Our theme for the month of October was selected by readers and is a format challenge: write a post completely in dialogue.

Timestamp: Tuesday, October 17, 8:31PM

K: my eyelids have been twitching all day

B: what
B: why

K: It’s a symptom of anxiety, as is everything else about me

B: There’s a cat yowling outside my window
B: Takes me back to Anafora
B: Wow, I had forgotten about that
B: Does it ever alarm you how much of Egypt you’ve forgotten?
B: (Incidentally, I feel you on the anxiety)

K: It alarms me all the time
K: I’ve been keening a little, Brenna

B: how do you mean

K: like, I have been feeling more than usually wistful about Egypt. Perhaps because I always do, when I feel unsettled
K: The work of meaning-making was so immediate
K: like, every day, I had to do real and honest labor to find my place in the world
K: And when that feels too abstract, I miss the obviousness of being a foreigner
K: What’s the word for foreigner again?

B: I don’t know
B: My Arabic is gone

K: I googled it and got “hawaaga” but that doesn’t sound right

B: mumkin?


B: That’s the one.

Timestamp: August 24, 2018, 1:16PM

K: well, if you take the stalwart Dutch mom from this book as an authority: take your feelings, stuff them down, and utter them to no one

B: oh good lord
B: what book is this again

K: The Signature of All Things

B: I don’t think that’s the answer
B: I have been half-heartedly trying to throw myself into church for years now, thinking that if I just stuck it out for long enough, I could resolve all these things I was feeling and make a church home out of sheer will power
B: instead, I developed this habit of visiting a church, feeling grumbly and cynical, and then feeling guilty for not having the right attitude
B: and then striving to have the right heart attitude with a little less strength everytime

K: and feeling betrayed
K: that you keep trying and God doesn’t hold up God’s end of the deal

B: and then feeling betrayed, yes
B: so I think I’m just going to let myself not go to church for a while, and put those efforts into spiritual disciplines, etc.

K: that may be wise
K: to acquaint yourself again
K: I think that I have lost my sense that God is good in Godself
K: like, church is good because community, and because I should
K: But i don’t have a strong sense that I would want God without that sort of secondary fittingness, if that makes sense

B: God is a good means to good ends?

K: as in, I am probably more religious because I think it is the appropriate organization of the human experience than because I love Jesus

B: lol
B: that sounds like Calvinist guilt for not being evangelical enough

K: probably, I am a massive cliché

B: sorry, I have a habit of reducing your lived experiences to a broad denominational category

K: But also
K: it is alarming how this 18th century Dutch woman is the precise embodiment of my internal voices

B: well, in that case

Timestamp: October 2, 2018 4:32PM

K: am I a boring teacher
K: now that I don’t actively think I’m terrible, this is my new fear

B: that in itself is progress, ya Katie
B: know that this too can be a fear you will someday graduate from


B: I think that it might be important to take a minute and savor the fact that you no longer actively think you’re terrible
B: that is growth and reason for celebration
B: and in this long, slow work, it’s important to celebrate

K: I just am not sure what the point of the long slow work is

B: would it help you, or overwhelm you, to go back and look at your letters of intent from your phd applications?

K: that sounds embarrassing

B: they are a clear articulation of what you believe matters

K: I just feel as though nothing really matters
K: and there’s no justice in the world

B: there is no justice in the world

B: but there is a felt and expressed need for justice in the world, of which you are proof
B: I don’t think your lived reality is that nothing really matters
B: I think it’s that everything REALLY matters, a lot
B: and that’s the cognitive dissonance between you and the world right now

Timestamp: October 4: 11:52AM

B: guess what i found yesterday

K: what

B: a certificate of achievement that you sent me two years ago
B: that said, YEAH, YOU DID THE THING!
B:  and was awarded to me for “attending a group project meeting”

K: I have so many of those
K: I bought a whole pack
K: I should send them out more liberally

B: I think you should send me some blank ones
B: so that I can send them to you

Timestamp: July 30, 2018, 1:22PM

K: Brenna

K: Does anything matter

B: I think yes
B: Things are fragile and full of meaning
B: It’s remarkable that your life has taken the shape it has
B: It’s remarkable that we were roommates in Egypt

K: It is
K: I would be much more existentially lonely without you

B: Very same

K: Please google the video of the dog that stole a GoPro

B: oh, it’s excellent

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