So, how was Korea?

White sticky rice and wooden pull-apart chopsticks

Visible breath in the morning wind & instant coffee packets to keep warm

Bows and smiles and, “Annyonghaseyo”

Animated characters everywhere: stickers, hand creme, clothes, facemasks…

Cold to the tongue, hot to the lips: kimchi

Fathom story towers full of livelihoods

Neighboring round mountains dusted with trees and rocks

Black and white magpies with stripes on the wings flitting through sandy trees away from the seagulls on the salt splashed rocks

Laughing eyes, clapping hands, peace signs, and gasps with wide open eyes

Every busride united nations nap and scroll Twitter

Scoffs and cheers over office-screen curling matches – live forty minutes away

Water cooler lunch time chats in accented English: Remember Sochi? Rio? London?

Warm, crisp, guest passes fresh from the laminator

Snow sailing straight horizontal

Meals with six side dishes in miniature plates

“Broken English” is an unfortunate concept. As if language were shattered like pottery. Instead it is shaped by careful precision and is soft to the touch.

Conversation is communal: they come half of the way, and I come the other half. We piece together understanding one another.

Laughter is universal, as is a helping hand.



Life in Color

My dear Aunt Sherry got to finally meet Jesus yesterday.

For the rest of us, it’s not easy, even if we’ve been expecting this reunion for a while.

Knowing Aunt Sherry is an absolute joy.

She always wore bright, fun colors and styles.

She always told stories and always got laughs.


I always looked forward to seeing her.

The last time I visited, I was alone driving either to or from school (I forget which) and I got to see her. She chatted with me in her bathrobe. We cried together about cancer. We laughed together about everything else.

Her brother went to my same school. I forget his name.

Aunt Sherry changed my life. In color. In style.

Eons ago, she gave me a blue feather boa.

I used to see outrageous, bright clothes and think, “Oh, that’s something Aunt sherry would wear!” and I would smile putting it back.

At Grandpa’s funeral, Aunt Sherry wore a bright dress with tropical fish on it. It warmed my heart. Of course, she wore something to brighten the mood! I went up and said,

“Aunt Sherry, I love your fish dress!”

She smiled, looked down, and said, “Oh, its fish? I thought they were flowers!”

Then we laughed together.


I smile whenever I think of her. She’s one of the people I aspire to be like.

Now when I see something outrageous and colorful, I say, “Oh! That’s something I would wear!”

I’m missing her already. I’ll miss her every time I wear the “fancy pants” she gave me.

But I also know she is having a grand old time.

Dust Jackets

I’ve never liked dust jackets on books.

I always peek underneath to view the real skin and spine, sometimes with golden letters hidden behind wide folds of other people’s words and a headshot taken too-long ago over a paragraph biography.

I used to take them off.

“No! they protect the book!” Mom said.

Protect them from what?

What can a thin, stiff, round folded paper do? Most times they are torn and chipped. They slide and swell like wrapped gum in gloved hands – a barrier. Like cage glass.

I still think they are hiding something.

All the marketing and reader reviews and stamps of approval – they crowd the pure, simple skin.

Maybe that’s why I like the old ones so well.

With only a title.

You’ve got to look inside and read for yourself to discover friend, foe, or fool.

I’m not so good at listening.

I used to think I was good at listening.

I used to think I was good at a lot of things like math, and cooking, and soccer.

If you are confident enough, sometimes you can tell yourself that confidence itself means you’re good and you believe yourself.

People have told me, “You’re a good listener!”

And I am, if the thing being talked about is something I’m interested in – like me, for example. I can hear about me all day!

This semester, I took an acting class.

I’ve never known before that I know so little about acting.

I’ve been involved in theater since I was seven, so naturally, I imagined I was an expert by now! This class would just be a breezy, easy-A, for-the-fun-of-it class.

I’ve never known before that I know so little about acting.

I’ve been a performer all of my life. I still am – I perform writing papers, I perform scanning books at the library, and I’ll perform straightening shoes this December.

I’m a natural performer.

But I’m a lousy listener.

I’ve always lived as a one-man-band. A team player, yes, but I always found a way to steal the show.

I make my appearance – like Alfred Hitchcock – when I need to be humble, in the background, the ensemble of a situation, but I say to myself, “I know who I really am!”

If I’m being real, I’m a puffed up, cocky-eyed prig!

And I need to remind myself of that more often!

Some people at school think I’m happy all the time.

I’m not.

