Her Beautiful Brain

“A daring and ambitious memoir that bestows unexpected rewards on the reader.” –Seattle Times

“Unflinching, tragic and compassionate.” –Shelf Awareness

I’ve lived with the loss of my mom, and the fear of Alzheimer’s, for a long time now. I understand that I am stuck with this particular fear; yours may be cancer or heart disease. But I also understand its value: which is to continually remind me that I have no idea what the next day or decade might hold. Now is the time for me to do all that I feel called most urgently to do.

I am my mother’s daughter. Like her, I would prefer to keep traveling under my own steam and enjoying the view along the way. Like her, I would rather my brain not get all wrapped up in a big tangle of ropes. But hers did, and mine might too.

Up Next

After Ecstasy:
Memoir of an Observant Doubter

When I was thirteen, I was infected by a fervent strain of evangelical faith: not unusual in America, unless your family is happily agnostic, and you live in one of the most “un-churched” cities in the country: Seattle. But I fell, and fell hard. I spoke in tongues. I prayed for the conversion of my friends and family. Turns out I was part of what the local newspapers called a trend: suddenly, there were as many bible-thumping youth groups to choose from in Seattle as there were anti-war marches.

Five years later, when I left Seattle for Wellesley College, I stuffed Christian Me in some inner soul-closet for what turned out to be the next twenty years: until one day when I decided to see what it felt like to go to church. And then I kept going. And eventually became not a re-born-again, evangelical Christian, but an observant doubter: someone who finds meaning in faith, but whose favorite words on Sunday morning are: Great is the mystery.

Still Restless

It’s 3 a.m. and I hear my neighbor’s car start and I wonder where he’s going at this hour and then I wonder why on earth I’m awake enough to wonder. And then I start wondering other things like will my book get published and will Rustin and I figure out how to live without our children in the house and will I ever get back to sleep? 

Welcome to the Restless Nest.

It isn’t empty, that’s for sure.  Two decades of life lived takes up a lot of room. As does this restlessness.

When I wrote those words in 2010, the person I was welcoming to the Restless Nest was me. “Get comfortable,” I was telling myself, between the lines. “You’re here now. The Nest looks different. You look different. Life is going to be different. And all of that is going to be O.K.”

The more I rolled those words over my tongue—Restless Nest—the more I liked them. What might happen, I wondered, if I embraced restlessness?

More from The Restless Nest

Pandemic Mirror

“When did my hair get so long?” I ask myself, as I look in the mirror. “And I look so  OLD!” I am 63. We are winding up Month Four of the pandemic. No. I’m [...]

After the Blast

In early February, aka one million years ago, I requested an advance copy of After the Blast: The Ecological Recovery of Mount St. Helens by Eric Wagner, published in April by University of Washington Press. [...]

Pandemic Road

The taste of blood mixed with gravel is metallic, it’s gritty, but most of all, it is surprising. I hadn’t opened my mouth on purpose; the taste was just suddenly there. Remembering, I can taste [...]