Monday, July 29, 2013

The Ferritin Secret Part II

"Katrina, you’re getting too old not to be plucking your eyebrows.  You really need to start shaping them.” 

Thanks mom.  I’m also getting too old not to be having sex.  What’s wrong with my eyebrows?  It’s not like I have a una-brow or anything like that.  And I’ve seen the horrendous effects of excessive plucking and accidental waxing.  Eyebrows are already weird enough, but then women go and make them look even weirder.  I just don’t get it. 

My mom expressed her concern about my eyebrows the same year my dad sat me down and told me that he and my mother would really like for me to see a gynecologist.  I told them I would, but only if they paid for it.  I didn’t have health insurance at the time and I wasn’t about to fork over money to be molested in the name of medicine.

My parents agreed to pay and so for my 24th birthday they gave a trip to the gynecologist.  To date, it’s the most unique and worst birthday present I’ve ever received.

At the age of 29 I finally conceded to getting my eyebrows waxed, and even signed up for another gynecologist appointment on my own.  (Gosh, I must be making my parents proud.)

But when I went in to see the doctor (a female doctor this time), she told me a pap smear wasn’t really necessary.  She informed me it’s nearly impossible to get cervical cancer or an STD when you aren’t and never have been sexually active.  That’s right.  I’m a 30 year old virgin.

She performed the test anyway and a week later I received the results in the mail.  Sure enough - I passed!  I proudly showed my test results to several of my coworkers, successfully making my friend Rick feel horribly uncomfortable. 
* Out take excerpt from the original version of I Hate Books On Christian Dating (when it was actually a book on dating rather than the book it has evolved into today.)  I wrote that 5 years ago, and tonight I write this:
What I really could have used at age 24, and at 29 is a blood test, rather than a pap smear.  But for some reason, the medical world decided some time ago, blood work isn't all that important for young women who are losing blood from their bodies on a regular basis. 
I noticed in my early twenties I'd often get some sort of sickness each month on top of my normal period symptoms.  As the frequency of illness with my periods increased, I looked online to see if there was a solution to prevent my above and beyond PMS ailments.  But all I could find were discussion boards with other girls having similar sickness issues coupled with their periods.
Instead of finding a way to get healthy, I simply accepted my weakened immune system as part of being female.  It made sense to me my body would have a difficult time fighting sickness after preparing an egg each month.  This is "normal" and what women should expect - right?

Or is it?


Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Ferritin Secret Part I

April 2013... on a Monday...

"Now don't go and have some sort of existential crisis."  She picked up on my hesitancy, and continued to try and sell me on a job I wasn't so certain about.  She was a job recruiter in New York, and she had me in mind to work as an administrative assistant at a hedge fund company.  I thought we'd be discussing at least 12 potential job possibilities and she only had 1 - 1 that I wasn't all that interested in. The pay was decent, but $20,000 less than I had anticipated, and although I knew I could do the job well, if I was going to take a job I wasn't excited about, I wanted to at least be paid enough to pay off my grad school loans within a year or two.  (I'm at $30,000 plus 6.8% interest rate.)

As she tried to entice me with the $20 a day lunch money the company offers its employees (which sounded like a weight gaining plan), I tried to recall the meaning of existential crisis.  I knew it had something to do with freaking out with where you are at in life, but I was uncertain of the specifics.  As the woman (a Reed College graduate) continued on to tell me how this job would be a great way for me to get settled back in the city, I noted I should look up existential crisis later on to make sure I fully understood what she was telling me not to go and do. says, "An existential crisis is a moment at which an individual questions the very foundations of his or her life: whether his or her life has any meaning, purpose or value.[1] This issue of the meaning and purpose of existence is the topic of the philosophical school of existentialism."

I think her warning was 20 minutes too late, because before our meeting, as I waited in the corner office on the 23rd floor, I took a moment to look out the window and stare at the city streets below.  As I took in the tiny taxis and miniature people on ground level, I noted, I was staring the same distance the girl fell out the window and to her death in the building where I had lived and worked with college students.

As I took my seat behind the table, and pulled out my planner and pen, I considered, really, I'd like to help save lives with whatever it is that I do next.  If only I didn't have grad school debt from Fuller Seminary, I wouldn't even be considering such a position working as an administrative assistant.  I knew my gifts were as such that I could be starting up my own non-profit.  BUT I feel paying off my student loan debt takes priority to my dreams and ambitions.  Then again, so does my health.  I seemed to be getting somewhat better over the course of the winter months, but since the end of March, I seemed to be relapsing.  Was I even healthy enough to get a full time job and be back in New York City?  And why was my health still poor - what was wrong with me?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


Meet Bleecker the Pomeranian. 

