Things That Make Me Go Mmm

coconut-ginger kale with chickpeas, lemon, and a secret ingredient: a dash of smoked paprika.
ginger, toasted coconut, and small sweet red onion sizzling in olive oil

Meanwhile, on Kloncke…

It’s shaping up to be another day of food and friend fotos, and I’m beginning to feel self-conscious.

So trivial! not militant! argh.

Fortunately, the wonders of digital archiving help refresh me on why I started this particular blog in the first place, nearly four years ago. A quick digital rifling through the earliest files, and I come across this:

You may have noticed that Kloncke contains lots of pictures.  Pictures of mundane things, like the apartment.  And Brassica oleracea.  There’s not a lot of information, or opinion, or blueprints for fomenting feminist revolution.  No hard reportage.  Walking away from the world of political New Media, with its fast-paced news addictions and adrenaline rushes, is not easy on the ego, I can tell you that much.  In comparison to what I used to write about, the things I now post seem frivolous and bourgie.  Sharing them requires a good amount of pride swallowing: it was much easier, honestly, to write about, say, connections among environmental nativism, sexism, and anti-immigration.  But my dear friend Ellen, in an email yesterday, beautifully expressed a purpose of the site that I hadn’t quite articulated to myself:

I was just reading through your blog and thinking about how healing ourselves necessarily involves elemental things like food (one of my too-many jobs right now is all about food policy, actually, and I love how it’s gently pushed me toward feeding myself better) and family and good lighting (good work w/ your place!!) and practical skills and walking/biking along riverbanks.

Ellen is right: healing is largely about getting down to basics.  Which brings us back to the question of reality (what could be more basic?) and how on earth a cybernetic hallucination could bring us closer to it.

Reality isn’t a place so much as a relationship, or an attitude that each one of us can take toward what’s around us.  In my experience, it’s a mixture of calm and curiosity, a kind of lilting interest.  It welcomes and enjoys pleasure, but doesn’t obsess over it.  It recognizes and honors pain, but doesn’t demonize it.  This orientation reflects reality not because it’s one-dimensionally true, but because it allows us to see what’s really going on.

Now, what’s really going on includes, as we know:

  • oppression
  • violence
  • injustice
  • resistance
  • organizing
  • solidarity
  • things more important than photos of what yours truly is having for breakfast

Again, this blog isn’t about acting on these Big Things.  Nope.  But it is about small-r reality: trying to pay attention.  Joyful attention.  To the things that happen offline.  And as a warm, friendly space dedicated to embracing ordinary wonders, I hope it can help restore us for whatever struggles we undertake.
A list.  A hallucinatory diary of genuine gratitude.  A different spin on the reality-based community.

Four years later, I’ve come so far, to the exact same spot.

Things more important than what I’m having for breakfast.

Well, that’s why they call it practice, I s’pose.

Revolutionary or not, “embracing ordinary wonders” is precisely what I’ve been feeling disconnected from, these past few months. And as we know, contentment is only partly about how many Wanted Things happen to us. It’s also (or even mostly) about how much gratitude and equanimity we generate. (Hence book titles like Sylvia Boorstein’s Happiness Is An Inside Job.)


Hardworking organizers and wonderful people swim in the seas I swim in!

I get to go to eviction defense actions and they are interesting and successful!

(See how I snuck a militant direct action in there? Pride: sometimes you get the better of me.)

But I seem to be living as a hungry ghost. No matter how much beauty surrounds me, it’s not enough. I am not enough.

Speaking of both (a) hungry ghosts and (b) great things happening to and around me, just this Wednesday night I had the chance to see a talk by the incredible Dr. Gabor Maté, author of, among other books, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction.

His lecture blew my mind on a few levels (maybe a whole nother post on that, sometime). But one of points he made that hit home hardest for me was the observation that political engagement, or activism, can actually serve as a kind of addiction: insofar as we use it to try to fill a personal sense of lack. He gets at a similar idea in this interview about the Hungry Ghosts book:

Question: The title of your book has its origins in the Buddhist Wheel of Life. In the Hungry Ghost Realm, people feel empty and seek solace from the outside, from sources that can never nourish. In what ways is our culture trapped in this realm? What can society learn from drug addicts who take the feelings of lack that everyone has, to the extreme?
Gabor Maté: Much of our culture and our economy are based on exploiting people’s sense of emptiness and inadequacy, of not being enough as we are. We have the belief that if we do this or acquire that, if we achieve this or attain that, we’ll be satisfied. This sense of lack and this belief feed many addictive behaviors, from shopping to eating to workaholism. In many respects we behave in a driven fashion that differs only in degree from the desperation of the drug addict.

I don’t have the presence of mind to write too much on this tonight, but I want to reflect on this observation from my own life:

When I feel no pressure to be or do any particular thing, creative growth and learning flow freely, but much of my activity tends to be apolitical. Eventually, the urge for political engagement either suddenly arises, or creeps back in like a tide.

Once I get invested in the idea of being a student of political organizing, or being a revolutionary, that free-flowing sense of self-sufficiency dies away, and I find myself wanting/needing to improve and measure up, more and more. Never enough.

Obviously, the desire to improve is not a bad thing — and I know what the healthy, natural, yet vigorous version feels like. It’s just that I don’t know what it feels like in the political realm.

And THAT probably has more to do with me, and my own issues, than ‘the political realm’ itself.

And with that, I wish you a good, good night.



People’s Award Association

give the people what they want

I talked with my folks tonight: slow, nothing-much, touching base. The dog has tapeworms, but seems more chipper since getting his medicine. Mom doubts Pop’ll make it through this weekend’s performance of Fiddler On the Roof without dozing off. At times the silences sagged between our phones. Tomorrow they (my parents) will be moving all the furniture so the carpets can be deep-cleaned.

Suddenly my dad’s voice brightened. Can I tell you one thing about today, he said.

As he was cleaning out the study, he came across a leaderboard from my golfing days. Based on our conversation I’m still not sure exactly what kind of object he’s describing (I remember leaderboards being huge, like billboards — not something you could fit in our study chock-full of files and wires and junk), but he said it had that fine, pristine writing (those gray, permed, chalk-wielding old ladies keeping public score always cut the most dashing sevens), and at the top, number one, my name: Katie Loncke. Shot a 78 the first day; 72 the second. Below me (my father’s voice grows incandescent) are players who went on to be really serious. Casey Gee, who fell just shy of the PGA, and now works at a bank. Christina Stockton, who’s gone pro. Danielle Civitanov — we think she’s in school to be a nurse. The top Sacramento girl golfers from my middle-school and high-school years. Proof that I had bested the whole lot of them at least once. Dad mused aloud about sending the board to my Oma. Your granddaughter, number one! I could picture his smiling apple-cheeks, shaped just like mine.

If you know me well you probably know that golf and I have had a fraught relationship. I once tried to break my own finger with a hammer to get out of playing a tournament. When that plan failed, I turned to a bottle of pills.

Enough time has passed that I’m not so tense about it anymore. I can even contemplate dusting off my clubs for fun, maybe with a couple of novice guy friends. I would probably run circles around them, even though I haven’t played in years. I used to be that good.

And I made my dad proud. If he shadowed me for a round, weeks afterward he could tell you every single shot on every single hole.

Tonight, despite a thorny past, I let myself rejoice a little in his shine.

not sure why my picture’s not there, but find it hilariously appropriate

I’ve been thinking lately: we need some kind of People’s Award Association. For those of us who might choose unconventional paths, or never have a real shot at mainstream prestige in this fucked up, pseudo-meritocratic, hyper-competitive society. Our unpaid work organizing against the prison industrial complex, or fighting foreclosures, or founding radical sanghas may not yield a trophy, medal, plaque or certificate, but our excellence still matters, and people in our lives should know about it. They should have more chances to be proud of us.

Ideally a real, beautiful object for display, but even just an email — to a grandparent, mentor, partner, whomever — stating ceremoniously:

Congratulations: your loved one, {____________}, has been awarded an Outstanding {What They Do Well} Prize.  This honor is conferred by the People’s Award Association in recognition of {___________}’s excellence in transforming oppression and building toward a better world: a world with freedom for all.

Versatile Blogger Award


Tough to feel deserving of any positive blogging recognition when my updates here have been so scattered the past few months.  But as always, I’m honored and humbled by this shoutout from the wonderful engaged Buddhist writer and activist Maia Duerr.  You know how some people are mad talented at giving compliments? Maia is one of those people.  She’s so thoughtful and specific when she names what she appreciates about people’s work. You can tell she’s really moving with what they’re putting out; not just scattering praise for feel-good purposes.  Of, she writes

Katie Loncke’s blog is, to me, the perfect intersection of spirit, politics, and heart.

Is that sweet or what?  Really tho.

And the best part about being tagged with this kind of blogly award?  Passing it on.  Since Maia put her own spin on the shoutout selection by limiting her list to women, I’m going to create my own parameters, too. My list consists only of people I know and build with (politically, spiritually) in person.

