Thursday, December 9, 2010

crystal white winters that melt into spring

I've been counting down the days with faithful devotion, watching November become December and each week pass me by with even more fleeting madness than the last. I have always been enraptured by time and how I can watch it go quickly or feel it trickle away like something slow and sticky that has been spilled unnoticed.

Six days, 21 hours and 52 minutes from now someone very special will be waiting in the baggage claim at the SeaTac airport. He will see me coming down the escalator and we won't be able to stop smiling once our eyes meet. I'll drop my giant backpack, and he'll pick me up and spin me around. We'll kiss. The year will progress, and finish, and turn into the new year, and I will be one month closer to marrying my best friend.

I cannot wait to go home.

Monday, November 8, 2010

what the heart wants

16 days until Thanksgiving break. 36 days until I head home for Christmas. 46 days till Christmas actually happens. 228 days until I get married.

Time has always confused me. I've always had an older voice in my head, speaking from the future like a saint or some strange progressive conscience. I've never been able to live in the moment. I keep pushing forward, wanting to get there as fast as I can so that I can start waiting for something else and count down the days for something better, more exciting.

And like the future pulls me into motion one way, the past pulls me in the other direction.

I knew this day was coming. See... sometimes you find these "perfect" people and you get wrapped up in them and think you can share in their happiness, maybe even be their happiness. Then the inevitable happens and you have to let them go and then... then what? Then what do we all do, looking back at those shadows and ghosts, holding shaking hands over healing wounds or ugly scars, turning our heads this way and that just to get a glimpse of what their lives are like without us.

We get jealous. I get jealous.

I am the happiest person on earth. I am deeply in love with and deeply loved by a wonderful man. I am pushing myself more than I ever have, I am working hard, I am busy, I have good friends and a good family, I have a bright and promising future just waiting around the corner. My health is currently at its worst, but that's another story. So what exactly am I jealous of? What am I looking for?

I will never know. But I knew this day would come. I knew that this person would find their spark, their piece of happiness, and I knew that when I witnessed it and saw it and understood the fullness of it I would lash out like the angry animal my heart often seems to be and I would get jealous of a happiness that--in all honesty--probably couldn't hold a candle to mine.

My happiness is not in a giant rock on my finger, or years of working with prestigious people, or wealthy parents and uninhibited vacations, or being a "hipster", or experiencing fame, or being protected from any painful or eye-opening circumstances.

I knew this day would come. And I don't know why it bothers me so much, but it does. And I just want to say this here, for the world to see, that I love my life, and I love the person (and the people) in my life, but I will also admit that one of the only things holding me up right now is that I found happiness first.

That's right. I said it. I found it first.

(congrats on catching up!)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

a decade

I don't have a lot to say tonight. It's a few minutes until Halloween/Reformation Day. I just got done going to 2 parties. I am still dresses as a poison fairy, although I took my wings off. I have a lot to do tomorrow.

But for right now, for another few minutes, it's still October 30th, and ten years ago today my grandfather George Albert Foutz passed away.

I am not going to describe the night to you. I won't elaborate on the tremor in my rib cage that climbed out of my throat and launched into someone else's chest with sobs and screams. I won't talk about the funeral or how I talked to him for months afterward.

Just know that he was a beloved man. He had a handlebar mustache. He loved dachshunds, banana peppers, making sandwiches with leftover pancakes, and had the best cinnamon roll recipe. He was deeply in love with his wife Virginia, and they were married for over 50 years. He took care of her until the day he died.

It's hard to honor someone with just a blog. So I won't try too hard. He's honored in my heart, and with my life.

I love you, Grandpa.
-your Katiedid

Monday, October 11, 2010

catalysts

Eight months, the scheme unforeseen, the distance too distant to seem significant. Then a break in the proximity. Growing further and further away, the earth spreads out its great arms between two hearts and there is a catalyst.

It couldn't wait anymore.

When Joseph and I first got engaged, we planned on waiting to get married until after I finished my degree. This was the plan up until August 24. I got back to school in Illinois, and we realized how far apart we were (yet again) and there was such a dangerous clarity to everything. We did not want to wait another 2 years to get married. Waiting that long seems so endurable when the one you love is at your side, physical and real and present. Everything changes when you're separated by 75% of a country.

Multiple phone calls, endless nights of prayer, a trip to my parents' house (made by Joey), and 2 trips to the financial aid office (made by me) later.... we have officially changed the date to June 25th of THIS coming year.

This means so many things. It means, first of all, I get a head start on this lovely thing called the rest of my life with the love of my life. It means living in a studio apartment and paying bills and washing dishes in a tiny kitchen and throwing parties in the same room as my bed. It means buying groceries and toilet paper. It means coming home to the same wonderful man every day, knowing I don't have to say goodbye to him before I go to bed.

