Saturday, January 27, 2018


G: Sun
P: I exercise daily
C: We're all just trying to get by

Monday, January 15, 2018


G: My child's easy joy
P: Sometimes setting aside what I want
C: My covetous heart

Monday, January 1, 2018


Gratitude: Friends
Pride: Maintaining blog as social media tool
Compassion:Anyone out in this cold

Sunday, December 31, 2017


I read an article this morning in my beloved NY Times on how to keep one's New Year's Resolutions.  I'm not really interested in making any resolutions this year (laziness, fear of failure), so reading the article was more an exercise in voyeurism than anything else, but I'm glad I did.

Apparently, evidence suggests willpower is not the way to go.  Better, in terms of taming yourself, to harness the prosocial emotions of gratitude, pride, and compassion.  Willpower drains us, per the author; gratitude, pride, and compassion strengthen our abilities and resolve.

I think this is probably true.

I'm going to try making this trio -gratitude; pride; compassion- my daily touchstones for 2018.  I know I need something.

Gratitude: Central heating is the best.
Pride: I grew my teaching business this year.
Compassion: The coworker by whom I feel bulldozed is probably going through a rough time.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

2017 in books!

My father once staged an intervention for my reading. It was Christmas break or some other book-friendly interval, and as per my usual practice, I’d made a single foray to the library before retreating to my room with my spoils. And there I remained for the ensuing week, emerging occasionally to eat.

After the third or fifth day of watching me stagger blearily over to the carbohydrates and drag them back to my lair, my father knocked on my door. We needed, he said, to have a talk.

“Reading isn’t real life,” he told me. “You’re missing it.”

The older I get, the more vigorously I suspect he was wrong.

So in honor of a real and vital reading life, and in no particular order, I hereby present the five liveliest, most crackling, most consuming books I read in 2017.

Best family drama: Commonwealth, Ann Patchett. I love a good family drama! So many dynamics! So much pettiness! But they are difficult to execute- often either too sprawling or too small-minded. Commonwealth managed to be simultaneously sweeping and finely drawn- a luminous spiderweb of a novel, with a trace of venom at its core.

Honorable mentions: Anything is Possible, Elizabeth Strout; Maine, J. Courtney Sullivan; The Nix, Nathan Hill.

Best utopia gone wrong: Arcadia, Lauren Groff. Who doesn’t love a utopia gone off the rails? The collision of idealism and reality always makes for good plot, and I’ve read dozens of variations on this theme. This one managed to surprise me. It’s beautifully written, to boot.

Honorable mentions: The Girls, Emma Cline; Euphoria, Lily King.

Best dose of reality: Evicted, Matthew Desmond. A thoroughly dispiriting, yet absolutely riveting, account of poverty and those who take advantage of poverty. Evicted won a Pulitzer this year, so it doesn’t need my plaudits. It has them, nonetheless.

Honorable mentions: Strangers in Their Own Land, Arlie Hochschild; Shrill, Lindy West.

Best book I really didn’t want to like: Lincoln in the Bardo, George Saunders. Boy do I hate Celebrated Male Writers using Craft to Talk About Big Things. Unfortunately for me, this book was fantastic.

Honorable mentions: Swing Time, Zadie Smith; Within a Budding Grove, Marcel Proust

Best book to pass the Bechdel Test: The Animators, Kayla Rae Whitaker. It's not often that a book catches me out, because there are only so many stories writers tend to want to tell. But the animators surprised me consistently, even relentlessly. It also awakened me to the disturbing rarity of the female work narrative- a story in which women are working for the sake of work (as opposed empowerment or self-actualization or love or family or identity or world-bettering), and in which work forms the backbone of the narrative. This is a big, sloppy, overstuffed, hardworking novel- and 100% worth the mess.

Honorable mention: I only wish there were more in this category.

Sunday, November 26, 2017


Days burn to their nubs.
I run along the charred edge,
stumbling like morning.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

August 27

Too slow.  The air moves
faster.  Your hand is a fish
in my hand: morning.