Wednesday, November 25, 2009



The nurturer.  The rescuer.  The teacher, the student.  The victim.  The giver, the receiver, the peacemaker.  The questioner, the helper, the friend, the healer.  The knight.  The maiden.  The prophet, the disciple, the savior.  The leader, follower, member, non-member, believer, employee, stranger, child, parent... 

Human relationships are complex with intricate combinations of all different roles. They shift constantly depending on the situation, the context, the Other with whom we find ourselves.  Face to face.  Some people aspire to certain roles.  Other people seem to embody them, instinctively.  Some have them thrust upon them.  Whether one aspires to it or assumes it through cultural conditioning or unspoken interpersonal expectations, something is somehow lost when a person is reduced to a mere functionality for another, even if it is a purely benevolent functionality.  When we reduce another human being to a particular role or set of roles, or when we allow the same to happen to ourselves, we fail to truly acknowledge the humanity, the divinity, which is the actual substance which simultaneously binds us to one another and elevates our souls. 

If we were to look at ourselves throughout the day or week or across the span of our lives, it would seem we were nothing but a series of different roles. "What are WE, then?" pup asks me. 

I don't know.  It's a mystery.  We cannot know what we are - what anyone else is - any more than we can pin down what God is, what absolute truth is.  We may get a sense of its existence.  We may observe it indirectly or even directly.  But to attempt to bestow form to any of these while in this unformed state ourselves is simply childishness and arrogance. 

Years ago, I wanted to know God.  A wise friend told me "You must know yourself, Katie.  You must love yourself."

That is a self outside of roles, outside of affirmation or involvement.  A self wholly unknowable and therefore unloveable.  And yet somehow we do the impossible every day.  We know the unknowable and love the unloveable every time we acknowledge the mystery that we are, that everything is. 

Ain't that the truth?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Not What I Had in Mind

My parents' offspring, impressive both in quality - intelligence, thoughtfulness, social adjustment (for the most part)  - and in quantity, definitely stood out to the faculty/staff of the elementary school which we attended.  The principal even knew all of the younger kids before they began kindergarten.  One day, my mother, beginning to bulge with evidence of my youngest sister, brought my little brother with her while she volunteered at a classroom event for another sibling. She was in the hallway, chatting with the principal afterward, and the conversation turned to the fact that she was due to have YET ANOTHER CHILD.  The kindhearted principal, a towering and somewhat intimidating man at times, especially to children who misbehaved, attempted to bring the little boy into the conversation.  "Peter, you've got some exciting news, don't you?"

My young brother, misunderstanding the reference, proud beyond proud of recent developments in personal bladder control and the brand new accompanying garments which signified his ascent into the world of personhood, pulled down his pants and eagerly showed the principal his BIG BOY UNDIES!!!

I mean, seriously.  They had trains on them. All I can say is that I wish I had been there to witness the blessed moment. 

Sunday, November 15, 2009


It flashes like specks of gold gleaming in the mud along the river's bank.  Like bits of mineral suspended in its waters.  It flows in and through us, steady and real as the river itself.  Dig in it, splash in it, hold it up to the light.  It will still be there.  But when we make it out to be something clear, something tangible, concrete, when we claim ownership, attempt to posses infinitely, we sin against the truth itself, and numb ourselves to the possibility of further understanding. 

All because we don't want to get our fingers dirty or our clothes wet. 

Friday, November 13, 2009

Black Beans on the Counter

...look like little dried rabbit poops.  SO YOU KNOW. 

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Captain

Perched atop his electric wheelchair
the captain of this tiny vessel in a bustling park
grasped the pole with his aged fingers

And his little grey dog
sniffed the dried leaves and gum behind him.

With a quiet whir
he began to reel it in.
A fluttering,
colorful fish
across the deep
blue Atlantic sky.

The wind picked up a bit. Tore at the ladies' skirts
and nipped at the scuttling leaves.

And he let out the line
and the kite shrank
and smaller
to a tiny speck.

Floating over the city. 

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Lost to the World

I found out that one of the best professors I ever had passed away yesterday.  He wasn't terribly young, but still.

Such a good, kind, thoughtful soul.

You could tell he GOT it.  He cared about his students.  He opened our eyes to new ways of seeing and understanding.  And he always, always remembered the human side.  Architecture school can be brutal. 

My grandfather died freshman year of college and I was a little apprehensive approaching Ken about missing "Contemporary Design Approaches."  But he didn't hesitate.  "GO," he said.  "You need to be with your family now."

That second semester, I had him again in studio (the hands-on class that's worth six credits rather than four, the place where, as an architecture student, you pretty much LIVE, unless you're in another class or occasionally eating or sleeping), and he worked us so hard.  Not so much demanding impossible quantities of models or drawings, but mentally worked us, really challenging the way we saw things, our assumptions, allowing us to stretch ourselves without us even realizing it.  I came out of that studio with a deeper understanding of space: form, void, scale, movement.  I think I worked harder for him than I did for any other studio professor. 

Then my second year, when I was thinking about leaving architecture, I talked to several of the faculty about it.  This man said to me, "I'm not going to tell you what to do.  You have to do what makes you happy.  You could be a very good architect, if you chose that, I want you to understand that.  But in the end you need to choose what makes you happy."  I almost wanted someone to tell me what to do.  To allow me to not have to make that choice.  If he told me he thought I should do one thing or another, I probably would have just done it.  Almost unquestioningly.  

He lost his daughter while I was in school.  He had some pretty bad health problems.  Yet somehow, he was always there for the students, for the community. 

Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up...

I just am overcome with this deep sense that we have all lost something rare and beautiful.

I Got My Rock Moves

Well, I got this on Cragslist for $10:

Then I bought these:

So, I am thinking, with this:

...and this, I might just be able to come up with something worthwhile, even though I haven't sewed anything since 8th grade (and even then, it was nothing to brag about). 

I have been feeling all this restless creative energy lately.  This past week especially.  Just wanting to be alone, to produce, to beget, to conceive and to give, to heal through creation.  I learned some sad news last night about a professor from college.  I will probably post later about that.  

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Food Storage: Existential Crisis

So I am the "Provident Living Specialist" for my congregation.  Basically I am supposed to get people to store several months' worth of food and stuff like that.  Anyway, I sent the following email to the listserve, with picture attached. I figured I should share it here, because why not? 

I haven't done one of these ramble-y Provident Living emails in awhile.  But I felt inspired.  In the midst of a minor existential crisis which seemingly came out of nowhere, I had a very important learning experience which helped me realize the importance of food storage.  

I don't want to go to work tomorrow.  I can't face another day.  It's November already. 

You know.  It was one of those days.  You have had one of those days too.  We have all had one of those days.  Cranky.  Whining.  Dressed in in PJ pants, sequined dress, and oversized brown sweater.   A veritable self-described "wad."  And I was so hungry, yet there was nothing that seemed appealing to me.  I kept wandering into the kitchen, hoping beyond hope that there would be something in the cupboard that seemed palatable.  But no luck.  Each time it was still all the same food.  Yes, it was real rough. 

I flopped down on JDH's bed, where she finally made a suggestion for a food item which would have helped get me out of the funk (or at least which would have tasted really, really good).  Made with organic semolina pasta from durum wheat, cheddar cheese, whey, buttermilk, butter, salt, and natural sodium phosphate...

Yes.  Annie's Bunny Pasta


Brothers and sisters, I am not sure I can convey the distress which consumed my soul.  Even if I typed a colon with twenty-three left parentheses, it would not be sufficient.  In the moment, it was - truly - agonizing.  "Well, we could go to the grocery store and buy some.  How does that sound?" JDH suggested, almost timidly.  Okay, I nodded.  I put on my boots (see picture, which I have included so you can really get a sense of the experience), and we headed over to the thankfully-still-open store.  Once back home, with aforementioned bunny pasta, I realized that the whole situation could have been entirely prevented, if only I had kept sufficient stores of the soul-healing substance on hand.  It has a good shelf life.  It is easy to prepare.  I am the Provident Living specialist.  I could have totally been all over it. 

And really, the point of it all is that I WILL.  That's right.  I'll never let this happen again.  And really, what IS emergency preparedness, beside preparing for any and all foreseeable disasters?  Am I right?  Am I right? 

Shameless plug for cheesey bunny pasta.