Sunday, July 31, 2011

A web.

We are a web
Yet composed of so many individual threads
I like to follow the threads and see where and how they intersect
Bond and double to become stronger
Break apart and travel in different directions.

Friday night.

Friday night. Work was dead and we were bored past tears, had moved on to gnashing teeth and pulling out hair, and were ready to lock doors and leave when a rush of people came in to shop. Because the best time to tear into neatly folded piles of soft cotton tees is 730 on a Friday night. Thanks folks, btw. Love you. Anyway. I was working Adult and Marsha from Kids came over with a woman whose arms were full of clothes. "Kate, you've planned parties for your kids. Can you help this woman?" I smiled and said, "Sure."

Lady launched into an explanation. Her daughter's birthday was the next day, she'd made cupcakes, sculpted chocolate to look like butterfly wings, and decorated them and they looked okay, but the cake turned out horribly and she'd spent all day trying to fix it to no avail, it was a mess and she'd thrown it away and her in-laws were at the house so she couldn't do anything, and time was up and she didn't know what to do, what should she do, she was going to have a hundred fifty people at her house tomorrow and the cake was a failure and how could she make it special for her daughter who'd been such a trooper all year, how could she salvage the birthday?

I took a breath for her. And then tried to figure out what was going on.

"Can you just make a box cake tonight?" I asked.

"No, my in-laws are at my house. There's no time," she answered.

I internally shook my head. What did this have to do with the Gap? And anyway, box cake is ridiculous easy. Why can't she cook just because her in-laws are at the house? So I suggested it again. Told her she could super simple cover it in fondant, stick some butterfly decorations from Target's party favor aisle, and be done. An hour tops and it's beautiful.

"No, there's no time," she repeated.

I asked her how old her daughter was turning. "Four." I let her know that her four year old wasn't going to need a perfect birthday, just some attention and sugar. Then she unloaded and told me that her daughter did need a perfect birthday. She'd spent the last year dragged to the hospital and doctor's offices for her little brother who had medical problems. She'd been so good, hadn't complained, and it had been hard year and she deserved a perfect birthday.

And that was the moment when I got what was really going on. It wasn't about fixing a cake problem, it was about a mom who had a sick baby and a lot of guilt for the lack of attention she was giving to her healthy child. I shut off customer-mode.

We spent the next half hour talking. What could she do with what she had in her house to fix the cake sitch? Was it really a loss? She showed me a picture. The decorations made it look like a vagina, and I told her so. We laughed. It changed her face. "You're right. It looks like a big vagina." "But how cool is a vagina cake?" I asked her, and we laughed some more.

The laughing helped. We came up with a cupcake solution and she felt okay with it. I rang her up for the clothes and asked her about her sick child. Was he better? Or were they still dealing with health problems? She told me that he was still sick. That she was waiting for 12 months before she allowed herself to break down. I asked her why she would do that, and she said she felt she needed to get through a year, to be strong through this, that the doctors had said after a year, things would be better.

I stopped ringing her up and looked at her.

"You know that's crazy, right? There's absolutely no reason for you to bottle yourself up like that. You should be crying and often. You need to get it out, you need to break down when it gets to be too much. You need to grieve."

She looked back at me and her eyes teared. "Maybe."

I finished her transaction, then walked her to the door. It was well after close so I had to unlock the door for her, but we stood there for a few moments.

"You should go home, get yourself a glass of wine, and cry until you fall asleep. The birthday party will be a success. No one will give a shit about the cake. You need to cut yourself some slack. It's been a tough year."

"You're right. I'm going to take a shower and cry until the water's cold. Thank you for being such a great friend."

We hugged, I let her out, wished her luck and went back to work.

I think the oddest thing about this entire story is that I never caught her name. We have these moment in life, when we are called to set aside what we're doing, to step outside of ourselves, and take care of someone. How unexpected that it happened to me in the middle of the Gap, but, God, she needed someone and I am so grateful that I was able to be there for her.

I hope that she did go home and cry. I hope it brought her some relief. And I hope that the party was a raging success, that her daughter felt special and loved. I hope that the year going forward brings her son health. And I hope most of all, that she never feels embarrassed or ashamed for breaking down in front of a stranger, rather understands that people need each other. This is the kind of community I've been talking about. We need to be okay with showing vulnerability. And we need to be okay with seeing it, accepting it. We need to care for each other.

Listening to: The Joy Formidable

xo. kb.

Friday, July 29, 2011


The job sitch continues to bomb. I think about this, and because I'm me, I wonder if this is a sign. (Everything is a sign. Also, I am nuts.) But for real, I'm wondering if maybe this is a message that I need to do something different. That my path forward isn't at a passionless job. Droning myself out for a paycheck. Because that's not what I want anyway, I've only been pursuing it because I thought that what I should be doing. What I thought I should be doing.

That's gotten me into worlds of trouble before.

I've had this idea for a cafe for years. Like since high school when I ran the "coffee bar" at the concerts in our church basement. It developed into a full-blown concept in the later years of my Starbucks tenure, while I watched the company devolve from a coffee house into a corporate outpost. It's an idea that won't leave me alone, just like that nagging feeling you should be exercising while you're vegging on the couch. You know it's right, but it's work and you don't know where to start.

