Thursday, May 22

5.21.2014

How many blog posts start with "Sorry it's been so long since I've blogged, but…"

Too many. I'm just going to jump right into it.

5.21.2014 marked the 10 year anniversary of an absolutely exquisite pain that cascaded down my high school class. It rushed in with the force of a waterfall but brought none of it's peace.

My mom woke me from a deep sleep - the type of deep sleep you can only accomplish as a teenager when she handed me the phone. It was a friend of mine that I've known since I was 9. I've seen heard her stressed twice. Once, she was studying for the MCATs. The other was this phone call. Her voice was quivering because she told me that Brad Conklin and Andy Donahue were killed in a car accident. A horrific cliche that our star basketball player was stolen too soon, not to mention classmate and friend. One of the popular kids that was always nice to us theater geeks anyway, usually tormenting me about the Yankees or teasing me about Global History study guides.

There was a plague of accidents that hung over Broome County, with  tragedies surfacing every weekend and ripping away students from new high schools every weekend . It was like a sick Russian Roulette that was inevitably going to hit our school. For some, it was our first intimate experience with loss. For others, self included, it was another fucked up instance to add to this fucked up period of my life, which I believe is translated into Latin as "adolescence."

Our world stopped. We searched for explanations where there were none. We searched for acceptance in a seemingly unacceptable situation. 

5.21.2014 marked the day our beloved high school priest and theology teacher was arrested on charges of child pornography.

I'm not particularly religious, but I've always believed in something.  There have been times where I've had to; when I've had to surrender that the pain I was enduring made sense in the scheme of something greater than myself; that there was an explanation to this cruelty; that it was bigger than me but not too big for me. I've also had faith in moments of brilliant joy, in people choosing to live instead of choosing to die, in resolving addictions and demons, in persevering when there is simply nothing left, add in my own growth.

This "priest" was a part of this. He was one of two religious leaders that I ever really connected to. He spoke to us, not at us. He taught us without lecturing us. He just had an innate inclination for human connectivity. And now the same high school class that was cut by such sharp pain is wondering how someone inclined to human connectivity could be so monstrously inhumane? How can someone that we relied on to get through what broke our collective hearts a decade ago to the day turn out to be an agent of evil?

Our world has stopped. We're searching for explanations where there are none. We're searching for acceptance in a seemingly unacceptable situation. 

It's amazing how such sickening news can recall the vivid pain we were in a decade ago. Such a different tragedy, but evoking such a visceral reaction. I hope that my high school family has found wisdom in our scars - in some cases battle wounds - from ten years ago, and has continued to find wisdom ever since.


For green and white
For honor bright,

For loyalty and pride. 

Wednesday, September 12

Thank you, Dane

Yesterday was the best day ever, and then I had a bad night because someone I really care about is in a whole mess of pain.

But I have learned that this brutal night cap to my awesome day does not alter the awesomeness of the day that I had.  Pain that cuts so overwhelmingly deep does not mean the good is lost, or even buried underneath. A really good day and a really bad night can co-exist.  And when you're at your computer, blogging on your blog, thinking all of the thoughts and feeling all of the feelings, you can choose whether the good or the bad is significant.

Lately I've been grappling with the champagne problem of life running smoothly, and my explosive and cathartic need to write has simmered, even though my desire to maintain my blog is as fiery as ever.

I refuse to stop writing simply because my life is great.  My life has always been great, even when it's shit.  I SUPER refuse to be one of those masochistic artists who inflict pain upon themselves to generate more material. The truly talented have unlocked the chains of hurt, often with or through art, and are free to be happy and be creative.  And even me, who LOVES 90's grunge, gets tired of the tortured artist act (except for Alice in Chains, especially the Dirt album, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, and very select Nirvana).

It's not as if I haven't previously been thankful for every blessing that I have.  I've not only counted them, I've connected to them so tightly that I'm consumed by them, comprised of them. I am my blessings. But, when grateful is your default, the sharp need to write dulls a bit.

It's almost as if the universe was offended by my writing-under-happiness ways, and threw me an "LOL--Don't EVEN taunt me!" message.  Right now, I still ache with pain from last night. The hurt is raw, and laying on the surface, still clouding my concentration, and leading the Occupy Kate's Heartstreet movement.  I really haven't learned any lessons from it yet, and since it's a resurgence of past pain that I've work through, I honestly don't know if I will.  So here I am, unprocessed, but still writing.  In true PMA spirit, I'm choosing to write about the positive in my life.  Because even in the thick of this pain, I can see my beautiful life and good fortune through this veil of negativity, and it is with certain hope that I know it will be lifted.

So now I'm going to write about why I love comedy, specifically stand up.  Or in the words of Monty Python, "And now for something completely different..."

My therapist (why yes, I am a 20-something in New York City) also works for the legal system, doing psychological analysis of rapists and murderers.  Fun, right?  He said that with the horrific deeds that these people have done, it's sometimes hard to view them as human, and that often the only human connectivity comes through shared laughter. This makes sense to me.

Prepare to roll your eyes, critics-o-comedy, because the seeds of my stand-up comedy love were planted by Dane Cook.

As I mentioned, what I'm going through is a resurgence of past pain, super-surprisingly most of which took place in my adolescence. There weren't a whole lot of great days with bad nights.  It felt like bad days with restless nights, and it didn't feel like a temporary veil of pain, but that type of pain where  all of your surroundings have betrayed you.

But in a cloud of the searingly painful memories, one of my most piercing happy memories comes from Dane Cook's first Comedy Central special (Harmful If Swallowed).  I'd never really watched stand up before, or knew too much about it other than that Steve Martin's album made my dad late for his own wedding. But there I was, flipping through channels, trying to distract myself from invading swells of hopelessness, marched forward by armies of relentless traumas, when something amazing happened: I laughed. Not the kind of laugh where you smirk and make sounds from your vocal chords, but the kind where you're upheaving laughter from your gut, where you're heart starts racing, and you're struggling to catch your breath.  Watching comedy at it's best is cardiovascular exercise.

And then my dad came into the room, and he started laughing too.  And then my sister did.  She was literally on floor, in tears of hysterical laughter instead of hysterical pain, an all too foreign sight. I think my mom was in the kitchen, making dinner, and wondering what the hell was going on.

And in that moment, hopelessness disappeared.

Did it come back? Sure. But it taught me that the hopelessness can be just as temporary as the laughter, that the circumstances of being trapped in sorrow or showering in happiness can disappear in an instant, and that both are inevitable.

We can't always control what happens to us, but we can choose what will weigh more on our own personal scales.  So in late hours of last night/the early hours of this morning, I turned to comedy to tip mine in the direction of happiness.  I queued up comedians who have helped me through my worst, who I'll never be able to thank in person, comedians who I do know who you'll probably never meet, and even queued up the muppets, who are really the childhood gateway drug of comedy enthusiasts.

For far too long, comedy has been viewed purely as entertainment and not an art form, because the end result is laughter.  It feels like that mentality is changing, and I hope it is.  To those who don't, seek comedy when sad.  To comedians who are already making waves, please don't stop.  And to comedians who travel an hour to perform seven unpaid minutes of material to four people in a basement, don't stop either, because you never know who's life you may be changing.

Laughter can be an indicator of something greater than "thinking something is funny." Sometimes it's indicative of the disappearance of sadness, hopelessness, anger, bitterness, and fear.

Thank you, Dane.
-k

Monday, September 10

The Love Rollercoaster

I have an amazing cousin.  Actually, I'm blessed with a lot of amazing cousins.  On one side of my family, I am the second oldest of 14 cousins, edged out only by my sister.

A couple of years ago, I was forced to admit that one of my younger cousin's is officially cooler than me.  (This is probably true about most of my cousins and isn't that hard to be). It's an upsetting blow to any "older" family member, especially an unnecessarily competitive one like me.

