Travel & Leisure
in Oak Park, IL
Wit and charm is what you’ll discover when you spend a moment with Heather’s writing. She describes inanimate objects in a way that will leave you filled with agreement and laughter. Her witty perspective is showcased in her recently published short story, “IHOP,” in the city all-star student anthology, “The View From Here: Stories About Chicago Neighborhoods.” Her story is set in Oak Park, which is one of Chicago’s most exciting neighborhoods and desired communities. Heather is both a stay-at-home mom of two adorable children, Felix, 2-years-old, and Edith, 6-months-old, and a graduate student studying for her masters in writing. I Admire U Heather for not only your ability to find the humor in the world while balancing motherhood and school, but also for overcoming your personal journey of drug addiction and anorexia, and transforming it into your special gift of writing.
Referred by: Donna Marie Post
Heather in her own words...
I live down the street from the IHOP in Oak Park, and this IHOP in particular acts as the intersection between varying western suburbs. You have the St. Giles attendees ordering omelettes, the Melrose Park folk ordering short stacks, and the Austin Avenuers eating steak and eggs. Eggs have the ability to represent entire cultures, from the Ranchero to the egg white to the poached. Eggs also act as a universal unifier, appearing on every breakfast menu in every Chicago neighborhood. I go there to write sometimes, and to eat fries. Oak Park is special for a variety of reasons, with each reason starting with the letter “L”:
- The Library.
- The lunch spots on Marion
- Lawn care
- Lake Street Theater
- The litany of Frank Lloyd Wright houses
2. From your Facebook posts to your short story, you draw readers in with your comedic point of view. The way you describe people and objects is downright hysterical. Why do you think readers connect with your perspective?
Wow that’s nice of you. I hope people connect with my writing-I tend to animate the inanimate, and sometimes it makes for an interesting pique.
Keep the celebration of everyday women ALIVE,
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Reading has always provided me with a safe world to defer to, one that I could wrap myself inside of until things got better, which didn’t happen until age 25, so I had a lot of literary cohorts and friends that I found in books. I don’t feel like mine is a limited and nominal experience, but rather the consciousness of the writer. I am trying to create worlds for the younger generations to live in, which is hard to do with a narrative that’s not filled with fellatio and vampires.
4. In your teens and twenties, you struggled with drug addiction, agoraphobia, and anorexia nervosa. How does that time in your life impact your style of writing?
In my early twenties, I used writing as a way to make sense of my surroundings. This was before Google and before the Internet became its own world. I had severe anxiety and agoraphobia-I had no idea why I couldn’t ride in an elevator or be on a subway, I just thought that I had lost it and what I knew about people who had lost it was that they liked to journal. So I did. My writing started out as a diaristic one, something I make barf noises to when I reread it. Now that I’ve had more time, space, and proper medication, my writing has become more distant from myself, which is necessary when you’re trying to write fiction.
"There have been mornings when I have schlepped myself onto the green line covered in baby throw up, baby poop, baby stank, those days that bleed into other days and I can’t seem to remember them. But I want my children to see me as fulfilled by being their mom, so I continue to better myself in hopes that they will one day be much better than me."
5. You are thirteen years sober, absolutely incredible! With your wit and charm, please describe what it feels like.
I love being sober. I love the bar, I love watching drunk people talk to each other. I love watching drunk people argue. Once I drove through Wrigley Field at 2 a.m. when the throng was spilling out of the bars and into the streets, all walking slanted and slurring. In the middle of the nonsense was a singular guy, selling filled water balloons out of a cooler. I would have done anything to have sat there with him-that man was a genius. I’m also the permanent designated driver, the DD, and my husband appreciates that. I don’t miss it. Neither does anyone else. I used to be the person that cried when they drank.
6. How in the world do you balance graduate school and being a stay-at-home mom with a six-month-old baby and a toddler?
When you get accepted to graduate school and then get pregnant, it makes for a slow process, but it’s not impossible. You really get into the grove after you’ve started to sleep again and daycares all set up, and you have about a year left to go when you get pregnant again. Sigh. There really is something about graduate school that fills a uterus. It’s been tough, mainly because I want to be at home and hear all the coos and see all the crawls. And nap. There have been mornings when I have schlepped myself onto the green line covered in baby throw up, baby poop, baby stank, those days that bleed into other days and I can’t seem to remember them. But I want my children to see me as fulfilled by being their mom, so I continue to better myself in hopes that they will one day be much better than me. I also write whenever I can. My gym has two hours of free daycare so I drop them off and write in the lobby, back dropped by synthetic techno music and bodies that haven’t begun to droop yet.
7. You hope to become a master writer one day, sounds super fancy. What does becoming a master writer entail? What influences you to have this as your goal?
I like writing. If I could make a lot of money at it and retire that would be nice. I hope to teach creative writing, or work in museum archives or publishing. I’d also like to be a master at cooking frittatas, so I’ll let you know how that goes.
8. What nuggets of advice would you share with a woman that struggles to prioritize her personal interests and dreams?
Advice to other women. Hmmmm. When I get overwhelmed, I sit somewhere quiet and breathe. I try to meditate but often come upon the same scene of one of my kids coming full force out of my vagina. I feel better after, knowing that whatever happens can never be as bad as that. I’m also an advocate of therapy. Talk it out in whatever form you can, with whomever will listen. It could be a person at Target, just lay it all on them and then pay for your stuff and leave. It’s amazing.
"My writing started out as a diaristic one, something I make barf noises to when I reread it. Now that I’ve had more time, space, and proper medication, my writing has become more distant from myself, which is necessary when you’re trying to write fiction."
9. There are no runny eggs in your future, but I’m curious, what’s next for you?
More writing, more omelettes, more showering.
10. I Admire U, who do you admire?
I admire my Grandma Micki. She is 4’8’’ with long gray hair, which gives her a warm wizardly feeling, like a miniature Gandalf. She has always given me the best advice, and she has always seemed like home. Like you curl up into her and everything feels safe, and then she makes you sweet corn and tapioca and by the time you leave it’s like nothings ever happened. Like you can live again, and keep living because you know that she’s there standing in her kitchen drinking coffee and watching golf. I hope that one day I can be exactly like her-I mean to a T. She even has a drawer in the bathroom that’s filled with scrunchies and I intend on replicating that.