Big Dipper, You Are Enough

When I was a kid, I was able to identify The Big Dipper and that’s about it. That was enough for me. But once I started having children, I got greedy for more stars.

Fortunately for me, the solar system is heavily marketed to parents with credit cards. Here is a list of star-related items I bought:

  • Glow-in-the-dark stars
  • Stickers
  • Night lamps that projected “stars”
  • Flashlights with different “star” filters
  • Puzzles of the night sky and solar system
  • Space-related posters and framed art
  • Pajamas with stars and planets
  • Books, poetry and music about stars and constellations
  • A telescope (used once)
  • Star-shaped cookie cutters
  • Astronaut helmets
  • Memberships to the local planetarium and tickets to the planetariums in big cities

That’s what I remember but I am sure there is more.

The media has also been germane to my obsession. Not a week goes by when I’m not reading about some celestial event. There have been blood moons, super moons, blue moons and harvest moons. There have been eclipses lunar and solar; total and partial. Mercury has been in retrograde, Venus in transit and Jupiter at opposition. And let’s not forget “The Great Conjunction,” also known as “the Christmas star.”

When my kids were young (meaning they didn’t have a choice), I brought them outside to see every single cosmic event. One winter “morning,” I roused three of my children (Angelo was still too young) at 3:00 a.m., drove them to the country away from any light pollution and set up sleeping bags in a snowy field so they could watch a meteor shower. I had read that the conditions would be perfect at that pre-dawn time to see up to 100 meteors in an hour. The conditions weren’t perfect; they were cold.

Jesse and I have spent hundreds of dollars on star-inspired consumer goods and spent many hours outside observing the night skies with our children. Nowadays making time for celestial events just seems like too much work.

But, sometimes when we get home late at night, we’ll get out of the car and notice that The Big Dipper seems like it is right over our backyard, just for us. One of us will point and say something like “Big Dipper!” and we’ll all look up and marvel at its brightness and beautiful, simple lines.

Big Dipper, please forgive me for seeing other stars. You are and always have been enough. -Connie

Fern’s self portrait from 2015. It’s based on the Carl Sandburg poem “The Child’s Moon” but she included stars.

I think that I shall never see a bio as lovely as a tree

In 2007, Connie Kuntz (tree/her/hers) put her roots down in Rockford, Illinois. Tree enjoys the company of the other trees in her neighborhood. Every autumn, tree travels. “I go where the wind goes,” tree says. Tree is a safe space for kids to play. Tree enjoys hugs and, occasionally, throwing shade.

My son Sam in his natural habitat.

What keeps you up at night?

I call the southeast corner of our block “Turdtown” because it’s where an apparently very large dog goes to poop. It’s disgusting. Normally I would insert a photo here for evidence but it is so nasty, so freaking gross, that if you were to barely glance at the photo, you would gag and possibly barf. I won’t do that to you; I love you too much.

Once a week or so, because the dog poop accumulates fast, I stuff several plastic bags in my coat, walk down there and angrily bag as many frozen poops as I can before I start gagging. I then throw the bags the hell away in our garbage can.

I’ll tell you something: I can’t stand having another dog’s poop in my garbage can. It keeps me up at night. But my friends, this is how I change the world. How about you? Let me know in the comments. -Connie

Don’t let the lovely sunset fool you. Turdtown is pure evil.

Go Tell It on the Smart Speaker

I don’t have a music playlist. I’m not even sure how to assemble such a thing. I’m certain it’s a simple task, but ever since we got a smart speaker, I just ask ‘Siri’ to play music inspired by whatever I’m reading or writing or pondering.

For instance, this week I am reading “Go Tell It on the Mountain” by James Baldwin and have been listening to Sing Freedom! African American Spirituals by Conspirare along the way.

Sometimes I read in silence, but most of the time music adds a wonderful dimension to my experience. I hope you let me know what you are reading and listening to this week. -Connie

Shut the front door?

When I need solitude, I go to the windows and shut the blinds and curtains. Instant peace. I do this when I’m writing or when I crave a little “alone time.” In fact, I’m doing it right now.

Hi. This is what solitude (and I) look like.

Sadly, I learned this “trick” because of the 9/11 attacks.

In 2001, I was 31 and obsessed with my theatre career. To put it bluntly, I was completely self-absorbed. I only cared about “doing shows.” I lived alone in a tiny rented house in North Minneapolis and was terribly lonely.

Lonely yes, but I was also in a constant state of being annoyed at “the world.” I was sick of bad drivers, inconsiderate coworkers, rude customers, gym rats who didn’t wipe down their equipment and worst of all: theatre bullies. Yes, theatre attracts bullies, not just snobs.

But when I learned about the terrorist attacks, something shifted in me. I went from feeling peeved to being deeply distraught. Though I didn’t personally know anyone on the planes, in the towers or at the Pentagon, I felt profound sadness for the victims and their families. And I was so scared for the people who lived in New York City. I was completely shaken by the video footage of the burning, crumbling towers, the image of the man falling to his death, the photos of soot-covered New Yorkers walking away from the Twin Towers. What must it have been like for the people who actually lived there?

Back in Minneapolis, the downtown was a ghost town. I worked at the usually busy City Center Marshalls. In the days following the attacks, my hours had been drastically cut because no one felt like shopping. And, to give everyone a little time to digest the tragedy, rehearsals for the show I was in had been canceled for the week. That meant I was home more than usual which was a relief to me because I knew I needed complete solitude.

Even though it was bright and sunny outside, I shut the blinds and curtains, locked the doors and just sat there, alone in the quiet, mourning. It is still my preferred “method” for deep grieving but is also something I do when I just want to be alone with my thoughts.

I no longer live alone in Minneapolis. I live in Rockford with my husband, our four children and our pets. Our house isn’t very big, but each of us, for reasons big and small, find ways to achieve solitude. And, every anniversary of September 11, we shut the blinds and curtains all day, not for solitude, but as a simple way to respect and remember the victims of 9/11.

Will Mop For Free

My favorite part of myself is the part that whistles and sings through my daily chores. I am not much of an interior designer, but I enjoy housework and have a special affinity for sweeping, vacuuming and mopping.

My enthusiasm for clean floors stems from my years as a professional stage manager. Though I could have delegated the task to the assistant stage manager or a crew member, I insisted on mopping the stage before every show.

Before I mopped it, I swept the stage and then squirted the air with a spray bottle that was filled with water. Each spray would capture dust and ever-so-gently bring the particulate down to “the boards.” Only then would I begin to mop.

Image from The Carol Burnett Show listing on IMDB.

Sometimes actors would tease me. “Look, there’s Carol Burnett,” one would say every time he walked into the theater and saw me mopping. I would beam with pride.

I loved watching the show from the booth as I called the light and sound cues. To this day, I feel like my devotion to mopping the boards added a purity and glow to the entire play.

These days, I like to think my daily floor treatments add a touch of purity and glow to my home. Now If you’ll excuse me, I have some laundry to fold. 🎶 Zipadeedoodah, zippidy day, my oh my what a wonderful day! 🎶 -Connie

My floors!

Let me tell you what makes me feel weak

In order to write about what makes me feel strong, I must first write about what makes me feel weak and that’s Zoom.

Yes, Zoom is a useful tool, it’s better than nothing and we need it right now. I appreciate Zoom, but Zoom exhausts me.

The eternal Zoom closeups, the mute button, the original sound that isn’t original. The option to “touch up my appearance.”

Live theatre reveals how old and nervous I am. Zoom makes me feel like I should be ashamed of those things, but in reality, being myself in front of and among actual people emboldens me. 

And sharing new work? Yes, it makes me weak in the knees, every time, but that’s also what empowers me. That’s what makes me feel strong. 

I miss theatre so much.

I miss seeing whole, imperfect bodies shuffle into the theater. I miss feeling the cold come off of someone who just rushed inside.

I miss saying, “Nice to see you,” in real life, and meaning it.

I miss being in the audience, watching and listening to new work.

I miss real performances where actors push and pull their whole bodies through time and space on a stage, and the only reason I can hear them is because they know how to project.

I. Miss. Live. Music.

I miss seeing people blush. I miss the intelligence and discipline of a live audience. I miss the organic sound of people clapping their hands together.

I miss the warmth of cold readings and witnessing the heart-pounding vulnerability of having new work read.

I miss printing my scripts, even though that chore is always 100% stressful. When will I be able to do that again?

I miss that moment of being trusted with a script. I miss seeing actors with my script.

Actors reading a scene from my play “Hotbed” in 2020, a few weeks before the stay-at-home order.

I miss being in a room filled with writers, directors, actors and producers.

