Boston bombings bring fear back to the forefront

The last time I flew to Beijing from the U.S., I had to pass through a full-body scanner at an airport security checkpoint in Louisville, Kentucky. One of the people in front of me was an elderly man in a wheelchair.

When his turn came, two security officers helped him to his feet and guided him into the machine. “Can you stand on your own?” one of the officers asked.

“I think so,” the man said.

He kept his arms raised long enough for the machine to take an image of his body and then, with the help of the security officers, returned to his wheelchair. Continue reading

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A thinning red line

I’ve probably wasted a few weeks of my life looking into the mirror, staring at the endangered grassland atop my head where red curls once grew. I tilt my head and adjust the light in the bathroom. I apply gel to prop up the strands that are too weak to stand on their own. And then I look again.

I feel like a loser.

I began losing my hair at 22, in my senior year of college. At first, it was like a slow drip. A few hairs at a time. By my late 20s, the pace quickened, and I helplessly watched my hairline move higher and higher.

I considered intervention and scanned hair-loss products at grocery stores, always late at night to avoid being seen. I even carried a bottle of Rogaine to the register once, but stopped short of buying it at the last second. Better to bald gracefully than to try to fight it. 

With a college roommate and my sister in March 2008. (Photo by Erin McCracken)

By the time I turned 30, my hair had thinned enough that you could see my scalp in several places. If I didn’t wear a hat to the beach, my head burned. My mom tried to reassure me, “It’s really not that bad.” My brother had a different opinion. “No dude. It is that bad.” Continue reading