Personal Journey

A Tale of Two Writing Gigs

Yesterday I had two writing gigs. TWO! The first one was in a library where the security guards pack heat, and there are two of them patrolling the aisles. It’s a library where you get buzzed into the restroom and there find lurking an odor more corrupt than King Tut’s tomb or my son’s gym bag. It’s a sick marriage of the two. The bathroom air makes you feel dirty.

Somehow after the break, the smell of vomit which was strong in the bathroom followed us into the classroom. Not sure if it was the baby some desperate-to-write mother brought (and I give her kudos for that brand of desperate) or if somebody puked during break and then thought a valiant push-through would be a good idea. Note: Unless you’re a bona fide anorexic, hurling on break and then returning to a roomful of healthy people is not courteous. I felt myself contracting Norovirus as we sat there. Where’s a vat of Purell? It was difficult to concentrate. And it was the first meeting. The one where everyone’s made of ice and has something to prove. There were so many students, intimacy was a challenge. Or maybe it was that the room felt haunted and there was old gum stuck to my seat.

At one point the moderator asked if anyone had written any short memoir pieces. I raised my hand. He asked what it was about. I told him.

Moderator: Wow. That sounds amazing. I’d like to read that.

Me: (shrugs like a gawky teen girl finally asked to dance) I’d like you to read it.

People with social skills don’t say things like that. Might as well have been this.

Moderator: How are you?

Me: Desperate. Want to be my friend? Oh, and I’m creeped out. Why am I in a library that feels stuck in 1925 and smells like a thousand armpits?

No. The answer is good. I’m good. Thank you, Mr. Moderator. And the answer to “I’d like to read that” is to smile. And say nothing.

My second gig was the local library’s workshop. It was like coming home. Cozy, warm, familiar. It is a blessing to have a group of people with whom I can share the journey. The “security guard” in my library only works during the after-school hours, presumably to herd the youth who use it as a way station. This should alarm us. First, because enough youth have no place to go after school and/or can’t get there because we don’t bus them. And second, because as a collective, these half-finished knobs of humanity warrant a security guard. It should alarm us that in some meeting somewhere a disheveled and half-mad librarian, fresh from wrangling obnoxious pre-teens, proposed the idea that managing other people’s kids was above her pay grade. Solution: library security.

With no lingering security guard, no rank odors assaulting my senses, the second meeting was lovely. Both were lovely in their own way. And they were hard in the way socializing is hard for an introvert. I tire quickly. My dear friend Kathleen pointed it out. She’s the kind of person who notices things. Makes her a great writer. But I wasn’t too tired to notice Cyndi sees the virtue in other people’s writing and is able to buoy a floundering, squirming author. Or how contagious Nancy’s excitement was and how useful her clever plot ideas. Larry, new to writing, has inspiring tenacity. Especially for revisions. Scott, two T’s can always be a stand-up comedian in addition to writing. Scot, one T leads us faithfully and his journalism expertise is a gift. I missed Alexia and John. The meeting lacked gore and glamour, and the two of you know why… AND lacked spirituality. Paul! Nobody’s flying when you’re not there. (And I miss your super-discerning critique.)


Sorry this post degenerated into a personal letter to my buds, but sometimes you just need to give a shout-out. Love to the people who sustain me, both in the physical world and you who read. My blogging friends have been the source of many smiles. To the folks beta reading my novel, thank you! Especially James, who is taking the time to discuss the clunks honestly and thoughtfully. Not only does he not crush my dream, he emboldens me.

Here’s to writing gigs, uncomfortable and comfortable! And to friends who make everything possible.




Personal Journey

Friends & Family: My Favorite Gifts



For years I’ve sent a Christmas letter, but not this time. Find your name below for my “card” to you. This list cannot possibly contain every one of the people I consider gifts, but as I contemplated whether or not to send the usual card this year, it felt more right to talk about you than to talk about me. I wish I could write a paragraph for each of you, but time constraints force me to be brief. Each one of you, you’re the gifts of my life. Merry Christmas.

5000 Words students & families. Thank you for the wonderful times learning together. I cherish them all.

Angie Bartos. Friend and savvy dancer. May our moment on the floor be engraved in your mind as it is mine!

Apryl Harbaugh. First responder to the needs around her and in Ethiopia, example of love in action.

Bob. My best friend ever, love of my life, inspiration to greatness.

Bodeker and Hileman families. Welcomed us into the soccer family. Thanks for the laughter and friendship.

Coach Mike. Swim coach/magician– elicits 100% effort and 100% adoration simultaneously.

Dad & Maggie. Gave me a taste for fun and thrills. Loved sharing stories of old with you at Kev’s house.

Dan Wilkenson. We who live in your vicinity are safer. 😉

Darlene Wilke. A beautiful, others-focused woman who delivers more joy than Santa.

Delaney Miller. Grace and poise. You bless all who are blessed to be around you.

Dyer family. Missionaries in a tough place in tough times, holding tightly to God.

Gabe. Already a gentleman at 11, leader, champion. Kind, diligent, merciful.

Ginny Niemiec. Aldi isn’t nearly as fun without you, sweet and beautiful friend!

Glen & Karen Griffiths. Praise for your health! A joy-filled, happy couple.

Greens & Friends. Talking life, parenting, faith, and wine… all in one evening!

Griffiths, Dad & Momom. Both of you are hugs in my life. Thoughtful, charming.

Guenther family. Sweeter than any candy I’ve ever had. You’re living, breathing hugs.

Katae. A sweet, generous soul, often the one kind word I need. Love our coffee times!

Kendall Seyer. Your birthday greetings made me smile. Miss our crazy youth!

Kev & Nikki. Every time I want to smile, I just think of you two. Love your beautiful family!

Kim Griffiths. My favorite bohemian traveller. I love to watch you live life to the fullest.

Kim Wolfe & Steering Committee. Who knew a room full of hens could be such fun! 🙂

Krakowski family. Enjoy sharing the long road to Ignatius with you!

Long family. Love watching the kids grow and reading your posts.

Lucas family. My love-in-action-neighbors, I enjoy running into you on a walk or bike ride.

Luke. Ron Swanson has nothing on you. My rock of a son. No mountain is too tall.

Mark Ciavarella. Your letters remind me of what’s truly important in life. I appreciate your wisdom.

Michelle Mihalek. You’re as beautiful as the pictures you take.

Miss Pam. You’ll always be “Miss Pam” to me. The best pal-gal in the history of the world.

Mom & Dad Timm. Glad to share life with you and take walks together.

Nancy Beach. Inkwell of Godly character and dearest friend. I’d trust you with my feelings any day.

Paul. Your horsing around and fun-loving nature make get-togethers more fun.

Shawna Blumfeldt. My fun and my faith– shows me how to have abundant life.

Stahley’s in Africa. Doing what others dream and think is too difficult, for God’s glory.

Tory. A sunrise is what your life looks like to me lately. Diligence, faithfulness, integrity.

Thompson family. You’re a breath of fresh air and a sweet memory every time we visit together.

Whitty family. Inspires me to revolutionary thoughts on God and missions. Lives spent on knees.

Writer friends like Nthato, Laura, Ronel, Russell, and others. Your advice and feedback keeps me going!

If you share four walls with me this is how you see me most of the time.