Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Campaign Strategy

I have a smart (well, Erwin McManus calls him brilliant), Republican friend who is concerned about the economic implications for our nation if Obama gets elected to office for another 4 years.  (I'm less concerned because I'm already convinced our nation is screwed and that China, who owns us, will eventually take over the world, regardless of who wins this year's election.  We'll be called "The New World Order," as suggested by poorly produced end times movies, and Kurt Cameron will play the role of the anti-Christ.)

Today, in an e-mail, I shared with my brilliant friend a brilliant idea I had on how to get the people who don't care about politics (i.e. the majority) to cast a vote in favor of someone other than Obama.

Here is my proposed strategy:

as far as the campaigning goes, you should have some of your republican friends recruit some chinese-american college students to run a "don't let china take over america" campaign on facebook

if the video & campaigning is ridiculous enough, it will go viral.  and in doing so it will help young people understand that their vote can help prevent a Chinese take over...

the majority of Americans have no idea how indebted we are to China.

btw, i'm not serious about this idea, but since i had it, i thought i'd share it.

Later in the evening, while I was out running, I further developed my strategy.  You see, many people still won't care if China takes over our nation; however, they WILL care if China takes over our nation AND access to facebook is blocked, like it has been in blocked in China for many years.

So if our debt, and Obama's economics can be creatively linked to a potential Chinese takeover, then it won't be hard to get people to vote for Romney (or someone other than Obama).  The majority of young people don't care about politics, but they do care about Facebook.  And they WILL unify together at the polls in a grand effort to SAVE FACEBOOK!

Meanwhile...
The President of the University I use to work for has a different campaign strategy; he made a movie, explaining the dangers of Obama's economics.
http://2016themovie.com/

And his movie explains, why earlier this year, on a skype call to Uganda, my friend Ted made mention of trying to deliver goats (as a gift) to Obama's grandmother in East Africa.  He said their attempt was unsuccessful and he and my university's president got kicked off her property by local law enforcement. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Celebrity Grandma

Old Out Takes... written around 2007...

.... It’s true; I have told my friends and Donald Miller, whom I wish was my friend, that I don’t like famous people. 

But what I have stated is not entirely true because I do like Alice (Ann B. Davis) from the Brady Bunch.  Not only did she attend the University of Michigan, but she also came and stayed at our house when I was three years old.  She’s an Episcopalian and my dad had managed to arrange for her to speak at our church in Owosso, Michigan.  I don’t remember much about her visit, but I do have a great photo of her holding me in her arms with my parents standing just beside her.  It looks like your standard, family photograph with Grandma and I keep it on my refrigerator just to mess with people.  The conversation is the same every time. 

“Hey, who’s the lady holding you in this photograph?”

“That’s my Grandma.”

“Really?  She looks a lot like Alice from the Brady Bunch.”

“That’s because she is.”

Alice is your Grandma?!”

 “Yep.”

“No way.”  Disbelief resides as he or she begins to accept the notion that I might actually be related to a celebrity.  I let them wallow in amazement for a moment or two.

“Okay, so she’s not actually my Grandma, but that is Alice.”

“Well how did you get a photograph with her?”

“She’s stayed at our house and spoke at our church.”

“Huh.  That’s cool.”

Sunday, July 29, 2012

To Be Known

This morning I ran into my friend Becki who I hadn't seen in a long, long while.  I'm not completely certain how long the while is, but since she commented on my nose ring, I'd guess at least 14 years.  More than once she exclaimed, "You're so gorgeous."  This statement caught me off guard, because I don't feel my appearance has changed all that much over the years.  Yes, I learned how to put on eyeliner.  And yes, I got braces at the age of 29 to straighten out my snaggle tooth, but I still feel like the same Katrina I was when I was in high school. 

Which, when we were in high school, Becki and I ended up on a trip to Chicago with the women's group from our church. I don't recall much from the trip, except the women from my church meeting two male dancers (I think strippers) who were also staying at our hotel. The women were enthralled by these men, and took pictures and got autographs. I found this to be a bit peculiar for a church trip, but it was when Becki and I were attending a less than Christian, Episcopal church.  Today, in America, anything goes in the Episcopal church.

Then, this afternoon, I had the unexpected gift of meeting up with a friend I've known for 16 years. The difference with this friend, is that he and I have journeyed together the past 16 years.  And when I'm with him, I feel known in such a way that no one else knows or gets me.  I treasure the moments he and I are able to share together, and today was perhaps our greatest.  Because the past year and a half our friendship got rocky, in April we forgave, but today we got to simply enjoy being with each other once more - drama free, and no more hope by me of the possibility of us someday being something more.

We spent several hours out on the sailboat, but there was no wind, so rather than sailing, we swam and laid out on the deck of the sailboat - talking - about anything and everything.  My heart is thankful for this friendship, yet hoping for an even greater friendship someday with somebody else, who will be present in my life, not just on occasion, but rather, most every day, as WE encounter together whatever may come our way.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Saturday Night Bonfires

(Post In Works!)

I didn't date a guy once who said if he could create a perfume smell, it would either be campfire or surfwax scent.  Tonight I smell like campfire; he'd be pleased. 

Around midnight, I took a pause from my book writing and joined the neighbor boys and about a dozen others from down the shore who had gathered around a rather large bonfire.

One of the guys and I got chatting, and he was curious about the book I'm working on, and so I explained what my book is about.  And then he explained he's an atheist, but he was listening to NPR earlier today and was surprised to learn a recent Gallop poll found only about 40% of Americans participate in organized religion, yet 90% of Americans say they believe in God.

It's 3 AM and I need to get to bed...

Friday, July 27, 2012

Sibling Rivalry

If my brother, sister, and I had to name our biggest rivalry, it would be over witt.  And, I think, my brother would win. 