But she's sort of my spirit animal.  She finds cool music and stays up way too late and loves comedy that's not on TV yet and makes cool headpieces out of t-shirts when we are at the beach and would rather do cool "New Yorker things" than "New York things" when she comes to visit.  Thankfully, I have a few years on her, so I can play the older-and-wiser card, if I am forced to lose the "older-and-cooler" one.  Every day she's gaining on me there, too.

In one of our million 2 a.m. conversations, we were discussing relationships and our strict criteria for the men who enter our lives.

They are:
1) Cannot be named D***
2) Cannot be an alcoholic/have any crippling addictions
3) Must love rollercoasters

I HATE writing about relationships, not because I'm some dark and twisty soul who thinks love is dead, but because whatever is learned from relationships is probably a lesson about yourself, and can be applied everywhere in life.  That's kind of more my jam.  But the scoreboard says that these are my most popular posts, and I am a woman of the people.  It's like that scene in A League of Their Own when Jimmy Dugan/Tom Hanks tells his players to hurry up because "dozens of people are waiting to see you play."  I have to give my dozens of readers what they want.  But I can't date Jimmy Dugan because he's an alcoholic.  And ficitonal.

The point is you all want me to be something I'm not, so I'm selling out and giving you a Carrie Bradshaw rundown of dating in your mid-20s in NYC with the aforementioned criteria of not being named D***, not being an alcoholic, and loving rollercoasters.

These may not seem like the most sound criteria, and it surprises me how many people ask for my relationship feedback when I haven't been in a relationship in quite a while.  Granted there's been an intense "focus on me" period that every 20 something is obligated to go through, but I guess I've picked up some relationship trends by watching from the stands.

I went speed-dating with my stupid sister who signed us up for it without asking me if I was available or if I wanted to do it.  The answer to both of those questions is no, but we did anyway.  For some reason, we were both trepidatious on the cab ride over with our hearts already racing before any suitors had a chance.

"We can get out and split a cake instead" I said to my sister, completely not at all joking in any way, shape, or form.

But we did it, and I'm glad we did.  How was I so nervous going into something I was completely close-minded to and had no expectations for?  These fears were quickly squelched when I remembered that they were just as scared as me, were just other human beings, and that I didn't actually give a shit about the outcome.

It's funny that just by sitting there and having a different conversation every four minutes (or really the same conversation every four minutes with different people) that I felt like I'd accomplished something.  Entering it, my best case scenario was that I'd walk away not interested in anyone that I met, but feeling as if my guard was low enough that I'd have as authentic of a conversation as possible, and that's exactly what happened.  I wasn't pleasantly surprised by a spark with anybody, but that's okay.  It reinforced my belief that my no-name, no-crippling-addiction, must-love-rollercoasters criteria are so open for a reason.

I'm attracted to someone's energy more than a "type."  I have no doubt that a lot of these guys will make for a great Prince Charming for somebody, take them out to great dinners and fit all of the attributes on their roller-coaster neutral check list.  But I've dated mohawked musicians to finance boys in jeans that cost more than my last paycheck.  I don't have a check list.  (Except it really helps if they're taller than me).

I guess that's why I never committed to online dating, in collaboration with the fact that I'd rather be single and wait for the right guy than be coupled with any guy kind of girl.  Some people are looking for a perfect handy man who provides financial stability and wants the 2-and-a-half kids and a mini-van life.  But I really just want an adventure buddy to laugh with. Of course, I want to be grounded enough to be serious, and I'm not so independent that there's no point in having another person around, but my default is fun and silly.  This was not available in a sea of Young Professionals Speed-daters.  They wanted to discuss what they do outside of their uninspired 9-to-5s and what part of New York City I live in and what my ideal date is.

The truth is, my ideal date would be to go to the Central Park boathouse, but if I'd gone with any of these guys, I'd be looking to jump into the water to get away and/or make it exciting.  I guess that's part of where my closed-mindedness started.  I'd rather be on date 3 at the boathouse, or date 5 watching bad TV in my sweats and eating take out than on date 1 talking about how your finance job pays the bills, but is burning you out.  Some even refused to talk about work, which not only totally made me think they were in the mob or porn industry, but is really hard--neigh--impossible when my job feels borderline vocational.

I doubt most people go into speed-dating looking for confirmation instead of a date, but I'm glad that it verified my odd and limited checklist.  My sister can sign me up for that awareness any day.

Now a few speed dating tips:
1) Don't take off your name tag and say it's because "you're a rebel like that."
2) Don't try to woo me with your Spanish guitar skills and ask if "you can buy me a drink and get out of here."
3) Don't bring up porn, even if the connection is that your sister did an off off broadway gig with a porn star and we're talking about "art."
4) Don't speak so quietly I can't hear a word you're saying.
5) Don't refer to the tram between Roosevelt Island and Manhattan as a "magic carpet/magic box."
6) Don't tell me the WWE is stupid.  I already know it is and I love it anyway.
7) Don't be named D***. (See above)
8) Don't tell me we "aren't going to talk about THOSE things that everyone else is."  Of COURSE we are.  This is awkward as hell.
9) Don't be a Red Sox fan.  That's just a tip about life, really.
10) Don't tell me you're "on break" with someone.

A word about number 10.  What the HELL does "on break" mean?  You're either dating someone or you are not dating someone.  Those are the only two things that are real.  I hate "on break" because 87% of the time it's just postponing a break up because you're both in denial that it isn't working out when "you're just so right for eachother."  Unfortunately love, like most of life, is a decision and a circumstance.  You can decide who is right for you (see rollercoaster preference), but their preferences, timing, fate, etc., may not fall into the delicate balance that looks so stubbornly right in the picture you've made, or stalked on the two of you on Facebook.

Here's the thing about being "on break."  It's a power struggle, intentionally or otherwise.  One person didn't want to be "broken up with temporarily or maybe forever," so they're stuck pacing back and forth between the friend zone and "someday," (which may never come) while the heartbreaker is off "working on themselves" and "just having fun with their friends" and "probably sleeping with other people and debating whether or not to tell you about it."

Rarely when a couple is on break are they actually working on the issues within themselves or their relationship, and if they are, they aren't "breaking" for shit.  The real kicker is, that usually the person who called for this break is stewing whatever complicated circumstances they created so that they had "something to get away from."

Let this person go.  The masochism of "hanging in there to see if it works out" is overpowering the fact that they are disrespecting you, even if you agreed to it, and frankly, if you're looking for a rest-of-your-life person, the circumstances are just going to get harder.  If they have one foot out the door already, you may want to close it for them, because they'll be sprinting for the streets when what lays ahead arrives.

Ask couples who have been married for over a decade how many breaks they've had, and how many they've felt like they needed.

Just remember, you're probably worth staying for.  I mean, do they even like rollercoasters?

-k




Thursday, September 6

I am batman

I ran a 5k this Saturday.

If you know me, you understand how crazy that is as I've been allergic to all things running for as long as I can remember.

But that changed.

Some sorority sisters go tanning and talk about how guys are assholes and drink cosmos.  My pledge mom coordinates an 8 hour road trip to a 5k where runners get chased by zombies and finish the race virtually "dead" and coated in mud.  Don't get me wrong, we've had our shopping trips and cried about boys and many beach outings, but this was a new adventure.

I completed my leg of driving as we rolled into Pittsburgh's finest Super 8, armed with nothing more than a fountain soda and a phenomenal playlist compiled by my awesome (and weary) co-pilot, a great friend and inspiring runner her own right.  Just four hours later, we headed over to race, already in zombie mode.  After all,  they were slated for a 9:30 zombie wave, and had to be zombified beforehand.

