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Author Archives: Liba Vaynberg

The Lilith Blog

March 16, 2020 by

Notes from a Pandemic: On Chains of Isolation, and Transmission

I’m alone in my apartment, trying to understand what a city is. The internet assures me only that there is no clear answer—even the United Nations has three definitions for what constitutes a city. I’m fixating on population size, but even that’s slippery. An “urban area” can apparently be distinguished from a “metropolitan area,” but somehow the largest “urban area” in the United States is called the “New York metropolitan area” (wait, what?) which has recently been more broadly identified as a “metropolitan statistical area,” throughout which one large urban center spreads its web but the whole of which is not legally incorporated as a city. I look at the satellite image of a bright core and then yellow sparks clustered along the Atlantic Ocean, spreading. My head aches; all I see is a never-ending chain.

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The Lilith Blog

February 25, 2020 by

My Father’s Daughter

I couldn’t shut up about Papa. In fifth grade, this kid Neil was sitting next to me on the bleachers. Los Angeles. We were sweating, waiting for a parent to put us in a car and out of our misery. I must have been going on. Finally, Neil turned to me and said, “Is your dad dead or something?”

I went red. Then silent. Then I must have cried. The next day Miss Campeau insisted that Neil apologize.

Papa shaved in the mornings with a little yellow brush while I read the back of the cereal box and listened to his pocket radio on the kitchen table. Then the drive to school: major battles of World War II and how to orient yourself using the sun and how to spell state names on license plates. “Mississippi” amazed him every time. I always got it right.

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