National Forest & Black Forest {Or, Where You’re From}

Dear Luci, John Denver plays over the stereo. The morning fire is down to embers now, and through the upstairs window all I can see are the dark arms of fir trees, calm and complacent in the autumn sun. On the counter sits a bear made of yellow cake, waiting for frosting, because tomorrow is…

Fernweh

Fernweh: (n.) an ache for distant places, the craving for travel A few years ago, a small niche of young American women on Pinterest with some experience in German taught me a new word: Fernweh. While its antoymn Heimweh has a direct English translation–homesickness–Fernweh (pronounced FAIRN-vay) claims no English equivalent. The closest approximation, in fact, is another German…

Full Hearts, Empty House

The couch and chair left on Saturday, driving away in a van to Maugenhard. The remaining armchair we kept for a few more days, taking turns sitting in the last piece of furniture in our living room. The kitchen packed away in boxes at our future apartment, we ate pre-washed lettuce and pre-cooked chicken with pre-made…

Bigger Places

“There are bigger places out there than Kandern…. And thank the Lord for that.” BFA 2015 Valedictorian The morning of graduation day at Black Forest Academy, I received a message from a  former BFA student. “Did you go to Ballard high?” he had written beneath a picture of my alma mater. After confirming that yes,…

The Adventurous Class of 2016

Five students are finishing their final on this cool Monday morning, and I’ve already taken down all the posters and curtains, collected the books and graded my final coursework for the quarter. Nothing left for this teacher to do but post this year’s end-of-year letter, finishing nine hilarious months with a truly unique group of…

Places as People

And having answered so I turn once more to those who      sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer      and say to them: Come and show me another city with lifted head singing      so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning. Flinging magnetic curses amid…

Gluten & Gatsby

‘Tis the night before “school Valentine’s Day”–known by everyone else as Friday, or to the superstitious as Friday the 13th–and I’m baking cookies. Everyone, it seems, needs cookies tomorrow. There are some for my sixth period class, a tiny collection of eight students who managed to hold the best debate on whether Gatsby truly loved…

Töpfer

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21 It starts to rain on Sunday afternoon, as we…

Prepared {A Place For Us}

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will…

29: To The Wanderers

A few years ago, I paraphrased some of Jeremiah 29, the oft-quoted letter to the Israelite exiles in Babylon. While no one I know is in literal exile, it occurred to me then that many of my friends and students–all over the world and for a variety of reasons–find themselves in unfamiliar places, and are…