I miss seeing people in profile. I missing seeing the backs of people. I miss knowing there are people sitting behind me.

I miss metaphors.

I miss seeing the secret smiles exchanged between longtime friends and short-time lovers, and short-time friends and longtime lovers. I miss the trust that is placed on everyone in the room.

I miss the hierarchy, the overtalkers, the awkward chit-chat and hearing someone’s phone go off.

Lord, or whatever your name is, deliver me to the theatre, stat. I understand Zoom is a necessary tool and I promise to continue to do my best with it, but if I am to ever feel whole and strong again, I need to be physically among my people. Please, thank you and amen.

Can you tell me how to avoid Sesame Street?

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As a child, I had a recurring dream that Snuffleupagus was chasing me. Though sweet-tempered on Sesame Street, in my dreams, Snuffy was a sinister child-killer.

Sometimes when I was falling asleep, I would hear him “materializing” from within my lumpy pillow. It was one of those old, striped farmhouse pillows. In an attempt to stave off the beast, I would “knead” the lumps and, on a good night, “Dream Snuffy” would break up, disappear and let me sleep in peace.

But on bad nights, he’d emerge from my pillow and slowly – but relentlessly – stalk me in my bedroom, down the stairs, out the door and into the alley. Then I would wake up.

Though it was a recurring dream, its life span was short. Snuffy stopped coming to get me about the same time I stopped watching Sesame Street which is to say when I was about five or six years old.

That’s the dream I remember.

What I couldn’t remember as I was writing about the dream was how to spell “Snuffleupagus.”

When I wrote it the first time, I spelled it S-n u-f-f-l-e-u-f-f-u-g-u-s. It felt “wrong” so I looked it up and that’s when I learned it’s S-n-u-f-f-l-e-u-p-a-g-u-s. And that’s when I looked up “pagus.”

Pagus, according to, is used in the names of severely malformed, usually nonviable, conjoined twins. Here’s a list of those names and where conjoined twins may be joined:

Chest – Thoracopagus

Abdomen – Omphalopagus

Base of spine – Pygopagus

Length of spine – Rachipagus

Pelvis – Ischiopagus

Trunk – Parapagus

Head – Craniopagus

Head and chest – Cephalopagus

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The original Snuffleupagus when he debuted in 1971. Photo from

Cephalopagus twins are joined at the face and upper body. They share a head and a brain and cephalopagus sounds an awful lot like Snuffleupagus. But I’m not saying that to upset you or…get into your head.

Sweet dreams. -Connie

Interview with a fly girl

The following is the transcript from Mr. Man’s January 23 interview with Winter Santiaga.

Theme show music to WBLG-FM ‘s “Listen up with Mr. Man!” begins.

Mister Man (MM): You’re listening to WBLG, the radio blog station where you hear only what I want you to hear. Today we have reality TV star Winter Santiaga in our studio. Winter, hello. Thank you for joining us.

Theme show music fades out.

WINTER SANTIAGA (WS): You’re welcome.

MM: Winter, first and foremost I want to say you look amazing. You are quite the fashionista.Tell our listeners who you’re wearing.

WS: Everything from my gold-plated sunglasses down to my pink satin platform pumps is Versace.

MM: Head to toe, huh?

WS: Yes.

MM: Even that purple fur coat?

WS: Yes. Luxury mink lined with silk, by Versace.

MM: Wow, so colorful.

WS: You got a problem with color?

MM: Of course not! (clears throat) I understand you have quite the storied history.

WS: (chuckles sexily) You could say that.

MM: Of course we know you’re here to promote your wildly popular television show, but before we talk about that, let’s go back in time.

WS: Let’s.

MM: Says here you’re the daughter of a drug lord and a crack w-h-o-r-e.

WS: You can say ‘whore’ on the radio.

MM: I prefer not. This is a family show.

WS: Right.

MM: And it says you served a 15-year prison sentence for/

WS: (interrupts) For bullshit!

MM: OK, terrific, we’ll edit that out later. So, did you have fun in prison?

WS: (sighs)

MM: It also says here that you are the victim of gun violence/

WS: Do not call Winter Santiaga a victim. Ever.

MM: Perfect, got it. Duly noted.

WS: What else does it say on your little card?

MM: I’m told you were in a coma for several weeks. It says here you…’slept with the devil?’ (laughs) Damn howdy, I can’t be the only one who’s a little jealous! What was that like?