It means having 50% LESS debt for my senior year.
It means having 14 months LESS to plan my wedding than originally planned.
It means having LESS motivation to do anything remotely responsible. (don't worry, I'll still do it.)
It means not having to wait to be with the man I love.
It means not having to sleep on a floor with 18 other people and share a shower with those people and a tv and regulate my noise level and go to meetings with them blah blah blah.

What this means is that I am losing everything I don't need and finding everything that I most deeply desire.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What you already know

In retrospect of recent findings, or at least the finding of those around me, there's something I've been wanting to say for a good three weeks now.

People are disappointing.

People change. You think you know someone inside and out and then one day... they become something unexpected. The person you knew, doesn't actually exist. The person you depended on for a laugh or some wisdom or love is no longer a person. They let you down.

Now I'm not saying this because something terrible has happened to me or because I'm feeling bitter or because I no longer believe that there is good in everyone. Rather, I'm trying to get at something much bigger than just people vs. other people. Something much greater than all our problems.

See, you can't live without people. If you really wanted to you could go live in the mountains and eat berries and tree bark for the rest of your lonely days--but that might be a little extreme. Most people prefer to be with other people. You can't live without them. The heart of a man (or woman, just to be fair) craves to connect with the hearts of other men. (or women.) We are created a social beings, made to talk and touch and fellowship with others.

However, that doesn't mean people are everything. This is the part where I want to get personal. I want to tell you stories--stories that aren't even mine--explaining why people can't be everything. But I won't, because here's the thing: you already know.

You are already aware that people will let you down. You have been disappointed, your expectations haven't been met, you've been hurt and slapped and ignored. You don't need me to explain that people are imperfect. People are necessary, we love them and we can forgive them when they screw us over, but that doesn't mean we have to continue letting them hurt us.

There's only person you really need, one person who won't let you down. And that's the Creator of the universe. He might not seem like the nicest guy because he allows some painful things to happen to us, but he doesn't leave us when we're hurting. God doesn't ignore us--even though he has every right to because we're really annoying. God doesn't get bored with us or tired of us when we're whiny. God moves through pain with us, walks with us on the roughest paths, and will be on the other side of the storm when we coming running out of it.

So to my friends who are waiting for some person to meet all your needs... give up. There is no one. There is no human who will fulfill all your desires or grant you wishes or make everything perfect. They will let you down.

I'm not saying that you should ignore all people for the rest of you life and never depend on anyone. There are people in your life who will try their darnedest to be good to you. Be loved. Love others. It's important.

But you already knew that.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

immersion

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. It was beautiful. There were no wars or fights, no cell phones, no panic attacks, no cafeteria food. It was perfect. Then a deceiver entered the scene and ruined everything.

Fast forward to the rest of time. Life is, at least in some aspects, miserable. Sin and pain and brokenness cast shadows and cause destruction at every turn. There is a great separation between humankind and God.

But sometimes, when we least deserve it, when we least expect it, God shows us his presence and allows us to experience Him, to be surrounded by him. This doesn't mean he speaks aloud or shoots bolts of lightning from the sky. It doesn't mean that we are healed of all afflictions or have "all the answers." I'd like to show you what it means for me.

August 21, 2010

~I've been on the road with my parents for two days, with two days left to go. We stop at the Wall Drug Store in South Dakota, a giant tourist trap with lots of junk you can buy for a ridiculous price. We've been walking around for a few minutes, and I'm looking at some insignificant souvenir, when my dad calls me across the hall to show me this:






August 13, 2010

~It's my last night at camp. I have been working 11-12 hour days pretty much all summer. It has been exhausting. My entire being is wrought with TIRED. So we have an impromptu bonfire before curfew. And I sit... and inhale... and exhale... and the fire to my left reassures me that the coming months will be endurable, and that the last three months were worth their trouble.



August 7, 2008

I have no photograph for this moment, but it is the one that started each similar moment after. I would like you to picture a younger me, a me that most of you don't know. In the past month I've been fired, helped my father paint an apartment complex, was convinced by the Holy Spirit to go to college, and currently am at the end of a 2-week mission trip in South Dakota. In the coming weeks I will be packing up my life and flying across almost the entire country to start school in a place I've never been.

It's the end of a long day. We said many painful goodbyes to the kids in Wakpala and drove most of the day to find a camp ground. It has grass. And plants. And I am lying underneath the wave-like branches of a willow tree.

The wind is warm and soothing. My aching body is surrounded by the softest grass I've felt in years. Beyond the leaves above me I see blue sky. There are birds singing, crickets chirping, cicadas making their obnoxious noises in the distance. My friends are nearby, talking amongst themselves. My recently-washed hair is all blown to the grass above my head and I can literally feel all the tension leave me, like the dirt beneath me is soaking it up.

