Just Write {196}

October 27, 2015

We were talking about something totally other than the next thought that came to my mind and then out my mouth, the way I do, abruptly “Hey! Did you find out about your chair!?” She was stumped, a little mystified, and then laughing hysterically. I had forgotten to tell her my train of thought, to bring her along with my change of subject… “It must be so exhausting to have your brain!” (She said this with tears streaming down her face, gasps between guffaws.) In my defense, it is important, this chair business. She purchased it weeks ago and it was to arrive to her home and has not appeared. We need to remember to call that place and demand that chair. We haven’t yet, too many other random things have come to mind and taken over. But still, where has the chair gone… Earlier we were in the coffee drive-thru, where we […]

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Just Write {194}

September 22, 2015

The light is different when autumn comes. It is less heavy on the air, and more sideways. That might only make sense to me, but that’s okay. We are looking forward to the colors changing, and they will, all of the sudden, when we’re not looking. We do this too, you know, you and I…we change all of the sudden when we aren’t looking. If you stare, it won’t happen. Or it will, but you won’t be able to tell. Look away, go and do, the change will come. I have had the feeling of floating through, and not in a good letting-go kind of way. This is more of a stunned silence. Only a creaking on the stairs, or a heavy fog over the water, no light cutting in sideways. I want to come through to the other side now. It has been a long wait. When you are the depressive type, you can […]

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Just Write {192}

August 25, 2015

They had a bath. It rained hard, and then it stopped. I thought they were riding bike. There were very big puddles all over the place. They found the biggest and the muddiest and the result was a lot of fun, and some memories made, and an upset Mama. I don’t want them to remember that part. By the time I took the picture, I had started to laugh, but it was a little late. I asked them to make the face of what they thought I was feeling. oops. I told my friend that sometimes I wish I could just shut off that getting upset part of myself. That I want to feel light and free most of the time, instead of stressed and not-free. I’ve realized my tension is deep. No, it doesn’t help that there has been a lot of stress, with medical things, etc…but it’s also that it’s just me. […]

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Just Write {190}

June 2, 2015

Twas the night before the Last Day Of School and all through the house not a creature was stirring, except for maybe mommy, all tight shoulders and frown lines, deciding what to do. No, no. Not with the summertime hours, boredom, long stretched out days… No rather, mommy was trying to find a way to deal with the new discovery of mold in the home. Why yes, “mommy” is me…but you knew that. I’ve been moving furniture from the basement to the upstairs on the other side of the house, with help, to try to bring the kiddos up out of the mold. That is the first thing to do when you discover mold. Because you can’t just run out the door screaming with all of your belongings behind you, on a string, while carrying the kids on your tight shoulders, even if you want to. So today the rooms are part-moved, because it […]

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I have no idea what I’m doing. We don’t get to know. No matter the Sure Things, even those have shaky parts of mystery and that is the answer: Trust the path with its shards of glass keep going forgive yourself. Maybe 40 is just a moment to see you can trust yourself and your unknowns even when you cannot, to know and not know and let it be. And maybe 40 is time to forgive yourself for every big and little thing that led to pretending or mistakes or ego or having to completely start over again. Again. We were just kids, trying to figure it out. Remember the glaring confusion in that little you looking up and around with your wonder eyes. Remember how confusing the ways of the world and adults seemed to be. You were right. You knew there is very little sense here. There is a deafening strife […]

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Just Write {188}

May 19, 2015

I have at least one new idea every day, a creative flow of light bulbs dancing behind my eyes. Some are fleeting thoughts and some stick around like breath. I have no good way of knowing for certain which ideas are the best to pursue, or how to find the time to pursue them. Life has not allowed for pursuing anything other than the time to change a load of laundry, and jumping in the good ol’ minivan for the next thing, mostly medical things, and we keep going past the time for ideas. I have learned to be okay with this. The time will come. It will. On this particular morning, the house is buzzing with the sound of the furnace, sadly, in May. It got cold last night. I fought the good fight, to keep the furnace off and I lost. That actually meant I won because I stopped shivering. Our guinea pig, […]

