don’t go chasing after the grand theme, the idea, i told my students, as if it is separate from the story itself. the idea or ideas behind the story must come to you through the experience of the novel and not as something tacked onto it.
~ azar nafisi, reading lolita in tehran

would you like to know why i haven’t written much lately? maybe you hadn’t noticed that i haven’t written much lately – i’ve never exactly been religious in the area of blog regularity. so i’m informing you now: i haven’t written very much of anything lately.

my goal in life is to have a story worth telling, and i’m waiting for the moral to my story. i want to tell a story that makes sense, written in the past tense. a story with pathos, yes, but past-pathos, articulated beautifully instead of raw and incoherent. i’m waiting to blog about my life until my life starts to make sense.

because, honestly, very little in our life makes sense right now. our baby died a year ago, and we are parents with no children.  i am in school right now, but with no major or definite course of study. joel spent the last 5 years in nursing school, and now he can’t find a nursing job. i am taking hormones to prepare my body to induce lactation when we adopt, but we have no adoption prospects; in the hormonal sense i am pregnant right now, but with no baby.

these are paradoxes, not parables. stories without morals, they are messy and confusing, littered together through our lives like multi-colored confetti at a birthday party (but without the presents or cake).

but what if the point of the story isn’t in the story, but is the story.
what if the story cannot be compressed into a point?
what if trials are not, at their root, lessons in character development?
perhaps my story is worth telling, not because of its resolution, but simply because it is my story.

i wonder how often we do this to god’s story. i’m not denying that there are lessons to be learned and morals to ponder, but perhaps we are often so eager to find the truth in god’s story that we miss the truth that is god’s story. a messy, confusing, sometimes contradictory story that doesn’t always make perfect sense … kind of like mine.

this is the place in the blog where i would like to insert a pithy last paragraph to tie it together, because it feels very unfinished  right now. i didn’t address mindfulness like i intended to, i didn’t articulate and defend that part about god very well, and on the whole i feel a bit insecure about hitting the publish button.

but maybe that’s the point.





portland state university parking garage sunrise mount hood

this was my view this morning from the inside of my car, on the eighth level of portland state university parking structure one.

the top level was nearly empty, but one woman parked two spaces away, got out of her car, and stood at the railing, taking pictures with her little point-and-shoot. i quickly finished my tea and got out of the car to talk to her.

“it’s a beautiful day, isn’t it?” i pretended to fumble with my bag.

she smiled back and agreed. i told her i had just been doing the same thing with my phone camera (from the warmth of my car). she admitted that she dropped her phone in water, and now its camera doesn’t work. she also admitted that she feels conspicuous taking pictures with her camera, and i told her that i’m a photographer, and sometimes feel the same way.

we twinkly smiled in camaraderie over our unspoken secret: that the first nice sunrise in weeks was worth pausing for, savoring, sharing with a stranger on the top level of a parking garage.

then i left for my greek history class, and she walked away.


fallen leaf dead sadness damaged stillbirth fall autumn

one of my favorite fall/christmas traditions, one that i’ve kept every year since i was 6 or 7, is to read straight through the first 4 christmas in my heart books, delightfully and unashamedly sappy collections of christmas stories. the storylines are quite predictable; they set up a winter conflict, and end with its resolution on christmas day (or christmas eve, to change things up a bit.) estranged lovers find love, sad people find happiness, orphans find parents, and sad, bitter, childless people (who usually lost a child at christmas) find heartwarming orphans in informal ceremonies that usually involve some combination of surprise snowfalls, unexpected deliveries of christmas trees and clear, starry nights.

this tradition is among the many that will not be kept this year. others may include but are not limited to:
listening to christmas music
decorating for fall
decorating for christmas
watching christmas movies
sending christmas cards
and being merry.

i will probably keep the traditions of eggnog chai (because i’m a hedonist) and buying christmas presents for people (because it’s so darn fun, and there’s no rule that they have to be wrapped in christmasy paper).

the fiery leaves burn; the encroaching darkness threatens to swallow; the christmas songs mock. and the traditions? they lie dormant, waiting to be awakened some other season. the anticipation is a cruel shadow of last year’s anticipation; preparing for christmas was synonymous with preparing for my christmas baby.

in real life, orphans rarely drop out of the sky on christmas eve, bringing with them snow and hope. and even if they did, orphans are not cure-alls.

dare i admit that i’m not excited to celebrate another christmas baby? a christmas baby who got to live for 33 whole years? that’s the same amount of time that my husband has lived. 33 years is a long time to have with your baby.

don’t misunderstand me – i don’t reject that christmas baby.
i don’t hate that christmas baby.
i don’t deny that christmas baby.

on the contrary, i trust that christmas baby’s ability to find a different way to reach me: one that doesn’t involve … well … christmas. i trust emmanuel’s ability to transcend songs and scenes and celebrations of which he is the subject.

maybe i’ll find christmas again someday, but it probably won’t be this year. and i know that, even though i’ve lost christmas for now, even though i’ve lost my baby for now, i haven’t lost christ. and though the sky is obscured behind snowless clouds, i haven’t lost it forever, either.