Category Archives: Karen Van Fossan

Sticky and Confusing

By Karen Van Fossan

Here I sit on the east-bound Em­pire Builder, next to a scowling woman whose duffel bag is en­joying an angry portion of my foot space. She pretended to be asleep across two entire seats – hers and poten­tially mine – before I politely exclaimed, “Excuse me,” and claimed one of the only available seats in this crowded train car. I could have chosen a place by any number of groggy men; I could have awakened other disingenuous female sleepers. But this one I chose simply be­cause her face wasn’t hidden behind one of those popular blankets with the tassels tied together. Continue reading

Spelling I-D-E-N-T-I-T-Y

An energetic and organized person somewhere has proba­bly spelled out the nearly infi­nite ways children can spend the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day: sledding, ice skating, play­ing with favorite toys, taunting broth­ers and sisters.

Somewhere, toward the end of the list, would be this:

“Trying to find healing and hope in a restrictive residential treatment program for children who, with rare exception, have experi­enced severe abuse and neglect.” Continue reading

Soft… Enough

by Karen Van Fossan

When the going gets tough, I call my mother. My life’s challenges fall on either side of a delicate balance:

A) Something I don’t have to bother Mom about right now.

B) Something I do.

My mom has had the same work number since I was eight years old, so there’s something extra comfort­ing about dialing that combination and getting her voice – Continue reading

What I learned from my four-legged friends

By Karen Van Fossan

When I was a kid, I had this curious revelation that sometimes I could think thoughts about oth­ers which they were not thinking about themselves. Since that time, I’ve not only wondered, Who am I? but also, Who am I to you? Continue reading

The Crucifix and My German Shepherd-Husky (or Maybe Coyote)

Karen Van Fossen

I have gathered myself into bed beneath a crucifix, something that doesn’t often happen in my life. More than once, I have caught myself saying, “I am so hap­py,” for only my ears to hear. This joy is not inspired by the African-looking Jesus on a mahogany-look­ing cross above my head. But I’m just where I wish to be: taking a retreat with the Presentation Sisters in Fargo; settling into Guest Room #2, the African Room. Continue reading

I Honestly Have No Idea What to Do with a Turtle

By Karen Van Fossan

If you live in Bismarck, North Dakota, or if you’ve ever been here, you’ve probably noticed the difference between East Rosser Avenue and the Missouri River. They are thoroughfares, both of them, but after that, the comparison gets pretty thin – especially if you happen to be a turtle. Continue reading