Returning to New York

I was out of town for a few weeks and just returned to New York earlier this week. It was brutally hot and my apartment felt like an oven. I had a "what am I doing here?" moment. Every denizen of this city tends to be hit with that feeling at some point or another.

But. Then I take stock of all that is here. And it is so much: the energy, the theater scene, the moments of connection on the subway and on the street. When you fall hard for this place it can be hard to imagine being anywhere else.

For the next two weeks, I'm going to catalogue some of the things that make me love this place. Stay tuned.

Posted on July 4, 2018 .


I had time today to read a novel for hours, lounging on a sofa. There was a time, when I was young, when I would spend entire days buried in a book. I miss those days. Grateful I was able to relive a bit of that on this summer afternoon.


Posted on July 1, 2018 .

After a long hiatus...

Some personal news: my dad died earlier this year. He was sick for a long time so in some ways the process happened in slow motion. I am still rummaging through how it all feels. Death does force you to reevaluate. Do we appreciate what we have in this moment? Are we making the most of our gifts? The fact is, there isn't all the time in the world to do all that we dream of. Do it now. Commit now.

My dad was so lucky to have my mom. She nursed him and cared for him for seven long years.

I guess one take away is this: Relationships matter--the last word my father could say was my mother's name.

And even when his speech was slipping away, he could identify a Vermeer from across the room, by its title. The connection to beauty, and to art, was a solace to him even at the end.


Posted on May 30, 2018 .

Reflections at the end of the year

Kate Boo--one of my favorite living writers--says that she sometimes needs to remind herself that what gets her fired up isn't being behind a desk but getting out and reporting. She wrote Behind the Beautiful Forevers, one of the greatest non-fiction books I've read.

As the days get shorter and colder the instinct to stay in can be fierce. But every time I venture out and go to the Bronx or Staten Island to talk with people and walk the streets, it feels like such a gift. I learn so much from the Latina immigrants I follow. 

I have to remember that when a warm office beckons: get back out on the street.


Posted on December 22, 2016 .

On Developing Routines

I just started a fellowship at the Russell Sage Foundation, which I am so grateful for. I've been spending a lot of time reporting in the Bronx on Honduran immigrants. The fellowship gives me the time to reflect on what I've learned and find the narrative in it.

It also, I realize, gives the chance to redevelop routines, in a way that can be hard when you are working on your own. There is something about coming into an office, grabbing a cup of coffee, saying hello to a colleague (and there are amazing ones here), and then sitting down to write. 

I feel hopeful. A productive fall awaits.

Posted on September 12, 2016 .

Kate DiCamillo's Remembrance of Thanksgiving

The author Kate DiCamillo posted about her Thanksgiving many years ago, when she realized that she needed to change her life, and realize her potential:

This is my favorite part of her post: "And after awhile, I did. Change. I started writing, and the writing opened me up."


Posted on November 25, 2014 .

Testimonies to the Power of Not Giving Up

One of the things I am most grateful for in my work is that it provides the opportunity to spend time with people whom generally I would never meet. I've learned what it's like to live in this country without documents and speaking no English. I've spoken with Holocaust survivors who somehow managed to piece their lives back together after losing virtually everything as teenagers. And I've been able to meet heroes of mine--like the writer Kate DiCamillo, who writes enchanting young adult novels.

Something that surfaces again and again in their stories is resilience. When it seemed all was lost, they didn't give up. And they made their way to a better place.

I am so grateful for their example. It reminds me, day in and out, why we should always hold on to a sense of hope.

Posted on January 11, 2014 .