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About Stephanie Phillips

Wife, mom, dentist, writer, New Yorker, Southerner, Sydneysider, believer, sinner, overall case study in contradictions. @stephsphillips www.plansinpencil.com

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    Sitting Shiva for Kobe: On the Complicated Nature of Grief, and Humans

    If there’s anything the movie This Is Where I Leave You taught me — besides that Tina Fey should not do accents — it’s about shiva, the Jewish tradition in response to the death of an immediate family member. I’d heard of shiva before but for the first time saw it dramatized in the film, […]

    The World Is Always Burning

    “Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.” – Frederick Buechner Warning: extremely first world problems dissected ahead. Sydney is burning. And I don’t like my house. These problems are not equal, but they are both real. The rest of the world has finally caught on to what people in […]

    The Death of Curiosity: On Information Cocoons and the Frights of Surprise

    On September 11, 2001, I became a cable news junkie and would be crippled by the addiction for the next decade and a half. I remember sitting in the breakroom at my dental school with the other students, watching footage played and replayed of the planes hitting the towers, of the devastation at the Pentagon […]

    Lie Down and Die: The History of Miserable Motherhood (and an Unmapped Plug)

    “I declare if I tho’t I was to be thus occupied for the rest of my life, I would — I was going to say — lie down & die.” So wrote a new nursing mother Laura Wirt Randall in 1828, as quoted in the book Scarlett’s Sisters by historian Anya Jabour. To which we reply, […]

    The Breakdown Is Just the Beginning: Reese and Payton’s Rules for Life

    Recently, I was bequeathed a second-hand copy of Reese Witherspoon’s book, Whiskey in a Teacup, by a friend who knows my fraught relationship with all things Witherspoon/Hello Sunshine/Draper James. When said friend handed over the tome on the school playground, my eyes rolled even as my breath caught: the hot-pink cover (because OF COURSE it’s […]

    All the Life We Cannot See (and All the Death We Should Be Doing)

    Recently my four-year-old son has become obsessed with all things Hamilton: the musical, the person, the coffee table book I bought my husband and repurposed as a spontaneous gift for my boy, who flips through it daily and asks me to sing him the songs. He’s turned his older brother onto the soundtrack, which means […]

    We Were Made for Addiction

    There is an episode in season 3 of Sex and the City called “Are We Sluts?” and, as you can imagine, the premise involves Carrie sitting at her laptop contemplating whether she and her friends are too promiscuous. Away from the computer, Carrie wonders why her new love interest, Aidan, hasn’t yet initiated sex; Miranda […]

    Good Luck with Your Marriage Strategy

    A funny thing happens to me occasionally, even after three years in Australia: I’ll be at the gym, or a cafe, and hear someone nearby speaking, and I’ll startle at their accent. It’s as though I’ve forgotten that I’m still residing in a foreign country — it’s so familiar now! — and the Aussie brogue […]

    Angels in the Architecture: A Defense of Repetition

    A while back, an acquaintance asked me if I was “still writing for that website,” by which she meant Mockingbird. The question was delivered with a smirk that I interpreted as vague condescension from someone I know to be more into DIY than grace. I assured her that I was, in fact, still writing for […]

    Be My Safe Space

    I can’t explain it, but here goes anyway: I’ve been consuming all things Madeleine McCann lately, and by all things I mean two specifically: an Australian podcast called Maddie, and the recent (critically lambasted) documentary on Netflix, The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann. This obsession is inexplicable because, since being pregnant with my first son eight […]

    Captain Marvel-less

    Recently I had a dream that I could fly. This isn’t an unusual dream, though not as common as the one where I find I haven’t completed my dental school requirements — naked — and am racing against the clock to save my career (which I am not currently practicing, btw). It’s also mentioned around […]

    Dying…with Style

    Well darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable And lightness has a call that’s hard to hear I wrap my fear around me like a blanket I sailed my ship of safety ’til I sank it I’m crawling on your shores — Indigo Girls I like the pillows on my couch and bed to be arranged […]

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