The Atlantic

Sex, Drugs, and Dripping Woe

Lucie Manette expresses her disdain for winter's callous indifference to nap location #7 (of 24). 

Lucie Manette expresses her disdain for winter's callous indifference to nap location #7 (of 24). 

Oh, March. 

Every year I remind myself that the lions will, at some point, give way to the lambs, but it's hard to keep an eye out for those lambs when I'm racing around the house with bowls, tubs, buckets, and towels to catch the drips and drizzles seeping out of my doorframes, light fixtures and ceilings. We've signed on the dotted line for a beautiful, drip-free new roof, but alas, our roofer ran late last season with installations, so consequently, we came up a season late and a 50% deposit short.

While I've been holed up like a hermit in her drippy cave, I've had a productive month with sex and drugs. Well, research about sex and drugs, anyway. All I need is a Rolling Stone assignment, and I will have scored a trifecta.

Recently, a mother asked me about what might make her son, who was dabbling in drugs and alcohol, listen to her. What could she say that might make him stop and think, maybe even make better choices? I just happen to teach at a drug and alcohol rehab, so I asked my students to respond to her question. I then asked author and addiction expert David Sheff to take a look at what the kids had to say. Turns out, kids are smart. This isn't exactly news to me, but it was a nice reminder that sometimes, all we have to do is ask kids what they need, then listen to their answers. Here's the link to that article, "Teenagers, Dealing with Addiction, on What Have Helped," which appeared in my column, "The Parent-Teacher Conference," at the New York Times Motherlode blog. 

Which leads me to sex. I've wanted to write a piece about sex education for a while, but when NYU professor Jonathan Zimmerman's new book, Too Hot to Handle: A Global History of Sex Education arrived in my mailbox, I knew it was time. Zimmerman's book is fantastic, and it served as the perfect launching pad for a piece about the state of sex education in the United States. Specifically, it's about the history of sex education, what we teach kids and why, where we are now from a social and political standpoint, and where we might be headed. It features interviews with Zimmerman, sex education instructor Karen Rayne, and Savage Love writer and podcaster Dan SavageHere's that article, "What Schools Should Teach Kids About Sex." 

In book news, I just signed the contract for the audiobook of The Gift of Failure, and I am thrilled to announce that I will be recording it myself! Thanks to my Vermont Public Radio editor and producer, Betty Smith, I am feeling more than up to the task. I've known from the beginning of this wild ride that I wanted to record my book -  I wrote it in my teacher and mom voice, after all - so I'm beyond excited I get to head to the studio at the beginning of April. 

Finally, congratulations to the Massachusetts teacher I don't have permission to name who won the February Gift of Failure drawing! I'm always nervous when I put a galley in the mail, but now that the blurbs are in, I can relax a little bit. At the time the manuscript went out to potential blubbers, exactly two people had read the book, my agent and my editor. Well, three, if you include my editor's assistant. And no, not my husband, not my mom, not my friends. Three people do not a representative sample make, so when the book went out to some of the people I respect most in the world for their opinions, opinions that would end up in print, on my book's cover, I was, well, a little freaked. 

Fortunately, they liked it. I am forever grateful to Susan Cain, Gretchen Rubin, Ellen Galinsky, Amanda RipleyDan Willingham, and Jennifer Senior for agreeing to read my manuscript and for bestowing their kind words on its cover. I've included the blurbs at the end of this post, because it makes me all happy inside every time I see them. 

And thanks to all of you for signing up and being a part of this ride. As always, information on my book tour will be available here, and if you are interested in learning more about using The Gift of Failure as your school or community read (or to find out what the heck a community read is), head on over here

Have a great week, and stay tuned for the results of this month's signed galley drawing on March 31 (the day after a public event at 7PM at Resurrection Episcopal Day School in New York City - come on by and say hello!).  


“It’s hard to overstate the importance of this book. The Gift of Failure is beautifully written; it’s deeply researched; but most of all it’s the one book we all need to read if we want to instill the next generation with confidence and joy.” (Susan Cain, author of Quiet)

“How can we help our children grow to be resourceful, happy adults? Lahey shows in practical terms how to know what your child is ready for and how to offer support even as you encourage autonomy. A wise, engaging book, steeped in scientific research and tempered with common sense.” (Daniel T. Willingham, PhD, author of Why Don't Students Like School?)

