Tuesday, April 24, 2018

What a difference a week makes!

I was beginning to wonder if it was just me—being lazy, depressed by winter. Perhaps a bit of both. But, no, the records confirm it. This has been the coldest April in Chicago in 137 years.

When I left for Grand Rapids a week and a half ago for my writer’s conference, I had the idea of riding my bike back. This is not too unrealistic as I’ve done it about 3 times already. I say about as the first time I didn’t quite make it. Around New Buffalo, MI I retired to my tent for the night. I slept soundly as the woods were super quiet. In the morning when I unzipped my tent I was astounded to discover a world of white. During the night it had snowed about 3 inches. My husband phoned me and asked if I was alive—it had gotten down to 23 degrees. I had no idea as I was snug and cozy in my sleeping bag with a fleece liner.

But once I got on the road it was clear that the roads were icy and the wind off the lake felt even colder. So in Michigan City (Indiana) I called and asked him to come get me. What would have taken ¾ of a day took 60 minutes to get back home.

You win some and lose some when it comes to weather and outdoor activities. One year I was surprised by how hot it was for the middle of April and got a bad sunburn. Often I get rained on. So I usually try to come prepared. Yet I was unprepared for last weekend’s weather. Rain, freezing rain, snow, oh and winds 25 – 30 mph. The amount of slush on Grand Rapids’ streets on Sunday was ankle high. It was a good thing I cancelled.

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But now I am left with having to put in extra hours training. I simply need time in the saddle to condition the fanny for an upcoming long-distance ride. This weekend the weather though still a bit chilly was glorious. By the lake temps were in the 50s, but away from the water it got up to almost 60. The wind was from the NE but relatively calm. I rode a 44 mile loop from my house up to the Botanical Gardens via the North Branch Trail and then southward along the Green Bay and Channel Trails. Once home I sat out in the garden and observed green blades coming up=irises. The daffodils were out as well as the crocuses. Siberian squill filled in. I drank tea from my thermos and pondered: What a difference a week makes!

Friday, April 20, 2018

There’s Nothing for Certain

Which is why I’m intrigued by stories of mystery and faith. That crux where one must rest despite ambiguity.

Which is why I suspect the Norwegians say there is no such thing as bad weather but bad clothes (gear). Readers of this blog, particularly of my posts pertaining to cycling, know I have issues with claims of waterproof. Waterproof for me has ended up being a misnomer. I am a waterproof skeptic.

So for my aborted ride home from Grand Rapids this past weekend I seriously looked at and came to the conclusion that I needed something at least a bit more water resistant that what I’d brought. Let’s face it: most of my performance gear has been collected off the ground from runners waiting at the start for the Chicago Marathon—something I last did five years ago. All that ended with the Boston Marathon bombing. Now you need a Presidential invitation to get within a half mile of the start and finish line.

Riding the 2.5 miles from my host’s house to the campus of Calvin College in Grand Rapids for my writer’s conference was like being lashed to the mast of a sailboat during a category 5 storm. I was absolutely soaked by the time I arrived and had to sit all day in damp clothing. The temp outside never rose above 35 degrees. On top of rain was freezing rain and 25 mph winds. It was crazy. It made more sense when it actually just settled down to snow because it only accumulated in the crocus and tulip beds and not on the sidewalk.

As a waterproof skeptic I’ve come to the conclusion that what passes for waterproof is financially cost-prohibitive and that anything less than Gore-Tex though still a gazillion dollars only works to a degree—like it keeps me dry on the outside yet WET on the inside from sweat. And I have a bone to pick about colors: usually black or charcoal (basically a light black) when visibility is a necessity.

I thought if I just can wear something that sheds rain or me somewhat dry then layers of wool will take care of the rest. At least I can stay warm while wet. But that theory got blown up this past weekend. When I was wet and cold wearing wool.

Even if nothing is for certain, I’m going to have to have a minimum of confidence that I’m not going to die of hypothermia. Thus, I’ll be looking for a new rain suit and plastics to go over my riding shoes.
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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Riding Back from Grand Rapids

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This pretty much sums up my aspirations to cycle home from Grand Rapids starting Sunday – Wednesday in mid-APRIL.

