Learning to celebrate the loss of celebrations

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I saw my family for a socially-distanced barbecue yesterday. It was the first time I’ve seen them since February.

The barbecue had moments that I would guess many of us are navigating as we try to gain our footing. How do we stay safe and also maintain relationships? …

Before COVID-19, partners were able to attend prenatal appointments with pregnant patients. Now, patients are left to navigate prenatal care solo.

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The science of comfort foods, through a lens of This Moment In Time.

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In 2004, I lived in Orlando, FL, where I worked as a Disney World cast member as part of Disney’s college program, a semester-long internship-style experience where you work at the resort and live in an apartment with peers. Though we had unfettered access to (and indulged in plenty of) theme park food, which, in Disney World, includes global cuisine at EPCOT, my best friend Heather and I had an unlikely secret weapon to combat bouts of homesickness that would befall us: Golden Corral.

If you don’t know it, Golden Corral is a buffet chain. It’s the definition of no…

In the age of COVID-19, rumors and misinformation about baby formula have circulated online, some of them potentially harmful.

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In recent weeks, as reports of pandemic-induced hoarding and empty shelves have emerged, so too have fears about baby formula being unavailable. The former has led to a rash of misinformation on the internet, including recipes for how to make baby formula — which health experts say is not safe — and rumors that if your store is out of formula, you can call the number on the back of the can and the company will send you a case for free. The latter is a myth that major manufacturers of formula have issued statements to debunk.

Last week, my…

Soulful tips for the self-haircut newbie

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I live in Vermont, where, two weekends ago, our governor closed all “close contact” businesses, including hair salons and tattoo parlors. As someone who sports, and relishes, short hair, I didn’t waste time ordering some haircutting scissors.

I’m not that new to cutting my own hair. After college, I had no money and was working crazy long hours (an interesting combination, eh?), so I had neither the means nor the time to maintain the pixie I wanted. So I went into the bathroom with a dull pair of kitchen scissors and got to chopping. It worked out fine (great, even).

Ehhhh, debatable.

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The TLDR version of this post is that homemade English muffins are good, but probably not worth the time/ingredients.

Tis I, the author of Middle Well, coming to you live from deep inside a quarantine in my home in Vermont. In some ways, quarantine is not terribly different than my normal life, as my home is kind of isolated and I’ve always worked from home. But, of course, there is the whole, ya know, society is closed thing. And the constant emotional processing and grief that comes with What’s Happening Right Now.

If you’ve been online at all lately (anyone…

For Pete’s sake, get dressed.

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As you have probably noticed, the logistics of our practical world are rapidly changing in the wake of an outbreak of COVID-19 (coronavirus), which the World Health Organization today deemed a global pandemic.

Yesterday, numerous universities announced that students would be sent home from campus indefinitely, and that instruction would occur online. Meanwhile, as it’s revealed that the virus spread in recent days at multiple professional conferences, including NICAR, many people are being quarantined due to exposure. Many more are being told to work from home proactively.

I’ve been working from home for the better part of ten years, as…

Waiting for quarantine in a time of uncertainty.

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I cleaned out the cabinet where I’ve been stashing the wood plates we don’t use but I’m not willing to get rid of. They were a wedding gift from back when I thought wooden dinner plates were a good idea. I use them as serving trays sometimes now and, anyway, they’re in a closet now. The cabinet has become a pantry.

We filled it with what we could think of: dried things — rice, beans, pasta — , cereal, canned tomatoes, coconut milk. Modern design didn’t envision bomb shelters, so shelf space is limited. The freezer’s getting full, too.


Frozen avocados are bad.

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Hi, hello, hi. I made a mistake today.

I had a loaf of two-day-old homemade sourdough bread (yes! I have finally started making sourdough which does indeed make me my own hero!). A relative was coming over for lunch and I decided I’d make her the “millennial special,” which is what I pejoratively refer to avocado toast as.

I didn’t have any avocados.

But I said, “Hey! I have that bag of frozen avocados in the freezer. I’ll use that.”

I told you, I made a mistake today.

I bought a bag of frozen avocados because I saw it at…

What I’ve learned from separating faith from God

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It’s been a long time since I had a relationship with religion.

I grew up fearing God, because of a few unique circumstances.

First, my great aunt was a nun.

Second, my father was raised very Catholic and god-fearing, and it trickled into my bloodstream at an early age.

Third, once, when I was seven, I said, “God, I’d give absolutely anything if I could have an American Girl Doll bed like the the one Maribeth’s dad made for her.” I didn’t tell her, or her dad, I was hoping for one. One night, the phone rang in the middle…

Lauren Harkawik

Essayist, fiction writer + local reporter in VT. She/her.

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