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.

Essay: At The Breakfast Bar

Feb 21, 2020
K.Pornsatid /

Does a person with a disability always want help? Who decides what another person needs or wants? This is an essay about a brief encounter in a hotel breakfast bar that raised some tough questions about who is really helped when help is offered.

As free hotel breakfasts go, this one was exceptional. There was juice, coffee, bagels, eggs, sausage, fruit, yogurt, and, the crown jewel of the long, two-lane breakfast bar, a waffle maker. It was, as cheap travelers like us would say, deluxe in every way.

Essay: The Coupon

Feb 14, 2020
Евгения Юшина /

Coming up with the perfect gift is no easy task. But essayist Mel Miskimen thought she'd found just the thing for her husband on their first wedding anniversary. Turns out, it didn't exactly get the reaction she expected.

It was our first anniversary. Paper according to Hallmark. We were in our late 20s, had just bought a fixer upper that had sucked our meagre savings account dry. So, no money. I had come with what I had thought was the perfect gift for my husband. Oh. My. God. He was going to love it!

Essay: Still Life

Jan 29, 2020
Eric /

The relationships we share with our siblings are unique — whether some consider it a bond, or at times, a burden. For Lake Effect essayist Joanne Nelson, thinking about her brother brings up many mixed emotions. She remembers the man once filled with buzzing energy while contending with the image of who he turned into:

Essay: Pete Loses His Wingman

Jan 16, 2020
eyepark /

Losing a pet is always difficult for the people who love them. But it can be even more difficult for the pets who are left behind, as writer J.F. Riordan learned when her dog Reggie passed away. She tells us about it in her essay, “Pete Loses His Wingman:”

Essay: Maybe Icarus Was A Turkey

Jan 7, 2020
MikeFusaro /

Although Milwaukee’s central city is a bustling urban center - you can still see a fair share of wild animals. One of the most common culprits is the wild turkey.

For author J.F. Riordan, turkeys aren’t just curious anomalies on city streets - they’re a regular part of her routine. One turkey, in particular, made a real impression:

Essay: Leftovers

Nov 27, 2019
Rudenko /

A big meal like Thanksgiving can leave us with a refrigerator full of leftovers. And for some folks, the leftovers are the best part - as long as you don’t let them sit too long. Lake Effect essayist Joanne Nelson has been thinking about what the contents of our refrigerators say about us - to others:

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."

Essay: Dear Nice Old Black Lady At McDonald's

Oct 17, 2019
Justin Sullivan / Getty Images News

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.