Yes, I know spring can be iffy, that April showers bring May flowers, that one day it can be sun and the next cold. But certainly not ARTIC. I experienced a range of weather that would baffle and frustrate even Shakleton. My plan was to drive in a van with my friend to the Festival of Faith & Writing in Grand Rapids and then cycle back to Chicago. I’ve done this trip before. In brilliant sunshine and unseasonable warmth, and in rain and a douse of snow. And also in what might be described as “normal” conditions. What happened this past weekend defies anything close to what I’m used to.

I’ve never had to cancel a bike trip, though there were times I should have.

I ended up cancelling. 1) Wind, there were tree branches scattered everywhere after a night of high-winds that continued into the day and part of the next. 2) Rain. I commuted 2.5 miles to the festival and by the time I arrived I was soaked. This despite I was wearing protective gear. Albeit NOT waterproof, but had served me in the past as tolerable. 3) Temps, hovering above freezing. 4) Which leads me to freezing rain. On Sunday, the day I’d planned to begin cycling to Kalamazoo there was freezing rain to the extent that when it fell to the ground the roads looked like slushy machines. The accumulated ice was up to my ankles.

By this time I’d already decided to cancel. My friend and I waited before getting on the highway to come home after the conference. We drove to a movie theater to see A Quiet Place. The car ride there was scary. She slowed down before slowing down at intersections where we saw cars slide sideways. I fully expected to be rear-ended. After that the apocalyptic horror movie seemed calming. I felt like someone who had survived the end of the world. When we emerged from the theater the sun was shining.

Quick! Get in the car before anything else happens. We were able to drive home because of a window in the weather. Right now outside my window here in Chicago it is snowing. In APRIL!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Places to Submit

Check out the tab=Places to Submit
I've tidied it up and tried to eradicate dropped links, defunct publications etc

Here's a new one:

  • Glassworks Seeks Flash Fiction, Prose Poetry, and Micro Essays
  • Deadline: Rolling
Glassworks Magazine seeks flash fiction, prose poetry, and micro essays for publication in Flash Glass, our online feature. In glassworking, "flashed glass" is a specific technique by which color is not simply added, but is created by layering, opening almost unlimited possibilities of variation. The glass allows light to shine through but prevents inquisitive eyes from invading people's privacy. Send us your written work that does the same! All work published online in Flash Glass is included in a print anthology at the end of the year. Submit up to three shorts under 500 word. Guidelines and submit atwww.rowanglassworks.org.

  • Brilliant Submissions Wanted
  • Deadline: Rolling
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Submissions wanted: 1,000 words or less. We are looking for short works that give the reader a "flash" of revelation or surprise; or beautifully written (or humorous) short, short stories that burn into the reader's memory... and, check out our no-fee writing contests. No poetry, please. brilliantflashfiction.com

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Festival of Faith & Writing

I’m off for a week at a conference in Grand Rapids called the Festival of Faith & Writing. This is my thing. I never knew how much I looked forward to FFW, but now it is a part of my spring ritual. (Actually it’s held every 2 years.) FFW to me are crocuses springing forth, the green blade arising. In the dead of cold, dark winter I begin to read the authors invited to the festival. I make itineraries and mock schedules. I reserve a car, I request a bed with a couchsurfing host.

I’m so ready for next week. So ready for warmth, conversation about books, crossing the quad and seeing some of the same faces I’ve come to recognize. This is a time of renewal.

Then I plan to cycle back from Grand Rapids. This is where things get tricky. The weather has been very unpredictable.

Well, it’s spring you say. Yes, when you wake up to snow almost every morning this week, you begin to question the calendar.

So good wishes, thoughts, light, vibes=send them my way as I ride back to Chicago. I will spend one night camping at Dunewood Campground and I expect it to be cold. And, of course, there will be rain. What is a bike trip for Jane without rain??  

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Monday, April 16, 2018

Vernacular Flash

Readers of this blog know that I am addicted to Antiques Roadshow. I watch mostly for the description. Crenulated. Wingback. Bezel. That thing on the top of cabinet clocks. When is an object more than just a thing—when you hear one of the Keno brothers go into detail about it. You come to understand it is the sum of the parts, the work invested, the craftsmanship.

One of the appraisers was evaluating a book of police mugshots from Portland, Oregon circa 1900s. The term she used to describe it was vernacular, as in vernacular photos have become very popular.

Here’s how Daile Kaplan defined the term: The photography of the everyday, the photography that's a record, that's a document, that has a historic truth.

This is also how I might define flash memoir.

This is not the letter from Abraham Lincoln or the guy who found the Rembrandt in the trash. This is more like the story behind the toy train. I got it for Christmas one year and it’s been in our family ever since.

