May 8, 2016
by Kate
14 Comments

never too old

Happy Mother’s Day, friends! I hope you’re enjoying the day, doing exactly what you want to be doing!

A couple of days ago, I posted about Prince and grief and not waiting to do the things you want to do in life, about seizing the it, whatever that may be for you. I’ve thought about this a lot over the last year, and I’ve been talking to people about regrets. Did I have any? Did they?

When I was in my early twenties, a friend offered to give me his bass guitar amp. I didn’t have a bass, much less know how to play one, but still I toyed with the idea of accepting his amp, buying a bass guitar, learning how to play it, and joining an all-female band. I certainly spent enough time at 7th Street Entry to imagine that maybe I could be on the stage rather than in the audience. But I didn’t take the amp, didn’t buy a bass, didn’t learn to play.

Over the years, I’ve thought about it, about how I wish I’d just done it. In recent conversations with friends and Donny, that’s the regret I’ve named. All of them have said that it’s not too late. I agreed, but realistically, I didn’t think I’d do it. Buying a bass guitar? What?! It was a cost I could not justify. And when would I practice?

This morning, Donny and the girls brought me breakfast in bed—berries and a latte. I read their beautiful cards, marveled at Zoe’s crazy-hair plant that she made for me at school. Then they wanted to know if I wanted my present right then (it was downstairs).

“I’ll wait,” I said.

But then Zoë said, “Can I play with your present?” And I thought of the wording in Donny’s card that had something to do with music, and I suddenly thought, No way. He couldn’t have!

“Oh my God,” I said. “I need to see the present.”

We all ran downstairs, and they pulled a blanket from this huge box in the middle of the living room, and it was this:

Bass

 

I couldn’t believe it. I can’t believe it. I am almost 44 years old, and I just got my first bass and amp. And I’m seizing this, my friends. I’m going rock this out!

What are those things that have been calling to you? Are you ready to listen?

May 6, 2016
by Kate
8 Comments

on Prince and seizing the moment

When I heard the news of Prince’s death, I, like so many others, burst into tears. For the rest of the day, I listened to The Current, flipped between Twitter and Facebook, and even turned on the local television news, stalking every new bit of information, wishing somehow it was all a mistake. Memories of listening and dancing to Prince flooded my mind: “Kiss” cranked up on a boom box in high school; my college roommate and I “going crazy” in our apartment despite the cranky old lady downstairs; me lying alone in my room belting out “Nothing Compares 2 U” (the fabulous live version with Rosie Gaines). Prince was the soundtrack of my life, his songs the ones I always came back to.

That day, I couldn’t focus on anything. I just didn’t feel right in my skin. It was too soon. He was too young. Also, I was disappointed in myself. I live in Minnesota. I grew up here. In my twenties I spent countless nights at First Avenue. Yet, I never saw Prince live. I never went out to Paisley Park for one of his late-night concerts. I wanted to, but I didn’t. I thought there would be plenty of time. And now he’s gone. And I’d missed my chance.

The Thursday he died was complicated at our house—there was evening soccer practice and Donny had work to do and Zoë had a friend over and we were leaving town the next day. I cancelled out on two commitments I had early that evening. I couldn’t imagine doing anything, even if our night hadn’t become so discombobulated. But then I heard about the gathering downtown Minneapolis in front of First Avenue, and I knew I had to go. I had to act on my desire instead of waiting. When Donny got home with Stella, I said, “I just need to be with people who loved his music.” He said, “Go!” and dropped me at the train station.

I made my way through the crowd toward Prince’s music blaring from loudspeakers and toward my friends, who were somewhere in the mix. When I found them, we stood together with thousands of others who were sideswiped by his death. Prince’s music and his spirit and our collective grief and love permeated the air. And it was exactly what I needed to do, exactly where I needed to be.

