And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.

You might think that my signing a contract for my 10th book (5th novel) would be my moment of happiness. Or you might think that my preparing to celebrate my studio’s, AllWriters’ Workplace & Workshop, 14th birthday would be my moment of happiness. These numbers-around-words moments definitely made me happy…but it’s not going to be what I write about.

Imagine. Ten books! When I can still clearly remember sitting on my bed after yet another rejection (it took me three years and two agents to sell my first novel, before I sold it all by myself), weeping and saying, “Please…just one book. I’ll be happy with one book.” Imagine. Fourteen years! Owning, running and maintaining a business that I was told was destined to fail.

Imagine. Oh, yes. Happy.

But there was something else.

Like most of the country, if not the world, Wisconsin has been having lots of weird weather. Yes, it’s been icy, snowy, and cold, which you would expect from our state. But truly, it’s been ICY and SNOWY and COLD. Extreme weather. When I walked from my condo to the parking garage to start my cars, trying to make sure they’d still run, my eyes teared and those tears promptly froze to my eyelashes. My fingers were “frostnipped” when I tried to fill my car’s tires. Schools closed. The post office closed! Hell, after our governor declared a state of emergency, Wisconsin closed.

Not fun. A new and dangerous level to normal.

In the middle of the Polar Vortex, I woke up at four o’clock in the morning and found myself unable to get back to sleep. I wrapped up in a soft robe and wandered the house. Eventually, I ended up in my office, my writing room. There is a door here that leads to our third floor deck and there are windows that rise to the top of the 20-foot ceiling. I leaned against my desk and looked outside. All that was between me and the Great Frozen was a sheet of glass. Yet I was warm.

It was so, so quiet.

Everyone in the house but me was sleeping. Even the dog and the cats. There were no buses rattling and shaking by, no sirens splitting through the crystal air from the nearby fire department, no train whistle howling from one of Waukesha’s many infamous railroad crossings. There was no traffic. No snow plows.


Outside, the frigid temperatures made the air clear and sharp. There was a moon, and it streamed silver light onto the white snow and ice. That light passing through the thin metal railings surrounding my deck threw a neat geometric grid on the snow, creating an oddly organized, but still surreal impressionistic nature-created painting. I looked out on it and felt that everything was in its place. Everything was as it should be. Even in this crazy, unheard of weather, familiar to those of us who live here, yet not familiar at all, there was order. My shoulders relaxed.

There was nobody else in the world. There was just me.

I don’t get these moments often. I live a heavily populated life. Right then, I breathed it all in, the quiet, the organization, the feeling of just being settled. In my head, I said, “It’s all okay.” I didn’t say it out loud. I didn’t want to shatter the silence I very rarely hear.

And then…I went back to bed and fell almost instantly into a dreamless sleep where the silence continued all around me.

That’s it. It might not seem like much, compared to a tenth book and a 14th birthday for an impossible business. But it was amazing.

It was just what I needed.

And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.

Not from this winter, but still one of my favorite photos. Our Literary Lion, just outside the front door, buried in the snow. Photo by Michael Giorgio.



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