40 Days: Scaring Myself

I genuinely thought that the Zoloft would make me…100x more productive. I’m not really sure why I thought that, but I always figured that what was holding me back and blocking me creatively was my anxiety. I’ve found I was wrong.

In reading “The Artist’s Way,” I’ve come to realize that I am, in fact, blocked by criticizing voices I have surrounded myself with over the past few years. It used to be that I could write and write and share it with people and life would be good. Then, all of a sudden, I started receiving…criticism. People spent more time pointing out what was wrong with my writing than what was good about it. It started sometime in college and persisted forward, a wall of voices that had naught but little, passive aggressive (sometimes just plain aggressive) phrases.

This is absolutely not to say that I don’t want to know how to improve my writing. I do. I welcome feedback. But I feel like I’ve gotten to a point that there isn’t anyone just telling me, “This is great! I want to see more!” Instead, 4 out of 5 voices go, “It’s good, but it needs work.”

Without me even realizing it, I started becoming blocked because I started to become afraid of my own words.


These past two days, I challenged myself to do two very terrifying things: I applied for a contract with a website to write what would basically be a choose-your-own-adventure book, and I applied to be a Google Glass Explorer.

If you don’t know what Google Glass is…here:

I put together an album of 5 photos (which can be viewed here — Like it while you’re there!) and a list of five things I would do.

The application for the writing contract required that I re-do my writing resume, but I’m very pleased with the results.

Both of these things would come at high risks and costs: the contract would mean committing to a piece of at least 50,000 words, the Google Glass exploration would cost $1500 and a trip to NYC. However, I think both would potentially be healthy for me as an artist and as a person.

So…I guess we’ll see.

40 Days: When Life Gets in the Way

40 Days: When Life Gets in the Way

5 Things That Have Happened Since Thursday

1. Observed Valentine’s Day on Saturday with my husband. We were going to get super fancy chocolates from Godiva at the mall, but unfortunately there was an obscene amount of traffic due to President’s Day sales. But we went to see “Warm Bodies” (and if you haven’t seen it, you should) and had a special dinner: an oil-based fondue with Filet Mignon, spinach and vegetable dip (pro-tip: use a round loaf of hawaiian bread and add parmesan to the mix), wine and almond cake for dessert.

2. Scraped a lady’s car in the Target parking lot. Ugghh. I left a note, contacted my insurance, did all the responsible grown up things and all the while my inner child was throwing a tantrum.

“This is one of those things that happens to everyone. It was bound to happen sooner or later.”

“Uh, yeah, but did it have to happen the same month as the speeding ticket? The other thing that ‘happens to everyone sooner or later’?”

3. Cut my husband’s hair. It was terrifying. It looks super.

4. Rediscovered an anime from high school: Kare Kano (His and Her Circumstances). Watching it always fills me with a warm nostalgia for Japan, which I was chosen to visit in Summer 2002 for a Sister City visit.

Random trailer is random!

5. Scrubbed the tub. Not every day can be full of excitement.

On an ending note, have this. It’s not mine. A friend of mine shared it on Facebook. Normally I skip over these sorts of things, but there’s an Animorph’s reference and that gave me…feels. Also, it is true, so yeah.


40 Days: Smokescreen

I’m not sure if I should say this because I don’t have 40 of these, but I feel like I’m setting up this theme of “Katie’s uncomfortable secrets.”

Every now and then, if I have a particularly bad day or if the mood strikes, I smoke a cigarette.

I still remember the first time I smoked. I was in my friend’s car, and he had bought a pack of these black clove cigarettes. At the time, I had no conception of the social stigma against Goth kids who smoked these cigarettes. I also had no conception of the assault on my senses that one smoke would be: the utter delight in the smell, the sweetness on my lips, the tingle in my skin.

I remember that first smoke with more detail than I remember my first time having sex.

Some people know I smoke occasionally. Many don’t. I’m not certain why I’ve always felt like this was some kind scandalous deceit. But it was. Sometimes, I feel like it is.

And sometimes, I am just embarassed by the fact that it’s a signifier that I am having a bad day at work.

It’s hard to actually be okay with my Day Job (except when I’m not) for the first time since before I graduated from college. I have a brilliant mind, and I am damn good at most things I am exposed to for any amount of time. See? Uncomfortable secrets!