I'll be super honest- I know how to run a business, but I have no idea how to start one. And I'm kinda hung up at that starting point. Well, that and my fear that I won't be able to raise the capital to begin. I have no doubt about being successful. I'm not being egotistical, I just believe in my concept.

Here's what I want to accomplish. I want to build a community meeting place. I want it to feel like a living room, where moms can bring their kids and not worry about them breaking things or being too loud, where writers can find a corner and sit all day without feeling pushed out after an hour. A place where teenagers can hang out without being discriminated against for acting like teens. I want live music on weekends, open mic nights, local bands. I want to sponsor volunteer activities, and hire stay-at-home moms to help with baking in the middle of the day while their kids are at school (because seriously, try to find a job that fits that need). I want good, locally roasted coffee, homemade food (bacon cupcakes), and discounts for "for here" cups. I don't want a drive-thru. I want to know my customers, and I want them to know each other as well.

I want to write, but I don't think that's why I'm here. The world may be smaller because of all our technology, but our level of personal interaction is so reduced. My greatest moments are when I get to connect with someone else. Working with a new mom to find a pair of jeans that make her feel good in her changed body, figuring out the perfect drink for someone who's never had anything but Folgers. Meeting a person you've only ever talked to online, and becoming real friends. Being at a concert and the entire crowd is singing along. It's community. And there's not enough of it. I want to make some more.

Listening to: Damien Jurado "Water Ave S."

xo. kb.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


I knew I would have a little red-haired girl, and her name would be Alison.

A day in lyrics.

I woke up with a song in my head. This is not unusual. I wake up with a song in my head every morning, sometimes two songs. I won't keep the same songs all day- my head plays a bit like a radio station. I wish I could say like one of my awesome mixes, but my head songs have little, if any continuity. For instance, I woke up with Tegan and Sara's "The Con" but then moved on to "Oceans Apart" by The Fire Theft. Nothing alike.

What I think is interesting, is that I always get a specific line stuck. Kind of like when you get a taste for something (Cheetos) and the only thing you can do to remedy that need is to eat it (Cheetos). I wonder what it would look like if I kept a daily journal of these lines, to see if there is a message in it? Hmm.

So far today:
"Well nobody likes to, but I really like to cry. And nobody likes me maybe if I cry."
"But I promise this: I won't go my whole life telling you I don't need."
"I want love if love wants me. I want God if God wants me. I just can't hold on to what I believe."
"The moment is eternal if you think you want it. Moments arise."
"This fire grows higher."
"You said that it was bad timing, at least we had timing at all."
"Hold my breath for three more years, on my own on Saturdays, it's glorious."
"Some boys don't know how to love."

I'm going to come back to this post throughout the day and update. I think this might look cool. Or solidify everyone's assumption that I'm nuts.

Listening to: Not even anything, oddly enough.

xo. kb.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I am grateful.

I'm having a day. A feels bad, where's a hole I can crawl into kind of day. There are maybe a thousand reasons why I am having this day, and I'm not talking about any of them. But I've done enough sulking, it's not helping anything, and I need to get in a better place. So I ran (2 miles, 2 days in a row, progress) and now I'm going to list the things I am grateful for.

I am grateful for:
God, because I have felt His closeness at every moment, even when I'm blind to His plan for me (which is also at every moment).
My oldest daughter who just now came up to me and hugged me, even though I am sweaty from my run, because she saw me crying.
My two younger kids who've been playing well with each other all day.
Death Cab For Cutie, because Codes and Keys is really beautiful, particularly "Unobstructed Views" which I am listening to on repeat.
Pencils with good erasers.
Notebooks with hard covers.
The scratchy sound a pencil makes when writing words in a notebook.
Clean bathrooms.
My sunglasses.
Warm weather.
My legs, especially when they're running, but also because I have both of them.
My friends.
My family.
Twitter, because many of you have become my friends and family.
Wine, and I don't care what you think.
Diet Coke.
Hot showers.
Cold sheets.
Bare feet.
Lip gloss.
The coo of the mourning dove.
New ideas.

xo. kb.


Chocolate's okay. Every great once in a while, I'll want some. My need will be for cake, and is satisfied after a few bites. I know that there are all sorts of chocolates, milk, dark. Various ratios of cacao that affect the flavor. That's cool. But chocolate just tastes like chocolate to me. My palate can distinguish the differences, but the heavy, chalky flavor is always the same.

I'm a vanilla girl. Does that make me plain? Because that's what people think when they think vanilla. Plain. I mean, when you're referring to something boring and ordinary you call it vanilla. How untrue.

Vanilla comes from an orchid. A freaking orchid, how beautiful is that? And there are four different types of vanilla on the market: Bourbon, Mexican, Tahitian, and West Indian. Each has a different flavor profile based on their growing region. I love this.

But mostly I love vanilla because it is subtle. It's used in so many recipes, yet infrequently an obvious ingredient. It enhances the flavors around it, adds depth and dimension without being noticed. But you notice its absence. Flavors fall flat. Vanilla is soft. It's modest. Never showy or abrasive. It doesn't smack your tongue with flavor, rather slowly reveals itself like a flower opening. Take the time to distinguish its nuances and you will taste the buttery, floral, spice, and nutty notes. Vanilla is exciting.

Listening to: The Joy Formidable

xo. kb.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Just thinking.

