In House

"In House" is a weekly column featuring trawlings and reflections from our editors.

Monday, October 20, 2014 - 6:00am

When the planes hit on September 11, 2001, I was in the F train. The conductor made a bland announcement regretting delays following “an incident.” “What incident?” I asked my neighbor. He shrugged. I arrived at my office at BusinessWeek, then at 6th Avenue and 48th Street, and watched the towers collapse on TV. My baby son was home with the sitter, my daughter at kindergarten. My husband was safe. No one I knew was hurt, miraculously. For months, I cried. I was terrified of a subway bombing. I tried to plan how we would evacuate in the event of a nuclear attack.

Photo by Flickr Creative Commons user jcsullivan24

Monday, October 6, 2014 - 11:59am

Photo by Flickr Creative Commons user jcsullivan24

In Henry David Thoreau’s essay “Walking” he writes, “Give me a wildness whose glance no civilization can endure.” It is this longing for wildness that drove Thoreau to live and continue to return to Walden pond; to seek out nature whether along rivers, or the seashore, in the Maine woods, or his home town.

But at times Nature complicates Thoreau’s idealism by presenting raw, untamed forcestrue wilderness, rather than just wildnessthat stand in stark contrast to the pastoral that he often evokes in his writing.  

Photo by author

Monday, September 22, 2014 - 9:34am

Photo by author

The ending place is empty—nearly. I am writing this in the beginning place because it seems not quite right to start in a place that is ending.

On the phone, completing the last of the cleaning, he describes to me the ending place. He is there and I am here. He describes the span of those walls (now spackled) in which we made our lives these past eight years. Walls from which we hung postcards and pictures, pieces of metal and lace, the mirrored shadowbox, the plaster cherub, all the instruments. There, where the doors were painted a sloppy garish teal long before our arrival, where the ‘beautiful hardwood floors’ finally gave up, splintered into thick spears.

Monday, September 8, 2014 - 6:00am

I believe New Yorkers. Whether they’ve ever questioned the dream in which they live, I wouldn’t know, because I wont ever dare ask that question.

– Dylan Thomas

In my first months in New York City I rode in the back of taxicabs through Central Park thinking, When will this sink in? When will it feel like I know where I am. I didn’t think I was dreaming – rather, I felt the whole city was dreaming with me inside of it, a poppy-field illusion, a drug trip induced by hidden valves releasing an experimental hallucinogen. The city needed to pinch itself awake, collectively, and climb out of the hollow to find out what was really going on.

Photo by Flickr Creative Commons user mjaneroy

Monday, August 4, 2014 - 6:00am

Photo by Flickr Creative Commons user mjaneroy

I’ve just begun my second week in Baltimore, and already I’ve caught myself with long-term intentions. I’ve hurried through the usual rituals of relocation: I’ve registered my car, and I’ve picked up a driver’s license and library card, an application for a voter registration card, and a collection of guidebooks and maps of the city. But more than that, there’s the way I feel, walking around most nights, slipping into the rhythm of my neighborhood as if I am taking in the details of a stranger who will soon be family, as if it will some day be important for me to know the angles of the fire escapes climbing against red brick buildings or the shape of coiled electrical wires strung along the side of a bridge. It’s an embarrassing feeling—denser and less urgent than infatuation, but shyer and more fragile than love. I’m overeager, ready to attach myself with the guileless certainty of a teenager.

Monday, June 23, 2014 - 8:46am


In February, 2014, eighteen seniors at Harbor School, a New York City public high school devoted to maritime careers on Governors Island, a historic military base turned national park, embarked on their first fiction writing efforts. For the next three months, their composition class, which Harbor School veteran teacher, Anna Lurie, and I taught was devoted to little else. On June 3, they read their work, first in the library, then after school in the Mess Hall to classmates, teachers, and family and distributed copies of The Ship Log, the magazine containing their stories. It was a big day for all of us.

Photo by Author

Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - 9:42am


Photo by Author

During the late 18th century and early 19th century, citizens of the newly formed United States were “seeking out the land’s scenic marvels, measuring their sublime effects in language, and even staging an informal competition for which site would claim pre-eminence as a scenic emblem of the young nation” (Sayre 141).


One particularly sees this take place in Thomas Jefferson’s descriptions of the Natural Bridge and the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers in his Notes on the State of Virginia (1785).  In this work, Jefferson observes and describes all manner of detail about his native state, from landscape, climate, agricultural and mineral resources, to the laws, manners, and religious beliefs of its citizens.  It’s a celebration of all things Virginia in an attempt to show that state’s worth as a leader in the newly formed union.


Photo by Elizabeth Witte

Monday, May 26, 2014 - 10:22am

Photo by Elizabeth Witte
The $14 manhattans were terrible. We drank them anyway. Las Vegas, Lost Wages, whatever you call it, it was the gateway to our West(ern vacation—three canyons, eight days). The next morning, we ate gigantic omelets beneath a mirrored ceiling, amid fake trees lush in fake pink bloom, pulled out the map and headed through the wide open landscape: straight road, big sky, dry scrub, tumbleweeds. 

Monday, April 21, 2014 - 8:45am


Charlie Kaufman imagines a plane crash at the beginning of his semi-autobiographical film Adaptation; he envisions himself nonplussed while the passengers around him scream and fight each other for oxygen masks. I always imagine frantically writing an invariably optimistic goodbye note to my family as my plane descends – reassuring them, falsely or not, depending on the day, that I enjoyed what life I had. Almost anyone who's flown in an aircraft has played a similar "What if we all die?" scenario in their minds, even if just half-consciously while watching the safety demonstration.

Saturday, April 12, 2014 - 10:04am

In the third season of Girls on HBO, whose season finale aired at the end of March, Hannah Horvath, age twenty-five, is at the Gramercy Park Hotel in New York with seven friends. A renaissance-revival design concept by artist Julian Schnabel,the $929 suite is Hannah’s to review for her advertorial job at GQ, and she has decided to throw a party. Her boyfriend is making his Broadway debut. Her best friend Marnie has a chance at being a folk songstress, and Hannah herself is secretly applying to the Iowa Writers Workshop. Packed into a deluxe hotel room, these twenty-somethings entertain visions of success larger than their own lives. 


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