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Story Archives

Filtering by Tag: 2015-09-11


Leah Umansky

By Leah Umansky

As a child, my dad used to joke that the way to my heart was through my stomach. I’m in my mid-thirties and he still makes that joke.

I blame it on being two months premature, and being born at 2lbs 6oz, but nothing makes me happier than a cheeseburger or a steak.

As a single woman in her thirties, I’m on a few dating sites. There have been times I’ve been at a loss for what to write in my profile. “Teacher, poet, book lover”? “Teacher, poet, romantic, anglophile”? “Teacher, poet, romantic, anglophile, book snob carnivore”?

Finally, I settled on “I’m a teacher, and a poet. The way to my heart is steak and books.”

What I want people to know is that I’m not going to be a bird on our date and eat a goddamn salad.  How many men do you see who order salad at a bar on a date? Very few.

I remember back in college, a professor took me out for lunch to Applebee’s. I ordered the riblets, because they’re delicious. She ordered a salad.  

“Okay,” the server said. “One order of riblets and one small salad.”

I watched my professor shake her head, sigh, and toss back her long blonde hair.

“No,” she said. “I want the large salad. Don’t assume all women want the side salad.” 

A few years ago, my father stopped eating meat. I panicked. Who would take me out for steak on my birthday? 

A friend recently joked around with me, and said, “You’re a fancy poet who runs around Manhattan waiting for people to cook her meat.”

You know what, she’s sort of right.  


What is a societal value you have seen change during your lifetime?

What is a societal value you hope to see change?


Leah Umansky is a poet and teacher whose most recent collection is the Mad Men-themed chapbook Don Dreams and I Dream.


John Donohue

By John Donohue

I recently saw a sticker on the frame of a subway exit gate. It was in big black letters against a white background: “Amplify Love/ Dissipate Hate,” it said.

Someone had stuck it at eye level. I figured it might have been better placed on an entry turnstile, to prepare commuters for the shoving, hustling, and petty inconveniences of a ride below ground. 

What I liked best about the sticker wasn’t stated explicitly—that we have a choice in how we act towards people. That may seem obvious, but it's anything but. Those choices are at the heart of what we think of as our values.

A friend’s aged and well-off mother-in-law still hates the man who lost $50,000 dollars of her husband’s investment forty years ago. She’s a devout Christian, and though a minister told her that forgiving the man would free her, she holds onto her bitterness and bile. I say that’s fine for her, because she clearly enjoys it. I choose to allow her that imperfection. 

As for me, I’m going to make a different choice about those who have wronged me. I'm not going to push back at them. I'm not going to judge them. I'm just going to leave them hanging in full view, like a sticker on a wall. Sometimes being seen for what you are is enough.


Where did you get your core values?

Do you think others should share your values?


John Donohue is a writer and editor in New York. He created the bestselling anthology Man With a Pan.