Latest Articles, Columns, Short Stories

-Springsteen Eliane
Illustration by Eliane Gerrits

Along the streets near my childhood home in the Limburg region of the Netherlands are roadside chapels with statues of the Virgin Mary. The most devout Dutch will pause in these places of reverence to offer their Hail Marys before going on to work or to play. So, too, in Princeton and in many towns across New Jersey, roads are festooned with statues honoring the Garden State’s own patron saint. People press their fingers on these statues as if they are holy relics.

Posted in: Newspaper Columns
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Big Wheels Keep on Turning

The Princeton Echo

-Pias Illustration Eliane
Illustration by Eliane Gerrits

Every morning school buses wind like a long yellow ribbon around this country. On every corner in every city, children of all ages, often with their parents, stand in clumps, waiting for their buses to arrive. School buses hold America together. All children who do not live near their school are entitled to a free bus ride to school and back home. From Palm Beach to Pismo Beach, they have the same glossy yellow color, originally called National School Bus Chrome. All told, school buses are a logistical operation of vast size, by far the largest transportation system in America. A total of 480,000 buses transport 26 million children every day. Slowly starting and stopping, they grind out about six million miles a day. They’re everywhere. Even if a child is in a foster home, or in a homeless shelter due to circumstances, he or she still has the right to go to school.

Posted in: Newspaper Columns
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Silence after the Storm

The Princeton Echo

-Quakers Eliane
Illustration by Eliane Gerrits

Almost every day I walk with my dog by the old stone building with a white wooden porch that is next to the woods around our house. The first Europeans who settled in Princeton in the late 17th century were families who fled from England. They built a school, a cemetery, and this meeting house. Every Sunday at 9 and 11 a.m., the Friends, as the Quakers call each other, still gather in this old structure.

Posted in: Newspaper Columns
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The Jersey Devil walks into a bar

Princeton Echo

-Pine Barrens Eliane 1
Illustration by Eliane Gerrits

Fifty miles from my home in Princeton is a place distinguished primarily by its emptiness. It is the Pine Barrens, which occupies the same physical and literary space in New Jersey that Lapland does in my native Europe. It is the wilderness next door, hiding in plain sight under the turned-up nose of the bustling population centers of New York and Philadelphia.

Posted in: Newspaper Columns
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Heartaches by the Number

The Princeton Echo

-Calories Eliane
Illustration by Eliane Gerrits

‘Mom! “says my daughter as she studies the menu at our New York City restaurant. “The food here is absurdly expensive. It’s $1,030 for scalloped potatoes!”

“Expensive?” I ask. “Isn’t this prix fixe?”

Ah, but then I see what she means. Printed next to the name of every dish is a small, damning number. But it’s not for dollars; it’s for calories. The grim accounting of the price your health pays for a meal here.

Posted in: Newspaper Columns
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-Why Clowns Are Knocking At Our Doors 2
Illustration by Eliane Gerrits

Creepy clowns are terrifying America. Suddenly they are everywhere—riding in trucks, popping up in backwoods communities, in grainy photos on city streets—always with their crazed grins hiding deeper, sinister emotions. Arrests are made; schools receive clown threats; children are frightened. Real clowns are fighting back, parading with signs: Clown Lives Matter. Ronald McDonald has gone into hiding for self-protection.

Posted in: Other Articles
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Parting Shot: In loco parentis

The Princeton Echo

-Nanny College Eliane
Illustration by Eliane Gerrits

“Dear Family of the Class of 2020,” begins the cheerful letter I recently received. Our son has begun his first year at an American university, and that is an experience in itself for him, but even more so for parents from abroad. Our elder son started at a Dutch university last year. Since then we have heard nothing from the university, other than a tuition bill. As far as the university is concerned, student life is his responsibility. He’s on his own.

Posted in: Newspaper Columns
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Red in tooth and claw

The Princeton Echo

-Screen Shot 2017 03 30 At 7 32 26 Pm
Illustration by Eliane Gerrits

Once, when I was taking a morning stroll through the fairytale mountains of Colorado, I suddenly bumped into a predator with glaring eyes and frighteningly large fangs. Luckily for me, it was only a poster. “Warning: Mountain Lion” stated the black letters on the yellow sign, followed by a series of stern instructions: Do not run. Do not look him in the eyes. Spread your arms so that you look bigger. Keep your children close to you.

Posted in: Newspaper Columns
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Saving Charlotte: A Mother and the Power of Intuition
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