Properly adorned in fake blood, mud, and even prosthetics, they set out scare and collect the health flags of innocent runners who were just trying to survive.  I made my way towards the spectator area, observing a giant water slide and an even more intimidating hill.  I'd never "run" anything before, and as I gleaned a field of mud pits, fences, and walls that would soon lay before me, I had no idea how the hell I was going to muddle (no pun intended) through this course.  My training and hard work was merely a pathetic mouse squeak in the face of an elephantine course.  I don't scare too easily,* but this was daunting.

Ironically, the second I decided to run was the moment I stopped running; running from fear, from myself, from every and any excuse to bail--nasty humidity, the knee pain of an 80-year-old grandpa, very little sleep, major sinus issues, a headache from our non-smoking reservation turned smoker's lung of a room.  I didn't conquer my hatred of running and train that hard just to back out.  I couldn't let twinges of fear and soreness of my old failure-to-follow-through ways stop me.  I was going to survive this course, if not the zombie apocalypse, or die trying.

Less than an hour later, I found myself caked in mud, down three health flags, and exhausted, literally crawling toward the finish line (under an electric fence) with a shit (or brain) eating grin on my face, placing 75th out of 291 participants in my wave.  I had done it, accomplishing a year-long goal as my mud-logged sneakers scraped across the finish line.

Every year when New Year resolutions roll around, I try to pick something that I know is good for me to do that I don't necessarily like.  It keeps my discipline muscle strong. They've ranged from going to the gym, to eating more vegetables, to cutting that toxic guy out of my life, to reading more often.  These missions are the Batman to my Gotham City self.  They aren't the things I need, but they're what I deserve, even if I don't initially want them.  Usually, the disdain fades away, and I end up liking these new found habits.

This year I chose running, and as we passed this year's half-way point, I had yet to jog forward on this goal.  When opportunity came knocking, I ran.  It (once again) taught me the invaluable lesson that most of our constraints are self-inflicted.  We're never too old, or too young, or too big, or too small, or too scared, or too hurt, or "too." We have the power to create whatever reality we want.  We only live the life that we resign ourselves to, so we should resign ourselves to something really great.

Who knows, maybe a 10k is around the corner.  Or maybe an alien 5k is next.

Imagine you.

-K

*(except for horror films and mice)

Tuesday, August 28

Lessons from Elvis Presley's Underwear

Rolling Stone released an article today that Elvis Presley's underwear are on auction, and are estimated to sell for as much as $15,000. 

Also, there are still homeless people in this world.  Countries that have been torn apart by natural disasters, wars, economic collapses, famines, and evil dictatorships.  People who can't even fathom $15,000, and people who have never worn underwear.

This isn't a greedy Americans post like I see crawling on Tumblr from whiny hypocritical hipsters who spend their time counting the blessings of others and remain oblivious to their own.  But what the hell is someone going to do with a $15,000 pair of underwear?

They're not going to wear it.  Hang it on your wall? Put it in a display case?  I'm not even sure what kind of conversation starter that's supposed to be, though I'm positive it's supposed to be one.  About Elvis? Rock music?  How much money you spend on complete bullshit while I'm still debating the practicality of a monthly Metrocard?

More bothersome than the impracticality of Elvis undies is the failure to recognize that he was just a person.  Did he make outstanding contributions to music?  Absolutely. 

But when he woke up in the morning, he cringed at the light the same way you did, waiting for his eyes to adjust to what his were about to take on for the day.  And after he woke up, he put on his pants, one leg at a time, just like you.  His were just a bit more sparkly.

I've never been fascinated with fame, but I am moved by inspiration.  It's why I'd rather see Richie Cannata on a Monday night than Justin Bieber at MSG, or an "unknown" comic at a bar show working out material instead of Carlos Mencia glue his jokes together by calling everyone "beaners" and exclaiming the comedic genius of "duhn-duhn-duuuuhn."  It's why I watch the mediocre stories entangled by the WWE instead of Glee, and why I'd rather put in 12 hour days for less money than work a 9-to-5 in a cushy finance job where cubicles are an acceptable thing.  What inspires me about these things IS the human connection; the things we've said before with a different perspective, the feelings we've never had a way to say before, and the ugliness that we try to avoid being thrust intp our faces to deal with, and sometimes, even laughed at.  Maybe it's because I sniff out the human aspect that I've never felt compelled to purchase their underwear.  Nobody's willing to pay me 15k for mine.  At least I don't think that's the case.

I understand that there are people genuinely inspired by Justin Bieber, and Carlos Mencia, and love their daily grind lives, and really connect to Glee, and that's great.  But the culture of fandom can be a dangerous terrain, and you maybe find yourself tripping over rocks of fame or grenades of false perception.  Identifying the genuine isn't always easy.  But every great song, movement, joke, riot, and change started with a person behind it.

Let's all die in our underwear, shall we?
-k

Thursday, August 23

Podding the cast of Dennis!

Grab a listen to this awesome podcast!  I talk about being Gia from Full House and a 90's dance party in Brooklyn,  pet peeve, and of course, wrassling:

http://www.dennishasapodcast.com/2012/08/episode-34-pet-peeves-with-kate-hensler.html?m=1

If I say something, hear what I say...

"cause my words have meaning, and that's the truth." -H2O, My Friend

I took a political science class in college, and I know my professor was amazing because I didn't know where he fell on the political spectrum until he told us at the end.  He was a master of teaching us the science part.  It seems our politicians and media have forgotten this.

The leaders of a nation are going to face problems that require solutions with measurable results.  They are also going to face issues that don't have a definitive right/wrong, bad/good dichotomy.  This is why politics is a world of both facts and emotions.  Two dominating political viewpoints (unfortunately) have arisen and dominated our government, expressed through the democratic and republican platforms.  Please note those are intentionally not capitalized for a reason.

I loved that political science class because I bought into the pipe dream that the political world consisted of different problem solving method, and that amazing national breakthrough could be accomplished by differing opinions.  This seemed like a reasonable belief at the time because the idea that progress can exist BECAUSE of our differences is visible in many other areas of life, like business, and relationships.  I don't know many couples that have never had a fight, and most of them will tell you that they've come out better for it.  Progress is often born out of challenge.

But I woke up from that pipe dream and realized that politics is a nightmare; an arena of yelling millionaires who are more concerned about pushing their opinion on everyone else and getting their agenda across than actually solving a problem.  A bunch of people with a bunch of money, who in the words of Billy Joel have "their fist in the air, and their head in the sand."  When your ears are full of sand, it's really easy not to listen to anyone else.  The volume of political voices has become greater than their message.  Both sides are guilty of this.  If you want to terrify yourself, watch a Sean Hannity rant or crazy Howard Dean's speech.  On mute.

And how many of our politicians and (political enthusiasts) teach their sons and daughters to share and compromise, only to be outsmarted by the majority of first graders in this regard?  I understand feeling passionate heat behind an issue, and I'm not saying that people should have to or are even capable of understanding their counter's viewpoint in it's entirety; they feel that way for a reason.  But can't we connect to the idea that if we're so passionately heated about our own viewpoints, that there's just the slightest chance that they're as passionate about their own?  We form our opinions based off of our experiences and beliefs; through the filters that we view the world and the colors we've been painted with.

I also understand the desire to dismiss someone's argument because that's how someone "feels," when you build your arguments on facts.  I'm a fact builder.  Everyone guy I've dated has ended an argument with "that's just how I feel."  And there isn't shit I could do about it.  Politics is personal for some people, and not for others.  Both approaches are extremely valuable.  Furthermore, their are logical arguments behind both platforms.  That's why they've risen as the most dominant voices in the country.

Here's a great example from Aaron Sorkin on what an argument of facts vs. emotions can look like.  My friend showed me this a couple of weeks ago, and I'm obsessed with it.



