Monday, May 26, 2008

It's my brain

I have these words in my head … so many words. These words in my head tell a story, but the story just doesn’t want to come out. I’m staring at these words, these black and white words on a page, and they are staring at me, as though THEY are the enemy, and I am the enemy, when, in fact, they are truth. These words, these same words on the page, belie both their hurt, and my acceptance thereof. My willingness to see the meaning behind the words. It’s an infinite loop – both sides tell the meaning, the truth. Each side is unwilling to see the meaning behind the words, behind the meaning.

This is the Gordian Knot – both sides have validation. However, this is my truth. My past. Something I haven’t wanted to face for a long time. Because those words tell a story, my story. And I hate the fact that my words (my story) opens the door to some ugly truths about the human psyche. About MY psyche. About YOUR psyche.

It’s Memorial Day Weekend, a time which we should spend honoring those who have come before us, and have gone – some before their time, some after it. But each one deserving of a short moment taken out of our day, to give them a nod: A nod of thanks, a nod of remembrance, a nod of honor, a nod of love, whether or not we agree with the politics that took them. It’s a time to reflect upon the past, both general and personal, a time to invite the past to sit down and have “a cuppa”, and to speak.

This should be a weekend of reflection, of intro (and outro) spection. A time and place to honor those that came before us, who allowed “us” to be. A weekend where we should allow ourselves to look at our past, at the steps that we’ve taken that brought us to this place we call “the present”. Because – past, present, and future – they are all inextricably intertwined. Our past leads us to our present, our present leads us to our future … Sometimes holding onto our pasts will make for a very uncomfortable present, which will lead to a wonky future.

Maybe over “a cuppa”, when we meet face to face with our lives up till now, we can exorcize the demons of our pasts, and allow us an open road to the future, the present. Embrace that past, both bad and good, and enmesh it with our present selves, to clear the path for our future selves.


Some people have told me I have a remarkable mind, and I don’t quite know how to react. To quote Tim Minchin, “This is my brain, and I live in it … it’s where I spend the vast majority of my time” – to me, my thoughts (logical and circular, true or false, healthy or self-perpetuating) are just those – MY thoughts. There’s nothing remarkable about them. They just … are. At least, that’s how it seems to me.

I spent most of my life (at least until a few years ago) trying to forge my own self, my own identity – something, and someone, separate from my mother, whom I never really knew.

I never felt remarkable – I was always trying to live up to some other persons’ ideal version of me, some mold they were trying to fit me into. A mold that didn’t quite fit right in the shoulders, and tugged a bit at the thighs. It was a close enough fit, but the lines didn’t fall right. And I admit it – I tried to shape myself into those odd fitting clothes for a while. Tried to tell myself that the fashion they were touting for me was the fashion I wanted.

Reverberations of, “What would your mother say?! What would your mother think?!” still haunt me. And you know what? From all I’ve learned, from all I’ve gleaned, my mother would say, “Good for her! She’s becoming her OWN PERSON!” And even though I really didn’t know her, I want to take a moment and give her a nod of thanks. Her nudist and anarchistic tendencies, they have been passed down to me. Flesh of her flesh, blood of her blood. “They” didn’t get it, but we (she and I) do.


My friends only know me as “me”, as ____, and they love me for that. And for that fact? I am truly grateful. They weren’t there (excepting a rare few) when my Mom’s family was trying to fit me into the Katie-mold. Instead of letting me make my own ___-mold.

Because of that, I judge myself harshly. I try (tried) to be the person in the corner- the quiet one who doesn’t make waves or draw attention to herself. When I tried to enact my own way of being, I was shut down. When I showed a spark of creative thinking, of going outside of the status quo, I was met with the argument of, “That’s not how your Mom was”.

Well, the stories that I’ve heard, of Mom, have told me that THAT was who she was. Always the individual. Yet, when I tried to forge my own individualism, it was shot down. Put in the parentheses of, “That’s not how your Mom was”, when in actuality, it WAS how she was. As an adult, when I met with her friends, and they told me, “Wow, you are very much like your mom”, and I took that as a “good on ya”, instead of seeing them trying to fit me into her mold. I took it for what it was – a compliment.

I wish I had the strength of character, then, to say, “Stop! Stop trying to turn me into your dead daughter! I am her, I am my father … I am ME!”


This staid person you see? She’s just a façade, a straw (wo)man. Straw burns easily, and I DO love me some fire. Now, finally, am I able to embrace “Anni”, and not “Anni, trying on Katie for size”.

Now … who has some marshmallows? They always go well over a fire.