I am aware of reality. I am terrified of what's coming, of doing something all on my own. But I trust. I have come SO far and I know now, to trust.


September 11, 2010

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Now there are wars. I have panic attacks and arguments and get sick. But I still remind myself of trusting Him, and seek moments so similar to it that I cannot help but look--cannot help but gaze into stained glass windows or feel the heat of a fire, or immerse myself in grass and willow trees and wind. I remind myself of that moment every day. It's what got me here.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

the jitters

Inside my head there's an ongoing story being told by an older version of myself. This older version is not much older, mind you. She is probably 25 and has done all the things that I aspire to do. She's gotten her degree--complete with a semester of student-teaching overseas. She's married, and is teaching in some meaningful location while living a meaningful life with her husband--who also finished his AA and then got a full-ride scholarship to get his BA.

This woman tells me that it's going to be alright. She tells me that in two years the sun still rises every morning and sets every night. She says that I will never cease to find enlightenment in a cup of coffee and that my love for Joseph will not falter after the wedding, even if his jerk brother says some jerk thing at the reception and a chaotic brawl ensues at the desert bar. And, naturally, she reminds me that teaching is definitely my perfect career choice and my adoration of and obsession with words is a good thing. (really. it is.)

My older self narrates my life with such wisdom that I would never do anything stupid to keep myself from the future that is being dangled in front of me. Right?

Alright, that last part was a let down. I'm not going to reveal some stupid thing I did. I haven't done anything to jeopardize myself or my future. In fact, for the most part, I'm doing pretty good at staying the course and all that jazz.

There's just one problem: I am impatient. In other words, I am restless.

In January when Joey proposed and I gladly said yes, we were both under the impression that we would wait until I graduated to get married, as directed by my father. Well, 8 months have gone by since then and a 2 1/2 year engagement is beginning to feel ludicrous and rather painful.

So there's the impatient part. But everyone is impatient, so why is that a big deal?

That's where the restlessness comes in.

I can't sit STILL.

I went to the financial aid office to see how my tuition costs would change if I got married. (they would be better! haha.) I've been looking into overseas programs with the same mad speed that a rabbit... well, you know rabbits. And at every spare moment Joey and I have been yabbering about ways to convince my parents to let us get married next summer. (so far it isn't working.) I also added another class when I got to school, joined a new church and a new prayer group and started up in Yearbook (finally!) and made new friends and scheduled meal dates with professors and ordered the New York Times and I'm looking for jobs and looking for photo opportunities and went to three thrift stores.

Seriously. I'm usually a pretty chill person. Sit down, read a book, drink some tea. I think having a car at school this year is going to kill me because it just sits in the parking lot, looking cute and forlorn. Side note: it's not even my car. I had to TOTAL my car this summer. I hit no one but myself, too. Extra disappointing.

So if you're wondering why this post is all over the map it's because my head and my heart are also all over the map. Perhaps in posts to come I will elaborate. For now... I remain restless. And in perpetual motion.

Watch out, here I come!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Bonny Bridal: Let's Celebrate! Our First Giveaway!

Bonny Bridal: Let's Celebrate! Our First Giveaway!

So, I've been doing a lot of wedding planning lately, and I found this contest! Hope I win! I'm reeeally poor, so a free dress would be awesome. :)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Credit (Where It's Due)

People die all the time. You all know this is true. Some people experience death more than others, and very few have (so far) been saved the pain of losing a good friend, a dear spouse, or even a child.

Death is the one certainty that ties all of us together. Not even birth is fully shared, for some are denied even that privilege. But death cannot be denied. It can be thrust upon us too early, it can be delayed miraculously, but it cannot be beaten. Everyone dies.

Especially old people.

My grandmother, Virginia Foutz, died a few weeks ago after 8 years of Alzheimer's. Some people don't take this very seriously. They feel that old people are old, they die, it's not a huge loss because we should all expect it. However, I was closer to my grandmother than what might be considered normal. I spent every summer with her, and for much of my elementary years I spent every morning at her house before school, and often spent my afternoons there as well. From ages 8-12 she lived right next door, and from ages 12-16 she lived just down the hall from me.

I loved my grandma. It was hard to, at the end there. Alzheimer's is, in my opinion, the cruelest of all diseases. It is hopeless. There comes a time when the victim doesn't even realize they're sick. The process of forgetting and re-remembering is painful, both for the person who can't remember and the person who reminds them that their husband is dead or that it's the year 2004 and everything is much, much different.

Regardless... I loved her. I was a teenager, and I have struggled long and hard with the way I treated her during those years. I wasn't mean to her. But certainly I neglected her. It was just too difficult to talk to her. She wasn't the woman I knew, that body was not the grandmother I loved. At fifteen I was not capable of loving a body just because it was the right thing to do. Rather, I was angry, and usually just ignored her so that neither of us would get frustrated.

I feel this blog getting longer and longer, and I just don't care.

I am more like Virginia than probably any of the other grandchildren. I don't know if this is due to all the time I spent with her, or if there is just some magical gene that was passed on through my father. Either way, she and I were always matched. We share a stubborn streak, a creative spirit, and a heart for people. (at least, I try.) At the end there, when she still lived with us but she was fading quickly, it was hard to be around her. I wanted so badly to remind her of everything, to tell her things about my life and to talk with her like we had when I was a kid. But she wasn't there.

I said goodbye about 2 years ago. It was at Christmas time. I saw one last glimpse of the woman we all loved, and then decided there would be no more visits from me. I couldn't watch her go anymore. At least, that's what I thought.

Turns out, I would have loved to be there when she left this world. Not because I'm morbid and like watching people die, but because she was my hero and I owed it to her. I wish I could have kissed her cheek or held her hand and cried on someone's shoulder. But I didn't even get to attend the memorial service.

I have but one homage to my dear grandma, aside from my personality. I wrote a poem (at the request of my father, after some fighting about not waiting for me to come home for the memorial service.)

I also have some pictures. They are not pictures of my grandma as I knew her. I knew her as a woman in the kitchen, with flour up to her elbows and a stained apron around her hips. I knew her as a force to be reckoned with, a mother to so many (many many many many many) lost children, a storyteller with a quick wit and a warm embrace.

The pictures I'm going to post were chosen because I can see myself in them. If I had any with me, I would post pictures of Virginia and I from when I was a little girl. However, these will have to do. Not a lot of people read this, if anyone at all, but I hope you enjoy the poem and the pictures.

How to Read a Woman

A woman’s face will crease as she ages
through every fond phase of motherhood.
Wrinkles fold just as beloved pages,
like books reminding us of all that’s good.
Now, one might read a woman by her skin
as though the signs of wear were some black ink,
But such a woman holds a depth within—
she carries worlds more than some care to think.
Every worried frown meant that she loved us,
each stern rebuke was meant to help us grow.
She taught us compassion, conviction, trust,
and pushed us without ever letting go.
So when our marks of age won’t go unseen,
we’ll remember who showed us what they mean.





So I have lost her. I have lost her body, her presence, her laughter and her music. But I know just where to find her. And that's all I have to say.

Monday, March 29, 2010

chin up, chin down

Can you really predict how March ends or begins? I never have been able to. In the past I have declared from mountains that March is my least favorite month. Bad things have always happened in March. I've been dumped, people have died, I've lost sleep, time, years of my life, a pair of pants. I've looked up and down the Marches of my history and found them entirely lacking.

In retrospect of this weekend I am thinking maybe I just refused to see the good things that also happened in March. The child in me still sees the bad in everything, the poet in me clings to that blackness and writes it out emphatically, but the adult I try to be knows that surely not all of my Marches have been all heartbreak and hair-tearing chaos.

This weekend Trinity presented A Midsummer Night's Dream, western style. Yours truly was the costume director and played the part of Philostrate. Friday was opening night. But let's start Friday morning.

8:15, study for Evaluation 2.
9:00, yawn, have headache, take Evaluation 2 during Educational Psychology & Human Development.
9:40, wait a billion years for breakfast. Eat said breakfast, crave sleep.
11:00, go to chapel, fall asleep in the last 20 minutes.
12:00, take a nap.
1:45, write a reflective essay with dyad partner for Philosophy.
2:15, fall asleep in Romantic Lit.
3:15, fall asleep in Philosophy.
4:00, call fiance. Have sudden desire to call my boss.
4:15, call boss about summer job. Apparently, I don't have one!
4:40, sit in room and cry. think deeply. pray.
5:00, eat dinner with roomie.
5:30, go to the chapel and start play excitement.

And then we had 'the play.' I said my lines and wore eight pounds of make-up and danced backstage. But, seeing no one greet me afterwards, having no one to congratulate just me or bring me flowers, a great weight pressed at my chest. There was an after party, and I forced myself to go, knowing that I would feel even worse sitting alone in my room.

Saturday was much of the same. After-party included.

I am exhausted, but...

Walking back to my room at 2am, or today after getting breakfast and drinking coffee, I told myself the good things that had happened. I forced myself to believe that everything was no so horrible, that there were good moments involving playing a baby grand piano or a finished assignment or a nap.

