Articles and Essays

Most of my writing these days is on the intersection of government, design and technology, though I still do the occasional personal essay. 

Government, Tech & Innovation 

People are used to terrible government websites. is an exception (Fast Company)

How to vaccinate everybody: The city must fix massive failures to communicate and coordinate  When it comes to accessing the vaccine, all New Yorkers are not created equal.  – New York Daily News 2/21

When can I schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment? Why the government can’t answer this simple question.

Why its so hard to find accurate policing data  Americans are obsessed with data—from daily COVID-19 infections, to the presidential horse race, to unemployment numbers. But starkly absent from these daily accountings are policing figures. Here’s why. – Fast Company 7/20

Why government websites fail  While the rest of the world has evolved to a place where we can track anything at all times and order anything from anywhere, government has been hopelessly stranded on an island in 1993. – Fast Company 4/20

Why the rollout of the $2 trillion CARES Act was a colossal mess  Desperate citizens haven’t gotten their stimulus checks. The Payroll Protection Program has run out of money. According to two former federal employees, the CARES Act was doomed from the start. – Fast Company 4/20

How America’s Least Sustainable City Learned to Love Recycling  Phoenix used a combination of programs to reduce waste, boost recycling, and change its citizens’ behavior. – Fast Company 3/20

Blight is Eating American Cities. Here’s How Mobile, Alabama, Stopped it  The story of blight in Mobile, Alabama, is the story of the rich and poor in America, of unregulated real estate, and of centuries of inequality. But in Mobile, a small team figured out how to change the narrative.  – Fast Company 6/19

Why Slow Innovation is the Way Forward  Sometimes changing three lines in an FAQ qualifies as a rousing success. – Fast Company 6/18

The Enduring Mythology of the Whiz Kid In government, the real change makers aren’t 24-year-old male engineers parachuted in from Silicon Valley, but a diverse range of people who have worked in or around government for years, who are invested in their communities, and who simply like intractable problems. – Fast Company, 5/18

Everything You Know About Innovation is Wrong When it comes to redesigning how government functions, most of the common assumptions about innovation don’t hold up. – Fast Company, 5/18

Hawaii’s False Alert Shows the Sorry State of Government Technology  The public sector is bad at building, building and using technology. It’s hurting everyone.  – Washington Post, Perspective 1/18

When Games Try to Save the World Dozens of games, both analog and online, say they increase empathy and change behavior.  Do they?  – Medium, The Development Set, 1/16 

Why Did Intel Quit the Science Fair?  One of 2015’s most devastating breakups?  Intel and the Science Talent Search.  But why did Intel leave?  Maybe because it found something shinier. – The Atlantic, 10/15 [Selected for Alexander Russo’s Best education writing of the week]

It Isn’t Easy to Read a Book When You’re Blind, But This Rocket Scientist Figured it Out  How technology and new approaches to inclusive education are changing the world for the visually impaired.  – GOOD Magazine, 9/15

Meet the Food Engineers of the Apocalypse  When the apocalypse comes, what’s for dinner? This may sound like the kind of question you’d arrive at in a late night dorm room munchies session, but it’s also what motivates a handful of scientists to show up for work every morning.  – Eater, 9/15

When Good Eyesight Is A Privilege, Learning Suffers  At Middle School 223, the connection between vision and learning was perhaps most stark in two classes of students who were performing at more than four years below grade level. In one class, 10 out of 11 students needed glasses; in the other, nine out of 12 did.  – GOOD Magazine, 8/15

What is the Deal With Board Games?  How board games conquered cafes.    As social life gets ever more digital, new coffee shops and bars encourage face-to-face interaction via the likes of Settlers of Catan and Connect Four. – The Atlantic, 11/14

Boston Does Digital  What we can learn from a city that is getting it right – Fast Company, 4/12

New York’s Digital Deficiency  Sure it would be neat if an app could help me find a pickup game in my neighborhood, but is that something residents of New York City really need? – Fast Company, 12/11 – [Featured on Gartner Website]

UX Design as a Two-Way ConversationUX Magazine
4 Strategies for Working With Designers Without Killing Each OtherUX Magazine
The Case Against On-Staff IAsUX Magazine
This Old Thing?  Why Old Technology Needs to Keep New Technology in Mind -, UX Magazine

Work Culture

The Ambition Interviews A seven-essay series, co-authored with a friend from college, where we interviewed 37 women from our sorority to really understand what women’s lives are like today. – The Atlantic, 12/16 – [Featured on Grist, and translated into three languages for international publications.]

Why the Conference Room is Always Booked  Are you sure you booked this room because I’m pretty sure I have it.  – New York Magazine’s The Cut , 11/15

Let’s All Just Take Off The Next Couple of Weeks  It’s time to stop pretending that summers are productive.  – The Washington Post, 8/15  – [Interviewed on Baltimore radio on the topic of summer vacation policies]


My Gen X Hillary Problem: I know why we don’t “like” Clinton  As a young woman, I idealized Bill but scorned Hillary’s supporters; at 43, I see this preference for what it was. – Salon, 3/16 – [Topped Salon’s “Most Emailed” list, 100K+ shares and over 1000 comments]

Could Vermont be the First State to Produce Artisanal, Socialist Marijuana?  The approach that Colorado, Alaska, and Washington have taken to legalizing marijuana can resemble the parking lot at a Grateful Dead show. Meanwhile, Vermont is approaching the issue like the nerdy kid in an SAT prep course. – The New Republic, 1/16


