Kathryn Gahl

Archive for the ‘Weighing In’ Category

The Wall

In Anxiety, Connection, Humor, Mindfulness, Weighing In on May 18, 2016 at 12:07 pm

Some days
it feels like you’re
holding up the wall

Other days
it feels like the wall
holds you

Either way, be glad:
you are upright,

The Wall


April Air, Memphis

In Weighing In on April 4, 2012 at 12:30 pm

That morning in Memphis, azaleas in pine beds rose under hot high skies and the Oldsmobile stacked with Wisconsin white girls, hellbent on white beaches, white light, Daytona, driving all night, some slurping sleep in no AC with the blonde behind the wheel careening toward daybreak.

It was then that April air burst with daffodil shoots, amorous and oh so sweet until city streets erupted with more black fists than the girls had ever seen, a mob out of nowhere body-slamming the windshield, pounding quickly locked doors while bottle shards flew.

The spring-break girls spun the radio dial for information.

But only static reeled through stations.

There was no explanation, the UPI wire still asleep in days before 24/7 news, the suck and rattle of the Olds   slowed   to   a   crawl    ticking   Firestones hissing. Even pansies and dogwood disturbed, the bluebirds back home unaware of nonstop slap-whacking on roof and hood, how hundreds of hands jack-hammered the lily-white girls trapped in a fact: the Doctor with a dream was dead.

Without them, I’d be lost

In Kathryn, Weighing In on March 16, 2012 at 11:34 am

Who are your friends? Are they smart or whiny? Do they like wine or beer? Or, are they teetotalers? Can they dance? Can they keep the beat? Writing is all about keeping the beat. Screenwriters know that. Mothers know that. Even the last kid in the class knows that. Who are your beat keepers? Hopefully, they are there for you this St. Paddy’s Day, no matter what your nationality. Because in the end, we should celebrate while we are here. That’s called a cakewalk. But then that’s another post.

Crossing The Line, Chicago-Style

In Kathryn, Weighing In on March 5, 2012 at 9:16 pm

Leap Day of Leap Year. I am on the Hiawatha, headed to Chicago. I am beginning to anticipate an adventure. A conference. Over ten thousand writers coming to shake hands, shake heads, shake whatever needs shaking. I am ready for unexpected undertakings, scenes, ventures. Or, so I think.

Mr. Adventure meets me the moment I step out of Union Station. Let’s call him Mr. TallandDark because he is tall and dark. We could call him Mr. Springy too because he walks with a spring in his step. But TallandDark sounds more mysterious. Besides, the wind is brisk, his smile balmy, and I feel so lucky to meet this helpful man. He bows slightly and asks if I need a cab.

I am so in the spirit I say yes, yes, I need a cab for the cab will get me to the Palmer House that will get me to the AWP that will get me to dazzling panels and brainy readers and literary rock and roll. Mr. Tall&Dark whisks my luggage from me and I am thinking, wow, talk about curb service. We fairly float to the waiting cab and he lifts the trunk lid, puts my luggage in securely. Then, he turns, his lyrical voice changes.

Please, he says, extending his hand. Can you give me some money? I am neither jet-lagged nor sleepy but I cannot comprehend this. I have never paid a cab driver before getting into a cab. His gaze hypnotizes me. He stands firm, though his shoulders have dropped. I pull my wallet out of my purse, magnetized by the moment.Yes, he says, sounding apologetic. I am homeless. I need money to feed my family. I open my wallet and a collision of thoughts bombard me: how does a homeless person drive a cab? I am being scammed. Oh no, he’s going to grab my wallet and run. I am really really dumb.

At that point, the cab starts to drive off with my luggage in it! I am stunned. My head jerks between the moving cab and Tall&Dark&YesNowHomeless. Suddenly, Homeless slaps the trunk with gusto and yells, Hey! You! Wait! He rushes to open the car door and I jump in, the bills in my wallet still fan-folded open. I am about to give him perhaps a five, or a ten as my cognitive dissonance joins the cacaphony of the city.

Don’t you give him any money, the man behind the wheel says, breaking my trance. This is the first time I realize there was actually a man behind the wheel, for in the brisk wind my eyes are watering, the cab windows slightly tinted, and my neurons overloaded. I stare at the cab driver through the cage that separates us. They do this all the time, he says, irritated. Usually, the cops are here and they get them.

