Crickets: A Love Song to Late Summer

In April, I promised myself that I would savor the summer day by day, with the mantra: “Be here now.” But now that September is upon us, the fall field crickets (gryllus pennsyslvanicus) are calling time and, as usual, they’ve triggered the onset of my annual autumnal melancholy. Winter is coming. Woe is me. On…

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Unmasked. Maybe.

Once upon a time, in March 2020, I taped a paper mask to the inside of my front door as a public health and safety reminder. But because I tend to leave the house without at least one of the essentials (keys, cell phone, leash, poop bags for Toby, the Terrier mix), I wrote “Mask?”…

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More Mass Shootings: Between Fury and Despair

I wrote my first mass-shooting column 22 years ago, after two students at Columbine High School murdered 13 of their classmates and then turned the guns on themselves. That happened in Littleton, Colorado, a few miles from where I grew up. I addressed that piece to reassure my daughter, who was then in middle school…

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Since when are tampons a “privilege?”

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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Bye bye Blackbird. And Sparrow. And Finch.

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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Bake sales for women’s rights?

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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Three cheers for television

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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Reverse the Curse: Red Tent/Real World

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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Women of the 116th Congress: Looking Good

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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