I didn't include this clip because I care about Aaron Sorkin's thoughts on gay marriage.  I included it because I haven't seen an actual political discussion IN THE REAL WORLD this well crafted in my life time.  In fact, I don't know if I've truly seen a political DISCUSSION in my life time.  Just spin rooms full of hot air attacks giving guests two minutes to defend themselves.

One of my favorite parts of this clip is that towards the end, Jeff Daniel's character, Will McAvoy, even concedes that he learned a lesson while maintaining his argument.  Can you imagine a politician conceding that he learned something from an opposing viewpoint, or was even wrong, outside the throws of a political scandal?

I would hope that the people actually trying to help our country could be even more civil than this, but I'm too smart to hope for the unrealistic.

I'm not trying to stir up a political firestorm with this blog, I'm just trying to deflate the political milieu injected into our minds and/by the media.

lI'm about as moderate as you get.  I'm fiscally conservative because I think I should get to choose what I want to do with the money I spend, but if I had the money, I'd donate it to some liberal programs.  I'm straight edge, but I really don't give a shit if anyone else smokes weed.  I balance how I feel and what I think, and choose my political views based on that.  I don't try and change anybody's mind when I share my views, and I don't think anyone is stupid for thinking differently than I do.*

During Jon Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity, he noted the traffic that people were enduring on the way to this rally.  He said that even with the infuriating state of anger induced by traffic, each driver was still getting to their desired destination, because they were all letting each other go one car at a time.  Politics is not a world of problem solving.  It is a world of striving to filibuster the opposing. 

I stay informed. I vote.  But politics sickens me.  We need a dialogue, but we get opinionated monologues that are given in a vacuum without the slightest opening of the speaker's mind.  That maybe, JUST maybe, they could contribute something.  Maybe they didn't have enough inspirational "Your mind is like a parachute" posters when they were younger.

Please shut up and vote.
-k


*Except for morons who say that a woman's body shuts down when she is raped. 

Saturday, July 21

this post doesn't matter, and that's cool.


it doesn't. not today. that's not to say that this post is meaningless.  i think that it means something.

but it doesn't matter. neither do our thoughts, feelings, or opinions.  none of our outrageous tweets, or political Facebook posts.  none of our anger, none of our sympathy, none of our beliefs.  not in this context, not right now.

can we connect to the idea that that's okay?

it doesn't matter because 12 people in Aurora, Colorado needlessly died at the hands of a heartless criminal.

acts so heinous spark a variety of reactions.  people are compelled to use their voice when such an exquisite evil is present, even when they're not directly linked to it.  i'm not one of them, except for this very writing.

my aim was a bit off today.  an account on Twitter noted that Aurora was trending, and the brand assumed it was do to the popularity of one of their products, never checking to see why.  as a human being and a publicist, i was bewildered.  how could this brand be so careless as to either exploit this tragedy or not fact check?  i tweeted about it in anger. because that's what we do on Twitter.

and then i deleted that angry tweet because it doesn't fucking matter. that account's misstep and my anger have nothing to do with the horror of what happened in Colorado, and contribute nothing to the healing process. 

similarly, it doesn't matter if we think gun control would have made a difference.  it doesn't matter if we think religion may have played a role.  it doesn't matter if we think news organizations not referring to the shooter as a terrorist is a racial issue. it doesn't matter who tweeted what.  it doesn't matter if he was possessed or mentally ill.  this is simply us generating noise that demeans what does matter.  i hate that i fed into it, even if momentarily.

it's meaningless because it doesn't undo the hideous crime. it doesn't bring back those lost. it doesn't comfort the friends and families of the victims. it doesn't bring justice.

(if you're going to argue that we need these debates as a healthy way to create preventive measures for the future, i understand.  but the people who are genuinely committed to that understand know that there are outlets for these measures, and none of them are social media.  they'll also be the ones still trying to make a difference a month from now rather than having their first in the air and their head in the sand, in the lyrics of Billy Joel).

the onion wrote a controversial and upsettingly true article about how America can predict how this will unfold based off of what's become the formula of previous tragedies.  it notes that we know that (and when) the sadness, anger, and outrage will end, and we will move on almost as if it didn't happen.  except of course for those who were directly impacted.

and we do, and we should.  as untrue as it may seem, the hideous actions are already in the past.  there is a level of reverence and fear (and a relentless hounding by the media) that will keep them in our present for a short while.

on Colt Cabana's The Art of Wrestling podcast, CM Punk noted that we have the ability to manage our sadness to an extent, saying "if you're bummed, go do something you like to do."  for many of us, this will be the next step.  we will get bummed thinking and hearing about it, and then go on.  the sadness will turn merely to twinges.

then, in a year from now, we won't think about it at all.  our fiery reactions will squelch like flames do.  except for those who listen through the noise; who react by acting.

this story is going to further unfold, and the meaningless voices will grow louder. i don't mean to preach, but i do ask you to set this shit aside. keep what matters in mind.

because they'll reveal that the shooter listened to a Hatebreed or something (i do, and never killed anyone), or watched violent television (WWE fan, never attempted a Codebreaker) or that his adolescence was less than cinematic (who the fuck's isn't?) and that he had faded copies of terrifying writings he stowed away in a worn out shoebox under his bed.  and none of that will matter either.  celebrate the heroes who risked their lives for strangers--who dismissed their own injuries to lessen the wounds of someone else.  refuse to be governed by fear or the media.

it's perfectly natural to fall apart in the wake of something like this, but when putting ourselves back together, we should do it with the pieces that matter.

act. help.

maybe then this blog will mean something.
-k

CLICK HERE TO MEAN SOMETHING.


"there's blood on the street today, but no more than there was yesterday.  have we really learned anything? or are we just doomed to hit rewind--and hit rewind--and play?" -Bryan Fenkart, When We Were Young

Friday, July 6

"prepare for a series of comfortable miracles"





she looked like an employee from American Eagle restocking merchandise, but she was just sifting through my collection of wrestling shirts to wear to her and her brother's first ever WWE event.  her brother had gotten tickets to a wrestling house show for his birthday, which thanks to his invite ultimately ended up being a gift for me as well.  as he patiently waited for his sister to select a shirt from the array of merchandise that i toted from Manhattan to Allentown, i realized that my interest in the WWE is teetering on obsession. 

the more I apply it to real life, the more I realize that teetering is a generous verb.

one of my favorite wrestling terms is "kayfabe."  Kayfabe is basically the suspension of disbelief, or the ability to make a fictional scenario feel real. it's how well the wrestling world tinkers with/plays within the rules of the imaginary world that we're buying into. it's largely determined by a performer's ability to commit to his/her character, regardless of whether he is the "good guy" (face) or "bad guy" (heel).  even if he/she is getting kicked in the face.  for kayfabe to really show up, the characters involved have to fully uphold their beliefs, and not acknowledge whether they are applying them for "good" or for "bad."  they simply have to be them.

in a world where consequences and rewards are scripted and beliefs are laid out on a storyboard, it's still a very finicky concept to master.  in life, where character is formed, not written, and contexts are inevitable, and not predetermined, it gets even trickier.