This fall I'll be launching my official website - katrinablank.com - and one of the contributing writers for the site will be my brother Michael.

To help you understand my brother, here's an excerpt that may or may not end up in my book...


My dad has always adamantly opposed fortune telling of any sort - unless it is of the charismatic, prophetic type.  There was quite the uproar in my family when my brother Michael started co-writing horoscopes for our high school newspaper.  My dad requested that he stop, but the horoscopes were helping my brother gain so much popularity with the student body that he refused to give up the column.  No one took the horoscopes seriously, but they were always a good time to read.  So much so, that I’ve decided to include a reprint in this book.

The Best of Horoscopes
By Michael Langdon Blank & Ray Camilleri



Aries (March 21-April 19):

Use caution with your digestive system today.  Better not wear white pants.  You will breathe a lot, and blink.  Told you.

Taurus (April 20-May 20):

A large hairy man will pass you in the street, only to reappear as a large dog.  These supernatural occurrences should not alarm you.  Success comes in the form of a spoon.

Gemini (May 21-June 20):
You will learn of a twin brother, orphaned at birth.  This will bring pain, trauma, and a bad haircut.  A woman with red hair, Fritos, and a gerbil will bring good news in a dream.

Cancer (June 21-July 22):

(kan, ser), - A very harmful growth in body; malignant tumor, formed by abnormal growth of cells.  Watch out!  No more Luckies (Strikes) for you.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22):
God will appear to you in a vision and say “Man, what was I thinking?” and “By the way, are you going to eat that?”

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22):

You will remember something you forgot, only to forget it again.  A friend will tell you something poignant, which you will look up in a dictionary.  Remember, big words fool dumb teachers.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22):
Reply hazy.  Try again.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21):

April showers bring May flowers, but you still reek.  Do not accept rides from men named Raul.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21):

An unusual person will approach you, whom you will kill and eat.  Remember, yours is the sign of great lovers and serial killers.  Plan your day accordingly.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan 19):

Shave off all your hair and replace it with Chia Pet.  Remember, the spork of justice conquers all.
Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 18):
If you like 70’s music, stand up.  Now, if you like 80’s music, lift one arm.  If you have risen from the dead, sit down.  Thank you.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20):

What exactly is a pisces?  It’s a fish - a dead, bloated, ugly, smelly, slimy fish that I wouldn’t even waste a worm on.  Keep your spirits up; the good humor of reporters will cheer you.



The horoscopes, along with his frequently worn SPAM shirt, help my brother secure the title of Class Clown his senior year of high school.  He was also rather smart, so he used his wit to introduce advance vocabulary words to his classmates.  The word that spread most quickly (especially in the cafeteria) is masticate.  The word was often used to torment underclassmen who were trying to eat their lunch.  A senior would hover over a freshman and loudly exclaim, “I can’t believe you’re masticating in front of everyone!”  My brother, now in his mid-30s, works in public radio and dabbles in stand-up comedy, bicycling, recycling, and yoga.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Everything is Political

Dear You,

Can we talk politics sometime?  I'm not into them, but I understand you are, and I'm understanding I need to be.  Last summer I had a prof at Fuller who insisted EVERYTHING is political.  We were studying the book of Matthew at the time, and I didn't want to believe him because politics to me have always been like smelly, dead fish - not anything I'd want to touch, even with a 10-foot pole.

Now, there was a brief time period in my early twenties when I was slightly interested in politics, but only because I was more than slightly interested in a guy who was into them.  Early on in our complicated friendship, he e-mailed, inquiring if I was into politics.  I wrote him back, telling him, yes, I had visited White House once.

He replied, "Visiting the White House doesn't necessarily mean you're into politics." Ah yes, he had me on that one.  Regardless of my politic disinterest, he invited me to be his date the Presidential Inaugural Ball in Washington D.C.  Now, if getting dressed up and going to some fancy ball with some guy I like falls under the category of politics - then yes, I'm waaaaaaaaaay into politics.  Politics was seeming more like a fairy tale, rather than dead fish.

I accepted the invite, and purchased my plane ticket to DC, and then a few days later my date to the ball discovered he could no longer go, which meant I couldn't go either.  (See, I knew it - politics are lousy!)

Anyway, the past few months I've been wrestling with politics - the tension of wanting nothing to do with them, yet knowing it's the very thing I need to step into.  After visiting Uganda, and understanding the infrastructure shortcomings of their nation (and as a result, further understanding our own), I have to admit, my professor from Fuller is right.  Everything is political. 

So what does this mean for me?  I'm not exactly sure, but it is why I am hoping you and I might be able to chat further on the matter sometime.  Perhaps we can meet up in Central Park - by the pond with all the ducks. 


Sincerely,
Me




Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Not My Moment

the funniest of moments... i'm not sure if i'd describe it as a most embarrassing moment, or a most horrific moment, but thankfully, although i am in the story, it wasn't my moment...
And that's as far as I can post on my blog because as I stated above, it wasn't my moment, so it's not my moment to share.  I'll just say it involved an inappropriate mistext from a man who thought he was texting his wife, only to realize several hours later his mistake.

And instead, I'll share one of my moments. 

When I lived out in California I often surfed at the South end of Huntington Beach - except I never wanted to pay for parking at the State Beach.  Instead, I would park a half mile or so away where it is free and then hike with my backpack and surfboard to the river jetties surf area of Huntington Beach.

Well, I'm someone who tends to be overly prepared for anything and everything, so typically my backpack when I head to the beach is loaded to the max.  One day, as I'm walking with my board and my pack on my back, I hear someone call after me.  "Excuse me, miss.  I think you dropped something."

I pause, and turn around to face an attractive young, man probably in his late twenties/early thirties. He informs me, "Your backpack is coming unzipped."  I check and sure enough it is partially open.  "And" he continues on, "I think these are yours."  He places in my hand the pair of pink panties I had stashed in my backpack to change into later in the day.

