Essay: The First Rehearsal

Jul 2, 2020
eldarnurkovic /

Most theaters have been dark for months now due to the coronavirus pandemic. Some are offering their work online. But for people who love the theater, it’s been hard to replace that feeling of seeing a live performance. 

Essayist Marie Kohler recalls her first experience in a theater in her essay “The First Rehearsal.” And she looks hopefully to a time when we all might be able to return.

“Come along and watch a rehearsal tonight while I’m at my theater meeting.”

My mother pushed away from the dining room table and grabbed her purse.

Essay: Tribute To Fred And Jerry

Jun 22, 2020
Steve Burrows / Miramax

Two comedy legends passed away within the same week in May — Jerry Stiller and Fred Willard. Both of their contributions to comedy in all forms, from stage to television and film, are immeasurable and made them household names. 

Filmmaker and Wisconsin-native Steve Burrows had the pleasure of working with both Stiller and Willard on his film Chump Change — a Miramax showbusiness satire, most of which takes place in Wisconsin.

Essay: The Parish Hall

May 27, 2020
Biewer_Jürgen /

Attending a funeral is never a comfortable experience. But it can be especially uncomfortable if you feel out of place.

Lake Effect contributor Jan Wilberg recently learned that attending a funeral is not about your own comfort but about bringing comfort to others. She recalls her experience attending a funeral on the Oneida reservation in her essay “The Parish Hall.”

Last fall, my friend's son passed away.

Essay: We Have Managed, So Far

May 14, 2020
Mark Trowbridge / Getty Images

The coronavirus pandemic is in some ways an echo of our history. People have compared it to other health crises, like the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic. Others have compared concerns about an economic downturn to what happened during the Great Depression. 

For essayist Aleta Chossek, these parallels were born out in letters from her grandfather, a business owner who lived through the Depression:

“We have been having bad times here in America, but we have managed, so far."

“There are 12-13 million good laborers unemployed.”

thicha /

The coronavirus has transformed how hospitals are operating. Hospitals that once bustled with activity have been reduced to treating only the sickest among us, and many medical students who once roamed the hallways have been sent home out of concern for their health.

Lake Effect contributor Bruce Campbell is a head and neck surgeon who's been teaching medical students at the Medical College of Wisconsin for the past 30 years. He reflects on teaching his students outside of a hospital in this essay titled “Narrative Medicine in the time of COVID-19.” 

Essay: Mindfulness

Apr 23, 2020
Song_about_summer /

Many of us have a lot on our minds right now. We’re practicing social distancing, unable to see our family and friends. We’re navigating working and learning from home. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed during the coronavirus pandemic, but practicing mindfulness can help.

Lake Effect contributor, Barbara Miner found we can all learn something about being mindful from watching children. Here's her essay called "Mindfulness":

Spencer Platt / Getty Images News

Dining scenes across America and the world are shuttered due to the coronavirus. Bars and restaurants are closed for dine-in service and some are hanging on through carry-out and delivery sales. But for many of them, their fate on the other side of this is uncertain.

Meagan Schultz

John Prine passed away earlier this month due to COVID-19 complications. He was 73 years old. The music world lost a giant of a composer, recording artist and performer, who was known for his often humorous style of original music.

Lake Effect contributor Meagan Schultz takes a similarly amusing musical approach in reflecting on her current circumstances staying at home with her children during a pandemic. Here she is with her homage to John Prine’s song “In Spite of Ourselves." Her song is called “In Spite of Themselves":

Essay: Wordless

Apr 3, 2020
edwardolive /

Being in isolation can be extremely lonely. For those who are hearing impaired, that isolation is felt all the time. Simple communication or an ordinary interaction with another person can be a challenge. Lake Effect contributor Jan Wilberg shares an essay about her experience in a doctor’s office.

Essay: Tomboys

Apr 1, 2020
Barbara Miner

Lake Effect contributor and self-described tomboy Barbara Miner shares her thoughts about a New York Times opinion piece, Bring Back the Tomboys.

One of my most vivid memories of second grade was when I wrestled the class bully. In my version, I was the winner. He stopped only because he didn’t want to get pinned by a girl.

Yes, I was a classic tomboy.

Essay: Waiting For Coronavirus

Mar 25, 2020
Win McNamee / Getty Images

From prisons to schools, to hospitals — places that care for a lot of people have had to change a lot of their operations in order to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Lake Effect contributor Bruce Campbell is a head and cancer surgeon at Froedtert Hospital and the Medical College of Wisconsin, and he shares his essay “Waiting for Coronavirus:”

Essay: Coronakindness

Mar 17, 2020
ngupakarti /

Scientists are still working to understand COVID-19, and there remains a lot of uncertainty about how it behaves. That uncertainty breeds fear, and that fear can bring out repugnant human behavior.

Lake Effect contributor Arno Michaelis is a former white supremacist who now makes his living traveling the world to speak out against hate and violence. His work has come to a grinding halt due to cancellations, travel bans and practicing social distancing.

De Visu /

Lake Effect contributor Meagan Schultz's writing often focuses on experiences with motherhood, midlife and aging. Her essay, “Before It’s Too Late” asks us: When do we actually remember getting old?

I look in the mirror this morning and see my grandmother. Or at the very least, I see her jowls. Just below my own cheeks. Though if I smile you hardly notice.

Immediately I want to call her and ask her - before it’s too late - when she remembers getting old. I mean, one day, she must have looked in the mirror and said to herself, I am an old woman.

Essay: On Waking Up At 5 AM

Mar 10, 2020
Victoria Avvacumova /

Daylight saving time means it stays darker longer in the early morning hours. But horse farmer Lia Sader found that can lead to some beautiful sights for early risers. Here’s her essay about an unusual encounter on her farm in Franksville, Wisc.

Essay: If We Can Forgive

Mar 7, 2020
Scott Olson / Getty Images News

Essayist Arno Michaelis is a former white supremacist from Milwaukee and the co-author of The Gift of Our Wounds, along with Pardeep Sing Kaleka - the current executive director of the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee. They've both worked together through the organization Serve 2 Unite to divert young people from violent extremist ideologies, gun violence, school shooting, bullying, and other forms of self harm.