Great Escape

A 2016 Hillary Clinton speechwriter recalls what saved her

Illustration: Rob Dobi

“You should just run a marathon.”

I don’t remember who made the suggestion, just how hard I laughed. I didn’t even like walking. I was the kind of person who stood still on escalators and moving sidewalks at the airport. (That’s what they’re there for.) I figure skated in high school, but that was 10 years and 40 pounds ago. And despite the signs posted around my office — “The 11th Floor Gym Is Here for You!” “Join the Healthy Snack Initiative!” — I was not making time for wellness.

Instead, I was working long hours as a speechwriter at…


Image: jessica siao

One of the first things that made me feel better after the 2016 election was Rebecca Solnit’s book Hope in the Dark. “Joy doesn’t betray but sustains activism,” she wrote. “And when you face a politics that aspires to make you fearful, alienated and isolated, joy is a fine act of insurrection.” A few days later, I was out for a run when Lucinda Williams’ song “Joy” came up on shuffle: “You took my joy, I want it back.” It felt like the universe was sending me a message: Joy isn’t just a nice feeling. It’s a powerful force, a…

Lauren Peterson

Speechwriter, Badger, reformed figure skater, slow runner. Proud alumna of Clinton 2016, Planned Parenthood, Obama 2012, & UW-Madison.

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