What’s up with the stats! (at certain times of the month)

Poor Sara!

I swear to God, the woman is a saint.  She should be winning the “my-partner-is-a-pain-in-the-ass-and-I-am-the-picture-of-patience” award any day now.

I’m emotional.

Overly emotional—

Big-time, ranting and raving, tantrum-throwing emotional—

At certain times of the month.

When Sara walked in the door from work yesterday, I accosted her with worries about my blog.

“Only 78 people have read so far today.”  No “hello”—no “how was your day.”

“It’s still early,” she offered in consolation.

“But I had over 200 readers nearly every day last week.”

“Haiti’s not in the news as much this week.” She put down her bag and walked to the frig.

“My writing has gone to hell.  I have nothing else to say.  Yeah, I had a good post on Monday about the stump, but it’s all been down-hill since then.  I have no idea what I’m going to write about for tomorrow.  I planned on doing a graffiti piece as part of my Haitian art series, but I don’t have all the photos yet and I can’t deal with hours trying to upload them this evening.”

“Why don’t you write about your driving?”

“What about my driving!”

“Richard said you hit a parked car as you were pulling out of the office this morning.”

I’m stunned.  Utterly and completely not believing what I’m hearing.

“That’s not possible.  I would have know if I’d hit a car.”

“I’m just telling you what he said.” 

She’s not mad that I may have damaged our car.  She genuinely thinks I should write about this.

And the fact of the matter is, she’s probably right.

I’m not a good driver.  I hate to drive.  I think owning a car is way, way over-rated—especially in a country where the “roads” (if you want to actually dignify them as such) boast craters the size of swimming pools—canyons that could swallow a mid-sized SUV, then take on an economy car for dessert.

But I promised yesterday to emphasize the positive about Port-au-Prince, and this post is not so much about highway maintenance (and streets that double as public toilets), as it is about my pathetic driving and Sara’s pending sainthood.

When I was an undergraduate and drove to visit a friend for the first time at her home, I was so focused on getting there, that at one point the police pulled me over for running three stop signs.

The officer approached my car in disbelief.

“Lady, you just ran three stop signs.  You didn’t even slow down.”

I wanted to justify myself by asserting that, of course, I hadn’t stopped, I was busy counting. (My friend had told me to turn right after the third sign.)  Not exactly the queen of multi-tasking—at least not on the road.

When I was driving from Kentucky to Oklahoma a few years later, I asked my friend in the seat next to me, if the lights on the car were, perhaps, not working properly.  It was just past dusk.

“It just seems so dark!” I insisted.

“That’s probably because you’re still wearing your sunglasses.”


So, it’s true.  I’m not the best driver in Port-au-Prince, but I’m also far from the worst, in a place where driving skills may be the worst I’ve encountered on the planet.

Yes, it’s possible I hit a car without noticing—busy as I was trying to prevent the road from swallowing  my vehicle whole).

And, yes, Sara is saintly in her tolerance of both bloggerly rants and driverly mishaps.

But, honestly, what’s up with the stats?

(at certain times of the month)

Blogging Buddies mean Blogging Bliss




Sorry to sound like a bad echo of Gomer Pyle, but gosh, darn—comments to yesterday’s post, a news update about Haiti, did indeed surprise me.

So today’s post poses some questions I’d most like my readers to answer—please—I’m down on blogging hands and knees begging for feedback!

First a bit of background—some random notes on how my thinking about blogs is evolving, thoughts that I think will put my questions in context.

(Please know I’m new at this whole blogging thing—so if you’ve been around the blogosphere for ages and all of this to you is old hat—then this post probably isn’t for you.  But, I’m a relative newbie, so bear with me.)

Yes, in 2009 I started a blog meant to follow the adventure we began when Sara returned to international disaster response work and I stopped teaching, followed her into the field, attempting to tell our story.  However, that material (archived on this site) was only read by friends and family.  I did nothing to attract outside readers—rarely more than 10 people read each post.  If we don’t count that—I’ve been doing this for a mere 2 months, so please forgive my naïve enthusiasm, my gawking and gaping—a country girl on her first trip to the big city of blogging.