WWE fans, marks, and haters alike are hungry to uphold kayfabe.  we want who we are and the roles that we play to be so clearly defined that we can articulate it--even boast about it--on a microphone to thousands of people, and we want to be proud of it.  we want our every and every move to be such a genuine and direct link to our character that they dismiss our need to maintain appearances and thwart inescapable looming judgements.  we want to be unaffected by whether our outcomes make us the "good guy" or the "bad guy."  we want to acknowledge that our greatest strengths and weaknesses make us vulnerable to either, but that we don't care.  we want our decisions to be born in a vacuum, and to never doubt whether or not our reactions are aligned with our character.  we want to be this unchained from hesitation, reluctance, fear, and distrust in ourselves. we want to be this certain; this connected to who we are.  we love self-discovery, but we really love the security in a script.

there's something that has always floated in the cloud of my own character. it's been coming to fruition with more and more clarity. 

relentless devotion.

i know 25 is a bit young to be feeling my mortality, so i hope this isn't as grim as it sounds, but we don't have a lot of time here.  we're blessed with this one life (that we know of) and we get one chance at it.  i'm young, but i have a lot of yesterdays in my rearview, and i know it's important to make plans, but the future is only a conversation. we only really have now.

so, i've decided that if i could define my kayfabe with anything, it would be to authentically approach every layer of my life as if it's vocational.  this is my oath to myself.  i know injecting this much zeal into my daily life, and up-keeping the areas it's already present in will be exhausting, but i also know that it makes possibilities infinite and dreams operational.  it also makes the huge volume of these desires less daunting and more opportunistic and achievable. commanding this perception makes me unmesswithable.  there isn't a lot that i can't control, but i know that if i grip what i can control with unwavering ferocity, the uncharted will fall into place or render itself inconsequential.

i will be a machine of victory, and my losses will come without regret.  nobody will defeat me because they are better, faster, stronger, more passionate, more dedicated, or more committed than i am.

to me, it'll just be luck, and luck is for losers anyway.

-k

Monday, May 14

"when i got the music...

...i got a place to go" -Radio, Rancid

a year ago i was praying on 24.

i've relied on the number 24 before--for the first time as a 9-year-old Yankee faithful who knew ballplayers as heroes, often falling asleep to the lull of John Sterling & Michael Kay's radio broadcast, stretching the bed time boundaries set by my parents.  (this was about as rebellious as I got).

the 1996 Yankees were greater than the sum of their parts, which is why I can still name the roster to this day, but as I sat in the center-field bleachers of new Yankee Stadium today, some of the names were vague.  1996 left an indelible mark as most of the "superstars" were barely in the making, including rookies Derek Jeter, who still had the frame of a 17-year-old, and Andy Pettitte, who still had the face of a 5-year-old.

but one of the most impressive subplots was Tino Martinez's debut Yankee season.  as he proudly donned navy pinstripes and a bold number 24 on his back, much of the Yankee universe collectively thought "what the hell are you doing?"

Martinez was taking over for the legendary Don Mattingly, who wore the number 23, and though Yankee fans love to rally behind their new guys, they have no problem reminding players when they are trying to fill unfillable shoes (as witnessed by my incessant chanting of Scott Brosius' name at Alex Rodriguez to this day).

the numbers game is no joke.  early in Mickey Mantle's career, he was assigned the number 6, and after a nasty slump, he switched to the number 7 as he couldn't stand the pressure of falling in line with Babe Ruth (3), Lou Gehrig (4), and Joe DiMaggio (5). but at least they don't have names on the back of their jerseys to help this cause.

and now, Martinez wasn't only replacing a beloved "Yankee immortal," but he was taking over for a guy whose value outweighed his numbers, one who is remembered for grit and relentless effort more than his statistics, which are still impressive.

in an era where athletes are often quick to blame harsh fans and the microscope of the New York media for their failures, Martinez thrived.  this is because he wasn't trying to "replace" Mattingly, or anyone.  number 24 was never "a number that came after 23."  Martinez was just himself, and his success eventually cemented his own place in Yankee history.  it seems easy enough--but ask Jared Weaver or Randy Johnson how hard it is.

as the number 24 swung around for my birthday last year, i was just trying to be myself, but the problem was i had very little idea what the hell that meant.  the excitement of uncharted twenty-something territory was outweighed by the anxiety of a recent job loss and an underlying suspicion that i was battling an unknown demon.  i had been through far worse, and was plenty thankful for what i did have, but i was hoping that there would soon be a time where happiness would outweigh the work i was doing to be happy.

i'm not one to take things for granted, and certainly not one to look for a way out, but my wishes were starting to outweigh the candles.  24--i needed you.

and oh, has it answered--and always through music.

shortly after my 24th birthday, i went to Bonnaroo music festival, where i realized that my desire to work in the music industry was actually a need, and the job i lost in tech PR, (though a great opportunity) no longer felt like a lost one.  i faced my flaws and fears, including an ADHD diagnosis, which was properly treated with the right support and care.  one of my biggest sources of inspiration, a writing God in my eyes, included me behind the scenes as he recorded his new album.  I began working in music publicity, exercising what feels more like a vocation than a job with an amazing group.  I'm moving on to work as the Director of Publicity with a new family of old friends. 

I tapped into a new inspiration in Toby Morse and the band H2O, who in seeing live inspired me to live a drug free lifestyle, something that I feel was always in me and was revealed rather than a decision I made.  living in the present reality in the biggest gift, and the static of substance is not a needed or wanted noise.  the symbol, "x" is also represented as it's numerical value in the alphabet--number 24. 

this concert also identified PMA, something I always lived by but never truly defined.  it has played an integral role in letting go of my adolescent "but I was supposed to come out of college and get a job so easily" mentality, and shifted it into a "what possibilities can I create for myself?" arena--an invaluable lesson.

there's been stress and struggle; some friendships bloomed, others died, and some have wilted with the hope of revival, but i hold the bad near to my heart because I've never felt more alive.

thank you, 24, for teaching me to be myself. and a little bit like Tino Martinez.

here's to 25
-k

Wednesday, March 21

I Podded Dennis' Cast...Again!

Shit gets real as Dennis and I talk about influences and inspirations like Bryan Fenkart, Toby Morse, PMA and CM Punk.   Also, I go on a rant about how annoying the St. Patrick's Day parade is!

Thursday, January 19

I Podded Dennis' Cast!

hey precious babies,

i was on this really great, really long podcast!  i talk about skype therapy and comedy and life and wrestling.  basically in that order!

listen here: http://dennishasapodcast.tumblr.com/post/16105205855/episode-3-so-i-talk-to-kate-for-a-while-caution

Thursday, January 12

"i can draw a line between, who i am and what i've seen"

...but it's still just as dark at night.
                                   -Bryan Fenkart, My Prayer

the other day i denied the dreaded "facebook friend request" from an ex-whatever, who for far too long was The Guy I Couldn't Get Over.  just over a year ago, i received the same request from the same Guy I Couldn't Get Over, and  a rare moment of strength spiked like an irregular heartbeat over my steady pulse of weakness for him, and i denied him then as well.

but a year ago, for whatever reason, i felt compelled to relieve him of whatever guilt he was carrying around, even though these attempts were and are born out of manipulation and mind games rather than his genuine interest in my clever status updates and WWE YouTube links. 

or maybe it is genuine.  but our virtual friendship was just a toxic crack into our immature, nonexistent real life relationship, maintaining our affinity for unhealthy habits we excuse away with the stupidity of our twenty somethings, not knowing how to navigate the uncharted Age of Technology--an age which betrayed me by unblocking him when I switched to Facebook's "Timeline" format.

regardless of virtual profiles and ethermessages, he's mostly likely reaching out to me in an attempt, consciously or subconsciously, to sabotage his relationship with his current girlfriend, who he already cheats on, so that he can drown in the deep end of the pain inflicted by his broken engagement.  and with a painful goodbye to an innocent girl who caught on too late, he will wonder why oh why he took the dive in the first place.  there was a time when I was sympathetic to this once, and for far too long, but this pain manifested itself into brief spurts of torture victimizing me and whatever cute girl may have caught his attention in his Hoboken shithome pub. my threshold has far been broken.

despite my thorough and most likely upsettingly accurate analysis of his current state, based on our 0 interactions in the past year, it is no longer my concern.   i'm done listening to whispers of his heart on his sleeve; of pretending our surface flirtations haven't seen far deeper realities; of challenging him to be a better man at the sacrifice of myself.

