Sunday, September 28, 2014


I don't actually recall what I thought the first time I drove south from West Lebanon, New Hampshire, on route 12A.

Maybe that it was going to be a long three months, maybe that I was already missing The Bob- who had helped me drive from North Carolina to New Hampshire and who I had just dropped off at the Manchester airport.

Maybe that I was in love.

I have since driven it so many times that I hardly give it even a cursory thought.  I could drive it with my eyes closed, I know the sway, ebb, and flow of the asphalt so well.

Today I drove it again, for what felt like the millionth time this year.  And as I watched the road happen, the drive pass... I was struck by what it must have been like that first drive and what it is like now.  How what started as a passing fling has grown into an enduring affair.

This road is part of my life here, my lifeblood.

I was struck by how much of what I have witnessed and witness here has become inherent to me.  There is something of my heart in each now-yellowing, now redding, now browning leaf.  There is a thought, a hope a wish, around every turn of that road.  I have buried secrets in the soil here.  I have cried myself to sleep here, squinting through the tears to find the Milky Way flowing just outside of my window, just outside of reach.

The sunrise and sunset, midday heat, early morning cold.  The river, the mountains.  The animals, the earth, the people.  Spring, Summer, Fall…

Over and over again this place has captured and held me captive- without my ever realizing it.  Until, that is, days like today when the last warmth of Indian summer mixes with the growing gold of impending fall.

And everything I have ever given of myself is given back tenfold.  I forget until I don't.

Until next time, I if I could give you this space, I would..

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Balance

Over the past few weeks or so,  I have essentially completed a task which I started in the early spring- a task which I have necessarily kept silent about save for a few very knowledgable, close people (read Mom)- the task of weaning myself off of antidepressants.  Antidepressants that were prescribed to me a little over three years ago, in the wake of events which put my mental and physical health into a bit of a landslide.  In putting me on them, my doctor had one goal in mind- get the defoggers in my brain to start working again.  Get the gears to move again- get something, anything, to trigger life or desire, want.

I do not put this out there lightly.  And I also do not wish to advertise what I am doing as something that everyone should do or should feel like they have to do.  I am the child of a nurse- I have undue medical knowledge simply from having grown and aged in the household that I did.  I know the risks that I take here.  I knew the risks when began dosing myself in incrementally smaller portions, when I put the pill bottle down, forgotten, when I put it out of sight, purposefully.

It was an enormous decision for me to take the pills in the first place.  I have described it as a battle of the wills, or an odd, cosmic staring contest- me versus the pills.  It was an equally enormous decision to stop- and even more so to confess to it.

And there are still moments of fear.  Especially right now in the newness of cold-quitting.  The drugs will not be out of my system fully for another couple of weeks, I am still riding the high of Celexa-laced blood and brain cells.  When they have filtered through my body enough without help from the happy pill… I have hope.  But I also have fear.

In particular, there is one thing that I am almost painfully and vigilantly anticipating with tick tock ticking clock fear of full detox.  And this thing that I am militantly watchful of is the return of lost time, the fog of disengagement.

Don't get me wrong- there is a great deal to be said of daydreaming and laying in hammocks, happily drinking sun and air and wasting time just being- totally disengaged from the world, from stress, from nonsense.

What I am talking about here is the terrifying hours, days, weeks, I lost to thoughtlessness- lost to staring out the windows, not daydreaming, not seeing, not even being, not really.  I am talking about the moments in the mirror when the I was one body and the reflection was another- the frightening and sickening and blind disconnect of carelessness.  I did not care.  I could not find meaning in that reflection- and I did not care to put effort into finding it- or effort into anything.

I do not want that back.  I have spent more time working around this post, figuring out what to say and how to say it, than any other of the recent past.  Because I have/had lost my mind; I have/had lost my body.  Because I have spent, and have had to spend, years (what many youthfully ideal people would refer to as 'the best years of my life'- my mid-twenties) cobbling both back together.  Distinct and sometimes heartbreaking moments of which have played out in this blog.  And because I...

I do not want to be on or dependent upon drugs anymore, but I absolutely do not want to suffer through loss of self again.

It is and has been a strange, evolving dualism of powerlessness and loss- and acceptance of both.  On the one hand, before the antidepressants, I was unhinged and unwell and so unwelcome to my own mind as to be powerless- powerless to commit to anything more than rudimentary life exercises (for those of you who follow this blog or know me- you know that I could not even execute those with any degree of success). On the other hand, on the antidepressants, I was powerless to the drug, powerless to having to remember to take them- same time, same action day after day- to having to rely on them.  And the heart of that powerlessness was that I never sat well with needing something… pharmaceutical… to make me me.  That I needed a pill, a drug, a dose to bring back or bring out the personality that had always been there.

