Or, the persistence of nostalgia.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Ciaran O’Brien on Unsplash

I lived in South Korea for four years. During that time, I traveled throughout the country and was able to travel to other countries between work contracts. A month in France, a week in Hong Kong. Travel was a huge part of my life.

And then my life changed. I moved to the US and for three years, I haven’t set foot on a plane. Finances grew tighter and time off from work was short. Still, visits to Canada and weekends or day trips to various nearby cities offered some of the variety that I craved.

Finally, we started planning…


I used to work for a ghostwriting firm and the list of clients may surprise you.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

“How can people publish multiple books in a year? It takes me two or three years to finish just one!” In online writing communities, I’ve often seen authors bemoaning the amount of competition in even the self-publishing industry.

While traditional publishing has been a hyper-competitive world for a long time, self-publishing is leaning in that direction now too. Self-published authors can feel a lot of pressure since they must be their own publisher and marketer. …


Working on making home a place I actually want to be.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash

This past fall, I found myself standing in the supermarket staring at a collection of tiny gourds in various colors. They were not for eating, but for decorating. For the first time in my life, I thought to myself, “I would enjoy having tiny pumpkins displayed in my house. How seasonal.”

This impulse surprised me. I grew up in a household where survival was the goal, not enjoyment. Decorating was something frivolous and unnecessary. …


Is our idea of cleanliness and hygiene all wrong? I did the research and a personal experiment to see.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Hannah Xu on Unsplash

When people think about the past, particularly the so-called “middle ages” of Europe, they have a very strong picture of people who we miserable, ill-educated, and of course, filthy. Most modern people can’t imagine skipping a shower for more than a day or two without developing a socially unacceptable odor, so obviously, these people who we assume never bathed at all must have reeked like an open sewer, right?

Well, no. The way we frame history often has to do with our perception of ourselves as modern people and the assumption that we do things better than anyone who has…


I used to be one of them, but here’s how my thinking has shifted.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Laura Chouette on Unsplash

“I don’t just feel like I was born in the wrong generation, but in completely the wrong era!” This type of statement, whether from a dreamy teenager, an enthusiastic reenactor, or a quirky bookish sort of person is not uncommon. Usually, the statement is followed up with a few reasons why they wish they lived in the past: the clothes, the manners, the soda fountains.

History is often presented in an incredibly biased way. As with many modern ideas, you can blame it on the Victorians. Amateur archeology was on the rise in the 19th century and any man with…


I was bound to stand out for many reasons, including my body shape.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Manki Kim on Unsplash

I have never been thin by any standard, at least not since puberty struck. While I was trained from an early age to see my body as a project to be improved, it didn’t hold me back. I loved to travel and have adventures, so when the chance to move to South Korea appeared shortly after graduating, I jumped at it.

The scale had always been my enemy, so how would I fare in one of the thinnest countries in the world? …


Have you been thinking of escaping lockdown by jetting off to another country? The expat life many people envision is very different from reality.

Image for post
Image for post

Laying on a beach somewhere tropical, sipping a drink while updating your travel blog. That’s it, work’s done for the day. Now you can spend the rest of your time looking at beautiful vistas, sampling exotic cuisine, and flirting with locals.

“Why do you need to take a break? Every day for you is a vacation,” a friend back home once told me while I was living abroad.

The image of “expat life” that many think of is terribly romantic. It seems like a wonderful fantasy because for 99% of people who live in other countries, it is. This idea…


How lockdown helped me rediscover the magic of secondhand

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Tomas Martinez on Unsplash

“Used” sounds a bit negative. Used books sound like they’re all worn out, sucked dry. Secondhand, however, conjures images of books being passed along, hand to hand, person to person.

My love of books has never been a secret. From the moment I learned how to read, I started plowing through books at an incredible speed. My bookworm of a father provided me with a very adequate book allowance to supplement what I borrowed from the school library. I started writing my own stories and eventually, I got a degree in English.

Adulthood, however, intruded on my love affair. A…


Parents asking for their children to raise them is, sadly, not a new phenomenon

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Caroline Hernandez on Unsplash

I was the youngest of five children, the only girl. My siblings were a good deal older than me, the next youngest being almost a decade older. My parents divorced when I was 8 years old and there were all sorts of splits in family loyalty, grudges, and in-fighting that followed.

But I was just a child and I loved all of them, so I was neutral territory. As such, I became the go-between. Everyone depended on me to keep the family emotionally balanced whenever they had to meet. …


Even when you work from home, toxicity can creep in and erode your confidence and self-worth.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Icons8 Team on Unsplash

“Maybe you just can’t cut it.”

For a long time there’s been a cultural idea about high-pressure jobs that sends a clear message: if you can’t handle it, you’re just not tough enough. You have to pay your dues by being mistreated or even hazed by your coworkers or boss. Eventually, they might start giving you the basic respect you need to be an effective member of the team if you can survive all the abuse.

Or maybe, you’ll stay the office punching bag for the duration of your employment.

Either way, the idea of workplace abuse is relatively new…

Odessa Denby

Professional writer and editor, former expat. Conscientious lifestyle and relationships, mental health, and the arts. Instagram: des_the_crafty_fox

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store