so, the girl that just a year ago was apologizing for her inability to resist him and wistfully singing along every Dave Matthews that my iTunes seemingly not-so-randomly shuffled now blares Lelia Broussard's finest tunes (Masquerade, Something True, You're Not Fooling Anyone), with a confident strut into her new life, no longer looking back at the guy who needed his fix and little girl who once supplied him.  the needle no longer stabs both ways, feeding my veins with poison disguised as love's complications.  my blood pumps only with positivity and strength.  he wears wounds older than my scars, picking at them with sharpened nails of nostalgia and what could have been.

the girl who was once pathetic over The Guy now finds The Guy...well, pathetic.

i'd never seen him as pathetic before, and though this term seems harsh, i mean it with it's definition, not condescension, though allowing myself the anger i deserve is cathartic.  looking at all experiences through the filters of who you've grown into reveal so much about the decisions that you made in the past.  they can color in silver linings and true colors, and even if they clash, the wisdom gained is it's own value.

i don't want to be with someone who chooses suffering over healing, who creates their own pain through mistakes that they know they are making, who won't address his Achilles heel, and creates his own tennis elbow.  it once felt so stubbornly right, and now i could not be convinced there is anything more wrong (okay, maybe like evil dictators and felons and stuff).  and for so long i thought the pieces would fit if i could just smooth out what was rough around my edges.

it's important to reexamine keystones of our lives when we can do so with understanding and compassion for who we were and shed the masochism that comes what was once such a defining pain.

Facebook is just tomorrow's MySpace anyway.  (please go like this on Facebook).

-k.

Monday, January 9

Guest blog on Lucious!

I was asked to guest blog on Lucious, spearheaded by the lovely Amalea Costa!  It's a fashion blog, and I talked about how fashion is a subculture and how I don't look like most people on the Upper East Side or most of the people at the H2O show I went to.  Check it out!  Tell her that you think she and I are groovy.


http://www.lusciousx.blogspot.com/2012/01/meet-kate-hensler.html

Sunday, December 18

try

 
i'm the one yelling my head off two people to the right of the mic.
            photo courtesy of the brilliant Chris Roque!
               www.ChrisRoque.com, @ChrisRoque 
..but you can't bring me down
                                  -Everready, H2O

i finally remembered that i had to pick up soy milk.  i live with my sister and we go through soy milk like it's (thick, thicker than...) water because of our love of Rice Chex and the constant lack of anything else in our refridgerator.  she had bought the last 8-9 (hundred) gallons, and just as my weary, post-weight lifting arm cleared fresh gym sweat from my brow, endorphins cleared my mind long enough to remember that i had to run to the corner deli before i collapsed in my chair to watch WWE Raw.

with an intentional stride past my apartment and onward to the Christmas tree stand on my street corner, my eyes glowed with happiness like the lights that would soon adorn the naked trees i was walking towards.  this sweet, holiday magic was quickly soured by a criminal scrooge, armed with mace and a desire to steal my phone.  as he made a threatening (and public) grab for my things, i blocked him, screamed, and elbowed him really hard in the rib cage.  a friendly doorman and cinematic couples walking their dogs through Christmas paradise quickly came to my aid as he ran and i stood paralyzed in shock.

he didn't manage to rob me of anything and i only felt robbed of my safety for a short time.  but he did mace me, which left behind an orange residue and a brutal burn that blanketed my skin, only cured by water, air, and time.  the pain followed me to the police station. and then to the hospital.  and then to a wicked shower that dripped with a new stream of pain as i tried to wash it away, and new combinations of swear words that bounced off of the bathroom tile as i shouted them.

the following hours of exquisite pain and days of paranoia were caused by a split-second attack that was over almost as quickly as i forget a lesson that i love to relearn: trust. the damn. universe. and yourself.
 
we can work what problems in our control and learn to let go and accept what is not in our control.  furthermore, don't be plagued by negativity and waste your mental energy on what you can't change.  i write about this concept ad nauseum, because we can't escape it and i believe it's at the core of what happiness boils down to.  but i don't think i've placed enough weight how powerful perception can be in this equation.

i walked away from this attack feeling so thankful.  for my instincts, my support system, the NYPD officers that helped me, that i still felt so safe in my neighborhood, that the pain inflicted from being maced was temporary, that none of my possessions were stolen, that my assailant will likely be caught.  and for so much more.

i could have let the emotional pain engulf me the same way the scalding sensation ignited my skin.  as i laid in bed coping with the post-mace heat, i could have let my mind burn with fear, with doubt, with self-pity, with anger, with what-ifs.  i could chalk it up to big bad New York City and move.  i could lock myself in my apartment after dark.  i could wonder what-if i had just gone home, or had my phone tucked away, or had taken the bus instead of the train, or hadn't been slacking on groceries so many weeks before?

but what a pity to have not gone through this little hell and not out of the flames better for it.  i don't ignore the fear and i don't hide my anger, but to me this is proof that when i'm faced with such a test, blessings rain down on me.  showering myself with anything less than gratitude would be such a disservice.  this perception is a choice.  i choose not to swim in the waves of negativity, because they are powerful and you can easily drown.

the only experience to rival this physical pain recently was the ache in all of my organs from being pinned between a barricade and a mosh pit at H2O's album release show (the day after seeing Chimara and Unearth at Starland Ballroom).  the difference is that pain was AWESOME.

i found H2O working for my college radio family at WSOU and rekindled my love with their music (and tattoos) when i found out he was good friends with WWE professional wrestler and fellow S.E.O.G. CM Punk.  the band is fronted by Toby Morse, and if you aren't drawn to him, you're allergic to inspiration.  he is a mastermind behind embracing a Positive Mental Attitude (PMA).  his lyrics, attitude, and soul don't bury or ignore human hurt, but it rips out their silver linings and turns them into shining overlays.  his outlook impacted me far more than any cowardly attempt at a robbery.  we can't control what heartbreak we encounter, but we can choose the path where we struggle the least; the path that steers us away from self-pity and towards transformative knowledge.  we have to power not to be haunted.

like the pain that danced on my skin, emotional pain is often unprovoked, undeserved, and may linger.  it's up to us to wash it away.

-k.

Sunday, October 9

"i look up--on my knees, and out of luck--i look up"

i hate the phrase don't sweat the small stuff.  it doesn't acknowledge that if you don't tend to some "small stuff," it will snowball into "big stuff."  it also ignores that there's some big stuff you can't really sweat other, because there is simply nothing you can do about it. and, sweating is really gross.

the war never seems to change; a constant fight between what's in your control versus what is not in your control.  it's fueled by battles on two fronts.  one fight is to maintain relationships to the best of your ability without being your own casualty.  the other is to figure out an attack plan at what is thrown your way by God/the universe.  they are violent, vicious, and unrelenting battles that often grow hot at the same time.  oddly enough, it's usually when you're out of ammo and you're armor has worn thin that you're on the verge of victories.

lessons in surrendering and self-prioritizing are never easy lessons to learn, but they often go in tandem.  maybe it's the world's way of ripping off the band-aid at once rather than rehashing such a similar pain that disguises itself in different characters.  if you're self-prioritizing, you likely won't be clinging to a relationship or life disruption that you can't let go of.  when you're what's being magnified by the glass, the rest of the world's distortion is a lot smaller.  the glimpses you catch of something greater will appear distant enough that they look like someone else's problem, and probably someone else a lot greater than you.  this doesn't mean that you should dodge what's falling. then instead of getting hit with a cold snow drift, brought upon by whipping winds and brutal cold, you get hit with a piano or anvil like in old cartoons. you aren't roadrunner. you can't outrun life. but if you're asking the question "why is this happening?," know that there is an answer, but you probably don't have it.

don't hiss at what's in front of you and slither between grounds of self-respect and fear.  if something bites, you can bite back, or at the very least, keep the venom out of your veins.

-k.

