of House Blog

Two Views of Spring in New York

This is my fourth spring in New York City.  Since I moved here, every season has seemed momentous, a new opportunity to notice changes in my environment, a different feeling in my neighborhood, and a chance to explore my community. ...

It's Only After You've Lost Everything...

That blue and lonely period of hell Stephen King talks about is like a caterpillar inside a cocoon; either it metamorphoses into a beautiful butterfly, forever changed from its time inside, or it stays trapped in darkness. Right now I am pushing to come out the other side.


Rush Hour

A man jams himself onto the train with his back to me and the doors close. When they do, he turns inward and leans against the doors, holding onto the rail above my head for balance.

I've got my upper body angled away from him, but I find myself having to lean farther and farther away . He's got his arm further forward on the bar above my head than necessary, head down and titled towards me.

I can hear him breathing in my ear.


I mean, I really didn’t want to be a writer.

So what the hell was I doing, sitting in a bookshop in Manhattan with a dozen other writers, waiting to see if my name would be drawn from the Magic Hat, dreading the fact that if it was, I’d have four minutes to tell an eight minute story?

It wasn’t a whim, believe me. Let’s go back a few years.

The Disconnect: Sex, Individuality, and The Field

I've been thinking about sex lately ... it is summer, haven't we all? Every summer, I'm reminded by some boobs on the subway about the lonely Regina Spektor song "Summer in the City." "Summer in the city means cleavage cleavage cleavage..." The song starts out on this seemingly loin-stirring note, and then, in true Regina fashion, goes off in a completely different direction.


How One Queens-Born Girl Forgot How to Live in NYC (And How I'm Slowly Beginning to Remember)

Lately, I've been waking up every Monday morning, eyes half-shut and hair too tangled to even consider combing, with one firm resolution. This weekend, I tell myself seriously, I'm not going out. I'm locking myself in the cavern of my basement. I'm going to turn off my cell phone (or at the least refrain from looking at it for an hour or two) and put on my yoga tape. I'm going to sit cross-legged in sweatpants, pull up an empty Word document, and let myself spend hours in the world as I write it. I close my eyes and smile at the idea. By the time I sit down to eat breakfast, I can hardly wait for the weekend to come.

Quarter-Life Crisis (Saying Goodbye to 25)

We’re in the middle of summer, only a few days away from my twenty-sixth birthday.  It’s hard to believe that I’ve lived in this city, in the same Manhattan apartment, for nearly three years.  I can’t help but think of all the nights I’ve sat on my fire escape, how little this uptown street has changed in that time, and how much I have changed. 

The other day I was listening to a friend’s story about her struggle through the medical system.  A healthy, vibrant, and active 29 year-old woman living in Southern California with no history of health issues suddenly found herself fighting to feel better daily. After being told over and over by her doctor that nothing was wrong, she became frustrated knowing something wasn’t right and not getting any support.  She eventually lost feeling in the upper half of her body.  She went to her doctor yet again and was soon after diagnosed with lymphoma…

A Front Row Seat to the Greatest Show on Earth (Or, My Life as an EMT)

Nothing can prepare you for that first call.

You spend months in class, learning exactly what precautions to take, going over practice scenarios, exploring what could be causing that stomach pain or difficulty breathing. Finally, you feel ready enough to put yourself on the unit, and the moment comes when you’re dispatched to your first call. Chest pain. You’ve been over this scenario a thousand times in class. You know what to do. Your adrenaline is pumping, and you knowing that you’re going to rock the hell out of it. You pull up to the house where you’ve been dispatched to, barely able to contain the excitement within yourself. Put on your gloves, grab the bag, step out the door, catch up to the paramedic and the other EMT, and…FREEZE.

Spiritual Warrior Surrender

A little over two weeks ago I started a yoga teacher-training program. It has been something I have wanted to do ever since I started practicing over seven years ago. It was never the right time to dive in – financially, logistically, self-confidently – until this summer when the opportunity fortuitously came into my life. It felt meant-to-be, so I made the commitment and have been on a roller coaster ride ever since.

In reading The Brain and the Inner World by Mark Solms and Oliver Turnbull as part of my thesis research, I came across this passage about consciousness, emotion, and embodiment: ...

Consciousness has everything to do with being embodied, with awareness of one’s bodily state in reaction to what is going on around one.  Moreover, this mechanism seems to have evolved only because bodies have needs.  Consciousness is therefore deeply rooted in a set of ancient biological values.  These values are what feelings are, and consciousness is feeling.  It is therefore very difficult to imagine how, why, and where a disembodied machine would generate consciousness.  This does not rule out the possibility of an artificial system with self-monitoring properties.  But the self that it monitors would have to be a body (and preferably one with a long evolutionary history) if it is really going to generate feelings. 

Summer Diet

The first summer I was in New York City, I worked as a reading tutor in a community center and kept a journal to share with my students.