Archive for the ‘Conversations’ category

Peasant stuff

Since I moved in with a friend of mine a few months ago, I often walk into the kitchen and find my roommate standing at the stove, stirring a pot of stew or checking on a loaf of something in the oven. “What’s cooking?” I ask. “Eh. Peasant stuff.” She’s from a small European country […]


Overheard in the Bar at Chili’s: A:  Did you see that movie, “Zombieland”?  B:  No.  A:  It’s really funny.  B:  I hate Zombies.  A:  Why?  B:  You can’t kill them. They just keep coming. They can’t die because they are already dead.  A:  You can cut off their heads or blow them up.  C:  Or […]

Religion is boring

This semester I keep running into religious boredom from my students. At Religious College, the students are totally entranced by the text we’re reading except when I try to say something about the religious context of the author, whom they far prefer to judge according to the standards of their own beliefs. At Secular College, […]

Bad Faith

I often get the sense that people are asking me questions they don’t want answers to. It’s a kind of social blindness I have, which is weird because my parents did this all the time. You’d think I’d be used to it, but somehow I never learned to tell when it’s best just to tell […]

Be my guest

A sleeping bag and maybe a towel⎯that’s all we used to need. Crashing at a friend’s place required no great forethought⎯a few days’ notice, maybe. But combine age, bigger incomes, more complicated lives, and greater needs for privacy and independence, and all of a sudden hospitality is a fraught issue. It’s Monday morning as I […]


I wrote two long posts here in the past few hours. They were about something that has been happening to me recently, which is that I find myself limited in my paths through my neighborhood by various social forces—an ex’s children, whom I miss terribly and who hate me because they think I abandoned them, […]

“The same, safe, sexy route”

Dave and I were both pretty sauced when he suggested that I write this post. We were leaving a house party where there had been a serious amount of dancing, mostly to our new pop crush Janelle Monae. I haven’t danced as much as I did that night in years, and, generally, I don’t even […]

Ideal Reader

When teaching an intro course on literature, I often end up teaching my students about the difference between an ideal reader and an actual reader. An ideal reader is someone you can imagine reading a text and getting all the little jokes and references, appreciating the compositional complexity of the text, deriving as much pleasure […]


I was quite old before I realized that I was the only person at my church who listened to secular music. I must have been in seventh grade, because I clearly remember a Sunday School classmate asking me what my favorite album was at the time, and I said Blood Sugar Sex Magik. Of course. […]


I fear that I’m getting a reputation for being not-fun in my old age. Sure, I’m only 30, but it’s clear that a whole landscape of human interactions has closed off to me. My interest in movies and television has waned. And I really don’t enjoy dating as much as I used to. It all […]