Its alarming frequency and some hope for the future.

Credit to Brooke Cagle on Unsplash.

“Widowhood Was Escape, Freedom, a New Life.”

“Envy?” I asked, incredulous of these reactions and how nonchalantly my mother was reporting this.

She went on to say that she assumed some resentment in the sacrifices and responsibilities demanded of a woman in a traditional, heterosexual marriage. …


Writer, sister, traveler…still figuring out what else.

Me in Bergen, Norway in 2019.

Introducing Myself

Reading others’ “about me” posts made me question how much I have to share about myself. Especially now, feeling isolated and aimless while basically unemployed and living at home again during a pandemic. However, I think for a shy 22-year-old I’ve experienced a fair bit so far.

I’ve lived in or near Los Angeles, Munich, San Francisco, and Berlin, although my closest emotional ties are to L.A. — was born in Santa Monica, spent most of my childhood somewhere in L.A. County, and moved back here after graduating from the University of San Francisco last December.

Moving to Bavaria as…


I acknowledge that pleas to support independent bookstores, especially during the pandemic, are nothing original. Just recently, The New York Times highlighted how crucial it is to support local bookstores. And the American Booksellers’ Association, or the ABA, recently launched their “Boxed Out” campaign to encourage people to shop indie, complete with cardboard installations covering bookstores across the country, indicating how indie bookstores have been shut out by Amazon deliveries. So while articles like these may sound repetitive, as the pandemic wreaks havoc on the economy, while billionaires get even richer, it’s become vitally important to sound the alarms to…


Both are known for their 1,000-mile+ journeys.

Photo by Cristofer Jeschke on Unsplash.

I think of Naya Nuki every time I am lost. A twelve-year-old could find her way home a thousand miles away in largely undeveloped forest, I’ll tell myself. Meanwhile, I realize I have to double back ten minutes into walking the opposite direction.

I must have read Naya Nuki: Shoshoni Girl Who Ran by Kenneth Thomasma at least five times as a kid. It details the journey of a Northern Shoshone girl who was captured by an enemy tribe, the Hidatsa, but vowed to not remain enslaved to them and to return to her people, especially her mother.

On the…


We don’t need smugness, we need sympathy.

Photo by Jake Ingle on Unsplash.

I am well aware that many Americans are insufferable. Compared to other countries, we are uniquely jingoistic and ignorant. Our politics make The Onion’s job easy.

Still, I wish more animosity would be shifted to the greedy, warmongering, and indifferent politicians and corporations that create so many of our problems, rather than the relatively powerless average Americans. The majority of us don’t want this either.

Yet I’ve encountered so many people from other white-majority, affluent countries, online and offline, who feel the need to point out how screwed-up our systems are. And not to the Americans who support those systems.


Anecdotes I wish I had heard before applying.

Photo by Ro.cio Ramirez on Unsplash.

Pros and Cons of the Peace Corps

There are many valid criticisms of the Peace Corps — white saviorism, American exceptionalism, and neocolonialism, as members of the grassroots group Decolonizing Peace Corps have noted.

Those are all are more harmful than its bureaucratic hassles, but it is also worth considering that it can be frustratingly callous to those willing to volunteer for two-plus years.

From what I have personally experienced and heard, I wouldn’t endorse applying if you have any history of health issues (physical or mental), even minor ones; think your citizenship might be questioned; practice a religion that might not be as tolerated elsewhere; or…


Either mindset can be used against women

Photo by Tamara Bellis on Unsplash.

Personal Experience

I’ve noticed that queer women are often playfully teased for their sense of style, while queer men are pigeonholed as fashionistas. But I think there’s something else beyond the sartorial stereotypes. …


Is that a question I should even wonder about?

Photo by Pawel Czerwinski on Unsplash.

Prioritization of Spouses

Once while browsing the Christian bookstore in high school, I came across a book that outlined how, as a wife, it was ungodly to love anyone more than your husband. Not your kids, parents, siblings, or anyone else. Your husband was the one you had been joined together with.

My heart kinda sank at that. My sibling and I have always been exceedingly close. It felt strange to imagine loving someone else so much that my love for Jenna couldn’t even come close in comparison.

But at this point, I was very Christian and took this at face value. I…


They’re not for everyone, but don’t judge others for using them.

Photo by Alexander Sinn on Unsplash.

Criticisms of Online Dating

I’d like to agree with anything the iconic Stevie Nicks says. However, I couldn’t relate when she said, “Now, if I was even, like, 30 or 40 or 50, I would never use a dating app. I find that to be totally desperate. I watch all those crime shows. Are you setting yourself up with an ax murderer or something?”

I’m glad Nicks is embracing her own singleness now, but we’re not all hot rock stars who were young when the Internet as we know it wasn’t around.

Younger people are healthily skeptical on the Internet, and for better or…


Complexity shouldn’t always equal redeemability.

Photo by Gita Krishnamurti on Unsplash.

I never watched the full-length How the Grinch Stole Christmas because my parents were Dr. Seuss purists. (They even denied me permission to watch The Cat in the Hat with my first-grade class, as Mike Myers’ portrayal was too crude).

“That takes away the whole point of The Grinch!” they’d say. “The Whos are good people who believe in Christmas.”

And while both my parents and I can now agree they were a little overprotective when I was younger, I do kind of see their point in that regard. …

Kayla Vokolek

Recent creative writing grad located in Los Angeles. She/her. kayjewel98@gmail.com

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