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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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Let me just say, I know it’s been silent here, or rather, I’ve been silent.  In my electronic filing cabinet sit about 15 half-started posts and several finished ones that will never see the light of day.  Because as much as I try to live authentically, not all stories receive an audience.  I write some stories simply to get them out of my body.  Stories of heartache and heart break.  Stories of anger and agony.  Stories about events so raw and unmetabolized, that they must wait in the dark for digestion.  And, to answer a question so many folks asked…

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The Authenticity Experiment, the Whistling Man Edition.  For the record, I didn’t tell him he was making me insane.  As in bat shit crazy.  That his relatively tuneless whistling was impeding my work, affecting my friendships, pulling at the edges of my already frayed knot.  I just said, “Hey, I’m Kate.  I’m a writer who lives down the block.  Will you talk to me about your whistling?” He set down his pipe full of pot—after I shook my head when he offered it to me—and asked right away if I liked the whistling.  I lied a little.  “Well, I certainly…

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The Authenticity Experiment, the make America great again edition?  That’s right, a question mark.  Because I wonder what America we’re trying to make great again.  Is it the America where the trains still ran and coal provided good jobs for people? Is it the America where one generation could succeed, economically-speaking, better than the one before? (Because, really, that one typically only happened for white people.) Is it the America that’s been sold to us by Madison Avenue? The one where the sun shines, coffee is always plentiful (and cheap), jobs pay well, and amber waves of grain move us…

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