“This fascinating, thought-provoking book shows that to help children succeed, we must allow them to fail. Essential reading for parents, teachers, coaches, psychologists, and anyone else who wants to guide children towards lives of independence, creativity, and courage.” (Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project)

“Instead of lecturing us about what we’re doing wrong, Jessica Lahey reveals what she did wrong with her own children and students -- and how she systematically reformed her ways. A refreshing, practical book for parents who want to raise resilient kids but aren’t sure how to start.” (Amanda Ripley, author of The Smartest Kids in the World)

“Lahey offers one of the most important parenting messages of our times: Unless we allow our children to learn how to take on challenges, they won’t thrive in school and in life. Her extremely helpful book tells her story, compiles research, and provides hundreds of doable suggestions.” (Ellen Galinsky, author of Mind in the Making)

Remainders: The Rest of My Interview with Steven Strogatz

Response to the Atlantic article, "Teaching Math to People Who Think They Hate It," a look into Steve Strogatz's adventures teaching math to liberal arts majors at Cornell, has been lovely. I've received a couple of emails asking for more information about Discovering the Art of Mathematics, Julian Fleron and his team at Westfield State, so Steve and I thought it might be fun to post the rest of our interview, as well as a link to the scalene triangle straight-cut origami exercise described in the article (Chapter 3 of Discovering the Art of Mathematics: Art and Sculpture).

Steve is a great interview; he loves what he does, and has a knack for explaining the details of that love to other people. I hated having to cut anything he said, but in order to make my word count, I had to chop, chop, and snip, snip.

If you'd like to read Steve's work, and you have not read his "Elements of Math" series in the New York Times, I highly recommend that series of essays as a starting place. Be sure to start with the first one, "From Fish to Infinity." You can also hear him in his regular appearances on Radiolab.

And with that, here's the rest of our interview, with a few liberties made for the sake of clarity.

Lahey: What prompted you to teach mathematics to liberal arts majors?

Strogatz: For the past few years I've been growing dissatisfied with the results of my usual way of teaching, which is lecturing. Although quite a few of my students seemed to enjoy my lectures, many of them weren't engaging with the material deeply. Just watching a performance, a lecture, and then doing homework, wasn't enough to get them to learn the subject properly, to master it.

So I’d been toying with the idea of trying some more active form of teaching and learning, but I wasn't sure how to start. One day when I was at the big annual math meeting – the “Joint Mathematics Meetings” where the major mathematical societies come together in January – I was wandering around in the exhibition hall and came across an exhibit that caught my eye. There were three or four young professors from Westfield State who were encouraging people to play math games. They were handing out Rubik's cubes, getting people to play a game called hex, or tying knots, or even dancing and making knots with their own bodies in groups. When I took a closer look I noticed that they had workbooks strewn over their table. These were workbooks that they themselves had written for a "math for liberal arts" course that they'd been teaching for the past few years at Westfield State. These workbooks were so attractive, and so filled with interesting activities for students to do, that I started to think this could be a way for me to try teaching in a style where my students would be more active.

When I talked with these faculty from Westfield State, I was struck by their passion for what they called inquiry-based learning. I found myself coming back to their exhibit, over and over again, over the next few days. I kept bringing other colleagues over to their booth to show them what was going on, to show them how cool and exciting it was. Something about it grabbed me.

And I guess what really clinched it was when Julian Fleron, one of the faculty from Westfield State, told me that they had a grant from the National Science Foundation to spread their ideas widely through the math community, and that they would be delighted to come to Cornell to give us a workshop, to show us how to make this style of teaching a reality in our courses. That was an offer I couldn't refuse. So when the time came to choose courses for this year, I asked to teach a course that was already on the books at Cornell called "Mathematical Explorations." It turns out that a course in this active style of learning, this inquiry-based learning, already existed at Cornell and had been taught for a number of years. But I had only recently joined the math department, having spent the first 20 years of my career at Cornell in engineering. So the course was new to me. I asked to teach it.

In mid-August the Westfield State folks came to visit us and give us that workshop. They showed us how to teach in this style, and how to assess our students’ performance, and also how to approach some of the psychological issues that come up with this population of students, issues like math anxiety and math phobia. They also showed us what it would feel like to be a student in such a class. My Cornell colleagues and I were the students, doing a paper-folding-and-cutting game; the Westfield State folks were our teachers. That was important since none of us had ever been students in an inquiry-based learning classroom. We needed to know what it felt like, to have the right kind of empathy for our students.

