If Thanksgiving Were an Awards Show

If Thanksgiving Were an Awards Show

I’ve got my acceptance speech ready ME (stands at podium, clutching Golden Turkey award, gasps in surprise and delight): Gosh, this is so unexpected! I’m just honored to be in the company of so many amazing dinner hosts, all of whose work I deeply admire. I know I wouldn’t be standing here if it weren’t for your inspiration . . . all those food blogs, all those incredible Pinterest boards . . . (voice breaks with emotion) CUT TO AUDIENCE: general nods and smiles, a few faces shining with (presumably) happy tears ME (recovers composure): And really, this whole project…

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Not Hearing From Your Writer Friends?

Not Hearing From Your Writer Friends?

An explanation and apology in 21 haiku Know a novelist?If they’re out of touch right now,There’s a good reason. It’s NaNoWriMo(National Novel WritingMonth), so these haiku Are not exactlykosher. Trust me, I’m aware,but cut me some slack. Because I’m doingNaNo again this year, whichmeans 30 days to Write 50,000words of an ugly rough draftof a new novel, If I can wranglethose words into the storythat I have in mind. But it’s not just me.Half a million writersAre typing like mad All over the world.It’s a shared insanityThat reassures us, First-time rookies orSeasoned and published authors,That it’s possible. Every single pageBegins…

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I Just Want To Get Along

I Just Want To Get Along

But it’s getting harder We had our kitchen cabinets painted this week. The painting contractor, a very nice man whose services we’d used years ago when we lived here previously, gave us an estimate that made our eyes pop, but that’s what good work costs these days. And his guys were good. They showed up on time, pretty much, every day, and did their work with care and skill. They treated us, our possessions, and our house with respect. With one exception. Midway into their first morning, my husband thought it prudent to make sure they were vaccinated since none…

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Give Me Some Lip

Give Me Some Lip

In praise of our oral perimeters There are things in life that we take for granted, even when we pay attention to them. Traffic signs. Mailboxes. Gravity. And, it occurred to me this morning as I was putting on makeup, our lips. In the interests of decorum, I will establish that what we are talking about here are the lips we use to eat, speak, and whistle (among other things, which we’ll get to further on). This is a G-rated post. Having said that, search for images of lips and you will be confronted with a plethora of voluptuous, pouting…

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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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