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A recluse walks into a sports bar and everyone standing near the door yells, “Karen!” Don’t hold your breath – there’s no punch line. It’s the truth or close enough. Suddenly the anxiety I had felt all day fell away. I was back in the arms of friends. A year and half ago, I left my job at Barnes & Noble to become a full-time playwright. (I’ll talk about that later, maybe.) The day I walked out the door of the book store, I walked away from the most incredible group of people I had ever known; a hugely generous group wherein each individual is a person apart from the norm. I’ve not been back to the store since. I think I feared that if I saw them again, I would regret my choice to leave and that each time I left, I’d feel as bereft as I had eighteen months ago. But it was time. […]

Typically English: chavvy.  Typically American: obnoxious.  Tipichno Russkiy: corrupt.    Typsche Deutsche?  Tall, blonde, muscular, looks as if he may play football (soccer), but wears a Nazi uniform complete with the “Wehrmachtsadler” insignia (an eagle with a swastika above the right breast pocket), and is named Bastian. The resemblance to German footballer, Bastian Scweinsteiger, is purely coincidental.  Sorry about your reputation, Bastian, but you’ve got a common name in Germany.  And besides, we thought all Germans look like you, says the representative of the Chinese company, Dragon in Dream, which produced the typically German doll, dressed in paraphernalia reeking of filth, arrogance, Zyklon B, human rot, and a hatred so deep it took over 80 million people to the grave.  Imagine the board room in which sit the decision makers of Dragon in Dreams listening to the pitch:  This toy, gentlemen and ladies, will be a sure-fire hit amongst skinheads, white-supremacists, […]

I’ve lived in Minnesota my whole life.  My grandparents came to Minnesota from the old country and never saw reason to move on.  I’m always surprised when I meet someone not born and raised locally.   My husband moved to Florida with his family when he was 13 years old, but ran home to Minnesota as soon as he turned 18.  We raised four kids in Minnesota, in a house with a porch and, in the backyard, a wood with deer and little red squirrels.  I am the prototypical Minnesotan.  To share a dish of anything with me means that I will never take the last bite, so unless you do, we will be eating into infinity. But lately, I’ve been thinking.  Could I live some other place?  Even in some other country?  What if Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Jeb Bush, and the Koch Brothers were someone else’s problem?  What would […]

I was walking the dogs around Staring Lake when, from somewhere overhead, I heard a sound I’d never heard before:  a clear, sweet, almost melodic, chattering laughter.  I stared upward, waiting, until two Bald Eagles soared out from between the trees.  Still engaged in their light gossip, they took a turn above me, their tails splayed, their heads bright, both flashing in the sun.  Showing off?  Or considering the risks involved in taking my 35 pound Aussie back to their aerie?  Maybe they were put off by the awed but defensive human female and/or the 85 pound Malamute mix standing between the female and the puppy.  Maybe they had no interest in me or mine. Follow if you will… I have  a bent for running debasing tapes in my head as I walk.  I know I’m not unique in this instance.  Like many, I often find my skull, with eyes […]

Remember the Ray Bradbury story, “In a Season of Calm Weather”?  Anyone?   Recall how the protagonist stumbles upon Picasso drawing in the sand and realizes that he has met his idol and that that moment—imagined, dreamed, sought after for so long—is as fleeting as the priceless art lying within reach of the tide. Now, take a look at what I stumbled upon. Is anything more fleeting than flowers picked?  Within days, perhaps within hours, these blossoms browned and curled and may even have begun to stink.  And yet these floats are fantastic!   The work, as a whole, is a marvel, far beyond simple representation, overwhelming in their size and intricacy but also overwhelming in the magnificent and twisted interpretations of Van Gogh’s art as well as his life. Blossoms—momentary.  Memory—often cloudy. Photography—fairly stable these days.  Van Gogh—forever vivid.  But right now, at this particular moment, let me thank everyone […]

It is sometimes very hard to tell the difference between history and the smell of skunk. – Rebecca West The stink is mine. Should I be embarrassed?   After all, people are being left hungry and homeless, raped, murdered, drowned, hanged, enslaved.    And here am I, sniveling about the loss of another World Heritage Site: a stack of stones put up by a tribe of human beings over 2000 years ago.  Pathetic. These ruin and mosques and temples and artworks are representations of aspirations but they aren’t the people who aspired.  These buildings and books destroyed by one faction to express their abhorrence of another may be irreplaceable examples of humankind’s history but what’s history, after all? The very ink with which all history is written is merely fluid prejudice. –Mark Twain The only history that is worth a tinker’s damn is the history we make today. -Henry Ford History viewed from […]

A county clerk whose job is to issue licenses refused a marriage license to a gay couple as it is against God’s law, disavowing the law of the land. (Finding her name is easy, but I don’t want to give it any more air play.) She has become the unattractive posterchild of the Republican Party and the hero of all those who are challenged by the number of buckles on their overalls. The young man, Dylann Roof, who killed nine people at prayer, said he was at the church to kill black people. That’s a clear statement of intent, as near as I can tell. Yet, the next day, the entire day, Fox News journalists (?!) ranted over the attack on Christianity. Unless Fox thought that Roof was referring to Christians when he said, “… you’ve raped our women and you are taking over the country…”. Is it just me […]

I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.  -Picasso I’ve admitted I’m a slow learner, but nothing beats learning. Nothing, to me, is more exciting than discovering new information and using it to create new mindscapes. Nothing is more wondrous than our ability to split open our own heads with books as backhoes and art as jackhammers that shatter the concrete of all we believe we know.  Travel and conversation are the graders and rollers with which we lay fresh ways of thinking, broader and deeper, informing our behavior and our art.  Every new path laid and followed increases my chances of reaching Ah-haaa! For my plays, I’ve ingested the poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay and scrabbled with her after fame, love, drugs, excuses.  I’ve listened to the language of art critics as well as the language of […]

I loathe talking about myself. Even more, I loathe talking about my work.  I have become so adept at not talking about myself or my work that I am barely noticeable in a group greater than a pair.  I am as obvious as a shard from a broken wine glass wedged against the baseboard, a strip of cling wrap stuck on a rock at the bottom of a creek.  This method of being, my low, low profile allows me to write my plays.  It disallows any hope of actually getting my work produced.  Hmmm…  What’s wrong with this picture?  First, I’m probably not capturable on film (or visible in a mirror).  Second, is this a professional mode of behavior?  No!  So? I went seeking help. Show Your Work by Austin Kleon is: Abook for people who hate the very idea of self-promotion.  ( That’s me!  Austin, over here.  Hey, […]

I loathe talking about myself.