The Middle Distance, 7.12.13: Words for Nostalgia

There is a joke about a young man entering heaven. As he approaches the pearly gates, he sees a group of angels bound in chains. The young man asks St. Peter why and St. Peter replies: “Oh, they’re from Tennessee. We have to lock them up [...]

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The Middle Distance 7.5.13: The Contract of Your Birth

For the past few years, I have been part of a monthly lunch group of women who write, read and love books. When we get together, we begin talking about our work, but the conversation quickly shifts to family concerns: How are the kids? [...]

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The Middle Distance 6.28.13: Hey Yawwwwwwl!

A friend asked me yesterday what’s been in the news. She had not been paying attention. Let’s see, I said. More killing in Syria, more guns flowing in so even more will be killed. Edward Snowden is holed up somewhere in Moscow while the U.S. and Russia [...]

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The Midddle Distance 6.21.13: A Week in Summer

The week began with peonies. I counted 50 buds on the largest bush in the garden. They seemed to burst from their tight round buds all at once.

“Look at the girls in their ball gowns,” my friend said when she saw them, fluffy and [...]

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The Middle Distance 6.14.13: When the Lights Come Up

For the last six weeks, I’ve been taking a crash course in documentary filmmaking. I thought I’d be learning some technical terminology, a little technique, and a bit about how funding, marketing and distribution happens around nonfiction films.

I did learn these [...]

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The Middle Distance 6.7.13: Songs Arise

Call it whatever you want: sing-along, community sing, hootenanny. Singing together as humans has evolved as a tool of survival. Tribal histories were passed down in song. Urgent messages of pending invasions were delivered in the code language of rhythm and song. Revolutions were spearheaded by song. [...]

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The Middle Distance 5.31.13: A Revelation

For several years now, out here in the middle distance, I have made regular pilgrimages to Louisville, Kentucky, where at age 50, I entered graduate school. Coming to Kentucky, the state of my birth, was a homecoming of sorts after many years living out west.

The graduate [...]

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The Middle Distance 5.24.13: At Their Own Hands

As Memorial Day approaches, far too many American families are not thinking about what they’ll cook on the grill, but how they will remember their military dead, particularly the growing number who died at their own hands, of suicide.

I am the mother of [...]

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The Middle Distance 5.17.13: The Fitzgerald Swoon

When I was 17, someone made me read The Great Gatsby. I don’t remember the English teacher’s name, but I do remember the reverence and the slight hint of a romantic crush in her voice when she introduced our class to F. Scott Fitzgerald. I became [...]

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The Middle Distance 5.10.13: A Mother’s Day Letter to My Children

Hey, y’all:

I’m writing because Sunday is Mother’s Day, and at this late date, out here in the middle distance, I am still as confounded by the holiday as I was when you were growing up.

Yesterday someone asked me what I [...]

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The Middle Distance 5.3.13: Potluck Reunion

Here are the mothers, hands on hips, surveying the table for space, considering what, if anything, might be missing. Aunt Erma presides, my grandmother’s sister who still lives on these remaining acres of family land. Aunts and uncles and cousins have come from as far as the [...]

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The Middle Distance 4.26.13: April

If you could see the snow flowing down past the bedroom window, silencing the mid-April morning, you might not know where you are. Then you would remember: you are at home at the foot of the Colorado Rocky Mountains where this is the peculiar incarnation of spring.

[...]

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The Middle Distance 4.12.13: The Seed Underground

I bought this book on impulse. There was that charming cover with earthen bowls nestling beans and seeds and vegetables, with labels handwritten in pencil. It was April and the urge to put seeds in the ground had become overwhelming, even in the face of a [...]

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The Middle Distance 4.5.13: She and I

She is up before dawn every day, no matter the season. While the rest of us grab a last few minutes of sleep, she pulls on her puffy blue robe, pads barefoot across the house to the front door and picks up the daily paper off [...]

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The Middle Distance 3.29.13: Anthems of the Resurrection

Last Sunday, Christian churches around the world remembered Jesus’ final entry into Jerusalem on a donkey. Revelers along the road spread palm fronds and, according to the New Testament, many laid their coats on the road to make a path for this unlikely king who [...]

