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 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 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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The Middle Distance 1.18.13: The Only Possible Grace

My friend Cate said she squirmed through the first half of Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen’s comedy film The Guilt Trip, seeing a bit too much of herself in Streisand’s character, Joyce, an unrelentingly overbearing Jewish mother.

My sister and I saw the film [...]

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The Middle Distance 1.11.13: All The Light We Used to Have

Nearly every wall of my mother’s house is lined with tables, bookcases, or a chest with drawers. And every time I come for a stay, I go through all of those drawers, one at a time.

Before the sun is up, Mama picks [...]

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News

ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM
October 24, 2014 | NPR · A European spacecraft has picked up a foul odor emanating from comet called 67P/C-G. Imagine sharing a stable with a drunk person and a dozen rotten eggs.
 

AP
October 24, 2014 | NPR · A town west of Baghdad and home to a notorious prison, Abu Ghraib is where Iraq troops are bracing for a possible attacks by Islamic State militants. Many local residents feel caught in the middle.
 

Getty Images
October 24, 2014 | NPR · Near Ferguson, Mo., young people are taking the lead in protesting police brutality. Many say they had never considered activism before, but saw Michael Brown’s shooting death as a call to action.
 

Arts & Life

October 24, 2014 | NPR · Ken Turan reviews the documentary Citizenfour from filmmaker Laura Poitras about Edward Snowden and his decision to leak information about the National Security Agency’s surveillance activities.
 

October 24, 2014 | NPR · The film Revenge of the Green Dragons is based on the true story of a Chinese-American gang in New York City that helped traffic unauthorized immigrants from China in the 1980s and ’90s.
 

October 24, 2014 | NPR · NPR TV critic Eric Deggans looks at the new documentary, Mr. Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown, featuring rare and never-before-seen footage. The film premieres on HBO Monday.
 

Music

October 24, 2014 | NPR · NPR TV critic Eric Deggans looks at the new documentary, Mr. Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown, featuring rare and never-before-seen footage. The film premieres on HBO Monday.
 

Getty Images
October 23, 2014 | NPR · The mockingbird is known for latching on to sounds and repeating them. But in the case of a certain four-note phrase New Orleans musicians use to communicate, the bird may be the original artist.
 

NPR
October 23, 2014 | WBGO+JAZZ.org · The iconic record company turns 75 this year, and to celebrate, it threw a concert featuring both its living legends and rising stars. Hear highlights and reflections on the label’s influence.
 

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