Category Archives: Misc.

When decades fall like glaciers

An Alaskan glacier
Alaskan glacier

I felt optimistic when I turned 40. My partner and I drove down to New Orleans and spent a glorious few days enjoying that party of a city, which may have contributed to my optimism. Fifty seemed a decade away, and at 40, decades are still slowly crawling downhill. At 45, I started to think about what 48 would look like, gazing down the cannon barrel at 50, and I’ll admit, it sent shivers down my spine.

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2021 Audio/Book List

2021 AUDIO/BOOK LIST

I started 2021 off with the usual plan to read more. Read, as in my eyes scanning the words printed on paper. God knows I do enough scanning of text on a screen for my job. Of course, that did not happen. Instead, I road my bike more than 4,000 miles this year, something like 291 hours in the saddle with Apple ear pods in my ears listening to audio books. It’s not for lack of trying. I’m desperately trying to complete one paperback in the next two weeks so I can say I read a book from start to finish rather than listened to it. But I’ve found that audio books work for me. They just do. Here’s what I listened to this year.

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The Unfriending

This morning I scrolled through Facebook and unfriended everyone that I saw who had posted something about getting the economy going again. It wasn’t very hard. Their posts usually went something like this.


“I don’t mean to sound insensitive to anyone who is suffering currently, but enough is enough. Let’s get our lives back. Yes, it sucks for people who are dying, but this is just the flu, and people die from the flu all the time. It’s time to get the economy going again, or we’re all going to be sunk.”


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On binge-watching “Friends” with my daughter

Am I a terrible parent for letting my twelve-year-old daughter binge-watch the 90s super sitcom “Friends” over the last few weeks?

I’m sure by somebody’s standards I am.

But it’s been a particularly cold and rainy late winter and early spring, and I was curious about what she would think about the world I inhabited during my twenties. Continue reading On binge-watching “Friends” with my daughter

The 15-year-decade

salvador-dali-persistence-of-memory-clocks-meaningDon’t worry, this won’t be one of those look-back posts where I sum up everything that happened to us last year.

Though, admittedly, 2015 was a big year.

But it’s been a big decade, for that matter.

Only they don’t have names for 15-year increments. At least they don’t have common names everyone can use like decade or century.

There’s actually an old name for 15-year cycles that comes from medieval Europe called the indiction and which had to do with a periodic reassessment of an agricultural or land tax.

What I’m talking about is the last 10 years of our lives, a cycle that I can’t quite fit nicely into a decade.

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Radio Silence

radio silenceThe long, hot summer is giving way to what could be a long, warm fall and winter.

The daytime temps still reach into the 90s, but at night you can feel the chill in the air that precipitates fall.

Weekdays bleed into weekends in slow motion with little delineation.

The toxic glow of Fox News permeates the living room, so I hide away hunched over the laptop. And when the noxious wind of judgment and hatred from various numbered clubs and televangelists reaches its fever pitch, I head out on the bicycle trying to put miles between myself and my world.

The kids are spread out over two sets of grandparents trying to find a foothold after eight years away.

We pick up where we left off with old friends like it was June, 2007. Except their kids are growing up and leaving, which reminds of us of the advance of years.

Parents are more linear, more set in their ways, but then so are we, which provides the friction that causes the smoke that tells us there is a fire somewhere.

It’s months-long therapy for a chronic condition picked up in transit. Or a way to sift though life’s choices, to read the map looking for wrong turns and detours missed.

An unplanned rest stop in a slightly familiar place.

The radio silence is deafening.

When everyone else is living out loud.

 

The Storyteller’s Dilemna

Chinese Prison

I was listening to my son tell a story last night.

It’s the one where he gets arrested in Northwest China, along with a bunch of other young people and his grandparents, my mom and dad.

He loves to start with the line, “Oh, yeah, I got arrested in China.”

“What?” His younger brother asked, skeptically. “Why didn’t I hear this before?”

“Maybe because you run off to spend the weekends with your friends every chance you get,” his mother said, disapprovingly from her end of the dinner table.

That little interruption aside, Cole launched into the story, perhaps the sixth or seventh time I’ve heard it, but more likely approaching the 50th time he’s told it since he traveled to the remote region of China with his missionary grandparents last summer.

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The Optics of Ice Water

IMG_0773.PNG

My boss likes to use a particular phrase when she talks about presenting new ideas.

She often tells me to “think about the optics.”

Optics means, among other things, the way an event or course of action is perceived by the public.

Sometimes when you’re enveloped in a project or an event, you get caught up in the details, and it’s difficult to think about the optics.

Lately I’ve been thinking about the optics of ice water.

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Why you shouldn’t Google yourself

googling oneself

I didn’t mean to.

It just sort of happened.

I was perusing the usual tabs this morning in an attempt to see how everyone’s day will be better than mine, (I’m moving today) and I came across an interesting article referencing a story I worked on many years ago as a reporter at The Oregonian.

After reading the sad story, I wanted to go find my original story, so I Googled Tim Akimoff, Oregon State Hospital, Urns.

In and of itself, that search is fairly tame. I learned not to search for things like Tim Akimoff, scarification or other such search terms that lead me down very depressing pathways filled with haters and trolls.

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Writing: The Nightstand

I don’t believe in writer’s block, but something happens in the spring. I can write a thousand words every day in winter, but when the sun comes out, I want to live it not tell about it.

Still, things happen every day. Lessons are learned, experiences are had. Some you catalogue out of a sense of duty, some are buried away for contemplation on a rainy day, and some are fleeting, like a cool breeze on a warm day.

This is why you write every day. Some of us have minds like vast containers capable of storing every imaginable thing. And some of us have minds like cluttered drawers, chalk full of the detritus of our travels and adventures. 

My nightstand looks like this. I cannot cram the old drawers shut any longer. The bottom drawer is full of small things that remind me of long ago. There are marathon bibs and medals, an action figure I’ve always loved, a badge a friend gave me, papers and notebooks I save, even if there are just a few notes in them. The top drawer is full of newer memories, manila envelopes with old tax statements, a knife I earned on an outdoor adventure, some newspaper clips from my reporting days and a leather pouch with some favorite pipe tobacco in it. 

Writing is like this. You file away the pieces of your experience in sentences and paragraphs for later reference so you don’t have to make up the details later on. 

You write to capture all the in betweens, the intangibles leftover from the stuff in the drawers.

I this way, you have a more complete picture of your life or the life you’re trying to create.