Writers at Large, January 11, 2021
My husband has always had ideas—lots of ideas. He’s relentlessly curious, willing to pursue any cockamamie theory that intrigues him. These qualities have helped make him a creative and original academic psychologist; they are some of the traits I love best about him but they also make me want to strangle him from time to time.
Texas Monthly, December 8, 2020
When my Austin lessons went virtual, I discovered the joy—and distraction—in thinking about unfamiliar pronunciation, irregular verbs, and past tenses in these challenging times.
Alcalde, July 1, 2020
My husband, James Pennebaker, PhD ’77, is an academic psychologist and researcher at UT Austin who studies emotional and physical responses to disasters. When a volcano blows, the earth shakes, or the levees break, he bursts into action.
Texas Monthly, December 18, 2019
Our lonely, difficult childhood—and our love of books—always connected us, despite the wildly different paths we took.
Washington Post, December 12, 2019
In a crisis? Take notes, Nora Ephron advised, because "everything is copy." Diagnosed in 2014 with an aggressive breast cancer, Kate Pickert, then 35, took excellent notes. After all, she was a health-care journalist who had written about breast cancer in the past. And like any savvy journalist, she recognized a great story when she was thrust into it.
Washington Post, October 1, 2018
On June 25, 2013, I was at Wendy Davis’s legendary filibuster of new abortion restrictions in Texas (a fact I would like prominently mentioned in my obituary). I was crammed into a gallery at the state capitol, along with hundreds of other sweaty, raucous liberals.
Alcalde, November/December 2016
And I won’t tell you about the time we were stranded in Albania after the pyramid scheme collapsed.
Tribeza, August 2016
Dinner with the two of us? It didn't start out well. We’d been dating a few months, and I think my mother wanted me to impress him with my cooking skills. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any.
Alcalde, March/April 2016
I am writing to a granddaughter who is thousands of miles away. How else will she know me?
The New York Times, October 29, 2015
I know the accepted wisdom: Making new friends takes longer as you age. After all, you’re busier, more set in your ways, less open to novelty. But nobody ever told breast cancer support groups about that crisp little sentiment.
Texas Monthly, July 2014
While my daughter looked toward her future, I thought back on my own four decades of marriage (so far)—the good, the bad, the better than I ever expected.
The New York Times, March 22, 2012
Darkness fell on a brisk Saturday night, and droves of the young and the raucous flooded the entrance and lobby of the Dream Downtown hotel in Chelsea…"Good lord," said Pat, a New York friend, eyeing the eager faces, the stilettos, the sheer force field of energy. "Is anybody here over the age of 18?"
The New York Times, March 8, 2012
The big white bus is leaving. If you’re one of those ignorant souls who thinks New York City is limited to Manhattan and its cold, imperious skyscrapers, you should hop aboard.
The New York Times, February 16, 2012
Over her crevettes Marseillaise, the author and blogger Jen Singer is telling me about the tumor she had in her left lung. “It was the size of a softball,” she says. She and I are online acquaintances who had never met in the flesh before. But we’re both cancer survivors, and we are going to see the Broadway play “Wit” together. Our respective tumor sizes count as small talk.
The New York Times, November 17, 2011
Don't think David Roffe is only a New York City tour guide. He’s also an actor who has appeared on “Law & Order” three times — most memorably in 13 consecutive seconds as an accused murderer of a college student. “You’ve got the wrong guy, dude,” he told the law, in a speaking role he nailed in only two takes.
The New York Times, November 3, 2011
“My love affair with New York,” Marc Aronson says, “is a continuation of my parents’ love affair with New York.”
The New York Times, October 20, 2011
Come here to sightsee? It’s fine, I guess. You can catch the towering buildings, the store windows, the stunning bridges, the leafy parks. And yes, they’re impressive and staggering. But to me New York is most of all a city of people and their stories...
The New York Times, August 25, 2011
When my husband and I moved to New York for several months in August 2009, we were told repeatedly that “nobody” was in the city in August. We wandered around the crowded streets, marveling at the number of nobodies everywhere.
The New York Times, August 11, 2011
They are young, talented and driven: artists who want to make their mark on the world. You see them in New York more than any other city in the country, and their New York is different from yours and mine. It’s hipper and faster paced, open to experience. If they want to see a folk-singing duo, and their iPhones tell them to cross two highway lanes on foot to get there, consider them crossed.
The New York Times, June 23, 2011
"Texans make the best New Yorkers," Robert Leleux says loudly. "It's because we’re bred for size. New Yorkers appreciate that — our extravagance. We wouldn't play so well in Indiana."
The New York Times Week in Review, August 29, 2009
Read it and gloat. Last week, researchers at Stanford University published a study showing that the most persistent multitaskers perform badly in a variety of tasks. They don't focus as well as non-multitaskers. They're more distractible. They're weaker at shifting from one task to another and at organizing information. They are, as a matter of fact, worse at multitasking than people who don't ordinarily multitask.
The New York Times Week in Review, November 15, 2008
On Friday, Charles, the Prince of Wales, turned 60.
Sixty! If you think that birthday is tough for most baby boomers - who struggle with desperate rationalizations about whether they're young-old or old-young, and whether 60 might possibly be the new 40 - think about Charles. He's now been the heir apparent to the British throne for 56 years, waiting to be King of England since 1952.