Today is not ending the way that I would like it to. Tomorrow I find out about a job for next school year, and Wednesday there's a possibility of mending a friendship. March may go out in the same fashion that it entered--bloody teeth and sharp claws. It may not end in the way that I need it to, the way I hope it will, the way that would be easiest and least traumatizing. The least detrimental to a better future.

But I will find good things still. I will take to heart the sunshine, despite the freezing wind. I will enjoy the prospect of fixing things, at least until I find out whether or not they are fixed. I will breathe deeply of gracious professors who give second, third, fourth chances and of faithful friends who listen with open hands and hearts. I will take time to calm down with a cup of tea and a piece of chocolate. (free chocolate, mind you.)

Most of all, I will listen to new music. I have created a playlist (on playlist.com) called "Chin Up, Chin Down, You are a Princess", named after a quote on a picture from a friend. It makes no sense. But it gives me a little pep every time I see it. The playlist includes upbeat (but not poppy) music, lots of piano, and most importantly the Midsummer Night's Dream playlist arranged by our dear Oberon.

I will find good things. I will not fall apart.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Of sunsets and icebergs

Again I sit in the quiet darkness of my room, drinking caffeinated liquids. I am agitated under the fluorescent glow of my desk lamp and the humming of my computer's fan is not making me feel any better. I have a lot to do this week. Three papers (one of them late already), a quiz, a presentation, and an exam. I am currently multi-tasking and writing my late paper as well as discussing with my Ed Psych partner what we should do for our presentation. Oh, and I have to lead some class devotionals. Not gonna prepare for that quite yet.

As I sit, my ears are burning with a new auditory drug. It's called 'Opal (Error Love opalowski rmx)' by sayCet. A friend of a friend had me listen to it. I couldn't buy it anywhere. It's only available in Podcast form on iTunes. (for free...) I seriously recommend it.

I was in Lafayette, Indiana when I heard said song. I recently traveled to Indiana with my roomie/best friend for spring break. As it was, to date, the farthest I have ever been from my home I have concluded that such a trip requires reflection.

Reflection #1. I love places. I love places the same way that I love movies. I am eclectic and unpredictable and don't fit in with my peers, as far as taste goes. This comparison would make complete sense, except that I've seen a lot of good movies, I have not been to a good deal of places. (I've been to Canada. I hated Canada. Probably because I spent the entire week their with a broken ankle on a house boat.) But the places I have been, I love. Even if I am not in love with the people or the situation, like a sprained ankle in Canada or a family crisis in Oregon, I can find beauty in every place. And, strange as it might sound, some of my favorite and most beautiful places are not usually considered "beautiful" or even "decent." For instance, I love South Dakota. Not the famous parts, either. I've never been to Mount Rushmore.

So I was in Indiana for about 8 days and everywhere I went, I looked. And everywhere I looked, I loved. Indiana is unlike every other place I have been. Most places are. It is a strange combination of flat, rolling hills, much like South Dakota. And it is lush with trees, like my home state Washington. It gets really hot and really cold, like Illinois. But it was different. And it was beautiful.

Reflection #2. There is only one cat in the whole world that I don't hate, and it lives in Frankfort, IN.

Reflection #3. This is the sunset I saw immediately entering IN.


That was my spring break. A beautiful landscape, a beautiful friend. There were several trips to Goodwill and mountains of movies and lots of morning coffee.

Then I came back to school. I returned to Illinois on Saturday afternoon, had the night to myself, spent the majority of yesterday in more sweet solitude, and then classes started up again today. I went to all of them. I did my homework. (except for that paper looming over my head...) And tonight I had play practice.

I was walking over to the chapel with a friend, and somehow we got on the topic of being mysterious. I was trying to convince her that she was more of an enigma than she thought.

"Not nearly as much as you!" she said.
"What?" I asked.
"I'm not nearly as mysterious as you. You're like an iceberg."
"An iceberg?" By this time, I was close to feeling insulted.
"There's more of you under the surface than you're willing to admit. You've got a poetic soul. You're more of an enigma than me." She said all this with a sly smile.

This conversation also deserves some reflection. It's been a few years since anyone said I was enigmatic or mysterious. I've certainly never been called an iceberg before. A little strange, unexpected, but perhaps just the necessary conversation to pull together my disaster of a week.

Reflection #1. I don't think I am mysterious. Or an enigma. I am a highly expressive person. I have learned how to express myself with words or music, with paint on my clothes and charcoal on my palms, clay under my nails, or pinpricks on my fingertips.

Reflection #2. Despite Reflection #1, I am still, apparently, mysterious. I admit that I have secrets. They are not necessarily bad secrets, but I don't write them on my clothes for strangers to see. My secrets are pulled delicately out of taped up boxes and shown to those who have similar containers of similar stories. I express myself. I tell my story. I do, I do!