Thursday, September 22

The great exhale

'it seems that all my bridges have been burned...you say that's exactly how this grace thing works.'

One of the few situations where you can actually get children to stand still, single file, patiently, and in a line, is when there is a pinata. A cardboard skeleton of a stereotypical boy-themed or girl-themed shape, dressed in carefully adhered and brightly colored cray paper, and filled with candy. Not doses of dark chocolate or 100% real fruit gummy snacks. The sugar rushing, tooth rotting good stuff that makes parents squirm. It is narnia. He or she who breaks the pinata, and let's the wonder flood out of this magical sugar haven, is the hero.

I try normally to make these blogs as universal as possible, but this one is intensely personal, so please allow my self indulgence.

For years, I've felt as though I was walking around blindfolded, taking stabs into the dark at something that held me back. My spirit is unbridled, but there was something harnessing me from living my everyday life with ease. Organization, punctuality, and establishing a routine were far more daunting tasks than they should have been. So much of my mental energy was spent battling the ordinary that exhaustion engulfed my execution of all of my great plans. What feels automatic and involuntary to most people felt like giant anxiety-inducing hurtles. I have so much passion, and there was a wall between me and my passion. I have so much drive, but you can't drive through roadblocks that are invisible to you.

This Monday I was diagnosed with ADHD. I had diagnosed myself with it the previous Monday. I'm not one for diagnosing yourself online. I'm sure I could have also diagnosed myself with cancer and pregnancy if I narrowed in on specific symptoms. But reading about ADHD was like looking into a mirror, but rather than seeing my perception of myself staring back, I had a reflection of truthful text. So many symptoms were ringing bells--and loudly.

As reiterated in this blog, and the course of life, there comes a point where you need to take action. There is a threshold where talking is, well, all talk. I've been terrified of taking medications that alter brain chemistry because I've seen what can go so horribly wrong when you are misdiagnosed or stop taking them. But I need help. Scared or not, I was going to get it. Happiness is both a choice and a circumstance, and if I was going to choose happiness, I was going to have to stare down a fear that had been staring me in the eyes all of my life. Another trial of "let go and let god" has come into the spotlight, though I know it always walks beside me.

My friend said that trying to take this on without medicine is like going into a fight unarmed against something that is definitely armed. It is possible for you to win, but why make the fight so fantastically difficult? Why fire on less than all cylinders? Why focus so intensely on getting through the day that you can't live the rest of your life? Least of all, enjoy it.

The medication was effective immediately. I created To Do lists, and actually To Did them without overwhelming feelings of anxiety, or even hints of them. I had motivation to keep moving. I was early to a meeting without even trying. I knew where my keys were. The room I had once seen as clean appeared as an organized mess, where everything is put away but there is still no true order. The details were not glanced over, but noted. It was like when you wear your true prescription of glasses or contacts for the first time. An undeniable clarity was upon me, and I exhaled truly for the first time. Things were getting simultaneously more effortless and more careful. I was able to shift my focus to execution rather than so intensely on process. The daily routine had never truly felt natural before and now it had.

Of course this is not a magic medecine. There is still a long road to be traveled. Even healthy brains get scattered sometimes, and there are certainly good habits that still need to be instilled with this new found freedom. But it's a fantastic reminder that sometimes scary steps result in huge leaps.

The element of frustration sits heavy at times as well. Resisting the temptation to play the what-if game is difficult, but I'm determined not to let it cloud my positivity. Still it's natural to wonder what my GPA would have been or how much skinnier I might be had I discovered this earlier. At the end of the day, I still graduated respectfully, and am not obese, so im near where I want to be, and that is pretty all right. Had this battle come at a different time, I would likely have been too closed off to fight it, anyway. Timing and circumstance have aligned, and all I can do is seize it. I'm happy to have found out at 24 rather than at 50, wondering where my life went.

Everybody needs help, it's a matter of what kind. But this is not a sign of weakness. The truly strong are brave enough to fall apart and fall into honesty. This, is how we pull ourselves back together. Be strong enough to surrender. Be strong enough to ask for help. Be strong enough to get out of your own may. Be as bright, colorful, and free flowing as the cray paper pony you once road in on. The payoff is a lot better than candy necklaces and ring pops.

-k.

Friday, September 2

you fall apart again, and you can't find a friend

don't turn to someone else, cause they won't understand, i don't wanna hear you say, that you miss yesterday, if you don't like what you see, that means nothing to me.
-Fall Apart Again, Brandi Carlile

my dad was late to his own wedding because he and his fellow groomsmen were listening to Steve Martin's comedy album while getting ready.  i guess this is why i'm often late to things and why i have a crush on Steve Martin.
in his book, Steve Martin writes about mastering the concept of tension and release. through experience and psychology courses, he learned that the greater you build the tension, the greater the comedic payoff when the punchline releases a joke. this drove his comedy career, cementing his place as a defining father of stand-up comedy, a growing and changing art.
tension and release is also identified in music. one of my favorite examples is Brandi Carlile's "Pride and Joy." it's absurdly evident in the live version, that you can see here.  music's greatest catharsis is when a song's arrangement changes from tension to release. this is a song's pinnacle.  often, the lyrics correspond accordingly, setting free all that you're emotions and the song built.

life's most clarifying moments yield from tension and release as well.  often times, you have to create your own release, because circumstances are out of your control. as other people draw unexpected lines, or cross lines that you made clear, it may change how you color them in.  these lines often get drawn into a question mark.  these transitions, which tend to layer themselves with the little hells that life naturally drops on us, are trials in independence.  it is undoubtedly painful to when you discover that the priorities of a relationship no longer match. maybe they were mismatched all along, but the revelation can leave you feeling like a fool.  but, it can also cultivate independence.

you are your safest bet.  sometimes these changes are simply reminders of that.  you have to be able to sit still with yourself.  you take back the alone time you were sacrificing; you make safe all those sanctuaries that you once thought sharing added value to.  in the interest of self-respect, you have to follow through on the demands you made from the beginning, no matter how badly you want the other person to be able to have their cake and eat it, too.  this is natural, because if someone had the power to hurt you, you probably care about them.  if you set a threshold that someone else breaks, you're still left with a mess, but the relieving part is that you get to choose how you clean it up.  when damage is done, don't expect someone else to try and heal you, nor do you owe it to them to try so hard to make things "right," or atleast what was your previous definition of right.  all that's left is to learn.  to be your own phoneix and rise by yourself from the fiery ash of a shared how-things-were. 

i've never done well when i knew the people i cared about most were squirming.  it interferes with my own happiness.  but maybe new-found boundaries can allow you to create your own happiness free from others desires. when your mind is shifting with everything else, you have to look inward.  you can never get away from who you are, even when you want to, so you might as well make sure you'll never let yourself down. others always will, and maybe that's not as depressing as it sounds.  maybe it makes sure we will follow through on who we are.

there is a difference between being guarded and having a strong and healthy relationship with yourself.  it's also the easiest relationship to sacrifice, because by definition it will always be there in some respect.  you still have to water your seeds.  you have to be your own object of least neglect.  maintaining yourself will unlock doors nobody would ever open.

just try not to make others late to their own weddings.
-k.

-k.

Monday, August 29

family

It was so simple. Its just a wire skeleton with black and white beads filling in zebra stripes. My souvenir.

my cousin's heart is usually outside of herself, worn on her sleeve and reflected in others. She also has a really big heart, which is how a large part of it ended up in Africa. While many college students spend their summers oversleeping and underworking, she was off hearing heartbreaking stories on a continent so poverty stricken coca cola is more readily available than clean water. She countered these tragic tales by penning victory stories, establishing and cultivating cultural sustainability efforts. and with bucket showers.

And I got my zebra.

What seems a simple gesture to her meant so much to me; to know that I'm still on her mind when she's off saving the world, even an iota as much as she is on mine.

