Don’t believe the florist when he tells you that the roses are free.

Image by Brandi Ibrao from Unsplash

Valentine’s Day is always a let down. It’s the same buildup that we feel on New Year’s Eve — on the precipice of something new, our hopes are high and our expectations are unrealistic. But if I’ve learned anything, one year isn’t that different from the other: 2021 hasn’t been much different than 2020

.After a lifetime of lackluster Valentine’s days, I told myself I didn’t care about celebrating the emotionally-exploitive capitalist-driven holiday last year. I had a new boyfriend. Zach. We had spent the first few months of our relationship going to metal concerts in Bushwick warehouses, spending time…


Illustration by Alley Horn.

The assignment was to write a story about hiking the Appalachian Trail. I told the YouTube Influencer-turned-Senior Editor I’d do one night in a campground near it. Camping is a COVID-friendly activity, and I was about to see what it was all about for myself. I picked up my rental white Dodge Caravan at the Hertz in Culpeper, Virginia, and hit the road at a solid pace of 389 miles per hour. Trump & Pence signs littered every lawn, and red, white, and blue Confederate flags hung proudly. I pulled down my cheetah print cotton mask, rolled down my window…


Three stoves tested: One came out on top

KAREN BLEIER/AFP via Getty Images

When preparing for a backpacking trip, it’s important to think about how you’re going to eat. However, traditional cook sets can be incredibly heavy because of fuel canisters, pocket rockets, and the weight of the cooking pots themselves. Additionally, the sound of a flame erupting can disrupt the sonorous sound of silence in the backcountry. Which is why we are there, right? When trekking through the backcountry, it’s important to have as little weight on your back as possible. So how will you cook?

There is a light, easy alternative to traditional…


Being alone with myself is more complicated than I thought.

Photo by Ethan Fudge.

My body image has been bad — very bad — for all of quarantine. It seems like all of the negative emotions that I have swirling around in my chest have been projected onto my body — an old coping mechanism, hard at work. Forced to sit in my house, with my body, alone. I can’t help but fall back into bad habits — habits that I’ve worked on ridding of for years.

I found myself spontaneously vomiting because I felt so anxious — my body, remembering bulimia better than…


A Queer Revisioning of Trump’s Freedom Kids

Shot by MICHAEL SPOONEYBARGER/REUTERS.

Standing under the bleachers of the biggest stadium in Pensacola, Florida, I can hear the roar of the crowds. Butterflies flutter around in my stomach, my fingers and hands feel numb. I feel Layla next to me. All of the old people in the crowd must be really excited to hear him talk. I can’t tell if I’m more excited about performing or being so close to her, my best friend. I feel like I swallowed a fire cracker. I touch my soft, silk skirt. Me, Layla, and Ashley are all matching in…


“Who Do You Want” Acrylic gouache and oil pastel on paper. By Alley Horn.

It was raining that night in Brooklyn. Laying in bed topless after writing all day (my graduate thesis was due in two weeks), I got a notification on my phone: an OkCupid message back from a really, really cute guy in town from Portland. Round wireframes, a blonde beard. A picture standing next to a cherry blossom tree. I was almost willing to leave the house.

Usually, OkCupid yields nothing fruitful. It’s where people who are not hot enough for Tinder, not conventional enough for Bumble, and too wordy for Hinge end up. Or, they’re a hot polyamorous couple who…


Tinder is a terrible place.

If you’re not a cis-white man, degradation is the premium.

Knowing that I full-well swan-dove right into the muddy waters. Why? Because I wanted to find love. Was I looking in the absolute worst place? Absolutely. But sitting around and waiting for something in my day-to-day life wasn’t panning out. So, like anyone and everyone else who has ever felt unfulfilled by their life, I turned to the internet.

I write from a place of success. That being said, I’m no poster child. I’ve tried every tactic there is to lure someone into swiping right, and lo-and-behold, it worked. Which…


On growing up in the shadow of Dr. Drew

A photo of the writer as a child with her father.
A photo of the writer as a child with her father.
Photos courtesy of the author.

On the way to ice skating practice, when I was eight years old, my mother said, “When you lose your virginity, your father is going to broadcast it on the radio.” My dad is Dr. Drew Pinsky. You know, the guy with gray hair, wire frames, and a serious expression? Looks like Anderson Cooper, but isn’t Dr. Phil? That guy. The co-host of Loveline for over 30 years, my internist and addiction specialist dad became known for giving medically based sex advice on the Los Angeles radio station KROQ 106.7 FM. …


I’ll start by saying, I’ve never been fully charmed by Taylor Swift. Sure, I danced to “You Belong To Me” on the football field in high school. The year was 2011 and Taylor Swift was being marketed as the “relatable” girl next door. Wearing an orange polyester cheer uniform, I shook my pom-poms in the second row behind the head cheerleader and star dancer, Natalia and the other girls that my coach deemed worthy because they were thin. As the song played, the Senior girls who were friends with the captain in the bleachers would scream, “Tali’s cheer captain, and…


From the Columbia Federalist.

Walking along College Walk with a baby that was not my own (babysitting is still great pay at the ripe age of 27), I looked at Butler, to my right, and saw it with my own eyes: Angelou; Anazaldua; Chang; Hurston; Morrison; Revathi; Shange. Tears clouded my vision. A feminist re-visioning. Fuck Virgil and Sophocles, the Butler Banner reminding us all that not all great thinkers are men. Then I remembered: Tessa.

There are only a few quotes that have stuck with me, verbatim. But when I experience pain that is unimaginable, Elaine Scarry’s words pop into my head: “Whatever…

Paulina Pinsky

Words in Human Parts, P.S. I Love You, and Sexography. paulinapinsky.com.

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