Heidi Isern

writer. thinker. whiskey drinker.

2010

The Cookie Plate Journey: A Homey Story for the Holidays

Every year the holidays are chocked full of traditions: exhaustive shopping, caroling children, spiked eggnog, mistletoe parties…and in my family, decadent cookie plates.  From an early age I had learned that the greatest gift you could give someone else is something crafted with your own two hands. Bonus points if it contained high volumes of sugar and butter.  In San Francisco I typically dedicate one day to making multiple types

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Getting a Divorce at Walgreens: Is Commitment Passé?

Do you remember the first time you fell in love?  You naïvely ran through flower fields of bliss, believing your love to be unique, assuming it would last forever.   However as time goes by life often gets in the way.  Career prospects, differences of opinion, and the lure of other people’s bedrooms all too frequently make commitment a challenge. When I was 19 and still naïve I spent a summer

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Anti-Networking: Learning How to Really Connect

I was recently at a business social event when the host interrupted casual chit-chat over canapés to conduct 30 minutes of structured networking. At the mention of the word ‘networking,’ the whole crowd cringed. A few individuals retreated into hiding. Those that remained were instructed to follow the host’s three minute, three-step networking plan. 1- Find people in your industry. 2- Provide your credentials (MBA pedigree, fancy job title, net

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Adrenaline and Adventure: Interview with a Motorcyle Racer

After writing about the power of human connection it was time to live it. If I recall all my life journeys I was happiest when freed from societal convention and exploring other realities. I was also happiest when I walked out of the whirling mechanics of my own mind and entered another’s. Though a writing group, I had heard mention of another woman writer that defied all norms of what

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Get Offline: A Counter to Social Media

Something about dreary weather makes us all a bit melancholy.  On one such dreary day I was lamenting out loud to my sister-in-law.  Even though my online network made me look quite social, offline I was feeling isolated and lost.  Something was missing from my (un)wired world. She thought for a moment and then said, “You know there are these great inspirational stories I read that you may be interested

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Parents as Doormats

My brother and I, both MBA’s, often viewed family events akin to corporate conferences.  We sought different ways to minimize chaos and maximize the quality of our time together.   Although Thanksgiving Day is a prized group celebration, we decided that other days in the long weekend are best split up in smaller breakout sessions so as to have more personal interaction.   Group-breakout-report back. Thus, over the Thanksgiving weekend my brother

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Well, Thanks a Lot! Gratitude from Martinis to Midnight Conversations….

Thanksgiving, as any holiday, is full of die-hard traditions. In my family of hearty eaters, we were always sure to have spiral cut ham in addition to a massive turkey. The stuffing recipe was passed down from generations and could not be altered even by one thyme sprig. Always present was also a suspicious looking marshmallow jello salad; it was always positioned next to the potatoes in hopes it may

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Jumping Ship: Naked and Fearless

As I was researching remedies for both Writer’s Block and the flu I was battling, a friend called to interrupt my desperation.  Someone had seen my Twitter post “Why I haven’t killed myself yet” as a cry for help. “Um, Heidi, what’s up?” “Ihavenoideawhatiamdoingwithmylife…..” “Er, slow down….that was one syllable,” said a voice that had known me for years. “I’m too old for another reinvention!  I’ve had a thousand impulsive

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Why I Haven’t Killed Myself Yet

After coming out of the closet with my metaphor masturbation, the rainbow city of San Francisco finally saluted me as one of its own.  The sun was warmer, the people friendlier.  I stopped driving and started walking, no longer in a mad rush of self-absorption.  I took the time to grin widely at sidewalk pedestrians, finally unafraid of my (emotional, mistake ridden, overly impulsive) self. My laments at things gone

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Las Vegas: The Glitz and the Gritty

Las Vegas is a city to be both loved and deplored.  It’s the city of sin, status showcase and escape.  In a place where everyone is a tourist, new friends and new experiences are givens. My recent visit to the fantasy façade was for a birthday, filled with toasts and laughs. However, I still managed to explore outside the celebration walls to uncover glitz’s grittier side.   Status Someone once

