Personal Essays Archive

How About This Weather?

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It can be easy, under certain circumstances, to imagine that catastrophe is worlds away. Just as it is easy, from the comfort of the East Coast, to relish in the warmer-than-usual winter and pretend like there are no fires consuming the wildlife of Australia or endangering the children of

Facing the Jackpot with William Gibson

As we move toward an inevitable-seeming apocalypse, Rachael Nevins turns to three of Gibson’s novels, hoping to assuage her fear and sort through her disorientation.

Judaism in “What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank” and “Ask for a Convertible”

How does one raise a child to be culturally Jewish, to speak Hebrew and find meaning in the familial and ritualistic aspects of the holidays, without going to synagogue, fasting, or talking about Hashem? How can we explain to our son that he can be American but also Israeli?

“What is magic but a story with solid engineering?”

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Coming from a culture where audience participation was an integral part of communal life, the novel does not offer my parents, Lao refugees, an easy entry point. So I wrote in a way where nothing would be lost if they added their own spin to the story.

Reading Kiese Laymon’s Heavy: An American Memoir

When I read Laymon’s recent memoir, I had a visceral reaction. It reminded me why I started writing. It made me wonder if my writing reaches my peoples and keeps us revising and growing in our stories. If writing protects us from the silence of memories lost.

Green London

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Typically, people come to London to experience the best of a culture as it manifests itself in its great museums, libraries, and performance venues. London’s green spaces, however, present an allure equally powerful.

In Search of Collateral Beauty: Counting Spells in the NICU

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My left leg is still numb from the epidural, so my husband pushes me in a wheelchair to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. I’m wearing an oversized hospital gown and a pair of blue, anti-slip socks. It’s sometime in the evening, but I don’t know exactly when; time has

The End of Love is a Thing of Ugly Brilliance

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A bus ride is not the ideal place to fall out of love. But years ago, I was on a bus somewhere between Entebbe and Kampala with two dozen women from across the world when I began to turn my life of partnered bliss on its head.

Visiting Haworth

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From childhood, the Brontë siblings held each other’s intellects in high esteem and together made a web—a story-catcher—out of their own disparate interests, their ideas acting as warp and woof, their mutual love and respect a catalyst for their later works.

Garden Journal of a Death Foretold

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The garden is a riot. Tiger lilies stifling the mailbox, butterflies on pink milkweed blooms, pansies in baskets. Standing on the front porch drenched in this splendor, I welcome the celebration and fear the powerful spirits that bring such life. What is most alive is also very close to