Some of us might use this as an excuse to get something out of the fridge or make popcorn. While some of us will lean closer to the TV and say out loud: I have something just like it! We learn that that thing we’ve always had and took for granted is now of value. That moment we almost forgot about, is suddenly the linchpin of an important memory. The thing that binds us together in a universal experience.

This is why it’s important to capture and write things down. We never know when the landline will disappear or that when we talk about a video or even now a DVD kids will look at us cross-eyed. We never know when writing the ordinary that it will someday become historic, a record of the past.

*the avocado-colored wall phone
*film cannisters
*station wagons
*MAD magazine

Try to think of something that was ubiquitous when growing up has already gone the way of all things. Write about it.
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Monday, April 9, 2018

The Thing that We Shall Not Name

So what’s been happening?

Well, there have been the edits on my new book coming out this fall. That was scary—until I finally opened the file and realized it wasn’t a deep hole. In fact, it was WAY easier than I thought it would be.

I’ve actually been putting a lot of things off, thinking they might overwhelm me. I try to reason with myself. Overwhelming is not death. It isn’t forever. It’s scary, yes, but it shouldn’t be paralyzing.

But it is/can be.

Which is why I’m going to confess: I’ve been somewhat writer’s blocked.

Of course, it might not seem like it with over a dozen publishing credits in the last year and the book contract. But most of this was previously generated material. The newest bits were also flashes, some as small as 50 words. It seemed I couldn’t get started. More than that my confidence level has been nil.

Again all this seems the opposite of what one would be experiencing especially after what must be objectively considered a “good” year.

I tried not to let Trump consume my emotional life. Yet, the anger and frustration is there. Boiling beneath the surface. At this point I don’t even want to talk or write about him anymore. He’s already taken up too much energy, valuable resources from me.

Maybe he was a convenient excuse. I think I know what’s been inhibiting me. And, when I tell you, I believe you will understand why I’ve been reluctant to start writing new stories, telling a tale longer than a few pages.

About 18 months ago I wrote a story. It was a bit like wringing out a washcloth. A struggle to get the words out. It was an ugly story. I knew it needed a whuppin’, a heavy-handed revision, and planned to get back to it. I waited and when I had gumption I went to my Documents file.

Where was it? Oh my God. I used a dozen search words and still nothing. I did manage to locate my research file and the file for false starts. You see I have a tendency not to accurately label or title files. Word tries to help me be better organized and if I were organized this would be a big help. But a disorganized person haphazardly doesn’t get around to using the tools in their toolbox.

I had a tech friend come and help. He found duplicates of the files I’d already (Now, finally!) organized. But not the story. It was gone. Then came the election.

Then my critique partner moved to California. I felt like I was losing my grip on so many things.

Well, this week I opened a blank page and SAVED it before even putting down a line of words. I named it the same name as the file I’d lost a year and a half ago. AND I REWROTE THAT MOTHER. I faced up and wrote it out better.

The relief I’m now feeling is like----I’m back!

Friday, April 6, 2018

Killer Flash Contest

Enter today! Win big by killing it!

The top three entries will win cold, hard cash.

$200 for Killer Flash winner

$100 for 2nd place

$50 for 3rd place

We also give mad props to 4th-10th place,
publishing them in our Killer Flash mega-issue
and in a future print anthology,

Follow these guidelines, and you could have some extra coin in your pocket, and some bragging rights as the Killer Flash winner.

– All submissions must absolutely be under 1,000 words, and we tend to look more kindly on 750 or fewer

$7 to enter contest

this is a KILLER FLASH contest, so something’s gotta die. But again, this can be in any form imaginable.

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Monday, April 2, 2018


Hey! my kid (yeah, she's not really a kid, but she's my kid) has a story in a new anthology: Bright Bones--writings about Montana.

Order a copy today for $20, because in May the cost goes up to $25


Super proud.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Cover Reveal--Coming Fall 2018!!

Fall 2018
Cloud of Witnesses by Jane Hertenstein
ISBN 978-1-7320276-2-6
Golden Alley Press

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Super Excited About This

Fall 2018
Cloud of Witnesses by Jane Hertenstein

ISBN 978-1-7320276-2-6

Golden Alley Press

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Monday, March 19, 2018

Uptown, A Walk Through

Uptown, A Walk Through

I am the tarnished penny abandoned on the sidewalk
the lone glove left on the fence post
the key-shaped pacifier gathering grit on the park path
I am that plastic bag floating, caught in the shrubs
the empty Starbucks cup blown into the curb
the scratch-off littering the pavement in front of the 7/11
the limp condom by the loading docks behind Ace Hardware
I am the footprint in the snow between

The House of Prayer and the House of Hair.

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Friday, March 16, 2018

Fear, Hard to Forget

I remember going to the lakeshore with my daughter
on a weekend day. The brightness, the blue,
the dizzying crowd as we unfurled blankets,
set up chairs, dumped sand toys from a plastic bag.
I watched as she darted to the edge of the water
and back again, making sure I was watching.
Then sometime during this game I slacked,
I looked away—lost her.
Just as water seeks its own level, people
flowed in and surrounded her. For an absolute second
everything stopped, time and space peeled away.
My senses lurched, razor-sharp.
That’s a lot to remember, yet still to this day,
I recall relief
when at last a blonde head bobbed,

she, squealing in delight.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Writing Update:

Recently been working on edits with my editor Nancy Sayre at Golden Alley Press for my upcoming novel Cloud of Witnesses (FALL 2018). This is one side of my brain.

Also been working on a hybrid poetry slash prose chapbook about Art Week at Great Spruce Head Island. A project that has almost no future as a niche work. BUT if you know someone who loves the New York School of Poets and appreciates quotidian observations laced with melancholy let me know. I’m looking for a reader/critiquer/breathing person to give feedback. Maybe @Eileen Myles?!

Then there’s also You Are Here: A Flash Memoir—that’s getting little to no traction. I produce enough work to keep a single critique group in motion. Yet this has been the year where I struggle to find that group. After several years of maintaining a circle of readers, I’ve suddenly been floundering. There have been some nibbles and false starts, but so far nothing has gelled.

Still waiting to hear if “Arriving at Night” advances to be included in Pushcart anthology. I think I’ll hear more in April.

Finally, an acceptance! A small flash fiction-ish piece called Celebration of Life in the Vassar Review, to be included in an upcoming print edition. Whew!

In about 3 weeks I leave for the Festival of Faith & Writing in Betsy DeVoss country (Sad!), but I look forward to meeting authors and being introduced to some really fabulous literature. I lead a Festival Circle on Flash Memoir.

Stay tuned for more updates (hopefully).
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Friday, March 9, 2018

Woolworth's, Pet Department

When I first came to Chicago in early 1980s there was a recession. The homeless I was used to seeing were single men and women down on their luck. But the first summer I was in Chicago and working at a church mission was when I was introduced to whole families being homeless. Often we discovered they were living in their cars. One of my first jobs was driving around to pick up ”donos”: donations, but also used to refer to doughnut donations. We’d pull up in our station wagon and load in sacks of day-old doughnuts. By the time we got back to the mission it had become one giant day-old doughnut. The glazed had congealed together.

We were volunteers meaning we made no salary. We were basically working for room and board, and the experience. Much like interns do today—except we didn’t go into debt.  We had NO money. On days off we got as token to ride the train and went to the end of the line. Up to Wilmette to the Bahá'í Temple or downtown. Since we had no money we window shopped, meaning we tried the samples at the perfume counter.

In my neighborhood there was a Goldblatt’s around the corner. I’d never seen so many bras. There was a was an entire floor given over to bras. It was like a sea of lingerie.

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In cold winter while I was waiting for spring I’d go to the Woolworth’s where in the basement was the pet department. Along one wall were cages of birds. I could hear them twittering before I even reached the bottom step. For a few minutes my soul felt lighter. I knew it couldn’t be too much longer and we’d have green. Until then I hung out with the tropical-colored parakeets and yellow canaries, dreaming. 
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Wednesday, March 7, 2018

PK Hardware

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I remember, growing up in Centerville, Ohio, near Dayton, going to department stores. You could spend the day shopping at Rike’s, then have lunch in their restaurant and get your hair done at the store salon. Elder-Berman was possibly one step down, but a notch up from J.C. Penny. Unbelievably places where you placed orders and had the products delivered was not considered as classy as actually shopping. I still have a fancy hand-painted hairclip manufactured in France that I bought at Rikes one day on a whim.

Rike’s have now gone the way of Field’s, consolidated into a Macy’s. Which will probably go the way of all things. One day there will just be Amazon.

To shop local we went to the hardware store. The hardware store was where we bought most of our stuff. I was reminded of this when someone wanted to know where they could buy some ice skates. I bought my Huffy bicycle and ice skates at PK Hardware where my mother worked as a cashier and, thus, we got a store discount. My mother purchased patio furniture there as well as replaced our shower curtain.

Even today, the first place I think of going when I need something is the hardware store. 
Could be the old Howland Hardware Store in my town....same shelves, same counter, same ladder!

Monday, March 5, 2018

Weird Jobs I've Had

I’ve done a lot of crazy things for money. Collected bottles and cans for cash, There was the usual: babysitting, mowing grass, cleaning the kitty litter, and shoveling snow. I got up at 4 in the morning to deliver newspapers. One summer me and the neighborhood kids built an amusement park in the backyard and charged admission. We sold Zagnut and Zero bars at our concession stand.

The weirdest thing I’ve ever done was answer an ad looking for someone to dress up in a broccoli costume and walk around the mall offering samples of raw vegetables. It seemed surreal—probably because I was sleep deprived. It was my final semester of college, I needed a few extra bucks. But surreal in the sense that I, a vegetable, was asking people to eat me, to eat my fellow vegetables. It felt cannibalistic. Obviously, I was overthinking the job.
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Whenever I see broccoli on the salad bar line I’m reminded of that time in my life—and usually skip it.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Stuart Dybek=Lights!

I recently got a chance to hear Stuart Dybek (The Coast of Chicago) talk at OCWW, Off Campus Writers Workshop, the oldest continuing writer’s workshop in the US. The topic of discussion was re-visioning our revisions. I know, not sexy.

It was incredible to look at a marked-up copy of “Pet Milk”, The New Yorker, August 13, 1984. Can you imagine the highs and lows. A story accepted by The New Yorker! They need a few clarifications and copy edits, no problem! Only what Dybek gets back in the mail looks like algebra. Oh my God, he thinks—is it this bad. The copy he hands out to us is insightful—the editor asked Dybek to go deeper, re-imagining his story.

I’ve written here in a much earlier post about “Pet Milk” and how it is a story launched from a flash memory. Dybek more than substantiated that theory in the class. Of course it was and wasn’t him, more who he wished he were. “The author thinks back to a time when he was sixteen . . . .” We can imagine ourselves on that EL platform witnessing first love in its youthful formation, the sudden embrace of a couple on a passing CTA train. I live in Chicago and see all kinds of stuff on the train.

When I first read “Pet Milk” I fell in love with that story and the image of the couple has stayed with me to this day.

I got a chance to chat with Dybek after the class. I told him I’d also always love the short short “Lights”, a 125-word gem. Stuart’s face lit up. That’s the story I was talking about how we know when something is done. I read it over the radio and when I heard it aloud I knew it was done. That’s all there was to it.

LIGHTS by Stuart Dybek
In summer, waiting for night, we’d pose against the afterglow on corners, watching traffic cruise through the neighborhood. Sometimes, a car would go by without its headlights on and we’d all yell, “Lights!”

“Lights!” we’d keep yelling until the beams flashed on. It was usually immediate—the driver honking back thanks, or flinching embarrassed behind the steering wheel, or gunning past, and we’d see his red taillights blink on.

But there were times—who knows why?—when drunk or high, stubborn, or simply lost in that glide to somewhere else, the driver just kept driving in the dark, and all down the block we’d hear yelling from doorways and storefronts, front steps, and other corners, voices winking on like fireflies: “Lights! Your lights! Hey, lights!”
Stuart Dybek photo
Stuart Dybek, raised in Chicago’s Little Village and Pilsen neighborhoods in the 1950s and early 1960s.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Update on Bootcamp: My Second Month

Time for an update on the bootcamp I joined in January 2018 through the Chicago Park District. I’ve trudged through snow, ice, and bitter cold to reach the doors of bootcamp. February has been no exception.

While changing out of snow boots and snow pants I watch the instructor set decorating the room with mats, weights, various contraptions of torture. Seriously, I never have any idea of what’s ahead as so far he has not repeated a routine twice. It’s probably part of the strategy to throw us off our game; no room for complacency. I’m always the last one to get what he’s trying to say. So you want us to do what?

And once I do understand, I’m pretty sure my body can’t do that.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the instructor cues us or shouts out, sort of like a kapo, stuff like: Challengers take it up a rep or grab the heavier weight. Sometimes he calls them tough mudders (after the race where you steeplechase over mud-covered walls, slipping and sliding, and through obstacles consisting of—MUD)—you tough mudders can probably do it on your toes or with the full kick out. Then he begins to work down: Beginners if you need to you can pulse, just get your shoulder up off the ground, if you need to go down on the weights okay, just be sure to do the squats. ETC. Then finally he looks over at me: and, for Jane, do whatever you can.


Is it so obvious I’m a complete weakling? Actually just doing the warm ups the other day I pulled something. Sheesh. It must be ugly watching me attempt to do the routines he sets out for us. I feel like my body is unhinged in several places. I fling my arms and flail. None of it really exercising. In fact I always know when I’m doing it wrong by the fact I can do it. The first couple times this happened I thought, Whoa, finally, something I can do—only to have him come over and say, You’re supposed to be coming all the way up/down. Oh.

Really he is a nice guy and very easy to follow. If only I wasn’t such a klutz. By the end of the session I'm whimpering. He works us so hard I begin to hallucinate.

I try to let my imagination go. Try to imagine cycling out in the country past windmills, or running along a Malibu beach—instead of sweating through a burpee, instead of toppling over while doing a lunge. I try to groove to the music—a large percentage being about sex. Apparently it is a motivator. There’s one whole song where they repeat on auto-tune—take off all your clothes, take off all your clothes, take off all—you get the message. They’re a teensiest bit sexist, assuming the lady wants it. Then there’s the song where I swear she’s singing mac-n-cheese. Absolutely no idea.

I wake up on Tuesdays and Thursdays and the first thought through my head is: Oh my god, I have to go to bootcamp. But always afterwards, I’m like: I made it without crying! (Sometimes I do cry, nearly all the time I feel like it.) Lately, I’ve begun to see results. Things feel a little tighter, not shaking when I walk. I feel more in control of my body—as if it might start to listen to me when I tell it what to do. My pants fit better.

Good because when you have to wear two pairs in order to fight off hyperthermia on the walk up you need the extra room.
Thanks the Rise Fitness Boot Camp

Monday, February 26, 2018

Dedicating this to the Ones I Love

I have a book coming out FALL 2018, Cloud of Witnesses (Golden Alley Press) about a 14 year-old boy growing up in a bookless home in the foothills of the Appalachians in southeastern Ohio. This isn’t exactly an autobiographical novel—though I tried to write what I knew. I was in teacher training at Ohio University in Athens and was sent out into the county for student teaching assignments.

Working on edits and promo for the book has reminded me of books in our home. My parents had a weird collection. There were show books with elaborate illustrations probably produced and sold as a subscription. I remember being intrigued by a title and the surreal illustrations: Confessions of an English Opium-Eater. I couldn’t for the life of me understand what the book was about. My father had a basket by his chair stacked with a couple random mass paperbacks, popular back then: The Moviegoer, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater and Slaughter House-Five, The Naked Ape???

I never saw my father read. Mom would start reading and immediately drop off asleep. She preferred series romances. I flipped through them a couple times, thinking these seem super easy and uninteresting.

I have a strong memory of ordering a book through Scholastics. I was probably just 5 or 6 and in kindergarten, just learning to read. Flip, about a foal who eventually got over his fears and learned to jump a fence. I read it to myself over and over. I might have memorized it, because I’m not sure I could even read. I definitely understood the story from the pictures. Anyway I asked my mom what the words in the front were. She told me it was a dedication and explained what that was. Without a doubt, I answered her: When I write my first book I will dedicate it to you.

I was reminded of this this past week as I worked on the interior of a CreateSpace edition of the first book I published, Beyond Paradise.

This book is now available through Amazon—if you want to order a copy and check out my dedication.
Ready! Beyond Paradise is in paperback

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Friday, February 23, 2018

Pushcart Nomination!

Here’s a link to Ink &Letters, the magazine that nominated me for a Pushcart. Order a copy and read my short short: Arriving at Night. http://www.inkandletters.com/shop/transition

As an aside, a few friends hearing my good news were worried—if we knew you needed a cart we’d have loaned you ours. It’s in the closet. I gently told them not that kind of pushcart.

