Joanne Strasser Edwards is a blogger, novelist and mom living in Columbus, Ohio. She received her BA from Brandeis University and MA from the New School for Social Research. You can follow her @ShortNorthMom on Instagram and Twitter, and check out her blog @ www.shortnorthmom.com
There are days when I stand in front of the mirror uttering words like “fat,” “disgusting” and “gross.” But I’ve got to stop.
No, it’s not to protect my daughter’s self-image—I…don’t have a daughter. It’s to protect me. But most importantly, it’s for my son. Growing up, I was taught that women should be small, skinny and thin; not because my mom was superficial or vain, but because this is what she herself was taught by her family. When my grandmother called, she sometimes asked,… >> Read More
When I logged into Facebook yesterday, I saw that someone had written the word “Jew” on a driveway in a Columbus suburb, with Neo-Nazi literature distributed nearby.
I initially felt shocked.…Living in the very blue city center, I am insulated from this stuff. My neighbors have “Black lives matter, water is life and all are welcome” yard signs; and last winter two neighbors and I simultaneously read "The Handmaid’s Tale", greeting each other jokingly with “Blessed be the fruit.” It’s fair to say that during… >> Read More
My parents made us kids the center of their universe, and there wasn’t much that was off-limits. I mean, we got to sit in the front seat of the car: There was a rotating schedule, and everyone had…a day, parents included. I guess you could say our house was somewhere between a democracy and a kidocracy. Now that I’m a parent, I find myself doing things a little bit differently. For example, I bring my toddler son out to bars with us. Not hole-in-the-wall, dive bars or über-hipster spots like the ones… >> Read More
I’ve told some lies on Instagram. Not because I wanted to be dishonest or dupe anyone, but because I thought it would make me happier—a “fake it ‘til you make it” kinda thing.
On…Valentine’s Day one year, my wife and I were bickering about something stupid; yet, I posted a selfie of us captioned, “love is in the air.” Yes, we love each other, so technically love was in the air, but in that moment, I wasn’t feeling it. Yet later that night, when I checked the ‘likes’… >> Read More
It feels strange to be angry at people marching for human rights, especially when their cause is so near and dear to my wife, son and me. But last Saturday, three Jewish individuals were banned from…participating in the Dyke March Chicago. Their crime? Carrying rainbow pride flags with the star of David. When I learned that the organizers’ decision to ask them to leave was based on the participants’ apparent affiliation with the State of Israel, I felt uneasy. Because as a Zionist, gay woman, I can easily recognize good… >> Read More
Explaining my mental illness to people is frustrating. It’s always the same questions, and while I’m happy to answer them and dispel myths, I feel like people should already know the answers;…because isn’t it common enough these days? I mean, if I had a dollar for every time someone asks me, “So, do you think you’ll stop taking your meds one day…?” “Normal” people don’t understand that taking meds is not really a choice, and being depressed is certainly not a choice; negativity perhaps, but not… >> Read More
This might sound ridiculous, but I rank my friends. It’s not a competitive, middle-school type of ritual; rather, it’s a way of thinking that helps me avoid friend drama, which—in my humble…opinion—is usually caused by mismatched friend expectations, or “friendspectations,” as I call them This all started a few summers ago when two of my girlfriends were partying it up at every concert, cookout, and festival. Their Facebook posts made feel a mixture of FOMO and a sense of exclusion—two feelings I don’t handle well. At… >> Read More
My dad almost died twice.
The first time, we sped to the hospital at 90 miles an hour on the freeway, honking other drivers out of the left lane. It was stupid, but I was 23. When the triage nurse…told us to wait in line, I screamed, “he can’t fucking breathe,” as tears streamed down my face and my body shook with panic. Since he was born with a congenital heart defect (repaired with open-heart surgery in 1956), it shouldn’t have been surprising that something like this could happen. But who knew about endocarditis?… >> Read More
Jordan Edwards was his name. The latest victim of an unwarranted police shooting. He was fifteen, an athlete with a 3.5 GPA, a “loving child with a humble and sharing spirit.”
