Essays

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Page 1
Infrared NASA image of a spiral galaxy that looks like a swirling gauzy reddish disc with a shining white sphere at center

School reunions in a pandemic make us wonder what could have been, but are we looking in the wrong direction?

The universe inside

A pair of school reunions this year, plus emerging from the shutdowns of the pandemic, restarted Michelle Chikaonda’s habit of wondering who she would be in an alternate universe. But this time, something is different.
Michelle Chikaonda

Michelle Chikaonda

Essays 5 minute read
Adam & Eve are two brown-haired white people standing together in a pond, blooming lilies around them in a colorful diorama

Why a trip to Kentucky’s Creation Museum makes me worry about Pennsylvania’s future

Because the Bible says so

Nowadays, Kentucky’s Creation Museum is starting to feel awfully familiar to the Christian battleground looming in Pennsylvania, thanks to far-right politicians like Doug Mastriano. Rob Laymon considers.
Rob Laymon

Rob Laymon

Essays 5 minute read
A little brown wren, its beak open, perches on a wire against a blurred background of green leaves.

A walk in the woods, with the wrens, makes me wonder: if things were simpler, when?

Where do house wrens go home?

A photo of a common bird gives flight to Kile Smith’s thoughts on technology and gratitude. Were things really simpler “back then”? What do we witness nowadays, and how?
Kile Smith

Kile Smith

Essays 5 minute read
Daralyse, a smiling woman with light brown skin, in an athletic yoga pose, balanced on her arms with legs held up to one side

When your disability is often invisible, it can be hard to claim your identity

Living with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome

Journalist Daralyse Lyons was living with the symptoms of a rare connective-tissue disorder long before she had a word for it, but her official diagnosis led to an important life decision.

Daralyse Lyons

Essays 4 minute read
A white boy of about six years old lies on a bed, wearing headphones and looking at an iPad. He wears a gray t-shirt.

As a retired librarian who loves to read books, I’m all for giving kids screen-time

Welcome to iPad Land

As a bookworm kid who became a librarian, Roz Warren used to assume screens were bad news for youngsters. But now she takes a different view.
Roz Warren

Roz Warren

Essays 4 minute read
Costumed actor plays Betsy Ross, smiling & holding a 1770s US flag while 2 young Black children point excitedly to its stars

On Independence Day 2022, is our democracy failing? Not if we listen to our children.

We have to grow up. So does our country.

SaraKay Smullens knows a thing or two about adolescence: she’s a social worker, a family therapist, and a mother. Things in the US seem pretty bleak, but she argues that this is our adolescence, and we can still seize a bright future.
SaraKay Smullens

SaraKay Smullens

Essays 6 minute read
A large photo of the writer’s dad, a white man with white hair, placed on top of a worn recliner chair and vintage typewriter

When home leaves you: a Father’s Day foray into holding on and letting go

Packing up my parents’ house

When Anndee Hochman’s parents moved to the Philly suburbs in 1965, it was a compromise. Almost 60 years later, the house holds a departed father’s heart. It’s time to say goodbye again.
Anndee Hochman

Anndee Hochman

Essays 5 minute read
Danie Ocean, a Black person in shorts and tank top, plays an electronic drum set at home, singing along to the music.

Losing your sight means adaptation, in life as well as music. I seize the rhythm.

A drummer’s Pride and joy

Delight is something writer and musician Danie Ocean wants more of, and that means picking up a new instrument. It’s a career move, but also a move for Black, queer, blind, nonbinary joy.
Danie "Ocean" Jackson

Danie "Ocean" Jackson

Essays 2 minute read
A fourth-grade classroom photo of a whiteboard with a collaboratively written poem about stars hand-written in black marker.

Children on the edge: a fourth-grade poetry teacher mourns Uvalde

They were fourth graders.

Anndee Hochman is a parent. She remembers what a horrible day for schoolkids used to mean: sniffles, the dentist’s chair, lima beans for dinner. Today, she teaches fourth graders. The fourth graders who are still alive.
Anndee Hochman

Anndee Hochman

Essays 6 minute read
Christina, an Indian American woman in her 30s, doing stand-up in front of a black curtain. She smiles and holds a mic.

My comedy career was taking off, but so was my anxiety. Here’s how I learned to handle it.

Losing sleep over laughs

Christina Anthony thought she was good at coping with stress, until she discovered she wanted to be a stand-up comic.
Christina Anthony

Christina Anthony

Essays 5 minute read