Sabrina Lee

Sabrina Lee majored in English and French and graduated from Calvin College in 2013. After a couple of gap years, she’s back in school at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, pursuing a MA/PhD in English.You can usually find her reading and drinking tea—and, once in a while, ballroom dancing.

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About eight hours and one time zone away from me, in eastern Kentucky, tucked between the steep, short mountains, there is a small city with a population of around 7,000.

Recipe for Disappointment

The pleasure of these videos comes from the small frame. Everything is contained, orderly, and clean. All of the mixing bowls—so many!—are matching. All of the ingredients and utensils are always there—without price tags.

More Than a Fish Needs a Bicycle

It all turned out fine. We weren’t abducted or murdered in our beds. Our host, whom we met later that evening, turned out to be sweet and ostensibly normal.

Consider Your Houseplants

At first, the concept of intelligent plants seemed a little far-fetched, or, rather, whimsical, a kind of wishful thinking that envisioned a magical world, rather Tolkein-esque.

Imposter Syndrome

We aren’t who we should be, and that’s not ok. And try as we do, we can’t fix our ugliness. But that doesn’t mean we’re not loved, and it doesn’t mean we’re alone.


As the semesters and years roll along, my library—my store of knowledge—becomes more and more unread, and, in a similar way, the more I learn, the more I realize how little I actually know.

An Advent Sucking-Stone

My pastor slipped up this past Sunday, saying “Lent” instead of “Advent,” as she sent us into this new season. How appropriate, actually, for these two periods of waiting mirror each other: repetition with a difference.

The Real Thing

The Rare Books and Manuscripts Library, however, is different. There’s a ritual to entering this cold, dry, protected space. Before going in, you have to lock up your backpack, purse, coat, pens, snacks, water bottle, binders, and folders.

Big Ten 101: Elementary Football

So, a few weeks ago, while I was reading Shakespeare, my friend prepared a twenty-slide Powerpoint presentation on the basics of this facet of American culture about which I am completely illiterate.

I Try To Move It, Move It

It’s fun and flirtatious, but even after a couple months of practice, I still haven’t gotten the Cuban motion, the foundational movement and feel of salsa, right.

A Watchman for Our Time

In light of the current tensions and tragedies that have ripped through our country, Go Set a Watchman is startlingly relevant and “comes to us at exactly the right moment.”


Instead of being on intimate terms with the backspace key—my usual writing method—I scribble, fill the margins, and use enough arrows to spin my note pad in every direction.

Heroes Made Human

The people whom we admire immensely, whom we rely on earnestly, turn out to be merely people. They don’t know everything; they can’t do everything; They let us down.

El Sonido de la Milonga

The slight, young instructor who was so patient when, earlier, I stumbled through the cha cha, drove me backwards with a force I had not anticipated.

For Good Friday

Poet and memoirist Mary Karr writes: “The very word incarnation derives from the Latin in carne: in meat. There is a body on the cross in my church.”

The Real World

When we talk about the “real world,” we implicitly negate either our neighbor’s reality or our own. We fail to recognize that life is hard for everyone.

The Wrong Altar

I check the box. I type my name. I submit the application. Because time is up—I have to grab my apron and rush off to work; I have to pull on my boots and walk the dog.

Always the Men

Just when I’ve turned to head to the bar, one of the men grabs my arm and says, “Hey, you know who you look like? Like the girl from the Addams’ family!”

Imagine all the People

We—that glorious, plural pronoun. At the end of the service, we sang “Oseh Shalom,” a Jewish blessing, but the chorus was John Lennon’s “Imagine,” a song we dreamers all knew.

Another Thing Not On My Résumé

Ok, ok. I know what you’re thinking: It was a fly, Sabrina. It was something that hangs around poo and contaminates your food and is just generally a nuisance. You did humanity a service.

Brute Friendship

Elena’s need for the “dazzling, terrible” Lila is so powerful that it can be felt in the writing: if some parts of the novels drag, it is because Elena, without Lila, is herself dragging.

The Groupon

I’ve also dared to bring out four waters by hand instead of using a tray. And, I’ve started recognizing my customers, especially the Groupon-wielding bunch.

A Fabulous Reality

She shows us that it is possible to be a human squid and to play on a seahorse piano. She dances in impossible shoes and belts out that her ARTPOP could mean anything.

French Self Defense

When I finally figured out that my visa couldn’t be extended, and when my departure became imminent, my friends’ plans for extending my stay became more far-fetched by the day.

The Weight of Six Pounds

It’s the kind of book that takes up half of your book shelf and that you could use as a makeshift booster seat to prop a toddler up to the grownup’s table.

A Time to Laugh

I could have lectured Laurent on the dangers of objectification, complete with a bibliography and citations.I could have bared my carefully-honed feminist fangs.

Never, Never Have I Ever

And so I entered the world of woods and two-toned scarves, of strange chants (all the more daunting in French) and sleeping bags.

Feels Like the Movies

Alice also warned me that the inmates would shake our hands, wanting contact with the outside world, and when one lone student finally straggled in, he proffered his hand to both of us.

A New Christmas

Yet, during the past three years, it had been always winter and never Christmas for Jeanne and her family: they didn’t see the point, nor could they muster the strength to celebrate without wife and mother.