Author: Katie Huey

Still Exposed

I sat in the cold office and stared at the posters on the wall across from me. I could feel wisps of cool air on my shoulders, ivory skin poking through the open-backed gown as I waited for an ordinary nurse to come and do an ordinary procedure.

A knock at the door brought my eyes back into focus and I traced my toes, still in socks, across the tile floor.

In walked a tall woman with kind eyes, her blond hair gathered tall on top of her elegant head.

She started asking me ordinary questions and then it happened again.

“Does this run in your family?” she asked with open eyes, her chin tilted up towards me.

“Yes,” I responded “but I can’t remember which kind.”

“Mhmm,” murmured the nurse “Well, it’s pretty common for dad’s not to share their medical histories with their kids.”

I paused. I had choices in this moment.

“More common for the dead ones not to share,” I thought to myself as I dug my gripping hands into my plastic chair.

“Yup, probably true,” I said, looking the nurse straight in the eyes.

Mouth shut, I could feel my jaw clench.

Poor girl – she doesn’t know. Better keep this one to myself. Breathe.

Boom!

Another grief bomb exploded at my feet and I gathered scratchy fabric around my thighs as I turned my face back towards the wall.

“Ready?” she asked.

I said yes and she began.

Shouldn’t they put this kind of information in your charts?

Dad dead. No father references please.

But that’s not how the medical system works and his blood and his health history influences mine.

So we move on. We go about our days.

This last week was full of birthday celebrations. The month of August is a big one for Huey men.

I planned dinners and boiled big pots of salted water to cook refrigerated ravioli.

Mom put candles in cannoli dribbled with chocolate chips and we sang along.

I hid gifts and revealed surprises inviting beautiful smiles of delight and excitement.

We walked through plazas holding hands and wiped at strawberry ice cream dribbling  out of their cones and onto our chins.

We took in a baseball game and bought new fan gear.

Ducked our heads into bars and sat to listen to the woman with radical hair and high-wasted pants sing tunes with soul.

We celebrated and we kept going about our days.

This is how it is now.

A beautiful mix of joy and celebration and plenty of encounters with clueless people who say seemingly innocent things because they don’t know.

I’m still exposed.

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Photo by Hadis Safari on Unsplash

I may never have it any other way.

Is that a beautiful thing?

Been There. Done That.

I’ve been at this awhile now – this seeking beautiful things in August.

I typed peaches into my search browser on this site and the first hit is a post from 2015.

I’ve observed the sights and smells of summer before.

I’ve been moved by the bounty appearing on my counter tops – harvested fresh from farmers fields nearby and tiny pots warming on my porch.

I wrote about the peach lady here and encounters with fresh produce here.

I’ve written about my gardens here and lessons from tomatoes here and my appreciation for nature and growth of flowers and trees and the promises of soil here.

It’s happened again. The days turned into months and with each sleep came seasons unfurling in my same lap – the one often longing for something different. As if repetition means stagnant and recurring inspiration means I’ve missed some big opportunity.

Sometimes I catch myself dreaming of other lives I could be living. An urban woman in black pencil skirt, taking the subway to a publishing house – her fancy heels tucked in an expensive black shoulder bag. The J-Crew dressed scholar with tiny-framed glasses burrowed in a dimly lit library while working on a masters degree in something world changing. A mother tending to toddlers with curls, wishing her hair was washed and her stretchy yoga pants were freshly laundered. The REI-outfitted adventurer with worn hiking boots and tales of sleeping in hostiles and fighting off flirtatious men in Europe.

Maybe some day those visions will come true.

For now, I lift up my head and turn the calendar page for here it is – August again – and I sit, still me, with clean hair up and my square-framed glasses I should be wearing buried in the trusty, worn Timbuktu bag resting behind the desk chair I used in college.

Yesterday, we went to the farmers market and picked a bag full of bright orange carrots, crisp green peppers, a cantaloupe, and stone-sized potatoes still grimy with dirt.

Today, we drove home on the busy highway and pulled over to visit a bright yellow awning with fruit the size of baseballs ready to be bought. I wrote a check and handed it to  the teenage boy who only briefly nodded when I said I get excited to come get my peaches every year.

On Sunday, we went for a bike ride at dusk on the familiar trail near our house. Cool breezes from the river nearby lapped at my face as I peddled along, long grasses licking at my ankles.

The carrots and corn are still growing. Peaches wait to be picked.

I’ve got a pallet of luscious fruit wafting on my counter top begging to be doused in ice cream. Dusk still falls with purple and orange and the cool breeze waits to kiss my cheeks when I pass by on a bicycle.

