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Karin Mitchell's books on Goodreads
Between Families Between Families
reviews: 5
ratings: 8 (avg rating 4.75)

Monday, September 30, 2013

When I was a little girl, I befriended a little old lady who lived several houses down on our street. She was in her nineties and rarely left her house. I don't even remember how I met her now. I took to heart the lessons I learned in church and checked in on her from time to time. She was on Social Security and barely scraped by. She was very frail and could hardly walk to the end of her driveway and so the mailman came to her door. It was a small town and people did things like that. I remember the trouble she had lifting her arms to comb her long, silver-streaked gray hair. She had crocheted toilet paper roll covers that made her tissue into dolls with full skirts. Once, I "helped" her make pasta. I remember how she stood, her walker next to her and her table before her, and with slow deliberation, cut the layers of pasta.

I don't remember how it tasted or what else we did with it. Just the act of her impossibly small frame leaning over the table to cut it. I wanted desperately to help her. To make her less alone. To listen to the stories she surely had to tell. But mostly, I ended up watching soap operas and waiting for her to speak. I don't think I could ever make pasta from scratch again. If I did, it would surely be filled with salty tears and nostalgia for an old woman I never got to say goodbye to, who likely took her best stories to her grave.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Wooed by an idea

Writing is an optimistic endeavor in which you are wooed by some bitch-ass muse who gives you an idea and floats a few bars of music ahead of you singing sweetly "I'm right here." And so you think you can write it all down and it'll be poetic and beautiful and fast. The grind of getting it all to work is the dirty work she doesn't tell you about. I could really smack her with the broomstick I'm using to chase all the details around with.

If I win the battle, I'll be releasing "Between Families" sometime around Christmas. If the victory is delayed, it might not be until 2014. More on that later.

I talk too much about parenting. I know I do it. I hate that I do it. I love that I do it. I want to be sure to be a person outside of parenting. A person you don't have to talk to about your kids or your sore spots in order to relate. I want to. But most of my life is parenting. Most of my mind is parenting. It's making writing pretty hard. Because when I write, my whole mind is writing. I forgot that I was driving and almost dumped the coffee grounds in the recycling yesterday because I was in my novel instead of the actual moment. I love that/hate that.

I come up with games to play with my kids all the time. Usually they involve smooching or snuggling because I'm a smooshy mama like that. But sometimes they involve drawing pictures and coming up with stories to go with them. Sometimes they're humming over the gravel on a dirt road at the top of your lungs with the windows down. And those times are why it's ok with me that I talk too much about parenting. You have to do what you're passionate about.

The thing is, parenting isn't my only passion, just the most important one I'm engaged in right now. I'm also passionate about this book. And I'm passionate about the mountains and yoga and swimming and being in my body in the world I'm in. And teaching. And I'm getting to do most of those things. Not so much the being in my body in the world part. I dream about it. I get to write and teach and be with my kids lately though.

I started teaching at the community college. It's actually a pretty amazing fit. I think. Time will tell. I'm more skeptical about that sort of thing. I'm trying to temper my optimism a bit. Sometimes it works. The rest of the time, I get really swept up in helping grown ups learn to write better and be passionate about finding and speaking the truth and improving their lives.

So I go to sleep completely exhausted and satisfied and overwhelmed and busy. And I dream of moving my body around in every which stretch strong way. It's a full life. A struggling, hard work life. It makes me need to smooch my kids and wrestle them and tickle them and smile and sleep and dream.

And now to write.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Some random stuff I learned lately

A group of puffins is called a loaf. Ha! Puffin loaf.

Whales tan.

You're only supposed to space once between sentences when typing. Me? Twice. Trying to stop. it. 2 spaces wasted 13 pages of my first draft of my novel. Isn't that just the craziest?

Dogs can smell under water. They use dogs to find people when they've drowned. They're called cadaver dogs. Eerily, I learned this just before all the flooding started in Colorado.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Why do people homeschool?Sure you think it's because they have religious preferences or are crazy xenophobes or have kids with specific learning needs or because the parents are concerned for their child's safety/well being at school where there gangs/drugs/sex/etc.

But really? It's because they can NOT bring themselves to get the kids out the door every morning.

They're getting away with something here. I thought you should know.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The smell of cardemom makes me want to cry. I picture being in my aunt's kitchen and the way the smells all mixed: cardemom and coffee and something cooked long and perfectly during the day. Onions and bread? I wonder if that coffee maker still sits in that kitchen, if my uncle uses it now that she's gone? I remember the yellowy stains on the white plastic of that coffee maker whose light always, always glowed red. It's a wonder the light never burnt out.

