The Middle Distance, 7.12.13: Words for Nostalgia
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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 […]

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The Middle Distance 7.5.13: The Contract of Your Birth
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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 […]

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The Middle Distance 6.28.13: Hey Yawwwwwwl!
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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 […]

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The Midddle Distance 6.21.13: A Week in Summer
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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 […]

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The Middle Distance 6.14.13: When the Lights Come Up
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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 […]

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The Middle Distance 6.7.13: Songs Arise
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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 […]

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The Middle Distance 5.31.13: A Revelation
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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 […]

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The Middle Distance 5.24.13: At Their Own Hands
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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 […]

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The Middle Distance 5.17.13: The Fitzgerald Swoon
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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 […]

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

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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
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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 […]

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The Middle Distance 4.12.13: The Seed Underground
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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 […]

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The Middle Distance 4.5.13: She and I
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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 […]

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The Middle Distance 3.29.13: Anthems of the Resurrection
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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 […]

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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
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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 […]

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The Middle Distance 2.24.12: Sweet Old Lady
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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 […]

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The Middle Distance 3.1.13: I Spy
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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 […]

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The Middle Distance 2.22.13:Age-Rage-Oholic
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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, […]

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The Middle Distance 2.15.13: Perfect Day
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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 […]

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The Midddle Distance 2.8.13: Both Sides of the Octagon
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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, […]

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The Middle Distance 2.1.13
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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 […]

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News

Getty Images
July 29, 2016 | NPR · Ramsey County Attorney John Choi says he won’t step aside but will incorporate a “special prosecutor” into his team. Castile was shot and killed by a police officer during a traffic stop July 6.
 

Courtesy of Walter Mosley
July 29, 2016 | NPR · In Charcoal Joe, Walter Mosley brings his iconic private eye Easy Rawlins into the haze of the late 60s, extending a literary odyssey through the transformation of black Los Angeles.
 

AFP/Getty Images
July 29, 2016 | NPR · Pope Francis spent his time at the former Nazi concentration camp in near-total silence to honor the more than 1 million people who were systematically killed there.
 

Arts & Life

Courtesy of Walter Mosley
July 29, 2016 | NPR · In Charcoal Joe, Walter Mosley brings his iconic private eye Easy Rawlins into the haze of the late 60s, extending a literary odyssey through the transformation of black Los Angeles.
 

TED
July 29, 2016 | NPR · Writer Lidia Yuknavitch’s early failures made her feel unworthy of success. Now, she says, those moments push her to find worth in herself as a writer.
 

TED
July 29, 2016 | NPR · Over the course of his life, many of Casey Gerald’s core beliefs have failed him. He says he’s learned that clear-eyed doubt can sometimes be better than belief.
 

Music

Josh Wool for Newport Folk Festival
July 29, 2016 | NPR · Joined by guests including Glen Hansard and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Costello performs songs from every chapter of his extensive catalog.
 

Courtesy of the artist
July 29, 2016 | NPR · DJ Koze knows that turning a great pop song into a timeless club bomb involves simple tweaking, not full-scale reinvention.
 

NPR
July 29, 2016 | NPR · The Virginia musician writes songs that can be thoughtful, playful and powerful, with tremendous arrangements from guitarist Jacob Blizard. Watch Dacus and her band perform three songs from No Burden.
 

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