Published Essay: The Space Between

krista houstoun

This essay was originally published in fall 2015 issue of The Los Angeles Review.



The last time I saw him he was wearing all black. “Look for me, the man in black. Like that movie,” he chuckled. “All black.” As if I wouldn’t be able to recognize my own dad.

It had been four years since we last saw each another, with only a few phone calls scattered throughout that time. That space. We agreed to meet at a brewery in Flagstaff, Arizona, the college town I lived in. There he was, outer-space black from head to toe as promised, everything noticeably the same about him except his waist was drastically smaller and his nose—my nose—slightly bigger. He was in protest then. Of the government. Specifically, the NSA. The intelligence agency was responsible for the “complete and total demise” of his “multi-million-dollar real estate company” in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico, he claimed. The Sonoran beach town had been his home ever since his second wife left him. The Sonoran beach town, the black hole that finally took him.

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The Key Building Your Own World

new world map

“If you can’t survive in this world, you had better make a world of your own.” – Jeanette Winterson

This quote has been North on my life’s compass for about a decade now, since I was first introduced to the mind-expanding works of Ms. Winterson. When I first read it I underlined it not once, as was standard, but twice—and then sprinkled stars around it. I knew I had found scripture.

As someone who often felt and at times expressed that “I wasn’t made for this world,” this quote was a warm blanket—a knowing that I wasn’t alone in an otherwise lonely world.

When I was in my mid-20s, high on the first glimpses of enlightenment, convinced I could change the world through a bumper sticker, I created a website called The Passion Project. I loved that project with my whole soul. The entire mission of the website was driven by the above quote: I was trying, through extreme measures, to make a world of my own. A lot of people in my life thought the website/idea was radical but I brushed those comments off because, hello!, I was and am and always will be radical. Radical is who I am—proudly. If you don’t know that by now, you don’t know me. Continue reading

Writing Process Blog Tour: A looksee at how I write

A couple of weeks ago my friend Chels Knorr invited me to participate in a Writing Process Blog Tour and I said yes before I knew what it entailed. Write about my writing process? That’ll be quick, I quipped: “Fall in love. Break up. Write like a madwoman. Repeat.” I’m glad I didn’t let myself get away with that snarky answer and actually thought deeply about the questions–I even learned somethings about myself in the process. 

So without further ado, welcome to the inner workings of my writing mind: Continue reading

The Vienna Period: On being a gypsy soul

You’re approaching 30. Tick tock. You should focus on buying a house, a more reliable car – a bigger one, for the children that should come in no time. Family is the most important thing. Put your money into a 401K – read books about 401Ks and shit. Money is important. Appliance shopping is fun. Continue reading

The Vienna Period: Letting nature run its course

I left Sedona when everything was dead. Not dying; dead.

At the time (a little over one week ago now) I sensed Spring would be any day now–the bones and the guts said so. And it wouldn’t be such a struggle this year, as in previous years where the sprouts writhed to break through in the dank cold. In fact, if you looked closely, which I did, you could see the daffodil shoots just barley poking through the mud already.

But there would be, of course, one more downpour. We received a lot of precipitation before my departure and the entire weekend I cried with the rain. (I’m not afraid to say publicly that it’s been a hard time. American society’s definition of weakness and mine are very different.) I was alone; have been alone; will be alone now. My leaving America for a long period forced a long, hard goodbye I had been struggling with to finally become final–a war of a goodbye. I was in need of a good cleanse.

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