Katie Van Zanen
Katie teaches first year writing seminar at Boston College and lives oceanside in Lynn, Massachusetts. She loves the New York Times crossword puzzle, oceans, travel, and dogs of all kinds.

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Light from Light

I didn’t know how to write about a rain jacket on Palm Sunday after forty-four people died in their churches.

Nothing Goes as Planned

Last fall, my much-delayed Megabus dropped me off in Chinatown at 2:30 a.m. I had seven percent battery life, four dollars in cash, and no idea how to get to Brooklyn.

Dystopia Now

But Nathan was right. I can’t plan for the apocalypse. I can only do what I believe to be useful and good now. I can only do what is in front of me.

Solo Cups and Seminary

Christians shouldn’t be surprised that people think we’re assholes. As a collective, we’ve thrown our weight behind some pretty misguided causes.

I Could Never

Here I am, commuting by car into the big city. Here I am, one half of a white couple in an immigrant town. Here I am, trying to live honestly in an unfamiliar place, with imagination and empathy.

I Now Pronounce You

At every milestone I’ve consciously met in this life, I’ve supposed that I’ll feel somehow different on the other side.

Like Riding A Bike

I could feel the wind teasing my pigtails. I was positively gliding. Then I glanced backward, realized my dad was no longer behind me, and promptly fell off the bike.

What I Signed Up For

February 21, 2016, 4:15 p.m. Crate & Barrel, 777 Boylston St, Boston, Massachusetts. We are standing in front of a flatware display with an iPod scanner, bickering about the price of forks.

thesis, conclusion

The tutor listens quietly. The anxious student is her seventh of the day. It’s a decent paper already, and convincing the student to restructure might be more trouble than it’s worth.

Seven (or Eight, or Nine)

So there is some loss, too, in coming back, in confronting memory with reality, nostalgia with the irrepressible present, which is always other than I imagined it. I am other than I imagined at seven (or eight, or nine).

Untold Stories

It seems odd to speak of the limits of human intimacy when anticipating our reunion; to record for the world the untold stories which are themselves just fragments of a billowing moment already passed away, to promise that I will fail again to share them fully.

Vital Signs

I don’t know what it means to live a good life, or how I’m measuring it. I didn’t donate blood out of purely altruistic motivations—I’m a sucker for free snacks and affirmation. I have had a good life, an exciting life, and insofar as it depends on me, I’d like to keep that up. So something is enough for today.

Thinking Frankenstein

And I’m thinking about how much I feel like Frankenstein’s monster, some days—pieced together, a compilation of chemicals without the animation that makes a life.

Dog Days

I was ten and had three consuming desires in life: a yellow bedroom, an American Girl doll, and a dog. So I was devastated, but prepared to bargain.

A Toast to Hope

I thought of Cairo, of the refugee kids I met, the illiterate mothers, the desperately poor. And I stopped her to ask earnestly, “Where do you find hope?”

Out of Egypt

In Egypt, I experienced a profound sense of longing, both for the home I had left and for the land that God has promised me. I felt unduly blessed and absurdly limited.

Proven Guilty

My analysis and rebuke of them or others does not preclude me from the same sins. Pointing fingers at someone else’s misogyny does not excuse my own sexism.

Stroopwaffel Pride and Prejudice

I’ve been consuming an odd sort of patriotism along with my stroop waffels and hagel. Maybe it’s just that the Netherlands makes sense to me in the way that Egypt does not.

La Traversée/La Nuit

I don’t forget my body in Cairo, or rarely. I am thickly and humanly here, and it doesn’t feel much like art. It’s odd and awkward and difficult to understand.

(Home)sick

I haven’t discovered any resolution to the twin tasks of gratitude and lamentation, a word I may be using to sanctify my grousing.

Courage

You risk crossing a busy street. You risk asking questions. You risk being wrong, and hurting people you love, and you risk being right, and doing the same thing.

You’re Okay

No, unfortunately, adulthood doesn’t come with a standardized evaluation mechanism to tell you how you’re doing, but that’s not an excuse to do less.

Rosie

I’m not confident you can earn crowns in heaven—but I’ll petition God that Rosie get them, mostly for her other deeds of righteousness, but also for taking good care of the clueless, quirky American.