All posts tagged: Personal Essay

Following the Black Line: How I Found Peace in the Pool

I was a competitive swimmer in my early teens. My coach, Paul, always had me swim backstroke even though I wanted to swim breaststroke. I was faster in breaststroke. It didn’t make the water slosh over my face, gagging me, and causing me to vomit after every race. But, I raced backstroke in every meet because coach asked me. Regardless, I was a swimmer and I loved the water. I didn’t love throwing up at swim practice or after a meet, but I did love how I felt underwater.  The water was fresh and cool and so crisp and clear. I was strong in the water, in control. At the same time, I was nearly invisible with a cap and goggles, nearly unrecognizable as I swam under the radar. Stealthy. In charge of me. It was when I felt the most confident, the most myself. I don’t remember exactly why I stopped. But I stopped when I was 15 years old. Athlete or not, I probably succumbed to adolescent worries of body image and getting …

The Public Intimacy of Private Ink

Susan Goldberg gets inked. (Photo: Farrah Braniff) Spring came late this year, but I can tell it’s here because all of a sudden people are commenting on my tattoo. I live on the Canadian Shield; I spend at least nine — often 10 — months wrapped in multiple layers. Each year, when it finally gets warm enough to wear a tank top, I forget that much of the general public hasn’t yet seen the typewriter inked onto my right upper arm. It’s like seeing the first robin of the season. “Hey, cool! I love your typewriter!” someone will say at a bar or restaurant or on the street, usually followed up with: “Are you a writer?” And I nod and smile and say, “Thank you” and “Yes.” And then there is a bit more smiling, and I pray inwardly that they won’t next ask, “What do you write?” If you write, then you know there’s no worse question than “What do you write?” Particularly if you happen to be, say, the kind of writer who …