I'm doing this exercise called "Morning Pages." It's about the best thing ever. I get up before the kids so I have quiet, and long-hand write out three pages. Stream of conscious-style. Three pages, nothing shorter, and I thought I wouldn't have it in me to write that much, but I've done just fine. My elbow's a little sore, but whatever. You're not supposed to plan for writing, and you're especially not supposed to share what you've written, but today I stumbled upon something that I want to mull over here.

I was thinking about Renee Zellweger's character in Jerry Maguire. That scene between her and Bonnie Hunt (*love*) where she talks about her marriage. How the marriage wasn't happy, and then he died. I think about how intentional it was for her to be a widow and not a divorcee. Because as a widow, we're rooting for her. Poor girl, her husband died and now she's raising this boy on her own. Gosh, I hope she finds a man. Some great guy to love her kid and make her happy.

What would the story have looked like if she'd been divorced? Would we have wanted her to date? Would we have instead thought she should be at home with her kid? That she'd had her chance to find a partner, but failed and now should be focused on parenting only. And really, would Jerry have been so interested if there was an ex in the picture? Who wants that drama? That kid has a dad already, no need to step up or in.

No message here today. I was just thinking about when/if I date in the future and what that may look like. Feel free to comment. I'm interested in what you think.

Listening to: Super Mario Bros.

xo. kb.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

It's all a tragedy.

Let me start by saying I'm not a huge Amy Winehouse fan. I have the Back To Black CD around here somewhere. It's not even imported to my computer. I can listen to a song or two, then need to turn on something else. Great singer, obviously, but just not my favorite. No big deal.

When I heard that she'd died (through my twitter feed, actually), I felt a pang. Poor girl. She was such a talented thing, and had so many troubles. I'm not a celebrity-worship person- I don't watch TV or buy magazines- but just being in American culture I knew a bit about her struggles with addiction and depression. It's so tough. I don't have an addiction problem, but depression... I get it. It's just sad to hear that she wasn't able to find a way through.

I expected to find that same sentiment echoed, and it surprised me to see my twitter feed filled with people slamming Winehouse. Saying that her death was "expected" and a result of "bad choices." That she had wasted her talent. That they couldn't feel sorry for her because of that. Wait, what? Isn't that why we should feel sorry for her? Folks, you don't develop a substance abuse problem because you're in a good place. And depression is insidious. It leaks like acid into your weaker parts, turning fissures into cracks, into chasms. To fault her for not having the wherewithal to survive that... I'm just glad that you've never been in that place. You should thank God for your good fortune.

Then I started seeing people say things like, "Amy Winehouse's death in no way compares to the tragedy in Norway." This really got to me. Because what happened in Norway is horrible. But it's not a contest. 92 people were killed, but it seems like people feel this loss is somehow greater because of the high number. Like each one of those individuals who died is more important only because they are one of 92. And it sickens me, because if that gunman had only killed one person in Norway, we wouldn't even know about it.

My point is this:

It's all important.

Compassion needs to extend to everyone. Each person. Every untimely death- whether by an overdose, suicide, cancer, AIDS, murder- it's all a tragedy.

Listening to: the storm outside

xo. kb.


"In school, they would tell you that life wouldn't come to you; you had to go out and make it your own. But when it came to love, the message for girls seemed to be this: Don't. Don't go after what you want. Wait. Wait to be chosen, as if only in the eye of another could one truly find value."

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Friday, July 22, 2011

Wriggling out.

I'm reading The Artist's Way (Julia Cameron) on the recommendation of a friend. I checked it out of the library and flipped through first. It's underlined like crazy. I love that. I'm an underliner. I highlight. Not library books, because I try not to deface their property. Also, what is meaningful for me may not be for someone else. But it gives me joy to see what someone else has really dug into, and of course those bits were what I read first.

Here's what I read. "Commit yourself to a weekly artist's date, and then watch your killjoy side try to wriggle out of it."

My brain blinked, then immediately reminded me of something I haven't thought of in years. I had the opportunity to meet Bob Briner while I was in high school- got to sing for him- and he gave me a copy of his book Roaring Lambs.

It was probably just a thoughtful autograph, meant to personalize the experience for me and inspire. Or was it a charge?

I've been wriggling out. Using life as an excuse to not challenge my creative self. Slipping into my old, bad habit of fear and complacency. It's not who I'm meant to be. I am alive. Full of life. Expressive. I sing and dance. Make up crazy stories. These are my gifts, and I need to use them.

Listening to: Fathom Blue "Guides EP"

xo. kb.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Small things.

I worked at Starbucks for a good long time. In that time, I had loads of regulars, people I saw five days a week, whom I got to know, to learn their stories. One of my favorites, Dan, was a lawyer. Personal injury. You're thinking bad things already, I can sense it. You're wrong. Dan was, is, a fine man. I know this because he would come in and tell us about his cases, one of which was for the family of a teenage boy who was killed in a fire due to building conditions. Dan and his wife went to what would have been the young man's high school graduation ceremony because the school was doing a tribute. He didn't need to be there, but he went to support the family. Dan always came in with a smile, was patient while waiting for his grande bold, or venti if it was going to be a long day. He brought in his family, his son, his two younger daughters, his wife on occasion because she hated coffee, and they were equally as nice.