I studied my zebra briefly in my bedroom and thought about the week ahead. All Henslers in one house. Oh my.

Every year we have a family reunion. Motel in jersey near the shore. Pizza, mini golf, beach walk, sleep, beach, party, sleep, beach, boardwalk on annual repeat. This year's curveball landed all 30 family members on the Outer Banks of North Carolina around the corner from the beach.

 I know a lot of people who cannot stand their family reunions, or at the very least have to heavily drink their way thru them to find them enjoyable. They're always shocked to find that my family reunion is one of my favorite weekends of the year (even if I choose not to partake in the beer that's readily available).  as my fingers gently brushed the smooth beading of my African zebra, I thought about the stark but stunning contrast between each black and white beaded line;  the randomized direction of each stripe, deviating from one another but working together to form one beautiful work of art.   Zebras and families are a lot alike in this regard. (possibly the only in this regard. Other than maybe a family of zebras). 

I can understand why people think that having 30 people in one house could break one the side of disastrous insanity, but it can also break on the side of awesome.  With some carefully calculated email threads, a strategically built house, patience, understanding, and 30 really great people, it can be picturesque, or literally a picture in many cases if my mom is near :o) 

I'm the second oldest cousin next to my older sister and I love it. Not just because I have more single dollars from grandma and grandpa upon departure and more Christmas gifts and memories, but because many of the growing pains they will encounter I have already muscled thru, granted with some tears and strains, but they always manage to repair themselves, and there are some scars I'd never trade for anything. But maybe i can help make a few preventable thru good conversation over a puzzle or card game.  These experiences make me older and wiser. Allegedly. As the fantastic 14 continue to grow and change, so do our relationships. With each passing year these relationships mold with an invaluable richness.

Having a million aunts and uncles has always been a beautiful safety net, especially as adolescence can bring rougher waves than any we've navigated at the beach together. They've always been there to keep my head above water no matter how strong the undertow. It's nice to know they're willing to pick up the phone regardless of whether or not I call. And there's usually a home cooked meal on the other end, too.  Seeing my aunts, uncles, and grandparents always reminds me of where I came from. They are in my veins. Identifying their attributes and seeing how they are reflected in me let's me know where my roots are planted as I continue to grow and expand. They are planted firmly and with good seeds. And it's always nice to hear stories of who I was in the years before I can remember, though some of the horror stories make me think maybe I should adopt.

Some say your friends are the family you choose, but I think God did a great job of picking mine out.

I love my zebra.
-k. 
   

Thursday, July 21

CM Punk vs. John Cena

i broke my mother's heart in fourth grade when i told her i felt invisible. in the Catholic School system in my hometown you switch from grammar to middle school in 4th grade and it buried me under a sea of popular kids and adjustment.

recently, i've been producing a comedy show, and have been fortunate enough to rally troops of fantastic friends.

i was expecting one of my friends to come with her boyfriend, and after checking in with her multiple times, she was a no show. i tried contacting her after several times to no avail, and to this day haven't heard back. it's odd when a friendship ends with no explanation and without an inkling as to why. it leaves you confused, and not far from the invisible fourth grader who didn't know how to navigate cliques and drama. luckily, i still don't know how to navigate drama. i never want to learn, because i don't want this petty force in my life.

normally, in scenarios like this, the unresponsiveness would plague me. i'd overcalculate conversations past and circumstances present, dissecting the mechanics of what when wrong, who is to blame for what, and why it all happened. i'd chase until i got an answer. i'd create something to spark a response. i'd have to satisfy the lingering answer to why this happened, which is hanging in her rhelm. i'd need closure, a concept that seems to be more phantom that real, and that you rarely have the opportunity to achieve.

or, you can let go. mental energy seems better spent on acceptance of what is. in many ways, life is a series of people entering and exiting your life. sometimes these exits are graceful, nearly seamless, with the exception of the fact that it's indeed a break in friendship, communication, reliability, and closeness. people are unique, and so of course is every relationship. when someone drops out of your life, the needs that you had for that relationship must shift, to another friend or within yourself.

though this particular exit was quiet, many can be violent. in fact the silent screams can be the loudest; the deliberate, passive aggressive games that people play because they are desperate to make you a pawn, and under their control. in either case, i've preferred not to let go. i've preferred to set aside trivial frustrations, or call to attention the unspoken ones so that these obstacles clear. i've preferred to repair the damaged, regardless of how skewed or onesided. there's no problem two adults can't fix. i've flirted with line of self sacrifice vs. self sacrificing, a blurry line that never seems to run straight. perhaps this is why i tend to have a very long fuse, but why the end of it is so ugly.

but, sometimes the fact that you can fix something doesn't necessarily mean that you should. if you're so hellbent on repairing the broken that you find yourself tucking skeletons in the closet and sweeping dirty laundry under the rug for the "greater good" of your friendship, you may find the story of your relationships to be that of once upon a mattress. you find anger tucked between mattresses, sometimes even on a bed of lies. sleeping well won't come easy in these conditions.

i would not quit. i would never give up. i would be John Cena.

for those of you who have something better to do than watch the WWE from 8-10 p.m. on Mondays or PPV Sundays, John Cena has been made the face of the WWE. he is disliked by many because he's not the best in the ring, and he has been made champion so many times due to stale writing (something i blame the writers for more than him). he's fantastic on the microphone, and could probably get me psyched to file a tax return.

his edge has been softened and taken to the PG status that true WWE fans loathe. he preaches hustle, loyalty, and respect, in the name of our service men and women in the military. he used to rap battle other rappers and take a stand. he used to be tough. he used to be a rebel--but i think the owner of the WWE feared that people would grow tired of a rebel. now he makes no attacks, but just vows that he will win. the personal attacks are done with in a comedic style, and the shit talking has gone soft. he tends to rise above the mindless, unjust, and unprovoked attacks others make on him, being the better man. he never comes across as a pushover, but he does come across as mature. what's the fun in that?

he will not quit. he will not submit. his shirt says he will never give up.

lately i'm CM Punk. CM Punk dubbed himself as the voice of the voiceless, after filming one of the best promos ever done. he said he was leaving the WWE with the championship, and last Sunday he did.

he called the Cena an asskisser. he calls out the firings of very talented wrestlers remain unjustified. he said he was tired of grasping at the owner's imaginary brass rings, and that the owner stunted the growth of the WWE by surrounding himself with gladhanding, non-sensical yes men (starring Jim Carrey). he said that he's the best on the mic, in the ring, and at commentary, and he's proven it with no reward. he was airing the dissatisfaction of the WWE universe. he didn't take any shit. not from his boss. not from Cena. not from the fans. he said exactly what was on his mind. he never faltered. he never doubt his abilities or his character. not an ounce of him was sugarcoated. he never dressed up his thought in pretty speeches. he didn't care if he ruffled feathers. he didn't whiteknuckle for a second, refusing to tip-toe the line between staying true and satisfying higher ups. he did what he knew would let him look back with no regrets, bending boundaries until they broke. and everyone respected him for it. i can't remember the last time a crowd cheered so loud as when he walked away with the WWE championship.

Cena shares many qualities with Punk--the unwavering faith in himself, pride, and ability to speak on behalf of WWE fans everywhere. but it's time for me to do so with the unbridled rawness that CM Punk does. my Cena days were a way of suspending self-respect. sometimes when you try so hard to preserve a relationship, the relationship runs out of genuity. it becomes everything that you were afraid it would in the first place. it hides under covers. it disguises in pleasantries. it becomes obligatory and forced. Cena and Punk are true to themselves (or their characters, as the case were), but one still comes out as the bad guy, and the other depicts "good." at the end of your rope, it's better to be bad and upfront, than the good guy who is always polite, because operating in the fake of a manner is the worst of all.

i'm a Punk.
-k.