Picking Up

During post-ski accident recovery time, it’s good to pick up some hobbies:

I picked up lomography photography (thanks to Connor).

Picked up crocheting (thanks to Grandma’s visits).

Oh yeah, and I’ve been picking myself up, too.

Emmett hangs in the driveway.

I can’t think of a better place to pick myself up than home, surrounded by love, snow, and Emmett the dog, captured here through a lomographic lens.

More on picking myself up in a minute.

Some other things I’ve picked up aren’t new, per se, but they’re new to me as of late:

Recently I picked up a knife for cooking! Cooking is one of my favorite things, yet I hadn’t cooked since the accident because my challenges with left hand coordination didn’t bode well for cutting things with a sharp knife (as you can imagine).

This past week I picked up car keys to start driving again. I no longer feel like a middle schooler stuck at home–hurray!

…I’m trying to avoid having to pick myself up from the ground during balancing exercises at physical therapy:

My fantastic physical therapist, Ashley, supports me while she conducts an exercise.

My fantastic physical therapist, Ashley, supports me while she conducts an exercise. Photo taken by my Dad.

At this point, I’m seeing and feeling big improvements week to week. It’s wild(ly awesome).

Physical therapy has been a big help, and it’s taught me to take things one step at a time. Any goals that seem too large or too difficult just need to be broken up into many smaller, more do-able goals. For instance, even two weeks ago I couldn’t have imagined jogging. Now, guess what I’ve started doing? Yep, you guessed it. Jogging.

Granted, I take it easy. I do a fair amount of stopping and starting. But still, it’s jogging! MomKQsoakedselfieJust earlier today my mom and I were on the bike path jogging when it started raining (soaking wet selfie to the left). Mom and I kept right on jogging because, holy crap, I can jog now!!!

But before I could jog, I mastered a variety of other coordination exercises. So truly, one thing at a time.

I feel like this is a lesson that applies to all of life’s lofty goals (I have a lot of them). Note to self, Katie.


My big bro Brian (sans glasses)

I’m still picking up my glasses every morning, though. The blow of the ski accident affected the vision of my left eye, and it’s unclear whether that will be temporary or permanent. I’ve never had to wear prescription glasses before this, and my brother has never needed glasses…ironic, since both of our parents are optometrists.

I’m telling friends that I’m nearly back to normal. Yet I think it’s funny that “back to normal” is how I’m describing my goal. The concept that “normal” would be something I’m aspiring for makes me chuckle because, honestly, I wouldn’t trade where I am now for pre-accident Katie.

I’ve never had to struggle like this before. But as I’ve gone through it, I’ve had to dig deep. I’ve learned to trust myself and listen to myself. Two things that, if I tune in to them, give me deep comfort and make me–in a word–happy.

Thanks for reading and caring. Lastly, here are some lomography shots courtesy of the newfound hobby I’ve picked up:

barn_afar barn_inside connor_double connor_taking_pic outside_shot

The day before

The day before my ski accident was an awesome day.

The day before, I felt like life was exactly where it should be.

I didn’t know the next day I would be knocked unconscious, strapped onto a spinal board and rushed to the intensive care unit of the hospital.

How could I possibly know? So I didn’t dread what was to come. No, I just lived life.

In Park City, Utah for a video shoot with the Sundance Channel

In Park City, Utah for a video shoot with the Sundance Channel

And enjoyed a gangbusters day.

The day before my accident I hosted a series for the Sundance Channel, interviewing Sundance Film Festival goers about films and food.

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With my fantastic producer (and soul sister), Jamie.

I was doing what I love doing.

Video clip of my Sundance Channel spot

That evening was relaxing, fun, and delicious. Connor and I played cards in our condo, then hit Main Street for dinner, and listened to a live band at a local bar.


The day, from the moment I woke up to the moment I went to sleep, was a day for the record books.

Then the unexpected happened.

A crash on a ski slope, limply falling into a ravine, followed by days that I have no memory of.

Flash forward.

The day before yesterday I was at one of my biweekly physical therapy photo (22)appointments. They have me do exercises that hone in on my vestibular system (to work on my balance and coordination), which was most affected by the crash.