One day we found out, and I'm not sure if it was from Dan himself or from another customer- it was a small community- that his wife had ALS. Was in the last stages of the disease. It seemed like I'd just seen her in. I couldn't believe it- we were all so surprised. And as a store- really guys, the folks I worked with at the Downers Grove Main Street Starbucks are among the best people I've ever known- we wanted to do something for Dan and his family. But what could we do? We couldn't organize a blood drive, fundraiser, give a donation. We couldn't take away her disease or make their pain go away. But we could show him love. So each one of us made it a point to connect with Dan and his kids every time they came in. Not just, "What size today?" but "How are you?" and really meaning it. We asked about his wife, how he and the kids were dealing with things. I spent some time with his youngest daughter, fifteen years old and good lord, I'm tearing up thinking about it now, because I understood what it was like to lose a mother when you're young and I wanted her to know that she wasn't alone and it sucks and you can get through it. It wasn't this huge gift, just a few minutes of our time, but it was something.

One Tuesday morning, Dan came in and bought a bunch of coffee travelers. As I helped him to his car, he let me know that his wife had passed away overnight. I put down the boxes and hugged him right in the foyer, told him how sorry I was. He thanked me, and, with tears in his eyes, told me that it had been such a long year, such a painful journey, but our store had helped him through it. That he had lived for his trips in because he could feel our love and care, and it had uplifted him, given him strength. It had been the greatest gift.

"There are no great things, only small things with great love." Mother Teresa

Listening to: The Civil Wars

xo. kb.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Recipes. Part 1.

These are the three dips I am asked to serve at every party. They kill. But seriously, it's that kind of death you look forward to, you know? Enjoy!

Tomatillo Salsa

10 tomatillos, peeled and washed
1 bunch cilantro, leaves only
1 jalepeno, stemmed and seeded
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp vinegar
1/2 small red onion
juice of 1 lime



2 ripe avocados, coarsely chopped
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1/4-1/2 cup cilantro, chopped (I think more is better, but do what you like best)
1 serrano pepper, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed, then finely minced
juice of 1 lime
1 tsp salt


Black Bean Dip

1 can black beans, drained
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilis
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 small red onion
1 tsp salt

Blend. Pour into oven-safe dish, cover with a crap ton of Monterey Jack cheese. Bake at 400 until the cheese is crazy bubbles.

The Beach.

I'm kinda obsessed with hipstamatic. You'll notice these pics are yellow- it wasn't at all sunny. The entire beach, apparently all of Lake Michigan, was covered in a dense fog, and the water was closed. But we made the most of it. The kids built a sand castle. We buried GG and MG up to their necks. FB lost a tooth. (Crap, do I have a dollar?) And I got to hear them yelling with delight, rather than anger. Day = Made.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Dreaming of milk and fond memories.

I'm fairly certain I had more wine than blood in my body yesterday. It led to sobby, emo blogging, a late night taco run, and a nostalgic Point Break lovefest. Not my finest hours. Okay, well the PB viewing was pretty fun. All these years, I'd hardcore crushed on James LeGros and never realized how freaking hawt Patrick Swayze was in that film. Like damn. Anyway.

So wine brings wine sleep, which you may know to be mostly wakeful and odd-dreamy. And that's what I had last night. I remember one specifically, I was thirsty, so thirsty, and went into the fridge and got out a gallon of milk. I proceeded to drink the entire gallon right from the container. I woke up from this dream really wanting milk, but not wanting to go downstairs to get it, and ended up in the bathroom chugging water from the little rinse and spit cup. It wasn't until this morning that I remembered that drinking a gallon of milk in a sitting is impossible. And then I remembered that my friends and I experimented with this once.

It was one of those dead days, no one was coming in, the store was clean, and there were three of us on shift. I don't know how we got on the subject, but we started talking about if the milk thing was a myth and if the fat content of the milk would make a difference in a person's ability to keep it down. My friend Miguel was convinced it could be done and my co-worker Ben and I were very willing to watch him try. It just so happened that we had milk galore on-hand. We decided Miguel should go the skim route, that he had to drink it within an hour and keep it in for another hour. Here are the little things in life that make you happy. We had customers interested, too, and a few stayed to watch. Miguel started strong, slowed his pace about half through, and crawled to the finish by the end of first hour. But he talked a good game, and said he felt fine. He's kinda a tough guy- lots of piercings, tattoos, and a total boozer. I really felt like if anyone could do it, it would be Miguel. Until forty minutes past when his face contorted, he clutched his stomach and made his way to the bathroom with a speed I'd never before seen him use.

It was awesome.

Listening to: Deerhunter "Halcyon Digest" because it's been a while and everyone I know at Pitchfork was freaking out about their performance

xo. kb.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

This is life.

I just got home from my sister's bridal shower. It started out well, socialization, food, wine, presents. Inevitably, though, there was enough wine for emotions to surface. I should have anticipated this.

My sister is getting married. Those of you who are married know that this is a big deal. She is marrying a great man, who has flaws, of course, but lifts her in ways that she needs. He loves her. And I love him for that. But she is a girl who is getting married without either parent to see her through this. Both of our parents are dead, and though we both may say we have adjusted to this, neither of us have.

There is no adjusting to losing your parents.

