September’s Little Snapshots

I thoroughly enjoyed falling down the rabbit hole of Christine Sneed’s book of stories The Virginity of Famous Men. My marriage celebrated a 12-year anniversary with French food and a dress twirl for my kids (I still die over that intricate beading). There were flu shots and pizza with whipped ricotta. There were many hours logged on the soccer field and the baseball diamond. I emptied my pens at the door and visited the Banksy exhibit in Chicago. The first chilled wind of Fall stalked through the neighborhood and underneath the door. My dog has eaten every acorn in a 5-mile radius. And I am relishing the chance to pen ghost stories. Bring in the ghosts and hang up their coats! I am ready to play.

My First Published Poem: Maybe the Fruit

Last month I learned that my poem Maybe the Fruit would be published by literary journal Lucky Jefferson. I’m honored to be included in their 365 Collection and I’m grateful to Editor-in-Chief NaBeela Washington for seeing potential in my work.

Maybe the Fruit is based on a true story of buying a very old house from an esteemed art collector who was aiming to sell off his furnishings. Below is the poem in its entirety (it can be read here on Lucky Jefferson as well) and above is a photo of the actual fruit referenced.

Maybe the Fruit

I bought the house from Bruce
A widowed art collector
The furniture, the fixtures
“If you like it, make an offer”

I gestured to the table
The platter of glass-blown fruit
Matte Meyer lemon, dimple-skinned orange
Bulbous, golden pear wearing stem like a crown

Maybe the fruit, I said
Maybe I’ll take the fruit

Curiosity filled the chairs
as the realtor whispered low
“That fruit is a steal
at $40,000”

I bought the house from Bruce
Bit right into the flesh
Took a photo of the fruit
And swallowed it for free

Three Fun Things: Book Launch, Workshop & Pizza

  1. Book Launch: This past Sunday, Off-Campus Writers’ Workshop celebrated the official book launch of ‘Turning Points,’ our 75th Anniversary Anthology. Over 125 participants gathered on Zoom for curated readings, remarks from our President, and info on Summer programs (we move to monthly workshops and then pick up again in September). I auditioned and was selected to read my short story ‘Outfit of the Day’ along with two of my fellow critique group members: Ronit Bezalel and Joyce Zeis. Because my story takes place in a coffee shop, I switched my Zoom background to embody the spirit (and aroma!) of a café (see photo above. Yes, you can find Zoom backgrounds for just about any occasion).
  2. My weekly writing workshops continue to be sanity-savers and reinforce why I need critiques- because it identifies the weak spots, it bolsters the plot, and it helps the story go from ‘okay’ to ‘hot damn.’ My Monday Writer Workouts are facilitated by Nadine Kenney Johnstone, who’s a force of nature as a writer, writing coach, and podcaster (Heart of the Story). This past week I workshopped with Ria Talken and it was an absolute gift to hear her reactions (a chuckle, a gasp) and to glean her perspective. Ria wrote a beautifully candid blog post about the experience and I implore you to check it out here, and follow her writing. She totally captures the Aha! of branching out beyond ourselves to create stellar writing.
  3. Pizza: Tonight, I’m heading downtown for al fresco drinks and wood-fired pizza. Last December, I took a StoryStudio class (via Zoom) on getting ‘over the hump’ with novel writing. The class concluded after 6 weeks, and I really felt the letdown- things were just starting to get in a groove! Some of us decided to try to keep the momentum going, so we continued to meet on Zoom every Thursday night: 1 hour of writing, 30 minutes of workshopping. Nearly seven months later, we are all planning to meet for dinner…which means I will meet them in-person for the first time. We keep joking about who will be surprisingly tall.

Happy Weekend: 3 Things

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  1. We’re doing a mini-upgrade to our home office and debating two wallpapers: a soft neutral or a silver blue. Everyone seems to love the neutral- the blue is so uplifting though! I shared this on Instagram and turns out, many are uplifted by that blue too. So what’s your vote?
  2. There is a restaurant in Minocqua, WI called The Boathouse. And The Boathouse has the most amazing soup around: Hungarian Mushroom. It’s so good that I eat hot bowls of it on 90-degree July days in the thick of summer. I found this recipe and not only is it quite simple, but it’s nearly a perfect duplicate of The Boathouse speciality.
  3. My kids are ice skating like crazy. Wells skates at the outdoor rink at his elementary school (during January, this is what the kids do for P.E.). Gus has been skating at an indoor rink in Winnetka- reliable because it’s not dependent on our fickle winter weather. Best tip for new skaters? If you are wobbly bend down and touch the tops of your knees to regain balance.

Happy weekend!

City Girl Confessions: A New Kind of Al Fresco Experience

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City Girl Confessions is my recurring column in The Glencoe Anchor.

When they first caught my eye, I thought they were bubbles. Or perhaps new-age moving pods, meant for quick storage during renovations. Either way, the sidewalks on Vernon Avenue were filling up with giant, clear orbs at the precise moment that freezing winter temperatures rolled on through.

Turns out, they are igloos. And the igloos are for everyone! Hometown Coffee & Juice has found a decidedly clever way to keep their patio cozy even when weather is lingering around freezing. You can reserve an igloo for an hourly fee and receive beverage/food service while lounging in style. The igloos have chairs, blankets, coffee tables, heaters, water, water glasses, and even a portable Bluetooth speaker, should you desire music. 

When a friend asked if I wanted to join her for coffee and a catch-up in the igloo, I thought, Why not? How often do I get to lounge outdoors in the middle of winter? My curiosity was stoked, so the plans were made. 

I’ll share the obvious: sitting in an igloo is a whimsical way to enjoy a cup of coffee. You enter and exit through a long zippered portion. The service is attentive and quick. You can fit a surprising amount of people in the space without it feeling cramped. And yes, I was warm (our igloo had two space heaters; I cranked ours up to 74 degrees and was quite cozy). 

But I think the most surprising element of the igloo is the perspective. The view was beautiful. It felt very intimate, yet we were very much on display (igloos do not subtlety blend in). Passerbys would occasionally walk by, stare, or peer in. Someone even called out, “Are you actually warm in there?!” This was not intrusive; everyone is sort of in on the whimsical nature of igloo dwelling in the Midwest. Any conversation that came up was kind and met with a lot of chuckles.

I’ll confess, this igloo excursion reminded me of something that I often tell my children: try something new and take in a different perspective. When it’s 30 degrees outside, I typically don’t linger outdoors. Yet this was a scenario in which I welcomed the chance to- and that in doing so, I had a chance to marvel at how beautiful the sunlight is in winter months. I saw a busy town with busy residents bundled in colorful coats and hats. I saw dogs on their morning walks, also bundled in colorful coats and hats. I saw stillness. I saw the season stretching outward. I saw winter from a whole new perspective.