Bob Woodward and the Stories We Tell

      Bob Woodward, often praised with superlatives such as “the best reporter of our time [and maybe] the best reporter of all time,” has 24 short videos on investigative journalism on the site MasterClass. These are from 2017, but I only just watched the material and found it interesting, informative, and inspirational. As always, […]

Why Women Are Drawn to “Bad Boys”

    “Why do women always go for the arrogant jerks?” Implicit in my husband’s exasperated question: Why is steady virtue not sexy? I shrug, as though this propensity is just as odd and puzzling to me, and point out that his steady virtue has delighted me for thirty years now. I do not mention […]

Do We Have to Monetize Everything?

    It is the nicest apology I have ever received. “Babe,” my husband says, “I am so sorry. I watched you paint and said, ‘You could sell these!’ But last night I heard somebody on the radio saying that nobody can just have a relaxing hobby anymore because if you’re any good, people start […]

Marriage is an Institution for the Rich

  When people talk about large-scale social crisis in the United States the topic eventually gravitates straight toward marriage. Or more precisely, the current lack of it. If children are in crisis it is because marriage is in crisis. If loneliness is epidemic it is because marriage is in decline. And if people are poor […]

Should Emotional Labor Be Reimbursed?

    The phrase “emotional labor” was new to me, but its practice is not. Emotional labor is that extra layer of effort expended to please, soothe, and accommodate others. Tacitly women’s work, it is the nine-to-five equivalent of dishes, dusting, childcare, eldercare, and, in traditional marriages, husband-coddling. Emotional labor is tossing aloe-softened tissues and […]

The Beloved Poet-King Eddie Balchowsky

    What does a musical artist do in the midst of a bloody war? Eddie Balchowsky was twenty-one and planning on a future as a concert pianist. He had studied three years at the University of Illinois (before getting booted because he had broken into a music studio). He wound up in Chicago, working […]

Goodwill to All

        My younger son wanted to visit the Goodwill Outlet in the city before he goes back to school. He convinced me to drive by saying they would have wall mirrors, which I collect from Facebook Marketplace, and even possibly a chair. He wanted to look for thrifted clothing. Teens love washed-out […]

How Zero-Sum Thinking Divides Us

    I used to wonder if politics boiled down to temperament. Were liberals just bleeding hearts who preferred compassion to logic? Were conservatives just devoted rule followers nervous about change? Then my mental diagram turned into a wild doodle, with fat circles at the edges for those even more rigid or more woke, and […]

Sandra Day O’Connor Shamed Me by Example

    She served on the highest court of the land as its first female justice. She sustained a “nondoctrinaire, context-attentive approach,” rare today, that kept her decisions aligned with the social consensus. A moderate Republican appointed by President Ronald Reagan, she received the nation’s highest medal, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, from Democratic President […]

How Black Migration in St. Louis Sparked Generation Nope

        During the early days of the pandemic, my ex-partner passed time by tracing his family heritage back four generations. The majority of his relatives, he claimed, did not have ties to the Deep South and they were not remembered as poor slaves or sharecroppers. They lived comfortably as farmers in Ironton, […]