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Karen Anderson

Essays by Karen Anderson

Karen Anderson is a writer who lives and works in Traverse City, Michigan. She was a columnist for the Traverse City Record-Eagle for 30 years and published two collections.

Since 2005, she has contributed weekly essays to Interlochen Public Radio. An illustrated collection of her essays was published in 2017, “Gradual Clearing: Weather Reports from the Heart.”

Karen has a master’s degree in English Literature from the University of Michigan and is retired from Northwestern Michigan College where she was director of marketing and public relations. She enjoys camping, canoeing, reading, writing, listening, learning.

  • When I was 23 years old, I went to Europe for the first time with some women friends. None of us had much money but one of us had a book promising we could live on “Five Dollars a Day.” We also chose Icelandic Airlines because it was the cheapest.
  • I think about how people used to try hard to last things. Today, almost everything is disposable. And I leave his shop wishing we could last more...
  • I had heard about the Hindu belief in “sacred cows” and thought the whole idea rather strange and certainly unhygienic. Now I was sharing a sidewalk with them. Now I was watching a lovely woman touch the cow and touch her forehead in reverence. I could feel something shift in the baggage of my assumptions.
  • I grew up in a family where invitations came with expectations so mostly we accepted whether we wanted to attend or not. It wasn’t a recipe for a good time and I didn’t want to keep doing it.
  • I am carrying my old desk lamp into the elegant lighting store, trying to slip past the crystal chandeliers on my way to the repairs department. Standing in line, I stare at the clutter of parts I can’t even identify.
  • My husband and I were recently talking about a trip we made to Scotland, so I grabbed my travel journal and looked for details.
  • “Exposure, followed by sanctuary was somehow part of Grandmother’s emotional need, and it turned out to be the pattern of her life.” When I read this in college, I knew Stegner was describing me, too.
  • We all have comb overs—every single one of us. We are all hiding some kind of defect—visible or invisible, real or imagined—that we work very hard every day to disguise.
  • I commissioned a good friend to weave this rug for me over 25 years ago. But you’d never know it's age. The colors are bright and the shape true. And every time I wash it, I’m stunned by how handsome it looks
  • When I was young, I wanted to be special, to be different, to be noticed. Now, I’m old and I rather like being ordinary, being similar, being invisible.