The power and danger of women who take up space.

Illustration by Katie Fricas.

My grandmother was a mountain. When I was a girl, I’d stand next to her vanity and watch as she strung herself with what I thought of as her “jewels” — jangling, glittering bangles and jade-green Lucite earrings and roped gold necklaces and Swarovski crystal brooches shaped like elephants and tigers. She wore leopard-print nightgowns and smelled like White Diamonds and overflowed from the bones of her chair.

Her body was a marvel to me, a form unbound and soothing as a Buddha. Sometimes, I would sit in her lap and peek down her shirt, to see her mysteries. …

Illustration: Alexander Wells

Before it was a verb, “gaslight” was a noun. A lamp. Then there was a play, Angel Street, in 1938, and then a film, Gaslight, in 1940, and then a second film in 1944 featuring an iconic, disheveled, unwinding performance from Ingrid Bergman.

A woman’s sanity is undercut by her conniving husband, who misplaces objects in an attempt to send her to an asylum. Ultimately, her husband’s plan is revealed: He had murdered her aunt when his wife was a child and had forced their whirlwind romance years later in order to return to the house so he could locate…

Welcome to “My Life in Beds”, our new essay series about how the beds in which we’ve slept help tell the story of who we were and, more importantly, who we’ve become. In this installment, writer Carmen Maria Machado charts her zigzagging course towards adulthood in the places she rested her head.

Attic Bedroom Bunk Bed, Allentown, PA, 1991

I spent a lot of time imagining that my first bedroom was in an attic. In reality, the room was on the second story of our tiny house, and the ceiling sloped like an attic’s might. But my imagination took over whenever possible. …

Carmen Maria Machado

✍🏽 HER BODY & OTHER PARTIES (@GraywolfPress), finalist for the National Book Award. Artist in Residence at @Penn. The New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, Guernica.

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