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Photo by Callum Shaw on Unsplash

I used to feel like I could make a difference in the world. I used to march in the streets. When I was a kid, my mom took my brother and me to March on Washington three times. For fifteen years after college, I worked full-time to help homeless people find jobs, working-class people make a livable wage, and queer youth who’d been bullied out of their schools or homes. I volunteered for Democratic candidates all my life. My candidates didn’t always win, but I always felt like the world was moving in the right direction.

Four years ago, I dragged my kids to phone-bank and canvass door-to-door for Hillary Clinton. Then the most qualified candidate that ever ran for president lost to the most absurd candidate. And the world went dark. …

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Someone tweeted, “Which books do you brag about reading?” I retweeted with a comment, “Every time I read a book I brag about it.”

I’m not a voracious reader. I can’t believe I just wrote that. I hate the term “voracious reader.” As cliché as it is, that’s how every writer describes herself, except me. I wasn’t that kid who checked out seven books from the library every week. I didn’t sit in corners. I didn’t escape behind books. And now I feel like I’m running from behind, and I’m a bit defensive about it.

Thirteen years ago, I joined a book club. I thought a book club would get me reading. At first it did, so let me take a second to brag. I read The Namesake, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and one of the other ones by Lisa See, The Help, In Cold Blood, The Goldfinch (that was long), and, biggest brag, while even some of the smartest members of our group bailed out on this one, I finished and actually liked Love in the Time of Cholera. …

Andrea Askowitz in high school and now. Now photo by Stephanie Howard

Every time I see my mom, she tells me, “Dye your hair. You look like an aging hippie.”

I’m 51, and while I fear I’m aging out of a lot of things — the ability to run miles and miles without getting injured, for one — I’m not aging out of looks. There’s a photograph of the writer Susan Sontag taken at 58. …


Andrea Askowitz

Books: My Miserable, Lonely, Lesbian Pregnancy and Badass. Essays: NYT, Salon, The Rumpus, HuffPost. Podcast: Writing Class Radio.

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