Thinking Through The Atlantic’s “Women Can’t Have It All” Essay

I love being a girl, and especially being a bro-girl, as some of my guy friends consider me. (Some also use terms like “chick with a dick,” which is less cute, but I understand the notion.) But I am not a boy. That became piercingly clear this year, when I was confronted with an unexpected job offer just a week after learning I was (also unexpectedly) expecting.

Suddenly, I had to consider the oft-discussed clash of career and family. Whether to stay at my entirely satisfying job at NPR, where I knew I’d be guaranteed certain paid leave and other flexibility because I am no longer “new” here, or whether to try a new challenge at a place where I’d have to prove myself as a baller whilst growing larger and inevitably unavailable during maternity leave.

I decided to stay at my job for many reasons that have nothing to do with family, but I can’t deny that I did have to consider the whole work-life balance issue for the first time. I sort of bristled at even being faced with the notion.

It’s my grandma at age 87. She’s a heroine to many, including me.


I come from a line of ceiling-breaking women; my grandmother, after fleeing China during World War II with her brothers and sisters, was one of the first female legislators in Taiwan, and a working mom (a high school principal) since the 1940’s. She says she never thought much about job versus family, because she considered both her service to society-writ-large and her obligation to her husband and three children as part of the natural order of things. She believes that really loving and caring for your family didn’t necessarily mean doing all the diaper changing and cooking, but that being a rockstar earner and a role model was just as valid a way to care for your kids.

Consequently, my mom didn’t love being raised by “help.” She says some of her most formative memories from childhood were with the servants and driver, and not with her mom, who was busy with work-related meetings and dinners on most evenings. My grandma has never apologized for what she had to do, and (in something we’ll discuss later in this post) Asian culture makes having several servants at home to help far more affordable and culturally-ingrained than here in the US. Continue reading “Thinking Through The Atlantic’s “Women Can’t Have It All” Essay”

How I Get Off Track: This Just Happened

Started watching that miniseries about the Kennedys, called “The Kennedys“, on Netflix.

Get nine minutes into the first episode and the focus turns to Papa Joe Kennedy, played by Tom Wilkinson.

Conduct a Wikipedia search for Joe Kennedy Sr. Start reading a list of all his kids, including Rose Kennedy, who I learn was subjected to a lobotomy at age 23.

Begin Wikipedia-ing Rose Kennedy and why in the hell she had to be lobotomized. The reasons are quite unclear, as different contemporaries of the Kennedy’s describe her somewhere between manic depressive or having severe mental disabilities.

BUT — somewhere in the assessment of Rose Kennedy I read that she could do arithmetic, specifically, multiply 436 by 12. And that requires at least an IQ of 90.

This leads me to question whether I still know how to multiply by hand.

I frantically grab a piece of paper and start trying to multiply 436 by 12. Succeeded.

Decided I was hungry after all my great multiplication achievement.

Never restarted the miniseries.

A Fete For Draper at Kathleen Parker’s Posh Pad

I had already taken a big swig of the pervasive Washington culture cocktail of press+politicos at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner over the weekend, but at least 100 of those Washingtonians were still game to party on Tuesday, when I co-hosted a soiree to fete our pal Robert’s new book at columnist Kathleen Parker’s Georgetown abode. There, I witnessed a Washington tradition for new books: People turning straight to the index to see if their names are mentioned. Coverage of the fete from The Hill’s Judy Kurtz:

Friends and colleagues celebrated the release of Robert Draper’s new book about the inner workings of the 112th Congress, Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives, on Tuesday … Draper, a freelance writer, spent a year following the veterans of the House and the newly elected Tea Party members, to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of life inside the Capitol.

The place is gorgeous-gorgeous, with an expansive courtyard and a roofdeck, and dozens of Draper’s pals showed to toast his new book. More photos, by our NPR intern Julia Ro:

Six Observations After Six Blustery Hours in New York City

About a year ago, when I ran into my DC-based writer pal Robert Draper while he was on his way to interview someone for his book, I told him that whenever the book came out and he got invited to go on The Daily Show, I wanted to go along.

The book — Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives — came out this Tuesday, and Draper actually remembered my request. He invited me to join his brother John, girlfriend Laura and longtime pal Colin in attending the live taping at the small Daily Show studio (CAMERAS VERBOTEN!) on the Upper West side. (I tried to hear any distinctive laughter from our little group, but it’s all pretty muddled.)

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Robert Draper
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook


So I went up around lunch and came home after the show. But because it’s Nueva York, there was plenty of randomness to observe and experience.
Continue reading “Six Observations After Six Blustery Hours in New York City”

SC Hearts Newt

You can recognize that back-of-head from miles away. (Photo by Brad Horn)


Big night for Newt Gingrich, as voters in South Carolina (who have correctly chosen the eventual GOP nominee since 1980) picked him by a large margin. The win has upended and extended this race, making for some fun new drama and unpredictability. He’s certainly a force of nature, the kind that gets me backin’ into walls.

Reunited in South Cackalaka … For A Few Minutes

Ah, South Carolina. What crazy memories I have from those 728 days I lived in the foothills of Appalachia. The reporting assignments in places like Sugar Tit (real name) and Fingerville (yep), the big debate over whether the new Dollar General was going to ruin one of the old mill towns, all the fantastic friends I made that I think about quite often.