Lahey: Your usual fodder, as evidenced by your Twitter feed, is higher math. Do you find teaching a more...elementary level of math interesting? 

Strogatz: Yes, I find it fascinating and thrilling. This population of students is unlike any I've ever taught before. The course I’m teaching fulfills our "mathematics and quantitative reasoning" requirement at Cornell. That's a requirement to ensure that all students in the College of Arts and Sciences are exposed to some minimal amount of mathematical thinking. As it turned out more than half of the students in my class of about 36 are seniors. In other words, they have been putting off this requirement for as long as they possibly could!

It's what you might imagine – these are students who have had some unpleasant experience with math at some point in their education. For the first assignment I asked them to write their mathematical autobiography, detailing experiences that they had both good and bad in their math education up to this point. I also wanted to hear about any teachers who made an impression on them, positively or negatively, and what other subjects they're interested in and so on. I'm still reading through some of those autobiographies now but what's emerging is that many of the students liked math for several years. These are all very bright students but somewhere along the line they got discouraged. Sometimes it was because of a certain teacher or subject. In other cases everything was fine through high school, but when they took calculus at Cornell, something about that class turned them off.

As for teaching at a more elementary level, well, first of all, math is interesting at every level. Elementary school math is just as interesting as middle school, high school, college, or graduate level math. I love thinking about the fundamentals! So the elementary nature of the subject is not an issue.

Besides, what we’re exploring in this class is not particularly elementary! This week, for example, the week that you're visiting, we’ll be investigating ideas in abstract algebra (in the particular, the subject known as group theory) but we’ll be doing it in an unusual way (at least, unusual for a math class): we'll use dance to explore symmetry. Dance may be a bit of an inflated word for what we’re doing (in fact, I was a little intimidated to start teaching about dance, since I'm such a lousy dancer myself). What we’re doing is more like striking a pose. Or moving very slowly from pose to pose, while a partner tries to follow the leader in mirror-image symmetry, or rotational symmetry, or some other type of symmetry.

I have to say that teaching this class has been a joyful experience in a way that no other class I've ever taught has been. I love teaching, and I certainly love teaching students who already enjoy math – don't get me wrong. But there's something remarkable about working with a group of students who think they hate math or find it boring, and then turning them around, even just a little bit.

For example, the first activity that we worked on was what's known as “straight-cut origami.” Imagine a simple shape, say an equilateral triangle, drawn on a piece of paper. The goal is to cut out the triangle with scissors. Except that you're not allowed to cut out the triangle in the obvious way. Instead you have to fold the paper in such a way that you can cut out the triangle by making a single straight cut. For an equilateral triangle this turns out to be pretty easy and everyone can do it. But if you pick a general triangle – a scalene triangle, meaning one where all three sides are different lengths – then figuring out how to fold the paper in such a way that you can cut out the triangle with a single straight cut turns out to be very difficult. Or, at least, not obvious. I had trouble with it myself for quite a while the first time I tried it.

So while we were working on this in class, with the students seated at tables of four, all discussing the problem, showing each other their ideas, things that had worked or not worked, after they struggled with this for about a half-hour it turned out that only one student out of 36 was able to do it. So at the end of the class, when I noticed that there were only about five minutes left I asked "Would you like a hint?" A few students immediately said yes, but then they were drowned out by the rest of the class, which said no!

I was so proud of them. They were having a true mathematical moment. That is, they were deeply engaged with a puzzle that made sense to them, and they were enjoying the struggle, and no, they did not want a hint! They were feeling what anyone who loves math feels, the pleasure of thinking. The pleasure of wrestling with a problem that fascinates you. No one in the class was asking, “what is this good for?” Or "where will I ever use this?” Those are questions that students ask only when they are not engaged.

I told the students to think about the scalene triangle over the weekend and to try it in their dorm room. Over the weekend I started to get emails from some of them expressing the excitement they felt when they solved it. One student wrote: “I am feeling exceptionally accomplished. I have to admit: this math assignment has made my day. I never thought I would ever be saying this.”

Lahey: There has been a lot of talk lately about approaches to teaching math, particularly as it relates to the Common Core State Standards. Do you have any thoughts about the "critical thinking" approach versus the traditional route toward mathematical fluency via math facts and rote execution of concepts?

Strogatz: On the whole I think we usually go too fast in our teaching of math. There's a big rush to cram all kinds of information into the students’ heads, and get them fluent with certain procedures, at the expense of their understanding what they're doing.

