29 December 2018

Year-in-Review: 2018

Oh 2018.  You were confusing and clarifying. You were easy and complicated. You were awesome and awful. You had me swinging from extremes of lightness and heaviness. And oh, 2018, you were full of a bunch of terrible mistakes.

But...I’ve been thinking a lot lately about missteps and mistakes. I think we need them. We can’t progress without them. Otherwise, we’d grow complacent. But here’s what I am proud of…With each and every mistake I made this year, I was able to sit down here at the table (yes, that same one!), pour a glass of wine, and write to myself, to others, and to the most amazing (mostly silent) therapist. I would process the mistake like the scientist I am. Pulling at all the tiny little threads for explanations. And then, finally seeing the pathways of the mistake illuminate so very fucking brightly. It was in these moments that I came to learn so much about myself.

For those of us who have experienced childhood trauma, our recovery process is full of these moments. I know its never going to be easy. I’m never going to be “fixed.” I’m going to fuck up again and again and again.  But I think I’m finally starting to see the process. I’m seeing how the challenges of 2016 helped me to work out some of the issues. And then, 2017, some different ones. And now, 2018, something else. And there are ALWAYS going to be missteps and mistakes, just as there are always new lessons. And sometimes, it’s going to be the same old lessons from say, I don’t know, 2011? I think the point is that I’ve learned to accept the full version of myself, which is all over the place sometimes. And that’s just fine, because if we never fuck it all up, we aren’t able to realize what it is we really need, and for me, more importantly, what it is that we really want.

One step at a time, my darlings.

I’m grateful for all of you that helped me during this year. That picked up the phone when I needed to talk it all out. That remained patient with me when I was confused. That followed along with my journey of running and #drunkblueapron’ing while I sought to take care of myself. That never judged me while I was clearly making the mistakes I needed to get to the place where I am today. Y’all are the real deal.

And so, it’s with that I start my year-end list of gratitude. Thank you again.

I am grateful for… (in no particular order, my dears)

1. Running.

Some days, I ran fast. Some days, I ran far. Some days, I ran in the hot and humid summer afternoons. Some days, I ran in the rain. And even, some days, I ran in the snow. Running remains key for me. I think it works because it belongs to me. It’s my thing. Just me. Out on the streets, working the things out. This year, I ran my first official 5K with Robbie in Nashville. And this past year, I ran 620 miles.

2. My Nashville Crew: Robbie, Russell, Clinton, Rob, Taylor, Matt, and Luke

I was so fortunate this year to have multiple places to stay when I came visiting Nashville. So a billion thanks you go out to Kate Chapman, and April and Bill Mullins. Their amazing generosity allowed for me to return to Nashville more times than I can count this past year. It’s hard to even begin to remember all the visits. I had a blast ringing in the New Year with Robbie, Taylor, Russell, Clinton, and Matt; attempting to watch The Oscars with Robbie; celebrating my birthday with Robbie, Russell, Rob, Luke, and Clinton; running a 5K with Robbie and Rob; that long ass summer where we watched so many soccer games, had so many Sunday Fundays, and tore it up at ALL the pool parties at Rob’s house. 

3. Jennie Ann

Jennie Ann and I have been best friends for almost 27 years. The lifespan of a best friendship always has its twists and turns. While both of us were going through our own tough set of challenges in the past couple of years, we drifted apart. I missed her horribly. But this year, we came back together. And it taught me these amazing lessons about friendships. They aren’t always going to be perfectly neat. Life ebbs and flows, and so do friendships. And at the end of the day, they are still there—the history, the jokes, the understanding. But, you have to speak up. You have to tell the people that you love that you miss them when things aren’t perfect. You have to remind them that you are there for them when things aren’t perfect for them. You have to fight for the relationships that you want to keep in your life. I’m so happy that we are back together again. Obsessing over some new television show. Conversating in gifs. Talking about our own progress in #recovery with one another. And, as always laughing our faces off in the process. Beyond my joy of having Jennie Ann back in my life, I’ve been so fortunate that she’s also brought Gladdy, her daughter, into my life.

4. My Family

I’m so grateful for all my trips home to spend time with my mom. I’m grateful to spend the holidays with my sister and my brothers. I’m so grateful that I was able to finally be at Jessica’s baby shower for our newest family member, Everett. And maybe the most important to me was to attend Jack’s 3rd birthday party this year. I’m so excited to be part of their lives. To be the crazy Aunt Katherine that I always wanted to be. 