Continue reading

By Hand: Hobbit Diorama


Do you create by hand? Do you create with words? Or both?

Yesterday and today, my faculty advisor has observed that although we humans make meaning in verbal and physical ways, for a variety of social reasons authority figures often overcultivate one side or the other. (Or neither, I might add.) Many of us are taught, through schooling, that what we type with our fingers or say with our mouths is more important than what we can make with our hands or sculpt with our bodies.

There’s some overlap here, of course, in that writing (or typing) is an action that lives in our hands. But my advisor’s point is that too often, that’s as far as it goes. Unless we also engage in other activities and ways of thinking (in terms of movement, in terms of texture, in terms of light or temperature or dimension), our writing and meaningmaking will be limited to our hands, rather than involving our entire bodies.

The moment he said this, I got it. When I was younger, before writing took over as the only mode of learning in school (did I create a single physical object in college?), I used to think and create with my hands. I used to make things by hand.

* * * * * *

My mother, being a sentimental soul, and having only one child, has trouble throwing my old things away. The garage of my childhood home is lined with boxes containing elementary school spelling tests, middle-school science papers, and God knows what else. My bedroom, though not exactly as I left it at 17, feels less transformed (say, into a study) than strategically looted, with some walls and drawers empty and others left intact, housing various middle-to-high-school artifacts.

Pretty much every time I visit my parents, I use the desktop computer at least once. And pretty much every time I use the desktop computer, I notice and smile at the following diorama, perched on a nearby shelf in the cluttered study, and crafted by Yours Truly in about the fifth or sixth grade.

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Thorin thinks that Bilbo should climb to the top of the tree and see if he can see any end to the forest. Bilbo reluctantly climbs up a tree and breaks through the canopy to the bright light of the sun. He sees thousands of butterflies and looks at “the black emperors for a long time and enjoyed the feel of the breeze in his hair and on his face.” [from The Hobbit, Chapter 8, pg. 148.]

Turns out, I used to love making all kinds of things when I was young. In eighth grade, I was supposed to present a visual aid about immigration to the US at the beginning of the 20th century. I wound up making a simple Rube Goldberg device: on one side of the machine there’s a tiny bucket where you place more and more stick figurines (representing immigrants). When the bucket gets heavy enough, it tips a see-saw that flips a gate, a marble rolls down a pathway and trips something else, and I forget exactly how the rest of it worked but in the end another tiny bucket flips over and out fall all these illustrations of ‘consequences of immigration’ (i.e. tenements, rats, spread of disease, and whatever else our history book told us).

But midway through high school or so, the making of things by hand fell away. It would be years before I rediscovered it: first through cooking, then letter writing, and now bootleg carpentry and picket-sign design. I hesitate to call these activities “making meaning” (sounds so lofty and . . . well . . . discursive), but at least they live in the same neighborhood.

How about you? Do you regularly use your hands to make meaning — playing music, painting, sculpting, deejaying? Or maybe even your entire body, through dance? Or are you mostly brain-mouth-and-keyboard -bound, like me?

Talking Solidarity and Interdependence On One Of My Favorite Buddhist Blogs


Today I’m honored and delighted to be featured on The Jizo Chronicles: award-winning Buddhist blog and home of the hella inspiring Maia Duerr. Maia is a wonderful writer and creator who knows how to craft big questions out of few words. After she e-mailed me the interview prompts, it took me weeks to reflect on them — finally prompting a sweet and gentle check-in from her, like, uh, you okay over there? :)

Anyway, I am enormously grateful to be walking the path with her, and to be included in this interview series with the likes of Arun from Angry Asian Buddhist, Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, and Roshi Joan Halifax. Check out the interview and feel free to leave thoughts, pushback, disagreements, elaborations, questions, etc.

Beet, Farro and Arugula Salad with Blue Cheese and Pickled Red Onions


Not the most awesome photos, but I was excited to make this salad today, which involved my first pickling experience.

I had heard that quick-pickling onions is an easier task than it sounds, which I found to be true. But I didn’t realize how many delicious components were involved.



Bay leaf.

Brown sugar.

And, of course, vinegar. (I used the apple-cider kind.)

So simple. So satisfying. Highly delicious.

I had been looking for a new way of using farro, a grain I adore for its chewy heartiness. Saw a beet, farro and arugula salad on a menu in SF and thought I would try my hand at something similar.


Ella observed my experiment from her perch on the grocery tote.