David Brooks

Though you live in Connecticut, you consider yourself a great admirer and friend of those who live in the Heartland, because every summer you eat at least one ear of corn. You claim to love listening to baseball on the radio, but you haven’t done so in years.

Paul Krugman

You call anyone with a PhD “professor.” After a recent trip to Italy, you decided to keep a few euros in your wallet as a reminder of the global economy’s complicated majesty. When your spouse asks you to organize your books, you laugh and take it as a compliment, but it’s started causing pretty serious turmoil.

Maureen Dowd

Instead of your usual white wine, you’ve recently started ordering champagne during work lunches, and honestly, everybody’s pretty okay with it. Against all odds, you like knitting now.

Margaret Renkl

After moving to a large city, you miss the simple pleasures of small-town life. Sometimes you like to remember the good old days (and impress your city friends while you’re at it) by going on a woods walk with them and misidentifying various bird calls. You find peach pie to be weirdly gelatinous, but you’re glad that it exists.

David Wallace-Wells

Of course you abhor the billionaire class’s tendency to purchase bunkers and munitions in case of societal collapse, but that hasn’t stopped you from purchasing five acres of rock and scrub in the Yukon, where you intend to ride out the climate apocalypse. There was, not long ago, a bolo tie phase.

Ross Douthat

Though your job and political commitments are important, ultimately what matters most to you is attending mass on Sundays, where you have a chance to profess your commitment to the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church, and its God-ordained leader, “Pope” (allegedly) Francis. Every day you try to do something that scares you, like take a train or eat a bite of salsa.

Pamela Paul

While you’ve never read any books by J. K. Rowling—and always assumed they were rather thin sustenance compared to the works of E. B. White or E. L. Konigsburg—you’ve become greatly disturbed to discover that your twenty-two-year-old niece no longer has any Harry Potter books on her shelf. In another sign of the times, the imaginary arguments with your neighbors in your head have gotten sadly acrimonious lately.

Ezra Klein

After reconnecting with some (preposterously wealthy) college friends who work in tech, you’re now fully convinced that AI-brain interfaces are the future, and you’ve spent much of the past several weeks researching how to sign up for the Neuralink human trials.

Jamelle Bouie

You have embedded yourself in the Ron DeSantis presidential campaign with the intent of manufacturing a series of scandals that will bring down both his campaign and entire political career. But over the next year, as each scandal only makes him stronger, you will spend many lonely nights at the Tallahassee La Quinta, and as you listen to the traffic rushing along the highway, you will hear the sound of God laughing.

Elizabeth Bruenig

It’s true you wrote in Bernie on the presidential ballot, but you can’t be blamed for Trump’s victory, because you did so only in 2012.

Thomas Edsall

You have feverishly strong opinions about the relative merits of the sociology departments at Columbia vs. the New School, and anytime Slavoj Žižek comes to speak in your town, you roll your eyes while silently wishing you still maintained some of the idealism of your youth.

Charles Blow

After signing up for a new gym recently, you used the occasion of the staff member’s mid-orientation question, “So what are some of your wellness goals?” to wax poetic on the ravages of time, the question of the body, and the responsibilities we owe each other, borrowing heavily from the poems of Rimbaud and MLK’s writings on Reinhold Niebuhr.

Roxane Gay

Of your fourteen houseplants, somehow the only one thriving is the one weirdly close to the heater, which you honored by naming it Gary. I mention this because it kind of became your “thing” in 2020 to begin every day by asking, “Is the pandemic over yet?” to your cat or to Gary.

Gail Collins

At first, you thought it was cute that your eleven-year-old grandson was beating your score on Wordle during your family’s daily text chain update, but now that he’s beating you by two and sometimes three guesses, you’ve had no other choice than to hire a Wordle Master named Sergei who’s promised to help you forever defeat the fiendish little devil known as Sandy.

Bret Stephens

Last week you listened to a “hip-hop” song for the first time, and you found yourself surprisingly moved by the confessional, deeply honest lyrics. “I desire to learn more,” you told your assistant, “about Raekwon.”

Thomas Friedman

Last week your spouse shook you awake at 2:00 a.m. Sweating and disoriented, you asked what happened. “You were shouting, ‘Solidarity Now, Solidarity Forever,’ ” your spouse said, “and professing your love to someone named Zenith.” At that moment you realized what you had experienced was no nightmare. It was the life you would have led if your uncle hadn’t pulled those strings to get you a summer internship at Goldman.

Nicholas Kristof

You wanted to join the Peace Corps, but the country you were assigned had too much high-quality infrastructure, so you decided to go somewhere you were truly needed, which ended up being a backwoods arts organization that may have been a front for an arms trader.

The Editorial Page

In college, you received an electric kettle from your mom that you thought you would never use, but, over time, as you experimented with eight different ways of making coffee, you realized that the kettle was your sturdiest companion, and several nights your senior year you would boil water not because you wanted a beverage but because you wanted its warm voice to be the last thing you heard before you fell asleep.