I still can’t believe he’s dead. But in the last two weeks the thing that I keep coming back to (other than his music, which I cannot stop playing) are two things: there is no time to wait—you have to seize it (whatever it is for you) now; and, cherish those you love every day. It all sounds so clichéd, I know. I’ve heard those words spouted thousands of times. But somehow right now I’m really feeling them. It’s because Prince, yes, and others too. Right now my conversations and Facebook feed are full of deaths—some after long, happy lives, but many not. It’s a constant reminder that we can’t know what will happen or when.

So I am taking more time to hug my girls, to unplug from my computer, to cuddle. And when I was sitting on the porch with Zoë the other day staring at the peeling paint that has made me crazy for a year, I thought—now! So I got up and scrounged around in the basement until I found the right leftover paint. First the trim, yesterday the floor. The porch looks like new and I wonder why I waited so long.

Prince was many things to many people, here in Minnesota and around the world. I will continue to celebrate his brilliance and crank the tunes. I will continue to dance and belt them out. And as I do so, I’ll remind myself each day not to take any of this beautiful messy life for granted.

April 12, 2016
by Kate
6 Comments

celebrating women’s stories

Last weekend I was at Faith’s Lodge for my spring retreat, and I was, once again, blown away by what can happen when women get together to write and share their stories with one another. When we delve deeply into both the beautiful and hard parts of life, then share that writing with each other, our hearts expand and our perspectives shift. What amazing writers and people. We laughed and cried and laughed some more. And that place worked its usual magic.

On Saturday afternoon after my final conference, I was both energized and exhausted, so I bundled up and headed out into the crisp air to clear my head. I walked along the trail until I ended up at the labyrinth. I took a few deep breaths and began to circle inward, toward its center. And as I walked, I thought about my work as a teacher and editor. I thought about my marvelous students and their rich and complicated and stunning stories. And as I slowly wound my way around and around, to the center and out again, I was filled with gratitude.

Labrynith

I am back home now, happy to be with my family again, and gearing up for the 10th Annual Motherhood & Words Reading, which is this Saturday, April 16th at 7 p.m. at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. 10th annual, people!

This year, I’m thrilled to have Sherrie Fernandez-Williams and Andria Williams join me at the podium. Sherrie is the author of Soft, a moving memoir about identity, motherhood, surviving a tumultuous marriage, and finally being brave enough to follow her heart. Andria is the author of The Longest Night, which was described by Kirkus as a “scintillating marital drama set at a nuclear testing station in the late 1950s.” It’s a novel about marriage and motherhood and trying to find a place for oneself, all set against the backdrop of the early nuclear era. I will be reading something new, the beginning of an essay on navigating illness as a mother.

Each year, when the Target Performance Hall at the Loft fills with people, I am heartened. It confirms for me once again that I’m doing the work I was meant to do. Because the stories we’re writing are important ones.

I hope you’ll join me for this reading and conversation. Let’s celebrate the power of writing our truths. It’s free and open to the public, so bring your friends!

When: Saturday, 4/16 – 7 p.m.

Where: The Loft Literary Center, Open Book

The reading is sponsored by Pacifier, an urban kid and baby boutique, Park Nicollet Women’s Center, a new concept in women’s health, and of course The Loft Literary Center.

March 11, 2016
by Kate
19 Comments

Andria Williams’ THE LONGEST NIGHT (and a giveaway!)

I am thrilled to have Andria Williams here today to talk about her debut novel, The Longest Night. Andria will be reading with Sherrie Fernandez-Williams and me at the 10th Annual Motherhood & Words Reading on April 16th!

I am so excited about this book! The Longest Night is a story of marriage, parenting, longing and loneliness set against the backdrops of small town Idaho and a Greenland military base in the late 50s and early 60s. Andria’s prose is exquisite, her characters carefully and lovingly wrought. And she’s funny as heck. Based on the true story of the only fatal nuclear accident to occur in America, The Longest Night is one of those books that you will not want to put down. I could go on and on about this book, but instead I’ll turn it over to Andria!

