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

August 1, 2014 | NPR · The $694 million Border Security Supplemental Spending Bill was endorsed one day after the House Republican leadership canceled its plan to hold a vote on the legislation.
 

EPA /LANDOV
August 1, 2014 | NPR · Two Americans infected with Ebola in West Africa are flying to Atlanta. They will be the first patients treated for the disease in the U.S. What’s the risk of Ebola spreading during the transport?
 

August 1, 2014 | NPR · Calling the shootings “questionable,” a civil rights attorney in Oakland requested action by the Justice Department. The Salinas police chief said that would be premature.
 

Arts & Life

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August 1, 2014 | NPR · Nearly a dozen notebooks and journals by the author, who fought in the British Army during the war, are being released to coincide with the centenary of the start of the conflict.
 

August 1, 2014 | NPR · The newest Marvel comic adaptation features five motley warriors, including a raccoon and a tree, against an armada of space villains. The big-budget effects-laden movie is light and funny.
 

August 1, 2014 | NPR · Academy Award-winning makeup artist Dick Smith has died at age 92. In a career that spanned more than six decades, Smith was responsible for bringing some of Hollywood’s most iconic characters to life. Ari Shapiro speaks with Sue Cabral-Ebert, the president of the Make Up and Hair Stylists Guild, about Smith’s legendary career.
 

Music

for NPR
August 1, 2014 | NPR · Think opera plots are tough to follow? Try wading through the complicated action offstage at the Metropolitan Opera. Here’s who’s involved — with perspective on disputes that aren’t new.
 

Courtesy of the artist
August 1, 2014 | NPR · Friend shares his love of New Orleans “jass” by playing “Sweet Lorraine” on six-string banjo.
 

August 1, 2014 | NPR · James Brown is featured in the new biopic Get On Up. In ’80s and ’90s, Terry Gross talked with his biographer and two musicians who played in his band. And in 2005, she talked with Brown himself.
 

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