Thursday, January 31, 2008

I'm Just Pretending

A couple of years ago Donald Miller (i.e. author of Blue Like Jazz) and I were e-mailing back and forth for a bit. Concluding one of his e-mails he wrote...

>also, if you've any articles you'd like us to look at for burnside,
>let me know....later.>

And I responded...

hmmm... articles? you're funny. i didn't officially become a writer until this week. i always thought my sister was the writer in our family, so it never crossed my mind that i could be one too. she was the one who was writing articles for local newspapers before she was even out of high school. and she even got paid for them.

i think she began writing her first book when she was in junior high. it was called camp caviar and she read chapters of it to us on our educational family vacation to washington d.c. my brother and i had no choice but to listen, but her writing was good so we didn't complain. my parents were just thankful that we weren't killing each other.

but sometimes on family road trips we'd pretend to hit each other and whine just to see my dad get worked up. we'd make fake slapping noises and yell, "mom, mike's hitting me. make him stop." my dad would pull the mini-van over to the side of the road, and stay there until we started behaving. we quickly behaved and he would start driving again. and the three of us would giggle quietly for having successfully fooled our parents. but then my siblings would start calling me names - like merge and other street signs they would see on the side of the road. not knowing what a merge was, i would get upset and whine to my parents for real, but my mom and dad thought it was funny, so they just laughed.

with all that said, unfortunately i don't have any articles right now, but i may in the near future....

That was the last of e-mails that Don and I exchanged. We met in person at a conference this past spring. I went up to him, held out my hand for a shake, and said, "Hey I just wanted to introduce myself. I'm Katrina Blank." He politely shook my hand, paused, and then after some deep thought responded, "You're the writer - right?"

In my family it is my sister who thinks she's the writer, me who pretends to be the writer, but it's my brother who actually is. My parents recently celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary and for it, my brother composed several anecdotes in their honor. Here's my favorite.

Riding in the back seat of my Dad's 5 speed Schwinn (I think), I remember my Dad repeating unfamiliar words. We were living in Owosso at the time (to be honest I have no memories of my 2 years in Minnesota). Most likely I was around the age of 3. The words from my father elicited a feeling of calm bliss. Though he was not speaking to me, his concentration and intent focused on something higher. I think that was the first time I heard my Dad praying in tongues. Needless to say it would not be the last time I heard him speak the ancient language.

In my twenties, one of my band mates met my father briefly. Now this band mate was very well read on all major religions. Soon after meeting Dad, my friend confessed to me how impressed he was by my father. He told that if we were in another country my dad would be widely recognized for the saint he is. My friend then went on a rant on how Western commercialism has destroyed our spiritual connection to God and that, like maybe in country like India, Dad's integrity, humbleness, and obvious love for God would be appreciated by all who met him. I thanked my friend for the words. A few months later, while hanging out on the dock after a late afternoon swim, I told Dad that story. He laughed and jokingly said, "Well, I praise the Lord I don't live in India." I responded with something like "... but Dad your love of God is so great that even the poverty of India wouldn't bother you." He paused for a second and replied, "Well, maybe you're right." ~ Michael Langdon Blank