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Just Write {187}

May 12, 2015

While I was talking to Elsie about why she didn’t need cereal, since she had just eaten two pieces of toast and a bowl of oatmeal and we needed to get out the door, Asher was saying Watch this, watch this! He swung one foot forward and moved it as fast as he could back and forth, like a dance. Then he switched feet and kicked out the other, throwing it from side to side. Look how fast I can do that, Mommy! Yes, sweetie, that’s the fastest foot-work I’ve ever seen… But he was already interrupting me to ask me to cut out something he had just drawn. Can you get the scissors? I’m terrible at cutting along the lines and I need it! It’s for Daddy’s birthday! So I stopped and started searching for the scissors and asked Miles if he could please for the love of all things holy get his […]

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Just Write {186}

May 5, 2015

Elsie got sick over the weekend, just slightly sick, but enough for the cardiologist to say it’s best to wait on the heart procedure until she is fully healthy. Of course, I said, while my heart dropped because yes, I do just want it to be fixed. Now Already Yesterday. That’s how it is with your kids, right? Wholeness, that’s what we want for them in every way. Asher has been feeling some unique shunt-related symptoms as well. So we watch and wait and plan a trip to the big city just in case we need to take it. To explain what this is like is impossible. Hydrocephalus can be a mysterious, baffling, and cunning life-taker. That’s just the truth. It is the truth of many conditions and diseases and the truth of life. Slippery. Uncontrolled. When these three kiddos are with their daddy, and I’m working, I still think about all of […]

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Just Write

April 28, 2015

I watch the kids through the kitchen window, out front. Yesterday, the boys were playing with our neighbor friend, who is ten and a girl and she can kick booty with all the boy rough make believe games. They stood in a circle, their backs to each other, and would each count to ten, one at a time, and take off running. Asher went first, because he said he couldn’t run as fast as the older two. Then the other two went, one after the other, 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10, I’m going! They ran away, around one house or the other, to try to get back before the others. I have no idea why, but they were Avengers. These are the random things I witness that cause some sort of explosion of love for them down deep. I smiled and wanted to cry for some reason, but […]

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Just Write {184}

April 21, 2015

My friend is in the hospital in a city about an hour away. I drove there yesterday, with the wind trying to push my creaky old minivan from side to side. I love seeing her, no matter where she is, and I’m grateful for the ways she is being cared for there. She is a sober friend, who has been through more of life’s Hard than anyone I know. She says things that feel like the best kind of slap to the heart and mind. Wake up. Stop ruminating. You are going through hell. Keep going. While I was there, a physical therapist came in and I sat off to the side to wait. He was from our same town, and so kind. My friend knew all the tricks he would ask her to do before he asked. She’s been fighting her body for seven years, it’s old hat. My phone rang and it was another sober friend. She […]

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Just Write {183}

April 14, 2015

Lately there is a moment by moment practice of letting go. It is exhausting, but less exhausting than not letting go. It’s like the difference between doing some yoga and moving on, or running a marathon without ever stopping. I feel off around here, not sure of what to write, when to write, always that feeling of coming up short. Like it’s impossible to take the time, and when I do, I just sit and stare, let go again and move on. Namaste. I can say that the depths of pain that are the crux of divorce will do this. These depths will require a constant practice of letting go, and a desperate need to remember that no matter what it feels like, or what wrongs have been wronged, the path can be clean again, one day. I wrote something about it all, and haven’t shared it anywhere, but what came out of me was this: What […]

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Just Write {182}

April 7, 2015

Elsie’s voice has taken on a munchkin sound since her tonsils and adenoids are gone and her throat is healing. It’s the cutest thing you’ve heard. My voice has taken on a croaking toad sound since I was slammed with a bug and can’t seem to get better. It’s not the cutest thing you’ve heard. We are all back to struggling through sickness, acquired during spring break and Elsie’s recovery week. Even poor Elsie, with so much already on her healing plate, is coughing considerably. I just keep thinking, This too shall pass. Like the dreary rainy weather will leave, these germs will exit, hopefully quickly. I have no energy to say more, except for to say that in the midst of all of this, there was a Story Show, an event of live readings put on by yours truly and a dear friend that I grew up with. It went off without […]

