Friday, November 30, 2012

Last Night

And so I tweet:

a quarter mile night hike down the shore, 16 darkened summer cottages in between, a full moon to light the way, he & a warm fire to greet me

Today last night became a movie. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Pause, for the time being...

The reason so many writers live in New York is because every time you step outside inspiration steps in front of you.  You can't go more than a few blocks without seeing or hearing someone or something that has the potential to trigger an epic idea for your next novel or short piece.

And then there's the people you meet - people from all around the world, making their way through the city.  Some for a short visit, others for months, or more than 52 weeks.  And each person arrives with a rich story in hand - David from Israel, Sabatina from Germany, Leonardo from Mozambique, Retika from India, Ace from New Zealand, and Moses who came up from West Virginia to Occupy Wall Street.

But at the moment I'm far from NYC and inspiration jumping at me is few and far in between.  I'm less than a week in to my return to rural, middle of nowhere, Michigan.  Today I sulked that the greatest inspiration my county had to offer me was a post church trip to the most popular store in our county's seat - Walmart of Adrian.

Starbucks offered me a spark of normalcy, as I picked up a venti Pike and a pastry before driving 14.2 miles through winding country roads, to get to where I needed to be.  Home.

And since I'm here for the time being, and new inspiration isn't shooting up at me.  I'll pause from blogging for the time being and instead finish the book writing work God has started in me.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Remaining 10

Over the summer I gambled on my Dad's ping pong abilities and won big!  Read story here:

In September I received a portion, but not all of my winnings.  Read story here:

To be perfectly honest, I didn't think I'd ever see the remaining $10.  But last night my brother and I walked down the shore to join the boyz of summer.  And when we arrived, the guy from down the shore insisted we join them for a game of Texas Hold 'Em - a game my brother and I have never played before. 

We were hesitant, but the guy from down the shore pulled me aside and said, "Look, here's the deal.  I know I still owe you $10 from the summer, but I will never flat out give you that money.  But I will buy you into this game.  So what do you say?  Do you want to play?"  Although I'm not into gambling, given his offer I agreed for him to buy my brother and me into the game.  And so we received $10 worth of chips, and used our shared lack of knowledge to attempt to win.

I thought we'd be out rather quickly, but my brother quickly figured out the game, and how to successfully bluff . So we finished second, receiving a $10 payout for the chips.  Thanks bro, for keeping our $10 alive.  And thanks Dad for the $30 ping pong win.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Rich in History

This year for Thanksgiving an 86 year old woman named Doris joined us for our dinner feast.  She and her husband Marty have lived across the lake next to my Grandpa Cec's since the 1950s.  But in recent years, Marty's declining health forced him to relocate to a nursing home, and this past spring he passed away.

Doris still lives across the lake, and although her mobility is limited, she is still sharp in her thinking.  After dinner and pre pie, Doris and I challenged my parents to a game of euchre.  We nearly beat them with the final score 10 to 9. 

Happy Thanksgiving from Sand Lake, Onsted, Michigan

But even more fun than the card game was hearing Doris tell stories - like how she and her husband eloped, and ice fishing on Sand Lake (she and her friend caught more fish than the men), and stories about my Grandpa, who Doris claimed her husband once stated, "If I was stuck on an island with only one other person, I'd pick Cec.  He's a good man."  My grandpa passed away when I was 9, so my memories of him are few, but how neat to hear Doris reminisce about days of past.  There's something special about meeting with someone who is rich in history.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Dad Gets Published!

Today's blog post is brought to you by my dad.  When I returned home from my run this afternoon my dad excitedly exclaimed, "Katrina, I got published!"

He waved about a book called Real Life Real Miracles - true stories that will help you believe.  My dad explained that James Garlow and Keith Wall compiled several hundred miracle stories, and they included one of his stories in the mix. 

I took a closer look at the book - it was legit.  Not one of those self-publishing doings, but rather quality design, and published by Bethany House, a subdivision of Baker Publishing Group.