But let me be careful here. It's so easy to cast this discussion in black and white terms, to make one point of view seem ridiculous and the other obvious. I don't want to do that, because of course you need to memorize certain things and of course you need to have an understanding of what you're doing.

It'll probably sound like a wishy-washy answer, but I really want both. I want my students to memorize and know basic facts, and I want them to understand what those facts mean, why they're important, where they come up in the real world, how to calculate efficiently and easily with them, how they developed historically, what their connections are to the arts and humanities and sciences and engineering, where they pop up in daily life and in the universe. I want it all and I think students want it all too.

If we just stick to teaching them rote procedures, math becomes meaningless. That's how it's experienced by many people. So I'm definitely against that.

But likewise if we only teach conceptual approaches to math without developing skill at actually solving math problems, students will feel weak. Their mathematical powers will be flimsy. And if they don't memorize anything, if they don't know the basic facts of addition and multiplication or, later, geometry or still later, calculus, it becomes impossible for them to be creative. They can't take the first step, because they have to rely on their graphing calculator, or look something up in a book. That makes for a student who can never achieve the greatest pleasure or success in math, which is to be inventive, to think of things for yourself. It's like in music. You need to have technique before you can create a composition of your own. But if all we do is teach technique, no one will want to play music at all.

Nothing I'm saying here is very radical or surprising to anyone who actually understands mathematics (or any other creative endeavor). If you want to be a great soccer player, you can't just do drills. You won't even want to play soccer if you're just doing drills all day. You have to get out there and play the game, and learn from your mistakes and then practice. Drills have their place, and so does playing the real game.

We do too much drilling in school, and not enough playing of the real game of math. And as with any game, or playing music or making a piece of art, it's doing the real thing that's inspiring. We need to give students more of a chance to do that. And that’s what I'm trying to do in this class. They are actually making mathematics -- in many cases, for the first time in their lives. And they’re loving it. And why wouldn't they? It’s a joyous, glorious experience. At every level. Little kids can make math. It may be the mathematical equivalent of fingerpainting, but it’s still math. Genuine creativity is required at every level.

When Opportunity Knocks: The Anatomy of a Viral Post, Part I

This is a repost,'s been one year. One year since I spotted a post somewhere on the interwebs about a study on allowing kids to fail. One year since a writer friend first read my article on that study and sent me an Atlantic editor's email address because, she said, my article might fit there. One year. 

One year. 

First posted in February, 2013. 
What a difference one week makes.

I wrote an article one week ago Saturday about the value of failure. I submitted it to various media outlets, it was rejected by most, but a lovely writer named Helaine Olen told me that the piece sounded like a great possibility for The Atlantic. Yeah, I laughed, I'll send it, but the Atlantic is on my bucket list, a periodical I had not really considered because it's, well, the Atlantic.

I sent the article to the Atlantic editor Helaine recommended around 10:00 AM in between a Latin class and an English class (we do, after all, have three whole minutes to ourselves between classes), and at 2:00 PM, I found out my article had been accepted.

I ran around the campus, a stupid smile on my face, and then settled down to the reality of editing.

The Atlantic editor was insanely good. Her edits were perfect. She tightened the piece and every change only rendered it more pointed and effective. I have been incredibly lucky with editors. K.J. Dell'Antonia and Robert Pondiscio are two of the best I've ever worked with, and I figured the gods had simply smiled on me. But three great editors? Whatever they get paid, it's not enough.

The article, "Why Parents Need to Let Their Children Fail," went live first thing Tuesday morning, and by Tuesday afternoon, it was obvious that something was going on. It quickly went from the top story on the National page to the top story overall, to the headline story and the number one most successful article on the site. And it stayed there, more or less, for almost a week.

On Wednesday afternoon, Fox News called. They asked me to do a segment on Fox and Friends from their Manchester studio. I was able to speed down there, get made up in about sixteen pounds of makeup, do the segment, and speed back in time to teach Robert Frost at 11.

Here's the clip for that video; there's no way for me to embed it.

As soon as the segment was over, however, they emailed back to ask me to be on the show again on the weekend broadcast. As I had meetings scheduled for Monday in NYC, I decided to head down for the weekend.

I arrived on the Crossroads Academy campus during our "Discover the Difference" day, and despite my sixteen pounds of makeup, prospective parents managed not to laugh and shook my hand while I talked up our English, Latin, and writing program. And then I washed my face for about an hour.