KH: First, congratulations on your book, which is getting rave reviews all over the place. I’d love to kick off our conversation by asking you how you got started on this novel. Did you know when you began writing that it was going to be set in this time and involve nuclear testing facilities?

AW: Thanks, Kate! And thank you for having me here on your blog, and with you at Motherhood and Words in April. I can’t wait!

When I was in graduate school, doing some research for a writing project (by which I mean a now-defunct novel), I’d read about the 1961 explosion of a small reactor in Idaho. Then, years later, I came across a book on the subject (Todd Tucker’s Atomic America) and read the whole thing in one sitting. The story was so riveting: this tiny reactor in a desolate stretch of Idaho wilderness that had been malfunctioning for a year; the crew members’ efforts to keep it running; its explosion and the rumors of an intentional murder-suicide, not based in any real evidence but which persisted for decades after the event. And even more than that, the people involved intrigued me: young Army nuclear operators, their wives, the local folks who’d seen their sleepy Mormon town grown exponentially with the arrival of this military base. The setting, in the West, was also right up my alley.

I’d been out of writing for about five years because my children were small. Having young kids and writing a novel seemed, at the time, mutually exclusive. But then I read about this incident again and, bored and stranded in a motel in Oklahoma on my way back from a Texas wedding, I had a quiet room to myself and lightning literally crackling along the horizon as if to spur my inspiration, I thought: What if I just sat down and dreamed up who some of these characters might be? What have I got to lose? I scribbled away and filled up the whole pad of complimentary motel paper and started in on some napkins at the bottom of my backpack. I thought: Sheesh, all the ingredients are here; I know how this thing ends; here’s a plot on a platter. I have no excuse not to try and write this!

KH: I read an earlier draft of this novel, and it was also wonderful, but it’s clear that you did a lot of editing and new writing in later drafts. Can you talk about the revision process and how that deepened the story and characters? Did you work with a developmental editor?

The first draft of The Longest Night (originally called The Falls) took a year, but then I revised it for a year and a half. I was working with this terrific young agent whom I could tell was really invested in the story, who just got what I was trying to do, and who had such smart suggestions for me. I incorporated pretty much every revision she suggested. It was a leap of faith.

I also had some friends read the book, including you, for which I am truly grateful, and I worked with an editor friend, Erin Wilcox. The whole process was alternately exhilarating and interminable. Well-meaning family members ask you every three days, “Any news on your book?!”

But all that going around in circles paid off, I guess, because when my agent went to finally sell the book it sold, to my great surprise, in one day.

KH: I LOVE that, Andria. I’m not at all surprised. But back to revising: what were the biggest kinds of changes you made in later drafts?

AW: Well, all told, I cut out about 300 pages of Paul’s backstory. Boy, I must have loved that guy because I went into great detail about his childhood in Maine, his abusive father and older brother, how he hid out in the school’s woodshed because he was afraid to go home; the wounded veteran teacher who encouraged him to run away and the morning he stole his brother’s boots and joined the Army, hitching a ride with a truckful of German POWs. My agent very diplomatically suggested that this all perhaps belonged in another book. So I cut it out of The Longest Night and set it aside. A few excerpts did get placed in small literary journals, and it informed my understanding of Paul in the long run, so it wasn’t a waste; but I do feel I know far more “about” him than Nat does.

KH: That’s so funny. He’s not the best communicator, is he?

I’m working on a novel in which actual historical events play a role, so I’m very curious how you dealt with history/fact in a fictional narrative. What things did you need to consider as you were creating this world and these lives knowing that real people died in this accident?

AW: First of all, Kate, I am so excited that you are writing a novel.

KH: It is slow—embarrassingly slow really—but I keep coming back to it, so I guess that’s good.