I am also fortunate to have found another family with April and Bill Mullins. They welcomed me into their home, allowed me to stay there for a incredibly amazingly small amount of money, but more so than all of that, I've loved sharing my life and stories with them. Tonight, I was trying to figure out my plans for the New Year, and April messaged to me: COME HOME TOMORROW. And it made me smile so very much, because I realized how much of a connection we've made in only six months. I can't wait to see them tomorrow. And sit together, laughing and talking and drinking all the wines. 

5. Happy Hours with Jamie and Coco at Yee-Haw.

I am grateful for all those afternoons with Jamie and Coco at Yee-Haw (and our group chats). Sometimes we talk about teaching and our classes. Sometimes we talk about our lives. Sometimes we just talk shit. We are early in our friendships, but I know that if I ever needed anything from these two, they’d be there. They would always get your back. And they always want you to be the best version of yourself you can be. And that my dears is the kind of thing you hold onto for as long as possible with your friends.

6. Colleagues/New Friends and Students at Tusculum University

I feel like this list would be long, if I were to go there and list all of them. Suffice to say, I’m loving my time at Tusculum. I have some of the most amazing colleagues I could ever ask for. They are not only smart academics and amazing professors, they are great friends. They have always supported me. They’ve invited me to their homes, their book clubs, to be besties with their kids. And the students. Okay, not all of them are great, but I’ve certainly loved the chance to get to know these students and watch them learn and progress.

7. My Girls….(said in RuPaul’s voice)

I’m so thankful to Ashley, Michelle, Yvonne, Andrea, Sheila, my Aunt Jennie Ann, April, and my dearest Susan….I’m sure the list could go on. But you folks have been great this year in terms of your continued love and support via phone calls, text messages, visits, FB likes and messages. I envision a world in which all of us could live so very close to each other to sit around the table and drink wine and chat on a daily basis.

8. The Nutcracker

I’m starting to wind down now. And, honestly, outside of running, performing in the Nutcracker this year was one of the highlights of my year. Similar to my running, performing in the Nutcracker was something that belonged to me. It wasn’t about anyone else in my life or anything else, just ME! I remember when I signed up, I messaged a particularly problematic individual in my life (read: narcissist) and they responded: “But don’t you think you’ll be too busy for the other things in your life?” Yes, y’all should recognize this if it happens in your life. Someone who doesn’t want you to do something just for yourself because it might interfere with the time you might spend interacting with them…well, y’all, it’s time to move on down the street.

The ballet helped to teach me this. There was nothing about it that was going to contribute to my work or my personal life. But rather, every single time I showed up for rehearsal, all the stupid problems of every day just fell away. When all those wonderful little kids came running up to me to talk, none of this other bullshit mattered. They made me so very happy. But yes, that’s it. It was just for me. And I plan to do so much more of that in the coming year. 

9. Islam

I can’t begin to explain what Islam has brought to my life. There’s all these memories that we’ve already created—Discount Tire and the Food Truck, Text Messages, Phone Calls, Hawawshi, #DrunkBlueApron, Stomach, the Gala and Homecoming, Pumpkins, Halloween, Flowers, Baklava, Thanksgiving, West Virginia, Christmas. It’s the tip of the iceberg. And I can tell there are so many more memories to come. He’s someone who sees me. He loves me for me. He reminds me that I need to belong to myself.

One of the metaphors from this year that I shared with "Dear Susan" this last week was about ballet and partners. While I sat in the theater during dress rehearsal and watched the Sugar Plum Fairy perform, I though about the role of partners. In ballet, we have partners who are there to support us and make us look better. During paux de deux, they work to make you look like the most amazing dancer in the world. You do a pirouette, and they spin you 2-3 times more. And I thought, this is what we want from partners. You want someone who is willing to do that. Being okay with letting you be the star of the show. Don’t get me wrong, they will go out and do their solo later, but when they are partnering you, they hold you up, they want you to look amazing. I've come to realize that Islam is the kind of man who is secure and confident enough to do that.

10. My Mistakes

There were a lot of them this year. The ex’s were there. Spring Break was a shit show including the roommate. My summer was full of some weird decisions and some violations by research participants. I had a lot of people violating my boundaries this past year. And sometimes I stopped it. And sometimes I let myself be overwhelmed. I’ve realized I’m closer to stopping it, and it doesn’t make people happy, but I’m not going to stop.

As I depart from this year, I’ve realized that I’m in a place where I want to say what I want. I’m tired of pleasing other people. I want to be seen. I want to be heard. I want to belong to myself. And then, to share that with the people who love me and care about me the most in this world. For all of you, I’m so grateful. Thank you.

