February 17, 2016

Teaching Writing, Questions

I met with a student yesterday before class who left me feeling at a loss.  I am struggling, yet again, to set realistic expectations when it comes to writing.

The student came to me wanting to make sure he understood what I was asking in an upcoming essay.  After we had worked together to clarify and develop a strategy to complete the assignment, we had a few minutes to talk.  “Who are you?”  I asked.  “I mean, when you’re not at school, what’s your life like?”more >

September 4, 2015

Refugees, Families & Feminism

Two stories caught my eye this morning, both relating to families.  In oneBoston Globe columnist Shirley Leung champions the rights of mothers to return to work the week they give birth.  In the other in The Wall Street Journal, Joe Parkinson in Istanbul and David George-Cosh in Toronto analyze the ways Nilufer Demir’s photograph of Alan Kurdi, a drowned, 3-year-old Syrian refugee boy, has gone viral.more >

June 27, 2013

Kelly McEvers: Diary of a Bad Year

I stayed up late last night listening to Diary of a Bad Year: A War Correspondent’s DilemmaThe piece, produced with Jay Allison and, is NPR reporter Kelly McEvers’s remarkable, hour-long audio documentary about her struggle to justify covering deadly war zones while raising a toddler.

McEvers’s choice – and her agony over her choice – is specific and universal.  Not many of us civilians are in lines of work where a tenth of our colleagues have been murdered or killed in crossfire the past year.   But most of us struggle with the complex emotions of wanting to succeed professionally in jobs we love and also wanting to be with our spouses and kids.more >

August 9, 2012

Spreading the Astonishment

In case you missed these beautiful photos, here’s a link to images of American Olympians with children. They are all photos of women.

Of course, I wondered how many Olympic men are dads…and why that’s completely un-newsworthy. The underlying assumption is that men, whether or not they have fathered children, are always free to pursue excellence. Women, on the other hand, spend their energy putting their children first. That they have time to become the very best at anything astonishes.more >

September 9, 2011


I’ve been cleaning, clearing, re-organizing, re-painting, even redecorating all summer. Re-claiming space with an eye toward living in an empty nest. I have come across scraps of paper from a zillion lives ago, kids’ kindergarten art projects, files from projects left dead by the road. Some of these reconnections have left me with a sense of sadness. Others have brought outright joy.  By far the hardest? The Rolodex.more >

May 5, 2011

Longing to Speak Seal

Lily and I strolled along the shore this afternoon for our first beach walk of the spring. We saw a dark figure from a distance. What was it? The undulations made it clear that we weren’t looking at anything with legs.

Had to be a seal. Was it a baby? Or just small? Neither of us could tell, but we felt protective, all the same. We weren’t carrying cell phones, so we couldn’t call for help. As we moved closer, our shoes ran over the edge of a message some previous walker had left in the sand. “ANIMAL STRANDING KNOWS.” We weren’t the first to have come across the seal. No point, then, in trying to send an alert. I wrote my own message in the sand: “SEAL VERY TIRED 3 PM TH.” Who would read this? Certainly not the seal.more >

February 28, 2011

The Housewife Returns

I had to stop myself before filling in the customs re-entry form on the flight from Heathrow to Boston last Wednesday. Name: fine. I remembered it. Address: ditto. Carrier, flight number, passport number, passport issue date, passport expiry, yadayadayada. At the bottom — profession. I gripped my pen…and then I remembered: “housewife.”  I had gone to India as a housewife, so, I figured, I’d better come home as one, too.more >

January 24, 2011


Rebecca from the visa service called with an update. She wanted to let me know that by listing myself as a “writer” on my application form, I was putting myself in a category that would require five to seven weeks of scrutiny. “The consulate will read everything you’ve ever published. They’ll want to know what you might be writing about the country.” I protested that I also put down that I’m unemployed. “Doesn’t matter,” she said. “They’ll consider you part of the news media.”more >

November 8, 2010

Fair Game

Friends called yesterday morning to ask if Mark and I would like to go to the movies early afternoon.  My knee-jerk reaction? I internally looked over my shoulder, thinking, “Who me?” Aren’t we supposed to be ferrying children around and fanning the fires at home? I just as quickly said, “Sure!” once I realized that we could actually meet up without a wrinkle.more >

July 13, 2009

The Outer Space

I’ve been blogging this summer — but not here, on Bowl o’ Cherries.  I’m keeping a blog for WCAI, the NPR affiliate for Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket.  The blog’s called “The Outer Space,” because I’m spending the summer covering stories on the Outer Cape (roughly Orleans to Provincetown).  Come find me, and leave me a comment:more >