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Pretty much every Monday morning of my career so far, I have started the day with inbox catchup. I never feel like I can put my head down on the week’s work until I’ve responded to everyone who needs a response, or at least made a mental note of which emails will require my attention in the near future.

I think this makes intuitive sense, and is probably the way most people start their weeks. But lately, I’ve been toying with a different Monday morning kickoff, one that is less rote and more inspiring for the week ahead.

Over a…


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It feels like a hard time to both enjoy political debate and care deeply about political outcomes. Maybe this was always true; maybe each generation has to discover this for itself. All I know is that I love well-reasoned arguments and dissent, and yet I can’t stand watching any political TV show where politicians or talking heads disagree about something.

As an American progressive, I already have strong feelings about a number of issues and I can get anywhere from cranky to infuriated when I hear powerful people who I disagree with talking (often stupidly or disingenuously) about issues I…


Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash

First things first: I am not a natural-born runner. I never played sports in school, and when we had to do the mile run in fourth grade, I finished second-to-last at a time of about 12 minutes. (My eternal gratitude goes to a girl named Blythe for being 30 seconds slower.)

But I wasn’t entirely inactive, either. From kindergarten through high school I danced, and after college I pinged around between different fitness regimens. Nothing really took until two years ago, when against the odds, I started running.

My reasoning was more financial than physical: I was splitting time between…


Cover up the other name in the sentence and the word “and,” and you’ll be able to tell right away which formulation makes good grammatical sense.

In the past couple weeks, I’ve seen multiple tweets involving confusion about when to use “and me” or “and I” (including some would-be know-it-alls giving incorrect advice). As a bit of a know-it-all myself, this is my excuse to share the best grammar lesson a substitute teacher ever taught me. Much like the trick of using your fingers to do your times nine multiplication table, once you know it you’ll never forget it.

“And I” is so often drilled into children as the correct formulation that we can sometimes forget that it mainly applies when followed by a verb. …


Photo by Myke Simon on Unsplash

There are many books, movies, songs, and streaming services that have been a balm to me in the last year, but a few rise above the pack for their therapeutic value. The common denominator: they forced a change of perspective.

1. Yoga With Adriene

There is nothing surprising or alternative about including Adriene on this list; her yoga videos have been on many a greatest-hits-of-the-pandemic list. But that does not stop me from recognizing her, because to paraphrase Saoirse Ronan in Lady Bird, greatest hits are the greatest. …


Photo: Saul Loeb / AFP via Getty Images

Like so many images of the Donald Trump era, this photograph has the broad outlines of farce, but what it depicts is deadly serious. After storming the Capitol building, a Trump supporter stands on a pediment next to a statue of former president Gerald Ford; the supporter’s mouth is wide open in a shout, his arm around the statue’s shoulders, there’s a MAGA hat on the statue’s head, and a massive Trump 2020 flag has been put on the statue’s arm. An attempted coup is underway.

The man and the statue are framed by two of four monumental paintings that…


How I Got Through This

Photo illustration; source image courtesy of the author

My husband and I weren’t alone in having to choose between postponing our big autumn wedding because of the pandemic, or becoming one of those viral (pun intended) news stories about selfish couples hosting superspreader events. We chose the former. It was an easy decision, made easier by having plenty of company in the same boat, including friends with wedding dates around the same time who I could text regularly: “Did you decide yet? What is your band saying? Does your family get it?”

It also helped that it was a slow-motion decision process: An October party, indoors in New…


Writing

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We often talk about writer’s block as if it’s some event that descends from the sky, with no origin or purpose. But as novelist and essayist Alexander Chee writes on Medium, often there’s a very real origin indeed: If you stop writing, the work you are trying to write can never humiliate you.

When you stop writing in order to protect yourself… you are imagining that at least you won’t embarrass yourself. You imagine that stopping writing protects you, and you feel a little relief from the danger of whatever your idea is suggesting.

The only problem? Soon enough, you’ll…


What will the great upheaval of 2020 look like in hindsight? That’s one question that writer Peter Leyden is addressing in his new speculative fiction series The Transformation.

In its first installment, the fictional Stuart Rand—perhaps a reference to the Whole Earth Catalog editor Stewart Brand—reflects on the changes he’s witnessed in his century-long life, looking back from the year 2100. For instance, he writes that viewed from a distance, the timing of the Covid-19 pandemic was actually ideal, arriving after the digital revolution made it possible for the world’s knowledge workers to move their operations online.

More good news…


SantaCon participants in New York City, 2017. Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

Around Labor Day, I wrote about how different the stretch from Thanksgiving to New Year’s would be this year, thanks to Covid-19. From tinier turkeys and a canceled slate of movie releases to more serious matters like sick relatives, shuttered houses of worship, strained finances, and lonely dinner tables, nothing is normal about this holiday season.

One concern for parents: How to explain that Santa, visitor to billions of homes around the world, wouldn’t be a Covid-19 superspreader? Dr. …

Sarah Begley

Director at Medium working with authors and books. Formerly a staff writer and editor at Time.

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