What I know six years in

Six years ago I met a The New York Times bestselling memoir at a coffee shop close to my apartment in NE Portland. I was awestruck and ready to start writing my memoir in her writing workshop that met weekly. 

Since that sunny day back in September 2010: I’ve changed from working with the The NY Times best selling memoir writing to the Pinewood Table, another writing workshop group that also meets weekly 10 months out of the year and better seats my needs.

Finished two complete drafts of my memoir 

Work shopping the 3rd (and what I hope will be final) draft 

Quit running

Took up Jazzercise

Bought a house


Ended a relationship 

Started a relationship

Travelled to: New York City too many times to count, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Hamburg, Amsterdam, Seoul, Reykavik, England, Scotland, Tokyo, Nara, Hiroshima, Osaka, Busan and back to Seoul. All mostly by myself. 

Drafted a second 300 page memoir that’s mostly slop but will one day take shape 

Reconciled with my dad and stepmom

I’ve done all this while battling my own demons PTSD, anxiety and depression.  Sheer determination and tenacity have also helped me along the way. 

All of these are my badges and I’ve earned them. Good and bad. 

Looking forward I’m excited to finish a rock solid draft.

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I was flying home out of Detroit airport and went to Yoshi’s house with her for a few days. Her Mom was single just like mine. Yoshi’s Uncle Bill and mom came and picked us up in her uncle’s van. The van had a VCR in it and we watched Ferris Bueller’s Day off in captains chair’s in the back. It was very fancy. We drove through NY state and a portion of Canada. We stopped at Niagara Falls along the way and made jokes about weird Canadian businesses: Tim Horton’s Donuts and The Beer Store. I was excited to visit another country for the very first time. In Windsor, Canada, we went through customs and had to tell the agent what we were doing driving through Canada. 
At Yoshi’s house I met her fifteen year old sister Mariko who was addicted to two things: AOL chat and the Red Wings. When we came in Mariko was sitting at a desk in the living room in front of a computer. She was chatting with friends all over the world.

“Hey Yoshi,” she said as we came in. 

“Hey Winky,” Yoshi called her by her pet name.   

“Whose your friend?” Mariko had the same blue eyes and dark hair like Yoshi. 

“This is Wallace,” Yoshi sat down on the puffy sofa. 

“Take a seat,” Yoshi pointed to a seat next to her.

“Hi,” I said. I was always quiet around new people. 

“I’m heading out tonight to chase down Shanan and maybe Konstantinov after the game is over,” Mariko smiled. “Wanna join me?”

“I think Wallace and I are gonna hang out here, eat some pizza and watch a movie,” Yoshi said. 

Mariko would sometimes go to Red Wings games but mostly staked out the Red Wings with a friend after the game and tried to get their autographs after they came out of Joe Lewis Arena late at night. 

The next morning I slept til 11:30 am in the spare room. Yoshi showed me around Grosse Pointe: we drove past the Bob’s Big Boy with a giant statue out front, along richy rich St. Claire Shores Boulevard where Henry Ford had once lived and where the opening scene for “Grosse Pointe Blank” was shot. 

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I’m in the middle of revisions on Yellow Blanket again.  I’ve been on sabbatical from Pinewood Table group since July.  From January to June I spent most of my time bringing my complete revisions to the table.  I’m about halfway through.  This summer, as you’ve noticed from the lack of activity on the blog I’ve been busy with travel and other things.  Here is a chunk from the middle of the manuscript where I’m hitting bottom with alcohol for the first time at age 20:

“In a few days I would go back to Wells and start the spring semester.  I was anxious to get away from Portland, back to Robin and Shelly at Wells, and partying.

We commenced drinking and my crush on Gina came up again even though she had made it clear to me she only wanted to be friends. She was straight.  On Valentine’s Day there was a big semi-formal dance and I got dressed up in a one piece black pantsuit that I found at Marshall’s on clearance.  It was long, flowy and too long for me.  If I didn’t hold the pants portion up when I walked I would trip.  Robin, Shelly and I pre-partied in Robin’s room and got trashed on shots of peppermint Schnapps and Hershey’s syrup chaser.  We danced our crazy drunk dances at Sommer Center and could feel the eyes of more sober people watching me from the sides.  I thought the sober people were really missing out on being drunk.

It was twenty degrees out but by the end of the night I ended up crossing the lawn from Sommer Center to Main dorm trying to track down Gina to confess my undying love to her in my short sleeve pantsuit.  I went up to her room on Main second and knocked on the door.

“Come in,” Gina said from faraway.

“Hey….how’s it goin’?” I opened the door and picked the legs up to walk into her room.  The overhead light was on and bright.

“I’m about to go to sleep but you can come in for a few minutes,” she put something into her wardrobe.

“I think I’m in love with you.”

“Kelly I like you as a friend but that’s about it,” she sat down on her bed.

“Ok.  I think I’m gonna go now.” I turned on my heel and picked the pants up again.

Outside it was still freezing and I decided with all my embarrassment I would run back to school.  I had gone drunk running a few months earlier with a group of people late at night on a whim and it seemed like a good idea.  Forgetting I had the dress on I started running and tripped on the bottom part.  There was a hole in the knee and my hands felt skinned.  I walked the rest of the way home.

In the restroom in Dodge, I pulled the dress down, sat down on the toilet and put my chin in my hands.  There were drops of blood on the floor.  “What’s that from?” I thought.  I pulled the dress up and went out to wash my hands.  In the mirror and harsh fluorescent light my face was bloody on the right side.

“Ohmygawd!  Ohmygawd!” I whispered quietly to myself.  It was 2:30 am and I didn’t want to wake anyone up in my dorm suite.

Something was different with my bottom teeth. I ran my tongue across them.


“What am I going to do?  I’ve never had a chipped tooth before.  Do I go to the dentist?”

Looking in the mirror to survey the damage I turned the water on and splashed cold water on my face.  Blood splattered in the sink.  It was the only thing I knew how to do: wash my face and try and take care of myself.  It’s what I did during the trial when I had melt down after melt down and had to leave the witness stand to collect myself.

I collapsed into bed, fell asleep immediately because of the alcohol but woke up several times that night.  Dreaming about a giant combination bus, train and plane crash the next morning I felt like I had a giant epiphany: I needed to stop drinking.  At 10 am, I crawled out of bed and my cheek was throbbing.  Touching the upper part right below my eye it felt tender and wondered if it was broken.  Dragging myself to the bathroom I looked in the mirror again.

I was a bruised up mess.

It was time to call Mom on the west coast.  She would know what to do.  I pulled out my desk chair, sat down and propped my feet on the window ledge just let when I called Matt last summer and wanted to talk to him about Princess Diana’s death but couldn’t.  Wrapping the curly cord around my fingers I knew she would be up.

“Hello…” Mom picked up in and it was her sleepy voice

“Mom…” I started crying.  “I had a horrible trip last night.”

“Oh…” She got quiet.  “What happened?”

“I drank a bunch with Robin and Shelly and decided to run across campus.  I slipped on a patch of ice and fell.  My entire right side was bloody, my cheek really hurts and I’m all bruised up.”

“Do you think you have a problem with drinking?” Her tone changed from sleepy to serious.

“Maybe…maybe I need to go to an AA meeting?” It was the first place I went because I needed to change something.


“I can make some calls to the Intergroup office in Syracuse, see if there are any meetings in your area and call you later today?”

“Ok.  That sounds like a good idea.”

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Mid June 

Equals getting my Oregon Literary Arts fellowship application together. Let’s hope fourth time is the charm!  

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Thursday morning you wake up in your normal workaholic panic mode and decide to read a book instead of writing those reports that were due in April and May. Your reading game has slowed down and so has your writing. You’ve been working on relationship with your boyfriend and learning how to be in one. The house still has that hot smell from the recent string of 100 and 90 degree days. You keep it locked up way more than you used to. You fill the kettle and pet the cat whose sleeping in the living room. Her pancreatitis has her eating a multitude of wet foods and quite frankly the buffet of fancy feast on the kitchen floor has added to the smell in your house. 

You make your coffee and sit on your sofa and read. 

It’s time to start getting back to calm. 

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Today’s gloomy

weather, 55 and cloudy and threatening rain is par for the course. Mid-May is like this.  Your glands are swollen and 7 hours of sleep isn’t cutting it. The cat waking you up at 8:15 is meh even though you love her. Brandon loves her. He took care of her while you were in Asia for a month. He took selfies with her and sent them to you: the two of them in your bed, on the living room floor and sofa. 

None of your other bf’s did that. 

He tells you he loves you multiple times a day. This is not blah, meh or malaise. 

This is awesome

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A little green in Seoul

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