Friday, April 30, 2010

who he once was.

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remember old mr. huldorn? his life stored in two hotel-style dresser drawers, days spent on the fifth floor of the concrete rectangle in the countryside. walks, privileged. and when i visited him, they’d just taken away his green card—which for mr. huldorn was like taking away his prized collection of special edition baseball cards: devastating.

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and so he spent his days on his bed. eating snacks of chocolate Easter bunnies & orange-wrapped Skittles from last Halloween. his mom sent him boxes, usually weekly. but he’d ask at least twice a day to please check the mail for more treats—a request usually followed by more hollering about his bathroom habits.

mother-mrs. huldorn sent packages full of chocolate bunnies & orange wrappers because she couldn’t stand to visit anymore. she as getting older & it was just too hard to see her forty-something son holler about his bowels.

i kind of don’t blame her.

mr. huldorn taught me a lot about waiting, patience. and not surprisingly about his bowels. and he also taught me about his daily bathroom habits…

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but what i didn’t tell you was that old mr. huldorn, before he hollered about the bathroom, was a valedictorian. a true 4.0-earning, graduation-class-speaking high school valedictorian. it was in another life, now irreconcilable to his own fragile memory. as the story was told, he was a up-and-coming computer genius. the second bill gates, some even said.

his parents were proud—or so the story goes. their prominent positions in the community, country-club lifestyle & ritzy vacation on the Carolina Coast seemed to be the perfect formula for a life of leisure & success.

the story of mr. huldorn’s young Hollywood life goes on as any other—full of drama, suspense, & a small dose of personal tragedy.

it was during college, his sophomore year that the senior mr. huldorn fell out of love with his family & in love with a much younger, thinner, perkier version of the original mrs. huldorn. i can only imagine the wildfire of gossip that spread through those streak-free windows & red-roofed houses, between the mouths of the Stepford Wives on Wisteria Lane.

and the then-young mr. huldorn was, i would imagine, nothing less than devastated.

i was told, the story sounding much like a ghostly tale from a far off century, that the voices started then, after the new mrs. huldorn moved in. the voices got louder & stronger & bothered him more frequently. they talked to him in class, in the library, & during dinners in the dining hall. they told him he was stupid, undeserving. they tried to convince him to jump off roofs & smash computer screens.

and soon enough, it was just too much. the senior mr. huldorn, horrified at what had become of his valedictorian, country-club son waived goodbye for good.

which just left mr. huldorn and his worn out mother. and while the voices taunted the mind of young mr. huldorn, the rumors taunted that red roofed house on the real wisteria lane.

it was his breaking point.

so young mr. huldorn was taken to the hospital. his mother soon discovered just how severe her son’s schizophrenia really was.

fast forward twenty years. and we arrive at the concrete rectangle in the countryside, the fifth floor, the boxes of Easter bunnies, and…the bathroom.

you see, the case of old mr. huldorn’s hollering wasn’t just about the bathroom. it wasn’t just about his rather odd fixation on his bowel movements. and it wasn’t about his green card, either. no, the tale of old mr. huldorn is really about his STORY. it is about second-chances & loving anyways & accepting the seemingly-devastating & rising to the occasion.

and maybe most of all, it is the poignant reminder that none of us should be who we once were.

we have a voice who speaks to us, too. jump, it says, let me catch you. dare, it warns, i will continue to provide. and while we go on in our daily trudge, hollering about the weather & the boss & the clogged toilet, that voice knows where we’ve come from.

and that Voice has big plans for us.

which may or may not include things like green cards & orange wrapped candies & weekly boxes full of chocolate Easter bunnies.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


the words just fell out, dropped from my mouth onto the floor.

the floor.

where they bounced & broke.

where they bounced & broke…and remained.


until i swooped them up & tried to mend the pieces. and then hide those words, cracked but glued back together in my pocket—as if they’d never come to life.


the one i was living. the ME. right here, right now. the me that sprang those words to life. now plagued with regret.


of my audacious openness with a stranger. so i hung my shoulders and walked out of the room, embarrased that i’d broken the rules.

the rules.

the ones that tell me i’m not supposed to share. that i’m supposed to listen. that i’m supposed to be transparent & empathetic, but never personal.


no. this is what it has to be.