So here it is, my Dad's story: Financial Aid From the "Bank of Heaven"

At a church I pastored, a young couple attended with their four children, participating faithfully, tithing regularly.  The man had a job in a local factory.

One evening they came to see me.  They had purchased a house in the past year to meet their expanding family needs.  They thought they'd checked out all the costs involved before committing.  However, to their shock, an unforeseen assessment had just been levied on their property for $2,000, due within the month.  They didn't know what to do.

I didn't know either.  I had less than $100 in my discretionary account.  I said a prayer with them, asking God to provide. 

A couple of days later, I received a call from a wealthy member who said he wanted to catch up on his tithe.  He explained he hadn't fully tithed the past few years while paying his children's way through college.  He intended to make a donation of $10,000!

Right before the Sunday service, he walked in and said, "As I was writing out the check, it occurred to me that you might like part of this to go into your discretionary fund.  Would that be all right?"

I assured him it would be appreciated.  He handed me a check for $2,000. 

I could hardly wait for the service to end.  When it did, I grabbed the couple and led them into a side room.  "You're not going to believe this," I said.  "I have the money for you."  I explained that someone had given me the exact amount they needed.

Needless to say they were overjoyed.  And while I never told the donor who they were, he likewise was overjoyed to know that God had used him to bless a Christian family in need.

- Richard Blank, Onsted, Michigan

Funny, how this is right on topic with what I wrote about yesterday... hmmm...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


The words we absorb become who we are - what we read and what we listen to are far more influential in our lives than what we would think.  But even the words we speak, shape who we are, impacting our interactions with the world around us.

Because our spirit soaks up each word we hear and speak.

That's why many churches include the practice of reading liturgies.  Some churches, like the Catholic, Lutheran, and Episcopal churches, are super liturgical, and include a significant amount of aloud reading that you repeat over and over each week.

Other churches, like my NYC church, utilizes liturgy much more sparingly.  However, when I first started attending the church we'd read what is called the Generosity Liturgy most every week.  To be perfectly honest, I wasn't really into "it."  I was bored by the routine, and haunted by my Episcopal Church upbringing. 

But I'm now realizing how much the words have seeped into my being and I now believe every church ought to be "determined to increase in generosity until it can be said that there is no needy person among us." 

The reason I bring this up is because I recently approached a church to see if they could financially help out someone who I knew was in need in their community.  I had a connection with a staff person at the church, and I knew the person in need (a friend of mine) had been serving faithfully at this church for several years.  So I asked the staff person if the church could help this individual out.  But instead of receiving my request, the staff person at this church redirected me to my own local church community - miles from this situation and this person in need.  This confused and saddened me because I have come to believe that one of the functions of the local church is to help care for the needs of those in their community.  I'm grateful my own local church in NYC is one that makes such practice a priority.   


There is nothing we have
that we have not received;
all we have and are belong to God,
bought with the blood of Jesus.

To spend everything on ourselves,
and to give without sacrifice
is the way of the world
that the Father cannot abide.

But generosity is the way of those
who call Christ their Lord;
who love him with free hearts,
and serve him with renewed minds;
who withstand the delusion of riches
that chokes the word;
whose hearts are in heaven, and not on earth.

We are determined to increase in generosity
until it can be said
that there is no needy person among us.

We are determined to be faithful stewards
of such a little thing as money
that Christ may trust us with true riches.

Above all things, we are determined to be generous
because our Father is generous.
It is the delight of His daughters and sons
to share their Father’s traits,
and to show what He is like to all the world.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Driving Don'ts

Today's blog is inspired by my drive from mid-PA, where I woke up this morning, to my parents' home in Michigan, where I'll fall asleep tonight.

Top 10 things you probably shouldn't do while driving... that I've done at least once before.