Bleecker is one of the reasons I returned to New York last week.  His owner had to do important law work in Zambia (Africa), so Bleecker and I got to hang out and play together in the financial district.

We'd go for walks, brightening people's days by his cuteness and friendly disposition.  Literally, everywhere we went people would turn, stare, and make some sort of comment.  Many requested to pet Bleecker, and some even wanted a photo with him, because really, he's that freaking adorable. 

On our final walk, as Bleecker stopped to say hello to a BIG dog, the big dog owner observed, "He's seems to be a happy dog.  And he certainly doesn't fear anything."  I'm not a dog expert, but I think the man's dog was a large pit bull.  I agreed.  Bleecker is a happy dog and isn't afraid of anything.  (With the exception of going down steps too steep - then he'd halt at the top of the stairs and wait for me to pick him up and carry him down.)

I pondered the man's comment as we made our way back to Teresa's place.  Happy and not afraid of anything.  I wished for a moment I was more like Bleecker, because last week (and for several weeks prior) I was terrified there was something significantly wrong with my body.  I haven't felt well for over 2 years, and my health was rapidly getting worse.  A visit to my doctor in NYC is another reason why I returned to the city last week. 

Yesterday I spoke with my doctor on the phone and learned my illness isn't terminal.  It will take some time before I'm back to me, but I'm thrilled to know that what I have is treatable.  Today was the first day in the past couple of months I woke up confident I'm not dying, rather than wondering how much time I might have left.  #Relieved  Will write more on the journey soon...

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Towers Part I

Over a week ago I awoke to my brother’s request that I venture across the lake and take a photo for his radio station.  He mentioned something about a news story, and I mentioned something about hardly being conscious at such an early hour in the day (it wasn't even noon). 

My brother Mike works for a public radio station out of Detroit and in waking up I was confused why his station might want a photo for the airwaves.  Mike continued on to say something about their station’s website and that if I took this photo, I’d receive credit for my photo journalism efforts.  I told him I wasn’t feeling all that well at the moment (true story), but perhaps later in the day I could get a few photos to him.

Across the lake from my parents' place are two towers people use to climb to gain a better view and perspective of the area.  First opened in 1924, for decades tourists and travelers would stop at the towers en route from Detroit to Chicago.  Long before the 94 freeway was built, horse drawn carriages and model-Ts would pass through the Irish Hills area on US-12.  But at the end of the millennium, the towers were deemed unsafe, and this summer, after failed attempts to raise funds to restore the towers, these twin towers are in the process of being demolished.

Towers in the back behind my former student Zach

These towers have been my half way point when I go for my longer, 10 K runs around the lake.  Before I flew out to New York the tops of the Towers had been removed, and I suspect by the time I return, they’ll be gone.  To be honest, it’s odd to me that something that has been a landmark for years could so quickly disappear from the skyline. 

This past week I’ve been staying near where the twin towers of Manhattan, New York once stood.  I’m reminded that in this world, no structure or empire stands forever.  I’m convinced the US will continue to crumble in the century ahead.  On a micro level, student loan debt acquired by graduates (at a corrupt 6.8% interest rate) WILL forfeit the disposable income the economy needs to keep businesses up and running.  Meanwhile, cities like Detroit are paying $1,000 an hour to lawyers to declare bankruptcy.  (This is even more than what Teresa’s law firm bills an hour in NYC, and double the amount Cher’s dad in the movie Clueless charges.)  In the US, balancing budgets seems to be more like to be an idealistic idea, rather than a necessary goal we MUST achieve.  Those in DC are our nation’s worst example - those in office appear to have few qualms in increasing the national debt each year.  As long as they retain their positions in office, and maintain their upper middle class status, why fret?

I shouldn’t be writing on politics. 

But as I learned from one of my Prof’s in grad school, whether we want to acknowledge it or not, everything is political.  From clean drinking water to electricity to education to health care – everything comes with political strings attached.  And just like everything is political, everything is also spiritual and I believe there are forces in our universe actively seeking to destroy what is good.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Nun Life 101

"You know how to surf?!"  I nodded yes.  "Holy Jealousy!"  My friend Kate, now Sister Fiat Marie, exclaimed.  She went on to tell me how surfing is one of the first things she wants to do once she's in heaven.  I think even before she meets Peter, Paul, and Mary.