i never liked rules anyways.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


he waxes & wanes between the words, hopping over syllables, darting between the letters. an old Irishman one minute, an English gentleman the next. but his flannel shirt & black leather loafers point to who he really is: a small town American.

but the jumping, the hopping, the stumbling & stopping…an unintentional habit of seraching. his “th” sound rings as an “f”. The “r” translates a “w”. and the “c” hangs in the air, repeated as an echoing stutter until the words flow smooth again.

the journey had run long, & his searching for self continued. in words. in letters. in syllables.

but isn’t that what we all do? we set out on a great search for self. trying. testing. experimenting. we mix. we scramble. we spin the compass. and then, ultimately, return to comfort.

we change ourselves. our looks. our clothes. our voice. the title of our vocation, even, to sound more impressive to those who air a “higher status”. longer words flow, more syllables. nervous laughter. head temporarily taut in a burst of faux-confidence. the falsity matching the illusory mink fur shawl wrapped around our necks. and dripping in sparkles, the painted smiles cascade down to bounce from our cubic zirconium & finally meet the new-age girdles we don to hide our flaws.

it all seems to be an unintentional habit of searching. trying. testing. experimenting. our accent lived out in real time, true color.

that is, until our lives are mixed up; pocketbooks a scramble of red & black. we spin the compass, pack up boxes & lives, & move to new places, new faces, new opportunities. starting fresh. never airing our own flannel shirt & black leather loafers for fear we’ll be discovered.

and then, ultimately, we return again to comfort. holed up in plastered walls. illusory mink fur shawls hung & sparkling zirconium removed, we finally let out real laughter. maybe for the funny man, the light box. maybe for the friendly spider.

we wax & wane. between the lines, the expectations, the built-up illusion that we have to meet the Jones’. we dart between realities barely missing the freight train of truth only to find raw, cold exposure in the wind it leaves behind.

but someday. someday we’ll be discovered.

who are you going to be?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


i've chosen, deliberately, to forego all the 'pretty'. and focus on what really matters to ME.

day 6 details surface & event

remember this? a wild, unashamed confession that something i once truly loved was slowly leaving me for something else? scrapbooking is no longer my go-to...& photography is quickly taking its place....

and this is why:

i want to remember. i want to throw aside the inhibitions, expectations of perfection, self-made thoughts that pictures need to be pretty with sparkles. and just do it.

i'll toast to that...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

she says, he says.

she says, “give me some energy.”

he says, “my child, i’ve given you food to eat.”

she says, “help me lose weight.”

he says, “i’ve give you two feet to walk on.”

she says, “but i’m feeling so depressed."

he says, “look at all the people i’ve surrounded you with!

… “i just don’t look right”

“beauty is determined by the soul.”

“fix my stomach problems…”

“i’m growing fresh foods for you to eat.”

“i’m just not getting better fast enough".

“i’m teaching you patience.

“there seems to be so much wrong with me!”

“i want to hold you closer.”

“i don’t think i have enough…”

“for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

“i want to heal my body.”

“i want to heal your heart.”

“i don’t want to die…”

“i never said you had to…”

Thursday, April 15, 2010

me & them.

i look at them sometimes and wonder. wonder how they perceive life. do they know they are alive? can they see? hear like i do? can they taste food, enjoy chocolate, drink the sweet nectar that drips off the summers ripened tree? do they notice the wind in their hair, kisses of sunshine on their skin, drips of heaven on their face? is the smile real joy? the crying real emotion? the moaning real pain?

neurologists may say no.

preachers may say yes.

but what do i say?

i say love them. most of the time.

but sometimes the “love them” can’t find an anchor. it drifts into that raging sea of judgment. the sea, angry & gray, where my thoughts are tossed about in swells. the sea that convinces me that science rules: the smiles are random neurological firing, the moaning a sequence of reflexes. the sea, white capped & turbulent, convinces me that they are shells—defunct brains, malformed limbs, hopeless cases of life. i stay submerged in that sea. gasping. drowning. thrashing. until a Hand reach in & scoops me out of the abyss.


the Hand rescues me.

the Hand carries me, pulls me, guides me, pushes me, & wheels me. me—a spiritual shell of a defunct heart & malformed grace. a hopeless case of life. and in that angry sea, the Hand becomes my life boat—pulling me back to the safety of the shoreline.

to finish the race.


that Hand hoped in me & knew that i was more than a sinister case of genetic misfortune.

their malady, physical.

mine, a sinful spirit.

neither fixed by medicine, only the Hand of HOPE.

and it is then that i realize, wet & cold, shamed with the salty drops still clinging to my skin, that me & them?

we’re not so different after all.

