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Mother's Mind

A look at new findings on postpartum depression and maternal mental illness:

In New York, State Senator Liz Krueger has introduced a bill to encourage screening and treatment, a proposal that will most likely pass and be approved by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who vetoed a 2013 bill on technical grounds but encouraged the revised legislation.

Jeanne Marie Johnson, in Oregon, may have benefited from state laws encouraging awareness of postpartum mental illness. At her daughter, Pearl’s, two-week pediatric checkup, Ms. Johnson received a questionnaire. Her answers raised red flags and were forwarded to her midwife and a social worker. Ms. Johnson also called a number for a hotline the hospital gave her after a panic attack.

She saw a social worker, but resisted taking medication for months. Afraid to be alone with Pearl, she would insist her mother come over when her husband was out. “I called the doctor hotline constantly,” with nonexistent concerns, “because if I was talking on the phone I wouldn’t do anything harmful.”

Part Two: A Case Study
PUBLISHED: June 16, 2014
LENGTH: 21 minutes (5482 words)

I Smoked Pot with David Brooks

A satirical response to New York Times columnist David Brooks, from his “stoner friend,” about giving up smoking pot:

Now that he’s gone and outed himself, I guess I’m free to tell the secret. I smoked pot with David Brooks. I was one of that “clique” with whom he had “those moments of uninhibited frolic.” There were seven of us. We all know what happened to Dave. The rest: a surgeon (rich), a dentist (gay), two lawyers (one dead already), one teacher and one househusband/artist (that’s me). I never spoke up before because I figured if I threw mud at someone whose whole career rests on being squeaky clean, well, that’s just mean. And it’s mostly irrelevant now. I mean, like he said, we’ve “aged out” and “left marijuana behind.”

PUBLISHED: Jan. 3, 2014
LENGTH: 6 minutes (1700 words)

Interview with My Mom, One Who Stayed Home

After reading the New York Times Magazine story on women who "opted out," Gay asks her mom about her own experience:

"Sometimes when people talk about women and the workforce, they say a woman cannot truly be equal to a man unless she has her own income. What do you think?

"Well. Equality. What a word. When we choose go outside in the world, when we come home, we’re still mommy. The second shift starts. Equality doesn’t exist, period, even when you share the chores. Some days it can be 70/30 and other days it is 30/70. I don’t think that’s what we should be fighting for.

"What should we be fighting for?

"Men participating more in the home, but it’s petty to say 50/50, because life doesn’t allow that."
AUTHOR:Roxane Gay
PUBLISHED: Aug. 13, 2013
LENGTH: 10 minutes (2650 words)

The Lady Jaguars

A look at a basketball program for teenage girls that offers guidance and refuge from their rocky family lives in a town plagued by unemployment, substance abuse, and teenage pregnancy. The program is part of the Carroll Academy, a school run by the Carroll County Juvenile Court in West Tennessee. John Branch reports the story in two parts:

"Hannah arrived when she was 12, after she admitted stealing prescription pills from her mother and bringing them to school under orders from girls who had threatened to beat her up. It was Monica, wanting to teach Hannah a lesson, who called the school.

"It was only this spring that Hannah acknowledged that it was a lie — a lie conceived by her father, Hannah said, so that he could take the pills and avoid the wrath of his wife. Hannah wants to graduate from Carroll Academy. She likes the attention and a predictable schedule. She likes playing on the basketball team. She has flitting dreams of becoming a doctor or a veterinarian.

"Hannah’s parents do not like that she goes to Carroll Academy. Getting her to the van stop in the nearest town is inconvenient, and picking her up after basketball games (when school vans do not run) can cost an hour of time and $20 in gas money, if the car is running at all. But if Hannah does not attend, her parents could end up in jail. The juvenile court views truancy as a parent problem, not a child one."

Don't miss the 17-minute documentary that goes along with this story about 14-year-old Hannah's experience at Carroll Academy.
PUBLISHED: July 25, 2013
LENGTH: 46 minutes (11726 words)

Chasing the Dragon

[NSFW] A look back at Bruce Lee's early career and the making of Enter the Dragon. (One of Lee's costars, Jim Kelly, died Saturday at age 67):

"Enter the Dragon struck a responsive chord across the globe. Made for a minuscule $850,000, it would gross $90 million worldwide in 1973 and go on to earn an estimated $350 million over the next 40 years, including profits from a recently released two-disc Blu-ray edition. Producer Fred Weintraub likes to joke that the movie was so profitable the studio even had to pay him. Screenwriter Michael Allin recalls, 'Warner’s lawyer sent me a letter saying, "The picture will be well into profit"—and here’s the phrase I love—"by anybody’s formula." The picture made so much money they could not sweep it under the rug. The rug had too big a bulge.'"
PUBLISHED: July 1, 2013
LENGTH: 21 minutes (5345 words)

Longreads Best of 2012: Edith Zimmerman

PUBLISHED: Dec. 6, 2012

The Long Shot

Following news of the discovery of a new planet in Alpha Centauri, a look at how scientists discover new planets:

"I’d come to meet Debra Fischer, a professor at San Francisco State University. As a co-discoverer of more than 150 planets, nearly half the known total outside our solar system, she is a prominent figure in astronomy. Her work on this lonely mountaintop could propel her past that, though, into realms of myth and legend. Fischer is using a modest, neglected telescope at CTIO to search for Earth-like planets in Alpha Centauri, the nearest star system to our own. If they exist, she should find them in three to five years.

"The implications would be timeless, echoing ancient questions of life’s purpose, outlining futures distant yet possible. Against the certainty of another Earth circling one of the closest stars in the sky, the entirety of recorded history would abruptly seem the briefest prelude to an eternal denouement, a fire kindled to be passed on without end. Alpha Centauri could become a beacon illuminating and bringing significance to the accumulated toils of generations. Driven by the spectral hope of another living world unexplored, our own could profoundly change. Or Fischer’s project could simply fail. Many astronomers assume it will."
PUBLISHED: May 19, 2009
LENGTH: 22 minutes (5602 words)