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The Middle Distance 3.22.13:

Over the last 13 years, there have been three brief moments when the world grew so quiet I could nearly hear my own heartbeat. The first was in 2000 when I read Colorado author Kent Haruf’s deceptively simple and deeply humane novel Plainsong. The second was in 2004, [...]

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The Middle Distance 3.15.13: An Old, Familiar Sleeplessness

On the road to the mountains, March clouds hang heavy with the promise of snow. Winding past Florissant and Lake George and across the flat expanse of South Park, columns of sunlight peek out then disappear. Hoosier Pass is windy and wet, and by the time [...]

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The Middle Distance 2.24.12: Sweet Old Lady

I want to apologize for ever referring to someone as a “sweet old lady.” Forgive me, sisters. I wasn’t thinking when I did it, and I hadn’t yet reached the age where I could be described by that cloying pejorative phrase. I’m still not there, but at [...]

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The Middle Distance 3.1.13: I Spy

When I was 9, I decided to be a spy. This was not what I wanted to be when I grew up, but right then and there, in my sleepy, southern Kentucky hometown where it seemed nothing ever happened except in books.

This was 1964, and [...]

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The Middle Distance 2.22.13:Age-Rage-Oholic

It is time to confess. I am an age-rage-oholic.

What’s that, you say? It’s the unreasonable creeping of heat up my spine and into my face when I see that someone young and bright and attractive has accomplished at, say, age 30, what I have coveted and dreamed about and [...]

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The Middle Distance 2.15.13: Perfect Day

I caught up with a friend, recently, who after many years of being single is remarrying this summer. Following a period of solitude and consideration of what she wanted in life, she decided to actively pursue a long-term relationship with a man. She found him [...]

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The Midddle Distance 2.8.13: Both Sides of the Octagon

I can only imagine the scene on Tuesday afternoon at the grand old Orpheum Theater in downtown Phoenix. Not a traveling Broadway show or a concert, but a memorial service for a local man, Mark Hummels, a 43-year old attorney gunned down during a [...]

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The Middle Distance 2.1.13

Donald Anderson has done what most writers and would-be writers wish they had done: kept all the snippets and notes and observations of a lifetime — some funny, some profound, some more developed than others, some mere grace notes — and put them together in what he calls “a [...]

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News

EPA/Landov
October 23, 2014 | NPR · A man identified as 32-year-old Michael Zehaf-Bibeau was killed by police in a Parliament building in Ottawa. He’s being described as a recent convert to Islam.
 

EPA/Landov
October 23, 2014 | NPR · The saxophone superstar, hugely popular in mainland China, walked into a mine field in Hong Kong. Selfies with demonstrators sparked a response from the government — and Kenny G took down the tweets.
 

October 23, 2014 | NPR · The rate for routine vaccinations of babies used to be 97 percent. Now the figure is 27 percent. Blame it on the rippling effects of the oubreak.
 

Arts & Life

NPR
October 23, 2014 | NPR · Where’d the term “red tape” come from? Why are the Simpsons yellow? And is there a rhyme for orange? We answer these pressing questions — and more — in a new look at your old friend Roy G. Biv.
 

Viking
October 23, 2014 | NPR · The author of Reading Lolita in Tehran returns, this time with a paean to the importance of literature in a democratic society. Reviewer Heller McAlpin says Azar Nafisi may be preaching to the choir.
 

Courtesy of the artist
October 23, 2014 | NPR · In a candid interview, the ever-innovative pianist traces the lines between Buddhist chants, Sly Stone and Miles Davis, while shedding new light on some hard facts about his past.
 

Music

Courtesy of the artist
October 23, 2014 | NPR · In a candid interview, the ever-innovative pianist traces the lines between Buddhist chants, Sly Stone and Miles Davis, while shedding new light on some hard facts about his past.
 

October 22, 2014 | NPR · Steven Ellison has built an impressive reputation among critics and fans in the know for mixing hip hop, jazz and electronica into something original. But even for the aforementioned followers, the new album from Ellison — better-known as Flying Lotus — is a surprise. It’s all about death, not as something to be mourned but as a journey to be anticipated.
 

Mountain Stage
October 22, 2014 | NPR · The West Virginia natives, both widely respected in the world of string-band music, perform live.
 

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