AW: For my own book, I did base it off of an historical event, and as for the timeline of that event, I followed history very closely. But when it came to the people involved, the book is pure fiction. I did read a lot of oral histories and depositions, so I am sure that shades of real people have entered the story, but there is no one-to-one correspondence between anyone involved and my main characters.

I had a couple of reasons for this. First of all, two very good nonfiction books have been written about the event (the aforementioned Atomic America, and William McKeown’s Idaho Falls), so I didn’t want to merely re-tread where they had already gone. I’m a fiction writer—I’m terrible at anything else—so I needed the freedom to imagine who these people involved might have been, how their lives might be intertwined to make a good story. What if two men ended up at the accident scene, for example, and something had put them at serious odds? What if there were someone waiting for them, who cared very deeply about what might happen to each of them? I had to give myself room to make stuff up.

Also, on a more purely ethical level, the children, ex-wives, and so forth of the men who died are still alive, and because all three men were killed at the scene, we will never know exactly what took place that night. No one has survived to tell us. So I didn’t want to pin any blame, intentionally or otherwise, on any one person. I re-mixed all of the characters into composites, with aspects of pure imagination, to arrive at my final characters in The Longest Night.

KH: The Longest Night is narrated by three different characters (alternating chapters). What led you to this structure? How did this decision allow you to push toward the deeper story?

AW: Quite honestly, I have trouble writing a whole novel from one point of view. When authors do it well, it can generate a terrific momentum, but I am not a particularly fast writer and I tend to want to hear from multiple people. I was mixing aspects of history in the novel as a whole, so mixing up the characters just felt thematically appropriate.

I came to know three people well instead of just one, and I enjoyed all of their separate voices. Paul, a nuclear operator, is serious and honest; he can give the insider’s scoop on what’s going on in the reactor. His wife Nat is new to army life and has almost never lived outside southern California, so the move to a very small suburban community in Idaho is going to be a challenge for her. And one of those challenges comes in the form of her neighbor, Jeannie, a career army wife who’s become very jaded by all the cheerleading and the party-throwing and the keeping-up-appearances.

These three people are all so different. I felt refreshed when I’d switch from one voice to another.

It’s fun to hear with whom readers identify most. Jeannie is by far the most divisive character; people either love or hate her. Nat’s a close second because some people understand the way she deludes herself out of necessity, and others can’t get past the fact that she’s being willfully obtuse [particularly regarding her relationship with a local man]. Women readers in particular are vocal about which characters they love or hate, and I enjoy hearing it.

KH: I’ve asked you this before, but I’m going to do it again since most of my readers also have children. I’d love to hear a little about you juggle writing and parenthood and the other demands that life puts on you, especially as a military spouse.

AW: There will never be enough time; I’ve come to terms with that.

I used to allow myself little moments of self-pity where, being a military wife, I’d think, “I’m such a publishing-world outsider.” I wasn’t in academia or in any kind of intellectual environment whatsoever. And it’s true, we have to pack up and move every two years, which is disruptive, and occasionally my husband will go on deployment for several months, which is fairly disastrous for my work schedule. So when it came time to try to find an agent, I thought, “This will never work.”

I just started at square one, writing a bunch of “cold” letters to agents whose names I’d found in that annual “Guide to Literary Agents” book. It was terrifically humbling: “Hi, my name is Andria Williams, I wrote this novel, would you like to look at it? Oh, you wouldn’t? Okay, well thank you so much anyway, I’ll back away slowly now [grovel, grovel].” But enough agents wrote back saying sure, they’d take a look at my first three chapters, and I learned that all it really takes is that one person in the business who believes enough in your work and who has the skills to help you.

KH: Hell yes! Just one person. Remember that, dear ones!

