Sunday, May 16, 2021


Today is the 21st anniversary of my dad’s death. I wasn’t going to write anything, so many of my friends have suffered their own huge losses and mine isn’t any worse. We’re all going through our own stuff.

I won’t lie, I still feel anger about his death. And I’m especially angry that he left us so young. I’m only a couple years shy of the age that he was when he passed away and everything in my own life feels unfinished. It seems so unfair that he had to endure all the work and the hard of raising five kids through their early years without all of the rewards. He missed the high school and college graduations, the weddings, the grand babies, the career accomplishments. There are times when we are all together as a family and enjoying each other’s company and I find myself fading out of the scene and wanting him to be there with us so much that it physically hurts.

But instead of sharing more anger and heartache, I’m going to share some of the things his death has reinforced to me over the years:

1. Always say I love you. I never get off the phone with my family without saying I love you. This isn’t something we did before my dad died. You just never know the last time you’ll see or talk to your people.

2. Take all the pictures, save all the notes. I have so few photos of my dad and I together since his life happened pre-iPhone and pre-social media. And the only handwritten note I have from him was one he wrote in college to tell me I had overdrawn my bank account and to do better. But man, I sure cherish that note 🤣. I try and take photos with all my people, even if I’m not in the mood. I’ve noticed as I’ve aged that my photos tend to look better to me in the future. Like if I feel like I look frumpy in a photo - give it a good 5-7 years and then I’ll usually think I look pretty good 🤣.

3. Stay close to your siblings, they are your best friends. I will never understand how the same two parents created five such completely different humans, but we’ve all worked to stay close over the years on a foundation of shared grief and trauma. This doesn’t mean we never fight (oh…we do!) but we’re quick to apologize and repair bad feelings.

4. Grief comes in waves, just let them hit you. When my dad died, I figured the grief would last about a year and then I would be done. I will let you in on a secret if you haven’t figured it out yet: The Five Stages of Grief is a complete hoax! I remember thinking often, “if I can get through this first year....” But 21 years and counting, the waves keep hitting, and usually at the most random times. Like the other day I was shopping at Fred Meyer and I passed the men’s sock section and I got all teary-eyed because every year my dad would wake up at the crack of dawn on Black Friday and go buy us all our athletic socks for the year. Surrounded by bins full of white athletic socks, I bawled until the grief slowly passed and soon I just felt thankful that I had a dad who cared about keeping his family in socks.

5. Write the will. For someone who died in their forties and completely unexpectedly, my dad did a great job of “having his affairs in order” and it was such a gift to our family. There were so many more important things to worry about.

6. Love your kids and leave them alone. This one is a work-in-progress. My dad and I clashed a lot, especially during my teen years, and it created a pile of regret when he passed away. My natural way to “love” is to control the situations and people around me and I have to fight that instinct with everything in me. The past year of pandemic life has reinforced this — there was so little I could control, the only thing I could do was love my kids, and be there for the highs and crushing lows of life in lockdown. Loving them and leaving them to their own mistakes and accomplishments has been my lesson of the year.

So, in summary: love your people, save the good stuff, write the will.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021


The boys and I decided to hike this afternoon and as we drove away from the house I turned on NPR. They were announcing that the George Floyd verdict was imminent. 

Pandemic year note: The boys are still doing CDL and I'm working part-time so Tuesday afternoons are free, and now that the sun is out, I'm not complaining quite as much!

Asher and I talked about the trial as we listened to the NPR commentators in the car. When the judge finally announced the jury's verdict we found ourselves in the middle of a Burgerville drive thru in Gresham still en route to Oxbow Park. We held hands and closed our eyes as we braced for the judge’s words.

“Guilty….guilty….and guilty," he read.

We exhaled pure relief and then pumped our fists out our car windows. Accountability. Not full justice. But a start.

A single detail caught my attention. He had a middle name, which was announced along with his guilt. Derek Michael Chauvin. When he was born into this world, he had a mama who held him with love and cared enough to give him a middle name. Little did she know this little baby would grow up to be the kind of man who knelt on a black man's neck for sport until the life drained out of him, and then used his police duty as a cover for his sadism. This tiny detail...his middle name...shook me to my core. You start fresh. You start full of hope. You start with a middle name from your mama ...

I hiked through the giant trees and bright green fern and along the banks of the Sandy River and looked up at the blue blue sky and enjoyed the company of my two boys. Sons I lovingly gave middle names as I held them in my arms as babies. And I pondered what it all meant and what was to come.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

January 6, 2021

I keep thinking back to my days as a college intern in Senator Wyden's office waa-yy back in 1997. One of my intern duties was to assist with Capitol tours for constituents. I loved the tours because I didn't really get many opportunities to go to the Capitol building, aside from occasionally delivering papers or messages to the Senator or his aides in that pre-smart phone world. There was a holiness to the building. It definitely was not a sinless place, but sacred, nonetheless.

I also thought about the tour itself, which was mostly comprised of witty stories about the Capitol's history: the British torching the building in 1814, President Jackson's attempted assassination in 1835, the infamous "death-by-caning" on the Senate floor when tensions over slavery were at its peak. These anecdotes were always delivered and received with air of "Can you even imagine that happening nowadays?"
I'm embarrassed to admit I never completely considered the trauma and fear that must have accompanied these events before yesterday. And I'm left to wonder, will there be an intern 100 years from now, giving a tour of the Capitol and describing the Great Insurrection of 2021? I kind of hope so, because that would mean our democracy survived.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

2020 Favorites

NonFiction Books
1. Stamped from the Beginning, Ibram X Kendi
2. Untamed, Glennon Doyle
3. Shrill, Lindy West
4. How to be an antiracist, Ibram X Kendi
Fiction Books
1. The Refugees, Viet Thanh Nguyen
2. City of Girls, Elizabeth Gilbert
3. Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng
4. Homeland Elegies, Ayad Akhtar (still reading)
MR/YA Books
1. Esperanza Rising, Pam Munoz Ryan
2. It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel Firoozeh Dumas
3. Hello, Universe, Erin Entrada Kelly
4. New Kid, Jerry Craft (graphic novel)
5. The Stars Beneath our Feet, David Moore
New (to me) Podcasts
1. 1619
2. Nice White Parents
3. The Daily
4. Code Switch
1. Mrs. America
2. Orthodox
3. Queens Gambit
4. Soul
5. The Last Dance
Honorary mention: The Crown, S4

1. Watching Noe's final Unified Basketball game at Grant with a gym packed with supporters, the Pep Band (including Asher), cheerleaders and especially when the Grant students ran down to the court to make a human tunnel for the players during game introductions. (February)
2. Going night kayaking at Wallowa Lake with my sisters and their boys. (July)
3. Our neighborhood's daily 7pm Thank You to Healthworkers (March - June)
4. Biking the trail to Benham Falls with Asher in Bend (October)
5. Waking up to rain at 3am - Ed and I opening up our bedroom windows and laughing and listening and BREATHING fresh air after 2 weeks of wildfire smoke that kept us locked inside. (September)