Generations

Leopoldstadt is the new and presumably last play written by Tom Stoppard. It tells the story of two families and spans four generations. While it explores themes of class, culture and religion, its primary question centers around the obligation family has to its members. Not just present but future and perhaps most importantly past.  

Early in the play, the matriarch is showing the family photo album to her grandchildren.…


Awe

As I write this, I am looking out at the Palisades – the magnificent vertical walls on the other side of the Hudson. If I look to my left I can see the New York City skyline off in the distance.

Upon seeing both for the first time, I was filled with immense awe. While their familiarity can lessen this sensation, it only takes a few moments of reflection to revive it. …


Cheer

It was a week for celebration in my home.

Our oldest daughter turned 15.
Our youngest received two call backs for the 5th grade play.
Our middle daughter won her first wrestling match.
My wife won her first competitive tennis doubles match.
And my podcast won two golds – one for best interview show and another for most inspirational podcast.

When my daughter won her wrestling match, her coach picked her up in the air as teammates cheered her on.…


Care

There is a running joke in the hilarious and poignant one-man show, Old Man and the Pool by Mike Birbiglia.

His family uses the salutation “Take care” as a parting proxy for “I love you” – which apparently they never say to one another. It is suggested, understandably, that these two words are an insufficient substitute for the three words that are the gold standard in expressing how we feel for another person.…


Be

We had decided that given the relatively short holiday break, we would all stay home. No trips to visit the family. No travel at all.

We would just be together.

“Be” unfortunately was conflated with “do” – as is often the case. Each of us had long lists of things we wanted to accomplish; projects to complete, ways to be productive, ideas about how to do fun things.…


Sharing

This is the fifty-second newsletter I’ve shared this year. The other fifty-one can be found here

In addition, I’ve shared eight PBS podcast episodes, two NPR special programs, including Seeing Erin Hagerty – which may be the best thing I’ve made in a while

I’ve shared four published articles, including this one for Parents about how to talk to your kids about class

I’ve shared with my publisher drafts of my next two children’s books.…


Seeing

What do you see when you look in the mirror? Does it match the way you feel on the inside?

When you are out in the world, how do others see you? Do they make judgements on who you are or what you’re capable of?

Similarly, how do you see others? Unconsciously do you judge them for how they look rather than imagining “who they are?”…


Winning

During the World Cup, the United States played Iran. The history of these two countries is rife with conflict. The stakes for this game were high. The winner would continue in the tournament and the loser would go home. Beyond the field of play, tensions were particularly high given the current human rights issues in Iran.

Yet when the game was over, amid the victorious USA celebration there was this moving clip of a member of Team USA consoling a member of the Iranian team.…


December

When I was in my twenties, I used to say that December was “the Friday of Months.” The connotation at that time was that it was a month full of parties and festivity. It was the least productive of months. My friends and I embraced the celebratory nature of the season.

Older now, that same phrase brings with it a different meaning. Fridays and by extension December are now when you reflect back on all that you haven’t gotten done and all that you have to do.…


Negotiation

It was Thanksgiving Day. My daughter wanted apple pie and asked her mother to get it for her. My brother-in-law noted that he had read some parenting advice from Esther Wojcicki that suggested children should be encouraged to do whatever they can for themselves.

As Wojcicki had raised two CEOs and a doctor, the joke became – future CEOs get their own pie.

For the next three hours, no one budged.…


Thanks?

Wednesday morning began with jury duty. The early evening featured a trip to the emergency room. By midnight, I was on strike from my job as an adjunct professor at the New School.

Jury duty, emergency room, strike. What an unholy trifecta. Any one of them is a situation that we hope to avoid at all costs. The odds of any one person experiencing all three on the same day have to be astronomical.…


Pleasant

I sat in a half empty auditorium filled with folks whose somber looks indicated there were a thousand different places they would sooner be.

Instead, we all waited to see if we would be selected as jurors.