I thanked the young man and rezipped my pink panties back into my backpack.  And then continued on my way, thinking, wow, that was kind of embarrassing.

*Disclaimer: I don't typically refer to my underwear as panties - only for literary purposes.





Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Identity Theft 2.0

Someday not soon, I'll be thankful my wallet was stolen in Chicago, St. Patrick's Day weekend March 2010.  Because I'll be able to tell this story of how my taxi cab driver took me to my megabus pick up point for a third of the cost.  And then, when we get to the pick up point, and as I'm fearing I won't be able to eat all day (because I have no money), the cab driver offers to buy me breakfast.

I gladly accept, and since we have an hour before my bus departs, we eat at a nearby diner.  The taxi driver's name is Eddy and over breakfast I learn his wife had passed away, leaving him to raise 3 little ones on his own.  I think he was hoping I'd offer to stay in Chicago and agree to be his wife, and the mother of his 3 children.  Although a great opportunity, I didn't feel we were the right fit for each other.  So rather than stay in the windy city, I thanked Eddy for breakfast and then hopped on my bus to Ann Arbor to meet my family.

It was around 2 or 3 AM, as we were leaving a pub, someone stole my wallet.  I canceled all my cards immediately, but the thief still stole my identity.  And somehow he managed to open a comcast cable account for his apartment and rack up a $2000 bill - under my name!

I didn't find out about it until this past fall when a creditor called.  I got everything squared away, and thought I was in the clear, but then, today, as I'm doing some work via paypal, I discover, the chi town man also linked a paypal account under his name to my checking account - as my roomie Shannen would say - awesome (in a sarcastic, knowingly less than awesome, tone give away).  Thankfully he wasn't able to draw funds from my account, but even still - so annoying.

But why I mention all this blah blah blah about identify theft, is because we face identity theft every day.  The enemy throws lies at us, and sometimes we take the bait, and in doing so our identity is compromised.  Rather than being the fully alive human being God intends for us to be, we become subpar, living out our lives hijacked by the enemy.  


Monday, July 23, 2012

Chapter 21

Chapter 21 of I Hate Books on Christian Dating in the making...

Roosevelt Hotel
7000 Hollywood Blvd 90028
March 31, 2010


“What floor?”  A blonde suited gentleman inquired, while his friend, perhaps business partner, also turned to me for an answer.

“Um… any floor is fine.”  Outwardly, I smiled, but inwardly I cringed.  I hadn’t considered I might be interrogated by the two men when I followed them into the elevator.  I attempted to ride solo 15 minutes prior, but in doing so I learned the elevator goes nowhere unless you have key card for a hotel room.  And I certainly didn’t - I’m not the type of person who can afford to stay at such high-end establishments.

Any floor?”  The two men exchanged questioning glares; they didn’t even attempt to disguise their skepticism.  While I feared they would turn me in and have me bounced right out of the hotel, they feared I was yet another prostitute trying to acquire their business for the night.

I had no choice but to fess up, “I’m looking for a friend of mine.  He’s filming somewhere here in the hotel, but I’m not exactly sure where.  I tried calling and texting, but I think he silenced his phone.”

“You’re serious?” 

“Yep.”  I replied.  The two assessed the truthfulness of my story and telepathically agreed I was legit.

“Well then, we’ll totally help you find your friend.”  The blonde insisted.

“Really?”  I wasn’t looking to form a search party, but since they extended the offer, and came with room cards, I thought, why not.  “Thanks.”

“By the way, I’m Jack.”  The blonde extended his hand for a proper introduction.

His friend followed suit.  “And I’m Chris.” 

“Hi, I’m Katrina.  Nice to meet you.”

 “So, what floor would you like to try?” Chris asked.

“How about 7?” After all, I reasoned, 7 is a good, Biblical number. 

“7 it is.”  Chris pushed the button to the 7th floor and up and away we went on our mission to find my second hottest guy friend, Mike Duff.

While looking around floor 7, Jack and Chris told me about these two Russian gals they had met a few days prior.  Jack and Chris agreed to take the women out to dinner, only to discover after the meal their occupations.  They were prostitutes and were banking on Jack and Chris’s business for the night.  When Jack and Chris refused their services, the disgruntled women made a scene in front of the crowds on the boulevard.  They shook their clutch purses and shouted after them as the men walked away, “You gay!  You gay!”

I assured them I wasn’t a prostitute, but admitted to playing one in a movie once for one of my brother’s film projects at the University of Michigan.  It wasn’t anything scandalous, but it will probably come back to haunt me someday – right when I decide to run for some sort of political office.  Jack assured me as long as there wasn’t any nudity involved I should be okay – there definitely wasn’t.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Guitars

*Continued from yesterday...

Cut Material from the original workings of I Hate Books on Christian Dating (Written about 5 years ago):

In college I learned that good Christians must not only read their Bible, but also know how to play either the piano or the guitar.  My friend Emily plays both; she's super spiritual.  I tried piano as a kid, but like most, I never really made it past "Heart and Soul."  My dad tried to give me lessons, but he was always pulling out this metronome thingy to help me keep the time and I couldn't stand the noise it would make . I got smart and started hiding the metronome before our lesson, but then my dad would clap or loudly tap his foot to keep the time.  I didn't like that so much either, but he seemed to have something going with the foot tapping so I quit piano and took up tap dancing with my friend Jonna.

Jonna's mom played the guitar and she offered to teach my sister how to play, but it was ugly - just like my sister's 80s bangs that she curled and sprayed into place each day.  Tina somewhat learned a song about Zacchaeus being a wee little man and she played it over and over and over and over until I disliked both Zacchaeus and the guitar.  Thankfully her interest in learning how to play the guitar was short-lived; she became more interested in knowing boys who played guitar rather than knowing how to play one herself.  
Even still, after Tina’s horrific practice sessions I wasn’t sure if I’d ever be able to apperciate the sound of the guitar again. But then I met a boy with a guitar. . .


