MAY 16, 2012 9:26PM

A Dark Incident

When I was a kid I was a bully. I tell myself, on the days that I like myself, that I was a Jewish kid in a series of anti-semitic institutions, and a girl in a series of misogynist ones, and so me doling some of it back was justified. But… Read full post »

MAY 16, 2012 8:35PM

I was bullied into bullying

When I started first grade, I didn't know there was anything wrong with who I was. Yes, I wished for long straight hair like Anya Sherbakova's, and for permission to wear transparent nylons instead of the saggy cotton tights my mother thought to be more age-appropriate, but I was pretty happy… Read full post »

MARCH 28, 2012 8:05PM

More guns!

There has been a wave of petty break-ins in our neighborhood. It unnerved me -- we live in a little leafy suburb, where neighbors left doors unlocked as recently as a year ago. But while the thought of a strung-out 20-something and his girl boosting electronics and fleeing in a stolen… Read full post »

Parents and communities are pushing to put teacher ratings online, for the world to see. Whether as public shaming or public praise, there must be some meaning behind the numbers, advocates say, and the public is entitled. I say sure, post the numbers. But once having started to tell the truth,… Read full post »

MARCH 22, 2012 11:35PM

Tots in Jesusland

My daughter, who is five, is just starting to read for real. She will read anything that comes to hand -- Dr. Seuss and Roald Dahl, daddy's train magazines and the New Yorker mommy hides in the car for when both kids fall asleep at the same time. The first time… Read full post »

MARCH 8, 2012 11:24PM

The condom in the wallet caper

When I was 20, and an undergrad, I decided that I would be a teacher. And the first step to what turned out to be a long and painful and often red-tape-strangled path to licensing was to do a pre-practicum observation of a classroom. I would show up in the designated… Read full post »

MARCH 8, 2012 10:36PM

the innocent mind

Our kids know many things. They know that it takes DNA from two individuals to create a new individual of any mammalian species. They know humans are mammals. They know that vibrating strings inside our piano make the sounds when they strike the keys, and that the way they make the… Read full post »

JANUARY 13, 2012 9:26PM

The good teacher myth

There is much talk in the press and on the campaign trail, lately, about what good teachers mean to students. And on the surface, there is nothing wrong with the argument that a truly excellent teacher can make a great difference in the lives of students. But one has to ask… Read full post »

Dear Prospective Student,

I would like to share with you a few tips that I, as a longtime college interviewer, hope you might find helpful.

1. Respond.

When I e-mail you to set up the interview, do write me back with all possible speed. Do not play hard to get. I… Read full post »

JANUARY 4, 2012 10:53PM

Why I hated breastfeeding

In all the defense of breastfeeding (which I do believe is a good and right thing to do, and should be defended) what I often find to be missing is the actual experience of breastfeeding. I know that for some, it can be a beautiful and fulfilling experience. In descriptions I… Read full post »

There is no doubt that the employees at Target who bullied the poor breastfeeding mother did not mean well. Nor did airline employees in a previous such incident, nor did the gentleman who called me a filthy whore for nursing my fully covered infant beside a playground while my older daughter… Read full post »

DECEMBER 16, 2011 11:07AM

Rick Santorum

To say that I am glad that Rick Santorum will not be America's next President, and that Dan Savage's happy little character assassination site is still frothing away in the ether, is to make exactly the kind of personal attack that, while enjoyable, does not get to the point. It is… Read full post »

DECEMBER 16, 2011 10:35AM

Christopher Hitchens, public intellectual

No public figure’s death has ever hit me with such a palpable wave of absence as the passing, yesterday, from cancer, at the ridiculously young age of 62, of Christopher Hitchens. I have been reading him religiously in Slate for years, and his absence on its pages will be painful and… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
DECEMBER 13, 2011 8:44PM

Grandfather frost, 3 sheets to the wind

I had, in many ways, an enchanted childhood, largely because of my mother's fierce fight againt introducing me to reality. I was a Jewish kid completely unaware of anti-semitism; the child of vaguely dissident samizdat readers who happily became a young pioneer because it seemed nice. I wasn't exactl… Read full post »

DECEMBER 13, 2011 8:12PM


Since my daugher started kindergarten, there have been more platitudes thrown casually about our house then I had ever thought possible. She clambers into the minivan every weekday at 1pm laden with bookbag, lunchbox, and a mind full of complicated halftruths rendered easily digestible for her regurg… Read full post »

NOVEMBER 6, 2011 10:09PM

Occupy my neighborhood!

Today, in going through our mail, I discovered that our neighbors' mail had accidentally been left in our mailbox. I will return it tomorrow, unopened -- that goes without saying. However, a quick glimpse at the envelopes as I was sorting their mail from ours left me a bit stunned. To… Read full post »

NOVEMBER 3, 2011 9:59AM

Buying a second chance

My husband and I have renounced Ikea many times. The first time was right after we moved to a town near Sacramento, CA, and found out that the nearest Ikea was in Oakland, almost 2 hours away. We decided to go and look, just once, and then buy our first joint… Read full post »

NOVEMBER 3, 2011 9:44AM

We don't occupy here

In the small Southern city where I live, where Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh blast from radios on pastoral afternoons as family men in church-group T-shirts obsessively mow their already trim lawns with compensatorily large mowers, the Occupy movement never stood a chance. And yet, a rally was announc… Read full post »

NOVEMBER 3, 2011 9:29AM

I Gripe Because I'm Happy

I am ridiculously happy with my life. This fact is so terrifying, with its gaping possibility of loss, that I almost never confess to it, not even to myself. It is almost as if, by naming the things that are going right, I will turn them from their natural course, and… Read full post »

JULY 27, 2011 11:51PM

My 20 years here

My mother texted(!) me today to congratulate me on this, the 20th anniversary of our landing at JFK, exhausted and terrified, to become, officially, immigrants. The fact that a grown woman whose house we just left after an extended visit texted, rather than spoke, or wrote, or phoned, or telegraphed… Read full post »

JULY 22, 2011 10:53PM

My so-called life

I have quit a few things -- some wrongly, some rightly, some out of fear and some out of strength. Most of them turned out to work for me in the longrun. I quit coffee without ever trying it, knowing that with my addictive personality and the demands I put on… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
JULY 20, 2011 3:44PM

Teach for America

Last year several of my former high-school students, now college graduates and adults I am honored to know, decided to apply to teach for Teach for America. I was proud that they wanted to discuss their applications with me, proud to know that they were seeking our opportunities to teach, proud… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
JULY 18, 2011 3:11PM

The educational void

After starting a few months ago, and posting a few times a week, I took a hiatus for the month of June to teach underprivileged students through a wonderful program at our local community college. These rising high-school sophomores, juniors, and seniors are all looking towards college. The program t… Read full post »

JUNE 1, 2011 10:05PM

Your hypocrisy is bigger than mine

I live in a part of the country where churches of every denomination appear to outnumber every other kind of public building. Fighting with them for obtrusiveness, though, is another kind of public building altogether -- the ever present "adult" stores and clubs. Within a 20 minute drive of our house… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
JUNE 1, 2011 9:37PM

I was a Chick-Fil-A cow

I have never eaten much fast food. Living in large cities for most of my childhood and youth, I neither encountered fast-food restaurants often enough to take notice, nor felt tempted to select them over literally hundreds of more interesting and unusual choices. In moving to the South, however, I fo… Read full post »