Archives for category: Non-Fiction

Recently, Google came out with a new social network called Google+. “Why do we need Google+ when we already have Facebook?” people might ask. “How is it different, and why should I care?”

Well, aside from the obvious fact that the new social network is by Google (and I happen to love all things Google…hellooooo Gmail!), Google+ offers at least one crucial thing Facebook doesn’t—categorization of “friends.” I have long said that Facebook needs an “acquaintance” category and now I have one in Google+. The problem is, after friending so many people on Facebook, I feel bad, almost as if I’m demoting them, to put them in an “acquaintance” circle on Google+. Maybe I’ll make a circle for “besties” and let the rest be “friends.”

This leads us to the real question at hand: in today’s social network-dominated environment, what constitutes a friend?
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While walking along the shore, I happened upon a sand castle. It seemed to have been made with loving care; intricate designs scalloped into its surface. Only the best sand had been used to make this castle. Cylindrical turrets stood sentinel along the mighty fortress wall and in the center loomed a stately tower. Little windows were carved in a couple of centimeters so that one might pretend to see inside. I planted myself a few feet away from the sandy manor, rolled onto my tail bone, wrapped my arms around my drawn-in legs, rested my chin on my knees, and imagined sweeping ceilings lined with crown molding, marble pillars, and intimate trinkets lining handmade shelves and cases.

I dreamed of enormous ballrooms with brilliant chandeliers and private quarters with crackling fireplaces and cozy down comforters. Perhaps the tower housed an octagon-shaped library with one of those attached rolling ladders, each wall book-lined from floor-to-vaulted-ceiling. Except, perhaps, for a large bay window kissing a cushioned cubby seat where one could curl up with whichever fruit of literature was picked from the surrounding grove of paper, glue, and weathered bindings.
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It’s just a little crush
Not like I faint every time we touch
It’s just some little thing
Not like everything I do depends on you
~ “Crush” Jennifer Paige

Dusk is my favorite time of day. I just love being able to drive around with my headlights and sunglasses on. Last night, as I was driving with the windows down and the radio up, Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” came on, and I could only think of one thing: Matt Krueger.

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My Hall Tree

I’m a shopper. It’s one of my releases. I like to hunt down the “perfect” something for my wardrobe or home or whatever it is. The Internet has done nothing but exaggerate my obsessions. There was the great boot hunt of 2009. And then the great boot hunt of 2010. I like boots.

There was the hall tree hunt this past spring, which led to my mother driving from Wisconsin to Tennessee with a very large box for a very short trip. But I have my hall tree. (Since you probably don’t know what a hall tree is, I’ve provided a picture.)

Over the past few years, I have searched for a new duvet and a storage headboard for my bedroom, curtains and pillows for the living room, pots and pans for the kitchen… basically, a new home without the house. Until now.

That’s right: I am now house hunting, and no amount of shopping could have prepared me for this. Usually, I seek for a while and then find something that fits the bill. The biggest purchase I’ve made thus far was my Jetta last fall. Shoes and duvets and curtains can be easily replaced. A house? A house needs to be, well, perfect.

Only that’s just it. In just the short time that I’ve been house shopping, I’ve come to the realization that not everything is perfect. Sometimes things are just right.

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***For an update on this topic, please visit***

Who, day and night, must scramble for a living,
Feed a wife and children, say his daily prayers?
And who has the right, as master of the house,
To have the final word at home?
The Papa, the Papa! Tradition.

Who must know the way to make a proper home,
A quiet home, a kosher home?
Who must raise the family and run the home,
So Papa’s free to read the holy books?
The Mama, the Mama! Tradition!
~“Tradition” from Fiddler on the Roof

Tradition is a funny thing. Some traditions are unique to a family or a culture, and some are universal. Over years and generations, customs change, sometimes morphing into something else altogether. Lately, I’ve been pondering traditions that have become seemingly obsolete in today’s culture: family dinner, Sunday brunch, date night. At the top of the list are gender roles.

Here’s the deal: while talking to an acquaintance the other night, I was startled to hear him note that in the several years he spent as a single in Atlanta, he never once had to ask a woman out. Even his wife was the first one to ask him out. After I chided him, he admitted he would have asked women on dates, but simply never got the chance. They always beat him to the punch. Based on traditional gender roles, there is something seriously wrong with this picture.

But what exactly are the traditional gender roles?