I’m making huge strides each week. From where I stand now, I can’t believe that just a few weeks ago I had trouble walking unassisted.

My current reality is the greatest lesson in patience I’ve ever had, because I want to be back to normal immediately…but the estimated time for my kind of injury is three months.

Three months feels like forever. Three months seems like a long time to press pause on my life’s goals and dreams. But as one of the experts I’ve talked to recently told me, “Three months is nothing in brain time.” And really, what’s three months in the scheme of things?

The thing I’m most grateful for is that I can still have the same dreams I had the day before the accident. And I do–they’re as strong as ever.

photo (23)The day before today was different than any other day, because each and every day during my recovery is different. As well as I’m improving,  I’ve learned that each day is unpredictable; this is not a linear process. One day I feel great, and the next day is a frustration, a struggle.

If I weren’t going through this myself, I would have no idea what this kind of recovery entails. It’s not as simple nor as consistent as watching a wound heal.

When I feel like I’m the only one who’s ever gone through something like this, I remember the people who have come out of the woodwork to tell me about their experiences. One friend in particular told me about how his injury gave him a deep appreciation for the brain: what a weird, yet incredible organ it is. And wow, how I appreciate my brain now.

The day before my accident I thought I’d be in Brazil right now.

I’m not in Brazil, but I’m in a good place.

I don’t know what will happen tomorrow, so I just appreciate today. 

The day of my accident, I kissed tragedy, then turned away from it. I’ve still got more living to do.

On getting a freaky deaky MRI (oh yeah, and a serious concussion)

What are you usually doing at 6 in the morning? A week ago, I was at the hospital putting on scrubs for an MRI of my head.

Nearly 3 weeks ago I got in a bad ski accident while I was in Utah and now, though all doctors (and I) expect a full recovery, I’m still not quite 100% — which is why my neurologist wanted an MRI. So even though I might look normal, it’s a bit deceiving and hides some of the struggles I’ve been having with balance, coordination and vision.

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Life is full of unexpected twists and turns. Waking up in a hospital in Utah not remembering anything that had happened (because I was unconscious) was one.

Having an MRI was another: that was a unique, intense, and claustrophobic experience. One in which I was wrapped in blankets with a crate-like box placed directly over my face and then slid into a tight tunnel in the middle of the small room. Then what sounded like a cacophony of jackhammers started. The noise-blocking ear plugs they gave me weren’t sufficient to block it out.

Before they put me in the tunnel, they asked me at least 3 times if I was claustrophobic. Mm, claustrophobia. I’d had a previous experience dealing with those waves of fear.

Insanity008 (1)

It was my senior year of college. I was the title role in a play called The Insanity of Mary Girard and it included me sitting with a snug wooden box over my head while my arms and legs were secured by taut, leather buckles for 30 minutes (from when the theater “house” opened until the show started).

I did it, night after night of performances.

I learned mind over matter like you wouldn’t believe. As you can imagine, that did wonders for my claustrophobia.

But the MRI was a wholly different experience. There was about 40 minutes of the intensity I briefly described above–quickly interrupted by an injection in my arm (to give me “contrast”)–then I was scooted back in the tunnel, and the banging continued for another 15 minutes or so.

While I was laying in the tunnel for nearly an hour, I thought about things. The MRI happened right around the same time I finally felt like ME again, after my accident. I had my brain back. I was back, despite any hurdles I still had to overcome. So in typical Katie fashion, I had a lot to think about.

I thought about my accident. I have an insatiable curiosity about how this accident will affect me going forward. It’s already made an impact on me and my mindset, in an overall positive way. How will it ripple throughout my life, in unexpected ways?

Connor snapped a shot when he and my parents were walking me around the yard of my home shortly after we'd gotten to Ohio from Utah. He called it "exercising the patient."

Connor snapped a shot when he and my parents were walking me around the yard of my home shortly after we’d gotten to Ohio from Utah. He called it “exercising the patient.”

Another question I contemplate: How should I refer to my accident? It was a freak accident on the ski slope. It gave me a traumatic brain injury and left me unconscious for approximatly 5 to 8 minutes. But that all seems misleading to say. I lucked out, and now I’m cognitively totally here, with a full recovery just around the corner.