The New York Times, August 11, 2008
They say cancer changes you. They may be right. When I found out I had breast cancer 12 years ago, I became a comedian. Not the kind anyone paid to see. Just the kind who lurked around hospital corridors and examination rooms offering offbeat opinions, wiseacre remarks, outrageous commentary.
The New York Times Week in Review, June 1, 2008
All right, we admit it. We’re not traditional "Sex and the City" types. We’re five women from Austin, Tex. (wrong number, right sex, wrong city), who range from our late 40s to early 60s (wrong demographics; too old). Our shoes are conservative and our politics are liberal (wrong, right).
The New York Times Week in Review, February 24, 2008
Somewhere, Ann Richards and Molly Ivins — bless their big, demanding hearts and rest their impatient souls — must be sharing non-alcoholic margaritas and crowing with delight. Their beloved Texas Democrats, long rumored to be terminally dysfunctional, bitter and comatose or dead, are staking out the center stage of the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries. On March 4, two days after Texas Independence Day, they will choose between Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton in what turns out to be a pivotal contest. Well, hot, as we say down here, durn.
The New York Times, March 28, 2003
TEXANS, especially sentimental University of Texas alumni, have long agonized over Austin's soul. Does Austin remain easygoing and eccentric in its setting of rugged hills, trees and lakes? Are its politics still liberal and is its music still rowdy? Is it still a refuge for slackers who don't want to grow up and move to Houston or Dallas?
The New York Times Op-Ed page, August 28, 2001
All those reporters who are always clustered around President Bush should have been suspicious the minute he started stomping around his ranch in the middle of August. Instead, sweating and gullible and, frankly, kind of pathetic, they earnestly reported the president's rhapsodic remarks about going home to Texas in the summer. They bought the implication that Texans wouldn't miss a Texas August, even if it is 110 degrees in the shade (except there's not any shade).
The New York Times Magazine, February 25, 1990
I didn't take swimming lessons because of my 40th birthday. I'd like to blame it on that, but it isn't true. I took them because of my 7-year-old daughter, Teal. I could see it in her eyes. She already hated the water as much as I did.
The Texas Observer Columns
The Texas Observer, May 11, 2011
In the immortal words of the great Tammy Wynette, sometimes it’s hard to be a woman. Anyway, that’s the tune I’ve been humming — “Stand by Your Man,” to be precise — while a torrent of anti-female legislation sweeps across national and state capitols like an Old Testament pestilence. De-fund Planned Parenthood! Forget family planning! Teach abstinence even though it doesn’t work! Give extra lectures and bonus sonograms to women who seek abortions!
The Texas Observer, March 30, 2011
On a wintry day in February, I went to the Texas Senate to hear citizens and medical and legal experts testify about the sonogram bill. You know, the bill we’ve all been hearing about that requires a doctor to give a woman both a sonogram and an oral description of the fetus she’s carrying before she can secure an abortion. That bill.
The Texas Observer, March 28, 2011
"Terms of Endearment is a book?” a well-read friend asked recently. “I didn’t know that. I thought it was just a movie.” Hell yes it’s a book, I said, and told her she should read it immediately. It’s one of my favorite Larry McMurtry novels, published in 1975. Terms of Endearment doesn’t quite qualify as a “lost book” since it’s written by the renowned McMurtry. But Aurora Greenway is one of the greatest characters to get lost between the page and the big screen.
The Texas Observer, August 16, 2010
This story starts with death. Then it gets worse. But I'm getting ahead of myself. My father died on May 15. He was 85 and he'd suffered from Alzheimer's for years. His illness, even more than his death, was a tragedy. He was a retired accountant, mild-mannered and soft-spoken, and he'd led a quiet life. That's why it's so strange the aftermath of his death deteriorated into a series of botched events that shouldn't happen to the quick or the dead. That brings me to the House of Death, my affectionate nickname for the Austin funeral home that handled and mishandled my father's remains. Let me recount the ways.
The Texas Observer, July 06, 2010
So I've come to the point in my life that I read a book and talk back to it. That's what Laura Bush's autobiography, Spoken From the Heart, made me do, anyway. I read it with a divided mind, talking out of both sides of my mouth. What is a first lady's job? I kept wondering. What, specifically, did Laura Bush owe us?
The Texas Observer, July 06, 2010
Fifteen or so years ago, I sat across a dinner table from a Dallas state district court judge who delighted in the sound of his own reedy tenor. When abortion came up, he told me and my fellow dinner-table hostages he had "never met a woman yet who didn't regret having an abortion." I didn't trust myself with my fork, so I put it down. "Well, you've met one now," I told him.
The Texas Observer, May 12, 2010
Years ago, when I interviewed with a New York law firm, one of the partners told me he’d always thought New Yorkers and Texans were quite similar. Both were arrogant, convinced they lived in the center of the universe, and unpopular with the rest of the world. (This was the same guy who complimented me on my “great” personality after he’d spent the entire time talking while I listened. But, hey: You take your nuggets of wisdom wherever you find them.)
The Texas Observer, February 16, 2010
You know the old saying: You can't begin to understand another person until you've spent some time in his shoes. Today, I am Pat Robertson. I am wearing his shoes. They are Ferragamos.