19 December 2018

Empty Parking Lots: Katherine's 17th Annual Mix

“For a moment, I was not lost. I was waiting for permission to take off.” –Waxahatchee

This past semester, I started running in the mornings before school when it was still dark out. I had always been scared to run in the dark. Some of this is because I’m a woman. Some of this is because of my PTSD.  Some of this is because of some vision problems. But I got out there and did it. And I ended up loving it. It was so quiet. It was so calm. It was so empty. It was just me and the streets. (Well, except that one time I saw a creepy guy walking in the dark park by himself—with no dog—before  the sunrise and I ended up running back out of the park, because you know #thatswhatitslikebeingawoman). 

 In the last few months, I’ve been obsessed with empty parking lots. There’s something about the quiet and the calm and emptiness of them. It's a moment to press pause on everything. I realized this past week, I'm craving stillness. In the early morning hours before I crawl out of bed, I fantasize about going off-the-grid, like just disappearing into the woods with no phone, no social media, and no people. Just to be quiet, away from everything, without any expectations or obligations.

Maybe I'm overworked. Maybe I'm spending too much time socializing or traveling. Maybe I spend too much time answering emails and texts and messages. All of that is true to some extent. Yesterday, I went through my end-of-the-month assessments from the past year. I always wrote the same thing that I hoped to improve in the coming month. I always wrote that I needed to prioritize myself more. Seriously, y'all, its there...month after fucking month.  So, while I hoped to prioritize myself, I just never did. Maybe I was just too busy?

I realized that I’ve forgotten to ask myself the question: “What do YOU want to do?” This morning, I said that out loud to myself. And I laughed, because I remembered that I can do whatever it is that I want to do. I can say no. I can say yes. I can change my plans. I can tell someone I don’t like their ideas. I can tell someone to give me space. I can do whatever I feel like doing. I can even have tacos for breakfast (which is incidentally exactly what I did in the aftermath of asking myself that question yesterday). 

For me, it's challenging to prioritize myself. I'm accustomed to making sure everyone else is comfortable. It's a learned response and it is a hard habit to shake. Much of it is about setting and maintaining boundaries with others. Recognizing what I need in a day, a week, a month, or a year. And then, saying that. And when someone violates and refuses to hear me, I have to remember to raise up my voice a little louder.

THAT is what I hear in this music. There's a sense of confusion. There's a sense of isolation. There's a sense of complication. But that's the thing. I'm complicated. I'm never going to be neat. I'm never going to be fixed. I'm always going to be a little bit messy. And that's okay. We are all just trying to figure it out.

That being said, I'm going to err on the side of brevity for some of the songs, but not all of them. 

You can find the mix in the following locations:

1. Apple Music

2. YouTube

3. Spotify 


1. Appointments: Julien Baker

“I think if I ruin this. That I know I can live with it. Nothing turns out like I pictured it. Maybe the emptiness is just a lesson in canvases. I think if I fail again. That I know you’re still listening. Maybe it’s gonna turn out all right. And I know that it’s not, but I have to believe that it is….”

Her voice breaks me. Every single time I hear it. It’s the simplicity. It’s the sparseness. It’s her vulnerability. It’s her veiled attempts at comfort. And the recognition that not everything works out the way we plan, regardless of our best intentions. Or, maybe even our worst intentions. So, listen to this one closely. And wait for it….at 3:58, her voices raises up over the music and shakes the whole house. You can hear her doubts. You can hear her insecurity. You can hear how she battles between who she is and what she wants to be, or maybe even rather, what everyone expects her to be.

I found his quote from Baker about this song…and it really resonates for me: “The song is about the isolation of thinking that you’re incapable of communicating the emotions in your head while you’re also trying to exert the effort to be there for someone else, and to be what they want….its been important for me to get rid of my really finite standard of normalcy and understand that maybe the bad and ugly things are part of me, but I don’t have to submit to them. And that the existence of anxiety or depression does not negate my own capacity for joy, or my intelligence. It’s really helpful to accept those bad things instead of trying to make it out to be some sort of Jekyll and Hyde dichotomy; when I can embrace those things, I can have power over them.”

“Maybe its all gonna turn out all right. Oh, I know that it’s not, but I have to believe that it is…”

2. Sky Full of Song: Florence + The Machine

“Be careful my darling. Be careful of what it takes. What I’ve seen so far. The good ones always seem to break…”

Maybe everyone feels a little out-of-place in life. I suspect some of us think more about this than others. I’m one of those people. When I was younger, I towed the line. I tried to fit into the preconceived conceptions of what life should look like. I wanted to fit in. I wanted to belong. Its easier when you belong. However, that wasn’t going to work for me. I had too many questions. I didn’t want to accept “that’s just the way it is” as an answer. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve continued to question these things. I want to create a life for myself that serves me, rather than serving the expectations of the world. And so, at times, it’s challenging. And sometimes it feels like you are out there flying for too long.