I just like seeing other people being happy, so I try to make them happy.

I’m very good at acting.

I mean the smiling in-the-face-of-depression kind of acting. The kind where I craft a masterful mask and wear it with the proper tone of voice so nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen.

But in Acting 1 class, the masks come down, the truth comes out, and the stray cats come out of the bag and fish out all the rats.

Listening means giving space of mind to another person.

It means the thinking about that other paper, or that other chapter to read, or that other thing you could have said, or that other lunch you’re going to have – it all must melt away.

It means dedicating a moment, a minute, to someone else.

Not. You.

Not me.

Especially not me.

Listening’s tough when you’re holding a mirror.

As with any kind of learning, the more you find out, the more you find you know so little.

I’m not sure why I decided to write all this.

I guess I was hoping someone might listen.

To me.

Someone other than myself.

Becasue, I hear me talk all day.

I’m not so good at listening.

A Student of Grass

The more I learn about the world, the more I realize how ignorant I am.

For instance, just casually looking at a blade of grass might not send me into an existential crisis, but once I learn about photosynthesis, the color spectrum, and vascular plants I can’t help but stare in wonder at the grass and almost cry!

Or there’s watching a movie. Most people just sit back, relax, and enjoy the show, but once you know about location scouting, gaff tape, crafty, foley artists, shutter speed, and exporting files, you can’t help but sit back in awe at the end of the credits wondering how they all came together.

Or clothing. Most people just buy and wear clothes, but once you know about the grain of fabric, setting seams, polyester vs. cotton, pleats, serging, hems, invisible zippers, and gathered sleeves, you wonder who manned the machine behind the needle.

I could go on about sports broadcasting, phonetics, script writing, kerning, the Dewey Decimal System, the water cycle, and other things I don’t understand!

What a world we live in! What a time to be alive!

The more I learn about things, the more I know I want to be a student of the world the rest of my life.

So, I’m going to the Olympics…

My University has had an internship program connection with OBS since the 1980’s.

A preliminary step into applying for the program was writing an essay about why I wanted to apply. This may not sound like a big deal, but if you know me then you know I grew up without television. The earliest memory I have of the Olympics was when I saw water polo for the first time, (at age 10 or so) and I was transfixed to the screen because I’d never seen shirtless, grown men doing something so comical.

The long and the short of it is, I got accepted.

I’ll be flying out the end of January and back at the end of February.

I’m so honored and super thrilled for this opportunity!

Yes, I know South Korea is south of North Korea. But this Olympics will be safer than the last one in Rio, to be honest.

I’m excited for this new adventure, and I’m sure I’ll have plenty of stories to tell.

Breathtaking: An Essay

Life begins with breath. One by one, we all started out the same way breathing the same air, yet one by one we stray away from each other. Breath breeds fighting words which lead to further dissonance dividing continents and countries. And yet, despite divides and crimes of lies, the world watches breathing as one once again. We stare, we gasp, we hold our breath in silence then in roaring cheers we embrace the loves we forgot we had. Swells of pride bridge divides and open eyes to the hope of humanity. Remember why we watch. We watch to remember that the greatest of the world are human too. We may sigh and idolize, but after the game we catch our breath as they catch theirs. Why do I desire to enter in? I wish to share in the burden of sharing the world.

As athletes take to the ice with skill and grace in the lights of glory, I would work in the shadows as a servant seeing that all goes well. Taking orders to and fro, I would relay messages, or run cameras, or write references for these memorable games. No request is below my dignity, for I am proud to serve. If I could play any small part, I would bravely wear a determined smile. Some say they perform best under pressure, the skaters and film crews alike. With live deadlines these historic times unfold seamlessly, or so it seems. The world to watch, the others to live and breathe feeling the pressure.

The games are much more than diversion. Diverse as the sports are the people. The people who breathe just like me. The games are a torch of hope shining light on what could be. Though countries compete, together they complete a world that breathes as one.



Everyone here drinks out of straws

the bendy kind with a curve in the pipe

to angle the sugar-free, watered-down juice

down soar, old throats

that have swallowed more years than wine.


The cups are paper

or ribbed plastic

small enough that the spills don’t spill too far.


Blunt and bent

like the fingers not so nimble anymore.


The turkey and potatoes

melt in the mouth

like stale grits

while the dentures sit to the side.


Puffs of oxygen

Coughs loud enough to hear

down the hall

too-loud nurses

repeated questions

whispered, labored responses

half-answering the too-long questions

long forgotten by now.