Karen Anderson

 

Credit Windborne Studios

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.

Essay: Brownie

Apr 3, 2020

I am picking out something to eat in a coffee shop when my eyes linger on a plate of  brownies.  

“The mocha frosting is to die for,” the salesperson says. 


Essay: Clean Hair

Apr 3, 2020

Like everyone else, I yearned to be popular in high school.  But like most everyone else, I didn’t make it.  In my case, the reason was obvious.  It was about clean hair.  

 


Essay: Uneventfulness

Mar 27, 2020

Several years ago, I heard a woman give a talk about a trip to Greenland where she lived with theInuit people, traveled by dog sled, ate raw seal meat. It wasn’t the kind of vacation most of us would choose—but for her, it was life-changing.

Essay: Change of Attitude

Mar 20, 2020

I am sitting in my car waiting for the light to change so I can turn right.  It’s a long light and I have a short fuse, feeling irritable and impatient.

 


Essay: At My Worst

Mar 13, 2020

This morning I’m driving my daughter to a dentist appointment and she complains about everything—the weather, the traffic, the bagel she had for breakfast.  Neither of us talks about what’s really bothering her, of course. Her private worries about the dentist.  
 

 


 

Essay: Taking a Fall

Mar 6, 2020

I was walking downtown to meet a friend for lunch and tried to kick a chunk of ice off the sidewalk.  The ice didn’t budge but I fell straight down onto the concrete, cursing my stupidity. Slowly, I sat up and felt my forehead, seeing my hand covered with blood.

 


My husband and I are playing Monopoly with our granddaughter, Emmy. She’s 11 years old and loves the game, although she rarely wins.

Essay: On the playground

Feb 20, 2020

I live near Traverse City’s Central Grade School and whenever I pass the playground during recess, I can’t help but marvel at the noise.  There is almost constant screaming—but not unhappy screaming.  These are young kids having fun


Essay: Soul Mates

Feb 20, 2020

My good friend Kay has been asked to do a reading at her granddaughter’s wedding.  She sent me the passage which is from a popular novel called “The Alchemist.”

 

 


Essay: Mind and Body

Feb 20, 2020

When I was young and single, I lived in Chicago for a few years and worked in an office downtown.  Every day at noon, I grabbed my book and my lunch and found a place where I could read and eat.

 

 


Essay: Gift Box

Jan 23, 2020

 

Essay: Bad Boss

Dec 27, 2019

He might have been the worst boss I ever had. I’ll call him Roy and he could have been a giftedleader. 


Essay: Manger Scene

Dec 20, 2019

Every year just before Christmas, my grandfather invited me to help him set up the manger sceneon his fireplace mantel.

Essay: Anonymous

Dec 13, 2019

When I came to Traverse City from Chicago in 1970, I didn’t plan to stay. I was young andsingle and couldn’t imagine living in such a small town where everybody knew everybody. Iliked being anonymous in a big city, the sense of freedom and possibility.

Essay: Rude Driver

Nov 29, 2019

It’s early morning and I’m driving the speed limit on a two-lane highway, feeling relaxed and grateful for the lovely weather.  Then a guy in a pick-up truck appears behind me, hugging my bumper and crowding me with his impatience.

Unable to wait, he finally roars past me on a curve and I shake my head.  What’s the big hurry? I wonder, my mood of peacefulness replaced by fear and anger.

Essay: Bake Shop

Nov 15, 2019

Judy’s mother comes in the door carrying a flat white box that she sets on the kitchen table.  “Help yourself,” she says and collapses into a chair.

Her pale pink uniform has “Evelyn” embroidered over her heart.  Inside the box are dozens of jelly donuts, Danish sweet rolls, cinnamon twists, and cupcakes.  I wait for Judy to go first but she’s not interested. 

She has leftovers like this every day because her family owns a bakery.  I wish my family owned a bakery.  I pick out a cinnamon twist. 

Essay: Personal Space

Nov 1, 2019

In my yoga class, I watch fellow students as they lay their mats out on the floor.  Most are courteous and respectful of neighbors but others unfurl their mats with authority, taking up twice as much room as they need. 

And I think about the idea of personal space, how much is enough.  I prefer the corner by the window in my yoga studio and if someone else gets there first, I’m vaguely offended.  That’s mine, I think, knowing it’s not.

Essay: Perfect Features

Oct 25, 2019

When I was fourteen, I decided that my nose was funny looking.  Juggling two mirrors, I would examine my profile—and there it was:  plain as the funny-looking nose on my face. 

Not a movie star nose but a little tipped-up number with no dignity or elegance.  How humiliating.  So, during most of my ninth grade year I sat in class with my finger holding down the end of my nose.  I don’t know whether anyone noticed this odd behavior.

Essay: Morning Despair

Oct 18, 2019

On some mornings, I roll out of bed wondering why bother?  Everything seems useless or scary or overwhelming.  Maybe I should just give it up and pull the covers over my head.  “Existential despair,” a counselor called it once.  Anxiety about the purpose of life.

Essay: Greta

Oct 4, 2019

Years ago while at a conference in a big city, I purchased a teddy bear for my young daughter which she named Greta.  She was a particularly charming bear, I thought, with soft brown fur and deep brown eyes, and she soon accompanied us everywhere, riding in grocery carts and sitting at the table in a high chair.

Essay: Gift Certificates

Sep 27, 2019

A while ago, my husband gave me a gift certificate to one of my favorite restaurants, a little hole-in-the-wall place called the Blue Heron in Traverse City.  They served the most remarkable food—elegant salads and hearty breakfasts—and I loved going there with friends, installing ourselves in a cozy booth and taking our time.


Essay: Clothes Pins

Sep 20, 2019

On a bright summer morning, I walk out to the back yard and hang my towel on the line.  Then, in a moment of gratitude, I stop to consider the clothes pin.  It’s just two pieces of wood in a coil of wire—but how efficient!  How simple and elegant and endlessly useful!


Essay: Child Abuse

Sep 13, 2019

Before I became a parent, I was sure that people who abused their children were other kinds of people.  I couldn’t imagine harming a child and was confident I never would.


Essay: Pretty Stones

Sep 6, 2019

My husband and I are walking along a Lake Michigan shoreline, listening to the waves and leaning into the wind.  Mostly we’re here for the beauty and the exercise, but I can’t resist glancing down from time to time—looking for beach stones.


Essay: White privilege

Aug 16, 2019

When I was growing up in Grand Rapids in the 1950s, my mother had a “cleaning lady” named Gladys, a soft-spoken colored woman who helped with housework.  I liked Gladys, especially when she made my lunch and cut the sandwiches diagonally.


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