Reflection #3. If I express myself but I am still an enigma, perhaps I do not express myself enough. Perhaps my story is wound too tightly in an intangible poem or an obscure pastel drawing.

Reflection #4. Most of my expressions are retellings of past experiences.

Reflection #5. Maybe the mystery I struggle with is not that I do not express myself. Maybe I express too much of the person I was, and not enough of the person I have become. That's who people want to know, right? People want to know who I am. The person I was is connect to the present, of course. The person I was is an important part of the story. But I don't usually finish the story. I don't usually say, "This is where I'm at now."

So I'm an iceberg. I don't say as much as I think I do. I guess that much is obvious. But I'm going to need a reason to reveal all that stuff under the water. Anyone up for a swim?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

a vision too removed to mention




When I first started this blog a couple months ago I made a list in my orange notebook full of graph paper. This list was made of several tiny lists, all categories of things you lose and things you find and how that might possibly relate to real life somehow. I wanted something that people could relate to, things that happen every day. Because, like I said in the very beginning, there are some losses too large to share with the whole world, some finds that not everyone even seeks. So we start with the small losses and the seemingly insignificant discoveries and go from there. From that list there is one story that I've been *dying* to tell. So, here I go.

I will begin by reminding you all that everyone has bad days, and consequently reminding you that we shouldn't need a reminder for that sort of thing. But it's true. Don't you forget it. Everyone has bad days. One day you wake up and you can't find your keys, you spill coffee on your new pants which you sacrificed $30 for in order to please your boss who said just yesterday, "You could try to look more professional," and when you get to work there is an angry customer on the phone, the printer is out of ink and you realize that you didn't pack a lunch so you have to drive to McDonald's while you're out buying more printer cartridges and the greasy food makes you feel queasy for the rest of the day and then you go home and you DIE.

At least, you want to die. Now, imagine that same scenario... but from a fourth grader's paradigm. This is where my story comes in.

In fourth grade, I still had very few friends. At least, in my mind I had very few friends. And they were mostly boys. Girls didn't think I was pretty, cute, or cool and so they didn't want to play with me. When I tried to play with them they put their hands on their scrawny mini-skirted hips and declared that I wasn't invited to play the game. (Which, by 4th grade, was definitely something involving Pokemon or *NSYNC.) Instead, I spent recess with Jake and Chris and we pretended we were aboard the sinking Titanic.

One weekend I decided to make the game more fun. I made badges for everyone in the 'Titanic' group. I spent all weekend drawing them and cutting them out, and for some reason I thought it would be a good idea to put magnets on the back. I had a badge for Jake, first captain, and me, the second captain. There was a badge for every member of the band and the toilet cleaner--at 10 years old I thought this was hilarious.

Monday came, and I got them all ready in a little plastic bag and stuffed them in my backpack. I was especially excited for school today, so I put in a new pair of earrings. For Christmas my Aunt Jan had given me three pairs of gem stone earrings. There was a clear pair, a purple pair, and a blue pair. The blue ones were the biggest and at this time blue was still my favorite color so I put them in and walked down to the bus stop with a smile on my face. Today will be a good day, I decided.

Now, I should mention that along with not having eight-billion friends I was also still a tom boy. I didn't always look the part of a tom boy, considering I wore skirts and dresses to school every day until 1st grade when a boy said he could see my panties while I was on the monkey bars. But by fourth grade I was well into the sweatshirt, jeans and tennis shoes phase. Wearing earrings was a big deal for me. I hoped, quietly and nervously, that maybe one of the cool girls in my class would notice the earrings and comment on them.

When I got to school I showed the Titanic badges to Jake, but he didn't seem that interested. He said, "Oh, those are neat! Why are there magnets on the back?" We didn't talk about it again until first recess. I brought the badges out with me and we tried to hold them up to our chests proudly as the Titanic sank into the playground, but fifteen minutes later when the bell rang at least half the badges had disappeared into the murky depths of the wood chip ocean.

At the next recess, Jake got sick and couldn't come outside. He was highly allergic to peanuts and even the slightest whiff of it could kill him. So I played by myself, mostly. I tried joining in on a Pokemon game, but I only knew one character--Pikachu--and Kylee said there were already three Pikachus. She glared at me and told me that I couldn't play with them.

So I entertained myself at the jungle gym. I had mastered the skill in 2nd grade, resulting in blistered hands for months, but by that time my palms were callused and strong. Standing in line for the monkey bars, a boy named John came up next to me. John was an autistic boy that had been in my class every year, joining us for art lessons and other things. As John approached so did another boy, Ryan. I smiled at John and said hello, but Ryan was not under the impression that I was being nice.

"Don't make fun of him!" Ryan shouted at me, scowling angrily. This was confusing to me because Ryan was also in my class, and knew that John and I were friends.

