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

It’s Not You—It’s That Hip Injury

You may have noticed I've been a little distant lately. It's not for lack of caring, I promise. It's odd. We've both stayed put but we don't connect like we used to. Sometimes I see you from a distance and it reminds me how long it's been since we spent time together. I get this … Continue reading It’s Not You—It’s That Hip Injury

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

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 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

Facebook, Ancient Coins, and Defying Age

Among my many strange interests is a fascination with ancient Roman coins. In particular I like the silver and gold coinage of the Roman “imperatorial” period and early empire, starting in 49 BC and extending through the mid-second century. It’s a fascinating time in history when epic figures like Julius Caesar, Pompey, Marc Antony, Cleopatra, … Continue reading Facebook, Ancient Coins, and Defying Age

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

Middle Age by Any Other Name

Maybe it’s just me whining about my late fifties, but I think we need a better name for this stage of life. “Middle-aged” doesn’t cut it. Calling myself "middle-aged" feels vaguely mendacious. It’s like referring to yourself as a “seasoned veteran” on LinkedIn to skirt the fact that you graduated from college 15 years before … Continue reading Middle Age by Any Other Name

A Year Between Two December Days

It’s kind of spooky how consistent the weather can be from year to year. Even with the effects of global warming, which are unmistakable in upstate New York, a day in December one year is eerily like the previous year. It’s almost enough to make you believe there really is a cosmic clockmaker whose spheres … Continue reading A Year Between Two December Days