September 13, 2018

The Americans, FX’s drama about Russian spies living in Washington, D.C., ended its six-season run on May 30. After season five, I wrote in “An American Body Politic” about how deception corrupts various kinds of bodies (national, personal, marital) because intimacy cannot abide it. (more…) Read more

September 12, 2018

My annual family Christmas letter swelled from a single paragraph into a sixteen-page spread before I finally admitted at age thirty-seven—to myself, more than anyone else—that I wanted to be a writer, a desire that’d been brewing during a decade as a full-time wife, mother, and dedicated church volunteer. (more…) Read more

September 11, 2018

In July 2016, I watched season one of Stranger Things with my younger brother. I didn’t encounter a Demogorgon in the small town where we grew up, but I did use walkie-talkies, grow infatuated with girls from school, and roam the neighborhood on my bike. Last fall, I watched season two with my wife, the older girl in high school who I had crush on. Long before we were married, I even found the confidence to ask her, a junior,… Read more

September 10, 2018

This Is Us. This is Adoption. Open adoption, in which a child’s birth family and adoptive family arrange to have some sort of contact, from sharing basic background information at the time of adoption to writing occasional letters to taking vacations together, has become the norm with domestic adoption. Although the majority of social workers and child development experts agree that open adoption is an improvement over traditional “closed” adoption, many people still don’t understand how it works or the… Read more

September 6, 2018

My teenage granddaughter Phoebe was visiting us from out of town. On these visits, we always choose a movie for evening viewing. “What about The Wizard of Oz? I think it was the first movie we watched together here, when you were about five,” I suggested at dinner. Phoebe demurred. “The producer did bad things to Judy Garland,” she said. “They made her eat almost nothing to get thinner, and they gave her pills that led to her becoming addicted…. Read more

September 5, 2018

On July 24, an orca calf died off the coast of British Columbia within thirty minutes of birth and Tahlequah, the calf’s mother, carried her dead daughter on her rostrum, pushing her through the Salish Sea from Canada to the U.S. and back again in a funeral procession that logged a thousand miles and lasted seventeen days. The Puget Sound region, and soon the world, watched in grief, horror, and helplessness as Tahlequah’s ordeal made daily headlines, noting that at… Read more

September 4, 2018

1. The temptation is there. Every time my daughter rubs her elbow against it, the sliver opens underneath like a tomb. I did that. I cut the plastic that covers our table, and through the tablecloth itself. I did it earlier, right before dinner as I was cutting my basted quilt pieces with the rotary cutter. It went unnoticed until I served her plate and saw her picking at it, her small fingertip tracing the line, the plastic and cloth… Read more

September 3, 2018

My grandfather’s death came surprisingly quickly, and I witnessed his rapid decline over the three consecutive Sundays leading up to it. On the first Sunday, he was still at home, refusing help when sitting up or adjusting his still powerful body on the bed. Years of throat cancer had left his voice barely audible, but he managed to tell us, as he always did during our visits, how proud he was we’d stopped by. When my mother showed him my… Read more

August 31, 2018

Charleston’s poem is a piece of contrasts: youth and age, sugar and spice, consumption and generosity. Rife with gustatory description, the poem gathers crumbs of what it means to be home. Our speaker avoids establishing a setting directly. As we read, we discover location through a person and through food. “The pink lip of the sink,” and “some pancake-flipping ghost” usher us into a home built from tastes and smells, a home typified by presence rather than walls. This presence… Read more

August 30, 2018

Many years ago now, not long after I had been received into the Orthodox Church, I had a dream that has remained vivid: The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, our chief celebration of the Eucharist and main Sunday service, is being celebrated right next to the escalators in a Neiman Marcus store. In the dream, there’s a square plot of carpet outlined by velvet ropes, and inside two priests, long-haired and long-bearded, are doing some of the works of… Read more

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