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Showing posts from December, 2009

The Year in Books

I read 20 books in 2009. This down from 24 in 2008, 26 in 2007, 32 in 2006, and a whopping 34 in '05. How am I reading less now that my kids are older? Maybe because I'm older and heading to bed earlier, or because I no longer pause in the middle of the day to read for pleasure. Or I'm having trouble finding the good stuff--I started many books this year only to deem them not worth finishing. Nevertheless, I read some books worth talking about. Standouts include: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl Seven Types of Ambiguity by Elliot Perlman Zeitoun by Dave Eggers I see now that the list is half fiction, half non. Though I write primarily nonfiction, I enjoy--and learn from--all types of writers and styles. If it's good, it's good. I want to be that kind of writer: solidly good. The kind you pause for, rather than fly through, becaus

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

Sometimes God chooses unlikely routes of communication. That's what we talked about Monday night at The Open Door, a homeless shelter for women. How the people called by God aren't always obvious choices (see John the Baptist) and the ways chosen by God don't make immediate sense (see Mary: young, single and not wealthy, carrying the Savior of the world in her womb). John the Baptist was sent to "prepare the way of the Lord," as we heard in a reading. Mary was the way the Lord had chosen, as we saw in a sketch by my friend John Cosper . But why? Why do this? Why should God put on flesh and be born of a woman? I cast parts for "The Incarnation" from Cloth for the Cradle , and told everyone we'd read the script through once, tune it up, then perform it for ourselves at the end of the night. We read. We discussed the meaning. I gave direction in record time. I gathered the two narrators and God, and asked them to pick up the pace. "I thought

An Open Letter to The Tooth Fairy

Dear Tooth Fairy, A certain six-year-old expected you to bring the cash last night, and you failed to show. Just because it's a busy time of year, you haven't wrapped presents yet, there's an article due, a book you're being paid to read, your kids are ingesting large numbers of Spaghettios and the paper boy is looking for a bonus, it doesn't mean you can just forget things like this. All that laundry, meal-making, and slop to mop near the entryway mean nothing. I don't particularly care, either, that much of your time is spent trekking to the physical therapist, and for what? For her to ruin your knee forever, forcing you to waddle like you're elderly? And why is your left knee, which felt absolutely fine before that first appointment, now aching in a way that the right knee never did? What am I paying those people for, anyway? Seriously. At least I'm not picking up green marbles with my toes like that other woman. These therapists must have a comedy

PT and Me

The doctor used the word "athlete," and I turned to look over my shoulder. " You talkin' to me? " I asked her. "I'm the only one here. You talkin' to me?" My kindergarten report card forever branded me as a non-athlete ("Amy can't skip," it declared). I was kicked out of ballet and tap as a child, and though I played doubles tennis in high school, it never solved any of my basic coordination issues. So when my GP--who happens to specialize in sports medicine--called me an "athlete," I was taken aback. My knee problem is a common condition among "athletes." Two revelations right there: I'm an athlete, and all these various pains and aches I'm getting come with the territory. I tend to be somewhat of a fatalist. The other day I had writer's block while working on a article that's due soon, and I was convinced it was all over for me--the magic was gone, never to return again. Each time I get s

Christmas Preparations

Christmas falls on a Friday. The two Mondays prior, I'm using a Christmas theme in my theatre sessions with the women at the homeless shelter; meanwhile, I'm studying up a little on the Christian liturgical season of Advent. The focus of Advent is on waiting. It's a theme seen throughout the Christmas story--Mary is expecting a child, Jews are waiting for the Messiah--and it appears in the rest of the Bible, as well, with Christians looking forward to Jesus coming again. It's a time of tension: an anticipation of something good, and an acknowledgment that preparation and suffering must precede any birth. A standard Advent reading is Luke 3, which introduces us to the adult John the Baptist. He's a crazy man dressed in camel's hair and eating locusts, but God chose him to "prepare the way for the Lord's coming." By the time of the events in Luke, John had already been preaching that people needed to get baptized to be spared God's wrath, and

Photo of the Day

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Even snowtroopers need a break from the holiday hubbub. photo credit: Simon, age 9

Perspective

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The other day at the library, my son pointed out the cover of this book and said, "That looks like you, Mom, except for the hat and ax." Surely he was referring to the large muscular frame and my tendency to wear green, not the humpback nor intent to kill. I chose to take it as a compliment. It's all in how you see things, right? I was thinking about perspective today in the weight room. Lately I've been plotting my retirement from competitive weightlifting, if you could call it that when you've only been in one competition and no one else was in your weight class. I have all sorts of excuses. My shoulder! My knee! Allergy shots make me weak! I don't want to eat enough calories to lift heavier weights, because I don't want to buy another new wardrobe! Mostly I was just sore--literally and figuratively--because I'd been working hard for months and seeing slow results. I don't have the capacity to go higher, I told myself. Give it up now. But

'Twas Lost But Now Is Found

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And is also dead. Our missing hissing cockroach , Dora the Explorer, journeyed to the far reaches of our garage this summer and was found on this wintry day by Greg, who is finally getting around to organizing that God-forsaken area. Dora leaves behind roommates Chubby and Lipstick, who will miss her dearly--unless Dora is actually Lipstick, in which case Chubby and Dora are very extremely sad.

Facing Mortality

Nov 21 Birthday. Nov 26-29 Began work on book about death. Nov 27 Doctor's appointment. Nov 30 Doctor's appointment. Dec 1 MRI. Dec 2 Allergy shots. Began Philip Roth novel. Dec 3 Doctor's appointment for youngest son. Flu shot. Blogged before something else can happen.