Motherhood & Words

I left work at 2 p.m. on Thursday and picked up my friend, Jess, and then we hit the road for Milwaukee. Jess and I have been friends since college and we see each other regularly, but we rarely get to spend extended periods of time together. Nothing like a road trip to fix that!

And I’m so glad she agreed to accompany me, because I forgot how big Wisconsin is.  If I’d been by myself I would have spent 5 hours thinking about what I was going to say the next morning on TV rather than just laughing. And really, laughing is so much more effective than fretting.

Jess and I pulled into the lot of the Hilton a little after 7:30, and dropped our things in the room. Then I had to take care of some e-mails and faxes in the hotel’s business center, so Jess got settled in the lounge. I have to say: I love the Hilton River lounge. The service is great. The wine is good. The burgers are fabulous. After dinner, I collapsed into bed.

I was up early on Friday showing and grooming and talking to myself the way I always do before a presentation (I’m glad Jess was still asleep so there were no witnesses), and then we were off to the TMJ4 station, which was just a few minutes from the hotel. I haven’t been on television since I was in junior high, when several friends and I were interviewed about Sassy, a girls’ magazine that launched in the mid-80s. Well, things have changed a lot since I was thirteen, and the stakes are considerably higher now. Needless to say, I was nervous.

But the staff at TMJ4 couldn’t be nicer. An intern led Jess and me to the “green room,” which wasn’t, in fact, green.  I sipped on some water and sucked on a peppermint. I’d had a cough, and I was worried that I might start coughing uncontrollably on the air, and I’d throw up in one of the hosts’ laps. I know that sounds unlikely, but I the truth is that I have—on more than one occasion—coughed myself into a state of acute vomiting. I just didn’t want that to happen on television. Luckily, Jess and I were soon joined by Master Jay, black belt and self-defense instructor, who is hilarious and couldn’t be sweeter. Then Opal the deaf bulldog and her sweet caregivers also joined us. And Jay’s colleague, who works with battered women. It’s everything I hoped a green room would be.

Jay and his colleague were led away first, and then the intern came back for me and Jess, so we made our way to the studio. I continued to sip on my water, but I accidentally coughed my peppermint onto the studio floor. (Seriously.) Jay did a wonderful job, and then another guest was on talking about treatment for varicose veins, and then me. But by that point I was no longer nervous. This was mostly because Molly and Tiffany, the hosts of The Morning Blend, seemed to instantly put people at ease. It was no different for me: they are welcoming and delightful.

And then all of the sudden, it was over, and I had survived my first television interview. You can watch it here.

Jess and I watched the rest of the show, then packed up our things. Then I headed back to the business center at the hotel, so I could send the foreword for Use Your Words off to my publisher. I am so excited to announce that the amazing and talented Hope Edelman wrote the foreword. Thank you, Hope!!

Then Jess and I headed over to the neighborhood where Boswell Book Company is located. (I don’t have my bearings yet in Milwaukee, but it’s somewhere on the north side.) I’ll be leading a discussion and mini workshop at Boswell’s on May 12th, so I wanted to check it out. We were starving though, so first we stopped at the Hollander Cafe, and had the BEST breakfast ever: Chorizo Hash and Eggs. I could eat that every day, except I would probably clog my arteries.

Then to Boswell Book Company. What an incredible bookstore. It is huge and open and welcoming. It reminded me of the old Hungry Mind bookstore on Grand Avenue in St. Paul, where I practically grew up. But it’s even bigger, and has more comfy places to sit and read. Jess and I met Daniel Goldin, the owner, who is delightful, and we talked a little about the May event.

I was elated when we hit the road to drive back to Minneapolis. I had been fretting about February—my crazy schedule and all the travel and how would I get it all done—but with my first television interview out of the way, everything seemed easier. And it is. I’m prepping for my retreat this weekend and working a little on my AWP paper, but I’m also relaxing. We drove up north to my mom’s cabin yesterday, and it’s lovely: there is a little snow on the ground and the sky is clear and brilliant. Stella and I walked all the way across the lake to check out a bevy of swans that were sunning themselves on the snow. As we approached, they extended their great white wings and took to the sky, circling the lake above us before they headed south to land in a farm field. It was stunning. As Stella told my mom when we returned, “Grandma, we just saw the most amazing thing.”

Indeed, we did. Happy long weekend, friends.

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I have been teaching creative writing for almost twenty years. Reading about other women’s lives and experiences has expanded my world. To be able to walk in someone else’s shoes, whether it’s for a moment or an hour or a few days, is an incredible gift, providing me with insight into the human experience. It takes courage to write your truths, especially if it doesn’t seem as though anyone cares, as though anyone is listening. Let me tell you: your stories matter, I’m listening, and I’m here to help you find the heart of those truths, to get them down on the page, to craft them, and to send them out into the world. Together, we will change the world, one story at a time.


  1. Rhena on February 19, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    So funny about the peppermint. I wouldn’t have guessed you had a cough — you were fabulous! But one question: seriously, who sends faxes anymore? 1982 want their technology back.

    • Kate on February 20, 2012 at 10:30 am

      I know! They didn’t have a scanner in the business center. The one mark against them!

  2. Gillian Marchenko on February 19, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    Well done you! Thanks for being a great spokesperson and advocate for us mama writers! Loved the interview.

    • Kate on February 20, 2012 at 10:28 am

      Thank you, Gillian! And thank you for being such a wonderful mama writer!

  3. Mary on February 19, 2012 at 11:15 pm

    You were amazing! Such a great interview!

    • Kate on February 20, 2012 at 10:27 am

      Thank you, Mary!

  4. Andria on March 15, 2012 at 8:25 am

    Kate, this was terrific! You seemed so poised and elegant, as if you are interviewed every day of your life. I know that I absolutely would have cried, peed my pants, and then coughed and vomited on someone. And everything you said was so intelligent and polished, yet genuine and moving. I am so glad that you are a face for mother writers — we couldn’t have a better representative!

    • Kate on March 15, 2012 at 8:55 pm

      Oh thank you, Andria!! I almost peed my pants, but I didn’t have another pair that fit me, so I held it in.