Writing & Motherhood

Are You My Mother?

The Unexpected Cheese-white cheddar laced with parmesan- is the sample offering at Trader Joe’s as I run in to get a few groceries before heading back for my daughter at ice skating. I take one, happy to see it’s finger food. All their samples can be finger food, even the slaws and salads, eaten in a few bites without the plastic-wrapped-plastic-fork, but then you need a napkin. I add the cheese to my cart, then turn back for the coffee sample, wishing I had my double-wall espresso cup in my bag, but I’ve gotten careless. A slender lady in a tailored gray wool coat is taking her time getting coffee, adding cream, stirring, tasting. Her cart is pulled across the sampling space and people are starting to line up. I move to one side of her, slip around to nab a tiny cup. She looks at me, then steps back…

A Novel Memoir

The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay is a stunning novel that reads like an amazing memoir, illustrating how we carry our mothers with us. Shalini, the narrator can’t seem to shake, or outdrink, or out think her dead mother. The mother, whose death is a mystery until near the end, shapes the narrative in many evocative ways as it carries the reader through the steep mountain sides of the Kashmiri region of India on an unforgettable, and possibly unredeemable, journey. I find myself taking notes, marking passages, returning and rereading to see how such a young author pulled off this feat in her first book. This is the type of book writers study. It is the kind of novel I will read again, as much for the story as the writing. Actually the story feels deeply sad and very real, as if I’m experiencing it as it unfolds; it is…

Of Winning with Daughters

Sometimes the most powerful words are your own, recited back to you. Lily is a poet. You might remember she won the Central Oregon Writers Guild poetry award last year. She won it again this year and I got to stand up with her and get my own award for non-fiction. I wrapped a story, basically a letter to her, around one of her poems Lily, our 18 year old daughter, won the Central Oregon Writer’s Guild Poetry Award again this year (two in a row). And I won 2nd in the non-fiction category. And for the first time in a long time I feel like I might be winning this motherhood game. But I also might be cheating- I used one of Lily’s poems, collaging parts of it into a story for her, and without her poem the story wouldn’t be much. Here’s the story: Such Unkind Things …

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