Its alarming frequency and some hope for the future.

Credit to Brooke Cagle on Unsplash.

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

My mom once told me how someone from her women’s group at church announced that her husband had died, which unsurprisingly triggered pity and sympathy from everyone, but also a glimmer of envy.

“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…


Why is the opposite so rarely seen?

Photo taken by author.

I can’t think of a single band featuring a male singer among otherwise-all-female bandmates. (Or, for that matter, any band comprised of one man and multiple women). No doubt they exist, but I usually listen to 6+ hours of music a day. Shouldn’t I be able to name ? (If you know some and want to share, leave a comment because I am genuinely stumped).

Even bands with two women alongside men are relatively difficult to think of.

Certainly, there’s nothing inherently wrong with a female singer alongside male bandmates. …


An obvious yet oft-ignored sentiment, at least online.

Photo by Feeh Costa on Unsplash.

Bringing Your Looks Upon Yourself?

Countless posts have pointed out how some celebrities don’t seem to age — in particular, Andy Samberg and Paul Rudd — with the implication that they appear younger and still attractive because they are unproblematic. Not entirely serious, but still so frequently repeated that it almost feels believed.

I appreciate both of them for their use of their platforms for social issues that don’t directly affect them as white men. Beyond that, they’re talented and from what I can surmise without knowing them personally, kind people. I have nothing but love for them.

That being said, according to Google anyway…


Shame and most boycotts do nothing.

Photo by Louis Hansel @shotsoflouis on Unsplash.

I was excited to visit the — the Gay Museum —while studying abroad in Berlin. Berlin has a rich LGBTQ+ history, and I looked forward to the unique perspective the museum could offer.

And I did enjoy it, although I wouldn’t consider the destination a must-see if not in Berlin for very long. But there was one specific part that bothered me.

At the end, there was a large map of the world, with a color-coded guide outlining the different punishments for being LGBTQ+ in certain countries. …


What’s sexism and what’s just inherent music taste?

Photo by Sam Moqadam on Unsplash.

Skewed Gender Ratios

Until around eighth grade, I loved pop and/or female-associated music. Hearing “Poker Face” for the first time in fifth grade sparked something in me, like I couldn’t have imagined music could sound like that. (It came out when I was in fourth grade, but I was always behind the curve).

As I grew older, however, songs being of the pop genre, or just too “feminine,” almost always meant I scorned them. Too childish, evocative of the Disney Channel stars I listened to in elementary school. Or just not “serious” enough.

I began to echo a lot of my dad’s tastes…


Withholding judgment — for myself and others.

Photo by Gustavo Zambelli on Unsplash.

In the months leading up to graduation, living at home again was basically unthinkable to me. What was the point of my parents and grandparents saving up so much money for my education if I was just going to rely on them again? What was the point of my multiple unpaid internships throughout college if they didn’t lead toward a job I could support myself with? This desire for self-reliance partly prompted my application to and subsequent acceptance into the Peace Corps, with a departure date just a month after graduation.

Long story short (maybe a tale for another article)…


7 national parks down, 56 to go

Photo by author.

It seems wrong to celebrate the benefits that have arisen from the pandemic, as they are never worth the amount of global collective loss experienced. However, I will say that my relationship with travel became less shallow as a result of being on lockdown.

Before, exciting travel meant new countries, new states at the very least. And repeating a travel destination often didn’t seem worth it when there are so many places I’ve never even been once.

For most of my life, I’ve lived roughly 150 miles from Joshua Tree National Park. …


All genders can benefit from valuing these overlooked positions more.

Photo by Dimitri Houtteman on Unsplash.

As women increasingly make gains in the professional world, there’s undoubtedly a lot to celebrate. Yet only so much can be achieved if only traditionally male qualities and jobs are prized in the workplace. In many ways, women are expected to adopt forms of masculinity to get ahead and be taken seriously—to be more domineering, not apologize, take on high-paying positions in STEM or business.

And yet, there’s nothing inherently wrong with habits or jobs primarily practiced by women. The same could be said about those practiced by men, but we lose out on a lot by only valuing the…

Kayla Vokolek

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

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