Truesdell Becker ’98
Truesdell Becker ’98

“Two hours after our ­daughter was born, she was diagnosed with Down syndrome. The pronouncement shocked and ­saddened me, but I also felt confused. I thought all people with Down syndrome looked the same: Flat nose. Thick neck. Epicanthal fold of skin around the eyes. Short stature. Cherubic expression.

“But I couldn’t see it. When I looked at our daughter, I saw pudgy cheeks and deep blue eyes and long eyelashes and a full head of black hair. I didn’t see Down syndrome. I saw Penny.”

So begins one of the most poignant essays posted on the Internet, on the Thin Places blog by Amy Julia Truesdell Becker ’98. 

Becker’s blog address is one of 187 collected at — one way that PAW hopes to broaden the conversation among alumni. 

Few alumni blogs are as moving as Becker’s — but many are witty, useful, or just enjoyable. Food is a popular topic. Check out the blog by Alice Hou ’98, An American in London, which reviews restaurants in that city and ­elsewhere in Europe. Homebodies might prefer Inside the Kaganoff Kitchen, a “family food blog” by Rachel Kaganoff Stern ’86, which includes recipes and tips on how to get the kids to eat zucchini, for example (hint: put it in chocolate cake). Books are big, too: Jim von der Heydt ’96 blogs on books about law; Carol Wallace ­Hamlin ’77 reviews “every book I ­finish,” which is a lot.

An encounter with a snake. A triathlete’s grueling training session. A piano recital. Not long ago, these might have been private and family endeavors; today, we share in them: the experiences that comfort in their commonness, along with those that bring the vicarious thrill. Authors and readers alike are luckier for it.