There Are No Accidents

My new friend in Palm Springs died recently. I wrote about him last summer when I answered a sign looking for someone to walk his dog Toby. Roger was terminally ill, so it wasn’t a surprise, but he was a man I immediately connected with and felt quite fond of. I had this photo printed to give to Roger the last time I saw him.

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He took this photo in his hands and smiled as he looked at it. Then he brought it to his lips, kissed it, and lay it on his heart. Do you see what I mean?

Roger has been gone for over a month now, but last week I found out some things about his past that have me seeing the world as a mysterious and beautiful place.

Roger had been a Episcopal priest, married with two kids, when he had an affair with a man. His marriage fell apart and his adult children disowned him. He moved to Palm Springs and started over in what he saw as a more welcoming community. Shortly before he passed, his former wife called to show love and forgiveness to him, but his kids and grandkids never did.

I recognized at the time that Roger’s kindness felt paternal to me, but what I didn’t know is that it likely felt that way to him as well. Me – who had a father in some ways much like him, yet never capable to express himself with the tenderness of Roger. Him – who had daughter-figure waltz in his door to see to his needs at his end. My daughter came to meet him too, a fact I am so grateful for now – a stand in grandchild even.

Roger’s apartment was full of religious books about the God he had served his entire adult life. It pains me to think of his own kids rejecting him to his very end. But I like to think that our brief relationship was an answer to some prayer about healing and reconciliation for both of us.

I am reminded to be open and looking, ready to see and act on an opportunity that stirs my heart. Because I don’t know the weight of my actions on others, but I do know that they can elevate my own life and maybe be a form of an answered prayer somewhere.

Love, Molly

PS – I’ve had a few readers reach out who couldn’t attend my memoir book launch about getting a copy. You can order it by clicking this link.

 

 

A Launch in Photos

This is how my book launch party felt…

Wrapped in love.

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(With my longtime friend and co-worker Cat Gates.)

Surrounded by family.

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(With my aunt Mary Margaret aka Mimi.)

Signing books.

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(With Stella Comparato – I copied her hairstyle.)

Laughing with longtime friends.

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(With the Potwin Elementary crew – Beth, Nina, Kelly & Alexa)

Attempting new creations with Robert.

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(Trying not to curse as we burn our fingers in molten sugar for the croquembouche.)

It was a beautiful night! Thank you to so many people who made this possible, but especially to Thea Rademacher at Flint Hills Publishing, my husband Robert, my friends Paige & Nina who kept the bubbly flowing, everyone at Van Go Mobile Arts, and to my family for telling me how proud they are of me. My heart could burst.

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Float On has appeared as an Amazon Hot New Release and as a Best Seller in a couple of categories! Here’s a link to order a copy of Float On . 

Coming up…

I’ll be at Great Writers Right Here this Saturday Dec. 9th from 1-4pm in Topeka at the Public Library selling and signing books. Stop by and say hi!

Leading a Writing Workshop to De-stress on Monday Dec. 11th from 6-7pm at Point B Dance. Come for just the workshop ($10) or stay for an hour of yoga after (only $14 for both).

Much love to you and yours, Molly

 

A Graduation, A Party & A Remembrance

Now that my memoir Float On is officially for sale, I’ve gone from feeling like a mother with a newborn baby to a mother with a kid graduating from college. It needed so much to get to this point – brutal honesty, sustained discipline, and constant editing. Now it’s about to go out into the world of readers to interact without my supervision. In the blink of an eye, I’ve gone from holding a hand to an escorted playdate to being invited for a rare Sunday dinner.

So it seems fitting to mark this graduation of sorts for Float On to enter the big world with a party. Hope you can come Friday December 1st at 7PM at Van Go Mobile Arts in East Lawrence. We’ll toast to its future, have a snack and a short reading, and sign books. It would mean so much to have you there if you can make it. If not and you would like a copy of the book, it is available on Amazon now (and was an Amazon ‘Hot New Release’ yesterday!) and I will also be in Topeka on Saturday, December 9th at the Great Writers Right Here author fair, sponsored by the Public Library.

