Essay: In My Office

Oct 24, 2019
Joanne Nelson

Joanne Nelson has a framed photograph on her desk that makes her think about time, loss, and family. She explores these feelings in this essay, "In My Office."

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For writer and former white supremacist Arno Michaelis, a series of events and people helped change his life for the better. Michaelis recalls his encounter with a worker at McDonald's who was one of the first to show him compassion, even when she represented everything he was supposed to hate:

Dear nice old black lady at McDonald’s,

I think of you fondly and often, and I talk about you all the time.

Essay: In The Prayers Of A Stranger

Sep 16, 2019
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The Internet can often be a source of stress for those going through hard times. While it can connect us to the world, it can also bring the pain of others into sharper focus. Writer J.F. Riordan contemplates her own place in this struggle, in her essay “Prayers for a Stranger.”

I recently realized that my life had become rather narrow, and that music, once the central focus of my existence, had been reduced to passive listening. So, most days, now, I spend some time playing the piano badly.

Essay: Fast Food Salaries

Aug 26, 2019
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The wealth gap in the U.S. is large and it's only getting larger. In May, Forbes reported that in 2018, the richest 10% held 70% of total household wealth, up from 60% in 1989. And in June, the Brookings Institute reported that the top 1% alone holds more wealth than the entire middle class. 

Lake Effect essayist Tom Matthews thinks that needs to change.  

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There are a number of jokes about intelligence work, but the punchline is always some variation of “but if I told you, I’d have to kill you.”

Lake Effect foreign policy contributor Art Cyr says all joking aside, secrecy and discretion are crucial components of this work:

Essay: Lithium: Too Hot to Handle or Ship

Aug 7, 2019
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You know the drill. Shoes and belts off, laptops out of your bag, 4 ounces or less of liquids. Flying has lost whatever romance it once had.

But what’s the deal with batteries? Why can’t you put them in your checked baggage? Lake Effect essayist Judy Steininger explains:

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As we grow older, so do our parents. And we find ourselves trying to convince elderly parents to move out of their too big, too dangerous homes and into safer quarters. Most are met with resistance. Lake Effect essayist Mel Miksimen wasn't - at least not in the way she expected.

My 89-year-old father had come to his own conclusion to put the house up for sale that had been home for 63 years, the one he and my mother bought after they got married, and she said she'd never leave unless it was feet first, and well, that happened.

Essay: Shots Shrug

Jul 12, 2019
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We get used to things. It could be a squeaky hinge on a door we don’t hear any more, or the way we automatically dodge the edge of a counter that sticks out just a little too far. As Lake Effect essayist Mel Miskimen works on her house, she wonders if she’s become too laid back:

I was in the upstairs front bedroom stripping the 1880s walls of 1980s wallpaper. It was a Saturday morning. The neighborhood was in the process of waking itself up, figuring out the plan for the rest of the day, and then ...

Pop! popopopopoppopop.

Essay: The Perils Of Public Music

Jul 1, 2019
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Lake Effect essayist JF Riordan travels a lot for work. And as she explains in her essay, The Perils of Public Music, she’d just like a little peace and quiet on the road:

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We’re just about to the weekend, a time when a lot of people enjoy the chance to pop open a bag of chips and a beer or a soda, and watch their favorite team or their favorite sport, or whatever game happens to be on TV.

But as all diehard sports fans know, rooting for a team can be a double-edged sword. It was a game a few weeks ago that drove that point home to essayist and Lake Effect sports contributor Shaun Ranft:

Essay: The Island By Night

Jun 12, 2019
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Wisconsin writer J.F. Riordan set her series of novels on remote Washington Island, just off the tip of Door County. It's a place that locals refer to as "North of the tension line," a phrase that gave her series its name. However, while Riordan loves that place, she does much of her writing in the Milwaukee area.

It's that disconnect that informs the series of essays that fill her latest book, called Reflections on a Life in Exile:

When I am on the Island, every night, before bed, the dogs and I go out for a long walk in the dark.

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Today marks the 75th anniversary in a watershed moment, from a watershed global conflict. It’s a day that Lake Effect essayist Art Cyr thinks we should all look to as we consider our own perilous times:

From ancient times, military professionals rightly regard amphibious invasions as especially challenging. We recognize and honor the seventy-fifth anniversary of the greatest such operation, the Allies’ invasion of France in World War II, on June 6, 1944 – D-Day.

Some are watching the daily news with bated breathe - waiting for new information about international relations, investigations, and other salacious details packed with political intrigue. But Lake Effect essayist Mel Miskimen is not among these throngs of political junkies. Instead, Miskimen has her sights set on 18th century Scotland.

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President Trump this week rolled out his revised approach to immigration policy, one which he says is focused on "merit." His recommendations were met with skepticism by many in Congress, and the debate over immigration will likely continue into the campaign season.

Lake Effect contributor and essayist Art Cyr says there is some history to consider as you follow the immigration debate.

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At a summit in Brussels this past week, European Union leaders have agreed to put off the day of Brexit - the date when Britain officially leaves the EU. The extra time will allow the British parliament to either approve Prime Minister Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement or ‘indicate a way forward’.

This turns of events has Lake Effect’s Foreign Policy contributor and essayist Art Cyr thinking about the relationship between US and British intelligence services and how Brexit might affect it: