Archive for Writing

Denmark, Dinesen, and Serendipity…

Coffee, according to the women of Denmark, is to the body what the Word of the Lord is to the soul.

Isak Dinesen aka Karen Blixen

 

Sometimes I’m overwhelmed by the mystery of personal connections. Six degrees of separation is just the tip of the iceberg. I never met Karen Blixen, but I knew a friend of hers, and the way we met and its consequences remain one of those enduring mysteries.  

In the winter of 1965, I was four months into a solo tour of Europe. I had traveled around southern Europe and the Middle East but wanted to see Germany and Scandinavia as well. It wasn’t the best time of year to visit, but I thought it might be my only opportunity. I flew from Istanbul to Frankfurt, took the train to Berlin, and after a few days there, opted to take the train to Copenhagen. That meant riding an East German train to the Danish ferry at Warnemunde. I thought it would be an adventure for an ex-US Marine to ride through the “evil empire.” But first I had to get from West Berlin to the station in East Berlin and transfer to the East German train. read more

Chasing Dottie’s Dust…

Dorothy Parker. Does anyone born after 1970 even know the name? Maybe not, but at 4’11” she was larger than life. Writer, screenwriter, wit, poet, founding member of the Algonquin Round Table, and gin lover extraordinaire. She continues to haunt us. If Molly Ivins’ quick wit makes you smile or you cringe at Maureen Dowd’s acid putdowns, Dorothy Parker is in your wheelhouse. The Portable Dorothy Parker, originally published in 1944, is one of three in the Portable Series, along with volumes devoted to the Bible and Shakespeare that has remained in continuous print since first published. read more

Flying and Writing…

I love the huge adrenaline rush of Top Gun’s opening flight deck sequence. With Kenny Loggins’ Danger Zone pounding in the background, I can smell the JP-4, notice my heart rate accelerate, feel the engines spool up, and scrunch back in my seat waiting for the kick of the catapult. I get sucked in by the air-to-air training exercises, the oiled-up volleyball porn, “the need for speed nonsense and Maverick and Goose singing You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling. It’s the real McCoy, even if Tom Cruise is an imposter and the majority of the film is a Navy puff-piece. read more

Love Letter to Ellen…

I’ve always been a list maker, another vestige of my OCD – shirts hung according to color, shoes arranged by function, books by subject, music by artist, etc. So, 21 years ago it didn’t seem crazy to begin keeping a list of books (including plays and films) and restaurants, by year, so I could look back and refresh my memory. Around then time was collapsing, and what I thought was 10 years ago was really 5 and so on. 

Recently, reading my high school English teacher’s obituary, I discovered she did the same – “7000 books, 3000 movies and plays and 27 countries visited.” Not the only similarity! read more

A River Runs Through It…

My mother died in 1997. I honored her wish to be cremated and the cardboard box holding her remains sat on a shelf in my closet until the summer of 2009. I wasn’t trying to hang on to her in some creepy way, but I had a plan that took 12 years to execute. 

Claudine Mildred Christy Bernard was born in Missoula, Montana in 1906. I was born there 31 years later. Both my father and mother graduated from the University of Montana in 1928, where she was one of the first women graduates of the UM School of Journalism. My son, Brent, majored in geology at Montana State, and in 1997, daughter Diana and her husband, Nick, graduated from UM with degrees in English. Last year their son, Will, entered UM as an art major.  read more