I have never, in my life, heard so much talk about washing dishes.

When we could still roam free, the answer to “how was your day?” tended to be light on the details. Unless there was drama to unpack, a new idea to explore or a discovery to share, the conversation could safely move on to other things.

Now, heading into my fifth week of confinement, I find myself recounting (and listening to) detailed replies with great tenderness and interest. …


As the youngest in a family of witches, I interpret the world my own way

Photo: Frederic Cirou/Getty Images

I call it “spook.” To get technical, spook is a sixth sense, but they don’t treat it with any kind of reverence. It’s not special. To hear them talk about it, spook is as unremarkable as a lazy eye or the state of your digestion. It’s just part of who you are. Spook isn’t a mystical female thing, either. Anyone can get spook, and no one makes fun of it. Spook does demand a healthy dose of respect, however.

My mother has it, and so does her sister. People call them le streghette, the witches. Their childhood stories include late-night…


She tells me that she’s met someone and I flinch because I don’t want to hear it. I am truly happy for her, her first boyfriend at 28, lord knows she’s waited long enough, but still. And then this:

“I really feel like the universe is, like, rewarding me for the hard year I’ve had, you know?”

Of course, the ever-benevolent Universe. As if she earned the relationship, like a badge. As if I too could find a husband if I only learned how to build a fire, read “The Secret”, cut gluten, whatever. Why am I the only person…


If you learn your first lessons about love from your parents, then my first lesson was that it was a burden. An unwieldy thing that someone was always asking you to carry, making as if it were a gift, one that you had not asked for, but that you had to learn to tolerate anyway. My mother draping herself over my father, grabbing at his face and trying to draw it closer for a kiss. My father pulling away, lamenting the assault, laughing as his neck strains away from her. Me, four years old and wretched, because I would have…


To all appearances, I have had a busy but unremarkable year.

The last nine months have rolled along like so many before. I delivered work on my accounts, spent two weeks wandering another country while contemplating time, space and my passage through it, ate nice dinners, took long walks, drank espresso, dove into great conversations with the best of friends, taught/learned things, patted all the dogs, managed not to lose any digits, learned how to make bolognese, bought art.

My collection of short stories and the series of essays (and maybe a novel) bubble and simmer, occasionally spilling over into…


It was sparked in 1998. That spring, I backpacked around England, Ireland and Scotland with a friend and then took a connecting flight to Rome on my own. Previously, I had only visited Italy with my parents, as a family. And weeks before this trip, I had officially broken up with my boyfriend of six years, the one I thought I would marry. At this point, the continued ability of my fragile brain to move forward despite was a wonder to me, but I was determined to do something symbolic, something brave. …


When I was a child, I didn’t understand that my mother was a beauty. I only saw her eyes, perpetually dark with fatigue, only heard her voice, tense, barking out my name. Every day, I felt her annoyance with me, her dissatisfaction with what I did, what I didn’t do. She tried to coax me into a passion of cleaning, I loved books. She attempted to bribe me with toys and dresses, I wanted more notebooks, more pens. She expected me to throw my arms around her neck at lunchtime, grateful to be reunited with her for an hour; I…


A feeling slams into me every now and again. Usually when I am walking home from the office on a Friday evening, my arms and shoulders heavy with bags toting the week’s detritus of rinsed lunch containers, shoes, damp yoga clothes. notebooks. “Forever schlepping”, I think. No different than my grandmother and her sisters, who carried bundles down steep paths to the village wash basin and bales up even steeper paths to the grazing pastures. “How did I inherit this,” I wonder as the handles of one bag begin to roll down my arm.

Because despite my best efforts, I…


So that thing about Italian mothers and guilt is true. If you understand anything about Catholicism, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. When you are made to believe that your every move, your every word, is being recorded by an unseen power that will determine your fate, guilt is your mother’s milk and the bread on your plate. When you are asked to probe your every living breath for any trace of wrongdoing, you learn to lead with guilt and, inevitably, you start to serve it to others too. Our mothers don’t know to be any other way.

As a…


My name, the syllables that I have known the longest, other than mama, speaks of my yearning every day. If nomen est omen — if the name is the sign — then my name is a tightly knit tapestry of who I am, what I love and where I come from. Just like my DNA. The longing for Italy is as unavoidable as the brown of my eye, as drawn-out as the ah sounds in my name.

This Piscean babe slithered into the world on March 9, with a whorl of dark hair and crooked fingers. Since I was an…

Adriana Palanca

Creative Director + writer in Montreal. Functionally weird. Perpetually underestimated. Inadvertently cool.

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