Monday, April 12, 2010


i found this on my desk chair last week.

old email note from mom

evidence of 2009. evidence of a planned life, a color-coded spreadsheet, a nervous heart.

old email note from mom 2

evidence of the past. evidence that the present has come.

and evidence that God has, once again, pulled through.

it was accompanied by this yellow post-it, scribbled with my mom’s curly handwriting.

letter from mom attached to email 04.07.10

amen, mom. amen.

God has been so, so good.

i can’t wait to see what He has for us next…

Friday, April 09, 2010


they come to be fixed.

they come to be patched.























but sometimes i show up to be broken.

i guess we all need a little mending sometimes, a little saving too. whom you choose to cry out to for help, however, makes a world of difference.

"hear my prayer oh Lord,

let my cry of help come to you."

- psalms 102:1

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

dumpster diving.

yes, literally.

it all started when i was little. my mom & i were living in portland, she’d just severely injured her back, & we were moving. we needed boxes.

and those portland dumpsters had all the boxes we needed. so there i went…dumpster diving at the tender age of 6.

my skills have continued to develop. and despite a short break during the peak of my hormonal-i’m-too-cool-for-my-shorts teenaged years, i’m still pretty good at it.

so good at it, in fact, that during my run on monday afternoon i eagle-eye spotted a neighbors garbage can teeming with magazines. and i really happen to love magazines—just not when i have to buy them. i’ll take ‘em free from the airplane, leftover from the hospital, and yes, even old from my neighbors garbage.

i told jon what i was going to do:

skype conversation 04.05.10

he wasn’t very happy about it. mostly because he thinks i’m kind of weird anyways (doesn’t everybody?). and mostly because my parents live in a nice neighborhood—trash digging isn’t exactly kosher.

{and by the way, that is exactly how our conversations go: type one sentence –> disconnected –> type another sentence –> disconnected –> type to myself –> i am frozen on jon’s screen –> disconnected –> hang up.}

well. i did go. korryn & i went on a stealth mission. we even turned our car lights off. turns out, the garbage can belonged to her friend. and her friend’s mom was looking out the window the whole time. sweet.

but i got what i wanted.

garbage digging magazines little did i know that i’d be learning about rainbow quilts, avacado green, & wood paneling from 1975.

magazinesfromgarbage.001magazinesfromgarbage.004 magazinesfromgarbage.002 magazinesfromgarbage.003

…i suppose i could say the same thing about dumpster diving as they did about smoking back in the day…

it’s only natural.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Dear Angry Mother, From Regret…

Dear Angry Mother:

when I plotted your sons BMI on his growth chart today & the dot barely made the margin of the page, I knew we had something to talk about. and i also knew that it wasn’t going to be easy.

so i walked into your room to do a well-child exam & found your 161-pound 10-year-old son quite pleasant. nice kid, you have.

but what i didn’t know, Angry Mother, was that my mentioning your 161-pound son’s weight was going to offend you so. i didn’t know that my preceptor would be 30 minutes behind schedule because of the extra time she had to spend explaining to you why we needed to talk about your son.

i didn’t know, Angry Mother, that my recommendation to eat more fruits & vegetables, my telling you that the acanthosis nigricans rapidly spreading on your son’s neck was linked to childhood diabetes, or that my explaining that he should try his best to be more active was going to send you stomping out of the exam room to tell the nurses just how offensive i was.

and i know, i know i’m just a student. i’m still learning. and when i walked in your exam room today, i tried my best to use gentle words & approach this confrontation with empathy.

i heard later from my preceptor, who was gracefully able to diffuse your anger over my audacity, that your son cried because he apparently wasn’t aware he was overweight prior to our chat today.

really? really Angry Mother?

i guess he thought it was normal to have oozing hydadenitis suppurativa in his skin folds, normal to look down only to find his chin was in the way of full neck flexion, and normal to have a stomach covered in white striae from skin stretched too far by the bounty of adipose underneath.