AW: As for juggling writing and parenthood in my day-to-day: I wake up very early every morning and write until the children wake up; this is my only “guaranteed” time. And I write every single day, but I don’t think everybody has to. My only other “trick” is that when I leave off writing for the day, I try to stop at a place where I know how to pick it up tomorrow. Even if that means stopping a few sentences or paragraphs early—I might jot a quick note so I don’t forget where to go next—I will get more accomplished if I can hit the ground running the next day at 4 a.m. It’s just too darn early to sit around trying to figure out what to write; if I do that, I’ll fall back to sleep. But the combination of a very uncomfortable folding chair, lots of hot black coffee, and a clear storyline ahead of me keeps me awake and much more productive.

KH: This book has been very well received (as it should be!). But I’m curious if you’ve heard from anyone who was involved in the reactor accident. What has the response been from readers involved with the military?

AW: Military wives have responded well to the book, because I think a lot of the themes (the constant moving and reinvention, the emphasis on family; the tradition, loneliness, and occasional claustrophobia) ring true even today. Interestingly, Paul’s six-month deployment in the book is a walk in the park compared to what military families have been through in the last ten years.

I have heard from some nuclear engineers and from a couple of men who did tours in Greenland in the 1960s, and that has been really exciting. They have been overwhelmingly supportive. I think they must find it rather curious that this chipper little Navy wife is writing about nuclear reactors, but they have said they think the science in the book is pretty good.

More than that, though, I just love hearing from them. I love when people who were actually there contact me. The men who’ve been stationed in Greenland, in particular, have a pretty close network, because it was such an unusual and specific tour of duty and so few people ever did it. They’ve found one another in the intervening years and have a great online forum and oral history collection. A few of them have written to me, and I’ve been so grateful every time.

KH: What are you working on now?

AW: I’m writing another novel, this time set in the 1930s. I tried to write it from only one character’s point of view, but another one snuck in there.

KH: I can’t wait for the next one, Andria! Thanks so much for taking the time to email with me. I so look forward to seeing you for Motherhood & Words!

Friends, please mark your calendars: April 16th, 7 p.m. at the Loft Literary Center, Open Book, Minneapolis. I am pleased to have two fabulous sponsors for the event this year: Pacifer and Park Nicollet Women’s Center! It will be a blast! Please tell your friends!

And now, if you’d like to enter to win a copy of The Longest Night, please leave a comment below by Friday, March 25th!

February 29, 2016
by Kate
12 Comments

fishing nets

I spent the last few days at Faith’s Lodge, leading my winter Motherhood & Words retreat. As always, it was a weekend filled with words—some funny, some difficult to speak aloud. As always, it was inspiring to sit in a circle of amazing women and talk and laugh and cry and share delicious meals and glasses of wine. As always, it confirmed for me that I’m doing the work I need to be doing. As always, I returned home exhausted.

This morning, after the girls and Donny had left for the day, I turned to my Headspace app, knowing I needed some grounding. And then twenty minutes later, feeling quieter inside, I made myself another cappuccino (decaf), and sat down at my desk to catch up on things. That’s when I noticed the letter that had arrived over the weekend from a friend and former student.

I slit open the envelope to find a postcard. On its front is a photograph of a pile of fishing nets in brilliant pinks and blood reds and soft purples. In the top right corner, there is a woman’s hand, only her four fingers visible, pressing into the pile of nets. I stared at it for a long time, lost in those rich colors all spilling into each other, wondering at the woman whose hand is there, just barely visible. And then I turned it over to read my friend’s lovely note inquiring about my health and detailing where she is at with her reading and writing. I smiled as I read, grateful for these communications that continue to connect us long after she was my student and I was her teacher.

I turned it over again and stared at those brilliant fishing nets a little longer and then I read her note again, stopping at this line: “I miss finding your voice in my inbox.”

I had actually started a blog post two weeks ago, and then tried to revisit it last week, but my dad had fallen, and though he is okay—luckily, amazingly—there was still a short hospital stay and appointments and worries. And then prep for my retreat and the retreat itself. On the horizon this week are: a large editing project, catch-up for the online class I’m teaching right now, logistics to attend to for my annual Motherhood & Words reading (April 16th—mark your calendars!), and Zoë’s eight birthday (how can she be 8 already?).