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I chose World AIDS Day to launch my memoir to bring awareness to the disease that killed my dad (pictured above with me lounging in Key West in 1992). People still contract HIV, still die from AIDS complications, and are still dealing with the shame attached to this disease. I attended the World AIDS Day 2017 Community Luncheon in Kansas City yesterday and was left with a swirl of conflicting  emotions. Gratitude for how far the medical advances have come; grief for the huge swaths of communities hit; bewilderment at the groups still so affected (like heterosexual black women) and hope for a changed future. If you hear or read about World AIDS Day tomorrow, or even see a red ribbon, I hope that you’ll think of me and remember that HIV/AIDS continues to affect all sorts of people who are probably more like you than not.

Love, Molly

 

 

 

In Memory of My Friend & Mentor

But there would be no book without our agent Neil Salkind, whose amazing perseverance on our behalf and whose constant stream of positive words cannot be matched.” I wrote this in the acknowledgments section of our cookbook The Cook’s Book of Intense Flavors, which was published in 2010. It’s accurate to say that I wouldn’t have published anything without Neil. I found out yesterday that he died and I am so saddened by his passing; he had such an influence on my life.

I met Neil and his wife Leni by serving them in our restaurant. You can tell a lot about a person by waiting on them. Neil was polite, complimentary, asked about my kids and mom and was generous. If I didn’t already like Neil so much, I would never have had the nerve to ask him about his work. I knew that he was an academic, but until I overheard him during a meal talk about publishing, I had no idea that he was a widely published writer and literary agent. I mentioned that I had been blogging about the food life and that I was thinking of trying to do something else with it.

He lit up with a smile and asked me to send him what I had been working on, which I immediately did. When he told me he wanted to sign me and be my agent, I thought he was just being nice. I worked hard on developing a proposal for an idea I was working on the time called The Chef’s Wife. Neil read everything I sent him, encouraged me to keep going and informed me that there is only one space after a period. When I confessed to him that I wasn’t sure I had a book in me, he smiled and told me he knew I did. My identity as a writer started to form in that moment.

In the summer of 2008, Robert, the girls and I were scheduled to go to Europe for a two-month cooking trip. I told Neil that my goal was to get a laptop as a reward if I got a book deal. Another smile and then he said, “Pal, why don’t you lower the bar some? Get yourself a laptop.” But I wouldn’t, so he loaned me his. While we were in Paris, we got a deal to write a cookbook with a nice advance – all because of Neil’s efforts. I started writing that cookbook on the laptop he loaned me while taking breaks from our cooking duties.

After I stepped away from the cooking life, I reached out often to Neil for advice, who had since retired. I really wanted to make him proud. I drove to his house when I got printed postcards for my book lunch party on December 1st for my memoir Float On. With no one answering the bell, I left it on their porch. I was delighted to see him in the row ahead of us at Liberty Hall when author George Saunders came to speak in October. He told me had been thinking of me and that he had received the invitation and wanted to make sure that I had placed it in the community calendars, which I since have. He smiled but the program started and he left before I did, so that I didn’t say goodbye.

As we approach Thanksgiving, I’m acutely aware of how much I have to be grateful for. As I looked up the acknowledgment that I wrote to Neil, I saw that I also included my friend Sandra Moran in it as well. She’s gone too now and it’s a reminder that life is fleeting and to go ahead and say out loud how much someone means to you. Maybe we’ll have the chance this weekend. Knowing how much of an impact Neil had on me also inspires me to be that for someone else. Teaching writing is yet another thing I am grateful to have in my life. Neil also continued to pursue his creative interests after retirement and gifted me with a couple of his prints, including this one…

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Neil told me that this quote captured how blessed he felt in his life, isn’t it perfect for Thanksgiving?

Thank you for including me in your lives. I hope that you are surrounded my love this weekend and that you go ahead and tell someone how important they are to you.

Love, Molly

With a little help from my friends…

I hate to ask for help. Maybe it’s a Midwestern thing or a control issue or because I’m a Sagittarius (yes, my birthday is coming up) – but for most of my life I would have rather eaten glass than to ask for something, even if I really wanted it. Naturally, this hasn’t always worked out well for me and the older I get, the more willing I am to acknowledge that I can’t do everything. I don’t even want to anymore. But that doesn’t make it any easier to ask a friend for a favor, especially one that involves them spending their precious time to help me out.

So I wanted to give a huge THANK YOU to three writer friends who graciously not only read an advance copy of my memoir Float On, but also spent time composing beautiful reviews that brought tears to my eyes.

