Bohemian Rhapsody

Backstage at the Wedding

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Big news: My son got married last week, and now I have a daughter-in-law. I have lucked out in this department. Maria is a formidable person with beauty, brains and a lovely family hailing from the country of Ecuador. I often describe her as “the younger, prettier Penelope Cruz.” She is bilingual, she is doing her residency in orthodontics at Harvard, she is sweet and has a lot of really cute dresses. In general, she is a pretty upscale specimen of the human race.

Keeping Up With Caitlyn

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Last night at school, my student Amelia had a question. “As writers,” she asked, “do we have to feel shame for liking books written by celebrities? Because —” She cast down her big brown eyes and gathered her courage. “I love them.”

The Long Way to Okay

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For about a year now I’ve been feeling the pain of my empty nest, though it will not actually occur until the fall of 2018.

In the spring of that year, I will turn 60. That’s pretty much fine with me. Listen, by the time you get to the end of a decade, 28, 29, 38, 39, 48, 49, it’s like, enough already, let’s just get on with it. Thirty and forty were good for me. Fifty was a new beginning if nothing else– my mother died, my marriage died, my first generation of kids hit the road, and I left the boondocks of south-central PA for beautiful downtown Roland Park.

On the March

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As you’ve heard or seen with your own eyes, it was amazing. It was three times the size of the inauguration. It was peaceful and positive. It was the Woodstock of marches!

Resolution 2017: Back to the Couch

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As I sat down to make New Year’s resolutions a few days ago, I realized that the usual suspects for this operation – intemperance, impatience, cattiness, career, cardio – were banding together in self-defense, fending me off with their collective flabby triceps. What? They cried in protest. Leave us alone! How are we the problem?

I saw their point.

Chicken Soup for Post-Election Gloom and Doom

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hugging lizards

Over the past weekend, I ran into a couple of writer friends in the coffee shop downstairs from the Politics and Prose bookstore in DC. Are you here for the reading? I asked. I was there to see Beverly Lowry present her new book, Who Killed These Girls, about the yogurt shop murders in Austin, Texas in 1991.

Hillary Clinton v. Donald Trump: What’s the Difference?

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donaldvshillary

Though I have voted in every presidential election since Carter/Ford in ’76, I have often felt that the difference between the two candidates ranged from not much to slightly more than that. Once they get to Washington and get whopped over the head by the checks and balances, not to mention the lobbyists and the PACs, it’s more or less business as usual. The pro-life Bushes did not manage to recriminalize abortion, and Obama couldn’t stop the war. American politics blah blah blah, life goes on. 

How to Celebrate the Day of the Dead

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DAy of the Dead
Rejoicing Quietus by Thaneeya McArdle

In honor of the Day of the Dead, we re-post this favorite column from our archives, originally posted October 30, 2013. 

Drape a small table with a cloth in the favorite color of the person you loved who has died. Adorn it with candles, flowers (marigolds are traditional) and framed photographs. Set out some favorite foods: a slice of pie, a bottle of beer, a Milky Way. Add the instruments of their hobbies and vices: a pack of Newports, a deck of cards, a banjo. A People magazine, a racquet, a Terrible Towel. A copy of Peter Pan, of The Joy of Cooking, of the Bible.

The Mystic Secret of College Tours

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Photo via americancollegetours.org
Photo via americancollegetours.org

This past weekend I took my daughter Jane, a high school junior, on the first of what will surely be many campus tours. She is my fifth and last child to go to college, if you include the ex-stepkids, and I realized early Saturday morning that I know something about this process that I didn’t the first several times through.

A Novel in the Drawer

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The other day, I “finished” my second novel. I use the scare quotes because I’ve finished this novel about a dozen times already. Even the pitch that tells what the book’s about has been endlessly revised, but here’s the latest version: