Polyps, lawn problems, writing

When we moved to Knoxville in 2000 from my husband’s native Italy, Maurizio was quite fluent in English, but not, as we shall see, up on the American medical system. I was relating the adventures of my new friend Susan who had had assorted severe stomach issues. Fairly casually, Susan thought, the local doctor proposed removing her stomach to “avoid future problems” [aka cancer]. Being a take charge person, she determined to take herself to Mayo.
“To Mayo?” Maurizio interrupted incredulously.
“Yes, to Mayo,” I said, thinking, suddenly the patriot, that people go to Mayo from his precious Italy. Does Rome have someplace better? Humph. I barreled on with Susan’s adventures in getting herself seen at Mayo.
“But why Mayo?”
“Because they have very good diagnosticians,” I said, a little miffed, continuing that in fact, Susan would just need yearly gastroscopes for polyps —
“They told her this at MAYO?” And suddenly, looking into Maurizio’s horrified face, I saw, not three blocks from our house: Mayo Garden Center.
“I mean the Mayo Clinic, in Minnesota.”
“Ah,” pause. “So Susan can keep her stomach?” Yes, she can, and ah, the charms and diversions of a two-culture marriage.
Fast forward to now, and I’m a regular at Mayo (Garden Center), bringing various lawn problems to Margaret, my indefatigable diagnostician. She heard of my book, bought it, had various other Mayo staff buy it, and I left happily. A week later, bedeviled by brown spot fungus (in my lawn) I went to Mayo’s for help from Margaret. She came flying out to meet me. “Where does it come from?” she demanded and I’m thinking that if even Margaret can’t help my lawn . . . . Her voice raised a pitch and she shook her hands at me. “I mean, where does it all come from?”
“Brown spot?”
She pointed to my head. “I mean ‘it,’ all that stuff you wrote, where does it come from?”
Really, I don’t know. It comes, like brown spot, or flowers. Just comes. Or doesn’t. And needs a lot of taking care of, like a lawn.

Pamela Schoenewaldt, historical novels of immigration and the search for self in new worlds: WHEN WE WERE STRANGERS, SWIMMING IN THE MOON, and UNDER THE SAME BLUE SKY (all HarperCollins).

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Posted in Writing, WWWS

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Workshop on Point of View for the Knoxville Writers Guild, Sat. Feb. 18, 2017, 10am to noon

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“Absorbing and layered with rich historical details, in Under the Same Blue Sky, Schoenewaldt weaves a tender and at times, heartbreaking story about German-Americans during World War I. With remarkable compassion, the author skillfully portrays conflicted loyalties, the search for belonging, the cruelty of war, and the resilience of the human spirit.”—Ann Weisgarber, author of The Promise and The Personal History of Rachel Dupree

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