Friday, August 22, 2008

While I Ought to Have Been Packing

I instead read almost the entire blog of a British woman who attempts to go a month without using plastic products.

Best part is when she says "nappies."


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Who We Are

What is the human soul?

What is determined by our early experiences and what by our genetic makeup? Almost everything, I would say. Most of who and what we find ourselves to be at the moment of awareness is nothing of our choosing.

I know that I personally struggle with the details, with making decisions and following through, with occasionally finding myself disproportionately overwhelmed by minor things, with debilitating sadness that arrives at times from no discernible source, with deep feelings of insufficiency. Other people struggle with entirely different sets of issues, which I won't even begin to try to compare to my own or even enumerate. And here's the thing: I don't think that is the point. We are each running the race as ourselves, and ourselves only, with universally unique challenges and appendages.

I do not know how I found myself here, how I came to be who I am, but here you have it. Katie, la Dancing Newt, child of the rain, and daughter of dreams. This is me floating in all of these variables, all of these traits, treading to keep my head above the water in a pool littered with scraps of who I was and who I want to be.

I look at my parents, like many kids do, with pretty harsh judgment. I see all of the ways they are not who I want them to be, who I feel I needed them to be. I look at friends who have hurt me, who have let me down, at people who have damaged those I care about. And I find myself angry that they could be like that, that they could DO such things.

I realized recently, though, that my mom and dad, by all statistical models, should not be who they are. It is something I can only attribute to their souls, their will, that they are the strong and loving people whom I know them to be. Without going into unnecessary detail, let's say they both were raised in environments with at least one seriously unhelpful character. It would be easy to transfer that pain and bitterness on to their children or to avoid the whole messy process of raising kids altogether. However, the fact that they have consciously dedicated so much of their time and effort toward ensuring, to the extent that they are capable, that each of us feels loved, safe, and accepted speaks to me of something amazing and beautiful. Surely they were and are not perfect as parents. Surely their childhood experiences have damaged and biased them. But the fact is that they TRIED. They saw things within themselves and tried to change it.

I look at my friends and see how they are trying desperately to grow and to cope with the shreds that life has tossed them. And some are still working on just accepting who they are. And they are all beautiful. I've just had this strangely generous peaceful feeling lately.

First is blind struggling, second is awareness, and third is conscious effort. And, hopefully, change, to the extent possible.

This, I believe, is where you see the true soul of a person, the moment that they are MOST themselves: when you are aware of them struggling against the backwards current of probability, against what is easy and safe and convenient. As imperfect as they are, as I am, this example is something I am very grateful to have received from my parents.

Honestly, I do not know what I am capable of in this life, but lately I find I surprise myself almost daily.

Monday, August 18, 2008


I'm moving across town in exactly 2 weeks but it sort of feels like across the universe.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Autumn's Breath

Summer was gone and the heat died down
and Autumn reached for her golden crown

I looked behind as I heard a sigh,
but this was the time of
no reply.

I left work yesterday evening and didn't feel like descending immediately to the bowels of Park Street. So instead I took a little stroll along to the next closest station. The air was cool on my legs, neck, in my nostrils. The world had shifted somehow, the first positioning of its thoughts, the first inward breath. In a few weeks, it will exhale that gust and begin to spew Autumn all over us in dazzling oranges, crimsons, and golds.

The realization filled me with a familiar sorrow whose source escapes definition, remains unknown to me.

It might just be the relentless march of time.

My whole life I have felt everything passing by like trying to catch a tumbling leaf, like straining to remember a scent that is absent from you, like sand through your fingers. And while I look forward to the the future with hope and excitement, while I enjoy the sensation of the grains on my palms as they pass, I cannot help mourning what is gone forever.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Cape Cod and This Life

Got back last night from a five-day camping jaunt on Cape Cod with the family and had my first shower since Thursday. My roommates were all still at work and I had the apartment to myself. So I did what any normal person would do: laundry. And naked time. And blogging. Not necessarily in that order.

We gave the mommers the birthday CD we'd recorded of us performing church hymns and folk songs that she used to sing to us when we were young. Beth's friend let us use his equipment, and, for the skill and rehearsal we possessed at the time of recording, I think it came out decently. Well, it made her cry, and that's what we were going for. I think Beth said she specifically chose and arranged the songs for that sole purpose. Heh heh heh.

We made it to Nausset Light Beach for low tide a couple of the days, and the waves, though small, had good form. So we were able to take my father's old relic of a surfboard out. After smashing up jaw and kneecap with failed attempts, I was able to get up a couple times. So I am satisfied with my efforts. But Oh My Gosh does it take the life out of you. Now that I don't have field hockey to keep my arms in shape, I am thinking that I seriously have to train because they were WIMPY.

There's something about the ocean THE OCEAN that makes you feel your place in the universe so keenly: tiny, weak, fragile, and yet somehow, you are at your strongest there too, when you are connected to all the waters of the planet and you can feel the source of all life flowing around you. When you are in that wave, when you can channel that power of the water and tide into your own motion. And then you think of the first surfers and you sort of marvel at how awesome Mother Nature is that we have and are such brilliant creatures. I like what he says about play, “the product of an inventive brain and a restless mind.”

We collected pretty rocks and made up arbitrary rules, like that Rosie could only pick up green ones. Well I think she actually made that one, but Em and I enforced it and gave her every green rock we saw.

Saturday, everyone went on a bicycle ride along the CCRT from Dennis almost to Nickerson and back. BEAUTIFUL. We passed through cranberry bogs, woodlands, sunny meadows, and little kettle ponds that resulted from melting chunks of the glacier that formed Cape Cod as it retreated. If you don't know the geological history of the landform, you should check it out... it's fascinating. Anyway, along the trail, we happened upon my new favorite thing in the universe. Yes that is correct: bicycle rotary. Combining two of my other favorite things. Bicycles and rotaries.

Also, I learned to ride with no hands. No, more descriptive would be to say that I tried to learn. This mainly consisted of me saying wahhhhh and accelerating linearly and laterally, my oscillations becoming more and more amplified (please listen to the music and amazing narration) until they forced me to grab the handlebars or take a digger or worse.

Sunday, my brothers and sisters and I walked along a boardwalk through the marshes by the Sandwich Town Beach. There were all these kids catching crabs with chicken legs tied to pieces of string, the captured crustaceans scuttling around in buckets of salt water. “We're selling crabs!” “No we're not!” There was some debate, apparently, as to the purpose of the activity. Further out we got to a bridge where everybody was jumping off into a deeper area of the marsh. Kevin, Em, Rosie, and I jumped in (except that I was like that crab bait – chicken, and jumped last of all of us). The picture makes it look so peaceful and serene, and it was, but just imagine it with about 300 times more kids, yelling and laughing, running up and down the channels in the marsh grass with small nets and floaties, and streaming through the air from the railing right at the crest of that bridge. It would be a miracle to be a kid growing up there.

Each of these milestones of the summer, each of these things I have been looking forward to for months has been gradually approaching and then falling away into the my own history, to be savored as sweet memories. Weddings, travels, events... I try to absorb it all up to saturation for those brief moments of immersion, but it just seems like time goes by faster and faster the more you live. Last night I said goodbye to a dear friend who is moving from Boston tomorrow for a career opportunity. She'll surely be missed. Life is so bitter bitter sweet.

Time to move my wizard calendar to August.

Thanks to kelly - PTT for the image of Sandwich Boardwalk. You can check out her site here.