Writing Portfolio

Features

vox wacky laws

How U.S. States Battle Wacky Laws
Vox, December 6, 2019

“Laura Tharney can trace her fascination with weird, obsolete laws to trespassing pigs.”

Where Do All the Unused Gift Cards Go? 
The Atlantic, August 27, 2019

“Much of that money is then directed into government general funds, where states use it to patch up holes in their budgets—a strange and little-noticed chain of monetary custody in which cash intended for a Colorado Office Depot can wind up paying for infrastructure hundreds of miles away.”

No One Really Knows What to Do With All of America’s Unclaimed Corpses
The Atlantic, February 12, 2019

The Funeral Directors Deployed to America’s Deadliest Disasters
Gizmodo, February 5, 2019

“Vigil is one of 186 funeral directors who, when a disaster strikes, becomes an intermittent employee of a little-known division of HHS: the Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team, or DMORT.”

How Prisons Are Poisoning Their Inmates
The Outline, July 23, 2018

“A week after Richard Mosley arrived as an inmate at Pennsylvania’s maximum-security SCI Fayette prison in 2008, he started getting sick.”

The Million-Dollar Balloon Lobby

The Outline, April 26, 2018

“In May 2008, when California was considering an outright ban on the sale of foil balloons, the Balloon Council sprung into action.”

Life and Death Online
Hazlitt, March 5, 2018

“This is the nature of grieving a friend you have never, or rarely, met: everything becomes internal. Simply accepting and expressing remorse becomes its own struggle, because the typical rituals—funerals, communication with loved ones of the deceased—are so often inaccessible.”

Economics

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The Paper Napkin’s Moment of Crisis
Vox, October 31, 2019

“From a high-rise building in downtown Atlanta, a team of five strategists works around the clock to rescue the paper napkin from extinction.”

The McDonalds of Death Care
Washington Monthly, July 23, 2019

“Market consolidation isn’t the only reason some funeral homes have been able to rip off America’s bereaved. It’s the very business model these companies have adopted.”

The Smart Diaper is Coming. Who Actually Wants It?
Vox, May 2, 2019

“Over the past several years, a patchwork of tech and personal care companies have plunged millions of dollars into a race to control the baby product of the future: smartphone-enabled diapers.” [Audio version on NPR’s Marketplace.]

So You Bought A Ghost Town
The Outline, July 30, 2018

“The first thing John Voight (not the actor) wanted me to know about his home of Sunrise, Wyoming was that it is ‘not your regular ghost town.'”

History

brooklyn joseph

Life in a Four-Mom Family
Slate, November 25, 2019

“First, she didn’t have a father—she was born in 1979 through artificial insemination. The sperm donor was a male friend of her biological mom, Lynn. And second, Joseph didn’t just have two parents—she had four.”

The Stonewall of the South That History Forgot
Smithsonian Magazine, June 25, 2019

“Around 15 minutes into the film, Drue heard a whistle. Police officers rushed in through the aisles, shining flashlights into the audience.”

The Strange History of Accidental Gay Marriage
Lapham’s Quarterly, June 24, 2019

“When Yolanda Daniel and Jo Ann Martinez marched into the Merced County courthouse asking for a marriage license on the morning of January 16, 1976, local bureaucrats had no idea what to do.”

How Clothing Made From Milk Became the Height of Fashion in Mussolini’s Italy
Atlas Obscura, July 28, 2017

The 19th-Century Lithuanians Who Smuggled Books to Save Their Language 
Atlas Obscura, July 19, 2017

The Librarian Who Guarded the Manhattan Project’s Secrets 
Atlas Obscura, June 23, 2017

The Drag Queen Who Changed American Politics 
Atlas Oscura, November 26, 2016

(Read many more here and here.)

Essays

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The “Born This Way” Myth
Buzzfeed Reader, June 11, 2019

“Too often the belief in stable sexuality has pressured people to ‘prove’ that they really are queer — a demand that has often marginalized the least-acknowledged communities within the LGBT umbrella.”

Carly Rae Jepsen’s Queer Renaissance
Electric Literature, May 2, 2018

“[Jepsen’s] odes to emotion — not to romance, not to relationships, but simply to the primacy of feeling — offered something I couldn’t find elsewhere. Long before I was in a place to share my sexuality, much less have a relationship with another boy, ‘This Kiss’ and then ‘Gimmie Love’ and ‘Let’s Get Lost’ on E•MO•TION reveled in the beauty of an attraction I knew only to hate.”

Who Even Knows

chicken diapers

The Booming Business of Luxury Chicken Diapers
The Outline, July 30, 2018

“Julie Baker never intended to become a figurehead of the luxury chicken-diaper industry.”