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Dear Paris,

Tuesday, October 27, 2009
I'm sorry I won't be seeing you again. I was truly looking forward to it. I know I wasn't the best guest the last few times I visited. I said some horrible things about you. And, for that I'm sorry.

You were nothing but kind to me. Feeling vulnerable in the dead of night, you showed me safety. You showed me sun when my own skies were dark. You showed me beauty when all I could see was ugliness.

I didn't appreciate you. I blamed you. I wanted to step through your gates and start fresh. I wanted you to make me over new. But, every time I turned a corner you reminded me of who I used to be and who I had become. I wasn't that different than the lonely 15-year-old girl who had wandered your street so many years ago. She was just starting to realize how disappointing the world can be. And, there I was - almost two decades later - having allowed that utter disappointment to push me down.

I cursed you. It will be better somewhere else I thought angrily as my train sped out of your city limits. But, the cool blue salt water of paradise only stung the wounds you'd helped reopen. I realized if I covered them up and kept running they would never heal. So, I laid on the sharp rocky shore and exposed them to the scorching sun. Then I dove in again and again and again. Each time deeper than the last. Until, finally, it didn't sting quite so badly.

Photo from ESI

I wanted to show you that I'm healing quite nicely. This time, I wanted to walk your streets with my head held high. Alone but not lonely. Confident and composed. Light and free.

And, I wanted to say thank you. Thank you for showing me hospitality. Thank you for showing me truth and possibility. Thank you for showing me true beauty. You're so much more than a glossy postcard would have one believe.

Until we meet again, Paris.

A Call to Action

Sunday, October 18, 2009
There has been a lot of recent controversy over whether Obama deserved his Nobel Peace Prize. Some felt that it was too soon; he hasn't done anything yet. Others saw it as a call to action. I, too, was shocked by the announcement. But, not because of what Obama has or hasn't done. I was shocked that, once again, I was passed over. Every year I wait for the announcement: I've won the Nobel Prize, the Pulitzer, the $25 in free Trader Joe's food... And, every year it's a huge disappointment.

True, I have only written five sentences of my Pulitzer prize winning novel. And, OK, I don't even fill out the Trader Joe's tickets. But, if getting two arguing people together to drink beer in your backyard is the kind of peacekeeping that gets you a Nobel prize... I could legitimately be in the running. Next, Obama, I would send a fruit basket to Iran. But, not just any fruit basket, one of those cute ones with the fruit dipped in chocolate and arranged like flowers. OMG, Ahmadinejad is going to L-O-V-E it.

Anyhoo. Speaking of world peace... Friday night I went to hear Nicholas Kristof speak on his new book (written with wife Sherly WuDunn) Half the Sky. Six hundred Portlanders filled the Bagdad Theater for the talk. Kristof, who's from Portland, is a compelling speaker. He's very knowledgeable and obviously passionate about the topic of women's empowerment. (He could probably have a proficient conversation with a Mercy Corps donor.) I was moved by his stories and his call to action.

He didn't just tell depressing stories. He didn't just tell stories of overcoming odds. He talked about the reality of the world we live in. He talked about the little things we can do to make real change. He told of how one goat transformed an illiterate little girl into a college graduate.

OK, you know what? This is why I will never win an award. I'm already tired of writing this post. I don't have skills of persuasion. But, I might very well have Adult Attention Deficit Disorder. I drifted off thinking about how the girl/goat story would make an excellent children's book. Then I was winning the National Book Award for Janati and the Goat. And, what do you know, I'm on The Daily Show again... "It's always fascinating to have you on the program, Kristy," Jon gushes. "Thank you, Jon; I always try to squeeze you into my busy speaking schedule," I'd say as I nervously readjusted the strap of my new $250 shoes made by a young girl in Bangladesh for 50 cents.

So, yeah. Read the book. Be inspired. Do something meaningful.

The Littlest Bird

Wednesday, October 14, 2009
The crispness of fall has taken a turn toward just plain cold. The rain is pelting my window. Somewhere in the city a Hawaiian Airlines billboard is going up. And, yes, it's time again for this little bird to fly south.

I'll let someone else speak for me today.

The Littlest Bird
song by The Be Good Tanyas

Well I feel like an old hobo,
I'm sad lonesome and blue
I was fair as the summer day
Now the summer days are through
You pass through places
And places pass through you
But you carry 'em with you
On the souls of your travellin' shoes

Well I love you so dearly I love you so clearly
Wake you up in the mornin' so early
Just to tell you I got the wanderin' blues
I got the wanderin' blues
And i'm gonna quit these ramblin' ways one of
these days soon
And I'll sing

The littlest birds sing the prettiest songs...

Well it's times like these
I feel so small and wild
Like the ramblin' footsteps of a wanderin' child
And I'm lonesome as a lonesome whippoorwill
Singin these blues with a warble and a trill
But I'm not too blue to fly
No I'm not too blue to fly cause

The littlest birds sing the prettiest songs...

Well I love you so dearly
I love you so fearlessly
Wake you up in the mornin' so early
Just to tell you I got the wanderin' blues
I got the wanderin' blues
And I don't wanna leave you
I love you through and through

Oh I left my baby on a pretty blue train
And I sang my songs to the cold and the rain
I had the wanderin' blues
And I sang those wanderin' blues
And I'm gonna quit these ramblin' ways
One of these days soon
And I'll sing...

The littlest birds sing the prettiest songs....

I don't care if the sun don't shine
I don't care if nothin' is mine
I don't care if I'm nervous with you
I'll do my lovin' in the wintertime

Ramona Falls

Monday, October 5, 2009
The sound of the wind rustled through the moss-covered trees of the Mt. Hood wilderness. The trail was soggy. The air was cold. And, there was...snow. The first weekend in October and just before the falls we encountered a fresh covering of snow. A lovely fall hike. Beautiful scenery. And, a bit of sadness. The thought that I won't be here for winter snow.