What do spring break and The Gambler have to do with each other?
I recently finished reading The Gambler and spring break is around the corner. These two facts remind me of a spring break several years ago that included time in Baden-Baden, Germany, the historic casino town where Dostoyevsky wrote The Gambler. We wanted to share Germany with our kids, a country where we’d lived before-kids, two different times in fact. Actually, our daughter was born in Germany just 10 days before we moved back to the US the second time. I wrote the creative nonfiction essay (not yet under publishing contract) Building Family Muscle, One Tower at a Time to tell the story of that trip back with the kids. It’s a story of conquered towers and substantial family growth. Stay tuned as to where this essay is published. But in the meantime, read The Gambler on your spring break.
New Year’s wasn’t that long ago. So, how are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions? If you made them, are you remembering them? Shakespeare was on my mind one New Year’s and I resolved to take things a bit further and make a promise to myself. To read or not to read, that is the question.argues for resolutions to outgrow their label. There are always the feigned excuses. Perhaps there are real obstacles. Resolutions, after all, beckon change. It takes persistence and commitment to change. Change stretches us. My resolution, however, provoked a wide range of memorable—and often unwanted—public reaction. Would you read?
The Story-In-Motion link on kathrynstreeter.com offers a sneak peek at one of my stories which hasn’t landed—thus, ‘in motion.’ Currently featured, A Moving Tale describes a painful family trip to IKEA after moving to London. I knew it was going to be a big day. I knew it would be a very long day. But it proved to be a remarkably full day in ways I couldn’t have predicted.
Choosing space over place, and privacy over community, hampers a healthy public life. It’s a condition driven by having too much in our private worlds. Where we live affects how we live. And consequently, how we live greatly affects who we and our children are. Decisions thought to amplify life often suck up our freedom and our energy to respond to the responsibilities of citizen, neighbour and fellow human being.
“Oh Mom,” moaned our six-year old daughter walking home from school, “look at all those poor people sitting in traffic!” I chuckled at her compassion for this strange car-bound population. What she does not yet grasp is that most families don’t live, as she does, in compact towns and city neighbourhoods where the freedom to walk everywhere is a way of life. While some families lack the opportunity, others have deliberately chosen not to live in towns or city neighbourhoods.
Mixed-used, pedestrian-friendly places promote a more rigorous public life, inspiring healthy community and engaged citizens precisely because, ready or not, face time with your neighbours is unavoidable. When your wall is someone else’s, getting along is imperative. These places often come with smaller, storage-challenged homes that confront America’s intoxication with material things. Also, raising kids in this environment encourages the development of city smarts and a respect for the unfamiliar.
More of us should be animated by an interest in places that serve people, in places that elevate the importance of people—the crown of creation—and encourage a sense of citizenship from the little tykes on up.
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