But it’s tricky because by now I don’t LOOK very different, so I’m dealing with the contradiction of my appearance, which disguises some of the challenges I’m dealing with.

Considering I could be a quadriplegic (or dead) from this accident, these things I’m pondering are small beans. I’ll take ‘em any day.

Dad snapped this shot of Mom and Connor helping me with exercises that are focused on the vestibular balancing system, which I'd been told to practice by my physical therapist.

Dad snapped this shot of mom and Connor helping me with exercises that are focused on the vestibular balancing system, which I’d been told to practice by my physical therapist.

I don’t have any answers for the questions that popped in my head while I was frozen in position during the MRI…but thinking through them, just like typing them out, somehow helps.

I got home from the procedure and, with snow languidly falling outside, I cuddled up on the couch next to the fireplace and felt an immense feeling of gratitude.

That’s a common theme I’ve felt since I came to: gratitude. I’ve been shown so much love by people who mean so much to me. I feel outstandingly lucky (for the people on this earth…and for getting to be here, too).

Getting this time with my parents (and brother, who came in to spend time with me from Chicago) has been a real silver living. The accident brought me closer to my boyfriend Connor, who’s been a rock throughout this whole journey.

Fine, I’m a glasses-wearer because the accident gave me blurry vision. (That’s supposed to be temporary. Plus, I love my new glasses). And, okay, I’m still struggling with balance a bit. But I’m ME. And I’ve grown so much in this experience. Just how the play in college got rid of my claustrophobia and prepared me to handle the MRI with relative ease, I believe this unexpected life turn is priming me to handle something else down the pipeline all the better. At the very least, it’s given me empathy for anyone who has gone through a similar experience.

My body tells me two things quite clearly: sleep as much as possible (think: 3 naps in a day), and eat a lot, frequently. Sounds like a dream come true. Yup — copy that, body. Will do. Here’s me doing both things like a champ:

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In the hospital in Utah, asleep and cuddling with a stuffed koala bear my friend in Utah, Sam, gave me.

Connor and I stuff our faces with delicious cookies (given by a dear friend).

Connor and I stuff our faces with delicious cookies (given by a dear friend).

Speaking of sleeping, that sounds pretty nice right about now. Over and out.


Charleston’s food scene: A community of eaters


Lamb and pork dumplings at Xiao Bao Biscuit in Charleston, SC. Folded moments before I snapped this shot. Just wait until they hit the frying pan.

Most Americans may be surprised to hear that the culinary scene in the charming little city of Charleston, SC is actually pretty mind-blowingly awesome. It’s no surprise to locals, though — food and beverage is the industry there, so its residents keep tabs on chefs and restaurants like the rest of America follows Miley Cyrus (ugh).


The shrimp and grits dish at Husk restaurant in Charleston, SC.

The dishes frequently hat-tip to traditional Southern cuisine, but extend far beyond its usual confines with playful innovations like this shrimp and grits dish at Husk restaurant, which included andouille sausage, shishito peppers, fresh fennel and, epically, topped with fried, slivered pig ears.


It was a work trip, so this dish was made for us in a NowThis Food interview with Husk’s Chef de Cuisine of Husk, Travis Grimes. Interviewing Chef Travis and watching him make the dish without a doubt heightened my appreciation of it, but I would’ve been a clean plater even if I’d gone into it blind.


Jammed into a pedicab and (strangely) loving it.

While in Charleston for just shy of a week, my coworkers, Connor and Sadie, and I spent our days hopping from one restaurant to the next, interviewing the chefs and stuffing our faces. It helps to be traveling with coworkers who are also friends in that every opportunity is not only ripe with productivity but a whole lot of fun..

In Charleston, I found exactly what I’d hoped would be there: passionate cooks inventing truly delightful food.

The unexpected element, and the one that’s stuck with me most, was the sense of community the food scene has. Everyone knows each other and — even cooler — supports each other. A rare find.


Chef Josh Keeler plates sweetbread with salsify, brussel leaves and chanterelles at Two Boroughs Larder in Charleston, SC.


Connor snapped a shot of me in the kitchen with Alluette, and Alluette’s Cafe in Charleston, SC.


