things i wrote in september, october, november 2017

December 15, 2017

in blowg, reading

a busy couple of months for me, so much that i didn’t update this monthly. click to find more archives of published fiction and journalism.


Scientists Used Cellphones and Sewage to Pinpoint Neighborhoods With Drug Users‘ — Motherboard
Turned this around in about three hours, which was nice because I feel like I really understand this topic after writing this one in January, which was also mentioned in Discover recently.

A Bill That Would Save Lives in Pennsylvania Probably Won’t Pass‘ — Tonic
This one evolved quite differently from what I originally intended (in a good way), as it broadened in scope from talking about just the opioid crisis in Pennsylvania to other parts of the country. It paints a picture of the clear resistance to helping people with substance use disorders.

Even After Overdosing, Most Pain Patients Still Get Opioids‘ — Tonic
This was just a standard news writeup (I didn’t interview anyone) but I did read the entire study and a few of the studies that were in the footnotes, allowing me to link it to a broader problem and put it in context of what else was happening that week, including CVS pledging to restrict dosage and supply of opioids.

Ayahuasca Afterglow — How Post-Trip Mindfulness May Play A Part In Treating Depression‘ — Psychedelic Times
The Beckley Foundation does great work and this study was very interesting.

Why The FDA’s ‘Breakthrough’ Nomination For MDMA Matters‘ — Psychedelic Times
This was big news when it came out (and rightfully so) but I didn’t see a lot of articles putting the FDA’s decision into context, let alone going into the history of MDMA as a therapeutic drug. Plus, I learned that there are currently only two FDA-approved medications—sertraline (Zoloft) and paroxetine (Paxil)—for treating PTSD.


In Arizona, Foster Parents Can’t Hold Medical Marijuana Cards‘ — Chronicle of Social Change
Started branching out a little to cover topics related to foster care and child welfare, but this one still focused on stigma against legitimate forms of natural medicine i.e. medical marijuana. Talked to many people for this one.

Want To Stop Climate Change? Science Suggests Psychedelics Will Help You Love Nature‘ — Psychedelic Times
Stuff like ‘psychedelic drugs make you like nature more’ seems pretty obvious, but it’s always encouraging when there’s actual science to back these things up. This particular study was pretty large, but not perfect. It just shows we need more research in this arena and that these substances, which are relatively safe compared to most legal drugs, should not be illegal.


Should Pregnant Women Be Allowed To Use Opioids Under Medical Supervision?‘ — Undark
Spent close to two months reporting on this and it is probably the most in-depth thing I’ve written all year, if not my entire journalism career. It began with an internet argument with a reporter friend about supervised injection sites. He was opposed to the idea, and asked, ‘What if a pregnant woman were to use it?’ I was a bit stunned. I have long been an advocate for SIS, because the overwhelming amount of science on the topic shows that they help people and reduce harm, but I’d never asked myself if pregnant women should be allowed to use them.

A little bit of research led me to Dr. Marianne Jauncey, an advocate for allowing pregnant women into SIS, who I talked to for this article. I interviewed close to twenty people for this, not counting the two days I spent calling up every California state senator to ask them why they voted against opening SIS in the state and whether women being pregnant factored into their decision (it hadn’t crossed their mind). The editing process was rigorous and very thorough. I really appreciate the work that Undark does, so it means a lot to me that I was able to work with their incredible editors.

A Brief and Beautiful History of Neuroimaging‘ — Motherboard
My lord, this book was beautiful. Took me a long time to read and write this review, but I learned a lot about neurobiology and myself along the way. The many different types of neuroimaging techniques today are astounding. It involves weird glowing proteins from jellyfish, gamma rays and modified rabies viruses. Super cool and one of the best projects I’ve worked on this year.

Apologizing All the Time Could Be a Sign of Anxiety‘ — Tonic
My editor proposed this idea to me and it took longer than I wanted it to because it was hard to find experts that knew a lot about apologizing, let alone its (alleged) link to anxiety. More research definitely needs to be done on this topic. I interviewed about four or five people for it (couldn’t use all their stories) and I learned a lot about anxiety and forgiveness and, again, myself.

California Expands Community College Assistance for Current, Former Foster Youth‘ — Chronicle of Social Change
For a second, I honestly thought this topic was kind of boring, but that’s because it was a kind of complicated and there was a lot of legalese to sift through. But once I got through that, I found it was actually quite a useful program that impacts a lot of underprivileged folks. That’s what I like about my job—taking something boring and making it interesting to read, or at least relevant for some people. I wish I could have found an actual student who uses this program to talk to—I contacted numerous schools and organizations—but couldn’t find someone in time for my deadline.

New Ketamine Research Points to Wide-Ranging Therapeutic Potential‘ — Psychedelic Times
Ketamine has so much potential for treatment resistant depression, but a lot of the other applications for this drug are overlooked. Well, maybe. Good to see more promising research coming out on this powerful dissociative.

Two Magic Mushroom Studies Suggest Psychedelics Increase Spirituality, Decrease Criminal Behavior‘ — Psychedelic Times
The study about psychedelics and violent crime was all over the media, but the other study about spirituality was overlooked by most places, so I wrote a piece comparing the two.

‘hope is the thing with feathers’ and ‘If It Has Teeth, It Bites’ — Four Chambers Press 05
Last but not least, I had two flash fiction pieces published in the best (and only, really) literary magazine in Arizona. I’ve been submitting stuff to Four Chambers since Issue 02 and they’ve always been rejected. Rather than be discouraged, I’ve really tried to refine my work and I’m beyond proud to finally be in an issue. You can pick up a copy here.

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