In the World But Not of It

  Some of my friends–especially those with children–envy the quiet time I have to myself. One friend sank into the cushions of my bamboo chair and listened to the rain drum like fingertips against my attic ceiling. “It must be so nice,” she said. “All this time to write.” No voices. No one competing forContinue reading “In the World But Not of It”

Beyond History

Is it possible? Faulkner once wrote, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” Usually, I agree with this line. It’s especially pertinent for anyone trying something new. Technology. Art. A life. Yet if we are living among the ruins of history, navigating the rubble as much as the current moment, how can weContinue reading “Beyond History”

Intent versus Impact

It’s a jungle out there. Trying to guess at others’ motives–all the while tangled up in our own reactions–it’s a wonder we communicate anything at all. “I don’t think most people are out to hurt you,” a woman at a holiday party said today. “But it’s hard to overlook this when they something and itContinue reading “Intent versus Impact”

Standard of Living

I hear a lot of talk these days about our standard of living. Everyone has something to say about it. Parents worry about their children coming out of college. Will they get a job? What sort of standard of living will this generation experience, entering the workforce already deeply in debt? Cosmopolitans worry that theContinue reading “Standard of Living”

The Observer Effect

When expectation comes up against reality, guess who wins? Not reality. Not usually, anyway. In Volume 391 of Nature, quantum physicists announced that when observed, particles could behave only as particles. But when unobserved, they could also behave as waves (Heiblum, 1998). This was true even when the “observer” was a machine in an empty room. AsContinue reading “The Observer Effect”

Rage Against the Dying of the Light

I inherited my mother’s rage. And she had a lot to be angry about. Growing up in small-town Kennewick in the 1950s and 1960s, she was told she couldn’t do what the boys did. Couldn’t race bikes out in the street. Couldn’t beat them at math. So she did. But, as a consequence, she couldn’tContinue reading “Rage Against the Dying of the Light”

The Limitations of Self

We are each limited by our perceptions of the world. We get only one perspective, one pair of eyes. And imagination, perhaps the only route to being in another’s shoes, is constrained by our own experience and knowledge base. The self is bounded by itself. This can, of course, be very damaging. “Self-absorbed,” as oneContinue reading “The Limitations of Self”

Climbing Mountains

“Oh my god.” I came home and banged my head onto my desk. “What am I doing with my life?” And thus began another episode of writerly angst. I’m not a big believer in writer’s block. But avoidance and angst? I gotcha covered. My attic room (not kidding) is a mess. Stacks of filed writing and notesContinue reading “Climbing Mountains”

Identity and Performance

I just finished reading Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra, and few characters in all the literature I’ve read so fascinate me–and yet remain so remote. Cleopatra’s “infinite variety” is difficult to imagine. I can think of no woman I have ever known who resembles her. One moment playful, the next violent and wrathful, queenly,Continue reading “Identity and Performance”