Photo by Eylem Culculoglu from

I’ve written professionally since just short of forever. As a regional journalist for a daily newspaper, I earned a decent enough living. My articles were regularly reprinted in newspapers nationwide. Reporters did not earn additional money for reprints but the idea that editors I’d never met chose to devote precious pages to something I wrote was compensation of a different sort. I still get a kick when an editor at Medium selects something I wrote.

Sometimes I think I should hold a sign: Will write for validation.

All this is to say, my financial expectations as a writer on Medium…

Image by Vivian McInerny of my old passport

We stood around a plaza in Delhi, India, near a post office or visa office, some sort of public building with space out front where young travelers gathered. The details blur. What remains in razor-sharp focus is how my eighteen-year-old self felt when I saw her; brutally smug.

She was probably in her early thirties an age I dismissed as too old to be wandering aimlessly around Asia like a lost flower child. She wore a long skirt, one of those woodblock print styles sold at street markets in India but also, by the mid-1970s, at every suburban mall. Stacks…

Image by Bill Davenport on

It started with national Talk Like a Pirate Day in September. Jake was all argghs and ahoy mateys which made me laugh. Not that hard but, still, I did laugh. At first.

Then one Wednesday after work, we met for happy hour at this great little pub Jake discovered. I ordered wings. Jake wanted the fish and chips. After the waitress took our order, I leaned across the two-top.

“Babe, I don’t think you should refer to her as a wench. It’s rude.”

“Must be the grog,” he said and raised his beer.



“Just stop. Please.”

My boyfriend…

Women need stilettos like fish need bicycles

Image by John Nyberg for

A funny thing happened on the way to the White House: Stiletto heels!

A bunch of Boomer Zoomers and I were talking about the wonders of the inauguration celebration. The extraordinary young poet Amanda Gorman absolutely wowed us all. Jennifer Lopez sounded powerful. And Lady Gaga inspired at least one woman’s tiny granddaughter to sing a roaring anthem of her own creation while donning voluminous yardage of sparkling pink froufrou.

We celebrated whip-smart lawyer Kamala Harris as Vice President, Dr. Jill Biden as First Lady, and the indomitable Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of…

Image of school & graveyard by Vivian McInerny

Summer crept into the edges of May. The classroom felt stuffy. Decades of dust hid in the spaces between the floorboards. It permeated the clothbound books, older than our parents, shelved on the windowsill in order of reading skill. Sister Romana slipped a finger under the edge of her wimple, damp with sweat.

We wilted like forgotten flowers. Our classroom was in an airless late Victorian building with creaking floors, cracked ceilings, and water fountains that tasted always of rust. We sat at oak desks of the same era with curly-cue wrought iron legs bolted onto long wood rails, connecting…

Whether random firings of neurons or magical messages from the subconscious, dreams talk

Chris H. in

I believe in dreams. Not goal-setting ambitious dreams but the sleeping ones that mix memories and future thoughts not yet fully formed, all together in moving pictures.

Most my dreams are forgotten before I wake. Or dissipate like mist as I’m waking and the more I try to grab hold of them the faster they evaporate.

A few dreams come to me so vivid and visceral and alive that I wake from them unsure of the divide between sleep and waking life. For a few seconds the…

Memories of a journalist covering fashion in a least fashionable town

The DVF paperdolls; image by Vivian McInerny

She was beautiful in a fierce sort of way. Physically arresting, for sure, aristocratic, elegant, toned, and fit, but most beautiful in the aura of absolute confidence she exuded.

Diane von Furstenberg was/is iconic.

She gave the distinct impression she was as comfortable with royalty as she was with the royal pain in the tush that was the regional journalist eagerly standing by with reporters’ notebook and pen in hand.

We met at the home of a friend of hers who’d recently moved to Portland, Oregon. It was a…

History is an obscene text message

Image by Benjamin Earwicker on

I was sitting at my kitchen table this morning when my text message buzzed.


The stars and stripes just got more, ahem, colorful.

This is not your (founding) fathers’ patriotism perhaps, but I couldn’t be more proud of my daughter. She was walking in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and baby when suddenly strangers everywhere started cheering and whooping and hollering. Someone shouted, “Is it over?” Another responded, “It’s over!” And then everyone yelled and cheered. …

My brother was no sucker

Image of Fort Snelling Cemetery 2014 by Vivian McInerny

Rog was my big brother. I cheered his Pony League pitches. I rode shotgun in his Chevy. I swiped his skates to glide across a frozen Wilson Pond. And I cried ’til I felt my soul was going to turn inside out the day we learned he would not be coming home from Vietnam.

Last week I met a man who is the same age my brother would be, should be, and I listened in stunned silence as he bragged about the fact that he had not served in the armed forces. …

Shawn Levy at a safe social distance

Image provided by author

Shawn Levy is a journalist, film critic, and prolific author. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, and Interview. His nine books include Rat Pack Confidential, Dolce Vita Confidential, and King of Comedy: The Life and Art of Jerry Lewis. Of Levy’s most recent book, author Cheryl Strayed wrote: “Fascinating, dishy, and glimmering with insight, The Castle on Sunset is a must-read for anyone interested in the rich and racy history of Tinseltown. Shawn Levy’s entertaining and deeply researched biography of a building chronicles experiences…

Vivian McInerny

Career journalist, essayist, fiction writer, and life-long spirit-quester.

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