• Do You Have Time for Me?

    This is the story of a student, and this is the story of a teacher. You will want something heartwarming, uplifting, and transformative. Perhaps this is not that. *** At the end of January 2018, I returned from five months of living and teaching in the country of Belarus where I was a Fulbright Scholar. […]

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  • 10 Things That Scare Me

    10 Things That Scare Me

    I just discovered a podcast in which both notable personages and lay-listeners inventory–hey, get this–10 things that scare them. Episodes are short, but their cumulative effect is powerful: everyone has fears and anxieties, and it’s hearteningly equalizing to hear the downloads of others. Today, as I listened and nodded and laughed and squinted, I started […]

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  • Finally Full

    Finally Full

    “You sure eat a lot of fast food.” Those eight words killed my appetite – punctured my excitement about dashing into the gas station to grab a couple of sliders at the attached White Castle. Certainly, I knew how he felt. In the many letters and messages we’d exchanged during our courtship, he’d made it […]

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  • Newcomers

    It’s been so mean lately. Oh, I know it’s always been mean. “Off with their heads!”; machetes removing limbs; “We will kill you for dancing”; waterboarding a workaday torture; “Tell us what you heard your father say about our glorious leader”; pogroms; labor camps; piles of bodies. It’s always been mean. The current mean is […]

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  • The Best Laddie

    The Best Laddie

    I want to remember 16 because it’s as good as everything else has been. He staggers through the front door, having just walked home from robotics practice after school, and in addition to the fully loaded pack on his back, he’s carrying a big box. It’s the new compost bin, delivered onto the front porch […]

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  • Stir Stick

    Stir Stick

    Every few minutes, I wiggle toes inside boots and slap hands against thighs. It’s cold — the kind of cold that makes hard work out of passivity. I’ve been standing outside for an hour reading signs, and I’m frozen to the marrow. January in Ukraine is serious business, the grey skies flattening landscape and mood, […]

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  • Biblioteka


  • Tweaks

    I was tired, but not so tired that my only aim was sleep. Rather, I wanted a beer. It was my first night in Belarus, and after having a wander through the neighborhood, I was ready to relax in my hotel room. Fortunately, there was a bar in the reception area, and the young woman […]

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  • From a Kindred Spirit

    Below are responses to Allegra’s latest survey questions written by a woman who has become a great friend to me in recent months. She’s supportive, she’s attentive, she’s crackerjack smart, and we just GET each other. Will I ever forget that she drew me vowel charts to help me improve my Russian pronunciation? No, I […]

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  • A Slice of Leslie

    I met Leslie in July in Washington D.C. at Fulbright orientation, but in the flurry of those quick days, I didn’t get to know much about her beyond my observations that she is intelligent, poised, organized, and professional. It was clear why she’d been selected as an English Teaching Assistant (now living in the city […]

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