Heidi Isern

writer. thinker. whiskey drinker.

A Woman at Odds: Knock Me Up or Love Me Truly

In many parts of the world, people do not have choices. The local store carries only one brand of toothpaste. Marriages are arranged. And fertility is finite.

 Notions of swiping people’s faces on Tinder and freezing eggs so we can ‘focus on our career’ read like science fiction. We silicon valley dwellers are ADD afflicted bionic mutants frockickling across the “Planet of Eternal Options.”

 However, our mirages of endless possibility evaporate as we get older.… Keep reading

4 Unconventional Ways to Celebrate V-Day, Solo

It’s February. Your city has transformed into a giant lace doily. Subpar chocolates are veiled in red tinfoil and instantly marked up to a 90% margin.  Restaurants create prix fixe menus with courses named like a drugstore romance novel. “Cupid’s Cutlet” and “Seduction soufflé” tempt the hopeless romantics into overbooked venues.  Smelling a chance for sex, people start pairing up like socks out of the dryer.  The 14th arrives with bang and you suddenly realize that you are the last person standing in musical chairs.  … Keep reading

Why I Write

In the book “Letters to a Young Poet” Rainer Maria Rilke writes, “Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart. Confess to yourself whether you would die if you were forbidden to write. This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of the night, must I write?”


Must I write?Keep reading

Release Your Mind: The Art of Memory Management

“[W]e must never allow the future to collapse under the burden of memory.”

Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting


As we get older we accumulate memories.  Some are splendid treasures that we go back and visit like we have a membership at the MoMA; others haunt us like a dripping faucet in the middle of the night. Plunk.Plunk.Plunk.  Eerily irksome…and at 3 am it requires superhuman effort to turn it off.… Keep reading

This Season, Give the Gift of TMI

This December, I returned to Japan, the land of perfection. People scurried through immaculate streets, their porcelain faces masking a crock pot of emotions swirling and bubbling underneath the lid. In Japan, everything is seemingly pristine from even skin tone to sushi rice formation to fully functioning families.

“Revealing too much will make you lose face,” I was told.


In that case, I am not just faceless. I am headless.… Keep reading

Why You Don’t Have Community (and How to Build it)

Cities are like swarms of independent ants. People scurry to and from various engagements, prodded by an overbooked calendar and FOMO – Fear of Missing Out.  Crowds roll over like an incoming set of waves, and we easily lose one another.

Our constant buzzing through disparate social webs make any consistent get-together with a set group of friends as likely as God giving you a toothy grin and passing you the winning number to MegaMillions in a lucid dream.… Keep reading

Egg Freezing: What They Don’t Tell You

Should corporations store our future in the freezer? Or is this giving a select few false security with a bizarre fad? Facebook and Apple’s decision to pay for women’s egg freezing has stimulated new controversy in women’s cocktail conversations.

“I feel this sends a message that women will never be able to balance a career and a family at the same time and we must choose.”

“It’s like the Sex and the City episode where Carrie spends a small fortune on wedding and baby gifts for her friends and realizes no one gives her anything to celebrate her life choices.Keep reading

Why We Should Relish Failure Like an Empanada


“Man is not what he thinks he is, he is what he hides.”

André Malraux

Every six months my company puts on an event called “Stories” where designers go up on stage and tell personal tales about their lives. We sit on small wooden chairs and eat empanadas while watching our colleagues reveal raw accounts of their past loves, fears, and failures. Attendance has swelled over the years and there are no longer enough small wooden chairs (or empanadas) to seat everyone.… Keep reading

When ‘The One’ isn’t The One (and Marries Someone Else)


Do you remember…when you thought you found ”The One?”


The One you wrote poems about at 3am because the butterflies kept you from sleeping. And eating. And all other human functions that disappear when infatuation invades your body.  You didn’t even poop for three weeks.


The One you’d have sliced off a limb for, if only to spend an hour by her side. After all, who needed a left leg when her head was forever resting in the crook of your arm?… Keep reading

Don’t Do This in Your 30’s

It was August in San Francisco. The morning fog was so thick I wanted to spread it on my toast. I also wanted its gray shroud to smother the fact that my birthday was approaching and another year would be added to my social media profiles.

“Heidi,” a friend told me the night before over copious amounts of Cabernet.  “Age is your biggest mile marker.”

