*Almost* Paradise: Close Enough

So how’s your dukkha these days? I know exactly nothing about Buddhism, but my friend Jill does. That’s her beautiful daughter in the photo up there, standing next to former American Ballet Theatre principal ballerina Julie Kent, perhaps a little star struck. Dukkha, she explained, is the Buddhist concept of suffering, with an asterisk: it’s … Continue reading *Almost* Paradise: Close Enough

Live Your Life: A Mother’s Reflection

Live your life, live your life, live your life.—Maurice Sendak It’s Mother’s Day, a Hallmark-y holiday. Flowers will be dispensed, brunches eaten, and everywhere priests will stand at the pulpit and spin out sermons on the importance of mothers for the umpteenth time; they’ll repeat them next month but insert the word “fathers.” I had … Continue reading Live Your Life: A Mother’s Reflection

You Can’t Sit With Us: Reflections on a “Mean Girls” National Policy

Find someone who looks like they need a friend, and be that person's friend: it was my mama's mandate to me on the first day of third grade, a tall order for an eight-year-old kid at a new school, but the outcome for me that year was a tight friendship with a sweet, third-generation Scot. It … Continue reading You Can’t Sit With Us: Reflections on a “Mean Girls” National Policy

Hope and the Human Spirit: Postcard from Home

Knoxville’s downtown Market Square once held an imposing masonry building that served as a center for thriving commerce, including a beloved farmer’s market that purveyed meat, poultry, dairy, produce, and flowers trucked in from the city’s rural outskirts. A 14-year-old boy set it ablaze lighting a cigarette in the late 1950s, goes the story, gutting … Continue reading Hope and the Human Spirit: Postcard from Home

Tail of the Dog, in Which Warden Prepares to Play the Wrong Piano Concerto

In 1999 the Portuguese virtuosa Maria Joao Pires famously sat at the piano with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, conductor Riccardo Chailly  at the podium, awaiting the first bar of the piano concerto she expected to play for this lunchtime concert. Imagine her surprise when the orchestra began playing a different piece of music—the Mozart Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor—instead … Continue reading Tail of the Dog, in Which Warden Prepares to Play the Wrong Piano Concerto

Sunday Photo Essay: New Skete Monastery, Spiritual Connections

There has been a German Shepherd-shaped hole in my heart since I lost my beloved Clarence-the-Canine to Degenerative Myelopathy in January of 2014; the intervening years have marked the longest dogless period in my adult life. Yesterday Handsome Chef Boyrfriend and I attended the annual pilgrimage at the New Skete monastery in nearby Cambridge, NY. The monks … Continue reading Sunday Photo Essay: New Skete Monastery, Spiritual Connections

Mike Birbiglia, Life’s Interruptions, et al.: A True Story

In a recent interview comedian-writer-actor-director Mike Birbiglia spoke of becoming a new dad on the heels of a work project, how he timed things in a way he thought he could stay in control, and then—like all brand new babies do—his infant daughter completely upended his best-laid plans while she successfully upstaged him. He’s a … Continue reading Mike Birbiglia, Life’s Interruptions, et al.: A True Story