Get Over It (maybe not all of it) is my first book, a memoir that chronicles my family’s early years and the years after my husband left, when it took too long to get over the tears. I knew better than to try to stop love or seek closure, that elusive relief that’s impossible in most of life’s losses. Intellectualizing from dawn to dusk didn’t make me less sad, and I was tired of the journey inwards.
I began to write about the people and places, the pain and poetry of this beautiful and broken world. In the tales are moments so remarkable or lovely I will never get over them, which is the way I want it.
New York Times bestselling author and founder of the acclaimed Haven Writing Retreats
In stepping out of post-divorce grief and into hope and abundance, this author’s approach to life is contagious. But it’s not through denial of that grief that she grows. Instead, she bravely takes us through her pain and carries us into her next beautiful hour. I love the humor, the honesty, and the promise.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Embedded in Johnson’s stories is a map to living with the sharpness of deep loss. Despite the poignancy, Johnson’s perceptive portrayals of everyday human experience charm and delight.
Co-author and artist of The Illuminated Hafiz with Coleman Barks, Robert Bly, and Michael Green
Brenda Johnson’s beautiful memoir reveals how “get over it” happens on one’s own terms, in day-to-day fashioning life with care and humor. Like a Haiku master, the author uses keen descriptions of nature and compassionate observations of human behavior. A pure joy to read.
Speaker - Author - Executive Media Trainer
The Bob Woodruff Foundation
You know I love a good memoir, and Brenda Johnson has written a collection of stories about the things she doesn't really want to get over - starting with the loss of her marriage and moving through many other wonderful self-reflective moments.
"We all have a story about love and loss, the wise and worn, the silly and the sublime," Johnson writes. And her book, Get Over it (maybe not all of it), delivers in a personal and moving way.
From the book...
Ed arrived for dinner at my house last night, moments after I flung a broiler pan and a toasted mouse in the driveway. I met him on the porch and made my first request for household help in the nine years since he left home.
“Would you pry that mouse and trap off the broiler pan for me?”
He did exactly that—popped the trap and charred mouse off the pan with a stick in a swift motion and dropped the melted mess in the garbage.
This is the seventh trapped mouse in five days. As soon as I button up the kitchen for the night and turn out the lights, mice come in from the cold and make themselves at home. I can hear them scurrying in the oven, warming their dainty gray bodies near the pilot light.
One tiny mouse made a whale of a noise flailing around the oven in an exhaustive effort to escape a trap. I could hear the wee thing struggle and the wood trap clatter. I biked to the hardware store to buy a better mouse trap and brought home a package of two traps with quick jaws and plastic housing to hide the captured. I positioned the new traps in the cozy oven each night.
The cellophane wrapper on the pair of new mouse traps reads “quick-release,” both good marketing and an attractive feature. In the morning, I pinch the spring hinge and drop each mouse into a paper bag, fold the top, and walk it outside to the garbage can.
When Ed called, as he often does to arrange coffee or dinner or ask how I’m doing, he added, “Do you need help with anything before winter?”
Yes, I’m overrun by mice. Do something!
I invited him to dinner.
As I prepared dinner, I slid lasagna out of the refrigerator, into the oven. Not until the thermostat clicked at 350 degrees did I remember I had placed a new mouse trap on the broiler pan early that morning, certain I would remember it before I turned on the oven.
When I did remember, I pulled out the broiler pan and ran shrieking out the front door. I hurled the pan, mouse and trap stuck in place, onto the driveway. That's when Ed arrived.
After he eliminated the mouse and hosed off the pan, he said, “I don’t know if you want to keep this pan.”
“I do,” I said. “It fits the oven drawer. Look—right there next to Flavor Well, it says ‘spatter proof and smokeless.’ That mouse didn’t spatter or smoke.”
I poured boiling water over the broiler pan, scrubbed it with SOS, and poured on more boiling water.
– From “Mouse in the House,” Get Over It (maybe not all of it)
Last night my granddaughters and I geared up to bike downtown to Mezza Luna for pizza. Bike trailer hitched, helmets on, harness buckled. The orange flag waved behind the trailer to alert everyone on the road to the precious cargo onboard.
