How I Became the Grinch This Christmas

Or Why I Refuse to Wear an Ugly Christmas Sweater   

This year my bio family is deviating from our Christmas holiday tradition and venue. We’ve spent Christmas at Dad’s house, our childhood home, the past few years since our brother Rick ended his Saturday before Christmas Lenzke Family Open House, which was a marathon undertaking of beverage drinking, food grazing, and gift unwrapping by four generations. Some family members stayed overnight for the “afterparty.” Like most families, we have family scattered around Wisconsin and in other states — in our case — Nevada, Colorado, Kentucky, and most recently, Texas. It’s become more of a challenge to celebrate the holiday together. Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Hibernation & the Holidays: Retreat to the Hideout

Hibernation definition an extended period of remaining inactive or indoors

Hideout synonyms hiding place, hideaway, retreat, refuge, shelter, safe house, sanctuary, sanctum

First, I’m a creature of habit. I find comfort in my routines. There’s a rhythm to my days and nights. I read somewhere recently that we all experience some degree of OCD behavior. It’s certainly true for me. The gears of my Circadian clock are still trying to mesh with some synchronicity since the ending of Daylight Savings Time (DST) and turning the clocks one hour behind. Who knew that would make such an impact? They’re grinding a little right now as I try to slip back into a sleep cycle.  Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Holding On & Letting Go

“Life is a balance of holding on and letting go.” — Rumi

Holding on and letting go is one of the subjects I keep coming back to, a thread in many of my essays and remembrances. It’s an essential element in the cycle of life, a theme in many of my memories, a lesson to be learned and practiced as needed, and today again, present in my journey.

This is not unique to me. It’s a universal truth; it’s what makes us human, mortal, and sentient beings. Holding on and letting go is one of the first things we learn as an infant, one of the first things we teach as a parent, one of the most difficult emotions we experience at the beginning and at the end of our lives, and the lives of loved ones, as we examine what we need to let go of and what we need to hold onto. Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

You Can’t Go Home Again

Hat Tip to Thomas Wolfe 

“You can’t go back home to your family, back home to your childhood…back home to places in the country, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time…”  — Thomas Wolfe

First, let me go on record that as a memoir writer and someone who writes about family, relationships, and the mundane moments of everyday life — you can return home by remembering. I’ve learned though as a reminiscence writer that memory is malleable and can play tricks on you, sometimes sanding off the rough edges of some memories, while sharpening others. The nation has witnessed this phenomenon the past couple of weeks during the Supreme Court Justice nomination hearings. Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Life as a Barfly: Dispatch from the Hotel Bar

Barfly: a person who spends much time in bars

Full disclosure: I’ve been visiting bars and have climbed up bar stools to take my place ever since I was a child. I guess that makes me a barfly. Growing up, my parents with their children in tow, would attend Sunday Mass at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, then visit one of their regular taverns in Racine, Wisconsin, southern neighbor to Milwaukee, home to immigrant German brew masters and the beers that made Milwaukee famous. Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tag Team Sisters

“When someone has cancer, the whole family and everyone who loves them does, too.” — Terri Clark

“The simple message of It Takes a Village is as relevant as ever: We are all in this together.”
― Hillary Rodham Clinton

When I walk into a room and friends who I love and trust ask me, “How are you?” or “What’s new?” I break down in tears. I’m a mess. I’m normally the in-charge eldest child, natural leader, the first one to raise my hand with questions, a confident, outspoken, and opinionated woman — the kind of person who seems like she has it all together, even when she doesn’t. I can’t pretend anymore. Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1968: Flashback & Fast Forward

“Memories are not the key to the past, but to the future.”  Corrie ten Boom

“Life is divided into three terms – that which was, which is, and which will be. Let us learn from the past to profit by the present, and from the present, to live better in the future.” William Wordsworth

It’s been a month since I wrote and posted an essay on Mixed Metaphors, Oh My! The present has been occupying my attention and engaging my time. In early June I intended to draft a reminiscence about 1968, the year I graduated from high school. In September I’ll attend a 50-year high school reunion in my hometown of Racine, Wisconsin. Oh, My! Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

See Something, Say Something (Or, Not!)

From my blog post, Picking Up and Dropping the Mic, a quote from Will Rogers bears repeating: “Never miss a good chance to shut up.”  And, on the flip side, a quote by Maggie Kuhn, “Speak your mind even if your voice shakes.”

Yesterday was a full moon, the Full Flower Moon. Early in the morning Roseanne Barr began her day tweeting hate speech, racist comments, and recycled conspiracy theories. Later in the day ABC fired her, cancelling the new season of her commercially successful, rebooted sitcom, Roseanne. Perhaps she learned a lesson, never tweet during a Full Moon. Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Picking Up & Dropping the Mic

“Speak your mind even if your voice shakes.” — Maggie Kuhn

“Never miss a good chance to shut up.” — Will Rogers

The past couple of weeks (and longer) have featured perfect examples of when to pick up the mic, when to drop it, who should pick up the mic, and who should refrain from talking and listen for a change. In the opening of this essay, I offer contradictory quotes, examples of opposite sentiments. Sometimes we need to know when and who should pick up the mic, and when and who should shut up and listen. Yes, this includes me. Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Filmgoer’s Wrap-Up: The 2018 Wisconsin Film Festival

“All good things must come to an end.” — Chaucer

Just over 10 days ago, the 2018 Wisconsin Film Festival (WFF) #wifilmfest came to an end. The 20th anniversary of the festival was characterized by sold-out showings, a potpourri of The Campfire Song trailers, winter temperatures, queues of cinephiles, and filmmakers and their subjects conducting post-film discussions. The WFF featured an array of films to choose from, beginning with Wisconsin’s Own Shorts, Big Screens, Little Folks, restorations and reprises of classic films, narrative and foreign films, experimental and animated movies, documentaries, and premieres of films before they appear in theaters. Yes, a filmgoer’s delight. Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,