But as I held my friend’s beautiful postcard in my hand, mesmerized by the those brilliant colors on one side and her gentle words on the other, I realized that this week before I do anything else, I need to spend time on my own writing, need to nurture my voice the way I nurture my students’ voices. So before I get to any of those other things today, I’m going dip back into my novel and give myself the space that I’m so dedicated in carving out for others. Thank you, S, for the reminder I didn’t know I needed.

January 27, 2016
by Kate
10 Comments

quiet

This is the first morning in a long time that I’ve been able to sit down in my tiny office in a quiet house. Last week there was a five day weekend followed by early morning meetings and appointments. The early part of this week was hijacked by strep throat. (Not to mention I’ve been getting lots of kid-time on recent weekends because D needed to prepare for his thesis defense. Which, by the way, he rocked yesterday morning. Yay, D!)

But now I’m hoping that I will be able to move into a quieter and more productive few weeks. I’ve always been an extrovert, so I sometimes forget how much quiet time I need during the day to recharge. Maybe I’m becoming more of an introvert as I age? Perhaps. I just know I need to be able to sit in my tiny office under the light of my cozy lamp and put words on the page. I need the quiet to straighten my desk and to restore a little order to the house (without taking up too much of my work time, of course). I need the quiet to just sit and stare out the window into the backyard.

There is no music in the background of my day; just the low hum of the dehumidifier running in the basement, the occasional rumble of the refrigerator or furnace coming to life, and the click click of Aguita’s claws on the wood floor as she comes into the kitchen to let me know she wants to go outside.

Today, before I head out for my mid-day walk, I will remind myself to leave my phone at home. A walk is the perfect opportunity for a short podcast or a chapter of Coates’ beautiful Between the World and Me, which I’m listening to and loving—but I’ve realized that if I listen to something as I walk, none of that wonderful head-clearing takes place. I’m just adding more sounds, more thoughts—even if they are interesting and moving—to an already noisy place. So today, I’ll take off into the cold air with only the sounds of the city to accompany me. I know it will help.

What helps ground you these days?

January 11, 2016
by Kate
0 comments

write with me

Have you always wanted to write your motherhood stories? Do you need a gentle nudge to get you going and keep you accountable? Are you craving a community of women who write? I’m kicking off a 10-week online Motherhood & Words class on January 27th and there are still a couple of openings.

What recent students have said:

“It was the best writing class I’ve ever taken.”

“It was a great ‘kick in the pants’ to get writing and feel validated that writing about motherhood is indeed real writing.”

“You don’t have to be a serious or published writer to take the course, and who knows, you might just become one by the end!”

“Be ready to write! You will produce!”

For more information click here or email me at katehopper [at] msn [dot] com. Join me!

January 4, 2016
by Kate
24 Comments

Hello, 2016!

We rang in the New Year up at my mom’s cabin in northern Minnesota as we so often do. It was cozy—just D, the girls, my mom and step-dad and me. We cooked and ate and read and did puzzles (in an obsessive way that was somehow still relaxing). The girls and D skated in circles, playing keep-away on the rectangle of lake we shoveled clean. And we skied loops in the woods, our bodies lengthening as we glided through fresh snow. That is one of my favorite things. I love the way I can feel my body stretching out, my back straightening as I get into the groove of pushing and gliding. I love the way my triceps burn as I struggle up a hill. I love the rustle of wind through dry leaves, the brilliant blue of sky through dark branches, the glint of sun on snow. It’s when I take stock of the year coming to a close and whisper my hopes for the next year.