It’s all about baby steps. This red hair, these freckles? It’s not just my mothers. It’s also mine.

There was always some sort of benchmark to live up to, and now that those benchmarks (well, the people who held them for me) are gone, I’m feeling a bit … moor-less. It’s forcing me to find my own identity, separate from the confines that were ascribed to me. I’ve been given a blank slate, and I have a pen in my hand, but the paper is still blank. At least to my eyes. Others, looking at the “paper of me”, see varying things – a scribble here, a dash of color there, a whiff of Amber (if the wind is just right). And I guess I see those hints as well, but they haven’t formed a coherent picture yet, not in my mind.

In my mind I’m still a frightened little girl, hiding in the bedroom linen closet with a flashlight and the newest installment of the “Create Your Own Adventure” book. (True story – linen closet. Flashlight. Book.)


I am me. Hear me roar. *squeak*


What spurred this emotional vomit? Tim Minchin: (

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Did you know ...

... that, IN CANADA, the plural of "fish" is ... "fish"?

Thus spake The Canadian.

I can't believe that his genetic material will continue after him.

Communication to our youth, or lack thereof

It’s spring. There is a change in the air from the coldness of winter to the melting spring, a renewal, a resurgence. Outside it’s blue skies and birds chirping. But inside my 8th grade classroom it’s a darkened room, a quiet chatter of hushed voices, completely at odds with the birdsong outside. There’s something palpable in the air – a sense of excitement, uncertainty, and curiosity. All I can see are the silhouettes of my classmates from the glare of the TV screen in front of the room, heads close together whispering. Sister Maria shushes us in her thick brogue, “Now, now ladies. It’s time to be quiet”. Then … then, our “educational” video starts.

All I can really recall from class that day is a vague feeling of repugnance and disgust, and a lot more questions than I was willing to ask at the time. Two other things that I remember: red, lots of red, and the sounds … a vacuum-like whirring. This whirring was the medical procedure being done, known as vacuum aspiration or D&C. (I think one of the girls had to leave the room in the middle of the video.)

What I’m describing is the sexual education we received in 8th grade in Catholic School. There was more covered, I’m sure, but what stuck with me almost 20 years later, was that video. We had to have a parental consent form signed to see this video – we were very curious about that. All of us were excited and curious – “what would they show that needed our folks’ okay? It MUST be nudity! I mean, this IS sex-ed, right? Why else would they segregate the girls from the boys, just to show a video?” Well, that’s what our 13-year-old hormonal selves were hoping at any rate. Boy, were we wrong.

The video? It showed an abortion being performed.

In a way, I get why they showed us that – it’s an impressionable age and scare tactics do work. The Church is vehemently anti-birth control and anti-abortion. Brain washing and indoctrination is best done starting at an early age.

Gina was never a friend of mine during our Catholic School years, but once in public high school, we did become friends. Our educational and religious background was the same and our family background was similar. So – why did she wind up pregnant at 15/16 and not me? Why was I able to continue to go out on weekends and experience teenage life, while she was stuck at home, watching her body slowly expand in order to shelter the new life growing within?

Some of that, I think, goes back to those unasked questions from 8th grade. At some point I DID ask. I found trusted adults and asked my questions, I listened in on adult conversations (it’s amazing that people think that kids don’t hear things), I ate books on every subject (though we won’t go into my guilty love of sci-fi and fantasy here) … and I think that search for knowledge might have made the difference. Gina thought (at age 15/16) that you couldn’t get pregnant if it was your first time. Sadly, so did her boyfriend. Talk about a life lesson, eh?

I still think about Gina – wonder how she is doing, what type of person her child has grown into (wow, she must be 16 by now), and hope that she will teach her about sex. Teach her openly and honestly, without relying solely on the school or church to do so.

Education, of any kind, needs to be supported at home, including the uncomfortable subject of sexual education.

I’m of two minds regarding this story (comments in parenthesis are mine) -

“The parents said they had collected 163 signatures of residents opposing the introduction of Planned Parenthood materials or organization-developed instruction in the school.” (Now, I’m curious – are these just residents, or are the majority the parents of children in the aforementioned school?)

The article links to a site ( which is the spearhead behind the fracas. I didn’t spend much time looking at the site, but one of the ideas they state is that Planned Parenthood purposely uses bad condoms, so that there will be an increase in a need for their abortion services. Huh?

“Deborah Young said she started researching Planned Parenthood education guidelines and found passages that suggested masturbation is a source of pleasure.” (Uhm, yes. Maybe I was a hyper-sexual child, but I remember being very young and figuring out that certain things just felt good. Of course, I would never ask about it, because I knew it was “dirty”, so I was left to my own devices to explore and not have any idea what was going on, physically. Children are naturally curious creatures – isn’t it better to give them the information about their constantly growing and changing bodies, instead of leaving them in the dark and having them muddle through?)