Twice Exceptional  I go to war with the lords of education on behalf of my legally blind five-year-old.  – The Big Roundtable, 7/15 – [Featured by Digg and The Week]

Where’s Bobbi Fischer?  Little girls sign up to play chess in droves.  So why are so few of the world’s top chess players women?  – Aeon Magazine, 7/15 – [Featured on Longreads and the New York Times Now app]

Why Science Fairs Aren’t So Fair  Over-involved parents, crabby kids and overheated gyms.  An examination of how science fairs ended up as a competition between parents.  – The Atlantic, 3/15 – [ Featured on Atlantic home page]

The Myth of the Minecraft Curriculum  Is Minecraft educational?  Who cares.  The real problem is that parents think that everything their child does must have a quantifiable educational value. – The Atlantic, 2/15


Ride the Rails on Amtrak’s Auto Train
When the desk clerk asked if she could make me a dinner reservation, my heart sung with adventure. And when she told me the only reservation left was at 4:30 p.m., I thought, oh right, it’s Amtrak. – Globe and Mail, 10/15

Iceland in the Winter: From the Northern Lights to the Pink-Tipped Mountains
Winter in Iceland might sound like fifty shades of grey, but the country offers pops of color in the most unexpected of places. – Conde Nast Traveler, 3/15

Danger: Saint-Malo and the Highest Tides in Europe  My apocalyptic beach vacation in a French town where the water disappears for hours, then rushes back and pummels the sidewalk. – BBC Travel, 12/14

In France, a steampunk park of Jules’ Verne’s dreams  When you think of the French region of Brittany, many images may spring to mind: windswept beaches, medieval towns, plates of soft pink langoustines. A giant walking mechanical elephant, however, is probably not one of them. – BBC Travel, 10/14

Multiple World Surface Essays  World surface is a now-defunct travel website that I wrote a bunch of essays for.  You’ll have to trust me when I say they were lovely.  Also, the site awarded me Travel Writer of the Year in 2001.


Beyond Picky Eating: The Science of Kid Supertasters  Picky eating may be a sign of trouble ahead, but it can also be a genetic quirk.  – Yahoo! Parenting, 9/15

In the Grand Scheme of Things – An excerpt from my Kindle Single, THE EDGE OF NORMAL. – Longreads, 7/15

Staying in touch with your kid at summer camp is much easier now.  It’s terrible  Sometimes it’s better not to know.  – The Washington Post, Post Everything, 7/15 

When my son realized that women do not do all the things men dHe already knew about the Holocaust.  Why did I feel it was okay to tell him about Hitler but not about the gender gap? – Washington Post,  OnParenting , 11/14

Parenting the Non-Girlie Girl  Girls who dress as pirates on Halloween are spunky. Girls who dress as Darth Vader make the other parents uncomfortable.  – The New York Times, Private Lives, 4/14 – [New York Times Most-Emailed list; featured on Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls]

The Self-Deprecating Playdate  Why are parents competitively confessional?  – Babble, Bad parent, 1/09

Babies on A Plane  How the airlines can make traveling with kids less of a nightmare.  – Babble , 11/08

The People on the Bus Say ‘Shame On You  I asked the Internet, when do you tell dear baby ‘I love you?’ –  The New York Times, Modern Love, 9/07

Personal Essays

I put personal essay into almost everything I write, but this section is for those essays that defy categorization.  They’re about scars, shyness, women’s catalogs, marriage, names, cadaver grafts, finding your true self, management consulting, home and much more.

Battle Scars  A story, a memory, a badge of honor – a scar is more than an imperfection to be corrected.  One woman decides whether she can live without hers.  – Allure , 9/15

Writing My Way to a New Self  When the head counselor demoted me I instantly knew what the problem was.  She thought she was hiring Writing Me. But what she got instead was Actual Me. Big mistake.  – The New York Times, Draft,  3/15 [New York Times most-emailed list]

I Didn’t Get to Take Maternity Leave  When I was pregnant with my first child, I knew two things for certain: First, although it sounded physically impossible, this baby was going to exit my body. Second, I would take maternity leave.  – Daily Worth, 9/15

A Story of Gentrification in Brooklyn  The patch of dirt may have been covered in weeds and candy wrappers, but it was mine.  – The New York Times, Private Lives, 12/14

When Your Childhood Home Isn’t As You Remember It  I went back to visit the house I’d grown up in, but i didn’t like what they’d done with the place.  – The New York Times Magazine, Lives, 11/14

An Open Letter to the People Who Decide Which Women’s Apparel Catalogs to Send Me  While I may think of myself as a desk-bound 42-year-old mom, you see someone who will one day require short shorts and a bikini top to wear when I go stand-up paddle boarding. – McSweeney’s, Open letters to people or entities who are unlikely to respond, 8/14

Ten Years Into My Marriage, I Took Back My Maiden Name  When I reverted to my old identity, friends worried my marriage was in trouble. Actually, I’d finally found my way.  –S alon, 7/14

Thank You For The Tissue Graft  How do you show gratitude to the family of someone who’s given you a posthumous gift of life?  – The New York Times, Sunday Review, 12/12

The Year of Commuting Dangerously  Everyone at the management consulting company was on Prozac. Lifeboat: A Journal of Memoir, 2003