Tripping Towards Eternity

Tripping Towards Eternity

Could psychedelics ease suffering for the dying — and those they leave behind? A few months ago, one of my best friends introduced me to an organization called End Well. A non-profit foundation, it was founded in 2017 by Dr. Shoshana Ungerleider, who hosts the TED Health Podcast and is a frequent medical contributor on CNN, MSNBC and CBS News. She’s a doctor of internal medicine who, after seeing so many patients suffer great physical and emotional pain as they died in a hospital surrounded by strangers, figured there had to be a better way. The operating belief of End Well…

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The Season of Letting Go

The Season of Letting Go

My husband and I have embraced our new life as climate refugees, fleeing from our beloved but fire-scorched Northern California back to our former home in Idaho. In NorCal, October had become a season of dread, every warm breeze sparking the fear of another wildfire, another evacuation, another litany of who’s lost their home, another grappling with the possibility that it could truly, this time, be us. In our neighborhood here, October retains its traditional role as the dazzling demarcation between summer and winter. The air has cleared of wildfire smoke from the west and south, and for the moment…

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You Can Check Out Any Time You Like (But Good Luck Unsubscribing)

You Can Check Out Any Time You Like (But Good Luck Unsubscribing)

There are email lists you’re probably happy to be on You purposely signed up for them, so you could get the helpful newsletter, or never miss a new podcast episode or one of your favorite writers’ articles, or know what’s going on in your neighborhood. Maybe there are organizations you support and appreciate hearing from — especially if not every communication from them is another plea for money. Also, you know that if you decide to unsubscribe from them, they’ll instantly leave you alone. But there are probably other lists that you joined due to retail coercion. Say a loved…

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The Day I Hit Back First

The Day I Hit Back First

Was it assault, self-defense, or something else?

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Why I Wrote The Book

Why I Wrote The Book

The story behind The Moon Ran After Her This novel began with a crime. More accurately, a striation of crimes, like upended layers of sediment. The top layer was a purse snatching. Nobody knew Grandma Aghavni’s exact age, since her family records were among hundreds of thousands destroyed in the tumult that devastated her people. But she was well into her eighties when, on a visit to relatives in Fresno, a man tried to steal her purse. Grandma was not one to let go of useful things — cast-off plant cuttings, chipped but functional dishes, fruit that was perfectly fine…

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There Are No More ICU Beds in Idaho, and I’m Terrified

There Are No More ICU Beds in Idaho, and I’m Terrified

So here are some haiku UnvaccinatedHave filled the ICU bedsHere, in our state, now Health care’s been rationedCalled “crisis standards of care”My love, be cautious Please don’t ride your bikeOr clean the gutters this weekWhat if you get hurt What if we’re too oldYou say we’ve many years leftAnd we’ve got our shots But that won’t matterDoctors weigh the oddsWho’s got the best chance? Car crash coming inThe driver’s only 20Had his seatbelt on Surgery’s hopefulHe’s got a fighting chance, andMaybe more than us We’re in our sixtiesOur health’s pretty good, but stillThe equation’s grim Those who won’t get shotsThrough anger,…

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The Serious Value of Silliness

The Serious Value of Silliness

Lessons from my inner five-year-old You may have noticed that the world is kind of a mess lately. Lately, as in the past five years, or the past 30, or the past 500. Climate change, pandemic, the disastrous end of a chronic war, the Texas legisature — those are a few of the lowlights from just the past year. I’d keep listing reasons to worry about the state of things, but I’m distracted. My inner five-year-old, her chubby cheeks flushed with excitement, is tugging on my sleeve. “Never mind all that!” she lisps through her missing front teeth. “We have tap shoes!”  She…

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Dear Stacey Abrams, I Can Explain

Dear Stacey Abrams, I Can Explain

I am about to register as a Republican. It’s not what you think Ms. Abrams, you are one of my heroes. If the world were a degree more rational or just, you would be governor of Georgia right now. The 2018 gubernatorial election in your state was famously stinky. Your opponent Brian Kemp was the Secretary of State overseeing the election, who during his tenure canceled a record number of voter registrations, 1.4 million in all — including a half-million purged in one night in July 2017, eight months after declaring his candidacy for governor. He also closed 214 polling places, the majority…

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Life is a Road Trip

Life is a Road Trip

Thinking of it that way is my key to sanity This week, I confess I have fallen into error It’s a mistake I have made, alas, many times over. It has to do with taking myself seriously. That leads to brooding about my life purpose, which prompts a lot of bother: setting goals against which to measure myself; pondering the state of the world (awful) and what I can do about it (little); feeling vaguely anxious at the end of each day, worried that I haven’t done enough with it.  I haven’t slept well. That’s partly due to the smoke detectors…

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