Personal Essays

The Conspiracy of Bad Coffee Is Real, but Ending Soon

        Every so often the forces of new scientific findings and opinion columns align to produce a certain sense of dread and unease. In this case, that dread and that unease are acute if you believe in the power and pleasure of a good cup of coffee. Yes, there are myriad other […]

Was the Eclipse Anticlimactic?

    You would think we were planning an expedition to the moon. First I researched ancient and medieval narratives of eclipse, read the scientific explanation of the crimson ring we might see (hydrogen in the chromosphere) and the erratic behavior of wildlife, and got sidetracked by solar wind and the music of the spheres […]

Steinbeck and the Baby Bunny

    The dog drops into a play-bow, a fuzzy toy in his mouth. He leaps up, pounces, energy high, eyes sparkling with fun. Boy, he really loves that toy, I think, curious which of the thousand has sparked his imagination. My husband, always more alert than I, stops in the doorway. “What’s he got?” […]

Easter Baskets Will Arrive Per Contract, Cartel Insists

        All the big holidays involve pleasure-by-glut, from the gifting of Santa to fireworks on the Fourth. Glut is a celebration of freedom from want, but it is important to these particular gluts that they arrive by an external source of magic, which covers its tracks with prosaic details. The reindeer have […]

The Lost Joys of Flying a Kite

    April is not “the cruelest month.” It is, with March, the windiest month. As such, these months are the best of the year to find or build a kite, find a grass-filled open space, and feel the delicious tug of wind stretch down from the sky, down the twine or wire suspending your […]

Why Must We Keep Hearing About the NATO Inch?

      A Russian acquaintance I will call Ivan, the Head Supervisor of Cultural Education at a state cultural site, was kind to me and a friend on our trip to Russia in 2014. Since then, Ivan and I have exchanged greetings by email a few times a year. “Merry Christmas to you and […]

A Surprising Museum in Washington, DC

      It can be confusing to civilians that the branches of the U.S. military (Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, and now Space Force) have different but often overlapping missions. Branches often train together in the field and cross-train in each other’s schools. I served in the Army, for example, but […]

Will Walking-Around Knowledge Save You?

        “Walking-around knowledge” is an odd phrase. Do you use it? I do not know where I first heard it, though I suspect it was in my childhood or army service because it feels like an older construction my elders would have used. The presumption was that seeing and hearing things firsthand—to […]

Oh God, What Will the Dogsitter Think?

    For one romantic night away, two days of cleaning, prep, and angst? This neurosis is not like me. Someone else staying in our home was never a big deal. But then came lockdown, and an easy domestic chaos that never ended. Our recent trips have been separate and brief, no dogsitter needed. Now, […]

Learning How to Fall

    Does gravity have commitment issues? For months on end, it grounds and steadies us, then at the least topple, it sucks us off balance. Classic ambivalence, I would say. Drunks and babies fall softly because they are not arrogant. The rest of us fall hard—in love, off the wagon, from glory—and fall so […]