Also check out by clicking on the link to my latest piece online at Yea, Tenderness: The Seven Stages of Replacing Things. https://www.tendernessyea.com/work/#/by-jane-hertenstein/

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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Solo Woman Cyclist=Taking Your Bike with You

Taking my own bike especially overseas is quite a commitment. I’d packed a bike a couple times for a bus and each time it felt stressful. The first time I forgot my front wheel and had to have it shipped. The second time I nearly forgot my pedals.

Add to all this that my first bike as over 30 years old. Most of the parts had seized and you needed different size wrenches, etc. Once I got the Torker things got easier.

You have to remove your pedals, take off your front wheel, and turn your handlebars. This can mean loosening and turning, but for me to make everything fit I had to totally detach them and strap them to my crossbar. The only thing that held them to the bike were the cables. I also worried about the rear derailleur getting smashed. In addition I have to remove the seat.  

Ask for the biggest bike box the bike shop has. Once I got a smallish one. Usually a mountain bike box will do. I lay the bike down and watching YouTube remove the pedals. Laying it down helps the other pedal not to move while with a pedal wrench you give it a crank. I set these aside. Next I take off the seat. Put aside. Open your brakes and take off the wheel. I go ahead and take out the quick release skewer, keeping track of the little springs and knobby thing on the end. Put by the other stuff.

The handlebars are easy enough. I loosen the bracket and take them out and hook them under my cross bar. You can use zip ties, or what I do is use bread bags and tie them. It adds cushioning, then I use them on my ride for storing stuff in. Also because I’m afraid that when cutting the ties I’ll sever the cables.

Then I slip the bike into the box upside down. A sensitive area is the forks. They seem to get less impact if upside down in the box, thus UP to you when in the box. I’ll also wrap the ends with foam and if possible put a block of wood or something solid in between in case they get knocked around. These are all tricks I’ve picked up watching YouTube.

I put the pedals, skewer, bike lights in a plastic bag and stuff into my handlebar bag. Into the box I put my closed-cell sleeping mat. One end cradles the derailleur. I also put things in various places to act as buffers and padding, plus the seat (I have the post marked so that when reassembling I know exactly where). The pedals, skewer, and bike lights go into my handlebar bag. It all has to be under a certain weight—usually 70 pounds (but check airline baggage, oversize, bicycle requirements), and my bike weighs about 32.

Be aware: no bike oil or glue tube from patch kit can fly. Possibly flammable. And, of course, no camping fuel. Matches can be checked, not in carry-on. Same goes for your camping knife and any other sharps.

Which leads me to my next entry: Solo Woman Cyclist=Packing for a Long-Distance Tour.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Solo Woman Cyclist=Packing for a Long-Distance Tour

My experience has been cycle touring with the intent to camp. I’ve utilized Warmshowers and Couchsurfing, but love the ability to camp gypsy-style whenever I get tired or see a great opportunity. It gives me more flexibility. Plus cheaper.

Thus, I pack a lot of stuff. Ultra-light, but still it adds up.

I have 2 Ortleib Back-Roller classics. Into each I put my squished (into a compression sack) sleeping bag, my cat-food can stove, pot, spork, drinking cup. Various candles, matches, etc. A sack where I’ve stuffed clothing. Fuel and basic food items. A microfiber travel towel, toiletries. Minimal first aid kit. Straddling the top is a SealLine Baja Dry 10L Bag which contains tent and sleeping pad. Wedged in between are some clogs in a plastic bread bag.

Extraneous stuff goes in the front handlebar bag, not the least my thermos of hot tea and snacks. Snapped to the bars also is pouch which holds my phone and Swiss Army knife. In case I have to defend myself.

Just kidding.  
too much of a good thing, can be too much
just remember: you have to carry it. I tend to go ultra-light

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Rethinking Incarceration: a book review

 Image result for rethinking incarceration

Rethinking Incarceration
Dominique DuBois Gilliard
Intervarsity Press, 2018

I think a majority of us are familiar with Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow where she laid out the argument that the US penal system is in place to enslave and criminalize an underclass of the black population. She was very persuasive. The facts underscored her conclusions. Since the publication of that book we’ve seen the birth of the Black Lives Matter Movement. Issues of not just social justice but literally justice are/were starting to be addressed.

If anything the current administration and Attorney General have put unequal sentencing back into focus.