My sister is getting married, and has her brother walking her down the aisle. Her sister, who is broken and divorcing, is trying to mother her through this. Her aunt, who has never had a child, is doing what she can to support her. None of us is succeeding. I can see our failures. I see them after the shower has ended, the guests have left, and my sister is drunk and sullen and unable to articulate why, after all these gifts, after this party celebrating her, she cannot stop crying. I know her pain. I know her agony. And I can't make it better.

It is the worst anguish.

There is celebration. And at the same time, there is devastation.

Listening to: Ours "Meet Me At The Tower" on repeat

xo. kb.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Prayer and the longer path.

I pray a ton. Not kneeling, eyes-closed kind of praying, but thought conversations. At least, I believe there is a dialogue. Most of the time, when I bring my concerns to God, I feel response. And not always the one I'm hoping or looking for- this is why I believe it's real and true.

The kids didn't want to come with me to walk the dog this morning and the quiet, lack of distraction, allowed me a chance to think and pray. Life's been full of suck lately. My inability to find a job is weighing, wearing on me. It's affecting my ability to read, to write creatively, to think positively. My whole life going forward is waiting, dependent upon this, and limbo is so tough. I just want it resolved. This hurdle jumped, this challenge overcome. And I wonder why it can't just happen. Why can't I just get a call back? Why can't I go on an interview (two, three) and be offered a job? Could this one thing please just be easy, Lord?

There's a fork in the road on my walk, and every time I approach it I consider which path to take: the short cut or the longer route with the hill. It's just a walk, but all things are metaphorical for me. The longer path requires more work, but the reward is greater. More exercise, more calories burned, more release, more time in the sun, happier dog, and eventually, a happier Kate. It's the path I almost always choose, and this morning was no different.

I felt a kind of resignation as I turned in its direction. That I will always choose to do things the hard way, even though the going through it part is so difficult, because I believe it's what I need. And as I walked I thought, "Lord, at least let me have the strength to do this." My next thought, a wave of comfort, was this: You already have it.



My last dream before waking was centered at my best friend Nikki's house. My friend Sandy and I were watching the kids/house while Nikki was out. There were a few dirty dishes on the counter and a dishwasher full of clean ones, so the two of us emptied the dishwasher then put the dirties in. Sandy started to run the machine. "Wait!" I said, and stopped her hand. "It's not full." All I could think about was the waste of water, energy, detergent in running the dishwasher for such a small load. But Sandy replied, "Yes, but Nikki would rather come home to it clean." I realized she was right and we ran the machine.

While a dream about dishes isn't tops on my list of favorite dreams (there was this one about a boy and... *sigh*), I think this was good. I am this very anti-waste person. I pack the dishwasher strategically full before I run it. I wash clothes in cold water and adjust the water level for each load. I mind-map my route when driving to be efficient. I grocery shop when the fridge is empty. This is just how I am. But dream Sandy was right when she was talking about Nikki. Nikki's a clean freak. I go over for coffee and she's wiping down her kitchen counter instead of sitting. She folds and puts away all her kid's laundry so it's done neatly. She only recently stopped making her older girls' beds and has to fight the impulse to smooth the comforters after they go to school. Nikki would definitely rather an unfilled, but clean dishwasher. As her friend, I should have known that.

I'm reminded that we see the world through our own filters. Like a film over our eyes, and each of us looking through a different color. To be a good friend, parent, lover, we need to recognize those colors, be mindful of them, respect them. Embrace the idea and opportunity of a different experience. Because I live through blue, but it's good for me to see things yellow sometimes.

Listening to: The Joy Formidable

xo. kb.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


I was born Katherine Elizabeth Adams, but I've never been called that. Directly out of the womb, I was nicknamed Katie. My grandfather, who doesn't ever call anyone by their real names, called me Katy-did. I'm okay with that. A bug is better than Smokey (my aunt, who told tall tales and "blew smoke out her ass"), Windy (my mom, who couldn't shut up), or Tiger (my grandma, and I don't want to know the story behind that). When I was in seventh grade, I changed my name to Kate because I thought it sounded sophisticated and mature. *insert eye-roll here* Also in seventh grade, my English teacher named me "Ominous Succession." I'm still trying to figure that one out, but I don't think she liked me very well.

Nowadays, friends call me KB, Katebakes, Kates, KahtBahker. My co-worker Judy insists on calling me Katherine Elizabeth, which I kinda like. I'm Mom to my kids, Miss Kate to their friends, and Grandpa's started calling me Sweet Voice because I always sound so happy when I call him. (That's because I am happy. I love him, and I'm grateful he's still around.)

I love that I have all these names, that I'm not just one specifically defined person. Each name is a part of me and tells a story of who I am to the people in my life. I appreciate that they don't all see me the same way.

Listening to: the ping of tweetdeck and the hum of my computer

xo. kb.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


My lines, defined
My shape drawn angles and curves
Palette in hand,
You give me life.
You color me saturated
Yellow like bright light, like sun
Red, my anger, a fire
Green under skin, for what I want but can't have
My pinks are flushed
My blues
My blues know no bounds
There is dimension and intensity to my grays.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


I've been playing my guitar a lot recently. I dust it off occasionally, but never really do anything with it, it sits unused by the Guitar Hero guitar that's been played once. It's not that I'm not an instrument person- I play several- just that guitar isn't my home instrument, piano is, and I don't know it well enough to make it do what I want it to.

