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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The Middle Distance 1.4.13: Blue Nights

Here is an African proverb that showed up in my email inbox on December 31: “Those who love you are not fooled by mistakes you have made or dark images you hold about yourself. They remember your beauty when you feel ugly; your wholeness when you […]

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The Middle Distance 12.21.12: Reweaving the Social Fabric

This week’s mini-blizzard provided respite I’d been hoping for — no appointments, too cold to even think of going outside voluntarily, and streets packed with snow. I stayed in with the dogs, reading and cleaning and baking a dense chocolate cake scented with cloves […]

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The Middle Distance 12/14/12

Last night on a downtown street, someone busted out the front passenger window of my car to dig around inside it. Whoever it was — a passerby who, conveniently, had a brick or a big rock in his hand — found a wallet stuffed with essential identification, […]

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The Middle Distance 12.7.12: The Image Becomes a Phantom

In her treatise on photography, Susan Sontag said, “Today everything exists to end in a photograph.” Witness any public event in the 21st century, crowd members’ arms extended outward with smartphones pointed in every direction and understand how prophetic that statement was way back in […]

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The Middle Distance 11.30.12: Unknown Woman

She resides in a painting — a simple stretched canvas, unframed — emerging from a slate blue background, her hair and dress the same silver-gray. Her breasts sag low, as if from the natural weight of years.

She hung in a corner of the bedroom wherever I lived […]

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The Middle Distance 11.16.12: The Scent of Smoke

It is nearly Thanksgiving and in the early mornings my turn-of-the-20th century neighborhood smells like wood smoke. Nights are cold, the neighbors cranking up their fireplaces and wood stoves. A deadly summer wildfire season has put the fear of God and flame in most […]

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The Middle Distance 11.9.12: “Honey, It’s Jest Foo-ood”

In a parallel life, I think I might have been a cafeteria lady, baking industrial sized trays of yeast rolls every morning in a stainless steel kitchen, ladeling out clouds of mashed potatoes and smothering them with milk gravy.
Last Sunday I spent […]

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In this week’s episode of The Middle Distance, Kathryn Eastburn wonders where to best place her worry during the Frankenstorm.

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In this week’s episode of The Middle Distance, Kathryn Eastburn embraces the obsessive mathematics of aging.

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In this week’s episode of The Middle Distance, Kathryn Eastburn tugs at the long tail of gun violence and its current literature.

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In this week’s Middle Distance, Kathryn Eastburn ruminates on the struggle for faith.

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In this week’s episode of The Middle Distance, Kathryn Eastburn gathers seeds from her garden and remembers the autumn of her twins’ birth.

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In this week’s episode of The Middle Distance, Kathryn Eastburn celebrates locavore and farmer Dan Hobbs on the occasion of his Palmer Land Trust Conservation Award.

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In this week’s episode of The Middle Distance, Kathryn Eastburn sees her late sister through the eyes of a ghost costume.

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In this week’s episode of The Middle Distance, Kathryn Eastburn walks back into her second grade classroom.

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In this week’s episode of The Middle Distance, Kathryn Eastburn unearths a moment in civil rights history that happened right under her nose.

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In this week’s episode of The Middle Distance, Kathryn Eastburn looks through the blurry lens of a toy camera into the past.

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In this week’s episode of The Middle Distance, Kathryn Eastburn stares into the eyes of a toothless flasher in a dirty raincoat.

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In this week’s episode of The Middle Distance, Kathryn Eastburn spreads her toes across years of shoeless memories.

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In this week’s episode of The Middle Distance, Kathryn Eastburn ties two summer films together with the unlikely string of far-fetched fantasy.

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(Cybil Shepherd, center, after winning the Miss Teenage Mephmis Pageant in 1966)

The Middle Distance 8.5.11: What Was I Thinking?

What was I thinking? I was 15 years old and had moved with my family from the small town of Jackson to the big city of Memphis. I didn’t know anyone, […]

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News

February 6, 2016 | NPR · It’s the last debate before the New Hampshire primary and Donald Trump is back onstage. Which GOP candidate will end up with the most talking time?
 

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February 6, 2016 | NPR · Ted Cruz, who won in Iowa, was also on defense straight off the bat. Watch the debate live here.
 

February 6, 2016 | NPR · ESPN contributor Kevin Blackistone, Bloomberg View‘s Kavitha Davidson and The Washington Post‘s Wesley Lowery talk about the UofL basketball team, public opinion of the NFL, and women in sports.
 

Arts & Life

WireImage
February 6, 2016 | NPR · Game of Thrones may have killed off many major characters, but the manipulative, scheming Queen Cersei is still standing. We’ve invited Headey to play a game called “You win and you die.”
 

February 6, 2016 | NPR · NPR’s Ina Jaffe talks with Scott Simon about the struggle to find the right words to describe older people. Longevity and lifestyles have changed and the language hasn’t kept up.
 

AP
February 6, 2016 | NPR · Daring visual artists, whose edgy work challenges religious and political taboos, have become a critical voice in the conservative kingdom — where open calls for reform are a criminal offense.
 

Music

Courtesy of the artist
February 6, 2016 | NPR · With more than 80 world premieres to her credit, Barbrara Hannigan, an intrepid soprano and conductor, has a knack for making modern music sound effortless and approachable.
 

Coldplay Music/YouTube
February 6, 2016 | NPR · These days, it’s pretty much impossible to miss a discussion on cultural appropriation. But we explore where we draw the line between what’s acceptable and what’s downright offensive.
 

Courtesy of the artist
February 6, 2016 | NPR · The duo School of Seven Bells wrote its final album together in 2012. Alejandra Deheza didn’t know then that her bandmate and songwriting partner wouldn’t live to see its release.
 

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