It is well past midnight.  The others are probably wondering where we are, but I am in no rush to leave. In fact, I wish this moment would never end because I know I'd be happy staying in it forever. And I know you feel the same as you sit just above and beside me gently strumming your guitar. The crashing of distant waves and the crackling of the fire bring perfect harmony to the songs that you sing. The dune enclosed around us bounces the light of the fire into your heart and into mine. With my back against the log, I turn my eyes to the heavens and I see stars I've never seen before. One shoots through the sky, but with this star I don't make a wish, because everything I want is true.


The fire begins to grow faint; only embers remain. So you strum the last strum and tell me that we should probably head back. You pack up your guitar, sad to leave this place behind, but I am still thankful for the walk that remains.

You lead me to the gulf's edge with your guitar in one hand and mine in the other. Careless words may ruin everything, so we choose to only allow are our hearts to speak. Halfway back you set down your guitar and pick up my other hand. Our fingers move about together while the moon shines in your eyes and connects with mine. "There's something I want to tell you. . ." I wait expectantly, but not for the words that follow. "I have a girlfriend."


I never wanted to learn how to play the guitar after that. I didn't want to take away its romance. But eventually I gave in and learned. And romance has been gone ever since.
Summer 2010 in the OC - North End of Newport Beach

His name was Rich and I was 16 years old when we met on a Spring Break youth trip to St. Joseph Peninsula State Park.  The story is slightly embellished; we didn’t actually hold hands.  He cared too much about his girlfriend to pull a stunt like that. 
I also left out his suggestion that we go skinny dipping.  There was some deliberation, but Rich determined we shouldn’t go because we didn’t have any towels with us and we might look suspicious returning to the campsite all wet.  I’m glad he decided this because I probably would have gone and either been stung by a jellyfish or ripped apart by a shark.
So instead of getting naked we continued back to our campsite where we learned that one of Rich’s musician friends had committed suicide.  His name was Kurt and Rich told me that he played in a band called Nirvana.  Rich was really sad to hear the news and I pretended to be sad too.  Over the next few days I was a good non-girlfriend and comforted him.
Apparently Kurt was pretty popular because a lot of students seemed to be impacted by his death.  Our trip leader, Mr. Tom, used the opportunity to get us thinking about what happens after we die.  He shared his own story of a near death experience and how he found God.  He told us how he was in a gang in Chicago and how one night he and some of his buddies were on a mission to find a girl to rape.  But before they found a girl, some members of another gang found them and pressed guns up against the sides of their heads.  In that moment Mr. Tom acknowledged there was something drastically wrong with his life and he called out to God for help.
He and his friends got out of the precarious situation without a gun being shot, but Mr.  Tom’s life has never been the same.  He left the gang and joined a church because he decided that Jesus offered a better way of life than the way he had been living…

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Ping Pong

"We're going to go where no one has ventured before."

I was sitting at the end of our dock, catching the tail end of the sunset, when I overheard my neighbor from down the shore announce where he was going.  He was telling my next door neighbor, but I was within eavesdropping distance, and presumed he wouldn't mind if I joined the conversation.

So I question, "Did you just say you're going to go where no one has ventured before?"

"Yep.  Do you want to come with us?" 

"Okay."  So I join the two guys in their boat and head to this mysterious place - which, turned out to be a home across the lake that many people have ventured to before.  (I was slightly disappointed, but didn't say so.) 

At the home we met up with another boat, and then hung out in the middle of the lake until my neighbor from down the shore insisted we go back in to play some ping pong. 

I had mentioned having a ping pong table in our basement and that my Dad was really good.  In doing so, my neighbor from down the shore challenged me.  "I'll bet you $100 I can beat your Dad." 

"I'm not really in the position to be betting $100."

"How about $20 then?"

"Okay, I'll bet you $20."  After all, I reasoned, I have full confidence in my dad's ping pong playing abilities.  And even he somehow beat my dad, he'd deserve the money, because my dad is that good.


2009 Dad's 70th Bday Celebration - Dad (on the right) & his BFF from HS

And so we get to shore, and I find my parents playing a late night game of Upwords (he's good at that game too; both he and my mom know every 2 letter word found in the Scrabble dictionary.)  I ask my Dad if he would be willing to play some ping pong; he agrees, and my parents put their word game on pause. 

My dad puts his special, velcro sneakers on his feet, and then he and my neigbor from down the shore go to ping pong war.  And of course my Dad wins and so do I. 

While my other neighbor challenges my dad, neigbor from down the shore comes over and says to me, "Double or nothing."

"No, no.  I already won the bet.  I'm not going to lose the money."

"Come on."

"Well, how about this -10 or 30?"

"Deal."  We shake on it, and neighbor from down the shore goes back up to bat against my dad, and loses once more.

Again, in between games, he returns to me, "Double or nothing."

"Heck, no.  No more betting for me." My dad had been playing the other neigbor boy too; this would be game 5, and I could see he was starting to get a bit tired. 

"Okay, well I'm playing one more game.  I'm going to beat your dad; this time I'm playing for honor."

And well, the third game, the boy from down the shore finally does win - in overtime 25 to 23.  Neighbor boy from down the shore insisted my dad had an unfair advantage.  My dad had shoes, and he did not.  Perhaps, but regardless, I still win $30.



I should probably clarify, the boy from down the shore, isn't actually a boy.  He and I are the same age, and we both went to the University of Michigan for undergrad. However, he went to a different high school and was on the swim team with a guy named Rich who made me fall for the guitar.

I wrote this piece (found in my July 22nd blog post) in my early 20s, but it's one of my favorites.

It is well past midnight... see July 22, 2012 blog post.

