That Sound

My grandfather loved Glenn Miller. As a Mobil service station man, he respected how Miller had worked as a poor musician and composer all through his twenties and early thirties, never getting much of anywhere. “But he was always looking,” Grandpa said, “looking for that sound.” Grandpa understood that a man could be looking forContinue reading “That Sound”

Getting Back Up Again

“Sometimes it is necessary / to reteach a thing its loveliness, / to put a hand on its brow / of the flower / and retell it in words and in touch / it is lovely.”  I love these lines from Galway Kinnell’s poem “St. Francis and the Sow.” They’re good to keep in your pocket. JustContinue reading “Getting Back Up Again”

Beyond Tragedy

In her final lecture on Shakespeare’s tragedies, Clare Kinney posits that the Bard, in his late plays, “writes beyond tragedy.” An aging Shakespeare takes the material of his earlier plays–usurped thrones, suspected infidelity, a banished daughter–and reworks it. Classic tragedy is all about choice and the irrevocable consequences of those choices. Time unfurls in onlyContinue reading “Beyond Tragedy”

Meaning As a Collaborative Act

At the University of Washington-Bothell writing center where I used to work as an undergrad, all the tutors had to make class visits. I dreaded these. It meant I’d interrupt a class–sometimes graduate-level–and take three minutes to tell them about the writing center. At the time, I was 23 years old. But I looked aboutContinue reading “Meaning As a Collaborative Act”

How I Ended It

Like many girls, my first great love was ballet. But the Royal Academy of Dance examinations terrorized us once a year. The first time I stepped into an examination room and faced an examiner shipped in from the Commonwealth, I was ten years old. The square windows in the doors were taped over with paper,Continue reading “How I Ended It”

What Opens Us Up Makes Us Stronger

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.” Brene Brown I carry this in my pocket now. A few weeks back, I watched Brown’s TED talk “Listening to Shame.” It’s a good reminder–that playing it safe never gets you anywhere. Those places you resist going, the times you’re most terrified of falling flat onContinue reading “What Opens Us Up Makes Us Stronger”