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On Claudia Highbaugh – The Wisdom Daily

I don’t expect Claudia to answer the phone, so when her voice crackles through the speaker, I rush quickly out of my office to the balcony, stepping into the frigid October afternoon. I’m in London, and when Claudia says hello her voice is heavy with sleep. It’s only 8am on the east coast.

I’ve called to ask her if there’s anything she wants me to leave out in this piece I’m writing – “about you – about us,” I vaguely explain.

“Write whatever you want. I trust you,” Claudia says.

“Famous last words!”

Her laugh, which is more like a giggle, is infectious. She laughs like a woman unencumbered, and it makes me laugh too. Claudia is excited by the piece, though not because she is its subject. She pauses thoughtfully, and then says “mentoring is not something we really talk about in higher education. We talk a lot about advisors but not so much about mentors. About someone who sticks with you through it all.”

She would know. Claudia Highbaugh is the Dean of Religious and Spiritual Life at Connecticut College. Her previous academic institutions include both Yale and Harvard, but it was at the small liberal arts college where I met her, in the Autumn of 2007. She was teaching a freshman seminar: Examining Art Through Religion and Culture.

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I’m Gonna Stop You Right There – Book Squad Goals

Overcoming Mansplaining in Gimlet Media’s Homecoming

Ten minutes and forty seconds into the first episode of the Homecoming podcast, David Schwimmer deadpans: “Heidi, I’m gonna stop you right there.” It’s a situation that many women have found themselves in countless times — their expert opinions being overridden by mansplainers. In Homecoming, the role of women — in particular, Heidi Bergman — is pivotal, deeply frustrating, and also true to life. In this way, Homecoming is a show that makes the point of view of women a dynamic and realistic one.

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Becoming A Parent’s Parent – Creative Nonfiction Magazine

 

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In Creative Nonfiction #64: “Adaptation,” writers search for new normals. From the eroding shores of Georgia’s barrier islands to the national parks of Alaska to the suburbs sprawling into the Arizona desert, we try to keep up—personally, politically, scientifically—with our rapidly changing world.

Plus, how other forms, including performance art and handiwork, are influencing creative nonfiction; memoirs by daughter-caretakers; Beth Ann Fennelly writes “micro-memoir”; Nicole Walker sees the braided essay as a form of political resistance; tiny truths; and more.

Order a single issue or subscribe today.
All new subscriptions start with CNF #64.

The General Election 2017: Prohibited Opinion

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It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, but today is the General Election here in the United Kingdom. As an American/EU national living (and working, and paying taxes) here, I can’t vote. But I have paid close attention to this election. And this election is giving me literal chills.

Actually, it made me cry.

I queued up outside a local public school to vote for Hillary Clinton on a chilly November morning last year. I was ecstatic. Elated. I was voting for the first woman president. We, as a country, were standing on the edge of a wonderful, new, exciting world of possibility. We were about to take a massive turn. And we did, but not for the better. I cried every day for a full week following the US election results. I cried with my friends, I cried with my mentors, I cried with my mom and my uncle. I cried on the bus on the way to work, at work with my coworkers. I cried. A lot.

When I relocated back to London, I felt a strange sense of self-imposed betrayal – that I had left my country, my friends and family, in peril. That I should have done, should be doing, more. But my life is here in London, so I returned to it.

I never liked Theresa May — not that one has to *like* a politician for them to be good at their jobs. There was something creepy about her – she almost made me give David Ike’s conspiracy theories some merit. She was reckless with every European nationals’ futures, cosied up to Tr*mp way too much, and her party stands squarely against my socio-economic policy opinions. I also never really liked Jeremy Corbyn. He was too inconsistent of a speaker – not like Bernie Sanders (the man I wished was my president) – and I didn’t think he worked hard enough for the remain campaign. I wasn’t sure he’d make a good PM, despite how badly I want Labour to be in charge of the government.

“Labour is the voice that says: ‘You don’t have to take what you’re given. You may be born poor but you don’t have to stay poor. You don’t have to live without power and without hope. You don’t have to set limits on your talent and your ambition – or those of your children.”

But none of that matters, because I can’t vote.

I try to withhold my opinion around people I’m not close to. It feels, strangely, like I’m not allowed to have one. I contribute to and benefit from the NHS, but god forbid I want our government to put it first. I am an EU citizen, but god forbid I want our government to secure our safety and futures. I am a woman, but god forbid I want our government to stand firm with its human rights laws. I am half Jewish, but god forbid I want our government to make this a country safe for Muslims, people of colour, and, LGBTQ+ folks.

Personal passions aside, in casual conversations about voting I towed the very British line. I expressed some personal opinions (May is jeopardising my entire future) and doubts (I don’t think Corbyn can scrap tuition fees) but resigned myself to simply watching from the sidelines.

And then I saw this.

And, you guessed it, I cried. Actually, I wept.

Of course, this video is supposed to play on (any decent human being’s) emotions. But boy did it work on me. The myriad feelings and memories of the 2016 US election, the aftershocks, the continued violence and hate was thrown into sharp contrast against… this beautiful, diverse, wonderful depiction of what Britain is – could be. Even writing this, I can feel that tightening in my chest, the sting in the bridge of my nose – the warning that I’m about to tear up. Being hopeful is a dangerous thing, it seems. Wanting more, wanting better, is a dangerous thing. But I do. I want more for the country I have fallen in love with – its incredible peaks and valleys, its stony shores and bustling, multicultural cities. Its sheep lined hills and Sunday nut roasts. I love this country. And because I love it, I want better for it.