Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Gulf Shores, where are you?

I know it's only a few days into the snowy weather and a few days before the first day of winter, but I miss summer.

Back during my college running days, we used to imagine all the snow was the white sandy beaches of Florida. Two signs I'm getting older.

1) I haven't run outside since the first flake fell.

2) No amount of imagination can tempt me to think nature just dumped a few inches of hot beach sand on everything.

Today I am holed up in a drafty library, staring out at all the white stuff, and I can't imagine this snow and cold away. In fact, I'm having trouble imagining anything. Instead, I sit and long for Gulf Shores and August's sunshine.

Monday, December 8, 2008

For Ashley

I run on the Deschutes River Trail at Farewell Bend Park nearly every day. A couple of months ago, I made a pact with myself to run Monday, Wednesday and Friday. And for the first time in years, I started a regular running routine. I don't get discouraged when I miss a day. Or a whole week.

When I made that pact, I decided to change the entire way I think about running. I have long identified myself as a runner, even when I was clearly not running. And instead of always thinking about the runner I once was, I wanted to become a different kind of runner. A runner who doesn't care about mile splits and 5k PRs. My new running goal was to get outside. To spent 30 minutes, at least 3 times a week in the sun (or the rain).

I've bumped up my running. Last week I made it to the trail every day. The loop varies from 3 to 3.5 miles. And I'm not ashamed to walk. My knee hurts sometimes, but that doesn't stop me. I run as long as I can, but I insist on listening to what my knees and joints tell me. And sometimes, my knee says, "Can we please just walk today?" So we do.

If my phone rings while I'm on the trail, I answer it. If a bird catches my eye, I stop to watch. Today a group of ducks wandered across the path in front of me. Even though I run the same loop nearly every day, it never gets old. Every day is new. I can't wait to see what will happen on the trial tomorrow.

Friday, September 5, 2008


So I was sitting in th* B*nd, Or*gon Library today, and ov*rhard a middl*-ag*d man g*tting v*ry ups*t with his comput*r. I don't know what th* probl*m was, but a str*am of nasty words cam* pouring from his mouth. I was shock*d. I'd hav* probably b**n shock*d if h*'d b**n 20 y*ars young*r, too.

I hav* to admit that I wasn't v*ry sympath*tic to his situation. I'd r*ad a short story onc* wh*r* all th* inappropriat* languag* was chang*d to "milk." So I was imagining what it would b* lik* if all his words w*r* chang*d to som*thing *ls*. And th*n, I was just r*ally glad h* wasn't using my comput*r. I can't imagin* th* word choic* that would spring forth if h* had to d*al with D*ll.

Don't g*t my wrong h*r*, I lov* my D*ll. W*'v* put a lot of mil*s in tog*th*r. But it all start*d with a pos*ss*d H k*y and progr*ss*d from th*r* (partly th* r*sult of a dog attack on th* k*yboard).

For th* last y*ar I'v* b**n missing th* cov*rs for som* of th* k*ys, but for th* last month or so it's b**n downhill. My * k*y no long*r works at all. I m*an it looks lik* it would, but th* * cov*r is on th* W k*y, and th* * k*y is missing *v*rything.

If my mous* go*s, th*n w*'r* all out of luck as I won't b* abl* to copy and past* *'s anymor*.

Imagin* how difficult it is to fill out job applications without an * k*y, or much l*ss writ* any s*nt*nc*. I'm l*arning to think of mor* words without * in th*m - it's a lot mor* tim* consuming to writ* without a l*tt*r as vital as th* *. I m*an, why couldn't it hav* b**n th* Q or X? I could g*t by without thos* l*tt*rs. (I think).

What r*ally n**ds to happ*n is for m* to g*t a job soon, so I can at l*ast r*plac* th* k*yboard. I am sur* that D*ll and I hav* a lot mor* to say. In th* m*antim* I promis* to go back to copy and past*.

