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Showing posts from November, 2009

Thanksgiving Prayer

To enter The Open Door, an overnight shelter for women, you stand in a covered entry way and press a button. A man across the street is yelling curses, but you know he'll stay a silhouette in his usual doorway, too drunk and old to act on his threats. Through the intercom you're asked your name, and when you open your mouth to answer, a strong wave of urine stings your throat and nostrils. You look down and see splashes on the wall near your feet. You say your name, and with the buzzer you open the heavy door. After passing through you press it closed behind you. The scent of urine lingers as you walk up the first of two flights of steps, but soon you're on the third floor where everything is well-kept and clean. There's flowery lotion, the soapy smell of recent showers, the warmth of running dryers. In this place, this past Monday, I led theatre games. Three days before Thanksgiving. I had no doubt that the women there are deeply grateful for many things, most especi

The Writer's Almanac for November 21, 2009

Just helping Garrison Keillor out today. It's the birthday of writer, weightlifter, and theatre instructor Amy Scheer (1970). Scheer was raised in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, where, as a young girl, she won an Andy Gibb puzzle for her drawing of Miss Piggy at a local park. Her first attempt at writing was halted after the first page, as so much effort was given to producing the book's title-- The Missing Canoe --she felt satisfied enough to abandon the rest of the project entirely. In 1993 she married the composer Greg Scheer, who later wrote the book The Art of Worship (2006). They have two boys--Simon and Theo--whom they did not name after The Chipmunks though they were aware it was happening. Theo calls his mother a "wri-tist" who "plays with people who don't have houses." Shortly before her 38th birthday, Scheer began strength training in earnest, and entered her first bench press competition on April 25 of this year. She benched 110 pounds and

Bulk, Baby, Bulk

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Theo with The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding by Arnold Schwarzenegger Seems I've been "cutting" when I should have been "bulking." You, too? Happens to the best of us. Bring on the chips, I say. Let the bulking begin.

My Magnum Opus

While attempting to channel The New Yorker , I wrote the cover story on adoption for the latest issue of The Classic , the magazine of Northwestern College. This is my largest feature yet, and I'm very proud of it. The layout and the photos in the print version are quite gorgeous.

Ain't Writin' Funny

Did you read that last post? Notice how it moves from comic to serious? I had fully intended to write a fully funny piece on the broad range of groups I find myself in. Starting with the personality test and moving into the murder story (both found in yesterday's post), I'd then address my regular presence on a bodybuilding forum, where members have handles like "GetnHuge" and include the diameter of their biceps in their signature. Woulda been funny, I tell ya, minus the murder part. And then I started writing it. Simply showing up and sitting down to write helps me figure out what it is I'm thinking about. I had avoided blogging for years thinking I'd not be able to finely polish my thoughts enough to share them publicly. But I'm being rewarded personally by doing so, and I find myself awed anew at the creative process. I sit down to write one thing, and out comes another, usually better idea. That's art. I recommend it highly.

The Company You Keep

Back when we lived in Tallahassee, I attended one of those Ladies' Day Out events that churches like to hold. From among scenes that surely involved scones and scrapbooking, I remember just one activity: we ladies were administered a personality test, after which we gathered in four groups according to our test results and now clearly-defined dispositions. Roughly 80% of the women filled one of the four circles--the one for extroverted, nurturing types. Most of the others sat in two of the remaining groups. In the final circle sat a friend and I--the only opinionated introverts, apparently. We joked about how special we were, ha ha, until she took a second look at her test results. "Oh," she said, glancing toward another group. "I'm actually supposed to be over there." She walked off to join the others, leaving a circle of Amy. Alone. Yep. I don't always fit in. Not often. With women, especially. So it was with great surprise I noticed, three month

Mr. Rogers Was Right

Since 1985, English musician and musicologist Clive Wearing has had what neurologist Oliver Sacks calls "the most devastating case of amnesia ever recorded": a memory span of mere seconds. Along with the present his past has slipped away as well, including the memory of meeting his wife, Deborah, and falling in love with her. Yet emotional memory provides Clive with a basis to remember Deborah at a fundamental level, as Sacks writes in "The Abyss" ( The New Yorker , September 24, 2007): For many years he failed to recognize Deborah if she chanced to walk past, and even now he cannot say what she looks like unless he is actually looking at her. Her appearance, her voice, her scent, the way they behave with each other, and the intensity of their emotions and interactions--all this confirms her identity, and his own. To Clive, his wife was more than the sum of her parts, and was, in fact, unrecognizable in parts; but taken wholly, she was Deborah. The essence of the w