post calvin direct

Get new posts from Katie Van Zanen delivered straight to your inbox.

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.

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.

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.


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


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.


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.


And if someone asks you what you’d like to drink, “nothing” is not an acceptable answer. If you say this, you will still get tea. Probably with three spoonfuls of sugar.

Tongue Twisted

In English, I am precise and quick with words. In Arabic, I am earnest and confused, funny not because of wit but because I am fumbling a language everyone else understands.


So, as is often the way of things, my words are both signifiers of my absence and presence. I am both absent and present. I am with those I love, via my smartphone. I am also decidedly far, far away.

The Wedding Dancer

Though self-conscious in the great majority of situations, I am a dedicated wedding dancer, so even at more subdued nuptials, I feel a sense of commitment to the boogie.

Monday Night

Founders is exactly the sort of place that my parents would hate, and I, too, will probably hate when the novelty of standing on a sticky floor until 12:00 a.m. wears off.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!