But truly, what amazes me most about blogging is the sense of community I feel.  I know I’ve mentioned this before, but surely not all bloggers experience the kind of connectedness I feel with those who read my blog and with those whose blogs I read.  If so, WordPress wouldn’t be setting up a blogging buddy-system of sorts—because no one would need it—everyone would already be connected and buddied and belonging.

(I sometimes wonder if I was just lucky enough to stumble into the right group.  Cause I’m new and I feel fully embraced.  Several bloggers have emailed me over the last month or so—offering unsolicited words of caring, kindness, and down-home neighborliness.  I’ve been welcome-wagoned into blogging bliss.)

However, the following questions have come out of this evolving awareness of community and reader involvement in the blogging process.  I pose them to you whether you’re a regular reader here or just stopping by for the first time:

First, I wonder what among the issues I’ve raised, the many topics I’ve explored (a truly eclectic range) would you like to know more about?

I’ve shared some of my art, some of my poetry, some of my personal history, some about the evolution of my relationship with Sara, some about Sara’s work, a bit about my work in India, some thoughts about writing.  But what interests you the most?  And do you have any specific questions I might be able to answer in a post or a series of posts?

I realized for the first time from some of your comments yesterday, that the media in the US and other countries is likely not covering Haiti adequately, that you are not getting the news that you need, the news you deserve, the news Haiti needs you to hear. 

What else do you need to know, or what else would you simply like to know?  What kinds of posts would like to see more frequently?

Please know how much I appreciate your taking the time to read my blog.  I’d just like to know how I can even better serve your reading needs.

In the meantime, I hope you’ll continue to surprise me with your comments, your questions, your care and concern for a country in crisis.

A Rant! A Rave! A Prayer?

I miss Sara terribly when we’re apart, but now that it’s been four days since she’s returned to Haiti, I’m experiencing the separation more intensely.  I tend to isolate when Sara’s gone.  I want to be alone.  I want to sleep.  I can barely tie my shoe or utter a coherent sentence—let alone clean the house, cook a meal, or walk the dog.  It’s a sad state of affairs. 

Yes, yes—I know I exaggerate, but I did have one small victory yesterday afternoon, having managed to extricate myself from the green chair I’ve been living in for days and drag myself kicking and screaming to the grocery store.  But then again, hunger’s a pretty strong motivator, and the only thing I want to do more than absolutely nothing is eat—eat everything—eat any and all things unhealthy and heart-attack inducing— I could so Twinkie and Ho-Ho myself to an early grave, it isn’t funny.

It doesn’t help that I’m on a diet. It doesn’t help that the date I return to Haiti has yet to be determined and will depend on security in Port-au-Prince over the next several days.  It doesn’t help that Kentucky, besides being famous for its fried chicken, is in fact one of the most boring places on the planet—no rioting, no cholera, no real election fraud to speak of.  Things are so comfortably tedious and middle class, that even the excitement phobic find themselves twiddling their thumbs and begging to be mugged, praying to be clubbed by a decent natural disaster.  Even a blizzard would do.

Obviously though, I shouldn’t tease about these things.  Obviously I should change this ornery desire to be anywhere I’m not—and never where I am—never in the here and now, in this city, in this state, on this day.

Please help me, God, to be content in the coming year—grateful for today, in this house with warm meals and clean water to drink.  Please teach me to be grateful for the little things and thankful always for the heart-pounding passion that makes me miss Sara when she’s away. Please keep her close.  Please keep her safe.  Please take me to her soon.

How do you handle separation from the ones you love?  Does humor help?  Writing?  Prayer or mediation?

(And thanks for the fabulous feedback and comments on my previous post.  Please share your thoughts and feelings on this one, as well.  My readers rock!)


