Amy Turn Sharp


{by Ann Imig}

I just came from breakfast with my Fodder Father at his regular haunt—The Pancake House. We meet there often and each episode follows a similar script:

I drive in the parking lot to see his car already stowed in one of his three usual spaces, park my VW station wagon alongside his Ford sedan (he’s a labor arbitrator, he buys American).

Even when the waiting area is full, the proprietors wave me back “Your Dad’s waiting for you,” and I see him sitting with a cup of coffee, maybe working on the crossword with his reading glasses on, wearing a plaid flannel shirt or short-sleeved button down depending on the temperature. Regardless, he has his check book and a pen in the chest pocket.

After greeting me with a smile and a hug, he marvels over LTYM and this whole internet business. He inquires after my kids, my husband, or my girlfriends he’s known since we were actually girls, and then updates me with the latest casualties from The Saddies.

We often order the same thing; a half order of pecan pancakes and black coffee.

He peppers the rest of our conversation with not-so-quiet observations about other restaurant patrons:

“Is that baby Hindu or do you think that’s just a scab on its forehead.”

“I don’t want to ruin your breakfast, but I have one word for the toddler behind you: Drool.”

He relays moments from his recent work travels:

“These two guys behind me on the plane start singing—well, chanting–and so I ask them why are they chanting? Is it for fun? For religious purposes? What? And they say we just like to chant and I say great. Just what Madison needs! More chanting.”

What I Didn’t Know When I Met Langston Hughes

{by Iris Arenson-Fuller from Vision Powered Coaching Visitors Center}


Before I truly knew all living things were kin
or that there was a larger menu of sexual preferences
than was served up in my family’s small vinyl papered
kitchen with the orioles and jays staring at my soup

Before I heard the first ugly name on my father’s lips
after the neighbors scurried like tattling roaches

An Apocalyptic Spiritual Revelation On New Year’s Day Morning Leads To Breakfast At 6:00 p.m.

{By Schmutzie of}

My past year was filled with some heavy stuff. I went through depression, which is not abnormal for me in the least. If you look back at the prevalence of depression throughout my life since I was about three years old, you would think it was one of my most favourite things ever. It’s not, but there’s been lots of it, and there was definitely enough of it over this past year.

Then, I also faced the ugly reality that is the trap of aging with my grandmother and my grandfather. I came to a point where I finally had to throw up my hands and admit to alcoholism. I walked away from my main social circle in order to hermit myself away from almost ten years of habitual living to quit drinking. Basically, 2010 had me me quaking in my metaphorical boots about mortality and the brevity of life while turning myself inside out both habit-wise and socially.

I had to think and feel and do things that were hard for me to think and feel and do, and I felt like I was pulling out my own teeth a lot of the time. Somehow, though, this turned 2010 into one of the best years of my life. It really did.

There is a lot of positive-thinking noise about learning how to say Yes! to things in your life, but saying Yes! is often best done by judiciously and sometimes painfully say No!, and 2010 was the year in which I said No! a lot every day so that I had the ability to say Yes! in other areas.

Some Pollyanna out there is going to pop up and try to tell me that all those No!s were really Yes!ses in disguise, and to that person I say Screw you. Those No!s were No!s, and I know, because they were hard and awful and dragged me through the mud face down, and that mud had rocks in it, and it was rainy, and it was cold, too, and I had a really shitty time of it. I love those No!s, though. I claim them. They made me.

Anyway, I was lying in bed this morning reflecting on the mindfuck that was 2010 and wondering what it meant that I pretty much just walked away from a whole life, and what it meant for me that I once left a fiancee and did all kinds of drugs and had a doomed love affair and suffered life in the closet and was diagnosed with all manner of psychological illnesses in the 1990s and became an alcoholic and quit my office job for no job and had cancer and on and on and on as all the crazy stuff life throws at a person is wont to just keep happening.

Our Hero

{By Karey from mackin ink}

this is one of those stories i need my girlies to remember. when i’m here. when i’m not. whenever. forever.

it’s a story about strength. the iron giant kind of strength. stronger than that, maybe. it’s a story about love. a fierce and fighty love as everlasting and as heartbreaking as old dan had for little ann. it’s a story about keeping your word until the very end. kind of like inigo montoya. hanging on to dear, dear life even while scaling the cliffs of insanity, even when battling rodents of unusual size, and even in the pit of despair.

oh, it’s a good story. because this story? this story is all yours. it’s about your aunt lin. a real-deal hero. who was all yours.

How to Mistletoe

{by Amy Turn Sharp of Doobleh-vay}

Put yr right hand on the nape of the neck and glide it up upwards to the back of the head.
Open yr hand wide, fingers lacing between hair or gliding on soft bald skin.
Direct eye contact always. Keep a distance between yr bodies but lean in ever so slightly.
Tilt yr head and let yr lips part. Move yr eyes up and down in tiny glances.
Let yr pupils dilate and stare swoony onwards.

Tribal Art for Kids


{Originally published on Pepper Paints}
first appeared on Blog Nosh Magazine on June 25, 2008

Our afternoon started like this; with some Jackson Pollock splatter painting:


Then like this:


Then they realized how much paint they had on their bodies and it could have been all down hill from there.


But, really it ended up being the kind of experience that we (crazy parents!) hope for!



Personal Blog Nosh Magazine{Originally Published on Sweetney}

When I made my list of the best 25 songs of the last 25 years a few weeks back, I burned, just for my own private listening enjoyment, a mix CD comprised of those select tracks. Since that time its been on heavy rotation during the 20 minute commute to and from M’s camp each weekday — I’m lucky enough to have a kid who’s tolerant of Mommy’s need to CRANK THAT SHIT UP — and in that time she’s absorbed all the songs and picked her favorites, notable among them the well-aged Oasis tune Wonderwall. It’s a song that for all its obvious magnetism and hookiness I’ve never fully understood. I mean, what’s a Wonderwall, anyway? And what, if anything, does it mean for a person to be that to someone else? Still, questions of signification and metaphor aside, each time the spare guitar strum of that track begins to play on our car stereo I see the joyful recognition wash over M’s face in the rear view mirror, and when the lesser of the brothers Gallagher begins to sing she does too, word for word.
. . . . .

On Sunday, we finally told her about the split.

For those of you who’ve never gone through a separation (and seriously, here’s hoping none of you ever have to), the awful, soul-rending anticipation of having to break this news to your child — the tiny, blameless person who you’ve made it your life’s mission to protect and shield from all hurts and pains — is psychological torture of a magnitude it’s difficult to fully wrap your head around. Over the course of the past few weeks I’ve said to friends, relative to the crushing dread I felt about having to do this, that I now understand why people stay together for the sake of the kids (or, rather, tell themselves that’s what they’re doing — it’s probably closer to the truth to say they’re staying together for the sake of not having to deal with the anguish and guilt of having to tell the kids). It is the worst thing I could ever imagine having to do, and believe me, I can imagine having to do a lot of pretty awful things. Like having to attend a Celine Dion concert, or watch the complete filmography of Paris Hilton, for example. YES, THIS IS EVEN WORSE THAN THAT.

So Jamie came over Sunday morning with the idea in mind that this was the day. No way out but to barrel through it together, however ineptly, and hope to god we don’t have to look back on this as The Day We Shattered Our Daughter’s Identity, Crushed Her Spirit, And Destroyed Her Self Esteem For All Time. I think some of my generalized terror about this event can be traced back to having known a few very seriously broken human beings who pointed to the cataclysm of their parents breaking up when they were a kid as the hot molten core of their volcanic screwed-up-ness. And when I say “human beings” you should read “people I dated.” This is definitely NOT how I want my daughter to turn out.



fiction-poetry-200{Originally Published on BHJ}

I’m in no hurry. You know that guy on the highway? You can’t get into the left lane because it’s a swarm of caffeinated speedsters and you’re trapped behind some fool going 5 under. That’s me. Good morning.

I had a friend. Skip. Every time we parted, without fail, he’d say “Take it slow”.

My path to work winds through a cluster of yawning mountains. Just before the sun rises, the top, just the bare tip, of the jagged horizon’s all lit with the glow of a faint orange hum that aches to be something – looks like the mountains are about to have a big idea, like something’s about to happen. You know what I mean? You know that weird feeling you get when something’s about to go down? Your kid is walking with a glass of juice. A man stares too long at a woman’s purse. You take the first drink. Something’s about to happen.

There’s a subtle negotiation between the black sky of last night and the sleepy orange morning waiting for its time. A deep staggering blue, stumbling, confused. Sometimes it’s blood purple. In some vague space between words, it doesn’t know what it is. But it’s not bothered by this. It’s in no hurry.

I may have missed my calling as a cab driver. Can you imagine? I would look in my rear view, check out my passengers, write little stories about their pasts and futures. That guy. He keeps checking his watch and calling someone who doesn’t answer. I’m taking him to a part of town where only a couple things happen. The crying lady. Going to the airport. And those two, kissing, groping, wearing wedding rings that don’t match. Everyone’s going somewhere. They start out here. I take them there. But me? I spend my days in between. Lingering between what just went down and what’s waiting to happen.

Live It, Don’t Plan It

Art and Design Blog Nosh Magazine

{Originally published on Three by Sea}

Live It, Don't Plan It

This simple little sign hangs inside the armoire in my studio. And by studio, I mean the dining room that I’ve taken over as my studio! That same sentiment is also next to my computer and inside my notebook. I read it somewhere a few months back and it resonated within me. It reminded me that life is what you do, not what you plan. Sitting there pondering, and wondering, and thinking, and surfing the internet, and reading about things you would like to do is not the same as doing them.

Holly at Decor8 wrote a great blog post as part of her Creativity Series about “Analysis Paralysis”, whereby one is so overwhelmed with information that they are unable to make a decision. It seems to be a common affliction among creative types. Holly goes on to give advice for moving from inaction to action. The post is well worth reading. Having gone through this myself, I thought I talk about the things that help keep me from getting side-tracked during my journey of starting a business from home.

Ice Cream in a Can, Teaching Science

Educationb{Originally published on SusieJ}

This summer, our hill at the lake will be used in yet another ingenious way: to make ice cream for our root beer floats. I was tempted to buy the traditional ice cream maker, but there are so many choices; I quickly became overwhelmed looking at all the bells and whistles. And besides, I have all that boy power just dying to get put to use. Plus, the process of making ice cream by hand… literally…. in the can… is is a great way to introduce some lessons in science. There is the ice cream in a bag method; my boys would surely break the bag in the mixing process. So, I’ve decided to go with the ice cream in a can method.

  1. The first challenge is finding the can. Many recipes suggest using
    a coffee can, but who buys coffee in a can anymore? A better idea is
    to ask for an empty paint can from the paint store. You’ll need two: A
    quart, and a gallon.
  2. Ask your kids to tell you the freezing point of water — or teach
    them — 32 degrees F, or 0 Celcius. Then, ask them what happens when we
    put salt on icy sidewalks. Ask them to start thinking about why we need
    salt to make ice cream.
  3. In the small, clean can, add one cup of milk or half and half, one cup of sugar, and one teaspoon of vanilla.
  4. Optional: add one tablespoon of chocolate syrup — or frozen strawberries.
  5. Use a hammer to seal the lid tightly.
  6. In the larger can, combine the ice and rock salt. Use a thermometer to record the temperature of the rock and salt mixture.
  7. Use hammer again to seal the lid tightly.
  8. Take turns rolling the can down the hill, for about five minutes. This will “solidify” the ice cream.
  9. Explain what’s happening: the ice melts and combines with the salt.
    This “brine” has a lower freezing point — lower than 32 degrees.
  10. After five minutes of rolling, open the large can, and take the
    temperature of the ice. It will be colder than it was the first time.
  11. Open the smaller can. The colder brine was able to get the milk
    mixture cold enough to freeze the milk mixture to make it solid, to
    create ice cream.
  12. You know you’re going to have to whip up another batch right now; the fun was really rolling the can down the hill.