Experiments in blackout poetry

Here’s a new, nerdy hobby my fellow word lovers may enjoy. It’s called blackout poetry, and you basically use a newspaper (after reading it of course) and black out all but a few words that make a poem of sorts. It sounds simpler than it is. The poems aren’t always masterpieces, but it’s fun and I like the idea of writing poetry in AP Style.

I got the idea from writer Austin Kleon, who actually did a whole book of them.

Here are a few of the ones I’ve done so far:



I’m not worried; I think we’re OK.




New scenes, different creation. We have sought unusual, surprising pieces.



He is bizarre, but the world thinks kindly of it.



I want a maroon pantsuit. That would be amazing.



There’s a way, maybe. All sound good but none pan out.




You have to get up, but it’s tough.


I’m doing more of these plus haikus and pictures and stuff on tumblr at lorithebraveone.tumblr.com. And you should check out Kleon’s at newspaperblackout.com.

On Lent (the mess I am)

I missed the Ash Wednesday service at church this year, but it’s usually my favorite time of year. I like the entire Lenten season. It’s a reminder of my humanity and the messes we humans make.

I spend much of my time trying to hide my messes, and I am mostly messes.

I am the girl who’s rushing out the door with breakfast still in my hands, brushing crumbs from my face as I walk to work again late again.

I’m the girl crying again after too much wine for reasons I can’t put into words.

I’m the girl whose search for love has at times caused wounds that haven’t quite healed, who has wrecked and been wrecked by relationships.

I’m the girl who first took the apple, turning it over in my hands before taking a bite

I’m the girl the Pharisees and scribes wanted to stone

And instead of trying to hide it, You put ash on my forehead, a sign the world can see.

And You ask me to walk with You a while to the cross

Come on, you say. We’re coming to a hill.

On running and jazz music

I have this theory about running and jazz music: no one really likes either one of them. Oh, sure, they say they do. But I think people like to be known as a person who likes jazz music, or who likes to run much more than they actually like either of them.
(I’m mostly joking about jazz music, although I’m not really a fan. If you’re a person who likes to listen to jazz music while running, leave a comment, I’d like to hear how that works).
Anyway, let me speak for myself: I don’t like to run. Even as a high school soccer player, I didn’t like it. (My coach once told me I should consider a sport with less running.)
Running doesn’t feel good. At least, in the shape I’m in currently, it doesn’t feel good. It makes my chest and and legs hurt. Plus I don’t like people watching me run, and that’s impossible to avoid on the route I take.
I don’t like running, but I like the way I feel afterwards. I like the sweaty, endorphin-filled feeling of accomplishment I get after a good run, or even a decent one. So I drag myself out of bed early in the morning, put my earbuds in and head out to the Boulevard.
I’m hoping that running is like other things in life that get easier the more you do them. That eventually, even if I don’t love it, I won’t hate running. I’ve heard of people who get a certain kind of high while running, but that seems like to much to hope for at this point.
So I’m planning to run a 5k or two this fall/winter and hoping the pressure of having a race planned will be enough motivation for me to keep getting up, putting on my running shoes and hitting the pavement.

About the baby pictures…I can explain

If you’re following my Instagram feed or other forms of social media, I’d like to offer a sort of a apology and a brag all rolled into one. It seems that baby pictures have taken over in the few weeks since my niece was born. People who show off baby pictures to other people always kind of annoyed me — until I became one of them. Maybe I’m a little biased but my newest niece is possibly the cutest baby I’ve ever seen. (I can say that without showing favoritism; I didn’t know the other two when they were babies).

Maybe beauty is in the eye of the beholder, though. The other day my boss asked how my sister was doing after she had complications after an emergency c-session. I said she was doing much better and offered to show him a baby pic. Everyone else had made ooh and aww sounds, but but he kind of gasped.  (To be fair, the first picture I came across, and showed him, was of her red in the face from screaming her lungs out).

“Ya know, when my daughter was born I kept showing pictures of her to people and everyone admired them until I showed them to (one of our most outspoken former coworkers) and she made a comment about her not being very cute,” he said. “I couldn’t believe she said it at the time but then about five years later I went back and looked and had to admit she was right. I think all babies look like tiny, bald old men.”

Anyway, you can be the judge of that. I like having nieces (and I’m sure I’d like nephews just as much) because you can play with them or have all the baby cuddles you want and at the end of the day you hand them back to their parents to do the hard work. A friend must have noticed all the baby pictures on my posts and asked me the other day if I had “baby fever.” Maybe a little, I conceded. But it will definitely pass.

You can see pictures of Addy in my Instagram feed, also on this page.

On editing

“I am not the editor of a newspaper and shall always try to do right and be good so that God will not make me one.” – Mark Twain

It’s been about eight months since I made the jump from news writing to news editing. I spent about 6 years writing for newspapers. I’m a young editor, for sure, and I’m still learning my way around the new job. For anyone who’s ever considered moving from reporting to editing, I thought I’d share some observations I’ve made so far about what the differences are.

1. Management feels like putting out one fire after another. I have a new-found respect for the work my boss does to keep things running smoothly in the newsroom. There are many different individual schedules and personalities to deal with. You also have to deal with  technical issues and the near-daily struggle of having too many or too few stories in the paper. Also, have you ever had to make a work schedule for people? It’s the worst.

2. Editing requires a different way of measuring what you accomplish each day. When you’re a reporter, it’s really easy to come home from a long day of work with a sense of accomplishment. You can point to a story with your name on it in the next day’s paper and know that you did that. Your success is measurable. With editing, it can be a little less clear. Editing requires you to shift your thinking about work — rather than looking for your byline for a sense of accomplishment, you have to realize that all the little things you do, from catching the occasional misspelled name or “West Virgina” to making a lede more clear, help the finished paper be better.

3. You will miss reporting. A lot. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder; it’s true. I’ve resorted to doing the occasional Saturday story or video just to get my reporting fix in.

4. You will realize all the things you did as a reporter that bug your editor. These are mostly little things like not writing photo cutlines or suggested headlines for stories, or not mentioning a scheduling conflict until late.  The little things matter, though.

5. Did I mention you’ll miss reporting?

James Foley and the importance of bearing witness

It’s been more than a week since the world found out — in the grimmest way possible — that American journalist James Foley had been murdered at the hands of ISIS militants.  Foley went missing in 2012 while covering the Syrian Civil War.

I did not know James Foley, but as a fellow journalist I feel a certain kinship toward him. The work I do as an assistant editor at a West Virginia newspaper is worlds away from his work on the front lines of a war.

I’ve dreamed of being a conflict reporter because I think the stories of war and human suffering are immensely important. Someone has to bear witness to the human toll of war. Still I don’t know that I’m brave enough to be a war journalist.

So I’m grateful for him and other reporters who are risking, and sometimes giving, their lives telling of the atrocities of a war that’s claimed more than 160,000 human lives.  So far 69 journalists have killed covering this particular conflict, according to the Committee to Protect Reporters.

I hope it’s some comfort to his family and friends that the work he did matters.

While, as I said, it’s important to bear witness, I don’t think that means viewing the graphic video of his death. If you want to honor the life of a man who died trying to tell stories of war, familiarize yourself with his work. You can find some of it here.


The real Christian

We were walking down Lee Street when she saw us. It was hot and we had been to get iced coffee. She must have noticed my hand in his when she approached us with a broad smile on her face.

“Excuse me. I’d like to apologize to you and your wife,” she said as an introduction, even though we aren’t married.

She continued, “But do you happen to have any change? The Lord hates it when I don’t take care of myself. I just want you to know I pay my tithe. I’m a real Christian.”

I reached for my wallet, even though I knew I’d spent my last dollar on the coffee I was still sipping on.

“Sorry, I don’t,” I said after looking into a coin pocket.

And that was when the real, tithe-paying Christian told us off.

It’s like…

Cat hair is like injustice. The more you look for it in order to rid the world (your apartment) of it, the more you find it everywhere you look.