*More on Sabatina another day

Friday, July 20, 2012

Fear Part II

This past spring I went skydiving in Santa Barbara with one of my LA besties (Amara), and another good friend of mine whose name I can’t mention because he is a special agent.  My special agent friend carries a gun with him at all times, and I feel slightly bad a** when I’m with him just because he is.    



The day after we jumped out of a plane and plummeted 13,000 feet (i.e. nearly 2.5 miles) to the ground, I explained to my mentor friend Kim McManus I wasn’t all that afraid.  I told Kim, "I was more freaked out that I wasn’t freaked out."



Kim replied, "Well, that's because you're courageous Katrina. You're a courageous woman."  Perhaps, but I’m not THAT courageous.  I know this because I met someone this past spring who is far more courageous than me. 

Her name is Sabatina and we met up for dinner while she was in the city speaking at the Women of the World Conference.  Sabatina had shared a meal with Angelina Jolie, who also spoke at the conference, a day or two ahead of me. 

More on Sabatina tomorrow…

http://sabatinajames.com/
Sabatina e.V. provides assistance to Muslim women who – due to violence within the family, threatened, or already implemented forced marriage or honor killing threats – require the help of others.

But Aurora, Colorado...

My freshman year of college rather than going to Florida for Spring Break, I went to Aurora, Colorado to help build a house with Habitat for Humanity.  I don’t recall all that much about the trip except going for a run and getting lost, running 10 to 11 miles, rather than the 5 to 6 miles I had set out to run that day.  Today, while I was on my run (not getting lost) I considered how my college friends and I took time to build up the very same community a 24 year old gun man set out to destroy.  I’m reminded, every day we can choose to build up or to tear down, or to do nothing at all. 

I want to be a builder.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Fear Part I

Tonight's conclusion: you can't write when you are fearful.

I've attempted nearly a half dozen blog posts, but I can't finish or post any of them, because tonight my heart rests in a state of fear.  And when you're fearful, vulnerability is an impossibility.

When I was 24 years someone questioned me, "You're not afraid of anything - are you?"

I pondered the question for a moment and then confessed,  "I'm afraid of falling in love."

Funny, how some fears never really go away.  Except now I'm equally afraid of not finding love, as I am to fall in love.

The result of insecurity = fear
The result of fear = an unwillingness to risk
The result of an unwillingness to risk = missed opportunity

To be continued...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Vegas Part II

* Before reading Vegas Part II, please read Vegas Part I

And so we are on the Island of Kauai eating Calamari and reminiscing about camp. 

“And remember that day we went surfing?  Yeah, that was the night we kissed.”
“Bryan, you and I never kissed.” 
“Are you sure?” He was baffled.  “I could have sworn we kissed.”
And I was baffled.  How could Bryan think for nearly a decade that we had kissed the summer we both worked together at camp? 
“That’s the story I heard.”  His girlfriend chimed in.
“Bryan, we went surfing.  And I think you played with my hair.  But we definitely didn’t kiss.  I know this for a fact because I didn’t kiss anyone from the time I was 18 until I was 26.” 
It’s true; I was on this kick where I wanted the next guy I kissed to be my husband – or well, engaged to be my husband.  I figured it would be best to at least get some practice in before kissing in front of a camera and a large audience.  (For the record, I also figured I'd be married by the age of 24.)
Confession: I’m a sucker for guys who propose to me, or even pretend to be engaged to me.  People would ask my favorite ex-boyfriend how we started dating and he would explain, “Well, I proposed to her, and then we talked and decided it might be a good idea for us to date first.”
I figured the proposal, even though it wasn’t official, had to count for something.  Funny though, he proposed just steps away from where another guy had jokingly proposed to me several years prior.  And yes, eventually I kissed them both.
Then there was this guy a couple of summers ago in LA, who didn’t even fake propose.  He just jumped right in and started introducing me as his fiancĂ©.  We were at our friend Colin’s house party in LA when he did this and I played right along.  It was great fun!  As we’d meet other people we got to make up stories about us - how we met, how he proposed, why the ring is being repaired, and whatever BS we wanted to throw in there about our fake life together.  At the end of the night he went in for a kiss, and well, since we were engaged…
A few weeks later he showed up on stage at my church dressed as a knight in shining armor.  No joke; my fake fiancĂ© was playing the role of a knight in some sort of skit.  I was amused – to say the least. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Vegas Part I

It use to be said, "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas."  We all know this saying no longer holds true, and the more accurate statement is "What happens in Vegas gets posted on facebook."  But in my experience, "What happens in Vegas ends up on ESPN."  The first time I stay the night in Vegas ever, and ESPN goes and puts me on air.  They even announce my name - first and last - Katrina Blank. 

The reason for the exposure: around this time a year ago I ended up at the World Series of Poker on my drive from LA back to NYC.  My professional poker playing friend Bryan Devonshire (aka Devo) was doing exceptionally well when I arrived in Vegas, so I stuck around to watch him work his way up the ranks to finish 12th in the world.

Bryan and I met 10 years ago when we both worked at a summer camp in Southern California called Forest Home.  That summer he introduced me to surfing and In-N-Out Hamburgers.  Post college at USC, Bryan worked in camping ministry for a bit, but eventually switched over to professional poker playing.  We've stayed in touch over the years, and last March (2011) I met up with him and his near fiance (also one of my good friends from Forest Home) in Hawaii. 

To be continued...

Monday, July 16, 2012

Trampoline!

My friend Chris surprised me by dropping by this morning.  I’m on a writer’s schedule, so I hadn’t yet showered, or even washed my face, but at least I was wearing a bra, and deodorant, I think.

Confession: growing up I was super envious of Chris because she had a trampoline and I did not.  After watching the movie Big starring Tom Hanks, my longing for a trampoline increased exponentially.  My brother and I tried to convince my mom we should get one and she tried to convince us we would get sued if we did.  She insisted someone was bound to get injured and then their parents would go after us with a lawsuit.  At one point there was talk of liability waivers, but after my best friend Melissa got a trampoline, and broke her leg jumping on it, my brother and I dropped the matter. 

