Eating Our Terror

            There is a peculiar phrase in Arabic, psychologist Hala Alyan notes in her beautiful essay on fear. Its literal translation is “You’ve eaten some terror.” The notion stops me. I am used to thinking of emotions eating us. Devouring us, consuming us, swallowing us up. But to eat terror—or […]

Good Trouble

    A “votercade” was held in St. Louis on Saturday, in support of the National John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Action Day. The national event was to “to demand preservation and expansion of voting rights,” by “mobilizing to pass the For the People Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, DC Statehood and […]

My Old Kentucky Quandary

    “Hasn’t this leftover of the capitalist elite run yet?” my husband asked as he passed the television set, me leaning forward, legs demurely folded to one side, mint julep in one hand. “Post time is later this year,” I informed him. “And don’t ruin it.” This exchange took place two weeks ago. Medina […]

Do We Even Want Real Journalism?

    Roughly once a month, somebody asks, “Do you know a good investigative reporter?” Then they launch into a story of such rank injustice or exploitation or abuse of power that my fingers twitch toward a notepad. What they need, though, is a reporter whose questions will make the right people nervous, and whose […]

The New Prosperity Gospel

    Followers of the prosperity gospel worship the power of positive thinking—above all, the puritan faith that they are preordained for prosperity—and are comically impious as a result. “Expect great things and great things will come,” said Norman Vincent Peale, friend and counselor to Presidents Nixon, Reagan, and Trump. But just as the cynic is, […]

Small Talk, Big Ideas

    People are saying a lot these days—most of it superficial—about small talk. How we miss it, after our year of solitude; how to do it gracefully; how it glues our society together. Personally, I have always hated the stuff. Small talk is designed to smooth over awkwardness and allow us to chat pleasantly […]

Speak of the Dead in Present Tense

      Most grammar rules, we break as blithely as casually as kids break curfew. Only when we speak of the dead do we turn timid, terrified of using the wrong tense. In the first few days, someone “has died,” but once the announcement is made, they simply “died.” Or “passed,” though none of […]

When Failure is the Measure of Success

    When I was training to be a military diver, the school’s cadre often ran us out to the beach to run in formation through the loose sand of the dunes, because it was said to be good for our wind and leg strength. It was certainly tiring, and the PT would often go […]

Markers of the Past

  The Union Miners’ Cemetery in Mt. Olive, Illinois, was quiet on a recent Thursday afternoon. It sits a quarter-mile south of one of the remaining stretches of old Route 66, in a town of two thousand. The cemetery is filled with German, Italian, and Eastern European names of those drawn to work the extensive […]