That said, I don't have a piano or even a keyboard, and I've gotten some music and lyrics in my head that need an outlet and I had to use something. So I pulled out my guitar and have been spending some quality time with it. The more I play, the more dexterous my fingers become, are able to move from chord to chord with ease, without me looking down at my hands. And the more I play, the less my fingers hurt.

I used to have really heavy strings on my guitar that were impossible to play with my small hands, so I bought new ones, lighter weight, and restrung it. (Which, btw, was a proud moment for me because I had no help.) The new strings are a better fit, but pressing on them still caused my fingers discomfort. I wasn't used to the sensation, the tension of holding down that weight, the bite of high E, the heavy, rounded low E.

The first time I played for an extended period of time, I was sore. The next time I played, I noticed the skin on my fingertips had started to crust. To form callouses. They were small and coming off on their own and I bit at them. But as I've become consistent in my playing, my callouses have grown. They're not those beautiful strong fingers of a real guitar player, and the first few songs I practice still do pain me a little, but I am getting used to it. I'm growing tougher.

I think of callouses, how I grow them in my emotional world too. How I apply for jobs and interview and don't get an offer. It hurts. But it hurts less the more resumes I send out, the more interviews I go on. Querying is the same (although I'm not at this time). I think of how alone I am, with no one but my kids and Twitter to talk to (and thank you folks because you are my outside world). But each day, while still filled with anxiety and loneliness, has become a little easier to handle. And so I keep playing.

Listening to: The Joy Formidable

xo. kb.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The alphabet in color.

I've been talking a ton about my synesthesia lately and thought it would be fun to make a list of my letters and their colors. Also, I love making lists. Double fun.

A- scarlet
B- blue violet
C- lemon
D- brown
E- white
F- gray (forceful)
G- gray (milder)
H- orange
I- white
J- oatmeal
K- Crayola's tickle me pink
L- straight-up yellow
M- midnight blue
N- green
O- white
P- pink, purple, or red (word takes the color of the dominant letters that follow)
Q- steel (more gray than blue)
R- red
S- sapphire
T- forest green
U- oatmeal
V- mahogany
W- plum
X- Crayola's bittersweet
Y- canary yellow
Z- chocolate brown

Sunday, July 10, 2011


I did something to my right foot. It's maybe a pulled muscle or a bruise or something, but my heel is all swollen and lovely and my ankle is stiff. I blame my 6yo running shoes. They're utterly destroyed, but I don't want to replace them until I can get good shoes and I certainly can't afford that now, so I deal. It's uncomfortable most of the time. Seriously, each morning I two-foot each stair down. It takes me a couple minutes because my feet are so stiff and need to warm up. And that's just on a normal day. This stupid injury has me gimping around. I've been running anyway because it brings me emotional sanity and I have this rule that I can't eat anything more substantial than fruit or veggies unless I exercise, but it's really painful.

I'm sure I should take a break from running and allow it to heal. I mean, logically, this is the right course of action. But I'm not always entirely logical. I can't even imagine taking a break. Well, I can imagine it but it involves anxiety and guilt and stress, and that seems more painful to me than the physicality of my injury.

This was the last week of my church's "Stumbling On Happiness" series. Today our pastor, Dave Ferguson, spoke about self-care. The idea that we aren't able to serve others, serve the Lord, without being in good physical and spiritual shape. He asked us to think of how we take care of our bodies. Do we eat well? Exercise? And what about our spirit? Are we taking time to pray and read the Bible? Do we meditate and journal? Do we maybe have a list of the things we could be doing better? Well, of course. Everyone does. And at this point I was totally expecting him to discuss our lists and what we need to be doing.

Then Dave surprised me by saying he wouldn't be talking about that all. And he brought up the idea of rest. It wasn't the entire focus of his talk today, but it struck a chord. Because I don't allow myself to rest. Not emotionally, not physically. It's funny, because I think I'm taking such good care of myself by exercising and eating well and never sitting down, that I'm helping my emotional state by keeping myself working and busy. And maybe that's not the case at all. A friend told me earlier this week that an injury might do me well, because it would force me to slow down. I rolled my eyes at him, but now I think there was some merit to what he said.

Sometimes taking care of yourself is allowing your body and mind a chance to rest. To recoup.

It's not in my nature to be still, but I think I need to do that. At least I need to try. I'm going to skip my run today. Not gonna lie, I'll probably do the elliptical instead, but it's a start. And I'm putting myself to bed early. I won't sleep, but I'm going to try to read. Try to slow my brain, allow myself to be immersed in a story and stop fretting about my life for a few minutes.

Listening to: The Civil Wars

xo. kb.


I have crazy, colorful dreams that I frequently remember. Most of the time they're insignificant to me, but I've recently begun to write some of them down. I had one last week that was a perfect metaphor, so obvious in meaning a child could have analyzed it. It's in my notebook. And it's personal, so you don't get to hear about it.

But I'll tell you this. Last night, I had three dreams I remember. In them I 1) was offered a job; 2) found a really nice home to rent; and 3) had amazing sex. Glad to know my conscious mind and subconscious mind are on the same page.

Friday, July 8, 2011

My volunteering experience, or, When I'm tired I say "and" a lot.

I just got home from volunteering for Reverb at the DMB Caravan. Here's a little recap.