An episode of The Simpsons further supported my mom’s conviction concerning trampolines.  Here's a short clip from the episode: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ceWZ624wBVA

Now, my friend Chris is Korean, but she doesn’t speak it – at least not well.  She was adopted from Korea as a baby, but as an adult she reconnected with her Korean Dad and siblings.  She told me every once in a while she’ll get a drunk dial from one of her half-brothers in Korea.  He spews out some gibberish to Chris, and she kindly reminds him she doesn’t speak Korean. She tells him this in English to make sure he understands.  With the time change it’s usually around 10 or 11 AM in the US, so typically she’s amused rather than annoyed. 

I considered for a moment it might be fun to have a relative from half way around the world drunk dial me from time to time, but then I considered all my German relatives and decided I could go without.

My neighbor dog Beau also stopped by today.  We hung out for a bit and played fetch as the sun set.




Beau is great and one of the few remaining dogs we have in our corner of the lake.  We lost Rudy, a golden retriever, to a divorce and we lost Teak, a chocolate lab, to old age.



OutTakes:

I went without one once to the Empire State Building when I had a 6:30 AM lock out and my student leaders didn’t have keys.  I threw on an oversized fleece, thinking I would be fine, but I then took a cab to the housing area in need of the key, and learned the hard way never again to go without one in the city – at least when taking a taxi.  The crazed driving over the bumps made for a rather uncomfortable/slightly painful ride.




Sunday, July 15, 2012

Prazitel

Not to be confused with a type of pretzel invented by the monks in the mid-1600s, Prazitel is a type of medicine one takes 6 to 8 weeks after rafting down the Nile River to kill off any parasites potentially picked up along the way.

Since it has been about 7 weeks since I went rafting on the Nile, and since I may have parasitic worms in my body, I'm taking my Prazitel medication this evening to kill off any unwanted inhabitants I may have living inside of me. 

My Ugandan co-leader from Portland (Michael Badriaki) tried to scare my team out of rafting, but 10 out of 12 of us went any way.  He insisted, not only would we get worms, we would also get broken bones.  But no broken bones here, only the possibility of worms. 

Which, for one of THE most epic experiences of my life, I'll take 'em!












Rafting on the Nile!




Braving the Rapids through the Rain

Thanks Jane & Nile River Explorers for a fabulous time!


Additional Info: Schistosomiasis, also known as bilharzia, is a disease caused by parasitic worms...
http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/schistosomiasis/

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Floatilla

Who knew innovation and initiative could lead to roasting marshmallows in the middle of a lake?
A few of my neighbors from next door and down the shore dreamed up a party barge of sorts, and my friend Matt and I rowed out to it this evening to enjoy a bonfire. The creation has yet to receive an official name, but I suspect Floatilla will be the winner.  I also suspect placing a fire pit on two rafts, held together only by a few C-clips, probably isn't the smartest idea, but it certainly is a good time.

Matt drove out from Detroit earlier in the day so we could go sailing.  There wasn't much wind, but we gave it a whirl any way - and we got stuck in a cove at the north end of the lake.  Eventually a jet skier pulled us to the middle of the lake where we insisted we could take it from there - and we did, but it took us more than an hour from there to complete our voyage home.

To be honest, I didn't mind, and I don't think Matt did either.  It was more about being out on the lake and enjoying the conversation than it was about the sailing - at least it was for me.  Most good things in life are like that - they are about relationship.  Granted, I appreciate a daily dose of "I" time, and need my running to reflect, process, and pray through life, but ultimately life IS about relationship, and more important than what I do or what I accomplish, is how I love God and the people around me.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Jail?

Did your mother fill you in?” 

“Yes.” I answered my dad.  “You went to jail.”

“That’s correct.”

Now before you go on thinking my dad is some sort of criminal, I need to explain.  For the past several years my dad has been reaching out to these two boys whose father passed away 4 years ago.  The two brothers are now 20 and 22, and not too long ago they got into some trouble with the law because of drugs.  Yesterday my dad went and visited the brothers in jail.  Although my Dad hasn’t been able to “save” them from their drug addictions, he has served as a faithful presence in their lives, and continues to encourage them to get their lives on track.

And that’s just one in a zillion and one stories of my Dad reaching out to care for people.  Both he and my mom do an amazing job of loving people well.   

On Monday we celebrated my Dad’s 73rd birthday and somehow I got on the topic of Strengths Finder.  Strengths finder is a test you can take to help identify your top strengths, as well as to help you understand how other people are wired. 

When the topic came up I asked my parents, what would you say are your top 5 strengths?

My dad listed off ping pong, saxophone, vibraharp, writing music and telling faith stories.  (To clarify, none of the strengths my dad listed are actually found when taking the test.)

Meanwhile, my mom said…

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Intertwined

It’s fascinating to me how your life can suddenly be intertwined with someone else’s.  You can’t help but wonder – is this God orchestrating?  Or is it sheer luck?  Or, in some instances, bad luck?

When I moved to New York my life conveniently got intertwined with this brilliant editor and writer named Alissa Wilkinson.  She’s a writing professor at The King’s College and she and I served as Co-Advisers to a group of students known as The House of Corrie Ten Boom.   Last year she agreed to edit some of my work and I was blown away by what she presented to me in return.  If there was a top 100 list of the best editors in the US, I’m certain she would be on it.

At Student Leadership Training Aug. 2010 - Rope Challenge
Today, over facebook chat, Alissa filled me in on some of her upcoming endeavors which include a trip to Pasadena to help Fuller Seminary launch a magazine, and a trip to Santa Fe to meet with her writing mentor, author Lauren Winner.  Alissa confessed, she's a wee bit intimidated by this Lauren Winner person, and I confess, I’m not.

