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: Forgiving My Father

Mar 29, 2019

“On the way to the hospital, we didn’t have a name picked out for a girl,” my father liked say. “We were so sure it was going to be a boy.”


Essay: Geographic Fix

Mar 22, 2019

When my first marriage was seven years old and my daughter four, I started feeling restless and discontent.  Looking around for something to blame, I decided that our house was too small and the neighborhood too noisy.


Essay: Doing Your Duty

Mar 15, 2019

Every Sunday afternoon when I was a kid, my father went to visit his father—a widower who lived alone.  Sometimes our whole family went to see Grandpa Anderson, but often it was just my dad.  The two men weren’t close and I don’t know what they found to talk about.


Essay: Ask for What You Want

Mar 8, 2019

When my daughter was young, I used to embarrass her when we went to restaurants because I asked for the table I wanted.  Someone was going to get that nice table by the window; why not us?  Anyway, it couldn’t hurt to ask, politely.  And, most of the time, we sat by the window—no objections made.


Essay: Ice Floes

Mar 1, 2019

Ours is the only car in the parking lot on this Sunday afternoon. My husband and I walk north along the Lake Michigan shore, pulling on gloves and putting up hoods. It might be twenty degrees on the thermometer but it feels like zero.  


Essay: Turquoise Silk Dress

Feb 15, 2019

I am looking through my button box and pick up a small cloth-covered button. “Turquoise silk,” I murmur, remembering the dress it came from, a dress I wore only once.


Essay: Saying Hello

Feb 8, 2019

I am leaving a store when I notice the woman in front of me. There is something familiar in her walk and then I know who she is—a friend from long ago.


Essay: My House

Feb 1, 2019

When I die, I will leave the people I love which makes me sad.  But what really bothers me—and I confess this with a certain embarrassment—is leaving my house.  As a house, it’s not that special—an old, two-story, needs-work place—but as a source of shelter and security, it has never let me down.  I can’t say that about people.


Essay: Conflict Resolution

Jan 23, 2019

When I was in junior high school, I wore my hair long and straight like most of the girls.  My mother thought it would look better short and curly.  This was a constant source of tension between us—but when we got angry, we didn’t talk about it.  We stopped speaking.  Sometimes for days.

Essay: Cleanliness

Jan 11, 2019

My mother was fond of saying, “Cleanliness is next to godliness,” as she pointed me toward my bedroom.  It was years before I discovered this wasn’t one of the Ten Commandments, wasn’t even in the Bible. 

Essay: Circle of Light

Jan 4, 2019

I am walking in my neighborhood on a winter day and see a mother pulling a small child on a sled. As they cross the street, the sled bounces down a curb and suddenly I feel the jolt and it is my mittened hands gripping the wooden frame.

Essay: Chronic Illness

Dec 28, 2018

Sometimes when our family was on a trip, my father would start driving wildly and too fast.  We begged him to stop but he was ornery, rebellious.  My brother and I were terrified, my mother furious.  But Dad wasn’t drunk; he was having an insulin reaction—and needed something to eat. 

Essay: Tell Me

Dec 21, 2018

My mother loved Christmas. The decorating began early and covered every available surface:  holly on the banister, stockings on the mantel, candles on the tables. My father used to joke that the electric bill went down because we lit the house with candles.


Essay: Cat Person

Dec 14, 2018

Early on a Saturday morning I was pushing my cart around a grocery store, trying not to cry. Trying not to notice the aisle of pet food where just two weeks before I had bought a bag of cat chow, not knowing my cat would get sick three days later and die soon after. I still imagined her at home in the window waiting for my return.


Essay: Better Than

Dec 7, 2018

No one used the term “sex education” when I was growing up; in fact, no one used the word “sex.” Whatever information we gathered about this mystery was from glimpses and whispers, from eavesdropping on adults and gossiping with peers.


Essay: Being a Dog

Nov 30, 2018

When I was about eight years old, I decided I wanted to be a dog instead of a little girl.  I announced this to my parents and my father said, “Good for you.  That sounds interesting.”


Essay: School Bus Driver

Nov 16, 2018

When my daughter was in elementary school, we lived on a hill in the woods. The school bus picked her up at the bottom of the hill and in the afternoon I would watch for her to come home.

 


Essay: To Last

Nov 9, 2018

The shoe repairman glances up as I walk into his tiny shop.

“I’m having my kitchen remodeled,” I say, “and when the guys pulled the cabinets off the walls, they found this in the rafters.” I haul a leather boot out of my backpack. “I’m hoping you can tell me something about it.”

 

Essay: Sleeping Habits

Nov 2, 2018

Long before I became a parent, I watched my brother-in-law and his wife with their newborn baby. One afternoon, while I was visiting, they placed their tiny son in his infant seat in front of the television while they watched football.

 

Essay: Selling the Car

Oct 19, 2018

“It’s been very dependable,” my husband said of his Toyota truck. He was trading it in for another vehicle and had plenty of good reasons for this decision, logical reasons. But as he cleaned it out, we started remembering all the good times we’d had in that truck—camping trips, canoe trips. And we felt sad.

 


Essay: Sacred Cows

Oct 12, 2018

Just before our plane landed in Kathmandu, Nepal, we filled out a questionnaire about the purpose of our visit. I checked the box next to “Trekking” but I wanted to check “Pilgrimage.”


Essay: Parental Support

Oct 5, 2018

My husband and I are traveling in the Upper Peninsula and stop at a state park for a picnic lunch. Walking across the parking lot, I glance down at the asphalt pavement and see a small turtle, maybe two inches long. Dick picks it up and turns it over. “Painted turtle,” he says. “I’ll put him back in the lake.”

Essay: Mystery Plant

Sep 28, 2018

Last fall, a book of my essays was published and I hosted a “launch party” to celebrate. It was a fun, informal gathering and I was pleased to greet many friends and colleagues. One of the guests brought me a tiny green plant as a gift.

Essay: Lunch with Grandpa

Sep 21, 2018

When my grandfather invited me to go out to lunch, it wasn’t anyplace fancy, just the Booth Dairy a few blocks away. Booth’s was mostly a place to buy milk and ice cream, but they also had a little lunch counter where you could order sandwiches. 

Essay: Her Name

Sep 14, 2018

In college, I dated a guy named Hank who was a witty fellow with a gift for language. Although the romance didn’t last, some of his droll observations have lingered.


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