The weekend in NYC was a whirlwind, and Fox and Friends Weekend was a hoot. Besides, my lovely and handsome husband accompanied me to NYC and my parents took the kids, so we managed to have a wonderful (if busy) early Valentine's Day weekend in the city. He even sat in the Fox green room and held his liberal tongue.

Here's the link to that appearance, again, with sixteen pounds of makeup that looks good on air, but trust me, in person, it's just silly.

As of today, "Why Parents Need to Let Their Children Fail" has been shared 82,000 times on Facebook. I mean, really. It blows my mind, and I've hardly had the opportunity to revel in the fact that I was published in The Atlantic.

I really should not be allowed to hope for more.

But today, with three signatures on an agency agreement in triplicate, I celebrated a huge milestone. I signed with the agent I've been submitting to, stalking, complimenting, adoring, and respecting for six years. Six years.

What I've learned from this week? Patience is a virtue.

And when opportunity knocks, ride that puppy for all it's worth.

Here's part two of this story. 

P.S. My second article at The Atlantic just went live. "Introverted Kids Need to Learn to Speak Up at School." I have a feeling my vacation from negative comments has just ended.

P.P.S. I had the thrill of having two articles on The Atlantic's top ten articles, as this new piece has been shared over 4,000 times now...wheeee!

P.P.P.S. Here's the audio of my appearance yesterday on WBUR Boston.

True Confessions

Today's topic over at the Atlantic is cheating. Why students cheat, and how teachers can prevent it according to a new book Cheating Lessons, by James Lang. You can access the article here.

A couple of hours after the article at the Atlantic went live, the following email landed in my inbox. I was overwhelmed by this student's honesty and asked him if I could reprint his letter here as long as I remove any identifying details. And yes, I did my due diligence. He is who he says he is, and he did the things and was given the honors he claims in the letter. So here goes; I'm curious what other educators think about his confessions and his thought process.

Ms. Lahey,

My name is [name withheld] and I am a freshman at [name withheld], and I read your article in the Atlantic, "A Classroom Where No One Cheats." This article caught my attention because too rarely do I see liberated educators brave enough to internalize the malady of academic dishonesty as a product of their classroom, rather than a social pathogen threatening them. I'm majoring in sociology and communications with a minor in education, and I've been involved in student advocacy and education policy since my sophomore year of high school, but that's not why I've decided to contact you. 

I'm contacting you because I cheated all throughout high school. Not only that, but I graduated as a valedictorian, National AP Scholar, Editor-in-Chief of the school newspaper, and I was accepted into the honors program at [name withheld]. To most educators, my true story is a disgrace to the system; I'm the one who got away. Now, I was talented enough in my cheating to be mostly hailed as one of the smartest and most ambitious students in my graduating class. But the one time I was caught cast a chilling shadow over my school, a shadow that briefly illuminated the overwhelming extent of cheating in my school, a shadow that no educator was then willing to confront. I have thought about that episode literally every day since it happened, and from those thoughts I have come to terms with my philosophy on cheating and how that fits into my greater perspective on education. 

It boils down to this: we are told that cheating is wrong because we are attempting to earn a grade that we do not deserve. A grade earned by cheating is not a grade reflective of our true achievement. But my contention uses identical reasoning. I cheated because the grade I would have otherwise been given was not reflective of my true learning. I never cheated in a subject that I did not learn on my own terms. That is supported by my performance in AP testing. I took 9 AP tests in high school, scoring 5s on all of them except the one I self-studied for, on which I earned a 4. Never did I cheat on any of those tests, because I felt that they were fair representations of my learning. But in AP Biology, I cheated on literally every in-class test. The curriculum and test techniques of my absolutely atrocious AP Biology class were not fair representations of my knowledge. I felt cheated of the education I deserved, and thus to earn the grade I knew I deserved, I had to cheat the system. This is only one example. I also cheated throughout physics, introduction to statistics, Spanish, chemistry, and so on. But never did I cheat a subject that I did not learn on my own terms. 

While most of my fellow cheaters, with whom I often colluded, may not have philosophized their cheating as deeply as I have, they intuitively followed the same reasoning. They knew that the classes they were attending were largely not adequately teaching them. And most of them went on to attend prestigious universities, majoring in the very fields they shamelessly cheated through in high school. 

This message is largely for my own good, to finally externalize these thoughts for another human being. But if you would like to investigate further this idea of principled cheating, as I call it, I would love to assist you with your journalism.