WS: I have a lot of enemies, but I wouldn’t wish a coma or sexual assault on a single one of them.

MM: Still it must have been nice to get caught up on all that sleep? What I wouldn’t give to be able to just sleep, amirite?

WS: What I wouldn’t give to not have to talk to ignorant people.

MM: (still laughing) I know that’s right.

WS: (sighs)

MM: Winter, what can tell us about that five-inch scar on your face?

WS: That I’m a beautiful bad bitch regardless.

MM: Great. So…how’d you get it?

WS: My friend slashed me.

MM: Your ‘friend?’

WS: She was mad at me for killing her baby. It was a misunderstanding. We’re cool now.

MM: (more laughter) That’s so sweet. (pauses) So, tell us what it means to Winter Santiaga to be a ‘bad witch-with-a-b.’

WS: Witch-with-a-b?

MM: Again, this is a family show.

MM: What do you know about family, ‘Mr. Man?’

MM: Well, I know I’d like to have one of my own some day.

WS: You got a girlfriend?

MM: (laughs) I get around.

WS: That’s not what I asked. I asked if you had a girlfriend?

MM: I’m not ready for that kind of commitment.

WS: That’s because you’ll never love anyone as much as you love the sound of your own voice.

MM: I…I think it’s important to hydrate. (gulps water)

WS: When are we going to talk about my show?

MM: Oh right. I forgot. I confess I’ve never seen it. I’m more of an ‘America’s Funniest Home Videos’ kind of guy.

WS: That’s obvious.

MM: Uh, well, here. I’ll just get down to the nitty gritty so you can be on your way. What’s the first thing you want your fans to think of when they think of ‘Winter Santiaga?’

WS: Cold.

MM: Cold…

WS: Yeah. Cold.

MM: Cool.

WS: (sighs)

Theme show music outro underscores Mister Man’s outro.

MM: Winter Santiaga, it’s been a pleasure getting to know you. Good luck in all your future endeavors. Coming up, we hear from Barb Kardashian. She’s not related to ‘those’ Kardashians; she says just changed her name so she could be like them. You won’t want to miss that so stay tuned to WBLG. I’m Mister Man.

Connie Kuntz recently read the books “The Coldest Winter Ever” and “Life after Death” by Sister Souljah. The main character in both novels is the tough-talking, street-smart fashionista Winter Santiaga. When prompted to “interview a fictional character” for the #bloganuary project, she decided to write about the uniquely charismatic ex-con turned reality TV star. Connie hopes you read the books or at least get familiar with Sister Souljah’s powerful work.

Trust me when I tell you to trust yourself

My favorite quote is “Trust yourself” because it is so simple and empowering. The author is my college friend Bekkah Fry and she said it to me 15 years ago. Though I do not remember what we were talking about, I remember her saying, “You have to trust yourself, Connie.”

“Beg pardon?”

“I said ‘Trust yourself.'”

Rebekkah and her kids (from L-R) Lucy, Adeleine and Max in 2013.

Bekkah is a clear-headed nurse with psychology and philosophy degrees. She is an art-loving, book-reading mama-of-three who is logical, loving and loyal. She can pinpoint the source of any problem without batting an eye and does so with warmth and authority. So when this brilliant, respectable woman advised me to trust myself, I was shocked.

No one had ever said anything so radical to me before, and no one has ever since. In fact, I’ve never even heard it suggested to anyone.

Here’s what I have been told or have heard, repeatedly, over the years:

*Trust your doctor

*Trust God

*Trust science

*Trust the process

*Trust your coach

*Trust your partner

*Trust your boss

*Trust your teammates

*Trust your stylist

*Trust your mother

*Trust yourself

*Trust me

And, of course, we’ve all heard the famous quote “Trust your gut” which I find unrefined and actually a little gross. I understand it’s about trusting your intuition and while that’s important, I stand by the elegance, wholeness and responsibility of “trust yourself.”

For the record, I’m not telling you to not trust people or concepts or science. I’m suggesting that above all else, you trust your whole self more, first and last.

Connie Kuntz is participating in #bloganuary. That means she is writing a new blog post every day in January. She learned about the challenge yesterday therefore this is only Day 2 for her. Though she is three weeks behind, she is enjoying the prompts, meeting new writers and reading new stories. Follow her on Medium or Twitter @connie_kuntz.