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Just Write {181}

March 31, 2015

Brandi Carlile has a new album. My favorite song is Wherever Is Your Heart. Please forgive my mind, she sings. Please forgive my mind. I listened to it a few minutes ago and started to cry. Maybe because my mind, if allowed, is on a mission to destroy. I have been working hard in the midst of medical scares, divorce, sobriety, and every new and different thing, to stop my mind. Stop. Just stop. Almost every last thing is a thing I cannot control, so to think on these things is only torture. Thinking can be like a drug. A control drug. Because maybe if I think long and hard enough, I will things into being better, or however I imagine is best, and I’m probably wrong. So I stop. I try to stop thinking. I do the things I need the courage to do and I try to stop my mind. Please forgive my […]

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Just Write {180}

March 24, 2015

The clinic called yesterday to remind me of Elsie’s pre-op appointment. That was good because I had forgotten which day it was, and only wrote it on one calendar, instead of the kind inside my phone and computer that reminds me of stuff. It matters a lot to me, but there sure are a lot of things up in the ol’ noggin these days. Starting on Friday, it’s spring break, and it lasts through next week. Elsie will have her tonsils and adenoids out on Tuesday. I just started to think through this, after the reminder call, and wondered if her recovery is going to be harder with everyone at home. A flutter of stress flew through my chest and belly and then I decided that it will be good. Just as it is already planned. Stay out of the way, Heather. There will be no running to and from school and there will be little helpers […]

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Just Write {179}

March 17, 2015

We walked down the street to get the mail, no coats on. The sun shined and smiled on us all weekend and we soaked in the vitamin D, the fresh air, the soft breeze, every moment. We did nothing, which is everything, isn’t it? It is so hard to pout or fuss when the sun is smiling on you. Especially when you have lived many dark months, so much cold isolation. Elsie ate an apple as we walked, her mud boots clomping, her teeth chomping. She looked up and smiled, turned around to look at her brothers and neighbor friends playing. She said, “We’re getting furder and furder….” (further and further) Yes, we are, I said. Yes, we are. We just keep going, and we get there. The mailbox held nothing much to be desired, as per usual. But Elsie thought it was the best trip down the street ever anyway. Our house sits […]

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Just Write {178}

March 10, 2015

She tells me she wants to have two tomorrows, one for what I am saying we need to do the next day, and one for what she would rather do the next day. She is three, and easily believes she has a right to demand a double day. Of course, I can’t grant this wish, it’s like telling her I can paint an extra moon in tonight’s sky. Her first days on Earth are vivid in my cluttered unfocused brain because they were so awful. Thankfully, I also remember them well because I fell in love with her, which I realize is not the immediate experience of every mother. Sometimes falling in love takes time. Someone should tell us that. My Elsie Jane did not arrive after 40 weeks on my insides, she came a little early. In grand Elsie style, she kicked the nurse on her way out, causing said seasoned OB […]

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Just Write {177}

March 3, 2015

I made them pick up all the Legos, again. They thought it would be way too hard, again, and threw UGHHHH at me. One asked me why I always make that terrible threat, that I will sell them. (The Legos, not the children.) I don’t know, I said. I guess I just figure that if you can’t clean them up, I don’t want them here. But you’re right, threats are kind of lame. From downstairs I could hear the clanking of the plastic, the distinct Lego sound. The boys found a system, of scooping with a plastic bin’s lid, like a dustpan. Then one of them appeared next to the couch, hopping up and down and asking for food. His brother was right behind him, asking to play the XBox. Their little sister abruptly stopped playing to ask to watch a movie, if her brothers were playing XBox. I looked at all three […]

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Just Write {176}

February 24, 2015

I went around town putting up flyers for a Story Show that I’ll be hosting with my friend Riley. We’re planning on having people read stories around the theme “Home” on the Saturday of Easter weekend, from the stage of the New London Little Theater. This is something to look forward to, something creative, something like food for my word-y heart. I’m grateful. Everywhere I went with flyers, I had to ask for tape, to hang the flyer. This is how I roll, hanging things up, with no roll of tape. And every place I went, I was met with the familiar faces that make up Home, and tape was handed over counters and flyers were hung from boards and windows and doors. It was a cold cold walk, waking me up, and I thought about how it is always best for me to have as little time as possible alone with my […]

