Mystery Brides, Mystery Corpses

The day after my parents’ 67th wedding anniversary on May 3, 2019, my mother was diagnosed with late-stage ovarian cancer. Heartbroken, my 95-year-old father died on June 28, and my mother followed 10 weeks later. Determined to honor their 68th anniversary with a blog post, I began searching through family albums to find the perfect... Continue Reading →

Earth Day: A Mile Down to Water

When I was a newlywed living in New Baltimore, Michigan my father-in-law Robert Lienert used to drop in several times a week and visit while I made dinner. He would entertain me with stories about growing up on a small farm in Harvard, Nebraska during the days of the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression.... Continue Reading →

The ABCs of Remote Learning: 5 Tips

I’ve been teaching people how to write at a distance since 2004. In the past year I’ve tutored students in Shanghai, Singapore, Jakarta, Sydney, Detroit and Los Angeles via Skype. They are almost always learning to write college essays for undergraduate admissions, Ph.D. programs, and fellowships, but occasionally I get the odd request from a... Continue Reading →

Coronavirus Connections

Tidying guru Marie Kondo is urging the world to get organized while everyone is holed up during the COVID-19 pandemic. It turns out cleaning the house is forging connections between long-lost friends – and even strangers. My first inkling of this came in late March, when Iklas Bahoura-Bashi, a student I hadn’t heard from in... Continue Reading →

Instant Home Schooling

“Do you have any dot stickers?” texted my daughter-in-law Lindsey, now tasked with home schooling a four-year-old and a toddler because of the COVID-19 crisis. I found a cache of them in a kitchen drawer stuffed with Fourth of July sparklers, recipes and other assorted junk. The dots – inexpensive and invaluable craft items –... Continue Reading →

Lessons: 27 years of working from home

ANN ARBOR, Michigan – The buzz began in my Pilates class on Thursday night, when several female executives from the University of Michigan began wondering out loud how they were going to conduct business from home during the coronavirus pandemic. They were concerned about everything from domestic distractions and maintaining a professional atmosphere to gaining... Continue Reading →

Not Enough Adjectives!

I’ve just wrapped up another semester of college-essay coaching, with my students getting early-decision acceptance letters from great schools ranging from the University of Michigan to MIT. As I look back on this latest group of students, I find that parents often need more reassurance and hand holding than their children as we go through... Continue Reading →

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