What Masculinity Looked Like

Masculinity is a freighted word. I can’t conjure those five syllables without calling to mind certain classic images of maleness. It’s like there’s a memory chip in my brain that serves up the same old picture, even when I change the search terms. The same phenomenon is true, I think, for all kinds of deep-seated … Continue reading What Masculinity Looked Like

Living Life in the Low Beams

The final chapter of my book Midpoint: Manhood, Midlife, and Prostate Cancer, ends with my nervously checking the results of my first post-surgery PSA test. The news that day was good—none of the antigen was detectable in my blood, which indicated that, for then at least, the cancer was beat back. Since then, I've lived … Continue reading Living Life in the Low Beams

Rethinking the Whole Manhood Thing

It had been more than six months since we’d seen this couple. My wife had been teaching abroad for a semester and during her absence I didn't go out much. Now that Barbara was back in the States, though, our social calendar was repopulated with evenings out like this one. We met at a favorite … Continue reading Rethinking the Whole Manhood Thing

The Terrifying Truth About Social Media

I need to get my shit together. It’s not quite an existential concern, but it is a problem of identity, and that wigs me out. No doubt there are support groups for this sort of thing. They probably meet in church basements and sit in circles, talking at each other with wild eyes and trembling … Continue reading The Terrifying Truth About Social Media

CBD, Prostate Cancer, and Just Carrying On

If you haven’t heard about CBD (cannabidiol, one of 113 “cannabinoids” found in Cannabis plants) you’re not spending much time online. As for me, I was fairly late to the party, having heard about CBD a while ago but filed it away in my pseudoscience dustbin. As with many things in life, though, I wrote … Continue reading CBD, Prostate Cancer, and Just Carrying On

An Unbearable Brightness of Being

Graduate school gave me mixed signals about intelligence. Every now and then I try to sort them out. Thirty-five years after I earned my master’s degree from the University of Virginia, the nature of my own intellect remains unclear to me. For a long time, I wondered just what kind of "intelligent" I might be—and … Continue reading An Unbearable Brightness of Being

The Most Expensive Cat Ever—And Why That’s Okay

  Periodically, my friends ask me to tell one particularly embarrassing story—usually when the wine is flowing and they want a good laugh. I figure I’ll share it here: Doing so both exposes me as a bleeding-heart animal lover and states a very serious moral position. About 13 years ago, our 20-year-old rescue cat, Phoebe, … Continue reading The Most Expensive Cat Ever—And Why That’s Okay

The Over-Examined Life

I must have been about 14 when my father sent me to meet with our minister for some "counseling." By that point, I had already gone through a couple of phases in my spiritual development. When I was 10, I had a inexplicable surge of religious devotion; but when puberty gripped me, I moved away … Continue reading The Over-Examined Life

The Unpleasant Business of Firing People

For managers, few things suck more than firing an employee. Terminating a member of your staff is a strangely intimate and perilous action; and all but the most calloused individuals dread having to take such a step. Even though you may feel absolutely certain your decision is right for the company, the team, even the … Continue reading The Unpleasant Business of Firing People

A Better View of the Abyss

Note: From time to time, I hope to include posts from guest writers whose preoccupations align with All of That. The following piece is by my wife, Barbara Black, who teaches nineteenth-century British literature at Skidmore College.  Pascal famously claimed that we live by situating something between us and the abyss so that we can … Continue reading A Better View of the Abyss