Save (Me From) the Whales

"Cetaphobia" by June Park

Some people are afraid of heights, or airplane travel, or public speaking, or spiders. I am not afraid of any of these things--in fact, I like them all--but, as some of you may remember, I am afraid of whales.

Read the essay at The Atlantic.


Seeing Stars

I went to Los Angeles to appear on Jeopardy!. 

My invisible illness came with me.

Read the story in Pacific Standard.

photo: Jared Gottlieb



This is the November issue of mental_floss magazine. Inside is a fun adaptation of my jellybean story. That I wrote.

On the newsstand.

And that's amazing.


New Music from Squid Pro Crow: At Sundown, When I Am Busy

Here's the latest from Squid Pro Crow.
Words by me, music by Grant.

At Sundown, When I Am Busy
Remind me: 

mourning doves. Remind me always 

to live where they are. Remind me: 
that sound. 
That sound. Remind me. 
Mourning doves: that sound:

Remind me.


Our Hearts Condemn Us

And now for something completely different: my very short essay on Only Lovers Left Alive is part of Bright Wall/Dark Room's glorious Halloween issue. Hurrah!

check it out.

illustration by Brianna Ashby


Quokka Confidential

Just why is the "Happiest Animal in the World" smiling?

Read my latest at Mental_Floss.


At Sundown, When I Am Busy

Remind me: 

mourning doves. Remind me always 

to live where they are. Remind me: 
that sound. 
That sound. Remind me. 
Mourning doves: that sound:

Remind me.

Listen hereMourning dove drawing by Kathy Walker


7 Animals That Smell Like Gourmet Jelly Beans

Mother Nature loves a joke. Marine invertebrates that literally puke their guts out at the slightest provocation and hippos that sweat sunscreen are just a few of her favorites. There are vultures that wear leggings made from their own poop. There are alarmingly large bugs that smell like cherry cola, and mammal butts that smell like French vanilla and buttered popcorn. (Go home, nature. You’re drunk.)
So is this the zoo or the Sweet Factory? Your nose can’t tell the difference. These seven animals are olfactory dead ringers for Jelly Belly flavors.


Why Is Your Pee Always Yellow? (And Other Pressing Bladder Questions)

Before you could speak, you could pee. Before you learned to write your own name, you could pee. (And if you grew up in a particularly snowy part of the world, you may have combined these skills.) Urination is a taboo subject, a daily miracle, an essential bodily function, and a complete mystery to most people who do it. 
Let’s part the underpants-shaped veil surrounding urination information. Let’s learn about peeing.

Click here to read the full article at mental_floss.

Image: "A Field of Yellow Flowers" by Vincent van Gogh


America's Weirdest State Symbols

The bald eagle. The Lincoln Memorial. The Stars and Stripes. Symbols matter in the United States.
But regional pride is important, too, and every state in the union has its own heritage to celebrate—sometimes in odd ways.
As children, we all learned about our state flags and state birds—but who can name their official state soil? How about their state crustacean?


Save (Me From) the Whales

Goodness gracious me. My essay about confronting my whale phobia—remember that one?—is finally in print. And oh, look...it's the cover story!

The folks at Open Minds Quarterly are lovely, and I highly encourage sending them your money in exchange for copies of the magazine.

Read more here.


Chicken Goggles, Tiny Cardboard Hats, and Lobster Love Hotels...For Science!

Look into the "methods" section of any given animal experiment and you'll find descriptions ranging from the ghastly to the absurd. Researchers have crafted chicken goggles, tiny cardboard hats, and remote-control whale-snot collectors—all in the name of science.
The road to enlightenment has taken some pretty strange turns over the last century. Here are a few of the weirdest pit stops. (Links to the story at mental_floss)

(glorious art by Zach Weiner)


How Do You Poop in the Galapagos Islands?

This sea lion looks like she needs to use the bathroom.
Darwin’s research transformed the Galapagos Islands into an object of scientific and cultural fascination, as well as a bucket-list destination. In 1978, UNESCO honored the archipelago and its living treasures by naming it the first-ever World Heritage site. 97% of the islands’ area was designated a national park; the remaining 3% was set aside for human habitation. The parklands and their inhabitants are truly wild, offering no shelter, no Internet access, and no bathrooms.

So...How do you poop in the Galapagos Islands?

Click here to read the article on mental_floss.

(excruciatingly cute sea lion pup photo by dagspeak)


Short Essay: The Plane

Once the luggage was out of the way, the passenger seat of the rental car reclined almost 180 degrees. My body went down with it, twinging tailbone flush and grateful against the bedlike plane, bare feet alighting on the sun-warmed patch of faux leather atop the glove compartment. The headrest was unreachable, crafted for a longer person, but a heavy head will rest wherever it can.

Read the rest in Quail Bell magazine.

photograph by C.M. Drysdale

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