Some years the transition from one year to the next feels seamless. But sometimes I’m really ready to be done with a year and start something new, fresh. That’s how I feel now. Last year was not an easy one for me. There were joys, of course—plenty of them, really. But there was also the weight of not feeling well, finally deciding on surgery, the subsequent digestive complications. There were many moments last fall when it felt as if I was simply trying to stay afloat in the churning swirl of a mid-life crisis. What did I need? Yoga? God? A kick-ass nutritionist?

I might still be in that mid-life crisis stage, but I sense I’m emerging from it. The kick-ass nutritionist helps, and I’m trying to listen carefully to myself, to my body. I don’t have anything figured out yet, but I’m hopeful.

Over the last few weeks, I have more often bookmarked a webpage to my recipe folder than to my teaching/writing folder. But I’m ready to shift gears again, get back to the novel, to words and sentences and paragraphs. I’m ready to start thinking about retreats and teaching, how to help others find a way into the stories they need to tell. And I’ve decided I’ll be here at this blog each week during the next year. I don’t know what I’ll write about, but I’m hoping it will be a touchstone for me. I hope you’ll join me.

What are your hopes for 2016? I’d love to hear them.

November 25, 2015
by Kate
10 Comments

thankful

I would be lying if I said that the last few months (or year) has been an easy one for me. It hasn’t.

I’m still in that place of not-knowing, of guessing and experimenting with food, supplements, exercise—anything.

Still, I’m trying to be grateful for good days. I have a new acupuncturist, and she’s fabulous. That helps. I’ve started doing yoga, something that has never appealed to me, and has in the past caused injuries. But I’m open to it now, again, because I sense that will help me settle and heal. I also have a new food plan—the low FODMAP diet (oh joy!)—and I have appointments with a nutritionist and my gastroenterologist on the horizon. Small steps in hopefully the right direction.

But as I sit with discomfort and not-knowing, I am trying to practice daily gratitude. So today, on the eve of Thanksgiving, I want to name a few things for which I’m grateful: dance parties with my girls (those splits! those funky moves! that infectious laughter!); Donny, for everything; the girls again—their tenderness and sister love and great sense of humor; my dad and mom and stepdad; my sisters and their families; my extended family; my dear friends; our home; work that’s meaningful to me; my incredible students; our health (even though it’s challenging me right now); health care and health insurance; warm clothes; our sweet dog; and books—all those essays and novels and poems that make me feel alive.

And last, but certainly not least, thank you to all of you reading, you who show up here even when I’ve let this blog languish. I appreciate you all. Thank you!

Happy Thanksgiving. What are some thing you’re thankful for this year?

October 26, 2015
by Kate
18 Comments

showing up

I’ve started a number of blog posts over the last couple of weeks. Each time, before I could finish the post, things with my health would change and I’d abandon it half-written.

A week ago I was feeling better—not perfect, but better. I could lift a basket of laundry, put the full Brita back into the refrigerator on my own, walk longer distances, and make it through the day without a nap. Exciting stuff, I know. I still had some pain, especially after eating certain foods (likely the result of gallbladder duct spasms), but emotionally I felt so much better. Better than I had in over a year.

It was helpful to read the pathology report, which found that my gallbladder was inflamed, consistent with chronic cholecystitis. Perhaps it’s odd that this made me so happy, but I had been worried that I would get it out and it would look perfectly healthy. Instead, it confirms that I made the right decision.

But then last week I developed some mystery pain on my left side, and I began to worry about all sorts of (probably unlikely) things, and I was right back in that place I had been most of the last year, second-guessing everything. I began to worry that I’d made the wrong decision (not a helpful or productive line of thought).

I’m hopeful that things will turn around very soon. In the meantime, I’m teaching and editing and trying to write a little every day. I’m walking and swimming again. Today was the first time I’d been in the pool in over six months. I was slow, but still, my body remembered how to slice through water, my arms pulling, legs kicking, head turning to breathe every couple of strokes. I felt muscles that hadn’t worked in months come to life again.

So I’ll keep showing up and try to be patient, and hopefully soon I will feel like myself again.