Monday, August 25, 2008


Did you catch Michelle Obama at the DNC tonight? And, what an uplifting prayer by Donald Miller.

I haven't technically met Obama, but I did hear him speak in Oregon this Spring (and thanks to my wonderful friend K, I got to sit way up front).

Tonight Caroline Kennedy said of Obama, "I have never had someone inspire me the way people tell me my father inspired them - but I do now."

I do, too, Caroline. I do, too.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Connecting to the Story

As with Donald Miller's "Blue Like Jazz," I kept hearing about "The Shack" before I even had a clue what it was about.
"Have you read "The Shack"?" People kept asking me.
"The what?"
I hadn't even heard of it.

When I arrived in Fairhope, AL, everyone was all abuzz about the author coming to town for a reading. The local book store was so excited that they transformed the downtown shop into a shack. Literally. The store front looked like a movie set with the false front shack covering the entire building.
I have to say I was skeptical. I'd heard the book was self-published. Could it really be all that?
I'd also heard reviews from people who'd read the book. The first part sucked them in, but then they got bogged down in the middle - something about God being a black woman. What is this book about? I wondered.

When Paul Young did come to town, the theater was packed. And I was surprised that he didn't read a word from the book. Instead, he talked about the journey of writing it and the events that lead to his national television appearance that morning, and possible movie deals.
How does someone who admits he's not a trained writer, end up with a book that lands him in the spotlight?
Just hearing Young speak about his book help dispel some of my skepticism. And, I finally read the book.
"The Shack" is not a great literary achievement. (and on the literary merit alone, I take issue with anyone who tries to compare it to John Bunyan). There are certainly books by far better writers that have not reached the status that Young's book has. Aside from the writing itself, I also had to read and re-read some of the passages that get into theology that I found a little complex.

Yet despite all this, the book is a success, and it is because Young has crafted a story that appeals to a wide-readership. The story of great loss and redemption is something that nearly every reader can relate to. "The Shack" allows the reader to get angry with and question God, as Mack does. It's a book that makes it OK to NOT have all the answers - but to learn to trust God anyway.

After reading the book, I am surprised at some of the misconceptions I heard about the book prior to reading it. The book is a work of fiction. An allegory. It is not intended to be read literally. At his appearance in Alabama, Young said the book has caused great confusion for many who identify so strongly with the story that they think it is a work of non-fiction.
Don't go looking for the case files, they don't exist.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Want of writers? Perhaps, not.

My initial thoughts in starting this page was to create a digital portfolio of my work. That hasn't happened. So instead, I'm going to start posting and see how it evolves.

I am a writer. Despite degrees that tell me so, this is a difficult statement for me to make. I am nowhere near being a writer if you look at Shakespeare, Harper Lee or even my own mother. But I'm beginning to think that everyone is a writer these days (doesn't everyone you know have a blog or myspace page?) - and no one else is shy about it.

Throughout my studies my peers scoffed when they heard I was studying English. "I hate writing," they'd say. But it's the one skill that everyone uses daily, assuming they read and write something every day. That's why I love it. It's so necessary to life. Communicating our needs is so inherent to who we are - think about it, a baby doesn't have to learn to cry to tell her mother when she needs to be fed or changed, she just lets out a roar.

I also chose to study English, because I believe the act of telling stories is important. Especially recording the lives of others (hence the quotes found on the blog).

In the past month, I've been to two readings by people who never studied writing, but each have written and self published books that have become fairly successful. One is a book of fiction, The Shack by Paul Young, and the other nonfiction, Scratch Beginnings by Adam Shepard. I have not yet read either book, but I plan to and I'll let you know what I think when I do. In the meantime, I'm going to at least try to be a little less shy about my chosen field, write a little more and maybe let out a roar every now and then.

If you are looking for some good reads, I will recommend some writers who have mastered the art: Michael Morris in fiction, Jeannette Walls in nonfiction, and a great commentary book that's sure to make you think Where's Your Jesus Now by Karen Spears Zacharias.