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Just Write {175}

February 17, 2015

Somewhere it was said that it was the coldest Valentine’s Day in seventy some years, in this here great state of Minnesota. The boys went with Auntie K for a good part of the day, and Elsie and I had some time together. We went out for lunch, slurped some noodles together, we picked up movies, and ran from door to door, never spending more than thirty seconds outside. It is the kind of cold that bends you up, tightens your muscles and keeps them stuck. It is a searing frozen fire, swiping at your skin. It wears us down by now, we hearty Minnesotans, makes us want to hide. The elements will do that. Life will do that. All the things we cannot control, will do that. And still, while dreading the cold and then rushing through it all day, Elsie must have said “I love you” at least 25 times. She […]

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Just Write {174}

February 10, 2015

I see him coming and fill a to-go cup with coffee, add two pieces of ice because he takes it a little cooler, every time. I hand it to him as he walks to his table and he laughs. He joins his friends at table one, where they’ve ordered without having to say how they like their eggs done, I already know. He takes cream, he doesn’t. He drinks his coffee really fast, he doesn’t. They give me a hard time, I give it back. We laugh a lot. The jokes are not at all funny, but we pretend they are. Three ladies come in and talk about their favorite things to order, tell me the Reuben was a little too spicy for them. They order soup and rave about it, as everyone does, because this is The Middle Fork. One of the owners comes in to relieve me and I rush over […]

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Just Write {173}

February 3, 2015

I woke up to my alarm. This almost never happens. Usually my children or my brain wake me long before I would need an alarm. If I ever set an alarm, I am awake and have turned it off hours before it makes a sound. Today though, I opened my eyes and wondered for a few moments, What is that music? This actually means I have less time, before leaving for work. The hours after my brain and children wake me are usually spent getting myself and everyone ready, making breakfast, returning emails, writing up something for a freelance gig, or at least starting something until I have time between shifts, later. It is 5 degrees out now, and still a bird is repeating this sing-song melody somewhere out there. It is a bird I haven’t heard all winter. Let’s believe this means that spring is closer than the ground hog trick seems […]

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Just Write {172}

January 27, 2015

From her car seat behind me, she said, “I want to go see Great Grandma tomorrow, I like it there.” And I told her that was such a good idea. I said we would have to go sometime soon, but tomorrow she would be having fun at Daddy’s house. She said YAY, and then added a bit of a sad awww, “But I really wanted to go to Great Grandma’s place, too…” I know, honey. I hear you. Let’s make a plan to do it soon. You just can’t be two places at once. It’s a good problem to have, EJ…so many people love you, it’s hard to fit it all in… Then she said it best, I wish there were two tomorrows.  Isn’t that a sucker punch to the gut in the best possible way? I mean, kids, they know just how to say so simply what we adults have been trying […]

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Just Write {171}

January 20, 2015

On the Eve of five years of sobriety, I found myself considering making sugar cookies. They weren’t for me, which made me even more afraid to make them. I’ve never made sugar cookies from scratch. True story. I assumed it was way harder than it actually is, that’s what I did. For almost 40 years, I had not made sugar cookies for fear of a lengthy process with terrible results. Or something. I suppose it worked like that when I drank for all those years too. Stopping was foreign and daunting and fear took over so many times. I didn’t think I could do it. I didn’t want to do it. But something took over, just like with the damn cookies. I simply threw my arms in the air and started getting out all the things I needed. Sometimes a little blindly, always with a recipe. Thank God. Stay in the day. Be […]

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Just Write {170}

January 13, 2015

I moved my office to The Building, instead of home.  I finally realized this made the most sense. We have the Cre8tive Escape for freelancers, artists and other creatives and we were all full-up, which is good. But someone could no longer rent, which made an office/studio available. There is less of a risk of distraction if I plant myself here every day that I can, to work. I still freelance, aside from a couple other jobs. When I am not working those couple of other jobs, I really need to be writing. I need to be writing. My small desk sits in front of a window that faces the back of the post office, a gas station, a liquor store, main street. I am looking at the tops of buildings, since our building sits a little higher. I always feel the history of this place, rumbling underneath all the new, like the […]