I heard Lauren speak 4 years ago, but I’m far more impressed and intimidated by Alissa than I am Lauren.  Alissa doesn’t realize how fabulously amazing she is – yet!  It’s true - she’s waaaaaay smarter than me, but when we meet, we typically do so over beer and dialogue about my latest guy sagas – which she finds (or pretends to find) to be fascinating.  Somehow beer and guy stories level the playing field; they almost always do.

But back to people encounters, are some encounters more divine than others?  I mean, is God "in" some meetings more than He is "in" others?  I suspect we can't know in the moment, but rather as we move into the future, we can look back and say, "Ah ha... God used this person in my life in such and such a way, and clearly God had his hand in our meeting."

But perhaps what is even more mysterious, is when you have an encounter that is seemingly miraculous, and you think God is about to do something huge, only for nothing to happen at all.  I'll admit, I'm still pondering a Central Park encounter I had a year ago, and a Midtown encounter I had this past Spring.  I now know He wasn't in the Central Park encounter, but perhaps He could still be "in" the Spring.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sailing

Several months ago I had this dream, and in it I was out sailing on our lake.   For some reason rather than leaving my cell phone on shore like I typically do, I had brought it on board.  And as I sailed I kept checking on it.  Even while trying to maneuver both the sail and the rudder, which takes both hands, my attention was directed primarily towards my phone.  I gripped it in my right hand, making it difficult to steer in the direction I wanted to go.  I only have a basic flip phone, yet I feared I might lose it in the lake. 

The next morning, when I awoke, I recalled my inability to enjoy the sailing experience because my concern for my phone was so great.  Now, I’m not into overspiritualizing dreams, but a week or so after the dream, I considered perhaps it might not so much be about my phone, as it might be God asking me to let go of something so I can better enjoy the journey he wants to take me on.  For me, I needed to let go of RD work in order to keep sailing. 

But there is also something to be said about letting go of our phones from time to time as well. Yesterday I went running for the first time in a long time without my phone. It was glorious. 


This is a pic from last summer, when I went sailing with my California roommates along Malibu's coast.  I miss those fabulous CA roommates of mine!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Nice?

“Nice Dress.”  A man I surmised to be either a professional wrestler or a rap star made the statement as he walked past me at the parking garage.  He, his dreads, and bulging muscles appeared confident; however, I wasn’t confident in his assessment.

Nice?  I internally questioned.  It’s not a nice dress; it’s an okay dress.  I’ve had it since 1997 and wore it today to clean my apartment and finish packing up my car.  It doesn’t deserve a compliment.

As the parking attendant rolled up with my Corolla, I considered, perhaps it wasn’t my dress he thought was nice.  Perhaps he was really thinking, nice collar bones, or nice legs, but defaulted to dress when he couldn’t really pinpoint what he thought was nice.

No one has ever told me nice collar bones, but I do get nice legs quite a bit.  For instance, this past Sunday when I showed up at church the greeter stopped me.  “Wait.”  She instructed.  “Before you go in, I have to tell you, you have the nicest legs of ANY person.”  She continued on, confessing, “At leadership meeting, I kept staring at your legs, trying to figure out how anyone could possibly have such great legs.”  My hot lawyer friend, Teresa, who was co-greeting, agreed. 

I attributed the legs to my running, while Teresa insisted genetics must be at play.  Thanks Mom and Dad.  Not only are my parents to be thanked, but after a recent visit to the podiatrist (i.e. foot doctor), I realized they are also to be blamed.  Thanks to genetics, my left feet bones aren’t as straight as they could be.  But I suppose it could be worse; at least I didn’t end up with an extra toe like my friend Jason did.  Jason and I worked together at Spring Hill Camp, and his boy campers thought he and his 6th toe were the greatest.  I suppose it created more fame than setbacks in life – AND he still managed to go on to play pro football with his foot deformity.

 I’m not hoping to go on to play pro football with my nice legs and crooked feet bones, but I am hoping to finish my book over the next couple of months, so rather than continuing my blog ramblings, back to the book it is.

Not too shabby of a view to wake up too... #Day 1 of Writing at the Lake House



 
Cheers from Michigan!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Pursuing the Dream

Most people move to New York City to puruse some sort of dream.  Tomorrow I leave the city to pursue mine.





Saturday, July 7, 2012

Ace Hotel

This morning I was thrilled to learn one of the most retweetable people I know retweeted a tweet I sent him.  Erwin McManus has well over 40,000 followers on twitter, and one of them just so happens to be THE man I'm most intrigued by at this point in my life.  Perhaps "he" saw it and was reminded I do exist. 

But perhaps not.  And actually, if I'm being completely honest with myself and with you, most likely not.  Advice to self:  please stop getting wrapped up with guys who end up on billboards, the cover of magazines, and on Jay Leno. 

Today I ran into another guy I've been slightly crushing on since December.  He was out on some sort of date with another gal, which confirmed for me I shouldn't spill my feelings for him like I had determined to do so the other day.

He told me earlier this year he finds me to be an extremetly attractive woman...  and he wasn't just speaking physically, but rather he went on to describe qualities and characteristics he sees in me.  We have a mutual fondness, admiration and respect for each other, but I know I'm not the right woman for him.  At the age of 34 you become smarter than your feelings.

I also ran into two of my students today.  At the age of 20 they are engaged.  He proposed from the top of a building my second hottest guy friend refers to as the "Now Renting" building.  Great view - and great place to make out (I may or may not know the latter from personal experience.) 

The view of Empire State Building from the "Now Renting Building" is impressive:




This evening, my final Saturday in the city for a long while, I'm at the ACE Hotel working on my book.  I'm kind of bummed not to be dancing it up with friends in the Lower East Side, but friends in NYC are hard to come by, and I'm not the best at making social plans in advance.  Hence, here I am writing at the Ace Hotel on a Saturday night.