"John's been in our class since 2nd grade!" I exclaimed.

"Well, he's my friend," Ryan said.

It was then my turn on the monkey bars so I swung across. When I dropped down I hit my ear with my arm, and felt one of my earrings fall out. I frantically began looking around for it just as the bell rang. Still in shock from Ryan's harsh words and with the now urgent need to find my earring, tears sprung to my eyes. The bell stopped ringing and everyone was rushing inside and the teacher on recess duty was calling, "Come inside, little girl!" and I had to obey.

At the end of the day when I came home I thought that no one was there. My brothers and my dad usually got home about half an hour after me so I went and sat down on the couch. And I cried. I cried like I had just lost a pet. I cried about my entire horrible day and how I had expected to be so good and it wasn't at all.

And then my brother Jon came downstairs. He was very concerned in his eighteen-year-old way and wanted to know why I was crying. It took a couple tries before I admitted with embarrassment that I had lost an earring. I don't remember if I told him about the rest of my awful day, but regardless, he sat down on the couch and gave me a big hug. He laughed at me a little, but he definitely made me feel better.

And that is where the finding comes in. I didn't actually lose a lot that day. I lost a bit of my pride when the badges were lame. I lost more of my pride when Kylee told me for the billionth time that I couldn't play with her. According to Ryan I had lost a friend. And I lost an earring. I had lost the chance to look pretty, to be girly, to be wanted and accepted.

But then I came home and was wanted and accepted by my own family. As stupid and mushy as that sounds... I have a point.

You're going to have a bad day. I don't care if you're 10 or 21, you're going to have a bad day. You will spill, crush, stumble, and lose. But hopefully there will be someone to pick you up, dust you off and tell you that there are better days to come. Whoever hurt you today was obviously acting out of their own hurt and frustration. They had a bad day, they gave you a bad day, but don't go spreading it around.

Just start over. Tell your bad day to get lost and go find a good tomorrow.


--Sidenote. I lose earrings ALL THE TIME. Still. More than ten years later. It still makes me upset. The end.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I don't seem obvious, do I

I've been given authority over just a few things in my life. They are not 'few and far between' but they don't happen all the time, and when they do, they are usually in conjunction with someone else's jurisdiction as well as mine.

So I'm in charge of this... thing right now. And, like I said, someone else has jurisdiction over and another person has jurisdiction over both of us. But I'm mainly in charge of it. I am supposed to coordinate it and arrange for things to be done. This would be immensely less complicated if I was a more organized and less artsy person, but alas... this is who I am.

This thing that I am in charge of should be easy. The people involved were at first excited and had no trouble communicating. Then last weekend happened. All previous communications somehow became void and I was the enemy. I was not a friend with power, I was not even an acquaintance with power. I was the devil incarnate. Because of my new identity I was faced with a lack of cooperation and a lot of irritated words.

The end of the story involves me being left with $100 worth of crap to buy, some tired friends, and a long and incapacitating anxiety attack. Thank you, world.

The point is, authority sucks. I didn't exactly want it in the first place but I took it on anyways and regardless of how laid-back I was it still punched me in the face when I lost it. Moral of the story: Don't take on responsibilities. Ever. Just give up now. Go live in the woods and raise an army of badgers. That's my new plan.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A Bright Spot




Today I lose something, and I find something. Ultimately, this is true every day, but I don't always know what those somethings are. Today I know what they are. Today, I am conscious of what I have lost and what I will find, and with a retrospective analysis of yesterday--which was the worst day I've had in a very long time--I think that this lost and this found are well deserved.

I am not going to class. I have done my homework, typed it out. I have read the textbook. I have memorized terms and pondered what the professor could possibly ask me about what I've learned. But I am not going to class. I have a migraine.

I have had this migraine since Saturday. One might assume that because I'm a lowly college student with loads of homework assignments and papers and chapters to read, I would appreciate a decently long Saturday to rest myself in. However, this last Saturday was particularly unpleasant and thus began the migraine that has yet to exit my body.

So I am not going to class. Opportunity to learn is gone, I have lost 3 hours of knowledge (because there are two classes I'm skipping.) LOST! But not forgotten...? I'm sure someone will share their knowledge with me. These 300 level classes are full of my friends.

And yet, all is not lost. Missing class is not my favorite thing to do, especially if the cause is illness, but there is always a bright spot in the shadow of loss. Because you see, by losing class time, I gain rest. I gain the time to sleep and dream away this migraine. I find respite within the cave of my blankets.

Goodnight. Or, afternoon.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

With bruises on my chin

"Will power is to the mind like a strong blind man who carries on his shoulders a lame man who can see." -Arthur Schopenhauer

I don't think about will power nearly as often as some might assume I do. It's outside of myself, a thing that I have without realizing its presence, and internally I am not aware of it. I have it. I use it. But until lately I gave it none of my mind, none of my time.