“Dr. Michael Rochet, a physician, said the school district should search for alternatives for Planned Parenthood programming because he believes the instruction will facilitate curiosity among students.” (First off, I do not want this man as my doctor. Secondly, is curiosity a bad thing? Isn’t curiosity what spurs open discussion between people, friends, lovers, and parent and child?)

But then, he redeems himself in the following statement - “We don’t have to follow everybody else. Let’s lead the pack,” Rochet said.” Now, I understand how people will be quoted out of context, in order to fit in with the authors’ viewpoint. This statement, taken just as it is, I completely agree with. Why not build something that will fit in, and be tailored to, your own community? A program that is built by and for the community? A foundation that is community led, parent led, but with feedback from the people that are being proselytized to?

When I read this story, I could see both sides. However, reading this story through the spectacles of my own life story, I can honestly say I wish I had Planned Parenthood teaching sex-ed in my school. Alongside the abortion video. I think it may have saved me a lot of angst. And questions. A LOT of questions. The private school education I received I would never give up. But, there is a difference in private vs. public school education. Private school has a lot of heart behind it (right or wrong) and public school has a lot of information, with the heart lacking.

I really don’t want this to turn into an issue of pro or anti-choice, pro or anti-abortion. It’s one where I want people to question, to communicate, to dig down deep and find out what they want to teach – what to teach to friends, what to teach lovers, what to teach their children. We create our community, we say what is okay to teach, and what is NOT okay to teach. We are the ones that say what questions are okay to ask, and what ones are not.

But isn’t that what life is? A journey of questions, then seeing where those answers lead us?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

So tired, so much to say, but I just can't ...

I always thought that “feminism” was a dirty word. That if I stood against the status-quo, stood up for my rights as a human (not just a woman), that I would unbalance … something. That “something” was never fully explained to me, other than, “It’s okay for him – he’s a boy. If a girl did that, she’d be considered a whore.” That is a direct quote from my Ga, when I asked her why my Uncle and (soon to be Aunt) were living together, but not married, and “when could I have a boyfriend?”

I think Ga, if born in a different time, would have been one of those loud, brash, and outspoken feminists – she always believed, down to her marrow, that women and men were equal. Each one could do what the other could. She even had my career planned out for me: I would first become the first CEO of Shell Oil, and then the first woman President of the United States.

But then … then she would say something like the above (that it’s okay for boys, but not girls), and that would chip away at the foundation she was trying so hard to build for me. A foundation that (now) is starting to take hold, one where I am strong, confident in myself, and not afraid (well, not too often afraid) to speak my mind.

I always thought that “feminist” was a dirty word. That if I succumbed to the dreaded feminism movement, I would turn into a misandrist, wear sandals, chop off my hair, move to Berkeley, turn Vegan, and be an unloved spinster. (Okay, well, I did chop off my hair and move to Berkeley, but no sandals for me!)


1) the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.
2) (sometimes initial capital letter ) an organized movement for the attainment of such rights for women.
3) feminine character.

I prefer the third definition: Character: “the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing.”

We are all individuals, men and women. Each of us has strengths, each of us has weaknesses, and those vary from person to person. Being lumped into one category or another is unfair to us as singular beings, as well as the whole. Each of us has something to teach, and something to learn. When we start stereotyping based on gender, we lose out on this learning that we call life.

“Good lord woman, what’s got your panties in a twist?!” Quite a few things, actually: Honor killings, recent court decisions,29...173,00.html and and Phyllis Schlafly receiving an honorary doctorate degree from Washington University (This is also the woman who stated, “By getting married, the woman has consented to sex, and I don't think you can call it rape.”)

Gender equality has come a long way, and I am very happy to live in a country where I am allowed to voice my opinion, and where others can disagree with that opinion, and know I will not be stoned for looking at man by accident.

Some interesting takes are here, some I agree with, some I don’t:

This wasn’t as coherent or tongue-in-cheek as I wanted, but I’m friggin’ tired and sunburned. Night all.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

From a "sister"

This is something that a near and dear friend of mine wrote. It gave me chills and I wanted to share it. I'm surrounded by some friggin' amazingly talented people, and for that? ... I'm grateful:

I am the new hope
The revolutionary Mint Edifice teeming with the helpers, the thinkers
The strange trouble makers.
I am filled with the exclamation of power,
Deconstructed, reconstructed
A puzzle of mismatched pieces
Housed and linked like a bight kaleidoscope
Bundled together, sheltered by a common dream.

I am the new hope
The awesome flower of desire
Unsupported, under funded, unimaginable,
Isn't it, that I Exist?
Within the realms, the borders
Against the grain, working toward expansion, the wide-open intension.

I am the new hope
The hope against hope against the suffocating tyrant
Tyrannical culture
The small beads of us, woven together.
Our faces look into each other
Under this roof of desire
We hold the promise, the awkward will to deliver
We release the fractured dove
Palms outstretched, faces to the sun.

We are the new hope
Forever revolutionary, standing among the rubble
The Mint Edifice dissolved.
Our sinking angry hearts hot
Kick with panic, sickly trapped
Undone by the double hold
A fear in our eyes so tender
We go numb without each other.

We are the new hope
Gone unsheltered and unclothed
The golden warrior spirit exposed
Our shields up in a circle, protecting ourselves
We move forward
Unsupported, under funded, unimaginable
We walk, Don't We?
Away from that which was
The Mint Edifice of shame and so much desire
Common dreams without without a common cause
Our leaders tired, so much defeated.
We are the new hope
Spirits renewed, we are not broken
We know our truths transcend
The walls cannot contain
Our hot hearts
They beat toward a new way of being
Into the future, we let go of those we tightly grasped
Because we know we are truly not alone
And together we are profound
Bound by experience
We forge ahead with a quiet burning peace
Beacons illuminated still
By the kernels of our intensions

We are the new hope
We've already changed the world.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


What the hell is wrong with the LA Times recently? Have they lost their collective minds? Since when do we actually use celebrities as our gauge for what constitutes a healthy friendship? It’s actually not so much the article that makes me go *snert*, but one of the comments:

“I personally have learned to keep women at arm's length. They are dangerous. I like them, I just don't trust them. My life is full of women. But my personal approach is to know thy enemy and proceed accordingly … For the most part, the best approach to women is about the same as petting a snake.”

Wow. Just … wow. (Keep in mind that the above was posted by a woman.)

Why is it that the friendships between women are held to a different standard? Fighting can actually be healthy – it’s how we learn about ourselves, about our friends, and it allows us to grow as people. As long as it’s healthy fighting, it also strengthens that relationship/friendship. Are we all supposed to be in lock-step with each other and agree on everything? If so, that makes for a pretty damn bland friendship.

Regarding this line:

“Haven't you ever bickered with a bestie? Or felt the sting of a friendship ulcer when you introduce two pals and later find out that they're planning a road trip to Baja and forgot to include you? ¿Qué?”

I have a varied group of girlfriends, and unlike a monogamous relationship, I don’t expect to be their only “bestie”. (That term just makes my teeth itch.) The core group of women around me now … each one of us has a different role, a different character, and we show those sides to the others. If one of us needs a creative revenge tactic, we go to friend X. If we need a sympathetic ear, we go to friend Y. And if we need some true, albeit hard to hear, advice, we go to friend Z. Sometimes it can hurt, having your friend turn to someone else for advice or support, but if you know yourself, maybe you’ll realize that you aren’t the “right” person for them at that moment.

“They get angry at each other, throw a kidney punch and call it a day.” I think that we women do as well, however our kidney punch consists of words. Communication. (And with less chance of peeing blood too. Kidney punches hurt … )

Women aren’t bad at friendships – we excel at them. If it wasn’t for the women I met, and have in my life as friends, I sure as hell wouldn’t be the person I am today.

Friday, May 2, 2008


The ring came today – it’s beautiful. It even fits (granted, it only fits on my wedding ring finger, but still … it fits!)

I took it off and just sat outside, rolling it between my fingers, rereading the inscription over and over, and thinking that this is something my mother touched. This is something she picked out, had inscribed, and gave to her best friend out of joy and love. A small band of gold, given and received in friendship.

I can imagine Auntie Fran rolling it between her fingers, the same way I did, probably thinking about her friend. After Mom died, I’m sure she rolled this same ring in the same way, but instead of thinking of her friend in the present tense, she was thinking of her in the past tense. Remembering that day when she got this ring, the day they met, the days they were there for each other in tears and in laughter.

As I was looking at this tangible memory of friendship, I realized that Matt probably did the same thing that I did, after Franne died. That I’m assuming Auntie Fran did after Mom died.
Holding a piece of the past so full of happy memories, thinking of hands – hands open in friendship, hands open in marriage, hands open in love.

His hands, my hands, their hands. The ring has come back (almost) to where it started.

Everything is circular.