Yes, I’ve been here and done these things before.

With all the chaos out there I’m reminded, in this moment, I don’t need anything more.

What a beautiful thing.

August Favorite Things – 2019

Better late than never.

  1. Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Word nerds rejoice! I giggled to myself, I was delighted. The book affirmed I’m on the right track. Keep reading.

2. Toms with Sloths on them.

Because your feet are happy when sloths are on them.

3. Lily Kershaw

Her voice is enchanting, haunting, engaging. I want more. I found out she’s coming to my town to perform in October and I’ll be gone. So if one of you could go in my place and live stream to my phone I’d appreciate it. Lily, I’ll pay for the remote experience.

4. Utter Nonsense

It will keep you laughing. Not for the faint of heart or easily offended.

5. Good ol’ fashioned school supplies.

You’ll find me wandering the hallways at Target. At least until the college kids show up next weekend. Go ahead – buy yourself the big box of crayons.

Of this I am sure.

“I’m not sure I know what I want to do” I said swatting at the mosquito nibbling on my ankles.

“And no matter what we choose, it’s all moving quickly.” said my friend sitting across from me, the orange dusk moving in on us.

She touched her elbows to her knees and rested her chin in her hands. We made eye contact and sighed.

When one goes to grief group, one is reminded of the slippery little secret we don’t like to talk about.

All of this will someday come to a close.

Each new day feels a vulnerable, brilliant breath as the sun rises to once again turn the darkness into light.

The time we think we have is not promised and not guaranteed.

This realization should move me into action and valiantly push me into new places.

No more settling.

I could be using this loss to wiggle my way into new rooms, and have bold conversations, invest in experiences to expand and take up space.

ropeBut I am still myself –  the one slow to dip into cold pools. I observe situations for stillness before I act – like a double-dutch jumper waiting for the perfect in.

I watch the plastic ropes thwacking the cement each time as wrists turn them in arching rounds. There is a space where I can insert myself gracefully without the sting of plastic rectangles jangling on their strings stinging my skin. I watch. I wait. I trust the ropes will come around again, leaving me space to jump.

Tonight, I’m not sure what comes next. Not sure where to compromise, where to push, where to pull. Where do I risk and where do I play it safe? Where to put my trust in myself and in others.

Where do we lay our fragile beating hearts?

I’m not sure.

And yet, last night as I was trying to sleep my husband sat next to me strumming his guitar. His chords and his presence made me feel safe. I closed my eyes and whispered thanks.

I’m sure I want more of his music and his warmth and his work-on-the-car jeans leaving marks on our bedspread.

I woke and watched the sun seep into our bedroom window as my dog stretched between us, her scratching legs kick-starting her jangling collar to act as my wake-up call.

I’m sure I want more of those still mornings, seeping sun mingling with morning breath and puppy kisses.

Still in my pajamas, I brewed some coffee, poured thick white cream, and picked up a small book. Pressing the title to my chest, I juggled a full plaid mug with prose, moving myself and a story to the worn reading chair in the corner of our living room.

I’m sure I want to fill my life with the creative words of others.

I’m sure I want to find a way to share my creative words with those who need them.

I’m sure I want to publish.

I’m sure I want a cover with my name on it.

I’m sure I’m a reader.

I’m sure I’m going to write.

I’m sure of the simple, of the comfort found in conversations and knowing glances. I’m sure I’ll live my life seeing people and taking time to list the beautiful things filling my heart.

Perhaps that will be enough.

 

 

Why do you think that is?

“I haven’t been as regular in posting,” I said to the man on the other end of a Skype connection.

“Why do you think that is?” he asked kindly.

I was in the middle of a podcast interview last weekend and his question gave me pause.

My answer centered on my desire to turn this project into a book and how with each new post I ask myself, “Is this the last one before I stop?”

There is truth in that sentiment and when I take off my interviewee hat and listen to my heart I hear this too.

I am getting tired of risking my vulnerability here.

Not in an exasperated way. It’s not that I’m over it – not in the least.

Rather, sharing my search for good and beautiful things has left me open and raw and seeking connection with other brave peace warriors. Sometimes this internet space is not as fulfilling as Instagram tells me it will be.

I talk about grief and joy and feelings and fewer want to engage with these truths than with work-out routines and make-up tips and how to make the perfect soufflé.

This practice, my friends, takes time and emotional fortitude and sometimes I wonder if I’ve still got what it takes. Whatever “it” is.

