I have been freelancing op-ed pieces and essays to newspapers and magazines large and small for decades, from the Hartford Courant and the Seattle Times to the Boston Globe and The New York Times. I write about politics, the environment, sports, culture (what little I know of it), and modern mores.

The pay is low but I get to pick the subject matter. The thorn that nearly killed me inspired a piece on health care for the Chicago Tribune. My mother voted for Herbert Hoover and Barack Obama — a column topic if there ever was one. It ran in the Providence Journal.

I have made some people laugh, a few cry, and others angry. I once received an anonymous letter that contained only five words, all in caps: "YOU ARE A HORSE'S ASS." As pollsters are wont to say, that's well within the margin of error.