It used to be that if I wasn’t working towards my goal of full-time, hippy-dress-wearing writing, everything was just a waste of my time.

Now? I feel supported in my workplace. I accept and enjoy that I can comfortably pay my bills and yet also persue my writing once I’m clocked out.

That said, what I am even more okay with now is the realization that my Day Job does not define who I am. “What do you do?” is no longer a question that makes me scramble for qualifiers. I say, firmly, steadily, “I am a writer.”

As a part of that, I started reading “The Artist’s Way” today. I am very excited for the promise it holds.

I am always anticipating a few less bad days.

Gratitude of the day: I thank God that I am lucky enough to have a Day Job, and the occasional bad day to keep my appreciating all the good ones.

40 Days: Making It Happen

Lent was a big deal for me, growing up in a Catholic household. I’m sure all you Catholics out there are nodding your heads and going, “Uh, yeah, duh. Christmas and Easter. It’s like breakfast and dinner. Macaroni and cheese. Pork and beans. Get on with it.”

Well, these days, I’m not really…actually…um, that is, I’m not really Catholic anymore. I have this niggling case of apostasy that just won’t clear up. Stop looking at me like that. Let’s clear this up: I’m not an atheist. I just don’t really jive with what goes into being a Catholic. Please, please, please don’t think I’m trying to be glib here (Mom); I haven’t actually put that out in a public place to the world. Really, I’ve just ended up having awkward conversations that go like this:

Person A: So, are there good churches in Pittsburgh?

Me: Um. Why, yes. There are several.

Person A: Which one do you go to?

Me: Wow, that’s a great question. I don’t really have one.

Person A: (laughs good-naturedly, head back, hand on shoulder) It’s hard to settle with just one. I know how that is.

Me: (laughs in a way that she hopes sounds genuine but is probably off-putting with a face like this emoticon: O_O)

The point I’m coming all the way around back to making, though, is this: I miss Lent. It’s like marathon-training for Catholics. There’s this period of heavy spiritual cleansing to prepare for the big race (which, to me, was always Thursday – Saturday of Holy Week) and then crossing the finishing line Easter Sunday. There was always this sense of great camaraderie between everyone who was giving something up or praying for ten hours or attending the Stations of the Cross. Everybody was coming together and saying, “Man, this is rough, but we’re all in it together.”

I feel like right now I could use that company-in-misery.

Recently, I’ve been going through a bit of a personal crisis. From about second grade onward, I had a big problem with anxiety and, after puberty, depression. In November, it finally got to the point that I needed to seek help in order to change what was happening in my life.

Imagine having a roommate. You live with this person, and she is insane. Like, bug-nuts crazy. She wakes you up in the middle of the night, screaming about a nuclear holocaust. She helps you with breakfast until she bursts into tears. She constantly talks to you, follows you into the bathroom, invites herself out to gatherings with your friends and bothers you all night. She eats your chocolate and then yells at you about having it in the apartment. It’s your fault she ate the chocolate.

She never leaves.

Then, one day, your roommate just…stops being crazy. She calmly lives her life in the apartment. She’s around, and you know it, but sometimes…she goes out for a while. She respects your closed door. She smiles at you. It’s quiet. You realize you have no relationship with this person because your relationship was based off the crazy. With that gone…now what?

That is what it’s been like with my brain before and after I started taking Zoloft.

I’m not really complaining. It has been so peaceful not being plagued by a constant cacophony of paranoid, obsessive voices nagging me about every blemish of my past and present self. But by accepting this newfound uncrazy, I am redeveloping not only my dynamic with others but with myself.

So, I’ve decided to observe Lent this year. Kind of. It won’t really be the whole Catholic song-and-dread, but I’m going to take the next 40 days to do some soul-searching, re-establish my place in the world and hopefully get to be buddies with my new self. I’ll be writing about it, too, as a way to make sense of what I learn each day. Aren’t you all lucky?! Yay, right?

Gratitude of the Day: I am grateful that God gave me a family that kept loving me even when I stopped being a member of the church. I am grateful for the chance to start again with a new outlook about myself, what my faith means to me and where I’m going on this crazy adventure that is life.