Personal Essays

ESSAY: Forgiveness

(Web Exclusive) Some people come into your life and never leave—with their contagious personalities, you remember them long after they’re gone. My high school friends Alex and Carolyn are those kinds of people.

Essay: My father the sperm donor

(Web Exclusive) Sometimes our minds play tricks on us; they distort our memories and make us think we remember things that never happened. When I think about my childhood, I remember being in a kindergarten classroom where we were tasked with drawing pictures of our families. I remember handing my teacher a white piece of paper with a sketchy crayon drawing of my blonde, blue-eyed mother and me and probably our cat, her paws resting on a squiggly green “M” that was supposed to represent grass. As the scene plays in my mind, I imagine my teacher pulling me aside and asking why I hadn’t drawn my father.

ESSAY: One of those Texans

(Web Exclusive) Growing up, I never really expressed the deep pride in my state that many die-hard Texans express, but I liked it well enough. Two classmates in my high school photography class, on the other hand, just couldn’t wait to get out of this hot, conservative, Christian place. At the time, I thought, “I don’t mind it. It’s not that bad here.

Essay: Confessions of a shopaholic

(Web Exclusive) I’m sort of careless when it comes to money. I came to that realization when I had to call my mom at the end of October to tell her I spent rent money on a Halloween costume. If I was going to be Flo the Progressive girl, I just had to have the $60 Converse sneakers she wears, right?

Dig in: Essays on food

ESSAY: Long-distance eating

(Web Exclusive) The eating, it was intense. I started slow, steadily built momentum, then established a frenzied sort of rhythm. Crouched low to the street, I clutched my first conquest — a sesame bagel — close to the chest like a jittery squirrel afraid a predator might swoop in at any minute. Large, doughy chunks went down un-chewed. A banana, a bag of Oreos, two personal pan pizzas and a Tear ’n Share packet of Peanut M&M’s would soon follow. I planned to tear without sharing. Here, huddled on a curb in downtown St. Louis, eating was my business, and let me tell you — business was good.

ESSAY: An open letter to Anthony Bourdain, the chef who hates my dad

(Web Exclusive) Dear Mr. Bourdain, My name is Hannah Hayes, and I consider myself a pretty big fan of yours. I have all of your books lined on top of my crappy, leaking refrigerator between two Martinelli’s Gold Medal apple juice jugs. I think your thoughts on vegetarians and hollandaise sauce are genius in its purest form. I even made sure that my college radio show wasn’t scheduled for Monday night this semester so I wouldn’t miss a second of your show, No Reservations.

ESSAY: Equal Parts Adventure and Inspiration

(Web Exclusive) Confession: I am a foodie who despises seafood. Really, it’s not my fault. I blame my parents. The extent of my seafood exposure as a child was limited to Van de Kamp’s fish sticks, and I don’t even think that counts as fish at all. It’s a shame, honestly, because I’m jealous of those who can savor salmon. I’m envious of those who delight in oysters on the half shell. I get green-eyed over those who close their eyes as they bite into a perfectly cooked tuna steak. Because when I eat any of it, my gag reflexes set in, and I reach for a napkin. It’s not a pretty picture.

ESSAY: Cupcake Beginnings

(Web Exclusive) “Cupcake” was my first word. Yes, that’s right. Not Mama nor Daddy but cupcake. Because of this pivotal event in my life, I have logically concluded that I was put on this earth to fulfill my cupcake destiny.

ESSAY: The Modern Day Woman’s Culinary Dilemma

(Web Exclusive) I hit the door running and made a beeline for the fridge. I flung open the freezer door and dodged the frozen foods that came flying out of its cramped depths, picked up a frozen brick labeled “Ground beef,” and crammed the rest of the cold packages back into the overly full freezer.

ESSAY: The Thought That Counts

(Web Exclusive) Like Holy Communion, the appearance of the doughnut box in the kitchen became a regular Sunday-morning ritual in my family. The mixed dozen didn’t come from a fancy patisserie but from the Kroger bakery within walking distance of our house.

ESSAY: Defrosting a future of food

(Web Exclusive) Gammy’s order to grab cream from the downstairs refrigerator might have sounded like a chore to most young kids. But for me, my grandma’s request was permission to open my favorite refrigerator. Pulling with two hands, I would slide the glass doors across the metal tracks. Barely clearing the 8-foot-tall basement ceiling, the refrigerator beamed with red and white letters scrolled across the front: Coca-Cola.

ESSAY: Election Day blues

(Web Exclusive) On November 2, 2010, I finished my last class of the day right before lunchtime. I thought to myself, "What a perfect time to go and vote." As I walked across campus towards the Gaines/Oldham Black Cultural Center, the presence of an election was as visible as Casper and his friends. Lowry Mall was as vacant as the Bates Motel, and the boisterous chants and music flowing from speakers circa Election Day 2008 was non-existent.

ESSAY: A Rocky Horror Picture Show virgin

(Web Exclusive) A man in fishnets rubs his crotch against my shoulder. The crowd surrounding me cheers and laughs. I smile, too — it’s not the strangest thing that has happened to me tonight.

ESSAY: Breaking out of an image

(Web Exclusive) Earlier this year, I sat down with my father at the kitchen table and — in just a few sentences — managed to alter his carefully constructed world.

ESSAY: a love story with alcohol

(Web Exclusive) My love affair with liquor began in my first boyfriend’s basement. I was 15, and the bottle of cheap vodka had been pilfered from a parent’s liquor cabinet and stashed in the family’s pool table days before we were introduced. It was warm. I was naïve. My 16-year-old boyfriend, Josh, played the wise scholar set to teach me all about drinking and being drunk.

ESSAY: Addicted to tanning — a confessional

(Web Exclusive) In the piercing heat, beads of sweat trickle down my back as the aroma of warm coconuts and burning flesh satisfy my unhealthy craving. I look at the timer through my plastic goggles to see I only have five minutes left. Five minutes until I must leave this serene box and rejoin the rest of civilization.

ESSAY: A small taste of homelessness

(Web Exclusive) I met Glen in Flat Branch Park one Thursday night in July. I was standing at Fourth and Cherry Street, checking out some plaques about Columbia history that I had never noticed before.

ESSAY: The New Russian Roulette

(Web Exclusive) I met several new people last night. Not in a class. Not through my friends or new roommates. I may never even see them again because we met on the Internet. First, I’m introduced to a young woman wearing a tiara, holding a glow-in-the dark shot glass in one hand and a camera in the other as she screams: “Take a shot with me, I’m 21!” Welcome to

ESSAY: Tattoo experience signifies independence

(Web Exclusive) For many, college is about independence. We are independent from our parents for the first time and able to make our own decisions. We are independent to choose to go to class or to sleep in. We are independent to choose to do homework or to party.