I Am Sorry For Our Loss

Imagine Pippi Longstocking as an adult. She’s lived through a bad motorcycle crash and maybe a marriage, she has kids of her own. Her garden is epic. All the neighborhood kids want to hang out at her house, lying on the grass under the trees. She is a mother, a member of the community, an artist and etc. but mostly she is herself.

Now imagine that you are a 14-year-old girl, ambitious and uncomfortable, living in a small country town where the parents of your classmates boycott Garth Brooks CDs because he said something good about the gays. You waffle wildly, trying to fit in with your volleyball teammates (we’re going to State!) while outfitting your room with NARAL Pro-Choice America bumper stickers and wondering how you’re going to make it through high school without screaming. (Hint: you don’t.)

Imagine meeting an adult who doesn’t list your achievements the minute you meet them! Imagine an adult who expects to find you entertaining, who will judge you clever or not based on what you say in that moment. Imagine a woman, an adult woman, a mother even, who’s thinking about her art and her garden and who makes you welcome by leaving you to putter, or jump on the trampoline, or make up games with your friends.

Patricia Mock was intimidating, inspiring, and confidently kind. She carved out space for both of us in Olathe. I am so grateful to have known her. I still want to be her someday.

Wrong Glass, Ma’am

As an American parent of German children, I strive to set a good example and to be a better ambassador for my country than the person who literally has that job right now. To these ends, I try to maintain a mein of dignified composure when presented with cultural differences. My Respect First, Laugh Later ethos has been sorely tested recently:

  • The Birkenstock store in Regensburg, Germany sells socks.
  • At-the-farm milk vending machines in Austria are convenient, delicious, and not always refrigerated.
  • My fridge contains a very special cheese that smells exactly like my basketball locker in college.

Things are different, but they’re good. Good enough to stick around for a while: we’re buying a 350-year-old farmhouse in √útz, Austria. Come visit! The milk is so fresh it’s warm! Cool evenings but you only brought sandals? We have the solution! While you’re here, you can help me stoke up my nerve to try this cheese.