10.  Brush your teeth 

9.    Hit a deer

8.    Fall asleep (and rear end the car in front of you... )

7.    Read your Bible

6.    Change your shoes - from flips flops to high heels

5.    Change your bra - from regular to sports bra

4.    Go REALLY fast (and get pulled over by a cop... ) 

3.    Switch from glasses to contact lenses

2.    Make and eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (did this today!)

1.    Exchange phone numbers with the attractive guy driving beside you (on the 91 freeway in CA!)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Friday, November 16, 2012

Double Seven

This evening, after a chaotic week of hurricane clean up, I headed down to Gansevoort Street for a benefit event at the Double Seven

Many Hopes threw the event to raise funds for orphaned boys and girls in Kenya.  You can go to to contribute too!

We danced the night away...

Around 1 AM we decided to switch venues, and ventured to the Jane Hotel for even more dancing fun.  Such a fabulous final, Friday night in the city!  #Grateful!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Bethesda... Dried Up Dreams

I explored the north end... Harlem Meer...

But I still made my way to the Bethesda Fountain...

To do a lap around it, but when I arrived there was no water inside, so instead I did a lap inside of of it.

I was surprised to see it nearly dried up...

I a lap inside the fountain...

Penny Wishes

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Poetry and Photographs

I offered my car to complete stranger this evening.  Literally, a stranger - I didn't even know this man's name, but after I learned he lost his poetry and childhood photographs in the storm, I wanted to help him any way I could. 

He also had an underground storage unit in Chelsea - not too far from mine.  But I know he lost far more than me - because I still have nearly everything that holds my greatest words and memories.  When I packed up my apartment in July, along with some clothes, I took my photos and journals back to my parents' place in Michigan.   

But this man lost his words and his photos.  Those are irreplaceable.  He admitted to tears in mourning the loss of the most intimate evidence of his life.

But before handing him my keys, I reneged on my offer, fearful he might get a parking ticket while trying to load his salvageable possessions out of my car and into his apartment.  (I've learned the hard way; you can't load and unload a vehicle in the city without someone else being present to babysit your car.  The ticket cops are bound to get you.)  I also considered he might hit a new Mercedes, like the last person who borrowed my car did, or worse, steal it altogether. 

I explained if I could stay and help, I would, but I needed to get to Bible Study.

So I took off, and by the time I got to the end of the street, I felt like a complete a**hole for taking back my offer because I needed to go do my Christian thing, when I knew the Jesus thing would be to stay.

I reversed with my emergency flasher back down the one-way street, determined to let this man know I would somehow help him.  But unable to find a convenient parking space (and fearful of another parking ticket), I gave up, and continued on my way to my small group.

But I couldn't shake the ickiness for having had the opportunity to do something kind for someone who was hurting, and letting it pass by.

And so...

PART II - yet to be finished...

After calling and speaking with Valencia at the storage place... she called him on my behalf, and gave him my number...

Shortly after 8:30 I receive a text, "Hi Katrina.  Thank you so much for your kind offer to help me today.  It's been an overwhelming couple of weeks for everyone - but thanks to kindness like yours - it is all just a little easier.  So thank you very much.  I secured my things i could save in another unit - and all will hopefully be okay.  Thanks again for your kind offer to help.  Best, Nicholas"

And I reply, "would u reconsider?  i have 3 guys here who r eager to help & an already smelly car that is getting shampooed clean tomorrow - think on it for a few... we can meet u at 9:15"

"That's so kind of you!! I would hate to be an unnecessary burden.  I locked my things in the next unit over from mine - hoping for the best.  I'm sure it will be okay.  Again - thank you for your compassion.  It's a rare find these days."

"ah but we are all about carrying others' burdens :) but i understand your decline - yet feel free to change your mind in the next 20 mins ~katrina blank

He didn't change his mind, not that I expected him to, but if I could rewind time, I would have stayed put and helped him right from the start.


I'm not sure why I said Bible study; perhaps because small group, for a potential nonchurch goer, would make no sense. 

