It’s taken me what I consider a shamefully long time to put together some thoughts about Chris Cornell’s death in May. I awoke that morning to my husband gently telling me that Chris had killed himself the night before and immediately leapt out of bed to stream my hometown radio station, KEXP. In the shock of this terribly sad piece of news, I was transported back to April, 1994, when word came over the kitchen radio that a dead man who appeared to be in his late twenties had been found above Kurt Cobain‘s garage. Losing brilliant artists to suicide or drug overdoses or a combination of both is a devastating epidemic turned legacy of Seattle, my hometown. Andy Wood. Stefanie Sargent. Kristen Pfaff. Layne Staley. Mike Starr. Kurt himself. Hearing the news about Chris made me ache to be home, under chilly grey skies and dark Evergreen trees, so I did the next best thing–wrapped myself in flannel and turned up the radio. Continue reading
I attached a strong stigma to feeling lonely, believing this natural human state of existence to be a sign of a major flaw–being unlovable. Or worse, “lame”, that defeated state all kids, from middle school to college so desperately try to avoid. Being unlovable was one thing, a terrible sense of inevitable isolation, but being seen as lame, and therefore uncool, stung so much worse in the short-term. I’m not sure I can accurately calculate the amount of hours I spent alone in my room, or later my apartment, doing absolutely nothing other than castigating myself for not having more friends and interests. Desperate for someone, anyone to assuage the crushing sense of emptiness; the reverberating ennui. Being lonely was my biggest fear, and avoiding that natural state caused me to do impulsive and mean things. It made me the worst version of myself, someone whom I could not recognize, which, of course simply compounded the problem. Continue reading
I once read that there are two types of drinkers–the type without a family history of alcoholism and the type with. The type with history was known as sensation-seeking. I can’t help but feel like this phrase describes my life now. I feel like I am out there looking for sensation constantly, the next high. I’m not talking about substance abuse here. Since getting married I feel even less settled and certain about the future, in the most unexpected and delightful way. I’m reminded of a question we ask our survey respondents at work: did you want so much to engage in pleasurable activities that you ignored the risks or consequences? Every time I ask that question I see myself in it. It’s like I’ve connected with a part of me that I thought I lost long ago–the impulsive Kate who is always looking for a rush of some sort. It feels so good that I can’t help but wonder if there will be a crash. And when there is will I even care?
These words, written by my 28 year-old self in a facebook “note”, (if anyone remembers that apparatus), revealed itself to me in an fb memory from 2008, the year I married and took a nosedive off the wagon. I shuddered reading it, and remembered writing it. Continue reading
It was a desperate, confusing time. I’d hitched my wagon to a star, uprooted my life to chase my dreams back to my hometown. I had seen a shimmering (if rain-soaked) post-graduate school future of career fulfillment, rich sociability, fascinating interests, and wealth (of course). I saw this vision with such clarity I believed all I had to do was go home and the pieces would fall into place. In fact, I remember journaling something along the lines of “this new life is something I feel I can just relax into”, so certain was my hope.
The brilliant sunlight glinting off the Columbia River, the water teeming with people recreating, the golden plains stretching to the horizon seemed to foreshadow the bright future that lay ahead as my boyfriend and I drove west on I-90. We were going home.
Just a couple of hours later the shade of the Cascade Mountains enveloped us as we curved our way through Snoqualmie Pass. We drove across the bottom of a tunnel of Evergreen trees, dense and dark. A deep sense of dread began to spread through me, disguising itself as a stomach ache. I was so out of touch with my feelings in those days, the emotional usually expressed itself physically. I felt off. The glory of my triumphant return home was draining out of me and soon I was on edge. Had I been able to peer into the future at that moment I would have insisted we turn the car right back around for Arizona. Continue reading
Midway through seventh grade the Army relocated us yet again. From then until I finished my freshman year of high school we spent our days smack dab in the middle of nowhere in a pale blue, aging, two-floor duplex on the crest of a wooded, grassy hill in sprawling Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.
If you look at a map and draw a line, slightly curved to follow the course of the various US and state routes involved, starting at St. Louis, then some one-hundred-thirty miles to the southwest you arrive at Fort Leonard Wood. Draw a similar line from there for a shade over two hundred miles northwest to Kansas City, and you have just sketched yourself an arm with the military base at the elbow.
If you ever lived there, however, the more appropriate analogy would involve a little more work. Continue your art by drawing yet another mildly arced line from Fort Leonard Wood until you reach Jefferson City, the capital, exactly eighty miles due north. Add another line from Fort Leonard Wood two hundred twenty miles southwest to Fayetteville, Arkansas, and finally one more from Fort Leonard Wood two hundred sixty five miles southeast to Memphis, Tennessee, and you can stop. Now set down your pencil and appreciate your little stick figure with his hands raised, as if dancing and exalting the Almighty, with Fort Leonard Wood serving as the skinny little worshiper’s armpits. Continue reading
How many times am I going to encounter the wall, stand facing it, and with a sigh of resignation retreat? How many times will I find my back against it, chafing, before curling into a ball at its base, I give up. I resent the wall. It springs up before me both unexpectedly and predictably. I’ve been crushed against it without warning, and I’ve seen it coming a mile away. The wall is immovable and unchanging, holding me apart from reaching my highest potential, blocking the way. I can’t change it. I don’t even try. Continue reading
When I was a kid I was accused of taking advantage of the situation on a frequent basis, usually by my dad, who was at times desperate to polish his only child’s impulse control flaws right out of what he saw as her diamond soul. At the time, however, I was unaware of his parental longings, understanding only that I was constantly in trouble for behaviors that felt fluid and natural. We’d come home from a camping trip, and as my parents were busy unloading gear, I’d furtively grab a marker and write the cheer “Woooo!” on the kitchen counter, heart pounding from my daring indiscretion. It was OK, because the washable ink beaded right up upon contact with the gold-flecked 1950s formica, and rubbed right off without a trace at the slightest touch. Scrawl, rub, scrawl, rub. I did it over and over, testing the limits, until I cut it too close and my dad walked in the back door with an armload of REI, catching me in the act. Face tightening into the disapproving scowl I sought to avoid at all costs, while directly courting it with my impulsive behavior, (what an exhausting paradox for an eight year-old psyche to bear), he took my arm, saying through angrily pursed lips, you’re taking advantage of the situation! And I was in trouble again. Continue reading
I started hiking about 18 months ago, after swearing it off as a young teen. Many weekends of my childhood found me struggling along behind my dad on various trails in Washington State. I hated hiking. I hated it so much, in fact, that I promised myself I would never do it again once I became an adult. And I didn’t. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face.
The last time I hiked as a kid was uphill, in the snow. Continue reading
I didn’t know I was putting everyone above me until a friend pointed it out one day when we were in our mid-20s. Having just moved to a new state after living in the same place for 17 years, I was feeling overwhelmed and under-equipped to deal with my new life. Having been removed from the city of my birth and transplanted 1,500 miles away, I was awakening to some new ideas and understandings about myself. Namely, that the way I’d been doing things wasn’t working, and I needed a change. But what that would look like was beyond me, until Jenn matter-of-factly told me I’d been putting everyone up on pedestals and that’s why nothing was working. Oh. Continue reading
I don’t go in for AA. I’ve not found a way for the Twelve Steps to resonate with my atheistic soul, and I think it’s a cult. I’m not saying it doesn’t help people, just that it’s not for me. That said, it was in AA I learned I’d been living in a state of deep lassitude, shades of grey which matched the skies I was under. Continue reading