Sadie snapped this shot of me about to eat the smoked oysters dish with Chef Mike Lata at The Ordinary in Charleston, SC.


Okra seeds to make new okra plants at the Grow Food Carolina garden in Charleston, SC.


The gorgeous oyster knives of Chef Mike Lata.

I’d go back! And not just to jump in front of pretty old houses…


Photo taken by Mr. Connor Boals.


On living life with an appetite–of all kinds

eating noodles shanghai

In Shanghai, there’s nothing like freshly made late-night noodles, eaten curbside with friends and beers.

I saw a movie last week that I can’t stop thinking about. It’s a French film called Blue is the Warmest Coloror La Vie d’Adele–and you may have heard of it because it’s just been released stateside, with a splash. (Lengthy lesbian sex scenes will have that affect). Regardless of the controversy, it’s the most beautiful love story I’ve seen depicted on screen.

The film made a big impact on me. Specifically, the appetite of Adele, the lead character.

In one of the opening scenes, she eats voraciously, with her mouth open, taking in huge forkfuls of pasta drenched in red sauce. It’s actually funny to watch the close-up shots of her lips smacking and teeth chomping, and the audience chuckles through the whole sequence. But it serves the plot in this way: Adele’s appetite for food is indicative of her appetite for life. It’s massive. It’s insatiable.

That kind of eagerness for food, and life, resonated with me. Behind her appetite is curiosity and a deep need to explore.

The fact that the director, Abdellatif Kechiche, uses food as a way to express this drive in Adele makes perfect sense to me. Taking pleasure in food and seeking pleasure in life go hand-in-hand in my eyes (no wonder I’ve dedicated my career to food journalism). To eat fully is a part of living fully. So Adele’s ravenous quality strikes me not only as truthful, but as something I can very much relate to.

And I have to address the more in-your-face correlation the film makes: her carnal devouring of food and her sexual appetite. There, again, I think life is fuller with a healthy dose of that kind of appetite, too.

To me, being human is to feel all these cravings, to feel them completely, and to take pleasure in satiating them. To an ecstatic and devastating effect, both. The film succeeded–outstandingly–in bringing this view of life to the forefront of my mind.

Also, I left that movie craving pasta. I went home and made myself a big bowl of it.

On journals v. diaries

journal v diaryDavid Sedaris was recently the guest on NPR’s Fresh Air. Much of the interview was about his profound, constant journal-writing.

Except he told Terry Gross that he classifies his habit as keeping a diary, not a journal. He distinguished the two as such: a journal is writing from the head, whereas a diary is writing from the heart– it divulges the juicy gossip of a situation, the unbridled emotion.

Growing up, I was enough of a tomboy to swear off diaries. With their pink ribbon bookmarks and locks and keys–how girly! Journals, on the other hand, seemed to have so much more to offer in the way of legitimacy and maturity.

That has stuck with me all these years–because even at 27, I refuse to keep a “diary”…even though I write in my “journal” nearly every day. In fact, I turn to it habitually to relinquish thoughts I wouldn’t utter aloud. I write in it to get things off my chest and to process life.

So, by David Sedaris’ definition, this blog acts as a journal. But my little Moleskin journal? I surrender, David Sedaris. It’s a diary. You win.


On being a bike owner (in BK)

I’d wanted a bike for a couple years. The desire would drop in as a languid thought on sunny summer days. I wanted a bike in the same way I want a record player now: casual yearning. Not entirely sure when or why I’d use it, but certain I would.

At the end of last summer, I bought one. It was a used 1980s Raleigh I bought off of a former coworker. I picked it up from him in Astoria and wheeled it onto the G train for the trip back to Park Slope, still too tentative to actually mount it and ride it home.

The impetus for finally getting a bike was twofold: a new apartment building with a bike rack in the basement (as opposed to my prior 5-story walk up) and a boyfriend who lived in Red Hook, a nearby Brooklyn neighborhood that was virtually inaccessible via subway but not far aboard two wheels.

I enjoyed my bike for those several weeks before the weather dropped and I tucked it into hibernation with the others. They collected dust adjacent to the washers and dryers that rumbled beneath all of our feet.