Today is the Equinox and in two days I will turn thirty- it seems prescient to lay myself and my choices on the line again, out there for what feels like the ten thousandth time.  I don't know what is going to happen (with both the really big picture and all the little ones I constantly develop).  But I know that today is one of two days every year when the natural world balances itself: 12 hours of dark, 12 of light.  And I know that I am better balanced now than I have been in some time.

I am not without pain, sadness, grief.  But I am also not without my Self.  Not perfect- but not powerless.

And that, my loves, is what I want.  I will never be perfect.  But I will never ever again be powerless.

Until next time, Happy Mabon.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Fun is Fun- or- Forgive Me for Yet Another Ramble

It should come as no surprise that I do realize, after so many years, so many posts, so much… stuff, that I have (theoretically and UTTERLY BARRING the eating disorder, broken bones, antidepressants, bats, and dog with a striking case of pica, etc etc etc) the kind of life that people kind of dig.  People: people I love, strangers, people who sometimes sort of have a notion of me, seem to like the idea of what I do and how I do what I do.

That is… until most of those people start to grasp the reality behind the idea.  I go- I do- I see.  On my own terms, in my own way.  I defy some sort of assumed social expectations (expectations which I assume society has for me) in favor of doing the things that make me… me.

And last night, after that fact was hammered home yet again, I had a moment… well I had several moments- hence the ramble.  

At the Gaslight Anthem concert at the House of Blues in Boston (the concert which surreptitiously gave shape to this entire pre birthday pre weekend in Salem) , Mom and I stood in front of some gentlemen who oohed and aahed over my 'career' of Park Ranger.  They delighted in the fact that I have and show tattoos (even while wearing an outfit made up nearly fully of J Crew threads and rose quartz earrings).

These guys did not know me from Adam.. and yet I was either their dream girl or had their dream job or dream life.

And here's where I call bullshit on that.  Who knows my dreams but me?  Who knows whose dream girl I want to be?  Whose dream life I want to share- or inhabit?  And who the hell out there knows the kind of life I really lead?  The kind of work that goes into the life I lead?  The triumphs and tragedies I brush off and face every single day?

In the midst of this ongoing mental and emotional card game, GA plays both Selected Poems and Biloxi Parish- two of my favorite songs from them.

Selected Poems contains the following lines:

I was fortunately desperate and turbulently innocent. 
I was living underneath my body weight. 
My eyes were swollen green and hazy, sick from grief and hate and envy, 
I was crawling up inside my head. 

And all I seem to find is that everything has chains. 
And all this just feels like a series of dreams. 
Selected poems and lovers I can't begin to name. 
And all in all I find that nothing is the same…

And all I seem to find is how everything has chains. 
And all my life just feels like an idiot dream. 
Selected poems and lovers I never see again. 
And all in all I find that nothing stays the same… 

And what I am thinking of when I hear those lines, every time I hear those lines, is how my life does seem to be a series of dreams.  Some come true, others don't.  But these dreams are mine. Maybe I am an idiot for dreaming, maybe I am only fulfilling an idiot's dreams- but these dreams are mine.  I am NOBODY'S dream but MY OWN.

And Biloxi Parish?

But until then I'll be with you through the dark, 
Yes, until then I'll be with you through the dark

And who else can say that about you baby?
Who else can say that about you now?
Who else can take all your blood and your curses-
Nobody I've seen you hanging around… 
seen you hanging around…

And there you have it- there's the person whose dreams I want to inhabit.  The person who get's me- not the idea of me.  But me.  The person who wants to be with me through all of the hissing and spitting that I can kick out- the person who understands that my dreams, my series of idiot dreams keep coming and going- and who understands that maybe, just maybe, I want someone to hold my hand when I want to jump into them.

And then, AND THEN, Brian Fallon decides to say something to the effect of.. 'Look, why do any of us have to grow up and deal with what society expects us to deal with and be responsible for?  Why do we have to live the life that is prescribed for us?  I mean…  you grow and you learn.. and at the end of the day, it doesn't matter how much you grow or learn…

Fun is Fun.'

Why, hello Ticket, there you are.  Fun is Fun.  My life, as scattershot, idiotic, and irresponsible as it is… it's mine.  And it's hard, and I don't play by societies rules, and I live like a gypsy, but I'm growing up everyday- and every day I'm learning.

