Stealing Other Lives

So I subbed down at Auburn Library yesterday, and maybe the staff were just trying to impress the new girl, but I overheard them talking about a recent shooting in the park behind the library. A few minutes earlier, I’d seen children splashing in a wading pool while their parents knotted birthday balloons to aContinue reading “Stealing Other Lives”

The Pros and Cons of Exhaustion

I just finished another short story, which I’ll be sending the submission rounds next week. Thursday nights I volunteer in a nearly three-hour ESL class. I work part-time, and I am taking three classes this quarter. Count them. Three. My fiancé and I are also busy wedding planning. And sometimes there’s time leftover to cleanContinue reading “The Pros and Cons of Exhaustion”

Losing Faith

For me, the loss of my faith was much like gaining it. Something outside my control, like a storm blowing in. And this frightened me when it happened. Growing up Mormon, I had been taught that faith is a virtue. And virtues, by definition, can be chosen. Cultivated. Integrity, loyalty, honesty, charity. But faith, it turnsContinue reading “Losing Faith”

When Did Gentle Become Weak?

Dave Eggers’ 2006 novel, What Is the What, opens with a violent robbery for which the narrator, a Sudanese refugee, blames himself. Earlier that day, he came across his attackers in his neighborhood, and smiled at them. Now held at gunpoint, the refugee asks himself, “Why did I smile at this woman? I smile reflexively and itContinue reading “When Did Gentle Become Weak?”

Revenge and Justice

It seems I write mostly about revenge. All my characters are exacting some kind of revenge. Or think they are. Yet I feel ambivalent about it. Is revenge justice? It can feel that way. But it’s a retributive justice. A justice that retaliates. And it always seems to cost something. Mattie, in True Grit, losesContinue reading “Revenge and Justice”


I remember the optimism of going home to someone. And how, months after the divorce, a part of me still lived back there on Roy Street. Waking to the sunrise in my attic room and thinking it was really from the second-story bay window there. How grief and change can displace one like that. AndContinue reading “Happiness”


I come from a family of runners. My grandfather to California, my father north to Washington, a great-grandmother west from Virginia, my mother south to Hood River. We steal away to other towns, take on other names. But always, we run. My Grandpa Ellis and I both learned to slip out the back door. QuietContinue reading “Runaways”

Let Yourself Feel It

People look at me and think it’s my rage I need to get in touch with. But it’s not the rage I’m afraid to feel. It’s the grief. To get through this wall, I have to drop my sword and go into the breach—into the darkness—unarmed. But there’s so much grief in there that I’mContinue reading “Let Yourself Feel It”

The Dance of Perfectionism

The pianist rests his fingers on the ivory keys. He locks eyes with my teacher. She mouths the words. One, two, three— They nod on the four. And the studio fills with a high note that rings along the barre and into my fingertips. A Chopin nocturne rolls through the sunlit air. I push aContinue reading “The Dance of Perfectionism”

The Middle of Nowhere

“But what happens if you leave?” I was 21 years old and having a hypothetical discussion with my anthropology professor. He knew I was Mormon. Knew I had a complex relationship to my faith. And though we were talking about community in a general sense, he knew I was thinking of leaving it. He shrugged.Continue reading “The Middle of Nowhere”