I ran into Sister Kate while I was out for a run in Michigan a few weeks ago.  Her family has a place on the west shore of our lake, but Kate has been in New York City, living as a nun for nearly a decade.  She "enlisted" at age 26, and has been wearing her nun garb ever since - even when she plays tennis and basketball. She explained to me she simply pins up her outfit so she can get around better while she is out on the courts.  (I didn't ask if nuns get a choice in their bra wear - like, if she's allowed to wear a sports bra.  You'd hope the Pope would at least grant the nuns some leeway in their undergarments and perhaps even allow them to own a piece or two from Victoria Secret.)

For a number of years Kate's order (i.e. nun group), was located in Harlem.  There, they were known for being the nuns on roller blades who would block off their street and play field hockey.  Their order is also known for taking in young women who are in a crisis pregnancy situations and simply loving on them through the pregnancy and for the first few months after they give birth.

Now, I'm not pregnant, but still, Kate invited me to visit her convent upon my return to New York.  So this past Sunday my friend Ariel and I visited Kate's convent home on 51st Street.  I explained to my friends at church that night, "You know, I'm just exploring various career possibilities."

To be perfectly honest, I'm shocked Kate became a nun - not because she isn't a good Catholic, but rather because in high school, Kate liked to laugh a lot and play pranks on people.  She's far from a serious person, so I'm kind of surprised they let her in.  In seeing her, I asked, "So do you all play pranks on each other at the convent."  A sheepish look came over her face, and she started in, "Well, actually..."  She filled me in on this statue of Mary at their convent that isn't the most pleasant looking.  The nuns nicknamed the statue Scary Mary and one of their favorite pranks is to sneak Scary Mary into random places throughout the convent.  You know, someone goes to take a shower, or opens a closet, and there's Scary Mary, out of nowhere.

Ariel and I intend to return to the convent when I return to the city this fall, so here is first blog entry of my ongoing nun series.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


It has been a long, long while since I've shared this with anyone.  As a reader of my blog, I think it's something you should know.  I came across this story as I was digging up old writing files and since it's too hot to write new material in NYC this week (ha! excuses!), here's a brief bit from my writing archives.

I suppose you should know that my name hasn’t always been Katrina.  When I was born my parents named me Filinda – Filinda Blank.  They didn’t think anything of it at the time; they simply thought Filinda was a pretty name for their daughter.  But that changed once I got into grade school.  In first and second grade teachers started handing out those worksheets you would slowly fill out with the entire class one blank at a time.  As we came to each blank space, and a correct answer was given, the teacher would instruct us to, “Fill in the blank.”  The kids in my class eventually noticed the similarity between my name and the teacher’s request to “Fill in the blank.”  And so they began to tease me all the time.  “Fill in the blank.  Filinda Blank.  Ha Ha Ha That’s your name.”  By the end of 2nd grade I was so completely traumatized by their frequent teasing that my parents decided to have my name legally changed to Katrina. 

Now, I have to confess, the Filinda story is not a true story, but I sure like to tell it.  Ironically, since the hurricane destroyed New Orleans and my birth-given name, I have contemplated having my name legally changed to Filinda.  After all, one can only handle so many comments and teasing about their name. 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Summer In the City Part I

Yesterday morning I paddled out to the middle of our lake one last time before tucking my surfboard away in my parents' basement, and tucking the rest of the clothes I'll need for this next week in my suitcase.  The waves aren't big enough to catch and ride back into shore on our little lake.  Still, there is something about paddling out on my board, and being out on the water that is good for my soul (and for toning my arms.) 

Later in the afternoon I hopped on a plane headed to Charlotte, and then another one headed to New York.  From the airport I took a cab to the nearest subway line, and then took the R train (the line pirates prefer) down to the financial district.  This week I'm staying not too far from where the towers once stood.  I'm dog sitting for my lawyer friend Teresa, while she is in Zambia working on some important case for her law firm and the US government.

I exited the subway at White Hall - the final stop on the island on Manhattan.  As I surfaced to street level, I recognized from media coverage of Hurricane Sandy my location. 

picture by
I paused for a moment at the top of the escalators, recalling photos and footage of the submerged subway station.  The station appears to be repaired and recovered since the hurricane did damage to the station this past fall.  However, the damage it did to me is still under repair.  I'm moving forward, yes, but it wasn't just Sandy that hit me last year.  Instead of one blow, I'm recovering from several life "storms" that hit me hard - including a decline in my physical health.  I see my doctor on Wednesday.  I'm hoping for answers on this trip - a diagnosis of something that can be easily treated. 

As much as I love the lake in Michigan, it is good for my spirit to be back in the city and back with "my people."  Last night my friend Teresa and I met up with our friends Steve and Matt for dinner and then joined a number of our other friends at Bell Book & Candle on 10th Street for a birthday celebration.  Then, tonight I danced on a rooftop in the Upper West Side, pausing to watch the fireworks being set off in Central Park concluding the Philharmonic Show.  A good number gathered for the roof top party to say our good byes to a friend who recently got engaged and will soon be joining her fiancĂ© out in LA.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Go Back?

