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Monthly Archives: April 2014

Why Mandarin Chinese?

I graduated. I could stumble along in Chinese much better than the average Caucasian American. And I still had no plan for what job I was suited for.

Teaching the Brave

This portrait of me, drawn by a former student in Crayola marker, is almost entirely accurate. I wake up pre-sun, don soft clothing, and spend my days sitting on the floor.

Playoffs

The playoff system used in North American professional team sports is about the worst way I can imagine to determine a league championship.

I’m Not Part of Me

Though part of me might wince at how bildungsroman this all is, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s where I am. Besides, aren’t we always “coming of age”?

The Fault in Our Yarns

For some reason it feels like I’m saying, “My favorite food is chicken nuggets,” or “I really like listening to Hanson while playing laser tag.”

Silver and Gold

Friends who I can count on to read my work and respond sincerely to it. Friends for drinking coffee, for studying, for drinking a glass of wine while playing board games.

The M Word

The M Word

by | Apr 24, 2014

After I managed to swim to the bottom of the pool to retrieve a brick, I lay in a puddle of chlorine and teal tile like a trauma victim.

How to Wait for a Train

How to Wait for a Train

But letting go of all those demands emptied me out, and the process of refilling with the right things—that’s what’s taking so much time.

Earth Day and Weapons of Slow Violence

Earth Day and Weapons of Slow Violence

After only a few generations of farming, the soil of one of the world’s most fecund agricultural areas—the Midwest—is practically dead.

I Wanted To Be a Doctor

I Wanted To Be a Doctor

One day, about two-thirds of the way through the school year, I woke up and realized that I had absolutely no idea what was going on in chemistry class.

Upside Down

Upside Down

This is why we remind each other of what we already know—so we can remember what it means: We might grieve now, but death won’t win.

The Games We Play

The Games We Play

The human imagination is a wonderful thing. It may have its greatest power in the mind of a child, building games out of nothing, but it never outlives its usefulness.

Good Friday

Good Friday

Anne Lamott quoted Barbara Johnson: “We are Easter people living in a Good Friday world.” Here’s the thing: in our Good Friday world, awful things happen.

Grace Under Pressure

Grace Under Pressure

Harvests were tallied. And fruit farmers hauled in a bumper crop of blueberries, apples, and peaches—the pent-up energies of their formerly ravaged orchards.

On The National

On The National

Here’s the thing about the critics: They’re right. The National groans. Sometimes Berninger doesn’t quite sing the lyrics. And the lyrics rarely make sense.

Showing Up

Showing Up

So thank you, Anne, for inspiring me on Friday to laugh, to show up (I almost didn’t come to the talk. Isn’t that silly?), and to tell my version of things.

Relient K’s Collapsible Lung

Relient K’s Collapsible Lung

Pop is like soda-pop. It’s sugary sweet, easy to consume, addictive, nutrition-empty, and makes you feel sick to the stomach if you’ve had too much.

Dr. Seuss, Ph. D.

Dr. Seuss, Ph. D.

Today I rewrote that paper for my son, Matthew, describing its major findings in the voice of his favorite first author: Dr. Seuss (Ph. D.?).

Seen & Heard at FFW

Seen & Heard at FFW

The rustle of everyone sitting up straighter and reaching for a pen when an author says something profound. Those pens scratching on paper in unison.

From the Festival of Faith and Writing

From the Festival of Faith and Writing

I also remembered what this little family was like—this community of faithful writers. It’s a beautiful community, and it’s one to which I belong.

Rebooting the Cosmos

Rebooting the Cosmos

Tyson’s narration meanders back and forth from the local to the cosmic, and spends not a small amount of time biographing members of the scientific pantheon.

Young Love

Young Love

Finally, a girl asked me to dance. I was always taught to ‘respect women,’ so we danced with our arms outstretched, creating a mini Arc de Triomphe on the outskirts of the floor.

On Owning Lizards

On Owning Lizards

I now understand this to be a painless and defensive maneuver, but at the time I was utterly traumatized. The tail continued to wiggle and squirm in the cage for several minutes.

Quick Stress, Slow Stress

Quick Stress, Slow Stress

One thing I miss about school is stress. Quick stress. The kind that comes from five deadlines in four hours. Quick stress that keeps you worried at night—Do I know game theory? Should I revise again? Will she curve the test? Quick stress that keeps you too busy to...
Ode to Rainy Mornings

Ode to Rainy Mornings

And then, finally, it came: a few days above freezing, and then a glorious morning when I wake slowly from a deep, sound sleep to a dull, grey morning.

Aquavitae: My Life in Four Drinks

Aquavitae: My Life in Four Drinks

Standing at the altar, holding hands, we repeated the ancient formula, and then we knelt, we opened our mouths to receive the host and took the chalice to our lips.

A Time to Laugh

A Time to Laugh

I could have lectured Laurent on the dangers of objectification, complete with a bibliography and citations.I could have bared my carefully-honed feminist fangs.

Inside Tax Season

Inside Tax Season

I’m the son of a CPA, an accountant for the people, a number cruncher for democracy. I grew up knowing April 15 as a national holiday.

Nervous Laughing

Nervous Laughing

I laughed, my nervous response when I’m not sure of social protocol in a particular situation. My guard was up. My brain said, Who is this guy?