Dear blog readers: I have been posting one of my published essays and/or short stories every day since November 1st. Six months straight of daily postings. Now I am editing a book that I recently finished writing, so I am taking the month of May to immerse myself in that project. In the meantime, I will still be posting on Twitter, so please follow me there… I will also share here links to any brand new essays or stories that might appear this month. Or I may have a random brilliant thought (it could happen) and want to share that with readers.
In the meantime, you are welcome to go back and browse through the past six months of postings. At about 750-800 words an essay, that’s about 144,000 words, or two books!
Thank you for reading and following my work, and if you would like to contact me, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Cheers, Kathy Stevenson
(My newspaper column from The Beach Reporter 11/16/89.)
Quick: What’s the first question you get asked at a social gathering? (Besides “Do you know where the bathroom is?”) That’s right, it’s that perennial conversation-opener, “What do you do?”
Finding out what a person does for a living somehow gives us a handle on who that person is. Or does it? Does a person’s job define the essence of that person? Of course it doesn’t, but we do seem to be obsessed with putting labels on each other.
For example, if I am introduced to someone, and they ask me The Question, and I say I am a housewife, their smile freezes and they start casting about the room looking for someone who is more with-it. But if I say instead that I’m a writer, they look at me with keen interest. Continue reading →
(Originally published in Main Line Life on 6/25/08.)
There are many great benefits that come from having a college campus in your community. Here on the Main Line, we are lucky to have several beautiful campuses in our midst. Bryn Mawr, Villanova, Haverford, Rosemont, Cabrini – all offer a myriad of wonderful opportunities for those of us who are no longer in college, but are able to avail ourselves of the rich cultural opportunities these institutions so generously share with surrounding community members. I have attended literary events, musical performances, art gallery openings, lectures by internationally recognized academicians, and political rallies, most of which have been free of charge to the general public.
But I have to admit my favorite “perk” of having all these great campuses in our midst is the nature trail and pond at the Haverford College campus. For the past several years, I have walked nearly every day on the nature trail that winds around the perimeter of the campus. The only time I don’t walk is if it is pouring rain or way below freezing.
Spring and early summer are a particularly delightful time to explore the nature trail and pond. There are so many flowering trees and shrubs on the campus that nearly everywhere you walk you will catch a heady whiff of some fragrant blossom. The giant oaks form a shady canopy that not only keeps you cool as you walk, but also provide a home to the dozens of bird species that live in them. Many of the trees are labeled with small brass plates on their trunks, so a wanderer can learn much, should he or she have the curiosity to do so. Continue reading →
(Link below to my new essay in the Chicago Tribune. Or read here.)
A Stranger At the Door
It was a frigid December night, and I had just settled into the plump cushions of the living room couch with a book, when I heard a sharp rapping on the front door. The sound startled me, mainly because it was 8:45 p.m., pitch-black outside, and I was alone. My husband had left two days ago for a conference.
I sat thinking for a split second about who could possibly be at my door at that hour, outside in the deep freeze just north of Chicago. I live on a really quiet street, about a block off the main road. Hours might go by without any car or pedestrian passing directly in front of my house, a small, modest house over one hundred years old.
Another moment passed, more sharp rapping, and then a face pressed against the square window in my front door. As I looked over my shoulder from my perch on the couch, I made eye contact with the eyes in this face. A woman’s face. She was saying something, but I couldn’t make it out.
I wish I could say that my first instinct was to leap off the couch to help this mystery woman. But I hesitated. All the bad stories about women who open their doors to strangers – stories told daily in newspapers and magazines, on the nightly TV news, even stories dimly remembered from long-ago slumber parties. Be afraid, be very afraid. I don’t tread fearfully in my daily life, but still. Strange people at the door when you are alone in the cold and dark… that makes you think a bit.
Continue reading →