It’s also the place the campaign trail could come to a halt for my former governor, Rick Perry. So I contacted one of my fave television photogs, Steve, flew down on Sunday morning and we joined forces, just like the old days, to shoot a political event — Perry’s return to the Palmetto State for a 21 day tour/likely last stand. (See earlier post.)

Grabbed a few behind-the-scenes snapshots from the event, and I want to test out my new slideshow plugin (more on that to come, eventually), so here goes:

Did He Say “Extra Governor?”

SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Dropped in on the campaign trail real quick to get some video of my former governor, Rick Perry, in my 2004-2006 stomping grounds, Spartanburg. This is the same place where my friend Latoya and I met at Denny’s nearly every Friday night for dinner because we didn’t have much else to do. (Or anywhere else to eat.) And the same place that a guy killed his girlfriend by throwing a hot iron at her head and telling the police that all the blood on the carpet was actually an explosion of condiments like hot sauce and ketchup.

Speaking of ketchup, Perry spoke at The Beacon, a South Carolina drive-in-that-doesn’t-have-a-drive-in-anymore and a standby for visiting politicians. Here’s how my colleague Don Gonyea described it:

There’s no paper or computer here — J.C. takes your order, then hollers instructions to cooks in The Beacon’s unique lingo. For instance, a chili-cheeseburger a-plenty means your plate is going to be covered with french fries and onion rings.

The place goes through 300 pounds of chili on a Friday night. Just the kind of crowd a campaign is looking for.

“If you want to be elected for president, you better come to The Beacon,” Stroble says with a chuckle.

It goes without question that all the food here is predictably greasy — cheeseburgers, onion rings, chili cheese. The Texas governor ordered something which I believe was the go-to order, Chili Cheese A Plenty (double or single patty available). But he gave it a name of his own:

Observations from the Campaign Trail in Iowa

That giant horn of plenty was the highlight of my weekend.

Over the weekend, Photographer Brad and I made a quick trip to Des Moines to drop in on the presidential campaign trail, where six of the eight GOP candidates took part in a social issue-themed roundtable discussion while seated behind a gigantic cornucopia. Other observations:

Christmas is really around the corner. At the county GOP event in the morning, where Ron Paul was the featured speaker, there were lots of ill-fitting holiday sweaters and sweatshirts. The expected number of American flag-themed polo shirts turned up, also.

How about that cornucopia, people. Tell me it is not distracting. I have no idea what happened during some of the forum because I was so fascinated with that thing. A sample of the tweets and comments I got about it:

  • What’s with the “horn of plenty” in front that looks like the trash heap from Fraggle Rock?
  • From here, it looks like a homeless person sleeping.
  • On the floor, is it a body in burlap??, a conservative conceptual yule log?
Christmas card photo?

The horn-of-plenty was not just a draw for me and Brad. Rhonda and Kent, a couple from Des Moines wearing these matching Christmas colored flannel outfits asked Brad to take several photos of them in front of the cornucopia in hopes of getting a good Christmas card photo. Posing in front of the cornucopia actually made us late to the next thing, the governor’s birthday party.

While rushing to the Iowa governor’s bash, which all the candidates were planning to attend, we accidentally crashed a wedding at the Altoona Adventureland Hotel. We asked the bar staff where we were SUPPOSED to be, and they said, “You need to go to AdventureLAND, not Adventureland.” Yep.

Newt Gingrich is most definitely the man of the moment. People mobbed the guy as soon as he came in, even though he wasn’t that nice to them and was generally surly during the forum.

After the long day of work, all the boys ignored me at the microbrewery place to instead pay attention to their cell phones. We watched two college football games on the TV screens but that wasn’t enough. They followed the other two on their phones. To be fair, Young Danny was actually focused on final edits to his story.

In perhaps the most amusing part of a weekend of amusement, a Democratic fundraiser who came into the bar for a nightcap started complimenting us on our fashion. He started talking us up about football, but then pivoted to asking about our various backgrounds. “I wanted to get at where you’re from cause you all are dressed pretty sophisticated for Iowa,” he said. To photographer Brad, he said, “I pay attention to fashion, and you’re pants aren’t Carhartts, so I figured you weren’t from here.”

Rick Perry’s Oopsy Gaffe: Reactions on Twitter, Storifyed

I can’t watch a presidential debate without watching the snarky Twitter comments at the same time, so tonight when my longtime guvnah, Texas’ Rick Perry, totally “stepped in it” (his words, not mine) when trying to name three federal agencies he would cut, the Twitter stream was a sight to see.

With pal Burt Herman’s tool, Storify, which allows users to aggregate that snapshot in time into a chronological stream (complete with other media like links, photos, videos and more), I preserved what happened — and how people reacted — on Wednesday night.

Continue reading “Rick Perry’s Oopsy Gaffe: Reactions on Twitter, Storifyed”

Look Out, You Just Got Lobbied

SAN ANTONIO — Anywhere there are hundreds of state lawmakers you will find just as many special interest groups. (American Society for Nude Recreation, anyone?) Here at the annual summit of the National Conference of State Legislatures, not only can you find lobbyists galore, you can also find plenty of the swag they give away to subtly (or not so subtly) communicate their brands.

My besties April, Blake and Justin helped me show off my favorite swag of the conference: