Categories for creative nonfiction

Sugar and Grass

June 14, 2024 8:46 pm Published by

Why do we think we can barrel through her world and call her stupid as our plastic bumpers crunch into her fur and flesh, how is anything we are doing more important than everything she dreams of? 

Trip to the Bottom

April 20, 2024 10:31 pm Published by

The wind howls, the snow falls, and the world tells me that even though I may not have a home, I must seek shelter. Today, that’s the guest room of a single mother’s gorgeous house in Flagstaff. Tomorrow, a canvas tent on the Colorado Plateau.

Desert Dispatches

January 15, 2024 5:36 am Published by

It feels much better to be up here, not an apex predator, not quite comfortably numb, using all my senses. I stop to crouch and study the sand.

Seven Years of Hank

January 3, 2024 7:44 pm Published by

This week marks seven years of Hank. Highs and lows and tons of in-betweens. He’s been there with me when it felt like it was all over, and when I wished it could last forever. 

Maybe We Deserve Dogs

November 28, 2023 6:01 am Published by

I think about the common human refrain, we don’t deserve dogs. And I largely agree. But then I remember that it doesn’t have to be this way.

See What Sticks

October 31, 2023 6:48 pm Published by

The world we inhabit is quite good at sustaining life but not altogether good at encouraging aliveness.

Game of Fetch

October 2, 2023 10:06 pm Published by

It is so hard to set oneself free from the comforts and fears we know. Maybe it is only when the body reaches terminal velocity that we realize a new haircut or a whole new life would’ve been a lot less scary than the elaborate confines of the mind. 

Sowing Seeds

May 5, 2023 12:24 am Published by

Perhaps what I struggle with the most is finding that freedom. Freedom to be proud of what I’m building, freedom to build what I want to.


September 24, 2022 5:57 pm Published by

That is the ultimate appeal of clickbait headlines about hookers and blow, of Alexander Supertramp lighting his substantial inherited wealth on fire somewhere in the desert. We fantasize about being rockstars, firefighters, farmers, poets. We want to be who we were, before it all changed.

Keeping Vigil

September 15, 2022 7:23 pm Published by

Is the duty of the living to honor the dead, or is it our fate to build new life off the backs of the anonymous billions who have gone before us?

Filtered Through the Finite

June 14, 2022 7:50 pm Published by

There is something about life that feels more beautiful when it is strained through the filter of the finite. Some part of our beings is best at appreciating the good when we know it is running out.

Neighborhood Dogs

February 5, 2022 7:21 pm Published by

Not only are dogs more honest, in time they will tell us everything we need to know about the people they are associated with. Dogs always have a lot to teach us about ourselves. 

Picture Perfect

February 3, 2022 9:11 pm Published by

How many layers of a “picture perfect life” are our true selves buried beneath?  Perhaps the most pervasive question in my confusing life is which version of myself is the realest and where the edge between righteous discontent and selfish ingratitude really is. 

Different Stillness

January 4, 2022 4:51 am Published by

It costs us nothing to dream, it costs us everything to learn that we were dreaming the wrong thing. 

The Weight

September 6, 2021 10:02 pm Published by

Forty years ago, DDT was thinning bald eagle eggs to the point that a mama bird would crush her own brood while trying to incubate them. Finally, a few devout scientists proved this and changed the agricultural chemical industry for the marginally better. If only our mama birds recognized that the weight of their own skewed expectations were crushing us all to death. 

Spilling Blood

July 24, 2021 1:32 am Published by

It is strangely soothing to feel the adrenaline surging towards the wound and to see the inner workings bubbling up to the surface. Perhaps this is the epitome of the conscious living experience, to have a few fleeting moments of heightened awareness where what’s before us is razor-sharp and what’s behind us is gone.


May 10, 2021 4:38 pm Published by

Holding back doesn’t lessen the pain of the loss, but it sure as hell lessens the joy of the having.


April 4, 2021 10:09 pm Published by

We need physicality, need to feel some presence and ownership in the bodies we inhabit. Without it, the mind will run rampant, will run away with itself and constantly try to leave the flesh behind. 

Just Say It

March 30, 2021 4:37 pm Published by

There is no moral high ground, just the ugly work of growing, healing, becoming.

Spring Again

March 27, 2021 4:54 pm Published by

I want my joys to be total, my thirsts quenchable, my fears primal. Compounding interest and the calculated torments of the internet make a hungry wolf sound downright friendly. 

Moving and Staying Still

February 20, 2021 7:15 pm Published by

The most unnatural thing we can do is ignore the calling to draw near and reflect, to suppress the urge to go out and seek, to demand a sameness from our souls that robs them of the very quality which makes them soulful.

Going Nowhere

February 17, 2021 11:19 pm Published by

These times, the only place you have to go is within. The only people you can eavesdrop live within your own mind, and people will tell you that hearing voices makes you crazy.

So hard to live the dream

February 2, 2021 9:50 pm Published by

I can see it all so clearly, it torments me in my sleeping dreams. Slips away when I awake. It is no closer or farther, but duties and doubts don’t have much power in the REM world.

On the Border of Lonely

December 16, 2020 6:58 pm Published by

Where I stand, the world is quiet. Wind whispers through the ocotillos and the mesquite trees, its song through the thorns cooing the memories of love that hurts to remember and hurts to forget. There’s a ghost beside me, the absence of a soul to share these sights with.


October 23, 2020 9:02 pm Published by

We yearn to show our true colors, to display our brightest greens and most vivid yellows, to gracefully grow through the seasons of life for the audience we treasure. Perhaps even to see ourselves become what we are destined to be, to feel pride at who we are. 


September 18, 2020 9:24 pm Published by

And indeed, my flesh is increasingly made of the smoke that our society has created. It is not just routine incense of aspen and pine. It is acrid smoke, spreading across an entire continent, filled with bits of electrical wiring and industrial paint, finer and lighter than ever because the vegetation is so dry.

Depression Headache

August 31, 2020 4:18 am Published by

When I talk to friends, it is via a telephone screen, which physiologically contributes to headaches and psychologically contributes to isolation.

Leery of Contentment

August 12, 2020 11:17 pm Published by

The progress addict is leery of contentment, for it threatens the need to constantly be falling forwards.

You Won’t See Me

July 23, 2020 11:15 pm Published by

Being an expert in solitude has its costs. You play the long game, accustomed to the sense that there is nothing rushing you to act. And then a forceful suitor swoops in, a lease runs out, bills come up due. Day turns to night, and so it does until another year has passed. The world waits for no one.

Taller’n the Grass

May 12, 2020 5:22 pm Published by

Like the rootbound plant which withers when set free, we adapt to the particular habitat that sustains us.


April 22, 2020 5:35 pm Published by

Nostalgia is the truest form of grief. It washes over us with deceptive warm waves of comfort and familiarity, reaching out with open arms to welcome us to the throes of something that never was.

I Can’t Believe This is Happening to Me

February 24, 2020 7:06 pm Published by

Oftentimes, the reality of life is difficult to believe. Not only is truth stranger than fiction, but there is a noteworthy disconnect between our expectations, our perceptions, and the unflinching march of time.

No Depression

February 4, 2020 6:12 pm Published by

The word ‘depressed’ is ridiculously complicated. Not that any word in any language means just one thing, but few words mean more things than depression. Everything from measurable chemical imbalances to tropical storm systems to underperforming stock markets can lead to depression.

We Live in a Simulation

January 31, 2020 8:29 pm Published by

For all the advancements our society has made, the world still rewards those who can separate their conscience from their actions. Close the deal, shoot the wounded, put profit before people. There is not a visible cosmic arbiter of justice and this means only that one’s ingrained sense of right and wrong is a hindrance in the earthly realm.

Lost in Translation

January 27, 2020 7:39 pm Published by

Ultimately, we are confined to the languages we share with others. The spoken and written languages of the world. The things we trade in. The artistic media that leave everything open to interpretation yet create fleeting bits of solace and solidarity.


January 6, 2020 9:05 pm Published by

Somewhere between January and December, between sunrise and sunset, life turns into a series of processes that can rob the days of their original potential. From the alarm clock to clocking in, the hours tick away marked by a ceaseless process that forces us into line.

A Dearth of Solitude

September 9, 2019 5:40 pm Published by

Without profound solitude, everything else feels frivolous at best. After a while, no distraction is as satisfying as not being distracted.

As Good As It Gets

July 21, 2019 11:48 pm Published by

When someone says “This is as good as it gets,” what connotation does that have for you? What about if they ask, “Is this as good as it gets?”


April 29, 2019 2:00 am Published by

I often notice myself feeling leery of promise because it contains a tremendous amount of kinetic energy. It is why I like to be like a rolling stone, neither gathering moss nor bothered much by the rough and tumble of rolling downhill.


March 10, 2019 8:39 pm Published by

Through the eroding power of time and numbing experiences, these days the inputs have to be somewhat stronger to come through. Connections corrode with time and rust is simply a protective shell for the fresh parts beneath it.


February 19, 2019 8:31 pm Published by

I was that blessed level of empty that only comes from efforts which push us to the brink.

Beneath the Stars

February 1, 2019 8:52 pm Published by

Everyone is so afraid of sharing a spork and sleeping on the ground that they forget to be afraid of what happens when they think themselves above such things.

Where It All Ends

September 26, 2018 3:23 pm Published by

It was hard to imagine two people trying very hard at anything after being paid that much to show up.

Disappearing Act

August 7, 2018 2:20 pm Published by

Life does not ask if you want to see a dead body dredged from a river on your bike ride or if you want to wake up one day and realize that most everyone you thought you might marry someday is now engaged to someone else or if you were ready for another year to be two-thirds over, for everyone you love to be two-thirds a year older, for your checking account to be two-thirds a year emptier. The disappearing act forces you to put your thoughts in a centrifuge in a noise-cancelling vacuum and distill them and listen to them until you are aware just what they are.

A Nightmare is Still a Dream

August 2, 2018 4:09 pm Published by

I do not need distractions or white picket fences. I need to write. I need to push myself to the limits so I have something to say. And I need to read what others have said, that I may remember the vague, gnawing feelings I have all day have names.

Being Alive

July 16, 2018 6:39 pm Published by

Existing is a fickle thing, some combination of biological bare-minimums and feeling profoundly satisfied which ultimately makes us who we... View Article


June 4, 2018 12:59 pm Published by

It might change people if they would stare at roadkill instead of averting their eyes.

Injuring Eternity

May 23, 2018 4:53 pm Published by

I hate circling dates on the calendar, because it always creates a disproportionate sense of the value of a given day.

Watering the Plants

May 4, 2018 11:33 am Published by

Spending too much time thinking may have its downsides, but that is only if you subscribe to the notion that there is such thing as “spending too much time thinking.”

Long White Line

April 2, 2018 1:45 pm Published by

The most violent loneliness is preferable to the most numb and superficial sense of inclusion; like a blizzard in Indianapolis, that feeling is real and palpable and will yield to something different, if only you keep driving.

Hurry Up and Teach Me the Lesson

March 14, 2018 5:07 pm Published by

There is a yearning within all of us to find more joy in a simple evening stroll than in a new Porsche, but there is also a reluctance which holds us back. We can work hard and save our shekels and buy the one, but the other requires solemn introspection and much harder work, and nothing which can be bought with ink on a dotted line. And that is what writing and conversation and coffee and whiskey are all about; it is why we must make a thousand words out of the way the sunlight dances along the sidewalk during the evening dog walk

Bear Country

February 27, 2018 12:17 pm Published by

In a way, it is a refreshing feeling to be constantly aware of your surroundings, to know what it is you are most afraid of. To have a common fear with all fellow men, to have a lingua franca that everyone speaks about dangers and preparations and the haughty laughs we must have if we are to survive it at all. In the Yukon, everyone has a bear story or ten. In Alaska, people speak more in “how bad” bears are than whether there are bears at all.

Situational Irony

February 20, 2018 12:59 pm Published by

I am fascinated by our variable tolerances; when it comes to solitude, silence, loneliness, or discomfort, we react violently and... View Article

Sutherland Springs

February 11, 2018 12:34 pm Published by

As time passes, I am stricken by many things: the urgency a brush with death places upon us. Our ability to normalize and gloss over such a traumatic experience in order to ‘move on.’ The way survival is so fickle and random that it can all feel very pointless or extraordinarily meaningful. The difference a day makes.

The Year of the Dog: A Love Letter

January 15, 2018 1:54 pm Published by

We gradually fade from sharp-toothed puppy to hyperactive youngin’ to sleeping eighteen hours a day, and as is the nature of existing, we only really notice our most current state of being. A senior dog fades into the background and then occasionally surprises us with a half snarl or a flash of the spunk that used to wear us down through sheer quantity of energy. An old friend falls through the cracks as we see enough glimpses of them looking happy on the internet that we forget to check in and actually talk. The best moments of our life slowly fade into the shadows until we neither remember nor forget them; they are simply there until a tragedy brings them into high relief and we remember them wistfully.

New Year, Some Words

January 4, 2018 12:43 pm Published by

If there is one thing I have learned in more or less the last calendar year, it is that we are at our best when we can hold our own worst thoughts and fears in our hands at arm’s length and stare at them until they look less ugly and less daunting; less like shackles and more like spurs.

Echoes and Howls

December 16, 2017 6:27 pm Published by

I hoisted my knee up over the edge and we stood, above the Canyon once more, fierce winds howling in our ears, reminding us just how precarious standing atop a slick hoodoo is. But, everything is precarious in its own way. Is it not better to bring that to light instead of trying to hide it in the shadows?

It Feels Wrong to Write

November 27, 2017 1:35 pm Published by

I find beauty and hope in the individual and collective human ability to defy the odds. I am also radically overwhelmed by it. Isn't our existence a miracle that should be revered? Aren't we preposterously fleeting? Should we take things less seriously? Is it possible to take things seriously enough? 

The Arctic Ocean

November 1, 2017 1:56 pm Published by

in this moment, I stood still and shivering and let reality wash over me and blow into my core. It is hysterical how little marketing influences you or how much some other human’s selfish decisions can affect your faith or resolve when you are standing with your toes in the Arctic Ocean.

The Bearded Ones

October 24, 2017 11:50 am Published by

If there is one quality that I’ve been told I possess which I’m finally starting to truly believe, it’s that I still get as excited as a child about lizards and automobiles and carnivorous plants and, as it turns out, muskoxen. I think this is my number one greatest survival skill, because it gives me the upper hand over any number of existential crises, chemical imbalances, and structural damages that may otherwise rob me of much desire to proceed.

Peeing in the Arctic Circle

October 11, 2017 2:58 pm Published by

I stood there in a long sleeve T-shirt and blue jeans, exposed in all the most vulnerable ways to the elements, and felt a certain type of ridiculous freedom that men often chase their entire lives. One would never explicitly state that they aspire to something as trite as peeing atop Atiguin Pass, but that may be part of the problem.


September 26, 2017 12:20 pm Published by

I snapped a few photos and then resumed staring at the otherworldly glow, pining after a sip or two of whiskey which was never offered and cursing the clouds that seemed to roll in right as the Lights intensified.

Breaking Your Own Rules

September 9, 2017 2:06 pm Published by

"On the road again, kissing toes and meeting the characters who make Dawson such a vibrant enclave, I was forced to acknowledge the joy which supersedes the easy checklist items I was racing towards. Items which will always be there, which serve a purpose but do not provide one."

Don’t You Ever Get Lonely?

August 31, 2017 7:11 pm Published by

I stood and let conditioned fear course through my veins and simply observed it from a few feet above my body. For all of these misguided warnings, there I was, completely, utterly alone and more alive than ever. Not even the smallest bone in my body felt lonely in that moment.

In Lieu of the Cosmos

August 26, 2017 4:33 pm Published by

We pulled into the shallows, and the dizzying pace of the water just beyond the barrier island gave me something to focus on. “I think that big eclipse is starting right around now,” I offered. “What eclipse?” he asked me.

Fifteen Minutes from Alaska

August 24, 2017 9:51 pm Published by

These snippets are always taken out of context, and they often make others feel inferior and the sharer feel isolated, as if their reality isn’t living up to outsiders’ expectations of it. Happiness is not guaranteed by the sight of snow-capped mountains, though they are never unwelcome. A smile in a moment does not tell the full story. One does not and cannot cross a border or climb a mountain every second of their lives.

Welcome to Alaska

August 15, 2017 4:30 pm Published by

These intersections of theoretical and physical delight me to no end, and I wanted to ask an international legal expert all kinds of questions about what might happen in any number of potential scenarios in this exact spot. 

Space & Time and the Final Frontier

August 11, 2017 6:08 pm Published by

It is healthy to have our schema shattered repeatedly. It creates a certain open-mindedness and healthy humility. It separates us from the crippling weight of individual situations and frees us from the sense that basic outcomes may dictate our entire lives in a hubristically finite set of options. Every mile covered by the Land Cruiser is earned in a way that would seem blessedly easy to Lewis or Clark or Muir, no matter how brutish they may feel at the time. Every time I believe myself close to an understanding or even a point on a map, I secretly relish being crushed or at least corrected.

The Crossroads

July 29, 2017 3:43 pm Published by

This was a literal crossroads that felt aggressively metaphorical. I wanted to curse the very road junction itself for pointing in all directions and inviting us to follow them wherever they may lead...

Lonely at the Top

July 15, 2017 2:36 pm Published by

She knew who I was because I had called in to secure a spot and presumably nobody else had done so that day. I was given the keys and a brief rundown of the area, Hank was given a few dog treats and knocked over a stand of s’mores skewers. It was all so matter of fact and immediate that Los Angeles felt even further than 846 miles away.

Two Steps Back

July 13, 2017 6:08 pm Published by

A series of machinations led to another, even younger-looking tow truck driver appearing some 30 minutes after we first arrived.... View Article

The Middle of Nowhere

July 5, 2017 3:44 pm Published by

“The middle of nowhere” is a loaded idiom. It’s a vague-yet-precise phrase that invokes a certain situation or location, and which could be positive or negative depending on who says it. It offers up visions of amber waves and orange plateaus, of abandoned filling stations and faded glimpses of the past’s future. It is a place devoid of the decades of social construction required to populate a city with its traps and trappings.

A Bar at the End of the World

April 13, 2017 4:48 pm Published by

Sometimes you see something furry and want to touch it, whether it’s a puppy or someone’s velvet jacket. Sometimes you let a bartender plan the majority of your day with no idea of what you’re agreeing to.

Darkness, Light, and a Sunset in Maine

April 4, 2017 12:19 pm Published by

This moment turned out to be a subtle turning point in the narrative. Since picking up the Land Cruiser and having a hilarious Saint Paddy’s Day that was blessedly free of self-awareness sabotaging my enjoyment, I now presented the trip as not just a salve for the pained brain clanging around in my head but also as a concerted effort to rediscover the simple joys that make me who I am and thusly make me worth spending any time around.

A Place to Call Home: The Almost-Ghosttown of Centralia, Pennsylvania

March 27, 2017 1:32 pm Published by

Signs stood in the trees warning hunters not to hunt in this area. We were quite near a State Game Land, of which Pennsylvania has many, and I suppose if you spent enough time in the woods and chased a deer far enough, you could wind up here. Of course, if you missed, your rifle shot might go through one of the remaining houses in Centralia. Or its sharp crack may just be the straw that breaks the asphalt’s back and sends you or the deer into a deep, hot hole.


March 22, 2017 11:11 am Published by

Arriving in a new city by night is always a confusing experience, made all the more surreal by the biting cold and sound-deadening snow that blanketed the town on Saint Patrick’s Friday. Aside from brief breaks for fuel and key exchanges, I’d last stood on solid ground in Manhattan, which made this quietude a special blessing and also a shock to an addled system.

Making Moves

March 6, 2017 5:52 pm Published by

Nothing will snap me out of my hypnogogic trance faster than someone telling me that I have more interests or dreams than they do. I will fiercely accost a perfect stranger because I believe so firmly in the human imagination and the childlike whimsy that resides somewhere inside every one of us.

The Stories We Long to Tell

February 9, 2017 10:06 am Published by

I don’t want to tell myself a story about the woods while sitting under fluorescent lights in a cubicle somewhere far away from them. We needn’t delude ourselves that our masterpieces are just a few months away, if only we keep biding time.

Plans are Better than Goals

February 6, 2017 1:25 pm Published by

I’ve got a long list of regrets and a longer list of plans, and neither of those lists will get any shorter until I start acting the same way I daydream when I’m having a good day.


January 24, 2017 5:29 pm Published by

Somewhere between the dutiful and the nihilistic is the sense that none of us make it out alive, but many of us are never even fully alive.

The Thing About Green Grass

January 13, 2017 12:56 pm Published by

That is a myth that afflicts not just writers but all people: that our lives, because they are normal to us, are uninteresting and dull while the stories and images of others are enviable and epic in some unattainable way.

You Can’t Fire Me, I Quit

January 9, 2017 4:28 pm Published by

Even though I’ve made so many dramatic moves towards living out my dream, I still often doubt my own agency and potential for happiness.

Pulling Teeth

December 20, 2016 11:43 am Published by

It appears that somehow my piece on Petrolicious is climbing its way back into the ranks of the ‘most popular’... View Article

Laughter is the Best Medicine

October 17, 2016 11:14 am Published by

The vulnerability offered up and time taken to compliment a laugh or share some commonality in written words is a beautiful thing, and every bit of it makes me want to pour myself into my writing and the people I meet a trillion times more.

No Regrets

October 7, 2016 11:56 am Published by

There is a difference between having no regrets and learning to live with them.

The Facts So Far

October 5, 2016 11:40 am Published by

The details of my road trip thus far. Less stories, more facts and figures.

The Sin of Forgetting

September 26, 2016 1:35 pm Published by

“And that’s the problem. I think God is up there and answering prayers, but we take that for granted. We want something, we get it, we’re done until we need something else. And as soon as we get what we wanted, we aren’t even happy about it anymore. To me, that’s the biggest sin. The sin of forgetting.”

Dances With Wolves

August 27, 2016 5:45 pm Published by

It’s no secret that I believe strongly in seeking discomfort in the form of wolf tongues and hot deserts and mountain monsoons, because the particulars are always unpredictable.

What Happens in Vegas

August 9, 2016 2:43 pm Published by

I used to wonder how I could ever earnestly dance or love or have a conversation again after I felt that part of me atrophy under the weight of irony and sarcasm and a million unanswered questions.

The Unsung Praises of Pop Music

December 8, 2015 12:05 pm Published by

We spend a lot of life burying simple, earnest joy beneath complicated oxymorons like the idea of the “guilty pleasure.” This phrase is most often connoted with songs that we somehow “shouldn’t” like but secretly do, anyways.

Town, Country, Action

November 6, 2015 3:57 pm Published by

There is so little practical difficulty in the day-to-day of most of us that we have to create solutions to nonexistent problems for our own entertainment, to provide that sense of accomplishment and satisfaction where none can be found... In comfort, so few demands are made of us that we can sit and pontificate until we unravel. I don’t have to wallow in sorrow and self-loathing to be at my artistic best—maybe I’d write a more poignant novel in the Modernist style if I allowed myself to keep feeling as I did two years ago—but I can be informed by that knowledge of high art as I create something filled with high hope.

Aging Artfully

October 2, 2015 12:39 pm Published by

As we wonder how to age well, how to make it to our seventh generation and sit on the stage with our hats pulled low not as a display of hubris but for dramatic effect, it’s easy to wonder if we can learn from the mistakes our predecessors have made, or if we can only learn from them that mistakes will be made.

Never Forget

September 11, 2015 1:10 pm Published by

In an era where Moore’s Law is hopelessly outdated, nothing has surpassed the way that date and its imagery imprinted itself on all of our psyches.

A Vegetal Compulsion

August 7, 2015 1:57 pm Published by

And I have achieved something through a long and quite painful process that I didn’t realize I’d been longing for all along. Joan Didion put words to it when she said of Amado: “It seemed to me that day that I had never talked to anyone so direct and unembarrassed about the things he loved.”