Anna Quindlen

Real Food For Thought

Alex Toro threads his big white truck through traffic, making the kind of pilgrimage New York City foodies live for. No stop at Le Bernardin today, the French fish restaurant that is routinely named one of the city's best, or Whole Foods, the Tiffany of supermarkets, although Toro has been to both.

Overhearing The Agenda

Eavesdropping is an underrated form of information gathering. Listening to the conversation going on in the next booth at the diner--for a writer, that's invaluable.

Taking Off Your Shoes

This one's for you! Yes, you, the guy in the security line at Newark airport who confiscated my pomade because the jar was marked 3.5 ounces when the Transportation Security Administration regulations mandate less than three."I scooped out half of it so it would be under the limit," I explained as my husband slid by with a five-ounce tube of shaving cream.

The Hillary Questions

Will she run? can she win? the fact that virtually every American voter knows who the "she" is in those oft-repeated sentences means that name recognition will not be a problem if Hillary Rodham Clinton decides to try to become the first woman president of the United States.Nor will certain key qualifications.

The Clinic: A No-Spin Zone

For anyone who has spent a lifetime listening to the bumper-sticker rhetoric of abortion politics, hearing Renee Chelian describe how she does things at the Michigan clinics she oversees is, no question, a shock to the system. "We're not going to correct a woman when she says 'baby' instead of 'fetus' and 'killing' instead of 'termination'," says Chelian flatly."If it's her body, she gets to use her terminology.

Everyday Equality

I came to feminism the way some people come to social movements in their early years: out of self-interest. As a teenager, I was outspoken and outraged, which paired with a skirt was once considered arrogance.

A Nation's Fear of Flying

Even discussions of architectural esthetics have taken a strange turn. The Bloomberg Tower is now finished, dominating the skyline in one area of midtown Manhattan; love it or hate it, it's quite a building. "I just wish it wasn't so tall," someone lamented at dinner.The citizens of New York, who live in the spiritual home of the skyscraper, now fear the office tower and the high-rise.

Live Alone And Like It

Somehow I wound up leading the same summer life my mother led. With school over, the household was transplanted a hundred miles away, in a place defined by weather: silver sunlight, soaking rains, calamine lotion, citronella candles, fishing tackle, raveling towels.

The Failed Experiment

You brush up against a lot of weird stuff in the course of child rearing, but one phenomenon that always had me scratching my head was the parents who hit their kids to teach them that hitting was a bad thing.In their defense, they had a civic model for that kind of bizarre circular reasoning.

A Cubicle Is Not a Home

Creeping codgerism is an inevitable effect of getting older, a variation of memory loss. When I complain that my daughter's skirt looks more like a belt, or that my sons keep vampire hours, those are the churlish carpings of a woman years removed from the days when her own dresses were sky-high and her idea of a good time was sleeping untilnoon. "Turn down that music," I have been known to yell, and my only saving grace is that I hear the words through a filmy curtain of generational déjà...

The Sign Of the Times

It is disconcerting, even a little frightening, to be in a place in which it is impossible to read the signs. As citizens of the world's most dominant culture, Americans often manage to avoid the feeling.

There She Was. There She Goes.

A kid of my generation doesn't forget those rare occasions when she was permitted to stay up until midnight. I remember the Jiffy Pop rattling like maracas on the stove, a pitcher of Kool-Aid the incandescent pink of Barbie-brand plutonium in the fridge.

The Face in The Crowd

Terrible things happened to Imette St. Guillen between the time she left her friends in lower Manhattan and when she was found dead, wrapped in a garish floral bedspread, amid trash and weeds miles away in Brooklyn.

None of the Above. None.

When I read that a presidential commission was considering standardized testing in colleges to gauge the level of learning, I was a little dispirited. I'd gotten a kick out of the fact that my homegrown college students were finally free of percentiles and national means.

State of Illusion

Pity the poor presidential speechwriter. Each year, as a cold gray sky lowers over theWhite House, the State of the Union address also looms. Once, a captive television audience could be taken for granted, but now, when cable makes it possible to eschew the pre-empted networks for reruns of "CSI," it's hard to say if there will even be warm bodies in the cheap seats at home.

Open to All: The Big Job

When the center for immigration Studies reported recently that 35 million American residents were foreign-born, the highest number in the nation's history, you could just imagine the reaction of the nativist types who wish all those people from elsewhere would just stay there.

Enough of the Waiting Game

The Iowa caucuses are currently scheduled for Jan. 21 a little more than two years from now, and the New Hampshire primary rolls around soon after.Who cares?The date of the next presidential election is Nov. 4, 2008.So what?The leadership vacuum is here now.

The Wages Of Teaching

A couple of years ago I spent the day at an elementary school in New Jersey. It was a nice average school, a square and solid building with that patented classroom aroma of disinfectant and chalk, chock-full of reasonably well-behaved kids from middle-class families.

Bedroom v. Courtroom

Samuel Alito has heard hundreds of cases during his long tenure on the court of appeals, but the interested members of the American public are now likely familiar with a single one.

We've Been Here Before

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a tapering wall of black granite cut into the grass of Constitution Gardens. Maya Lin envisioned a scar when she designed it, a scar on this land, which is exactly right.

The Value of The Outsider

On the center shelf, over the filing cabinets, sits the dictionary, the thesaurus, the copy of Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, the complete works of Shakespeare and the Bible: in other words, the essential equipment of the workaday writer.


On the second day of judge John Roberts's confirmation hearings, CNN's Jeff Greenfield felt moved to ask a question. The guest was Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, and Greenfield inquired why his fellows on the Judiciary Committee felt the need to use their limited time for bloviation instead of actually asking the judge questions.

Don't Mess With Mother

The dark aftermath of the frontier, of the vast promise of possibility this country first offered, is an inflated sense of American entitlement today. We want what we want, and we want it now.


Eileen Collins looks great in blue. That's the color of the NASA flight suit, and Collins, the agency's first female pilot-astronaut, was wearing one when she deplaned after her stint commanding the shuttle Discovery.


For my money one of the finest war movies ever made was the 1946 Oscar winner "The Best Years of Our Lives." There isn't a battlefield in it. Instead it's a story that begins as three soldiers head back to their hometown.