Some time ago I was a finalist for a well-paying, personal assisting position in New York.  After reviewing my resume, the older man seeking an assistant expressed his concern about my theological studies at Fuller and my employment history working at a Baptist university.  He was pleased to see University of Michigan on my resume, reassuring him I had to be somewhat intelligent.  Yet, he stated to another interviewer in the room, he didn’t want a born again Christian working for him. 

Somehow I knew this man didn’t have an accurate picture of what one is, so I wasn’t concerned when he made the comment.  His very next question confirmed my suspicion.  He asked me about my political affiliation.  I hesitated and then stated, “That’s tough.”  It’s true.  It was and still is tough.  I don’t trust either party.  And although for most of my life I’ve been a nominal Republican, the more time I spend with my Republican friends the more confused I become on how they go about communicating their affiliation.  They keep talking about wanting to go back to the faith of the founding fathers of our nation.  I’m sorry, but I think that’s a terrible idea.  I don’t want to go back to the faith of a group of men who treated women and black people like inferior human beings – like property, with no voting rights.  It seems to me the faith of our founding fathers doesn’t paint a very good picture of Jesus.  Why would I want to go back to racism and sexism?  Granted, our founding fathers did much for our nation, with Scripture and hopefully the Holy Spirit helping guide them in some of their decisions.  But that was just  the beginning - a starting point - not a selling point on why Christians should vote Republican.

“So you don’t lean strongly one way or another?” he clarified.  I replied no, and he said, “That’s good.”  What he meant by good is that as long as I wasn’t a born again Republican who adores Jerry Falwell then he had no problem with me working for him.  I received additional bonus points when he learned I also drink wine on occasion, confirming for him I wasn’t all that Baptist either.

Some Sunday later my pastor explained the negative connotations associated with the phrase “born again” in the NYC.  In New York, in particular, “born again” tends to translate “unintelligent Republican” who hates gay people and loves Rush Limbaugh.  In today’s America, the term “born again” for those who don’t identify with the Christian faith doesn’t mean what Jesus meant as he spoke the words to Nicodemus. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Be Still and Know

Pausing from blog writing for a breather...

Sand Lake Summer Sunsets

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. 
Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
 Psalm 19

Friday, July 5, 2013

Mission Complete

My pastor in LA says it typically only takes him a week or two to write a book.  He waits until he has all the ideas in his head and then talks his chapters aloud to this lady who can type really fast.

Others I know take a few months, or a few years.  Someone asked me how long I had been working on my book and I replied, "8 years."

With the motivation of a $20 bet, I completed my book by the 4th of July.  Granted I have a ways yet to go in the editing and refining process, but I handed over a draft copy of the book to guy from down the shore before the midnight deadline.

Next Mission: Find a publisher.  Praying and hoping for Harper One.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The $20 Deal

Current Facebook Status:

got mugged by 2 nuns while out on my run this afternoon. (edit: Hugged) rather than sprinkling me with holy water, i sprinkled them with my sweat. they loooved the title of the book i'm writing - makes me think nuns might also be part of my target audience... perhaps a copy will someday make its way into the Vatican

Speaking of book, an initial draft of my book will FINALLY be complete this Thursday - just in time for the 4th of July potluck dinner.  That was the agreement that was made when I pre-sold a copy of my book for $20 to the guy from down the shore.  Granted, it was more of a bet, than a pre-sale, but regardless, on Thursday, he'll be receiving a draft of my book, and I'll be receiving $20 cash.

Or so I hope.  I still have 2 more chapters to piece together - chapters 17 and 22.  There are 24 total.  So with the clock ticking, and time running out, we'll see if I can pull through to make this draft happen.

My friend Jen questioned me the other day, "Really?  $20 is all the motivation you needed for you to finish your book?"  I explained to Jen it has more to do with the dynamics of my friendship with the guy from down the shore than the $20.  Not just anyone could have convinced me with $20, or even $100, to finally finish this book that I've been working on for years.

With the guy from down the shore the bet felt more like a playful, challenge - to push me towards the finish line.  And since he has been there for me through my hardest year of life yet, his bet posed the questioned, "Katrina, despite your health being poor, will you keep fighting?  Will you keep going after your dreams despite the less than favorable cards life has thrown you this past year?"

My answer to his challenge is yes.  Yes, I will keep fighting.


I Hate Books on Christian Dating
A Memoir Journey Towards a Mysterious God