 Even though the units are indoors and temperature regulated, I thought the humidity might get to the photos.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


still beautiful after drowning in the storm - my grandpa cec's water color paintings #sandy

unfortunately opa's hand crafted backgammon board didn't make it through... sad to see it lost to the mold and the mildew

number of books submerged in the storm = 134

dear fuller theological seminary,
please note, i'd like to point out, not one of my theology books made it through the storm.  systematic theology will fail you, yet my faith still stands... (just like my student loan debt - wish that could be shaken.)

number of saved wine glasses = my entire set! 12 and i say we drink to that!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sandy Hits Katrina

Saturday's Tweet

there's no way to smile my way around it - loss is painful. and i lost everything.

Sunday's Tweet

i pulled out a bin of books, every title saturated through. Everything Is Illuminated stared at me, pleading, like me, to be rescued


Thursday, November 8, 2012

On The Way Home

I arrived back at JFK at 1 AM, and as I passed by a television screen, CNN told me Obama had won the presidential election. I knew he would - just like I knew he would win the last.

Confession: I didn't vote this year. I wanted to, but couldn't. With my Michigan mailing address, California voter's registration, and New York couch surfing status, my absentee ballot didn't make it to me in time. My mom mailed it to a friend's in New York with the intent that I'd receive it before flying out to California last week, but with Sandy's anticipated arrival, I switched my flight to Sunday and lost my right to vote. I'm not overly devastated, but only because, like my Dad, I didn't feel comfortable voting for either Obama or Romney.

I took a near desolate subway train west towards Manhattan, but got off before crossing over the East River. I then hailed a cab, and had him drive me to my parking spot, praying my car would still be there, and not damaged by the storm. On the way, my cab driver informed me that gas is scarce. He told me he had to take off nearly a week of work due to the gas shortage following the storm.

Thankfully my car was right where I left it.  My cab driver watched and waited as I inspected my Corolla.  No water had entered the interior of the vehicle and it started up without any hiccups. But it was low on gas - only a quarter tank left.

As I drove towards the Queensborough Bridge, I came across a gas station, and nearly pulled in, but then spotted the lines. It extended down the other street, and I knew the wait would be at least a half hour - if not more. It was half past two.  I needed to get back to catch some sleep in the Upper West Side.  I'd have to fore go gas for now.  And ration the remaining amount in my tank. 

New York got hit hard by Sandy. 

And I got hit hard too.  Just before my departure from LAX, I learned my storage unit, had indeed been flooded in the storm.  All my stuff - ruined.  As I cut across through Central Park on 85th Street, I told my car, maybe it's time to move beyond this city.  After all, I only have me left and I'm tired of fighting to stay here.

On the way home,
this car hears my confessions.
I think tonight I'll take the long way.
This weather.
The wind outside is biting.
It has left me feeling tired & exposed.

~Dashboard Confessional

Not too long ago I heard a speaker state, "Our nation will get the type of leadership we deserve." I think our nation is far more in shambles than anyone would like to admit - not because of Obama, but because there are no boundaries or standards of excellence and integrity for anything anymore. And when a community of people can't agree on what is good and true, then anything goes. That's why one of my nephew's classmates often chooses to wear a dress to kindergarten even though he is a boy. His parents have brought into an ideology that the school system is too fearful to speak up against, because they don't want to be on the news, and targeted by the LGBT. So instead, my nephew returns home from school, confused at why a boy is wearing little girl's clothing. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

One More Night in Hollywood...

And so we met up in Hollywood at The Piano Bar for drinks, conversation, and really loud music.

From there we headed over to IO's for an improv comedy show.  Two teams competed for a shiny, oversized belt - like the kind of belt I'd see on Saturday morning TV, when my brother would take over the remote and force me to watch WFF - World Wrestling Federation.  Girls should not know the names Jake the Snake and Hulk Hogan, but because of my big brother, I do.

The improv show was decent, but the humor was plagued by a smelly, farting dog sitting in our row.  I'm not sure how the man snuck the dog in through the doors; it was triple the size of one of those small, yelping dogs, and its farts were triple the smell of a normal human fart.  It was bad, really bad.  In fact, several of the guys in our row, nearest to the dog got up to leave after fart number 3.