This summer, things have shifted. That boyfriend–and the other one between then and now–are out of the picture, but the bike has become a fixture in my Brooklyn life. I take any excuse to hop on.

On weekends it’s my primary form of transportation, offering a necessary hiatus from the habitual descent into the subway tunnels. I don’t dare take it into work–cycling from Brooklyn to Midtown Manhattan sounds like a horribly stressful way to start the day. But riding it around the borough provides a gentle exercise that gets my heart pumping while also allowing me to show up to social events appearing relatively unaffected by my method of transport.

Perhaps most seductively, I can feel the wind in my face when I ride; the only alternative of that sensation in this city to rolling down the window of a cab while jetting down the FDR Drive.


On the delight of Speculoos

When something is as delicious as Speculoos, I cannot keep it to myself. If I may be so bold to say: it is the new Nutella.

Junior year of college I studied in Geneva, Switzerland and discovered Nutella–the chocolate hazelnut spread that maaay have contributed to my gaining a bit of weight abroad (that + fondue).

Until recently, I didn’t think Nutella could be trumped as a foreign-produced spread (domestically, peanut butter reigns champ, and Vegemite sure as hell isn’t doin’ it for me). Then Belgium showed me what’s under its sleeve: a creamy spread that tastes vaguely like a gingerbread cookie with a name that’s fun to say, to boot.

Speculoos is also the term for spiced shortbread biscuits, and the Speculoos I’m referring to is the spread version of these cookies. It has the texture of smooth peanut butter, and I first tried it on a Belgium waffle and topped with a healthy dose of whipped cream from the Waffles & Dinges food truck in NYC.

Click on the image below to see a GIF of my preferred method of Speculoos consumption (on a freshly-toasted piece of hearty multi-grain bread:

On my “New York State of Mind.” It’s all about the eats.

I’ve just passed my 4.5 year mark of living in New York City. After nearly half a decade, I can’t claim to be a New Yorkah, but I can admit to being a much different person than my 22-year-old self who moved here two weeks after college graduation.

So how have I changed? Or as Jay-Z might ask, what is my “New York State of Mind”? I’ll answer with a statement: my mind is always on food.

To give you a sense: when I’m not eating it, I’m thinking about the next thing I’ll eat. When I’m not reading about it on a blog, I’m producing a video about it for work.

Food has become a part of my identity since moving to NYC, and I attribute that to the thriving restaurant/foodie/green market culture here. I latched on. Even if (slash when) I leave New York, I don’t foresee this passion slipping away.

With everything I’ve just written, you’d think I’d be overweight. On the contrary, I think much more about the food I eat, and I’m therefore more conscious of what I put into my body. I’ve become a passionate home cook—with an eye for healthful, nutritious meals. I also have become more adventurous, trying pig ears in Chinatown and lamb tongue tacos in Williamsburg.

Getting into the “foodie” culture has added fulfillment to my life. It’s a hobby that is tangible (and delicious). I have an acquired knowledge bank that others seek: I’m the restaurant recommender for many of my pals and acquaintances. What’s more, I’ve made friends with talented, fantastic people through making this interest more than a simple hobby and making it an element of my career.

I’m always trying to find a balance between cooking in and eating out, which I’m sure will be a struggle as long as I live here—with so much available at any time.

It’s a struggle I’ll take—with pleasure.

Thanks, New York, for being such a tasty place to live.

Newness, in a glance

Tomorrow will be exactly one month since I started my exciting new job at NowThis News.

Along with that change has come a jolt of new people, ideas and opportunities…in such a short period of time! Simultaneously, I 1) moved into my new apartment and 2) became quite taken with a handsome gentleman.

Life feels mighty different than it did not too long ago.

I tried to write about it the change, but I’m still so in the change that words weren’t coming easily. What to do? Throw together some photos.

The pictures are mostly of my new (awesome) coworkers, our office and studio, and our steady incline to launch. Others show small changes, like getting a bike for the first time in my 4.5 years in NYC, exploring the culinary delight to be had in Koreatown–a quick walk from our building, a weekend breakfast with aforementioned beau, and the change of season into fall with my farmer’s market bounty.