It’s time we got to know each other better.

Today I made the mistake of Googling myself for the first time in years.  And there is was, right at the top of the search results in a larger-then-average font that apparently correlates to the number of people who have met me through that link.

Proof-positive that I’m a crazy woman.  And as far as I know, unlike a tattoo, there’s no way to get rid of it.

It’s a recording I made for the local This I Believe series on WVXU ten years ago that got picked up by the national NPR program and re-released last year.  The title they gave my essay is “There Is a Plan.”   I didn’t think much about it at the time I dashed off a draft in the middle of a non-profit adventure I started in Over-the-Rhine in the wake of the riots, but it has apparently turned into who I am.

Once upon a time, I had a normal life and I was a normal person who followed the rules, graduated from Walnut Hills High School, earned a degree in medieval history, married, had 2 children and was a Vice President with Merrill Lynch.  People used to stop me on street corners and say weird stuff like, “My daughter doesn’t have her life together like you do.”

And then my perfect life fell apart.  I mean completely and totally, lying-broken-on-the-kitchen-floor apart, reading-the-Book-of-Job-for-the-fifth-time-just-in-case-I-missed-something apart.  So the old rules didn’t work anymore and I had to start over. Which for me meant getting really quiet and listening to whatever it was inside that I’d been trying to drown out with as many distractions as possible over the years.

I never wanted to start that non-profit, never, not from the very beginning.  I kept asking myself, “Why me?  Who do I think I am to try to do anything about Timothy Thomas’ death?”

But it wasn’t my choice.  I had to start InkTank.  For three years I woke up in the middle of the night totally obsessed with the writing center that brought playwrights and poets, prostitutes and crackheads together through words.  It changed my life.  It changed me.  And if the articles in Cincinnati Magazine, a documentary, radio shows and countless newspaper articles are any measure, that little non-profit helped heal a city.

This is my way of telling you that it’s not my choice to write Cincyopolis. I’m waking up in the middle of the night again, obsessed with the injustice of the legal transfer of the hard-earned money of the middle class to the wealthiest among us through real estate policy and all I know to do is put one foot in front of the other and keep going.

In the interests of full disclosure, I might as well share it all.  This is what I believe:

.http://thisibelieve.org/essay/15305/

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3 thoughts on “It’s time we got to know each other better.

  1. Bonnie J. Speeg

    Kathy, I’m regretting I didn’t even have the emotional times or strength to give a ‘story’ to NPR that year you did. My life shattered similar to yours…in 2002. I didn’t know you started InkTank. I admired it from a distance, not knowing I had more stories in me back then. I too, have to ‘say it’ now. I hope, and trust, you actually read this.
    Here’s how bad it was that parallels your own plight from a distance you referred to in your article.
    I was, yes, on the floor, sobbing and crying, in a studio space I retreated to right behind City Hall. (yes, I heard the riots…I thought it was a parade!). Right before this, I had ‘it all’….my sister called me a ‘queen’, the way I was treated by now Mr. Ex-Wonderful. Gone, nearly overnight……The 14-room house full of glory….the 6 children (2 of which I shielded, they being my own flesh)…….gone: the gorgeous Greek life-partner of 17 years, my money-making career meshed with his, both my parents dying 13 days apart; me on a Jetway with a flight attendant chanting to me, “It’s OK, you can take the 5 boxes of divided cremains of your mother on the plane to Tulsa for your father’s funeral, it’s OK”, as I stood there sobbing and in shock. Yes, and there’s more…of course.
    But for now, I’m glad you googled your name. I did….about 2 months ago; after I’d talked to you about how the demise of Lytle Park was in the atmosphere. Yes.

    Kathy, in November an Enquirer feature will be about an 1843 hand-written journal I own and researched extensively.
    I’ve given presentations on this subject at both Taft Museum and the Betts House in past years. The journal is important because the writer LIVED on the corner of Arch Street and Ludlow Avenue. She ran back and forth visiting family and friends (the Lytle’s, the Findlays, the Buchanan’s). The writer makes the entire block and district from the Ohio River to Fourth Street alive.
    I recently discovered that Arch Street is named for the writer’s father, not to mention the original name of Iola Alley was Irwin Alley; the journal-writer’s name. My vision in the interest of perhaps saving Arch Street’s houses (Anne Senefeld has been helping me); is to illuminate and draw community interest to the ‘human’ element still alive within this little niche of our collective social/cultural heritage.

    Kathy, I respect what you’re writing, and ‘checking’ about our cities ‘games’ in many of the projects, policies and processes that leave us all dumbfounded. However, given my high level of “I know what I can do and not do, given my 6th decade of life”; I cannot campaign in the critical manner you’re executing, by investigating all that’s truly amiss down at City Hall; not to mention WS!!
    In other words, I only have so much steam to create a constructive pitch to where I’ve been thus far. {That former Mr. Ex-Wonderful is the head of the U.C. Planning Department…I’ve seen a lot regarding re-development, historic preservation, etc.—it’s brutal when up against ‘powers that be}.
    I hope to hear from you, again….

    Bonnie speeg
    That said, I’m on your inflammatory team in spirit!

    Reply
  2. Joshua Sands

    Kathy,

    I actually look forward to your blog. It reads like a detective novel in serial form. Your latest blog and This I Believe is moving. I’ve always been impressed by you but now I’ve transitioned to a big fan.

    Just wanted to let you know that I am one of, I hope, a lot of people who enjoy your blog.
    Josh

    Reply

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