In 1993, in Billings, Montana, someone threw a brick through a window that displayed a child’s drawing of a menorah. That was the year I bought an electric menorah. I had always turned up my nose at them: ugly, commercial, crass, nowhere near as beautiful or meaningful as real flames. But candles burn out within an…

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We are in the midst of a sea change in the image and even the experience of menstruation, thanks to a generation of girls who are growing up with much more information, thanks to moms and the internet, where cheerful gynecologists explain everything, including how to insert a tampon. (Raise your hand if you remember your first time doing that, all alone in the bathroom with nothing but a confusing package insert for guidance.)

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It’s quiet outside: in the suburbs, in the city, in the mountains, and near the sea. But this morning, I finally realized that it is too quiet. Weirdly quiet.  The kind of quiet that, in movies, signals something terrible is about to happen. When the background music disappears and the sound of a lone cricket…

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Maida Heatter – doyenne of cakes and cookies – died last week at the age of 102. So I baked a cake in her honor. I just had to. In 1972, I cut a recipe out of the New York Times Magazine for Chocolate Mousse Torte, which looked like the most delicious thing in the…

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Planned Parenthood is benefiting from bake sales to protect women’s reproductive healthcare. A wine bar in Somerville is offering $12 glasses of rose to underwrite abortions in Alabama, where the uterus is apparently now in the public domain. Am I supposed to celebrate or pull out my hair? The answer is … yes. It’s crazy…

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Face-to-face conversation is a basic human need. It’s how we learn to speak and think — how we form and maintain relationships. When practiced by consenting adults with courtesy and curiosity, it is one of life’s great pleasures. Conversation has been practiced and refined for centuries: from salon, to coffee house, to cocktail party, to…

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Recently, I read a story about a young woman in rural Nepal who burned to death because she was having her period. Partabi Bogati was following the ancient Hindu practice of chhaupadi (from a word that means “impurity”), which sees menstruating women as bearers of disease, disaster and bad luck; they are barred from handling…

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I can’t stop looking at the New York Times special feature, “Redefining Representation: The Women of the 116th Congress.” This gallery of 130 — of the 131 — female senators and representatives is a celebration of racial, ethnic, religious and geographical diversity. It’s full of firsts: first Native American women (plural!), first Muslim women (plural!),…

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