Author: KateCarroll

The Authenticity Experiment, the unexpected edition. We recently experienced an unanticipated death in our chosen family.  The brother of one of the Coffee Girls’ died suddenly.  The Coffee Girls, you may remember, are a group of five of us who used to drink coffee together every Thursday afternoon.  Back when you could do that, sneak away for a cup of coffee in the late afternoon.  Back when coffee after one o’clock wasn’t a problem.  Back when gendered language like that didn’t make my skin crawl. Surprisingly, it doesn’t now, make my skin crawl to refer to myself as a Coffee…

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The Authenticity Experiment, the collage edition.  I have so many half-finished posts.  So many.  Because I’m researching and writing essays again in earnest, I can’t seem to get a post finished.  Then a few weeks ago, I got this idea to give you some select paragraphs from the rough starts of Authenticity Experiments—to let you in on what I’m thinking about.  It’s random, I’ll admit that, and maybe it won’t work and I’ll get a bunch of unsubscribes.  But I’ve been taking artistic risks lately, so why not here, too.  None of these transitions are manipulated.  I’ve just chosen the…

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The Authenticity Experiment, the end of the world edition. When I was growing up, a young, sensitive, empathic Pisces, given to reacting to sudden changes of mood in the room, my mother would say to me, Oh, honey, it’s not the end of the world.  Then, I understood this as dismissive.  I wanted a mother who knew her high intuitive daughter needed soothing, a hug, some tea, and the reassurance that everything would be okay.  Instead, what I got was, Oh, honey, it’s not the end of the world. Even when she began dying. As I assessed the situation and…

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The Authenticity Experiment, the intimacy edition. The North Dakota Music Teacher arrived in Portland recently and almost immediately we began talking about how people build relationships.  We dated briefly last fall and became emotionally intimate quickly.  Partly, we are wired this way and partly we took a big breath and jumped into the deep end of the emotional pool.  Texts, phone calls, and emails.  Ten minute cups of coffee because often that was all the time our competing schedules afforded us.  And letters—lots and lots of handwritten letters to each other.  This remained even when we knew dating wasn’t right…

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The Authenticity Experiment, the marmalade edition.  My mother loved orange marmalade on buttered toast. She started eating it sometime in her thirties, I’m going to guess during her pregnancy of my youngest sister, Jule.  Because I wasn’t in school yet, I remember what she craved when she carried Sue—toast with raspberry jam and butter.  I recall sitting at this little table in our carpeted breakfast room in the yellow, rented house just 100 yards from Lake Minnetonka, and eating toast with jam with her.  I can’t quite see her in the tiny chair next to me.  I imagine she stood…

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The Authenticity Experiment, the tie edition.  The Lyft driver picked us up at the Tampa Marriott Waterside hotel, two of the 15,000 writers who were heading out for something different on the last night of the national writers conference known as AWP. Our driver, Daniel, seemed quintessentially Floridian: shorts, a Tommy Bahama-type shirt, flip flops, and a bro-pattern to his diction.  We were headed to Ybor City, a formerly independent town founded in 1885 and now absorbed into North Tampa.  Ybor, as it is simply called now, was built by a group of cigar manufacturers and populated initially by Cuban and…

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The Authenticity Experiment, the early morning drive edition.  Just five days after I’d won the Oregon Book Award, I still floated somewhere above my body.  Or, if I inhabited my skin sack (thank you, Lidia Yuknavitch for that evocative phrase), my brain and emotions lingered somewhere else.  You know what I mean, you do—the way your body refuses to inhabit a truth.  An award for my book?  Totally unbelievable. And at 7:30 a.m. that Saturday, I drove my alien green Kia Soul on the two-lane road through the blooming vineyards and orchards of Yamhill County, on my way to the…

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The Authenticity Experiment, the velocity made good edition.  Sometimes we are given the great gift of seeing the velocity made good in our lives. This is a term from sailing that describes the actual speed a vessel is making on its intended course.  Because they must tack back and forth, submitting to the vagaries of the wind, sailors track velocity made good, that is: true progress based on all the zigs and zags, dog legs, and random turns you make in order to catch the wind. A few weeks ago I got to spend time with a woman who—in many ways—was…

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The Authenticity Experiment, the Snakes Edition.  I don’t write much about my dad.  But a story in the news made me think about the best of him, the part of him that could laugh at himself and his own foibles, and taught me how to do the same thing for myself.  Right now, CES—or the Consumer Electronics Show—is going on in Las Vegas.  It’s the biggest tech show of the year, the time when all my clients are announcing the latest and greatest technology. I’ve never been because my dad went for 11 years in a row and brought home…

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The Authenticity Experiment, the power edition.  It used to be like an electric shock that hit me all at once.  Let me explain. When I still lived at home with my parents, my mother went on an ironing strike.  I mean, I don’t really know if she deliberately struck, I just know that one day I noticed that she refused to iron my father’s shirts and handkerchiefs, the linen table clothes, and the embroidered and lace napkins. Maybe my father bitched one too many times about the ironing job on his white or blue oxford cloth button down shirts (in…

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