“What does that mean?” I asked.… Keep reading

How to Fall in Love in 5 Minutes

“Have you ever been in love?” I asked a Frenchman with a mustache the size of a baguette. I was technically in Paris for work, but couldn’t resist badgering strangers, researching the prospect of “easy love.”  The Frenchman looked at me like I was crazy.

“Mais oui, but of course!  12 times at least. I could again now in five minutes. Just give me a glass of wine, some jazz, and a woman who knows Sartre.”

When I ask this question in San Francisco, men hem and haw.… Keep reading

Finger Lickin’ Freedom: 4 Things I Love About America….


I left San Francisco as Friday’s sunset descended, hightailing it on Interstate 80 to make Tahoe for Memorial Day weekend. My speakers blasted Steely Dan and I sang along off key, hoping the wind from my open windows would enhance my soprano. My mind, once saturated with thought, was becoming free.

At exit 96, I called my friend.

“I have a confession,” I uttered. “I kinda like my own country.”

“What?!” she gasped.  … Keep reading

Addicted to Intensity*: Interview with a Serial Crisis Zone Doctor


Nelson Mandela once said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.”

When we try to help people in third world conflict or disaster zones, we often reach out with our dollars, the universal language. Rarely do we try to understand the people’s language or anything else about them.… Keep reading

Have Regrets? Get Over It.

Ten years ago I moved to San Francisco with everything I owned packed up in a Honda Civic. The value of my student loan debt far outweighed the value of my material possessions and if I didn’t find a job quickly, I’d have to pawn my shoe collection.

I liked my shoes, so I hustled.

A month later I had two VERY different job offers, each offering a unique life: high tech and fashion retail.… Keep reading

New York vs. San Francisco: In Quotes

My two favorite cities.  One I reside in, the other I play in. The Bold Italic recently posted a few articles with the catch phrase, “The Manhattanization of San Francisco lamenting the two cities’ similarities. However, crazy salaries and ridiculous rents aside, San Francisco and New York are, in my mind, totally different places.

For the sake of research, I spent countless hours in bars across the two towns, collecting quotes that signify the chief difference in multiple domains.… Keep reading

A Love Letter to my Liver

February 14, 2014

Dear Liver,

It was always you. Other lovers, organs and parts have come and gone (oh, poor tonsils) but it is only you that have remained stoically in love and support of me throughout my trying life. Our journey together has been magical and this year, my dear liver, with a hearty glass of Cabernet, I’d like to toast us, our past, and our future. 

Oh Liver, do you remember our first date? Keep reading

Superbowl Reflections: What I learned from a Cheerleader

Superbowl Sunday.The day of florescent cheese dips and smoky pigs parts. The day of cursing at irregularly shaped men sprinting in taut clothing. The day of “where have they been?” stars reappearing on expensive commercials, vying for our share of mind. They day of jersey camaraderie, hive fives, and booty dances.

For me it was a different day. For me, it was ‘the day after’ a heartfelt goodbye. It was the day of dueling feelings, fencing to the death.… Keep reading

So You Wanna Be a Model? A Few Tricks of the Trade…..

My fascination with models started at 14. My hair had just outgrown its tightly wound perm and my mother finally allowed me to get contact lenses to replace the hot pink coke bottle glasses that earned me the name ‘four eyed poodle’ in junior high.

“Mom if I cannot get contacts I am going to DIE,” I had stated.

And then-through Acuvue tinted lenses, my world changed.

“I think you are pretty,” said Brian Engels* at a school dance.… Keep reading

NonResolutions: NonImprovement Plans for the New Year

When the calendar reset button approaches, our mind madly scurries to find ways to quiet our deep longing for vice. “We will be better next year!” we exclaim and hastily create New Year’s resolutions to transform ourselves into a better, slimmer, calmer, happier, richer and more sober replica of ourselves.

Many past New Year’s resolutions went something like this:

  • “I will never drink again. Correction-I will never drink more than 1 drink in one sitting* ever again.
Keep reading

Unconventional Gratitude…from Razor Blades to Wrinkles

Every Thanksgiving we Americans pause, go around the table laden with caloric tradition, and say what we are grateful for.  Usually this includes something like “My adoring friends and family”, “My wonderful career”, and of course some embarrassed admission that we can afford much more food than we can possibly consume.

Instead of creating an ode to mashed potatoes, what if we gave gratitude to things that profoundly challenged or changed us? … Keep reading

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