“All set?” I asked.
“Yes, Granny. Let’s GO. We’re hungry.”
I climbed on my bike, pushed the automatic garage door button, and began pedaling down the steep driveway. I set out at a good clip when CLUNK, the hub of a trailer wheel caught on the garage door frame and stopped the whole parade. The door came down and bounced off the bike trailer. I pitched tail-over-tin cup and landed on my hands and knees in the driveway.
With grave expressions, the girls asked, “Are you okay, Granny?” I was not. I said some bad words, hobbled into the kitchen for ice, and returned to nurse my wounds in the driveway. It could have been bad. Kiele examined my hands. No blood, just a wide swath of cement ground into my palms.
The bruise on my knee didn’t bloom and shine right away. Azra, still buckled into position, waited patiently, careful not to sound insensitive. At last, she said, “Can we still go for pizza?”
– From “Granny Camp,” Get Over It (maybe not all of it)
I’ve long considered the wolf more than a dressed-up villain in a fairy tale, but I’ve never studied this giant of the natural world. In the Wallowa Mountains of northeastern Oregon, I looked for wolf tracks, hoped for a wolf sighting, and made wolf calls. It was a regular Wolf Rendezvous. Oregon Wild protects public land and wildlife, even where it’s hard, like cattle country, and Oregon Wild sponsors the wolf meet-up every year. I signed up to learn the importance of the long-reviled predator to the health of our ecosystem.
I’ve been on the road alone only one other time in the many years I’ve lived alone. On my drive home from wolf watching in the Wallowas, I stop for the night in a pretty little town in the middle of Oregon wine country. The verdant hills, mapped in heaving rows of climbing vines and blossoms, are in spring-green splendor.
At Nick’s Café, I sit at a two-person table in a tight spot between two couples. The woman at the next table doesn’t move off her upright position as she speaks to her husband about a business deal. No hushed tones or restraint. She doesn’t mind being watched or heard. “It’s like a business deal,” she asserts. “Think of it as a business deal. Do what you want.”
After several minutes, the husband speaks. “You’ve said that ten times.” I sense irritation. The wife tells him with certainty that if he really wants something, he has to go after it. She doesn’t lean forward to plead or invite his understanding or agreement. She appears to know the pulse of power. She fingers her wine glass and fixes a gaze on her husband. I think she wants him to acknowledge her just do it message.
After much back-and-forth, mostly forth, on the same business theme, the confident, commanding wife prepares to leave and catches my glance. “It’s great to be out, isn’t it?” she says.
“Yes," I say a little too quickly. "It’s lovely to be out on a beautiful June evening, having dinner at Nick’s."
“You get to sit here and listen to all these conversations, including ours.”
Oh dear. I tried not to gawk. I didn’t stare or strain to listen.
Next, the wife says, “You could be me.”
I could be her, sitting at a small table with a husband who wasn’t invested in the business of marriage, or maybe she meant she could be me, sitting alone in a nice Italian restaurant in a pretty little town. Flying solo might look inviting, considering the taciturn husband in the plaid shirt, who for some reason isn’t into business.
Then the pretty and serious wife says, gesturing across the table, “He could die of a heart attack, or I could die.” She smiles self-consciously. “Or I could be divorced.”
Okay. Does this wife, hair in cute, upturned waves, neat red lipstick, even now, after dinner, want me to tell my story in an abbreviated chapter? Or is she comforting me, the lone woman with nothing but a book as companion?
“I’m a lot older than you,” I say. Am I trying to assure the handsome woman that neither she nor her husband looks to be on the brink of a heart attack? She touches gentle wrinkles at the corner of her eye. Red nail polish matches her good lipstick.
“I dye my hair.” She nods toward her husband and continues, “And he’s younger than I am.” This woman has enjoyed being the center of attention—at least mine, if not her husband’s. “You look fabulous, by the way,” she says.
Would this woman like to be me, the lone observer on a night out with interesting people all around? Would she like to give up the marriage business and be independent? I doubt it.
I could tell her about the Wolf Rendezvous and the benefits of wolves in the wild. I would add that wolves mate for life.
– From “Dinner on the Road,” Get Over It (maybe not all of it)