This Is Living — an Exclusive from Loitering: New & Collected Essays by Charles D’Ambrosio


Charles D’Ambrosio  | Loitering | November 2014 | 25 minutes (5,836 words)

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Loitering: New & Collected EssaysFor our latest Longreads Exclusive, we are delighted to share “This Is Living,” an essay from Charles D’Ambrosio’s Loitering: New & Collected Essays, published by Tin House. Subscribe to Tin House and check out their book titles. Buy the book

I was seven and had a leather purse full of silver dollars, both of which, the purse and the coins, I considered valuable. I wanted them stored in the bank. At the time, the bank had an imposing landmark status in my map of the world, in part because it shared the same red brick as the public school, the two most substantial buildings in our town. As a Catholic school kid I did a lot of fundraising in the form of selling candy bars…

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Consider This, Too

Mad Mormon...

If it takes a minute or two to make a decisionimages

That’s too long.

“All things considered…”

Like what?

There is right, there is wrong.

Keep it simple, stupids….

Gray is the mixture between black and white.

For our purposes, good and bad….right and not right.

“All things considered”

Like what?

Gray is the worst color that has ever been invented because it tints indecision and insecurity.

Gray is the way out.

Fog is gray….

Gray is purgatory, so to say.

Gray is where we go when we don’t want to commit ourselves.

“I know the difference between what’s right and wrong, but…”imagesscarecrow

“So, what have you decided?”

“I don’t know, that’s kind of a gray area”

“Gray area?”

“Yeah, I can’t decide if it’s my best course of action.”



“It’s just not that simple”

Think about this;

You know what to do immediately in any situation, don’t…

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Combating Holiday Weight Shame

Dances With Fat

You Forgot Your BullshitThe article “Tell Loved Ones They are Overweight This Christmas” is making the rounds again. I will not be linking to it because I have no interest in driving traffic there. I will say that should my loved ones take this advice the follow up article will be “I Told My Loved One She Is Overweight and She Told Me to Sit Down, Shut Up and Mind My Own Damn Business.”

The article says that in a poll of more than 2,000 people, 42% of 18 to 24-year-olds would not tell a loved one they should lose weight because of a fear they would hurt the other person’s feelings.

According to the article, this suggests that ” too many people shy away from the issue”.  According to me this proves that 42% of 18-24 year olds have common decency and/or realize that it is impossible for a fat person in…

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Our Bad Media

In the summer of 2012, just days before a certain columnist was found to have plagiarized from The New Yorker, a staff writer at the prominent magazine itself resigned in the wake of a widespread plagiarism scandal. The journalist, famous for pop-science works that generated scathing reviews, had been using unattributed quotations taken from other people’s interviews. He had copied-and-pasted from his peers. Generally, he had faked his credentials as an original researcher and thinker.

The New Yorker itself had a doozy on its hands. The scandal had tarred the magazine’s famed fact-checking department, despite claims that its procedure was “geared toward print, not the Web.” Editor-in-chief David Remnick was embarrassed. He’d initially kept the writer on board, distinguishing one bout of self-plagiarism from the more serious offense of “appropriating other people’s work.” Now, his magazine was losing a star that had been groomed as “Malcolm Gladwell 2.0.”


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14 Most dangerous critters




Lice are wingless scavengers that feed on the skin of the host’s body, or on other secretions such as blood. On the average, humans who serve as hosts to lice have about fifteen different species of lice on their heads. Although like termites they are not always dangerous to humans in the classic sense they do have the ability to transmit diseases.


Deer Tick

Deer TickEvery year the Deer Tick infects thousands of people with Lyme Disease. Lyme Disease begins with a rash around the bite resembling a bull’s eye. Early symptoms include head ache and fever. As time passes, the victim will suffer stiff joints and heart problems. Few victims die from the disease but their suffering can go on for years.

Army Ants

Army Ants

The first creature on our list that would be dangerous in the typical sense of the word, army ants are known for their aggression, especially as predators. Unlike other species of ants, army ants do not construct their own permanent nests. Instead, they build colonies that move from one place to another. These predators incessantly move during the day, preying upon insects and other small vertebrates. In fact the entire colony put together can consume over  half a million prey animals each day.


Yellow Jackets

Yellow Jackets

Although most yellow jackets are little more than a pest, certain species such as the German yellow jacket of North America are bold and aggressive, and if provoked, they can sting repeatedly and painfully. They will even mark their aggressors and pursue them if provoked.


Black Widows

Black Widows

Although the sting of a female black widow spider can be very harmful to humans due to the neurotoxins released, if medical attention is sought immediately then the effects of the bite can be limited to little more than some pain.


Puss Caterpillars

Puss Caterpillars

Although they look cute and furry, and even supposedly derived their name from their resemblance to “pussy cats”, do not be deceived. Their fur hides spines that can cause an extremely painful reaction upon contact with human skin and sometime  chest pain, numbness, or difficulty breathing.




One of the best known disease carrying bugs, cockroaches have been known to carry numerous disease agents that can be very dangerous to humans. And here’s a fun fact for you – they can live for months without food and water.


Parasitic Worms

Parasitic Worms

Parasitic worms are a type of eukaryotic parasite that get their nourishment from absorbing the nutrients of their hosts by sucking their blood. Most parasitic worms are known to dwell inside the digestive tract of humans and cause insomnia, vomiting, nausea, and numerous other issues.


Bed Bugs

Bed Bugs

A longstanding human parasite, while they may not cause excruciating pain or death, their bites can potentially lead to negative psychological effects and allergic symptoms.


Human Bot Flies

Human Bot Flies

Human botflies have larvae that can transmit life threatening parasites to humans. Also known as torsalo or American warble flies, human botflies are typically transfered by mosquitoes and ticks. When a mosquito carrying the larva of a human botfly lands on the human skin, it drops off the larva onto the skin and leaves it there. After a few days, this larva develops under the layer of the skin and may cause serious infection if not immediately treated.


House Centipedes

House Centipedes

House centipedes are most known for their pairs of venom claws called forcipules. Their bites are deemed hazardous to humans because they are very painful and can cause severe swelling that can last for days.


Black Spitting Thick Tail Scorpion

Black Spitting Thick Tail Scorpion

Although not technically fitting into the bug category, black-spitting thick tailed scorpions are among the most dangerous species of scorpions. Most of them live in South Africa, especially in deserts. They are most known for their thick tails and thin claws. These scorpions have the ability to spit out venom through their tails. They stings can cause pain, paralysis and death among humans.


Assassin Bugs

African Assassin Bugs

Well known for carrying Chagas disease, these parasitic bugs often infect people living in poor, rural parts of the Americas.


Bullet Ants

Bullet Ants

Called bullet ants because victims often describe the feeling of being stung by this ant as equal to the feeling of being shot by a gun, a person bitten by this ant can feel throbbing and unabated pain that can last for more than a day.