One of the most empowering messages of my life was actually an attempt to seduce me.

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At the height of my quarterlife crisis, I was living in Shanghai, at a mouse-and-roach infested hostel, next to one of the most fetid wet markets I’ve ever smelled in my life. We’re talking offal and fish guts perennially rotting in the street outside my door. I was broke. Technically homeless. Roughly 8000 miles from everyone who loved me. Circumstances were not ideal. And this was when and where I met a great guy we’ll call “Alex.”

Alex was my neighbor, and from the night we met, people assumed we were an item, so palpable was our chemistry. I sensed…

I can travel for weeks without a single checked bag. Here’s how.

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For my first big overseas vacation, I brought a full-sized suitcase. Possibly two. Aaaand, knowing myself, likely also a giant purse. I almost cringe now to think of lugging a caravan’s worth of belongings around and cluttering up my hotel/hostel rooms with stuff. Was the burden of over-preparedness really better than the possibility of being under-packed? No way. Unfortunately, that was the only way I knew.

Fast-forward a few years, though, and I found myself hopping around Spain and Portugal for 3 weeks without a single checked bag — just a flimsy €5 backpack and a purse. …

They’re are all lightweight and easy to bring — even when you’re only allowed a carry-on

Photo by Artem Beliaikin from Pexels

Several years ago, spurred by necessity, I learned the art of minimalist travel: I spent three weeks in Spain and Portugal without a single checked bag, just a purse and a backpack. This opened a whole new, liberating world for me. One with no baggage fees, no lingering around at the carousel after I landed, no struggling with giant bags as I made my way to my lodging, and a MUCH-simplified re-packing experience for any time I snagged a great deal for the next city and needed to get back on the road fast.

It’s amazing to move this unburdened…

What to do when your travel buddy’s budget is WAY lower than yours

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A few months before the pandemic, I went on a trip with a then-close friend. For nearly as long as we’d known each other, our vast income disparity wasn’t an issue; we celebrated each other’s very different life paths. He didn’t think less of me for spending so many years below the poverty line. I didn’t envy him when he made roughly 15 times what I earned in a year. …

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

A poem

Revealed along the journey of a vernal, crescent moon,
He displays the backwards/forwards evolution
That brought him to the great meridian
Of the bed where we repose.
Like twin suns twisting ’round each other as we blaze
Our trail through the cosmos,
He and I go spinning off the sparks that glow with what we’re made of.

A crimson heat to speak for me, expansive.
My counterpart, a fuzzy, compact ball of fire,
Burning blue and white
And charging East
From here within my arms.

I reignite
For just a fleeting, cosmic moment:

My lover draws the same celestial banner…

They’re not about writing, per se — but they’re a huge part of the job

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels | Edited in Canva by author

Copyediting in a highly-specialized niche requires way more than meticulous grammar. I got my first gig in academic copyediting over a decade ago. At first, it was just something I was doing to fulfill my obligations while I transitioned out of an R1 Ph.D. program. A few months later, it became something I did to pay the bills in a transitional year before I moved abroad. I never expected it would eventually become my primary job, much less that I’d be editing for the next ten years… and counting. …

I ran off with a sexy stranger. I regret *almost* nothing.

Huangshan (aka, the “Yellow Mountains”) — Image: Daniel Höhe on Unsplash | Edited in Canva by author

My Shanghai, city of 23 million, is tiny. Wake up, write, walk a few blocks in a new direction, play Mandarin-illiterate menu roulette for lunch, return to hostel, repeat at dinner. I’m still afraid of taking public transportation, ever since Ecuador.

As a child in Pennsylvania coal country, I’d devoured phrasebooks and picture atlases, imagining an international life, but my semester abroad at age 19, and years of “love” that hurt, had taught me that my body was a dangerous place, and I shouldn’t roam too far. Indeed, for years, I didn’t. I retreated into the ivory tower instead, so…

Before your ever lungs tasted air, your mother breathed for you. I’ll never forget when my mother couldn’t.

October 25, 2020: Day 2 of migraine, Day 10 of covid symptoms… and Day Time-Stands-Still of my mother in the hospital (Covid self-portrait by author)

There’s something very primal about the fear that your mother isn’t breathing; before your lungs ever tasted air, she’s the one who breathed for you.

When my household got covid, my dad, who turned 60 the day his first symptom appeared, mostly just felt like he had a cold. I, 36 and otherwise-healthy, never even felt particularly “sick.” I certainly felt weird, and as things progressed, I had severe aches, pains, and eventually some neurological symptoms that made me downright terrified… but sick?

No, I didn’t feel sick.

Only sick with worry for my mom.

We were all diagnosed in…

Or to unlock life’s magic in general — regardless of where Saturn happens to be right now.

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My Saturn return was… epic. Saturn transited through my natal degree of Scorpio — sign of sex, death, rebirth, and spiritual mystery — not just one but three times during my late-20s/early-30s. Things got pret-ty intense for a while. But once I learned how to play my part in the grand cosmic production? Things got fun. Like, really fun.

Your Saturn return can be fun too.

Saturn gets a bad rap because it spotlights the old hurts and coping mechanisms that hold us back. (An explainer if you’re new to the concept.) However, it does this so that we can…

“I’m special. He’ll love me. Give him time. How could he not?”

Photo by Christopher Campbell on Unsplash

When I was 19 and on the brink of what would become a long-term, live-in abusive relationship, I very clearly remember being very certain of one thing:

This man is going to love me.

When you’re coming from a place of “I believe in my value,” it’s very hard to realize you could possibly be with an abusive partner… because isn’t it only insecure, self-loathing people who end up with bad ones?


As I saw with my younger self — and with self-assured friends who’ve also fallen for abusive people over the years — the logic that enables toxic…

Laura Rosell

Love, sex, dreams, soul, adventure, healing, feeling. I kinda experience life as magical.

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