The author in Area C of the West Bank. Har Gilo, an Israeli settlement, is on the horizon.

The fire Bolous built didn’t offer much heat, but it provided a comforting glow that drew me closer. Jamil disappeared outside, returning a few minutes later wearing a rain-soaked slicker and hauling a huge propane-powered heat lamp behind him. It was the kind of heater I’d only ever seen outdoors, which meant carbon monoxide exposure, but we were freezing. We scurried to huddle under its warmth. …

Children selling CDs by the wall at Qalandiya checkpoint near Jerusalem. Photo by Katie Schuessler.

Walking toward the entrance to Qalandiya checkpoint, I shielded my eyes from the morning sun, trying to act normal — as if I’d done this a million times before.

My colleagues and I lined up single-file behind a few dozen Palestinians and I watched as, one by one, they went through a grated rotating door into the unknown. …

How I’m reclaiming my life by letting go of my phone

Photo by William Iven on Unsplash

Yesterday I decided I was going to cut way down on my phone use.

Immediately after I made up my mind, I found myself spiraling into a vortex of uncertainty: What would I do with my spare time? How would I know when it would be okay to use it? What if this was the kind of thing where you couldn’t really just do a little? Would I end up like my dad with his 10-year-old flip phone? What would people say? …

How I am letting go of my screen and staying connected to the world

Photo by Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash

Day 1.

My sweet orange kitty, Nigel, let me sleep until 7:15 today. ! Never before has this happened. I woke up startled, with that sinking feeling you get when you know you’re late for something important. The light was way too bright outside; I’d really blew it this time. I bolted out of bed and opened my bedroom door, where Nigel was waiting. He stood up and ran to his food bowl with a single trill emitting from his throat. Translation: .


Photo by Feliphe Schiarolli on Unsplash

I am a teaching artist, which means I facilitate short-term art projects in schools. I love my job. I constantly get to meet amazing kids and champion educators. I get to watch students express themselves while learning tons of new skills. I get to see the guts of a variety of public schools while working with an incredibly diverse population.

Currently, I am placed in four schools across Brooklyn. I teach around 330…

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

“Katie, you look weird. Your skin looks mottled. You should just go to the house and take a shower,” Mom said, assessing me with her sharp eyes. I opened my mouth to protest, but she continued. “You can come right back, but I think you need to go freshen up. Get some clean clothes, wash your face. ,” she said, ending the conversation.

I knew Mom wouldn’t lie about my appearance; in fact, I could always count on her to be…

Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

I wake up before my alarm. It’s dawn and I am lucid, stripped to a lightness I’ve never felt. The hollow ache of last night’s devastation has been replaced with a sense of purpose. The spell has been broken.

I remember why I came to Oregon. I look at my swollen face in the mirror, my crystal-clear, kind, calm eyes staring back. .

I find myself writing him a letter in this morning’s journal entry. After I finish, I realize that it might actually be…

I Got Zika. This Is My Story.

“Goodnight, Auntie Zika!” My friend Lisi chided. “I’m ,” she immediately qualified. I smiled wanly, taking a big inhale.

A few hours ago over Thanksgiving dinner with friends old and new, we discovered that we were all avid globetrotters; an enthusiastic cacophony of travel stories ensued.

Most of us agreed that the Mediterranean Sea was our favorite in the world.

But the man sitting across from me just shook his head. “I loved the Mediterranean,” he said…

Photograph by Katie Schuessler

Do you ever feel like reality is screaming at you? It’s like,

The trouble is, I JUST DON’T GET IT.

And so repeatedly, sometimes for days in a row, men say things to me and I play it off like I don’t care, or worse, like I get the joke and . And while I’m…

On the first day of my women’s self-defense class, the teacher asked how many of us had ever been harassed or assaulted. Without missing a beat, every single one of us raised our hands.

Memories closed in on my psyche, crowding my vision: the man on the soccer field when I was eight. The man in the dressing room when I was twelve. The man at the grocery store when I was sixteen. The man at the bus stop when I was nineteen. Men on the street, men in clubs. Men grabbing from cars, men slapping my ass. Men I…

Katie Schuessler

Writer, artist, teacher, seeker. Learn more at

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