Archive for June, 2014

photo-6This has been one topsy-turvy month!

I have one foot in Minnesota, one in Pennsylvania, and I’m truly feeling between worlds. (Or perhaps, other worldly?)

Feeling this way, and as an emotive writer, it all comes out in the wording. This month brought out stories from home with Gathering Crumbs, Retreat, Volumes, Known & Unknown, Having a Place, and the apt Flip Flopping Between Worlds.

I’m seeing a theme of things kept: what’s kept, why they’re worth keeping, and friendships that last. There was only one poem this month, Out of Minerals. And two on road trips: Marshmallow Fields, and Mr. R. Sullivan.

I really enjoyed writing Gathering Crumbs. That’s a story that I’ve held on to over the years. Keeping it light was a treat.

My favorite this month, though, was Mr. R. Sullivan. He’s a whole story in himself, and I can’t wait to enlist the help of my nearly 3-year-old nephew to build the story for Mr. R. Sullivan.

Thank you for all of your amazing comments, and your laments and well-wishes for my Minnesota departure and my next big adventure. I’ll see you all here tomorrow, live from ‘da Burgh.

Follow the blog! And check out my first book, Upside Down Kingdom, on Amazon.

photo-5Yesterday I went on a fast car ride in my friends’ Lotus. They reminded me via the blog comments that we hadn’t done that yet, and needed to hop to it before I leave town today. Thus, we made it so.

Getting in and out was unlike any other car. Getting in was like putting on a glove. Getting out, there are vertical grips on the back of the seats that you use to first lift yourself up then out.

“You don’t get in this car,” my friend Mike said. “You put it on.”

We zoomed along the side streets and country roads faster than a speeding bullet. (Okay, not literally. Speeding bullets have been calculated to travel around 1400 mph.) But we went fast. And I know he was taking it easy on me because I’m a nervous Nellie. Too many high-speed traffic moments in D.C. seem to have ruined my sense of vehicular adventure. But in all the maneuvers and turns, the Lotus, nicknamed Elise, never lost traction. She make changes very quickly, speeding up and slowing down happened in an instant. At times, it was absolutely terrifying. At other times, marvelous and stunning.

“What do you think?” Mike asked me after one particularly clever turn.

“That would have flipped my Jeep,” I said.

“Oh, yeah!” he agreed.

With everything going on lately, with goodbyes and wrap-up lists and chores, I hadn’t had much in the way of an appetite all day. After Elise, I was suddenly ravenous. The experience literally blew the dust off of me, and jumpstarted me back to the land of living life to the Nth degree.

Thank you, Mike and Ann, for sharing the gusto!

My first book, Upside Down Kingdom, is available on Amazon. I’ll sign it for you.

Key by Key

photo-4My keys are dwindling. I now have more key rings than keys. No more house keys, parking meter key, safe deposit box, office, or writing studio keys.

I’m no longer the keeper of the keys, the one with access and codes. I’m in charge of nothing at all.

What I have is a Jeep key and keys to two friends’ houses.

Which, really, is probably just as it should be.

One responsibility after another is gone, key by key. Friends’ keys, by contrast signify welcome and trust. Those I have.

My first book, Upside Down Kingdom, is available on Amazon. I’ll sign it for you.

Follow Your Feet

photo-3Yesterday I arrived early for work and the building was still locked, so I decided to take a walk around the block. I started off at a good clip, powering around the first corner and checking out all the early morning street activity. All the local businesses were setting up for the weekly summer street fair. I dreaded the next corner, as it would leave me facing the sun for an entire block, but I didn’t change my path. Sunglasses back on, it wasn’t so bad at all. Next turn, listening to traffic of Broadway, I anchored the sunglasses on top of my head, sipped my tea from my travel mug, and looked up at the building tops. Halfway down the block, though, my pace slowed, without much thinking on my part. I went with it.

And I suddenly realized: I know who I am. And I know where I’m going.

It was a thought that washed over me like a cool, comfortable wave.

Mind you, I have no idea what will happen next. But I know who I am. And I know where I’m going.

My first book, Upside Down Kingdom, is available on Amazon. I’ll sign it for you.

Week of Lasts

photo-2The week of lasts is a phrase coined by my friend about my week. From my last days at my various workplaces to my last meetings, last days in my writing studio, last goodbye hugs with friends, this week is definitely full of “lasts.”

But you know me; I’m the eternal optimist. I look around and see so many continuations and even new beginnings. I say goodbye to coworkers who’ve become great friends and know it’s not goodbye so much as, “See you later on down the line.”  Today, leaving my workplace of the last five years, a coworker remarked that I spent more time there than in college, which is true.  But, daily now, I use what I learned in college. I apply the skills every day. (Writing degree.)  Similarly, the writing studio may be gone, but the work I’ve done isn’t. And the energy I put into renovating that room, making it what it was, is all still here in my work. I bring these things forward.

