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How to Construct a Contented Life


My smug happiness annoys some people. That's fair. Their neurotic misery sometimes annoys me. Newsflash: I'm not going to give up my inappropriately bubbly bliss to make whiners more comfortable.

Rattlesnake Musings and Manta Ray Moments


After I bent over and lifted a dusty rock, a fat coiled rattlesnake glared and hissed within easy striking distance of my face.

Kong Is Still The King


Kong: Skull Island allows cinema chair travelers to escape the urban jungle for that more authentic kind.

I Officially Declare Myself A Woman


In my long and masculine life, I never considered identifying as a woman - until now. Yet, I'm sure of my decision.

Don't Cover Up Marine Le Pen


A Muslim leader refuses to meet with French politico Marine Le Pen unless she wears a headscarf. A Mormon friend of mine won't dine with people who order beer.

Hollywood's Great Wall and Great Gall


Matt Damon's latest film offers both epic ambition and epic hypocrisy. This movie seeks global profit by teasing the Asian market with local lore (China's wall) and an American audience with local controversy (Trump's wall).

Illegal Migration Is NOT Compassion


Lovely eight-year-old Neftaly had no idea she’d been delivered into the hands of her rapist by what American politicians call a more compassionate immigration policy.

Back When I Was Homeless


Life at the mobile home park: not bad for a starter homeBelieve it or not, Lyn's fondest life memories include a very brief homeless stint.

Write Beyond Sensitivity Police Jurisdiction


North Americans often assert they want to learn from other cultures, but travel writing is still expected to fit into the politically correct box of ideas that don’t shock sensibilities.

The Snowden Job of Oliver Stoned


When you call someone an America-loathing communist, it's usually a hyperbolic insult, but with director Oliver Stone, it's literally his official job description.

Mother Superior Inspires Author Superior


When I wrote about my mother's death, I never expected the story to be chosen as one of the best nonfiction works of the last twenty years.

Last Call For Resident Author Applications


Thanks to all who have submitted resumes for the writer-in-residence jobs we announced two posts back.

Is Donald Trump America's Pancho Villa?


This week celebrates the revolution here in Mexico, so I would be remiss not to note some uncanny parallels between Donald Trump and Pancho Villa.

Travel Writer In Residence Dream Job


Not many folks get paid to write. Much less to apprentice with a critically-acclaimed author. Yet, that opportunity is now available to you for a limited time.

Author Lionel Shriver On Political Correctness


I hate to disappoint you folks, but unless we stretch the topic to a breaking point this address will not be about the assigned theme of “community and belonging.” In fact, you have to hand it to this festival’s organisers: inviting a renowned iconoclast to speak about “community and belonging” is like expecting a great white shark to balance a beach ball on its nose.

Black Lives Really Don't Matter


I was the white-skinned member in a black church through most of university. Not because I was making a human rights statement.

My Brief Undocumented Migrant Phase


Forboding creeps into my heart as the bus nears Copacabaña border crossing. I'm taking a gamble. All the other passengers are European, because Americans are supposed to get visas before entering Bolivia with a two-way plane ticket, but I'm relying on the schmoozing powers that have so magically transported me across many frontiers.

Learning Stuff From Primitive Savages


Jack's Cafe may sit on Cuzco's most touristy corner but truly deserves its long line of travelers spilling out into the street.

Only One Situation Justifies Domestic Violence


The Inca-berry-slathered alpaca filet on my plate and the narcotic coca leaves in my teacup can only mean one thing: I'm in Cusco.

Cracker Lives Matter In Lima Peru


Nirvana is to be experienced rather than defined, except to say that the airport in Lima is its exact opposite.


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