The guys were graduates from Anderson University in Indiana, and they had worked at the same camp as us in Michigan - Spring Hill.  Although they were a decade younger, we all "got" each other because we had all blobbed and slept in a tee pee.

Following the show we continued on to Dillon's, the pub we had met up at on Thursday.  We joined a couple of his other friends for a round of french fries and Laffy Taffy jokes.

I'm not sure when I'll see him again, but I know I will.  Some people are like that.  It's never good bye, but rather, see you later.  Although, I suspect this later, will be a bit longer - I'd put my money (if I had any) on 8 months.

And it's one more day up in the canyons
And it's one more night in Hollywood
If you think you might come to California
I think you should
(Na na na, etc. yeah)  ~ Counting Crows

Monday, November 5, 2012

Manhattan or Manhattan Beach?

the ocean, a few blocks to my left.

the hollywood sign, a few miles to my right.

red wine with a complete stranger - why not?

i had a few minutes to spare.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

To Rewrite

The other night my second hottest guy friend dropped me off around 1 AM, stopping in briefly before saying good bye for the night.  I wanted to introduce him to my friend Mia, but we were too late; Mia was already tucked away in her bedroom and under her covers for the night.

And so he drove home, and I readied for sleep.  But before I completed my routine, Mia got out of bed, and readied herself for a late night guitar lesson.

The next day Mia demonstrated the three chords she had learned – A, E, and D – and explained she and her instructor (i.e. some handsome guy) had stayed up all night, watching the sunrise from her LA rooftop.  She pointed to the flowers in the kitchen; along with his guitar expertise, he had brought along a gorgeous arrangement of white roses from the film set he had been working on that day.

Suddenly I was jealous – Mia’s evening was far more epic and romantic than mine.
But even in hearing her tell of her night, I was reminded of a near similar evening I had on a cruise ship years ago with this guy named Jeremiah.  After the disco closed for the night, we stayed up playing War – the never ending card game.  He suggested, “I think we need to put some stakes on this game.  How about if you win, I have to buy you a drink?  And if I win, you have to stay up all night to watch the sun rise with me? “  I agreed.  After all, I reasoned, either way was a win for me.  This guy was one of the most attractive men I had ever met up in my life and I had no qualms spending additional time with him.

We were both seniors in college, on Spring Break with our friends.  He was the quarterback at some school I can’t recall the name of, but I’m rather certain it was located somewhere in the state of Wisconsin.  He and his other buddies on the ship had nicknamed me Ginger, and my other friends not.  (Okay, so Jeremiah told me they called my other friends the nuns.  Ironically the “nuns” all married now and I’m the one who is still single and sex free.) 

I can’t remember who won the game of War that night, but following the win, we stayed up chatting until well after 4 AM.  It was then that I mentioned wanting to stop in at my room, so Jeremiah walked me back to my cabin, grabbing an arrangement of flowers on the way to present to my friend Emily upon our arrival.  I had told Jeremiah it was her 22nd birthday, so he insisted on bringing her a “gift.”  Since all the shops were already closed for the night he didn’t think the Cruise Ship folks would mind if he took a few flowers from a table in the corridor. 

After waking up Emily (which I’m sure she loved) and wishing her Happy Birthday with the floral arrangement, Jeremiah and I conversed in the corridor for a half hour more.  But rather than going up to the top deck to watch the sunrise, I opted to call it a night.

But if I could rewrite that night all over, I would have stayed up to watch the sun rise with him.

I never saw him again after we parted ways that night.  I had assumed we’d find each other on the ship the next day before we docked and that we’d exchange contact information at that time.  But instead, that late night good bye was our last good bye.

I find it’s not uncommon for the final good bye to come before you know it’s through.

I’ve always preferred hello.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Friday, November 2, 2012

Red Line

And there I sat at the bar, waiting for his arrival - like I had so many times before.

But this time was different. 

It didn't hit me like it use to when he called me babe.  And I was indifferent to his greeting and departure.  A kiss on the cheek, or a hug - it didn't matter.