That fun is fun.  And you might as well have fun while you can, when you can, and however you can.

And until next time… My dreams, My ideas, My life, Me.  I give you  me, My Loves. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Day Two Photo-Tastic

Big discoveries today…?

Oysters Rockefeller.  Holy Bananas… how have I not been exposed to these tasty little buggers before?  Mom and I had lunch at a place called Turners (on the recommendation from two lovely gentlemen on our cruise last night) and apparently September is Oyster month.
Repeat Offender: Mom and I visited this garden the
last time we were here… But it's provocative and not
a little heartbreaking. 

Dark and Stormy and Sexy 

Also- hello Dark and Stormy's, it's nice to meet you.  Where have you been all my life?

After a full day of touring, silly museum walking, and more witch stuff… I give you Salem, Day Two.
The strange and wonderful houses of
 Salem.. in all their overrun-return-to-nature

These buildings slay me!

As does the most brilliant park and urban
reclamation system the city has laced through
it's streets. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Pre-Birthday (Shenanigans) Photo Blog

Every year, my mother makes an effort to be wherever I am for my birthday.  This, to most people, would not seem like that big of deal.  However, when it comes to wherever I am… I could be anywhere.


I imagine this only makes sense
if you know and appreciate that
Saltonstall was one of the Judges
who sat and heard trials against
the men and women accused of
witchcraft in Salem Village, 1692.
This years birthday (this is pre birthday, by the way) has us in Salem, Massachusetts.  Yesterday was our first proper day here- and here's a sampling of our activities… via camera.  

Our arranged sunset cruise begins….

and then continues… 

demolishing any notion that I previously had 

of how heretically beautiful 
the colors which become the night sky truly are. 
Next up on the docket… Salem Day 2.

Until next time…

Monday, September 1, 2014

Things That Change Everything*

*And Nothing at All

The first time I experienced the phenomena of 'That Which Simultaneously Changes Everything and Nothing', I stood next to my best friend, Nate.  He had just been married and took a sip out of his champagne flute and his newly placed wedding ring caught my attention.

The ring.

It changed everything- it changed how people would identify and perceive him; how society would locate him; how his taxes would be filled out.  But it changed nothing.  Standing next to me was the same Nathan who I had fought with, laughed with, lived with during my tenure at Louisiana State University.  It was the same Nate who was the counterpart to my Kate- The WonderTwins.  The same kid who my own mother claimed was like 'the other son she never had.'  He was the same Cub who had picked me up from the airport a day or so before, had driven me to the center of New Orleans and sat at Pat O's- one hand holding a drink, the other hitting his knee in laughter (he may actually have been smoking a cigar at that point, to be honest).

It is almost the same as putting on a uniform.  When I don the NPS Green and Greys- with my gold badge and brown patch and stetson, I am suddenly given power.  I become a figure of authority- people smile, wave, obey traffic laws- even though nothing about me has changed.  The uniform, the ring, the doom of wanderlust...

I have been a traveler since.. I don't know.. maybe before birth.  I know my father wandered; I know my mother longs to.  And long before this blog was even a twinkle in my own eye, I lived in Paris.  I traveled throughout Europe on my own and later with my parents.  I hopped trains, planes and into automobiles.  I journeyed, I journey, all over the place.  On a whim or with a mission.

These journeys- they change everything and they change nothing.  I am fundamentally changed in travel.  I have experiences that I often cannot describe to or recreate for the people who ask.  'How was China?' was often met by 'big.'  Travel changes the core of my being, the way I think and function- and yet it changes nothing.  For a little while I am without country- without establishment or family and I am solely and uniquely alive, on my own.  But when I return I am essentially the same Kate who left.  A little weathered, perhaps; jet lagged, of course; and inevitably injured in some capacity.

But though I am wholly changed- I am the same.  I come home and I am the same girl who left, just with more stories under her belt, more life having been lived.  The life that I am living, the life I lead continues- go and come, hither and thither.  I have the same gap-toothed grin and the same sense of humor that reveals it.  Christ, looking at old photos, I even have the same sense of style- all sweaters and solidity, all ease all the time.

It is a strange thing- this phenomenon.  When everything and nothing change.  It is as though we who experience it are momentarily caught in a void, a void which exists on a precipice.  The universe opens itself up for an instant and says 'Look at all that you and we and I could be… but don't look down.'  And then we, I, look down.  And the universe closes again, rendering us, me, infinitely more knowledgeable and yet infinitely more confused- thus infinitely changed and infinitely the same.

Until next time, my dearest of hearts.