featured Archive

Keeping neighbors on the map

Two summers ago, I spent a month in the Kentucky Knobs without a map. The Knobs horseshoe around the Bluegrass just south of the state’s northernmost tip. Unlike those gentle rolls, the Knobs are a ring of hills, or monadnocks. I was staying in a farmhouse near the peak of one knob. The roads through
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Swedish death cleaning and you

Sometimes, a newspaper article can have surprising repercussions. Last fall, I ignored the spate of coverage of a self-help idea called “Swedish Death Cleaning.” As I now know, Swedish author Margareta Magnusson advised the middle-aged to de-clutter their lives so their families don’t have to muck out their living space after they die. This is
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Crossing paths with an angry dude

Just so we’re clear, I might have made the wrong decision. It was a chilly day as I headed out to meet a friend to walk around Duke’s East Campus. At a Broad Street intersection, I was blocked by a stream of cars whose drivers had not a single fleeting thought of slowing for a
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A succulent philosophy

One evening, I returned home to find the kitchen covered in severed fingers. Green ones. I mean, that was my first impression. But the fingers were far too stubby to be human (perhaps a toddler ogre?). A selection of pots, tins and cups crowded the countertops. When my daughter arrived, she explained. These were the
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Where would you go?

Where would you go in a nuclear attack? This is a question I hadn’t thought to ask myself until recently, with two madmen publicly measuring the sizes of their … buttons. But there it is. This month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – normally dedicated to protecting us from mutated viruses, cancer
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“This is Us” and “Cake”: talking across what divides us

There’s a not-so-secret society that could include someone you love – or you. We have no badges or special handshakes. But we do have a meeting time: Tuesdays on NBC at 9 p.m. EST. Or via Hulu, fans waiting expectantly for the latest episode of “This is Us” to load. “This is Us” is a
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My dad’s gun

When he was a boy, my dad received a marvelous gift: his father’s own boyhood rifle. It’s a beautiful object. Burnished wood stock, a thundercloud-grey barrel. After my dad died, it was the one thing I really wanted. At this moment – 2:45 a.m., cat stretched beside me in my Durham home, dog twitching on
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Nasty Women poets anthology

Thrilled that my poem, “Imperator Furiosa posts a status update,” was included in this great anthology by Lost Horse Press.
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A sort of/kind of lament

I have sort of a pet peeve. Kind of annoying, to be honest. I seem to be obsessing about it more than usual, as I write this, while the summer heat descends. These three phrases – “kind of,” “sort of” and “seem to be” – have become the frayed edge of the conversational world, the
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“Breaking the Wheel” in Tolkien and Game of Thrones

One freezing Boxing Day, my kids and I watched the extended editions of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy in sequence, with bonus material (how the armor and swords were made, cast hijinks, CGI amazingness) added in as needed. Our marathon lasted over 16 hours. It was delightful. We emerged woozy and satisfied, like (weed-free) Pippin
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