Top 4 Things about Christmas 2010

Though the photos aren’t fantastic, I can’t help sharing a  few of my favorite things about Christmas in Kentucky this year–a holiday away from Haiti with the most precious people on the planet this side of Port-au-Prince!

#4  Hanging out with handsome nephews 

Johnny, Sam and Drew

#3  Celebrating with sisters

Lynn, Susan and Kathy

#2  Seeing my brother’s stocking stuffed with coal a toilet seat–no joke!

Tyce holding holiday throne (still in the box)

#1  Having my Baby home from Haiti in time for the Holiday!

Sara on Christmas morning

Merry Christmas from my family to yours!  And don’t forget to pray for Haiti  this holiday!

Happy Holidays from Haiti: a Christmas letter

Dear Friends and Family,

Sara and I, along with our dogs Ralph and Lucy, would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays both from our home-away-from-home in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and from our home in Lexington where Sara will join me on Christmas Eve. 

2010 has been a challenging year for us, as we have tried to settle in yet another international location, tried to create a home for ourselves away from the family and friends we hold so dear and miss so often.

Though last year we didn’t make it home for the holidays, Sara and I spent Christmas itself on a stunningly secluded beach in central Vietnam, playing in the sun and sea, eating food so delicious we salivate now even thinking about it. 

However, just two weeks after that lovely holiday in paradise, the January 12th earthquake in Haiti brought our life in Hanoi to a premature end.  By the first week of February Sara was on the ground in Port-au-Prince, having had a mere 18 hours at our home in Lexington to transition.   Since that time she has still not had more than 5 consecutive days in Kentucky, not more than a week in close to 2 years.  And though, of course, Sara loves her work and is passionate about providing homes for those displaced by the earthquake, she’s saddened that time away from her own home distances her from those she loves, forcing her to think about  from far away.

I, on the other hand, was fortunate to spend most of February, March, and April in Lexington, with only 1 week during March in Port-au-Prince and 2 weeks during May in the slums of New Delhi with 12 University of Kentucky students (completing in a service-learning project with Habitat for Humanity India).  It was not until June that I, along with our two dogs Ralph and Lucy, transitioned to Haiti more “full time” or at least as close to full time as risk management allow.  Security challenges abound in Port-au-Prince, where there is at least one kidnapping a day and we have two armed guards at our house around the clock.

However, we DO have a lovely, mountain-side home in the Port-au-Prince suburb of Petion-Ville—a home Sara’s left for only brief visits to the US and one longer trip to the Pacific Northwest, where we enjoyed 2 days in Seattle and a week with 12 other friends on Whidbey Island—a fabulous time of fun, feasting, and fellowship with a group of women we dearly love.

And though we feel fairly well-settled in Port-au-Prince by now, settled enough to have hosted a sit-down Thanksgiving dinner for 24, Haiti itself is far from peaceful this Holiday Season.  Not only did the earthquake last January kill close to a quarter of a million, but it has left, still 11 months later, more than 1.3 million people homeless in the city of Port-au-Prince alone.  Not only did the Haitian people suffer destruction again in the wake of Hurricane Tomas, but they are continuing to fight a cholera epidemic that has killed and sickened thousands more.  Not only did they face fraudulent presidential elections last month—they have dealt with the resulting social unrest, especially in the form of rioting by people who have suffered unimaginable losses in the last year, people who feel disenfranchised not only by the international community, but also by their own political leaders who would steal their right to a free and fair election.  It’s sad for us to see so much loss and suffering in such close proximity to our own lives of comfort, surplus, and blessing.

Despite all of this, however, the Haitian people are strong.  They are resilient.  They persevere.  Sara and I are proud to call the beautiful people of this tiny island our neighbors, our friends, our family, and we would ask you to not only pray for us this Christmas, but more importantly to keep our new Haitian brothers and sisters in your hearts and prayers, as well.

As the mountains that circle Port-au-Prince brighten on Christmas morning, the Haitian people will be left with little to do but pray—

But we ask that you too pray for peace in Port-au-Prince streets—for peace in those mountains beyond—those mountains beyond mountains—

Please pray those hills would be alive with the sound of peaceful music–

A peace that passes understanding–

May God bring peace to you and your family this Holiday Season!

May God bring peace to Haiti!

With blessings from Port-au-Prince,

Sara and Kathy

A Holiday Match Made in Doggy Heaven

With Christmas only a few days away, I thought it might be a fitting time to reminisce romantically about how Sara and I met—not only because this is a part of our history I don’t think I’ve shared even in the Vietnam part of this blog—but also because I’m missing Sara, who has not yet returned from Haiti for the holiday, and writing about our shared past helps her feel closer—or at least helps Port-au-Prince feel a little less far away.

Sara and Kathy, October 2006

(If you’ve only just begun reading “reinventing the event horizon”—Sara is my partner.  We live together in Haiti, where Sara works in disaster response and I’m a writer/artist.  We also own a home in Kentucky—a house that’s more than 100 years old in downtown Lexington.  I have come back to the US a week ahead of Sara, who won’t arrive here herself until Christmas Eve.)

In 2006, however, Sara was still directing her NGO’s response to the 2004 tsunami that killed hundreds of thousands in Southeast Asia, while I was working in Lexington as an artist-in-residence, facilitating creative learning opportunities for disabled adults.  These employment realities brought us together, my needing to supplement my measly artist’s income by pet sitting and Sara’s needing to travel internationally while at the same time caring for her dog. 

One afternoon that summer my writer friend Kristy called to say her new neighbor Sara was looking for a dog-sittter and wondering if I could take on another client—something I was willing to do, since I was preparing to purchase my first home— was a starving, soon-to-be-home-owning-artist fighting for every dollar she could get.

So when Sara called several days later and we met a few days after that, I eagerly agreed to care for Ralph.  And ours was ultimately a match made, for all intents and purposes, in doggy heaven.

Sara, Kathy, and Ralph in October 2006

However, I didn’t fall for Sara immediately.  Though I found her voice intriguing, the first time I heard it on my voice mail, and though I recognized when she brought Ralph to me the morning she returned to Asia, how terribly attractive she actually was, I wasn’t looking for a relationship at the time and simply filed these sensual details away for later romantic retrieval.

Retrieval that came by way of a dream.

When Sara returned from Asia a month later, I was already in love with her dog, so much so that it pained me to give him up for the few weeks she would be home—that is, until a week or so later I dreamed I was in love with Sara and woke up the next morning with a passion for her that has yet to wane.

The realization was as profound as it was simple—that I not only loved this woman but also that I would spend the rest of my life with her.  Period.  End of Story.

Kathy and Sara in Thailand, March 2007

Sometimes things are meant to be, and though I’ll save the particulars of our romantic story to share in future posts, I will pass along now one surprising and seemingly important detail neither of us was aware of when we first met.

That our mothers had been dear friends for a number of years before either of us knew anything about  the other—had been friends until Sara’s mother died more than 10 years ago.  Both were elementary school teachers at Lexington Christian Academy.  My mother taught third grade; Sara’s mother taught fourth in a classroom across the hall.

In fact, I remember Sara’s mother being ill and my mother’s grief surrounding her eventual death.  My mother even spoke at Sara’s mother’s memorial service.  During the years our mothers were friends, Sara and I were adult women living outside the state, so we never met in the context of that friendship.

However, sometimes lives are linked in profound ways.  Sometimes lives are linked and love is forged against all odds, even with matches made in doggy heaven.  Sometimes there’s a cosmic rightness about a relationship in which lovers are not only star-crossed but mother-blessed, something precious to remember, especially during this sacred time of year.

Silent night.

Holy night.

All is calm.

All is bright.

May the brightness Sara and I share be yours, as well, this Holiday Season.

Kathy and Sara in Vietnam, Christmas 2009