A Love Letter to Drake

Washington, D.C. May 26, 2017
Dear Drake:
You didn’t know it, but last summer you were about to face the hardest year of your life, because I went away to Washington. You didn’t know that I would leave, but I did. I left you in the very capable hands of Neil, who even though he would never choose to have a dog, is perfectly capable of caring for you and is only willing to do so, because he would probably do almost anything within his power for his wife.
We have been so lucky to have so much help with you this year. Nora, who, as you know, we met in puppy class in April of 2009, has taken care of you on and off since that time. This year has been no exception…well, there has been no “off” time for her. I know how much you love her and her sweet-natured golden retriever, Baxter. And, even though you routinely bully him and push him around, he is your best buddy. (But, Baxter does have his limits. Remember that time that you pushed the limit with him over and over when we were at Batti…

Confessions of a 40-Something

Everyone said that coming to Washington and being a Congressional fellow would change my life. I have mentioned this many times in my blogging this year. It's true. I have made more professional contacts than I thought possible and when I return to Massachusetts in July, I'll have a new job, with a step-up in rank, at a university that is more closely aligned to my professional goals.

But, what I didn't anticipate is that coming to Washington would reinforce my age to me. Don't get me wrong, as I have blogged before, I love finally being in my 40s, but I have never been in a situation where my age has defined me so much.

Let's start with the fall, when I was beginning my fellowship. It was pretty clear to me from the get-go that the vast, vast major of fellows in my program were newly minted PhDs. Most are in their late 20s to early 30s. So, I had a few more years of experience under my belt, which I think has served me quite well here. The professional society tha…

A Year Without Murray

For those of us who knew and loved Murray Straus, we have made it through a year without him. This past Saturday was the one year mark of his death. Last year I wrote about Murray, his generosity, curiosity, warmth, and all of the ways that I benefited from knowing him. I also wrote how much I adored Murray and how going to Durham without him there would never, ever, be the same.

True, that.

The events leading up to this date last year have been on my mind: having lunch with Murray weekly during the last year of his life and my daily phone calls to his administrative assistant to see if she had news on his whereabouts, his well-being, and his schedule. She was such a source of support to me. In my office at my own university, I kept her number and Murray's number next to my desk phone for easy reference. This year while I am in Washington a colleague is using my office. I left a little sticky note asking this colleague not to remove the orange piece of paper next to my phone with …

An Entire New England Garden in One Week

Yes, two blog posts in just two days!

Confession - this is mostly a picture post. Confession number two - there's a little exaggeration in the title of this blog post...or maybe a lot of exaggeration: Not an entire New England garden in just one week here in Washington, but close enough. It's only May 9 and I'm seeing flowers and plants in gardens in Washington that I normally wouldn't see until late June, July, and sometimes August. I saw a sunflower plant that was three feet tall this week. The damn thing almost reached over and slapped me a "high-5!" Actually, I was so impressed, I offered to give it a "high-5." I believe that the sunflower sighed and breathed, "You must be a damned northerner." This brings me to my main realization - which is that Washington, D.C. is actually quite southern! There's a lot of debate about whether or not this is the case, but I'm not really speaking culturally, I mean geographically and in terms …

Capitols in the Capital Cities

A capital time in the capitols in the capital cities... Unless I was describing Washington, D.C. Then it would be a capital time in the Capitol in the capital city. Lest my readers are confused, I direct them back to this explanation for the uses of capital vs. capitol vs. Capitol. Yes, I digress right up front in this blog post and I take delight in it. Years ago...literally years ago... I'm old enough to say that now... As in about two decades ago, when Neil and I were first married, we used to like to speak in e-prime, just for an intellectual exercise. This is when one excludes the use of "to be" in all written or spoken text. For example, instead of saying, "The speaker was good." One might say, "The audience liked the speaker." Once upon this was quite easy; this time it took me 10 minutes to come up with a simple example after rejecting 15 others that all used a form of "to be."

But, I digress. How I digress.

I've been visiting ca…

Rain and Crowds in the Name of Science

Marching for rain? Raining for crowds? Crowding for marches? Nah...who am I kidding? The briefest of perusals on social media and news sources shows that people all over this country and the world were marching for science this past weekend. So was I. That said, there was a lot of rain and the crowds were thick!

I'm a social scientist, but I definitely lean heavily on the science part of this phrase. I love being part of a community that helps to create new knowledge. Through my affiliation with Murray Straus, I have seen close up the tremendous impact that a community of researchers can have in creating new knowledge for the public and for new public policy. Nevertheless, the march for science wasn't without controversy about whether scientists should be marching for science at all. One camp argued that by having a march to support science, it makes science a special interest group, and detracts from the abstractness and pureness of science. In other words, it made science t…