This is not an easy read. And, I read a lot. I reckoned I could whip through the book in plenty of time to review it before Dominique’s book launch this Friday, February 16 at 7:30 pm at Wilson Abbey, 935 W. Wilson, Chicago, IL 60640. FREE admission. But as I read certain questions began to sit with me. How much money are for-profit prisons making? Is it a coincidence that stocks in the two major prison corporations soared after Trump’s election? Why the high number of incarcerated women? The pipeline of high school to jail for black and brown children. The number of mentally ill inmates. It seems all of our social ills have coalesced around prisons.

And now add immigration. Deportation centers are full of people being rounded up and quickly pushed through immigration court without due process.

As I’ve mentioned before I wish authors of non-fiction could use that one voice, the one that says: Yo! This is messed up!

Gilliard pulls together a dystopian picture of a population regularly avoided and seemingly discarded by society. Virtually out of sight, out of mind. He asks: Why? For what purpose?

But instead of going into deep-state speculation, his conclusions are meant to propel us forward, not toward a silver lining, but toward quotidian action. A long, slow, hand-to-the-plow turning back of injustice. The second half of the book is where he seeks to empower the reader.

Gilliard is the director of racial righteousness and reconciliation for the Love Mercy Do Justice Initiative of the Evangelical Covenant Church and sits on the board of directors for CCDA. Christian Community Development was founded in 1989 by Dr. John Perkins to engage the church at large on issues of social justice. As someone picked by President Ronald Reagan’s Task Force on Hunger, Perkins employed revolutionary language to contemporary problems. When was the last time you heard someone speak truth to power about redistribution. A-huh. Yeah. Like, why do certain school districts get top-of-the-line million dollar technology and some schools can’t get heat in winter???? Yo! Like, why can’t a rich country such as ours spread some of its wealth around?

Well, we’re still here, says Gilliard. He doesn’t sugar-coat the approach of the church. He tells it like it is. Much of the evangelical church is in bed with power, with a system that continues to penalize without wearing a blindfold. He traces the history and demarks where the church made certain turns—especially in the philosophical view that crime/sin needs to be paid. That criminals get what they deserve. But what are these “just fruits”?

I’m particularly struck by how ICE rounds up people—under the pretense of law and order. It’s framed that they are “illegals” and “aliens.” But where is justice? Gilliard makes the case for a balance of mercy and righteousness when determining individual cases. Under the current administration Trump has imposed quotas that ICE agents are striving to make—using a wide net to capture often law-abiding, tax-paying individuals, mothers and fathers. For instance please read: https://news.vice.com/en_us/article/bjy9k4/judge-in-immigration-case-compares-trumps-white-house-to-authoritarian-regime
We are not that country. We should not be the people who stand by and watch as community members are subjected to police profiling/intimidation, unfair sentencing, fear tactics.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Solo Woman Cyclist=Bike Hire

If you’re like me, the idea of traveling with a bike and all your stuff seems overwhelming. In my armchair, in front of a computer there is no simple way to figure it out. Maybe a crystal ball. . . .

I first looked into the idea of an international bike trip when considering meeting up with friends/family in France. They weren’t going to be available the whole time and I may as well think about doing my own thing for a week. I knew I wanted to see Mount St. Michel, so spun an itinerary off of that. I found 2 or 3 places that offered bike hire for a week.

The trip ended up not taking place, but planted the idea in my head.

Then when going to Sweden in September 2015 I Googled the top 10 sights to see while in Sweden and up popped the Göta Canal. I then referenced places to hire a bike and, voila!, it seemed do-able.

I never once considered early September to be out-of-season. The whole town of Sjötorp was closed down or so it seemed. I eventually found a small grocery to rent me a bike for the day. Actually half a day as it was by this time way past noon. I saw my dream of cycling the canal dissipating. But, wait! This is Sweden and the sun doesn’t set as much as hang in the sky. It didn’t get dark until way part 8 pm, so I did about 40 miles. Enough to get a feel for the World Heritage site. That evening I spent the night in a room also offered through the grocery. Sjötorps Vandrarhem och Rum

Also on my trip to Sweden my friend Lotta talked me into going to Gotland. Actually I’d thought about doing it but thought it was simply a ferry ride. It turned into a much bigger thing where I ended up spending 4 nights. Before alighting in Visby (also a World Heritage site) I checked out bike hire and corresponded with a place. The next morning I hiked with my backpack and picked up a bike. Then shyly asked if I could leave some of my stuff. Yeah. Then asked—do you have a pannier I could borrow. Yay! All I needed next was a map and I was off.

The rate was super reasonable, maybe because it was out-of-season.