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Premonitions and hindsight

When I was 10 years old a wise friend looked into my palms and said that there was a fork engraved in the folds of my skin. It etched across my cupped hands, one line heading up between my right fingers, another line jutting towards the cliff of my outer palm. It means you’ll have a really big decision to make one day, she said, hopefully you make the right one.

I worried excessively about that premonition. What would the divergency in my life be? Would I know when it was deciding time or would it be a series of…


After years of bullying her

Our bodies follow us everywhere we go. They carry our minds and our histories tucked up inside of them. They cradle us when no one else will.

Yet, our families feel entitled to comment on them. Modern trends declare whether to embrace our curves this year or seek to smother them. We were taught how to cover ourselves in middle school when our bodies morphed into something more powerful. Grownups looked at us as if we were dangerous. As if what was happening was disgusting.

We learned that to protect our bodies was to restrain them.

We learned what to…


What “The Kiss” has taught me about life and love

I was 15 years old when I first laid eyes on Gustav Klimt’s painting, “The Kiss.”

Our class had been studying painters of the 20th century and a grainy image flashed up on the makeshift screen. We were supposed to memorize the painting’s style, the brush strokes, the turmoil of Klimt’s life at the time of its creation.

But when I tuned into the painting all I could see was love.

True, all encompassing love. An intimate, devoted relationship between two people. It was everything I wanted at that age and everything I was truly terrified of.

I noted the…


Thanksgiving week and the American expat

It’s the fourth year that there’ll be an empty place setting at my spot of the dining room table. The fourth year I’ll go through a normal day of work and try to ignore the stories and posts calling out to me from my phone. It’s the one day I force myself to avoid logging on until long after my daily responsibilities have passed. I watch, like a sniper in a distant window, as family and friends in the US decorate for Christmas, spend time with their people, and enjoy their well-deserved time off.

Meanwhile, I’m dragging myself through another…


People watching people who are people watching

Calle del Tesoro is burrowed between two main streets in the heart of Madrid’s liveliest neighborhood. It’s existence is almost unnoticeable to passersby — save for the vibrant paper flags that hang like laundry across the balcóns. Like loose shoe strings lacing their way from the top of the hill to the bottom.

This second thought street gives shelter to an array of characters. It is where I sit each morning, stretching out my spine and listening for the pop-pop-pop of bones as my coffee grows cold. Where, on lazy afternoons, I tune into the faint guitar strums at my…


8 tips for dealing with the intense changes of 2020

Humans are creatures of habit. We’re reluctant to transformations and changes. We post words of contempt when our apps update their platforms. We drag our feet bi-yearly with the rewinding of the clocks. We groan behind the new protection of our facemasks. But eventually, slowly and furtively… we adapt. We forget the brown hues of Instagram’s ancient widget. We grow accustomed to winter’s abysmal darkness. We recognize our neighbors with just their eyes.

It would be an understatement to proclaim that 2020 has dropped a bag full of change over our heads like a cartoon anvil. We watched as people…


An ode to a college professor

Like many others, reflecting back on my university years fills my body with a sense of nostalgia and melancholy. Those were the years of ‘finding myself.’ The promise of endless possibilities. Of long nights and waking up in a twin bed with that sense of knowing worry. Of swallowing little ovals and fast-forwarding through 18 hours in the library, at the same table, eating nothing but an orange, fingers finding words to fill pages of theory and opinion and research.

Throughout those four years at university I’d sign up to take workshops again and again with one professor in particular…


“If you want to understand any woman you must first ask about her mother and then listen carefully.” — Anita Diamant, The Red Tent

Although my mother’s mother was alive for the first 15 years of my life, I never really knew her. She must have been lucid at the beginning. She must have held me and wiped the spit-up from my mouth and kissed my forehead. She must have whispered wisdom, her nose nuzzled against mine, the same nose I’d grow to inherit.

I just haven’t got those memories inside of me.

Growing up, my brothers and I took…


After years of losing my way

A few months into my first year of teaching I googled “what to do if you don’t want to be a teacher anymore.”

I had been sitting at my desk after a particularly rough class, the period which I’d dreaded every day (teachers you know the class I’m talking about). I’d mispronounced a word at some point during the previous hour and a know-it-all kid called me out. He was right. Ornery does not sound like on-ree. My cheeks betrayed me. My thoughts evaporated into the air, thick with that BO and Warm Vanilla Sugar musk that lingers in high…


Figuring out feminism within a conservative family

When I turned 15 my older cousin handed me a book titled The Atonement Child. We were sprawled on the beach with all the aunties, enjoying girl talk and the late summer sun. My cousin raved about the novel’s breathtaking plotline.

“Every woman needs to read this!” She exclaimed.

I couldn’t wait to dive into the new world of a beloved novel. I was 5+ years younger than my female cousins and looked up to them with teenage pride and dedication. They had boyfriends. They were confident enough to scream and shout while playing canasta with the grownups. They had…

Amy Jo

Ran away to Spain and disguised it as following my dreams. https://amyjnelson90.wixsite.com/jolene

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