Do We Make Ourselves Too Comfortable?

        “We can choose courage or we can choose comfort, but we can’t have both,” Brené Brown writes. “Not at the same time.” In one of her podcasts, she observes that ours is a culture that insists on being comfortable. The implications are clear. But how could comfort be a bad thing? […]

Land Where Our Children Kill

        Mass shootings used to send me to the computer. Hands shaking, I would read everything I could find about the shooter, desperate to know why. Now I swipe the reports away, numb as an iced elbow. Andrew and I make caustic remarks to each other: “Gee, there hasn’t been a mass […]

“Making Memories”

        Travel ads urge us to “make memories.” So do friends writing birthday messages and marriage counselors trying to squirt a little glue into the breakage. Not the sentimental sort, I used to find all that a little Hallmark-icky, somewhere between planned motivational fun at a corporation and newsletters that tell you […]

Pushy Marketing

        Ads and fundraising asks can be enchanting, if they are creative, heartfelt, or done with a certain wry sensibility. But all I feel lately is badgered. Am I just cranky, or does anyone else feel it too? Not just the rushing stream of bad news and violence, but the ratcheted up […]

Crowned Head

    Dentistry was different in my day, I tell my kids. Really that means it was different in that time, place, and at my mother’s income level. Cavities were removed with a melon baller and packed with lead ingots the size of an ice cube. A crown was made with an angle grinder borrowed […]

We Are All Becoming Conspiracy Theorists

        My husband has an excellent track record. When authorities were seeking two men from the Middle East for the Oklahoma City bombing, Andrew said, “It’s probably some White militia.” When I brushed off parental outrage about a gay teacher, he insisted on accompanying me to a PTA meeting that turned out […]

Frank Lloyd Wright Drew Them a Nice Little House

    Imagine you are Russell Kraus, a glass artist. Your wife, Ruth Goetz Kraus, graduated from Washington University’s law school, which is rather remarkable for a woman born in 1904. She is eight years your senior; you met working on a WPA project and have been crazy in love ever since. It is time […]

Turning Away From Abstraction

        A headline in caught my eye: “Turning Away From Abstraction.” I scanned eagerly. Alas, Emmanuel Iduma was not announcing a trend. His piece was deeply personal, and he was using a Fauve painting to reflect on writing—which can, indeed, be a wild and beastly practice. Even so, representational art, so […]

The Best Cat in the World

    It is a fact that every cat is the best cat in the world. Rascal was living on a golf course, eating mice, little birds, and trash, and lapping water from puddles when he was captured and taken to the pound. When we went to adopt, my sons small, he immediately agreed to […]

What the Humanities Reveal

      My husband once sat in a faculty meeting at a university north of here. Cold coffee in front of them, the senior history profs stroked their beards and waited their turn to bemoan the uselessness of their discipline. They were shocked a few months later when the sciences received a bigger chunk […]