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Just Write {168}

December 30, 2014

It seems a rational thing to start at 4pm on a winter’s break Monday. Elsie Jane thought it was a great idea, and decided on purple for the replacement color after all the wallpaper border is slowly and meticulously removed, shred by shred. She is a helper, to an extent, so proud of her ability to peel big strips off with her tiny strong hands. But then, as these things go, I was left to fight the sticky paper while she played. She would “talk on the phone” to the “plumber,” telling him that she dropped an earring down the drain. She would scold him for not understanding, and then huff and hang up on him. Poor plumber. The wrath of EJ. Then she’d tell me she was going to work, and “Hey Annie, can you babysitter my babies?” Sure, I’d say. Then she’d sit in the hallway outside the door, instructing me. […]

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Just Write {167}

December 23, 2014

I walk the aisles of thrift stores, and I search for treasures. The book aisles are off limits for right now, because I should really read all the un-read ones already at home, tucked in rows on shelves all over the living room. Wouldn’t it be something if we could sit and read for days and days? Would it ever grow old? For those of us that love books in a mad passionate way, I doubt we’d get sick of it. Especially if we could sit on a porch or a beach or maybe even just our favorite spot on the couch. I was thrifting for Christmas presensts. (Shhhh, don’t tell my family members that their gifts are used, they will never know.) I’m a regular thrifter, I’m pretty sure I’ve made that clear here. But I guess I just figure that if I need to buy something, and I can find it […]

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Just Write {166}

December 16, 2014

We trimmed a fake tree last night. It’s a beautiful fake tree. The kids don’t at all care about whether or not the tree is real. Two glass ornaments were broken, and I didn’t even freak out. I just went and got the broom and dustpan. (I did say “don’t move” because bare feet on glass = ow.) It was a peaceful thing, no chaos, which is weird because there were three kids involved and ADD me. Maybe we were all too tired, to have the energy for chaos. We’ve had a week of both strep and influenza and I have to tell you….that sucks a lot. But there we were, getting well together. And we took the long way sometimes, especially Elsie, since she’s three. She took a bunch of ornaments off the tree, just to put them back on. Isn’t that just it though? She’s got it figured out. It’s not […]

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Just Write {165}

December 9, 2014

I was driving and thinking, Who in their right mind would board a plane or go on a long road or train track trip to come here this time of year? But I was still wishing you all could see it, the magic and mystery of west central Minnesota, at night, in the heart of winter. Where is the heart of winter? I don’t know, maybe it doesn’t start pulsing until after the holidays, but I think they actually call that the “dead of winter”. Don’t come at that time, wait until spring. The driving at night thing doesn’t happen a lot for me anymore. I’m either tucking in kids or myself, getting ready to start another super early day, when I leave just after sunrise. I come very close to driving in the dark most every morning, with the kids to school, or to The Building to bust out some writing work. […]

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Just Write {164}

December 2, 2014

I can’t sing. (No really, I really cannot sing, it’s okay.) She can’t remember all the words yet. She’s just three, but like many preschoolers, she loves the made-up song, the timeless songs, the carols, the rock and roll. Anything with a beat, a melody, a tune… She will try to carry it around inside her and she lets it out with that abandon that only children are capable of, in the shower, outside, in the store, at the kitchen table. Elsie Jane would sing for the whole world, as long as the whole world would watch. And the whole world should really watch, because she’s magic. She walks around with her pants falling down, because she’s in that going-from-pudgy-to-string-bean stage. She turns and says, look at my butt! And she laughs. She is the little sister of two brothers. She is also born to express, stay vulnerable, joke around, say it like […]

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Just Write {163}

November 25, 2014

Every day should begin and end with a mother’s kiss. Should. These days when they are not here, my mother self is starved, floating outside of me, the hours empty of them. I fit no place but nowhere that’s how it feels. So on those days when I can only give them a good morning and goodnight prayer, I hope they feel it. I know I feel it. So many years ago there was a garbage dump, in Ecuador and when we pulled up out came droves of kids from the garbage heaps for bread. We gave what we had until it was gone and it wasn’t enough. A child should greet each day with a mother’s kiss and then have her kiss at night. A warm safe place, so much bread, at least one home. Mine have two. They come to me and we hammer away all senses go full throttle all […]

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