Most…importantly, he didn’t deserve to die. Not like this. None of these kids whose moms are mourning deserved to die, no matter what their GPAs are. I’m sure Jordan Edwards won’t be the last. White kids don’t get shot at like this, by the cops—in a car with friends, after a party, with no alcohol on the… >> Read More
I need to tell you something that I’m ashamed to say out loud. Something that’s burdened me for some time now because I don’t quite know how to admit or explain it. But here it is, finally:…Sometimes, I regret having a child. Recently, media stories about moms who actively regret having kids have been circulating over and over on the internet. My feelings aren’t quite as extreme, but when I read about these regrets, I relate more than I want to. Feeling this way seems absurd seeing as lesbian couples have… >> Read More
After I saw this week’s viral photo of the Hasidic couple and the nursing Muslim mother, I thought, “Aww, that’s so awesome.” I too, am touched when people are good people just because. I…could imagine posting something like that with a caption similar to the original: “A Taoist (me) gives up his seat so a Hasidic couple could sit together. They scoot over so a Muslim mother could sit and nurse her baby, on Easter Sunday.” This is my America: people letting people be people.” These displays of… >> Read More
The other day while I was getting Botox, children were gassed to death in Syria.
Then, while I spent the rest of that evening googling the best anti-fog sunglasses, and debating switching from an…Apple Watch to a Garmin, a father held his dead twins. I saw their picture on CNN the next day. I clicked away, took a deep breath and returned to the image. The toddler looked like mine; he had strawberry blonde hair. I’m deep in the trenches of the first world. Very, very deep. I… >> Read More
Last year at Passover, my non-Jewish wife was puzzled: “Why do you guys make such a big deal if you’re not going to take it seriously?”
Did she mean our humanist Haggadah that has no…mention of a deity? Was it the fact that we giggle through all the songs, and rush poor Moses along his Exodus so we can eat? Or maybe it was the door? Sorry, but it was too damn cold to leave open, and no one wanted to hear my dad complain about the thermostat. But really, I’m… >> Read More
At work today, I thought about two things: 1. Why aren’t there free tampons? and 2. Why was I hiding my tampon up my sleeve as if this aspect of personal hygiene should somehow be…shameful? Let’s add a third little tidbit/thought/question: Why am I even thinking about all of this, and feeling outraged – maybe even furious — that workplaces aren’t required to provide tampons? I’ll tell you why. Every night this week, I’ve been listening to Claire Danes narrate a book. That book is called “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and… >> Read More
“Everyone is OK. We’re all are home.” Read the text message from my former host brother in Berlin. Sitting in a work meeting, I had no idea what he was talking about.
“Ok… glad you’re…all OK?” I texted back. Little did I know then, someone had rammed his truck into a Christmas Market, close to where my host family lives, killing 11 people. It was just like what happened in London yesterday. I know those streets back from when I lived in Berlin. I’d been to that market before,… >> Read More
Eric and Lara Trump are expecting, and everyone is asking: will this be his fourth Jewish grandkid? Is Lara a member of the tribe? Was that a crystal chuppah, or just a canopy?
Turns out, maybe…she’s not Jewish. You know what? It doesn’t really matter. Just because Trump has a growing family that may or may not have Jewish heritage, doesn’t mean he knows the first thing about Jewish values. Or family values, either. Let’s just start with the basics. You know what I’m going to say: tikkun olam, Hebrew for… >> Read More
Editor's Note: Names have been changed to protect privacy and safety.
When I met them back in 2014, Dorri and Farah had just arrived from Tehran. As a lesbian couple, living an open life in the…Islamic Republic of Iran was not an option for them. After receiving several threats, Dorri and Farah sold everything and left the country. Luckily, Dorri had an uncle here in the United States, so they were able to move in with him. Knowing only very basic English and less than a handful of people, their… >> Read More
I make bad jokes, inappropriate ones; even, sometimes, about the Holocaust.
Last weekend, for instance, when touring my friend Maria’s new house, I half-jokingly asked if she would hide my…family when Trump’s Stormtroopers came for us. Standing in the archway of her semi-hidden storage closet, a look of puzzlement, mixed with amusement, came across her face. What was I talking about? “I’ll be like your Anne Frank.” I explained. “And you’ll be Miep. Stand in the doorway and let me take your pic for Facebook.”… >> Read More
The other night I was lying in bed hating my wife, as sometimes happens after a rough day.
Here’s how it goes: I look over, and she’s already sleeping, because she's the kind of person who's…out when her head hits the pillow. I on the other hand, am only getting started. You know those ruminations in the darkness that are cured only by too much Xanax? Well, those are my nightly M.O. I am full of resentment and toxicity; not because of anything my wife did, but because life is… >> Read More
"Did you see my baby?" wails a young girl to the nurse.
I can see her face through the curtain. She's lying on a gurney in the post-op recovery area of the abortion clinic. It’s the size of a…kitchen pantry. In this area, women convalesce on reclining chairs. It’s like they're here for pedicures except they all wear heating pads and bleak expressions. My friend whom I’m accompanying doesn’t have to sit in a pedicure chair. She has a fetal abnormality, so she and her spouse actually get a room. It might be… >> Read More