Reverb, in case you were wondering, is an organization, founded by Guster's Adam Gardner, that works with touring bands in order to reduce their carbon footprint while on the road. They're a sponsor of the Caravan, and were looking for volunteers so I signed up. I got the Friday night shift (330-8) which was cool because I'd get a chance to hear Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and Ray LaMontagne. Super cool. I was excited.

I had some trouble figuring out the ol' childcare situation- welcome to my world- and left later than I wanted to. Like on the road at 230 and needing to be way the heck by Indiana via the Skyway in an hour. Which would be miraculous if there was no traffic. But there was. There's always traffic. Let me tell you, I'm not a fan of the traffic. I mean, the band I like (Steve Winwood, you are amazing), but lots of cars on the road I'm traveling on is a huge inconvenience. I'm kind of road rage-y. By this I mean I hurl sarcastic, snarky comments at other drivers at a volume that requires my passengers to wear earplugs. And I change lanes, and follow closely, and brake late. It's not a big deal. And it's maybe not my best trait, but I've been told it's amusing to behold, so at least there's that.

So yes. I was late. But I got there and parked and was still allowed to work. Yay! Not wanting to make them wait any longer, I ran from the parking lot towards the entrance. Was not wearing appropriate shoes. Bad idea. I've been running on an injury for two weeks or so and, yeah, it freaked the freak out. So I stopped running and hobbled to the front gate and met my Reverb folks. I'd missed the orientation, so was given a quick run-down of what I was to do: sell stickers. Although, they weren't specifically for sale- you could get one for a $5 donation. All proceeds to NativeEnergy. I'm not familiar with this organization, but the name sounds great, so okay. Let's do this.

I chose to work alone (does this surprise anyone?), took a stack of 25 stickers, and went out into the crowd. I'm not a forward girl. I'm actually really good at selling, but it is extremely uncomfortable for me to approach, and very outside my comfort zone. So I forced myself to go up to a small group of people right away. Here's my thing: Force yourself to do the thing that makes you most nervous. It's part of my high-diving thing. I honestly hate myself for deciding that was a good idea because I want to die of "AAAAAAGGGGGHHHHH!!!!!" most of the time. Anyway, I went up to this group, told myself it was a trial-run and practiced. I let them know about the organization, who they are, what they do, and let them know about the Reverb tents and other environmentally conscious vendors/organizations that were present. I'd been given a sort of Bingo card to hand out to folks as well, and presented it first since it was free, then introduced the sticker and asked for a donation. I was rejected. But I moved on.

I sold the very next time, then didn't twice, then saw a group of slightly drunk fellows and got an idea. I approached them smiling my "I have a secret" smile, not my "I love my customers" smile, and engaged them in conversation. Dudes were funny, actually. I stayed with them for 10 minutes and sold two stickers. From there on out, I stuck to men only. Here's the deal, and I'm just being honest from my experience, so don't hate. If you approach a group of dudes and there's a girl, she'll be hostile to you and they'll follow her lead. If you approach a group of girls, they will listen but not buy. If you approach a group of guys, they will listen and consider. Maybe 60% are in, right away. The percentage goes up if they've been drinking.

So I did well. And I got to see Ray LaMontagne's amazing beard and hear his scratchy, bluesy voice. And I left before DMB came onstage. And I found my car and maneuvered it out of the parking lot without hitting anything and drove safely through the south side of Chicago without getting stuck by gunfire. So all is well with the world.

Listening to: matt pond PA "Last Light"

xo. kb.

I have always been well-behaved.

Growing up, Sunday mornings were for church. We went to the 11:00 service because my mom liked to lounge in bed with coffee watching "Sunday Morning" on CBS before having to get ready. It was kind of a bummer, because the late service was mostly older folks and Sunday School classes were small. The cool kids all went to the 8:30 service- the Contemporary Service- but no matter how much my sister Wende and I begged, Mom wouldn't budge on her Sunday morning ritual.

On a rare occasion, however, Wende and I could convince her to let us attend the service with her instead of going to Sunday School. We were smart girls, and timed these pleas at the first Sunday of the month, aka Communion Sunday. The three of us would climb upstairs to the choir loft where my mom always sat, even when she wasn't singing. The best spot was in the pews in front of the organ pipes. There were stained glass windows in the wall that shined down color light, and you could feel the rumbling of the low notes, hear the twinkling of the high notes like bells.

The service would start with a greeting, then we'd sing a few hymns before settling down for the sermon. Wende and I would try to pay attention and that would last maybe a minute before one of us grabbed an offertory envelop and a pencil and either drew a funny picture or wrote a silly note. We'd try to keep our laughter quiet, but it was difficult. Things are funniest when you shouldn't be laughing. I can picture us: heads down and writing furiously, bodies shaking and eyes tearing. I can also picture my mom's Glare of Death at us for embarrassing her in the service. Thankfully, she was with the choir and couldn't do anything about it.

Post-sermon, there was a musical number for the offertory, maybe a hymn to get us on our feet, then... *trumpets*... Communion. Our church allowed anyone to take Communion, so we did. We'd search the tray for the largest chunk of bread (don't worry- I'm shaking my head at this now) and take the fullest plastic cup of grape juice. Then, with the congregation, we'd take the bread, say "Cheers" and click our cups together before drinking our juice. The word "irreverent" comes to mind. Also, I'm not sure we fully understood the meaning of Communion. That said, I'm dying right now, it's so funny, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to wake a kid. The dog is looking at me with concern. Wende and I would then leave the cups in our mouths, put our tongues in them, and stick them out at each other until the service was over.