I tuck my bills back in my wallet and turn to Tall&Dark&Homeless. I hand him a dollar, my heart snapped out of one world, my head whacked into another. He smiles, but it is a close-lipped smile: a practiced snickering, sniggering sneer.

The cab accelerates. I look back and watch him join two other guys standing next to a yellow ribbon cautioning, Do Not Cross This Line. The three of them back-slap one another like seasoned street performers.

I grin. I got to see their show for a measly buck.

Mind in the Spine

In Healthcare, Weighing In on February 28, 2012 at 3:45 am

When was the last time I found my mind in the spine? Or perhaps I should ask : when was the last time I placed my  mind in the spine. I don’t do it, I admit, until I go to  yoga. There, I challenge myself to find my mind. At the beginning of class, I have no mind at all to connect mind with behind.

Until the instructor Bruce Van Dyke begins his intonation. He has the voice of a sleepy baritone: Put your mind in the spine. Breathe. Let the body soften. Release. Renew. Refresh. Magical bones that cradle my spinal cord do as instructed. They open and realign. They dance with muscles that bend and stretch and twist.I am a cat being lazy in the universe. I am a baby without cares. I roll and release. I find peace.

Breathe, Mr. Van Dyke says. Feel that vital force enter you. I breathe. I bend. Pretty soon my head is lower than my heart. Yoga calls it the pose of a child; it is truly the fetal position, a water lily floating in warm water. Feel the body soften, Mr. Van Dyke says. I feel. My body succumbs. I yield. Pretty soon I stretch farther, I hold longer. My body lightens and if this keeps up, I am sure I shall fly, weightless and exuberant.

Mr. Van Dyke demonstrates more movements. He moves like a cobra. He moves like a swan. Pretty soon, he is a standing tree, perfectly balanced. He raises his arms, they are the limbs of his tree. When a good wind comes along, he will fly.

I move like a cobra. I move like a swan. My head is lower than my heart. The vital force courses through my blood vessels. I am lightheaded and giddy. And I think, I too, shall fly.

Oh, My Quaking Ash

In Kathryn, Weighing In on February 21, 2012 at 6:09 pm

After many of you heard about how the WRX painted the ash tree (properly called the quaking ash) royal blue, comments poured in–OMG, I can see you running to catch that car. Lucky you didn’t get hit crossing the road. Lucky it didn’t take off the car door. Glad you weren’t hurt. Glad you’re okay. But a recurring remark was this: Did you REALLY set the brake? Well, dear reader, the answer is yes. And to give you the back-story, that brake actually held for two minutes and 32 seconds, approximately. That’s how long it took to cross the road the first time to the blue (why is everything blue) country mailbox, open the door of said mailbox, pull out a lovely package that held copies of my latest publication, and then looked up to see a car barreling out of Two Rivers, toward me. I jumped back next to the mailbox to let the speed demon pass and out of the corner of my eye, I spied the blessed blue sportster with front scoop and rear spoiler roll backward down the gravel drive.

My own wheels kicked into gear and I crossed that bloody road, zero to sixty in six seconds. Or something like that. It’s a wonder I wasn’t hit.

When the tow truck driver came, he verified the brake was set. He then drove the car to make sure it didn’t need an alignment. (It did not.) Then, he parked the car and set the parking brake, noting and I quote, “That parking brake needs adjusting–she’s not grabbing . . . you had ‘er in place and she doesn’t grab ’till you crank her all the way.” (I ask you, why is it always a “she”?)

Anyway. The repair shop verified and again I quote, “The parking brake needs a cable-adjustment. It’s lost its leverage.”  For the layman (why is it always a layman and not a laywoman, oh yes, I get that), be advised that while rotor maintenance is a routine procedure in all vehicles, Subaru cars tend to require this much more often, sometimes every 15,000 miles. The rotor deterioration causes failed vehicle inspections, and they sometimes need full replacement. In some cases, the rotors are too damaged to easily remove. Further complications to the emergency brake may result directly from brake rotor maintenance. Any bobblehead can google this. If you drive an automatic, be grateful. If you drive a stick, turn off the car and place it in gear when you park it, so you won’t  rely on an emergency parking brake. Because if you do, you just might have an emergency.