Cheers to the freakin' weekend!










Friday, July 6, 2012

Sushi and Sofa

Today I had sushi for breakfast.  It wasn't intended to be breakfast, but 12 noon was the only time my friend Kimberly could meet up, and 11 AM was the only time I could wake up after staying up until 5 AM.  She selected a sushi place call Sushiya on 56th Street and to my surprise it was yummy. 

http://www.sushiya56.com/

Typically I avoid sushi, but one of my besties from LA is in love with it, so I'm slowly acquiring a liking for it. 

Much of my day was spent packing and prepping for my final move out day on Monday.  Tomorrow I say goodbye to my 7'8" sofa who I sold to some guy named Jake for $110.

The other day as I was packing up books, I opened up a book by Henri Nouwen called The Road to Daybreak and read,"It struck me that selling what you own, leaving your family and friends, and following Jesus is not a once-in-a-lifetime event.  you must do it many times and in many different ways.  And it certainly does not become easier."


It's not so much about saying goodbye to a piece a furniture as it is saying goodbye to this:


And THIS is what I will miss most as I begin a new chapter in my life.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Bye Room!

Room is my nickname for my roommate.  Room is my room's nickname for me.  And tonight we had our final roomie hurrah at Shake Shack at Madison Square Park.  Granted this is a picture from over a year ago - before Room cut her hair to shoulder length - but you get the picture.


Shortly after I returned from Africa, Room told me she is going to miss my spirit.  She went on to say something about me having a sweet presence.  The sentiment is mutual.  I've been super blessed with an awesome roomie over the past 2 years, and am sad our time together is coming to a close.  As I'm heading back to Michigan to finish writing my book, she's heading off to Brooklyn to live with a gay guy, and to continue her pursuit of fashion photography.  She'd like to be doing fashion photography full time (and eventually she will), but for now, she primarly shoots weddings.  http://blog.shannennorman.com/

Over dinner I told Room I'd like to update my facebook status to say, "Great dinner meeting with my wedding photographer," Room gently reminded me I might give people the wrong impression as well as scare away the 6 men who might interested in me.  (She didn't say 6, and to be honest, I'm not certain there is even one, but I'd like believe that out of my 1800 facebook friends there are at least 2 or 3 unmarried men thinking about asking me out.)  I explained to Room I already scared away all the men so such a post shouldn't matter.  Still, I listened to her wisdom and refrained from making such a declaration to the world. 

BTW, if you'd like the dirt on me, simply hold my roommie at gun point or offer her large sums of money (the second method is preferable over the first).  She'll have much to offer if I get famous one day and the tabloids come searching for the inside scoop on me.  Not only does Room know my quirks - like how I easily get spooked, and scream when I do, she also knows my deepest darkest sins - like how I made a few trips to the tanning bed this past winter (my dad disapproves of tanning beds as much as he does marijuana), and she knows who I shouldn't have kissed Halloween 1 and Halloween 2.  Room could also confirm my coke addiction (she'll be sure to tell you it's diet) as well as my liking for Peanut M&Ms, Stella Beer, Jimmy Eat World and certain men.  I'll let her fill you in more when you present her with the wad of cash I suggested.
So dinner was late night in the city, but this morning I woke up at a House in the Hamptons - not too far from my friend Thomas.  To clarify, we were on separate couches; I wouldn't want to get any rumors started.  Although, I will say, Thomas is looking for a wife to help him gain US citizenship. If you are interested in this service opportunity, please let me know.  You can read about Thomas and how he helps orphans in Kenya at his nonprofit's website below.  If you're a guy, already married, or simply not interested in marrying my friend, you could also help him out by giving to this organization.

Many Hopes is raising the generation of children who will lead with justice and fairness and defeat the causes of extreme poverty in Kenya.  http://www.manyhopes.org/

I intended to roll out of bed and hit the road right away, but instead, I enjoyed a cup of coffee and a poolside chat with this gal named Alisha.  She's currently reading a book called Blue Like Jazz.  I wanted to tell her I've never heard of it ask her if it is any good.  But I didn't.  Instead we chatted about the dangers of separation of church and alcohol.  And then reminisced about the great watermelon slushie shots my church friends and I enjoyed together the night before.

I finally hit the road around 11, but got stuck in traffic right away.  Rather than staying in it, I pulled into a prime parking space I chanced in front of the Hampton Library.  I then took a couple of hours to leisurely write, and meander about the downtown area.  I had no agenda but to simply enjoy being in the moment. 
The remainder of my drive home could be a book in and of itself as I listened to a couple of Erwin McManus's old talks from his Chasing Daylight Series and then broke down in the middle of a road upon my arrival back in Queens.  I called my Dad.  He's no mechanic, but he was able to pray to some help my way, and my car issue was resolved within minutes.
When I did finally arrive back at my place via subway with all my crap, my door men commented on the many bags I had with me.  As I stepped out of the elevator, and glanced at the mirror on the wall in front of me, I acknowledged, yes, today I look like a bag lady.  Awesome (less than, that is; please take note of the sarcasm.)

I suppose there are worse things to be mistaken for... such as... well, you can read about that in Chapter 21 of my book.

OutTakes:
One aspect of living with Room I greatly appreciated is we never kept score.  In working with college students I often encounter one person feeling like the other person owes them something.  Room and I would simply pitch in, helping each other out, without tallying who cleaned what last.  Granted this system works when there is eb and flow to the give and take...
More Potential:
Conversation with Drea & Erwin's CD #2
Pick Me! Pick Me!  Hiding in a clothing rack at a store... and Young Life competitions
Evening run in Central Park - oh those ducks
Ted Talk - The Prefrontal Cortex
Americans like choice, but they don't like to choose