“I was screaming at my father. And you were screaming at me. I can feel your anger from way across the sea. I was kissing strangers. I was causing such a scene. Oh, the heart it hurts such and image of unimaginable things. Grab me by my ankles. I’ve been flying for too long…Hold me down, I’m so tired now. And I can tell that I’m in trouble when the music starts to play…I feel like I’m about to fall, the room begins to sway. And I can hear the sirens, but I can’t walk away…”

And this part reminds me of that February afternoon when I realized I wasn’t his priority, which ultimately reminded me that I hadn't made myself a priority, either. 

3. Hymn: Kesha

This one popped up on shuffle the other day. It’s for all the Franks. Y’all are my tribe. And we are fucking royalty.

“Even the stars and the moon don’t shine quite like we do. Dreamers searchin’ for the truth. Go on, read about us in the news. Pretty reckless, pretty wild. Talking shit and we’ll just smile. Don’t you see these fuckin’ crowns? If you know what I mean, you on the team. This is a hymn for the hymnless, kids with no religion. Yeah, we keep on sinning, yeah, we keep on singing. Flying down the highway…I know that I’m perfect, even though I’m fucked up.”  

Chapter One: Winter

4. Fireworks: First Aid Kit

“I could’ve sworn I saw fireworks from your house last night. As the lights flickered and they failed. I had it all figured out. Why do I do this to myself every time? I know the way it ends before it’s even begun…”

This one reminds me of New Years. And, the ex's.

5. 2002: Anne-Marie
“I will always remember the day you kissed my lips. Light as a feather. And it went just like this. No it’s never been better than the summer of 2002.”

Well, I don’t really remember 2002. That seems too long ago. But I do remember the summer of 2014. And 2015. And 2016. And I remember the days I fell in love. With both of them.

6. Party for One: Carly Rae Jepsen

So, yeah, January and February. There were declarations. There were mismanaged expectations. There were frustrations. And then, there was spring break.
“Party for one. If you don’t care about me. I’ll just dance for myself. Back on my beat. I’ll be the one. If you don’t care about me. Making love to myself. Back on my beat.” 


Chapter Two: Spring

7. Never Be the Same: Camila Cabello

“It’s you babe. And I’m a sucker for the way you move, babe. And I could try to run, but it would be useless. You’re to blame. Just one hit of you, I knew I’ll never be the same. It’s you, babe…”

This is the song that started all the trouble…

8. Suck the Blood From My Wound: Ezra Furman

“And I’m doing ninety, got to get there…if we can make it across the state line then baby, we’re golden. Let the law pronounce its’ petty assertions. They’ve been outsmarted by a couple of urchins. And they hurt you bad, man. They hurt me too….Even the deepest wounds will heal over time. I’ll run my fingers over your scars and yours over mine. They’ll never find us if we turn off our phones. We’re off the grid, we’re off our meds. We’re finally out on our own. Now I see color coming back in your cheeks. Angel, don’t fight it. To them, you know, we’ll always be freaks…”

This one is dedicated to the pony. And also to the Franks.

9. Baby I’m Yours: Breakbot

This one is dedicated to my birthday weekend in Nashville. We played video games and drank on rooftop bars. And he made me smile all day long. 

Chapter Three: Summer

10. Hunger: Florence + The Machine

“Tell me what you need, oh, you look so free. The way you use your body, baby, come on and work it for me. Don’t let it get you down, you’re the best thing I’ve seen….And its Friday night and it’s kicking in…Oh, you and all your vibrant youth. How could anything bad ever happen to you? You make a fool out of death with your beauty, and for a moment I forget to worry…”

This one is dedicated to Russell. I was so fortunate to get to spend so much time with him this summer. He makes my heart so full. And when I look at him, I think…. “How could anything bad ever happen to you? You make a fool of death with your beauty.” I’m so very fortunate to have Russell in my life. He makes the world a better place. 

11. Nice For What: Drake

Girl. It was summer. And Drake released an album. Not only did he release an album, but he released the video for this song. Which basically told us all to say “Boy Bye” to all them and go out with our girls and have fun. THIS IS THE POOL PARTY SONG.
“I know shorty and she doesn’t want no slow song. Had a man last year, life goes on. Haven’t let that thing loose, girl, in so long. You’ve been inside, know you like to lay low. I’ve been peepin’ what you bringin’ to the table.”

“Saturday, call the girls, get ‘em gassed up. Gotta hit the club, gotta make that ass jump. Gotta hit the club like you hit them mothafuckin’ angles…”

12. Make Me Feel: Janelle Monae

Summer 2018. (Also, watch the video. She's stunning).

“That’s just the way you make me feel. So real, so good, so fuckin’ real.”

13. Boys: Lizzo

Also, Summer 2018. Things got a little crazy.

“Ay, boy, whatcha say, boy? You tryna play coy like a Gameboy? Hit my phone boy, is you home boy? Are you alone boy? Come give me dome, boy. Got a boy with degrees, a boy in the streets. A boy on his knees, he a man in the sheets…”

14. Barbie Dreams: Nicki Minaj

One day, I’m going to write my own version of Barbie Dreams. You’ve all been warned. This is brilliant.

15. Uproar: Lil Wayne (feat. Swizz Beatz)

“Get the fuck though, I don’t bluff, bro. I come out the scuffle without a scuff, bro…”

YESSSSSSS. 5, 4, 3, 2, I let one go.

Chapter Four: Fall

16. Close to Me: Ellie Goulding, Diplo, and Swae Lee

“Even though we both know we’re liars and we start each other’s fires. We just know that we’ll be all right. Even though we kicked out the party ‘cause we both hate everybody, we’re the ones they wanna be like. So don’t let me down. Keep me in trouble. Born to be wild. Out in the jungle.” 

Hail, yee Franks. We are born to be wild. Promise to always keep me in trouble. 

17. Playinwitme: KYLE (feat. Kehlani)

“Girl, why are you playin’ with me? Girl, who are you playin’ with? You’ve been on that new stuff. I’ve been on the same shit. Girl, why you playin’ with me? I don’t got the time for that. Might need me a refund. Imma need that time back…

I randomly turned on a movie on Netflix and discovered KYLE. He's absolutely fantastic. Yes, he reminds me of Drake. No, he doesn't appreciate that. But outside of that comparison, he's brilliantly hilarious.

“You bein’ a different you and I’m bein’ the same me. You could have had Gucci, but now that’s Old Navy…”

Yep. You could have had a lot of things dummy, but you messed it all up.

18. I Do: Cardi B (feat. SZA)

"I left a n**** on read, 'cause I felt like i..." 

 So, after the Nicki-Cardi beef, I wasn't sure I was going to put one of her songs on the mix. But this song is too funny. This is the don't-fuck-with-me song. Yeah, bitch, I'll put some bleach in your cereal. If I were Offset, I'd probably back the fuck off right now.

"Look, broke hoes do what they can, 
Good girls do what they told, 
Bad bitches do what they want..."  

Chapter Five:Winter

19. Ferrari: Bebe Rexha

“Every day is a blur
Sometimes I can't tell what day it is
Don't know what day it is
Can you tell me what day it is?
Life's passing by
'Cause I'm out chasing empty highs
Every hello just means goodbye
But I'm looking for more this time
Can we start to slow it down?
Can we learn to live right now?
I just want to feel it all, ooh…”

This one goes out to Jennie Ann. Girl, I'll meet you in an empty parking lot anytime you want. Or, rather, I'll meet you in Costa Rica at the trashiest hotel we can find.

20. Runaway: Yeah Yeah Yeahs

“I was feeling sad
Can't help looking back
Highways flew by
Run, run, run away
No sense of time
Want you to stay
Want keep you inside
Run, run, run away
Lost, lost, lost my mind
Want you to stay
Want you to be my prize…”

On those days when I feel particularly exhausted from my life, I turn this one up really fucking loud.

21. Perfect Places: Lorde

"Every night, I live and die,
Feel the party to my bones, 
Watch the wasters blow the speakers,
Spill my guts beneath the outdoor light. 
It's just another graceless night.
Are you lost enough? 
Have another drink, get lost in us....
If they keep tellin' me where to go,
I'll blow my brains out to the radio, oh..."

"All of the things we're taking,
'Cause we are young and we're ashamed.
Send us to perfect places,
Al the nights spent off our faces,
Trying to find these perfect places.
What the fuck are perfect places anyway?"


22. Recite Remorse: Waxahatchee

"I was shaking like a leaf,
I was clenching my fists.
I was losing my mind, yeah. 
I was dancing with death, 
When I stood in my front yard.
Felt the sun on my face,
It just felt like a rerun,
Holding everything in place..."

I hope you'll enjoy the mix. Better yet, I hope you'll watch the videos. Some of them are AMAZING. So, happy holidays to you and yours. Remember to take some time for yourself. Go pull into an empty parking lot, turn the mix up loud, and just let yourself pause. Because, you deserve it.