Jury duty is as the name indicates a duty. Even the most civic minded approach this experience with some trepidation. How long will it take? Will I be selected?…


Accepting

I’ve read countless memoirs and interviewed dozens of people about their journey but none have been as honest, conflicted and raw as Acceptance by Emi Nietfeld.  Her story is marked with countless issues and circumstances that she has had to overcome and her book looks to reconcile them in the context of a culture that likes these stories told in a very particular way.

Her experience in crafting her college essay is particularly telling.…


Leave

I overslept. Waking up at 6:50 but needing to catch a 7:26 train, I rushed to shower, got dressed, walked the dog, packed my bag, and poured a cup of coffee before dashing off for the 5 minute scamper to the train station. All the aforementioned activities were done with almost no thought, an automated process whose details go unnoticed in the bustle of everyday life.…


Being

Last week, I took a few minutes to create a list of all the major things I’ve done professionally so far this year. While the list was relatively long and I felt a certain amount of pride in reflection, something was just a little off.

I tried to recall how I felt at the time each project was being created. Did I enjoy the process? Did it bring me joy?…


Bookshop

I love books. Reading them, owning them, sharing them and obviously writing them. The smell of an old book is a reminder of all those who have similarly valued the words born out of another’s mind. The feel of a new book ushers in the anticipated value to be delivered in small doses over the weeks you will spend reading it.

I have always thought of owning a bookstore.…


Connecting

I have always considered myself a luddite – slow to adopt new technology, warning against its potential downside. Yet here I sit, typing on my MacBook Pro, Apple Watch strapped to my wrist as my iPhone plays music through a bluetooth SONOS speaker. All after another evening ended with my ass firmly planted in my couch watching mindless television wirelessly projected onto my wall.

Lamenting our use of technology is not particularly helpful.…


Enthusiasm

My best friend left me a voicemail message recently. He mentioned a book he had been reading, A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. It suggested that we shouldn’t take any action that’s not aligned with acceptance, enjoyment or enthusiasm.

In reflecting on those three feelings, it got me thinking, “What am I enthusiastic about?”

Enthusiasm is defined as an intense and eager enjoyment or interest. Its origin is from the Greek word, enthousiazein meaning to ‘be inspired or possessed by a god.’…


Forgotten

I was listening to a podcast conversation between Douglas Rushkoff and Sherry Turkle recently. Both scholars have written and spoken extensively about our relationship with technology. Both have also at different times been in rooms surrounded by tech billionaires.

At one point Turkle wondered “What do they know that I don’t?” when thinking about how they have amassed their fortune, whereas she has lived on a more modest academic’s salary.…


Queens

Much has been made about the extraordinary amount of attention and coverage given to the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. On one hand, she was probably the most famous person on the planet. On the other, some would say she had, at best, a symbolic role in the world and at worst what she symbolized was colonialism.

Like most of us, she wore many hats – albeit one of hers was literally a heavy crown.…


Legend

As legend has it, some creative people are bestowed with an abundance of natural talent from birth or act as a conduit for divine inspiration. How else to explain a prodigy or creative genius?

An alternative narrative was offered up by the aptly named, John Legend, who was a guest on the podcast Smartless recently.

In this story, yes Legend exhibits an early love, if not talent, for music.…


Back-to-School

My children have always loved back-to-school shopping. There is something about the idea of having a list of school supplies and wandering through a stationary store checking off boxes that brings them a strange combination of excitement and satisfaction.

As a writer I can identify with the love of pencils, paper and such.

So there we were scuffling through Staples searching for the perfect sized post it notes or a pencil case that was both stylish (one picked out a furry cat – rather kitschy) and functional (dividers or pockets seem key.)…


Map?

Recently, my wife and I took our daughter to see Dear Evan Hansen. I had seen the musical before with my oldest daughter, watched the movie and listened to the soundtrack hundreds of times with my family who love the music.

Seeing it again live was to restore its power in my mind – power that was diluted by the repeated listening and sing-a-longs on car rides.…


Friends

When I was young, I spent most of my time with friends. As a latchkey kid, I was told to get outside in the morning and wouldn’t return until dinner or after – depending on whether my mom was working that night. As I got older, I hung out with friends after school, after practice or after work – whatever would get me out of my trailer home.…