Thank you for reading. 

Update: After I posted this, James Lang, author of Cheating Lessons, posted something about the student's letter on his own blog, which you can read here. The comments are piling up on my Facebook page, and I will tuck those down at the bottom of this post.

The debate over on my Facebook page:

Life Informs Art

It will be one month since I was tossed from a horse and suffered a pretty awful concussion. The first two weeks were all about sleep and acute symptoms. Those weeks were frustrating, but I could wrap my brain around them because I understood that if I still had acute symptoms, I was still recovering. At this point, my symptoms have shifted toward subtle clues that I am not firing on all cylinders, and that if I push myself beyond a certain limit, I will pay for it later.

As the days pass, and I feel better and better, it gets harder to remember that my brain is still recovering. I still need a lot of sleep, and reading and writing tires my brain out faster than just about anything else.

I've had to adapt to reading and writing in very short bursts. I'm up to about an hour at a time if I'm rested. I wrote a piece for the Atlantic over the past couple of weeks, in stops and starts. It was inspired by an article I read in Harvard Magazine, but clearly, my psyche was yelling at me the entire time I wrote. I will be in Washington, D.C., next week on a couple of speaking engagements, and until then, it's time to remember how to practice the lost skill of patience.

Great Responsibility Begins With Great Trust

Sincere thanks to the nearly one hundred teachers and parents who emailed or tweeted me with quotes for this piece. I hope it will challenge at least a few of you to turn over the keys to your child's life and education to - gasp - your child. I've been writing a lot about promoting autonomy and intrinsic motivation in kids (stay tuned, the book's almost done!) and if we could just return to a place of independence, autonomy, and faith in our kids, if we could just show them that we believe they will do the right thing, they just might live up to that challenge. You can read the article here. If you like it, share it!

Looks like it's getting read! Thanks, everyone!!!

Specific thanks for quotes go to Mindi Dench, Christiana Whittington, Elena Marshall, Lisa Heffernan, Gina Parnaby, Bryan MacDonald, and Dana Salvador.

Inspiration in Unlikely Places

I did an interview last week with Scott Barry Kaufman, author of Ungifted, and he mentioned a really cool nonprofit called The Future Project. He described Dream Directors who go into schools and encourage kids to articulate their dreams, then mentor them as they see those dreams to fruition.

I had to find out more. This article is the result of my research on The Future Project, which led to Tim Shriver, which led to Google, which led to Daniel Pink, and back around again to The Future Project.

You can read it over at the Atlantic.

Today, and Another Trip Over the Atlantic

It's been a great first week of summer. The article on boys and education at the Atlantic is doing really well and has been shared on Facebook over 17,000 times. I took Ben to camp last weekend and got to talk about it on Vermont Public Radio, and then I wrote about it for the Atlantic. This piece also marks the debut of my first published title in a major news outlet. "Good-bye, and Go Away, Thank You Very Much." I tend to like titles that don't say much about the piece itself, and my picky editors tend to like titles that actually convey some meaning. Humph. 

I'm in New York City right now because I'm taping a segment for the Today Show tomorrow that will run on Friday, June 28, in the fourth hour. That piece is on preventing summer academic slump and I get to present some samples of great summer reading. I'm going to keep those selections a secret until the show airs, but I really have to thank my Twitter and Facebook friends and followers for offering up their favorite books as suggestions. 
And the best part of this week? I took those book selections with me to the Eugene O'Neill Theatre and sat on the sidewalk for a couple of hours in order to score some standing room only or lottery tickets for The Book of Mormon. Seemed like a great thing to do to celebrate the demise of DOMA. 

Standing room only means just that; you stand at the back of the theater for the entire show. If you want to get those tickets ($27.00 each, you can have up to two per person, there are roughly 22 of these available for every show), you should show up at 3:00. I was there at 3:15 and I was third in line. At five, the wonderfully friendly lottery guy hands out cards and the people who have gathered in the hopes of getting some incredible seats for only $32.00 hold their breath while he pulls cards out of a lottery wheel. There are about 300-400 people gathered for about 25 seats in the front row and in the two front boxes. It's all very dramatic and lottery guy was a hoot. I had reason to hope when he announced the second card and mentioned the person had come all the way from New Hampshire, and yep, it was true. I had scored front row center seats (and a lovely button announcing that I'd won the Book of Mormon lottery).

As I said, it's been a great week.