And on my way to my friends’ house where I’m staying since selling my own house, my friends called to say their daughter-in-law just went into labor. (I can’t make this stuff up.) Even if I’d wanted everything to be last–and I don’t—it simply just isn’t.  Life is a continuum; the new baby proves it.

It’s not a week of lasts so much as a week of lastings. All I’ve learned, the friendships I’ve made, the work I’ve done, the writing I’ve created, these are the things that continue to last.

My first book, Upside Down Kingdom, is available on Amazon. I’ll sign it for you.


photoOn my last day at my part time job, my coworkers hug me and wish me well. And then Cheryl says, “Dawn, do you have something you want to tell Jody?”

They both laugh.

“No, Dawn manages to say.” They keep laughing.

The phone rings, and Cheryl runs to get it.

“Well, okay,” Dawn says. “I wasn’t going to say anything, but you know those paper clips in your drawer that Stacey keeps screwing up?”

“Yes,” I say, tenuously. “I just showed them to you last week. You know I’m not the one messing them up.”

“It’s me,” Dawn says. “I’ve been messing them up.”

“What?” I don’t believe what I’m hearing. “I thought it was Stacey!”

Dawn keeps laughing. “I know! And she blames it on you when you’re not here! Ever since your first day when she told you how to arrange them in the drawer, it was too tempting to pass up.”

“I’ve worked here for ten months!” I point out.

“Me the whole time,” she says.

“The subterfuge I’ve worked under!”

Cheryl comes back in, laughing.

“You two are so bad,” I say. “I’m telling Stacey.”

“Oh, please don’t,” Cheryl says.

“No, let us have this,” Dawn says.

I agree. (I never say I won’t blog about it, but I agree not to tell Stacey.)

In the eleventh hour, the truth comes out.

…I’m going to miss those girls.

Follow the blog! And check out my first book, Upside Down Kingdom, on Amazon.

Relevance from Afar

As I prepare to move across the country, I’m carefully weighing what I have and how much space it needs. And, I’m being reminded by my friends anytime I want to buy something that it needs to fit in my car for the 13-hour drive home to Pittsburgh.

I can’t help but think of my belongings as the characters do in The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. In the beginning of the book, O’Brien describes the few personal items a group of soldiers carry in their packs, and each item has an assigned weight, literally and emotionally, that needs to be carried on the back.

I don’t need mementos; I’m not fighting a war; and in fact, I’m headed home rather than being assigned/stationed away. Yet, I feel a connection to those characters (and always have, since I read it a dozen years ago).

Sometimes I take a good look at my present and try to imagine how I’ll feel, who I’ll be, or what I’ll be doing years from now. Sage as I am, I never have any clue. But it’s fun to imagine. Many times, though, I look back and never cease to amaze myself how something I read or saw from afar years ago suddenly has relevance to me today.

Add Tim O’Brien to your reading list. He’s a memorable writer.


And add my book, Upside Down Kingdom, when you get the chance ‘cause it’s the original and I’m not stopping.

A friend of mine was going through her phone pictures the other day, showing them to everyone sitting around the table. We got to one that showed a simple metal coat rack with about fifty hangers on it. She took the picture out in public someplace.

We asked why she took such a strange picture, and she said simply, “It’s a commentary.”

After we all exchanged peculiar looks, we started to think about it. And we came up with this:

Offering a public coat rack indicates a community where inclement weather is common. Additionally, there’s a level of trust when hanging your coat in a public place.

Perhaps it is a commentary. I haven’t looked at a coat rack the same way since.

Check out my first book, Upside Down Kingdom, on Amazon.


teaAt a tea demonstration with my fellow coworkers today, we were told a story of a family who started coming to the tea shop back when it first opened. They bought tea, then later an infuser and strainer, then eventually ordered their own complete tea setup, the works.

One day in the store, the husband pulled one of the owners of the tea shop aside and said, “I just have to tell you that because of this store, our mornings have completely changed.”

The man then explained, “We’d make coffee, one of us would sip it at the counter, another at the table, we’d read the paper or a book, the kids would be in the next room on their tablets or watching TV,” the husband said.  “Now, we all gather around the tea pot together, and we talk.”

All because of the tea.

Imagine something so small having such a big impact.

It really is the little things.  Thanks, everyone, at Mandala Tea.

Check out my first book, Upside Down Kingdom, on Amazon.

Marshmallow Fields

balesWhen I told a friend of mine about the road trip to the candy store where I met the giant turtle, Mr. R. Sullivan, on the way, she had this to share:

She and her husband were driving through the countryside one afternoon and they saw a field with, I think, hay bales (as opposed to straw because they’re not the same). The bales were wrapped tight with white plastic. In the afternoon sun, she dreamily looked at them and said, “Those look like giant marshmallows.”

“Take a picture,” her husband said. “We’ll tell the kids we found where marshmallows grow.”

A good road trip opens the imagination.

Follow the blog! And check out my first book, Upside Down Kingdom, on Amazon.

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