When I was little, growing up in Las Vegas, I liked to name the colors I saw outside. I had the jumbo box of Crayolas, and I reacted almost synesthetically when they named the colors right. Cerulean made me tingle. It was blue like I’d never seen before, blue like they don’t have in the desert or even in the ocean off Mission Beach, and the name was like the fairytale kingdoms that I used to write stories about in my piles of spiral notebooks. Asparagus made me nauseous and so did its eponym (and anyway, jungle green was the…


Houses full of people who sound like they swallowed potatoes

The Italian girls in my Danish class are beside themselves that I’ve left New York. “Jeg kommer fra New York,” I say, hacking up the “fra” like it’s 2003 and I’m in the front row of French I with Madame H________. Better to sound French than to sound American.

“Then why are you here?” asks the girl from Bologna, who twenty minutes into the first class accused me of being a ringer for having shown up already knowing the secret Danish vowels. I suspect we wouldn’t have been friends as children, and that we won’t be friends now, since I’m…


It occurs to me now that this story is wasted on the young. As a child, I found it overwrought. Then again, I was the kind of insufferable pedant who insisted on pointing out that I was ten and a half or turning thirteen next month. To me, the delta between just-turned-twelve and twelve-plus-eleven-months was significant enough to merit pointing out. And that made the idea that you were somehow harboring past and lesser versions of yourself like a parasite preposterous.

I turned 21 in my hometown of Las Vegas and forgot what shame was as I forced this bouncer to take a photo of me with my newly powerful ID

These days, I don’t put as much stock in birthdays as I once did. 21 ruins it, I think…


I haven’t had a period in eight years and I feel great about it.

I started taking Seasonique when I was eighteen, after the closest thing my mother and I have ever had to a sex talk. (She looked at me shortly before I left for college and said, “You should go on birth control.” We haven’t discussed the matter since.) Periods only once every three months? It was a dream.

I hate being on my period perhaps more than the average woman does. I am a nervous wreck and a control freak on the best of days and there’s…


A view from an apartment that didn’t belong to me

After college, I landed in an apartment that my father once, memorably, called “a warehouse for twentysomethings.” Warehouse is generous: it was a converted four-bedroom with a single, decrepit bathroom and no air conditioner. I found my room on Craigslist shortly after arriving in New York where I discovered quickly and to my chagrin that, at the beginning of 2012, there were no jobs to be found for a shiftless 22-year-old with an English degree and that I was living dangerously beyond my means. (“Beyond my means” meant, in this case, one of two bedrooms in an apartment where the…


I haven’t had a period in eight years and I feel great about it.

I started taking Seasonique when I was eighteen, after the closest thing my mother and I have ever had to a sex talk. (She looked at me shortly before I left for college and said, “You should go on birth control.” We haven’t discussed the matter since.) Periods only once every three months? It was a dream.

I hate being on my period perhaps more than the average woman does. I am a nervous wreck and a control freak on the best of days and there’s…


A red tank top emblazoned with the word DANCE in rainbow glitter. Baby-blue track pants from the Limited Too that snap up the side. Pastel yellow sneakers for skateboarders, doodled all over with ballpoint-pen stars and hearts and Avril Lavigne lyrics.

Beige corduroy bellbottoms. A tiered skirt that falls to mid-calf and soars when you spin. Birkenstocks. A camisole, worn under a long-sleeved henley, that rides up my belly until there’s a roll sitting just below my bra line that I can’t adjust without reaching up under my shirt in the middle of trigonometry in front of everyone. Low-rise jeans.


Throughout the northern hemisphere, the school buses are gassing up. Twentysomethings are putting away their cutoff shorts and Indian headdresses until next year’s Coachella. Bartenders are replacing their summer shandies with pumpkin beer and the Gap is stocking their shelves with another season’s worth of infinity scarves that will last all of four months until your cat eats one and you leave the other on the subway. Summer — the calendar and the thermostat aside — is over.

And I, for one, am celebrating.

Have I turned into a parody of myself yet? I hate hugging and chocolate ice cream…


“I’m getting cockles,” I say.

My dad looks at me like I just said I was ordering the insect protein. To his credit, he doesn’t recommend that maybe I ought to stick with the same buttered pasta I’ve been eating since I started in on solid foods fifteen years earlier. “Nice!” he says.

I’m sixteen and we’re in New York City, at an Italian restaurant in an English basement somewhere in Little Italy. The tables are covered in red checkered cloths and “Famous Blue Raincoat” is playing in the background. …


Over the past several months, I’ve caught myself — multiple times — on the verge of tweeting song lyrics like I’m a seventeen-year-old writing on MySpace. I think it’s probably because the last time I had my heart broken like I did a year or so ago, I was seventeen, and it was easier to wear your heart on your sleeve then. …

Dana Cass

writer // living in a body in a world // this is just a selection; check out all my work at http://www.danacass.com

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