Rachel DeWoskin is a memoirist, novelist and all-around bad ass that I met on the magical island of Patmos, Greece where she co-led a writing salon with Cheryl Strayed. I was immediately impressed with her intelligence (and vocabulary!) and have since read her books, which I loved. I used part of her review on the cover of Float On that reads – “A story full of the kinds of love and truth that matter for us all.” (full review below)

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Thomas Fox Averill taught the first writing class I ever took at Washburn University. In fact, one scene during my teenage years that I include in Float On was born in an essay I wrote for his class as fiction. Tom is a widely published writer, novelist and academic. Years ago, he came to my book club to discuss his novel Secrets of the Tsil Cafe, a book that mirrored my life in the catering and restaurant business at the time so much that I could hardly believe it.

Tom kindly wrote this about Float On – “At thirteen, Molly Krause spent a summer at the Dance Theater of Harlem, the only white girl in her classes. One teacher called her the “blue-eyed girl from the capital of Kansas.” But nobody is a cliché, especially a person who has spent years coming to an understanding of family matters and how family matters. The matters: divorce, a gay father HIV positive who dies of AIDS, a sister’s suicide attempts, a family struggling with drugs and alcohol. What matters: the honest, direct, sympathetic account the reader finds in Float On, of years spent yearning and learning to be whole.

Eric McHenry is the former Poet Laureate of Kansas, academic and fellow Topeka High Class of 1990 Alumni. We go way back to when I wore braces and when he was the tallest kid in the class (he still may be). His poetry has provided a way in for me to love and appreciate that which I used to find less approachable than prose. He has made our hometown of Topeka, Kansas look good in so many ways that I’m proud to know him.

Eric wrote of Float On, “By the time she was 25, Molly Krause had seen several lifetimes’ worth of trauma in her immediate family: divorce, depression, suicide attempts, alcoholism, crack addiction, AIDS, and untimely death. She endured loss after loss without ever losing herself, and the qualities that carried her through—equanimity, intelligence, honesty, and a sly sense of humor—are the same ones that distinguish her prose in this deeply moving memoir.”

Aren’t I so lucky to have such generous friends? Please check out their work and hope to see you for my book launch for Float On on December 1st at 7PM at Van Go. I’m working on menu planning and will let you know what I come up with – I’m hoping to get Robert’s assistance 🙂

Love, Molly

Here’s Rachel’s full review –

“In her memoir Float On, Molly Krause gives us a kaleidoscopic view of family life: the episodic atmosphere of childhood, adolescences’ exquisite and excruciating transformations, and the very real joys and tragedies that turn us into fully-rendered adults. She writes with clarity and restraint, giving her parents humanity and dignity as her father comes out to the family as gay, as her mother drinks and gives up drinking, as Molly herself comes of age, falls in love, and struggles with her sisters and their parents to keep their family intact, even after they lose their father. From Topeka Kansas to New York City, from dance rehearsals to family therapy sessions, Krause guides readers the way good memoirists must, by rendering with nuance and complexity a story full of the kinds of love and truth that matter for us all.”

Book Club Questions

Molly’s dad told her, “Just do a little every day, it will get done eventually.” She wrote that this was the most practical advice she got from him. What other life lessons do you think she received from her dad?  This is sneak peek at the bonus Book Club Questions at the end of my memoir Float On; it also is a question that has been on my mind. It’s a strange thing to think of questions to ask about yourself in the third person. It’s also interesting to consider answering those questions for yourself, sort-of about yourself.

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I’ve written a whole book about my early life, including some difficult times in my family. A life lesson I learned from my dad, taught through some very challenging circumstances, is that life is hard. I don’t mean that in a buck-up-and-take-the-punches kind of way that is delivered from a somber parent in an after-school movie. I mean it like this – the things you want don’t always happen and sometimes things unfold in a way that you really don’t want.

I learned that life is hard when I was young. I am not surprised when things go haywire, in fact, there is some part of me that is often waiting for the other shoe to drop. But I’ve learned a lot from writing about my life too (and I recommend it for everyone, even if it’s only for yourself). When I wrote about my early life I was forced to look at the circumstances as a whole, to put a frame around it all, and to give meaning to those events. Life is hard, yes, but life is also hilarious and boring and sweaty and complicated and easy – and when I look at it all together I can only conclude that it is this – beautiful.

Love, Molly

PS – I hope you’ll join me for my launch party December 1st at 7pm at Van Go Mobile Arts in Lawrence, Kansas. Here’s the public Facebook invite.