i’m no exception from flaws, failures, and need-for-improvements, Angry Mother. but this is YOUR time—this is YOUR time to guide him, teach him, challenge him to eat right, better, purer foods. this is YOUR time, Angry Mother, to pass on good, healthy habits that he will carry with him to old age. and this is YOUR time to be a positive role-model for him with regular exercise & healthy eating. even still, our physical flaws, mine included, are no reason for condemnation.

i guess i was out-of-line today. and rude.

and i guess i’m sorry.

but Angry Mother, i want to tell you now…that less than 25% of childhood obesity is because of genetic predisposition. i want to tell you that just because your kid doesn’t eat protein, mac+cheese isn’t a healthy substitute. and i want to tell you that today when i tried to encourage you, you spit the forewarnings i had about the long-term complications of childhood obesity right back in my face.

so thanks for that, Angry Mother. and thanks, too, for the now-permanent hesitation i have with ever being honest with a patient again. you’ve changed my perspective—& i’m sorry to say that it isn’t for the better.

best of luck with your 10-year-old.



Saturday, April 03, 2010

13 Ways to Better Photos...Day 13 {publish}

As I’ve looked back through my scrapbook pages, I realize that my favorites are the ones that TELL A STORY. The photo’s are important, yes--& they tell a story of their own…but sometimes words are a much more powerful weapon! I know that I’d like to know how my great-grandmother wrote…& I have no documentations of her handwriting! I’d love to know what she loved about her husband, where her favorite spot in her house was, the neatest places she’d traveled to…

But not all of us are award-winning writers. Or even writers—at least we certainly don’t feel like professionals. And in turn, we back away from recording our memories. News flash: YOU DON’T HAVE TO WRITE WELL TO WRITE AT ALL…. (how is that for a grammatically correct sentence?)

Here are some ideas to help jump-start the process….

Make lists! (I, for one, do this VERY well…). If you don’t feel confident in using paragraphs, make a list of memories, emotions, or even places you went to on your last vacation. Sort of like a “Mastercard” commercial, paired with a photo, your simple list can become just the right amount of ‘spark’ to remember the details.

Take the photos LATER! Write about something first—a memory, a special item, a loved one—and then try to snap a photo that matches the sentiment expressed in your writing. No one says photos always have to be the first prompt…try making words a prompt for your pictures!

Take the photos FIRST! And then sit down to write, remembering just one or even a variety of things about what is happening in the photo. Little is more annoying to me than scrapbookers who put pre-formed words on lovingly-crafted photo pages. Words like “cute” paired with a photo of a baby. Or words like “play” paired with their children on the playground. Because DUH!!! The baby IS CUTE—we all know that. And the children ARE PLAYING—quite obvious, thank you. If my mother handed me a book of my childhood photos with only silly words on them like “grow” & “learn” & “play”, it would mean nothing more to me than if she would have handed me a stack of photos. We need words—simple, complex, in full sentences, or in little pieces. Show a piece of yourself. And when you take the time to document the memories through photos, take an extra 5 or 50 minutes to write something (anything!) MEANINGFUL about them as well.

So you might be thinking: But what if I can’t remember what is IN the photo? NO PROBLEM. Likely, you’ll remember something—even the smells—of the picture. Take this scrapbook page, for example.

early years: 445 Greenbrook
I knew that I lived in this house during first & second grade. But this photo was snapped on any regular day after school—playing with the neighborhood kids. And because it was in my possession (& not my mother’s), I couldn’t remember the details. So I wrote about it anyways…

“I remember the tile landing right when you walked through the door. I remember the big blue bathtub I was proud to call my own. I remember the kitchen, the glass dining table, & the quarters that always sat by the washing machine. I remember the back porch where I’d clean my hamster’s cage each week with 409 Disinfectant Spray…”

See? A list of memories—in paragraph form…brought together to explain a picture having nothing to do with little 7-year-old me in the middle of the street at our old house. But it works. And suddenly, instead of a photo of a seemingly-cold little girl, we have a story…it comes to life.

Another method is to write a letter to the person in your photos. Even if that person is unknown or a distant ancestor, you DO have something to say to them. Questions, maybe; about who they were, about their daily lives, and about how you maybe aren’t so different from them afterall. You’d be surprised how powerful letters to pictures can be….

I’d encourage you to flip through your photos. And similar to my notecards in my {insane} organization system for already-printed photos still-to-be-scrapbooked, grab a notecard or pad of paper & jot down whatever comes to mind about one or two photos in particular.

here is a great link about one way to approach it your photos

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