Slumping Toward the Altar

Congratulations to Jessica Mesman Griffith and Amy Andrews, who won a 2014 Christopher Award for their book Love and Salt: A Spiritual Friendship Shared in Letters (Loyola Press). Launched in 1949, The Christopher Awards are presented to writers, producers, directors and illustrators whose work affirms the highest values of the human spirit.

There has always been something unappealingly puritanical to me about getting up early. It’s so Midwestern. But I’m glad my husband is an early riser. He’s from Illinois, and he springs from bed before dawn like he just can’t wait to get to work. He plays Copland’s Appalachian Spring. Loud. He also brings me coffee in bed.

Dave’s early rising is one of many ways he’s a mystery to me. I’m a native of that strange country around New Orleans where people like to stay up late and sleep past sunrise. Like my mother, I thrive in the late night and need a good ten hours of unbroken sleep to function.

Of course, I haven’t slept like that in the eight years since our daughter was born. Mornings in our house are a horror show of Dave flipping on all the lights and the children jumping on the bed. I only get up reluctantly.

[Read more...]

Confession: Yom Kippur 5774

I rise with the congregation.

I form a fist. They form a fist. We form a fist. The fist is personal. The fist is communal. We have sinned. The fist knocks on my chest. We have sinned. The fist knocks on their chests. We have sinned. The fist knocks on our chests. The fist knocks.

I chant, they chant, we chant:

We have sinned, betrayed, robbed, and deceived.

We have acted basely and caused evil;

We have acted maliciously, violently,

And have spread lies.

We have given bad advice, we have misled;

We have mocked, rebelled, and scorned;

We have acted stubbornly and perversely;

We have transgressed and acted hostilely;

We have been obstinate.

We have acted wickedly and corruptly;

We have committed abominations;

We have gone astray and have led others astray. [Read more...]

Prime Time Secrets

Recently I completed work on the first season of The Americans, a new FX drama about Soviet spies posing as D.C. suburbanites in the Cold War heyday of early 1980s America. My prior job was on Boss, about a ruthless Chicago mayor desperate to hide and survive at any cost an equally ruthless degenerative disease.

Loath as I often am to watch TV at night after a day spent creating it, I am hooked enough on Breaking Bad that ahead of its final chapter this summer I’m catching up on back seasons of the saga about a terminally ill high school chemistry teacher who puts his lab skills to use in the crystal meth business to secure the financial future of his family.

But I’m way behind on Mad Men, about a 1960s ad exec whose primary marketing campaign consists of maintaining his fabricated identity.

What gives with all the secrets that form a kind of landscaping in prime-time television? [Read more...]


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