What Ukraine Is Teaching Us

      How tone-deaf, cold, rude, and stupid would it sound to say I envy Ukrainians? Not the bloodshed, not the suffering and the wrenching sorrow and the destruction of all they have built. But their spirit. Here is how Olena Zalenska, the country’s first lady, described Vladimir Putin’s “fatal mistake” to Vogue: “We […]

Rainy Day Haters

      Few sights are prettier than hundreds of umbrellas held up against a gray sky, bright reds and polka dots glowing in that diffused light like a field of poppies. Also, there is the fun of galoshes, the way you can stomp through puddles like a little kid, the protection of their whimsy. […]

Turning Down the World’s Volume

      It is dusk, and I am standing in the middle of the Endangered Wolf Center. Acres of land, edged by woods and divided into giant enclosures with ponds and little sleeping houses, all of this tucked into the vast nature preserve that is Washington University’s Tyson Research Center. An EWC staff member […]

First Jobs

    One of my grandfather’s first jobs was child coal miner, family lore says. My other grandfather, also born in the 1880s, would have labored on the family farm or, more likely, on land they worked as sharecroppers. My grandmothers as children and teens would have worked the crops and labored in the home, […]

Spit Take

      It seems so innocuous, clear and frothy and hopefully odor-free. Nothing like the strong stuff, blood and urine and sweat and mucus. We wiggle away from when a grandmother spits on her hand to rub dirt off our face; we welcome a French kiss. You would think saliva’s significance would end there. […]

Slain Director’s Documentary Mariupolis More Timely Than Ever

    Mantas Kvedaravicius, a Lithuanian documentary filmmaker, was killed by Russians this week as he tried to leave Mariupol in southern Ukraine. He is best known for the film Mariupolis, which was nominated for prizes at international film festivals in Berlin, Hong Kong, and Stockholm; he won Best Director at the festival in Vilnius. […]

Stuck on You

      How I envied the girls who could crack their gum and blow big pink bubbles. Friends tried to coach me, but I never got the stuff to stretch around my tongue, and thus had no handy weapon against stern nuns or ridiculous parental decrees. Was it an accident that bubblegum was Barbie […]

The Flame and the Flower…Today

      “Doomed to a life of unending toil, Heather Simmons fears for her innocence—until a shocking, desperate act forces her to flee… and to seek refuge in the arms of a virile and dangerous stranger.” Yep, that was my model for romantic love. The Flame and the Flower, by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss. “A […]

A Sniper’s War Shows Entrenched Thought in Ukraine War

    For a time, during the early part of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, social media was inundated with videos of captured Russian soldiers being given tea by everyday Ukrainians and a chance to call their parents back home. The propagation of this compassion might have seemed at odds with the viral video of […]

Does Labeling Mental Illness Do More Harm Than Good?

      How benighted, that we once diagnosed schizophrenia as satanic possession. Or, later, that we blamed “frigidity” for the absence of an orgasm and “cold mothers” for their children’s mental illnesses. Well, we still blame greed and sloth for endocrine obesity; irresponsibility for addiction that has altered the brain’s receptors; perversion for behaviors […]