Generally I am a very strong willed person. I inherited this trait from my grandmother Virginia and from my father, her son. And of course I put this will to good use while defending myself from my older brothers during my childhood. I'm sure you can all imagine it--little Katie with little fisted hands and a little scowl on her face. I did a lot of screaming. I had the will to stand up for myself, the will to make my position known to those who opposed me. Or, in some circumstances, I fought for the sake of a greater good when I knew they were in the wrong.

And I'm not writing this to talk about losing my will as a whole, or finding my will--because I haven't lost it in the least bit. But there is a circumstance, the one that keeps you up at night, the thought that makes you cringe in the middle of class or lose your appetite. It is this circumstance which I no longer have the will to fight against.

I've been getting panic attacks lately, even in my sleep. I have awful dreams in which I am running from something--a holocaust, men with bows and arrows, a pandemic, appendicitis. I am always fighting and I always wake up losing. I wake up with a scream still deflating my lungs and a second scream just around the next breath. I open my eyes with my arms and legs twisted in the blankets and there is stifling heat everywhere.

It is in this manner I have started each morning for the past few weeks. It's usually an abrupt awakening, several hours before any of my alarms are supposed to go off. I have come to the conclusion that I wake up this way because I just can't take the dream anymore. I can't keep running and hiding and getting killed by some bizarre turn of events. I can't fight anymore. I've lost the will to fight.

And this situation, this circumstance in real life, is the same way. I've said so many things and done all I can within my power. I've followed others' advice, I've followed my own, I've given my time and money and peace all for the sake of gaining peace again. But it's out of my control. I'm not a warrior here. I'm not a soldier in this aspect. It's not even my battle, my war. Not anymore. I've lost the will to fight.

I remember when I would have fought for this to the death. I might still, given the opportunity. If I was seven years old, I might scream. I would have busted a lung and kicked the dirt. I would have gone inside and slammed a door. I was once so angry about something I threw a plastic chair at my bedroom door and left a huge hole.

But what happens when you lose the will to fight? It isn't a universal loss in this instance. I still fight for other things. I still go to sleep every night, knowing I will be fighting for my life and will be dead by morning. I still argue for my side and would defend myself if I were attacked. So what happens? It's just this one thing, this enormous heartbreaking thing, which has beaten me down and stabbed me in the gut one too many times. I just can't take it anymore.

This loss does not mean I don't care. This is not me signing off for good and turning my back on you. That would take a different kind of will power. I still have the will to be present in the situation, to maybe whisper how much it wounds me. I still have the will to write about it and face it every day.

Losing the will to fight doesn't mean I've accepted this. It just means I'm hoping someone will remember little Katie with her little fists and the little scowl on her face. Someone, please remember that strong willed warrior, and fight in her stead.

Trapeze Swinger - Iron & Wine (accompanying video is of me drawing...)
The song isn't completely related to this post. But I like it a lot, regardless.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

shiny and new

Happy 2010! I can honestly say this has been the best *start* to a new year in quite a long time. I've spent plenty of New Years' Eves sitting at home with my parents watching fireworks on the local news and sipping sparkling cider. I've spent a few of them at youth group "all nighters" and last year I went to a friend's house and we played music all night. This year... I got tipsy, played some card games, and at the end of the night my then boyfriend and I shared a cigar.

But the way I'm really going to remember bringing this new decade is defined by what happened yesterday. It was our 6th month anniversary, so we went into Olympia. We drank coffee and walked around a folk art store. I used a really disgusting toilet. We played in the Heritage Park Fountain, which is really beautiful for the record, and walked all up and down the docks in the dark. I took eight million pictures. (ok, only 158.) And when we got back to the lake, after avoiding lots of puddles and people with dogs, we went to this little part of the concrete that goes into the lake--I suppose it was kind of like a balcony--and he started talking. And he said some pretty nice things. I mean, really nice things. And I didn't want to let go of his hands, partially because of the cold, but also because I knew what was coming and I needed something to hold on to.

Eventually, though, he pulled away. And with this nervous smirk on his face Joseph got down on one knee and pulled out a little white box with a ring in it, and asked me to marry him. I said yes, naturally. Actually, I kind of cocked my said and smiled and said, "Yeah..."

You all know the story from there. It's the story of a thousand proposals and a thousand engagements. A ring gets put on a finger and there's an embrace to follow that may or may not be the best hug/kiss that couple has ever experienced. It's the story of losing yourself completely and being found completely in the very same breath, two conflicting sensations in the exact same moment. And everybody hopes, and hopes beyond hope, that those two people in love will get to keep what they've found. I know I do.