That which we call a poison, by any other name…

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Photo courtesy of Evelyn Bertrand, via Unsplash

I’ve come a long way with my naturally curly, 3c hair — from scraggly, rat-tail ends that were so damaged, they no longer curled, to healthy bouncing ringlets. It took me a lot of reading and reviewing old photos of myself to realize I needed to choose health over length.

Along this journey, I’ve also learned a thing or two about scalp health for better hair.

I’ve gone through the educational/transition-phase wringer while following a diverse crew of influencers from the natural community. I leaned toward the ones like Bianca Renee, who taught me about labels and which ingredients would make your hair feel amazing only to damage it later. …

If you’re too busy to read, you’re too uninformed to have an opinion

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Photo courtesy of Matthes Guay, via Unsplash

We live in an age of instant gratification. And distraction. In an expert from his book, “The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload,” neuroscientist Daniel J. Levitin discusses why the modern world is actually bad for your brain.

“ … the (brain’s) prefrontal cortex has a novelty bias, meaning that its attention can be easily hijacked by something new — the proverbial shiny objects we use to entice infants, puppies and kittens,” Levitin writes. …

4 Labels she either does or doesn’t deserve

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Photo courtesy of Caleb George, via Unsplash

To start off, I’d like to note that I am 100% a feminist. I believe that means, plain and simple, you are for equal rights among the sexes. We could get into the behavior of individuals who fall under that umbrella of feminism, but as anyone who’s ever taken an introductory philosophy course has learned, the merits or actions of someone spouting an argument do not invalidate the argument. An example: Trump and Obama can issue the same argument and it doesn’t matter which one says it. It’s either sound or unsound, regardless of how you feel about either one. …

The things we can’t impart on teens with plastic dolls

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Photo courtesy of Pixel2013, via Pixabay

My son and I sat in the waiting room at his orthodontist’s office. One girl about his age walked in with a baby car seat and one of those dolls teenagers get to take home for class. The teacher can program them and review how well you cared for the doll when it cried or needed a diaper change. It’s the thing that’s supposed to make you rethink having unprotected sex.

I looked into the car seat at the unmoving face, with its shiny plastic skin and glossy brown eyes, and a memory hit me. I leaned toward my son.

“When you were little, people thought you were one of those dolls,” I whispered. …

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Photo courtesy of Geralt, via Pixabay

This is the part where I immediately disappoint you, because while I was working, I wasn’t undercover.

Not technically.

However, once a journalist, always a journalist. I will always ask someone their story. I will always observe. See, I did that thing where you accept a job that offers three times as much and is heavily recruiting you only to realize you should never have given up your post at a job that fed your soul. …

Chapter 2: Somewhere on Second Street

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Photo courtesy of Vidar Nordli-Mathisen, via Unsplash

Jenna screened the first call, because she figured it was probably a sneaky salesman cloaking their number with a local area code or someone from the “IRS” demanding she settle her debt with gift cards.

But then it rang again.

“Hello?” Her voice cracked. Since feeding her kids and dropping them off at friends’ houses a few hours before, she hadn’t spoken. She used to be the type to talk to herself. Now the silence fell heavy like a wool cloak, smothering her will for words.

“Mrs. Malcolm?” It was a woman’s voice on the other end.

Panic swelled in her throat. She had forgotten something — a payment, a form that maintained the ways they were scraping by. …

A letter to the dog who was there for everything

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Photo courtesy of Shane Guymon, via Unsplash

You were the fluffiest thing I’d ever seen, romping around in the backyard with your brothers and sisters — the spitting image of the Cottonelle puppy. A couple of old hunters had decided to breed their labs for a summer whelping so they could have more bird dogs, and there you were: unpapered and perfect.

The couple who let Daddy and me in their home had seen our young faces (I was still a teenager), my swollen belly, our ringless hands, our shitty car parked outside, and they gave you to us for a discount. Then you rode home on my lap nestled next to your little brother, who would be born a few months later. …

Don’t hate me for the first one

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Photo courtesy of Aaron Burden, via Unsplash

As a writer, I went into parenthood with this rosy image of what reading would look like for my kids. We would sit around and bask in our mutual love of books — the only noise in the home would be the crackling of logs burning in the hearth and the whisper of pages turning.

And then I had the actual kids.

My middle son was an especially wild toddler. Take your eye off him for five seconds and he’s naked and somehow covered in green food dye (true story). Change the baby’s diaper, and he’s managed to smear diaper rash ointment up his forearms. Step onto the porch to say hello to a friend who stopped by your house, and he’ll slam the door shut and lock it. Every day was a funny (sometimes not so funny) experience. Regardless of his energy, I always read to him. I had to accept the fact that he would pretend to be a dinosaur and bite the book. …

Seeing 2020

Tips for getting through the query trenches in 2020

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Photo courtesy of Nathan Dumlao, via Unsplash

Before I signed with my literary agent in 2015, I had been querying for 10 long years. I would hear other writers complain about querying for two years, I’d roll my eyes (“You ain’t seen nothing yet, kid”), and then my heart would sink just a little when they announced they’d received an offer before me. Not because I wasn’t happy for them but because there’s a small whisper that brushes your ear when someone else makes it and you’re still in the query trenches: Maybe I’m just not good enough.

I had to develop a coping mechanism in order to brace myself for the constant sting of rejection, and it came in the form of intentional self-encouragement. …

Aka the moment I swore off SeaWorld

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Photo courtesy of Vivek Kumar, via Unsplash

I was born in the San Francisco Bay Area just days before Humphrey the whale swam under the Golden Gate Bridge and mistook the mouth of the Sacramento River for the ocean. He swam north per his internal GPS, which called him to complete his migration to Alaska. It took a host of marine mammal experts, officials, volunteers and eventually naval equipment playing the sound of whales feeding through the water to lure him back toward the salty bay.

There was more to it than that, of course. That’s the simplified account of how to get a whale out of a river, especially when Humphrey spent nearly a month in the bay and river, swimming beyond Rio Vista, a little town not far from the capital. …


Alythia Brown

Author and award-winning journalist (California Newspaper Publishers Association, National Newspaper Association) | Repped by BookEnds LLC | The Grammar Chicken

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