All the doubts creatives have start trickling in and I question – Is this really the best place for me to process my way through the world?

And then, I read this tweet by Jon Acuff:

“You can hold your breath and pretend your perfect, shoving those fears back into a quiet corner or you can be vulnerable and brave enough to ignore the handful of people who will mock your vulnerability because they are terrified of their own. You get to choose each day.” 

I let out the breath I’ve been holding and climbed out of my dark corner. My fingers began to twitch with the need to keep typing tales of my life and the beauty found here.

I am not terrified of my vulnerability – only in how you will receive my expressions – and the difference there is much more about you than me.


This week I’ve been sick, coughing until abs I did not know I had in my body are sore. I’m constantly sucking on Ricola, the Swiss sweets soothing my scratchy throat.

I slept for eleven hours thanks to the help of Tylenol PM.

My body is recovering and in my resting I’m making lists of the beautiful while my body shakes from gack in my chest.

Here’s the beautiful things surrounding me as I start again:

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Big bowls of bright red cherries – bursting with juice

Rolling thunderstorms clouds and quaking thunder claps

Butterflies with patterned wings

Lemon Mint cough drops

Peanut M&Ms

Influencers tweeting

Stretchy pants

Drives to the airport with accents

An ounce of bravery for tough conversations

Warm cups of tea

There’s so much beauty and good and holy things around me, even when I feel raw, achy and sore.

Why do you think that is?

 

Sweating for a Sandwich

Turn on the oven to 400 degrees.

Take a pound of bacon and layer on a foil-lined cookie sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes until crispy.

While you start to sweat because your house is eighty degrees and the oven is on at 400 degrees, take out the toaster. Plug the metal machine in to the socket.

Turn from your cool granite counter and take the package off the top off the whirring fridge.

Remove the plastic twist-tie from the crinkly, cellophane bag holding the precious loaf of sourdough bread.

Turn back to your cold counter.

Select two of the softest slices of bread and place in the toaster, pressing down on the black metal bar to engage the heat.

More heat.

While the bread toasts, wash some lettuce with cool, cool water and slice a tomato once warming on the counter. If you’re feeling luxurious, slice up an expensive avocado before it turns from the heat.

Pop!

Your bread is done.

Remove the toasted pieces from the hot metal grates with your fingers. If you feel brave, unplug the toaster and use a fork to get the bread out. Do not mix up the order here.

Open the hot oven to check your bacon.

Has it reached toasted perfection?

Once it’s done, put on insulated oven mitts and remove the hot pan from the hot oven.

Take your bread, now cooled, and spread refrigerated mayo with a cool knife to one side of the one slice. Take your expensive, normal temperature avocado and spread with the cool knife on the remaining slice of bread.

Layer warm bacon, cool lettuce, and warm tomato slices. If you’re like my dad, you’ll add a slice of cold cheese. Cheddar or Muenster will do. Smack those slices together and cut into triangles with your knife, cold mayo lingering on the blade.

Turn off the 400 degree oven.

Eat your sandwich outside because both you and your house are now stifling.

BLTs, my friends, are beautiful things.

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In other news, my favorite dinosaur Carl now has his own Instagram. Please follow along.

And don’t forget to tell me what’s bringing you joy this month. More details here.

July Favorite Things – 2019

New month. New favorites.

I want to hear about your gratitude lists and what’s bringing you joy!

These are some things bringing me joy this month.

  1. Ursa Major Skin Care
    I like using natural skin care products and many of them are amazingly expensive. Not this stuff. The face wash leaves my skin feeling fresh and the balm leaves me moisturized and happy. The scents are refreshing, natural and light. And all the products are within my budget.
  2. No Hard Feelings: The Secret Power of Embracing Emotions at Work by Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffie

This book is charming, smart, and gives me hope for the workplace. As someone who cries at work, I’m encouraged people are leading the charge to encourage more empathy and healthy coping mechanisms in the spaces we spend most of our time.

3. This foccacia recipe

Even though it’s 94 degrees out, I’ve got the oven and the air conditioning on. And if you need me, I’ll be eating this delicious bread. Scared of yeast? You can’t go wrong with this stuff perfect for the amateur baker.

4. Watermelon Cucumber Cooler

I gave up alcohol for the month of June and have been drinking this instead. Mix with some sparkling water and lime for a refreshing after-work drink. If you’re feeling fancy I suppose you could add some tequila or vodka. I won’t tell.

5. Rainboots

Because Colorado can’t make up it’s mind. Bring some joy to the afternoon thunderstorm with these fun galoshes.

Have a joyful July.