Identity

A Sense of Place: The Way of the Irises

The irises are blooming, purple and regal like they deserve to sit near any throne in a palace. Yet I found them not in a castle but popping up through the Minnesota soil. It’s good earth, I’ve always been told, rich and lush. Black, the color of the night sky, full of nitrogen. Most of […]

When Belonging Doesn’t Mean Sameness

I don’t like coffee. There, I said it. I read blogs and listen to podcasts. I’ve seen the memes. Women who are younger than me – a lot younger than me- who write books, wear great earrings, who all seem to know each other. And they all seem to love coffee. Somehow I’ve told myself […]

My Improbable Love of “Happy Birthday”

I should get bonus points when I surprise my friend Shoshana: she’s remarkably unflappable. If I’d told her I was getting a giant bat tattoo on my behind, she’d probably nod and say, “Oh, interesting.” But the other day on the phone, when I told her I love it when people sing “Happy Birthday” to […]

Selling Out by Settling Down?

Like Belle, I never planned to live a provincial life. I, too, wanted “adventure in the great, wide somewhere.” I wanted it more than I could tell. But today we bought a house. An ordinary, provincial house with a two-car garage and a Whirlpool dishwasher. As we walked out of the title office, giant trees […]

Ink, Blood, and Tears

I got off the bus at my new school and saw the parking lot filled with cars. This was nothing like my former crowded, noisy, urban Philadelphia high school with the dark stairwells and constant police presence. I’d never seen so many Ford Tauruses in my life. Some even had monograms on the doors. I […]

Books as Soulmates

Books are like soulmates— friends who meet us at just the right time and connect to our souls more deeply than we had anticipated. They teach us, help us, inspire and shape us. Madeleine L’Engle says, “Stories are able to help us become more whole, to become Named. And Naming is one of the impulses […]

On Writing My First Book

A few weeks ago, I turned in the manuscript for my first book to my publisher, Finding Holy in the Suburbs. I suppose there had been others — scrawled words in composition notebooks and spiral notebooks, abandoned stories where I gave up writing and thought I could only write about writing, and a PhD that approximately […]

I Won’t Say I Read Trashy Books Anymore

My friend Melissa has a way of being kind that also makes me think. We were out for coffee, talking about books. Specifically: about my anxiety about wanting to read more. By most measures, I read a lot, but with the advent of smart phones and parenthood, I read less then I used to. Recently, […]

What I Wish They Had Told Me About Growing Up

I wish they had told me it’s okay to be afraid. To feel inadequate or uncertain or a little bit lost. To feel like you don’t have friends when you first move to a new place. To not have everything together. The reason older people don’t seem to be panicked about things is because they’ve […]