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Metaphor Masturbation

A friend of mine recently wrote me a beautifully raw tale of her ongoing journey of self discovery.  She writes: “I am trying to find out who the authentic ‘me’ is and bring it to life.  I see glimpses of it in different things I enjoy. But there is so much more to explore. I found out I enjoy acting, it’s a place where I feel good, myself. I am

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Re-inventing Writing and the British Invasion

“Hi Heidi.” A voice interrupted my 180 rpm workout at the gym. “Are you adjusted to being back in San Francisco yet?” I wiped the sweat off my brow and smiled silently, not knowing how to answer the question.  I was still figuring things out, making mistakes, learning, trying, exploring……I wasn’t sure if this was part of the adjustment process or counter to it. Driving across the country to the

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Deepavali!

When we are young, naïve and hopeful we dream big.  We throw our love out into the world, confident it will boomerang back and find us.  Anything is possible whether it is being an astronaut or falling in love.  I was shipped off to Space Camp, Orchestra Camp, and Girl Scout Camp encouraged to seize every opportunity.  When we are young our family and neighbors shield us from the horrors

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Mistakes

To tighten the verbiage in my proposal I needed to start writing more of the actual book.  Themes were getting twisted up in one another and I needed to be sure my message was clear.  However, this week I was thwarted from writing much of anything.  I was supposed to flush out my concept of life’s hamster wheel, women racing to keep up with society’s standards. But I couldn’t focus

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Naked

To write well you must be willing to go naked into the world. -Daniel Keys Moran After multiple wine sessions, friendly reviews, non-friendly reviews, and a handy “cliché-erasing” pen, my book proposal is nearly finished.  After another week of sober editing, I will hopefully deem it worthy to send out to agents. In my progress I flirted with various themes that would tie the stories of different American women together. 

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Re-Writing

Writing a book proposal has been the hardest thing I have done in my life.  While on the road interviewing women, writing was easy.  The women’s stories poured through my veins onto paper, metaphors and adjectives effortlessly dripped from my pen.  After four hours and three cups of coffee in a café, I had a full composition. Tying all stories together, unlocking a theme and revealing myself isn’t quite so

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San Francisco-The Book Writing Begins

I have been back in San Francisco for a week now, right in the height of its personal Indian summer.  While the rest of the United States was skipping around in flip flops and bikinis in August, the citizens of San Francisco were shivering, blanketed in an icy fog.  The prolific mist has since gone out to sea allowing the warm sun to bounce giddily off of the Golden Gate

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The Final Interview: One with Myself

Location: San Francisco Mileage: 8,002 Women Interviewed: ~30 (depending upon how one defines an interview) Cities Visited: ~23 (depending upon how one defines a visit) Items lost: Mac powercord, umbrella, jean jacket, gas cap, keys to NYC apartment I set out two months ago with no real expectations for my writing project except to capture voices of inspiration. I knew that I wanted to break down stereotypes and illustrate various

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A Treasure Chest of Vice, Adventure and Love

Location: Portland, Oregon Mileage: 7,386 Music: “Portland, Oregon” by Loretta Lynn and Jack White. Meal: Holladay Plaza Split Pea soup and Buffet Salad The drive from Kennewick to Portland started out as desolate. One must first pass the Umatilla Army depot in Eastern Oregon where a large plot of land has been used to store chemical weapons such as nerve agents and mustard gas.  I held my breath as I

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A Changed Place

Location: Kennewick, Washington Mileage: 7,200 Music: “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac Meal: Alderplank smoked salmon with garden vegetables I left eastern Montana for the west, heading into the most beautiful part of the state I was born in.  My car chugged up the switchbacks at the foothills of the Beartooth mountains.  I looked fondly at the jagged peaks where I had spent many summers learning to hike, fish and sleep under

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