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Despite the walls and doors, I could still hear the cacophony of cicadas outside last night. To some people, it is a miserable sound, hordes of red-eyed insects bound and determined to suck the life out of your trees. In fact, it’s all they know how to do.

You see, cicadas live a simple life. Mom and dad mate, mom strips a plant for a place to put her eggs, and then they’re off. When the eggs hatch, the newborns burrow into the ground and spend most of their lives there, some for as short as 2 years, some as long as 17. Then they emerge, molt, and start all over again. The cycle is quite routine.

What cycles do you have in your life?

For me, I wake up in the morning, get ready, go to work, make hot water for my tea while cutting up an apple for breakfast (part of which I generally give away because apples today are enormous), and sit down at my desk to check my email and prioritize the day. Working from project to project gets me through the 9-to-5 until my after-hours plans. Last night it was a fundraising cocktail party for my friends at eXile International. Next week, it’s a 5K for Ellie’s Run for Africa and a baby shower for one of my dearest friends.

These are bright spots, though, not the kind of drudgery an insect faces. For example, while the cicada scrounges off the nearby tree root for food, I can choose from a multitude of eateries just down the road. Cicadas must emerge, molt, and mate, in a saturated market with a shortened time frame. As systems go, nature is rather straightforward. And humans could bear to learn a little bit about the system.

I bet Michael Hingson, author of Thunder Dog, and his partner Roselle would have some wisdom to share on nature’s routine.

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Singleness is not a disease to be cured; it is a stage of life to be enjoyed. Too often, we try to rush through it.”

I had another article picked up by!

One year ago this month, Nashville was hit with a 500-year flood that rocked our community. Yet, despite the mass of people affected and damage done, the world remained unaware of our dire situation—that is, until a sports writer by the name of Patten Fuqua decided to write a column on why we weren’t getting any press.

“A large part of the reason that we are being ignored,” Fuqua wrote, “is because of who we are. Think about that for just a second. Did you hear about looting? Did you hear about crime sprees? No…you didn’t. You heard about people pulling their neighbors off of rooftops. You saw a group of people trying to move two horses to higher ground. No…we didn’t loot. Our biggest warning was, ‘Don’t play in the floodwater.’ When you think about it…that speaks a lot for our city. A large portion of why we were being ignored was that we weren’t doing anything to draw attention to ourselves. We were handling it on our own.”

So who is Nashville?

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To avoid washing the floor last night, I drove to the store and bought orange juice. Not an entire gallon, just a single serving, with medium pulp. Given the option, I would have chosen maximum pulp, but there was none to be found. Knowing the consequences, I raised the container to my winter-chapped lips and let the bittersweet texture roll through my mouth, down my parched throat, and into my acid-loathing stomach.

You see, a number of years ago I was diagnosed with acid reflux and have had to cut back on a lot of the things I love in order to appease my volcanic digestive system. While I have not forsaken my daily breakfast of apple slices and peanut butter, I have ruefully traded my coffee for tea (which is still a no-no), switched to a lower zest salsa, and given up a lot of mint and chocolate. I have not had orange juice since I don’t know when.

Sitting in my car, I tipped back the last of the nectar, savoring every single drop. Yet, even as I licked a tiny bit of pulp from the rim, memories flooded back to the best juice I have ever tasted. Whether from the corner store carton or a vat homemade by the village women, my taste buds have never received such treat as when I was in the Dominican Republic. While mulling over juice, other memories seeped in, too; not all happy, but all worthwhile.

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Trent Reznor may have originally recorded it, but great gravity exudes from every note and rest of Johnny Cash’s version of Hurt. At first, the quake in his voice might seem to signify deteriorating vocal chords, a weakness that comes with old age, but listen closer. Every tremor gives a sense of experience, of life-long reflection, of years upon years of rough epidermal tissue, accumulating like the bark of a tree—building girth and strength. His roots and trunk run sturdy and deep, obstinate to the changing world, while his outermost limbs have been whipped and whittled by the wind into switches, pliable enough to sting in foul weather. His face is set as a stone embankment eroded and crevassed by centuries of lunar-driven tides.

I often wonder what I’ll look back upon when I’m older: what I’ll have learned, what I’ll wish I could have changed, if only I knew now, or better yet, last week or last year. That’s one reason why I didn’t mind having to sit in on Board of Directors meetings. Read the rest of this entry »