I'm teaching GED in addition to Composition classes at the community college. I love it. It's in the basement with coffee and cookies. Which is good because it's past my bedtime and I need coffee and cookies after 8:30.

I taught someone the shape of writing Monday. Some of the students need to learn how to structure writing or how to avoid a sentence fragment. Some were just kinda punks in school that have a test to take, but others... well I wonder what happened there. Others need to learn when to use a comma and when you use a period. Or how a paragraph is shaped.

What made them never take notice that the text all around them had starts and stops? Squares and chinks clipped out of the beginning of each box and spaces in places. I never took the time to notice the shape of writing. Except in poems.

I wonder what he'll teach me next.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Magnus turned 3 today. He's rocked my world in these past 3 years. It was just 3 years ago that we found out he was a he. Just over three years ago I had no kids. That blows my mind.

Here's what I love. I love his enthusiasm. The other day, he called me into his room in an emergency kind of voice to announce that "The sky is BLUE." We stood at the window watching the clouds allow blue sky to peek out at us and I felt how exciting a peek-a-blue sky could be.

I love seeing the world through his eyes. Some of our current favorite activities/games are: WrestleWrestle, him running the length of our house before knocking me over with a hug, puzzles, window-paint markers, dance party (where he gets to stand on the kitchen counters and dance,) and endless goo-goo noises and fake-sneezes at Gavin to make him laugh.

He now stops before explaining things, even beginning sentences with a slight smack of his tongue against his teeth that tells you he's slowing things down to make them clear to you.

He wants to learn the words for things in Swedish.  We worked really hard on learning to sing Happy Birthday in Swedish in time for today and he sang his own version at the top of his lungs to a crowd of twentysome onlookers. 

He beamed the entire day.  I did too.


Thursday, September 5, 2013

I was at a coffee shop today anxiously looking back and forth between my kids and the coffee and trying desperately to be aware of EVERY part of my surroundings (sometimes I'm over-the-top neurotic,) when I almost stumbled over a really good looking man in a wheel chair.  He'd obviously had his legs amputated.  With sandy blonde hair and an infectious smile, he was all-American good-looking, wholesome and all that, with a really beautifully developed upper body.  And I could totally picture what he'd look like if his bottom still matched his top.  He'd have been taller than me and I would not have met his gaze.  I don't usually make eye contact with good-looking men.

We each stumbled around each other, politely excusing ourselves and I, for once in my life, did NOT say the dumb thing I was thinking which was "Do you want to dance?" 

I'm working on my novel again. I wrote it in 2007 & 2008 and haven't touched it since.  Which is a weird thing to do, I realize.  Write a whole novel and then panic and do nothing with it.  So I've been going to graduate school for writing and have finally come back to it.  Thank goodness I left it sitting there for all that time.  I needed the perspective.  Now I can see it's missing legs.  It needs work.  I see it and what I want it to be, what I wish it were.  I feel bad that seeing that man made me think of that.  That I can't see him for who he is, but see what he was or would be with legs.  But I need to dive into what I have in front of me and make it a whole piece. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Toddler Dreams

The nice thing about having such a verbal child is that he even talks in his sleep.  So you get to learn what he has bad dreams about. 

"I want to go over there."
"I want to have my eggs in a bowl."
"I want to eat the food on mommy's plate."
"You wouldn't hold my hand."
"You wouldn't let me jump in puddles on the trail."

Sunday, September 1, 2013

A glimpse of the future

I'm eternally picturing my kids' behavior as adult problem-behavior.  Like when Magnus was a baby and would crawl over and bite your toes, I pictured him as one of those weird people on the subway that grabs women and deepthroats their feet.  Yeah.

So today, Magnus and Gavin and I are in the car waiting for Rob to grab condoms from the store and Magnus is chattering away.  He explains that he will grow up.  And when he grows up he will go in the beer store with dad and me and he will buy beer for daddy.  But Gavin won't come.  He'll wait in the car and cry.

Then he tells me for the third time that he has to pee.  So I take him out of the car and let him piss on the wheel well of my subaru.  Instead he pisses all over his pants, hand, my wheel well, and the concrete.  He thinks this is hilarious. 

And I picture him a drunk college kid, still driving my Subaru and pissing all over himself while a friend goes in to buy more beer.  Don't worry, Gavin's sober driver.  That's why he's crying.