I'll let you in on a little secret... I saved my Communion cup this past Sunday and stuck my tongue in it. I wish Wende- or anyone with a sense of humor- had been there to join in. It's still just as funny. Jesus, I mean no disrespect.

Listening to: Fathom Blue "Guides EP"

xo. kb.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Fire Boy's birthday requests.

Today is Fire Boy's 8th birthday. Happy Birthday!

I asked FB what he wanted for his birthday, and he told me "A little brother." I let him know it would be a little tough to arrange that one, and asked if there was anything else I could do for him? He responded with a menu.

Breakfast: Doughnuts
Lunch: Make-your-own-pizzas
Dinner: Biscuits and sausage gravy, scrambled eggs
Dessert: Texas Sheet Cake

Then he said, "I guess you're going to be doing a lot of cooking." I guess I am.

Short post today because I need to get the dough rising, the biscuits cut, and the cake baked.

Listening to: The Joy Formidable

xo. kb.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


I went on an expedition today. All for a notebook that didn't have in it what I expected it to. Alas. But I did find another notebook I'd forgotten about. Notes about a crazy-ass (prophetic?) dream I had, crit notes from a friend's novel, and a page on my Myers-Briggs results.

Guys, I am so much an INFJ it's ridiculous. Between this and my sun chart, I'm fully defined.


We've been discussing "Stumbling On Happiness" at church the last several weeks. It's been a great topic, the idea that happiness cannot be found through the pursuit of it, but rather by lifestyle, behavioral, and attitude choices in which happiness becomes a byproduct. Things like positivity, servitude, and adversity/stress management. Honestly, this message couldn't come at a better time for me. This month has been incredibly difficult, and I welcome each Sunday service as an opportunity for me to shore up some strength for the upcoming week. Today was no different.

I walked in to "Three Little Birds" being played by the band and did an internal eye roll. I've never really liked that song. Everything's going to be alright? Um, no. I'm more in the Built To Spill camp of "You were wrong when you said, 'Everything's gonna be alright.'" Because things go wrong all the time. People lose their jobs. Relationships end. Sickness, climate change, hunger, poverty. Mosquito bites. Awful abounds. I mean, in happier times, or maybe even in slightly less intensely stressful times, I'm an optimist. I like to believe that things will work out. Maybe even work out alright. But lately, I've begun to doubt. What if things don't tie up neatly? What if there is no real resolution ever, just this continuous forward motion? What if there's no meant-to-be, no grand-design, no point? Seriously, it's keeping me up at night.

I worry that I won't be able to find a job. Or that I'll have to take something that kills my spirit just because it pays. I worry that I'll never have another relationship. That a single mother of three is completely unmarketable. I worry that all my best days are behind me and that I missed all my chances to be someone great. That the writer's block I'm experiencing isn't a phase, that my voice is gone, that I'm all ideas, notes and single lines.

This morning's Big Idea was about living in the present, and the first thing our campus pastor read was Matthew 6:25-34. The focus here, for those of you who won't read the verses, is not to worry. That God will ensure that tomorrow is taken care of. For real? How? What if? What about? But? But? But.... The verse goes on to say that today has enough of its own troubles to deal with. True enough. The point is, get through today. Just today. This day. And there's merit in that.

Yesterday sucked. I was late for work because I couldn't stop crying in the shower. (Lame.) Then I cried again at work. (Lamer.) And then again at home. (Lamest. WTF Kate?) I swear to you, I'm not even a crier usually, but I guess I am now. And it's really embarrassing and awful and I hate it and I'm such a girl and I can't even help myself. Ideally, I would have spent the day in bed, wallowing and worrying, but it was freaking hot and the kids were fighting and begging to go to the pool. So we went. For two hours I watched my kids swim, got gallons of chlorinated water in my eyes, and floated in the lazy river with MG in my lap. And for two hours I lived in the present and enjoyed the sun, the smell of sunblock, the screams of happy kids.

That's what it's all about folks. It's about the present. This moment. Right now. "This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it." And let me say that each day.

Listening to: The Joy Formidable "The Big Roar"

xo. kb.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Hold your friends.

Grief doesn't have an expiration date. Sorrow lasts long after I've stopped burdening you for help with its weight.

Remember this. Hold your hurting friends, especially when they don't ask you to. Because they still need you.

Friday, July 1, 2011

My most recent conversation.

FB comes into the kitchen. I'm making guacamole for a dinner I won't eat, listening to The Civil Wars "C'est La Mort" on repeat, lamenting that our weekend plans blew up, and generally wallowing. He looks at me and says, "Mom, can I get a hug?" He has impeccable timing. I give him what we call the "boob smash" (his head is level with my chest) and kiss his hair. I feel slightly better. Then we have the following conversation:

FB: How old do I need to be to wear deodorant?
Me: There's no age requirement, you just need to smell.
FB: I wish I smelled.
Me: Why?
FB: Because I want to use deodorant. It's so cool. You rub it on your armpits. I wish I could rub something on my armpits.
Me: You are the strangest person I have ever met.
FB: *smiles*

My kids are freaking cool.