My Mom and the Legacy of America's Mom, Florence Henderson

Carol Brady, perhaps you set the standard a little too high for mothers like mine in the 1970s.

What Fantasy Can Teach Us About Trauma

I waited for help to come. There was no Gandalf. There was no Dumbledore. There were no Ron and Hermione, nor Sam or Merry or even Pippin. There was just me, in a bathroom, having a panic attack.

Screen Time = Death + Ignorance

Spending hours each day watching screens is killing us. Now where's my iPhone?

Drawn to the Dark Side

I was never trying to make a statement about youth being a perilous time or to depress anyone. So why do I myself writing about danger, whether psychic or social?

My Pen Name, My New Personality

I would never have guessed that my pen name would develop a new identity for me—a fierier, more courageous and playful me, who writes differently under my erotic persona.
On Faking It: Is It Ever Okay?

On Faking It: Is It Ever Okay?

It’s liberating to understand that to be successful in launching our work (or ourselves) into the world, we don’t actually have to change our personalities: We just have to fake it from time to time.

Bring Back Food for Food's Sake

I say, let’s ramp down this notion of food as fetish, food as porn, food as adventure, food as performance, and get back to basics: Food as food, as something we eat.
Of Success and Failure

Of Success and Failure

Most pop-psychology looks at failure as simply the precursor to success. Failure teaches humility, relieves the anxiety of perfectionism, programs the mind to think of alternatives. But sometimes there are no alternatives.

Has Lego Taken Over Childhood?

Lego’s amazing innovation was always this: open-ended, creative, problem-solving play. Now, Lego encourages buying and collecting.

"Earth to Echo" Echoes With Nostalgia for 80s Movies

With the exception of J.J. Abrams’ “Super 8,” which dipped its Cup of Nostalgia heavily into the same Spielbergian waters three summers ago, these sort of films don’t get made anymore.

Looking for ‘Likes’ in All the Wrong Places

There are many ways that Facebook and Twitter are wonderful. But they can also feel like popularity contests as cutthroat as high school cliques.

Dungeons & Dragons, 40 Years Old, Makes You A Better Person

The original fantasy role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons hits middle age this year. In 1974, D&D first appeared on the market. It was — and is — a revolutionary game that went on to cause shock waves in the worlds of pop culture, gaming and play, and influenced how we spend our leisure time and socialize in profound ways.
How to (Finally) Finish Your Book in 2014

How to (Finally) Finish Your Book in 2014

Write Fast. Forget stories of Flaubert agonizing for days over his mot juste: You should strive to write quickly and easily. Just get the words down, knowing that they are bound to be highly imperfect. Then, go back and revise them (again, quickly), and keep revising, until they say what you want them to say.
There Are No Rules for When or How Someone Dies

There Are No Rules for When or How Someone Dies

The term “out of order death” can be applied to the loss of a younger sibling or a child. Older people die before younger people; that’s how these things are ‘supposed’ to go. But there are no rules for when or how someone dies, just as there are no rules for how to acknowledge the milestones in life that they miss and their survivors can’t help but see, year after year.

When Did I Become Sir?

I try to stay current. I try to be a shape-shifter. I try be a chameleon. But at 47, I wonder, at what point do I simply throw in the towel?

The Hobbit Journey Continues, As Do Controversies

When you run out of things to talk about after Christmas, and pile your family into the horse-drawn wagon and head out of the Shire on your journey to Mordor --- aka your local cineplex --- to see this Hobbit Episode #2, there are weighty issues to consider.

A Family with a Cannibalism Problem

Gross-outs can be a dimension of a film’s story line, rather than a gory end unto themselves. Plus, in horror, directors and writers can perhaps be more subversive than in other genres.

When Fear Slithers Into the Room

When I got depressed, I toppled into a chasm between the rosy expectations I’d cultivated of motherhood and the reality of life with a child who came to us with memories and attachments to his foster family built in, and who had to learn to trust us. I was also developing a new kind of trust: that my nascent maternal instincts were correct.

Of Baseball Bats and Battle Axes

Sports let us civilized folk release dangerous and spontaneous emotional urges, from, “Yankees Suck” to “I’m gonna kill A-Rod.” By becoming emotionally attached to an abstracted conflict, we peasants don’t need to wage real war. We’re happy to watch instead. Or to play in beer-fueled softball leagues.
All the Bridges Falling Down

All the Bridges Falling Down

Our human brains are a complex cauldron of fears, illustrated by the nearly endless list of physical, social, and philosophical phobias such as alliumphobia (fear of garlic), apeirophobia (fear of infinity), and, yes, anthrophobia (fear of flowers). So maybe we should delineate unreasonable phobias from survival-related fears.

The Best Cure for Fear? A Little More Trust

Terror strikes. Our inclination might be to circle the wagons and become more suspicious than ever. There is another way to combat this proclivity towards wariness. But how? With more openness, not less.

Taking Control By Giving Control

Peter and I allowed our adopted kids as much control as we thought safe, positioning ourselves as wise parents to cooperate with, not authoritarian ones to fear.

People Process Trauma in Words

This urge to participate and to tell one’s individual story humanizes pain and makes big, sweeping events human-scaled. The tradition is as old as Homer and the Icelandic Sagas. We cope with trauma by injecting ourselves into the wider story.

Giving in Grief

In the wake of Boston and Newtown, do we engage in well-meaning but useless gestures like sending hundreds of stuffed animals to the site of a tragedy? Or could we use those same dollars and the heartfelt impulse behind them to teach non-violence, to feed the hungry, to shelter an animal?

A Newbie Guide to the Hobbit

If you're finally succumbing to Hobbit pressure, and are being dragged to see The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey because, well, half the planet has already seen the film, here's your primer.

Why You've Had Trouble Accomplishing New Year's Resolutions

This year, you swear, is going to be different: you're finally going to lose that weight, finish that degree, get that new job, or clean out the garage. And yet, the ghosts of Unmet Resolutions Past haunt you.
The Cure for Nagging

The Cure for Nagging

I have learned two important secrets about nagging: The first is that it takes two: neither the nagger nor the nagged is fully to blame. The second is that the best solution lies with only one of the two. Hint: It's not the nagger.

'But What Are You, Really?'

As a writer of bicultural heritage, something about multicultural had always made me a bit wary. I would envision a long fence of multicolored wooden posts, strung together by thin wire, stretching out in a straight line. But with the word intercultural, I saw that fence circling, coming together at a common point.
Middle Children and the Future of Work

Middle Children and the Future of Work

Middleborns develop great empathy; in order to get their own way as children, they have to learn to "read" the room, negotiate and compromise. These skills are paramount in the modern workplace of diverse cultures.
Sex, Love, Marriage, and Middle Children

Sex, Love, Marriage, and Middle Children

Surprisingly, we can learn a lot about what makes us happy in our couplings from—of all people—middle children.